We all know the rule that when it comes to cooking with wine, there’s one for the dish, and two for the chef! (Am I right?!) Us wine lovers have also heard the true advice to not cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink, but then again… it can seem like such a waste cooking with an expensive wine, so let’s see if there is a happy medium.
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Now, we all know about those “cooking wines” readily available at grocery stores, but you definitely wouldn’t want to drink those from the bottle. An excellent alternative can be found at any wine store- a value driven alternative, at that. It doesn’t matter if the recipe calls for red or white wine, the key things to look for are light- to medium- bodied, fruity, acid-driven wines; and to avoid heavy wines with lots of tannin or oak because they will clash too much with the flavors of most dishes. The best way to tell if a wine is any good other than those tips will be the price. The sweet spot lies between $10 to $15 dollar, ensuring both value and quality.
What are we waiting for? Let’s throw on our aprons and get cooking with these favorites!
Domaine La Montagnette ‘Sinargues’ Côtes Du Rhône, Rhône Valley, France
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For those who enjoy full-bodied wines will enjoy this wine especially. Similar to wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, it contains familiar grapes for a delicious cooking or drinking wine (or both!) You must take caution and avoid picking up tannic wines as they can be quite bitter when added to a dish. This wine remains low in tannin, but has a darker structure, with blackberry, black cherry, and wet-earth flavor set.
NV Castillo Peredlada ‘Blanc Pescador’, Catalunya, Spain
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Not only is this a popular drinking wine throughout Spain, it goes perfectly with practically any dish. With blends of Macabeo, Xarello, and Parellada, this wine is close to sparkling, making it similar to Cava. Don’t worry though, this won’t affect your dish because the bubbles flatten as the wine gets cooked, but drinking wise, it will definitely perk up the chef! This perfect sous-chef wine is clean and fresh, offering lemony notes with a touch of rocky minerality.
Esporao ‘Monte Velho’ Branco, Alentejo, Portugal
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Countries that are not known well for winemaking provide excellent sources of cooking wine because they typically offer better quality for a lesser price. This wine offers a delicious fruity taste, without a bit of body without the oak. It’s a perfect blend of Roupeiro, Antao Vaz and Perrum is a Portuguese staple. It is a richer wine but still retains its freshness.
Leyda ‘Classic’ Pinot Noir, Leyda Valley, Chile
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Pinot Noir is the perfect drinking wine, but it can also be an amazing cooking wine. It comes in lots of different forms and prices. There’s definitely no reason to waste $50 glasses of wine when a lesser-known Pinot Noir producer exists in Chile, offering a decent bottle for a good price. The Chilean producer specializes in a balance of fruity flavors with an affordable price tag.
Le Cantine Di Indie ‘Polpo Rosso’, Sicily, Italy
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Most dishes will want a red or a white wine, but sometimes a rose is preferred. This light red wine is a ‘go to’ when it comes to those times. It is organically farmed in Sicily, made from Nerello Mascalese. Its fresh flavors, raspberry, and red cherry is the fruity delight that is craved and will pop even more in cooler temperatures, so feel free to chill it before use!
Weingut Josef Leitz ‘Leitz Out’, Riesling, Rheingau, Germany
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Because of its high acidity, Riesling makes a perfect cooking wine. Be careful not to pick up a sweet version of this wine, though, or there will be an extra dose of sugar added to the dish. With peach and lemony flavors, this wine cooks down (easier than it goes down!) and makes an excellent choice when it comes to cooking.
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Soaking chicken overnight in brine is an age-old technique. Brining a chicken seasons it through and through, locking in the moisture for tender meat.
However, unless you work in a Greek restaurant, going through 600 pounds of feta cheese a month, you probably won’t think to use feta as brine instead of plain salt water. At the Greek restaurant Souvla in San Francisco, that’s exactly what they did!
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The process of creating a feta brine involves the actual salt water liquid that preserves the cheese during storage. With going through so much feta cheese a month, the restaurant also went through a lot of the salt water solution that was used to store their feta. They were simply tired of seeing so much brine go to waste.
The brine is a lot more complex than salt water and has a fermented pickled flavor, along with an umami character which the restaurant knew could be repurposed. With that, Mr. Cervone came up with the brilliant idea to use the brine on the rotisserie chickens, which were served at the restaurant and sold as takeout. Not only did it make the chicken even more plump and juicy, it also added a pleasant earthiness to the meat. It also sparked immense popularity at the restaurant with how delicious the chicken is and now every night they go on sale, they are sold out very quickly!
Now although you may not have the commercially used feta brine, you can actually purée feta cheese in water and use that in its place. You marinate your chicken in the mix and store it overnight in the fridge. The following day, pat the chicken dry, cover it with lots of grated lemon zest, freshly ground black pepper, and dried oregano. You then roast it how you would any chicken and let your senses burst with this juicy, feta infused chicken!
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Whether you enjoy dressing up in all green, enjoying the family festivities or getting absolutely wasted until the early hours, the most central part of any holiday is a great dinner – and a hearty, Irish meal is so important on St. Patrick’s day.
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Corned Beef Brisket, Cabbage, Potatoes, And Carrots
This incredible dish takes a whopping 10 hours to cook- but is so worth it! Back when St. Patrick’s day became a tradition, you might’ve found families corning their own beef, but nowadays there is absolutely nothing wrong with a delicious store-bought corned beef brisket. Like any holiday, getting up super early just to start cooking is a tradition- and this beef brisket definitely follows through on that tradition, cooking for 10 hours to ensure mouthwatering, tender, moist meat. Not only does it need to cook for 10 hours, you ideally need to let it cool for a day in its cooking liquid to ensure even more amazing flavor. Carrots, cabbage, and potatoes compliment this delicious hunk of meat perfectly, making every juicy mouthful a delight.
These mashed potatoes are definitely a dish for ‘champs’. Unlike normal mashed potatoes, champs are much creamier and are scallion-studded. They are enriched with milk and butter and are seasoned with salt and pepper, with finely sliced scallions added. The flavor is rich and extra zesty.
Stout-Battered Onion Rings
Onion rings may not be traditional to Irish culture, but stout definitely rings it in. Stout-battered onion rings are rich in flavor, with hints of paprika, honey, and mustard for spice and sweetness. These aren’t your typical onion rings- they are a special type, bursting with flavor, perfect for the special day of St. Patrick’s Day.
Soda bread is a very traditional bread of the Irish, so it makes sense to enjoy it on St. Patrick’s Day! Soda bread is so dense and crumby and uses baking soda for leavening. It is also enriched with buttermilk and sweetened with honey. As opposed to the more traditional soaked raisins, using cranberries can be refreshing, along with it being studded with whiskey. If you aren’t a fan of Soda Bread, another option could be nutty Irish brown bread to accompany the meal.
Irish Coffee Ice Cream With Dark Chocolate and Pecans
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There’s nothing that tops off a meal better than some ice cream, but even better, Irish ice cream on St. Patrick’s Day! This delicious dessert is bursting with buttery caramel, roasted coffee grounds and not forgetting the generous portion of Irish Whiskey! Its flavor is creamy and sweet, with a slight bitterness and smokiness to it, really complementing the other flavors. The dessert is finished off with crunchy candied pecans and shaved dark chocolate- because who doesn’t like chocolate?
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The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Syndey is Australia’s largest Irish event there is. It centers around different things and this year it will center around family. The parade features two music stages with over 20 acts including Aoife Scott, daughter of Frances Black. This family fun parade will also host lots of food and craft stalls and a dedicated children’s area where kids can enjoy activities such as bouncy castles, face painting, Irish dance lessons, and storytelling- all free of charge.
Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival has followed its tradition since 1824, making it one of the longest-running St. Patrick’s celebrations in North America. The United Irish Society of Montreal who has been organizing the event for over 90 years have even helped revive St. Patrick’s Day festivals in the cities of Quebec, Toronto, Hudson, Ottawa, and Chateauguay. The festival is also Montreal’s official start to spring, no matter what the weather is- in the last seven years having seen torrential rain, snowstorms, and blazing heat! You can expect this festival to include more than 100 entries of marching bands, floats and thousands of participants from all over Quebec and Ontario.
This beautiful Isle of the Caribbean is the only country other than Ireland which counts St. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday. This is because the Irish connections date back all the way to the 17th century when Irish Catholics fled to this safe haven after being persecuted on neighboring islands. The connection is so strong that visitors receive a Shamrock stamp on their passports! St. Patrick’s Day is not only a national holiday but a week-long celebration, showcasing the amazing, unique African-Irish heritage.
4. New York
New York has always been known for putting on a big show, and nothing changes with St. Patricks Day- New York having celebrated it since 1792! This year’s parade will have 200,000 people marching on the parade route. The parade will begin at 11 am, and will march up to 5th Avenue, stopping outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral to be greeted by His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York.
5. Buenos Aires
With over 500,000 Irish people and their descendants living in Argentina, there’s every reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! The event is co-hosted by the Argentina-Ireland Association and the Buenos Aires city government, and the Irish Embassy in Buenos Aires. It takes over the whole city, culminating in Plaza St. Martin, where there are 100s of food and beer stalls with Irish dancers and live music and huge processions of bagpipes! The event is known as Dia de San Patricio and will be a beer-fuelled party which carries on till the early hours.
It is easy to forget, with our busy lifestyles, the basic guidelines for healthy eating. A lot of the time, we are so busy that we don’t even manage to consume the 3 important square meals a day. However, there are certain foods that are considered to be ‘brain foods’ and can really help with the overall function of your brain and are really easy to fit in with even the busiest of lifestyles.
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Here is a list of 8 super foods that are proven to help with memory, focus and keeping you feeling more energized throughout the day- which we can all admit, would be very helpful!
Being high in fiber, protein, unsaturated fats and a huge array of minerals and vitamins, eating a handful of nuts each day, may well keep the doctor away! Each type of nut offers a huge variety of nutrients. For example, Walnuts contain a high amount of alpha-linolenic acids, which is essential for our brain in keeping it healthy and active, as it is one of the three Omega-3 fatty acids that we need. Another example would be Cashew nuts. Cashews are high in iron, zinc, and magnesium, which is linked to helping the improvement of memory loss and memory related diseases.
Avocados are a heavily packed food, containing an incredible amount of nutrients such as vitamins A, C, D, E, K and all B vitamins, along with potassium and fiber. And if that isn’t enough, Avocados also are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, also known as Omega-3 fatty acids. With Avocados containing so much goodness, they help with a wide range of things such as keeping your heart and brain healthy and reducing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Beets have been proven to increase blood flow to the brain. Not only that, they are also high in minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin C, folate, fiber, manganese, and potassium. They convert nitric oxide in your body which can improve your overall mental performance and brain function greatly because it helps you to relax and dilates the blood vessels in your brain, ultimately lowering your blood pressure.
It may be known to you that eating fish that is high in fatty acids is one of the best sources of protein and other nutrients which are essential for your brain and body. It is even more important that we eat foods like salmon because our body simply does not make the essential fatty acids we need. Salmon, along with trout, mackerel and sardines also contain high levels of EFAs and DHAs, which DHAs improve memory loss and can reduce the risk of memory related diseases.
5. Dark Chocolate
For all you dark chocolate lovers out there, it is proven that dark chocolate has the most brain health benefits out of all chocolates. Chocolate is used widely as a comfort food, but realistically chocolate does actually make you feel a lot happier because of its high levels of tryptophan, which is a neurotransmitter of feeling happy. The flavonoids in dark chocolate improve blood flow to the brain which in turn, increases your reaction time, your attention span, your overall memory and your problem-solving skills. That isn’t all, dark chocolate also releases endorphins into our brain, which reduces stress levels and pain.
Since we were children, it is always hammered into us that eating greens is important. But eating greens really has never been more important than for your overall brain health. Broccoli helps strengthen your cognitive brain functions and improve your memory because it is rich in Vitamin K and choline. It also contains a high amount of folic acid, which helps fight off depression and keeps you feeling happy. Not only that, the folic acid aids in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, broccoli benefits our most basic functions such as reasoning, thinking, remembering, imagining and learning, because of its high levels of lignans.
7. Whole Grains
There are a huge variety of whole grains such as pasta, whole grain bread, brown rice, and oats. Whole grains are low glycemic foods which will keep your blood sugar stable for a lot longer than when you eat refined or white grains. This is why whole grains are considered to contain magical energy for the brain. Whole grains also alter your glucose levels slightly and will slowly supply glucose to the brain and body over time, helping you concentrate for longer and stay focused more, throughout the day.
You might be relieved to know that many studies show that eating blueberries can help slow the aging process and age-related diseases! According to another study, from Tufts University, blueberries, if eaten regularly can also help with short-term memory loss. These magic berries can also help your motor functions and improve your learning abilities.
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Plum Liqueur Chocolate
These chocolates are from Japan but are also available in Korea, China, Thailand, and Taiwan. Sadly, they do not ship to the U.S. and the only way to purchase them is at the annual New York Chocolate Show. Each of these beautifully hand-decorated truffles is made with ganache which contains Japenese plum Liqueur (Umeshu). However, the liqueur is actually made from unripe apricots that are soaked in sugar and shochu, which is a semi-strong distilled Japenese spirit.
Havana Tobacco Chocolate
Although it is illegal to bring these chocolates into the U.S., they originate from Burges and Antwerp in Belgium but are also available in upscale restaurants in Germany, Holland and other areas in Belgium. A self-proclaimed shock-o-latier Dominique Persoone crafts around 60 bizarre varieties of truffles, but his most illicit have got to be the Havana. It is so illicit because it is crafted with real cigar leaves which are marinated in rum and cognac. The flavor leaves a very peppery feeling in your throat, simulating the sensation of actually smoking a cigar.
Pig’s Blood Chocolate
A chocolate shop in Portland, Oregon, took inspiration from blood sausage, which is popular in Western Europe and Asia. The owner, who is a former sous chef, only makes this ‘special’ chocolate for holidays such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day. This bizarre creation is made with cinnamon, smoked Spanish paprika, and blood. It is then enrobed in Felchlin 72 percent Ecuadoran chocolate and dusted with more paprika. It is no surprise that this chocolate is one of the least popular flavors available at the chocolate shop, but nonetheless, it still receives special orders.
Cucumber Vodka Chocolate
Well, this is one way to get in your ‘5-A-Day’. This exotic, handmade truffle is crafted with traditional French methods. The boldly flavored white chocolate ganache is infused with cucumber purée, mint, and vodka. It is then covered in dark chocolate and leaves a slight tingle on the tongue, because of the alcohol. This chocolate is only available for six months out of the year starting from April because fresh ingredients are insisted by L’Artisan du Chocolat.
For all those who like to party hard, Absinthe Chocolate is available in New York, in a shop on the Lower East Side. This chocolate which was once an underground experiment, flourished into a product that people buy and enjoy, after the absinthe ban in the U.S. was lifted. This interesting chocolate consists of a Callebaut bittersweet chocolate ganache with pear, anise seed, fennel, and commercially brewed absinthe.
Shiitake Mushroom Chocolate
This ganache contains dried mushrooms and earthy Peruvian dark chocolate. It is hand dipped in 70 percent Colombian chocolate. Shiitake is from Asian cuisine for umami. It usually has a savory taste but in this chocolate, it lends a subtle, warm flavor. The truffles are created with a personal and direct touch due to Fair Trade certification being expensive for small farmers. This ensures that the cacao is improved and the farmers earn a fair wage. The truffles are available in the Midwest or online.
French Toast Chocolate
Inspired by today’s comfort foods such as tortilla, chips, french toast and ramen, Komforte Chockolates created French Toast Chocolate. It contains a wide variety of ingredients which gives it, its butter flavor- 33 percent milk chocolate, cinnamon, bagel chips, nutmeg, and molasses. It is considered a specialty chocolate and is available in specialty store across the country and online.
Gouda Cheese Chocolate
For all you cheese and chocolate lovers, Japan has found a way to formulate both into a Gouda Cheese Chocolate bar! Bizarre kinds of chocolate are something Japan is known for, they are a big hit with tourists, becoming popular souvenirs over the years. Soy sauce is one of the favorites for chocolate in Japan. However, one of the most difficult flavors to find is the European Cheese. This chocolate contains 58 percent Gouda by weight, which leaves a salty, smoky and sour taste.
Camel’s Milk Chocolate
This chocolate was created by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, and Al Nassma is the only company which produces the camel’s milk chocolate. Camel’s milk chocolate is literally considered to be “liquid gold” in the Middle east because the milk has 3 times the amount of Vitamin C than cow’s milk. It’s also considered to be “liquid gold” because of how difficult the milk is to obtain, as camels make a fraction of the amount of milk that cows do. Its flavor is quite malted and minerally. It is available in selected countries- UAE, Oman, Japan, and online.
Something warm for lunch: straight-from-the-oven ham and cheese turnovers.
- 1 1-pound package refrigerated pizza dough
- 8 ounces deli ham, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
- 1/2yellow onion, cut into thin rings
- 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small head romaine, torn into pieces
- Heat oven to 400° F. Roll the pizza dough into a 14-inch circle and cut into 8 triangles.
- Stack a slice of ham and cheese and some onion on the bottom of each triangle and roll the dough up around the filling. (Some will stick out the ends.)
- Transfer the rolls to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, about 20 minutes.
- Combine the mustard and oil in a medium bowl and toss with the romaine. Serve with the turnovers.
Cheddar cheese and horseradish give an ordinary roast beef wrap some bite.
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 4 large flour tortillas
- 1 head romaine lettuce, tough ribs removed
- 8 ounces thinly sliced deli roast beef
- 4 ounces Cheddar, thinly sliced
- In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and horseradish. Spread evenly over each tortilla.
- Layer the tortillas with the lettuce, roast beef, and Cheddar and roll up.
Try these on a cold winter Sunday: red pepper–flaked scones made with buttermilk and Swiss cheese.
Crispy tacos get a fresh mix of pinto beans and Cheddar.
- 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed
- 3/4 cup mild salsa
- 1 heart of romaine
- 8 taco shells
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar
- In a small microwave-proof bowl, combine the beans and ½ cup of the salsa. Microwave on high until hot, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces.
- Divide the taco shells among 4 plates. Divide the bean mixture among the taco shells and top with the lettuce, Cheddar, and remaining ¼ cup of salsa.
Swiss cheese, eggs, and prosciutto are sandwiched together in a crisp, golden Panini.
- 8 large eggs
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 soft rolls, halved lengthwise
- 8 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour in the eggs and scramble until cooked through.
- Divide the eggs among the bottom halves of the rolls. Top with the prosciutto and cheese and sandwich with the tops of the rolls.
- Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a grill pan or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place two sandwiches in the pan.
- Cook, pressing often with a spatula or placing a pan on top to weigh down the sandwiches, until cheese has melted and bread is golden, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.
Monterey Jack melts into scrambled eggs spiced with salsa.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk or water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 3/4 cup salsa (drained)
- 1 cup crushed tortilla chips
- Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, to desired doneness, 4 to 5 minutes, adding cheese just before they’re set. Fold in salsa and chips.
This tangy, oozy dish is loaded with Swiss cheese.
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
- 2 pounds Granny Smith apples (unpeeled), cut into 1/8-inch slices
- 1 pound Swiss cheese, shredded
- 1/4 pound Parmesan, grated
- Heat oven to 400° F.
- Coat a 3 1/2-quart casserole with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, thyme, salt, and pepper; set aside.
- Arrange a layer of slightly overlapping potatoes in the casserole. Cover with a layer of apples and sprinkle with a third of each cheese. Pour a third of the egg mixture on top. Make 2 more layers.
- Bake, covered, 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Remove from oven. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Everything but the kitchen sink goes into quesadillas finished off with Cheddar or Monterey Jack.
- 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained
- 1 11-ounce can corn kernels, drained
- 3/4 cup salsa, drained
- 18-count package large flour tortillas
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- juice of 1 to 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 head romaine lettuce, sliced 1 inch thick
- Heat oven to 400° F. In a medium bowl, combine the beans, corn, and salsa. Place 4 tortillas on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet.
- Sprinkle the tortillas with half the cheese. Using a slotted spoon, top with the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese; top with the remaining tortillas.
- Bake the quesadillas until the cheese has melted, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, lime juice, and oil. Add the lettuce and toss.
- Cut each quesadilla into 6 wedges. Serve with the salad.