Flights By Night #6: Apothic Inferno and Primal Moussaka
Today’s Flights by Night is brought to you by Apothic Inferno. This wine was inspired by the whiskey-making techniques of barrel-aging and is aged in white oak, whiskey barrels. The barrels are charred with flames and first used to age whiskey for years prior to being used to age the wine.
“Those who have come to love Apothic know that we’re always looking to defy convention with unique blends and bold flavors,” said Christine Jagher, Marketing Director for Apothic Wines. “Apothic Inferno brings a rebellious attitude to the wine category – even the label’s dark colors and intertwined graphics elicit a fiery style, the perfect addition to our portfolio.”
The Apothic Inferno is a bold red wine that is on the spicy and herbal side. There are notes of clove and maple, so it’s necessary to pair the wine with a rich and earthy food. That’s why we chose Eggplant Moussaka, and more specifically the Primal Moussaka recipe that appears over on Mark’s Daily Apple. This is the type of meal you want to make on a winter evening. Like a great stew or lasagna, the moussaka gets even better the next night. Since the recipe is slightly labor intensive, you can make two pans at a time and freeze the rest to thaw it out for a no-hassle dinner on another night.
The savory flavors of cinnamon, allspice and fresh dill mixed in with the lamb makes this moussaka a no-brainer pairing for the herbaceous Apothic Inferno.
Primal Moussaka from Mark’s Daily Apple
(Taken directly from the website)
- 1-2 large eggplants, peeled (optional) and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 bunch of kale, chewy lower stems cut off
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
- 1 pound ground meat (lamb is traditional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- olive oil, for sautéing
- salt and pepper, to taste
Salting the eggplant is optional, but it will draw out moisture and prevent the eggplant slices from soaking up so much oil. After peeling (optional) and slicing the eggplant, place the slices in a colander. Sprinkle the slices liberally with kosher salt. Let the slices sit for 20-30 minutes until moisture appears on the surface. Rinse the eggplant thoroughly and blot dry.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add several slices of eggplant to the hot oil at a time and sauté the eggplant slices, turning as necessary, until soft and just lightly browned. Continue heating oil and cooking the eggplant until all the slices are cooked. Set the eggplant aside.
Boil the kale for 3 minutes. Puree the kale with the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water in a food processor.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Saute a few minutes then add meat, cinnamon and allspice. Stir, so the meat browns evenly. After five minutes add the dill and the tomato mixture.
Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
As the meat cooks, whisk together eggs, yogurt and nutmeg.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a lightly oiled 2-quart square baking dish, place a thin layer of eggplant then cover with the meat. Layer the remaining eggplant on top, then the yogurt. Top with additional grate cheese if desired.
Bake 45 minutes, or until the top is set and golden brown. Let rest 20 minutes before cutting into the Moussaka.
Apothic Inferno retails for $16.99. To learn more about Apothic Wines and where to buy, visit Apothic.com or Apothic’s social channels. You can find Apothic Wines on Facebook here, on Twitter here and on Instagram here.
Flights By Night #5: Lamb-Stuffed Tomatoes and a Duo of Reds
Flights by night is back with another food and wine pairing we recently had for dinner. I made this recipe in an emergency after being reminded via email that I was supposed to make the meal that evening. Fumbling to come up with a grocery list, I recalled a picture of some meat-stuffed tomatoes I had seen online somewhere a few days earlier… I think the author used beef and I couldn’t even remember if I even saw the recipe or followed the link, so I decided to come up with my own version using lamb and spices/herbs commonly used in Greek cuisine.
4 Beefsteak tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 bunch of fresh oregano
fresh Italian parsley
2 tsp allspice
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 pound ground lamb
Preheat your oven to 385°F. Wash your tomatoes thoroughly, then use a serrated knife to remove the very tops of the tomatoes. Then carefully hollow out each tomato (without going through the bottom) and reserve the insides for later use. After the tomatoes are prepped, place them in a pan deep enough to catch any drippings. Place them in the oven so they can precook while you are preparing your lamb mixture.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and then sauté your onion (finely chopped) until it cooks through a bit. Return to the tomato pieces from the hollowing out process and chop them up. Add the chopped tomatoes to the sautéed onion and continue to cook them. Then add the ground lamb and the herbs and spices and cook them together until the lamb is no longer pink in color. Allow mixture to cool slightly (5 minutes or so), then stir in 2 beaten eggs, incorporating them thoroughly.
Remove the tomatoes from the oven, by now they will have gotten a nice head start. Scoop the lamb mixture into each tomato, and fill them to the top. You’ll most likely have meat leftover, so you can put it in the pan alongside the tomatoes to eat with dinner, or reserve for use the next day in an omelette! 🙂
Bake the tomatoes for about 25 minutes or enough time for the lamb to brown on the top. Now lets talk about those wines we drank!
The first wine we had with dinner was a Duckhorn 2012 Merlot. The fruitiness of the Merlot really paired well with the succulent tomatoes & the oaky heft of the Domaine Eden 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (our second wine pairing and a completely different tasting wine) balanced out the gamey, in-your-face, Hit-em-with-the Hein-iness of the spiced lamb. Color my teeth purple and my tongue impressed! Thanks to Andy for bringing out this powerhouse duo of vino on an ordinary week night.
You can read about other food and wine Flights By Night here! Keep up with all the latest by following me on Twitter here and on Facebook here.
Flights By Night #4: A Duck and Pinot Noir “Pearing”
If I had only one wine left in the world to choose out of the several that I enjoy, I would keep Pinot Noir because of it’s complexity and versatility. In this edition of Flights By Night, we feature a duo of Pinot Noirs paired with sliced duck breast (graciously sent to me by Maple Leaf Farms), with a pear and carrot sauce, on a crispy sweet potato nest.
The Pinot Noirs we shared with the duck include a 2012 Willowbrook Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) and a 2012 Gavilan Pinot Noir (Chalone Appelation). When Andy and I choose two of the same varietal for a pairing, it’s fun to choose two wines we have tasted before and already know are very different. The Willowbrook is a very pleasant wine to drink all by itself with all the characteristics of a soft pinot noir, but I find the Gavilan is a better wine when it is served with food. The Gavilan is slightly effervescent and has a fuller body. That being said, we obtained many bottles of the Gavilan at a very good price, and my tastebuds fell in love with it. It became my everyday drinker for a while. Now onto the food pairing…
The sauce served on top of the duck is a take on an Alton Brown recipe–I wanted to use pears in my sauce in honor of California Pear’s Local Pear Love campaign. The major switch I made is that I used carrots instead of parsnips in the recipe, the rest I kept (mostly) the same. 🙂
For the sweet potato nests, I shredded two sweet potatoes in the food processor, squeezed out the excess water in them, and placed the shreds on a parchment lined and lightly oiled sheet pan (I like using a coconut oil spray for this.) I baked the shreds at 400° until they were browned and crispy. Then I plated the shreds in a circular formation to resemble little bird nests.
To prepare the duck, I seasoned the breasts with salt and cracked pepper, then started them in a cold saucepan (skin side down). I slowly brought them up in temperature and rendered out the fat, getting a nice sear/texture and brown color on the skin. Then I flipped them over to cook them a bit more and finished them in the oven for ten minutes at about 200°F. (When you remove the breasts from the oven, allow them to rest about five minutes before slicing into them. They will stay nice and juicy that way!)
You can find Maple Leaf Farms on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here. You can find California Pears on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.
You can read about other food and wine Flights By Night here!
Flights By Night #3: Pork Chop with Apple Gastrique and a Duo of Pinot Noir
In this edition of Flights By Night, we bring you a classic pairing of pork and Pinot Noir. A bone-in pork chop with an apple and onion sauté and an apple gastrique. Served with roasted Brussels sprouts.
The Pinot Noirs that Andy chose are some of the most delicious Pinot Noirs I have ever tasted and they are very reasonably priced. Wine number one is Handley’s 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (their self-titled “flagship wine”) and wine number two is Talbott’s 2013 Kali Hart Pinot Noir (which is my personal favorite red wine right now, because of it’s drinkability with or without food).
As for Handley, they couldn’t make a bad wine if they tried. Case in point, their Gewürztraminer ($20), but that is another pairing for another time. 😉 Handley’s Anderson Valley Pinot retails for $32 via their website and Talbott’s Kali Hart Pinot Noir goes for ($21). However, you can find the wines at lower prices if you do a google search for them. 😉
The food pairing was a no-brainer because pork is always a perfect match for Pinot Noir. I quartered the Brussels sprouts and roasted them in olive oil. For the apple and onion sauté, I sliced the onions and cooked them in olive oil, seasoned them with salt, and then added 2 Tbs coconut sugar to help caramelize them. Then I added some chopped apples, and cooked the onions and apples down together until the mixture was browned and thickened.
Andy was busy with the pork chops on the grill and meanwhile I made the apple gastrique. It was such a simple preparation. I just used one part honey to two parts apple cider vinegar. I started with the honey in a small saucepan, and roasted over low heat until the honey turned darker. Then I added the apple cider vinegar and brought to a simmer, then turned down the heat slightly and reduced until the gastrique stuck to the back of a spoon (gastrique will thicken even more as it cools). Tip: You can serve the gastrique with pork, duck, or chicken. 😉
That’s it for today’s Flights By Night! Check back in a few days for another great food and wine pairing!
Flights By Night #2: A Sangiovese & Cabernet Pairing
Today’s “Flights by Night” features a Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon matched up with my Spicy and Sweet Tomato, Beef and Mushroom Sauce over Roasted Spaghetti Squash.
A traditional pairing with any spicy red sauce would be a sangiovese, and we chose one by Luna Vineyards. Most sangiovese have an acidic body accented with bright, red fruit flavors, very similar to the flavor notes of a tomato (that of course would be the main ingredient in a red sauce). 😉 The acid in the wine fends off the heat of the red pepper flakes in the sauce.
Speaking of the sauce… Sometimes when preparing a meal during a busy work week, one has to take some shortcuts. For instance, I used a jar of organic 365 Everyday Value Pasta Sauce from Whole Foods as a base for my sauce and added:
1 sauteéd onion
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbs dried basil (Litehouse Foods has a freeze dried basil I absolutely love!)
1 pound grassfed ground beef
Then, I wilted 1 cup fresh basil into the sauce right before serving.
The spaghetti squash was the easy part. I preheat my oven to 400°F, then I poke holes in the squash before microwaving for about 4 minutes (so that I can cut it more easily). I cut the squash open and remove the seeds, then put the squash on a parchment lined baking sheet. I also season the squash with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Then I bake the squash until it gets all roasty and browned on the edges. 🙂
You can also cook your squash in a crockpot—You don’t de-seed it until after cooking. Just poke holes in the squash, pour 2 cups of water in the crockpot, place the squash in the pot and let it cook on the low setting while you’re at work all day. If you make your sauce ahead of time, you’ll have dinner in less than 5 minutes! 🙂
The other wine we paired with dinner was a bottle of Nadia Cabernet Sauvignon. This makes sense because of the richness of the beef in the sauce. Also, most of our 2012 Cabernets are just getting old enough to enjoy now in late 2015, because they have aged for 3 years. Their tannins have softened and the fruit is lush. Besides, most wine produced domestically is made to drink sooner than later, so don’t wait too long to open that bottle you’ve been aging. Nothing is worse than opening a bottle that is over the hill (besides opening a bottle that is corked)! Cheers!
Pork and pinot on the next Flights By Night? Stay tuned… 🙂
Flights By Night #1
Hello food and wine lovers! Today is the start of a new series called “Flights by Night”. Each post is intended to be a short and sweet glimpse of some of the Paleo/Primal meals and wine pairings that Andy and I enjoy when we cook at home. Perfect to give you ideas for dinner and short enough to give a quick read.
First up was Tuesday night’s dinner: Beef sliders with blue cheese and mushrooms, on tomato and red onion stacks, and a side of Brussels sprouts.
We paired the burgers with Bella Winery Two Patch Zinfandel and Rombauer Merlot.
The Zinfandel was an obvious pairing with the burgers, but the Rombauer was a special choice for a Tuesday night. Andy says, “it’s (the Rombauer Merlot) a soft, round wine with a nice touch of oak and cocoa flavors. Very long finish.” I thought the fruit in the Merlot was a great match for the mushroom topping on the burgers.
Thanks so much to Andy for having dinner ready for me so many times when I get home, as well as meticulously choosing the wines we will share with the meal. 🙂
What will he come up with next? Stay tuned for the next Flights by Night. 🙂