poco cielo

my little heaven

Updated Classics

What a LONG week? Am I right? Things have been crazy around DC with the upcoming transition and I’ve been keeping extremely busy with yoga teacher training. In fact as I’m writing this, I just came home from about 4 hours of classes. Through this process, I’ve gained a whole new respect for yoga teachers. It looks easy and seems even easier, but it truly is like being back in school and takes quite a bit of work. I love it though. It has helped me grow in ways that I never knew possible. Plus it also helps me burn some major calories so I can afford to eat some delicious food without busting my waistline!

This week I was craving some classics. And of course, because it’s Ina Garten, her classic recipes have the “volume turned up” as she’d like to say. I decided to make her Cream of Tomato Soup. Who doesn’t love some homemade tomato soup? This recipe calls for fresh tomatoes and I know that one of Ina’s tennants in Back to Basics is to use in season produce. Tomatoes aren’t the best right now, however using them in a soup is a great way to use them because the cooking process and adding the chicken stock give them more flavor. I do have an issue with the sugar in the recipe. I don’t think it is needed at all. In fact, I think the sugar makes it taste like the canned stuff that we ate as kids. The tomatoes are sweet enough and you really don’t need it. Also, is this a new year new you? To make this healthier you can totally leave out the cream. It still tastes great.

Easy Creamy Tomato Soup

Since I don’t have a food mill, I had to use my immersion blender. I added a link at the bottom of this post where you can get one if you want. I don’t have a lot of room in the kitchen so adding another gadget really isn’t what I’m looking to do. However, an immersion blender doesn’t take up much space at all and is great for blending anything from soups to smoothies. Also, in making the croutons that are included in the recipe, instead of making them small floaties to be put in the soup, I tore the bread into large chunks and made dunkies. 😀 So good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I needed a dessert to go with this soup and I had to make the French Chocolate Bark. This is one of my all time favorite things to make because it is SO easy and customizable. Literally the base of chocolate is your canvas to add whatever kind of toppings you want. I deviated from Ina’s recommended toppings and added toasted almonds, pistachios, apricots, dried cherries, crystallized ginger, and as a surprise ingredient, lemon zest. If you just made a face, don’t knock it till you try it! Citrus with chocolate is amazingly delicious. It also brings out the flavor of all the other toppings as well.

This chocolate bark is a great way to jazz up the classic smore. Just replace the usual milk chocolate with a slab of this chocolate bark and you have an easy and very addicting dessert to serve your guests. Unlike Ina, I don’t have a fire pit right outside that I can light up to make them. Honestly, you don’t need a flame at all. You can roast marshmallows in the dead of winter by just broiling them in the oven for about 2-3 minutes. Watch them carefully though! They do contain sugar so they’ll go from toasty to burnt in a matter of seconds. I recommend placing them under the broiler, leaving the oven door cracked and watching them until they are golden brown on top. Then just scoop them off onto your chocolate and smush it all between two graham crackers.

Pre-smush

Post smush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also nothing tastes better with chocolate than some wine! Usually chocolate is paired with a sweet port style wine when you go to wine tastings. It’s good but I think that with this chocolate bark and all the complex flavors going on that a nice Syrah would be great, specifically Winc’s Full Sleeve Syrah. I am in love with this wine. It has a ton of fruit flavors which go really well with the dried fruit and citrus on the chocolate but it still maintains some dryness to balance out the sweetness from the chocolate and marshmallows. Honestly, I think you could drink this wine straight out of the bottle on its own. You know, like after one of those frustrating days at work and all you want to do is pop open a bottle and watch some TV, or maybe after a Hot Power yoga class? Either way, this wine is good no matter what kind of day you’ve had. To try it out at a discount and see what other wines Winc has in store, check out my link: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Be sure to check out my recommendations below on kitchen equipment and ingredients as well! Until next time, eat well and stay thirsty!

 

For these recipes, I recommend: 

Cuisinart Immersion Blender:

 

OXO Citrus Zester

Print Recipe
Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the Croutons
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the Croutons
Instructions
For the Soup
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.
  2. Add the cream to the soup and process it with an immersion blender until smooth. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or croutons.
For the Croutons
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Tear or cut bread into large chunks. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and top with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 minutes until the bread is toasted. Serve with the tomato soup.
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Print Recipe
French Chocolate Bark
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten
Prep Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and continue microwaving for 20-30 seconds and stirring after each until the chocolate just melts. (Mine took about 1 minute 30 seconds total). Don't let it cook too much because it will burn.
  2. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread into a rectangle to the desired thickness (about 1/4 inch is good). Then add the toppings one at a time and finish with a sprinkling of sea salt. Lightly pat the toppings into the chocolate to ensure they stick.
  3. Refrigerate for at least one hour or more. Cut or break into 12 pieces and serve.
Recipe Notes

Feel free to add more or less of the toppings or swap them out for whatever you like. Be creative!

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Two for One

After all the fun of the holiday eating and NYE, I seriously need to incorporate some vegetables into my diet. The last thing I need is some kind of cake or cookie so I stayed away from the dessert section of Back to Basics when searching for inspiration this week. So I started thubming through the salads and sides sections. I noticed that Ina included a butternut squash salad AND a maple roasted butternut squash recipe in the side section. Cue lightbulb going off. I opted to make the butternut squash side dish and use that to put on top of the salad. Both recipes include raosting the squash with maple syrup so they are similar albeit that the side dish recipe includes sage, bacon, and garlic too. Therefore the salad would have more flavor!

So starting with the side dish – OMG so good. I cheated a little bit with this too and got pre-cubed butternut squash from Trader Joe’s. Also, when roasting, I swapped out the pancetta with some bacon. The main difference between the two is that bacon is smoked and pancetta is not. I think the smoky flavor of the bacon complements the maple syrup in the dish, so it totally works for me. Lets get to the good part, the garlic. So you roast some whole, unpeeled garlic cloves along with the squash. I don’t think it really adds too much flavor and I didn’t know why Ina included it. THEN I noticed that once the garlic is roasted, you can unpeel it and smear a clove on bread. I know earlier I was talking about incorporating vegetables into my diet and now I’m talking about bread, but garlic is a vegetable, right?

Goodness on a plate

Once the squash was done, it was time to move over to the salad. It is a very simple salad of arugula with some toasted nuts, butternut squash, and a warm vinaigrette. I swapped out Ina’s recommended walnuts to pecans because I think they would add a lot of flavor and go with the squash really well. For the vinaigrette, I totally blanked and forgot to get some apple juice at the store. However, I had some leftover pomegranate juice so I opted to use that. The difference though between apple juice and pomegranate juice is that apple juice is sweet and pomegranate is not. To balance out the vinaigrette, I used sherry vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar since sherry vinegar is sweet.

The finished product turned out really well. I actually really like the amped up butternut squash with the bacon to top the salad. Then you can have the delicious roasted garlic bread on the side. It would be a great option to make on a Sunday and keep the ingredients on hand to throw together for a weekday lunch or dinner.

This meal paired extremely well with Winc’s Dolcetto. Dolcetto is actually an Italian grape from the Piedmont (northern) region. Winc sourced theirs from California which is grown in limited quantities so this one is kind of rare. Even though the name translates to “little sweet one” in English, it is not sweet at all. It has very robust fruit flavors and some spiciness.

There aren’t a lot of tannins going on so it is perfect to drink right out of the bottle. After doing some research, I found out that the Dolcetto grape is actually a black grape. Because the skin of the grape is so dark, the juice doesn’t need prolonged contact with the skins in order to obtain it’s deep garnet color. Therefore, the winemakers are able to filter out the skins early which in turn reduces the amount of tannins in the wine. The absence of tannins means *typically* there can be an absence of aeration of the wine. If you enjoy a good glass of Merlot, you’ll enjoy some Dolcetto. If you want to go out on the adventure and try some Dolcetto with your next meal, try Winc and get a discount on your first order using this link: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Until next time, eat well and stay thirsty!!!

 

When making this recipe I recommend the follow equipment:

 

Print Recipe
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 158.
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 50-60 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 50-60 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spread butternut squash cubes and whole, unpeeled garlic cloves in an even layer onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper then toss to combine evenly. Roast for 20-30 minutes turning once halfway through until the squash starts to caramelize.
  3. Sprinkle the bacon and sage evenly over the butternut squash and roast for another 20-30 minutes until the squash and garlic are caramelized and tender. Season to taste and serve hot with French bread for guests to spread with the roasted garlic.
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Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 88
Course Lunch
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Lunch
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the squash on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and toss to coat evenly. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.
  3. To toast the walnut halves, place them on a small baking sheet and place in the oven during the last 10 minutes of baking the squash.
  4. While the squash is roasting, combine the apple juice, vinegar and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about Ÿ cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, ½ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  5. Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and add just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten, and toss well. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Grate the Parmesan on a box grater like you would for carrots so you get nice long pieces of cheese to place on top.

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Ringing In 2017

2016 has been fun but I am SO looking forward to 2017. If it is anything like the past year has been, it’s going to be great. I have to give a shout-out here to a company that I feature on here often, this time it’s not about their wine though. Winc sent out this great card to fill out as a 2016 year in review. This is a great way to really look back and contemplate what went right during the year instead of focusing on the negative.

This year, I wanted to do something different than going out to an expensive event in DC. What better way to ring in a brand new year than with friends and several Ina Garten recipes for a cocktail party? Honestly, you don’t need a new year to host a cocktail party – they’re fun when you just want to be casual and have friends over for some food and drinks.

I decided to make two appetizer recipes and two cocktail recipes from Back to Basics to serve. I started with the cocktail recipes which can be made early in the day or even the night before and be stored in the refrigerator. I love that Ina made the cocktails in batches so you can just have a pitcher full on the ready instead of having to make each one individually. This gives you, the host, time to socialize instead of constantly mixing up cocktails.

The pomegranate cosmopolitan was my favorite of the two. The pomegranate juice, cranberry juice and the lime juice really give the drink a lot of complexity.  The Juice of a Few Flowers sounds fancy but it is literally citrus juice and vodka. It is incredibly easy and also customizable. Say you don’t prefer grapefruit, you can leave it out and add more orange juice. Since the recipe called for sugaring the rim of each glass, I actually decided to add 1/4 cup of sugar to the mixture instead. The sugar scales the tartness back and saved me from having to put sugar on each glass before the party.

For apps, I made the Bruschetta with Peppers and Gorgonzola and Roasted Shrimp Cocktail. Now, I have to admit – I took a major shortcut with the shrimp cocktail. Ina includes a recipe to make your own cocktail sauce, however I took a note from her and said you know what….store bought is fine. Honestly, cocktail sauce from the store is just as good as making your own and WAY easier. The shrimp itself is easy to make, especially if you get shrimp that are already peeled and deveind. Roasting the shrimp gives it such great flavor and it only takes about 6-8 minutes in the over with some salt, pepper, and olive oil. I opted to make half the shrimp at the beginning of the party and kept the rest on stand-by in case we ran out then I could just throw it in the oven for a few minutes and have some fresh shrimp ready to go.

You can also take some shortcuts with the bruschetta and get ahead of the game. I sliced the baguette and toasted the pieces ahead of time and sauteed the peppers. Just before the party, I assembled the bruschetta by layering the peppers with the Gorgonzola on the baguette pieces then just bake for a few minutes to heat and melt the cheese and done.

The party ended up going really well, and it was pretty easy to throw together. Definitely something that I learned was that it is OK to take shortcuts. Your guests won’t notice too much if you use store-bought cocktail sauce or didn’t peel and devein the shrimp yourself. I also took an easy DIY shortcut with identifying the dishes for my guests. Instead of buying place card holders, I made some using old wine corks. Simply slice one in half right down the middle to create a flat surface. Then cut a slit in the top without going all the way through to the bottom which leaves an opening for you to put your place cards. You can get them at a craft store or office supply store.

I hope everyone had a great start to 2017! See you soon!

Print Recipe
Pomegranate Cosmopolitans
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 41
Servings
drinks
Ingredients
Servings
drinks
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients (except the limes slices) in a pitcher. Refrigerate for several hours to chill. When ready to serve, pour into a martini glass and garnish with a lime slice.
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Juice of a Few Flowers
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 37
Servings
drinks
Ingredients
Servings
drinks
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all the citrus juice and sugar in a pitcher and whisk to combine until the sugar is dissolved. Add the vodka and refrigerate to chill. Pour into martini glasses with a fresh spring of mint as garnish and serve immediately.
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Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 38
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Dry the shrimp off with paper towels and place them on a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, salt and pepper then mix to combine. Be sure they are in one layer on the pan - use 2 if you must. Roast for 8-10 minutes just until they are cooked through. Serve with cocktail sauce on the side.
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Bruschetta with Peppers and Gorgonzola
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 48.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
appetizers
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
appetizers
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add all the peppers and saute for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender. Sprinkle with the sugar and saute for 2 to 3 more minutes. Stir in capers and basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, arrange the bread slices in rows on sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil and toast for 7 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. Top each toast with a spoonful of the pepper mixture. Dot each with Gorgonzola cheese. Return to the oven for a minute or two to melt the cheese. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
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Holiday Meal 2016

I hope that everyone is having a great holiday season! I know I am. With all the parties going on that it is giving me a chance to knock out several recipes.

The first recipe I wanted to try was Ina’s gravlax. I’m a huge fan of smoked salmon which is absolutely delicious but I’ve never had gralvax much less made it. It’s salmon that is cured with salt and season with dill then served with a vinegary mustard sauce. Essentially it is as easy as making the curing seasons (salt, sugar, fennel seeds), covering some salmon in it, weighing down the salmon to pull out any excess water, and letting it sit for two to three days. Sounds easy, but it really scared me as I was scared that the salmon would go bad. My first go around with this I got sockeye salmon which is NOT the type of salmon you want to get. It started smelling fishy after 2 days. Luckily while it was curing, I did research on gravlax and found out that you have to use center cut Atlantic salmon for the best gravlax. It is a bit pricier than sockeye but it is a better cut of meat. Frankly, you’ll want to use the best salmon you can find. I only purchased a small filet from the fishmonger because I figured three pounds is quite a lot. I just scaled back the curing spices accordingly.

It turned out quite better than expected. There was no fishy smell by the third day and the taste was similar to sushi. I didn’t even use a filet knife to thinly slice the fish. I used a utility knife. The key here is that you want the knife to be sharp, like super sharp, and you want to saw the knife back and forth when slicing the fish and let the blade to the work. If you press this blade, the fish will tear. No bueno.

Next I wanted to make a main and I wanted a show stopper. Enter Ina’s turkey roulade. Much like the pumpkin roulade made weeks ago, this is similar but with a turkey breast and stuffing. I had a difficult time finding a deboned turkey breast. I assume if you know of an actual butcher in your area, you can call them and ask them to do it. But, it was a great learning experience doing it myself and it wasn’t that difficult. It’s basically 3 steps:

Step 1: Remove the back bone by slicing down through along both sides of the spine.

Step 2: Then remove the breast bone by slicing along either side of the breast bone and pulling it out.

Step 3: Lastly, cut each rib away from the meat.

You’ll want to slice into the breast meet to open it up (butterflying it) in order to maintain a similar thickness throughout. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that will help. Hopefully one day I’ll gain up enough courage to put up my own. For now though, I’m still tinkering with the technology.

Anyway, you can totally do that all the day before you want to serve it which gives you plenty of time to brine it. Then you’ll want to make the stuffing which is literally so freaking flavorful it can stand on it’s own. It has dried fruit, nuts, vegetables, sausage, herbs and an herb stuffing mix. I’m serious. This is one for the books. It has so much depth and character, it’s like the Meryl Streep of stuffing.

My homemade roasting rack lol

Once the stuffing is all smoothed over the bird, you just roll it up like the pumpkin roulade and tie it with kitchen twine to hold it all together. I don’t have a roasting rack so I used some celery stalks and carrots as a make shift one. I added chicken stock to the bottom of the pan to use for basting and the make-shift roasting rack helps flavor the stock even more which can then be used for gravy! I basted the bird every 30 minutes during cooking and rotated it as well to help with even browning. The result is a delicious main dish that visually looks appealing and tastes even better. This dish received a lot of compliments.

The third recipe I decided to make was Ina’s roasted parsnips and carrots. One of Ina’s tennats of Back to Basics or just cooking in general is to use ingredients that are in season. During the winter, root vegetables are the flavor of the season so this side dish was perfect for the holiday meal. Also – this is literally easy as easy gets. You just peel and slice some carrots and parsnips, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for like 20 minutes. Done and done. If you’ve never tried parsnips, give them a go. They are similar to carrots but definitely need to be cooked as they can be a bit woody.

Of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a holiday inspired cocktail with some Winc sparkling wine. I know I featured Finke’s Widow in the last post, but this stuff is too good not to mention again. It is gorgeous on it’s own in a nice champagne glass or in this nifty holiday cocktail. I call it a Ginger Orange Mimosa. Any guesses as to what ingredients go into it? 😀 Hahaha. I know the name isn’t too original and one day I’ll start giving my cocktail ideas cool names, but for now Ginger Orange Mimosa it is. Cut up some ginger root and cook in equal parts sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Allow it to cool and strain out the ginger root. Mix the ginger infused simple syrup with freshly squeezed orange juice and pour into a small container. All your guests have to do is add the ginger orange mixture to their glass – as little or much as they like – then top off with Finke’s. Garnish with some orange zest to drive home the citrus flavor and serve with some delicious gravlax at your holiday party. It couldn’t be easier and the ginger orange mixture can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge to make it even easier!

I say this almost every week, but if you want to try Winc out, click here and get a great discount on your first order and be sure to try out the Finke’s Widow if you can – you won’t regret it.

Print Recipe
Gravlax with Mustard Sauce
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, Page 34
Prep Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 3 days
Servings
people
Ingredients
Gravlax
Mustard Sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 3 days
Servings
people
Ingredients
Gravlax
Mustard Sauce
Instructions
For the Gravlax
  1. Cut the salmon fillet into 2 pieces crosswise and place one piece in a deep dish, skin side down. Wash and shake dry the dill and arrange over the fish. Combine the salt, sugar, pepper, and fennel seeds in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the dill. Place the other piece of salmon over the dill and spices, skin side up. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place a smaller dish on top of the plastic wrap and weight it down with heavy cans. Refrigerate the salmon for at least 2 to 3 days, turning it every 12 hours and basting with the liquid that collects in the dish.
  2. To serve, lay the salmon fillets flat on a cutting board and scrape off most of the dill and spices. Slice with a long, thin knife, as you would for smoked salmon. Lay the slices of bread on a cutting board, spread with the mustard sauce, and place a slice of salmon on top covering the bread completely. Cut each bread slice in half, decorate with a sprig of dill, and serve.
For the Mustard Sauce
  1. Combine the Dijon mustard, ground mustard, sugar, and vinegar in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil and stir in the chopped dill. Serve with the gravlax.
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Roasted Turkey Roulade
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 109
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2.5 hours
Passive Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2.5 hours
Passive Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place the dried figs and cranberries in a small bowl and pour in the brandy or water. Microwave for about 2 minutes and let stand.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small bits, and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until cooked and browned. Add the figs and cranberries with the liquid, the chopped rosemary, and the nuts. Cook for 2 more minutes. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.
  3. Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well. The stuffing may be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a backing rack on a sheet pan.
  5. Lay the butterflied turkey breast skin side down on a cutting board. Sprinkle the meat with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Spread the stuffing in a 1/2-inch-thick layer over the meat, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Don't mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. Place the leftover stuffing in a small dish and bake for the last 45 minutes of roasting alongside the turkey. Starting at one end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.
  6. Place the stuffed turkey breast seam side down on the rack on the sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 1 and 3/4 to 2 hours, until a thermometer reads 150 degrees i the center. Test in a few places. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve 1/2 inch-thick slices and serve warm with the extra stuffing.
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Roasted Parsnips & Carrots
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 179
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. If the parsnips and carrots are very thick, slice them in half lengthwise. Slice each one diagonally in 1-inch-thick slices. The vegetables will shrink wile cooking, so don't make the pieces too small. Place the cut vegetables on a sheet pan. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss well. Roast for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables, tossing occasionally, until the parsnips and carrots are just tender. Sprinkle with dill or parsley and serve hot.
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Ice, Ice Baby

So this week here in the DC region, mother nature decided to provide us with a nice covering of ice. If you’re not from the area, any precipitation in this area really messes up any travel plans one might have. The best thing to do on a day where you wake up to a bunch of ice is to stay inside and get some chores done. My chores for the day included making some treats for work. Luckily, I had some help, one of my friends who lives a few blocks away came over to help.

We made some salted caramel popcorn and packaged them up in bags to be distributed to my coworkers this week. I used my mom’s recipe for caramel popcorn and added some Fleur de Sel – a french sea salt – at the end to give the popcorn some extra special flavor. We also made some scotchies (butterscotch rice krispie treats) which remind me so much of my childhood as my grandma made them every year. We dug into them while they were still warm and gooey.

Salty and caramely goodness

Still gooey!

Of course to help us along we had to have some wine! Since it was chilly out, I warmed it up for us. This is totally the season for some mulled wine! It’s basically like a warm, spiced sangria that is easily adaptable. I like to use a robust, full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. I picked Winc’s Pacificana Cab because it has a lot of red fruit flavors and would stand up to the add-ins. Also, this Cab is oaked which imparts some vanilla and baking spice flavors into the wine which will in turn help spice up mulled wine.

I’m calling this Cranberry-Orange mulled wine. To the wine, I added some cranberry juice cocktail, orange zest, freshly squeezed orange zest, fresh cranberries, a cinnamon stick, and a star anise. I let it sit in the crock pot to warm up for a few hours, allowing the flavors to really meld. The mulled wine has so much flavor, and you can easily add whatever fruit/juice/spices you want to make it unique. Want to make your own this winter? Try some at a discount by using this link: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Pasta and mulled wine, I can’t think of a better pairing.

Also, we had to have a lunch break. We needed it to be quick and easy and we found the perfect Back to Basics recipe. The tagliatelle with truffle butter is so easy and SO good. Literally, this is one that you HAVE to make. The reicpe does require a few specialty ingredients but they’re worth it. Ina recommends Cipriani brand tagliatelle.

The brand is actually named after a man named Giuseppe Cipriani who opened Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy back in the 1930’s. This pasta is very high quality and it only cooks in 3 minutes flat! It’s super fresh and SUPER good. Here is a link where you can purchase it on Amazon: Amazon - Cipriani Pasta.

The other ingredient you’re going to want is White Truffle Butter. Truffles are extremely expensive to buy on their own but truffle infused butter is much more affordable. Visit http://www.dartagnan.com to purchase. I recommend stocking up and buying a few extra and keep them in the freezer then just pop them out when you need them. The butter is great in sauces, on chicken, potatoes, you name it. It’s especially amazing in this pasta dish because the tagliatelle absorbs the sauce.

A bowl full of goodness

Seriously this pasta could not be easier. The longest part is waiting for the water to boil. All you do is heat the cream and butter up in skillet over extremely low heat (I had mine on the lowest heat setting) and then add your cooked pasta and done. I served it directly out of the pan with the Parmesan shavings and chives on top. I can’t really think of any way to make this dish any better. Granted – it isn’t healthy by any means, but when you just need an easy, quick, and comforting meal, this is it.

With this being my last post before Christmas, I just want to wish everyone happy holidays and happy eating! 🙂

 

 

Print Recipe
Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 152
Course Lunch
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Lunch
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat the cream, butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper over very low heat and mix to combine. Keep the butter and cream over very low heat.
  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. If using Cipriani brand, it'll only be 3 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, reserve some cooking liquid and drain the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the butter and cream. Add as much of the pasta water as needed to keep the pasta very creamy.
  4. Garnish with with chives and shaved Parmesan.
Recipe Notes

If you don't have tagliarelle (aka tagliatelle), fettuccine works well.

 

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The Spice of Life

You guys, it’s getting creepily close to Christmas and I’m not sure if I’m excited or sad! Maybe some of both. Excited for the holiday and sad that it is passing by so quickly!  As I sit here to write this, I have A Year Without a Santa Claus on tv and just listening to it brings back some of the childhood excitement the season brings me.

Having a little taste test before bed

With it being so close to the holiday, tis the season for some quality gingerbread. I’m not talking about the fancy Martha Stewartesque gingerbread houses all decked out with their candy cane gates and jolly rancher swimming pool. Ina offers up a much different version of gingerbread. It is a rustic dessert that is dense, spicy, and sweet. This is a perfect addition to any holiday dessert table this year. Also, it makes the whole house smell AMAZING. Think of it as edible potpourri. The orange frosting on top adds more flavor to the cake but you can opt to skip it and simply sprinkle it with powdered sugar.

How could this possibly be bad?!?!

This cake is sweetened by molasses, there is no other sugar actually in it. Molasses is a very dark, sweet, smoky syrup that gives gingerbread its unique color and flavor. One thing I did want to look up is what exactly unsulfured molasses is since the recipe specifically called for it. I’ve never really paid attention in the store. According to my research, molasses is the by product of the sugar making process. So when the sugar cane is crushed to make the little sugar granules we use to sweeten almost anything, the leftover is molasses. In some instances, sulfur is used during this process. I can only imagine that the sulfur adds a not too pleasant taste. I have also learned that most molasses in the states is unsulfured, so you don’t really have to worry about it. It’s always safe though to check the label to make sure.

Bubbly molasses and butter

This cake also has it’s fair share of spice in it. A whole teaspoon and a half of ground ginger root (it is gingerbread after all), cinnamon, and cloves give the cake balance with the earthy sweetness of the molasses. Another balancing ingredient which I think it totally necessary is the orange zest. You can’t taste it too much in the cake but it definitely adds a layer of flavor and helps cut through the sweetness.

I did make a few changes to the recipe, not major, but some differences. I didn’t use the recommended golden raisins, I used the regular ones. They are easier to find, taste the same, and I think more nostalgic looking. It reminds me of the applesauce cake my grandma made with the dark raisins in it. Also, I don’t have an 8×8 pan so I had to improvise. I do have a 6-cup bundt pan which worked perfectly, all I had to do was up the baking time by 15 minutes. If you use the bundt pan, I recommend baking the gingerbread for 45 minutes and check it and if it needs more time, add 5 minutes then check again. I got about 15 slices out of the bundt cake which was great as I had planned to take it to a work holiday lunch the next day.

A little edible decoration never hurt…

I decided to add a little extra Ina to my gingerbread. A mantra of hers is that she always garnishes a dish with an ingredient in the dish, “so you know exactly what’s in it.” So, I used my special zester that peels little strips off of the citrus. For this recipe, I zested half the orange which went into the cake, then I used this zester on the rest of the orange for the garnish. This isn’t necessary, you could just zest the rest of the orange regularly into the frosting to add extra flavor if you wanted. If you want to purchase a zester like this one, check out the amazon link below. Just make sure you zest BEFORE you cut and juice the orange, otherwise it’ll be a mess.

A great wine to pair this with is Winc’s new sparkling wine, Fink’s Widow. Bubbly just screams holidays and it is great for cocktails or after a meal with dessert. It has a lot of great apple and even pineapple flavors that are really crisp on the palate with the effervescence. You can’t beat the price on this one – only $13. That’s about the same price as prosecco. Many sparkling wines are difficult to find that cheaply (that are good), but this one is definitely a winner. It’s great on it’s own, but I was tempted into turning it into a holiday mimosa. Use this link for a discount on your first order: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

FW spreading some holiday cheer!

I first got the idea for this cocktail by seeing sugared cranberries and wanting to make them. When you make sugared cranberries, you cook them for a little and then let them soak in a mixture of sugar and water. The leftover syrup is turned slightly red from the cranberries and has great flavors. I added about 2 teaspoons of the simple syrup to 2 Tablespoons of cranberry cocktail mix and then topped it with the Finke’s Widow. I put the finished sugared cranberries on a large toothpick as garnish. SO GOOD! The cranberry flavor is balanced out by the sweetness of the syrup and the wine adds some crispness to the drink. This is one you’ll definitely want to make for your holiday party. As an alternative to the sugared cranberries, you can always freeze some fresh cranberries and use them as ice cubes in your drink as garnish and to keep the drink cold without watering it down.

Festive and refreshing


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Print Recipe
Old-Fashioned Gingerbread
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 202
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8-inch cake pan. Place the rum and raisins in a small pan, cover, and heat until the rum boils. Turn off the heat and set aside. Place the butter and molasses in another small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Cool for 5 minutes, then mix in the sour cream and orange zest.
  2. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt together into a small bowl. Mix to combine. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and mix only until smooth.
  3. Drain the raisins and add them and the crystallized ginger to the mixture with a spatula. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
  4. When the cake is cooled, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and orange juice and pour it over the gingerbread allowing it to drip down the sides. Cut into 9 squares.
Recipe Notes

You can use a 6 cup bundt pan. If so, increase baking time to 45 minutes and if it isn't done completely, put back into the over for another 5 minutes. Using a bundt pan yields about 12-15 slices of cake.

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Wine Tasting Featuring Winc

The holidays are fast approaching and that means one thing – parties. I actually was invited to attend a doterra essential oil party that one of my yoga friends was hosting. We decided to do the part potluck style where everyone chips in and brings something different. I offered to bring something snacky and some wine because of course I did. I figured this would be an excellent time to bust out some new and different Winc wines for my friends to try.

When I was looking through Back to Basics, I turned to the first recipe in the Appetizers section and I knew immediately that was what I needed to make. It is the recipe for Ina’s Parmesan & thyme crackers. Yes, homemade crackers and they are SO easy you won’t believe it. Essentially they are savory shortbread cookies. Shortbread being cookies that are butter and flour with no egg. Instead of adding sugar, the recipe calls for Parmesan cheese and thyme to give them lots of flavor. The result is a buttery cracker with great salty Parmesan and herb flavor. I actually decided to use some dried thyme when I made them because it was easier. I KNOW, I KNOW – Ina would not be a fan of using a dried herb here. However, I think dried herbs are great and convenient. Not everyone has time to run to the store to pick up some fresh thyme just to use a teaspoon for a recipe. This is where dried herbs are a savior.

No cheese for these crackers - only wine...

No cheese for these crackers – only wine…

I can’t wait to make these around Christmas and mix up the herbs and possibly the cheese a little bit. In fact, I was chatting at the party with a friend who is lactose intolerant. She gave me the idea of using Pecorino cheese instead of the Parm because Pecorino is sheep’s milk cheese and doesn’t contain the lactose that Parmesan (cow’s milk) does. You’d still get the same salty bite but it would be lactose friendly. These went great with the wine. They are perfect for neutralizing the palate when switching between different wines.

Now, on to the wines. I chose 3 to bring along that I thought would be different for everyone to try. Vinyasa Chenin Blanc, To Be Honest Red Blend, and Supercluster Tourigua Nacional.

Vinyasa Chenin Blanc:

vin-YAS-a

vin-YAS-a

The only white wine I brought, it’s totally self-explanatory why it was necessary. With the attendees being my yoga teacher training peers – we HAD to have some Vinyasa! Also, this wine is particularly interesting. First, it is low in alcohol by volume – only 11.8%. I like how I say “only”, I mean, it’s less than normal. Anyway, this wine is also…vegan. Before I found out, I thought all wine was vegan. I mean, it’s fermented grapes stored in either steel or oak barrels, what animal products could be involved. I decided to do some digging. Turns out A LOT of wine is not vegan friendly. Here’s the deal: when wine is made and the grapes are crushed, there is a lot of sediment that floats around in there, especially in very young wines that haven’t been aged very long. The producers put that wine through a processed called fining before bottling. This process is basically a filtration system that removes the sediment and leaves the wine clear. I figured they’d just run it through a fine sieve, but what producers do is pour animal casein (protein) into the wine. This casein attracts the sediment and it kinda congeals into larger clumps of stuff that can more easily be removed from the wine. To achieve this, vegan friendly wines use something like activated charcoal for the fining process. KNOWLEDGE DROP! I know what you’re thinking – MIND.BLOWN. I’m not actually sure if wines will actually say they are vegan or if you need to do your research before hand. It can’t hurt to do a little research if you want to maintain a vegan friendly diet.

Ok – so the taste. Even though this is a white wine, it definitely is not sweet. I tasted citrus and interestingly enough the pith of the citrus. There was some bitterness there like you were eating an orange or drinking unsweetened tea. I think this wine would be great with some peaches or raspberries in it to counterbalance the bitterness of it. Or it could definitely be great for a sangria.

To Be Honest Red Blend by Matt Bellasai

Nothing to whine about here, tbh.

Nothing to whine about here, tbh.

Oh Matt Bellasai, how I want your job. If you followed Buzzfeed on Facebook over the past couple years, you’ve probably seen Matt’s entrance into the wine world with their segment “Wine About It”. He basically sat at his desk, slammed some wine and got buzzed, then was given a topic to complain about. I specifically remember his segment where he did the Edward 40 Hands challenge with I think Pinot Grigo. He has since moved on from Buzzfeed and started his own segment now called “To Be Honest” and the premise is the same. However NOW he has his own wine! When I saw that Winc was collaborating with him I knew I had to try it. And Matt, if you’re reading this and you need an assistant or backup – let me know!

This is a great versatile red blend as most are.  A little bit of breathing on this wine really releases the fruitiness of it. It is quite complex as it is a blend of four grapes from the Paso Robles region of California. Best part of this wine, is that it is great, easy to drink and only $13 – very affordable and would make a great gift for anyone who likes red wine.

Supercluster Tourigua Nacional

Hipster chic

Hipster chic

This is what I call the hipster of the bunch. Tourigua Nacional is a Portugese grape that is grown in Paso Robles, California and is considered to be pretty rare. What makes this wine “hipster” is how it is made. When I think of the hipster scene, I think of cold-brew coffee and microbreweries with the whole chemistry set up. They are always looking for ways to incorporate science into how they make things. This wine is just that. It is made using the “carbonic method”. Like vegan wine, I had to do some research. Essentially, the grapes are harvested from the vineyard and instead of being macerated to let the juice ferment, they are place into large drums in tact. The winemakers fill the drums with CO2 and the grapes are left to ferment in tact. Meaning the juice ferments INSIDE the grape. This is to result in a lighter bodied red-wine and it’s just a pretty cool and modern method.

This was by far my favorite. It was super easy to drink right out of the bottle with loads of fruit flavors. It also had a little bit of syrupiness to it, so it had some weight to it. A great way to describe it is how one of my favorite vloggers, Whitney Adams puts it. She says it is like drinking whole milk versus skim. You know how whole milk is thicker and silky whereas skim milk is a bit watery. Yeah, Supercluster is like whole milk in that situation. It’s so great – and I’d definitely pair that with a cheese board because it would really go well with some bold flavored cheeses.

So there you have it, three interesting wines and some delish homemade crackers to go with. As the holidays are fast approaching, you might be wondering what to get as host/hostess gifts for any upcoming parties. WINE! Especially some interesting wine that would be a great conversation starter. Plus, it gets delivered right to your door! If you want to pick some up for a discount, visit my link: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Until next time, happy eating and stay thirsty!

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Print Recipe
Parmesean & Thyme Crackers
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 30.
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
crackers
Ingredients
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
crackers
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon of water (mine took 3 teaspoons of water total).
  2. Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9-inch log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 3/8-inch-thick rounds with a sharp knife and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

You can totally make these WAYYYYYYYYYY ahead of time and put them in the freezer for up to 6 months. When you need them, thaw them out in the fridge overnight, slice and bake.

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Fresh Mushroom Risotto

Well, Thanksgiving is officially over. I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and ate all the things. I was hoping to put up a post last week, but I ended up getting sick after the holiday so I held out. This week,  I wanted to go for something a little bit different than anything we’d had for Thanksgiving so I decided to go for the Wild Mushroom Risotto featured in Back to Basics. Risotto is something that I’ve always felt is super fancy and always looks really, really good. However, I’ve tried to make it a few times before and never had any success at it. The rice would always be undercooked. I mean like still crunchy. I decided I would take my time with this one and follow the methodology that Ina laid out exactly when making it and hope that it would turn out.

img_0635The first thing that you’ll need is Arborio rice. This is the best rice to use for risotto as it is short grain and VERY starchy    which is what makes risotto creamy. You can find this in the regular grocery store in the rice isle. It’s pretty common now. If you use jasmine rice or brown rice, it will just absorb the liquid and won’t release the starch. You’ll end up with a pot of rice, which I’m sure will still taste good, but it won’t be creamy like risotto.

The one thing different that I noticed I never did before was to heat the chicken stock while I’m cooking the risotto. Essentially you’re stirring and stirring the rice while adding the stock a little bit at a time while the rice absorbs the liquid and releases its starches. In my prior experiences, I just dumped the stock in straight from the can or box. This go around I decided to take Ina’s word on it and I used my homemade stock I made a few months ago and I heated it in a separate pot on the stove over medium/low heat.  Honestly, this makes sense to me now. I took a cooking class a few years ago and the instructor told us that the quickest way to bring the temperature of a pan down is to add food to it. So, when I was making the risotto before and I was adding the room temperature stock to the rice, it was dropping the temperature of the pot and it wouldn’t cook through. If the stock is warm, then the cooking continues undisturbed and allows the rice to cook all the way through.

Passarola and Cremini

Passarola and Cremini

Now, let’s talk mushrooms. Ina recommends using dried Morel mushrooms. Morels are very rare to find fresh and if you do, they’re typically astronomically expensive. In an effort to make them more widely available, companies have started to dry them and sell them in stores. Then all you have to do is re-hydrate them in boiling water then you can use the broth as stock which adds even more flavor to whatever it is you’re cooking. I’ve done this with porcini mushrooms (and I will admit, it does add a TON of flavor to the dish) – I made some barley mushroom soup when I was on my vegan kick and it honestly gave the soup a beefy flavor. However, I had issues finding Morels except at the local Whole Foods for like $15 for a tiny little pack. I’d have had to buy two packs to make the risotto and I feel like $30 on one ingredient is a little too pretentious even for me. So, I improvised. I found some really cool oyster mushrooms that had a blue tint to them at Trader Joe’s and decided to use those and the Baby Bella (cremini) mushrooms. The risotto still turned out fantastic. If you want to use dried mushrooms, I provided an Amazon link at the bottom for some dried Porcini mushrooms and added a note at the end of the recipe on how to incorporate them into the risotto.

Beautiful Blue Oyster Mushrooms look just like a painting

Beautiful Blue Oyster Mushrooms look just like a painting

img_0636This also marked my first time working with Saffron. Just like the Morel mushrooms, saffron is a pretty expensive ingredient. It is the stamen of the a crocus flower. They have to be hand harvested and dried which is what gives them their mystique. It does add a beautiful yellow tint to the risotto and a spiciness that I can’t really explain. It is unique and really good. The good news is that you only need to use a tiny bit. This I did splurge on and got some from Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find any at the store, here is a link where you can order some online. I recommend this ingredient as it is difficult to duplicate the flavor of the saffron.

Overall, this risotto turned out perfectly. It was about 30 minutes of monotonous stirring, but if you have a little bit of time, it’s totally worth it. Also, it is very hearty and can easily be turned into a fully vegetarian meal, just leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock. Also, feel free to add whatever vegetables (you can use frozen) you want to this dish. It really is pretty adaptable to whatever you have going on in the fridge.

img_0733

I had to pair this dish with some wine – the recipe called for it after all! You’ll want a dry wine, meaning not sweet. If you add a sweet wine like Moscato, it will give the rice a sugary taste. I would recommend a Sauvignon Blanc as most of them have a lot of flavor and not much residual sugar. However, I used Winc’s Passarola Vinho Branco from Portugal. Vinho Branco literally means white wine in Portuguese. It is a versatile white wine and is absolutely delicious to drink with the meal and by itself to be honest. It has a lot of citrus flavor, think lemons and limes. It is also nicely balanced between acidity and sweetness. If you like Sauv Blanc, you’ll LOVE this and the good news, it is super affordable. One thing I love about Winc is how I get to try wines from all over the world, like Portugal, that I wouldn’t have normally tried otherwise. If you want to try Winc and get a discount on your first order, use my link: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Leftovers!!!

Leftovers!!!

 

Link for Porcini Mushrooms:


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Print Recipe
Fresh Mushroom Risotto
Adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 144
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Remove and discard the stems of the cremini mushrooms and rub off any excess dirt with a damp paper towel. Don't rinse them! Slice and set aside. Slice the oyster mushrooms and set aside with the cremini mushrooms.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
  3. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the bacon and shallots over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of the warm chicken stock to the rice plus the saffron, salt and pepper. Stir and simmer over low heat until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock mixture, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry before adding more of the stock mixture. Continue until the rice is cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. When done, the risotto should be thick and creamy and not at all dry. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve hot in bowls with extra cheese.
Recipe Notes

If you use the dried mushrooms, decrease the amount of chicken stock by 2 cups. Steep the mushrooms in 2 cups of boiling water for 30 minutes. Run the mushroom stock through a coffee filter to remove the sediment. Mix the mushroom stock with the chicken stock and simmer in pan. Add the now hydrated mushrooms in with the cremini mushrooms.

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That Pumpkin Roll

Howdy folks! Glad to see there was a lot of interest in the salad that was posted last week. I hope for those of you that tried it, you loved it. Or if you decided to try Winc and get some wine, I hope you enjoy it as well. If there are any kinds that you have questions about, let me know, I’ve had my fair share of them so far so I can give you some pointers on those that I have tried. 🙂

So many of us know that Thanksgiving is coming up next week. Unless you rely upon the retail industry to tell you, then you’ll likely think that next week is Christmas. Anyway Thanksgiving is here – a joyous holiday that celebrates eating! Whether you’re celebrating with your family, friends, coworkers, pets, whomever, there is usually one staple that pops up after the turkey and sides and that is something pumpkin. 😀 I, along with the throngs of fervent fans, have been lining up for some pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks since September. Now it’s time to glorify our love of it and make it into something edible. Traditionally, the pumpkin dessert comes in the form of pie. However, leave it to Ina to take her pumpkin spice to another level for Turkey Day….a Pumpkin Roulade.

img_0690

So, I’ve totally made this before – not Ina’s, but I think it was just a generic recipe that I had found. I’ve also grown up with what we called Pumpkin Roll, so this wasn’t too new to me when I saw the recipe. I did note a few differences though. First, Ina adds more spice to her cake which adds a lot more flavor as I’ve discovered. Second, her filling is made with mascarpone cheese. Think of this as the Italian version of cream cheese and can be found in the grocery store either in the specialty cheese case (where the brie and smoked gouda are) or it’ll be with the cream cheese. It’s not quite as dense as American cream cheese and it has more of a ricotta consistency. Lastly, she rolls hers differently than I’ve seen/done it in the past, which I’ll get into in a second.  Let me talk about a few other things first.

img_0656

Roulade is a fancy French term for anything that is rolled as it comes from the French root word meaning “to roll”. It doesn’t have to be a dessert, in fact Ina’s got a nice recipe for a Turkey Roulade in Back to Basics that I’ll get to try later. I think that the idea of rolling the cake is a bit daunting. I remember I had to have my mom help me out the first time I made one because I didn’t understand how just roll a cake up. The batter has a higher ratio of eggs to flour than most typical cakes which makes it more spongy and pliable. You also bake it on a half sheet pan so it is long and thin which aids in the rollage process. The most important aspects I’ve learned of making a roll cake is that you have to use a liberally confection sugar dusted kitchen towel (and when I say liberal I mean it, think Bernie Sanders liberal, as the sugar keeps the cake from sticking) AND you have to do the rolling while the cake is hot. If you wait to let it cool, it’ll just break apart. So have your kitchen towel dusted completely with confection sugar on the ready and flip that cake out as soon as it comes out of the oven, and roll it up.

img_0681

Speaking of rolling, let’s get to what I wanted to mention earlier. I didn’t follow Ina’s recipe exactly on this. She recommends rolling from the short side so you get several layers and albeit a more dramatic presentation. The end result is a taller cake, but shorter cake so when you slice it, you get more per slice but less slices if that makes sense. The roll that I’m used to, I’m going to call the West Virginia Roll because that is how I learned to do it. This is the exact opposite of Ina’s method. You roll from the long end so it is longer, there aren’t as many layers but you get more slices out of it. As I decided I wanted to take this to work, this was great because I easily got about 16-18 slices out of it. It really just depends on how you prefer to do it. It’ll taste the same, trust me on that.

Pre-roll

Pre-roll

I also made a minor change to the filling as well. I used half cream cheese and half mascarpone. I just think that the cream cheese is a bit thicker so it holds up when slicing better. You can totally use all cream cheese if you can’t find mascarpone or just don’t feel like using it. Your choice. Oh! Ina also has you put crystallized ginger in the filling. Never heard of it or had it? It’s basically ginger root that has been sliced and cooked in sugar syrup until it get’s really chewy. It’s SO good. OMG. It still has the spice from the ginger but the sweetness makes it more palatable. You can find this easily in the grocery store with the dried fruits.

Sweet AND Spicy - I like

Sweet AND Spicy – I like

Now, let’s talk about wine. Winc gave me a little lesson in wine, specifically European wines that have to be “declassified”.  I know that this gives the perception that there is something wrong with the wine or it is low quality.

De "Classy"!

De “Classy”!

Winc assures us otherwise. In fact, they pointed out that high profile vineyard in Europe often have to declassify wines due to other countries’ wine laws. An example: the vineyard’s yield exceeded its yearly allowance. So they bottle those that are allowed under their vineyard and the remaining wine is bottled under seperate cover and sold below market value. Sooooo essentially, declassified wines are my jam. High-end delicious wines for cheap! Sign me up. Now, Winc won’t tell us what kind of wine it is or where it is from – so we are left guessing. They did give a clue that the grape grows really well in and is native to Piedmont, Italy. From my research, the king grape of Peidmont is Nebbiolo, so that’s what my guess will be. The tasting notes of this wine are cherries, vanilla, and rosemary. SO GOOD! This wine would pair well with some turkey and dressing, not to mention a ginger filled Pumpkin Roulade. You still have a few days to order if you want some in time for Thanksgiving, the shipping is SUPER fast, so if you want some and want to get a discount on your first order, use my link and give Winc a try: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Happy Thanksgiving! Take some time to reflect on what you are Thankful for and enjoy your time with family and friends. 😀

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Print Recipe
Pumpkin Roulade with Ginger Buttercream
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 212.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Pumpkin Cake
Ginger Buttercream
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Pumpkin Cake
Ginger Buttercream