19 July 2012

Whisk n Wine

Earlier this week, the Sailor and I went to a cooking class and wine pairing at barVino, the trendy little restaurant we first visited back in May. I'm always envious of people who make their passion their profession, and Anna and Megan, the talent behind Whisk n Wine, are two of those people! Anna is a proprietor of the restaurant and teaches about the "wine," while Megan, a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, wields the "whisk."

Their philosophy is the same as Julia Childs, "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces- just cook from fresh ingredients." Not so difficult considering that Megan's family owns Sweet Pea Farms, and the restaurant has its own garden. The two offer classes ranging from Your Momma's Classics-- think your grandmother's recipes with healthy substitutions and new twists-- to Seafood and Wine pairings. On Monday, the Sailor and I enrolled in the Farmer's Market Dinner.

Here are each of the courses and the "3 ounce" wine pairing (with generous refills!). I've included some recipes, snippets from the copious notes I took,and a few photos (Improving my photography skills should have been on my Top Ten Summer To-Do List-- so sorry for the low-res pics taken from bad angles).

First Course:
Summer Salad with Quick Pickled Cucumbers and Onions and Pan-seared Croutons
(El Coto de Rioja Rose)

In our house, jars of dill pickles are gone the day after we buy them. They're one of our favorite foods, so we were psyched to see this recipe for FAST pickles. We made them in class in time to eat them with our salad-- they only sat for about 20 minutes but were so flavorful.  

1 whole cucumber
1 small onion
1 teaspoon salt
60 ml white vinegar
75 grams of sugar
parsley to garnish

Run the tines of a fork down the length of the cucumber so that when sliced, a fluted pattern will be created.
Cut cucumber into thin slices. Place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mix well. Leave the cucumber in the water for ten minutes, allowing it to absorb the salt. Rinse with cold water and drain off excess using a colander. Add the onion slices.
Combine sugar and vinegar. Add to cucumber and onion slices, and mix well.
Place in a plastic container and regrigerate overnight or for a few hours before serving.

Trick for Juicy Lemons
Everyone knows how to make a basic vinaigrette (even me), so I won't include that salad recipe. I did learn a trick for getting juicy lemons though. Poke a hole in the skin/rind of the lemon and microwave it for 15 minutes  (UPDATE: 15 seconds!) to get the juices flowing.

Crunchy Croutons
I must say that the croutons on the salad were out of this world. Forget about baked croutons. Go for the good stuff. Day old bread was pan seared in just a bit of canola oil at a high temp on the stove until browned. That was it. They were delish and gave the salad a bit of a crunch.

Second Course:
Zucchini Stuffed with Sundried Tomato, Pine Nuts and Nettle Meadow Goat Cheese
(Gordon Bros. Reserve Chardonnay)

Also called "Goats in Boats." Speaks for itself. 

The second and third course were served together, in short, the entree was roasted chicken with veg. The wine paired with the entree came from the Gordon Brothers winery in Washington State. Started in 1980, it was one of the first wineries out there, and now there are over 3,500 in the area! The chardonnay is described as having "aromas of melon, peach and toasted coconut... wonderful flavors of apple, Asian pear, dried mango and a subtle creaminess." After standing in a hot, hot, hot kitchen watching demonstrations, a cold glass of wine was so refreshing!

Third Course:
Roasted Chicken with New Potatoes
(Michel Torino Pinot Noir)

Megan trussed the chicken and cut slits in the skin to stuff with pats of butter and rosemary, thyme and parsley. After drizzling it with oil, salt and pepper, a 4-5 lb. bird cooks at 400 degrees for about an hour and a half. Pretty simple.

Voila! Roasted chicken with new potatoes and goats in boats. Doesn't look all that appetizing in the picture, but I'm going to work on the photography skills. Next time, my pics will look like something on the cover of Saveur or Food and Wine. 

Fourth Course:
Eton Mess with Battenkill Creamery Whipped Cream and Seasonal Berries
(Pelligrino Moscato Frizzante)

Another simple course...if you buy the meringue shells like I would do. The Eton Mess traditionally combines meringue, whipped cream and strawberries, but you can use any fruit that's in season. We used ripe, plump blueberries with fresh whipped cream made from a local dairy. Nettlemeadow Farm is a working farm and is an animal sanctuary for over 300 goats and sheep. It also produces world renowned artisanal cheese-- their kunik, which we sampled at Friends Lake Inn, was even was recently featured in Men's Health, "The 10 Cheeses Every Man Must Eat." A health magazine telling readers to eat cheese?  Now, that's good news! 

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