Jul
18
2011
0


Why Did You Eat That: Wine Time

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be whisked away to a “destination unknown” in celebration of our anniversary.  I may have had an inkling where we were headed once I figured out we were driving.  And just like all my inklings… I was correct.  In just under two hours, we were in beautiful Napa Valley. Granted, it was pretty dark by the time we got there, but I could just tell it was beautiful.  We checked into the historic Napa River Inn (um, hello, our room had been part of a roller skating rink at some point) and headed off to dinner.

Now, I know that Napa is known for the wine alone, but did you also know that Napa Valley (specifically Yountville) actually has the highest concentration of Michelin star restaurants in the world?  You read that right.  So, what I’m trying to say that the food is delicious.  We were lucky enough to score reservations at Bottega, Bouchon, and Rotisserie and Wine.  Each one better than the next.

So anyway, back to what you really care about.  Wine.  Saturday, we were up and at ‘em with a wine tour at the beautiful Duck Horn winery.  The vineyard is beautiful.  We had a tasting and headed on to our next destination, Opus One.  Now, you may think to yourself, “That sounds familiar.”  Probably because you remember that fine fellow, Sean Carter (Jay-Z), rapping about it.  First and foremost, the vineyard looks crazy.  It sort of looks like a cult or spaceship- just doesn’t look like it belongs on this planet.  After entering, you can score yourself a glass of wine for $30 and sip it on the terrace.  A stop by Alpha Omega and we had to head on home for a nap.  It became clear to me that Napa is just a sophisticated bar crawl.

The next day, after breakfast we were on our way to my mothership, Domaine Chandon.  Now, let’s be serious, I like all wine, but my favorite wine is that of the “bubbly” sort.  Domaine Chandon is a beautiful property and the winery is totally unassuming.  It is also home to one of those Michelin star restaurants (Etoile) that I was talking about – not to mention one of the youngest chefs, Perry Hoffman,  to receive a star.  Another fun fact?  It is and will always be the only winery in Napa to have a restaurant.  Another fun fact?  It’s the American baby sister to Moet (part of the LVMH group).

Needless to say, this was my favorite stop on our wine tour.  We did not have a chance to eat at Etoile, but they do have a delightful cookbook and I wanted to share a couple of fun (easy) recipes that you might actually be able to make.  The majority of them are a bit (ahem- six hours) time consuming.

Truffle Popcorn:

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp minced black truffle (optional)
  • 1 tsp white truffle oil
  • Salt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup popcorn kernels
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the truffles, truffle oil and a pinch of salt; keep warm.
  2. In a large, heavy pot, heat the vegetable oil. Add the popcorn kernels, cover and cook over moderate heat until the popcorn starts popping. Continue cooking, shaking the pan continuously, until the popping has almost stopped.
  3. Carefully pour the popcorn into a very large bowl, add the truffled butter and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and serve right away.

Microwave Instructions

  1. In a cup or small bowl, mix together the unpopped popcorn and 2 tablespoons oil. Pour the coated corn into a brown paper lunch sack, and sprinkle in the salt. Fold the top of the bag over twice to seal in the ingredients.
  2. Cook in the microwave at full power for 2½ to 3 minutes, or until you hear pauses of about 2 seconds between pops.
  3. Carefully pour the popcorn into a very large bowl, add the truffled butter and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and serve right away.

Chandon Ginger Mojito

Ingredients:

  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint
  • Agave nectar
  • Ginger juice
  • Domaine de Canton ginger liquer
  • Domaine Chandon Brut Classic
  • Ice

Instructions:

  1. In a highball glass, muddle 2 lime wedges with 10 mint leaves and 1 tablespoon agave nectar.
  2. Add ½ teaspoon ginger juice and 1 ounce ginger liqueur.
  3. Fill with ice and top with 2 ounces of champagne.
  4. Garnish with a sprig of mint

And now, I need a Napa.

xx,

WhyDid

 

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Jun
27
2011
1


Why Did You Eat That: Stuff It

There comes a time in a young lady’s life when she must give up all the miso cod, chicken satay, and Chinese delivery in an attempt to become health conscious and domestic (or at least pretend to be).  Enter the stuffed zucchini.  This sounds fancy and complicated, but it’s anything but that.  It also sounds like it probably sucks, but again, you’re wrong.  With a few simple ingredients and about an hour of your life (aka an episode of Real Housewives), you can impress friends with a delicious and healthy home cooked meal.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium zucchini (we used 6 small)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 cup water

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease glass baking dish.
  2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Reserve about 3/4 of the seeds for the stuffing. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, sausage, chopped onion, bread crumbs, egg, and the reserved zucchini seeds. 
  3. Place the meat mixture equally into all of the zucchini halves; mixture should be piled up over the top.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together the crushed tomatoes, tomato soup, and water. Ladle the tomato mixture over the filled zucchini liberally. 
  5. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. You may want to place foil or a cookie sheet underneath the baking dish because it tends to bubble over and splash.

After making this delightful little recipe, I realized that I don’t like sausage.  So, if I were to make it again, I’d take out the sausage.  I’d also either add a little zest to the tomato “sauce” or I’d just use spaghetti sauce.  If I’m throwing calories to the wind, I’d also add cheese.  Bon apetit and stuff it.

xx,

WhyDid

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May
30
2011
0


Why Did You Eat That: Strawberry Fields

After bombarding you last week with bikinis and beach talk, I figured I should also lend a helping in hand in getting you bikini ready.  Upping the cardio and general physical activity will help, but changing your diet a bit will help you gain faster results.  Listen, I love pizza and pasta as much as the next girl, but even I had to come to terms with this.

I am by no means a “salad” girl (much to the chagrin of my lettuce producing dad), but after whipping up this delightful leafy mix this weekend, I was sold.  This spinach, strawberry, grilled chicken concoction can convert even the most carb addicted.  It’s light, delicious, and incredibly satisfying.  Perfect for summer afternoons on the patio.

 

Spinach, Strawberry, Grilled Chicken Salad:

  • Grilled chicken (I just used olive oil, Meyer’s lemon, and salt and pepper to season)
  • Baby spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sliced almonds and/or pine nuts

Strawberry Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 pint fresh strawberries, halved
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon white sugar

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, mix olive oil, strawberries, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, tarragon and sugar. Blend until smooth.

You look slimmer already.

xx,

WhyDid

Bowls: Jonathan Adler, Stemless wine glasses, Riedel

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May
16
2011
0


Why Did You Eat That: Snack Time S.O.S.

There will come a day when you will be forced to throw a party.  You will not be prepared.  You will have no idea how you’re going to pull it off.  You will put on a happy face and do it anyway.  Thankfully, I have some tricks up my sheer sleeves that will help you out of this little conundrum.  There is no need to panic.  To be the hostess with the mostess, you only need a few things: wine, snacks, games, good music, good company.  I can’t help you with the “good company.”  You’re on your own for that.  However, I can provide aid in the snack department.

For many of us, we aren’t able (or willing for that matter) to spend all day slaving over cute little puff pastries for our guests.  That’s why having just a few easy crowd pleasing recipes can save the day.  These don’t include any exotic ingredients that you’ll have to scavenge the shelves in an overpriced hard to locate grocery store for.  They aren’t going to land you on the next season of Top Chef.  I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here.  I’m trying to save your ass in a bind.

Caprese:

You’ve probably ordered this a time or two at an Italian restaurant.  If not, you’re missing out.  I like to use this little magical basil paste.  You can draw pretty patterns with it and I prefer not eating an entire basil leaf.  Call me crazy.

Ingredients:

  • Tomato
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Basil
  • Balsamic

Directions:

  1. Slice the tomato into about 1/4 thick slices.
  2. Slice mozzarella into similar 1/4 thick slices and place on top of tomato slices.
  3. Add either basil leaf or drizzle magical basil paste on top of mozzarella.
  4. Drizzle balsamic over basil.
  5. Serve and wow!

Deviled Eggs:

This one is a real crowd pleaser.  I don’t know why people are so amazed by deviled eggs, but they are.  My fiance thought I was a freaking genius when he saw me squeezing out the filling through a plastic bag, but he forgets that Martha Stewart follows The Golden Girls.

Ingredients:

  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
  • ¼ cup Light Mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Paprika

Directions:

  1. Place eggs in cold water, bring to a boil.  When at a rolling boil, remove from heat and let sit for 10 mins.
  2. Cool eggs with ice or cold water.
  3. Peel eggs (do this under cold water to ensure all of the shell fragments are gone)
  4. Cut eggs in half, putting the yolks into a separate mixing bowl.
  5. Mix yolk, mayonnaise, vinegar
  6. Using a ziplock bag, dispense “filling” into halved eggs.
  7. Top with paprika and place in refrigerator to cool until ready to serve.

 

Bacon Wrapped Dates

When in doubt, go with bacon. No one can turn down delicious bacon.  If your guests turn up their noses to this delightful dish, you may want to re-evaluate those friendships.

Ingredients:

  • 18 (1 by 1/4-inch) pieces cream cheese
  • 18 pitted dates
  • 18 salted and roasted whole almonds
  • 6 slices bacon cut crosswise into thirds
  • 18 wooden picks (also known as toothpicks)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Stuff 1 piece of cheese and 1 almond into each date, then wrap one piece of bacon around each date and secure bacon with a toothpick if desired.
  3. Arrange dates, bacon seam down and 1 inch apart in a shallow baking pan.
  4. Bake 5 minutes, then turn dates over with tongs and bake until bacon is crisp, 5 to 6 minutes more.
  5. Drain on a paper towel or parchment.
  6. Serve immediately.

Now that you’re through in the kitchen, go put on something fancy, pour yourself a glass of wine and wait for your guests to arrive.

xx,

WhyDid

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May
02
2011
2


Why Did You Eat That: A Lot at Steak

What does the average straight 30 year old man love more than sports and beer?  Steak.  So, for my fiance’s thirtieth birthday dinner, I took my handsome no longer twenty beau to Alexander’s Steakhouse for a manly meal.  We had stopped in once for a glass of prosecco on a sunny Friday afternoon and decided we’d have to come back for dinner.

When I called in for the reservation, I’d gone ahead and let them know that it was, in fact, for a birthday celebration so they said they’d set up something nice.  They did not disappoint… but we will get to that later.  I encouraged my sweetie that he should order anything his little heart desired.  It was his birthday afterall (and we all know that anything goes on birthdays).  So, he went ahead and decided on a sampler of wagyu beef.

So what the hell is wagyu beef you’re wondering.  Yeah, I was wondering the same thing.  I’m not shy when it comes to red meat.  I enjoy a delicious steak as much as the next omnivore, but I would hardly call my self a connoisseur in the beef department.  Apparently, wagyu is a specific breed of cattle known for a marbling in the meat.  This “marbling” is, yes, fatty and supposed to give more of a “buttery” taste.  This specific type of meat is similar to Kobe beef and cattle is raised in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the US.

While the wagyu certainly was tasty, I’m happy to stick with a tried and true filet.  The texture of the wagyu was a problem for me.  I found it a bit chewier, but I also don’t like shrimp or lobster… so make your own judgement calls here.  What really stole the show for me (other than the insane sides of mashed potatoes and asparagus) was the service.  They started us off with prosecco on the house, offered up the amuse bouche, wowed us with a raspberry lemon sorbet between the appetizer and entrees, and they sure did bring out boysenberry cotton candy, macaroons, cake, and more bubbly libations for dessert.

As we waited for a cab, they brought us champagne because according to them, “no one should not have some champagne when waiting for a cab.”  I second that.

I, unfortunately, have no miracle steak recipe for you.  However, I do have a recipe for sesame ginger asparagus from Good Housekeeping that will rock your world.  Behold:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pound(s) thin asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon(s) canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon(s) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon(s) reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon(s) sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon(s) Asian sesame oil

Directions:

  1. In 12-inch skillet, heat 1 cup water to boiling over high heat. Add asparagus; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until asparagus is tender-crisp. Drain asparagus in colander, then immediately plunge into large bowl of ice water to stop cooking; drain thoroughly.
  2. Carefully wipe skillet dry with paper towels. Add canola oil; heat oil over high heat until hot. Add asparagus, ginger, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper, and cook 1 to 2 minutes or just until asparagus is heated through. Remove skillet from heat; stir in sesame seeds and sesame oil.

If you’re looking to celebrate a special evening out with your sweetie or friends, I certainly would recommend Alexander’s.

xx,

WhyDid

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