Friday, February 26, 2021
Friday, February 19, 2021
When it comes to food from Spain, there is nothing more classical than Spanish ham (jamón). Take it from someone who eats very little red meat, Spanish hams are nothing short of magnifico! And, they are not even remotely related to any ham we have in the US. This is because the process of producing ham in Spain is very different. It’s not only lengthy (can take up to three years), but there are technical differences such as labor- intensive traditional curing methods which have been handed down from generation to generation.
Spain’s connection to pork can be traced back to its rural past. Pigs were extremely important in country villages….so important that they could literally determine the fate of poor farming families. Once the pig was ready for butchering, not one part of it could be wasted. Refrigeration only came into being in the late 17th century; prior to that Spaniards had to have a way of preserving meat from ruin. Out of necessity began the process of curing ham and this very method is still used today.
Friday, February 12, 2021
Any cupid should be thrilled to finish a Valentine’s Day meal with this delectable tart from Julia Child’s first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. What’s not to love about perfectly ripe pears that have been simmered in red wine, and then magically combined with an almond cream filling and a shortbread cookie crust?
Julia Child composed this recipe in the late 1950’s at a villa in Provence in the south of France not from the Mediterranean Sea. Pears still remain one of Provence’s prized autumn fruits. Julia, however, may have first learned about pear tarts when she was a student in Paris at the prestigious Cordon Bleu during the late 1940’s. After all, the “city of light” had been famous for its pear tarts since the turn of the century.
But, Julia’s version is not just any pear tart. Madame Child ups the flavor ante by cooking her pears first in red wine with a stick cinnamon. The result is a more intense flavor profile, and its bright lipstick-red color should appeal to young and old lovers alike for a special ruby red valentine dessert.
In September 2022 Wine-Knows has leased the very villa in which Julia wrote her two hallmark cookbooks. We have only two spots remaining. For more details on this food and wine homage to Julia, check out our website:
BTW: Julia’s pear tart recipe can be found on page 642 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I. If you don’t have a copy, there are several online versions, but the following one is almost a dead-ringer for Julia’s original. (Note: while I prefer bosc pears, any ripe pear will suffice.)
Wishing you a love-filled Valentine's....
Friday, February 5, 2021
Supermarkets and farmers markets are now full of fresh emerald green broccoli. It was, however, a dear friend who loves to garden (thank you, Conni) who brought me a gorgeous wicker basket full of her broccoli that inspired me to look for a new recipe. While I love this vegetable, I’ve never found a healthy broccoli recipe that is irresistible….until now. Broccoli is very nutritious (extremely high in Vitamin C and K), so I hate to cover it up with layers of cheese, or oodles of sour cream and butter. Not only have I found a healthful rendition, but this recipe is so luscious that you’ll swear it must be unhealthy.
First, a few facts about broccoli that may surprise you. Broccoli is Italian in origin ---it’s name actually means “flowering top of a cabbage,” which makes sense as it belongs to the same family as cabbage. Next, broccoli raab (also called rappini), is not actually part of this family but instead is part of the turnip family. Last, broccoli is a cousin of cauliflower.
I scoured magazines and the Internet for low carbohydrate and low fat recipes using broccoli. This recipe received rave reviews and 100% of cooks would make it again (always a positive sign for me). Yes, the sample size was small but I gave it a whirl as I had all of ingredients in my home. The result was magic: deep and complex flavors. Moreover, the recipe was fairly easy and used only 5 ingredients other than broccoli and salt.
The recipe is out of last February’s Bon Appetit, however, if you don't have the magazine it is now posted on Epicurious.com. Although I always have Parmigiano-Reggiano in my frig, I didn’t even use it as I wanted to taste a virginal rendition. (Didn’t miss it, although I’m sure it would have even been more unctuous with a few gratings.)