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March 31, 2011

Events in March - Flavor Art and Facebook Wine Meet Up

Despite rain storm and windy weather, we filled the table with anticipating guests for our 6th Flavor Art Winemaker Dinner on March 24. This month 6 course dinner was inspired by Ocean Treats.

Spicy Maki Roll with Dungeness Crab, Roe and Avocado
Paired with 2010 Pinot Gris, Mononi Vineyard, Russian River Valley (barrel sample)

Saffron and Feta Cheese Crusted Black Mussels
Paired with 2005 Syrah, Rockin R Ranch, Mendocino

First Course:
Lettuce Wrapped Ahi Tuna Ceviche
Paired with 2008 Tweek Block Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast

Second Course:
Squid and Octopus with Garlic Pasta, Kalamata Olives and Caramelized Red Onion
Paired with 2007 Rose, White Knight, Russian River Valley

Blackened King Salmon with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Wilted Spinach and Bearnaise Sauce
Paired with 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Two Rock Block, Sonoma Coast

Fourth Course:
Espresso Triffle with "Zinfully" Poached Pear and Sea Salt Almond Flake
2009 Zinfandel, Carraro Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley (barrel sample)

Summer weather has now arrived to Sonoma Wine Country and we had a great gathering of people for tonight's Facebook WineMeet-Up at Vintage Wine Estate in Healdsburg on March 31st.

With Nancy Beeken, Tasting Room Manager

Click here to see more pictures on Facebook

March 20, 2011

Growing sprouts at home

Can any greens taste more crisp and fresh than right after you harvested it? To me it even taste better, just knowing that it has been planted, nurtured, grown and ripened under our watch. I would like to teach you how you at any time a year can create that fresh, crisp and tasty feel by harvesting sprouts that you grow in your home.

As a child, I loved to grow sprouts with my mom; I preferably ate the sprouts sprinkled over the butter on our crispy rye bread as a snack. I can still close my eyes and feel my mouth watering while remembering the distinct smell and taste that the fresh sprouts gave.

It is easy to grow sprouts and can also very inexpensive. What you need is:
1. A one inch deep plate or container.
2. Unbleached paper towels, look for brown ones or ones that are friendly to environment.
3. Unbleached cotton, check at whole food stores.
4. Seeds. I bought Alfalfa Seed and Red Clover Seed.
5. Water in a spray bottle or squeeze bottle..
6. Plastic wrap.
7. A light window spot, preferable not direct sun.

a. Put paper towel in the bottom of your bowl and spread cotton evenly over, while keeping it light and fluffy.
b. Sprinkle your seeds evenly over cotton surface.
c. Spray water over seeds, enough to moist cotton properly but not soaking it.

d. Cover with plastic wrap and punch a few small wholes in plastic wrap with a fork or toothpick.

e. Place your bowl close to a window for proper light.
f. Keep cotton moist all the time, but do not soak heavy or let the seeds sit in water because that can drown them or grow mold.
8. Now you just need patience and wait for your seeds to sprout :)

If you are local, this is where I went shopping:
- Seeds and cotton balls at Andy's Market in Sebastopol.
- Brown paper towels at Cash & Carry in Santa Rosa.

5-7 days later:

Seven days old sprouts. Alfalfa to the left and Red Clover to the right.

Your seeds should be sprouting in less than a week, see top picture; don't forget to check the cotton each day to see so it stays moist. Change plastic wrap if needed.

When one week has passed many sprouts are already tasty and crisp to snack on. I prefer to wait 1 1/2-2 weeks though, until the sprouts have grown high enough to be cut with a scissor and for it to become a bit more volume to enjoy.

14 days old sprouts. Alfalfa to the left and Red Clover to the right.

Good luck sprouting!!!

March 19, 2011

Making Quiche with Pasta Salad and Chocolate Butter Cream Roll on a rainy day

Rain, rain, rain and more rain... have we not had enough yet... After taking our Labrador girls out and accomplishing some errands this morning, all four of us come home soaked and muddy. After drying our girls off and have changed into clean, dry clothes it is time to make it more warm and cozy indoors - What a perfect time for baking.

My husband suggests making a Quiche, which would be perfect for the ground beef I bought the other day. I am thinking of serving a creamy pasta salad with the Quiche and some crisp greens on the side. One of our servers at work had a birthday yesterday, so with the oven already warming up, I also decide to make a Chocolate Butter Cream Roll (see recipe below) to bring for work tonight.

Quiche with Ground Beef
Serving 4-6 people

Ingredients for crust:
1 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
125 g Unsalted Butter, cold and cubed
2 Tbsp Water, ice cold

Ingredients for filling:
1 lbs ground beef
2 Tbsp Dried Granulated Onion or Fresh Red Onion
2 tsp Fresh Garlic, grated
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 tsp Paprika Powder
1 tsp Fine Sea Salt
4 Egg
1 Cup Half and Half ( 50% whole milk+50% Heavy Cream)
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Cup Flavorful Cheese, like Jalopeno Cheese, Sharp Cheddar or Gruyere Cheese.

1. Cut butter into flour with a fork or with the paddle in your mixer. Mix until you have a sandy texture, the key is to keep the butter as cold as possible so it flakes apart and does not melt.
2. Add cold water and mix just until it comes together as a dough. Shape dough to a thick round cake and refrigerate minimum 20-30 minutes.

3. Turn oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Sauté ground beef in vegetable oil on high heat, to all is brown. Add onion, garlic, herbs, spices and salt cook for a few more minutes and set a side to cool.
5. Take out cold dough on to a light floured surface, roll dough out to a flat round, three-four inches wider than the pie pan you are using for your Quiche.

6. Spray your pie pan and shape dough into pan while letting the dough wrap around the edge to hold it up. This dough is flaky and crusty, so it cracks less if it is even.
7. Place a parchment paper to cover dough and fill bottom with beans, to keep dough from cracking when pre-baking it. Remove paper and beans after baking pie shell for 10 minutes.

8. Mix egg, cream and salt for Quiche batter.
9. Place beef mix inside pie shells, top with grated cheese and pour batter over and bake again for 30-40 minutes or until center is moist but not wet.

10. Let sit on a rack for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Pasta Salad
Serving 6-8 people

3 Cups Pasta
1/4 Cup Carrot, small diced
3-4 Tbsp Tomato, small diced (no seeds or tomato water)
2-3 Tbsp Pepperoncini, finely chopped
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt

1. Bring 4 Cups of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (firm to the bite bit not hard.) Drain and cool pasta immediately under cold running water.
2. Cut your vegetables and mix with your pasta in a big mixing bowl.

My girls loves carrots too!

2. Mix mayonnaise with vinegar, mustard, pepper and salt into a dressing in a separate bowl. Add enough dressing to coat pasta salad, mix well, cover and refrigerate until it is time to serve.

Chocolate Butter Cream Roll

Serving 6-8 people

Ingredients for Batter:
3 egg
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 Tbsp Cocoa
1/3 Cup Cornstarch

Ingredients for Butter Cream:
150 g Unsalted Butter (1 1/3 stick), soft
1 Cup Powder Sugar
1 Egg Yolk (is served raw and can be excluded if needed)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Turn oven on to 400 degree Fahrenheit.
2.Whip egg and sugar fluffy for batter.

3. Mix dry ingredients separately and sift into bowl with egg mix and fold it in with a spatula carefully until smooth.

4. Spray a sheet pan, cover with parchment paper and spray again. Pour in batter and even it out with the spatula.
5. Bake for 5-8 minutes until center is dry. Take cake out and put on cooling rack.

6. Take another parchment paper and sprinkle granulated sugar over. Flip warm cake on top of sprinkled sugar and peel off parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Leave to cool completely.

7. Whip soft butter, add egg yolk and vanilla. Sift in powder sugar into butter mix and whip until smooth and spreadable.

8. Distribute butter cream evenly on to cake bottom with a spatula or knife.
9. With the help of the parchment paper under cake, roll the rectangle shaped cake from the wide side to the other.

10. Refrigerate before serving. Cut nice thick slices of roll and serve plain or with a little whipped cream.