Vine and Dine with Horizons #2


Liz and I are at it again! We’re cooking and the husbands are being pseudo-sommeliers.* Be sure to read about Liz’s adventure here. Thanks for being my cooking cohort yet again, Liz!


Cookbook:
Horizons: New Vegan Cuisine

Recipes:
Cuban Pan Seared Tofu with Onions and Mojo, page 100
Caramelized Cauliflower in Spanish Green Garlic Sauce, page 130

Random Thoughts and Results:
Years ago when we’d go to trade wine tastings, one of the wine representatives who would invite us was also a chef who had a restaurant in California before returning to Ohio for family reasons. He said cooking well was about knowing a few techniques and then creatively applying them. This really stuck with me and explains why I’m enjoying this Horizons cookbook so much. The beginning of the book is all about techniques and the rest of the book is how to use them. Simple techniques, such as pan searing correctly, go a long way in adding to a dish.

The Cuban Pan Seared Tofu is a perfect example. Preparing tofu without marinating it could really be a disaster. But not here! The flavors of this tofu are intense, even without the amazing sauce. It comes down to the seasoning blend and the pan searing. Put it all together, and it’s magic. Close your eyes and you can almost imagine that you’re at the restaurant.

We love roasted cauliflower. I always do a head for the two of us and find Jim looking around for more. This is no exception. It’s a simple way to fancy up the dish and was a wonderful side. We also had some Israeli Cous Cous.

For both these recipes, I cut way back on the oil. In the mojo sauce, I subbed broth.

Matching the wine for this one proved a little trickier than the first one. While Jim’s pick was good, it wasn’t great. That just means I’ll be making it again and I’m already looking forward to it.

Here’s Jim!

Hi!

Well, before you start, I fucked this one up. OK, bye! If you’re still willing to read this, here we go: I figured that it would be cool to be a little out of the box, so I started hunting around the house for a Rhone white. I was thinking about a Marsanne or Rousanne and had these memories of big, opulent whites that stand up to anything. Cool evenings on the patio, last white wine of the year kinda vibe.

Not being a Chard person (I like my oak in trees), our whites are generally whittled down in the smaller of the two wine coolers that we have (the 40-ish bottle one) to some K Vintners oddballs, a bunch of Sauternes and Rieslings. Mosel. Yum. But none of these met the dish.

So, I found a 2008 Mas Nuef from the Costieres De Nimes, 65% Grenach Blanc and 35% Rousanne, estate grown. Southern France, formerly Languedoc, think almost Mediterranean. “Ooh” I said, “neato”. We picked it up in Erie, PA at a STATE (yes, the STATE runs the wine store in the most SOCIALIST of ways) wine store. The beauty of PA wine stores are that PA acts as the distributor of all the wine in that STATE, essentially cutting out the (for profit) middleman, bringing you wine at a DISCOUNT. I think PA is essentially the largest distributor in the US (not sure of the fact on that one, but it sounds as if). State wine stores; crazy idea, huh? And by the way, I’m still trying to figure why more Wall Street assholes aren’t behind bars, but that’s for another day.

After pulling Mr. Monkey away from the photo op and throwing on some mood music (it was a Gary Moore thing, seeing as he recently departed the planet and I am doing some voodoo stuff to get his finger dexterity transferred through dimensions into my own aging hands) whilst Tamasin cooked and plated, off we went to see how this wonderful wine matched this scrumptious dish.

Well, the wine got kinda annihilated by the Horizons flavor profile. Problems were not necessarily concept (Mr. Monkey and I defend the concept of the choice) but definitely the $11.99 price tag, and a light apricot/floral/mineral profile that didn’t hold it’s own. The Tofu-Cauliflower Horizon complexity called for a much higher end wine. So bummer.

After two seconds consideration, I thought, well that’s a good thing. Because the cool part of having wine is that, like food and people, sometimes things go wrong. And that’s life. So we didn’t open another bottle or anything, we just sipped through dinner and finished it off after. Which worked out. And we had a great meal, and a great night.

Again, Kate from Horizons was very kind in offering her wine suggestion for this entree. I’ve had some lovely albarinos and can see how it would be the perfect choice. Thanks so much for your input, Kate.

“For the Cuban Tofu, I think I would go with a Latin wine. Maybe an Albarino with just enough sweetness to work with the sauteed onion but with good acidity for the sharpness of the mojo. (Licia Albarino by Fattoria, Rias Baixas, Spain)

Would you like to get in on the Vine and Dine series? For the next cookbook we are using Tal Ronnen’s book, The Conscious Cook. Our choices are the Cajun Portobello Sandwich with Avocado and Remoulade (page 112) and Paella with Sausage, Nori-Dusted Oyster Mushrooms and Wine-Braised Artichoke Hearts (page 160). Join us in matching these dishes with your wine of choice. I’ll let you know the posting dates when we determine which one is first. If you’d like to join but need the recipes, just email me.

Don’t forget to enter the book contest, thanks to Book Pub Co! And be sure to check back for the biggest contest ever. Coming soon!

Disclaimer: wine choices are believed to be vegan but are not confirmed.

*Try saying “pseudo-sommeliers” 3 times fast after a few glasses of wine. Really, try it. It’s fun.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted March 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    What an interesting post! I don’t know much about wine, I always wonder if I choose the right one for my food. The Horizons cookbook sounds really interesting and that dish looks just mouthwatering.

  2. Posted March 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I try to choose a wine that seems to go well with the meal, but in the end we almost always end up doing the same thing as it sounds like you guys did with this one – enjoying the meal, then enjoying the wine. There is definitely something to be said for perfect wine/food pairings, but at the same time, there is something to be said for fully enjoying each without one getting lost within the other…

  3. Posted March 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Great write up. I’m definitely going to make it again with the Horizons suggestion if we can get hold of some.

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