Wine

Fattoria di MonteMaggio, A Magical Boutique Winery in Tuscany

Enjoying La Dolce Vita with Ilaria at Fattoria di Montemaggio

Enjoying La Dolce Vita with Ilaria at Fattoria di Montemaggio

Ilaria is giving me a lesson on the Sangiovese grape

Ilaria is giving me a lesson on the Sangiovese grape

My husband and I recently took a spectacular trip to Italy and visited some amazing regions, rich in cultures and traditions.  One of our destinations was Tuscany and we were living our dream of “La Dolce Vita” (the sweet life). We were blown away by the beauty of the rolling hills and the lush cypress trees. Finally, all the landscape pictures we had seen were coming to life and the views were similar to that of a postcard. On the first day, we got to visit this beautiful winery called: Fattoria di Montemaggio, located in Radda in Chianti in the heart of Chianti Classico region.

It’s truly magical with a stupendous view of the valley, and well-manicured grounds. There were full-blown roses and fresh artichokes growing in the immaculate garden. Ilaria, the estate manager greeted us with a beautiful smile and gave us a tour of the vineyards. It was clear how passionate she was about her job and demonstrated a great knowledge in the viticulture and viniculture process of wine making. She gave us a little lesson about the stubborn Sangiovese grape, as I explained in an earlier post:  The temperamental Sangiovese grape variety . I pointed out to her that the ground seemed very dry and she replied: “we need to make them suffer”. Of course, she was referring to this particular grape variety.  After a tour of the vineyards and some photo snapping, it was Denis, the cellar manager, who guided the wine tasting.  We enjoyed a lovely selection of wines in the company of Riccardo, our amazing tour guide and the multi-talented Katarina Andersson. She is a translator, an educator and a wine writer at: Grapevine Adventures. The wines were luscious and of high quality which were no surprise to us, after seeing the labor of love that went into producing them. Fortunately, because of the terroir and the micro-climate, Fattoria di Montemaggio is able to grow many grape varieties such as: Sangiovese, with small additions of Merlot, Pugnitello, Chardonnay, Malvasia Nera, and Ciliegiolo.

A few months ago, I was able to get their Chianti Classico in my area and paired it with Pork Chops in Tomato sauce. It worked delightfully.  I brought back a couple of bottles from this recent trip and cannot wait to crack them open. If you intend to visit Tuscany, I highly recommend that you put Fattoria di Montemaggio on your itinerary. You will be very happy with this gem of a place.

Ilaria, the estate manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio

Ilaria, the estate manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio

The rose garden at Fattoria di MontemaggioThe view at Fattoria di MontemaggioIMG_8849The views at Fattoria di Montemaggio

I hope you have enjoyed my blog post on this beautiful winery and the enchanting photographs that I captured during my visit. My wish for you is to have the opportunity to visit this lovely place and bask under the Tuscan Sun.

Happy Travels!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
Level-2 -World renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Culinary Personality, Cookbook Author and Lover of Global Cuisines

Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
and by Katarina Andersson – Wine Writer

Fattoria di Montemaggio

Fattoria di Montemaggio

 

 

Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

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If you love pork chops but never had them in tomato sauce, you are in for a treat. I use the thin pork loin chops and a variety of tomatoes such as canned San Marzano whole, strained and chopped tomatoes, and a jar of my favorite meatless sauce.

Gina's Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

Serves: 6-8 Level of difficulty: Easy-Medium
Allow 2.5 hours from start to finish – This recipe can easily be divided in half but why would you want to do that when the leftovers taste even better!

Gina's Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta


Ingredients: 

  • 4 lbs. pork loin chops, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil + more if needed
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 -26.46 oz. container strained tomatoes (Pomi brand)
  • 1 – 26.46 oz. container chopped tomatoes (Pomi brand)
  • 1 – 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, whole, crushed by hand
  • 1 jar of Mid’s meatless tomato sauce (32 oz) or any of your choice
  • Garlic powder to taste, optional
  • 1.5 lb. spaghetti or any pasta shape of your choice
  • Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, grated or shaved
  • Flat-leave Italian parsley for garnish

    Preparation:

    1) Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large heavy- bottom pot, on medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Sear the pork chops about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove them. Add more oil if necessary. Do this in 2 batches. Set aside.
    2) Add more oil to pot, saute’ the garlic. Add the tomato paste, stir until it’s nicely caramelized. Add all the tomatoes. Season the sauce with salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Add the pork chops to the sauce, bring to a boil. Lower the flame, and simmer on low heat for about 1.5 -2 hours covered with lid-tilted. Stir occasionally to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The sauce will become very thick and rich in flavors. This dish tastes even better the next day.
    3) While the sauce is simmering, bring water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
    4) Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and pour some of the sauce over it. Mix well until every strand of pasta is covered with the sauce. Put it in a serving bowl. Arrange the pork chops on a platter. There will be plenty of sauce left for those who like extra sauce. Don’t forget the cheese and garnish with parsley. Your guests will be wowed by the richness of this dish, and will ask for seconds.
    My wine pairing suggestions: I recommend a nice Chianti, Rosso or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Of course, the choice is always yours.

    Cook’s notes: 1) Use whatever brand of sauce you like. If you feel the sauce is too watery, uncover it toward the end to let it reduce.
    Disclosure: I did not get monetary compensation for these products.
    Warning: There may be small bones in the sauce. Please let your guest or loved ones know.

    Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

     

    Recipe developed by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover LLC
    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover LLC
    All rights reserved 2017

    Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Gina aka Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
WSET- Level 2 Certified Wine Connoisseur
Culinary Aficionado

 

Wine Pairing, Thanksgiving Edition

Sonoma Loeb, Pinot Noir

Sonoma Loeb, Pinot Noir

 

Elegant La Crema Pinot Noir

Elegant La Crema Pinot Noir

Belle Glos Pinot Noir

Belle Glos Pinot Noir

Louis Roederer Champagne

Louis Roederer Champagne

 

 

 

Tattinger Champagne

Taittinger Champagne

Moet & Chandon Sparkling wine

Sparking Rose’

In Memory of My Beloved Dad - One of his favorite wines

In Memory of My Beloved Dad – One of his favorite wines

We don’t get to appreciate the beauty of autumn in South Florida, but at least, we have slightly cooler weather to make the holidays more enjoyable. Sadly for me, this is a somber time as it’s the first holiday season without my dad around. I will pretend to be in the mood and try to get in the spirit.  This is a time  where families and close friends gather around a bountiful table and celebrate with food and wine. Thanksgiving is literally around the corner and it’s time to show gratitude to our loved ones.  For those of you who are hosting, I am sure that your menu is in place but don’t forget to add this wine selection to your list. Today, I will help you pick some delightful wines to serve with your Thanksgiving feast. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. There are many reasonably priced wines that will work wonders.

I want to keep this as simple as possible without getting technical with fancy wine terms.  Wine pairing is subjective and everyone’s palate is different.  Let’s not stress over which wine goes with what food. These are my wine suggestions to add a little pizzaz to your party and make it fun for your guests.

I recommend Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay as basic wines for your cheese platters and appetizers, including seafood.  Make sure the white wines are not overly chilled because this effect can take away from the flavor profile of the wines (herbaceous, lime, peaches, pears, oranges…) If you want to impress your guests, add other interesting whites such as Vermentino, Verdicchio  or Albarino. The list is endless and the choice is yours. Keep in mind not everyone has a palate for white wine,  be sure to have some light to medium bodied wine such as Gamay or Pinot Noir.

White wines such as Riesling, and Gewurztraminer are lovely choices for your Thanksgiving dinner. They both add sweetness and aroma of spices, which complement the holiday theme beautifully.

Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc pair deliciously with vegetables such as asparagus and green beans.

Pinot Noir is an excellent red wine to pair with the turkey especially if you have mushrooms in your stuffing. It will bring out the characters of earthiness . There is a vast selection of Pinot Noir in the market. Check out some Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley region In Oregon. They tend to be more rustic with notes of cranberries and on the earthy side.  They’re often compared to the wines of Burgundy. However, if you are on a budget, I recommend Josh Cellars Pinot Noir, Mark West, or Mark West Black Pinot Noir.

When in doubt, you can always rely on bubblies.  They’re festive and vary in prices, from the least expensive to the most sophisticated. Sparkling wines and Prosecco are fantastic choices and won’t break the bank. If you are having a fancy affair, Champagne is always a good idea.

Dessert wines:  Fortified wines are a great choice to pair with decadent desserts. Tawny Port pairs nicely with pumpkin and cherry pies, Muscat d’Asti with apple pies, Mavrodaphne with baklava,  chocolate mousse cake with Brachetto d’Aqui.

This is not a wine tasting party, and it doesn’t have to be precise. Use this blogpost as a guideline to help you decide which wine to serve at Thanksgiving. The holidays are already stressful and there are far more important things to stress over. I am also featuring one of  dad’s favorite wines called Quattro Mani, a Montepulciano d’Abbruzo. It’s very inexpensive and has lovely hints of vanilla.

I hope you will have some fun with these ideas and enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Happy Thanksgiving From My Family To Yours,

Gina/Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

All the featured wines have been tasted, and the photos were exclusively taken by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover.

Mark West Black Pinot Noir

Mark West Black Pinot Noir

Pouilly-Fuisse' Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France

Pouilly-Fuisse’ Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France

Franciacorta Ca'del Bosco

Franciacorta Ca’del Bosco

Vinsanto - a delightful Greek dessert wine

Vinsanto – a delightful Greek dessert wine

MerlotandHumboldtFog

Healthier version of Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant, also called aubergine, or melanzane (in Italian) is so versatile, and by far one of my favorite veggies. I love to make it different ways, and enjoy experimenting with them. This time, I decided to make an eggless and breadcrumb-free eggplant parm, an Italian dish believed to have originated in the Southern part of Italy. The result of this dish is  surprisingly delightful. First and foremost,  make sure you pick very fresh eggplants, preferably on the day you are cooking them.  I realize that it’s  not always possible in today’s busy lives. If that’s the case, get it a day or two before cooking it. You do not want an eggplant that’s been sitting in your veggie bin for 2 weeks. I assure you, that will make a world of difference.  You want to look for an eggplant that is smooth, without any bruises, and firm to the touch. Parmigiana is a style/method of cooking, using  tomato sauce and  mozzarella cheese.

Eggplants

Eggplants

Broiled Eggplants

Broiled Eggplants

       Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplant cut lengthwise
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Lots of olive oil ( make sure you have a full bottle on hand)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 basil leaves
  • 1 container chopped tomatoes 26.46 oz.  Pomi brand
  •  1/2 jar of Mid’s sauce or (about 16 oz of your favorite meatless tomato sauce)
  • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
  •  Parmigiano Reggiano, Parmesan cheese to taste

    Preparation:
    1) Season the eggplant with salt and pepper, let them sit for 10 minutes. Place on a metal tray, drizzle them with olive oil and broil for about 7-8 minutes on each side.  Do this in 2 batches. Set aside.
    2) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
    3) In the meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, on medium-heat, heat 1-2 tbsp. olive oil. Sautee the garlic for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, basil.  Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Turn the burner off and set aside. Cover to keep it warm.
    4) Time to start mounting the eggplant as if you are making a lasagna. Smear some sauce on the bottom of a large glass casserole (Pyrex) pan, line up the eggplant (as shown on my photo) top with sauce, mozzarella cheese and parmesan. Repeat once more and finish with mozzarella. Cover with foil.
    5) Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Uncover, and broil for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting. Use a spatula. Hope you will try this delicious version of Eggplant Parmigiana. It has no breadcrumbs and no  eggs. However, it will soak up some olive oil (which is healthy, but beware of calories)

    Please check out my traditional eggplant recipe:  Chicken & Eggplant Parm recipe (chicken is optional) Notice, I use different sauce, that’s because I like to change things up. ———>  https://foodiewinelover.com/2015/08/17/chicken-eggplant-parmigiana/

    Cook’s note: Never place glass dish on the bottom of the oven rack. Use the second from the bottom.

    Wine pairing suggestions: Chianti, Chianti Classico or any medium-bodied red wine will work.

Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Gina Zarcadoolas/Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine over Polenta

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta

Enjoying some short ribs

Enjoying some short ribs

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta

After a long absence, I needed to get back in the kitchen and prepare some home cooked meals.  My son PJ suggested that I make Gordon Ramsey’s short ribs. It was a collaborative effort with him and the result was a Grand Slam. Of course, he thought he was Gordon Ramsey and acted like him, but, I had to take control in Gina’s Kitchen. Let’s just say, we were each other’s sous chef! I was feeding 6 hungry people and I came up with the following measurements.  This recipe can easily be divided in half for a smaller crowd.

Serves: 6-8  Level of difficulty: Easy-Medium

Time: Allow a minimum of 3 hours from start to finish

Ingredients:

  • 8 lbs. beef short ribs
  • Olive oil as needed for searing the ribs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 oz. of tomato paste
  • 2 heads of garlic, cut in halves (unpeeled)
  • 1 bottle of red wine, Chianti, Pinot Noir or Cabernet
  • 28 oz. of beef broth low-sodium
  • Italian parsley for garnish, optionalSide dish:

    1 cup Polenta for 4 cups of water, salt to taste

    Mushrooms topping: 

  • 8 oz baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. salted butter
  • 1 tbsp.  olive oil

    Preparation:

    1) Season the ribs liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. ( I keep my house on 75 degrees F.)2)  Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees F.
    3) In a very large and deep pan, over medium-high heat on the stove top, pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Sear the meat on both sides for about 3-4 minutes each side. Rotate the meat in the middle of the pan where the heat is, using a set of tongues.

    4) Place the garlic face-down randomly. Add  tomato paste and stir it in all over the bottom of the pan. Cook until it obtains a rust color. Deglaze with the wine. Cook until it reduces 3-4 minutes.

    5) Add the beef broth, and control the sodium if necessary. Bring to a quick boil. Turn stove top off.  Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 2.5 hours. Just forget about it, figuratively speaking.  (please do not leave oven unattended)

    6)  In a small frying pan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter and the oil, and pan fry the mushrooms until they are golden brown. Set aside.

    7) Prepare the polenta 20 minutes before the ribs are done. If you do it too soon, it will clump up.  Follow cooking  instructions on package.  Keep on the lowest heat until you’re ready to serve.

    8) Remove the ribs out of the oven and place them in a large platter. Take all the garlic out.  Pass them through a sieve and put the garlic paste in the sauce.  Stir well. Now it’s time to serve. Either buffet style or  you can plate it, by placing some polenta on the bottom of a platter, put the ribs on top and garnish with the mushrooms and parsley.
    Wine pairing suggestions: A bold Cab, Chianti or any red wine of your choice.It’s good to be back in the kitchen after a long absence.This blogpost is in Memory of My Beloved Dad, John.  I will always remember him in the kitchen as my potato peeler, my pot scrubber and my right hand daddy’s little girl. I will miss savoring delicious pasta dishes with him, but his legacy will live in my heart forever.

    RIP DAD- 1936-2016

    Disclosure:

    This dish is an adaptation of Gordon Ramsey’s recipe on YouTube. These measurements are mine based on 8 lbs. of ribs.
    Photographed by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

    Happy Braising!
    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish #2 With a Twist

There’s nothing like having a no-fail recipe in your repertoire, because you know you can always count on the result being the same.  However, having been in the kitchen for so long, I like to challenge myself,  play around, and experiment to change things up a little. This is a spin-off to a dish that I made called Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish. The method is very similar, but I added some roasted red bell peppers. The result was equally as delicious. Follow me in My Kitchen!

Roasted bell peppers

Serves: 4-6
Degree of difficulty: Easy – Medium

You will need a brown paper bag

Ingredients:  

  • 1.5 lb. sea scallops
  • 1/2 jug of clam juice – About 5-6 ounces
  • 1/2 cup of Chardonnay wine
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted/charred (the twist) rough chopped *
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup pasta water, if needed *
  • 2-3 Tbsp. butter
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, (Parmesan cheese)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • Few leaves of basil, chopped in a chiffonade style
  • 1 lb. Linguine

Preparation:

1) Wash peppers, and broil them whole,  on high for about 10-15 minutes depending how close they are to the burner. Turn them occasionally, using a mitten. Once they are charred all around, remove them from the oven. Place them in a brown paper bag and close it. Let it sit in there for about 15 minutes. This step will make it easier to remove the skin. It should peel off easily. If not, use a knife to remove the skin. Set aside.

2) On Medium-high heat, drizzle the olive oil on the bottom of a 6-quart pan.  Sautee the garlic, as soon as it releases its aroma, drop the scallops and deglaze with the wine. This should take a couple of minutes.

3)   Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, clam juice and season with salt, pepper, oregano. Slowly add the heavy cream and stir.  Lower the heat and bring to a quick simmer. This does not take long as you do NOT want to overcook the scallops. They will become chewy. Remove from burner. 

4) Simultaneously,  bring water to a boil for the pasta and cook according to package directions. I like to cook it al dente, (to the bite).  Once pasta is cooked, drain it, and reserve 1/4 cup of the water. Drop pasta  into the scallop sauce, and add pasta water if necessary.  Put the pan back on the burner, swirl in the butter for some added richness, and give it a good stir. This is all done at very low heat to warm it up. Garnish with the basil at the end so they don’t wilt.  Now, it’s time to plate. Sprinkle with cheese and voilà, the result is a lip smacking delicious pasta dish.

I hope you will try this delectable recipe that will have your loved ones begging for seconds.  Have a fantastic new week!

Wine pairing suggestions: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. For a special occasion, pair this dish with a nice Viognier, and you will wow your guests.

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish #2

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish #2

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish

*Cook’s tips:

1) You can grill, roast or broil the peppers. The broiler was the most convenient for me.

2) You probably won’t need the pasta water in this version. There should be plenty of sauce to coat the linguine. Use your judgment.

3) As you can see, I didn’t use all the seafood that I used in the original dish. You are more than welcome to use them, if you want.

Happy Cooking and Cheers from Gina’s Kitchen! 

logofoodiewinelover1

Braciole, A Gourmet Italian meat, in Tomato Sauce

It’s the holiday season, and Christmas is literally around the corner. I am hosting Christmas Day, and need to work on a menu, and finish my shopping. This time of the year is overwhelming for me, but there is a joyous feeling in the air, that goes with the madness of the season. I recently made a dish called:  Braciole, pronounced brajole, or brashole, and is the plural for braciola. It is considered a thinly sliced of meat, stuffed with garlic, parsley, and salami or prosciutto. Most grocery stores have it pre-sliced, or you can have the butcher slice it for you. Some people use flank steak, but I always use top round.  In Italy, this dish is called involtini, and the stuffing/filling can vary depending on the region. If you are still wondering what to make for Christmas, or your holiday dinner, this is the perfect and festive dish for you. It is a bit time-consuming, but the good news is, you can make it 1 or 2 days ahead of time. Please keep in mind, some people do not consume red meat, be sure to have chicken, fish and veggies grace your holiday table.

Serves: 9-12 for a seat-down dinner or 10-15 for buffet style dinner, served with other food.  Level of difficulty: Medium-difficult  Time from start to finish: 2.5 – 3 hours, depending how fast you do all your  prepping.

Making Braciole

Making Braciole

Stuffing braciole

Stuffing braciole

Braciole by Foodiewinelover

Braciole by Foodiewinelover

Searing the braciole

Searing the braciole

Braciole in tomato sauce by Foodiewinelover

Braciole in tomato sauce by Foodiewinelover

Braciole paired magically with Barolo

Braciole paired magically with Barolo

 

Ingredients for the meat:

  • Olive oil for pan frying
  • 3 lbs. top round steak, thinly sliced
  • 1 – 6 oz  jar of peeled garlic, chopped *
  • one large bunch of flat-leave parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 lb. prosciutto, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper *
  • Butcher twine *

    Preparation for the meat:
     

    1) Place the meat on a butcher block, season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the seasonings lightly, depending on your sodium diet, on both sides of meat. Keep in mind, the prosciutto is salty. I recommend you use less than more. You can always add more later, but if it’s over salted, the food will be ruined.  It’s hard for me to give you measurements, since I use my fingers to sprinkle the seasonings.
    2) Next, with the tip of your fingers, grab some garlic, parsley, and prosciutto, one at a time, and place at the end of the meat, as shown on the picture. Roll it, like a jelly roll, and repeat the same process. You will work an assembly line, and use the butcher twine later.
    3) Once, your meats are rolled up, it’s time to tie them up with the butcher twine, by securing both ends.  There may be some leftovers, garlic, parsley, and prosciutto. Save to use in the sauce.
    4) In a large pot, on medium high heat, heat up olive oil, Sear the meat on both sides to obtain a nice brown color, about 5-7 minutes. Do this in batches, and set aside.

    Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil, if necessary
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 container Pomi, chopped tomatoes
  • 1 container Pomi, strained tomatoes
  • 1 large jar of Mids, prepared tomato sauce, meatless*
  • 1/4 cup of water, put in jar and shake it to get all the sauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar, optional

    Preparation for the sauce:

    Using the same pot, add more oil, if necessary, brown the tomato paste, add all the tomatoes, water, leftover fillings, salt & pepper, sugar, and put the meat in the sauce. Bring to a boil, simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, uncovered, until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally, to make sure the pot doesn’t burn on the bottom.  If you feel the sauce is too thick, add very little water, and continue cooking.

    Pasta
    1) 2 lbs. of Rigatoni, or any pasta shape of your choice.
    2) While the sauce is simmering, bring water to a boil for pasta. Add salt, and cook as per package directions, or al dente, to the bite.
    3) Drain pasta, drizzle with olive and some sauce to prevent clumping. Set aside. The sauce should be done, and the meat tender by this time.
    4)Remove the braciole from the sauce, and use a pair of shears to cut the twines. (You will need some patience, while I was doing this, my guests were having their salad.)  Arrange them in a nice rectangle platter. This presentation is ideal for a seat-down dinner party like I had.  Serve with the pasta. However for a buffet-style, or for a holiday table, slice them, and arrange them on a beautiful platter. It is more decorative, and appealing.

Braciole

Cook’s notes:

1) Some people use toothpicks to secure the meat, but I prefer using the twine.

2) Freshly ground pepper goes so nicely with the meat.

3) If you don’t want to use garlic from the jar, go ahead and use fresh, just allow more time for peeling.  Nothing wrong with fresh ingredients, I actually encourage it, whenever possible.

4) Some recipes add cheese to the filling, but, I prefer grated  Parmigiano Reggiano, (parmesan cheese), on top of the pasta.

5) This recipe yields 9 meat rolls, but, some people shared one. There were leftovers, and, it was even better the next day.

6) For a small dinner gathering, I recommend you ask your guests if they consume meat or shellfish. Let’s not forget about gluten-free pasta for those who cannot have regular pasta. This may create extra work, but if you are having guests, it’s important to accommodate their diet, and ensure they enjoy their meal.

Wine pairing suggestions: My lovely aunt and  cousin were visiting from abroad, I decided to go all out. I paired this delectable dish with a Barolo, the king of Italian wines. The pairing was magical, and everyone was pleased with my culinary creation. You can also pair this dish with a Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon of your choice. You want a big wine to stand up to the meat.

Buon Appetito!

Recipe by Gina for Foodiewinelover
Images by Gina for Foodiewinelover
Wine pairing suggestions by Gina for Foodiewinelover

This will probably be my last post before Christmas, therefore, I would like to wish all of you, a happy holiday season, and a Merry Christmas from my home to yours.

In closing, I would like to share this quote: “Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given–when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes.”

Gina, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad, Thanksgiving Edition

I noticed these beautiful Bosc pears at the grocery store, and decided to make a colorful, and festive salad with them. We have no fall here in South Florida, but I wanted to get in the spirit of autumn. This salad is perfect for Thanksgiving, and has all the luscious colors of the season.

Serves 6 – 8 as a side  –  Level of difficulty: Easy
You can easily double up on the recipe for a larger group

Ingredients:  

  • 5 oz. bag, assorted field greens, pre-washed
  • 1 Bosc pear, cut lengthwise
  • 3 walnuts, unshelled, broken into medium-sized pieces *
  • 1 tbsp. dried cranberries
  • 2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

Place the field greens in a large bowl, arrange the pears, sprinkle the walnuts, cranberries, and the blue cheese on top of the salad.

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  •  Salt, to taste

Whisk in vinegar, oil, honey and salt, until it’s mixed well. You can also shake all the ingredients in a jar. Taste and adjust if necessary. Pour over the salad just before serving.

Tips: 1) You can also use 1/4 cup candied pecans instead of the walnuts.

2) Add grilled chicken, and make it a meal for a special evening.

Wine “pearing”: A crisp white wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, or any wine of your choice.

Bosc pear

Bosc pear, photo by Foodiewinelover

Eat, Drink and put all your troubles aside for at least one day! Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Gina,

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Heavenly Cheeses, Food & Wine Pairings

Hello everyone! This is probably my longest blog post to date, because it is my favorite, and most passionate subject,  Food & Wine. This explains my blog name, Foodiewinelover.  I have put together a compilation of my dining and wining experience on Heavenly Cheeses, Food & Wine Pairings.  Please do not forget to read the descriptions on all my photos.  Cheeses are among my favorite food groups, and when I’m entertaining, I love pairing them with delicious wines. There is an abundance of cheeses, and wines from all corners of the world, but unfortunately, there aren’t enough time to mention all of them.   Ideally, I love pairing cheese with the wine from the same region, or country, especially when I’m having a themed party. However,  there are no set rules about it, and, you can mix and match food and wines from different countries, as you please. There are hard, soft, and semi-soft cheeses. One of my favorite cheeses is Parmigiano-Reggiano, an Italian Parmesan cheese, aged 36 months, that I brought back with me from Italy. To me it’s considered the king of Italian cheeses, and has a lovely nuttiness to it.  According to Giada de Laurentiis, a famous Italian Chef, it’s best if you pick it with a knife, to get into all the nook and crannies, for optimal flavors.  In general, white wine is ideal to pair with cheeses because of their higher acidity content, and boost up the layers of flavors of cheeses. However, If you are not a big fan of whites, don’t fret, red wines  also make a nice pairing. Ultimately, you decide what works well with your palate. I am also sharing with you some delectable food that goes with some interesting wines.  Here are a few suggestions to impress your friends at your next gathering.

Guidalberto paired with Parmigiano Reggiano

Sexy, seductive, full-bodied, Super Tuscan, Italian wine, blend of Cabernet and Merlot – 2012 Tenuta SanGuido – Guidalberto . The color is a scintillating cherry-red. At first, floral aromas and dark cherries on the nose, then, when I swirl it, the earthiness comes out. I smell barnyard and chocolate. I swoosh it in my mouth, I get hints of tobacco, chocolate, leather, and all the flavor profile I desire in a wine. The finish is succulent and lingering. This wine pairs heavenly with Parmigiano Reggiano.

Cheese and wine pairing

Great cheese and wine pairings: Pulenta Cab from Argentina, Robert Mondavi, Emblem California Cab, & a platter of barrel aged Feta, Ginger and Mango Stilton, Pecorino Romano cheese.

Epoisse

Wine & Cheese for Dinner! Époisses, the stinkiest cheese ever. Lol! Prima Donna, a blend of Parmigiano Reggiano and Gouda, paired with La Crema, Pinot Noir. If you prefer white, you can pair with an Albarino, or a nice Chablis, (Chardonnay from Burgundy)

Manchego and Crianza

Manchego cheese paired magically with Miguel Torres Celeste Crianza, from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. A beautiful pairing of cheese and wine from the same country.

Malbecandcheesepairing

Girls Night Out! Malbec paired with scrumptious Comte, Idiazabal and Ossau Iraty cheeses. 🍷🍷🍷

MerlotandHumboldtFog

Merlot and Humboldt Fog cheese….Pinot Noir would have been a nice choice as well

BrunellowithDeliceDeBourgogne

Le Delice De Bourgogne cheese paired with a fantastic Brunello.  If you are into white wines, another suggestion for this cheese is an oaky Chardonnay 

 

Foodiewinelover Stonecrabs

Stonecrabs paired with Champagne for my birthday in 2014

 

Foodiewinelover Bubblies

When in doubt, bubblies go with almost everything

 

Espinacas y Garbanzos

Spinach and Garbanzos, paired with a lovely white Rioja

Bai Gorri Rioja

Bai Gorri Rioja, An elegant white wine, well-balanced with intense flavors of oak, paired heavenly with an assortment of Spanish dishes, Shrimp with Garlic, Spinach with Garbanzo beans, Paella, and Manchego cheese. This was at our Spanish-themed wine party.

 

Lamb Loin Chops

Lamb Loin Chops pair beautifully with Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape or a nice red Bordeaux

 

Paella

Paella pairs deliciously with a nice Rose’

Rose' pairs nicely with a Paella

Rose’

 

Beets and Goat Cheese

Beets and Goat Cheese pair lusciously with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc

Gouda and Epoisses cheeses paired with Merlot

Gouda and Epoisses cheeses, caramelized walnuts and fig spread, paired exquisitely with Chateau Lyonnat, a Merlot from the Bordeaux region. Delicieux!

Veal Bolognese

Veal Bolognese over Pappardelle, paired nicely with a Rosso di Montalcino

Porterhouse for two paired with a Super Tuscan

Aged Porterhouse for two paired scrumptiously with a Super Tuscan

If you are a salmon lover, pick a lush Pinot Noir from Oregon, or one from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma county, California.  They both would make great choices. For any white fish, select a crisp white wine, if you want to get fancy, try a delightful Sancerre, (Sauvignon Blanc) from the Loire Valley.  If you are on a budget, stick to a nice chilled chardonnay.  Spicy food pair well with an off-dry Riesling, Viognier or Gewurztraminer. Pungent cheeses such as Gorgonzola, or Blue Cheese stand up to dessert wines, port or cognac. Sauternes, a French dessert wine, with notes of apricots,  is a nice complement to Roquefort cheese and Foie Gras. Let’s not forget about Ricotta cheese which is used in savory dishes such as stuffed shells. They make a great pairing with a nice Chianti, Rosso di Montalcino, or any medium-bodied Italian reds.  Ricotta cheese is also used as a scrumptious filling in cannolis, and goes well with a Moscato d’Asti, a lovely dessert wine from the Piedmont region of Italy.  If you are looking for a match made in heaven,  my friend, fellow-sommelier, Certified Italian Wine Specialist, Angela, from Constant Wining suggests pairing a cantuccini, an Italian biscotti, with Vin Santo. We had it at one of our Italian-themed wine party, and it was a major hit, and a fantastic way to end a superb evening with fun friends. Mascarpone, is an italian sweet cheese, and one of the main ingredients in the delectable dessert Tiramisu. It can be paired with either the Vin Santo, or the Moscato d’Asti.

I am posting links to some of the cheeses that I feature in this blogpost,  so you can learn more about their process, origin, and history.

Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, two Italian giants, are excellent grating cheeses for pasta dishes.  Gorgonzola,  Blue Stilton, Roquefort,  are considered some of the world’s most famous Bleu Cheeses. Feta Cheese is one of the most famous Greek cheeses. Humboldt Fog, is a goat milk and pungent in flavors. Epoisses is a pungent cows-milk cheese.  Delice de Bourgogne, is a French cow’s milk cheese. Manchego is a sheep’s milk from Spain. Comté is a cow’s milk from France. Ossau Iraty is a sheep’s cheese from France.  Idiazabal is a sheep’s milk from Spain.

I hope you have enjoyed some of my food and wine suggestions, and in closing, I would love to share some fun quotes with you.

“All four elements were happening in equal measure – the cuisine, the wine, the service, and the overall ambience. It taught me that dining could happen at a spiritual level.” Charlie Trotter

“Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.” Robert Mondavi

Most importantly, I enjoy sharing food & wine with close friends, and family. It elevates the experience to another level.

Disclosure: All the pictures in this blog post are my own, and were taken either with my iPhone or my Canon Rebel T3 camera.  They were shot at various restaurants, a friend’s house, and my home.

Cheers to good health and a well-lived life!

Gina, aka, FoodieWineLover 

 

Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Bell Peppers

Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Bell Peppers

Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Bell Peppers

Prepping for Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Bell Peppers

Prepping for Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Bell Peppers

Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Bell Peppers

Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Bell Peppers

We occasionally eat at a classic, go-to Cuban restaurant called Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine . They make a delicious Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Bell Peppers.  I love it so much that I decided to recreate it, and the result is amazing. I am excited to share my version with all of you.

Serves: 4-6 Degree of difficulty: Easy
Prepping time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 13-15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil + more to drizzle
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 bell peppers, green, red and yellow, cut in julienne
  • 3/4 cup garlic, chopped
  • Sprinkles of smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • pepper flakes, optional
  • 1.1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1.1/2 lb. extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Preparation:

1) In an extra-large pan, over medium-high heat, heat up olive oil, saute’ onions and peppers for about 7-9 minutes. Add garlic, paprika,  salt, pepper flakes. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with wine. Let it reduce, 1 minute.

2)  Add shrimp,  let is simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until  shrimp is no longer translucent. Do not overcook them, as they will get chewy.

Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, using yellow peppers

 

I usually serve the shrimp over white rice like they do it at the restaurant. You certainly can use brown rice, or another grain of your choice. Drizzle with olive oil.

Wine pairing suggestions: Either use the same wine you used to cook, (make sure it’s drinkable) or a nice chilled white Rioja.

Buen Provecho!  (Bon Appetit!)

Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Gina
Foodiewinelover

 

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