Venison Stew

Over the last month, there have been many new additions to my little kitchen that I’ve been waiting to share with you.

We got a few new plates for Christmas! We broke a few dinner plates over the last year. We had three plates left around October. I began to worry how we were going to have friends over for meals if we didn’t even own enough plates to eat said dinner on. I love having a full set again, even if they aren’t an exact match.

I also got a lovely, pre-seasoned, cast iron dutch oven as a Christmas gift. Actually, it’s what I used to cook this lovely stew. I love it as well! I’ve read through the instruction manual and am fairly confident I will be able to take care of it. Any tips for maintaining cast iron cookware?

Finally, I splurged after the holiday… but it’s totally worth it! A department store in the area is going out of business (actually, I think the final day was over the weekend). I went in looking for a potato masher. And once I found this small appliance, I completely forgot about the potato masher and contemplated a bigger purchase… a KitchenAid Stand Mixer! The pros: It was half price and worked. The cons: No package or instruction manual and there’s a missing screw, so the KitchenAid decal does not fasten to the front of the mixer. I’m pretty excited about this purchase and have already used it to make breakfast (potato pancakes) and am planning some banana bread for later this week.

Venison Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, divided – approximate cost $0.10
  • 220 grams (about 1/2 pound) bacon, chopped – approximate cost $3.00
  • 575 grams (about 1 1/4 pounds) venison stewing meat (chopped into approximately 1/2 inch cubes) – approximate cost $12.00
  • 5 small carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 large sweet onions, roughly chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 220 grams (about 1/2 pound) crimini mushrooms, quartered – approximate cost $2.50
  • 2 cups red wine (I used Catastrophe Red, made by Cattail Creek Winery) – approximate cost $6.00
  • 4 cups beef broth – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 156ml can of tomato paste – approximate cost $0.60
  • 8 small potatoes, quartered (I used Klondike Gold Dust potatoes) – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Preheat a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the bacon and cook until crispy.
  3. Remove and set aside.
  4. Brown the venison meat
  5. Remove and set aside.
  6. Heat 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil in a large pot.
  7. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften and brown (about 5-7 minutes).
  8. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  9. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned (about 5 minutes).
  10. Add the bacon and venison back into the pot.
  11. Mix well.
  12. Add the carrots and mix in.
  13. Add the red wine, beef broth, rosemary, and thyme.
  14. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  15. Cover and cook for at least 2 hours.
  16. Prepare the potatoes about half way through cooking the stew.
    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Place the potato pieces in baking dish.
    3. Toss potatoes with 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil and salt.
    4. Roast for about 40 minutes (or until potatoes are browned and tender).
  17. Stir the tomato paste into the stew, stirring constantly until it is mixed in.
  18. Add the potatoes and mix well.
  19. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $5.24 per serving).

Wednesday Link Parties

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Main Dish: Duck Breast with Port Reduction

And now for the main attraction! (Sorry to my readers who don’t eat meat, I don’t have any alternative suggestions for you today)

I’ve made duck a handful of times, using the same recipe time-after-time. Why? Because it’s delicious, savory, and not too complicated. I’ll admit, it’s not exactly pretty. But it tastes wonderful.

The first time I was going to make duck at home (about 4 years ago when I was still living with roommates), I went through hundreds of recipes online, looking for just the right one. My Nana had suggested duck l’orange, immediately afterwards reminiscing on how the duck was oily and she only made it the one time, never revisiting the recipe. I was determined not to make the duck using this recipe for fear of a similar lackluster experience.

Instead, the recipe I’m sharing today came about by researching like crazy then making something entirely different. I wish I could recall which recipes are mashed-up to create this dish, but it’s changed so often over the years that the recipe has since become my own.

Have you recently made a dish that started as a found recipe but has, over time, become your own?

Duck Breast

Ingredients

  • 3 duck breasts – approximate cost $30.00
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 teaspoons grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Score the skin on each duck breast.
  3. Season each piece with sea salt and black pepper.
  4. Heat 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil in a frying pan on medium-low heat.
  5. Place the duck breast, skin side down, in the frying pan.
  6. Cook until the layer of fat under the skin begins to reduce and the skin is browned.
  7. Turn and cook until the flesh is browned.
  8. Remove to a baking dish.
  9. Pour any remaining oil/fat into a separate pot.
  10. Repeat for the remaining duck breasts.
  11. Move baking dish with duck breasts to the oven.
  12. Bake until the juices run clear (about 15-20 minutes).
  13. Allow duck breasts to rest at room teamperature for 5 minutes before serving.

Port Reduction

Ingredients

  • Leftover duck fat/grapeseed oil from cooking
  • 2 cups chicken stock – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3/4 cup port wine – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme – approximate cost $0.25

Method

  1. Combine chicken stock, fat/oil, port, and thyme in a pot.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat.
  3. Cook for about 30-45 minutes (or until reduced by about half), there should be about 1 1/4 cups of liquid
  4. Strain thyme from mixture.
  5. Drizzle over duck breasts and pour remaining sauce into a bowl for serving.

Makes 3 servings (approximate cost: $11.60 per serving).

Monday Link Parties

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Rabbit Braised in White Wine

My parents tell me that rabbit was one of my favourite foods as a child. Yet, I don’t remember eating it, ever (nor do I remember seeing it for sale at the grocery store). I have trouble believing I was so adventuresome with my food choices at the time.

So, when rabbit was available at work, I quickly text messaged Bryan, asking him if we should give it a try. It was a bit more expensive than what we would usually buy for dinner, so I wanted to consult with him about whether I was being a bit too spontaneous with my food purchases.

I hummed and hawed over the purchase. Bryan was more than willing to give it a try. He was more confident than I was about my ability to turn it into something edible for dinner.

Was I going to like it? Would it be too much over our usual budget? Have I progressed enough as a cook to take on something like this? It still kind of looked like a rabbit… could I bring myself to cook it?

At the end of the day… it was still there, so I wrapped it up and decided to buy it. Worst case scenario I botch it and we order pizza instead.

Well, I cooked it, ate it, and enjoyed it very much. Bryan seemed to enjoy it a lot as well. We had leftovers for a few days and I found it was best reheated in the oven as opposed to the microwave.

Have you ever been nervous about cooking dinner? If so, what is it that you were nervous about cooking? What made you nervous?

Rabbit Braised in White Wine

Adapted from Rabbit with White Wine from Canadian Living

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit, cut into bite-sized pieces – approximate cost $15.00
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoons black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon butter – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced – approximate cost $1.00
  • 4 carrots, sliced – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 package (about 500 grams) crimini mushrooms – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 cup white wine (I used Silver Point Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand) – approximate cost $1.75
  • 1 cup chicken broth – approximate cost $1.50
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (I used fresh rosemary from my garden, but 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves would work as well) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 baguette (for serving) – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag.
  2. Add rabbit pieces (in batches).
  3. Shake the flour mixture to coat the rabbit pieces.
  4. Repeat until all pieces are coated in flour.
  5. In large pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat.
  6. Brown rabbit pieces (in small batches).
  7. Transfer browned rabbit pieces to a large baking dish.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Reduce heat to medium.
  10. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the pot.
  11. Add onion pieces, carrots, and a few tablespoons of the remaining flour mixture.
  12. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion pieces soften.
  13. Add crimini mushrooms and garlic.
  14. Cook for about 1 minute (garlic will become fragrant).
  15. Add white wine and chicken stock.
  16. Bring to a boil (mixture should begin to thicken).
  17. Remove from heat and pour over rabbit pieces.
  18. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, and lemon juice.
  19. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes (or until the rabbit pieces are cooked through).
  20. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving with a piece of baguette as a side (and a glass of leftover wine).

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $4.93 per serving).

Monday Link Parties

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Beef Burgers with Asian-Inspired Flavours

One of my blogging goals I set for myself is to post three times per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), except on those really busy weeks when I can’t meet those goals. To help me continue motivating myself and working towards my blogging goals, I’ve decided to start participating in What’s Cooking Wednesday – a weekly blog hop/link party hosted by The King’s Court IVTurning The Clock Back, and Confessions of an Overworked Mom. I’m excited to be participating!


As you can probably tell, I’ve been making a lot of burgers lately. Earlier this week, I shared the chicken burgers with smoked paprika and rosemary that my brother and I prepared for mom’s birthday.

Bryan visits a friend on weekends who owns a barbecue. The get-together is of the ‘bring your own food to throw on the grill’ sort. So, I’ve used this as an opportunity to play with adding various seasonings to burgers. This burger with Asian-inspired flavours is his favourite so far.

I kept a few at home to try myself and it is quite tasty! I especially like it topped with avocado mayo. I would have preferred avocado slices, but none of the avocados at the grocery store were ripe and I didn’t have time to wait for them to ripen.

Bryan has asked me to make this again (even though he ate them just the other week). While I enjoyed these as well, I declined so I can experiment with a few more types of burgers. Surprisingly, he is ok with this (I was half expecting that he would be disappointed). Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when he complimented my saying he loves when I experiment while dreaming up what we will have for dinner.

What are your favourite flavours to add to (beef) burger patties?

Beef Burgers with Asian-Inspired Flavours

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1 egg – approximate cost $0.35
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (or white wine) – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (more if you’d like it spicy) – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 4 hamburger buns – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Combine the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, dark soy sauce, mirin (or white wine), lemon juice, chili flakes, sesame oil and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly using your hands (but be careful not to over-work the meat, that will make it tough).
  3. Divide the beef mixture into 4 portions.
  4. Shape each portion into a burger patty.
  5. Cook the burger patties any way you like!
    1. Barbecue the burgers until cooked through and slightly toast the buns.
    2. Fry the burgers over medium-high heat.
    3. Grill the burgers on a counter-top grill.
    4. Broil the burgers in the oven, turning once to cook both sides.
  6. Serve on hamburger buns with your favourite toppings!

Serving Suggestions

Serve with slices of your favourite vegetables and condiments.

Vegetables

  • Red onion
  • Green onions
  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Avocado

Condiments

  • Mayo
  • Japanese mayo
  • Avocado mayo
  • Ketchup

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.85 per serving + toppings and condiments).

Fresh Fish Chowder from Relish Cooking Studio

I was so nervous eating this fresh fish chowder. I have a lactose sensitivity (thank goodness it’s not an intolerance, I couldn’t give up my small amounts of whipped cream, cheese, etc.). It’s not that I can’t eat milk products, I just have to be careful and enjoy them in moderation. And, if I think there might be a problem, take preventative measures by ingesting a “dairy digestive supplement” before the meal. This meal calls for heavy whipping cream… so I took two. Because I wanted to enjoy both this dish and the rest of the meal.

Chef Mark offered to make a soup just for me with a tomato broth as the base. This would have made it lactose free. However, despite his generosity, I declined because I really wanted to taste the chowder recipe as it was meant to be.

If I make this recipe again at home (probably during the winter when we tend to enjoy more soups), I will try out the tomato broth and exclude the cream.

This part of the demo was especially fun, because not only did Chef Mark teach us how to choose fish from the store, he also taught us how to cut a whole fish into fillets. He even allowed someone from the audience to give it a try! (Unfortunately, I didn’t speak up fast enough to try, but I’m confident that, with the right knife, I wouldn’t do a terrible job filleting a fish!)

Have you made fish chowder at home? What kind of soup base do you enjoy? Cream? Tomato? Something else entirely?

Fresh Fish Chowder

Recipe by (and posted with permission from) Chef Mark Brown, demonstration at Relish Cooking Studio

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon butter – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups) – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 1/2 cups clam juice – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 bay leaf – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 pounds firm white fish (such as sea bass), pin bones removed, fillets cut into 2-inch pieces – approximate cost $20.00
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy (or whipping) cream (so the brother won’t curdle, do not substitute milk) – approximate cost $2.00
  •  2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the wine.
  4. Cook uncovered until the wine reduces by half.
  5. Add the potatoes, clam juice, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  6. Bring to a simmer.
  7. Lower heat to medium setting.
  8. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are almost done (10-15 minutes).
  9. Lower heat to low setting.
  10. Add fish pieces and cream to the pot of potatoes.
  11. Cook over low heat, uncovered, until the fish is just cooked through (about 10 minutes).
  12. Mix in the parsley.
  13. Allow soup to rest for 30 minutes before serving (the flavours will improve).
  14. Serve with a side of fresh bread.

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $4.68 per serving).

Beef Heart with Shaoxing Wine Sauce

I’m constantly looking for ways to save money on our meals. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to cut costs from our weekly grocery bill is the eat offal. I am lucky that my family raised me to eat these cuts of meat without fuss. I’m thankful that Bryan is an adventuresome eater and tries nearly everything I put in front of him without complaint.

My favourite grocery store always has an abundant stock of hearts, liver, feet, tongues, etc. One of my worries when we started eating these cuts of meat was that we would get bored of it over time, that there were only a few ways to prepare these dishes.

Of course, that led me to read recipes and wanting to experiment with cooking. Here’s a few of my favourite recipes about eating offal:

The dish I prepared was completely different from those I read about. As I was reading through the blogs, I was craving Chinese food. I didn’t find many Asian-inspired recipes for eating offal, although I’m sure they’re out there. If you know of any, please point me towards them!

Beef Heart with Shaoxing Wine Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 beef heart, trimmed (here’s a great tutorial on YouTube) – approximate cost $3.50
  • 5 garlic cloves, halved – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 cup Shaoxing wine – approximate cost $1.00
  • ⅓ cup dark soy sauce – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 cups water

Method

  1. Cut beef heart into bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add beef heart pieces to the pot and brown the meat.
  4. When the meat is almost completely browned, add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and water.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  7. Place a lid on the pot and cook for at least 2 hours (Add more water as it cooks if it looks like it is boiling away).
  8. In a measuring cup, combine cornstarch and a small amount of cold water, stirring until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.
  9. Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the pot and stir until thickened.
  10. Serve in bowls with plenty of sauce.

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.94 per serving).

Belated Valentine’s Day Post

Valentine’s Day was as fantastic as we planned. Not everything went according to plan (I made numerous last minute changes to our menu), but we had a wonderful evening together nonetheless. The evening began with a romantic round of Super Smash Brothers Brawl in which we battled our favourite video game characters for an hour or so while dinner was cooking. We played on a team against two computer-controlled characters. See… we did something co-operative, that’s romantic and coupley, right? Whether or not this is your ideal way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we very much enjoyed the night in together, away from overly-crowded restaurants and prices that make us think we might need to drop out of school to pay for our dinner (Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit about the price of eating out once in a while).

The dinner, however, was one to remember for a while. Rib-eye steaks, roasted potatoes and carrots, and asparagus with a miso sauce. By the time we got half way through dinner, we decided that dessert (red velvet cheesecake) would have to wait until another day.

Rib-eye steaks au jus

These were some of the best steaks we have ever had at home. We don’t have a barbecue, so we tend to avoid making steak at home and prefer to enjoy it when visiting friends and family. The steaks were a bit on the expensive side, but I don’t regret splurging on an occasion! Also, the steaks were large enough that we enjoyed them over two meals.

The au jus recipe is adapted from a recipe at Steamy Kitchen. Despite making a few changes… it was so flavourful! I enjoyed the au jus more so that that which you would get at a typical pub. I wish I made more. For dipping with bread. For hot beef sandwiches. One of us may or may not have licked our plate clean before cleaning up the meal. I want more…

Ingredients

  • 2 rib-eye steaks (bone in) – approximate cost $12.00
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 carrots, sliced into quarters – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 whole head garlic, broken into quaters (leave the skin on) – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/4 cup of butter– approximate cost $.63
  • 1/2 cup red wine – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 cup water

Method

  1. Freeze the steaks (Yes, seriously, I was trying out a tip from The Kitchn).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Heat butter in a frying pan and sear the frozen steaks (approximately 4 minutes per side).
  4. Combine beef bouillon and water in a bowl, stir until well-combined.
  5. In a large roasting pan, combine seared steaks, onion, carrots, garlic, and beef bouillon mixture.
  6. Bake for 1 hour (steaks will be medium to medium-well)
  7. Remove steaks to a cutting board and let stand while you prepare the jus.
  8. Strain the roast mixture into a pot, discarding the vegetables and keeping the liquid.
  9. Heat until the liquid boils and add the red wine.
  10. Boil jus mixture for about 10 minutes, or until it begins to thicken.
  11. Pour jus over steaks and serve.
Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $4.47 per serving).

Potatoes and carrots roasted with thyme

Yummy, yummy, yummy! These roasted vegetables were great as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

  • 10 small red potatoes, halved – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.15

Method

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a 9×13 roasting pan.
  3. Toss until the potatoes and carrots are well coated with thyme, sea salt, and oil.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the vegetables once after about 20 minutes.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $0.99 per serving).

Asparagus with miso sauce

Another recipe I am saving. I’ll be making this again when asparagus is in season in June. There’s nothing like buying asparagus fresh from a local farm. It is one of my very favourite vegetables.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.34 per serving).

Red velvet cheesecake

This cheesecake is very sweet and very rich. I had three bites and that was enough for me. Bryan’s first words after taking a bite were “Mmmmm this is fantastic!” If you like cheesecake and sweets, this recipe is a keeper. Make sure to plan ahead, there is a long period of time in which the cheesecake must cool.

Makes about 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.28 per serving).

Niagara Icewine Festival and winery tour

I’m not a wine expert. And, until this weekend, I didn’t think I had any preferences in wine. This weekend, women in the family set out to enjoy the Niagara Icewine Festival by touring six wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake (we were celebrating everyone’s birthday on the same day because it is difficult to get all of us together outside of holidays).

We got together early on Saturday morning and compiled a list of the wineries on the tour that we would like to visit. I chose mine based on the food being served. My aunt consolidated the list and chose the six most popular wineries, mapped the best route, and we set out!

Part way through the day we realized we were making good time and deviated from the plan… we made a stop in downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake where there were more festivities. We stopped at the Trisha Romance art gallery, shopped, stopped for a quick snack, and walked through a few neighbourhoods.

At the end of the day, I realized that I do indeed have a preference when it comes to wines. I prefer sweet or semi-sweet wines over dry wines. And I prefer red wines over white wines. Some of the food pairings surprised me. Every food we tried was delicious. I can’t tell you if they actually paired well with the wines.

My favourite quote of the day: “this wine smells like my bath salts, which smell really good.”

However, the best part of the day was spending it with my family. We really had a great time just being together!

Have you ever been on a wine tour in Niagara? Which wineries did you visit? Which would you recommend?

Between the Lines Family Estate Winery

www.betweenthelineswinery.com

A really cute, friendly, family-run winery. The parents own the vineyard. The children run the winery/wine-making. We got to enjoy our wine and treats right beside the fermenting wine.

Wines we tasted:

  • 2010 Gewürztraminer Icewine
  • Cabernet Merlot

Food served:

  • 2009 Vidal Icewine white chocolate truffle
  • 2009 Cabernet Franc Icewine dark chocolate truffle

Cattail Creek Estate Winery

cattailcreek.ca

How could you not try a wine called Catastrophe that has pictures of adorable kitties on the label?

Wines we tasted:

  • Select Late Harvest Riesling 2007, VQA Niagara on the Lake
  • 2008 Catastrophe Chocolate Strawberry Infusion
  • 2009 Catastrophe Chocolate Orange Infusion

Food served:

  • Butter Chicken with Mango Chutney served with Papadum Chips

Marynissen Estates Winery

www.marynissen.com

We got to walk throughout the shop and peruse the storage area full of wine barrels. The Pad Thai was delicious… but I accidentally added too much sriracha sauce to mine. Despite being super spicy, it was still fantastic!

Wines we tasted:

  • 2004 Vidal Icewine

Food served:

  • Authentic Pad Thai prepared by Nutchalai “Amm” Chiprasit

Niagara College Teaching Winery

www.nctwinery.ca

Our first and last stop of the day. We didn’t want to make purchases too early in the tour… but still enjoyed the wine very much at the end of the day and had to stop by on our way home.

Wines we tasted:

  • 2009 Dean’s List Cabernet Franc Icewine

Food served:

  • Whole wheat and roasted garlic flan with rosemary venison-mushroom ragout

Riverview Cellars Winery

www.riverviewcellars.com

I loved the view at this winery, it overlooks the Niagara River. I brought home a bottle of the 2009 Fontana Dolce VQA to share with B.

Wines we tasted:

  • 2010 Cabernet Franc Icewine
  • 2009 Fontana Dolce VQA

Food served:

  • Fresh fruit skewers and homemade cinnamon-cranberry biscotti dipped in a chocolate fountain

Strewn Winery

www.strewnwinery.com

This was the last winery on our list. It was probably the most unique place on the tour. Strewn is not strictly a winery, is also has a restaurant and cooking school in the same building.

Wines we tasted:

  • 2006 Riesling icewine
  • 2008 Rogue’s Lot Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2008 Cabernet Franc
  • Merlot
  • Warm mulled wine

Food served:

  • Warm apricot streusel

The Sauce: Cranberry Raspberry Sauce

Last year, we got through the entire meal before I realized that I’d forgotten to serve the cranberry sauce. Instead, we enjoyed it with our leftovers.

This year, I decided to make my own cranberry sauce. Sure, it’s easy to just open a can of cranberry sauce, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget it this year. However, I did buy a can of cranberry sauce as a back up. I wasn’t sure if the added raspberries would be well-received.

Because I’ve almost always enjoyed my cranberry sauce from a can, I had the misconception that this would be a lot of extra work (but I had to know if it was worth the extra work). I’m happy to say that we will be enjoying homemade cranberry sauce from now on. It’s simple to make and, in my opinion, much tastier when made with fresh fruits.

Cranberry Raspberry Sauce

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups cranberries – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 cup raspberries – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 ¼ cups red wine (I used a Cabernet-Sauvingion) – approximate cost $2.00
  • ½ cup sugar – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Combine the cranberries and raspberries in a blender and blend until the mixture is slightly chunky.
  2. On low heat, begin to melt the sugar in a pot and stir frequently.
  3. Add the red wine and berry mixture to the pot and bring to a simmer.
  4. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is thick.

Serve hot or chilled. Makes about 10 servings (approximate cost: $0.65 per serving).

Yakitoki-Style Chicken Hearts

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Savory chicken hearts. We enjoy chicken hearts frequently because they’re reasonably priced, versatile, and tasty.  Quite often, I will find a recipe that calls for a more typical cut of chicken and substitute chicken hearts. More often than not, this approach works well. My most recent ‘experiment’ was to cook chicken hearts with a yakitori sauce.

I learned to cook yakitori (Japanese translation is approximately ‘grilled bird’) as a high school student. I was lucky enough to attend a school that taught a Japanese language course and the teacher, who had spent a significant amount of time teaching in Japan, also offered us culture classes from time to time. Learning to cook yakitori was one such class.

Since then I have modified the recipe to use more cost-effective ingredients. This sauce is simple to make and very tasty. I recommend trying it the next time you are cooking chicken!

Yakitoki-Style Chicken Hearts

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of chicken hearts (or other cut of chicken) – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1/3 cup white or red wine, whatever you have on hand (the original recipe calls for mirin) – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (the original recipe calls for a Japanese soya sauce such as Kikkoman) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/3 cup water

Method

  1. Combine wine, soya sauce, and water in a small pot. Cook at medium heat with the lid off so the liquid reduces. Stir frequently!
  2. When the liquid has reduced to a sauce-like consistency, remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a separate frying pan, cook chicken hearts and half of the sauce over medium-high heat until meat is cooked all the way through. Reserve the remaining sauce to serve at the table.

Suggestion: Serve with rice and stir-fried vegetables.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.25 per serving)

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