Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Introducing the Wines of Portugal

Eugenio Jardim
A few weeks ago I attended an informal Portuguese wine tasting with Jardiniere Wine Director, the utterly charming, Eugenio Jardim. It was very gratifying for me on a number of levels. A few years ago, during the process of writing WinePassport: Portugal I got very excited about Portuguese wines. My enthusiasm has not waned. I am happy whenever I meet those who also enjoy sharing the pleasures of Portuguese wines, of which there are many.

Jardim had just returned from Portugal where he tried lots of wine and even wrote about regions of the country. We started out with one of my favorites, a Luis Pato sparkling wine from Bairrada and then proceeded with several wines I was unfamiliar with but enjoyed greatly. Then a week or so ago I went to a wine tasting of Portuguese wines that lacked distributors on the West Coast. The mood was giddy as wine writers, retailers and sommeliers discovered unique and captivating wines at often bargain prices. While red table wines from the Douro valley are becoming more common, there is much more to discover.

Next week Vini Portugal will host it's annual wine tasting event in San Francisco on April 5th, 2010, and Evan Goldstein will be giving master classes. I can't wait! If you are interested in Portuguese wines, this is THE event to attend.

While I suggest you also purchase a copy of WinePassport: Portugal, here are tips from Jardim for enjoying Portuguese wines and my comments as well:

1. Portugal is where you will find tremendous value when it comes to wine. Try something new, you don't have much to lose.

2. Don't get hung up on the varietals. As Jardim pointed out, they can be hard to pronounce and many wines are blends. When starting out, look to regions and styles instead.

3. Portugal is the last frontier. This is ironic, because Portugal has been making wine for a very, very long time. Grapes were brought to Portugal by the Phoenicians in 600 BC and Portugal has been exporting wine since the 14th century.

4. The native varieties are wonderful. Some may be similar to varietals in Spain, but others are completely unique and more often than not, food friendly.

Easter Baskets ~ Mo Tipton


For more minis by Mo Tipton, visit:
Etsy: mousemarket.etsy.com
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/themousemarket

Easter ~ Sarah Maloney


Budding blogger: Reena

Budding blogger series introduces new bloggers (those blogging for less than a year) every wednesday and promotes their blogs through Simple Indian Food. If you are interested in being a part of this series, please mail me a short description about your blog, the cuisine you specialize and your objective/inspiration in blogging to easycrafts@gmail.com.

Today's featured blogger is Reena from Coconut Raita..Read more about her -

My husband and I cook everyday after work. He is a fantastic sous chef and I cook Gujarati food learnt via osmosis from my mother. The result is quick, healthy, fresh food as opposed to the ready meals that my colleagues eat.

I started blogging last year following a 4 month trip through South-East Asia, Central America and the USA. During our trip my husband and I met many wonderful people and inevitably shared a meal with them. As we discussed the food we were eating, my love of cooking was revealed and I was often asked to email recipes to our new friends. I decided then that it was time to share my recipes with the world to prevent my family's recipes being lost in time and to encourage people to cook healthy Indian food.

I didn't imagine that I would still be blogging 10 months on but I love hearing from people when they have made a meal and enjoyed it - especially when they are new to cooking. The most common comments are receive are "It was so easy and so delicious!". Yes! That's the point - cooking Indian food is not technically difficult.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stonehouse 27 Indian Sauces

Stonehouse 27 Sauces
I'm not big on convenience foods in general, but I like the idea of an Indian "simmer sauce" to create a quick meal at home with whatever meat, seafood, tofu or vegetables I happen to have on hand. Unfortunately I never found a brand of Indian sauces that really delivered. The flavors were not great or they were too oily. Well, problem solved. Stonehouse 27 makes a line of Indian sauces that are very high quality with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. They even use agave syrup in place of the more common corn syrup and are gluten-free and vegetarian (and mostly vegan).

The sauces are not necessarily what you might find at a typical Indian restaurant. They are inspired by the Portuguese and Anglo-Indian heritage of the company’s founder, Sharon Fernandes. I was given samples around the time of the Fancy Food Show earlier this year and recently had the chance to try the Tamarind and Garlic, Cilantro and Coconut and the Cashews and Cream sauces with various fresh ingredients. I was really struck by the bright freshness of the flavors. The tamarind was nice and tangy, the cashew and coconut was creamy and rich. They are very flexible and easy to use. If you use meat and vegetables they make a very tasty one dish meal. Frankly they are better than the Indian food I can get delivered.

They are a bit more expensive than other sauces I've seen at about $8 for a jar, but for the quality and convenience I think they are well worth the money. Half a jar and half a pound of shrimp or chicken plus some vegetables made enough for at least three servings.I do think you need a bit of cooking sense to use them. The time necessary for simmering depends on the size you have cut your meat or vegetables. And I like that they are unsalted so I can season to taste. But even when I am bleary-eyed making a satisfying meal with these sauces is a breeze and a nice change of pace from jars of spaghetti sauce. Keep your eyes open for them stores near you or purchase online.

Ready for Easter ~ Linda Cummings


Easter Bunny ~ Anne-Marie


Budding blogger: Prema

Budding blogger series introduces new bloggers (those blogging for less than a year) every wednesday and promotes their blogs through Simple Indian Food. If you are interested in being a part of this series, please mail me a short description about your blog, the cuisine you specialize and your objective/inspiration in blogging to easycrafts@gmail.com.

Today's featured blogger is Prema from Prema's Thaligai..She says -

This site gives simple food logs…where you’ll find dozens of vegetarian recipes, Pooja tips and procedures…The recipes here, were collected by me. Most of them would be south Indian, learnt from my mom, and some of the cookery books I read, and some are from the television shows I watch. Am putting them all together to share my interest in cooking. In future am going to write all the pooja procedure and manthras for all occasions.

Couple of months back I was introduced to the world of blogging and that day itself I started blogging regularly. I love packing creative lunches and finding new ways to eat vegetables! I want to Inspire others to eat healthier, plant-based meals and move more. The credit of me developing interest in trying out new recipes goes to my beloved husband and the idea of me posting the recipes here goes to my wonderful friend priya. Am interested in interior decoration, painting, and my passion is cooking.

Please do come and visit my blog and post ur valuable comments

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Bun ~ Mirja Leppanen


For more minis by Mirja Leppänen of Happy Little Muffin, visit:

All about Savoy Cabbage

Savoy Cabbage
Savoy cabbage is the prettiest cabbage of all, with its fantastic crinkly leaves and its contrasting dark on pale color palette. Only a few outer leaves are dark green and quite so textured, inside it is creamy and pale. Despite its rugged appearance it's actually very tender and sweet. Best of all, it cooks quickly and easily and it doesn't have the sulfur odor so distinctive in other cabbage; just don't over cook it. Savoy cabbage is named for the Savoy region, a medieval duchy on the border of Italy, France and Switzerland. But I think we should call it by its lovely Italian name, cavolo verza. Now that's the name of a star!

Savoy cabbage is high in vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber. It's also a very good source of fiber, manganese, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Heads of savoy cabbage are so large it's a good idea to have several dishes in mind when you purchase or harvest it. Because it is so tender, don't shy away from using it in salads. Just use salt and a vinegar or lemony dressing to help it wilt.

I like just about all cabbages, but savoy cabbage is my favorite and not just because it is so beautiful and healthy. The sweetness of savoy cabbage makes it a wonderful foil for rich and salty foods like duck confit, bacon or sausages. But because it is naturally mild and sweet, it is equally delicious as a bed for mild white fish or seafood. It can be cooked or used raw. It can be braised, roasted or boiled, and it's very easy to saute it in butter, olive oil or bacon fat. It can be used in preserved recipes like kimchi or sauerkraut.

Here are some ways to use savoy cabbage:

* Steam and serve with fish, or wrap the fish in the leaves and steam

* Saute it with boiled potatoes, garlic and onions

* Stuff the leaves with rice or potatoes and ground meat

* Add to minestrone

* Make sauerkraut

* Make kimchi

* Saute with bacon and spaetzle

* Use in borscht

* Shred it with carrots and seaon with apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt to make cole slaw

* Saute cabbage, bacon and onions then toss with egg noodles

* Combine with sliced sugar snap peas and a creamy dressing in slaw

Easter ~ Tiny Delights by Ana


For more minis by Ana, visit:

Budding blogger: Annam

Budding blogger series introduces new bloggers (those blogging for less than a year) every wednesday and promotes their blogs through Simple Indian Food. If you are interested in being a part of this series, please mail me a short description about your blog, the cuisine you specialize and your objective/inspiration in blogging to easycrafts@gmail.com.

Annam from Home of anna is today's featured blogger..Read more about her

My name is Annam and I am blogging since October 2009. I have not been posting much in the beginning but during the end of last year & early this year things have become too intense to the point of even posting couple of recipes each day.

I started cooking few years ago soon after I got married like everyone else. My cooking skills were limited in the beginning (in our early days of marriage) to the point where even my husband would claim himself to be a better cook than me. Things have changed now for the better. My husband would not dare to say such things even in his dreams ;-). Since our marriage, my cooking has gone to a whole new level. I have tried many new dishes, watched lot of cooking shows, collected new recipes and gathered several cookbooks. As of today, I just love cooking & I see it as a means to relax myself. My blog is primarily a reflection of my experiences in the kitchen along with my other passions in life. My favorite cooking related movie is Julie & Julia.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter Cakes ~ After Dark Miniatures


Easter ~ Ella Rose Miniatures


For more minis by Kerry of Ella Rose Miniatures, visit:
Blog: http://ella-roseminis.blogspot.com
eBay: http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/ella-rose36
Website: http://ellaroseminiatures.com


Budding blogger: Sharmilee

Budding blogger series introduces new bloggers (those blogging for less than a year) every wednesday and promotes their blogs through Simple Indian Food. If you are interested in being a part of this series, please mail me a short description about your blog, the cuisine you specialize and your objective/inspiration in blogging to easycrafts@gmail.com.

Sharmi from Sharmi's passion is today's featured blogger. She says-

Sharmi's passions....As the name implies this blog of mine talks all about my passions and interests.

I found myself with varied passions and interests......say Mobiles/Photography/Cooking...etc

So Sharmis Passions is a mix of all these....So here you can find recipes, information/tips abt food photography, my experiences with gadgets etc. But recently I've been closely associated myself with food photography so my space is more of cooking stuff and have just started venturing the baking world.As with the case with everyone my mother is my first inspiration!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easter ~ Oiseau deNim


Budding blogger: Sonie

Budding blogger series introduces new bloggers (those blogging for less than a year) every wednesday and promotes their blogs through Simple Indian Food. If you are interested in being a part of this series, please mail me a short description about your blog, the cuisine you specialize and your objective/inspiration in blogging to easycrafts@gmail.com.

Meet Sonie of Sonie's food world today..

She says-

I am an punjabi and a bit foodie too.....I have learnt all the cooking mainly at home from my mother and my bhabhis and after my marriage from my in-laws.

To me food is a creation, if you make it with love it becomes a delicacy.

I also like to experience with the new food recipes but only if the used ingredients are available easily.......my blog has all the easy recipes.

I have done bakery course........but still have not include any bakery items but will include all that i know ........and its sure to be easy for all my readers.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Favorites from the Chocolate Salon

Did you make it to the Chocolate Salon this past weekend? It just gets better and better every year. There are salons held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and Las Vegas annually. In addition to trying tons of chocolate, one of the best things about attending a Chocolate Salon is that you get to meet many chocolatiers in person.

This year I was a judge and got a chance to try pounds and pounds of chocolate even before the actual event. I discovered there is a lot of very mundane chocolate, but also some amazingly good stuff from new confectioners who have only been open for business for barely a year or two.

A perennial favorite of mine is Amano, and this year they took many of the top awards. But since I've written about Amano before, I'm going to focus on chocolatiers that were new to me. Keep your eyes open for their fantastic chocolate and chocolate confections!

William Dean Chocolates
Bill Brown is the soft-spoken chocolatier behind William Dean Chocolates, named after his two grandfathers. His chocolates are exquisite and beautiful too! The popular peanut butter and jelly chocolate is what first grabbed me. His talent really shines in everything he makes with fruit, even pate de fruits. I also loved the bitter green tea white chocolate bar and the tropical caramel because they were not too sweet.

Clarine's Florentines
Clarine's Florentine's cookies dipped in chocolate are hands down the best florentines I've ever tried. There is something to be said for doing one thing, and doing it very well. The cookies have tons of toasted caramelized flavor and the chocolate is rich and luxurious. Like taking a little vacation in cookie form. Made in Berkeley.

Vice Chocolates
Oakland based Vice chocolates are really something special. Named Vice because the chocolatier found on an elimination diet that chocolate was one thing she could still eat. The dark chocolate, fig and anise seed bar was a unique combination of flavors and textures. It's dark, sultry and exotic, a most sophisticated fruit and spice bar. All the chocolates are very adult and intense. When it comes to the bon bons, I especially liked the Domina, a dark chocolate ganache infused with tangy crème fraîche, black tea, bergamont, and orange oil and the Violent Heart, filled with a chipotle infused caramel.

Quite a few of my favorites also happened to be local to the Bay Area:

Her Coconess made me rethink rocky road. High quality ingredients is what makes it so good. Imagine super toasty fresh almonds, delicate marshmallows all wrapped in dark chocolate. Mmmmm!

The Cocoa Delice cognac truffle was the best truffle at the show, in my opinion. Not too boozy, but very rich.

Dolce Bella made the crispiest toffee. A nice light crunch, very buttery, but not the kind of toffee that sticks in your teeth.

Another toffee-like treat was from Kika's Treats--caramelized graham crackers dipped in dark chocolate. A brand new comfort food, I could nibble on these all day.

Coco-luxe's cinnamon chocolate almonds are a nice twist on the usual chocolate almond. Very snackable (if that's a word).

A couple honorable mentions:
Kay Dillon's confections were surprisingly good, especially since they are vegan. She uses coconut and all organic ingredients. Dillon is a seasoned pastry chef with a wedding cake business, but her caramels and ganache are also wonderful.

Alter Eco fair trade certified chocolate has come a long way. The smooth textured Blackout bar has deep cocoa powder flavor and the Velvet bar has a touch of milk chocolate but also a very creamy smooth texture. The Quinoa bar is like the best ever version of a Nestle Crunch. These bars are a very good value and can be found at supermarkets.

Check out all the award winners.

Easter Table ~ Roxanne Fern