Food, Art, Science & Brussels Sprouts

This post was really supposed to go out on Monday, but being a real life Mom, unexpected life got in the way. Namely an orthodontist appointment, Halloween costume shopping at the thrift store and one of my dogs got skunked. Seriously, skunked at 6:30 am and all day later, we were still trying to air out the house.

A different story last week as I luxuriously took off an afternoon, midweek with my friend Rob, to catch a screening of El Bulli: Cooking in Progress. 108 minutes of quiet food preparation disguised as a science experiment; or vice versa. Admittedly, I am familiar with Ferrán Adrià and El Bulli in part because I simply pay attention when my brother is telling me about the foreign world of professional kitchens. The concept of molecular gastronomy is not lost on me, however, I’m not sure I want to be “startled” during a 25-30 course meal of small bites. During a Sunday afternoon family meal in Puebla, Mexico, I was “surprised” when I finally remembered the English words for the salty filling in the tacos I was eating – pig’s brain – and I couldn’t carry on; I realize this moves me down the foodie pyramid.

I’ll make the move towards the expected and tell you the documentary shows the relationship between food, art and science. There is certainly an undeniable connection between cooking and science, and the film documents this process and discovery very well. Seeing a well crafted meal drawn together by a team of talented chefs as art is a natural leap. I’m going to quote my movie date verbatim, “Most of the dishes looked interesting but not appetizing. They challenged our ideas surrounding food, exposing the baggage we have about food. I’d imagine a meal at El Bulli to be a bit of a journey, almost like a funhouse maze.” These words could easily be spoken in the context of a gallery or art museum. We liked the visual presentation of experiment and the chance to take a glimpse of the team behind one of the world’s most famous restaurants.

At one point in the film, Ferrán Adrià tells his chefs something along the lines of ‘just do not give me anything that tastes bad’ – seemingly simple and something I’d like to proceed me before I arrive to dinner. This may be the only concept we can transition into the parameters of our own cooking; we all know everyday life calls for real food that is easy to prepare. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated and we are going to continue to explore that over the next few weeks.

I am going to leave you with a simple recipe that I pinched 100% from my friend Lisa, an excellent cook with impeccable taste in wine. She created this recipe for (Canadian) Thanksgiving. A perfect example of how you can make an everyday vegetable taste extraordinary with a few simple steps. Thank you Lisa for sharing this really delicious recipe with A Michelin and A Mom.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts
Olive Oil
Kosher salt
Sea Salt Flakes
Parmesan Cheese, Fresh & Grated

Heat oven to 350. Trim the ends of the sprouts and peel off any unappealing leaves. Quarter or halve (depending on size) the sprouts and soak in water, rinse and place in a bowl. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place in a deep baking sheet or pan and roast until the sprouts are just tender and sizzling. Some of the leaves will fall away and turn brown (eat these too!). Approximately 20 minutes – longer if you want a more traditional texture (we prefer them not too soft). Remove, place the cooked sprouts into a serving bowl, sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt and the freshly grated parmesan.

Bonus Recipe – Simple Apple Cake
This is for the Whistler ladies!
Makes 2 – 8″ round cakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
(you can cut the spices in half if you want a milder flavour)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 an apple, grated, optional
toasted and chopped pecans, optional

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt; set aside. In your mixer, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time followed by the applesauce. Mix well. By hand, fold in the grated apple and pecans if you are adding the apples and nuts. Butter and flour your baking pans, pouring half the mixture into each pan, smoothing out the top. You can make one large cake (or a layer cake), but my kids like a high icing to cake ratio (and they like to grab and go with their cake). Ice each cake with cream cheese frosting

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Brussels Sprouts

Probably the most underrated vegetable in the garden…..

I am not sure why but my guess is that as a child most of us had to endure boiled way to long sprouts with our turkey dinners. Well its time to block this from your memory because Brussels Sprouts are damn good and can be enjoyed much more often than with your turkey dinner. Be creative, they can hold their own with many different ingredients.

For those of you who did not know, Canadian Thanksgiving was on October 10th and yes we Canadians give thanks as well 🙂 Instead of cooking a turkey I decided to Sous Vide some duck legs along with a beautiful side of Brussels Sprouts and Madeira Jus. I actually decided to create two different sprout sides, the first is my wife Jana’s favorite (amazing for someone who hated Brussels Sprouts until she tried this dish a few years back) charred with crispy pork belly, roasted grapes tossed with shallots. The second dish is a variation of a side that we served with squab when I was working in England (back then we used almonds and no grapes) Brussels Sprout leaves, toasted hazelnuts and roasted grapes. The bitterness of the sprouts and the intense sweetness of the grapes with the beautiful crunch of the hazelnuts works so well with the crispy skin and just so ever saltiness of the Sous Vide duck leg.

Jana was not to excited about eating what she calls boil (sous vide) in the bag duck leg but I convinced her to give it a try with the sprouts and she was a believer after the first bite. Just remember there is no water necessary for these two recipes so leave the boiled to death Brussels Sprout memories in the past where they belong.

Amy’s Wine Picks
For Chef McLeod’s Sous Vide Duck leg, I recommend a wine that is bold enough to stand up to the fall flavors, yet subtle enough to not steal the show. Besides the rich protein, you must consider the sweet Madeira Jus, nutty hazelnuts and earthy Brussels sprouts. Depending on the style, Châteauneuf-du-Pape tends to have a residual sweetness that will accentuate the Madeira Jus and an earthy component that complements the Brussels sprouts. Pinot Noir is a classic pairing with Duck and will enhance its flavors. Riesling, well…it simply goes with everything. An off-dry to sweet selection will pair beautifully with the Madeira Jus. Its acidity will cleanse the palate, preparing for the next delightful bite. And if you select an older vintage, it develops a nutty quality that will be perfect with the hazelnuts. Overall, I think all three wines would complement Chef McLeod’s dish.

Top pick: Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Playing it safe: Pinot Noir

Off the beaten track: Riesling

Amy Payne

Charred Brussels Sprouts

1lb Brussel Sprouts
2 Strips Bacon or 3 oz Pork Belly
1 Shallot
15pc Red Grapes
Safflower Oil

Trim the stem of the sprouts, cut in 1/2 and remove and excess leaves
Cut the bacon in batons
Finely dice the shallots
Roast the Grapes in a 400F oven for about 20 to 25 mins
Cook bacon batons in just a drop of oil
Once bacon is cooked remove from pan
Add the sprouts to Bacon Fat and add a splash of oil and cook on high heat
Season with salt and pepper
It is key to really char the sprouts, the darker the better (just don’t burn)
This should take about 5 to 7 mins
Strain any excess fat/oil from pan add shallots and toss quickly
Add bacon and grapes

Brussels Sprout Leaves, Hazelnuts, Roasted Grapes

1/2 lb Brussels Sprouts
15 Grapes
1/4 cup Toasted Hazelnuts
1 Shallot Finely Diced
1 tbsp Safflower Oil

Cut off the stem on the sprouts and remove the leaves one by one
Roast the Grapes in a 400F oven for about 20 to 25 mins
Crush the hazelnuts but not to small
Place a saute pan on medium to high heat and add oil
Quickly add the leaves and toss for about 60 to 90 seconds you want to just wilt the leaves
Season with salt and pepper
Add the shallots and remove from heat
Toss in the grapes and last second add the nuts

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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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Green & Black’s Organic

About a month ago Karlin and I received an email from a lady named Barbara Maldonado letting us know she had stumbled across our blog and really enjoyed the pictures and recipes. Barbara was organizing a tweet up in LA on behalf of Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate and asked if we wanted to attend the event along with other local bloggers, media & foodies. Unfortunately the timing just did not work for us and we were unable to attend, but a friendship was born.

Fast forward a few weeks and Karlin receives an email from Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate saying that they are going to send us some samples so we can create a recipe for Michelin and a Mom. Needles to say we were both very flattered and excited to create a couple of recipes. 4 days later I arrived home to find 2 bars of 70% Dark Chocolate and 2 bars 60% Dark Chocolate with Whole Cherries.

I had a hard time deciding on just one dessert so I decided to create 2 recipes (those of you that know me, know how much I love chocolate). I have been making these 2 desserts for a very long time and I knew that they would be just perfect for this post. The first recipe is for a Chocolate Pate a recipe I have carried with me since I was an apprentice. Second recipe is for a Chocolate Tart a recipe that I loved from my time working in England, with one exception I replaced the honey with Burton’s Maplewood Farms Rum infused maple syrup.

A very big thank you to Green & Black’s Organic Chocolates

Hope you enjoy…

Chocolate Pate

200g 60% Dark Chocolate with whole cherries
200g 60% Dark Chocolate with hazelnuts and currants
100g 70% Dark Chocolate
400 ml Heavy Cream
5 Egg Yolks
50g Sugar

Break chocolate into small pieces and melt
Heat cream until just before it boils
Add sugar and yolks together and heat over a water bath until pail yellow (be careful not to scramble)
Add cream to yolks slowly
Add cream/yolk mixture to melted chocolate
Set plastic wrap into mold leaving enough plastic to hang over sides
Pour mixture into mold and place in refrigerator and let set for at least 6 hours.
The mixture will be set up still feel slightly soft.

Chocolate Tart

Pastry Shell
250g Flour
150g Almond Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
200g Butter cut into cubes & very cold
90 ml Very cold water

In a food processor add dry ingredients and butter
Pulse for about 20 seconds until small balls form
Place mixture into a very cold bowl
Add 1/2 water and mix quickly
Add remaining water
Quickly knead the dough for about 5 – 6 turns
Cover and place in refrigerator
Once cool roll out to desired thickness lay in tart shell and blind bake at 375F for about 10 minutes and then uncover and bake for another 5-7 minutes.
Let Cool

Chocolate Mixture
500ml Heavy Cream
300g 70% Dark Chocolate
100ml Burton Maplewood Farm’s Rum infused maple syrup (replace with honey if you do not have)
2 Eggs

Melt chocolate with syrup/honey
Heat cream until just before it boils
Add cream to chocolate
Whisk eggs and slowly add mixture little at a time
Pour mixture into pre-baked tart shell and cook at 200F for about 18-20 minutes
Remove and let cool
Serve at room temperature with your favorite garnish

Amy’s Wine Picks

An obvious pairing for Chef McLeod’s Green & Black’s organic chocolate tart would be a ruby port. Because the dark chocolate is so decadent, contrasting flavors are optimal. The best pairing I have ever had with chocolate was chili mead by Makana Meadery. The meadery, located in Grahamstown on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, was founded in 2000 to make iQhilika, a traditional honey-based beverage. Mead is made my fermenting honey sugars into alcohol until it reaches 12 percent. It is made from habanero chilies and has a strong spiced palate that adds a new dimension to Chef McLeod’s dark chocolate tart.

Amy Payne

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Madeleines & Strawberry Preserve

Of course there are many theories to where these delicious little sponge cakes get their name, but to be honest WHO REALLY CARES :-). All we really care about is how incredibly delicious they are.
I mentioned to my Wife that I wanted to make some Madeleines for a blog post and the smile that came across her face was heart warming. The problem with this conversation was the timing, we just happened to be walking by a tea shop called Teavana, yes a perfect match for freshly baked Madeleines. Well 30 minutes later we walked out of the store dropping $120 on tea and appropriate tea making paraphernalia. Later that night it was proven to be well worth the shopping spree as we sipped on a cup of tea named Spice of Life and devoured 10 perfectly cooked Madeleines right out of the oven. (We would have finished them all if I did not have to take pictures for the post.) We truly could have been sitting in a small shop somewhere in Paris, the recipe was just how I remembered it from my days working in Europe, it had been some time since I made this recipe but now that I have tasted them again I will be making them often (plus we have a lot of tea to drink :-))
If you have made Madeleines in the past you probably notice a few difference in this recipe compared to the one you used, for example whole eggs and baking powder. I use egg whites and no baking powder, but to me there is one step in my recipe that truly makes the difference and that is browning the butter or Beurre noisette translation Hazelnut butter. This adds such a unique nutty flavor to the recipe.

There is nothing better than a warm batch of Madeleines for breakfast served with homemade Strawberry Preserve, now this is a way to impress your friends when you have them over for Brunch.

Hope you Enjoy….Jason

Amy’s Wine Picks

Top Pick: I recently poured the Cave Spring Riesling “Indian Summer SLH” Ice Wine for an event. It immediately came to mind as the perfect complement to chef McLeod’s warm Madeleine recipe. It is from the Lincoln Lakeshore region of the Niagara Peninsula along the south shore of Lake Ontario.
Ice wine was discovered by accident in Germany in 1974 by farmers trying to save their harvest after a sudden frost. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Ontario recognized its cold winters as an ideal climate for ice wine production. The Pennachetti family was among the pioneers, planting Riesling and Chardonnay vines on the Niagara Peninsula in 1978.
It has aromas of honeysuckle, dried apricots, canned pineapples and overripe peaches. At 12 percent alcohol, the ice wine retains a pleasant acidity that makes it ideal for pairing with food. When it is served chilled (45 degrees Fahrenheit), it accents the warm Madeleine perfectly!
Another fabulous and affordable ice wine producer is Jackson-Triggs.

Amy Payne

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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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Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back Ribs are one of my summer favorites. I love to eat them with a simple green salad and beautiful sweet corn on the cob. One thing I will tell you is that there are countless thoughts, beliefs & recipes on how to prepare ribs. Depending on where you come from also has a large impact on how you might prepare ribs. After doing a little research I did find a tip that I thought was very interesting and I had not taken this into consideration in the past, but it makes perfect sense. Do not boil the ribs, I was guilty of this in the past, instead slow roast or braise them. When boiling meat and bones you are essentially extracting flavor into the water (think making stock) and you run the risk of drying the meat out if boiled to long.
The recipe I created is not your typical BBQ Ribs, I decided to go with more Asian inspired flavors. One of the ingredients I used was Black Garlic and is perfect for this recipe as it is adds a unique richness with out the pungent fresh garlic acid bite. Mythology also says that it grants immortality so why not give it a try :-). Hope You Enjoy…Jason

Amy’s Wine Picks

Top pick: Riesling from Germany, preferably a dry style. Riesling is one of the best values in the world, is nearly every sommelier’s desert-island wine and has the most diverse range in styles for a noble grape. The residual sweetness will contrast the salty soy flavors, while complementing the orange, honey and ginger. Some of my favorite producers are St. Urbans-Hof, Joh. Jos. Prüm and Blees-Ferber.

Playing it safe: California or Washington Syrah. Syrah has aromas of red and black fruit, freshly crashed pepper, smoked meat, leather and Picholine olives. The tannins will cut through the proteins and it will add another dimension to the already flavorful dish. Some of my favorite California producers are Failla, Ojai and Copain. My favorite producers from Washington are Efeste, Charles Smith and Long Shadows.

Off the beaten track: Plavic Mali from Croatia. Plavac Mali was originally thought to be an ancestor of Zinfandel. In 1998 it was discovered that it’s actually the offspring of Zinfandel and Dobričić, a grape from the island of Solta. The DNA fingerprinting was conducted by Dr. Carole Meredith at UC Davis with the urging of Mike Grgich and researchers from the University of Zagreb. Plavo means blue in Croatian and mali means small. It is a full bodied, peppery and fruit dominant red wine. The flavors of jammed fruits and spice will complement chef McLeod’s glaze. My favorite producers are Zlatan, Bura Dinga, Korta Katarina and Saints Hills.

Amy Payne

Send us your favorite rib recipes to we would love to hear about them. Stay tuned for a very special gnocchi recipe and cooking with Kale.

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