Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Loire Blogger Wine Pairing Challenge

I was graciously sent 2 bottles of of Loire wines- the Muscadet and Rose d'Anjou- for a blogger challenge where I had to match the wines with food of my choice.
Muscadet is a light-bodied, mineral-edged, white wine made in France’s Loire Valley with the white Melon de Bourgogne grape; Muscadet is named for the grape from which it is made rather than its place of origin unlike many wines. I think they are really affordable at £6.99 (Muscadet) and £6.95 (Rose d"anjou) a bottle & under-rated white wines and it is both highly versatile when it comes to food. Most wine stores are likely to have at least one of them. The Loire is France's longest river at more than 1,000 kilometres and vineyards run alongside many of the vineyards.
You can read more about the wines at Loire Valley Wines.

The vineyard is divided into three regional Muscadet appellations, within the western Loire region, and the most common is Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine. They are perfect for warm-weather drinking and are most often enjoyed very chilled.

Muscadet produces dry, tart, almost clear white wines which are high in acid, with aromas and flavours of citrus and an almost salty minerality. Because of this neutral and tart character it goes well with many kinds food.
 Proximity to the sea moderates the region’s summer temperatures, making the wines lighter and lower in alcohol than those produced in inland areas. The grape doesn't have that much character on its own, it’s extremely transparent to the nature of where it’s grown.The best ones are the Sur lie ageing ones (ageing on the spent yeasts from fermentation, which gives the best Muscadets more texture, along with a savoury note)
 The wines I was sent:
Vignrons du Pallet, Finest Muscadet, 2011
Taste: Crisp, light, fresh, lemon fruit with keen acidity.
Rose d'Anjou  is an appellation for rosé wines from the Anjou district of France's western Loire Valley wine region.
Champteloup Rose d'Anjou  2012
Color : pale pink
Taste : Very refreshing par excellence summer wine, slightly sweet with bouquet of red fruits.

I served the Muscadet with Homemade Salted & Spicy nuts just the way we serve it back home in India with any drinks. The wine was really refreshing with the nuts.

Home-made Salted & Spicy nuts
It is a brilliant mix of Peanuts, Almonds, Hazelnuts, Cashews and Pistachios tossed in salt, turmeric, chilli powder, chaat masala oil and roasted in the oven.

Warm Goats Cheese drizzled with maple syrup served with Rocket leaves and Pine nuts.
I used the Picandou goat’s cheese. This one is produced in Perigord, France, from ancient techniques that produce a very soft, versatile cheese that has hints of grassy flavours, and excellent body. It typically develops a flowery rind as it really compliments this wine.
Goats Cheese drizzled with honey or maple syrup and kept in the oven for 10min. Then served with fresh rocket leaves and toasted pine nuts. We continued with the Muscadet and Muscadet handled it all with aplomb. It’s refreshing, citrusy acidity; its modest alcohol level (high alcohol intensifies spiciness) complemented both the courses. 

With all of us enjoying the recent boiling weather, barbecue seemed to be the perfect choice for serving the Rose d'Anjou.
Grilled vegetables asparagus, artichokes and Paneer Tikka Indian Cheese in skewers

We marinated all the vegetables and Paneer in a spicy Tikka marinade and grilled them. I reckon the non-vegetarians would be equally thrilled to try the marinade with chicken. The sweetness from the wine really complemented the spiciness and the smokiness that came from the barbecue  In my opinion this wine will be great with spicy Asian food as the occasional sip refreshed the palette well. 
I am a big fan of white wines and absolutely loved the refreshing Muscadet. Many thanks to Loire Wines.

Recipe for the Marinade:
Thick Yoghurt 1 cup
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder or Paprika 1 tsp
Cumin/Jheera Powder 1/2 tsp
Coriander/Dhania Powder 1/2 tsp
Chaat Masala 1/2 tsp
Ginger-Garlic paste 1tsp
Black salt
Oil  2tbsp
In a zip-lock bag marinate the veg or meat for 2-3 hours.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Curry & Chabilis?

Indian food is characterised by its generous use of spices like black/green cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, cloves, coriander, turmeric, fennel, fenugreek, mace, peppercorns and hence the term Spicy. The "spicy" does not always refer to the hotness of the curries. It could also mean the amout of spices used in the food. The kind of wine that goes with such heavily spiced dishes like sweet and sour vindaloos (Usually Pork & potaoes) to tikkas, (chunks of veggies/meat marinated in yogurt and cooked in a sauce ), is always a big question. The best wines for pairing are usually Pinot Noirs, Zinfandels, and Riojas that can nicely boost the spicy sauces. To complement the juxtaposition of strong spicy and creamy-rich flavours of Indian foods, I personally like whites more than reds like Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Chabilis. 
Yes Chabilis!! I know it’s a bit unusual but somehow it works. White wines temper the palate that's overloaded with spices; cools the palate that's blazing from chilly heat and the fruitiness pair nicely with the flavours of Indian dishes. Dry wines go well with all kinds of Indian dishes owing to their ability to retain their crispiness and freshness, regardless of the spiciness of the cuisine. 
I was graciously sent 2 bottles of finest Chabilis (see notes below) to be paired with take-out food of my choice. I paired it with local Indian-takeaway with food from 3 different regions of India to see how the wine pairs with different styles of Indian food. Tikka Masala from North India, (region consisting of the northern part of India that includes northern and most of eastern India). Tikka masala is chicken/Paneer marinated in spices and yoghurt  and then baked traditionally in the tandoor and then served in a creamy tomato sauce with a few key spices. Keralan Khorma from the South of India, a dish made from coconut, cashew-almond paste & cream balanced with spices. Goan Vindaloo style Egg Curry from West of India. (Goa: a former Portuguese colony and hence the Portuguese influences in food). This delicately balanced spicy, slightly sweet and sour curry with a rich tomato flavour is made with spices & vinegar. 
Both the wines really complemented the dishes. The Keralan Korma was the mildest of them all with rich coconut milk, cream, almonds-cashews, saffron balanced with garam masala, coriander, cumin and paprika. The Chablis La Maladière 2010/2011 William Fèvre paired well with Korma. The Goan Vindaloo style curry with onions, tomatoes, garlic, garam masala, coriander, cumin and sugar with the sour vinegar was great with Petit Chabilis. The slightly spicier of the three, Tikka Masala with Onions, Tomato, garlic, paprika, curry powder and cream was great with Petit Chabilis, cooled the palate after the spice hit. 
I think its absolutely misunderstood that Indian food is always spicy and hence cannot be paired with wines like Chabilis. The dishes I picked from 3 different regions of India are all quite different in terms of spiciness and creaminess, a good example to use when pairing white wine. 

A little about the wine:
Chablis, in the eastern French region of Burgundy, is famous for its dry white Chardonnays. Chablis has four different quality levels. The austere soil which is a combination of fossilised/limestone soil, as well as the continental climate (very cold in winter and hot in the summer with frosts in spring) define its character. The plots on a plateau are the cheapest Petit-Chablis. The next level is Chablis. The best are the Premier and Grand cru wines. Again due to extremity of the climate there are good years when the wines have high acidity and can age well. 
Chablis La Maladière 2010/2011 William Fèvre £14.99 
Taste: An intense back note of acidity and dry finish with fresh citrus notes that is lemony and orangey. 
Smell: Mineral notes with hints of chalk on the nose. 
Colour: Golden with green tints, this wine has a fresh bouquet notes of citrus and lemon. 
Petit Chablis 2011 Union des Viticulteurs de Chablis £9.99 
A very fresh and vibrant wine! A Chardonnay made from grapes grown at higher elevations or on mixed limestone soils in the Chablis region of northern Burgundy. 
Taste: Fruity, spicy and slightly acid notes but crisp with plenty of ripe apple and citrusy boost (orange, lemon and grapefruit notes) with mineral hints. 
Colour: Light gold colour/ straw yellow colour. 
Smell: Zesty apples and lemon 

Friday, February 01, 2013

Post for Theo

I wanted to share the story of an amazingly brave woman who went through a horrible ordeal recently. She had Theo at 33 weeks, born sleeping! Just few months back she was strutting around the office with her huge bump, so happy, so proud. Then one day, out of the blue, we got a message that Theo  is not with us anymore. It was a huge shock for us and I broke down as soon as I heard it. For anyone in this situation, it's a roller coaster of emotions, no matter how hard they try, it is difficult ride to get off. I am one of them who lost a baby many years ago and still clueless on why it happened. Please read the story below and please dig deep to donate for the noble cause.

On 21st April 2012 Dan and I were overjoyed to find out that we were having a baby. We had already had a miscarriage the previous Christmas so we were understandably nervous but we couldn't wait to become parents.
I loved being pregnant, every second of it, every ache, every headache, every stretch mark and every toilet stop because this baby was going to make us a family.
In October we knew something was wrong and went to Leighton Hospital. We were scanned and told that the baby wasn't growing or putting on weight as quickly as he should. We were told we would be monitored closely.
At first appointment we heard a strong heartbeat but the kicks just weren't as frequent as normal. The hospital said that they were happy with the test results and the baby might just be lying funny and we were sent home.
We returned 3 days later and as soon as the monitor was placed on my tummy I knew we had lost our baby. There was silence. Any parent who has lost a child through stillbirth will tell you that the silence they hear is the loudest noise that they will ever hear and the words that follow from the doctor or midwives - "I'm sorry" are heart-breaking....
Read the complete story here

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tiramisu and my New Year Resolutions

I am not very big on New Year resolutions. I always think one does not need New Year to make changes. I just want to make a few changes and enjoy my blessed life a bit more.

Enjoy life more:  Pausing and enjoying little moments life has to offer amidst all the crazy schedules. Enjoying simple things like coffee and conversations on a Sunday or walking on fresh snow (that always results in a snowball fight).

Read a new blog a month: Amidst all the work and studies I have somehow forgotten how much I loved discovering new blogs and following them. I have started making a note of all the new blogs I visit and it is looking good.

Bake more: Not just for the blog but also for the zen like feeling I get out of baking.

Be truthful to myself:  This is something I need to do when I get caught up in feeling like I'm failing. Sometimes when things do not go the way I want to, I tend to get frustrated quickly and occasionally, in those moments of doubt, compare myself to others.  I need to start believing in myself more and (start listening to my husband more). I have to probably start chanting more positive mantras during these episodes of self doubt.

What are your resolutions?Let me know.

Amaretti biscuits are domed-shaped biscuits, light and airy, crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. Originated in Venice, Italy during the Renaissance period, these cookies are made from either ground almonds or almond paste, along with sugar and egg whites, ground apricot kernels and flavoured with liqueurs, mostly the Almond flavoured Amaretto Liqueur. Amaretto is an Italian sweet almond-flavoured liqueur.
Note: Serve these trifles in recycled (small) nutella jars or yoghurt jars.

Amaretti Tiramisu Trifle
For the Mocha Zabaglione Cream
2 Egg Yolks
85g Sugar
1 tbsp Amaretto Liqueur
1 tbsp Kahlua/Tia Maria
250g Mascarpone
1 tbsp Cocoa
1 tsp strong coffee granules (like Starbucks Via)
2 tbsp freshly brewed Coffee
For Layering Trifle
200ml double cream whipped with 3 tbsp sugar to soft peaks.
Amaretti Biscuits
200ml Freshly Brewed Coffee mixed with 1 tbsp Kahlua/Tia Maria & 1 tsp Amaretto
2-3 tbsp Cocoa
50g chopped Hazelnuts
Prepare the zabaglione by whisking the yolks with sugar until pale. Now cook the yolks along with the liqueurs, over a double boiler set over simmering, not boiling, water until it doubles in volume about 10 minutes. Cool slightly and gently fold the Mascarpone, both Coffee and Cocoa.
Layering the Trifle:
Dip the Amaretti biscuits in the Coffee- liqueur concoction and place onto the form you are using to layer the trifle. Pour a layer of the Mocha Zabaglione next. Cover this with a layer of whipped cream and repeat the layers until you have reached the top of the form & make sure whipped cream layer is on top. Chill the mixture for 2-4 hours. To serve, mix the chopped roasted hazelnuts with a teaspoon of cocoa and sprinkle on top. Dust more cocoa if desired on top.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


The best thing about any festive occasion is family/friends get-togethers. Since I live abroad away from my beloved family, every year we try to spend Christmas & other festivals with friends. Each of us make a dish and gather around, eating and drinking all day, playing games, watching some good old movies. Tasked as the official Baker, I bake batches of traditional fruit cake, along with festive favourites like panettone or stollen, christmas pudding, steamed ginger pudding. I make this bread every year and we like this for breakfast on holidays. Trust me , it is not as hard as it looks, do give this a go.
For the Biga*
200g strong breadfFlour
½ cup cool water
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
Combine the flour, water and yeast, stirring with a wooden spoon to make stiff dough. Place the
dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rise overnight or until it become bubbly.

For the Bread:
300g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 whole eggs + 6 (med) egg yolks, beaten
2 sticks softened butter, plus extra to grease
½ cup caster sugar or mixed spice sugar
7g instant yeast
1/3cup jumbo golden raisins
1/4 sultanas
1/3 cup mix of cranberries, blueberries, sweet morello cherries & inca berries
1/4 cup candied peel, finely chopped
seeds scrapped from 1 vanilla pod
1 tsp vanilla extract
Lemon Extract 1tsp
grated zest of 1 large orange
grated zest of 1 lemon & 1 lime
¼ cup warm milk
1 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg & cinnamon
3 tbsp dark rum or brandy
1 tbsp Amaretto
1 yolk+1tbsp olive oil, beaten together for glazing
1 tbsp vanilla sugar to sprinkle on top
Soak the fruits in a bowl with both rum/brandy & amaretto. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with dough hook, combine all of the ingredients except the dried fruit. Knead the dough till it's combined; it will be very sticky at first, but should come together eventually as you knead. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for an hour. Knead the raisins, sultanas and candied peel into the dough gently, until evenly distributed. Form the dough into a ball and place it in 8 inch springform tin or a ready-made panettone mould. Cover with cling film or towel and leave to rise for 2 hours in a warm place until the dough has tripled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle vanilla sugar. Bake the panettone for about 40-45 minutes, covering it with aluminum foil for the final 15-20 minutes of baking if it browns too quickly. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean without any crumbs or wet dough. Allow panettone to cool and then brush with melted butter. Dust liberally with icing sugar on top before serving.
Note: Panettone can be served toasted with Zabaglione or with coffee. Stale panettone can be used to make bread & butter pudding or French toasts.
* Biga is a type of starter used to make traditional Italian breads. It gives bread a light, open texture with holes.
Note: Yeast & flour measurements are in grams to be precise.
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