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Archive for the ‘Pinot Noir’ Category

This is a really good veggie lasagne filled with curly kale and garlicky mushrooms – delicious! It is also much easier to put together than the usual meaty version and tastes much more luxurious.

Kale and mushroom lasagne – to serve 6

  • 300g curly kale, stalks removed
  • 30g butter
  • 500g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of thyme, leaves only, chopped
  • 175g lasagne sheets (fresh if possible)
  • 20g Parmesan, grated
  • olive oil

For the béchamel sauce 

  • 750ml full-fat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • a few black peppercorns
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Heat the milk with the bay leaf, onion, celery and peppercorns until almost simmering. Take off the heat and leave aside to infuse.

Roughly shred the kale. Put into a large saucepan and just cover with cold water. Add salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes, or until just tender. Drain well and set aside.

Heat half the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add half the mushrooms and season. Increase the heat and fry, stirring, until the liquid released has evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to brown and caramelise. Stir in half the garlic and half the thyme, cook for another minute, then remove to a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the mushrooms, garlic and thyme and set aside.

Gently reheat the milk, then strain. Heat the butter for the béchamel in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Take off the heat. Add about a quarter of the hot milk and beat vigorously until smooth. Add the rest of the milk in about 3 batches, until you have a smooth sauce. Put the pan back on the heat and cook for  a few minutes, stirring and allowing the sauce to bubble gently, until thickened. Stir in the mustard, then season well.

Stir roughly half of the béchamel sauce into the kale.

Spread half the remaining sauce over the bottom of an ovenproof dish (approx. 28 x 22cm). Layer a third of the lasagne sheets in the dish, then spoon the kale over the top. Add another layer of lasagne, then add the mushrooms,. Finish with a final layer of pasta and the rest of the sauce.

Scatter the cheese over the top and add a trickle of oil. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden. Serve right away.

Wine Suggestion: We went for a red Burgundy from a lesser appellation (Santenay) in Burgundy with five years of age. It had a delightful earthiness and red forest fruit character which really complemented the flavours of the mushroom and kale.

(Original recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday!, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011.)

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The watercress has finally arrived in Caviston’s, one of our favourite vegetable shops. The seasons seem to be all out this year and we can’t predict when produce will be there and at it’s freshest. The bags you buy in supermarkets just don’t taste like the real thing at all so catch it while you can as it mightn’t be here for long!

This soup can be on the table under 10 minutes if you want. We love asian soups as they have great depth of flavour and really zing with freshness.

Hot and Sour Watercress and Prawn Soup – to serve 2 

  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 500ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp golden caster sugar
  • 2.5cm piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 300g raw peeled prawns
  • 1 bunch watercress, stalks cut off

Put all the ingredients except for the prawns and watercress into saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Cook for a minute, then add the prawns and cook until they turn pink.

Stir in the watercress and take off the heat. Taste and add another teaspoon of sugar if necessary.

Drink with: a non-Burgundy Pinot but not from a hot climate. We tried one from San Gimignano in Tuscany which had lovely juicy fruit but was still nice and light without too much tannin which tends to clash badly with chilli. A surprisingly good choice and one that will be repeated.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We got a surprise call from our great friend Ben who had some live lobsters which he was terrified of. He’s now got over this and is an expert lobster stabber and we got the benefit of two live lobsters too. I made this years ago before I met Jules and have always promised to cook it if two live lobsters arrive on our doorstep, so happy Friday night Jules! This recipe feeds 4 people – we had no problem finding 2 volunteers to help us eat it.

Il miglior brodo siciliano di aragosta – the best Sicilian  lobster broth – to serve 4

  • 150g dried lasagne sheets, smashed up
  • 2 x 1kg live lobsters
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes or 1 or 2 small dried red chillies, crumbled
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, smashed
  • 1/2 a bottle of Sicilian white wine – you can substitute any white wine
  • 850ml passata or 3 x 400g tins plum tomatoes, liquidized
  • a large handful of whole almonds, skins on
  • a small handful of fresh basil leaves
First you’re going to have to kill the lobsters. The best way to do this – and the fairest way for the lobster – is to get a large sharp knife, place the tip on the little crown on the head and chop straight down between its eyes. Be brave! Once you’ve killed your lobsters you need to twist and pull the head away from the tail. Put the tails and claws aside for now. Open the heads and discard the little grey stomach sack which will be near the eyes. Then just cut the head up into little pieces, keeping all the brown meat and other stuff.

Put a large pot on a very gentle heat. When hot, pour a good glug of olive oil in along with all the head pieces and lobster legs. You can turn the heat up a bit now. Add your onions, garlic, carrots, cinnamon stick, chillies and fennel seeds. Continue frying this for about 15 minutes – keep moving it around in the pot – so the onions take on a bit of colour but careful they don’t burn. If the pan gets too hot just splash in a bit of water.

Add your white wine and boil hard for 5 minutes before adding the passata and the same quantity of water. Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 or 30 minutes. Now put a colander on top of another large pot and pass the soup through it. Press down on the shells with the back of a ladle and let them drip for 5 minutes to make sure you get all the flavour out of them. You can now throw the shells away. Put the soup back on the heat to simmer. It should look like tomato soup – if you think it looks to thick you can add a little water.

Slice the lobster tails across, through the shell and the meat, into 2.5cm slices and put these into the broth. Crack open the claws and pick out all the meat and add this to the broth too. Continue to simmer for 8 more minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water, then drain and toss into the soup for 4-5 minutes.

Chop the almonds very finely and stir into the soup. Taste and season if needed. Divide between 4 bowls, tear over some basil leaves and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.

Wine Suggestions: as this is such a rich dish you need to pair it with a wine that is a little more robust and full-bodied. For whites there are a couple of options: stay local and choose Sicilian wines like Inzolia or Grillo which have weight and a herbal minerality. The other option is to look at a classic Chardonnay with a bit of oak for structure. Try to pick one that has a little bit of acidity for freshness too. This was the option we went for and it worked a treat. For red, do the opposite and look for a fruity, but lighter style of wine like an easy and inexpensive Pinot Noir or Grenache – you want to avoid too much tannin and weight which would overwhelm the sweet, delicate lobster.

(Original recipe by Jamie Oliver in Jamie’s Italy)

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This week we went to Oddbins in Blackrock village while walking home from work in the really bad snow. We unfairly put the staff under pressure, and the poor shop assistant even gave us a wine out of her Christmas box – thanks a mill!

We also don’t usually chill our reds in snow before drinking, but the photo opportunity, and the abundant snow in Dublin, begged for this photo.

To the wine: classically new world in that the fruit is wonderfully ripe with a little lift from slightly higher alcohol (compared to Burgundy, where Pinot Noir finds its greatest expression). The aromas and flavours are predominately cherries and summer berries and it has a nice juiciness and medium weight. The best thing is the balance and freshness which makes this wine effortless to drink and yet interesting and flavoursome.

Don’t serve with a big, meaty stew, rather this wine would be great with lighter meats, like Christmas turkey and ham .. the shop assistant would have had a nice wine for the big day ahead (now I feel guilty). It also went particularly well with barbecued sausages and champ; see right.

We paid €14.99 but don’t rush out as we think Oddbins may not have this in stock again until after Christmas.


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