Archive for the ‘Culinary Vocabulary’ 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.

From The Grapevine…Noble Grapes

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

When beginning to pair food and wine together, it is important to lay a foundation of general knowledge as it pertains to grape varieties.  The easiest way to do this, in my opinion, is to begin with what are called “The Noble Six”.

The Noble varieties are so named since they are the most commonly planted varieties and the standard by which all grapes are grown and fine wine is made.  These six varieties are Sauvignon Blanc [SOH-vihn-YOHN BLAHNK], Chardonnay [SHAR-dun-nay], Riesling [REEZ-ling], Pinot Noir [PEE-noh-NWAHR], Merlot [mehr-LOH], and Cabernet Sauvignon [KAB-er-nay SOH-vin-NYOHN].  Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling are all white grapes and Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are all red grape varietals.  Both these red and white grape varietals make wines that have general aromas and flavors.  Knowing these generalities will assist you in knowing which wine to pair with your food.

Sauvignon Blancs are known for their citrusy and herbal aromas and flavors and are best paired with lean poultry, lean finfish and fresh goats cheese.  Chardonnay can be a tricky because you will need to know if they are oaked or un-oaked.  Old world varietals are usually lightly oaked, or un-oaked making them very food friendly.  With aromas and flavors resembling apples and pears, they go very well with lean poultry and pasta dishes with cream based sauces.  Oaky, New World Chardonnay (think California), go very well with butter sauces and rich seafood such as crab and lobster.  Then there are Rieslings, known for their rich honey and citrus notes, as well as their tendency to taste like dried apricots.  Rieslings can also have a lot of minerality making them a great pairing for pork, game birds, sushi and blue-veined cheeses.

Moving on to the reds, Pinot Noir, which is one of the most food friendly wines since it is fruit forward with good, balanced acid and medium tannins (the astringency in grapes), is known to be lush, fruit forward (resembling cherries and cranberries) and very earthy.  Pinot lends itself to be a great partner to mushroom risotto, Boeuf Bourguignon and braised lamb.  Merlot, a varietal known for its plum notes as well as having a vegetal quality goes very well with roasted or grilled meats, pizza and skin-on roasted poultry.  And lastly, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Similar in aroma and flavor to Merlot, there are also some subtle hints of black olive and eucalyptus.  These qualities make it a great match for meats done in robust cooking methods, and blue-veined cheeses.

Keeping these general, broad-stroke descriptions in mind will enable you to make a better pairing for all of your food.  Remember that wine can be the final sauce an accentuation of the flavors of your cuisine.

In the next issue…Classic Pairings and Gastronomic Identity.

Wine of the Week

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

This week’s wine of the week comes from The Northern Rhone Valley.

Ferraton Pere & Fils 2005 Hermitage (Syrah)

Visual: inky purple with a paler rim, deep core, clear

Nose: jammy fruit, blackberries, white pepper

Palate: medium alcohol, medium-plus acid, blackberries, tobacco, bitter chocolate, cinnamon

Pairing: Venison, Spare Ribs, Lamb, Swordfish, Edam or Gouda

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.

Not on the fence? Start Waffling!

Monday, April 5th, 2010


For lighter, fluffier waffles, add some seltzer water.  The CO2 in the seltzer acts in a similar way to egg whites to provide leavening (lift) to your waffles.



2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup dried buttermilk powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups unflavored seltzer water


1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees.  Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. (This is to keep the waffles warm until ready to eat)  Whisk flour, sugar, salt, buttermilk powder, and baking soda in a large bowl to combine.  Whisk sour cream, eggs, vanilla and oil in a medium bowl to combine.  Gently stir seltzer into wet ingredients.  Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients.  Using a rubber spatula, gently stir until just combined.  Batter should remain slightly lumpy with streaks of flour.

2.  Heat waffle iron and bake waffles according to the manufacturer’s instructions (use about 1/3 cup for 7-inch round iron).  Transfer waffles to rack in warm oven and hold for up to 10 minutes before serving with butter and maple syrup.

-recipe courtesy of Andrea Geary

Erin Go Blah? Sod Off!

Monday, March 8th, 2010

St. Patrick’s Day, my favorite holiday, is upon us next week.  I am looking forward to the festivities and the FOOD!.  Believe it or not, Irish fare is not all bland, boiled or bromidic.  There are succulent and tasty flavors and preparations involved in Irish cuisine.  A St. Patrick’s Day menu I might prepare is as follows:

Apple-Parsnip Soup
served with Irish Soda Bread

Crab & Boile Salad
(Boile is a hand crafted goat’s cheese marinated in olive oil and herbs)

Bacon Wrapped Salmon
served with an apple-thyme cream

Bailey’s & Strawberry Fool
(a traditional whipped cream dessert)

All of this accompanied by a few pints of Guinness….the perfect meal.  Slainte!

Spicing things up

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Yesterday I hung up a new spice rack I have built and I am wondering…how are people storing their spices and dried herbs?  For the best longevity, you should store them in a cool, dark place.  Storing them above the range top is NOT a good idea as heat speeds up oxidation and will eventually render your stores rancid. Glass is the best storage container, and if you must store in bulk, be sure to vacuum seal the jars if possible.

SuperBowl (of soup)

Friday, February 5th, 2010

With Superbowl Sunday this weekend, the pinnacle of the tailgating season has arrived.  I thought this recipe would be an appropriate way to begin the festivities.

Amber Ale & Fontina Soup
Serves 6 / Serve with Amber Ale


1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 lb unsalted butter
1/2  of a 12 oz. bottle Amber Ale
1/2 lb Fontina cheese
1 qt. chicken stock
3 TBS flour
salt & white pepper to taste


Melt butter over medium heat.
Increase heat  & add onion & garlic. Saute until translucent.
Add flour & cook for about 2 minutes.
Add ale & cook for about 3 minutes.
Add stock, stir until incorporated.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low.
Fold in cheese in 2-3 parts.

Feeling A Bit “Sheepish”

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

With the wet weather firmly entrenched her in the Northwest, I find myself drawn to heartier foods like puréed soups, preserved spoon fruits and, my favorite, braised meats…specifically lamb shanks.  I have a refined my recipe for Stout Braised Lamb Shanks over the years and have come full circle to a traditional preparation.  I can assure you that it is worth the effort for the end result.  Enjoy!

Braised Lamb Shanks

Serves 6


6 Lamb Shanks
Flour for dredging
½ cup olive oil
Sachet of, bay leaf, garlic and rosemary
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced large
3 celery stalks, sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
¾ cup chicken stock
1 bottle Irish Stout
Salt and pepper to taste


Lightly moisten lamb shanks in a bowl with water.
Combine flour, salt and pepper and dredge the meat in the mixture.
In a large Dutch oven, add the olive oil and brown lamb on all sides over medium heat.
Brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.
Remove the lamb and set aside on a platter or sheet pan.
Drain the fat and discard.
Add the vegetables and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Scrape the browned bits from the bottom.
Add the lamb and cover with the stout and chicken stock.
Add the sachet and cover.
Simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Anniversary Dinner

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Last night my wife and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary, and we treated ourselves to a fine dining experience at The Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie Falls.  I choose to have a 5 course Chef’s Epicurean Tasting Menu provided by Chef de Cuisine Jack Strong.  Our server also suggested a wine flight with the meal and I was more than happy to accept.

I began with an amuse-bouche (amooze-boosh) of tuna tartare with lemon zest, chive oil, volcanic ash sea salt, garlic and cucumber; a wonderful way to start the evening.  That was followed by a Fall Squash and Apple Bisque with goats cheese creme brûlée paired with Nicolas Feuillatte, Champange, Brut, Epernay, France, MV.

I then had the Caramelized Onion and Fall Root Vegetable Buckwheat Tart paired with Basel Cellars, “Forget me not”, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, WA, 2007.  This was followed thirdly by a Seared Scallop with braised fennel and a cranberry coulis paired with The Pines 1852, Pinot Gris, Columbia Gorge, OR, 2007.

We then were both given a Prickly Pear Sorbet to cleanse our palates and entice our taste buds for the tasty and titillating treats to come.

The entree was a Smoked Fallow Venison Strip Loin served with spaghetti squash, Full Circle Farms braising greens, local apples, pancetta and a Cascade huckleberry reduction.  Paired with Brazin, Zinfandel, “Old Vines”, Lodi, CA, 2006, it was the highlight of the meal for me.  I grew up eating venison with much regularity and the flood of memories that came rushing back with that first bite were most welcome on this happiest of occasions.

To finish of a truly delectable eventide, I was given the Twice-Baked Cheddar Souffle.  Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar, roasted mission figs and quince candied persimmon, paired with Château Ste. Michelle, “Reserve”, Late Harvest Semillon, Columbia Valley, 2000.  My wife opted for the Triple-Layer Coconut Cake; lime curd, coconut cream, pomegranate and coconut shards.  We were both elated with the finish to our meal and the personal touches showed a professionalism I truly appreciate, and am often critical of.

Red Tricycle Biznik Seattle Picks Facebook Twitter