Archive for February, 2010

Make quick & easy sauces with wine!

February 24th, 2010

bowls of spicesCreating your own sauces & marinades:

We don’t know how it happened – but at some point we started thinking that we need to get all our sauces and marinades from a plastic bottle in the “sauce section” of the supermarket from corporation XYZ. If you flip over the bottle and read the ingredients in these sauces, you’ll find all sorts of stuff that you probably don’t want in your body – most notably, lots and lots of sodium and chemical preservatives.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s a quick and easy way to have lots of fun in the kitchen and also come up with a sauce to liven up your main course or sides.

It’s as simple as…

Step 1: Put 1/4 – 1 cup of wine in a pot.
Step 2: Boil it for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Consider adding butter, cream, or sugar as a base to thicken your sauce.
Step 4: Add a spice and taste your sauce.
Step 5: Add another spice according to what you feel it needs.
Step 6: Repeat until you’re happy with your creation.

And you’re done! So fast. So simple. So easy. So natural and fresh! Spoon your sauce over your dish as a finishing sauce.

You choose the salt content. You choose the sugar content. The alcohol burns off in the first 10 minutes so you don’t have to worry about that. What could be easier?

Working with complimentary flavors:

The trick here is a simple idea: we all know that wines taste different when you sample them. And we all know that when you cook with wine, you boil out the water and alcohol, so whatever’s left over (I.E. all the flavors!) becomes amplified and stronger. So cheap flavors get cheaper. Stale flavors get more stale. And even if you’re cooking with good or great wine, those flavors may not be right for your dish. In fact, they may even make it taste *less good*!

So you just want to make sure the flavors you’re working with are right. And that’s where our wines come in. We work with chefs to make sure that each of our wines is right for the different types of cooking you’ll be doing. We blend our wines with drinkability in mind too, so don’t be afraid to pour yourself a glass while you cook. As you do, think of the flavors the wine will be adding to your meal.

Flavor Affinities

A really great book for finding complimentary flavors is “The Flavor Bible“. In it, you can look up just about any spice/ingredient you could imagine and find complimentary flavors.

Here are a few to get you going with your sauces, but don’t let these limit you. Experiment. Follow your intuition. Have fun!

ACADÉMIE Blend #1 Wine + short ribs + tomatoes + cinnamon
ACADÉMIE Blend #1 Wine + bell peppers + garlic + olive oil + onion + thyme + zucchini

ACADÉMIE Blend #2 Wine + artichokes + mushrooms + onions + sausage
ACADÉMIE Blend #2 Wine + lemongrass + cilantro + mint

ACADÉMIE Blend #3 Wine + star anise + pork + soy sauce + sugar
ACADÉMIE Blend #3 Wine + brown sugar + chili flakes + garlic

ACADÉMIE Blend #4 Wine + clove + coriander + cardamom + cinnamon
ACADÉMIE Blend #4 Wine + peaches + ginger + sugar

Learn more about our wines and each wine’s flavor profile here!

Some quick tips in cooking with wine:

  • As we mentioned, alcohol will boil out of your wine reduction sauce within roughly 10 minutes of boiling. Smell the steam as it rises (careful, don’t burn yourself!). If you get an alcohol burn in your nostrils, there’s still alcohol present in the wine. Simply boil until you no longer get a alcoholic burning sensation in your nose.
  • All wine has some degree of acidity. As you cook with it, this acidity gets more intense because you are boiling out the water. If it’s too strong for you, you can easily balance acidity with cane sugar or brown sugar. Just a small amount will do wonders. Experiment to taste one teaspoon at a time.
  • You can do a really cool one-two combination by creating a marinade and then using this same marinade as a finishing sauce. So, instead of boiling your wine first, add your spices directly to unboiled wine. Marinate your meats with your marinade (sealed together in a plastic bag) for 2-24 hours. The alcohol will work to tenderize your meats during this time. When you are done, boil the marinade for 10-15 minutes and then use it as a sauce over the very same meats once they are ready to serve! Make sure you boil the marinade thoroughly as it has come in contact with raw meat.

Spanish Romesco Sauce & Crusty Bread

February 19th, 2010

Romesco Sauce

Click here to view the recipe!

I love things that are multi-purpose, which is why I have such a fondness for romesco sauce. I just whipped up a quick batch and used half as the base for a sausage and potato soup that’s simmering on the stove right now; the other half will serve as a dip for raw vegetables and a spread for hearty slices of bread at a get-together with friends tomorrow evening. (Make a double batch and tuck into jam jars to share with friends or store in your freezer!)

ACADÉMIE Wine Blend #1 hits all the right notes in this recipe, bringing out the sweet smokiness of the roasted peppers and garlic, riffing off the tangy tomato flavor and harmonizing with the richness of the olive oil – don’t be shy about pouring the remainder of your bottle into a glass or three to enjoy with whatever creative concoction your romesco sauce finds its way into!

Click here to view the recipe!