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Category Archives: South African wines

More Softies!

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You’ll have to excuse my lack of blogging this month; you see, it’s my birthmonth. I celebrate my June 10th birthday for at least 4 days in a row depending what day it falls on, and sometimes all month. What can I say? I just really love my birthday. With all the birthday celebrations there has been a lot of dining out, drinking Rosé sparklers, and my new favorite cocktail: Campari with blood orange and soda (thanks for bringing it back, GGD). I hit up some of my favorite SF restaurants in the last week; Cotogna, Machka, Chaya, Poesia… my wallet is empty and my tummy is full. It’s time to detox a little before embarking on my three week vacation to Italy and Spain! (Though, this weekend’s visit to some girlfriends in San Diego might get in the way of said detox). But before I started a week of kale salads and fresh fruit, I wanted to take one more opportunity to enjoy my favorite birthmonth treat. You guessed it, soft shell crabs.

GGD and I had the perfect Sunday Summer Dinner last night. She had been wanting to try her hand at a new sweet and savory recipe that she found. My job was to provide the proteins. We had tossed around the idea of lamb or scallops, but then when I saw the beautiful soft shell crabs on display I convinced her to let me get them on one condition: we grill them instead of batter them in flour. Easy enough. I also picked up some jumbo prawns for us to grill with the crabs. I used one grill pan and one marinade for everything. Super simple and super delicious.

Dinner table

Grilled Soft Shell Crabs and Jumbo Prawns (serves 2)

  • 2 soft shell crabs
  • 10 jumbo prawns, pealed and deveined
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Delicately rinse and pat dry the crabs and place them in a small bowl. Do the same with the shrimp. Meanwhile, combine the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, and seasoning in a small bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes so flavors can meld. Pour half of the oil mixture over the shrimp and toss to coat. Pour the other half over the crabs, and gently coat with your finger tips. Let sit for 5 more minutes.

grilled crabs

When there was about 10 minutes left to go on GGD’s apricot and cherry dish, I started to heat the grill pan. Once hot, add the soft shell crabs to the center of the pan, “stomach” side down. Grill for 3 minutes, then flip over so the “shell” side is down. At this time, add the shrimp to the pan. Cook the crabs and shrimp for 4 minutes, turning the shrimp after 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Squeeze juice from half of the lemon over the shellfish and serve.

grilled shellfish

shellfish

GGD served some bread with her broiled apricots and cherries, which we grilled on the grill pan after taking the shellfish off. I was a little skeptical about the broiled apricots and cherries when she first told me about them, but I loved every single bite! The addition of the ricotta adds a soft, saltiness to the fruit, which helped tie the dish to the crab and shrimp. The whole meal was very light and delicious, and the shrimp were cooked perfectly if I do say so myself.

broiled apricots and cherries

As I suggested in my previous soft shell crab post, we paired this dish with a bottle of 2012 Mulderbosch Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon, which I found for only $9.99 a bottle at K&L Wines! The flavors is the wine went perfectly with the apricots and cherries, and the thyme brought out a slight herbal element in the wine.

dinner

I have to say, I think I prefer grilled softies over flour-battered. Grilling the crabs is not only a healthier method of cooking them, but it allows for the flavors to shine a little brighter. This was GGD’s first soft shell crab experience, and she was shocked that she could eat the whole thing. When she opened up the inside of the crab to discover it’s green guts, she said, “even this??” And I said, “Yes! That’s the best part!”

Kale & White Bean Stew

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In keeping with my attempt to stay healthy (and warm!) in January, I decided to whip up some soup last night. I have seen versions of kale and white bean soup on various blogs and cookbooks, and I found a particular recipe from Bon Appetite that looked promising. With some slight variations, it turned out to be a delicious and hearty stew – and even better as lunch the next day!

Kale & White Bean Stew (serves 4)

  • 2 TB olive oilphoto 1
  • two carrots, shredded
  • three shallots, diced
  • 3 large celery sticks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 slices of Italian prosciutto, torn into smaller pieces
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth (or more)photo 2
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 TB dry Sherry
  • 4 cups of kale, coarsely chopped (I usedtwo different kinds: Tuscan and Premier)
  • 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste
photo 5

Tuscan (Dinosaur) kale on the left and Premier kale on the right

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the carrots, celery, shallots and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the prosciutto and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

photo 3

Add the white wine to the pot and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the white beans, 4 cups of chicken broth, bay leaf and thyme sprigs and raise heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 20 minutes.

photo 1

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the pot. Stir in the Sherry, kale, chives, parsley and Herbes de Provence and continue to cook for five minutes over medium heat. Add more broth by the half-cup-fulls if you would like a more soupy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, but the soup will already be somewhat salty because of the prosciutto so be careful!

To make a vegetarian version, omit the prosciutto and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. You may also used other herbs in addition to the chives and parsley, such as tarragon or rosemary – but with the Herbes de Provence, those flavors are covered. If you do not have Herbes de Provence, use dried savory herbs such as thyme, rosemary, basil, etc.

photo 3

Not only did this soup turn out to be delicious, but it was very filling and full of vegetables and protein in every bite. After having two small bowls of soup, there was not a lot of liquid left. So I decided to add a little vegetable broth and heat for a few minutes before transferring to tupperware for lunch the next day. The flavors melded together overnight and the stew tasted even better the next day! I loved the addition of the prosciutto because it added salt and texture – and meat! I would also consider adding ground turkey or chicken sausage, but prosciutto is what I had on hand.

I skipped the wine last night (other than the cup I put in the stew), but this would go well with a South African Sauvignon Blanc, such as Simonsig, Mulderbosch, Ken Forrester or Porcupine Ridge. South African Sauvignon Blancs are medium-bodied and have a nice acidity, which pairs well with the savory soup. If you’re looking to pair with a red wine, I would recommend something light and earthy like Chianti.

 

***NOTES***

I have since made this stew a few times, but have used two Italian chicken sausage, one mild and one hot (casings removed). I prefer this to the prosciutto, and it’s also healthier. You can cook the sausage at the same time that you would cook the prosciutto. 

Dueling Mulderbosch

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I discovered the Mulderbosch Rose of Cabernet during my recent trip to NY. I’ve since found it for a mere $11.99 at my favorite grocery store, Falletti Foods. But upon further inspection, I realized that they also sell the Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc for $13.99. Since the Rose is so delicious, and I have had good luck with South African Chenin Blanc, I decided to give it a shot.

Last night was Family Dinner at my apartment, and we invited two of our girlfriends to join us as well. I decided I would make tacos because it was relatively easy and simple, but I could still make it look pretty. I served shredded chicken and spicy, smokey shrimp alongside a platter of salsa, cilantro, limes, guacamole, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, and greek yogurt (a good substitution for sour cream). I also served a bean salad consisting of black beans, pinto beans, jalapeno, red pepper, red onion, scallions, cilantro, lime juice, salsa verde, cumin and salt (see recipe below). There was a ton of spice in everything, so I figured this would be a good opportunity to pair with some fruity South African wines.

We started with the 2010 Chenin Blanc, which everyone enjoyed. The wine is filled with aromas of citrus and tropical fruit, while the palate is packed with pineapple, lychee, lemon and lime. There is a nice floral balance as well, rounding out the wine and adding some richness. This was the perfect pairing to the spicy, smokey shrimp tacos that I served (and which everyone ate first). As I anticipated, the citrus in the wine cut through the spice in the shrimp, and accentuated the orange juice in the recipe.

As we moved onto the shredded chicken tacos, I opened up the 2011 Rose (and by open, I mean twisted off the cap – convenient for picnics at the park). The Rose is a little darker and juicier, probably because it is made from Cabernet grapes. Overall, this is a pretty traditional Rose of Cabernet, and perfectly described by the website as:

“A sexy pink colour with a pretty orange tint. The nose is intensely aromatic with tangerine peel, raspberry and wild strawberries. The palate has a crystal purity with lovely weight and notes of grapefruit on the long finish.”

I would like to add that it is a little sweeter than how I usually prefer Rose, but it’s a sweetness based on ripe fruits, not sugar. The Rose paired perfectly with the shredded chicken, and what was left of the shrimp. It was also a nice wine to linger on when we had finished all of our dinner.

I will most certainly be drinking both these wines throughout the summer, with or without food.

———————-

Mexican Bean Salad (serves 6-8)

  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup salsa verde
  • 5 scallions, chopped (white part omitted)
  • 1/2 jalapeno, diced (take the seeds out for less spice)
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 TB fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, chill for an hour and serve.

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