Friday, May 7, 2010

I've Come a Long Way, Baby

Once again, I just have to express my thanks to Deb for her inspirational posts! I cannot tell you how much I have learned from doing this blog with her. In the past year I have come such a long way culinary-wise. I have such a passion for cooking, but always lacked the creativity innate to all chefs. Deb's posts have really helped me along. And as I know my culinary growth is of course not her main focus, (smile), I have the desire to let her know, as well as our readers, how our blog can transform even the least creative of novice chef "wannabees".

Case and point: A few nights ago I wanted something very light and healthy for dinner. So, I went to the supermarket and spotted broccoli rabe. It looked nice, so I bought that and bought some ginger and figured I'd come up with something. Oh yeah - I also bought some nice shitakes. So, I got home and pulled out some garlic. I didn't bother blanching the broccoli rabe and decided to just cook it in a pan as Deb had done a few posts ago. I sauteed some garlic and ginger in olive oil. Threw some sesame oil in as well. (I threw the shitakes under the broiler for a few minutes on each side too). Then, I put the broccoli rabe in the pan with the garlic and ginger, threw in some soy sauce, a touch of mirin, and finished the whole thing off with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Then I sliced up the shitakes and threw them in. Unbelievably delicious. Like something I would have as a side in a restaurant. I have to admit, I was proud of myself! My point here is that a year ago I would have had to look in Fine Cooking's "what to do with Broccoli Rabe" section to do something with it. I know this "recipe" doesn't require a degree in rocket science, and is very simple, and probably a no-brainer for many of you. But for me it is a big deal to just throw something together like that and have it come out simply amazing.

It's because I've been doing this blog with Deborah that has given me the ability to be more creative and just come up with stuff on my own rather than following a recipe. So, in my long-winded way - thank you, Deb for your inspiration and creativity! I can only hope that my wine insights have been equally educational and fun for others!

Thank you Amanda! My heart is swelling with pride! The confidence you have gained to comfortably improvise in the kitchen is all I could ever hope for in our blog journey together. Cooking is so laborious and such an unavoidable chore for those who want to eat well and healthfully that finding the simple, sensual pleasure in the work can make all the difference.
Some pretty Spring blossoms from my garden.

I too have learned from our collaboration and I now drink more than ever. JUST KIDDING!! What I have learned is to pay a little more attention to what wine I am serving with my meals. I really enjoy good wine, but have found the subject too vast for me to really claim any expertise about it.

During a recent dinner party my very sweet guests brought some wines for us all to share. Inspired by Amanda we decided to do our own little tasting. For the meal I served a classic cassoulet (roughly based on a recipe by Rachel Ray, but with my own twists, starting with beans cooked from scratch). I offered a cava to start because I love to have sparkling wine as a dinner aperitif when the occasion permits. We followed this with two Pinot Noirs and a Cotes du Rhone.
The damage is done. 
The tasters relax after a lot of hard work.

The results are as follows:
The cava was a Codorniu Brut- I chose it because it was cheap (under $10) and it was from Spain and I like things from Spain. The cava was really nice- dry, fruity, not TOO anything. Well balanced and refreshing on a warm day. Would absolutely buy it again and serve with ANYTHING.

Next we opened The Bourgogne A. Rodet 2008 Pinot Noir. My first thought was BUTTERY. My guests were skeptical- buttery wine??? but then they tasted it and agreed. I also thought it was romantic. Someone suggested "good for a first date", but I thought it was more like a third date when you know you are going to have sex and require at least the illusion of romance. I would serve this with some braised fava beans and sweet corn seasoned with tarragon. It just seems like a good idea.

The next Pinot was Augustinos 2008 from Chile. We immediately noticed its light body and peppery finish. This seemed more like a first date; a little exciting and stimulating, but not too serious. Serve it with grilled vegetables.

Finally we hit the Paul Jaboulet Aine Parellel 45 Cotes du Rhone, 2007. One guest called it "slap your mama." He is from Alabama and is comfortable with colorful phrasing. I just hope he treats his mama well. The point he nimbly made was that this wine was a big detour into the land of bold and obvious. Good for a pasta with red sauce kind of thing, I would think. It's the wine you would pull out when you have already been dating for a few years.

Ok Amanda- we are on a roll so I suggest we keep on eating and drinking and tasting and writing!


  1. "Slap yo Mama" is something we people of southern persuasion say when something is so good you want to really "slap yo daddy" but he's too big. ;-)

  2. "Slap yo Mama" is something we people of southern persuasion say when something is so good you want to really "slap yo daddy" but he's too big. ;-)


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