Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Solstice Tasting - 2014

I was dithering about what to do for the Winter Solstice Tasting this year, and then thought... Sake!

So I hunted down a sake expert to come to the house and found some kindred spirits to join me on the taste adventure.

We'll be trying five different types:
  • Namanam (unpasteurized)
  • Namacho (once pasteurized)
  • Nigori (cloudy)
  • Teion (white-wine-like acidity)
  • Genshu (undiluted)
At first, I was just thinking about serving the sake with sushi. A quick trip to T&T, grab some dragon rolls, wasabi peas & be done with it. Kaarina wondered, which fish with which sake (say that out loud 5 times).

Then Caroline sent me info on the "surprising affinity between Canadian cheese and sake." How irresistible is that? Apparently, since sake has a lower acidity than wine and no tannins, the resulting rounder flavours make it a complementary (rather than contrasting) pairing. Also, both cheese and sake are bursting with umami flavours, and the more umami in the sake, the more complementary it will be to cheese.

Although there are categories of sake, there are huge variations within each. For example, much Nigori sake is sweet and creamy in texture, but there is a variety "so chunky you will be tempted to eat it with a fork. Taste Buds and Molecules suggests pairing a chilled Nigori to calm the fire of capsaicin hot peppers.

SakeWorld is a fantastic introduction to the complexities of rice wine. That's where I found this handy flavour profile chart:

John Gauntner, founder of SakeWorld, is a world-renowned expert on the subject, and suggests pairing based primarily on acidity, umami and texture. In a post at Steamy Kitchen he writes,  "Fortunately, it is hard to have a real mismatch with sake: even if the pairing is not perfect, you have leeway. So feel free to experiment."

We'll need to find out a bit more about the sake we will be sipping before settling on the food pairings, but I'm already twirling around with some ideas.


Sake – Food Pairing Chart – Starting with Sake

Sake and food chart-3
Steamy Kitchen

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Long Nights Full Moon - December

The temperature and weather are very unpredictable right now. Below freezing in the early morning, warmish in the afternoon, flurries, freezing rain.

One thing that isn't unpredictable are the length of days. It's dark when I leave for work. Dark when I come home. I miss the sun!

The moon is always a welcome sight, but in the winter it seems more vigilant in its fight against darkness.

The moon was full 7:30 a.m. December 6.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Purple-y delicious

I had a craving for beets or cabbage today.  A little odd, I know. Maybe just needing some B6 or possibly potassium?

A shot of purple to feast my eyes.

In my recipe search I went through some old cookbooks on the shelf, and came across this curious description:

Every fall at the farmers' market I buy the biggest, heaviest green cabbage I can find. I wrap it tightly in a plastic bag and put it on the bed in my guestroom, which in winter I only heat enough to keep fruits and vegetables from freezing. Then almost every week I fetch my cabbage to the kitchen, carefully pull off a couple of leaves, and slice or chop them to make a salad... I wrap up my cabbage again and am grateful that it will probably last as long as the snow flies. Edna Staebler, 
Soups and Salads with Schmecks Appeal

Edna was born in 1906, died in 2006. The back of the 1990 book says she "lives in Mennonite Country north of Waterloo, Ontario, where she reads, swims, knits, and feeds wild birds, her cats, and her many friends." I think I would have liked her had I gotten a chance to know her.  Although I wouldn't have wanted to stay in her guest bedroom in winter! 

Normally I slice the cabbage,  exposing the rosette of colour, but then after awhile the white turns yellow and doesn't look very appealing. The cabbage dries up and ends up in the compost. looking shriveled and sad.

I love this peeling-the-leaf method! Just take what you need, and this humble .99 cent veg has the potential to last for months in the fridge.

I ended up making a beet and red cabbage pickled salad to satisfy my craving, and look forward to peeling leaves for the next few months. Next up: braised red cabbage with bacon.  

A memory from years ago: I ended up on one episode of a T.V. cooking show because Bob Blumer was casting participants from garden clubs. It was an entertaining day, mainly just sitting around waiting for a chance to eat an incredible meal prepared fresh from a community garden. No pretending was required when we finally got around to eating, the meal was delicious! A spectacular table had been set, which included slicing cabbage heads so they entirely covered the surface of the groaning table. Incredibly colourful! Even a few years later, people would say they saw me on T.V. Funny thing was I never did see the episode.

Cabbege:  In addition to being packed with vitamin C and anthocyanins, red cabbage is packed with fiber, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese, and also contains thiamine, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, and magnesium. It's the glucosinolates in cabbage that get the award for their "anticancer" benefits.

Beets:  Betanin and vulgaxanthin are betalains that have gotten special attention in beet research. Beets are also an excellent source of folate and a very good source of manganese, potassium, and copper. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6.