Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks’ Category

Perfect Pairing

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

As most of you know I have been teaching Food & Wine Pairing for almost a year now at South Seattle Community College. Yesterday I was lecturing about pairing wine with cheese. When we arrived at the tasting exercise portion of class, I was very excited to present an Irish, washed rind cheese known as Ardrahan. “Ardrahan is a type of semi-soft cheese with a pungent aroma, Ardrahan cheese has buttery textured honey-coloured centre with a complex delicate flavour. It has a washed rind which grows into a golden colour, and its size and weight tend to vary slightly due to the fact that it is a hand-made product” ( I paired the this delicious and earthy cheese with my handcrafted, home brewed Porter. I explained to the class that sometimes beer is the best option, particularly a beer that is made in an Irish style. The Irish Ale yeast strain used in the beer provides earthy notes on the palate that echo those of the cheese.

Guidelines to Food & Wine Pairing

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Having trouble paring food with wine? Try referencing these guidelines to help.

1. Food sweetness level should be less than or equal to the wine sweetness level.
2. Food acidity level should be less than or equal to the wine’s acidity.
3. Highly salty foods work better with wines that have high effervescence.
4. The negative impact of bitter foods is lessened when combined with wines of moderate to high effervescence.
5. Wine tannin levels should be equal to meat fattiness levels.
6. Wine acidity should be equal to vegetable fattiness levels.
7. Overall body of the wine should be equal to the overall body of the food. (Exception is intensity).
Using these tips will aide you in making a successful match with your next dinner party.

Mise en Place

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

The term mise en place translates into everything in its place.  With the Holiday season nearly here, this term applies to cooking preparation more than ever.  Planning your menus is a great way to save time, lower your grocery bill by buying like items in bulk, and get ahead of the increased traffic that enters your home.  Once you have your meals planned, you can begin to prepare some elements of your meals, or, in the instance of a lasagna, prepare the main courses.  Making salad dressings ahead of time as well as cookies, which I mentioned in my “C” is for Cookie post last year, will allow you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family.

Acidic Food & Wine Suggestions

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Artichokes or Asparagus: A crispy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Crudités: A young, dry Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc or Pinot Blanc

Lemon Tart: Canadian Ice Wine

Chicken Curry with Lime: Gewürztraminer or Riesling

Sorbets: Moscato d’Asti

Finding a balance of sweetness is the key to balancing the acidic flavors in your food.

Beer Me!

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Fall is officially upon us, and there are many robust, full-bodied and flavorful beers available to us in the Pacific Northwest.  Many have Autumn influenced varieties like Pyramid’s Juggernaut Red Ale and Redhook Brewery’s Late Harvest Autumn Ale. And for cooking, beer can add many complex flavors, like the sweetness of the barley and the herbaceousness of the hops.  Using beer in place of wine or chicken stock in your cooking will bring a rustic, earthiness to your food that is indicative of Fall.

Let There Be Light!!

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

If you use charcoal in your grill (I use natural wood charcoal) and you start your coals in a chimney, consider using an alcohol fuel canister to light the coals.  Using newspaper can be inconsistent and may need to be done a few times to light the coals.  The fuel canister has a constant flame to ignite the coals and will start the chimney in a shorter time.  Happy grilling!

Nice Pair!(ing)

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Summer is here and it is definitely time to BBQ.  Most of the time when searing those succulent, viscid vittles, I am enjoying a beer.  However there are times when the perfect wine pairing will ratchet up the meal to an elegant level that transforms the patio into your own personal sidewalk cafe.  Here is a pairing to assist you with such an aesthetic.

Rosemary Grilled Chicken Breast served with a fresh peach relish paired with a Viogner (vee-oh-NYAY).

This medium bodied, acidic white wine from the Northern Rhône, is fruity and fragrant, with notes of peach, apricot, melon and apple.  The peach notes will be emphasized because of the relish, and the crisp, refreshing apple notes will compliment the grilled flavors quite nicely.

7 year’s bad luck?

Friday, June 25th, 2010

If you are like me and love to use cast iron, beware the glass cook top!  That particular cooking surface is designed to concentrate heat around the elements.  If you use a large, double element, cast iron griddle, you run the risk of shattering the glass surface and an extremely costly repair.  Only use cast iron on gas range tops to avoid an unplanned kitchen remodeling project.

Summer Traffic? Keep It Cool.

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

With the teasing of warm weather that has been around us lately, keeping groceries cool is so important while transporting them home during rush hour.  I like to pack a cooler with me to keep foods that need to be refrigerated (particularly meats, fish and poultry) in a cool and safe environment.  It doesn’t take long for dangerous bacteria to form on raw food.  Anything above 40 degrees F and below 140 degrees F is prime breeding grounds for those hazardous, microscopic, creepy-crawlies.  Grocers tend to have ice on hand for purchase, or if to are going to the butcher or fish market, they are more than willing to supply you with a small amount of ice for the trip home.  Don’t let the heat from being stuck in traffic ruin your groceries.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Lately, when I am browsing the produce stands, I am finding pale green beans.  If you are experiencing this same phenomenon, here’s a tip to bring out the vibrant, vivacious and vivid green color.

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and and a pinch of salt and about 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to the water.  The baking soda will sweeten the water pulling out the natural sugars and pigment in the green beans.  Trim the stem and blanch in the water for about 3-4 minutes.  Shock them in an ice water bath until completely cool and save for the next day in a sealed container, if you aren’t eating them right away.

You will see an enormous change from doing the pale green beans in your steamer basket.

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