Nov/Dec
2018

CHUTNEY: Spice up the holidays

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Written by Jorrie Johnson Photography by tiffany Hansen

I WAS RAISED IN NORTHERN MINNESOTA EATING A BASIC, BLAND DIET. When I moved to Rochester about 20 years ago, a doctor’s wife told me about using chutney to flavor meat. Not knowing what chutney was, I simply nodded, smiled and agreed with her exotic palate.  

A few years ago, after hearing about chutney again and again, I decided to learn more about it and discovered chutney is made of spices, vegetables and fruits. Commonly, chutney is a spiced relish or condiment used in Indian cooking. The holidays are apropos to bring on the spices, so let’s get started.

 

Nov/Dec
2018

To Brine, or Not to Brine: That is the question

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Written by Jorrie Johnson Photography by tiffany Hansen

TO SOME PEOPLE THERE IS NO QUESTION—THEY HAVE THEIR ANNUAL TURKEY BRINING TRADITION.
I first heard about brining last year and upon being introduced, I searched and found that brine is a salt and water solution and learned that soaking in brine before roasting makes turkey juicer and tastier.

BASIC BRINE

Myrecipes.com says, “Brining is a technique that submerges food in a salt solution to prevent moisture loss during cooking, creating succulent, juicy bites.” A basic brine can be used for fish, shrimp or white meats such as chicken, turkey or pork.

Smithsonian.com says when you place a turkey in a brine, the proteins in the turkey rearrange to incorporate the sodium and chloride ions from the salt. This reconfiguration of the protein makes the meat more tender.

Frozen turkeys found in the grocery stores are pre-brined, containing turkey broth, salt, sodium phosphate, sugar and “natural flavorings for tenderness and juiciness.” Brining a store-bought turkey is unnecessary. Untreated turkeys, from the wild or raised on a turkey farm, such as Ferndale Market, are best treated with a brine solution. 

 

STUMPED ON SECRET SANTA IDEAS? NEED A HOSTESS GIFT? ATTEND THE FIFTH ANNUAL FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace, December 1, 2018, Mayo Civic Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. With treasures locally sourced and crafted by over 100 food artisans, Feast! features culinary gifts sure to impress everyone from Bob in accounting to your child’s third-grade teacher. For only $8, you can sample everything before you buy and watch cooking demonstrations. Supporting the local economy never tasted so good.   

Check out a few of our FEAST! favorites at the event or on their websites. Visit local-feast.org for a complete list of exhibitors.

Maple Syrup from B&E’s Trees

B&E’s Trees is offering a bourban barrel-aged maple syrup as beautiful as it is delicious. Produced on an off-grid farm in Viroqua, Wisconsin, this pancake topper’s smoky vanilla tones (with hints of bourbon) enhances everything from carrots to cocktails. For more information visit BandEsTrees.com. 

 

Sep/Oct
2018

Italian Wines: Red, White and You

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Written by Nicole L. Czarnomski

ITALY HAS OVER 2,500 INDIGENOUS TYPES OF GRAPES. ITALIAN WINEMAKERS CREATE WINE RANGING FROM FRUITY ROBUST REDS TO CRISP DRY AND SPARKLING WHITE WINES. WITH SO MANY VARIETIES, IT CAN MAKE THE SELECTION PROCESS DIFFICULT. 

The Struggle is Real

There are so many native types of grapes in Italy because the landscape is superb for growing grapes. “Grape vines like to struggle. They grow well in rocky, mountainous or hilly regions, and they thrive in volcanic, prehistoric ocean beds,” says Robert Riggs, wine expert at Apollo Liquor. There are three volcanoes in Italy creating the perfect conditions for grapes: Mount Vesuvius on the mainland, Mount Etna on Sicily and the island volcano of Stromboli.

Expressive Italian White Grapes

“I love Italian whites. They are so, so expressive. The two main grapes are vermentino and verdicchio,” Riggs says. “Vermentino grapes are grown all over Italy, and even though it’s the same grape, it has different expressions.” In Sardinia the grapes create crisp and acidic wine. In Tuscany the wines are softer and rounder, and in Piedmont the wine is crisp with less mineral. Wine buyers beware: Italians have a habit of changing the name of the grape depending on the region. For example, the vermentino grape is known as the favorita grape in Piedmont.

 

Sep/Oct
2018

Italian Fare and AMORÉ! How one woman’s dream came true over chocolate cake

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Written by Dawn Sanborn Photography by Dawn Sanborn Photography

AHH, ITALIAN FOOD! FRESH INGREDIENTS, AND ALL THE WONDERFUL LOVE THAT GOES INTO THE PREPARATION, BRINGS AUTHOR SHERYL NESS—AND ME—BACK TO THE BEAUTY OF ITALY EVERY TIME WE EAT SUCH AUTHENTIC FOOD.

Sheryl Ness, The Chef’s Wife and author of “Love in a Tuscan Kitchen: Savoring Life Through the Romance, Recipes, and Traditions of Italy” shares my deep love of Italy and its food. I first met Sheryl and her husband, Vincenzo, this year when we entered their quaint, recently remodeled “Italianized” kitchen as Vincenzo was prepping the recipes below. I immediately had a connection to these two beautiful people, remembering my vacation to Italy in September 2017. After sampling the bruschetta, downing the risotto and finishing off the dessert, I was excited to start reading Sheryl’s book. Not only did these dishes remind me of Italy, but I could see the love Sheryl and Vincenzo had for each other just by being in their presence, and I wanted to learn more about their whirlwind romance in Italy. 

CRACK OPEN THE BOOK

When I returned home that evening, I began reading the book with fervor and even emailed her later that night to tell Ness how much I was enjoying it. I also liked how she describes the book: “’Love in a Tuscan Kitchen’ is a different kind of love story. The book tells a story of my love for the people, traditions and foods of Italy first, then by chance, how I fell in love with a chef, Vincenzo,” states Ness.

 

AT DINNERTIME, MY DAUGHTERS BECOME MASTER ILLUSIONISTS. UNWANTED FOOD IS STRATEGICALLY SPREAD ACROSS THEIR PLATES. TA-DA, THEY’VE MADE THEIR FOOD MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR! WHILE MOST OF THEIR SCRAPS ARE EDIBLE OR COMPOST-WORTHY, THEY’RE STILL SMUGLY SCRAPED INTO THE TRASH. FOOD WASTE: 1, FOOD CONSERVATION: 0. 

A WAKE-UP CALL

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that food waste consumes 30 to 40 percent of our food supply, which is about 133 billion pounds. Farmers and grocery stores reject “ugly” produce, despite it being edible. Many schools, hospitals and restaurants lack information or resources to manage their food purchasing and waste wisely. Over-buying groceries and confusing expiration dates add to the epidemic. Dr. Roni Neff, researcher at Johns Hopkins University, projects that we could feed 84 percent of our nation with the food that Americans waste. 

 

May/Jun
2018

Mamma Mia!

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Written by Emily Watkins

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! ON SUNDAY, MAY 13, WE TAKE TIME TO REMEMBER OUR MOMS AND OTHER WOMEN WHO HAVE CARED FOR US. OF COURSE WE LOVE OUR MOTHERS EVERY DAY, BUT THIS HOLIDAY GIVES US AN EXCUSE TO PAMPER THEM THE WAY THEY DESERVE. 

HONORING MOMS AND EMOTIONS

Although this day is a happy one for many, it’s important to remember that Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for those who have lost their mom. It can be a time to reflect and honor those women who have gone before us and whose memories we cherish. The woman who is credited with advocating for Mother’s Day did so to honor her own mother who had passed away.1 

 

Mar/Apr
2018

Perfect Finish

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Written by Emily Watkins

Pairing desserts and wines.

WINE AND CHOCOLATE. CHAMPAGNE AND STRAWBERRIES. RIESLING AND CHEESECAKE? WANT TO HAVE YOUR DESSERT AND DRINK IT TOO? THINK BEYOND THE STANDARD PAIRINGS FOR AN AMAZING WAY TO END A MEAL OR JUST ENJOY A TREAT. 

SHARING IS CARING

One of my favorite things in life has been enjoying a long meal around a table in France. So when I hosted my wine tasting group recently, I planned a typical French meal. Our discovery of great cheeses paired with cabernet sauvignon appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of Rochester Women magazine.

On an extended trip to France last summer, a friend taught me how to make authentic French mousse au chocolat. This elegant, make-ahead dessert with just four ingredients is a knock-out option for hosts who don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen while their guests are present. It was ideal to serve at this gathering, especially since cabernet sauvignon is known for its ability to complement chocolate. 

 

Jan/Feb
2018

Say Cheese!

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Written by Emily Watkins

We Love This Dairy Indulgence

Cheese! Glorious cheese! Remember that commercial? It is glorious, and when you pair it with red wine, the glories are magnified.

My wine club recently met to taste cabernet sauvignon and cheese. We received nine amazing cheeses from local vendors to pair with the wine. Needless to say, we were in heaven.

ZZEST MARKET

LeeAnn Zubay, owner of Zzest Market downtown, says that cabs can be difficult to pair with cheese because there can be such a variety of flavors that are present in the wine. One cheese that she gave us for our tasting was Cloud Cap from Cascadia Creamery in Trout Lake, Washington. Zubay says, “It is inspired by the Welsh cheese Caerphilly. It has a mottled, slightly bloomy rind with aromas of earth and forest floor. The paste is soft, yet crumbly; you may notice slight citrus notes, definite grassy, hay flavors and mushroom closer to the rind. I chose this for a cab because of the mushroom hay notes.” This cheese had a fantastic soft center and a tanginess that paired well with the wine.

Another cheese Zubay recommends with cabernet is Gruyere Surchoix, which is an Alpine-style, washed-rind, cow’s milk cheese. She says this is a multiple award-winning cheese handmade in small batches in Wisconsin. She says, “Surchoix wheels are aged for at least nine months, resulting in this luscious cheese with a creamy paste and crunchy crystals. It is buttery with a meaty richness, and an extraordinary nutty, mushroomy flavor.” Again, the mushroom flavor goes well with cabernet, and Zubay tips that it will go especially well if the wine has some fruit notes to it. She said that this would be “wonderful with apples or crusty bread” and is “also a good melting cheese for fondue or grilled cheese.”

We took a chance with a blue cheese that might not normally go well with a cabernet. The Blue Jay that comes from Sheboygan, Wisconsin “is super interesting” with some buttery notes. It has a bit of a piney flavor that comes from crushed juniper berries that are infused throughout the cheese. Zubay says that it “is a little on the bold side so it also should be able to stand up to a cab.” And it did. 

FERNDALE MARKET

Dawn Makarios at Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls contributed to our glorious cheese selection with Sartori Montamore. She encouraged me to read about it on their website: “Like a new romance, this sweet, creamy and fruity cheese begins with a deliciously inviting appearance and finishes with a playful, tangy bite. It is named with deep affection for the gorgeous Dolomite mountains that tower with breathtaking beauty above the Sartori hometown of Valdastico, Italy.” Ah, yes. 

We also got to try a cheese made in Faribault called Jeff’s Select Gouda, from Ferndale Market. This cheese has won a number of prizes, and it won our hearts as well.

PEOPLE’S FOOD CO-OP

I noticed a little crunch in some cheeses before but did not know what it was. Like in the Gruyere from Zzest, Ethan Schandelmeier, meat department manager at the People’s Food Co-op told me that we would find “crystals” in the Beemster Vlaskaas Gouda that he donated for our tasting. He described this gouda as smooth and interesting. The Beemster website says, “Vlaskaas was historically made only once a year, during the flax harvest festival…It’s buttery and semi-soft with unique sweet-milk flavor, notes of almond and a touch of sharpness that adds depth.” 

We tried Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan from People’s Food Co-op. According to the Cello Cheese website, “Parmigiano Reggiano is known as the king of cheeses. Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan starts with fresh milk heated in a traditional copper kettle and ages for 16 months to develop the complex fruity and nutty notes reminiscent of cooked caramel. (It) has the rich, nutty authentic flavor of Grana Padano. Its crunchy texture and robust flavor are the result of brining in natural sea salt and aging in a temperature controlled environment.”

HY-VEE

Certified Cheese Master Karen Lange works at Hy-Vee West Circle Drive. She recommended two cheeses. She says, “Presidents Brie is a well-known brand of soft ripened cheese. It has a creamy, buttery taste with a slight white mushroom finish, making this cheese a perfect match for most jams and chutneys. The fruity taste of cabernet sauvignon would only compliment the buttery richness of the Brie.” I spread a mango chutney on the Brie, which made for a beautiful presentation as well as a delicious combination of sweet and salty.

The second cheese that she recommended was Black Creek three-year cheddar. Lange says, “Its rich, full flavor with a sharpness but also a creamy finish makes this cheese a perfect match for a cabernet. It allows the savory flavors of the wine to shine. My favorite part of aged cheese is the tyrosines: These give the cheese a bit of a crunch. Cheddar is always a safe bet to put on a cheese tray; most if not all people enjoy the great taste of cheddar.”

DIY WINE AND CHEESE TASTING

A wine and cheese tasting party is a great way to gather with old friends but also can lend a structure to a party where people don’t know each other very well. There are many ways to set it up. You can do all the work as the host, deciding on a theme and the wines and cheeses, or you can ask all your guests to contribute wine or cheese.

Our group usually focuses on the wines, with food that is delicious but plays a supporting role. I decided to add the focus on the cheese to this occasion as well. We have been working our way through a book called “Drink This: Wine Made Simple” by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl. She includes chapters on nine different varietals of wine and provides information about the wine, the food it pairs well with, the tasting “markers” or flavors and scents you might find in the wine. She recommends setting out small dishes of these markers so that you can sniff and taste to try to pick out the certain scents and tastes. Having a lot of variety in the flavors of the cheeses helped to enhance our enjoyment of the wine.

When you host your wine and cheese tasting, provide paper and pencils so that your guests make notes and bring them home. Serve bread or crackers, and it’s most helpful if the flavors in them don’t overpower the cheese. Fruit, such as grapes, berries, apples and dried apricots or figs are beautiful and taste delicious with both wines and cheeses.

A Valentine’s Day card I recently saw says, “I love you as much as I love cheese, and that is an awful lot.” Share the love. Pass the cheese, please.

 

Emily Watkins is a personal trainer and writer in Rochester.

 

Jul/Aug
2017

Al Fresco Dining: From downtown patios to neighborhood hangouts

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Written by Nicole L. Czarnomski

Because summer is in full swing, we wanted to find the best places for you to hangout and enjoy the perfect summer sip. We found 11 restaurants with patio and rooftop seating that offer fabulous happy hour specials so you and a friend or two can enjoy the warm summer air, along with a cocktail.

STREET LEVEL PATIOS DOWNTOWN

Victoria’s Ristorante and Wine Bar

Centrally located downtown, Victoria’s has patio seating for 50-60 people. Their house wine is La Terre, which includes merlot, cabernet, Chianti, Lambrusco, white zinfandel, chardonnay and pinot grigio and is about $7 per glass. On Wine Wednesday, you can indulge in a bottomless glass for $8. Their daily happy hour is from 3-6 p.m., and house wines are only $4.50 per glass.

 

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