Wine. Food. Reviews. Recipes. Lap it up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Almost time for turkey wine!

Turkey Wine!Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but it sure does keep me busy! I’m working ahead as much as possible this year, and just have one dish and a couple of pies to do tonight. I made the brine for the turkey this morning, and the house smells divine. (It’ll smell even better tomorrow!)

I’ve decided to keep it simple this year, so after I take it out of the brine I’m just seasoning the turkey with herbes de Provence and filling the cavity with aromatic vegetables. Last year I brined a bird in Zinfandel (a few jugs of Three Thieves). That made it purple, but ultimately didn’t add a whole lot of flavor — however, it did provide a good excuse to drink some nice Ridge Zins with dinner!

This year I’m going with Rhône blends — Beaurenard Châteauneuf du Pape 2004 for the reds, and the wonderful Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas 2006 for the white. If the Monarch truck arrives today, we’ll have some Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs to start. It’s a delicious sparkler, and well priced at under $20.

While the “correct” turkey wines recommended are usually Pinot Noirs, red Rhônes, dry Rosés, Gewürztraminers and Rieslings, I think Thanksgiving is the perfect time to drink whatever you like best — it’s bound to pair with something on the table!

Speaking of Alcohol....

While I normally just concern myself with culinary ethanol on this blog, I do occasionally write about alcohol’s other uses. If you’re concerned about the effect that the demand for corn ethanol has on food prices, have a look at this story in last week’s NUVO, which I wrote under my human pen name. Here’s the crux of the biscuit: Four researchers at IUPUI have developed a yeast that is very efficient at making ethanol from any plant matter — wood chips, grass clippings, agricultural waste, you name it. This means corn can go back to back to being a food crop, and “burning food” can again be taken to mean the result of not being watchful in the kitchen — and that’s a very good thing.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Fans of New Zealand-style Sauvignon Blancs should run right out and pick up a bottle of the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2008. It starts with the grapefruit nose typical of Marlborough Sauv Blancs, but on the palate it’s all gooseberry and melon, with a little lemon zest. It has a bit of a creamy mouthfeel, especially as it warms up, and the finish is clean and refreshing. This is the best Sauv Blanc that Kim Crawford has put out in recent memory, and that’s saying a lot! At under $20, it’s still a bargain.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:18 AM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yum! Macintosh recipe software goes commercial

Yum!Yum!, the recipe collection software for Macintosh, has been purchased from Tasmanian developer Nik Sands and is now being offered commercially by Dare to be Creative Ltd. of Vienna, Austria.

Yum! enables users to easily collect, organize, email and print recipes. It also can generate shopping lists based on recipe ingredients, and scale measurements to adjust for the number of servings desired.

I’ve been a Yum! user for years, and find it quite handy when I run across recipes on newspaper Web sites or other sources that I want to keep. All one needs do is create a new recipe file, copy and paste the ingredients list in one box and the preparation instructions in another, type in a few other details (the recipe’s name, source and oven preheat temperature), and save the file. Preference choices make it simple to make measurement units and abbreviations consistent for all recipes.

The current version of Yum! is 3.0.1 and requires Macintosh 10.5 (Leopard) to run. It can be downloaded as a trial version, and purchased for $19.95. Previous versions for 10.4 (Tiger), 10.3 (Panther) and 10.2 (Jaguar) are available at no charge, but are no longer supported.
J. Silverheels Gray, 8:37 AM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday Briefs

Tuesday BriefsResveratrol, the wonder component found in red wine, nuts and berries, is now believed to help protect the liver, the Wine Spectator reports. Researchers at the University of South Florida found that a combination of resveratrol and ethanol reverses the accumulation of fat in the livers of mammals. Pass the Pinot Noir, please....

Sineann winemaker Peter Rosback was in town this past weekend and brought a few of his low-production wines with him, including a Syrah and a Grenache made from Columbia Valley grapes. Don’t expect him to start making Rhône-style blends anytime soon, but definitely do be on the lookout for his Merlots. We tried three — one from Napa and two from Columbia Valley (one was made from grapes sourced from the Horse Heaven vineyard) — and they were all excellent.

All of the bulk apples and pears sold at Marsh Supermarkets are now certified organic.

Costco is the top retailer of wine in the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal. The giant retailer sold more than 75 million bottles of wine for a total of $1.1 billion in the fiscal year ending August 31.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:56 AM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cold, rainy Friday ... a good day for soup!

J. Silverheels Gray, 11:26 AM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No need to knead this daily bread

BouleBaking is a nice, cold-weather indoor activity — it makes the house smell good, puts humidity in the air, and the end result (if all goes well) is something good to eat.

A recent story in the Seattle P-I about an easy way to make bread caught my attention, so I decided to give it a try. The basic recipe is by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, authors of the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. In a nutshell, all one needs to do is mix together flour, water, yeast and salt, then store the resulting dough in the fridge until you’re ready to make bread. Then just take out some dough, let it come up to room temperature, and bake. It does work, and it’s pretty darned tasty!

3 cups lukewarm water (about 100°F)
1½ Tbs. granulated yeast (two packets)
1½ Tbs. kosher salt, or other coarse salt
6½ cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour (measure with scoop and sweep method)
Cornmeal or parchment paper

Preparing the dough:
In a 5-quart bowl or a resealable, lidded, plastic food container, add yeast and salt to lukewarm water. I like to sprinkle a few grains of sugar in just to make sure the yeast is alive, but the authors say proofing isn’t necessary with modern yeast. Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

Add in all the flour at once. Mix with a wooden spoon or a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir until mixture is uniformly moist without dry patches.

Cover with a lid that fits well, but is not airtight. Allow to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours. (You can let it go up to 5 hours; I did 3.) The dough is ready to use at this point, but will be easier to shape if it is refrigerated at least 3 hours first.

On baking day:
The authors say to use a pizza peel to put the dough on while it comes up to temperature, but I just used a small plate by sprinkled liberally with cornmeal. Alternatively, you could use a piece of parchment.

Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Sprinkle some more flour on your countertop or bread board. (I used whole wheat flour for this.)

After coating your hands with oil, pull up and cut off a 1 pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife. (Since the recipe yields four one-pound loaves, just use a quarter of the dough.)

Plop the dough on the floured surface and roll it around until the surface is no longer sticky. Gently form it into a ball. Handle the dough as little as possible.

Place the shaped ball on the cornmeal-covered plate. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes, uncovered. Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise (more will occur during baking).

Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

(NOTE: I used a baking stone the first time I baked a loaf, and its bottom was still quite moist. I turned the loaf upside-down and baked it for another 10 minutes, and it turned out fine. For the second loaf I used a perforated pizza pan, and had better results.)

Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour. Slash a ¼-inch-deep cross, scallop or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.

Slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack.

Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in a lidded — but not airtight — container. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them anytime over the next 14 days. The flavor and texture will improve after even one day’s storage.

This makes a good, chewy, everyday bread. For more recipes, buy the book or visit the authors’ blog .
J. Silverheels Gray, 1:11 PM | link | 1 comments |

The trouble with truffles

A TruffleBad news for truffle dogs everywhere: According to, truffle prices have collapsed.

An 850 gram white truffle from northern Italy sold for €24,000 ($30,900) at an auction in Japan earlier this week. That may seem like a lot, but it’s 84 percent less than the $330,000 a 1.5 kilogram specimen, discovered by an Italian dog named Rocco, fetched last year. In other words, giant white truffles are only $16,490 per pound this year, down from $100,000 per pound just one year ago.

Unfortunately, the price drop also greatly reduced the amount raised for charity by the auction, which netted a little more than $148,000 this year. A similar auction last year raised $453,000.
J. Silverheels Gray, 12:47 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, November 07, 2008

Time for tea in Zionsville and Carmel

SerenityTwo new teahouses are now open for business just north of Indianapolis, Serendipity in Carmel and Serenity in Zionsville. Both are operated by Occasions Divine, which is owned by Karin Glass, a gourmet cook who is a regular vendor at the Binford Farmers Market.

Glass operated the Curator’s Café at The Sanctuary in Zionsville from March of this year until mid-August, when Sanctuary owner Nancy Noel decided to contract with Elements owner Dennis Dunn to operate the space. Glass’ operation had been quite successful, and she quickly found a newly-vacated space on Main Street to move into. In the meantime, she also found a spot in Carmel, and opened Serendipity there on September 7. After two months of remodeling an old (circa 1868) Zionsville double into a restaurant space, Serenity opened yesterday, November 6. (Talk about a busy few months! She must have some incredibly soothing teas in stock.)

Serendipity and Serenity both are open for lunch, English tea and Sunday brunch. The menus are similar but different — I plan to try Serenity’s lobster BLT next week (lobster and bacon — how could that be bad?), and the L. S. Ayres Chicken Velvet Soup at Serendipity eventually. Both locations will offer twelve days of holiday teas featuring traditional Scottish recipes beginning December 6.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:15 AM | link | 0 comments |

Mommessin lightens up on Beaujolais Nouveau

MommessinLove it, hate it, or indifferent about it, Beaujolais Day will be upon us in less than two weeks. While the young wine isn’t particularly good, its release is a great excuse for a party, and millions of people celebrate the event by drinking about 49 million liters (or, if you prefer, 13 million gallons) of Beaujolais Nouveau annually. (To put that volume in perspective, consider that a typical tank truck of the type you see making deliveries to your local petrol station has a capacity of about 9,000 gallons.) That’s a lot of wine, and in fact it amounts to nearly half of the Beaujolais region’s production.

This year, Boisset Family Estates will ship its Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau in lightweight PET bottles. The 100 percent recyclable bottles reduce shipping weight by 42 percent, and cut freight costs by one-third. PET bottles have a smaller carbon footprint than glass bottles, and are calculated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent.

Boisset is no stranger to alternative packaging. Its French Rabbit brand wines are sold in Tetra Pak containers, and its Yellow Jersey wines come in PET bottles.
J. Silverheels Gray, 9:18 AM | link | 1 comments |