Monday, April 21, 2008

A Pinot Grigio with Extras....

As it gets warmer here in North Texas, our palate turns to lighter wines. (You'll see me post soon on my new-found affair with Sauvignon Blanc.) But not to wimpy ones. Pinot Grigio is fine...for an insipid garden party. But the Life Should Be Beautiful way calls for wines to be light...but with a bit of oomph.

Here's one that fits the bill. Masi Masianco. I first was introduced to Masi when I bought a bottle of their Campofiorin. (I was using it as a poor man's substitute for Amarone della Valpolicella at a wine dinner I was hosting. The small amount of dried grapes Masi uses in their blend helps approximate the tastes of the far more expensive Amarone. Google "Amarone" for more info on this great wine.)

Masianco is primarily Pinot Grigio, so it has all the fresh, bright acidity we associate with this wonderfully bracing Italian white. But Masi includes 25% Verduzzo grapes in the blend as well. The Verduzzo brings all of its floral and honeyed power to the wine, making it truly a Pinot Grigio with power.

It's perfect with fresh oysters or cocktail shrimp, but also strong enough to stand up to other simply-prepared seafood dishes. At less than $12 a bottle, it's definitely worth a try.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Salmon with Tangerine Glaze

We all know how healthy salmon we're trying to eat more of it around here. I have to admit it's not my favorite--something about the texture. But with a flavorful glaze like this, I'll eat my fair share.

The original recipe calls for a delicious citrus and wine spread from the California winery Viansa. You can substitute orange marmalade, but might want to add a tablespoon or so of sugar to sweeten things up.

Hint: Make this from now and into the summertime and chill for several hours. Serve it over spinach with a little extra glaze as dressing and even more of the scallions and almonds on top. A great main course salad to eat outside on the patio.

Salmon with Tangerine Glaze
Makes six servings.

2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup tangerine or orange marmalade
1/4 cup country-style or Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 to 3 pounds bonelss, skinless salmon filets, cut into 6 equal pieces
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (including green parts)
3 tablespoons sliced almonds. toasted

Blend first five ingredients thoroughly. Place salmon in foil-lined baking pan. Pour glaze evenly over filets. Wrap foil tighly around salmon and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven, unwrap and place on serving platter. Garnish with onions and almonds.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mother's Ruin Punch...Almost Like a Champagne Cocktail

Some nights (like tonight), it's easier to make a "pitcher cocktail" than it is to mix them one by one. Saw this one in Food & Wine magazine and thought I'd try. Interestingly enough, it tasted almost like a Champagne Cocktail...same kind of bitter sweetness. You might try it for your next gathering....

Mother's Ruin Punch
Makes 8 servings.

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup chilled club soda
1 1/2 cups gin
1 1/2 cups fresh grapefruit juice
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sweet vermouth
2 1/4 cup chilled Champagne or sparkling wine

In a large pitcher, stir the sugar with the club soda until dissolved. Stir in the gin, grapefruit and lemon juices and sweet vermouth and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Pour in the sparkling wine. Serve in punch glasses or Champagne flutes over ice.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Braised Chorizo...and a Sparkling Rosé Cocktail

I am a love of many things Spanish: paella, Manchego cheese, sherry, Licor 43, Barcelona...and Antonio Banderas. So I was excited to see a couple of recipes in Martha Stewart Living that seemed right up my Iberian alley.

The drink turned out wonderfully (and I can't wait to use some of the leftover bay syrup in other cocktails--maybe a Tom Collins or a Lemon Drop martini), but the braised chorizo was just so-so. Seemed like a lot of work for a final product that wasn't much more flavorful than the original chorizo itself. I'll be sticking to plain ol' chorizo from now on (and no complaints there), but will go ahead and post the recipe so you can try it if you'd like.

Sparkling Rosé with Bay Leaf Syrup
From Martha Stewart Living

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 dried bay leaves
Sparkling rosé, preferably Spanish cava

Bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, add bay leaves, and let stand for 20 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Pour 2 teaspoons syrup and 1/2 cup rosé into glass, and stir.

Braised Chorizo
From Martha Stewart Living
Serves 12 as an appetizer.

1 pound dried Spanish chorizo, casings removed and pricked several times with a fork
1 bottle dry red wine, such as Rioja
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 sprigs fresh oregano, plus more for garnish
4 strips orange zest (each about 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide)

Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. (Wine should come halfway up sides of chorizo.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer, flipping chorizo once, until sausage is tender and liquid has been reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Discard oregano sprigs.

Cut chorizo diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and arrange on plates. Drizzle with braising liquid, and garnish with additional oregano sprigs.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Smoked Salmon with Mustard and Dill

I tried this recipe back in September when I had the smoker fired up for our Labor Day barbecue. It was delicious; I'm thinking about trying it on the grill in the next week or so. It's a different texture than the cold-cured smoked salmon you buy for your bagel, but still flavorful enough to spread on that bagel or some crackers. Try it and see what you think. (It's also a great start to the world of'll love the additional layers of flavor that technique can bring to your food.)

Smoked Salmon with Mustard and Dill
From Cooking Light magazine.
Makes four servings.

2 cups wood chips (maybe a more "delicate" wood like cherry or alderwood)
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sweet-hot mustard (such as Inglehoffer)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (1 1/2-pound) salmon fillet
Cooking spray

Soak wood chips in water 30 minutes; drain.

Combine dill, lemon juice, mustard, and salt, stirring well. Place salmon, skin side down, in a shallow baking dish; brush mustard mixture over salmon. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes.
Prepare the grill for indirect grilling, heating one side to low and leaving one side with no heat.

Maintain temperature at 200° to 225°.

Place wood chips on hot coals. (Use aluminum foil to protect burners if you're using a gas grill.) Place a disposable aluminum foil pan on unheated side of grill. Pour 2 cups water in pan.

Coat grill rack with cooking spray; place on grill. Place salmon, skin side down, on grill rack over foil pan on unheated side. Close lid; cook 35 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.