"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Warm Comforting Beef Stew On A Cold Rainy Day

I don't think there is anyone who likes it when it rains all day.  Especially those of us who have kids who need to be running around outside and burn off some energy so they can be as tired as they can be when bed time comes. Rain all day usually means that we're cooped up inside the house all day.  But, there is an "up" side to rainy days, believe it or not. On rainy days, it means that I can actually make dishes like stews or braised meats because, well, I got nothing but time!  

Today, I took advantage of this rainy weather that we're having in the Bay Area.  I made one of the most delicious beef stews I have ever had: Food Network Start Tyler Florence's "The Ultimate Beef Stew".  See this link for the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/the-ultimate-beef-stew-recipe2/index.html.  It was the perfect dinner for our family. Patrick has had a stuffy nose.  And, I woke up this morning with a slight sore throat.  It was so cold today we actually had the fire burning all day. So, this was exactly what the doctor ordered for us.  Even Nélianne raved about how tasty it was. She even had a second serving, which in our house means a successful dish.

This stew would be a perfect meal by itself with the carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, and peas. But, I made a side of Orzo pasta to serve with it because (1) I like having something to soak up the juicy stew broth and (2) the kids love the "special rice pasta" and are more likely to eat the stew if it's mixed with some rice or pasta topped off with some cheese.  It actually paired up very nicely.  If you don't have orzo, rice or some egg noodles would be perfect too.

Of course a meal in our household wouldn't be perfect without a glass of a delicious wine. For this beef stew, Patrick and I had a glass of a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon by Benziger Family Winery (Sonoma County, CA). That Cabernet is superb.  It actually received a 90 point rating by Wine Enthusiast and was picked as an Editor's Choice in December 2010 (check out this link: http://www.benziger.com/assets/client/File/Sell%20Sheets/07_cabernet_sauvignon_sonoma_county.pdf.   The wine is a full-bodied Cabernet with aromas of dark fruit such as blackberry and wild cherry, and rich earthy notes of cedar and chocolate.  Although it is an intense and complex wine, it is smooth and balanced on the palate with a lasting finish.  It paired incredibly well with the beef stew.  You can find this wine at Safeway for less than $15.00.

Well, I hope you stay warm and dry this long holiday weekend.  If you are looking for some delicious and comforting food to make this weekend, I hope you try this dish. 

Until next time . . . Cheers!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Delicious Braised and Glazed Pork Spareribs

If you are like me and don't know how to, or don't like to grill (that's what my husband is for!), or even if you are a grill master, the recipe of "Rubbed, Braised and Glazed Pork Spareribs" from Food and Wine Magazine (http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/rubbed-braised-and-glazed-pork-spareribs) is sure to impress!  And, to me the best part (besides the fact that it is mouth-watering good) is braising, which means that you have time to do other things while the food is cooking like play with your kids, do chores around the house, run errands, or (as I did today) work!  The honey glaze on the spareribs gives it a delicious sweet flavor that even my little picky eaters tried a few bites.  And, the roasting at the end (in a 500° oven) gives it a wonderful smoky flavor that one could never tell you didn't stand over a hot grill all afternoon.

As a side dish, we a homemade red potato salad -- dressed with a homemade Meyer lemon and honey vinaigrette instead of ranch dressing.  

For the cooking wine, I used a bottle of Kenwood Vineyards Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley, Sonoma, CA) to braise the ribs with -- Yep! A whole bottle.  Don't worry, the alcohol totally cooks off during the 3+ hours of cooking. This Pinot is full-bodied and a little fruity, which is a great option for braising the ribs.  

To drink, we had a glass of Toasted Head's Untamed Red.  This wine is a really good every day dry, full bodied, red red wine blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petit Sirah.  This wine pairs well with the spareribs that are both sweet and savory.  The characteristics of each grape varietal complement the ingredients in the ribs really well. The Syrah adds a subtle peppery spice to the palate.  The Zinfandel contributes a somewhat jammy dark fruit character and sweet, fragrant spices like cinnamon.  The Petit Sirah grape adds some beautiful color (deep, dark, inky purple), more rich ripe fruit and silky character.  As for taste and flavors, you will find hints of deep fruits such as blackberry, black cherry, and plum; earthy and fragrant spices such as cinnamon, cloves, thyme; and a little smoky aromas like cedar planks and hints of dark chocolate. Although this wine is inexpensive (about $10 at Safeway), it is a deliciously intense wine with a long finish. 

Until next time . . . Cheers! ZinAdel