Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Long time, no post

I know that we've been extremely tardy in our Vino & Vittles postings lately. Between home improvement projects, our day jobs and travel, it's been difficult to devote time to the blog. However, we've still be eating great food and drinking great wine, which I hope to run through in the next few weeks. I just took pictures of the past 19 bottles of wine we've drank.

In terms of cooking, I've been very focused on working on sauces. I've never felt like this was a strong suit and my improvisations never turned out very good. However, with a little reading up and studying some techniques, I feel like my sauces are getting markedly better.

The other latest food obsessions have been experimenting with different vegetables and fruits. By and large we've had good success with this (celery root, parsnips, rutabega) but a few notable misses (quince and Palestine limes). The quince we tried raw and was hard without much flavor. The Palestine limes (which are yellow) had an off-lime/orange flavor and a weird sweetness without much balancing acidity. I wasted some of my Cacacha trying to make a Palestine lime caipirinha. Bummer. The root vegetable purées have been nice though. I love the celery root best (cooked in stock with a lesser amount of potato), but the parsnips and rutabega were also a welcome change from the everyday mashed potatoes. The parsnips were particularly interesting finished with a little nutmeg and truffle oil.

Speaking of truffle oil, I made a mushroom risotto using mushrooms from Trader Joe's (oyster, crimini, shitake) and finishing with a healthy pour of truffle oil. Basically, you saute onion until translucent, add a little garlic, the chopped mushrooms thyme and sage and saute until softened. Add the risotto (I did two cups) and stir until it becomes chalky. Add white wine (about a cup), stir until absorbed. Keep stirring and add chicken stock a little at a time until it is al dente (about five cups). I finish with about a cup of grated parm and a little half and half in the pot, and the truffle oil at the plating.

Finally, although I am a huge proponent for eschewing short cuts for natural ingredients and freshness whenever possible, I am addicted to Paul Prudhomme's Magic Seasonings. I use their seasoned salt on so many different things from hamburgers to frittatas. My favorite though is the Pork and Veal Magic, which I use as a rub and then in the pan sauce I make (whether it be a pear sauce, cream sauce, sherry sauce or even a marsala sauce I made.

More to come.