I am thankful for beer. I am thankful for wine. I am thankful for Madeira and pumpkin pie. After that, some whiskey or maybe some rum might make me feel more thankful, then Fernet Branca will make me especially thankful. As folks who read this blog probably know well, I am a seasonal drinker– summers are for Margaritas, springs are for gin drinks and so on. The fall is when the browns (whiskeys) come out and the red wine starts flowing. Thanksgiving is a special day of drinking though. It’s important not to hit it too hard too early. I like to create a progression during the day. Start out with some champagne especially a bottle of pink bubbles because it’s so festive, then move on down the road toward whiskey town.
As the feast begins, I think it is important to stick with wines in the middle of the spectrum, fuller white wines and lighter bodied red wines. The Thanksgiving table has such a broad palate of food that it is important to come up with versatile wines. Look for high acid, fruit forward, unoaked and low alcohol as the markers for versatility. If we go too light, Grandma Jenny’s chestnut and Italian sausage stuffing will clobber the Sancerre that we spent $25 bucks on. If we go too heavy, the alcohol and oak from that $40 Washington wine that was so well reviewed recently will suck all the moisture from your mouth, and we’ll never know how perfect your father in-law’s bird was this year.
Check out white wines like Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Gris from Alsace or Muller Thurgau from Northern Italy. Maybe even a Gruner Veltliner from Austria. All of these white wines tend to have a hefty body and even a touch of sweetness that works beautifully with all the herbs and subtle sweetness on the table. If red wine is what you seek, then look at Piedmontese Barbera or Nebbiolo, and if your rich uncle is buying make sure you get some really expensive Barolo. I like these wines because they act like the cranberry sauce in your glass. They clean everything up nicely with their high acid levels.
If wine is not for you, I think this is a great time of year to try out some cider. How autumnal!! The folks here in Washington are making a great go at cider and a well-made dry cider will certainly round out any Thanksgiving dinner. I have recently surprised a lot of people by pouring them ciders made just like champagne. Producers are using a secondary bottle fermentation to create fine bubbles and bone dry refreshments.
When the pumpkin pie hits the table, it is time for Madeira. This savory sweet wine from the coast of Portugal is the essential pairing for dessert. Toffee, nutty, briny and a touch sweet, this wine compliments so many flavors, not to mention it’s a great value compared to quality Port. Not to mention most folks find Port too sweet and rich.
No matter what you drink, have fun and enjoy the good company at your turkey day table. Cheers!
Here are a few specific recommendations, with a nice range of prices, that you can find on the shelf at Home Remedy:
Finn River Methode Champenoise Cider $23
Rare Wine Co. Charleston Sercial Madeira $35
Il Rossomarconi Nebbiolo $11.50
Corsini Barbera d’Alba $18.50
Roland Schmitt Gewurztraminer $29
Analemma Gewurtzraminer $31
Domaine Weinbach Pinot Blanc $30
Evesham Wood Les Puits Sec Blanc $17.50
Pastry Chef Stacy, Pastry Sous Brittany, and the rest of the Dahlia Workshop pastry crew roasted and pureed every variety of pumpkin and squash from Prosser Farm to do a taste test to determine the best variety to use for baking the pumpkin pies that will be on sale at Dahlia Bakery and ready for your holiday table for Thanksgiving 2013! The verdict on which are the best pumpkin and squash varieties for pie? Read more here.
What’s for Dinner? Home Remedy Line Cook Melissa Smith crafted this menu so you can cook a meal at home that’s like take-out from your favorite Indian restaurant!
Potato and Pea Samosas, Chicken Tikka Masala, Coriander Chutney, and Coconut Pistachio Rice Pudding
Makes 2 Servings with leftovers
Home Remedy at Home Shopping List
Fior di Riso Carnaroli Rice
Nirav Coriander Chutney
Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk
Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce
CB’s Nuts Pistachios
Wholly Wholesome Organic Pie Dough (Freezer)
Rub with Love Bengal Masala Rub
Cooked and shredded chicken meat, about 2 cups (Salad Bar)
Peas, about ½ c (Salad Bar)
1 bottle Sancerre Les Crilles
In your home pantry (or buy at Home Remedy): 2 potatoes, 1 yellow onion, 1 egg (optional, for egg wash for dough), vegetable oil, sugar (2 teaspoons), salt, and honey
Note: If you’d like to serve the tikka masala with a side of rice, also buy some cooked white rice from the Home Remedy “pod,” (ie. the place we make sandwiches and rice bowls for you)
Recipe: (in Melissa’s own words)
To begin, put your pie dough in a warm spot so that it can quickly defrost. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
You can start the rice for the rice pudding at any time. (See the dessert instructions towards the bottom of this post). Cooking the rice for the pudding will take about 20 to 25 minutes. Around the time you’re ready to put the samosas into the oven would be a pretty good time to start your rice pudding so you can stir and keep an eye on it as you continue to prep your meal.
You need to cook your potatoes before you can make the samosas. I chose to peel, chop and boil the potatoes until soft enough to mash. You may also bake or microwave them. Anyway that you can get them cooked and mashable, you’re ready to go!
To make the samosas, put the cooked potatoes in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon Rub with Love Bengal Masala and a pinch of salt. You may add more Rub to your own taste; for spicier samosas, add in some cayenne pepper. Mash and mix your potatoes with a fork. Gently stir in the peas so as not to mush them.
Unroll your pie dough and cut it into quarters. There are 2 rounds of dough in the box; after you cut them both into quarters you will have 8 portions of dough. Take a small amount of potato mixture and place on top of one portion of the dough. Fold the dough over so that it forms a triangle. You may use the tines of a fork to seal the seams which will also provide a decorative finish. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Place the samosas onto a vegetable oil sprayed or parchment lined baking sheet and brush each with some beaten egg. The egg wash will allow the tops to become golden and slightly crispier, but it is not required to have a great samosa. Place in oven until the dough is cooked and samosas are firm to the touch and golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the Chicken Tikka Masala. Cut your onion into small squares. Over medium heat, add the onion and a bit of oil to your sauté pan. Sauté slowly until the onions are caramelized and cooked through. Once the onions are cooked add to your pan the jar of Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce, also add in about ½ a jar of water. Use a wooden spoon to scrape your pan so all the onion goodness becomes part of the sauce. Add in your cooked chicken, place a lid on the pan and allow to simmer on low until heated through. (If you bought cooked rice from Home Remedy, gently reheat it now.)
When you serve the samosas, serve the coriander chutney alongside. The chutney is great not only on the samosas but also as a condiment for your Tikka Masala. If desired, serve the Chicken Tikka Masala with a side of cooked rice. Yes, you are having rice twice in this meal, because there’s also rice pudding for dessert, but this is an Indian Take Out Dinner so it’s ok to eat lots of rice!
Dessert! We are using Italian style rice here but it does create the best rice pudding! This rice is normally used for risotto or paella but it creates a very creamy pudding that is perfect! Empty your can of coconut milk into a measuring cup; add enough water so that the liquid measures 4 cups. Place 1 cup of rice into a pot over medium heat and add in 1 cup of liquid. It is very important that you add the liquid in stages and stir continually. I added 2 teaspoons of sugar to the rice for a bit sweeter dessert. Your rice will begin to absorb the liquid and become creamy. Continue adding in your liquid and stirring until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft, adjusting the heat as needed. Top the pudding with chopped pistachios (shell and chop them) and drizzle with honey. Serve warm or room temperature.
Enjoy your meal with the amazing bottle of Sancerre. Its sweetness plays well with the subtle heat of the Tikka Masala, while its acidity pairs well with the creamy rice pudding. It’s a refreshing wine that goes great with this meal!
Prosser Farm delivered a whopping 50,000 pounds of produce to the Tom Douglas joints over the summer growing season! Right now our chefs are finding creative ways to pickle and preserve whatever’s left so we can enjoy a taste of Prosser Farm all winter long. Check out our latest Prosser Farm post here to see what’s happening, pickle-wise.
I hate to make general sweeping statements about wines that I do or do not like. For example;
“I don’t like Chardonnay,” or “I only like red wine, or “Riesling is too sweet.” The trouble with these generalizations is that they can often be disproven very easily. I once had some guests ask me to pair wines for a tasting menu and as I began asking the questions to lead me to understand their preferences they admitted an utter dislike for Chardonnay. I decided to take a risk. I rifled through my cellar at the restaurant and paired each of their courses with various Chardonnays that I knew would please their palates. After each course I would ask if they enjoyed the wine and each time they raved about how delicious each wine was and how well it paired with the food. I waited until the end of their dinner and revealed to them that they had tried five different expressions of Chardonnay from France, Oregon and Washington and they were astounded that they loved each one more than the last. This is one example as to why making generalizations about wine is a bad idea. You miss out on so many opportunities to try something that might surprise you. That being said, I am going to make a generalization. I prefer to pair food with white wines. Most menu items at restaurants and dishes that I prepare at home lend themselves to white wine. White wine inherently has many of the characteristics I find favorable for pairing like lower alcohol, higher acid and appropriate body. They tend to be enhancers rather than the star of the show. Naturally, there are reds that accomplish this, but as I said before generalizations about wine are easily debunked.
All that to tell you about a few wines that I’m in love with for this time of the year. Wines from Alsace, France make for some of the best seasonal wines. Their heartier body and touch of sweetness lend themselves to all the beautiful squashes that pop up on our tables in the fall. Not to mention that their flavors are extraordinarily compatible with all of our orchard treats that we have here in Washington. Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Muscat are all very different, but each shares a few similarities that will allow me to make another generalization. All these grapes when produced in Alsace have a plush texture, floral aromas and a touch higher alcohol to balance with the bigger body. The reason for this is the warm climate in the region that allows the grapes to achieve a certain ripeness.
Here are a few of my favorite producers from the region that make wines ranging from affordable daily drinkers to collector’s items. Domaine Zind Humbrecht is a perennial favorite of mine; the wines are produced biodynamically and with a level of precision that I love. Try their Riesling at the Palace Kitchen. Domaine Weinbach makes a delicious Pinot Blanc that we recently paired with pumpkin fritters and spicy pickled peppers. The subtle sweetness balanced the heat from the peppers, and the body was great for the pillowy fritters. You can pick up this wine at Home Remedy.
Happy Halloween! Lots of hilarious costumes at Tom Douglas office today (Garden of Eva is dressed as a firecracker!) and many delicious treats. How much candy do we Americans consume at Halloween? According to Marion Nestle’s Food Politics blog, Halloween candy generates a whopping $2.4 billion in sales during the last two weeks of October. That’s a sobering thought, but for something a little scary, there’s this: 99.4% of all Halloween snack size chocolate candy bars are made by only 3 companies.
While on the subject of food politics, Civil Eats points out that the “No on 522″ campaign (in other words, the people who are AGAINST labeling) has a war chest of $21.9 million dollars, making it the most well endowed single-issue campaign in this state’s history. This means, there’s a boatload of money from a few corporations coming into Washington to influence your vote. The election is Tuesday November 5, and we at Tom Douglas Restaurants strongly believe that all our voices count. DON’T FORGET TO VOTE.
The Sazerac, properly made, is one of my favorite cocktails, so I enjoyed this from Eater on how to make a Sazerac by the mixologist of the Sazerac Bar in the historic Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, be sure to stop by this glamorous bar with glorious (and historic) murals in the recently renovated hotel. (Though I also treasure the fact that I got to stay at the Roosevelt pre-renovation. Some soulful things were lost in the upgrade.)
If you’re planning a trip to Chicago you may want to know which is the best steak house in a city that’s packed to the rafters with steak houses, so check this out from Chicago Magazine.
Saving the best for last, I’m excited that Mamnoon was chosen 2013 Restaurant of the Year by Seattle Met Magazine. The reason I’m excited is not just because Mamnoon is an exquisite additon to the Seattle dining scene, but also because Mamnoon’s Chef, Garrett Melkonian, is my dear friend who did recipe development for The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook and was our executive pastry chef at Tom Douglas Restaurants for years, and THE MAN IS A GENIUS. Well deserved, Mamnoon and Garrett!
My coworker, Regan from Palace Kitchen, and I attended the annual Wild Mushroom Show at Magnuson Park, a show put on by the Puget Sound Mycological Society.
It was a great experience! So many interesting exhibits.
Exhibits of mushrooms were labeled with red (poisonous), yellow (not tested, unknown, unpalatable), and green (edible) tags. So many mushrooms look similar!
There was also a table where you could bring your own mushrooms that you foraged, and the experts would help you identify them. Also, chefs did demos with tastes and advice about how to cook mushrooms. You could even see an exhibit of dying yarn for clothing from mushrooms! There were lectures all weekend, such as “The Role of Mushrooms in the Ecosystem.” You could buy field books and tons of other interesting items. The event was fun because mushroom aficionados are such interesting people!
The most interesting information I discovered: Lichens live 10,000 to 15,000+ years! I had no idea! Also, mushrooms are related closer to the animal family than the plant family due to protein called “chitin” which insects have and plants do not. Biologically, mushrooms are a separate kingdom!
Regan and I had a great time and we will definitely go again next year, but next time we are bringing in mushrooms to get identified!
I once attended a Dia de Los Muertos celebration. In between high school and college, during 3 months of exploring Ecuador, I happened to spend Day of the Dead, November 1st, with a home-stay family in the mountain town of Otavalo.
Photo courtesy of Gaea Campe
In Ecuador, it’s actually called Dia de los Difuntos (Day of the Deceased). And Raul–the father of the household–invited me to honor his deceased mother with them. We joined forces with a neighboring family, packed baskets of slightly sweetened bread, freshly cooked snails, fresh cut flowers, and gifts of dream catchers (which Raul made to sell at the famous Otavalan markets each day), piled into a truck and set out for the cemetery just outside of town.
The cemetery was set on a sloped hill, with white-painted walls and matching tombstones. Guaguas de pan–bread, shaped and decorated to look like dolls–were being sold outside the cemetery.
Photo courtesy of Becca Abuza
For the next few hours, the two families sat together, among hundreds of families, all on their family’s tombstones, eating and laughing, while the kids ran around playing tag. If it sounds romanticized and idealized, it’s because it was. The main focus of the day was to gather family and friends and eat. I remember I tried snails for the first time, with just a dash of salt, and a squeeze of lemon. My facial reaction to this experience gave my host family something to laugh about for hours to come.
I remembered this moment as I was listening to the radio yesterday. NPR had invited the Mexican-born chef and blogger, Pati Jinich. She guided the host through the steps of making traditional orange blossom bread and a more seasonal, local fare of pumpkin mole (see recipe below).
For my host family, and all those who honor the Day of the Dead around the world now, the confluence of family and food are central to their homage of deceased family members. And while this isn’t totally unique to Latin American cultures (the Irish and Italians feast at wakes and funerals as well), it is this unification of foodlore and family that makes this holiday so attractive to an increasing amount of people worldwide. Fewer and fewer rituals, languages, dress, and customs remain as we become one global culture. But food, above all else, seems to sustain and persevere. And it is this legacy of food that brings us back to the things that matter the most, in this case, family.
(I poured my mole over chicken and goat cheese enchiladas)
Makes 6 servings
1/2 white onion, peeled, charred or broiled
6 garlic cloves, charred or broiled, peeled
3 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and opened
1/4 cup slivered almonds
5 whole cloves
1/2 stick, about 1 inch, true or Ceylon cinnamon (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
8 whole allspice berries (or 1/8 teaspoon ground)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (about 1 3/4 cup)
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
3 tablespoons brown sugar, or more to taste
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
Place the onion and garlic on a baking sheet under the broiler. Char for 9 to 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Once they are soft and charred, remove from the heat. When the garlic is cool, peel.
Preheat a hot skillet or comal over medium-low heat, then toast the ancho chiles for about 15 to 20 seconds per side, until they brown and crisp without burning. Place toasted ancho chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes until they are plumped up and rehydrated.
In the same skillet or comal, toast the cloves and allspice until aromatic, about a minute. Remove from the heat. Toast the almonds and cinnamon, stirring often, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
Place the onion, garlic, chiles, 1/2 cup of chile soaking liquid, almonds, cloves, cinnamon and allspice in the blender and puree until smooth.
In a soup pot or casserole dish, heat the oil over medium heat and pour in the pureed mixture. Add the salt and sugar. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to help prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The color will darken considerably.
Add the pumpkin puree and chicken broth to the sauce. Stir well until the pumpkin puree has dissolved; it will have a silky consistency. Continue to cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Use the mole sauce to pour over grilled, broiled or boiled chicken, meat or fish. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds for some added flavor and crunch.
Though sweet potatoes grow best in warm humid climates (as in the American South), the mighty farming duo of Jackie and Dev figured out some tricks to be able to grow a successful crop in the desert climate of Eastern Washington. This year, they succeeded in digging up 500 pounds of sweet potatoes which will be hauled to the Tom Douglas restaurants where the chefs will turn them into creamy, fluffy gastronomic masterpieces!! Read more about Prosser Farm sweet potatoes here.
What’s for Dinner? This week’s Quick Italian Dinner was crafted by Home Remedy’s own Melissa Smith!
Quick Italian Dinner: Meatballs with Pasta, Cheesy Bread, and Sweet Lo’s Ice Cream
Makes 2 Servings
Melissa says: “30 minutes from start to finish with plenty of time to sample this awesome wine!” The recipe below is in her own words:
Home Remedy Shopping List:
Cuoco Meatballs (freezer)
Serious Pie Marinara (reefer)
Rustichella d’Abruzzo Pappardelle
Dahlia Workshop mini baguette
Shredded mozzarella (about 1 cup, salad bar)
Romaine (as much as you like, salad bar)
Olives, feta, cucumbers, and red onion (salad bar), as much as you like, and any salad dressing you like or make your own
or just buy Jackie’s Greek Salad from the salad bar, as much as you like
Sweet Lo’s Lemon Bar Ice Cream
Sinopie Chianti (also see Adam’s Beverage pick)
From your home pantry: salt and pepper, and if you didn’t buy salad bar dressing, oil and vinegar
“Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water so that it tastes like sea water. The pasta will absorb flavor from the water and no one likes bland pasta!
Cuoco Meatballs can be heated in the oven or in the microwave. If using the oven, preheat to 425°F and the first thing to do is get your meatballs heating as soon as the oven is ready. They will take 45 minutes to heat in the oven, so don’t start the pasta until the meatballs are almost done. But if use are using the microwave like I did, the meatballs take only 9 minutes and you should get your pot of water boiling first thing.
While waiting for your water to come to a boil, open the wine!
Slice your baguette in half lengthwise.
Spread about 1 tablespoon of marinara onto the cut side of each halved baguette. Add some cheese to each, and place on a baking sheet.
I allowed my bread to heat and toast on the low broil setting of my oven. (or if you’re oven was preheated to 425 for the meatballs, you can just slip the bread in the same oven for 5 minutes or so before you are ready to eat.)
Toss your romaine and other salad ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. If you like, you can dress your salad with any of the salad dressing available from the salad bar. I tossed my salad simply with a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil. (If you bought the Greek salad instead, just transfer it to a serving bowl or plate.)
Place your meatballs in the microwave with a sheet of paper towel or wax paper on top to prevent splatters. Set the timer for 9 minutes.
Check on your bread! Brown bubbly cheese is great, black is not so much.
Your water should be at a boil. Add in as many clumps of pappardelle as you would like. There are approximately 4 servings of pasta per package, so half the package would be about right for two people. Allow the pasta to cook for 5-7 minutes.
When your cheesy bread is toasty allow it to cool before you cut it into smaller pieces. Be careful as hot cheese is like molten lava to your skin!!!
When your pasta is done simply drain the water from it and toss a few tablespoons of marinara into the hot pot. Stir the pasta in sauce so that its coated but not swimming.
The residual heat of the pan will heat the marinara.
Plate the pasta and retrieve the meatballs from the microwave. Top your pasta with 3 meatballs each for a perfect dinner!
The pasta has enough character to really hold up to the the meatballs and it doesn’t sag under the marinara.
As you are dining on your hard work, remove the ice cream from the freezer so that it can temper (ie soften) a little bit to make it easier to scoop. (But don’t forget it and let it melt!)
Save some room because – THIS IS THE BEST ICE CREAM EVER.
That is a fact and if you don’t believe me, you will have to buy and try it to see!
I chose the Lemon Bar ice cream because it reminded me of lemoncello which goes perfectly with our meatballs and pasta!
Sweet Lou’s is made right here in Seattle and is pretty special to TD employees!
The Lemon Bar ice cream is made with LEMON BARS. need I say more?
Its sweet, but the lemon really stands up to the sugar and act like best friends as they skip across your tongue.
The texture of the lemon bar is very nice in the ice cream, it doesn’t get crumbly and allows for a really nice mouth feel.
In summary, Sweet Lo’s = Amazing”
Adam’s Beverage Pick: Melissa chose her favorite Sinope Chianti, but since we talked about that last week, Adam has a second suggestion and you can choose the one you like best.
Adam says: “Corsini Barbera d’Alba is quickly becoming a staff favorite at Home Remedy. The wine has soft red fruit character, a touch of earth, and brilliant acidity. This makes it a great pairing for tomato based sauces.”