Rose Sket

  • Producer: Schloss Biebrich
  • Location: Germany
  • Year: No Vintage
  • Type: Rose Sparkling
  • Price estimate: $8 (Trader Joes)
  • Tasting notes: Pale salmon in color with effervescence and fine bubbles. Not a lot of aroma on the nose, some subtle strawberry is present. Really fine bubbles on the palate. Notes of strawberry, white grape and peach. (Bob got watermelon jolly rancher with some minerality.) Little sweetness, but I wouldn’t call it a sweet wine.
  • Conclusions: While this isn’t my favorite sparkling wine, it is pretty good and at the price point, perfect for a weeknight or lazy weekend.
  • Notes: This is one of the few wines where Bob and I tasted completely different things. He swore this was sweet, I got fruit, but not sweet. He found watermelon and mineral notes, I had strawberry and peach. We both liked it, but it was a little odd that we had such different flavor profiles to associate with it. I’m going to stay I’m right, but who knows. 11% alcohol by volume.

img_20190203_165723

Potato Corn & Leek Soup

Sometimes I want a simple meal. Something hearty and delicious, but I want it to not take a lot of brain power to make. One of my favorites in this category is soup because it really is filling and can have great flavors without being difficult. Yes, there are soups that are more complicated, but sometimes a straightforward soup is just as good.

When I was at the farmers market over the weekend I found really pretty corn and a beautiful leek. What better way to use them in the middle of winter than in a soup.

The one thing that may seem a little strange here is the corn cobs in the soup. I add them in when I’m cooking the potatoes because I think it adds to the flavor of the soup. It’s like the bay leaf – you can leave it out, but it is just better if you add it in.

Recipe:

  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced – about 1/2 cup
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large russet/baking potato
  • 4 cups vegetable broth/stock
  • 2 ears corn with the cobs (or about a cup of frozen corn)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil or butter for pan

Slice the leek lengthwise then chop into small pieces. Place in a bowl and add water. Gently toss the leeks to separate then let sit about three or four minutes. (This is where I chop the onion and garlic). Remove leeks from water – do not pour out -clean out the bowl and repeat. Leeks keep a lot of dirt trapped, so I like to clean them twice.

Heat the butter or oil in a large pot and when hot add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring about three minutes (the second cleaning of the leeks for me). Season with salt and pepper. I used about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Yes, kosher salt – more on that later. Add the clean leeks and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked down a little and soft. (About 5 minutes)

Peel and chop the potato. Once leeks and onion are cooked down, add potato, vegetable broth and bay leaf to the pot. If you have the corn cobs, remove the kernels here and add the cobs to the pot. If not, skip. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook about 25 minutes until the potatoes are done. Remove cobs and bay leaves, add the corn kernels and cook about 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot. If I had some chives, I would have added those to the top as a pretty garnish, but it really isn’t necessary.

*So the kosher salt. I know lots of chefs and cooks who deride kosher salt because it is much saltier than regular salt or sea salt. But that is actually why I’ve moved to using it when I cook. I love my salt grinder and the light tough of salt that I can get with it, but I wasn’t getting enough salt when I used it (I have awful luck with salt grinders – it’s a little maddening). So I experimented with the kosher salt, and was careful in how much I used and found that if I use it for the initial seasoning – just at the beginning – my dishes were coming out much better and I didn’t need to add more salt as I ate, or even during more of the cooking process most of the time. So … yes, kosher salt.

Lorenzo’s Heritage Red Wine

  • Producer: Bedrock Wine Company
  • Location: Sonoma County, California
  • Year: 2016
  • Type: Blend – Petit Sirah, Zinfandel, and Carignan
  • Price estimate: $39 (direct from winery)
  • Tasting notes: Inky and dark purple in the glass. Notes of raspberry and blueberry on the nose. First sip is like silk – smooth with a great mouthfeel. Dark red fruits, a little cherry, but not much and a lot more raspberry than anticipated. Really beautiful finish with notes of chocolate and more raspberry. A little hint of wood, but not unpleasant.
  • Conclusions: Amazingly good. I would be happy with a bottle of this any day of the week, and especially if I was celebrating something.
  • Notes: Bob and I decided to open one of our better bottles the other week just because. We had some really nice cheese from the cheese shop and thought a nice bottle of wine would be appropriate. Bedrock did it again with this wine – really well-balanced – good acidity, but not overpowering, excellent texture to the wine and a lot of flavor. This is a wine that you can sip and enjoy or drink while having some good food and conversation. 14.6% alcohol by volume.

img_20190202_173750

 

Clean out the fridge soup

On the day I’m writing this it is cold. Below 40 in the morning in south Florida cold. I broke out the blueberry (the very warm winter jacket Val bought for me the first year I had Jessie), the scarf and gloves to walk Arthas. It may have been overkill to some, but it worked for me. 40 is cold, especially after ten years in Florida.

But it is also a great day to make soup and making soup means cleaning out the fridge. Soup was not on the list to make this week, but I decided to go ahead and make it since it’s cold and Bob is sick. Homemade soup is always good when you are sick.

So … I stared at the contents of my pantry and refrigerator for a bit and settled on barley and vegetable soup. I had celery on it’s last legs, carrots that I was not sure would last a whole lot longer, a zucchini I intended to use the week before and garlic that was just starting to sprout. Add some onion, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, the chard that I HAVE to use this week, vegetable stock and seasoning and you have … soup.

I have to admit, like most of the time when I just wing it in the kitchen, I got very nervous about this. It’s a lot of vegetables and if it doesn’t taste right it is a lot of food wasted. But I was pleasantly surprised. The soup has a nice depth to it and it is both light and filling at the same time. I would love to take this soup for lunch when I know I”m going to have access to a microwave, so to the freezer some of this soup will go.

Recipe:

  • Celery (about 3/4 cup, diced)
  • Carrot (about 3/4 cup, diced
  • Onion (about 1 cup, diced)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (enough for about 2 teaspoons minced)
  • Zucchini (about 1 medium, diced)
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup quick cooking barley (or grain of your choice)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 large leaves Swiss Chard, chopped including stems
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

In a large pot heat oil. When hot, add celery, carrot, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium to medium high heat for about three minutes then add the zucchini and cook another 4-5 minutes. Stir frequently.

Add fire roasted tomatoes, vegetable broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Reduce heat, add barley (or other grain) and simmer, covered, on low heat for ~25 minutes.

Remove lid. Add chard and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning again if needed. Cook on low for about 3 minutes. Serve hot with bread, and if you like, some grated cheese.

IMG_20190121_112614

 

Old Vine Zinfandel

  • Producer: Bedrock Wine Company
  • Location: California
  • Year: 2017
  • Type: Red Zinfandel
  • Price estimate: $20 (from winery)
  • Tasting notes: Opaque wine in the glass, but with some translucency at the edges. Inky and dark ruby in color – reminds me of a ripe plum. Aromas of black fruits, black pepper and some oak. Taste is tangy and spicy with lots of dark red and black fruits. There is a hint of coco on the finish. 
  • Conclusions: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is one of my favorite wines. Period. The 2017 does not disappoint – it has a depth of flavor that my palate cannot appreciate, but it is easy to drink – not so easy that I’ll finish the bottle in a night, but easy as in two glasses over an evening is enjoyable. 
  • Notes: I am slightly biased towards this wine. The Whole Shebang (produced by Bedrock) was one of the first wines I took notes on when I started this little one journey and the first bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel from them blew me away. In my personal notes I had “wow” and “I need more of this.” That was the 2016 vintage, and the 2017 – with a little added pepper notes, but less smokey notes – is the same. This may be my favorite wine – it is the wine I would pick over many way more expensive wines because it is everything I like in wine. Lots of flavors, lots of character and just really nice to drink. Add to it that this wine is how Bedrock rehabs old vineyards and it makes my heart, as well as my taste buds, sing. Yes, there are probably “better” wines out there – Bedrock makes some that are technically better – but for me, this is just about the perfect wine. 14.4% alcohol by volume.

IMG_20190121_171651