Cooking Chat http://cookingchatfood.com hundreds of tasty, (mostly) healthy recipes, wine pairings & other food adventures Sat, 22 Sep 2018 11:43:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 86962254 September Sips from Italy’s Alto Adige – Südtirol Wine Region http://cookingchatfood.com/alto-adige-sudtirol-wine-region/ http://cookingchatfood.com/alto-adige-sudtirol-wine-region/#comments Tue, 18 Sep 2018 11:07:11 +0000 http://cookingchatfood.com/?p=9479 Italy’s northernmost wine region has an excellent range of wines to try, including many for sipping this time of year. We had a chance to sample three different Alto Adige – Südtirol wines that provide an example of the region’s high quality, food friendly wines. Disclosure: wines were provided as a courtesy sample from the wineries...

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Italy’s northernmost wine region has an excellent range of wines to try, including many for sipping this time of year. We had a chance to sample three different Alto Adige – Südtirol wines that provide an example of the region’s high quality, food friendly wines. Disclosure: wines were provided as a courtesy sample from the wineries and Teuwen Communications.

three bottles of wine from Alto Adige - Sütirol, Italy.

When I first got an email about trying some wine from Italy’s Alto Adige – Südtirol region, it was midsummer. The initial concept was that the Gewürztraminer and the Schiava would be great for hot summer evenings, and the Lagrein would be perfect for a cooler night with a hint of fall.

Well, the busy summer flew by and we are in mid-September. But that’s OK, because September straddles the seasons, so it is a great time for a virtual visit to Italy’s Alto Adige – Südtirol wine region.

Let me provide a bit of background on this Northern Italian wine region before I share about the wines we tried.

Italy’s Alto Adige – Südtirol Wine Region

Scene of Alto Adige vineyard with mountains in the background.

The Alto Adige – Südtirol is Italy’s northern most wine region, located between Austria and Switzerland. This location gives cool breezes from the Alps combined with Mediterranean sun for some great wine grape growing conditions.

The use of the German Südtirol for province known in English as South Tyrol gives some indication of the bicultural nature of this Italian region. You will see the German influence in the wine grapes, too, with Riesling and Gewürztraminer common among the white wines produced in Gewürztraminer. Alto Adige – Südtirol also produces a number of international white wines including Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc.

When it comes to red wine, the indigenous grapes Schiava and Lagrein dominate. We got to sample two of those for this article; details follow below. For more on the region, visit the Alto Adige Wines website.

Nussbaumer Gewürztraminer

I tend to associate Gewürztraminer with Austria and Germany, seeing it planted in Italy’s Alto Adige – Südtirol region is a good indication of the areas Germanic influences. And we got to see how good Gewürztraminer can be from this part of Italy!

We got to try the 2016 Nussbaumer Gewürztraminer (14.9% ABV, 8.1 g/ l residual sugar) from Cantina Tramin Kellerei.

This Gewürztraminer has a nice floral bouquet. On the palate, peach fruit with a touch of honey and stone.

Tramin Gewürztraminer wine paired with Indian food.

We opened the Nussbaumer Gewürztraminer to go with some Indian takeout. As you might suspect, the fruit forward Gewurzt was a great match for Indian food! Not the first time I’ve had good success pairing Italian wine with Indian food –check out our Italian wine for Indian curry article and recipe.

Another Tramin Gewürztraminer just recently got some very special recognition. Their Gewürztraminer Epokale became the first Italian white wine to receive a 100 point score from Robert Parker.

Schiava: A Red Wine for Chilling

Schiava red wine paired with fettuccine. The 2017 Cantina Bolzano Santa Maddalena Classico Huck am Bach is comprised of 90% Schiava and 10% Lagrein. Schiava is fruit forward and low in tannins, making it a good red wine to serve chilled. That is a particularly good option for warmer days — which we can still have in September!

Schiava, also known as Vernatsch, is a red wine grape indigenous to the Adige Alto Adige – Südtirol region. With roots dating back to the 16th century, Schiava has long played a central role in the region’s wine production.

I get brambles on the nose of this Schiava from Cantina Bolzano. On the palate, there’s blackberry fruit and notes of leather touch cinnamon and bacon. A tasty wine, but I wouldn’t use cotton candy in the description, like this review on Wine Folly!

The Schiava was very good paired with Gruyere cheese I was nibbling on while cooking. I tried pairing this wine our fettuccine primavera, as shown in the photo. The pairing was pretty good, but next time I’d try this with a dish that has some bacon involved to pick up that flavor element I noted.

Lagrein with Leftover Steak Pasta

leftover steak pasta on a plate.Lagrein is a red wine grape native to the Alto Adige – Südtirol. Lagrein produces wine with bold, strong flavors, suitable for a cooler evening and hearty fare.

I decided to open the  2017 Muri Gries Alto Adige Lagrein (13.5% ABV) to go with our Leftover Steak Pasta. Inky dark purple in the glass, I got violets, cloves and menthol on the nose. On the palate, blackberry fruit and a smokiness, making me think of bacon.

This big, bold Lagrein from the Alto Adige – Südtirol was definitely a good match for the Leftover Steak Pasta. It would also go well with other hearty meat dishes.

The Muri-Gries winery has an interesting history. In 1845, Benedictine monks moved from Muri in Switzerland to the town of Gries in South Tyrol, and picked up on the wine making traditions associated with the property to which they had come. Muri-Gries has a focus on Lagrein but make a number of other wines with The winery continues to be a part of the abbey today — more on the history and wine can be found on the Muri-Gries website.

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Spinach and Pear Salad with a Touch of Spice http://cookingchatfood.com/spinach-pear-salad/ http://cookingchatfood.com/spinach-pear-salad/#comments Sat, 15 Sep 2018 12:36:00 +0000 http://cookingchatfood.com/?p=9484 Our Spinach and Pear Salad recipe shows how you can elevate a basic salad with a few additional ingredients. Ripe pears add delicious flavor to a spinach salad. Then we add a touch of spice to the simple dressing for a salad that might steal the show at your dinner table! We eat a lot...

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Our Spinach and Pear Salad recipe shows how you can elevate a basic salad with a few additional ingredients. Ripe pears add delicious flavor to a spinach salad. Then we add a touch of spice to the simple dressing for a salad that might steal the show at your dinner table!

Ripe pears add great fruit flavor to a basic spinach salad. We add a touch of spice to the simple dressing for a salad that might steal the show at your dinner table! #salads #spinachsalad #pears

We eat a lot of salad here, but don’t necessarily post a lot of salad recipes. We tend to focus on a few basic preparations, such as this Spinach Salad with Simple Vinaigrette recipe. But when I came up with the Spinach and Pear Salad recipe, I knew we’d have to share it!

This salad recipe was inspired by having a couple pears that quickly went from too hard to eat to being a bit overripe.

Our son loves pears. So much so, when he was a toddler, he once managed to eat an ENTIRE PEAR while I briefly turned my back. Yep, the whole thing, core and all. The whole pear was gone, and he just had a big grin on his face…and a good bit of pear juice!

ripe pear on deck railing.

Fast forward nearly a dozen years, and when B comes grocery shopping with me, he is sure to put a few pears in the cart. Problem is, the pears sit in the fruit bowl too hard for a few days, then suddenly they can be too ripe for our son’s taste.

When our son turned up his nose at a pear that had gotten too soft in his estimation, I was inspired to create this spinach and pear salad recipe.

Making Spinach and Pear Salad

I really should add fruit to salads more than I do. I almost always enjoy salads ordered out that have a bit of fruit in the mix. I guess that was in the back of my mind when I decided to repurpose the very ripe pear for this spinach salad.

spinach and pear salad

You want to slice up the pair thinly so that each bit of pear has a good bit of fruit and just a bit of skin. I don’t recommend add the core!

For the vinaigrette to top our spinach and pear salad, I added a bit of honey along with olive oil and vinegar to enhance the natural sweetness provided by the pear. But then inspiration hit, and I thought a bit of spice would give some nice contrasting flavor to make it more interesting.

The little bottle of garam masala caught my eye. I thought this Indian spice blend featuring curry and cinnamon might be a nice touch. Boy, what a great call! This little addition really added some great flavor.

I often add a bit of feta cheese to my salads, and that could work here. But I had some Gruyere cheese on hand, and shredded a bit of that to top the spinach.

So let’s recap– you have spinach, ripe pear, Gruyere cheese and a vinaigrette with a touch of Indian spice. Yes, this spinach and pear salad just might be the star player on your dinner table! Don’t forget a little sprinkle of pumpkin seed for a bit of crunch, and to put you in that fall food mode.

Wine pairing

Muri-Gries Alto Adige Lagrein is a bold, flavorful red wine from Northern Italy. #wine #Lagrein #AltoAdigeI typically serve my salads alongside the main course. This spinach and pear salad found its way to our table several times over the past two weeks. The one wine pairing that stands out is the night I served this salad with our Leftover Steak Pasta recipe.

I opened a big red Lagrein wine from Italy’s Alto Adige – Südtirol region to go with the leftover steak pasta. You might think a big red wine would overwhelm the spinach and pear salad. But there’s a spice element in the Lagrein and enough nuance overall that it worked quite well.

The Spinach and Pear Salad would make a nice starter course for a multi-course meal with wine pairings. If you are serving this salad on its own like that, my first instinct would be a sparkling wine. I just visited Westport River Vineyards in Southeastern Massachusetts, and they have a number of sparkling wine options that could work nicely.

If you aren’t in the mood for bubbles, maybe try a good Gewürztraminer. Let me know what you pair with this pear salad!

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Spinach and Pear Salad

spinach and pear salad with pumpkin seeds and shredded cheese.

Ripe pears add great fruit flavor to a basic spinach salad. We add a touch of spice to the simple dressing for a salad that might steal the show at your dinner table!

  • Author: Cooking Chat
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Yield: 3 servings
  • Category: salad
  • Method: salad
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

For the vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala spice blend

Other salad ingredients

  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 ripe pear, thinly sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 2 to 3 tbsp shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

Instructions

  1. Make the vinaigrette dressing: combine the olive oil, honey, vinegar and garam masala in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place the spinach in a large salad bowl.
  3. Spoon the vinaigrette over the spinach. Toss to coat the spinach thoroughly with the dressing.
  4. Spread the pear slices over the top of the spinach. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds and shredded Gruyere cheese over the top of the salad, and serve.

Notes

  • This is a good recipe to make if your pears have suddenly gotten a bit overripe. If you’ve got some brown spots on an overripe pear, just cut those brown spots out and use the good fruit.
  • Garam masala is an Indian spice blend. If you don’t have it on hand, you could substitute a mix of curry powder and cinnamon, two of the main ingredients in garam masala. I would do a 2 parts curry to 1 cinnamon ratio.

Keywords: spinach salad, pear recipes, spinach and pear salad

Looking for more ways to use pears? Check out this roundup of pear recipes from Bon Appetit. Or if you’re looking for another tasty salad idea, try our Arugula Salad with Maple Vinaigrette!

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Having Fun at Canobie Lake with Food Allergies http://cookingchatfood.com/canobie-lake-food-allergies/ http://cookingchatfood.com/canobie-lake-food-allergies/#respond Wed, 12 Sep 2018 11:20:08 +0000 http://cookingchatfood.com/?p=9425 Canobie Lake Park is a fun destination on summer and fall weekends. Just in time for the popular Screeemfest event, we bring you this article on having fun at Canobie Lake with Food Allergies. While this article might provide you with some ideas for visiting Canobie, be sure to do your own research to verify that...

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Canobie Lake Park is a fun destination on summer and fall weekends. Just in time for the popular Screeemfest event, we bring you this article on having fun at Canobie Lake with Food Allergies. While this article might provide you with some ideas for visiting Canobie, be sure to do your own research to verify that any restaurant or vendor you try can safely prepare your food and address any food allergy concerns.

flume water ride at Canobie Lake Park.

Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire is one of our thirteen year old son’s favorite places to go. Of course the wide array of fun rides is a big reason B loves to go there, but being able to enjoy a lot of food options that are safe for his food allergies is another reason he loves Canobie. Our son has egg, nut, sesame and dairy food allergies.

We have found Canobie Lake Park to be quite attentive to food allergy concerns. They have a food allergy guide, listing which spots in the park have food with and without various allergens. You can get the guide upon arrival at the park, or download the pdf file here on their website.

The food at Canobie is managed by Sodexo, USA. You can call the Sodexo office at (603) 893-6443 in advance if you wish to discus food allergy issues with them. They will also allow those with food allergies to bring in their own food. For general information on the park, including fall hours, visit the Canobie Lake website.

Ferris wheel at Canobie Lake

Following an incident where someone needed to use an epi-pen back in 2017, Canobie no longer uses nut oil in the fryolators. However, a spokesperson explains that “Due to the nature of peanut oil, we still mark and sign those particular food stands as potentially coming in contact with the oil as it may take a few years to be completely free of any trace oil.”

Let’s give you an idea of what we’ve found to eat at Canobie Lake Park, followed by some of our son’s favorite activities. I also share about the food and beverages I’ve had while stewarding my son and friends at the park. As a reminder, our article might give you ideas of things that worked for B’s food allergies, but always do your own research and ask questions when you visit.

Lunch at Dancing Bear Canteen

Our guy has made a routine of stopping at the Dancing Bear Canteen for lunch. This restaurant is close to the Haunted Mine and the Water Slides and he loves getting ribs there! Most of the items there are safe for his allergies, but a few items do contain egg so we are sure to let the servers know about his allergies.

We learned this year that he typically gets the the Kids Riblet Dinner, plenty of meat and fries for him. During our most recent visit, he simply ordered ribs, and received a huge rack of ribs that cost over $20!

rack of ribs served along with a chicken sandwich at Canobie Lake Park.

rack of ribs and chicken sandwich at Dancing Bear. The riblet meal is enough for most kids!

In addition to the full rack of ribs being way more than he needed, B just recent got braces and isn’t supposed to be eating meat off the bone. When we figured out the mistake, they did also give him the riblet meal without an additional charge. One of B’s friends did his best to work on the ribs, in addition to his burgers. Ah, teenage boys…

I got the pulled chicken sandwich, which was tasty. On this hot summer day, I appreciated being able to wash down my sandwich with a Sam Summer!

chicken sandwich with a beer at Canobie Lake Park.

Note that only some of the eateries at Canobie have adult beverages, so you want to keep that in mind if that is of interest.

Other stops where you can order beer, wine and in some cases other beverages include Portofino and Sons of Liberty Tavern. You can also get beer or wine at a small bar in the entertainment tent, located across from the Yankee Cannonball roller coaster. That ride has a long wait, so if you are waiting for kids doing the coaster that bar can be a nice option!

Dinner at the Trellis

The Trellis has been our go to place for dinner…yes, we typically are at Canobie for two meals, getting there around the park’s opening time and staying to enjoy the park in the dark!

boys eating dinner at the Trellis, a restaurant at Canobie Lake Park.

The Trellis menu provides basic burgers, pizza and salads. The burger basket with fries has worked well for B. He really likes the fries!

When ordering burgers, we always have to be careful that the buns don’t have sesame seeds or eggs, and that they remember not to add cheese. They have been attentive to these points at Canobie.

Fries are another item we always have to be careful about ordering. At some restaurants, everything is going in the deep fryer, including items breaded with egg. We checked and this wasn’t an issue at the Trellis; but always double check yourself when ordering as menus and processes can change. Of course, we make sure there isn’t nut oil used in preparing fries.

The salads at Trellis are a good way to get some veggies in during a day filled with treats not high in their nutritional value!

No adult beverages at the Trellis. Good time to hydrate with some water!

Fried Dough and Other Treats

As much as B loves the allergy safe meals he gets at Canobie, he is probably most excited about their fried dough. It’s his favorite place to get fried dough. Many places fried dough is not safe to order, as the aren’t able to verify it is safe from cross-contamination.

B likes the way they take care of putting on the powdered sugar for you at Canobie. Other places when you are left to your own devices, you might find yourself wearing more powdered sugar than the fried dough!

fried dough with powdered sugar

Our guy says the best place to get fried dough is behind the Trellis, at a stand with a big Fried Dough sign. Pretty easy to figure that out!

Sometimes B gets the fried dough with just the sugar, but he has also checked out and enjoyed it with strawberry topping.

Soft pretzels and Richie’s Slush are also favorite snacks when taking a break between rides. Note that there are a few of the smaller refreshment stands and carts that do carry some nut products, but there is typically a sign to give notice of that.

Favorite Rides and Other Tips

This is an article about having fun at Canobie Lake with food allergies. So of course, we need to touch upon the primary draw at Canobie, the rides!

Boston Tea Party ride at Canobie Lake Park

                Try the Boston Tea Party ride for a big splash!

During his early elementary years, B wasn’t to keen to try out many rides. But at some point a few years ago, it was like a switch was flipped and he was excited to go on a wide range of rides.

This is mostly about visiting with and managing food allergy concerns at Canobie, but in case you’re wondering, our guy’s top 3 rides are the Yankee Cannonball (a classic roller coaster), Boston Tea Party (a big waterslide), and the Psychodrome.

Let us share a few non-food related tips from our multiple visits. First, get there early if you can! We got there at park opening time during our most recent visit, and the boys were able to get on the Psychodrome three times before lunch time.

Another Canobie pro tip: if you get all wet on a water ride, head over to the Turkish twist where the rapid spinning will get you dry quickly. But hold off on the Turkish twist if you’ve just enjoyed some of the aforementioned fried dough!

“scary” creatures at Screeemfest can be fun!

If you’ve been to Canobie on a typical summer day, you should definitely try checking out Screeemfest during the fall. Screeemfest starts on September 22, and runs on weekends through Halloween. There are about five “haunted” attractions to get you in the Halloween spirit. Many of the regular rides, though not the water ones, are also available during Screeemfest.

Be forewarned: the lines for Screeemfest can be as scary as the attractions! It is well worth springing for the “fast pass” that allows you to go to the front of the lines.

Interested in traveling to other New England destinations with food allergies? Check out our Cape Cod Allergy Friendly Restaurants and Ogunquit Allergy Safe Dining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grilled Tilapia with Tomatoes, Olives and Greek Wine Pairing #winePW http://cookingchatfood.com/grilled-tilapia/ http://cookingchatfood.com/grilled-tilapia/#comments Sat, 08 Sep 2018 11:45:34 +0000 http://cookingchatfood.com/?p=9429 Grilled tilapia is delicious topped with a mixture of fresh tomatoes, olives and basil. No surprise that this Greek inspired recipe is delicious paired with a Greek white wine! Our contribution for today’s Greek Wine Pairing Weekend event.  I love Greek food, and of course Greek wine is the natural pairing for it. So I...

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Grilled tilapia is delicious topped with a mixture of fresh tomatoes, olives and basil. No surprise that this Greek inspired recipe is delicious paired with a Greek white wine! Our contribution for today’s Greek Wine Pairing Weekend event. 

grilled tilapia topped with tomatoes and olives and paired with a Greek white wine. Delicious Greek inspired wine pairing! #grilledfish #winepairing #tilapia

I love Greek food, and of course Greek wine is the natural pairing for it. So I was eager to jump into today’s Greek themed Wine Pairing Weekend event host by Cindy from Grape Experiences.

Greek inspired food really is probably a better term for what I make at home. Recipes featuring ingredients like feta cheese, tomatoes and olives conjure up a sense of a sunny Greek island for me–take for instance this Greek lamb stew.

Greek Lamb Stew in a bowl

I’m just using my imagination, though, as I haven’t made it to Greece yet!

Today’s recipe, Grilled Tilapia with Tomatoes and Olives, fits into that Greek inspired food category. Specifically, it was inspired initially by the bottle of Greek white wine we picked up for this #winePW event.

Our Greek Wine for Today: Fteri Moschofilero

Fteri Moschofilero from Troupis Winery is a very good Greek white wine. #GreekWine #whitewineGreek wine is fairly uncommon here in the Boston area. My go-to local wine shop, Pairings, typically carries a few bottles. That seems to the case other places, too. I was on a hunt for some more wine from Abruzzo the other day, and figured while I was at Bin Ends I’d ask for a suggested Greek wine.

They have a pretty wide variety of wine at Bin Ends but but not a lot in the Greek department. The staffer there did give a thumbs up to the 2016 Fteri Moschofilero ($15, 12% ABV) from Troupis Winery, so I decided to go with that. He suggested fish to go with this white wine, so I had a basic sense of direction.

Today’s event prompted me to do a little background reading on Greek wines to place the bottle I picked out in context. Troupis Winery is in Southern Greece, on the Peloponesse peninsula. The winery is located in the high plains of central Mantinea, part of the Fteri wine region that is included in the name of the wine.

map of Greek wine regions.

Greek wine regions — map from Wine Folly

Moschofilero is a white wine grape common in the Mantinea region (also spelled Mantineia). We’ll loop back to talk more about the Moschofilero we opened after we get to the grilled tilapia recipe we cooked up to pair with it.

Grilled Tilapia with Tomatoes and Olives

So I was definitely thinking fish to go with the Moschofilero Greek white wine, but what kind of fish? I figured a white fish would make more sense than the meatier salmon or tuna I often feature here. Tilapia is a good white fish for grilling, so I narrowed my focus to it.

grilled tilapia topped with tomatoes and olives.

I wanted to get some ingredients common to Greek food at work to go with our grilled tilapia. I noted a lot of Greek fish recipes use tomatoes, and August is certainly a good month for tomatoes. I started envisioning grilled tilapia topped with diced fresh tomatoes, combined with some olives and lemon.

The tomato topping for the grilled tilapia needed an herb. Mint is the herb I first associate with Greek food, but the bottle of Moschofilero made mention of basil as an herb that goes with the wine, so I decided to go with that advice.

Moschofilero Paired with Grilled Tilapia

The Troupis Fteri Moschofilero features a bright floral nose. On the palate, pear fruit with notes of vanilla and a bit of salinity. Soft mouthfeel. The first few sips the fruit was more pronounced, but drinking the wine along with the food also brought forth the acidity, which tends to make for happy pairings.

grilled tilapia paired with Greek white wine.

The grilled tilapia had a lot of fresh summer flavor thanks to the tomato and olive topping. The fish paired well with the fruit forward, refreshing Moschofilero white wine. I definitely give this Greek wine pairing for grilled tilapia a thumbs up!

Consider serving the grilled tilapia with our Greek orzo to stay with the Greek theme!

Print

Grilled Tilapia with Tomatoes and Olives

grilled tilapia topped with tomatoes and olives, with a lemon on the side.

Tilapia is a fish that is easy to grill. We top our grilled tilapia with a tasty combination of tomatoes, olives and basil.

  • Author: Cooking Chat
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Category: main
  • Method: grilling
  • Cuisine: Greek

Ingredients

  • 2 tilapia filets, about 4 ozs each
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 olives, sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat a grill to medium high.
  2. Prepare the grilled tilapia topping: combine the tomatoes, basil, lemon juice, olives and half of the olive oil (1/2 tablespoon) in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Combine  the remaining half tablespoon olive oil and pinch of salt in a large bowl.
  4. Rinse and pat dry the tilapia filets. Add the tilapia to the bowl with olive oil, and gently turn over the filets to coat with the oil. Let the fish sit for about 5 minutes.
  5. Spray the grill generously with cooking oil. Take a tilapia fillet out of the bowl, gently shake off the excess olive oil and place the fillet on the grill. Repeat for the other fillet.
  6. Grill for 3 minutes on one side, then carefully flip the fillets to grill for 3 to 4 minutes on the other side. Use a grill spatula to remove the tilapia from the grill to a platter. The fish should be just cooked through to a white color.
  7. Serve the grilled tilapia topped with the tomato basil mixture. Enjoy!

Notes

  • The tilapia can have a tendency to stick on the grill if you don’t have enough oil on the grill. Take care when getting the spatula under the tilapia when turning it over. If a bit of the fish sticks to the grill, that is OK. Move the fish to a clean part of the grill, and scrape the bits that stuck to grill off later.

Keywords: grilled tilapia, Greek food, grilled fish

Greek Wine and Food Pairings from #WinePW

Be sure to check out all the great Wine Pairing Weekend Articles about Greek Wines with food pairings! And join us for a live Twitter chat on the topic, using hashtag #winePW, at 11 a.m. ET and 8 am PT on Saturday, September 8, 2018. You can view past and upcoming Wine Pairing Weekend events here.

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A Simple Burger or Steak with a Special Cab #CabernetDay http://cookingchatfood.com/simple-burger-special-cab/ http://cookingchatfood.com/simple-burger-special-cab/#respond Wed, 29 Aug 2018 11:58:31 +0000 http://cookingchatfood.com/?p=7060 Last year we prepared for Cabernet Day by serving a simple burger with a special Cab the with very good results! The Cab we opened was the 2014 Trilogy Red Wine, sent to me as a complementary sample from Flora Springs Winery in advance of #CabernetDay in 2017. For this year’s version of the event, coming up...

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Last year we prepared for Cabernet Day by serving a simple burger with a special Cab the with very good results! The Cab we opened was the 2014 Trilogy Red Wine, sent to me as a complementary sample from Flora Springs Winery in advance of #CabernetDay in 2017. For this year’s version of the event, coming up on August 30, we enjoyed a bottle of the 2015 Trilogy from Flora Springs. As always, the opinions about the wine are entirely my own. 

Trilogy Cabernet blend from @florasprings in Napa Valley is an excellent wine, and a great way to observe #CabernetDay!

Getting ready for #CabernetDay 2018

We were pleased to receive a bottle of the 2015 Trilogy Red Wine ($80 SRP) from Flora Springs to get ready for #CabernetDay 2018, which is Thursday, August 30. To get ready for the event, we opened this bottle of 2015 Trilogy the other night. What a great bottle of wine to enjoy here on vacation at Cape Cod!

There is so much flavor in this bottle of Trilogy! The wine has jammy black plum fruit, with notes of cocoa and cinnamon. Great structure and a nice long finish. Trilogy is sourced from Flora estate vineyards in Napa, a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec and 8% Petit Verdot.

Last year we paired our bottle of Trilogy with a simple burger. Things got kicked up a notch this year when we enjoyed the Trilogy with some grilled steak my brother in-law cooked up. Definitely a great pairing!

trilogy wine paired with grilled steak.

Whether you go for a simple burger or steak, or maybe just enjoy a bottle of Cabernet on its own, be sure to join the #CabernetDay fun on August 30. Just use that #CabernetDay tag on your social media platform of choice.Flora Springs will be talking about Cabernet and Cab blends all day on its social media channels, with the conversation really picking up at 5:30 pm Pacific time. You can follow them on TwitterInstagramFacebook or Pinterest.

People who Tweet or Instagram with Flora Springs on August 30th using hashtag #CabernetDay and @florasprings in their tweets/posts could win a Flora Springs prize pack. (Must be 21+ to enter. Void where prohibited. Wine will not be included in prize pack.)

Pairing for #CabernetDay 2017

Typically when I splurge on a special bottle of wine I tend to make a meal to match it. If not something super fancy, at least a meal featuring some prime ingredients. So it might be a grilled steak to go with a pricier than usual red, or a long-stirred risotto to go with that Barolo.

A simple burger paired with a special Cabernet can make for a wonderful summer meal!

But sometimes there’s something to be said for a simple meal to go with a special bottle of wine. That’s the way I decided to roll for #CabernetDay in 2017. I received a courtesy sample of the Trilogy Red Wine from Flora Springs in advance of that year’s #CabernetDay.

I don’t open bottles of wine approaching $80 too often, but was getting ready to try the Trilogy during a busy week at home between two summer trips. It wasn’t time to get fancy in the kitchen. Why not grill up some burgers to go with the Trilogy, demonstrating that sometimes you can elevate a simple meal with a special bottle of wine.

simple burger with a special Cab from Flora Springs in Napa.

So I put some grass fed ground beef burgers on the grill, finished with a slice of cheddar cheese. Beef is a natural partner for Cabernet Sauvignon; and Cab also pairs very well with cheddar cheese. As expected, the simple burger with a special cab was a hit! Now, for more on that wine…

2014 Trilogy Red Wine from Flora Springs

The 2014 Trilogy has a dusky nose, with violets and cedar. I get plum fruit, leather and a touch of cinnamon on the palate. I noted the complex layers of flavor, and the pleasant mouthfeel. The official tasting notes mentioned warm cocoa, along with blackberry and black cherry, and I can see that too. I served the wine with a brief 15 minute stop in the fridge to give it a slight chill, a nice touch for serving a red wine on a summer evening.

Trilogy Red Wine from Flora Springs

The Trilogy is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec and 6% Petit Verdot, and comes in at 14.2% ABV. Only 5,050 cases were produced, with grapes sourced from Flora’s best Napa vineyards. The wine was aged for 22 months in 85% French oak, 15% American Oak.

You can get more details on the wine and Flora Springs Cabernet Day observance on their website.

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Leftover Steak Pasta Recipe with Lagrein Wine Pairing http://cookingchatfood.com/leftover-steak-pasta/ http://cookingchatfood.com/leftover-steak-pasta/#comments Mon, 27 Aug 2018 15:35:20 +0000 http://cookingchatfood.com/?p=9402 This Leftover Steak Pasta recipe is a delicious way to use the leftovers from a bone-in steak meal using porterhouse or ribeye. Excellent paired with a Lagrein red wine from Italy’s Alto Adige – Südtirol region. Full disclosure: The wine was sent as a complimentary press sample from Teuwen Communications. Have you ever made a big...

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This Leftover Steak Pasta recipe is a delicious way to use the leftovers from a bone-in steak meal using porterhouse or ribeye. Excellent paired with a Lagrein red wine from Italy’s Alto Adige – Südtirol region. Full disclosure: The wine was sent as a complimentary press sample from Teuwen Communications.

Have some leftover Porterhouse steak with a bit of meat left on the bone? This leftover steak pasta is a delicious way to use it! #leftovers #steak #pasta

Have you ever made a big bone-in steak and felt like you didn’t want to waste the bits of meat left on the bone? This Leftover Steak Pasta recipe is for you!

I had grilled some Bistecca alla Fiorentina, which left two big t-bones from the porterhouse steak with some meat and fat. I had a vision for sticking with the Italian theme, and the result was this delicious leftover steak pasta recipe.

bistecca alla Fiorentina on a platter with red wine in background.

Making Leftover Steak Pasta

The first step in making leftover steak pasta is to cut off any sizable pieces of the steak you don’t eat the first night, if applicable. With three of us working on two big porterhouse steaks, we did have nearly two cups of meat to save.

After removing any of the meat that is easy to cut off, you put the bones in a plastic bag to store for your leftover steak pasta project.

You start the pasta sauce with some onions and garlic. I added a few mushrooms next to deepen the flavor. After adding a can of tomatoes, put those steak bones in there to simmer with the tomatoes.

bones from leftover Porterhouse steak simmering in tomato sauce.

As the steak bone simmers with the tomatoes, the bits of meat and fat on the bone add rich flavor to the sauce. The meat is also easy to get off the bone after it has simmered for awhile.

The sauce gets finished by quickly simmering the meat you get off the bone and the other leftover meat with some white beans. Toss it with some rigatoni and top with cheese for a rich, hearty Italian meal. Which of course calls for a big red Italian wine…

Wine Pairing from Italy’s Alto Adige – Südtirol

leftover steak pasta on a plate.

I had a package of three wines from Italy’s Alto Adige – Südtirol region to sample this summer. The first two, a Gewürztraminer and a Schiava, were perfect for some lighter summer meals on warm evenings. I saved the Lagrein for heartier fare, and this Leftover Steak Pasta was just meal that fit the bill.

Muri-Gries Alto Adige Lagrein is a bold, flavorful red wine from Northern Italy. #wine #Lagrein #AltoAdigeSo I opened the 2017 Muri Gries Alto Adige Lagrein (13.5% ABV) to go with the Leftover Steak Pasta. Inky dark purple in the glass, I got violets, cloves and menthol on the nose. On the palate, blackberry fruit and a smokiness, making me think of bacon.

This Lagrein was very dense when I first opened, and I thought it could benefit from decanting. That was a good call, as after about 30 minutes in the decanter the Lagrein was definitely showing some delicious ripe fruits, and spice notes were becoming more evident. Those spice notes nicely matched the bit of garam masala that I used in the dressing for our spinach pear salad I served on the side.

This big, bold Lagrein from the Alto Adige – Südtirol was definitely a good match for the Leftover Steak Pasta. It would go well with other hearty meat dishes. I’m thinking that spice element would also make this wine a good pairing for a lamb or beef curry.

Lagrein is a red wine grape native to the Alto Adige – Südtirol. The Muri-Gries winery has an interesting history. In 1845, Benedictine monks moved from Muri in Switzerland to the town of Gries in South Tyrol, and picked up on the wine making traditions associated with the property to which they had come. Muri-Gries has a focus on Lagrein but make a number of other wines with The winery continues to be a part of the abbey today — more on the history and wine can be found on the Muri-Gries website.

I’ll be writing an article on the Alto Adige – Südtirol region and the other wines we sampled soon. Meanwhile, this Vinepair article has some good information on the region.

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Leftover Steak Pasta Recipe

leftover steak pasta served on a plate.

Wondering what to do with leftover steak? This leftover steak pasta recipe is a great way to use the leftover bits of meat left on a bone-in steak such as porterhouse or ribeye.

  • Author: Cooking Chat
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 5 servings
  • Category: main
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 leftover steak bones with a bit of meat and fat remaining
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2/3 tsp dried basil
  • sea salt to taste–use Tuscan sea salt if you have it
  • approximately 2 cups leftover steak, cut into bit sized pieces
  • 14 oz can of cannellini beans or other white bean, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ozs rigatoni or other short pasta shape
  • Parmigiano cheese to pass at the table

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the onions, sauté until they become soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir the garlic into the pan, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms along with the 2nd tablespoon of olive, stir and cook until they begin to sweat, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the wine to the pan and stir to combine. Simmer until the wine has mostly been absorbed by the veggies, about 5 more minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, along with the majoram and basil. Salt to taste. Add the steak bones to the pot, turning them over a couple times so that they become well coated with the tomato mixture. Raise the heat to medium high to bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and continue to simmer on medium low. This is a good time to start boiling water for the pasta.
  5. Simmer the sauce with the steak bones for about 15 minutes. Then remove the bones to a large platter, leaving the tomato mixture to simmer as you do this.
  6. Now that the meat on the bone has softened, use a sharp knife to remove edible meat from the bone. Pieces with a combo of meat and fat can be used, but dice them up small. Cut that steak meat into bit sized pieces. Return the meat to the pan, along with any other leftover steak you might have (see notes for more tips).
  7. Stir the meat into the tomato mixture, along with the beans. Continue simmer the pasta sauce while the pasta cooks.
  8. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. When it is cooked to your liking, drain and rinse the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the pot with the tomato steak sauce, and stir to combine.
  9. Plate portions of leftover steak pasta, passing cheese at the table. Enjoy with a big red Italian wine.

Notes

  • The night before making this recipe, I had prepared Bistecca alla Fiorentina. We had 2 porterhouse steaks for that recipe. Three of us put a good dent in the steak, but I was still able to cut off close to 2 cups worth of leftover meat from the bone. That left me with the two bones, which still had a decent amount of meat and fat. I put those bones in a plastic bag and refrigerated to use in today’s recipe.

Keywords: leftover steak, pasta, meat sauce, leftover steak pasta

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Spinach and Mushroom Pasta with Wine from Pietra Pinta http://cookingchatfood.com/spinach-and-mushroom-pasta/ http://cookingchatfood.com/spinach-and-mushroom-pasta/#comments Thu, 23 Aug 2018 22:31:49 +0000 http://cookingchatfood.com/?p=9382 Spinach and Mushroom Pasta, with a bit of prosciutto, makes for a flavorful Italian dish that pairs well with Pietra Pinta Malvasia Puntinata wine. You can skip the prosciutto to make this a vegetarian recipe if you like. Disclosure: I received a complimentary sample of the wine from Bacchus Imports. Here’s a solid wine pairing tip for...

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Spinach and Mushroom Pasta, with a bit of prosciutto, makes for a flavorful Italian dish that pairs well with Pietra Pinta Malvasia Puntinata wine. You can skip the prosciutto to make this a vegetarian recipe if you like. Disclosure: I received a complimentary sample of the wine from Bacchus Imports.

Spinach and Mushroom Pasta, with a bit of prosciutto, is delicious paired with Malvasia Puntinata, a white wine from the Lazio region of Italy. #pasta #winepairing #Italianfood

Here’s a solid wine pairing tip for you: if you have a chance to meet the winemaker, chat about what foods they would eat with the wine, and go with that!

Local wine importer John Maisano, who runs Bacchus Imports, mentioned the opportunity to meet the winemaker from Pietra Pinta, and I was eager to do so. I’d enjoyed a few of their wines before so welcomed a chance to try some more and learn about the winery and the Lazio region of Italy where it is located.

The Ferretti family has been making wine in Lazio since the early 19th century, and created the Pietra Pinta winery around 1880. The winery is located in Cori, about 35 miles south of Rome, on the Western side of the Lepini Mountains. Winds come from the Mediterranean across a plain to Cori at the edge of the mountains, creating a favorable microclimate for wine  grapes.

View of the plain leading to the Mediterranean sea, taken from Cori.

         View of the plain leading to the sea, taken from Cori. Courtesy photo.

The town of Cori actually predates the settlement of Rome — talk about history!

Bruno Ferretti is a sixth generation member of his family to make wine at Pietra Pinta. He greeted us with a big smile as he got ready to share a lineup of his wines.

Winemaker Bruno Ferretti with David Crowley, Cooking Chat.

The smile remained for most of the tasting, briefly disappearing when the subject of Italy not being in the 2018 World Cup came up in conversation. The smile quickly came back as the conversation returned to the wine and food that pairs with it.

Pairings for Malvasia Puntinata

I had spoken to John about coming up with pairings for two of the Pietra Pinta wines. Jodi and I both really enjoyed the Pietra Pinta Chardonnay, but it seemed like the Malvasia Puntinata would make for an interesting pairing as it is unique to the Lazio region.

Malvasia Puntinata, also known as Malvasia del Lazio, is part of the Malvasia white wine grape family that can be found throughout Italy. Winemakers are starting to recognize the quality of Malvasia Puntinata and planting it more frequently, even though it can be difficult to grow.

Bruno mentioned some local cheeses as a possible pairing for his Malvasia Puntinata, then he mentioned mushrooms as a good pairing.

spinach and mushroom pasta served with white wine.

I often think of red wine with mushrooms, but I had the sense that the nuanced qualities of the Malvasia Puntinata could be a good match for mushrooms. That led me to make this Spinach and Mushroom Pasta recipe to pair with the wine.

Making Spinach and Mushroom Pasta

spinach and mushrooms cooking in a skillet.

Spinach and mushroom pasta is a pretty simple preparation. The first time I made it as a vegetarian dish, and it was quite tasty. But I thought our spinach and mushroom pasta could use something to add a bit more flavor, and I thought to add a bit of prosciutto.

For the version of spinach and mushroom pasta presented here, I started by crisping a slice of prosciutto in the skillet, then removing it and proceeding to add the onions followed by the garlic, mushrooms and spinach.

crisping prosciutto in a skillet.

The prosciutto flavors the skillet to start, then gets added back at the end of cooking. I tried this technique before with good results when making Bolognese Sauce with Crispy Prosciutto.

You can certainly make this spinach and mushroom pasta as a vegetarian dish as you like. You can simply skip the step of crisping the prosciutto in the skillet. You might want to a few sliced olives at the end for a bit of that salty flavor, which goes nicely with the wine.

Wine for Spinach and Mushroom Pasta

bottle of Pietra Pinta Malvasia Puntinata

Let’s take a closer look at the 2016 Pietra Pina Malvasia Puntinata ($15, 13% ABV) that we opened to pair with the spinach and mushroom pasta. This Malvasia has a citrusy nose with notes of honeysuckle flower. I get lemon fruit with a bit of almond on the palate. The wine makes for easy sipping, especially on a warm summer evening, but also has layers of flavor and complexity that make it an interesting wine.

              Vineyard at Pietra Pinta.                               Photo provided by winery.

The volcanic soils of the Lazio region are a factor contributing to the minerality of this Malvasia Puntinata. The wines are produced using sustainable methods.

Those nuanced flavors did match up well with the mushrooms in our pasta dish, as Bruno suggested. I was nibbling on a bit of prosciutto and sipping the wine while cooking up the most recent batch of spinach and mushroom pasta. Noting how well the prosciutto went on its own with the Malvasia Puntinata, I was pleased that I thought to add prosciutto to the recipe. It definitely the dish from a good pairing to a very good one, that I would definitely encourage you to repeat!

If you like this pairing, stay tuned to see what I cook up with the Nero Buono from Pietra Pinta!

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Spinach and Mushroom Pasta

spinach and mushroom pasta on a plate.

Spinach and mushrooms tossed with linguine and some crispy prosciutto for a simple Italian meal. Excellent served with a white wine from Pietra Pinta.

  • Author: Cooking Chat
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: main
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 1 thin slice of prosciutto
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ozs button mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 cups baby spinach, tightly packed
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano cheese, shredded, plus more to pass at table
  • 10 ozs linguine – I like to use whole wheat
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet to medium, and coat with oil spray. Add the slice of prosciutto, and cook for abut 5 minutes, turning once. This will get the prosciutto a bit browned and crispy. Remove and set aside on a plate to cool.
  2. Add the olive oil to the same skillet you used for the prosciutto, keeping heat on medium. Add the onion, and lower heat to medium low when it starts to sizzle. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, so the onion begins to caramelize. While the onion is beginning to cook, start boiling water for pasta.
  3. Add the garlic to the skillet, stir, and cook for a minute so the garlic starts to get fragrant. Then stir in the mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste. Add a bit of extra olive oil if the skillet seems very dry at this point.
  4. Cook the mushrooms until they begin to sweat, which takes about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooking wine, followed by the thyme and rosemary. Raise the heat back up to medium to bring to a simmer, then lower a bit to finish cooking the mushrooms.
  5. When the mushrooms have cooked for a total of about 10 minutes, stir in the spinach. Cover the pan, and finish cooking on medium low.
  6. Begin cooking the pasta according to package instructions around the time you add the wine to the pan. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain the pasta. Toss immediately with the spinach and mushrooms sauce. Stir in the Parmigiano, and about half of the prosciutto.
  7. Plate the spinach and mushroom pasta, and pass additional cheese and prosciutto for people to add to top their pasta. Enjoy with a good glass of Italian wine!

Notes

  • You can skip adding the prosciutto to prepare this as a vegetarian dish. I made it the first time without the prosciutto; and thought it could use a little something else. So if skipping the prosciutto you might consider adding a few sliced olives for additional flavor.
  • I used whole wheat linguine for this dish, but you could use other shapes. Farfalle (bow ties) could work well.

Keywords: pasta, mushroom pasta, Malvasia wine, wine pairing, spinach and mushroom pasta

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Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak) with Il Poggione Wine http://cookingchatfood.com/bistecca-alla-fiorentina/ http://cookingchatfood.com/bistecca-alla-fiorentina/#comments Sun, 19 Aug 2018 12:57:25 +0000 http://cookingchatfood.com/?p=9366 This Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak) adapts a traditional Italian recipe for the gas grill. A delicious and easy steak recipe! We paired our Bistecca alla Fiorentina with Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino. Full Disclusure: the main ingredients for the recipe and the wine pairing were provided by Il Poggione and Terlato Wines. Would I be interested...

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This Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak) adapts a traditional Italian recipe for the gas grill. A delicious and easy steak recipe! We paired our Bistecca alla Fiorentina with Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino. Full Disclusure: the main ingredients for the recipe and the wine pairing were provided by Il Poggione and Terlato Wines.

Bistecca all Fiorentina (Florentine Steak), a delicious and easy Italian steak recipe adapted for a gas grill, with Tuscan wine pairing. #steak #grilling #winepairing #sponsored

Would I be interested in trying a traditional Bistecca alla Fiorentina recipe? Well, when I got a package complete with grilling tools, Tuscan sea salt, red wine and olive from Il Poggione, it didn’t take much convincing!

ingredients for Bistecca all Fiorentina

As I read the Bistecca alla Fiorentina recipe that came with the package, I realized I would have to do some adjustments first, as I use a gas grill. More on that in a moment; first let’s cover some basics about Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

What is Bistecca alla Fiorentina?

Bistecca alla Fiorentina translates in English to Florentine steak. Although we know it as a classic Italian recipe, the history of the Bistecca alla Fiorentina dish starts with a rise in people from England settling around Florence in the 19th century. They brought with them new cuts of beef, including the porterhouse cut that is used for Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

The porterhouse cut has the large “T bone” with one side being the portion used for a NY strip steak, and the smaller piece is the filet. Yes, porterhouse is a cost effective way of getting some of the meat we enjoy with filet mignon!

preparing porterhouse steak to make Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a simple preparation using just a few ingredients. The porterhouse is prepared with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, and grilled fairly briefly over high heat, potentially finished over indirect heat as I did. Rosemary sprigs and lemon are also typical ingredients in the preparation of Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Making Bistecca alla Fiorentina on a Gas Grill

Bistecca all Fiorentina is traditionally prepared over charcoal, with the steak close to the coals to seal the juices in by quickly getting a dark crust on both sides of the steak, leaving the insides a reddish pink.

Alas, we have a basic gas grill here so we needed to adapt the Bistecca all Fiorentina for our grill. We aim to duplicate the process of starting the steak on direct heat for the first 6 minutes, then moving it to the back of the grill to cook over indirect heat.

porterhouse steaks on the grill.

To use the combination of direct and indirect heat using a three burner gas grill, start the grill and preheat it with the front two nobs set to medium high heat, and leave the back burner off. This sets you up to grill on direct heat near the front of the grill, and indirect heat near the back.

With the oil on the steak, not to mention fat content, you may start to get some flare ups when cooking on direct heat with the grill covered. Stay close to the grill to keep an eye on this, as you don’t want the flareups to get out of control. If you start seeing flames, carefully open the grill cover (with a grill glove on) to let some oxygen in to reduce the flames. Continue to to the direct heat cooking with the grill open of the flareups seem to be significant.

Wine with Bistecca alla Fiorentina

bistecca alla Fiorentina on a platter with red wine in background.

Of course, a big red wine from Tuscany is the natural pairing for Bistecca alla Fiorentina. We opened the 2016 Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino ($27, 14%) to pair with the steak. Brick red in the glass, with a fresh nose. This Rosso di Montalcino is jammy and fruit forward on the palate, a lush flavor profile that makes it a great match for the delicious grilled meat. An excellent pairing!

Tenuta Il PoggioneIl Poggione Rosso di Montalcino is an excellent, approachable red wine made from Sangiovese grapes. #wine #ItalianWine #sponsored also produces very well-regarded Brunello, which of course is at a higher price point. Perhaps save trying that for the more complex fall and winter dishes. The younger Sangiovese grapes that comprise the Rosso di Montalcino are perfect for the Bistecca alla Fiorentina!

Tenuta Il Poggione is located in Sant’Angelo, about 10 miles south of the hill town of Montalcino. Its vineyards range from 495 feet to 1475 feet above sea level, and benefit from the proximity to Mount Amiata and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Montalcino is certainly most well known for its red wine made from Sangiovese grapes. Both Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello must be 100% Sangiovese; unlike a Chianti which requires only 85% Sangiovese. Learning more about the region on this page, I see there is also a white Montalcino made from Muscat blanc. Looks like a great wine region to visit!

For another hearty meal from this region, try our Tuscan Beef Stew!

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Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak)

Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak) on a platter.

A traditional recipe for Bistecca all Fiorentina (Florentine Steak) adapted for a gas grill. A simple and delicious grilled steak recipe! Adaptation based on recipe provided by Il Poggione.

  • Author: Cooking Chat
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 3 servings
  • Category: main
  • Method: grilling
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 1 bone-in porterhouse steak, appx. 22 ozs and about 1 1/4 inch thick.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Tuscan sea salt (Amazon link for the kind I used, more info in notes)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (optional)
  • lemon wedges for serving

Instructions

  1. Bring the porterhouse steak to room temperature by taking it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to preparing the Bistecca all Fiorentina.
  2. Pat the steak dry with a paper towel. Spread 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top of the steak, the sprinkle half of the sea salt over the first side of the steak. Let the steak sit for 5 minutes to absorb the oil and salt, then flip the steak over to repeat the process–spreading the remaining olive oil and salt over the second side of the steak.
  3. Let the steak sit for about 10 minutes after coating it with the oil and salt. Preheat the grill to medium high during this time. Leave one back burner off, so that you have a place to grill using indirect heat.
  4. Place the steak on the grill, near the front, to begin grilling with direct heat. Cover the grill, and grill for about 3 minutes, then flip the steak to grill the other side on direct heat for another 3 minutes. Watch the steak closely; if you see flareups starting, open the cover to reduce the flaming.
  5. After 6 minutes of grilling on direct heat, move the steak to the rear of the grill to continue cooking on indirect heat, with the grill covered. If you are using the optional rosemary sprigs, use them to brush some additional olive oil on top of the steak.
  6. Grill on indirect heat for 6 to 12 more minutes, depending on how hot your grills is and how you like your steak cook. Check for doneness after 6 minutes of indirect cooking, to avoid overcooking, but you may need more in the 10 to 12 minute range.
  7. When you have grilled the steak to your liking, remove the steak to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the meat across the grain, into strips of steak for serving. Serve with lemon wedges and a good bottle of Tuscan wine, such as Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino.  Enjoy!

Notes

  • I used the AG Ferrari Tuscan Sea Salt blend, which has rosemary, garlic, sage and ground pepper. You could either use a similar Tuscan sea salt blend, or use regular plain sea salt along with about a teaspoon of dried rosemary and half teaspoon of garlic powder.

Keywords: grilled steak, Tuscan recipes, Italian steak recipes, Sangiovese pairings

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Orzo with Spinach and White Beans http://cookingchatfood.com/orzo-with-spinach/ http://cookingchatfood.com/orzo-with-spinach/#comments Wed, 15 Aug 2018 11:58:57 +0000 http://cookingchatfood.com/?p=9351 Orzo with spinach, white beans and tomatoes for a pasta dish that can serve as a side or a vegetarian main. Excellent with a Cerasualo rosé wine from Abruzzo. Orzo is one of my favorite pasta shapes, especially in the summer. The small size makes it a light accompaniment to a wide variety of dishes....

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Orzo with spinach, white beans and tomatoes for a pasta dish that can serve as a side or a vegetarian main. Excellent with a Cerasualo rosé wine from Abruzzo.

Orzo with spinach, white beans and other veggies is a delicious side dish or vegetarian main. #orzo #sidedish

Orzo is one of my favorite pasta shapes, especially in the summer. The small size makes it a light accompaniment to a wide variety of dishes.

I often toss orzo with spinach and other veggies on hand. In this case, I used some of the same ingredients I had on hand for Pan Seared Tuna Steak with Olive Relish. This orzo with spinach, white beans and tomatoes made a nice side dish for the tuna.

Adding beans to orzo gives the pasta additional substance and nutrition. Although I served the orzo as a side, it could definitely be enjoyed as a vegetarian main too.

For another tasty idea of how to combine orzo and seafood, check out our Orzo with Grilled Swordfish and Kale Pesto recipe.

Making Orzo with Spinach and White Beans

orzo with spinach, beans and vegetables on a plate.

In this orzo with spinach recipe, only the onions, bell pepper and garlic get cooked before adding it to the pasta. The other ingredients, including the spinach and white beans, get tossed with the cooked pasta right after it is drained. This gives the dish more of a salad quality to it, with some raw veggies, although it is served warm.

Wine Pairing for Orzo with Spinach

Orzo with Spinach paired with a Cerasualo rosé wine from Abruzzo.As I mentioned, I made this orzo to serve with Pan Seared Tuna Steak. I correctly anticipated the 2017 Le Murate Cerasualo d’Abruzzo ($15)from Fattoria Nicodemi would be a good pairing for this orzo with spinach as well as the tuna. Cerasaulo is a full-bodied rosé made from Montepulciano grapes.

The Cerasualo from Nicodemi is a good expression of this type of wine. Bright floral nose, with cherry fruit and a hint of citrus. A well-structured wine, with more substance than most rosés. But it still had enough nuance and flavor to work well with the orzo with spinach.

Nicodemi was the first winery I visited on a press trip to Abruzzo this spring. Brother and sister Elena and Alessandro have done a great job building on tradition at this family winery while growing their business.  The winery is 300 meters above sea level and about 10 kilometers from the Adriatic Sea, with views of the Gran Sasso Mountain on clear morning. They make wines using organic methods, producing some 200,000 bottles per year. Learn more about the winery at the Nicodemi website.

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Orzo with Spinach and White Beans

Orzo tossed with spinach, white beans and tomatoes for a pasta dish that can serve as a side or a vegetarian main.

  • Author: Cooking Chat
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: Sauté
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Ingredients

  • 10 ozs orzo
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 orange or red bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes — fresh or canned, depending on season
  • 6 olives, sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 14.5 oz can of cannellini beans

Instructions

  1. Begin boiling a pot of water for the orzo.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the pepper to the skillet, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic, cook for another minute until it become fragrant. Lower heat and cover skillet while the orzo cooks.
  5. Cook the orzo based on package instructions once the water starts boiling.
  6. When the orzo is cooked, drain and toss immediately with the remaining olive oil, the pepper and onion mixture, spinach and tomatoes. Stir over low heat to combine ingredients.
  7. Add the feta cheese, olives and parsley. Stir to combine, then serve.

Keywords: orzo recipes, orzo with spinach, orzo with beans

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Rias Baixas Albariño with Summer Party Nibbles #winePW http://cookingchatfood.com/rias-baixas-albarino/ http://cookingchatfood.com/rias-baixas-albarino/#comments Sat, 11 Aug 2018 12:16:33 +0000 http://cookingchatfood.com/?p=9335 Today we share about the summer party food pairings we tried with a very good bottle of Rias Baixas Albariño. Read on to learn more about this Spanish wine region and some of the pairings we enjoyed. Disclosure: The wine discussed in this post was provided as a complimentary sample.  The “Crisp Whites from Spain and...

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Today we share about the summer party food pairings we tried with a very good bottle of Rias Baixas Albariño. Read on to learn more about this Spanish wine region and some of the pairings we enjoyed. Disclosure: The wine discussed in this post was provided as a complimentary sample. 

a crisp Rias Baixas Albariño makes a good pairing for shrimp.

The “Crisp Whites from Spain and Portugal” Wine Pairing Weekend theme was perfectly timed! We’ve been in the midst of a hot, humid stretch of weather that makes me think we’d moved to the South. But New England has its share of the dog days, too. So crisp white wines hit the spot here! Thanks to Culinary Adventures with Camilla for hosting!

We’ve had plenty of weather here to opening the Rias Baixas Albariño we had waiting in the wings for this #winePW. With baseball games on the calendar almost every night, I realized I wasn’t going to have to to cook a special dish designed to pair with the Albariño. Instead, I thought I’d open this up to sample along with a variety of appetizers being served at the start of a recent summer birthday party.

Before I get into the details of the Rias Baixas Albariño, lets learn more about this delicious Spanish white wine.

Rias Baixas Albariño

Rias Baixas means “Lower Rias”, referring to the four estuaries in this region of Galicia on the Northwestern coast of Spain. The area is comprised of five distinct sub-regions: Ribeira do Ulla, Val do Salnés, Soutomaior, Condado do Tea and O Rosal. The Albariño we samples is from Val do Salnés, the region known as the birthplace of Albariño.

While 12 grapes are allowed in the Rias Baixas DO, 96% of the wine produced is from the Albariño grape. The Rias Baixax Wines website, a good source for more information on the region, explains about how the grape is grown in the region:

Vines are traditionally widely spaced and trained on stone pergolas hewn of the same granite as the soils below. To counter the region’s rainfall and humidity, most vines are trained on a wire trellis called a “parra” anchored by granite posts.

Yields are low in the region, and the grapes are delivered to the winery as quickly as possible to avoid oxidation. You can definitely taste that freshness when you pour a glass of Rias Baixas Albariño!

Summer Party Nibbles with Albariño

The Granbazan Etiqueta Ambar Albariño is a good expression of this wine from the Rias Baixas region of Spain. We got to try the Granbazan Etiqueta Ambar Rias Baixas Albariño (13% ABV) for this event. The Etiqueta Ambar is the signature wine from Granbazan, made from the oldest vines on the estate.

I got honey on the nose of this Albariño, and it was very refreshing as expected. Melon and ripe pear fruit on the palate, with notable minerality.

I wasn’t going to do much cooking coming back from a baseball doubleheader with temps in the mid 90s. We started by nibbling on some foods brought by guests, with no expectation that the items were going to be tested out with Albariño.

The Rias Baixas Albariño paired quite well with the Trader Joe’s Garlic Dip, served with pita chips. The crispness of the Albariño and the ripe fruit seemed to offset the garlic flavor.

I also put out some olives to try with the wine, having read that salty dishes work well with  Albariño. I give the olives with Rias Baixas Albariño a thumbs up! Looking back in the photo reminds me I also had a bit of Serrano ham available, which also was complimented nicely by the Albariño.

albarino with a spread of appetizers.

As you might expect, the Albariño wasn’t a great match for the melted Camembert cheese toasts. Tasty app though!

I got the grill fired up to serve some kielbasa sausage. Rias Baixas Albariño isn’t what I’d think of to pair with sausage, but it matched up pretty well the the meaty flavors and the mustard.

Granbazan Albariño pairs well with shrimp.Not surprisingly, the Rias Baixas Albariño paired the best with the Easy Sautéed Shrimp I made per request of the birthday boy. Our newly minted teen wasn’t thinking about the wine pairing aspect of the shrimp, but I knew this was bound to be a good match. The minerality and crispness of the Albariño is a perfect partner for shellfish. Further enhancing the pairing is the saltiness of the soy marinade I use for the shrimp.

Our experimenting with Rias Baixas Albariño paired with summer party nibbles reinforces that proven pairing of Albariño and shellfish, but also demonstrates that Albariño is a versatile wine that can go with many other foods you might not initially consider.

So the next time you are hosting a gathering, especially in the warm weather, consider opening an Albariño to enjoy as you get the party started!

About Granbazan Rias Baixas Winery

I’ve enjoyed other Rias Baixas Albariño but this was my first chance to try a wine from Granbazan. The winery is owned by Manuel Otero and nephew Jesus Alvarez.

Granbazan is located in Tremoedo, 3 kilometers from the sea. The vineyards are in the heart of the Salnes valley subzone of Rias Baixas, an area known for producing fresh, mineral-driven Albariño. The winery has 17 hectares of estate vineyards, producing half a million bottles per year, all of it made from Albariño grapes.

More about Crisp Whites from Spain and Portugal

Be sure to read more about crisp whites from Spain and Portugal from my fellow Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers!

Be sure to check out all the great Wine Pairing Weekend Articles about Crisp Whites from Spain and Portugal! And join us for a live Twitter chat on the topic, using hashtag #winePW, at 11 a.m. ET and 8 am PT on Saturday, August 11, 2018. You can view past and upcoming Wine Pairing Weekend events here.

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