Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bourbon Peach Chutney with Brie on Crostini

For the appetizer portion of my Bourbon dinner, I immediately thought of doing some type of fruit chutney sauteed with Bourbon. I find that most liquor has a certain sweetness that pairs well with fruit, you just have to find the right combination. Old Grand-Dad 114 is strong flavored Bourbon, the alcohol has a great presence, so it seemed like a good option for cooking. This chutney is delicious now with fresh peaches coming in season, but  can also be made with frozen peaches. The jalapeño adds a nice bite, and the Brie cools down the dish and gives it a creamy taste.  

Bourbon Peach Chutney with Brie on Crostini
Makes 12 pieces

1 loaf of grainy wheat French bread
1 8 oz. wheel of Brie
1 batch of peach chutney, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 400*
Slice bread on an angle into 12 pieces.
Lay on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 4-5 minutes, until toasted.
Slice Brie into 12 pieces, discarding rind.
Flip bread, top each slice with a piece of Brie.
Place back in the oven and cook for another 4 minutes or until cheese is melted to desired.
Top each slice of bread with a heaping tbsp. of chutney and serve. 

Bourbon Peach Chutney

1 tbsp. EVOO
2 shallots, finely diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
3 large, firm peaches, blanched, skinned and diced
1/4 c. turbinado sugar
1/4 c. Old Grand-Dad 114 KY Straight Bourbon
1/3 c. Cider vinegar
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Heat a large saute' pan over medium heat.
Add EVOO, shallots and jalapeño, season with salt. 
Cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender.
Add peaches, cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add sugar, stir to combine, then deglaze pan with Bourbon.
Turn heat to low, add vinegar and allow Bourbon and vinegar to reduce, about 5-10 minutes.
When chutney is thickened, taste and adjust seasonings, remove from heat and serve warm or refrigerate until using. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Foodbuzz 24x24: KY Bourbon Inspired Dinner and Tasting Flight

For this month's Foodbuzz 24x24 sponsored dinner, I chose to prepare a Kentucky Bourbon inspired dinner paired with several varieties of Bourbon. About two years ago, my husband was treated to a Bourbon tasting, and since then has been collecting it. While there are many brands and varieties of Bourbon, to be considered Kentucky Straight Bourbon, it must comply with several standards. First, it must be made in Kentucky in a region where the water flows from sandstone and limestone. Great water makes great Bourbon, and this water especially aids yeast in the fermentation process. Other requirements are that the alcohol be made from a grain recipe of at least 51% corn, distilled at less than 160 proof, mature in new, Charred White Oak barrels for a minimum of two years, and be bottled at 80 proof or higher. 

It was in this research and tasting that my husband and I developed a passion for purveying great Bourbon. Each has it's own distinct characteristics and a story that can date back over 100 years. The average bottle of Bourbon is $30, but extremely small, rare, and old batches can range several hundred. For this dinner, my husband tasted each Bourbon under my watch, and described the characteristics. From this, I worked on a vegetarian, Kentucky inspired menu featuring a different Bourbon in each course as well as a Bourbon paired to taste.

Before each course, my husband poured a tasting for each of our 4 guests and himself (being 5 months pregnant resulted in a dry evening for me). The guests tasted the Bourbon, then tasted their food paired with it. Of my husband's 11 Bourbons, he chose his four favorites for the tasting portion.

For the decor, I chose to simply feature the star of the evening, Bourbon, paired with springy tulips and candles. 

Our first course was Old Granddad 114 Peach Chutney with Brie on Crostini paired with Maker's Mark. We chose to start the meal with one of the most common and recognizable Bourbons, Maker's Mark. It's known for the hand-dipped red wax seal that drips down the bottle. Maker's Mark is a very clean tasting Bourbon with a light finish. It's a bit sweet on the tongue, which pairs well with the fresh bread and sweet peaches. 

In the peach chutney, jalapeños are accented with Old Granddad 114, a spicy and bright Bourbon. The chutney's boldness is toned down with a slice of creamy, rich Brie. 

For our next course, I chose to prepare a Southern Salad with Maple-Pecan-Bourbon Vinaigrette. During a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC last summer, I had a salad very similar to this, featuring fried okra as a crouton, hard boiled eggs and fresh, bright tomatoes. That salad was the inspiration for this salad, which was accented by an Evan Williams Bourbon Vinaigrette. Evan Williams has a heavier body, tasting of maple and brown sugar. To make the dressing, I reduced the Bourbon in a saucepan with shallots, then whisked in maple, dijon and olive oil. 

The Bourbon paired with this course was Jefferson's. This Bourbon has a light body with a subtle finish, and did not overpower the light salad and dressing.  

For the third course and entrée, I made my version of Fine-Dining Southern Vegetarian BBQ. The base of the dish is Bourbon Whipped Potatoes featuring Ridgewood Reserve 1792. This Bourbon has caramel notes, and is a bit spicy. Stacked on top of the potatoes were Bourbon-Barbecue Glazed Tempeh and Fried Green Tomato Stacks. I made a Barbecue Sauce with Wild Turkey 101, a Bourbon known for it's sharp, spicy heat. It's smooth when sipped, but leaves a deep burn, perfect for barbecue. The Fried Green Tomatoes added an acidic punch with Southern Flare, and the dish was finished with fresh parsley and crumbled blue cheese. 

Paired with the entrée was Woodford Reserve. This Bourbon has similar characteristics to 1792, a medium body with caramel and cinnamon notes. 

For our final course of the evening, I prepared a Bourbon Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce. The cheesecake has a layer of sauteed apples, which were caramelized with brown sugar and Bourbon. The actual cheesecake batter also was infused with Bourbon. Buffalo Trace has notes of vanilla and anise, which paired with the spices in the cheesecake. For the Bourbon Caramel Sauce, I chose Elijah Craig, another vanilla and brown sugar tasting Bourbon. 

Russell's Reserve Bourbon was paired with this cheesecake, a stronger, spicy, heavier bodied Bourbon to stand up to the creamy cheesecake. 

As the meal concluded, each of our guests gave their preference of the Bourbon tasted through the evening. They were all very impressed with the variety and history of Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and were interested in beginning a collection of their own. 

To aid them in this quest, I sent them home with a favor of Bourbon Zucchini Bread with a nip of Bourbon, either Wild Turkey or Jim Beam. 

Please come back each day this week to view the recipes for each dish! 

Thank you so much to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this dinner, and I encourage everyone to try Kentucky Straight Bourbon, if you're not already a fan! This summer, my husband and I will be participating in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail program, which I will definitely be posting about!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Egyptian Edamame Stew

In the last post, I wrote about my love for tofu, but that's not the only form of whole soy. In addition to tofu, edamame and tempeh are equally as healthy. I found this recipe in Eating Well magazine, and it sounded like a perfect quick, healthy, well rounded meal. The spice combination is perfect, of course I do have a deep love for cumin. Also, the dish includes a healthy dose of cayenne pepper, which added a nice punch of heat.
Though there were no leftovers, I'm sure this dish would be great heated back up for lunch the next day!

Egyptian Edamame Stew

10 oz. edamame, fresh or frozen (about 2 c.)
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 small yellow onion, minced
2 small zucchini, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
Fresh cilantro and mint, chopped
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper

In a large saucepan, bring 4 c. water to a boil, salt and add edamame, cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes.
Drain and set aside. 
Place pot back on the stove over medium heat.
Add EVOO, onion, zucchini and garlic. 
Season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, cumin, coriander and cayenne.
Stir and bring to a simmer, reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes.
Stir in edamame until heated through, remove from heat.
Add lemon juice and half the fresh herbs, stir.
Serve over cous cous or any other grain, garnish with herbs.

**The winner of a Nasoya coupon for a free product is Joanne! I'll send your email address to the Nasoya rep and she'll be contacting you for your address. Thanks to all who entered**

Monday, March 7, 2011

Broccoli and Tofu in Spicy Peanut Sauce and Nasoya's Tofu U

As a vegetarian, tofu and soy have a strong presence in my diet. I was recently contacted by Nasoya, a tofu manufacturer, to see if I would be willing to participate in and advertise their Tofu U program (note: I was compensated with a coupon for one free Nasoya item). Being that today is Monday, and Meatless Mondays are a new trend in the food world, I felt today would be a great opportunity to talk about tofu! 

As with any food item, I believe in eating tofu in moderation. Eating whole, unprocessed soy (tofu, edamame, tempeh) has been shown to reduce heart disease, diabetes, provide calcium for bone health, and many other diseases. Though I have found conflicting studies about soy's estrogen hormones, there is evidence that soy doesn't identically mimic these qualities, and the benefits far outweigh the risks. As I said, I believe in soy in moderation, and in it's whole form - like Nasoya Tofu! 

When I cook with tofu, I prefer to use it in Thai, Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern applications, which means I generally choose extra-firm tofu. However, tofu can be used as a cream substitute or in smoothies, and soft tofu is a common substitute for that. Throughout the week, I'll be posting some of my favorite tofu recipes, with a recap and giveaway on Friday! In the mean time, I invite you to check out Tofu U where you can learn all about tofu and soy, and even pledge to cook with tofu once a week for the next month, which makes you eligible for a Tofu U shirt or shorts. You'll even get some coupons - so sign up now!

Broccoli and Tofu in Spicy Peanut Sauce
adapted from Mollie Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest

1/2 c. natural, unsweetened peanut butter
1/2 c. hot water (or vegetable stock)
1/4 c. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. molasses
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 bunch of fresh broccoli, cut into florets
1 tbsp. canola oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 bunch thinly sliced scallions
1 c. coarsely chopped peanuts
2-3 tbsp. tamari (dark soy)

To make the sauce:
In a small saucepan, whisk together peanut butter and stock until melted together.
Whisk in remaining ingredients, keep over low heat and set aside.

Heat a wok or large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. 
Add oil and half of the garlic, salt lightly.
Saute' for 1 minute, do not let garlic burn.
Add tofu cubes, stir fry for 5 minutes, constantly tossing to ensure it doesn't burn.
Transfer tofu and garlic mixture to the saucepan with peanut sauce, gently mix.
Wipe wok out, return to the stove.
Add oil and remaining garlic, salt lightly and add scallions, black pepper and broccoli. 
Add tamari and peanuts, toss and stir fry until broccoli is tender but still bright green.
Pour tofu and peanut sauce over broccoli, gently toss everything.
Serve over any grain, like rice or quinoa.