Thursday, October 27, 2011


I have been the tofu and tempeh queen lately -- check out some of this weekend's eats:

Friday night's dinner was co-created by myself and my friend, Ann:

Hot Sauce-Glazed Tempeh, from Veganomicon, with sides of roasted brussels sprouts, roasted eggplant, and Messy Rice (also from VCON, not pictured, since the rice took longer than I expected it to, and we ate it after we ate everything else. Classy, I realize, but we were hungry!)

An egg and cheese bagel briefly interrupted the soy food marathon:

And then I made pho for lunch!

I decided, at the last second, to make a half-recipe of pho this time around, and it was just right -- I got two meals worth out of the deal, and ended up marinading the other two pieces of tofu and sticking them in the freezer for the time being. More soy leftover for another day!

What weekend is complete without a baking project?

I made Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes for a dinner party at Tiffany's house Saturday night; I, of course, edited the original recipe a little bit. I followed suggestions made by several reviewers to use oil instead of butter, and also used a full can of pumpkin (as recommended,) and I also skipped the cinnamon in the frosting. I LOVE cream cheese frosting, but wasn't convinced I would love cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and didn't want to potentially destroy perfectly good cream cheese goodness. ;) Additionally, I only baked off 12 of the 24 cupcakes; I filled the remaining liners and popped the unbaked batter in my freezer. I'm assuming the batter will thaw and bake off just fine in a few weeks, once I decide I need more cupcakes?

Anyone else out there ever tried freezing cake or muffin batter?


blurry, but delicious

Here are last night's blurry, but delicious, tempeh fajitas:

Homemade corn tortillas (from my freezer,) topped with refried black beans, queso fresco, marinated/panfried tempeh, bell peppers and onions, and salsa. Plenty of leftovers means I get to enjoy this dinner again tonight!

Here's the marinade recipe, if you're interested:
1 clove garlic
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
(Puree everything together, unless you want to mince the garlic finely and then whisk)

Method? Simple: I simmered the tempeh for 10 minutes to "open it up" and get the bitterness out, coated slices of the tempeh in the marinade, added the raw peppers and onions, and then poured the rest of the marinade over top of everything. Parked in the fridge for nearly 24 hours, the tempeh became smoky, (thanks to the cumin,) flavorful, and delicious! I might add some cayenne or ground chipotle pepper next time, to make things even more interesting. :)


Saturday night baking

Sometimes, staying home on a Saturday night to do laundry and bake can be a very good thing:

makes 12

1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
2 large apples, shredded and lightly squeezed if very juicy :)

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup rolled oats
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each cinnamon, Penzey's Baking Spice, and Penzey's Cake Spice (or any combo of warm spices you like)
1 tsp salt (UPDATE: I found the muffins almost too salty, although my friends who I shared with did not. I'd cut down to 1/2 tsp next time -- just saying!)

Bake muffins at 400 for about 20 minutes.

I'm totally looking forward to breaking my breakfast rut with these muffins! Woo!


largest clove of garlic I've ever seen:

Shown with a moderately-sized bell pepper, for perspective:

Holy shit, right?

And what did I do with that gargantuan clove of garlic? Curry!

Tofu, red bell pepper, broccoli, green beans, acorn squash, red onion, garlic, and eggplant, coated in my standard curry sauce (1 regulation-sized can of coconut milk, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, and 3 tbsp curry paste,) all atop short-grain brown rice. One of my go-to meals that you've seen a million times before, but it still never seems to get old! :)



I took a much-needed, long-awaited vacation the last week of September -- it was nearly impossible to get significant time off at my old job, so as soon as I had 40 hours of PTO racked up with my new job, I was OFF! Woo!

I decided to split my vacation into two parts -- I spent the first half traveling, and had the opportunity to see old friends and some of my family! I look the Megabus to Madison straight after work on Friday night, and spent the weekend with my friend Anna, (we go WAY back, all the way to high school French class!), her husband, Langdon, and their daughter, Eliza. Anna is a wonderful "tour guide," and we had lots of fun during my stay!

I had a tour of their garden, courtesy of Eliza:

A trip to the Madison Farmer's Market:

(I saw many local foods that I haven't seen in Minnesota, including mushrooms, Door County cherries, nuts, aronia, sea berries, pears, and Asian pears. And, really, look at the size of that kohlrabi! Holy moly!)

We explored the state capitol:

And the zoo:

I had plenty of fun running around and exploring Madison with Anna and her family, but I think my favorite part of my trip was "naptime" -- Eliza is still plenty young enough to take a nap in the afternoon, and Langdon took the opportunity to head into work for a few hours, so Anna and I were left to lounge around their apartment, and enjoyed drinking tea and diet Coke, reading, and chatting the afternoon away. We've been friends for a long time and don't see each other all that often, so it was great to have some chill time to catch up!

Sunday evening, Anna drove me to Janesville, so I could spend a day and a half with my grandpa. I realized, when planning this vacation, that I have never really hung out with just my grandpa! We had a great time -- ate out too much, hung out around his house, etc. I also had the opportunity to spend some time with my cousins, which was awesome! We all went out for breakfast on Monday morning, and then I had the opportunity to head over to the barn to see Kristie's horses:

Megan's little boy is such a sweetie! I'm glad I had plenty of time to see them, (and a chance, last-minute dinner with two of my aunts and my uncle, Monday evening,) and time to get to know my cousin's son. I plan to make much more of an effort to get down to visit all of them in the future!


Now that I've been back to work for a week already, that trip feels SO long ago! But I was so thankful that I decided to go, and was also glad for my 5 days of down time at home! I spent a lot of time relaxing, (yoga, walking around the lake, watching "Wonderfalls" on DVD that a friend leant me, and reading,) and also got a lot done around my apartment, including piles of laundry and some deep cleaning. While I wouldn't say I was totally chomping at the bit to get back to work on Monday morning, I was definitely well-rested and caught-up! The perfect vacation, if you ask me!


vacation food

My goodness, I have barely been blogging lately! Is anyone still reading? :)

I was off last week for a vacation, of sorts -- a little traveling, and a little stay-cationing, but very little cooking. :) I am still going through the pictures from my vacation, and will post about what I did soon enough, but for now, here are a few things I've been eating, (besides more tempeh reubens . . . I'm still on a major sauerkraut kick!)

After being out of town and eating out too much, my body seemed to be craving two things: produce and protein!

Breakfast burritos definitely increased my protein intake for a few days:

Refried black beans, cheese, hash browns, scrambled eggs, guacamole, and salsa this time, stuffed into a whole-wheat tortilla. Sigh. Too bad I don't have time to make this breakfast this morning!

My need for more produce was met with giant, meal-sized salads:

I went the Greek-ish route this time, topping mixed baby greens with chickpeas, cucumber, artichoke, tomato, kalamata olives, red bell pepper, feta, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

And more produce combined for a giant pot of homemade minestrone:

Thank you to Ann, who kindly joined me for dinner (and took home some leftovers) so I didn't have a gallon of minestrone to get through on my own!


Vacation re-cap soon!


book hoarder

This always happens to me when I request books from the library, but it's never been quite this bad before ... do you think I can read them all in time? I'm almost done with the first book in the stack, and have about a month for the next five. Beyond that, I can renew!

Let's just hope nothing else comes in to make the stack taller!!!
Random thoughts reflecting on an absolutely perfect Food Night last night….

My favorite apron, a gift from Niver + Grandma Eastman's napkins + Calera corks + a broken glass = Food Night.

At the table last night, we discussed when a wine becomes “more” than just a beverage. It’s a hard concept to convey, and is certainly a subjective topic. One person’s perfection is another’s blahsville. Last night we had a wine that approached the wine stratosphere. 2003 Solaia…

Can there be a “best” Food Night? Each one is so unique and gratifying and memorable. That’s why we started documenting these things on the WWW’s, so we could remember them all. The flawless summer night we sat outside and enjoyed the 1996 Calera Reed. The night we had the 1999 Fay, or the 2001 Monte Bello, or the 2000 Dunn. All the truly fabulous guests we’ve shared the table with. Each experience lends something to the collective. And the collective has become something I honestly can’t imagine being without.

The lineup of wines last night was bordering on ridiculous. 2007 Clos Des Papes. Antinori….. not once but twice. 1997 Tignanello and 2003 Solaia. Calera…. not once but twice. Both Mt. Harlan Chardonnays, 2009 and 2004, and a cool discussion about “I thought white wines didn’t age”. Well, clearly certain ones do.

We are wine-obsessed. We care a little too much, and get a little too excited about wine. But it’s brilliant to have a passion. If you’ve got a passion, share it. Cultivate it. Grow it. Some get to go to work and immerse themselves in their passion. I know lots of those people, and I admire, respect and somewhat envy them. Others work to have the means to do what they love. I’m starting to get comfortable living on that side of the coin. The important thing is to have a passion, or four, or twelve. Care so much about something that it makes you want to grab random strangers and inundate them with said passion. Whether that passion is music, legos, the color blue or wine. Have a passion. And be passionate.

The Food Night table was filled with passionate people last night. And that was a beautiful thing.

Food Night hopes you are indulging in your passions as often as possible.


Chicken Skewers

Sticks. They can put an eye out, says your mother. But they can also stab portions of protein slathered in a spice paste. In this iteration, we have chicken… the humble* boneless skinless chicken breast, in fact. It’s on a stick, it’s not deep fried (copyright MN State Fair), and you can whip it up in no time. Food Night had some extra time on it’s hands, so we went a little ga-ga with the garnish, so feel free to edit as desired.

*And by humble, Food Night of course means BLAH.

Chicken; On a Stick
Serves 4 as a first course/small plate

For the spice paste
1 clove Garlic, shaved thin
1/2t caraway seed
2t coriander seed
1t alleppo chile flakes (find at Penzey’s)
Zest from 1 lime
White peppercorns to taste
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large mortar and pestle and pulverize into a paste. Stir in a couple tablespoons of toasted sesame oil.

For the Chicken1 whole boneless skinless breast*, cut into large, equally sized chunks
Skewers, soaked in water for an hour or more

*And by “whole”, Food Night means all of the breast meat that would be found on a chicken.
Slather the chicken chunks in the paste, let stand for at least an hour, preferably 4hrs. Overnight would actually be ideal.

For the picklesJuice of ½ the lime
Pickling cukes, halved lengthwise, seeded, cut into pea size dice
Serrano chile, shaved thin on a mandolin (optional)
White wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a small container, let stand at least 30 minutes.

For the GarnishFresh peach, chopped
Mangalitsa coppa, from Heartland*, shaved thin
Blanched, shocked, grilled garlic scapes, from Heartland*
Microgreens (Heartland*)


To assembleRemove the chicken in the paste from the refrigerator, skewer (2 pieces per skewer), leaving space between each piece of meat. Then, ALLOW CHICKEN TO REST ON THE COUNTER 20 minutes prior to grilling.*

*As you can see by the capital letters, Food Night is trying to emphasize that this is an important step. Food from fridge to fire results in faulty food lacking in proper caramelization and doneness. And honestly, it’s about the EASIEST thing you can do. Actually you don’t even have to “do” anything… just let the skewered bird sit there… and walk away.
Food Night grills it’s skewers on a gas Weber grill over direct high heat, with the grill uncovered. Turning as appropriate, this usually takes roughly 5 minutes total. Grill the garlic scapes (if using) when the chicken comes off in the same way – high heat, uncovered.

Allow your skewers to rest post-grilling for a few minutes, then plate on top of some of the pickles, peach dice, garlic scapes, and top with the coppa and a drizzle of olive oil.


Cucumber Gazpacho

How about a short and sweet little ditty on Cucumber Gazpacho? Cukes are everywhere in the Farmers Market right now, and we just had a little impromptu Food Night last night, so… circumstances seem ripe for such a ditty.

I recently had some cucumber gazpacho at Heartland, and of course subsequently had discussions with the gents there about how exactly they made it. The following is how Food Night made* it, which much thanks to Dan, Chad and Aaron at Heartland for their knowledge (** fist bump **).

*What follows is the recipe exactly how Food Night made it. Included “optional” ingredients are highly encouraged, but shouldn’t prevent you from buzzing up a batch of this stuff if you don’t want/have/need/like any of these ingredients.
Cucumber Gazpacho
24ish ounces cucumber (used; pickling cucumber), roughly chopped
1T creme fraiche
2T fresh dill
2T fresh parsley (blanched for 5-10 seconds, shocked in an ice bath)
1T fresh cilantro (blanched, shocked)
Juice from 1 lemon
Splash white wine vinegar
4 ice cubes

Optional (but highly encouraged) Ingredients 6 raw almonds
1/2t smoked paprika
1/2t ground coriander seed
Pinch ground caraway seed
4T dry white wine

Garnish (again, obviously optional but highly encouraged)
Maldon salt
Fresh dill and chive
Diced poblano chile
Crème fraiche thinned slightly with a spash of water

1). Combine all ingredients in a blender. (I usually salt each cucumber as I put it in the blender to help track approximately how much salt to add. It's easier to salt "a" cucumber, rather than a pile of them, right?)

2). Puree to desired consistency.

3). Check for seasoning, adding salt/acid as necessary.

4). Serve, with garnish.

So yeah, basically gather ingredients. Put ingredients in blender. Turn blender on. Consume*.

*With a glass of Calera Rose.......................... but you knew that already. 

FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2011

Chicken Wing Confit

The exception that proves the rule. That’s what we have here on Day 2 of our Fantastic Four Food Night Grilling posts. Course #2 – not grilled. But it DOES touch on a technique Food Night isextreeeeeeemly fond of; Confit.

And in this case, Chicken Wing Confit. There is no question that the wing is not exactly the most glamorous part of the bird. When you think “chicken wing”, you likely think of deep fried, smokin’ hot, somewhat forgettable bits of bird that are typically drowning in buffalo or other cloyingly sweet and/or sour sauce. Not to put words in your mouth, of course. But if you confit the wing... look what fun that can be...

Food Night assures you, the confit process is INSANELY easy, and produces results that are preposterously good anddisproportionate to the level of effort required. The simple three step "how to confit poultry" process is as follows;

1). Cure. Season your poultry with a healthy does of salt. More than you normally would use if you were going to simply grill orsautee the item. Seasonings? Optional, but encouraged. Add them now. Garlic, fresh herbs, fennel, clove, peppercorn, etc. Cover, and let the product hang out on the cure in the refrigerator for 24 hrs. Or more, preferably, like say 72 hrs.

*Those are duck legs from Heartland on the cure.
2). Rinse, pat dry. Place in an oven going pot. Cover completely with fat (traditionalists would use fat from whatever protein you are using…chicken fat, duck fat... but I’ve been using olive oil to great success thanks to Michael Ruhlman). Bring to a bubble on the stove, then place in a 180 degree oven for 12 hours.

*Whole Foods currently has very cost effective large format containers of olive oil.

3). Remove the pot from oven, skim any gunk off the top of the pot, and let cool. DONE. You now have confit’d… whatever. Duck legs. Chicken legs. Chicken wings. Duck wings. Go crazy. Store your “whatevers” COMPLETELY submerged in the fat in the refrigerator*, where they will keep pretty much indefinitely. Please make sure your whatevers are totally submerged in fat to preserve them safely and properly.

*Here is where a Le Creuset vessel comes in handy as it will go from refrigerator, to oven, to cool on the counter, and back to the refrigerator. Very convenient.
From here, you can simply remove your preserved legs/thighs/whatever from the fat, and reheat them on a sheet pan in the oven, perhaps broiling them a little at the end to crisp up the skin.

For the GrillTastic Food Night, I had some leftover chicken wingconfit that I’d made a few weeks earlier. And I found some of the season’s first killer heirloom tomatoes at the co-op. So… this happened…

Honey Bourbon Glazed Chicken Wing Confit with Heirloom Tomato Salad1). Make chicken wing confit, using the technique above. This can/should be done WELL in advance. Food Night added a whole pile of fresh herbs (tarragon, thyme, oregano) and lots of shaved garlic, in addition to allepo chile flakes, fennel, coriander seed and cumin to the cure. And the wings were actually on the cure for 72 hours.

2). Get started on Heirloom Tomato salad (recipe follows). You’ll want the tomatoes seasoned and sitting in a colander as you warm the wings in the oven.

3). Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove wings from fat (fat should be at room temp so it isn’t solidified), arrange on baking sheet, and place in oven to warm.

4). Whisk together the Honey Bourbon Glaze (recipe follows) while wings are warming.

5). Baste wings with glaze a time or two while they are warming.

6). Remove wings from oven. Turn on broiler. Reduce glaze in a saucepan to thicken. Baste again with thickened glaze and broil to char SLIGHTLY. Remove from oven, and baste again.

7). Lovingly arrange wings on a plate, scatter with tomatoes, garnish with more shaved radish, chives, and a few flecks ofMaldon on the wings (not on the tomatoes… those are plenty seasoned).

8). Devour. But don’t eat the bones…

Heirloom Tomato SaladHeirloom Tomatoes, of various colors
Breakfast Radish, shaved thin on a mandoline
Olive oil
Kosher Salt
Finely diced fresh green or red chile (optional)
Finely diced chives

1). Dice the tomatoes into smallish (pea sized or larger) chunks. Place in a colander, season with salt, and let stand for at least 20 minutes. The tomatoes will throw some moisture, concentrating their flavor.

2). Toss the tomatoes with the remaining ingredients and reserve for use with the wings.

Honey Bourbon Glaze2T honey (or brown sugar if you find yourself honeyless)
Juice of half a lime
Zest of half a lime
2t sriracha hot sauce
1T whole grain mustard
1T Dijon mustard
1T soy sauce
2T bourbon
2t smoked paprika

Whisk all ingredients together. The end.


Food Night goes Grilling

As you probably have heard, it’s a weeeeeeee bit steamy here in the nation’s mid-section. How do we combat the heat at Food Night? We stand over a hot grill, that’s how. Because when you move AWAY from the grill... the sauna that is the atmosphere doesn't feel so bad! Anyway, it recently occurred to me that we have not had ONE single grilled item at Food Night.* Ever. How is that possible?! That’s a Food Night fail right there.

*Not including the braised pork shoulder which gets seared on the grill prior to braising.

For grilling inspiration, Food Night looked to the best restaurant in St. Paul… The Strip Club.

(photo by Tom Wallace, for

When not Food Nighting, you can sometimes find me enjoying proper food and drink at The too-fabulous-for-words Strip Club Meat and Fish.* Chef JD does a killer little ditty there called “meat on a stick” that changes daily and is typically served with fun little accoutrements. Who doesn’t love grilled bites with accoutrements?! Inspired (and after standing over the grill, excessively perspired), Food Night fired up the grill on a recent Saturday that was so sweltering, even the wine was sweating...

*Suggestion – if you would like to experience a perfect Saturday morning… begin at the St. Paul Farmers Market, cruise across the Street to the Heartland Market to pick up Saturday dinner proteins and whatever else, then scoot up the hill to TSC for brunch while sitting at the bar. Bang. Perfection. See you there.
Hell, we even grilled the SALAD at Food Night!

So let’s do this; let’s see if Food Night can pound out a post a day for the next four days – one for each course at the recently completed Food Night on a Stick. Yes? Yes.

Grilled Summer Salad 

Like lots of things at Food Night, what follows is ripe for your brilliant and learned improvisations. Whatever you’ve got and wanna grill and make a salad out of… be my guest. But I must say… the following was super summery and delish.

- Garlic Scapes (pictured above, get ‘em at the Heartland Market, Farmers Market, etc); blanched for 30 seconds, shocked in an ice bath, patted dry,
- English Peas (shelled, blanched, shocked)
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Brussels Sprouts, halved through the core, excess leaves removed and reserved.
- Herbs (purple basil, arugula, tarragon, lemon thyme, whatever you want)
- Cucumber broth (recipe follows)
- Shallot (finely diced)
- Lemon juice
- Maldon sea salt

1). Fire up the grill, and get it HOT. (Food Night uses a gas Weber that gets blazing hot). Season scapes, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts separately with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

2). Skewer the tomatoes (soak the skewers for an hour in water if they are wood), and grill the tomatoes long enough to just blister the skins a tad and soften partially. Toss Brussels sprouts directly on the grill, they will pop and fuss a little bit, turn once to mark and soften, and remove. Grill garlic scapes to desired level of charredness.

3). Sautee reserved Brussels sprout leaves in a modest amount of olive oil for a couple minutes over med-high heat, finish with a little finely diced shallot and a splash of lemon juice.

4). Combine tomatoes, scapes, sprouts, peas, and herbs in a large bowl. Drizzle with cucumber broth, olive oil, lemon juice. GENTLY toss to combine, and sprinkle with a dash of Maldon sea salt.

5). Arrange lovingly on a plate, and finish with your favorite cured pork product from Heartland Market… Food Night used the utterly insane Wild Boar Prosciutto. Get it while you can (it’s very limited) – that stuff is funky delicious. Garnish with sautéed sprout leaves, micro arugula, and a drizzle of the cuke broth. Or, don’t.

Cucumber Broth- 1 English cucumber, washed, rough chopped
- Handful bright green herb(s) (parsley or tarragon work great, blanch and shock for brighter green color)
- Salt (enough to season the cuke)
- Handful of Ice
- Water (maybe a ½ a cup… enough to get the mixture moving)
- Lime juice (roughly juice of ½ a lime)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree. Extensively. Strain if you must, but not required – really depends on how finely your blender can puree the food stuffs. I like it unstrained for use in this salad as it retains some body/structure and seems more like a salad dressing substance. If strained, I’d probably emulsify it with oil for the salad dressing (as you would vinegar for vinaigrette).

Use as directed above. And with seafood. And in your favorite Hendricks Gin cocktail.*

*YEAH. Definitely use with Hendricks.


A Very Spring-tastic Food Night

Food Night. Spring. Spring + Food Night. What an opportunity!! Ramps. Asparagus. Peas. Eggs. Mushrooms. Oh, and Durden is in the house (literally). The outdoor dining zone is in play…

So please, witness what happens when Spring and Food Night collide....

Spring Orgasm Soup is what we called this. And full disclosure… Food Night got that terminology from Dan Step. This Spring, when all the ramps and asparagus and greens started appearing at Heartland, Dan sent me a text to the effect of “It looks like Spring had an orgasm in here!”. That slayed me, so I retained and reused that here. Yes, Food Night is so eco-friendly, we even reuse clever wordplay. So what... we've got here... is...... asparagus (blanched and shocked), English peas (ditto), ramp greens (ditto), parsley (ditto), all vitamix'd with a little half and half, and lemon. Silky springy goodness. That vitamix is a life altering apparatus, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. (Thanks again Mpls Auxiliary Chapter!!)

Pasta. Pasta is never a bad choice. Unlike milk, which yes… is sometimes a bad choice. But this time Food Night tossed a bit of white wine into the dough, to great success. The pesto was a little disappointing – I mean it worked, but I was efforting this (HIGHLY encourage you to check out that link… really). If anyone knows how to get pesto to look like that… like it’s had cream added to it… please let me know. My right arm is now twice as strong as my left from all the mortar-and-pestling, but my pesto did NOT look like that. Sure it tasted fine, delivering fresh basily and pine nutty goodness, but let’s just move on.

Chicken confit. Pea puree. Seared oyster mushroom. This....... was the REAL DEAL. One of the best things ever at Food Night. Just ask Alex. D-Step taught* Food Night the mushroom technique – mushrooms, tossed in oil, roasted in a 375ish oven until they have some color (10ish minutes? Maybe more… free country remember), then finished in a HOT pan with butter, hit with some fiiiiiiiiinely minced shallot and garlic, finished with a healthy pinch of fresh herbs and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice. So literally the time from when the mushrooms enter the pan until they are done (if your pan is HOT enough…) is like a minute. Bang. That just happened.

*And apparently Adam Vickerman taught Step that technique... you want to cook (good) mushrooms like this is all I can say. 

Hash. Smoked lamb shank (via Heartland), duck confit (via Food Night), fingerling potato, oyster mushroom, fresh herbs, brusslessprouts. Pea puree. Couple bacon lardons. And a perfect sunny side up egg. Looks good enough to eat, right? We thought so….

*We really aren't doing the pea puree justice here. I think Food Night first-timer Scott said "I could eat this stuff like yogurt". Yes - what he said.

To drink? This ......happened........

It's been a debate here at Food Night Home Offices... how much to really say about wines? Because after all, how interesting is it to hear about a wine that someone else drank? It can be informative, it can be interest peaking, it perhaps can even be mildly entertaining. But Food Night thinks... maybe less is more when it comes to the wine frothing at the mouth? So let's just say two things about this incredible wine...

1). The Dunn 2000 Howell Mountain (in Food Night's opinion) was vastly superior to the 2005 Clos Des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape, which we also (thoroughly) enjoyed that evening. And the '05 ClosDes Papes was not exactly Yellow Tail, seeing as how it earned Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" distinction in 2007. So... there's that.

2). The Dunn drank like high end bordeaux, and was consistent with the two prior Dunns we've had (the 1992 while on Food Night Field Trip, and the 2001). It was decanted for 10 hours prior to consumption, and drank perfectly. It probably elicited between 10 and 20 "Holy S&%t is this stuff amazing!!!" type comments during it's consumption from various consumers. Rich, full bodied, balanced, with a minty/eucalyptus tinge that we found very appealing, and a finish that I think I'm still tasting a week later.

Let's leave it at this - if Food Night was stranded on a deserted island, and could have a lifetime supply of one domestic CABERNET producer's wines (thus eliminating Calera from consideration....) dropped from a C-130 onto said island (a likely scenario, obviously)... Food Night would request Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet.

Yes... it's that good. Easily.

SUNDAY, MAY 1, 2011

Goat Cheese Ravioli

Clearly you have been perfecting your duck egg pasta doughtechnique. So now, it is time to turn said sheet of silky succulent pasta into a goat cheese carrying apparatus. Also known as “proper food”.*

*Ever watch Jaime Oliver’s “Jaime at Home” TV show? I don’t think he is making new episodes anymore, but I believe it is being rerun on Cooking Channel now. It is completely reflective of why I’m such a massive fan of his, and probably where my Jamie Olive man-crush was born. If I could cook and/or eat and/or have a beer with and/or share an apartment with one “celebrity” chef, it would be Jaime, hands down. Anyway, I heard him say as he was finishing making something that “this is proper cooking”, and now “proper” is my favorite cooking adjective. By far. Feel free to incorporate it into your everyday vocab as I have done. I think you’ll enjoy it. 

Goat Cheese Ravioli

duck egg pasta recipeEgg wash (1 egg beaten with a tsp or two of water)
Soft goat cheese (such as Donnay)

1). Lay sheet of pasta on a floured work surface. And flour a sheet pan or other “landing zone” for your finished raviolis

2). Dot the pasta sheet with roughly a tsp of goat cheese. Place goat cheese on top half of the sheet, as shown, as you’ll be folding the bottom half over it.

3). Brush egg wash between the cheese, and along the top of the sheet. Egg wash will help make a good seal, serving as pasta cement, if you will. Mmmmmm, pasta cement.

4). Fold bottom half over top half, and seal. Work from the folded side of the sheet, forcing any air out the top. You are essentially molding the soft pliable pasta around the dollup of tart goat cheesy goodness.

5). Divide into individual raviolis using a knife, ring mold, or preferably this $5 pasta wheel (best $5 gift I ever got). Transfer to afore mentioned floured landing zone.

Here is where you also have a chance to gently squeeze out any air pockets, and make sure all 3 sides are sealed. The most important thing here is a good seal. If there is a smidge of air trapped in there, don’t stress.

6). Plop into heavily salted water that is GENTLY boiling until done. Usually a minute or two. Or, freeze, and they go from freezer directly to the water.

I tossed these with a little diced carrot, sunchoke, and butter.

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