Friday, March 16, 2018

Sober Clams + a French Syrah #Winophiles #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with the March #Winophiles event.
Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.

Liz of What's in That Bottle is hosting the French Winophiles this month. She wrote: "There's great variety in the Rhône, from north to south, and it should be a fun wine region to explore. And since our Twitter chat will be scheduled on March 17 -- St. Patrick's Day - perhaps we can consider the delights of Irish food with Rhône Valley wines! Sausages, bacon, Shepherd's Pie ... I can imagine all these would be delish with a Rhône red!" You can read her invitation (here) and her preview post (here).

photo from Jill at L'Occasion
Fac et Spera
Not only is Liz hosting, but she organized a sponsor to send a group of us bloggers some wine samples. Many thanks to Maison M. Chapoutier for providing us with three different wines for the event.

Maison M. Chapoutier's family motto is: Fac et Spera which, in Latin, means 'Do and Hope.' To them, those words encompass their winemaking philosophy and guide their winemaking process.

On their website, they list a respect for the terroir ("paying attention... to the world, the environment, anticipating the needs of the earth") then, a respect for the grape ("acting as a merchant for the grapes"), and a respect for the wine drinkers ("aim to always convey the same love of discover its diversity").

Yes, That's Braille on the Label
I was curious about the Braille on the label! Here's what I found: In 1993, when Michel Chapoutier had only been the lead winemaker in the family business for a few years, his friend musician Gilbert Montagnin discussed his discomfort at going to a wine shop alone. He couldn't read the labels and always felt better when a friend could describe the wines available. With a little research, Chapoutier found it was a fairly simple process to add Braille to his labels. Since then, every bottle of Chapoutier includes appellation, name of the wine, vintage, and whether it's a white or a red wine.

And, after Chapoutier adopted Braille on his labels, other winemakers followed suit. I recently saw Braille on a bottle from Greece...but that is for another post in another wine group.

The Other #Winophiles
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator tells us about Duck à l’Orange with M. Chapoutier’s Biodynamic, Organic Rhone Wines
  • Jill from L’Occasion writes about Braille on the Label and Other Pioneering Moments of Chapoutier
  • J.R. from Great Big Reds writes about The Dark Side of Syrah, with Domaine Fondreche Persia 2012  (Ventoux)
  • Jeff from Food Wine Click shares Northern Rhone Wines and My Steak Tartare Disaster
  • David at Cooking Chat at tells us about London Broil Steak with Châteauneuf-du-Pape
  • Rob at Odd Bacchus writes about Return to the Rhône
  • Susannah at Avvinare writes about Rhône Gems from Chapoutier in Chateauneuf, du Pape, Crozes-Hermitage, and Luberon
  • Nicole at Somm’s Table tells her story of Cooking to the Wine: Les Vins de Vienne Gigondas with Gratinéed Shepherd’s Pie
  • Camilla from Culinary Adventures shares a post on Sober Clams + a French Syrah
  • Jane at Always Ravenous shares Bison Burger Paired with Northern Rhône Syrah
  • Martin of Enofylz at shares A Taste of The House of Chapoutier
  • Rupal at Syrah Queen writes about Chapoutier: King of the Rhône
  • Lauren at The Swirling Dervish writes about France’s Rhône Valley: Mountains, Sea, Wind, and Wine
  • Michelle at Rockin Red Blog writes about Maison M. Chapoutier: Expressing Terroir Through Biodynamics

Crozes-Hermitage “Les Meysonniers”
For this event, I received three bottles from them: Lubéron, Les Meysonniers Crozes-Hermitage, and La Bernardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape.* I will share pairings and posts for all of them within the coming weeks, but for today's #Winophiles' event, I am pouring their Crozes-Hermitage "Les Meysonniers."

This is a single varietal wine made from Syrah grapes that are, at least, a quarter of a century old. Grown in a blended soil, the grapes are hand-harvested and vinified in a traditional manner with through treading and remontage, also called pumping over. The Crozes-Hermitage is then aged in concrete tanks for about a year.

To the eye, the wine is an intense violet hue. Maybe it's a trick of the eye, but the color actually had me getting violet aromas, too...along with rich berry notes. On the tongue, the wine is round and full. It finishes with a tinge of sweet vanilla. Though I initially planned to pair the wine with an Irish stew made with lamb, I decided to play with the sweet and tart and serve it with seafood and a splash of citrus. Success! This was a hit with all.

You'll see the Lubéron and La Bernardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape in future posts. But I'll give a teaser and tell you that I served the Lubéron with pork and the La Bernardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape with chicken. Is your curiosity piqued? I hope so.

Sober Clams
This is a riff on an Irish dish that Jake and I love: Drunken Mussels. But the two Manns of non-drinking age don't care for the alcohol in the dish and asked if we could make it without the booze. And, when I went to the fish market, there were no mussels to be had. alcohol and no mussels; we ended up with sober clams!

  • 2 pounds clams, soaked, scrubbed, and dried
  • 1 stick of butter, divided in half
  • splash of olive oil
  • 3 to 4 whole juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced (approximately 1 C)
  • 1 red onion, diced (approximately 1 C)
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C fresh chopped herbs (I used a mixture of parsley, tarragon, and thyme)

Place 1/2 stick of butter and crushed juniper berries in a large, flat-bottom pan with a lid. Add a splash of olive oil to keep the butter from burning. Heat until the butter is completely melted and foamy.
Add in the fennel and onion. Cook until the fennel is softened and the onion beginning to caramelize. Deglaze the pan with water (you can do this with wine if you aren't making sober clams!). Once the water begins to simmer, pour in the lemon juice and place the clams in a single layer in the pan and add the remaining butter. Cook for one to two minutes, then pour in the cream. Stir to combine, then cover and steam until the clams open. Check them after five minutes. They are cooked and ready when the shells are completely open. 

Remove the clams and fold the herbs into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, I cooked squid ink pasta and placed them in individual serving bowls. I divided the clams evenly into the bowls and spooned the sauce over the top.

Find the Sponsor..
Maison M.Chapoutier on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter

*Disclosure: I received sample wines for recipe development, pairing, and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae (Kimchi-Tofu Stew) #SoupSwappers

Soup Saturday Swappers is one of my favorite groups, started by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm, I always end up with recipes to try. I love being part of this creative crew.

This month Sally of Bewitching Kitchen is hosting. And she wrote: "Please share a soup that soothes your soul and chases away those winter blues!"

There are a lot of different soups that fit the bill. I thought about making another version of Canh Suon Khoai Tay (Vietnamese Spare Rib Soup); or Unaş from Turkmenistan; French Onion Soup is a family favorite that hasn't been on the table in a few months. But, in the end, I was inspired by some fresh cabbage I had from a local farmer.

The Winter Soup Pots

Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae (Kimchi-Tofu Stew)

This is a flavorful, spicy soup guaranteed to make your belly happy and banish winter from your mind. And it's super quick to make!


  • 1 T oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 T fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 T garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1/2 C cubed pork belly (omit this for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 head of cabbage, cored and sliced, approximately 3 C
  • 6 C chicken stock (use veggie stock for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 jar kimchi (whatever spiciness you prefer, we use medium)
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • hot sauce to taste


Heat oil in a large souppot. Stir in cubed pork belly and cook until fat is rendered. Add in the onions, ginger, and garlic. Cook until the onions are softened. Stir in the cabbage and cook and cook until starting to wilt, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the kimchi - cabbage and liquid - and pour in the stock. Bring to a boil and gently drop the tofu cubes into the liquid. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until the tofu is warmed through, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in fish sauce and sesame oil. Season to taste with hot sauce. Serve hot.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

R's Rabarberpaj (Swedish Rhubarb Crumble)

R, the Precise Kitchen Elf, needed to bring an international dish with familial ties for a potluck in Chemistry class. That's all I knew. Here's what he made...

My paternal grandmother’s mom was from Sweden and my family loves rhubarb. Whenever it’s in season – which is a very short season here on the central coast of California – we make rhubarb everything: pie, curd, barbeque sauce, and this Swedish crumble. It’s not totally traditional; it’s my mom’s version.                                                                                                                               – R

Ingredients makes two

Pâte Brisée (for two pie crusts)
  •  2-1/2 C all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/2 C ground almonds or almond flour
  • 1/2 C organic powdered sugar
  • 1 C butter, very cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 T pure lemon extract
  • 3 to 4 T cold water
  • 9 C sliced rhubarb
  • 1-1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 T butter, divided
  • 1 t vanilla paste
  • 2 t pure lemon extract
  • 1-1/2 C flour
  • 1-1/2 C rolled oats
  • 2 T organic granulated sugar
  • 2/3 C butter, very cold, cubed
  • 4 T slivered almonds


Pâte Brisée
Use the hand-held pastry blender or food processor to blend together the butter and flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add lemon extract and cold water 1 T at a time, until mixture just begins to clump together. If you squeeze some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and cut again. Note: too much water will make the crust tough. Once the dough comes together into a ball, halve your dough and wrap tightly each ball tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using. While the crust chills, make the filling...

In a large bowl, mix together the filling ingredients and let stand.

Blend all the ingredients together to form a “crumb.”

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Roll crust out between two pieces of parchment paper.

Transfer to your pie pan.

Spoon half of the filling into the crust.

Use half of the crumble on each pie and press down lightly to create a flat top. Dot with butter with 1 T on each pie.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing.

Singapore Chili Crab #FishFridayFoodies

It's time for Fish Friday Foodies' March event. We are a group of seafood-loving bloggers, rallied by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm, to share fish and seafood recipes on the third Friday of the month. This is, easily, my favorite recipe sharing event of the month. I always come away with a list of recipes that I just have to try!

This month, P~ of The Saucy Southerner is hosting. She said: Since we've never done a focus on a single fish, let's get crabby! Any and all things crab! Stuffed, cakes, soups, pasta, fried, dips, you name it!.

We're All Crabby

Singapore Chili Crab
Years ago my friend Belle mentioned Singapore Chili Crab. Then, during our annual summer camping trip one year, I heard about it again from Jake's cousin who had honeymooned in Singapore and other places around Asia. A caveat: this is super messy to eat. So, don't wear anything white...and don't be embarrassed to lick your fingers. It is that good.

Bear in mind that this is a very 'inspired' version, not so much an exact replica. For instance, I subbed anchovy paste for the requisite shrimp paste and used fresh ginger throughout instead of a mixture of ginger and galangal. And there were no candlenuts (also known as kukui, I really didn't know those were edible!) to be found, so I used peanuts. Otherwise, I did make my own tomato ketchup and I think it turned out really well. I just wouldn't serve this to anyone from Singapore.

  • 2 two to three pound crabs, boiled and cleaned
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 large knob of ginger, grated on micro plane
  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 C tomato ketchup (recipe below - it's not regular ketchup)
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 C ground roasted peanuts
  • Rempah (recipe below)
  • Crusty bread to serve and mop up the juices
  • fresh herbs, including cilantro, basil, and parsley
Tomato ketchup (note: this is not your regular ketchup)
  • 8 to 10 tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 large knobs ginger, diced
  • splash of olive oil
Rempah (this is not a traditional rempah, I used what I had)
  • 3 banana chiles
  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1 T anchovy paste
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, diced
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1 large knob ginger
  • 4 T crushed peanuts (I used roasted, unsalted nuts)

For the tomato ketchup:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roast your tomatoes for approximately 1 hour.

Destem your tomatoes and place them in a blender or food processor. Add in your garlic and ginger. Blend till a smooth consistency.

Pour the puree into a large, flat-bottom pan. Simmer the ketchup until it's reduced - and concentrated - by approximately half. Set aside.

For the rempah:
Destem your peppers and blend them until they form a paste. In a large flat-bottom pan, heat a splash of olive oil. Brown the ginger, garlic, and lemongrass until fragrant. Add in the anchovy paste and crushed peanuts.

For the crab:
Cook the crab. Let it cool enough that you can handle it without burning your fingers. Pull off the legs and crack the claws. Chop the body into quarters. Don't discard the crab butter.

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil. Cook the garlic, ginger, and shallots until aromatic and softened. Add in the water, rempah, tomato ketchup, and honey. Place the crab pieces into the sauce and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes or so. Add in the crushed peanuts. Uncover, turn the heat up, and cook for an additional 10 minutes till the sauce thickens.

To serve:
Place crab legs and body in a bowl. Spoon sauce over the top. Sprinkle with a chiffonade of fresh herbs, including cilantro, basil, and parsley. Serve with a side of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

The verdict:
I don't see myself ever doing plain ol' crab boil again. This is too amazing. We're definitely going to make this a few more times come crab season. Thanks for the nudge, Obe, Andi, and Belle. I'm in love.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Lamb, Basmati Rice, and Grape Leaf Pi(e) #PiDay

Coleen, The Redhead Baker, invited her blogging friends to join her for Pi Day 2018.

Last year, for Pi Day 2017, Coleen also hosted and I shared a Gluten-Free Matcha Chocolate Pie. Back in 2015, Terri of Love and Confections wrangled us and I made a savory pie: Curried Lamb Potpie. I decided that I wanted to try my hand at another savory pie.

I will say that our all-time favorite savory pie is my Seafood Pie. It's my most requested dish from family and friends alike! In fact, I just made one for a friend's birthday dinner last weekend. Supposedly it's "palace food" in Morocco; the birthday girl said she would come wearing a tiara.

The Other Pi(e)s

Lamb, Basmati Rice, and Grape Leaf Pi(e)

While I definitely don't qualify as a 'math nerd,' I gave birth to two of them. So, every year, we celebrate Pi Day. Do you need any other reason to math-geek out about Pi Day? It's Albert Einstein's birthday.

I had all of the ingredients because I had planned to make Lamb-Stuffed Grape Leaves this week. So, instead of rolling dolmas, I made Lamb, Basmati Rice, and Grape Leaf Pi(e) for dinner. Is it really a pie? Well, it doesn't have a crust per se, but I have done something similar with phyllo dough and it qualified as a pie. So, I'm going with it.

  • jarred large grape leaves, drained
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 C fresh tomato sauce
  • 1½ t ground cumin
  • 2 T fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 C cooked basmati rice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 C crumbled feta cheese
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking dish with oil and line the dish with grape leaves so that they cover the bottom and hang over the sides of the dish.

In a large, flat-bottom pan heat a splash of olive oil. Add onions and fennel. Cook until softened and beginning to turn translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add the lamb and cook until completely browned.

Season with ground cumin, oregano, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato sauce, egg, and cooked rice to create your filling. Fill dish with 1-1½" of stuffing. 

Fold leaves over and seal any gaps with remaining leaves to completely enclose filling. Press down gently on the pie. Drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil, and place in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes then uncover the dish. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for another 10 minutes -  until leaves are well-crisped.

Let pie cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter. Cut generous wedges and serve with a salad or steamed vegetables.

Vanilla-Flecked Black Cod en Papillote #NielsenMasseyInspires #Sponsored

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nielsen-Massey.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

I have long been a fan of Nielsen-Massey products and was excited to be approached to create some recipes with their products. In fact, I usually have - at least - a handful of their extracts and other products in my cupboards at a time! Many I've received for past events in which I've participated, but their intense purity of flavor and extraordinary quality have made me a dedicated, paying customer as well.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has been crafting the world’s finest vanillas and flavors since 1907. Each of Nielsen-Massey’s all-nature pure flavors are crafted with premium ingredients, sourced from around the world and chosen to meet the utmost quality standards. From lemon to peppermint to coffee or chocolate, Nielsen-Massey’s pure flavors offer convenience, quality and consistency to ensure your favorite recipes taste delicious every single time. All products are gluten-free, allergen-free, GMO-free, all-natural and Kosher.

I have used their Pure Coffee Extract in my Coffee-Kissed Pizzelle and Mocha Crinkle Cookies; their Pure Lemon Extract added amazing tang to my Spring-Infused Lemon Drop; their Pure Almond Extract was a key ingredient in my Zabaglione alle Mandalore; and I added their Rose Water in my Cardamom Rose Cocktail; and both my Galette Perougienne and Ahwa Beida (White Coffee) feature their Pure Orange Extract. So, yeah, big Nielsen-Massey fan here.

Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
You have probably encountered quite a few types of vanilla: plain old vanilla plus Tahitian, Mexican, and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. I thought that 'bourbon vanilla' referred to the alcohol used when making extract; I use vodka when making homemade vanilla extract. But that was incorrect. Most of the world's vanilla is from the Vanilla planifolia orchid that grows in Madagascar, Réunion, and other tropical areas along the Indian Ocean. The bean's common name is Bourbon vanilla - after the former name of Réunion: Île Bourbon. 

Nielsen-Massey's Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste is crafted with their Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract with real bean specks from the vanilla pod. The flavor is velvety sweet and its thick consistency adds vibrant vanilla flavor without adding liquid and thinning out batters or sauces. I love that it gives those tell-tale vanilla bean specks to dishes in addition to the flavor.

When faced with using vanilla in a creative way, I leaned towards the savory and tested different applications. I'll be sharing a cocktail I created as well, but this was for a dinner I made for friends while the wife and older son were out of the country on a school trip. #FeedtheNeedy, we joked.

In true (resourceful) dad fashion, one of my best friends had lined up dinners at different houses while his wife was away. Can he cook? Certainly. Was it more fun to plead need and have friends host him?? Absolutely.

Along with the vanilla-flecked black cod, I served clams over squid ink pasta and a winter salad with avocados and blood oranges.

Vanilla-Flecked Black Cod en Papillote 

Just a brief note on selecting the fish – I wanted a mild, firm fish to really showcase the unique sweetness of the vanilla paste. It is also important to me that my seafood selection be sustainable. Sustainable seafood is seafood that is either caught, or farmed, in ways that take into consideration the long-term vitality of the species as well as the health of the oceans. Most fish mongers these days are prepared to answer questions about sourcing. So, don’t be afraid to ask. Read, research, and decide for yourself which fishes you want to purchase. The day that I made this, there were fillets of fresh black cod at our fish market that were perfect for this sweet and savory dish.

En papillote is a method of cooking that involves making an envelope out of parchment paper and roasting the fish in the package. I love it! The steam produced in the packet keeps the fish moist, and it's a fun presentation to open the fish packet at the table.

serves 4 to 6, depending on appetite and other dishes being served

  • 2 black cod fillets, approximately 1 pound each
  • 4 t Madagascar vanilla paste (prefer Nielsen-Massey), divided
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 t fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 C pitted olives (I used Niçoise for their intense, nutty flavor), divided
  • 1/2 C baby heirloom tomatoes, halved lengthwise), divided
  • good quality olive oil
  • also needed: parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay fillet on a piece of parchment paper that’s long enough that you can completely envelop your filet and create a parchment packet.

Spoon 2 t vanilla paste over the fish and spread over the surface. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt, freshly ground pepper, and 1 t fresh thyme leaves.

Scatter 1/4 C olives and 1/4 C tomatoes over the fish. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bring the sides of the parchment up around the filet and fold the edges together, rolling it down to the fish. Crimp the ends together, folding them in till fish is completely enclosed. Place the packet on a rimmed baking sheet.

Roast for 30 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and let steam for another five minutes before serving. Let diners open the packet at the table.

You may find Nielsen-Massey on the web, on Twitter, on Pinterest, and on Facebook.

*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

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