Zucchini and kale phyllo pie

December 2, 2016

This recipe from Bon Appetit caught my eye recently: Skillet Phyllo Pie with Butternut Squash, Kale and Goat Cheese . I had phyllo dough in the freezer that I was wondering what to do with, and I decided to try out the recipe. Being too lazy to go to the grocery store, I went with what I had at home, which resulted in the following substitutions:

  • zucchini for butternut squash;
  • creme fraiche for goat cheese.

Also, instead of store-bought kale I used some organic home-grown kale picked from my kitchen garden.

It was my first time working with phyllo dough, and I couldn’t make it behave as well as the recipe suggested. So my pie was rather messy-looking. Here it is (after I tried a slice):

img_20161106_185614It was delicious! (Of course, it helps that i lie zucchini and don’t mind cooked kale — hence growing it in my yard.)

I will definitely make this again (with my substitutions or with the original ingredients).

Staub mini-cocottes and a double-chocolate souffle

November 6, 2016

I have been considering getting a Staub cast-iron cocotte for a while. A couple of weeks ago, with a combination of a sale and gift cards, I got a set of a 5.5. qt cocotte and 2 0.25 qt mini-cocottes online (at the time of writing, Williams – Sonoma has the cheapest price, but the same set is sold at Bed, Bath and Beyond or Sur La Table ).

It turns out that, when i was buying it, I thought that the minis would be bigger — the size that I had in mind, for some reason, was about 0.75 qt (even though the website description was clear). So when they arrived, they looked very cute, but awfully small, and I was not sure whether they’d be useful for much besides decoration.

That seemed to be a somewhat common question online, and the suggestions were mostly along the lines of individual servings of desserts, mac-n-cheese, eggs, etc. And so I decided, for the first time in my life, to make chocolate souffle. I used 2 of my new mini-cocottes, and one Le Creuset stoneware container that I was given as a gift years ago.

This is the recipe I used (cut in half):  Double chocolate souffle .

After the 15 mins mentioned in the recipe, the souffles still looked a bit under-done. As my oven’s temperature tends to be on the lower side, I decided to keep the souffles in for another 3 mins.

Here is what they looked like when they came out of the oven:img_20161105_175613

I should have pulled them out at the 15 min mark — as it was, they turned out a bit too “cake-y” in texture (not dry, just… not souffle), and that was due to being in the oven too long. The cracks in the tops should have given me a hint — the recipe’s photos have smooth tops. But they still tasted good (hey, I love my chocolate, and will happily eat double-chocolate cake!). And as for size — actually, half of one of those portions was plenty for me, as an after-dinner dessert.

And cleaning the Staubs was a breeze! Stuff pretty much wiped right off. The Le Creuset was a bit more difficult (partially due to the container’s shape).

In conclusion: the mini-Staubs seem to work very well, and are about the right size for baked indulgences.

2011 Cuvee A Pinot Noir, Anne Amie vineyards

October 8, 2016

Anne Amie , Anne Amie’s vintage description

Opened this Willamette Valley Pinot Noir without high expectations (as I heard that 2011 in Oregon produced only average wines — at least compared to the more successful years like 2012).The wine is certified “Sustainable”, which is good to see, and which was one of the factors that prompted me to buy it.

A hint of berries on the nose. The wine was thin, without much body, but at the same time too tannic and lacking in structure for my tastes. The bottle was about $20 when I bought it, and in my opinion not worth it. I won’t be buying the 2011 again.

2005 Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

September 25, 2016

Kiona Wine

I had a bottle of the 2005 Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain Reserve in my cellar for a few years, and decided to drink it last night with dinner.  The color was dark-burgundy.  On the nose, ripe berries (cherries and currants). The wine needed about 30 mins to open up, but once it did, it was smooth, medium-bodied, not too tannic. Seems the perfect age to drink that vintage. Very enjoyable!

Chocolate Company Cafe, Haarlem

August 7, 2016

Chocolate Company

Wondered into this cafe a few minutes before closing time on a spring Sunday, and immediately ordered a hot chocolate to warm myself up. The clean and well-lit cafe interior was almost empty. I was tired and didn’t spend a lot of time looking over the offerings, so when my mug arrived, i was very surprised: it contained warm milk, and a spoon that had solid chocolate on it. The idea is that you stir the milk with the spoon, and the chocolate dissolves, creating your “hot chocolate” beverage. I found it warm and nourishing, but a bit too sweet for my tastes, but that is likely my own fault — i should have picked the appropriate spoon flavor (they have about 50). Overall, an interesting twist on the usual hot chocolate, and a pleasant cafe in which to partake of it.

Yalumba 2014 Viognier, Eden Valley

August 7, 2016

This wine has flower and apricot fruit aromas and is pale-yellow in color. The palate has peach and mineral notes, and smooth mouthfeel. Personally, i would have liked more acidity and less minerality, but overall a light refreshing summer white wine.

Jura Prophecy, Single Malt Scotch Whisky

August 7, 2016

Jura Prophecy

Several years ago, a friend brought me a bottle from Scotland, at my request for a “smoky Scotch whisky”.  Made in a small community on the remote Isle of Jura in the Hebrides, it was, as promised, smoky and peaty, with warm spices on the nose, yellow-golden color, and peaty and slightly sweet, rich taste. Very enjoyable.

Panther Creek 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Winemaker’s Cuvee

August 7, 2016

Panther Creek Cellars

Had this bottle for about 3 years, and opened it in July to accompany an informal dinner. Nice fruity nose (red currants and cherries), deep red-purple color, and the palate had lots of fruit and soft tannins. Easy-drinking and crowd-pleasing, and a good accompaniment to the meal. Not super-complex and without the fine balance of other Oregon Pinots — but for under $20 that i paid for it, a good buy and a wine that your guests will enjoy.

Cadao Moscatel do Douro

November 22, 2015

Cadao wines (in Portuguese)

On a recent trip to Portugal, I bought this at a small corner store in Lisbon, selling lots of salt cod and fish in tins (of course) in addition to several shelves of wine.

Dark-caramel in color, this fortified wine was sweet, but not exceedingly so. Although simple, it had good structure, and the alcohol wasn’t overpowering. A good wine for sipping on a terrace overlooking the Lisbon rooftops.

I paid E4.55 for the 0.5l bottle. For the money, I thought it was a nice product (especially since, at 17% alcohol by volume, it’s hard to drink too much in one sitting).

Ransom Pinot Noir, Temperance Hill Vineyard, 2006

November 22, 2015


Looking back over my blog posts, I realized that I hadn’t published a review of Ransom’s 2006 Pinot Noir. I had drunk many bottles of it over the years, and was down to only 2 last night.

Just like with the WillaKenzie Kiana 2006 , I was concerned that I had kept the Ransom a bit too long and that it was starting to decline (especially since reviews of the 2006 Selection recommended keeping it till 2013, or no longer than 10 years).

I needn’t have worried. The wine started out a bit “closed”, but opened up after 5 minutes in the glasses. Notes of berries, lots of acidity (which I like) and tannins, a bit of earthiness, multi-layered and lingering taste — this was one to savor. For around $36, it was great!

I still have 1 bottle left. It will wait till next year (after last night’s tasting, I know it will keep just fine for 1 more year) — and I will decant it before pouring.

All of this makes me very excited for the 2012s that I got several bottles of! (Here, and the price of around $23 / bottles seems an absolute steal for what I expect this wine to be).