Bean Stew with Red Wine Syrup

Got it from here originally, but we’ve adapted it slightly for our locale while on vacation in Mexico. Plan ahead — starting with dry beans means an overnight soak before you can get started in earnest.

Want to make it meatless? Be careful. The bacon provides salt, smoke flavor, and fat to keep the beans from going chalky on you. So if you’re going vegetarian here, you might consider adding pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika) or even liquid smoke flavoring, salt, and plenty of olive oil to compensate.

Ingredients

1/2 pound bacon, diced or in postage-stamp-sized slices
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped or smashed
1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt, more to taste
2 cups dry red wine
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Shredded cotija cheese, for serving (optional)
generous bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Instructions

1. In the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat, brown bacon until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion, celery, carrots, garlic and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Drain beans and add to pot along with 1 tablespoon salt. Pour in enough water to just cover the beans (about 7 to 8 cups). Bring liquid to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently until beans are just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium heat, simmer wine until it is reduced to 2/3 cup, 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Pour wine into beans, mix in the cumin and chili powder, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes longer to meld flavors and thicken broth to taste. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and chopped cilantro.

Quick jaunt down to Italy

I got a chance at a couple days off, allowing me to use up all my vacation days for 2012 (not as easy it sounds!), so we jumped on it, intending to import our favorite groceries:

My location
Get Directions
Sarah reserved us a car and place to sleep at an agriturismo bed-and-breakfast in Veneto and we drove through breathtaking combinations of sky, snow, and scenery in Austria. When we crossed the border into Italy, everything turned gray and slushy. We trudged on through slippery, rainy valleys until we arrived in Piomobino Dese.

Continue reading Quick jaunt down to Italy

Raise a glass…or five

This past weekend we had a really nice time with some local pals at our place. We invited a mix of natives and transplants, but most of the natives already had other plans (note to selves: a mid-December gathering requires 4+ weeks lead time).

We told everyone we need help drinking all that wine we brought back from the Chianti and Veneto regions of Italy, but that was just a clever ruse to bring some friends together. Thankfully, no one brought wine, and our stock was reduced by about half.

Nikolaus brought me a new lens for my E-PL2 and the f/1.7 aperture was fast enough to mostly not need a flash. I’m kind of fascinated by the moody depth-of-field side effect, and from the looks of it, lots of attendees were.

lightweights (yeah, us!)

Wow, just one glass of wine each* at the Stadtamhof Weinfest really got us loopy. Good thing we live about 3 stumbles from the action. The fun continues tomorrow, so if you’re stopping by, let us know. Our bathrooms are guaranteed better than the public ones at the end of the street, because we don’t let just anyone in.

Stadtamhof Weinfest 2009 Stadtamhof Weinfest 2009 Stadtamhof Weinfest 2009 Stadtamhof Weinfest 2009 Stadtamhof Weinfest 2009 Stadtamhof Weinfest 2009

*I had a glass of some Tempranillo. Reminded me of the Coronas 2005 to which Cool Guy Matt introduced us, but quite not as smooth and easy. Sarah had an Agnes Crianza, which is perfect, if you like to lick the insides of wine barrels.

Glühweinapfeltorte (Spiced red wine apple cake)

Welcome to the lab! We reverse-engineered this cake from one that we bought in a bakery when a couple of friends were coming over for dinner. Any leftover syrup would probably be wonderful on vanilla or dark chocolate ice cream. It’s pretty simple, but labor and time intensive – don’t make it the same day you want to serve it. It gets better as it chills.

Red wine stewed apples
6 large tart apples, peeled and cored
3 c dry red wine (Burgundy is recommended)
2 c water
1/2 c sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 t ground ginger
1 t lemon zest

Shortbread crust
1 c butter, room temperature
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

Cinnamon whipped cream
1 c whipping cream
2 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t vanilla

First, the apples:

Bring wine, water, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and lemon zest to a boil in a stockpot or large Dutch oven. Add apples to wine and lower to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove apples with slotted spoon to cool in a bowl and set aside. Keep wine at a low boil and cook down to a syrup (45-50 minutes), stirring constantly. When the apples have cooled (1.5 to 2 hours), slice them into bite-sized pieces.

Then, the crust:

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). In a large bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder and blend into butter mixture until crumbly dough forms. In a greased 9- or 10-inch springform pan, pat dough on to bottom and sides to 1/4 inch thickness. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden. Set aside to cool.

Whipped cream time:

Pour cream into chilled bowl and beat on high speed. Slowly add sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.

Assemble the cake:
Pour sliced apples into cooled shell and drizzle with wine syrup (don’t feel you have to use it all – you don’t want it to soak through the crust and get soggy). Spread whipped cream on top of the apples and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.