Not Well Known, But… #72

The history of contemporary culture is littered with institutions and things that have been adapted from earlier institutions and things, & in many instances the adaptation represents a startling departure from its original use.

Consider the rotisserie.  It maybe part of your kitchen equipment (it is certainly a mainstay at 71 Woodbury Hill).  Now delve into the history of this kitchen appliance and one unwraps its inspiration!  Not well known, but the design for the rotisserie traces back to the torture cellars of the Spanish Inquisition. 

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Aussie at its best! Ya gotta smile!

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Veal Paprikash and 2018 MISC Pinot Noir “Bryson’s Block”

The first time I had Veal Paprikash was when I visited Budapest as part of my “hosteling in Europe” tour in the summer of 1969.  This was after I had been to Moscow and Leningrad, and Hungarian cuisine was a major relief from the boredom of poorly prepared Russian food.  Truth be told, I have a natural inclination towards eastern European cooking… and for what many folks label as “Jewish Cuisine”, is nothing more than reflections of Polish, Russian, Slovakian, Hungarian & etc. cooking.  Zero Mostel once quipped that good cholesterol rich Romanian food was responsible for more Jewish deaths than Adolf Hitler. This Veal Paprikash recipe is fabulous.  And “fabulous” is even better when it’s not hard to assemble and prepare.  Further, this recipe is an excellent take on an eastern European comfort dish.

For wine, a medium-bodied red, or a fuller white is my “go to” for veal dishes.   And as such I drift to either Pinot Noir of Nebbiolo for varietals on the red side (Chardonnay or Riesling on the white side).  I selected the Misc “Bryson’s Block” Pinot Noir because I was looking for a wine with a shade deeper flavor core over a Côte de Beaune Burgundy.  The choice was letter perfect.  Grant Long has created a splendid wine that has all the layering of flavors that I love in great Pinot Noir, yet it doesn’t overpower the senses.  The wine exhibits restraint necessary in balancing wine to the Paprikash. 

Misc Pinot Noir “Bryson’s Block” ’18  (Russian River, CA)
The fruit for this Pinot Noir was sourced from the Starscape Vineyard (Formerly Mark West Vineyard) in the heart of the Russian River. This vineyard is planted to 3 different clones of pinot noir, Clone 667, Pommard, and 777.  The fruit comes specifically from the tiny “Bryson’s Block” that receives optimal sun exposure, and overall produces the best fruit in the entire vineyard. This wine offers a wonderful purity.  Nimble on its feet, yet with a layered palate of wild strawberries (the French call it sauvage) kissed with a subtle earthiness. And the perfectly graceful finish maintains it supple flavors thru to a soft fading length. Only two barrels are produced (roughly 54 cases).  The winemaker is Grant Long, who has gained well earned fame as a garagiste winemaker… focusing on small production wines.

VEAL PAPRIKASH

Ingredients
6 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
½ ounce of Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
2 lbs veal, cut into 1” cubes
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1½ cups sliced carrots
1 cup sliced sweet onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 minced garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
½ cup of all purpose flour
1 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup dry white wine
½ cup sour cream
10 oz medium  egg noodles
3½ tsp chopped fresh parsley
7 tsp chopped fresh chives

Directions
1. Put gin and vermouth into a glass pitcher, fill with ice, stir vigorously while incanting, “You who know all, thank you for providing us juniper and all the other obscure ingredients responsible for creating this sacred liquid!” Strain into a pre-frozen Martini glass of admirable size.  Skewer the olives on one of those tacky cocktail swords, place in glass. Immediately begin consuming.  Now you can begin the food prep, and the cooking!

2. Place the 7 ingredients from the veal thru to the bay leaves in slow cooker. Mix well

3. Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients (thru to the pepper) in a small bowl, gradually add wine, stirring ‘til well blended.  Add flour mixture to the slow cooker & blend well.  Cover and cook on LOW for six hours.

4. Turn slow cooker off, let mixture stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in sour cream.  Serve over cooked egg noodles and garnish generously with fresh chopped parsley and chives.

5. Dig in.

n.b.  Luckily our local Stop & Shop has been carrying veal stew meat which worked perfectly for this recipe & meant that it eliminated a prep step. I doubled the amount of paprika.  

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Tuscan White Bean Soup and Casar Godello ’18

Early full disclosure:  I’m not a huge fan of soups.  Yes, I can selectively love them, particularly at the hands of skilled practitioners of making: French onion soup, New England clam chowder, minestrone  & matzoh ball soup (and I admit that I will give a flyer to anything that has sausage and/or clams in it).  But here’s the thing… I only enjoy soup the “night of.”  Meaning?  I ain’t interested in left-overs, or previously-made-frozen-then-reheated soup.

So, here’ the deal.  Once warm weather sets in, dinner descends to: on-the-grill or salads.  You know what I’m talking about… juicy cheeseburgers & hot dogs, marinated flank steaks, thick cut porterhouse steaks w/veggie kebobs, baby back ribs, barbequed chicken & swordfish steaks… or cold salads with special-ingredients-that sound-interesting-but-never-deliver-the-satisfaction. 

Where are the wonderful casseroles, stews and dishes prepared in Dutch ovens and slow cookers? Where are those supreme dishes of cooler weather, dishes that make enough for two nights and maybe more?  And can be enjoyed with even greater relish on day two?

Aye, there is the rub.  So, I was hunting for an alternative to the grill without traversing on that sad path to cold salads.  And, lo!  I found a soup!  A soup of all things!  And me, a soup naysayer!  But there you are!  Life’s pleasures sometimes come from unexpected quarters!  This recipe is easy (I mean real easy) and delicious!  And, YES!  Slow cooker!

For wine I wanted a flavorful White that didn’t exhibit an obvious citrus or oaky layer of flavors. Fresh, with pleasant fruit with some minerality to provide complexity.  I chose a beautiful Godello from the northwest corner of Spain.  Other wine ideas?  Greco di Tufo or a Côte du Rhône Blanc.  Or alternatively a Rosé or a lighter styled Red like a Beaujolais Villages.

Casar Godello ‘18  (Bierzo,  Spain) 
Made from 100% Godello grapes from the middle plots of the Valtuille de Arriba vineyards. 
The nose is divine, great intensity. Aromas of exotic fruits, passion fruit, splash of citrus, as well as white stone fruits. On palate the fruit concentration and freshness are tangible, great structure on the wine which can be attributed to aging the wine on its lees. A fresh, alive, and fruity entrance into a wonderful body and texture that is wrapped up by magnificent acidity. The mark of a truly great white wine. Mineral and citric sensations, with plenty of length. 90pts Wine Spectator; 90pts Wine Enthusiast; 90pts Peñin

TUSCAN WHITE BEAN SOUP

Ingredients 
6 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
½ ounce of Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
6 cups unsalted chicken stock
1½ cups chopped onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
5 cloves garlic, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
12 oz dried great northern beans
3 cups of kale, stemmed and chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 lb Italian sausage links, cut into 1” pieces
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup of shaved Parmesan cheese
1 personal sized watermelon

Directions
1. Put gin and vermouth into a glass pitcher, fill with ice, stir vigorously while incanting, “You who know all, thank you for providing us juniper and all the other obscure ingredients responsible for creating this sacred liquid!” Strain into a pre-frozen Martini glass of admirable size.  Skewer the olives on one of those tacky cocktail swords, place in glass. Immediately begin consuming.  Now you can begin the food prep, and the cooking!

2. Put chicken stock, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf & great northern beans into a slow cooker cover and set to LOW for 8 hours.

3.  Discard the thyme sprigs & bay leaf. To the slow cooker, add the kale, salt, tomato paste and sausage. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and serve with shaved parmesan cheese.  

n.b. The original recipe called for “hot” Italian sausage.  I chose “sweet”.  Next, the recipe called for taking the sausages out of the casings to fashion mini-meatballs to use. Not happening!  I cut the sausages into sections that seemed “mini  meatball sized” appropriate.  And, final comment… the watermelon is included in the “ingredient” list because I love watermelon, but it  has nothing to do with this recipe!  But you knew that all along!  Didn’t you?

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