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Posts Tagged ‘cooking with wine’

How Much Alcohol Remains In Cooked Food?

August 21st, 2012 No comments

We’ve all heard that when you cook with wine, all the alcohol “boils off,” rendering your final dish innocuous. But is the conventional wisdom true?

In short, no. It is true that alcohol boils at a much lower temperature than water (173 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with 212 degrees Fahrenheit), but all that means is that the alcohol in a dish will begin to evaporate (“boil off”) before the water does. How much alcohol is left in your finished dish depends on three things: heat, time, and the concentration of alcohol you started with. All three factors have a role in evaporating the booze from your dish. So, for example, a flambéed dessert will end up with more alcohol than will a long-simmered tomato sauce with red wine.

A 1992 study by food scientists from Washington State University, the University of Idaho and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooked with wine and sherry (all in the name of science, of course!) to find out exactly how much alcohol is evaporated during normal cooking. Here’s a chart that summarizes what they found:

The take-home message? It can take up to three hours to simmer almost all the alcohol out of a dish. But don’t worry–there’s still not nearly enough to get anyone tipsy, unless you’re pouring bottles of wine into your food, and eating huge portions. Wine is only about 13% alcohol or so. If you’re adding a cup of your favorite red to a pasta sauce, then simmering it for an hour, your finished dish has only 1.56 teaspoons of alcohol in it. Divide that into four servings, and each dinner guest is imbibing in a mere 0.39 teaspoons–hardly enough to accidentally get them drunk. As for the wine you serve with dinner, that’s another story!

In Place of Red Wine…

June 12th, 2012 No comments

If you enjoy cooking with wine, you probably keep a few bottles on hand.  However, “wine emergencies” do happen; dogs and children can knock over portable wine racks, you can drop, break, or spill the last bottle of “perfect” red wine meant for your dinner, or you can be so rushed to get home and start cooking that you forget to pick up that “perfect bottle” in the first place!  Although nothing competes with a quality wine, below are a few cooking tricks to use in an emergency when you find yourself without a proper wine.

Wine is meant to enrich food, not compete with it.  Be sure your dish really requires that “wine flavor” before doing one of the following:  If your recipe really needs wine, substitute regular grape juice or cranberry juice.  Cranberry juice blends containing apple juice are also possible.  If the result is too sweet, add a tablespoon of vinegar.  (This really does work.)

Use a Napa 4-bottle wine dispenser to keep wine on hand while you cook.

If you are making a soup, stew, or sauce, do not add the wine alternative at the last minute.  Instead, add the substitution to your liquid as it simmers so you can accurately gauge the balance of its flavor and its overall scent.  If you need a red wine substitute for soup, consider using 1/2 a cup of broth mixed with 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar.  Don’t have red wine vinegar?  Use 1 teaspoon of lemon juice instead!

While nothing compares to meat marinated in red wine, any marinade will help make your meat more juicy and tender than if cooked alone.  If your meat dish requires a dry red, add a cup of lemon or lime juice for a generic tart taste, or a cup of orange or even pineapple juice for a tart-yet-sweet marinade.  Too strange?  Try 3/4 cup tomato juice and 1/4 cup vinegar.   (That’s actually not too bad!)

Although these alternatives may sound a bit odd, the results are far superior than if you resort to “cooking wine.”  Although you may have an inkling, resist the temptation to use cooking wine!  It is often flavored with salt and various additives that will easily compromise your dish.  Of course, the best course of action is to always have extra bottles of wine around “just in case.”  To ensure you always have a few bottles of red on hand, consider purchasing a Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser. This way, you’ll always have a bottle “on tap” and ready to go.  The Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser also fits conveniently in most kitchen spaces.  Cheers!

Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce

If you like to add wine to your pasta sauce, here’s an easy recipe that’s sure to make some happy tummies!  Here’s what you’ll need:

Red Wine and Meatball Sauce

Photo by Erik Möller

  • 1 pound (or more) ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 egg, yolk separated
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • olive oil
  • parsley flakes
  • salt
  • pepper
Napa 4-bottle wine dispenser and wine preserver

Napa 4-bottle Wine Dispenser

In a large bowl, mix the egg, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and ground beef (or turkey) by hand.  Season liberally with salt and pepper, and continue mixing.  Shape your meat mixture into 20-30 small balls, and set them in a medium-to-large frying pan coated with olive oil.  Fry your meatballs, turning them as necessary until they are brown on all sides.  Drain excess oil from the pan, if necessary, and remove the meatballs.  (Set them aside for later.)  In a separate bowl, mix together the beef stock, wine, and tomato paste.  Add parsley flakes as desired.  Carefully pour mixture into your meatball pan, stirring gently until the sauce comes to a boil.  Add your meatballs!  Cover and simmer for 25-30 min.  Pour over pasta, and enjoy!  (And don’t forget to serve the wine you used for cooking with the meal.)  If you’ve prepared this dish in advance early in the day, consider using the Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser to keep the rest of your wine fresh and ready to serve with the meal.

Do you have a favorite wine-sauce variation? Share it in the comments!

 

What are Wine Diamonds?

February 21st, 2012 No comments

Ever drink a glass of really good wine and find little crystals at the bottom?  These are “wine diamonds,” not sediment, and they have been helping to preserve your wine!

Potassium hydrogen tartrate is a byproduct of winemaking. In cooking it is known as cream of tartar.

Potassium hydrogen tartrate is a byproduct of winemaking. In cooking, it is known as cream of tartar.

Wine diamonds are, in actuality, potassium bitartrate crystals that sometimes form on a wine bottle’s cork, most often when chilled.  During the winemaking process, itself, they naturally form on the sides of fermentation tanks.  They can be found in both red and white wines, and do not in any way mean that there’s a problem with your wine.  In fact, when present, they help lower the pH, making a hostile environment for many types of bacteria that can spoil wine, helping to preserve wine after fermentation.

The majority of winemakers, however, have gone to great lengths to eliminate these crystals from their bottles.  (Mostly, this is a reaction to complaints about the harmless crystals.)  Very cold stabilization before bottling (usually between 2 or 3 weeks) is a “solution” that brings these tartrate crystals to the fore, allowing them to be easily filtered from the wine which is then warmed back up.

If you do find wine diamonds in your wine, your wine was probably made very naturally, and this is a good thing!  Also note that consuming the crystals will not harm you; these wine tartrate crystals are the very same ingredient in the cream of tartar you used for baking the other day.  They’re also used in a bunch of other foods and nonalcoholic drinks.  It so happens that wineries are the only commercial sources for tartrates, and they often collect and sell wine diamond deposits that form in their tanks.

So, the next time you see a few crystals at the bottom of your wine glass, know that they have occurred naturally, are nontoxic, and that they have helped to preserve your wine.  Cheers!

Red Wine Garlic Bread

January 31st, 2012 No comments

Delicious wine bread with garlicIn the mood for some warm, winter bread?  Who isn’t? With a little wine and garlic, your winter snack will be even more delightful!  First, pick up a freshly-baked baguette from your local grocery store or bakery.  (You may also opt to bake yourself a homemade loaf of French bread.)  In addition to a loaf of bread, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup dry, red wine (pick a good one!)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thinly

Preheat your oven to 400° F.  Cut your bread into 1-inch slices but do not fully separate them from the main loaf; aim for semi-sliced bread that will bake as a unit, but with slices that will be easy to separate later on.  Place a large amount of foil on a baking sheet, and place your bread on top of it.  Curl up the edges of the foil to contain the soon-to-be-made wine and butter mixture.  Between each slice of bread, place a thin slice of garlic.  Mix the wine and melted butter in a bowl, then pour the mixture evenly between bread slices.  Pour whatever is left evenly over the top of the bread.  Bake for 22-24 minutes until the bottom of the bread is nice and crisp.  Enjoy!

Wine and Chicken Crock-Pot® Recipe

January 10th, 2012 No comments

Crock-Pot®Slow cookers, like the Crock-Pot®, are ideal for winter cooking; you can keep them on and cooking all day, filling your home with the tempting aroma of tonight’s dinner.  What is more, you can even use them when cooking with wine.  Here’s a delicious chicken recipe perfect for a cold, winter’s eve.

 What you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 whole mushrooms, diced
  • 12 pearl onions, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 to 6 chicken legs, or a small chicken
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser

Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser

Put your diced mushrooms and onions into your slow cooker.  Add the chicken broth, dry red wine, tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, garlic salt, pepper, and bay leaf.  Stir.  Add your chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  When ready, place chicken on a warm serving dish, and transfer the liquid in your slow cooker to a small pan to make a nice sauce.  Add the 1/4 cup of flour to it and, if necessary, a 1/4 cup more chicken broth.  Cook until thick, and stir.  Remove bay leaf, and distribute the sauce evenly over the chicken.  (This recipe also works well with two cornish game hens.)  Since this dish will be cooking all day, consider using a wine preservation device like the Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser to keep the remainder of your wine fresh to serve with the meal.  Happy eating!

Recipe: Wine & Lemon Sauce for Chicken

January 5th, 2012 2 comments

Every family seems to have a unique, coveted lemon chicken signature dish.  Perhaps this easy wine and lemon sauce recipe will help liven up your current poultry preparatory practices, or perhaps you’ll be inspired to add additional ingredients to make this sauce truly your own?  Here’s all you’ll need:

Sliced lemons, ready to make a white wine and lemon sauce.

A photograph of lemons by André Karwath

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup white wine (we recommend any good Sauvignon or Fumé Blanc)
  • 2 lemons, or more
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

While your chicken is cooking, mix the flour, pepper, and salt together in a bowl.  Add the olive oil and wine.  Mix well!  Pour the mixture into a small pan, and heat on medium until the sauce reaches a desired thickness.  Next, cut your lemons, and squeeze as much juice from them as possible into the pan.  (You can add more lemons, if desired, and bottled lemon juice will suffice if you’re in a pinch.)  Stir quickly, then remove the pan from heat.  Transfer the sauce into a serving bowl, and top with parsley.  Spoon the sauce over your fully-cooked chicken, and enjoy!  As always, be sure to serve the wine you used to make the sauce with the meal.  If you have wine left over, don’t throw it out; consider using a nitrogen-based wine dispensing system like The Keeper Wine Preservation System to keep it fresh for the next time.  And to bring out the flavor of your Fumé Blanc even more, consider adding one or more of the following ingredients to your sauce: dill, basil, chives, crushed hazelnuts, mustard, or capers.  Mmmmm!

Blueberry Port Sauce for Duck and Goose

December 15th, 2011 No comments

This winter season, tantalize your taste buds with a delicious port wine sauce that’s perfect for roast duck, goose, and even turkey.  Easy-to-make, and with a welcomed reference to summer (i.e. the blueberries), this unique treat could possibly become a holiday staple.

Roast Duck Breast

Roast Duck Breast Meat (photo by Chensiyuan)

Here’s what you’ll  need:

  • 1 heaping cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 1/4 cups tawny port wine (or ruby port)
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. redcurrant jelly

Thaw the frozen blueberries.  Pour the port, jelly, and half of the blueberries into a saucepan.  Heat on medium-high and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture becomes thin.  Remove from heat and add the remaining blueberries.  Stir in mustard.  Keep your port wine sauce warm until ready to serve.

Enjoy this unique blueberry port sauce with your favorite roast poultry dishes.  For an exciting variation, try substituting boysenberry jelly.  Enjoy!

Natalie MacLean’s New book: UNQUENCHABLE

December 13th, 2011 No comments

Natalie MacLean poses for the cover of her new book UNQUENCHABLEA fascinating, fun and exciting romp through the world of wine, Natalie MacLean’s latest award-winning book UNQUENCHABLE: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines, has hit the shelves!  Named the World’s Best Drink Writer by the World Food Media Awards, and winner of four James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards, Natalie’s prose is passionate, witty, honest, and informative.  In UNQUENCHABLE, you’ll meet several intriguing real-life wine personalities, all personally interviewed by Natalie in a variety of exotic locales.  Natalie’s journey takes you to wineries across the world in search of the best value wines, and her findings are summarized conveniently at the end of each chapter.  And just as you’d expect from the inventor of “Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings”, the fabulous food and wine pairing app for smartphones and “touch” devices, the book abounds with mouth-watering recipes for you to savor as well.  Filled with history, wine history, culture, current events, tips about cooking with wine, plus food and wine pairing suggestions (and additional wine trivia), this entertaining read is a must for wine lovers.  UNQUENCHABLE: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines is published by Perigee Trade.  Available from your favorite book distributors, and even offered as an eBook, its 13-digit ISBN is 978-0399537073 (for easy searching!).  Maybe a great gift for a wine lover in your life?

Red and White Wine Turkey Sauce

November 22nd, 2011 No comments

He prefers red wine, she prefers white, and their daughter likes some of both.  Now, they are coming over for Thanksgiving dinner.  You wanted to make a delicious wine sauce to accompany your turkey, but now you just don’t know which to make: red or white?  Never fear!  With this easy recipe, red lovers, white lovers, and those who enjoy both will all be delighted.

First of all, you’re going to make two different sauces–one with white wine, one with red.  These sauces can be served separately, or combined to form an intriguing red-white sauce!  (Excited yet?)

A Roast Thanksgiving Turkey

A Thanksgiving Turkey (photo by Gregory Kohs)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup red wine (on the drier side)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (dry or sweet)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 4 ounces chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 cup unsalted butter

Put the red wine, butter, and chicken stock in a pan and simmer on low for 12-14 minutes.  Now, into another pan, put the white wine and chicken bouillon cube.  Heat over low for 6-7 minutes, then stir the heavy cream and chives into your white sauce.  Continue to heat 2-3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Voilà!  Once your turkey is ready, ask each guest’s preference before pouring the red or white sauce over it while serving.  And for guests looking for a real treat, pour both sauces over the bird.  Enjoy!