Category Archives: Michelin and Mom

Sausage the Newest/Oldest Celebrity

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Is there anything better than having as much time as you like to do something you enjoy? I was up early to attend a couple of meetings downtown and on my way back home I decided to swing by Siesel’s Old Fashion Meats to pick up some Pork Shoulder, Belly, Hog Casings and a few other treats to spend a rainy afternoon cooking at home. There is not to many rainy days in SD so I thought I would take advantage of the chilly wet weather and prepare Homemade Sausage with Braised Purple Cabbage.
A few months ago I purchased the grinding and stuffing attachments for my Kitchen Aid and have been excited about trying it out ever since. All in all the attachments work well. I would give the grinding attachment a 9/10 and the stuffing attachment a 6/10. The stuffing attachment should come with something to push the ground meat down the hole, this would help the process a great deal.
There was a time not to long ago when North America was not considered a culinary destination (and I think the Europeans would still argue the fact that we are not as great of cooks or diners) but times have changed and North America is going where Europe used to be. Butcher shops in Europe are closing but in North America they are on the rise. Places like The Butcher & Larder in Chicago, Lindy & Grundy in LA, 4505 Meats in San Francisco to name a few are becoming celebrities in their own right. Not only can you buy incredible meat at these spots but all of them offer cooking/butchery classes, how great is that? Restaurants specializing in sausage are also making great progress such as Wurstkuche in LA, Hot Dougs in Chicago, even the up and coming food city San Diego has a sausage themed restaurant The Linkery. Yes it is a great time to be living in North America.
Butchery, Sausage making and Charcuterie are all arts that when done well can be life changing for someone eating the finished product. So get to know your local butcher, sign up for a class ask plenty of questions and hopefully you will have as much fun as we chefs have creating these delicious links…..

SAUSAGE RECIPE Makes 8 Sausages about 5-6 inches long
900 g Pork Shoulder (Trimmed and cut into small cubes)
230 g Pork Belly (Trimmed and cut into small cubes)
12 g Salt
15 g Finely Diced Garlic
325 g Finley Diced Onion
Splash of Oil
1 TSP Chopped Fresh Sage
2 TSP Chopped Fresh Thyme Leaves
Freshly Grated Nutmeg
125 ml Red Wine

5-6 Feet Hog Casings

Place a saute pan on medium heat with a splash of oil, add onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes, do not brown. Add the herbs and remove from heat.
Cool mixture
In a large bowl add the cubes of shoulder, belly, and salt, place in fridge for about 3 hours until completely cold.
Put the meat through the grinder attachment using the small die (if you like more texture use a larger die) into a stainless steal bowl on ice. (key is to keep meat very cold)
Once meat is ground fold in red wine and then onion, garlic and herb mixture finish with nutmeg.

To Prepare the Casings
Rinse under running water to remove salt
Soak in 70 F water for 2 hours, Rinse
Soak in 90 F water for 1 hour, Rinse

Braised Cabbage
500 g Purple Cabbage (Cut into thin strips)
100 ml Port Wine
100 ml Red Wine
1.5 TBSP Sugar
2 TBSP Oil

75 ml Red Wine Vinegar
1 TBSP Sugar
50 g Red Currant Jelly

In a large pot on medium heat add oil and cabbage, cook for about 5 minutes stirring
Add Port, Red Wine, 1.5 TBSP sugar and cook cover until all liquid is gone stirring every so often
In a sauce pan add vinegar, sugar, jelly and bring to a boil to melt jelly.
Add mixture to cabbage and cook covered until liquid is almost gone.

I like to finish my cabbage with a spoonful or 2 of cold butter, makes a nice sauce to coat the cabbage.

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Common Threads, World Festival LA

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Throughout my career I have been very fortunate to work with many amazing charities. Most of my participation has been showing up at a scheduled time and cooking a specific dish for a specific amount of guests, occasionally donating myself to be auctioned off to cook a dinner.

In May of 2009 I was doing a photo shoot in Chicago for a Magazine that was featuring Canadian Chefs that worked outside of Canada. I was just finishing up when a lady walking her dog approached me and asked if I was a new chef in town. She introduced herself as Linda Novick, Executive Director of Common Threads and began to tell me about the mission of this charity. The minute she told me this was a chef driven charity that works with children to teach them how to cook, eat and shop healthier I knew I wanted to get involved.

My very first Common Threads experience was attending a lunch served by the Little Threads. What made this such a special lunch was the kids were cooking for their parents and to see how proud each parent was of their child was life changing. The typical Common Threads child comes from broken and low income homes and to listen to their stories on how learning how to cook has changed their lives was incredible. When speaking to a few of the parents at the lunch there was a common message, each parent spoke about how their child’s confidence had grown and the friendships that were made between the classmates.

What made Common Threads special to me was seeing how involved Chefs were in teaching classes and cooking at the fundraisers. These chefs were some of the most talented and successful chefs in the country and had restaurants that were full night after night but they still found time to work with the children.

Fast forward a couple of years and living back in Southern California, I learned very quickly that there is much more to creating a successful fundraising event than just showing up and cooking food for a couple of hours and then heading home. We started planning the very 1st LA World Festival in March and we capped it off with the main event on November 8th. A truly amazing night of great food and friends showing that Common Threads will succeed in LA.

Not only does Common Threads bring children together to create friendships and bonds that will probably last a life time, it also brings a group of chefs together to form a bond and a friendship that is so very important to the success of our business.

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National Fig Week

Today is the last day of National Fig Week – so we’re getting this post up just in time! Fresh figs are now scarce “up north”, but I did manage to find a few at Whole Foods and a couple of other fresh produce shops a few weeks ago. Figs are full of fibre, potassium, calcium and antioxidants. A perfectly ripe fig can be eaten on its own and should be one of the most delicious foods you’ve eaten! This ancient fruit is versatile, lending itself to both sweet and savoury dishes. This summer my daughter requested fig compote to accompany her brie and chicken sandwich, for which we used dried figs. At the end of August, Jason and I found gorgeous fresh figs at a Sunday market just outside of San Diego. Jason cooked crispy duck breast (fuelled again by a request made by my daughter!), which he simply finished with halved figs. Meanwhile, a friend of mine who is also a faithful reader of A Michelin and A Mom, posted a quick “what to do with a bunch of fresh figs” on our twitter. Jason answered with one word: jam. Following is Rachel’s foray into fig jam!

This past August I had my first real encounter with figs; not having given figs much thought nor had many opportunities to try them or cook with them. To think of all the lovely figs I missed out on! I was introduced to figs somewhat by accident when my landlord’s mother asked me if I would like some fresh figs as her neighbour’s tree was heavy with ripe figs. I was soon ladened with about 2lbs of very ripe figs. I knew I would not be able to eat them all before they were past their prime, so I took to twitter and requested help from Karlin and Jason. I took up Chef’s suggestion for making a jam, and set to “consult the Oracle” (google) for some further direction. The first thing that jumped out at me when reviewing a few recipes is that making fig jam would be very easy! I was surprised that most recipes called for adding no water (I haven’t made much jam in my life so I’m not sure if this is usually the case with other types of jam). The recipes called for varying amounts of sweetener (sugar or honey) and I went on the conservative side (about 1/2 c. of sugar for my 1.5 lbs of figs) as I knew the fruit had a great deal of natural sugars. I also added some balsamic to give the jam some pizazz. You know, because that’s how I roll. The yield for this batch was 2 to 3 cups (I’m guessing on this) and has been delicious with crackers and cheese, and especially with roast chicken, as recommended by Jason. Thanks again for the inspiration, A Michelin and A Mom!

Tomorrow night Jason is proudly part of Common Threads: World Festival Los Angeles. My brother is a member of the Common Threads Advisory Board, which is hosting a fabulous evening to benefit great kids in the L.A. area. The event’s page reads: “At the pristine setting of the London Hotel’s beautiful Hampton Court, guests will be able to stroll around the modern take on an English garden while delighting in mouth-watering bites…” Enjoy the evening and we look forward to a full report from Jason later this week.

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Cooking with Pumpkin

Kürbis is the German word for Pumpkin. In our early days of living in Switzerland, we ventured across the border into Germany and found a decent Italian restaurant recommended to us by one of our friends. It was totally packed and the staff of family were shouting in Italian to one another across the restaurant. They squeezed us in and our waiter (who became our favourite and always had a table for us) suggested we try the soup. Kürbis. We walked through our limited German not knowing what we had ordered until the creamy soup the colour of pale squash arrived. It clicked for one of my kids who immediately figured it out and said with a smile, “pumpkin soup”!

Haven’t you always wanted to try fresh pumpkin? Did it seem daunting and perhaps even a little strange? Buying, washing, cutting up and roasting your own pumpkin is so easy, you may never go back to the tins. For both of the recipes featured today, I used Organic Sugar Pumpkins. We were also given a white pumpkin which we cut up, roasted and pureed as well; the puree was a lovely pale colour. Roasted cubes of pumpkin with a little olive oil and salt were happily eaten as we waited for the cubes to cool.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
1 – 3lb pumpkin
olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 cups chopped leeks
1-2 shallots, chopped
1.5 – 2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
(I used the large tetra pack)
1/2 cup milk or cream

Wash the pumpkin well before you cut it. Cut it and clean it out (save the seeds for roasting). Working in small sections, slice off the rind and any leftover pulp. Cut the pumpkin into cubes. Drizzle the cubes with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Lay cubes out onto a deep baking dish, leaving room between each cube if possible. If you have a convection oven, put it onto “Roast” and pre heat to 400 degrees. The pumpkin cooks perfectly – tender on the inside, slightly crispy and brown on the outside. Keep an eye on it – you don’t want burnt pumpkin (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside.

In a deep saute pan or your soup pot, melt the butter on medium-high heat – do not brown the butter. Add leeks, shallots and pinch of salt. Cook for quite awhile – you want the leeks tender and bright green; you will be “sweating” the leeks and shallots, stirring often. Add the cubes of pumpkin when leeks are tender and cover with all of the stock. Stir and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. You can use a hand blender to blend the soup or s traditional blender (work is small amounts to puree). Return all the pureed soup to your pot and heat on medium. This is when I added a little milk – the soup was too thick for our taste – use your judgement at this stage and adjust to your taste. Also, add salt as needed or desired.

To Finish the soup, you have a few choices…
** A little dollop of Creme Fraiche is a wonderful addition.
** Toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled in each bowl creates an interesting texture.
** To really impress, top the soup with Brown Butter or Beurre Noisette (also used in the Madelines) and Sage. Once the butter has browned, add the fresh sage leaves to soften. Drizzle just a few drops over each bowl of soup and add a sage leaf to each bowl as well.

Patricia’s Glazed Pumpkin Cookies
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
3 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp maple extract
1/2 tsp vanilla (you can omit maple and use 1 tsp vanilla)
1 cup icing sugar

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Sift and set aside dry ingredients. Beat together butter, and sugar until creamy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla (the mixture may look curdled, but smooths out when you start to add flour). Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture until blended – do not over mix. Drop by teaspoonful onto parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes – test for doneness by lightly touching the top of the cookie; it should spring back.

To make the glaze, combine brown sugar with milk and butter in a small/med saucepan and heat until it comes to a boil. Allow to boil for one minute, remove from heat and add maple and vanilla extracts. Add the sifted icing sugar 1/4 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. The glaze should be smooth but not so thick it is spreadable. Whisk until smooth. Dip the cooled cookies (dip the tops or half of each cookie) into the glaze and set on a cookie sheet/parchment to dry. The glaze should be warm for best results.
Eat the cookies while they are still warm (a little messy but so good) or cool for several hours if you prefer the glaze to be set.

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Green & Black’s Times Two

Being invited to the Green & Black’s chocolate tasting in L.A. was like a dream come true, alas I live in the Great White North, ‘eh! I gladly settled for a FedEx package of luxury chocolate bars delivered straight to my door. I truly love chocolate, but can be a chocolate snob, preferring a deliciously dark or a perfectly creamy bar over the corner store varieties of candy bars (although I would be hard pressed to turn down a Kit-Kat). Living in Switzerland, we surely ate chocolate in some form every day and often treated ourselves to a chocolate pyramid cake from Sprüngli. I first discovered Green & Black’s chocolate while in the UK many years ago and was thrilled to discover an organic, fairly traded chocolate bar; I bought a good supplies worth to take home to Canada. Over the past several years, Green & Black’s has become readily available at all of my local favorite shops.

Baking with good chocolate is like using real butter and cooking with a wine you would actually drink. What a treat to use the 70% Dark Chocolate for my Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée; see recipe below. I paired this with A Michelin and A Mom’s Citrus Madelines (dusted with powdered sugar). Green & Black’s also sent one of my all time favorites – Dark Chocolate with Cherry – which I simply paired with a local BC Ice Wine (Paradise Ranch Chardonnay – nothing short of gorgeous).

I will admit this dessert may have been easier and just as delicious as a straight up pudding or custard. I found the dark chocolate finicky when it came time to broil the sugar. I opted for a low heat torch that didn’t allow for a thick crust, but in the end was better as the chocolate was rich enough. My husband said it was substantial but not overpowering and the hint of citrus in the Madeline was a perfect accompaniment.

Check out Green & Black’s very informative website where you’ll find the company story, how to host a chocolate tasting and the basics of the cocoa bean (did you know there are 45 cocoa beans in each pod?).

Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée (Pudding)
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup light cream
3.5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla – set aside. Heat whip cream and cream until very hot, whisking almost constantly. Turn off or remove from heat, add chopped chocolate and whisk until chocolate has melted. Add a little of the chocolate mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisk well. Continue adding a little of the chocolate mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking well after each addition. Fill up your kettle and start it to boil. Place your ramekins (ramequins) into a deep oven safe pan, filling each one about 3/4 full with your chocolate mixture. Now use the boiling water to fill the baking pan with hot water (water should reach about half way up the ramekins). Bake for about 40 minutes – chocolate should be springy and not sticky to a light touch. Remove and chill. (You can eat this delicious dessert now – add a dollop of whip cream to create a perfect pudding) After chilling for several hours (if possible), sprinkle each ramekin with granulated sugar. Ensure the sugar is evenly spread by tapping and gently shaking the ramekin. The easiest and best way to create the brûlée is with a handheld torch; however you can use the broiler in your oven. It would appear that the best way to use the traditional broiler to completely chill the dessert, add the sugar and then place it in an ice bath of sorts. Add cold water and ice to the baking dish you used previously to help diminish the heat reaching your custard. I will warn you this is particularly tricky as the sugar will easily burn.

This makes about 5 servings, but if you double the recipe and use a deeper or wider ramekin, you will yield about 8 servings.

**I found my pretty Madeline pan at Bella Vita**

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Kabocha Squash or Japanese Pumpkin

I know it is a little early to be thinking fall or maybe we just don’t want to admit summer has come and gone so quickly? Fall is such a spectacular time of year (depending on where you live it is a little more spectacular) and the product you start to find at the market just screams full bold flavors and the Kabocha Squash is a perfect example of these flavors. Sunday morning I was up early and off to the La Jolla Market as I usually do, I was a little more excited than usual as the week before I had met a farmer that was selling fresh dates from Indio, CA (just outside Palm Springs) and they were just simply perfect, but this is for another time, stay tuned 😉
As I was walking around the market admiring the beautiful tomatoes I stumbled across a booth that had Kabocha Squash and I think I even let out a little yelp of excitement, had a quick chat with the farmer and then off I went with my 5lb Squash.
One of my favorite soups is a squash, and this is the squash to make it with, but I was even a little more excited about making this recipe for I had just received in the mail from my good friend Mr. Tim Burton from Maplewood Farms in Medora, Indiana a bottle of Bourbon Ale infused Maple Syrup. (a creation he created with Goose Island Brewery in Chicago). This was going to some how make it into the squash soup.
Over the years in this industry I have had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing individuals that share such a passion for their product that they grow, harvest and create. This passion challenges you even more to respect and create the best dish you possibly can. As you will see in this recipe there are really only 5 ingredients, I want to let the main ingredients shine with out masking their flavors. Each one of the ingredients is there to support the main ingredient in this case the Kabocha Squash. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

5lb Squash Peeled, seeds removed and rough chopped
1 Small Onion peeled and chopped
1 Quart Chicken or Vegetable Stock
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup (get your hands on Tim’s Syrup it is so worth it, you can buy on line)
Crème fraiche
(You can add a few pieces of bacon to this recipe and it creates a nice hint of smokiness, Beautiful)

Pre-heat oven to 450 F
Toss squash and onion in a little oil and seasoning place in oven and cook for about 30 mins the squash will start to brown this is good. Add the Maple Syrup 5 mins before squash is cooked.
In a large pot heat the chicken stock and add the squash right out of the oven, cook for 5 mins
Place mixture in blender and puree until smooth, pass through a fine mesh strainer
At this point you have the base and the soup can be stored in the fridge until needed.
To serve heat the soup and add desired about of crème fraiche and a little stock if the soup is to thick.

Garnish with a few croutons for crunch, I used a squaw bread crouton, works very well with this soup.

Amy’s Wine Picks

Chef McLeod’s Kabocha squash soup is a perfect dish for a brisk fall evening. I have selected wines that have warm flavors to complement the change of the season.

Top pick: Chardonnay. It will accentuate the buttery flavors of the soup. I am partial to French Burgundy, because I prefer a Chardonnay that expresses terroir and hasn’t been masked with over-the-top oak treatment. But there are some Burgundian-style producers in California that are allowing the grape to show its true colors. Some affordable examples are Talbott and Au Bon Climat.

Playing it safe: Pinot Noir. Typical aromas for Pinot Noir include red fruit of cherries, strawberries, and cranberries, violets, tomato leaf, cured meats and black tea. It is a perfect fall wine and will complement the roasted onions. Try Cold Heaven Cellars from Santa Barbara County.

Off the beaten track: Beaujolais. Typical aromas for Gamay include strawberry, black cherry, pear drop, bubblegum, violets, banana and crushed granite. I recommend serving it slightly chilled. It will bring out the naturally sweet flavors of the Kabocha squash. Try Jean Paul Brun Morgon Terres Dorées, $19.99.

Amy Payne

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September is Here Already!

Welcome to September Michelin and Mom readers! We’ve had a great summer, action packed to say the least with two months passing us by at warp speed. Jason has been busy sorting the details on a future venture (we’ll be updating you on this as it progresses) and needless to say it’s going to be awesome. As we sold our house in the Spring, my kids and I spent the summer at the family cabin located on a beautiful mountain lake. Despite the ever presence of bears, bugs and birds – it has been idyllic. We finally found a new home and I’ll be cooking from a different kitchen by month’s end.

We took an extended holiday to California to visit with my brother and my sister-in-law, returning just a few days ago. The weather was glorious, the neighborhood charming and the food abundant. I learned new recipes and different cooking techniques and suffered self-imposed pressure the night I had to put dinner together by myself! What did I learn? How to create “dust” from shallots, the proper way to beat egg whites, that sharp knives are absolutely necessary in a well equipped kitchen, how and when to yell out “Yes Chef!” and how to be brave enough to eat chicken livers.

Over the next week, we’ll be adding new recipes and techniques we used during our time together, along with beautiful photos from the Farmer’s Market. Today, we are posting a fantastic pasta dish that is easy to prepare on a back-to-school night. Jason had a great story to go along with every meal we made last week and this pasta dish claims its origins back to his early days as a young Chef on Vancouver Island. Brand new to a job and left alone to not only cook the entire breakfast service, but also lunch, Jason had to think and act quickly to come up with the lunch specials. This tasty pasta was his first lunch special and we know you will want to make enough for leftovers the next day.

School Night Pasta
2 chicken breasts, cut into bit-sized cubes
2 tbsp oil
2 shallots, finely diced
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped into small pieces
penne pasta
1 head broccoli, chopped into bite sized pieces
fresh parmesan cheese, grated

Cook the pasta al dente. Steam the broccoli until tender, drain and set aside.
On medium, heat the oil and then add the chicken pieces. Sautee until cooked, adding the diced shallots to the chicken for the last minute (do not brown). Remove the chicken and shallots (you can pop them into the broccoli bowl) and with the heat still on the same pan, quickly add the chicken stock. On medium heat, simmer the stock until it has been reduced to about half. Remove from the heat, add the crème fraiche and chives, followed by the broccoli and chicken. You can toss this and the pasta all together before serving. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and home made garlic bread.

Amy’s Wine Picks

In going with the theme of simplicity, I have selected some porch pounders that will go down just as easily as Karlin’s pasta. More often than not, people overthink their wine pairings. My advice – K.I.S.S. or keep it simple stupid. Sometimes less is more.

Top pick: Rosé. They are light enough to not overwhelm the mild flavors, but viscous enough to stand up to the chicken. Try a rosé from Tavel or Bandol for quality or for good value look for Provence or Spain. One of my favorites recently is Bodega Muga from Rioja, $11.99.

Playing it safe: Italian Pinot Grigio or Oregon Pinot Gris. Pinot Grigio is always a crowd pleaser – off dry, crisp and fruity. The summer is ending and fall is on the horizon. Savor the remainder of summer sun sipping a Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy. If you prefer a wine that has higher residual sugar (aka – sweeter), Oregon Pinot Gris is a perfect alternative, specifically from Columbia Valley. I recommend Ponzi from Willamette Valley, $14.99.

Off the beaten track: Bordeaux Blanc. The green undertones of the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend are a perfect match for the broccoli. The wines are typically aged in oak, giving them a full mouth feel to complement the chicken. Try Château Ducasse from Graves, $14.99.

Amy Payne

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Easy Summer Food

Nothing says super food like fresh kale. This kale salad recipe comes from my dear friend Suzanne who picked the kale from her bountiful garden and then tossed it with 5 simple ingredients. It was the first time I had eaten kale on its own, raw and it was delicious. Usually, I cook it with a little oil, butter, garlic and salt or chop it up and toss it into a spaghetti sauce or lasagna (excellent way to sneak this green into your kids). This is a hearty salad that can be served on its own, with grilled thick-cut pork chops or go lighter with a baked white fish. The pork chops were marinated in a citrus base and the fish was the result of having too many tomatoes and olives on hand that were soon to be past their prime. The results were delicious summer meals, perfect for outdoor dining.

Amy’s Picks

Instead of my usual top pick, playing it safe and off the beaten track selections, I have decided to pair one wine with each of Karlin’s three delightful recipes. It can sometimes be difficult to find specific producers if your local wine shop doesn’t carry them, so I tried to provide as many producers from multiple regions as I could. Happy drinking!

The kale salad has bright, refreshing summery flavors. I would choose a wine that complements the flavors instead of contrasting, such as Sauvignon Blanc. Typical aromas include grapefruit, passion fruit, gooseberry, freshly cut grass, tarragon, chervil, jalapeno, bell pepper skin, sugar snap peas and cat pee. Sauvignon Blanc can be found in many different regions of the world, most notably Sancerre, Bordeaux, New Zealand and California. Sancerre tends to have a strong mineral presence due to the Kimmeridgian soils. Bordeaux is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and usually sees some oak aging, which gives it fuller body. The aromas jumping out of the glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will smack you across the face. This is where you will find the most pronounced aromas of cat pee and the green flavors caused by the chemical compound of methoxypyrazine. And California versions are simply fruit bombs predominantly of citrus. Budget friendly selections from each region include Hippolyte Reverdy from Sancerre, France; Château Ducasse from Gaves, Bordeaux; Churton from Marlborough, New Zealand; and Brander from Santa Ynez, California.

The Pork has an Asian flair with the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and ginger. To contrast the saltiness of the soy sauce and to complement the sweet honey and ginger, I recommend a new world Riesling. New world basically means the wine is not from Europe. They typically have more fruit flavors as opposed to secondary terrior-driven flavors, have higher alcohol and are fully bodied. Aromas include lime zest, star fruit, ripe melon, white peach, kumquat, apricot, flint and petrol. They have a hint of sweetness, which is wonderfully balanced by its naturally high acidity and a clean, refreshing finish. From Columbia Valley, Washington, try either Long Shadows Poet’s Leap or Charles Smith’s Kung Fu Girl. From Australia, I recommend Yalumba Y, from South Australia, Leeuwin Estate from Margaret River and Kilikanoon “Mort’s Block” Watervale Reserve from Clare Valley.

This Red Snapper has strong Mediterranean flavors with the olives, tomatoes and shallots. What grows together, drinks together. Therefore, a dry, crisp white from the same region would pair beautifully. The Red Snapper is a firm whitish meat with a sweet and mild flavor. Its delicacy needs a wine that is not going to overwhelm you with flavor, or oak. Try a northern Italian Pinot Grigio from either Friuli-Venezia or Alto Adige. Typical aromas include lemon rind, melon, peanut shell and flat beer. It has a bitter finish, higher acidity and is light bodied. Some of my favorite producers are Jermann, Scarpetta and St. Michael Eppan Anger. Two domestic producers that I like are Ponzi from Columbia Valley and Martin Ray from Mendocino County.
Amy Payne

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Not Your Every Day Gnocchi

Most individuals think of Gnocchi as an Italian potato dumpling, and yes this is the more popular of the dumplings but most countries have their own recipes for dumplings. The Parisienne Gnocchi is a French recipe typically served with a Béchamel or Mornay Sauce and baked. As you can imagine dumplings baked with cheese sauce is out of this world, but I went a little different direction and served the gnocchi with a Bolognese sauce (Italian meat sauce) as with the gnocchi Bolognese has many different forms. The more traditional Bolognese consists of beef, pancetta, onions, tomato, broth, white wine, milk or cream. I stayed some what true to the traditional recipe but added a few twists. The most exciting part of learning this dumpling recipe is that it uses the same base as cream puffs and eclairs. Hope you enjoy….Jason

Amy’s Wine Picks
Top Pick: Brunello di Montalcino. One of my favorite descriptors for Sangiovese is stewed tomatoes (which I get made fun of for frequently), which complement the crushed tomatoes in Chef Mcleod’s Parisienne Gnocchi. Other typical aromas include sour red cherry, red licorice or Twizzlers (yes, another favorite descriptor), fennel bulb, stewed black tea and twigs. Unfortunately, Brunello usually costs a pretty penny, but is well worth the investment. Some of my favorite producers are Valdicava, Mastrojanni and Banfi.
Playing it safe: California Pinot Noir. Typical aromas include red fruit, such as cherries, strawberries and cranberries, violets, tomato leaf, bacon fat and black tea. I recommend Belle Glos “Meiomi” and Calera for everyday wines, Failla and Walter Hansel for a treat, and Kosta Brown (if you can find it) for a splurge. I could honestly recommend dozens more, but these should get you started.
Off the beaten track: Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Mount Etna, Sicily. The flavors are basically a cross between Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. How could you go wrong? Located on Sicily’s Mount Etna, it is a recently re-discovered region that is believed to be the highest vineyards in Italy and Europe. The late-ripening indigenous Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio yield wines of notable aromatic complexity. It is aged in 25 percent new French oak and in a classic Burgundian style.

Amy Payne

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Cinnamon Buns

On one particularly dreary day this past week, I surprised the kids with fresh baked cinnamon buns and we read to the end of the first Harry Potter book (yes, we’re a little late to this party).

A cabin or cottage can become a graveyard for all things unwanted in your home; it’s an easy habit to fall into. Art and home decor you don’t particularly like anymore, kitchen appliances you never should have bought or that old rocking chair you just can’t part with all fall victim to the words, “take it to the cabin”! My Black and Decker All in One bread maker was one such appliance that made the move to the cabin. At home, there was no need to bake our own bread as we had a lovely organic bakery just five minutes away. Being literally miles and hours from the nearest town, the bread maker has been in constant use this summer churning out multi-grain loaves of bread for breakfast and dough for pizzas, the tarte flambee and of course cinnamon buns. Serve these cinnamon buns with your weekend brunch or as an afternoon snack for the kids with a glass of milk. You can make a quick and easy cream cheese icing if you’re looking for something a little sweeter.

Click here for the Cinnamon Bun Recipe.

Summer has finally arrived! What are you cooking on the grill? What’s your favourite summer holiday meal? Let us know at or leave a comment below.

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