Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pinot Grigio Mushroom Fondue

Cheese, wine, bread, veggies, meat, garlic and mushrooms make a delicious fondue. This post is about how I made mine:

The following recipe is designed for two people:

Pinot Grigio Mushroom Fondue:
1 clove of garlic- minced
1 tsp of olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup of finely chopped mushrooms
1 to 1/2 cups of pinot grigio/ pinot gris (any dry white wine will work)
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup Emmenthaler cheese
1/2 cup Italian blend cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
A small crock pot or a fondue pot (for the dinner table!)

In a small to medium sized pot cook the garlic in the olive oil for about two minutes. Next, add the mushrooms and about 1/2 cup of wine. The way I prepared my mushrooms for the fondue was to chop them in my magic bullet so that it was almost a chunky puree. Let the garlic, mushrooms, wine, and olive oil simmer for about 10 minutes. This will allow the mushrooms and garlic to gain flavor from the wine and create a beautiful, flavorful base for the fondue.

Next, take your shredded cheese and add little bits at a time while you keep stirring. Add a little of each, and a dash of wine, then go back through each cheese until you have blended all of your cheeses and used the rest of the wine. Stir like crazy through this step! It's essential! Note: During this process you may need to increase the heat so that the cheeses are able to melt. You may also need to use more wine than what I listed above. It all depends on your batch of fondue. The fondue is complete when the consistency of the cheese in the pot is smooth.

I have found that it is important to keep stirring the fondue so that you don't end up with a crust of cheese that is stuck to the bottom of your pan. Stirring also helps you create a fondue that is smooth in texture. This particular fondue will not be smooth because of the mushrooms, but you want to be sure that the texture from the cheese is smooth. Pour into the fondue pot or small crock pot when its ready to eat!

Now to discuss what to dip! Things that I enjoy are potatoes, broccoli, bread, apples, meats (pork, beef, chicken), zucchini, cauliflower, and the list keeps going. I love to experiment with things, looking for new and exciting flavor combinations. If you have a favorite veggie, please do me a favor and dip it in the fondue!

Sliced potatoes that I drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper then baked.

French bread and steamed broccoli!

The wine that Beau chose to go with this fondue was a 2010 Brancott Estate Marlborough Pinot Grigio from New Zealand. This was a beautiful choice for the fondue because the citrus, apple, and pear flavors of the wine integrated really nicely with the cheeses. For about $10 this wine is a solid deal and widely available. Other pairings I would suggest for this fondue would be a gruner veltliner, pinot noir, or chardonnay.

If you love fondue, please share your recipes with me! I would love to see them =)



Monday, December 26, 2011

Frosty Photos

A few weeks ago thick frost hit my parents house. It made the vineyard the next morning absolutly beautiful, so I did what I always do and went crazy taking some pictures. Here is some of the outcome:

Hope you enjoyed the photos!



Monday, December 19, 2011

Lemon Stuffed Baked Chicken with BACON!

I love baked chicken.... who doesn't love baked chicken? This recipe is so simple that I hope you're all running to your kitchen and throwing one in the oven before you finish reading this!

1 whole chicken
2 lemons
Salt and pepper to season
Thyme, Italian herbs (it can vary!)
Garlic powder
3 strips of bacon
Olive oil for basting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove giblets from the chicken. Cut the ends of the lemons off,  and stab the sides with a knife a few times (I like to think it allows more flavor to escape). Place the lemons in the cavity of the bird. Next, take a teaspoon of thyme, or any other Italian herbs you have selected and mix them together. Add in a tablespoon of garlic powder, some salt and pepper, then give the seasoning one final mix. Rub the seasoning on the skin of the bird, under the skin, pretty much anywhere you can. Cut the strips of bacon in half, and place them under the skin of the bird lengthwise. Finally, place the bird in a baking pan and set it in the oven to roast. My birds usually roast for about an hour and a half to two hours. Be sure that the temperature of the chicken breast reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pop open some pinot noir and ENJOY!



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crab Cakes!

Guess what!? Its crab season in Oregon, this means that there will be a supply of scrumptious crabs for sale in local markets. When I heard that it was crab season~ I knew it was time for crab cakes!
Crab cakes are a simple yet DELICIOUS recipe. The most time consuming part is cleaning the crab. Here is how I make crab cakes:

This is Marvin the Crab and all the ingredients

You can buy one whole crab that is either live or previously cooked. I always like to buy mine live whenever possible to ensure that the crab is freshly boiled. If you buy a crab live, bring a pot of water to a boil, add some salt and boil for 15-20 minutes. Once the crab is cooked, its time to clean!

Marvin after the boil
I clean it by removing all of the meat out of the crab legs first. Next I tear the shell off the body of the crab, clean out the lungs and all the yucky yellow junk, rinse the body and lastly clean the meat out of the body. Once you do all the time consuming, tedious work, its time to do the easy part.... throw ingredients in a bowl and make some cakes!

The five basic ingredients I put in my crab cakes are:
1 egg
1/2 cup to 1 cup of bread crumbs - the amount of bread crumbs depends on how much crab you have
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/4 onion pureed (or chopped)
1 crab
Salt, pepper and Old Bays Seasoning to taste

On the side in their own bowls:
1 beaten egg
1 cup bread crumbs

Crab Cake Sauce:
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 tblsp of rice vinegar
A few pinches of garlic powder, pepper and salt
1 tsp of tapatio
A squeeze of a lemon slice

In a bowl with your crab meat add the egg, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs (add more if needed to hold the patties together), almost all of the green onion (leave some for garnishing), and the onion. Get your hands dirty and mix it all together. You can season with salt, pepper and Old Bays. Your mixture will be ready to become crab cakes once the consistency is at the point where it does not crumble apart.

Heat a skillet on medium heat with a couple swirls of cooking oil. Make crab patties that are a little smaller than the size of your palm and about 3/4 of an inch thick. Dip the patty in the egg, plop in in the bread crumbs, then drop it in the pan. Cook the patties until they are golden brown on each side.

The crab cake sauce is something that I am always adjusting. If you feel like a little something more needs to be added to it, go for it. The recipe above is a combination of things I throw together as a base, then I add to it to make the flavors where I want them. I on occasion will toss in some sour cream too. Please, be creative =) Add a dollop of the sauce to the top of each crab cake, use the leftover green onions as a garnish and enjoy!

With the crab cakes I had some wonderful Grooner, a playful take on gruner veltliner, which paired together stunningly well. It was a pairing that literally made me stop stuffing my face to savor the flavors of the crab cake with the wine. I highly suggest each and every one of you try the pair so you can also be hypnotized by the two.