Spring Blooms at Denver Botanic Gardens

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Wednesday Wine Tasting and Pinot Noir Slow Braised Lamb with Carrots and Fennel

Is it Wednesday already?  Where has this week gone?  I have no idea but here we are again…Wine Tasting Wednesday.

Today, we are visiting my friends at Little Raven Vineyards located in the Riverfront Park neighborhood. If you live in the Denver area, I highly recommend a visit to LRV.  They offer tastings twice a week, pay for parking, have a loyalty program and best of all, offer a cork recycling program…10 corks gives you a 10% discount on a bottle of wine.  Good for the environment and good for me and you! Oh and they deliver for a very small fee if you are in the Denver metro area and you buy a case or more.

Ok, ok..enough…on to the really good stuff.

Again this week, they are pairing one of the wines with a fabulous Pinot Noir Slow Braised Lamb with Carrots and Fennel. Who doesn’t like slow braised meat?  Slow braised meat in wine, well, simply put – PERFECT.  I don’t want to be a spoiler but we are not a lamb eating couple so we will be substituting beef on a weekend day where we can linger over the prep.  I can already smell the aromas of fennel, cinnamon and ginger floating through the kitchen. Can’t you?

Lamb Shanks by Nathan Jones

From Little Raven Vineyards website (with a few edits here and there):

This stunning lamb shank preparation accompanied by a Pinot Noir creates beautiful memories and enduring impressions on the palate. Aromas in Pinot Noir can include cherry, strawberry, raspberry or ripe tomato fruits; violets and rose petals; peppermint, rosemary, cinnamon or caraway spices; and even green tea or black olives. This full-bodied and rich (but not heavy) red wine is neither highly acidic nor highly tannic, so it is appealing to both red and white wine drinkers alike…Pinot Noir is very versatile in its ability to match up with foods and is a wonderful accompaniment to lamb.

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks in Pinot Noir.

Total time: 5 hours Hands-on Time: 35 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 one-pound lamb shanks
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Juice of one lemon, save rinds
  • 1.5 cups Pinot Noir (LRV recommends the Latour Marsannay, Pinot Noir, 2007, from Burgundy, France at $20 a bottle…see below for detail and tasting notes)
  • 1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1.5 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Fresh mint (optional)

Directions:

Pat lamb shanks dry with paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Place oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add shanks and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pour off any excess fat and sauté onion, fennel, carrots and garlic with a large pinch of salt until the garlic is lightly toasted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Squeeze in lemon juice, toss in both lemon rinds, stir in Pinot Noir and transfer to a slow cooker and set the heat to low. This can also be done in a dutch oven (I am thinking of my large Le Creuset Dutch Oven for this task).

Add tomatoes, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, fennel seeds and water. Nestle the lamb shanks in the dutch oven or slow cooker, cover and cook until the lamb is fork tender and falls easily off the bone, about 4 to 5 hours on high.

Divide lamb among 4 plates and spoon the sauce on top, garnish with fresh mint. I think this would be excellent over creamy mashed potatoes.

The crowning touch–open a bottle of the same Pinot Noir you used in preparing the dish to accompany this comforting meal. I know Mister will be having a glass with his.

Wine Shop by Suvodeb Banerjee

And now for the tasting and sad news (well sad news for me)!  I decided to give up wine for Lent.  I don’t know why.  Maybe I had too much wine when I made this decision!  But a committment is a committment and I have to pass on the actual tastings.

But I only have to PASS for 40 days and trust me, on day 41, I will be printing this post (and all the WW posts between now and day 41) and rushing off to LRV to taste and BUY!  Never a bad bottle and I am sure the below won’t disappoint.

If you have a chance to taste or buy any of the below, come back and let me know.  I can live wine-cariously through you!

The four featured wines for this week:

Vina Robles 2008 Red 4, Paso Robles -$18

A blend of syrah 53%, petite sirah 38%, touriga 7%, and tannat 2%. Smoky scents with hints of vanilla escape the glass and greet the nose. The wine is extracted and ripe, with flavors of black raspberry, sandalwood, violets, and pie cherries. A touch of white pepper tannins grip the tongue on the mid-palate. Hints of spice and flowers linger in the mouth on the finish.

Owen Roe 2008 Myrth Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington -$13

A crisp, clean white, aged in stainless steel to preserve its freshness and varietal character. Juicy and ripe, the wine offers flavors of yellow delicious apples, melon, tangerine, and lime zest. A racy touch of mineral dances with the ample acidity on the finish. This one goes down nice and easy.

Wine Cork by Derek Gavey

Louis Latour 2007 Marsannay, Burgundy, France -$20

A brambly aroma is sweetened with scents of roses and lavender. This pinot noir has very softly polished tannins, which sweep the palate in a black tea tone. As the astringency gets your attention, a focused minty tone develops. There is a ripe raspberry flavor on the mid-palate with an elegant, yet fresh character. As the wine lingers on the finish, it shows a touch of black plum and earth.

Massone 2009 Masera Gavi, Piedmont, Italy -$18

An authentic Italian, made completely from cortese grapes. The aromas offer touches of perfume and summer flowers. It has a minerally, yet delicate flavor. A core of apple and pear flavors are complemented by a soft floral tone. Its lovely lingering finish refreshes. An elegant substitute to pinot grigio.

Salute!  Clink, Clink, Cheers!

Linked to:

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Tasty Traditions, Ultimate Recipe Swap, Cooking Thursday, A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, Frugal Follies, HoH, Strut Your Stuff, Recipe Swap Thursday, Let’s Do Brunch, It’s a Keeper, Pennywise Platter, Fantastic Friday

Note:  The recipe and wine notes taken from LRV emails and website.  For more information, please link directly via LRV link above and here.

{Captioned photos used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0}

Wednesday Wine Tasting Plus Poached Pears and Blue Cheese

It is Wednesday and for me that means Wandering and Wine Tasting.  The triple W!

Today my friends at Little Raven Vineyards shared a great recipe for Red Wine Poached Pears with Blue Cheese.  How could I not share pears and blue cheese?

Pears simmered in red wine with spices may seem old hat but adding peppercorns is a new twist for me. Add a wedge of Maytag Blue, your best local blue cheese or heck, splurge for a great French cheese and drizzle with the spiced syrup.  A dessert fit for royalty!

If you can find the wines locally, try {and BUY} them and most definitely, make these pears!

Recipe and wine notes from Little Raven Vineyards:

The recipe maximizes the pear’s natural sweetness, combining it with a fruit-forward red wine and highlighting both with a touch of cinnamon and vanilla.

Wine-Poached Pears with Maytag Blue Cheese.

Ingredients:

2 cups red wine (We recommend the Velvet Devil Merlot, 2008, $12 a bottle)
½ cup water
½ cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
8-12 peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
3 inch piece of vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
4 Bosc or Bartlett pears, slightly under ripe, unblemished, stems attached
6 ounces Maytag blue cheese (If you have a favorite blue cheese, give it a try. There are a number of excellent ones available these days including Rogue River from Oregon or Crater Lake Blue. Make sure to select a high quality blue cheese.)

Directions:

Combine wine, water, orange juice and sugar in a medium stockpot. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add peppercorns, cinnamon and vanilla bean. Set aside.

Using a sharp paring knife, slice a small amount from the bottom of each pear to form a flat surface. Gently scoop out the core using a small spoon or melon scoop. Peel each pear using a vegetable peeler.

Place pears into syrup and heat over medium high heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook the pears for 40 to 60 minutes, turning regularly to ensure even coloring. Remove the pears and cool.

Store them in an airtight container up to 2 days until ready to serve.

Return syrup to a gentle boil and cook until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Strain and store syrup until you are ready to plate up desert. (If you have leftover syrup, try it on ice cream, it is one delicious topping!)

Plate one pear on each plate with a 1.5 ounce wedge of the Maytag blue cheese. Pour 2 tablespoons of syrup over each pear and serve at room temperature.

Delicious!  Elegant!  Fit for guests!

And now to the tastings {and yes…the purchases}!

Tortoise Creek Wines 2009 Zinfandel, Lodi, California -$13

This red is juicy, ripe, yet possessing a smoldering structure with plenty of acidity and grip. Scents of spice and rose petals grace the nose. The wine is a canvas of blueberry and raspberry flavors, splashed with clove, semi-sweet chocolate, and a hint of cigar box. It is complex, with soft black tea tannins and mouth-watering acidity.

Le Grand Ballon 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley, France -$14

This wine hails from the banks of the Loire River, in the region of Touraine, where Sauvignon Blanc reins. Aromas of white flowers and citrus scents escape from the glass. In the mouth the wine is refreshing, offering flavors of lemongrass, gooseberries, lime zest, and snappy hints of mineral. An ample dollop of acidity makes this white perfect for your favorite seafood dishes.

Since I will miss the Saturday tasting (yeah, I do this several times a week), I am sharing the wines in advance.  I have never been steered wrong at LRV, so I am going to give them a thumbs up and if they prove to not be all they claim, I will come back and update this post!

Giovanni Rossi 2008 Le Quattro Dolcetto d’Alba, Serralunga D’Alba, Italy -$19

This is a bright, delicious red, with a sultry mouthfeel. Flavors of pie cherries and blueberries fill the palate. The wine has a spicy, lively profile, with plenty of acidity. Sultry tannins push back against the ripeness. It is the perfect red for Italian dishes that are crusty with cheese or slathered in olive oil.

Gustave Lorentz 2009 Pinot Blanc, Alsace, France -$20

Aromas of melon and lime zest fill the senses. A lush offering in the mouth is layered and complex, blooming in the glass as it warms. Melon hard candy, yellow apples, mineral hints of lanolin, and touches of lemon zest create a portrait of refreshment. The wine lingers in the mouth with a zippy tangerine tone.

Clink, Clink, Salute!

{Feature photo by Andrew Fung used under CC Attribution 3.0}

Arrival ~ Egypt: Kofta Kebabs with Tzatziki

Welcome to another installment of travels with Joan of Foodalogue and the fantastic Culinary Tour 2011 group.  The group travels around the world making dishes popular to the country or region.  How fun and adventurous is that?  Very!

This week we arrive in Egypt.  As with our recent travel to Japan, I haven’t been so had to travel virtually.  The first thing I do when I arrive in a new country is to set off for the local markets and food stalls.  I am especially interested in the various spices available and used in local and popular dishes.  I spent more than one day wandering the Spice Market in Istanbul and fell so in love that I filled the suitcase with tiny vacuum packs of spices, nuts and dates and sweets that I knew would survive the trip.  I smuggled manti through customs and savored them over a three-week period at home. I also made a great pistachio spice cake using my Turkish pistachios and spices.

When researching dishes popular to Egypt, I knew I wanted something that had a multitude of spices in one dish.  I found that in the popular Kofta Kebabs.  Nothing fancy, nothing hard to prepare but…oh…the mix of spices with the cooling mint and cucumber tzatziki hit all the flavor spots.

Travel with me (yes, virtually) and see the local spices, people and join me for a dish of kofta.

Spices…

Spices by Pawec Siwak

Spices sold on the street in Hurghada, Egypt by Michael Caven

Local fruit sold on the street…

Fresh fruits sold on the street in Hurghada, Egypt by Micheal Caven

When you arrive in a new country, you always find something that you don’t find at home.  These pipes are a good example.  I just love the color and trims. Photo by David Dennis.


A quiet moment on the street. Photo by Davidlohr Bueso.

Antique dealer on the street…

Cairo Bazaar - Antiques by Zack Sheppard

Kofta Kebabs

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck or lamb
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil, for brushing the grill
  • Tzatziki, recipe follows
  • Grilled flat bread

Preparation:

Smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear mixture to a coarse paste. Mix the paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt with the meat, onion, parsley, and spices.

Line a pan with aluminum foil. Divide the meat mixture into 28 rough balls. Mold each piece around the pointed end of a skewer (if you use wooden ones, soak them in water for 15 minutes before threading them), making a 2-inch oval kebab that comes to a point just covering the tip of the skewer. Lay the skewers on the pan, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat or prepare a grill. Brush the pan lightly with olive oil. Working in batches, grill the kebabs, turning occasionally, until brown all over and just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with tzatziki and flat bread.

Tzatziki: Yogurt Sauce (Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce)

  • 2 cups plain whole milk yogurt or 1 cup Middle Eastern-style plain yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled

Preparation:

If you’re using plain whole milk yogurt, line a small sieve with a coffee filter. Put the yogurt in it, set it over a bowl, and refrigerate 12 hours. Discard the expressed liquid and put yogurt in the bowl.

Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater into another bowl. Sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons salt and rub into the cucumber with your hands. Set aside 20 minutes, then squeeze the cucumbers to express as much liquid as possible.

Smash the garlic, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Stir the cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and mint into the yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

The spices were just perfect….

Cool cucumber and mint yogurt sauce…

Street Scenes…no, you would not see me with this on my face…

Egypt by Archer10

Carriages to carry tourists to sites…

Egypt by Archer10

Linked to: Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate,  Eat at Home, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Welcome Wednesday, Wandering Wednesday, Wanderlust and Lipstick, Gold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday

Untangling My Chopsticks – The Art of Kaiseki and My Toshikoshi Soba

I just finished reading Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto by Victoria Abbott Riccardi.  A delicious book about her journey to learn the art of Kaiseki or 会席.

Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course seasonal dinner that accompanies the formal Japanese tea ceremony.  Kaiseki also refers to the skills and techniques that allow the preparation of such an elegant meal.  Read more on Kaiseki here and here.

Kaiseki: The Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto’s Kikunoi Restaurant is a visually stunning book although you won’t likely be preparing the dishes from this Michelin rated restaurant at home on a frequent basis.

Victoria’s writing style is beautiful…I truly felt part of the journey…discovering the culture, customs and lifestyle of Japan. Through her detailed descriptions I gained a sense of the people, the seasonal food (key to the Kaiseki) and the natural beauty of the country.  And well…if you like a love story you will find that too!  You will devour this book and rush to the kitchen to savor every recipe as you “live” in Kyoto.

What I know after reading this wonderful memoir is that I will visit Kyoto one day, I will attend a Kaiseki and I will make the recipes presented in Untangling My Chopsticks.

Until then, a virtual visit and my version of Toshikoshi Soba (Year-Crossing Soba)

Kyoto Garden cc attribution by Bordas

Kyoto Women cc attribution by Marc Veraart

Kyoto Girl cc attribution by Sashimi 7

Kyoto Markets:

Kyoto Market cc attribution by Christian Kadluba

Kyoto Market cc attribution by Banzai Hiroaki

Peek around and you will quickly see that I love Asian food, especially noodles.  My new noodle bowl and sake set, my first attempt at sushi rolls, a shrimp and udon noodle bowl and a soon to be published post on homemade shrimp and cabbage dumplings in dashi (subscribe or follow me on twitter so you don’t miss the dumplings – they were out of this world and super easy to make).

Now on to my Year-Crossing or Year-Bridging Soba Noodles:

(そば or 蕎麦 or Soba is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve to bring good luck and long life.  Recipes vary from family to family but the dish always includes soba noodles and dashi.  I buy all of my Asian ingredients at Pacific Mercantile which also has an on-line store.

While I am a little late in making my year-crossing noodles, about a month late…I will just have to consider this bowl as my month crossing noodles!

My Toshikoshi Soba (Year-Crossing or Year-Bridging Noodles) inspired and adapted from Victoria’s book:

Ingredients:

Serves 4

3/4 pound bunch of fresh spinach or 4 baby bok choy (I have used both and it works well either way)

5 cups dashi (I used dashi powder)

5 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon mirin

4 large eggs

8 ounces dried soba

4 shiso leaves minced

Shichimi (Japanese Red Pepper mix ~ red pepper, orange peel, yellow sesame seeds, black sesame seed, seaweed and ginger)

Preparation:

Trim stems from spinach and add a small amount of salted water to sauce pan.  Steam until just wilted.  Drain, remove excess water and cut into 4 service bunches. If using Bok Choy, steam whole and place two halves in bowl “hugging the noodles”.

Prepare dashi according to packet directions and add soy sauce, mirin and bring to simmer.

Bring a small pot of water to bowl, cook soba until al dente.  Drain.

Using same sauce pan as for spinach, poach to eggs or use your preferred poaching method.

Serving:

Twirl 1/4 of soba into noodle bowl, add 1/4 of the spinach.  Gently arrange the egg on top of spinach and ladle broth into bowl.  Garnish with a shhiso leaf and Shichimi pepper).

It was heavenly as the creamy yolk melded with the dashi broth and coated the noodles.

This post is linked to Novel Food, Wanderfood Wednesday and Foodies Reading Challenge.  Check them both out and join.  The journey is delicious!

{Kyoto photos used under creative commons attribution~ use terms}

Arrival ~ Japan: Sushi

Surfing around yesterday, I happened to find Joan’s Foodalogue and her fantastic Culinary Tour 2011 group.  The group travels around the world making dishes popular to the country or region.  How fun and adventurous is that?  Very!

The group was currently set to arrive in Japan.  When I think about Japan, I think of sushi rolls and cherry blossoms.  I haven’t been so decided to travel virtually.

Cherry Blossom Burst by Okinawa Steve

I have always wanted to make sushi rolls.  But, I have a secret.  I can’t make perfect rice.  No matter how many times I try and no matter the method, I just end up with a pot of gooey gum.  Maybe it is the altitude in Denver…maybe it is my constant peeking into the rice pot but it just never turns out.  So, sushi rolls were banished from my kitchen.

But…this group is adventurous, creative and the food looked amazing so I am facing my rice and sushi roll fears to take the trip with the Culinary Tour group!  Yes, I am!

Enjoy the scenery along the way.

Nikko, Japan by Okinawa Steve

Bridge in Nikko, Japan by Okinawa Steve

Castle in Japan by Okinawa Steve

Spicy Tuna Roll:

2 rolls

2 cups sushi rice (prepared – see below)

2 sheets nori

1/4 pound sushi grade yellow fin tuna (diced and mixed with spicy mayo)

1/2 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced thinly

1/4 English cucumber, peeled and cut into small match sticks

Spicy Mayo:

2 tablespoons may (your choice, I used low-fat olive oil mayo)

2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine until well mixed.

Sushi Rice:

2 cups rice (use Japanese short-grained white rice, also called japonica rice or sushi rice. Japanese rice has the correct amount of starch needed to make the rice glossy and sticky, not mushy or dry. You can find this style of rice at most well-stocked grocery stores or Asian markets)

1/4 cup Japanese rice vinegar

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons sugar

Preparing the Vinegar Mix:

Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a sauce pan on the stove over medium heat until the sugar and salt is dissolved into the vinegar. Do not boil the mixture. Leave sitting off heat until needed. You can make this portion before or while the rice is cooking.
Preparing the Rice:

Rinse the rice in cold water. This will take several minutes and several changes of water. Rinse the rice until the final change of water runs almost clear and there is no debris present. You can leave the rice to soak in the water for 15 minutes, or let sit drained in the strainer for up to an hour.

Cooking the Sushi Rice:

Steam the rinsed rice in an equal amount of water (i.e.: 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water) in the 2-quart pot on the stove top following the package’s directions or by bringing to a boil, then cooking over very low heat until the water is evaporated and you are left with lovely sticky rice. You may use rice cooker instead of the pot and stove.

Use very low heat after the initial boil and keep the lid on at all times.

Once the rice has finished cooking, it can be left off heat in the pot with the lid on for up to 15 minutes.

Seasoning the Sushi Rice:

When the rice has finished cooking, add the vinegar seasoning mix to the rice. Turn the rice out of the pot and into a non-reactive glass or wooden bowl. The traditional method uses a wooden container or Sushi Hangiri Temaki Set. Cool down the rice and add the seasoning at the same time. Use a tool like a shamoji in a gentle chopping motion to spread out the grains of rice and ensure the seasoning covers every grain. Some people use a hand-held fan to help in the cooling process.

Guess what?  I had great sushi rice.  I did.  Yeah!

Ready to fill and roll?  Yes, finally!

I found it so much easier to view the rolling process via photos or videos and rather than recreate them, I have linked to a photo tutorial and a video tutorial.

I admit, it was a long process.  Washing and drying the rice.  Cooking and cooling the rice.  Seasoning and fanning (yes, fanning) the rice and then finally rolling but it was so fresh and delicious that I do think it will be a weekend event going forward.  The options for filling are really endless!  My sushi roll days are just beginning.

Linked to Wanderlust and Lipstick

{Photos by Okinawa Steve used under Creative Commons Attribution}

New Noodle Bowls, Sake Set and Dinner

The inspiration for this perfect bowl of noodles was simple.  I wanted a new set of bowls and a sake set for our little Denver home. It was also perfect timing as the new fortnight theme over at the Cookbook Challenge (check the group out…fantastic collection of unique recipes) was “noodles”.  Two birds, one stone or something like that!

We are lucky to be within walking distance to Pacific Mercantile Market in Sakura Square.  If I couldn’t find the perfect set there, I probably wouldn’t find it anywhere!  So many choices…but sadly, too little room for multiple sets.  I had to choose one (yes, only one).  And…I will be honest, it wasn’t easy!

Gosh…how cute…but…aaahhhh…no…don’t need and no room!

And I selected…

Now…off to the kitchen to make a Shrimp Udon Noodle Bowl.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine.

Although homemade dashi (Japanese seaweed broth) is part of the easy beauty of this dish, you can substitute instant dashi in a pinch (Pacific Mercantile sells and ships dashi soup base along with many other items).  If you take that shortcut, infuse the broth with fresh ginger.

Ingredients:

4 servings

  • 2  large sheets kombu (kelp)
  • 2  quarts cold water
  • 1  cup  bonito flakes (about 1/4 ounce)
  • 1  (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 carrot cut into small sticks
  • 2 bok choy, halved
  • 1  (14-ounce) package udon noodles
  • 2  green onions, trimmed
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 2 1/2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2  tablespoons  rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1  pound  large  shrimp deveined
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

Preparation:

1.  Wipe kombu clean with a cloth and cut sheeting lengthwise into 3 inch pieces.  Place kombu in a large saucepan over medium high heat, cover with 2 quarts water.  Heat to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles for around edge.  Do not boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and discard kombu.  Stir in bonito and ginger and let stand until bonito sinks (about 10 minutes). Strain through cheesecloth over a bowl and discard solids.  Put back on stove, add carrots and simmer until soft.  Add bok choy and simmer until tender.

2. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.  Combine sugar, soy sauce, mirin and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Add shrimp and mushrooms to broth; cook 2 minutes or until shrimp are pink. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar mixture. Place about 1 cup noodles in each of 4 bowls; top with 2 cups broth mixture. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Time to eat!

Linked to:

Hearth n’ Soul

Tuesday Night Supper Club

Tasty Tuesday

Wine Tastings ~ It’s All About France

We have several wonderful boutique wine shops within walking distance of our Denver Pied-à-Terre. Often, I will plan my afternoon around the weekly wine tasting.  It is rare (really rare) if I don’t leave with a bottle or two, three, four or more of new wines to add to the cellar.

Today I had the pleasure to try wines from  Kermit Lynch‘s portfolio of French wines. You can follow Kermit on his blog. Great stories and photos.

Tasted:

2009 Chateau Ducasse Blanc – An outstanding crisp, light blend of Semillon, Sauvignon, and a bit of Muscadelle.

2009 Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre – A textbook Loire Valley Sauv Blanc.  89pts WA

2009 Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Bourgueil –  A good and reasonably priced Cab Franc.

2007 Domaine La Roquete –  Fans of Chateauneuf du Pape should be paying attention to what is taking place at La Roquete.  The property was acquired by the Brunier family (who also own Vieux Telegraphe) in the mid-eighties and over the last 5 years they have been successful in increasing the quality.  93pts WA

Bought:

ALL!

If you have a chance to try, please do and if you have a chance to buy, please do!

La Befana – Hang the Stocking Tonight

La Befana is one of Italy’s oldest and most celebrated legends. Each year on January 6 (the Epiphany) the children of Italy wake to see if La Befana has visited.

As legend has it, Befana was approached by the biblical magi, also known as the Three Wise Men a few days before the birth of the Infant Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was, as they had seen his star in the sky, but she did not know.  The magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, saying she had too much housework.  Fearing she made a mistake, she tried to find them but was unsuccessful.  She stopped every child to give them a small treat in hopes that one was the child.  La Befana is still searching for the little baby. She leaves all the good children toys and candy or fruit, while the not so good children get coal, onions or garlic.

If you have been good, hang your stocking and don’t forget the rhyme!  Buona notte e baci a tutti!

La Befana vien di notte,
con le scarpe tutte rotte,
neve, gelo, tramontana,
viva viva La Befana!

English:

La Befana comes at night,
wearing her shoes all broken,
snow, frost, winter winds,
Hurray for the Befana

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