Category Archive: Wine

Red, Wine, and Blue All Over Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I have been making Caramelized Onion and Red Wine Jam for several years.  It makes a lovely accompaniment to a cheese course or topping for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.  It is also perfect for gift giving and one of my most requested recipes.

Once you have made the jam, you’ll start finding uses for it everywhere you look.  This is one of our favorite ways to enjoy the jam, paired with our favorite blue cheese and grilled to perfection.



Red, Wine, and Blue All Over Grilled Cheese Sandwich
makes two sandwiches

This sandwich is the perfect excuse to splurge on the highest quality blue cheese you can find.  I can’t help but hope that your local cheese shop offers Bayley Hazen Blue.  If not, feel free to substitute your favorite creamy blue cheese.

1 teaspoon butter
4 slices of your favorite sandwich bread
2 ounces Bayley Hazen Blue cheese
2 Tablespoons caramelized onion and red wine jam

Crumble half of the blue cheese and divide evenly among two slices of bread.  Top the cheese covered slices with equal amounts of the caramelized onion and red wine jam.  Crumble the remaining blue cheese and place on top of the onion jam.  Top each sandwich with one of the remaining slices of bread.

Warm a grill pan over medium high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add the butter and melt completely.  Add the prepared sandwich to the hot pan and reduce the heat to medium.  Grill for two minutes before turning one-quarter turn to create perpendicular grill marks.  After another two minutes, flip the sandwich and repeat the process on the other side.

Carefully lift a corner of the sandwich to confirm that the cheese has melted and the onion mixture is warm.  Allow extra time if necessary to melt the cheese and warm the onion jam.

Once the cheese and onions are ready, remove the sandwich from the pan and allow to cool for one minute.  Slice the grilled sandwich in half and serve warm.  Enjoy!

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Nearly Wordless Wednesday-May 25, 2011

As a person who loves wine, yesterday was a reason to celebrate with a glass in hand.  It was the 35th anniversary of the infamous Paris Tasting where California wines were chosen as the winners of the blind tasting arranged by Steven Spurrier.  I know that the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was actually chosen the winner, but what can I say?  I’m a red wine drinker so a substitution was made.

I plan to mark this anniversary today by enjoying great wine and watching Bottle Shock.  I’ll raise my glass and celebrate a great moment in American wine history.  Then I’ll start looking for the next anniversary of a great moment in viticulture to celebrate.  I sure hope it’s right around the corner.

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French Fridays-Gougeres

Welcome to French Fridays with Dorie at 1840 Farm.  I’m not usually a person who looks to join this kind of thing.  Really, I’m not.  However, this group involves cooking, reading, eating French food, and blogging.  I felt that an exception had to be made.

And then there’s the fact that Dorie Greenspan is involved.  I don’t own dozens of her cookbooks.  I know her more as a friend of a friend.  Well, that may be an enormous stretch.  Julia Child was definitely her friend.  I’m one of the millions of people who watched Julia on television and wished that she was my friend.  True, it is a marked difference, but at least I know that.

As a child, my experience with Julia was strictly her.  She was on television, usually alone, teaching me to love the experience even if the end result didn’t turn out exactly as I had expected.  She taught me that it was okay to mold a failed omelette back into shape and hold my head high.  As an adult, Julia was on camera with other great chefs and bakers.  Julia was in print with cookbook authors.

Enter Dorie into my life.  Where Julia was, Dorie was sure to follow.  I didn’t just purchase Baking with Julia, I put it on display in my farmhouse kitchen the way some people display fine art.  To me, it was.  I read Dorie’s carefully written recipes as if they were chapters from a great novel.  I chose the recipes I wanted to try and followed her as my guide.  I began to realize that although Julia was gone, Dorie was here.


I also knew that my daughter would love cooking the recipes along with me.  It somehow seemed right that if I learned by watching Julia, my daughter could learn by reading Dorie’s cookbook.  So, today we set out to make the first recipe from the series French Fridays with Dorie.

Gougeres.  A food so delicious that it deserves to be its own complete sentence.  If you don’t agree, then may I recommend that you run to your local bookstore or public library and put a copy of Around My French Table into your hands immediately.  Go ahead, make them and tell me that you still disagree.

The recipe was easy to follow.  If I had left my daughter in the kitchen too long, I might have come back in to find them ready to go in the oven.   They infused the whole kitchen with a wonderful aroma and the resulting gougeres were absolutely delicious.  Dorie mentions that they can be frozen and baked directly from a frozen state.  I’m busy dreaming up ways to make more room in the freezer.  They’re that good.  This winter, they will pair beautifully with soups and vegetable dishes.  I won’t lie, they’ll also pair beautifully with that glass of red wine that always seems to be poured a little early on Sunday afternoon while dinner is in the works.

Tonight, the gougeres were served with fresh herb baked eggs and a spinach salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.  We poured a delicious 2007  A to Z Pinot Noir.  The combination was other worldly.  Tonight’s dinner would be enough to cement Dorie’s place in our cookbook collection.  If I hadn’t already been a fan, I would have easily become one of the card-carrying variety.

At the end of our meal, my daughter had a look of pure happiness on her face.  She was proud of her work.  She was happy that we all enjoyed the gougeres so much.  She proclaimed that, “We should have this for dinner more often!”  I couldn’t have hoped for more.   A great meal, a happy child, and the thought that some day, years from now, I will walk into her kitchen.  I’ll smell gougeres baking and that same look of pure happiness and pride will appear on my face.

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Micucci’s – Portland, Maine

I have been having second thoughts about pressing the “publish” button on this post.  Do I really want to encourage everyone to visit the temple of pizza that exists in the back room at Micucci’s Grocery in Portland, Maine?  Right now, I feel like the cool kid who knows the secret handshake.  I mean, you have to know that the pizza is past the maze of the enormous cans of San Marzano tomatoes and Il Riso Beretta Carnoroli arborio rice.  If you didn’t, you might pass by the understated storefront that is Micucci’s in favor of a more upscale looking establishment, of which Portland has a bevy to choose from.

Me, I’m sticking with Micucci’s.  The Sicilian style pizza is so good that I’m struggling for words that can adequately describe it.  To say that it is the best pizza in the whole world makes me sound like some cheesy tag line for Domino’s.  So I won’t.  I will say that it is the most sublime pizza experience I have ever had.  It is all that you would hope that a great slice would be.  Except that to call this a slice might be a bit misleading.  It’s more of a slab than a slice.  I don’t think that a slice would weigh a full pound and require its own personal pizza box.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not criticizing its size.  I ate it all.  When it was gone, I found myself wondering if I could find a reason to go back for more.  In the end, I decided that having a slab for lunch and bringing a second home for dinner was probably sufficient.

The crust is crisp on the exterior while somehow remaining soft and incredibly doughy on the interior.  The sauce is simply tomato.  It is slightly sweet, but not overly so.  It perfectly compliments the rich, chewy crust without overpowering it.  All that is left to discuss is the cheese and the relative lack thereof.  Instead of the cheese drowned slices of the Americanized variety, this pizza has been topped with a very light hand.  There is just enough cheese to perfectly complete the flavor.  Usually, a slice of pizza that consists of crust, tomato sauce, and cheese would be called cheese pizza.  The pizza at Micucci’s can’t honestly be described that way because the cheese is the least important component on your plate.

Speaking of the plate, if you eat at Micucci’s, you’ll have to wait at the window for your slab and hope not to find the paper plate folded in half.  If you do, you’ll notice that someone has written “5 minutes” on it using a simple black marker.  Five minutes can seem like a lifetime when you’re left to stand there staring at an empty stainless steel shelf smelling pizza this good.  Once the slabs hit the window, you’ll notice that they come on simple, white paper plates.  You can either box each slab up to take home or walk it back through the maze of grocery items to the cashier.  Once you’ve paid for your slab, you can return to the back room and sit at one of the two patio tables and finally dig in with your plastic knife and fork.  Welcome to pizza nirvana.  Now you know the secret handshake.

I’m not the only one who feels like this pizza is incredible.  In fact, when I did a search for “Micucci’s Pizza” a wide variety of diner’s comments and ratings all had one thing in common:  they all raved about how great it was.  I also found articles in The Boston Globe and The Portland Press Herald written about the pizza slabs from the back room.  I can’t blame them.  Afterall, I’m sitting here writing about it now.  It’s one thing for me to write about it, but quite another to share it with the world.  Should I really publish?  I don’t have a choice.  Food this good can’t be kept a secret no matter the consequences.

What if you all go running to Portland for the world’s best pizza and I’m left staring at the folded paper plate in the window?  I’ve stood there before.  Trying to look as if I’m not ready to pounce on the first corner slab like a starved jungle cat.  Somehow I survived, but it wasn’t easy.  It’s not like sitting at a restaurant table and waiting for your entrée while eating your appetizer or drinking your cocktail.  There are no distractions here.  And then there’s the haunting smell of something wonderful baking in the oven.

Now, if I’m lucky, I’ll find an excuse to get myself to Portland soon.  I’ll wait for my pizza if I have to.  I’ll drive home and try to ignore the heavenly smell radiating from the pizza box.  This pizza gracing my dinner table alone will make the meal a special occasion.   For you oenophiles, I can simply say this:  my husband and I recently brought home two slices for dinner.  We also picked up a bottle of wine.  The wine?  None other than Chateau Montelena 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Old Port Wine Merchants.  You might call it overkill.  I call it a well deserved reward for buying a delicious date night’s dinner for less than ten dollars.

Micucci's Italian Grocery on Urbanspoon

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