Monthly Archives: December 2014

  • Pairing our Sauvignon blanc - Asparagus, lemon and mint risotto

    This is one of my favourite risotto recipe, it’s easy enough to be made on a week night but elaborated enough to make a great dish for a dinner party with friends.

    The good think with risotto is that even though it's quite hard-work, it is very forgiving: you don't have to be too precise with the quantities. As long as you don't over-cook the risotto, the result should be nice :)

    The creamy texture of risotto and the flavours of this particular recipe will enhance the zesty and grassy character of our Sauvignon blanc. This lemon, mint and asparagus risotto will be a perfect pairing.

    Don’t think you need to add dairy to achieve the creamy texture. If you are trying to avoid dairy or would like to make a vegan version, just replace the butter with olive oil and skip the cheese or replace with vegan parmesan (see recipes below).

    This recipe is perfect as a main dish for 4 adults or makes a side-dish for 6 people.

    It would pair well with chicken breasts (you could marinate them with lemon juice and a bit of mint) or you could simply add roasted almond flakes to give a bit of crunchiness.

    Asparagus, lemon and mint risotto

    You will need:

    • 1.5 liter of vegetable broth (about 6 cups)
    • 3 + 1 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
    • 2 shallots, chopped
    • 1 or 2 bunches of asparagus (12 to 20)
    • 400g of Arborio or Carnaloni rice or other starchy rice (about 2 cups)
    • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
    • the zest and juice of 1 organic or unwaxed lemon
    • 50gr of parmesan or vegan parmesan
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dry white wine

    Almost any decent quality white wine can be used for the risotto. Here are a few tips that should help avoiding any mistake. Do not use a wine that is too aromatic - such as Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Viognier, Torrontés or Sherry - as it would be likely to add extra flavours that are not necessarily desirable in the risotto. Also avoid using an overly acidic wine as it could result in a risotto that doesn't taste creamy and yummy. Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Muscadet or Pinot Grigio would be perfect.

    Now that you are all ready, let’s get started with the cooking!

    Over medium heat, bring the broth to a simmer in a large pan and reduce to low.

    In the meantime, chop the shallots and remove the ends of the asparagus.
    My favourite way of doing this is to just bend the asparagus at its end until it breaks, it tends to break at the best point so you only keep the soft part.

    Chop the asparagus into small disks but keep the tips whole.

    In a separate large pan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter or olive oil other low heat. Once warm, add the shallots.
    Cook gently until the shallots look soft (after 5 to 10 min). Stir regularly so they don’t colour.

    Turn the heat up, add the rice and stir, it should sizzle.
    Keep stirring so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and add the white wine.
    Stir until evaporated (about 30 seconds).

    Now the most important part - you might want to pour yourself a glass of sauvignon blanc as you won't be going anywhere more than a meter away form the hob :)
    Turn the heat down (medium) and add about 1 cup of the hot broth and let it simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently.
    Keep adding the broth about 1/2 cup at a time, allowing it to be absorbed before adding more.

    After 15min, add the asparagus and keep stirring for about 10-15 more minutes until the rice starts being creamy and tender and the asparagus are cooked. Make sure you don’t overcook the rice as it should be soft and creamy but still hold its shape (if it looks like rice pudding, you probably over-did it by quite a bit). When you are approaching the end of the cooking, make sure you taste the rice until it reaches the right consistency as you might not need to use all the broth. Once the rice is ready, turn off the heat and add the cheese, the last tablespoon of butter or olive oil, the mint, lemon juice and zest and season with salt and pepper if needed. Cover and let it rest for a minute. You can then add some freshly grated parmesan on the table.

    Vegan parmesan:

    Most parmesan cheese are not vegetarian so if you prefer to avoid it, here are 2 alternatives:

    • a nut version: in a food processor, mix 1 cup of raw unsalted cashew nuts, 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, a tiny bit of garlic powder if you have some and a pinch or two of salt.
    • a bread version: in a food processor or in a bowl mix 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, salt and pepper (garlic powder if you have some).

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  • Gift ideas for wine lovers

    With Christmas coming up, here are a few gift ideas for wine lovers.

    Zalto glasses

    Zalto glasses

    Zalto glasses are some of the most sought-after glasses by wine lovers, probably even more so than the far more expensive Riedel Sommeliers Series. These glasses are designed to offer the perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics. Zalto glasses are hand-blown in the northern part of Lower Austria in a manner that echoes the delicate virtuosity of the great Venetian glass artists of the Renaissance. This results in extremely thin, light and delicate glasses which are stunning to enjoy a good bottle of wine. As they are produced without the addition of any lead oxide, they are resistant against clouding and may be washed in a dishwasher. £30.00 per glass.

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    Sip and Learn – the wine tasting box

    Raise your hands if you have never stood in front of the wine section at your local shop with a look of despair on your face or if you have never felt a bit panicky at the idea of choosing a bottle at the restaurant. Don’t worry, Sip and Learn is made for you. Sip and Learn is a new way of drinking great wines whilst learning at the same time. Gift a subscription (from 1 month to 1 year) and every month your friend will receive 2 bottles of wine carefully selected by our wine expert as well as a comprehensive (but fun and superbly designed) educational booklet to start learning all about wine. £30.00 per month

    Wine grapes Jancis

    Wine grapes by Jancis Robinson

    This 1280-page book by some of the world's greatest experts is a must-have for every wine lover. Where do wine grapes come from and how are they related to each other? What is the historical background of each grape variety? Where are they grown? What sort of wines do they make and, most importantly, what do they taste like? Written by Jancis Robinson MW, possibly the world’s greatest wine expert, Julia Harding MW and Dr José Vouillamoz of the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. £96.00

    Coravin - Photo US CPSC

    Coravin

    Coravin is a system which allows you to access, pour and enjoy your favourite wines by the glass whenever you like, without even pulling the cork. Instead of opening the bottle, you insert a hollow needle into the cork and pour a glass of wine without any oxygen getting into the bottle as the system uses pressurized argon gas. Unlike other wine preservation systems (vacuum pump, inert gas canister) – which preserve the wine for a few days – Coravin allows you to enjoy a great glass of wine and then store the bottle back in your cellar for a few more years. £269.00

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