Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Winter Fruit Mostarda

"Have you ever made mostarda?"
"No, but we make chutney every year."
"You should make mostarda."
(Googles mostarda recipes.) "Sure. I'll do that."

So mostarda: Google suggests that it is essentially a chutney-like an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard flavored syrup.  Traditionally, the mustard flavor comes from mustard oil, but as that is not readily available in the US, most here substitute mustard seed or powder. The fruits used vary from region to region, I found recipes including everything from peaches to cranberries to quince. 
In the end, we ended up modifying a recipe from the soon to be released Preserving by the Pint, the second book by Marissa McClellan. We cut our fruit into chunks rather than segments and added dried cherries to the mix. For this recipe I've increased the amount of honey and water in the syrup as our original attempt left us without enough syrup for all of our jars. We adjusted the cooking times, as we found that our doubled syrup took longer to reduce. Also we chose to keep our jars warm in the oven while the syrup reduced, in order to avoid thermal shock when processing them.

2 pounds pears
2 pounds firm tart apples
2.5 cups honey
2.5 cups water
4 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup dried cherries (optional)

Combine the honey, water, mustard seeds, vinegar and peppers in a pan and bring to a boil over high heat.
Pre-heat your oven to 250. 
While the syrup heats, peel, core and slice the fruit into 1/2 inch chunks. Add to the cooking syrup as you chop to avoid discoloration.  Continue to cook until the apples are pears are translucent, but not falling apart. 
With a slotted spoon, transfer the fruit into jars. Place jars into the pre-heated oven on baking sheets to keep them warm. 
Return the syrup to the stove and bring back to a boil, cooking it for 30 minutes or until reduced by almost half. Ladle over the fruit in your jars and cover with dried cherries, maintaining a 1/2 inch head space. Seal and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath canner.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

An Excess of Radishes

I have written before about my love of my Mariquita Mystery Box. I love the variety and quality of the produce, the sometimes conveniently located near K's favorite ice cream shop rotating pick up spots and the fact that it is an opt-in system, so I can skip a week or two with no problem. 

That said, sometimes I get more of one item than I think I can use. This week, that was radishes of all sorts, including green heart and watermelon. As much as I like radishes, and I do like them, four pounds is a lot. What to do? Quick Pickles! 

Quick pickles, unlike the water bath processed pickles I often make, are designed to be kept in the refrigerator and, as the name suggests, are quick and easy. Essentially, you chop vegetables, put them in a jar and then cover them with a brine made from vinegar, a little bit of salt and sugar and herbs and spices of your choice. In this case, I chopped enough radishes (about two pounds) to fill two quart jars. Since I had Mystery Box green garlic on hand, I chopped that and added some to each jar. I then added the two kinds of pepper before covering with a vinegar brine.  Active time? Less than 15 minutes.

Pickled Radishes
Makes one quart 

1 pound radishes
1/2 bunch green garlic (Garlic cloves are an excellent substitute, 3-5 per jar)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns  
1 dried hot peppers(optional)
1 cup vinegar (I used white for one batch and cider for the second)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Wash and chop your radishes and green garlic. Place them in a quart size jar. Add your peppercorns and if using, hot pepper. Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the radishes. Seal and allow to cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least 24 hours before use to allow the flavors to blend.

Monday, November 25, 2013

K's "Please no more cookies right now" Blondies

K's favorite thing to bake is chocolate chip cookies. I know that it is a very first world problem, but sometimes I just can't take anymore cookies. See also: layer cakes. So this fall she has been experimenting with both brownies and blondies. Although we are still searching for our perfect brownie recipe, the recipe below, modified from one on the Ezra PoundCake blog, is both kid and parent approved. 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla salt
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons rye or bourbon or rum (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking pan that is in K''s words: "as big as a piece of paper", and line with parchment, letting the ends of the paper hang over two opposite edges of the pan.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar and stir until smooth. Stir in the eggs, vanilla and rye. Stir in the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in the butterscotch and chocolate chips.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. When the pan is completely cool, use the parchment paper to pull the blondies out of the pan.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2014 Tour de France Route

Well, this should lead to some interesting wine choices. . .
Time to start on my annual spreadsheet.  

Six mountain stages with five summit finishes, 15.4km  of the cobblestones that are the hallmark of Paris-Roubaix, plus only a single time trial.

The Stages:
July 5: Stage 1 Leeds to Harrogate, 191km
July 6: Stage 2 York to Sheffield, 198km
July 7: Stage 3 Cambridge to London, 159km
July 8: Stage 4 Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille, 164km
July 9: Stage 5 Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainault, 156km
July 10: Stage 6 Arras to Reims, 194km
July 11: Stage 7 Epernay to Nancy, 233km
July 12: Stage 8 Tomblaine to Gerardmer, 161km
July 13: Stage 9 Gerardmer to Mulhouse, 166km
July 14: Stage 10 Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles, 161km
July 15: Rest day
July 16: Stage 11 Besancon to Oyonnax, 186km
July 17: Stage 12 Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Etienne, 183km
July 18: Stage 13 Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse, 200km
July 19: Stage 14 Grenoble to Risoul, 177km
July 20: Stage 15 Tallard to Nimes, 222km
July 21: Rest day
July 22: Stage 16 Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon, 237km
July 23: Stage 17 Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary-Soulan, 125km
July 24: Stage 18 Pau to Hautacam, 145km
July 25: Stage 19 Mauborguet Pays du Val d’Adour to Bergerac, 208km
July 26: Stage 20 Bergerac to Perigueux, 54km individual time trial
July 27: Stage 21 Evry to Paris Champs-Elysees, 136km

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Making Ciccioli

When a Facebook friend asked a few weeks back if anyone would like to try making the Ciccioli recipe in the new Fatted Calf Cookbook, "In the Charcuterie," I signed up right away. Ciccioli is best described as a spicy, spreadable Italian pork terrine, and the ingredients are very simple: pork shoulder, lots of lard, garlic and herbs and spices. Since there were seven of us working on the project that meant starting with seven pounds of pork and a rather startling 24 cups of lard.
Note: walking around with that much lard in your bag may make you feel like you are in a liposuction commercial.

The recipe can be found here and we followed it pretty closely, though we added thyme and rosemary to one batch and marash pepper to both, rather than chile flakes. The recipe allows for a lot of down time, so although it is a many hour project, the active work time is minimal. We snacked, drank wine, chatted and shelled beans and peas. We ended up with approximately 1 pound of ciccioli each, with lots of leftover lard for future projects. Maybe time to fry some chicken?

A look at the project:

The pork, seasoned over night and cut into cubes

Lots and lots of lard

Pot #1

Pot #2

Testing the meat, several hours later

The meat, after cooking for 3 hours

Lard, with gelee at the very bottom

Ready for shredding

Shredded, with marash

Shredded with thyme and rosemary

Monday, October 7, 2013

2014 Giro Route

And here we go again! Or, really, there they will go in May. After weeks of leaks and guesses, the official 2014 Giro route has been announced. An interesting one for my Wines of The Giro as we kick off in Belfast. Whisky/whiskey? Beer? We'll see.

I'm still sorting through and making my spreadsheet and will update with more details asap, including a map. The organizers made a video, if you'd like to see more right away.

May 9, stage 1: Belfast - Belfast, team time trial, 21.7km
May 10, stage 2: Belfast - Belfast, 218km
May 11, stage 3: Armagh - Dublin, 187km
May 12: Rest day and transfer
May 13, stage 4: Giovinazzo - Bari, 121km
May 14, stage 5: Taranto - Viggiano, 200km
May 15, stage 6: Sassano - Montecassino, 247km
May 16, stage 7: Frosinone - Foligno, 214km
May 17, stage 8: Foligno - Montecopiolo, 174km
May 18, stage 9: Lugo - Sestola, 174km
May 19: Rest day
May 20, stage 10: Modena - Salsomaggiore, 184km
May 21, stage 11: Collecchio - Savona, 249km
May 22, stage 12: Barbaresco - Barolo, individual time trial, 46.4km
May 23, stage 13: Fossano - Rivarolo Canavese, 158km
May 24, stage 14: Agliè - Oropa, 162km
May 25, stage 15: Valdengo - Montecampione, 217km
May 26: Rest day
May 27, stage 16: Ponte di Legno - Val Martello/Martelltal, 139km
May 28, stage 17: Sarnonico - Vittorio Veneto, 204km
May 29, stage 18: Belluno - Rif. Panarotta (Valsugana), 171km
May 30, stage 19: Bassano del Grappa – Cima Grappa (Crespano del Grappa) individual time trial, 26.8km
May 31, stage 20: Maniago - Monte Zoncolan, 167km.
June 1, stage 21: Gemona – Trieste, 169km.

Friday, August 23, 2013

On Not Drinking the Vuelta (Again)
I am no Adam Hansen. Hansen, a shoe designer, leadout train member extraordinaire and rather awesome tweeter is currently aiming to complete his seventh consecutive Grand Tour. As much as I enjoy drinking the wines of the Giro and of the Tour de France, I have yet to drink the wines of the Vuelta. One of these years I will (and will probably start here), but not 2013. 

But, I'll certainly be watching. The startlist includes names like Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez, Sergio Henao, Rigoberto Uràn, Ivan Basso and more. The route map is above. I'm very fond of the Podium Cafe race viewing preview and I am hoping that they  may host another Stage Predictor game. There is also good race information on Inrng.

That said, I was sent wine samples that correspond to three of the Vuelta stages by the folks promoting the Spain’s Great Match event, a wine and food event taking place in New York on September 24th. Wines information in italics below comes from their promotional materials


Stage 5: Rey Santo Rueda 2012 is a white wine made in the region of Rueda near the Lago de Sanabria stop in the race. It is a blend of estate grown grapes from 10-year old Verdejo and 40-year-old Viura vines. Information from the importer is here. and the producer here.  

 In Spain, Rueda whites are called the most popular white wines. Rueda wines have a refreshing distinct flavor, known for a hint of herbs, a balanced minerality and an excellent level of acidity. The wines are crisp, filled with tropical and stone fruit. Known as “the people’s white,” Rueda wines are accessible and versatile, a perfect pairing with seafood, salad, white meats, pasta and more. 

I found it fragrant and herbal, with lots of fruit, a very easy-drinking summer white. 

Stage 10: 2008 Casa Gualda La Mancha Seleccion Cincuenta Anniversario A blend of Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Syrah. It spends four-months in new French and American oak barrel and 1 year for semi-new barrels and is made very near the Torredelcampo stop. The producer website is here.

Stage 21: ARRAYAN SELECCION 2009  A blend of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot that is aged for eight months in French oak casks. It is made north of Toledo southwest of Madrid near the end of the race. The producer website is here.

These two wines are from the region of Castilla la Mancha which is a large wine producing region south of Madrid on the vast central Iberian plateau. More than half of the country's grapes are grown here. They are characterised, above all the young wines, by being very expressive in the nose, for their fruitiness (black fruits, mature fruits, cherry, strawberry, redcurrant), their strong colour, generally an intense purple-red with purple rims. In the mouth they have structure and strength, with lively and persistent tannins.

I say: Indeed, lots of fruit here along with some leather, spice and sweetness. Persistent tannin indeed, especially on the Arrayan. Some licorice on the Casa Gualda.