Monthly Archives: June 2013

{Devil Gourmet FoodStyle Feature} East Coast Vineyards: The North Fork of Long Island

Palmer Vineyard Tasting.

Palmer Vineyard Tasting.

The North Fork of Long Island is stacked with so many vineyards and wineries, you might mistake it for Napa or Sonoma. What it lacks in mountains, scenery, and West Coast cool-factor, it makes up for with its ocean front setting and ease of access from NJ/NYC. The area is a haven for farmers and foodies alike, with fertile soil lending itself to perfect corn, tomatoes, lettuce, and lots of goats and cows to make delicious cheese. Take your pick of farm stands and markets, and snap up heirloom tomatoes, buttery lettuce, laid-that-morning eggs, and even raw milk and raw milk cheese, hard to come by around here.

Baby goats at Martha Clara Vineyard.

Baby goats at Martha Clara Vineyard.

The wineries are equally as plentiful. If you look at a map, you’ll find roughly thirty wineries on one long strip of land along the North Fork.

Martha Clara Vineyards, our first stop, set its tasting bar and rooms in a gorgeous massive old barn, which sits on 100 acres of farm land perviously home to potatoes. In 1995 the potatoes were replaced with grapes, and Martha Clara now boasts several award-winning wines. Their Riesling and Gewürztraminer are both stand out choices.

Palmer Vineyards.

Palmer Vineyards.

Palmer Vineyards, just three miles down the road from Martha Clara, offers a self-guided walk through tour of their winemaking process, from grape to French oak barrel to bottle. Sample the finished product in their beautiful antique accented tasting room, or better yet take your tasting tray outside to their covered patio or onto the grass at the foot of the vineyard rows.

Read the full post on Devil Gourmet.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Chocolate Guinness CakeThis cake is ridiculously good. Whenever I ask someone what they want me to bring for dessert, this is usually the answer. While it has Guinness beer in it, the cake doesn’t taste like beer, exactly. Rather the beer gives the chocolate a boost, making the whole cake taste intensely chocolaty, damp, rich, and satisfying. The cream cheese frosting sets off this chocolaty richness perfectly. Tangy and not too sweet, it also tops off the cake and makes the whole thing look like a pint of Guinness. If all that doesn’t convince you, consider this: Guinness cake comes together in a flash, using only one pan on the stove top, and only the laziest of stirring. Enjoy!

For the Cake:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 10 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream (can use low-fat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and line a 9 inch spring form pan with parchment paper, buttering the bottom and sides. I
  • n a saucepan over medium heat, heat the beer and the butter until the butter has melted.
  • Off the heat, whisk in the sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and add this slowly to the beer mixture. Whisk constantly to avoid scrambling your eggs. Finally, whisk in the flour and baking soda.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, then allow to cool. Once completely cooled, frost with the cream cheese frosting. Or eat it warm, unadorned, straight from the pan- delicious too!

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  • Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer (or by hand), then slowly stream in the heavy cream, until you have a consistency you like.The frosting should be very thick. Heap onto the cake so it resembles a tall frothy pint of Guinness. 

Recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson’s book Feast. 

 

{Devil Gourmet FoodStyle Feature} Necessary Culinary Investments

Shopping for Father’s Day got me thinking- how do you know what really constitutes a worthwhile investment in your kitchen? Williams Sonoma can easily convince you that $47.00 kitchen tongs are instrumental and necessary to all your culinary endeavors, but what items and ingredients do you really need to shell out for? Below is my list for necessary culinary investments that will earn their keep in your kitchen and pay back their initial cost ten times over because of their usefulness and durability.

1. Le Creuset Cast Iron Cookware 

Photo by Williams Sonoma.

Photo by Williams Sonoma.

These pots last forever. I use my big red 9 quart signature round dutch oven for everything in the kitchen, from roasting chicken, to making risotto, soups, steaming dumplings, searing salmon, even baking massive chicken pot pies. It never lets you down and fills every culinary task with ease. It’s endlessly durable (I’ve dropped mine on the floor on several occasions), conducts heat evenly and holds temperature beautifully. Pick which size makes sense for you, but know that you’ll get more uses out of the bigger versions.

2. A Fantastic Chef’s Knife

Photo by Williams Sonoma.

Photo by Williams Sonoma.

Whatever cutting or chopping task you’re doing in the kitchen you’ll need a solid, super sharp knife to work with. Chef’s knives are the workhorse of your knife kit, and you should put most of your money here. The smaller and more specialized knives are useful, but if you want one fantastic knife, make it a chef’s knife. Quality really makes a difference here, and keeping your knife sharp is half the battle. Invest in the best chef’s knife you can afford (try Wusthof, Shun, or Kikuichi) and make sure to buy a sharpening stone too. You can get a good one for 50 or so dollars, and a few sharpening swipes every week will keep your investment in tip-top shape. A dull knife is actually the most dangerous knife, so keep yours nice and sharp, and it will last a really long time.

 

Photo by Williams Sonoma.

Photo by Williams Sonoma.

3. A Powerful Mixer

A really strong, powerful standing mixer will whip up masses of egg whites for meringue, make quick work of thick cake batter, knead your dough for pizza and bread, make hollandaise sauce in a flash, and turn heavy cream into whipped cream in minutes. Standing mixers allow you to walk away rather than standing tending to your batter while your arm gets tired. The KitchenAid standing mixer looks beautiful on your counter, and you’ll find yourself using it again and again. They’re an investment but they last forever (I got one for my 13th birthday and it still works like a dream). You can also leverage your KitchenAid mixer into countless other useful appliances with their wide collection of attachments. Their pasta attachment makes homemade linguine in minutes, and their juicer attachment makes freshly squeezed juice for cooking or cocktails seamlessly.

View more suggestions on the full post on Devil Gourmet. 

Sweet & Spicy Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet & Spicy Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup.

Sweet & Spicy Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup.

On a rainy summer night, nothing hits the spot quite like this sweet and spicy chipotle sweet potato soup. It tastes deceptively rich and creamy, despite the absence of butter or cream. Sweet potatoes pack tons of healthy vitamins and minerals into your meal, and the capsaicin in the chipotle peppers will give your metabolism a kick. You can top up your finished soup with a bit of low-fat sour cream and some chopped cilantro. It keeps well and tastes even better the next day.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 red onions (minced)
  • cloves garlic (minced)
  • 5 sprigs cilantro (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 large sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 2 red apples (peeled and diced)
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (peppers minced (add more or less to taste)
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add the onions, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Cook down until the onions are soft and slightly golden, about 12 minutes.
  • Add the chipotle peppers, sweet potatoes, apples, and vegetable stock, and stir to combine. Turn up the heat, bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes have cooked through.
  • Puree the soup with a hand blender or in your standing blender until smooth, adding more vegetable stock if necessary. Garnish each bowl with minced cilantro and a bit of low-fat sour cream.

Read the full post on Bachelor Kitchen.

{Devil Gourmet FoodStyle Feature} Game Meats

South African Springbok at Aubergine in Cape Town.

South African Springbok at Aubergine in Cape Town.

“It tastes gamey” doesn’t have to be synonymous with “it tastes bad.” Game meats offer a wider flavor profile than your run of the mill beef and chicken, and can prove a welcome change from your usual cooking and grilling routine this summer. Recently while in South Africa, I couldn’t help but notice all the different meat options at every restaurant we visited. Not only the more upscale restaurants, but the local burger stands and farmers markets too. While we have slightly more of a stigma against game meats here in America, and definitely fewer options to choose from, discerning chefs and home cooks can still embrace cooking with game meat and enjoy the benefits.

South African Ostrich Carpaccio at Neethlingshof Wine Estate, Stellenbosch.

South African Ostrich Carpaccio at Neethlingshof Wine Estate, Stellenbosch.

Usually the product of an active lifestyle, game meats provide lean, high quality protein that’s lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than beef, and also boasts more protein and iron. Game meats also tend to have more omega-3 fatty acids than domestic varieties, making them a heart healthy choice. From a culinary standpoint, game meat tends to taste like the best, most flavorful steak you’ve ever had. If its prepared well, a reindeer tenderloin will not taste gamey or tough, but will melt with tenderness and bold, meaty flavor. All the usual beef flavors are kicked up a notch, in a good way.

South African Kudu at Aubergine in Cape Town.

South African Kudu at Aubergine in Cape Town.

From a consciousness standpoint, game meats usually come from more local, sustainable, organic, and free-range farms. Because of this however, procuring game meets can prove challenging. Two of the best online resources for game meats are D’Artagnan and Ultimate Foods. Both offer responsibly sourced, hormone and antibiotic free game meats that can be delivered right to your door.

The best burgers in Cape Town, at the Old Biscuit Mill food market.

The best burgers in Cape Town, at the Old Biscuit Mill food market.

Bison Burgers

Switch up your usual BBQ fare this summer and grill up these delicious Bison Burgers. Your guests will be thrilled.

Serves 4

  • 1.5 lbs. ground bison
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • hamburger buns, toasted
  • Sriracha mayo (mix 1 tablespoon Sriracha with 3/4 cup mayo for a delicious spicy burger topping)

Mix together the ground bison, garlic, onion, and a liberal amount of salt and pepper. Form into four patties, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Preheat your grill to medium high heat. Press a groove into the top of each burger, and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, and serve with the toasted buns and spicy mayo, and whatever other burger toppings you like.

For my full article, including do’s and dont’s of cooking game meats and more recipes, visit Devil Gourmet. 

Brandy & Chocolate Tasting at Van Ryn’s Distillery {Stellenbosch, South Africa}

Brandy & Chocolate Tasting with my Dad at Van Ryn's Brandy Distillery in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Brandy & Chocolate Tasting with my Dad at Van Ryn’s Brandy Distillery in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

I’ll be honest, until recently brandy conjured up images of old bearded men in tweed sipping and swilling between puffs on their pipes in some old library. It’s never been my favorite. But recently I visited the Van Ryn’s brandy distillery in South Africa’s Stellenbosch region, and it completely changed my opinion of brandy. We participated in a brandy and chocolate tasting (how bad can that be) and learned the do’s and dont’s of drinking brandy. As it turns out, the way you sip brandy can entirely change the taste and your drinking experience, making it either delicious and enjoyable or biting and assertively alcoholic. So to enhance your drinking experiences and make you appear a more well-rounded and educated person, here’s a brief lesson on brandy- what it is and how to drink it.

The copper distillery machine at Van Ryn's.

The copper distillery machine at Van Ryn’s.

First, let’s get the semantics right. The word brandy simply means neutral grape spirit. It’s basically a wine that’s been distilled into a vapor, and that vapor gets concentrated and then aged (usually in French oak casks) for a set amount of time before drinking. This distillation brings the liquid up to roughly 40% alcohol, or 80 proof. Usually two years of aging meets the minimum standard for brandy, but you can purchase 200-year-old brandy from the French Revolution for a pretty penny (try upwards of $2,200 a bottle). Usually the older the brandy, the more mellow, floral, and smooth the flavors. More chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon, and less smack-you-in-the-face alcohol smell and taste.

Cognac and Armagnac both fall under the brandy umbrella. Their distinction stems from the type of grapes they are fermented and distilled from. Its sort of like how champagne must come from the champagne region of France, but you can get sparkling wine from around the world.

Brandy & Chocolate Tasting at Van Ryn's.

Brandy & Chocolate Tasting at Van Ryn’s.

For cognac, you can tell how long it has been aged by looking at the distinctions on the label:

  • VS (very special) means a minimum of 2 years
  • VSOP (very superior old pale) means a minimum of 4 years
  • XO (extra old) means a minimum of 6 years

For Armagnac, the distinctions are similar:

  • VSOP means a minimum of 4 years
  • XO means a minimum of 5 years
  • Hors d’Age means a minimum of 10 years

To properly drink brandy and take advantage of all its flavors, pour 1-2 ounces into a tulip shaped glass and warm it gently in the palm of your hand. The cardinal sin of drinking brandy is swilling and swirling your glass. This stirs up all the alcohol and prevents you from smelling or tasting any of the other more delicate flavors. If you do it by accident, don’t worry. The alcohol vapors will settle back down and you can enjoy your drink again. Sniff your glass and take small sips. This is not a beverage intended for chugging. Look for flavors of chocolate, vanilla, orange, apricot, toffee, and nuts, to name a few. Do NOT serve your brandy over ice, and try to avoid mixing anything of quality with cola- you’re ruining it. You can however mix your brandy with a bit of peach puree and a few ice cubes for a deliciously summery cocktail.

If you still turn your nose up at brandy- you probably already love a few of its derivatives. The aperitif and popular cocktail ingredient Lillet is just brandy mixed with fruit, herbs, and wine. The liquor Grand Mariner gets its flavor from cognac infused with orange and sweetened.

Van Ryn's Brandy Distillery in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Van Ryn’s Brandy Distillery in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

View the full article on Bachelor Kitchen.

{Devil Gourmet FoodStyle} Add to your Collection: Organic & Sustainable Wines

Stone Edge Farm Vineyards

Stone Edge Farm Vineyards

Why Organic Wine?

Enjoying wine is hardly a new concept. Most people who enjoy cooking and eating good food graduated from their boxed wine and screw top days long ago. If you’re looking to take your appreciation of great wine to the next level, consider the new wave of eco-friendly, natural wines cropping up around the country. Pesticides and flavor-sapping chemicals and processing practices hardly cross your mind when you’re sipping your Cabernet over dinner, but they should. These practices negatively affect both you and the earth, and can even leach out flavors from your wine. If the idea of organic wine brings to mind images of people with long beards and Birkenstocks, crushing grapes in a barrel with bare feet, allow me to change your perception.

With Philippe Thibault, who gave us our tour of Stone Edge Farm Vineyards

With Philippe Thibault, who gave us our tour of Stone Edge Farm Vineyards

Stone Edge Farm Vineyards

Recently when I visited Sonoma, CA, I had the pleasure of touring Stone Edge Farm Vineyards. Stone Edge was the most elegant, meticulously planned, and gorgeous vineyard we visited. Olive trees flank the rows of vines, and massive white oak shadows carefully tended gardens. The olive oil we tasted with our wines was like liquid gold; fruity, fluorescent green, and delicious. A very small and curated vineyard, they work diligently to farm their land organically, paying close attention to all the balancing factors in nature that contribute to absolutely over the top delicious wine. Rather then dousing their grapes and vines with pesticides and chemicals, the people at Stone Edge tune in to their environment and use natural solutions. Owl boxes encourage owls to take up residence in the vineyards, controlling the mouse population, honey bee hives encourage honey bees to pollinate the vines, and their fruit and vegetable gardens encourage healthy heirloom varieties to take root. The smaller number of vines allow for hands on attention, and the resulting wine shows off every bit of this love and care.

Wines from our tasting at Stone Edge Farm Vineyards

Wines from our tasting at Stone Edge Farm Vineyards

For the full article, visit Devil Gourmet.

{Arctic Zero Recipe} Healthy Faux-Fried Mexican Ice Cream

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These Faux-Fried Mexican Ice Cream treats give you all the crunch and cinnamon-y sweetness of the deep-fried original, without any of the health pitfalls. These three ingredient wonders will be a hit at your next meal, and are a fun, fresh alternative to the expected ice cream in a bowl dessert. They’re fun to eat, a breeze to make, and perfect for a party. If you can find gluten-free pita chips or tortilla chips, those with gluten intolerance can enjoy these treats too.

Lactose Intolerant Friendly

These Faux-Fried Mexican Ice Cream treats give you all the crunch and cinnamon-y sweetness of the deep fried original, without any of the health pitfalls. These three ingredient wonders will be a hit at your next meal, and are a fun, fresh alternative to the expected ice cream in a bowl dessert. They’re fun to eat, a breeze to make, and perfect for a party. If you can find gluten free pita chips or tortilla chips, those with gluten intolerance can enjoy these treats too.

Makes 20-25 ice cream balls, depending on size.

Ingredients

  • 1 pint Arctic Zero Chocolate ice cream
  • 1 bag cinnamon sugar pita chips (Stacy’s makes a great product)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  • In your food processor, blitz the pita chips and cinnamon together until you have a fine, sandy mixture. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop the chips finely, or place them in a bag and crush them.
  • Transfer your mix into a shallow bowl. Using a ½ tablespoon scoop, scoop up the ice cream into a round, even ball. Using your hands, roll the ice cream ball in the sandy mixture until thoroughly covered. Place on a plate or sheet pan, and continue working until you’ve used up all your ice cream.
  • Freeze your ice cream balls for at least 30 minutes, or as long as you like, before serving.

Extra additions: You can wrap a piece of strawberry, banana, chocolate, or almonds inside the ice cream before you coat them in the sandy mixture.

{Devil Gourmet FoodStyle Feature} On Restaurant Menus, Vegetables are Taking Over

Spring Pea Soup with Creme Fraiche & Field Mint- at The Glen Ellen Star.

Spring Pea Soup with Creme Fraiche & Field Mint- at The Glen Ellen Star.

VEGETABLES? REALLY?

While steak and bacon will forever have a place on a restaurant menu, lately the tide is turning towards a greener, fresher inclination. In many of the top restaurants in NYC, vegetables are taking center stage, and slowly but surely edging out the normally predominant meat dishes. Even in the entrée section of menus, usually fully occupied by the four-legged variety save for one vegetarian option at the bottom, chefs skillfully finesse vegetables into dishes that would satisfy even the most devout carnivore.

Fava Beans with Sheep’s Milk Feta & Lemon Oil, and Wood Fired Artichokes with Parmesan & Arugula- at The Glen Ellen Star.

Fava Beans with Sheep’s Milk Feta & Lemon Oil, and Wood Fired Artichokes with Parmesan & Arugula- at The Glen Ellen Star.

The Glen Ellen Star – Sonoma, CA

A few weeks ago during a trip to Sonoma, California, I had dinner at the newly minted Glen Ellen Star. Chef and owner Ari Weiswasserworked at some of the top restaurants in NYC, including DanielCorton, and Picholine, as well as a long stint at Thomas Keller’s famed French Laundry, before opening his own restaurant in Sonoma. The Glen Ellen Star’s menu reads like a who’s who of spring vegetables, all grown locally and prepared with obvious thought and care.

We ordered up vegetable starters, all cooked in cast iron dishes in the Glen Ellen wood oven. The fava beans came topped with sheep’s milk feta cheese and a drizzle of lemon oil, the spring pea soup arrived with a dollop of crème fraiche and field mint, and the whole roasted cauliflower was served with house made salsa verde.  Even the vehement meat lovers at the table devoured the flavorful and complex dishes, and all the cast irons returned to the kitchen empty. While our table still opted for a wood fire pizza topped with guanciale, and some flat iron steak and lamb meatballs for entries, the vegetable focused menu was a welcomed and refreshing change. It’s not about eating strictly vegetarian, but about eating more a more balanced, seasonal, and bright meal.

View the full post, including NYC restaurant recommendations, on Devil Gourmet.

With Chef & Owner Ari Weiswasser at The Glen Ellen Star.

With Chef & Owner Ari Weiswasser at The Glen Ellen Star.

{Devil Gourmet FoodStyle Feature} Fresh Herbs

In the Greenhouse in Sonoma, CA.

In the Greenhouse in Sonoma, CA.

Why Fresh Herbs?

With the warmer, sunnier days and lighter, longer nights, its time to put away your bottles and jars of dried herbs and get your hands on the real thing. Fresh, live herbs bring a lightness and brightness to your cooking, enhancing the delicious produce of the season. It’s a culinary crime to sprinkle your freshly picked summer tomatoes with dried up old basil. Aside from their flavor superiority, fresh herbs also pack a healthful punch of vitamins and minerals lacking in most dried herbs. Do yourself and your food a favor and plan ahead to cook with fresh herbs.

Freshly Picked Herbs From Our Greenhouse in Sonoma, CA.

Freshly Picked Herbs From Our Greenhouse in Sonoma, CA.

Mexican Green Goddess Dressing 

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups (don’t worry- you’ll use it up)

  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise or Vegenaise
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • zest from 2 limes
  • 1/2 green jalapeño (optional)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or a blender until smooth. If it looks too thick, add a splash of water until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Season to taste, and store in a jar in your fridge for up to a week.

View the full post with more suggestions for fresh herbs on Devil Gourmet.