Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blood Orange Marmalade

Blood Orange Marmalade

Oh my! It has been almost a month since my last post. Trust me, I have still been cooking, I just haven't been blogging. Time to ring in 2009 with a recipe that adds a bit of summer to a cold winter day.
I am lucky enough living in Portland, Oregon to have a great local market (New Seasons) that has great produce. Recently that had a veritable cornucopia of citrus fruit. 4-5 kinds of tangerines, sweet limes, Meyer lemons and one of my favorite members of the citrus family, the Blood orange.
I was lucky enough to go to attend a semester of classes in Rome (Italy, not Idaho) while I was in Architecture school. One of my most vivid memories is of going to Campo di Fiori and seeing Blood oranges for the first time. I knew vaguely what they were, but having grown up in rural Idaho it goes without saying that I didn't grow up with this fruit on the table.
I had just planned to consume these oranges, but a happy accident occurred when I stumbled across a recipe for marmalade and I decided to notch it up by adding the Blood oranges to the mix.
I started with a couple of Blood oranges that I thinly sliced and added to a small sauce pan that had a cup of sugar and a cup of water. The oranges simmered for 30 minutes and then I drained the syrup, finely diced the oranges and then place back in the sauce pan with another cup of sugar and half a cup of water along with two tablespoons of lemon juice. I simmered that mixture for another 30 minutes, then cooled the mixture and place it in a jar and refrigerated it. This marmalade has such a great freshness that shames store bought imitators. Think about it, this is so easy to make that you can throw it together and still catch your favorite reality television series. At the worst, it will give you something to help get rid of the sour taste of "Superstars of Dance".

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friends, Food, Fizz

The Saturday before Christmas I got together with about 12 of my friends for Champagne tasting. We have made this event a holiday tradition and the only rule is you have to bring at least one bottle of Champagne (the real deal). Beyond that initial bottle you can drop in anything you want. I love throwing in a ringer to see if we know what we are doing. To make this a bit more interesting we go ahead and either bag or in this case we put foil around the outside of the bottles so we can blind taste the wines.
Normally getting together in Portland, Oregon for the holidays is no biggie, you just put on a rain coat and head out the door. The weekend of December 20th there happened to be 12" of fresh snow on the ground and Portland was in the midst of what news channels were calling: Arctic Deathwatch, or was it Artic Thunder or maybe even Artic Shock and Awe? Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but the weather was really crappy and a foot of snow in a 12 hour period anywhere will put a crimp in your day. I was glad I lived only about 6 blocks from our hosts Tom Harvey and Andria Shirk.
The house was gorgeous (complete with a Charlie Brown Christmas tree) and the food was amazing.

A Hickory smoked turkey, Portuguese pork roast, smoked salmon, sushi rolls that my friend Heather (from Gild the Voodoolily), spiced pecans, cheese puffs stuffed with olives, assorted cheeses, a charcuterie tray and a cheesecake and chocolates at the end of the night.

We tasted through 11 wines and you if you are interested you can take a look at my notes (above). In general this group of wines showed the more acidic and citrus side Champagne and sparking wine. The wine of the night was the Tattenger-earthy, yeasty and great balance. The suprise of the night was a bottle of NV Domaine Meriweather that I brought. This Oregon wine showed a lemony citrus edge with a bit of earthy character and at $15/bottle this wine rocks. Oregon is producing some great sparkling wines and if you are looking for a good domestic wine that is a little exotic check out Domaine Meriweather or Argyle.

The ringer of the night was a 1996 Dom Perignon. My friend Gretchen threw this into the mix. This wine divided the group right down the middle. Some thought it to be "a bit off" and others said it had classic earthy/yeasty components and it needed a little time to breath....too bad we finished this off in about 20 minutes.