Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Farm Fresh Tomato Sauce with Ground Turkey

pasta with farm fresh tomatoes and ground turkey. Cooking Chat recipe.

Our New England weather is starting to to have a fall feel to it, inspiring comforting dishes like this Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sage. But we still have a few more weeks of tomatoes rolling in from local farms and gardens. My Dad shared some extra tomatoes from his garden around the same time we got a batch of heirloom and roma tomatoes from our Enterprise Farm fall farmshare. I needed to get cooking while the tomatoes were still good, and came up with this Farm Fresh Tomato Sauce with Ground Turkey. 

A typical meat sauce for pasta relies on a long, slow simmer of canned tomatoes with beef and/or pork. Enjoying the fresh taste of local tomatoes requires a lighter touch. This fresh tomato sauce uses a modest amount of ground turkey and a medley of other veggies--I was able to use some carrot, onion and herbs on hand from the farmshare.

The tomatoes only get cooked about 15 minutes here, to retain their fresh flavor. I toss in a few flavor boosts like the olives and fresh parsley to compensate for having less of a meaty flavor. You can certainly adjust to use what you have on hand. Other fresh herbs in particular would be nice.

The result: a flavor, fresh tomato sauce, with a bit of turkey for some protein. Light and healthy, using ingredients from the local farm. A winner!

farm fresh tomatoes chopped for a quick, fresh sauce. Cooking Chat #recipe.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 celery rib, diced
1/2 red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
1/2 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup vegetable stock, preferably lower sodium
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
pinch ground fennel
tbsp balsamic
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil (use fresh if you have it on hand!)
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
8 to 10 olives, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan or romano cheese to pass at table.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until it begins to soften.

Stir in the carrot, celery and red pepper, cook for about 5 minutes until it has softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minutes.

Stir in the ground turkey, combining it with the onion mixture. Cook on medium heat until the outside of the turkey has turned whitish. Add the vegetable stock, stir and cook until most of the liquid has absorbed, about 5 minutes. Start the water boiling for pasta around the time you add the stock.

Add the fresh tomatoes to the skillet, stir until everything is well combined. Add the fennel, balsamic, tomato paste and the remaining herbs--rosemary, basil, and parsley.

pasta with farm fresh tomatoes and ground turkey. Cooking Chat recipe

Start cooking the pasta after you add the tomatoes. Cook pasta according to package instructions. The tomatoes should cook for 10 to 15 minutes. So when the pasta is cooked, you can drain it, toss with the remaining olive oil and then stir the sauce into the pasta. Plate and serve, passing the cheese around the table for a topping. Enjoy!

farm fresh tomatoes with ground turkey makes for a light, flavorful pasta sauce. Cooking Chat recipe.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Paso Pairing: Grilled Tuna with Halter Ranch Syrah for #winePW 4

Grilled Tuna Steak with Eggplant and Peppers Served with a Halter Ranch Syrah for #winePW 4.

Sure, I like my classical regional food and wine pairings. You'll certainly find plenty of Italian dishes in our house paired with a wine selected from the same region the cuisine hails from.  But I also like the challenge of starting with a wine, and then trying to create a dish that is in someway inspired by the wine region. That's the way I decided to roll for Wine Pairing Weekend #4.

I've come to enjoy quite a few wines from California's Paso Robles region. Through blogger friends like Matt of the Hoot n' Annie Blog, I've gotten some sense of the regions vitality from afar. But what would a Paso Pairing entail? I didn't know, but I thought that would be fun to figure out for this #winePW event.

I asked Matt what Paso food would entail. He mentioned fresh seafood with seasonal produce from local farms, perhaps with a Mexican flair. That gave me enough to get my wheels turning about a Paso pairing I might create.

I'd enjoyed the Halter Ranch Syrah from Paso before, and thought that might be a good wine to work with for this event. I served it with steak previously and thought it would be interesting to see if it could work with a tuna steak. I had an eggplant to use from our fall farmshare, so that seemed in the spirit of the local produce. I decided to grill the eggplant and toss it with a mixture of peppers, including some hot ones to give the dish some Mexican spice accents.

Grilled Tuna Steak with Eggplant and Peppers Served with a Halter Ranch Syrah for #winePW 4.

The result? Not sure if this is properly considered Paso Robles cuisine, but it was definitely rooted in what I learned about the food in the area. And it definitely worked with the wine! Read on for the Grilled Tuna, Eggplant and Peppers recipe and wine pairing details.
Grilled Tuna with Eggplant and Peppers. Cooking Chat recipe.

For the grilled peppers and eggplant
1 cup chopped grilled eggplant (instructions below)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped and coated with cooking oil spray
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped and coated with cooking oil spray
1 serrano pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 clove garlic minced

For the tuna
1 high quality tuna steak, 10 to 12 ozs
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

The tuna cooks very fast so you want to prepare the eggplant and pepper mixture first. Start by slicing a medium eggplant 1/2 inch thick. Spread the eggplant slices on a plate in a single layer. Salt the eggplant sliced generously, and let the eggplant sit and aborb the salt for at least 30 minutes. I've found this salting process to be a key factor in getting me to add eggplant to the list of veggies I enjoy.

Preheat a grill to medium high. After the salting the eggplant for enough time, spread the eggplant on the grill or a grill pan or other such device to keep the eggplant from slipping through the grill grates. Coat with cooking oil spray. Place the grill pan on the grill to cook the eggplant. Turn the slices over after 5 minutes, and grill for another 5 minutes or so until the eggplant is cooked to a nice tenderness and has begun to caramelize. Remove the eggplant from the grill and set aside to cool.

grilling eggplant

You can start grilling the bell peppers and hot peppers (serrano and jalapeno) at the same time as the eggplant. Place the chopped bell peppers in a grill pan onto the grill, or something else to keep them from slipping through. At the same time, place the whole hot peppers on the grill. After 5 minutes turn the hot peppers over and stir up the bell peppers. Check the peppers after another 5 minutes. The bell peppers are done when they are softened and browned; the hot peppers should be nicely singed all over. Remove or cook for a few more minutes. When done, place the bell peppers in a mixing bowl and close the hot peppers in a brown paper bag to cool. Keep the grill heated for the tuna.

When the eggplant has cooled, chop it into bite sized pieces and add to the bowl with the bell peppers.

Next, remove the hot peppers from the bag. Place on a cutting board, and slice off and remove the pepper skin with a sharp knife. Slice open the peppers, and remove most of the seeds. The seeds provide heat to the peppers, so use more seeds if you want the dish hotter. Chop the hot peppers into small pieces and add to the mixing bowl.

grilled peppers and eggplant to serve with tuna steak.

Add the tablespoon olive oil and garlic to the pepper/eggplant mixture, and stir to combine. Set aside as you prepare the tuna.

Combine the cumin, garlic powder and salt in a bowl. Gently rub the spice mixture onto the tuna, and set aside for a few minutes.

Grill the tuna for about 90 seconds on one side, then turn for another 90 seconds on the others side. This gives you a rare tuna steak, with the outside seared in the middle just warmed a bit. When done to your liking, remove the tuna to a platter.

Slice the tuna crosswise into the slices. Serve by fanning 4 to 6 slices of tuna out on a plate around a generous dollop of the pepper and eggplant mixture.

Grilled Tuna with Eggplant and Peppers. Cooking Chat #recipe.

Wine Pairing: Sure, a Pinot Noir can work nicely with salmon, but a big bold Syrah for seafood? Well, the meaty tuna is very substantial, and turned out to pair well with the 2011 Halter Ranch Syrah. This wine has a big fragrance of violets and forest floor. I got blackberry jam and white pepper taste. I had my initial taste before I started grilling the tuna. By the time we settled down to eat about 10 minutes later, the Syrah had really opened nicely and was showing a lot of finesse on the long finish. This helped it make a nice harmonious pairing with the tuna--plenty of substance for this meaty fish with the spice element to work with the food. I could definitely imagine eating this flavorful pairing al fresco on a warm evening in Paso Robles!

Grilled Tuna with Eggplants and Peppers Served with a Halter Ranch Syrah. Cooking Chat recipe.

Be sure to check out these great pairings from my fellow #winePW 4 bloggers!

Culinary Adventures with Camilla posted "Chuletas de Cordero + Tempranillo"
Vino Travels -- An Italian Wine Blog shared "Piedmont Pleasures"
Grape Experiences is pairing "Avantis Estate Malagousia 2013 and Greek Shrimp"
Curious Cuisiniere shared "Cheddar Cranberry Grilled Cheese with Door Peninsula Winery’s Peninsula Red"
foodwineclick is sharing "Minnesota Wine at the Midwestern Table"
Pull That Cork posted "winePW 4: Sicily"
Confessions of a Culinary Diva blogged about "New Mexico: Burgers, Bubbles and Beer"
Rockin Red Blog shared about "A Rustic Meal in Valpolicella"

Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you're reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme "Regional Food & Wine Pairings" on Saturday, September 13, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time. Questions for the chat are posted here on the #winePW site. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the October Wine Pairing Weekend, which will focus on "Fall Fruits and Wine Pairings" on Saturday, October 11.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Regional Food and Wine Pairings: Preview for #winePW 4

Some wine and food was just meant to go together. Often the reason a dish goes well with a particular wine is that the cuisine is rooted in the same region where the wine grapes were grown. We are focusing on the interplay of food and wine that hail from the same region for Wine Pairing Weekend 4, "Regional Food and Wine Pairings" on Saturday, September 13.

Regional Food and Wine Pairings will be the focus of #winePW 4 on September 13.

As I explained in my post introducing Wine Pairing Weekend, I find plenty of online events focusing on food and wine separately, but not too much looking at the interplay of food and wine. Wine Pairing Weekend (#winePW for short and on Twitter) is a monthly event featuring bloggers posting about a pairing in response to a particular theme, along with discussion on social media about the topic. This will include a live #winePW Twitter chat at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday September 13. Anyone interested in the subject can jump into the conversation on Twitter at that time, which can also be accessed on our Twubs page for easy viewing and tweeting. The questions for the Twitter Chat are posted at the Wine Pairing Weekend site.

Below I'm linking to the bloggers that have let me know they plan to participate. Thanks to the early responders to this third #winePW! If you're reading this before September 13, you can still jump in with a blog post of your own. Just check out the September Intro Post for more of the blogger details and email me at winepairingweekend AT gmail.com. If you've come to us after August 9, consider joining us for #winePW 5 focused on "Fall Fruits and Wine Pairings" hosted by Culinary Adventures with Camilla on Saturday, October 11.

Culinary Adventures with Camilla is posting "Chuletas de Cordero + Tempranillo"
Vino Travels -- An Italian Wine Blog will share "Piedmont Pleasures"
Grape Experiences is pairing "Avantis Estate Malagousia 2013 and Greek Shrimp"
Curious Cuisiniere will share "Wisconsin Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Door County Winery's Peninsula Red"
foodwineclick is sharing "Minnesota Wine at the Midwestern Table"
Pull That Cork will be sharing "winePW 4: Sicily"
Confessions of a Culinary Diva will blog about "New Mexico: Burgers, Bubbles & Beer"
Rockin Red Blog will share about "A Rustic Meal in Valpolicella"
Cooking Chat is blogging about "A Paso Pairing: Grilled Tuna with Halter Ranch Syrah"

And perhaps another one from you?

"Wine for Summer's Bounty" is the theme for the August 9 Wine Pairing Weekend.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sage for #SundaySupper

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sage for #SundaySupper.

It's not easy to embrace the shorter days and end of beach/grilling season that comes with September. But my love for the savory flavors of fall softens the blow. Squashes like acorn and buttnernut are right there at the center of my fall cooking, so I knew I had to join the #SundaySupper Squash Fest fun! I thought this Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Fresh Sage would be a perfect dish to share to capture the savory elements of fall food that I enjoy.

I hadn't made this risotto with butternut squash in a long time, so was glad to revisit it! In addition to the butternut squash, the sage is a key ingredient here--I think sage is the quintessential fall herb. I encourage you to bookmark this for one of the first fall days with a chill in the air, and let the savory and just a bit of sweet goodness of this dish warm you up, along with a nice glass of red wine. Thanks to Alice of A Mama, Baby and Shar-pei in the Kitchen and Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva for hosting our Squash Fest!

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sage for #SundaySupper
1 1b. butternut squash, diced
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped, plus 4 extra sage leaves
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
3 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large garlic cloved, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup pecorino romano or parmesan cheese (I used a blend)
handful of baby spinach (optional)
1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)

Combine the chicken broth, water, and the 4 sage leaves, and bring to a boil. Add the butternut squash, and boil gently for about 8 minutes, until the squash begins to soften. Remove the squash with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. Set the squash aside and keep the liquid on low heat. Discard the 4 sage leaves.

Melt the butter on medium heat in a nonreactive, nonstick pan. Add the onions and 1 tbsp sage, saute until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the the garlic, cook for another minute. Add the chicken and cook until it begins to turn white on the outside. Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice is thoroughly coated with butter.

Begin ladling the liquid into the rice pan, about 1 cup at a time. After adding a cup of liquid, gently stir the rice virtually nonstop (OK, you can run briefly to the refrigerator, but you need to be committed to the risotto!). When the cup of liquid has been absorbed, add another cup and repeat the process.
stirring risotto with chicken

The cooking time for the risotto (once you begin the ladling) is about 30 minutes. When all the liquid has been absorbed, check the consistency of risotto. It should be tender but still have firmness. If it seems too hard (think--would you want to eat it?), add additional water and follow the same process until you get to the desired consistency. When the risotto is done, it can't absorb more liquid, so there's a bit of liquid left. This helps to mix in the cheese and squash.

Stir in the reserved squash, the cheese, 1 more tablespoon of sage, pepper to taste, and truffle oil if you're using it. When I made this most recently for Sunday Supper, I added a handful of baby spinach to add some additional color to the dish. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad or broccoli rabe. Offer additional cheese at the table. Enjoy!

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sage for #SundaySupper

Wine Pairing: I went with the Perticaia Rosso from Umbria.  That was a pretty good pairing, though I a better pairing from that winery was one with our Heaven Sent Grilled Pork Chops. I was debating between that or the 2013 Castello La Leccia Vivaio Del Cavaliere Toscana Rosso, which we wound up having another night. The Castello is a bit softer and more fruit forward and I'd recommend that as a good pairing option. A Pinot Noir could work nicely, too.

Be sure to check out these tasty Squash Fest Recipes from the #SundaySupper bloggers!

Starters – Appetizers and Cocktails:
Pickles & Relish:
Soups & Salads:
Main Dishes
Side Dishes:
Sweets to Start or End the Day:
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.