Archive for November, 2011

Bordeaux Clairet

Can you imagine Thanksgiving dinner without cranberries? I cannot! The sweet and tart taste of traditional cranberry sauce brightens the Thanksgiving meal. In a recent conversation with The Wine Feed owners, the discussion turned to whether one should match the wine served at Thanksgiving to the turkey or the cranberry sauce. Frankly, I had never thought about that before and had assumed the wine pairing would be done with the meat. Funny how quickly we can get stuck in a rut!

I realized if I had to choose between not having turkey or cranberry sauce at a Thanksgiving meal I would most likely forgo the turkey before the cranberry sauce! Given this scenario I decided I should pair my Thanksgiving meal based on a wine complementary to cranberry sauce.

After a taste test, I chose the Château de Parenchère – Bordeaux Clairet – 2009 offered by The Wine Feed. Not only was this wine superb with turkey and cranberry sauce it was delightful with one of my favorite Thanksgiving desserts, Cranberry Walnut Torte! This cake is not overly sweet and uses fresh or frozen cranberries to add the tartness we all love from the red fruit of the bogs of North America. The protected style of Bordeaux Clairet is very similar to the wine the English so loved in the 18th century. A light, voluptuous, fresh and very aromatic wine made for consumption within a few years. Not quite a red wine, but far darker than a typical rosé, the Château de Parenchère Bordeaux Clairet has a rich and stimulating bouquet of strawberry, red currant, and roses.

Enjoy this Cranberry Walnut Torte recipe from The Gardener’s Kitchen accompanied with Clairet for your Thanksgiving table from The Wine Feed and be confident that you and your family and guests will be more than grateful for the bounty of this Thanksgiving meal.

Cranberry Walnut Torte

2 cups walnuts, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup sugar

¾ cup flour

½ cup melted butter

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoon almond extract

8 ounce fresh cranberries

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine chopped walnuts, melted butter and sugar.
  3. Press nut mixture over bottom and halfway up the sides of 10 inch springform pan.
  4. Prepare the filling as follows:
  5. Combine flour and sugar in a bowl and reserve.
  6. Using whisk or whisk attachment in mixer or food processor, combine butter, eggs and almond extract.
  7. Mix in flour and sugar till well blended and mixture is light and fluffy.
  8. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.
  9. Pour cake mixture into crust.
  10. Bake about 1 hour until toothpick or small metal skewer comes out clean when poked into center of cake.
  11. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
  12. When cool sprinkle with 10 x powdered sugar.
  13. Serve with fresh whipped cream!

Makes 8 servings

Serve with Château de Parenchère – Bordeaux Clairet – 2009 available at The Wine Feed.

The Last Poblano

I love fresh peppers from the garden! Mild, sweet, spicy, or hot peppers they are all wonderful and make every dish they are in a special event. In my garden, poblanos mature from August thru early October. From merely two plants I am blessed with plenty of poblanos for stuffing, roasting and freezing for winter use.

Toward the end of October and right before the frost arrives, I gather all the remaining poblanos and freeze the majority of them but save some for roasting. I include the roasted poblanos in a chowder. This Corn, Roasted Poblano Pepper, Potato and Crab Chowder reminds me of summer although I usually cook it in late autumn.

I take a couple of pints of fresh frozen creamed (grated) corn from my freezer, which I put up from the garden during the summer and thaw. I roast some poblano peppers and purchase fresh crabmeat and I am within an hour of experiencing a wonderful end to summer and a warming start to autumn.

The table is set and the wine is uncorked. Guests are sitting down to eat at the table. As I stir the Corn, Roasted Poblano Pepper, Potato and Crab Chowder one last time before it is served into the bowl, I express gratitude to Summer and her bounty passing on and ushering in the arrival of late Fall.

The wine I like to serve with this excellent chowder can be found at The Wine Feed. Try the Gramona or Tondonia

Here is the recipe for your culinary enjoyment:

Corn, Roasted Poblano Pepper, Potato and Crab Soup

2 to 4 medium fresh or frozen poblano peppers, roasted

2 medium onions, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 pints of frozen or fresh grated corn

2 to 3 Yukon potatoes, peeled and cut in ½ cubes

1 to 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

5 to 6 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 small handful of cilantro, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 15-ounce can of fresh pasteurized crabmeat

Rub the poblano peppers with olive oil. Grill or broil the poblano peppers till blackened. Place grilled poblano peppers in bowl and cover to cool. When peppers are cooled, remove the stems, seeds and ribs along the inside of the pepper. Chop the peppers into ¼ inch pieces and place in a bowl to use later.

In a large stockpot, heat the butter over medium heat and add the minced onions and garlic. Stir frequently and cook till onions are transparent.

Add grated (creamed) corn, cilantro, broth, salt, pepper, poblano peppers and potatoes to stockpot. Cook vegetables until potatoes are tender about 15 minutes over medium low heat. Stir frequently to prevent corn from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

When potatoes are fork tender, add crabmeat and stir.

Bring soup to a boil and remove from the heat.

Serve immediately in warmed soup bowls.

Sprinkle with smoked Spanish paprika and/or minced cilantro if desired. I like to serve the chowder with Corn Muffins and butter.

Serves 8-12 people.

The Wine Feed suggests serving this dish with either the Gramona or the Tondonia.

November is upon us! This is the time of year when you have the opportunity to sit down at a harvest table with family and friends and express your gratitude with a bountiful celebration of food and wine.

Few meals can surpass the traditional Thanksgiving feast of a perfectly roasted turkey, buttery mashed potatoes, savory cornbread dressing or bread stuffing, rich gravy, fresh sautéed garlicky green beans, and cranberry orange sauce made from fresh New England cranberries. For most people, just the thought of Thanksgiving means roasted turkey and equates to warm feelings of family celebration and joy.

Although this is not a complex meal to prepare, the critical factors between a great Thanksgiving meal and a good one in my experience are:

  • How fresh are your ingredients?
  • What techniques do you use to cook your turkey and vegetables?
  • What wine will you serve to complement your meal of gratitude?

Acquiring fresh and local ingredients should be high on your list of preparations for this meal. When you purchase fresh and local ingredients talk to the farmer about how he grew and produced your turkey, beans, potatoes, and other vegetables. You might find an opportunity to express your gratitude for such wonderful, healthy food to bring to your family and friends. Searching to find these types of products for your Thanksgiving dinner is not quite like hunting for wild turkey but close enough to eventually bring gratitude to you from friends and family, as they taste the huge difference in fresh food versus food that has been frozen and shipped over thousands of miles.

As for preparation and cooking techniques to use that will make your meal memorable, keep these experts’ advice in mind:

Gramona GessamiLast but not least! Which wine will complement your meal? Recently I cooked a traditional Thanksgiving meal to test a group of wines selected by The Wine Feed. My favorite was a lovely white wine in a Riesling style bottle called Gramona “Gessami” 2010 from the Penedes region of northeast Spain. The Penedes region is located near Barcelona not far from the Mediterranean coast. This wine region is best known for Cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, but also produces excellent still white and red wines. Gessami is a blend of 50% Muscat d’Alexandria, 20% Muscat Frontignan, 25% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Gewurztraminer.

Gramona Gessami is a mellow straw-yellow in color with a wonderfully aromatic nose of apricots, pears, citrus, jasmine and mineral notes. Light medium in body with bright acidity, the wine offers clean fruit flavors of pears, peaches, and spice, with no oak. The wine is well balanced, long and smooth on the finish, with some lingering floral notes. This is a wine to drink young.

- The Gardener’s Kitchen