Pan Bagnat

Pan Bagnat

pan bagnat

Can we pretend for just a moment? I was supposed to post this before Labor Day when it was still rosé drinking weather. Can we pretend it’s still August? It’s hot enough to still be August, but it’s officially pumpkin spice latte season.

Unlike my recommended wine pairing, this sandwich is not seasonal. In fact, it’s one of my favorite lunches year round. The pan bagnat (pronounced pahn bahn yah) sandwich is from the south of France. Nice to be specific, and it’s pretty much the salad version of Niçoise salad. It is different from US egg salad sandwiches and tuna salad sandwiches in that it is not weighed down with large amounts of mayo. 

Hope you enjoy! I have some fall recipes and books coming soon.

Pan Bagnat

Wine pairing: rosé

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette
  • 2 6-oz cans of tuna in oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive tapenade
  • * 1/2 teaspoon capers
  • 1/4 of a red onion, diced small
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional 1 tablespoon of mayo
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • Leaves of lettuce and tomato slices to top

Directions

  1. Slice the baguette in half lengthwise. Remove some of the filling to hollow it out slightly.
  2. Combine the tuna, mustard, lemon juice, tapenade, red onion, salt, pepper, and mayo (if using) in a small bowl.
  3. On the bottom half of the baguette, layer the tuna salad, egg slices, lettuce, and tomato slices. Top with the remaining half of baguette.
  4. Wrap the sandwich in paper towels. If serving immediately, place a heavy item (cast iron skillet or similar) on top of the sandwich to press it. Leave for 10 minutes before serving. If not serving immediately, skip this step and let your sandwich marinate in the fridge overnight.
  5. Enjoy!
Tortellini Caprese Salad with Zoodles (wine pairing: rosé)

Tortellini Caprese Salad with Zoodles (wine pairing: rosé)

What foods can you not get enough of in the summer? For me this year, it’s tomatoes. Caprese, bruschetta, gazpacho, tomato soup, I love it all. While I love all things tomato, caprese has a special place in my heart. Or stomach, if we are being literal. Turkey burger looks boring? Add a caprese topping. Need to liven up plain pasta? Caprese!

Zucchini is another favorite summer food. I particularly love zoodles. If you don’t own a spiralizer, high end grocery stores will sell packaged spiralized zucchini. In my area (Metro Detroit), you can find zoodles in the produce section of Fresh Thyme stores. If no pre-spiralized zucchini is to be found and you don’t want to buy a new spiralizer, you can try thrift shops. Undoubtedly, someone had bad memories of a 2010s keto diet mid-pandemic and Mari Kondo’d a spiralizer out of her life. (While I love zoodles, they cannot pass as a replacement for wheat pasta. They are their own thing to be appreciated on their own merits.)

Also, if you have all the ingredients in your kitchen but the tortellini, you can make this with regular pasta. The cheese tortellini just kicks it up a notch. Also, if you don’t have or can’t find white balsamic vinegar, feel free to use regular balsamic. It won’t be as pretty, but the taste will be equally good.

This is the first recipe in my food and rosé pairing series. If you want to learn more about pairing rosé with food, please see this post.

Tortellini Caprese Salad with Zoodles

  • Servings: 4 entree or 8 side salad portions
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Wine pairing: rosé.

Ingredients

  • One 10 oz package cheese tortellini
  • Two medium zucchini, spiralized
  • 12 oz tomatoes chopped
  • ¼ cup basil, chopped finely
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped (or use mozzarella pearls)
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Balsamic glaze to top (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain tortellini and rinse with cold water.
  2. While tortellini are cooking, prep the next four ingredients and combine in a large bowl.
  3. Add cooled tortellini, white balsamic vinegar, and olive oil to the bowl. Mix thoroughly and salt to taste.
  4. Serve with freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Food and Wine Pairing: Provençal Rosé

Food and Wine Pairing: Provençal Rosé

Rose wine and food pairing

The Provence wine region of France is known for their fields of lavender, their location on the Mediterranean, and their crisp, fruity, dry rosés. Provence rosés are as beautiful as the region where they are cultivated. The wines are the palest of pinks and dangerously drinkable. Flavors you can expect from this style of rosé include strawberry, melon (especially honeydew and watermelon), rose petals, and celery. The alcohol levels range from low to medium, with most rosés within an ABV of 11.5–13.5% ABV. They have enough acidity to be an excellent summer wine, but are less acidic than many dry whites.1-2

Rosé wine has skyrocketed in popularity in the US over the last few years, so we should know how to pair it with food. Luckily, rosé is pretty versatile as far as food wines go. In spite of that, I am focusing specifically on rosés specifically from Provence, so that I could test all of my recipes with the same style of wine. Not all rosés are the same, just like not all red wines or all white wines are the same, and I wanted to offer consistency here and not a generalization about rosés.

Provençal rosé pairs well with fish, seafood poultry, salads, barbeque, egg dishes and charcuterie. Not surprisingly, it pairs with many classic French dishes like Nicoise salad, bouillabaisse, and ratatouille.2-4 It’s a great choice for picnics, bridal showers, summer brunch, and happy hour with a charcuterie board, being both festive and affordable.

Recipes to Serve With Provence Rosé:

Tortellini caprese salad with zoodles (Recipe)

Hummus bruschetta (Recipe)

Pan Bagnat (Recipe)

Watermelon mint salad (recipe to post in summer 2023)

Recipe with Rosé:

Strawberry watermelon frosé (Recipe)

How to Taste Wine: 

Step 1: Examine the color. First hold the wine up to the light, and then examine it against a white background (tablecloth, napkin, etc.). Wine Folly has a great color chart on their website that can help you narrow down the shade of your vino. Other questions to ask yourself: Is the wine clear or opaque? Can other shades be seen along the edges of the glass? If the wine is browner near the rim, it may indicate the wine has been aged. If it’s pale near the rim, it may be a less flavorful wine. 5-7

Step 2: Swirl the wine glass. Yes, it looks snobby, but swirling your wine has two purposes: releasing aroma compounds and indicating alcohol levels. After you swirl, you will find there are tears running along the sides of the glass. These are called the legs. Is your wine a thick thighed gal? That indicates she has a higher alcohol level and you do not want to underestimate her.5-6

Step 3: Sniff. Note the distinctive aromas, which can be fruity, floral, herbal, or mineral. Take another sniff and see if you can identify new scents. Distinguishing aromas can be challenging. You might note that you smell berry, but you can’t identify which berry is triggering your scent memory. One way to simplify (or possibly complicate) the matter is to refer to the Davis Wine Aroma Wheel, which was created by Dr. Ann Noble, a chemist who retired from UC Davis.5-6, 8

Step 4: Taste. Your first sip should be swirled around your mouth so all the flavors are released. My first impression is always whether the taste matches the scent. White wines I usually find to be pretty consistent, but every now and then, I come across a red wine that smells like sweet ripened berries and tastes like gravel. Other things to note when tasting include acidity, sweetness, alcohol content, and tannins (wines with high tannins will “dry out” your tongue). The last thing is the wine’s finish. Do the flavors linger after your sip? If yes, your wine has a long finish. Is it a pleasant finish? Some wines may mellow out in the finish, while others taste delicious initially only to have an unpleasant finish.5-6

Step 5: Cheat. (This is the step that I invented.) Wine tasting is subjective. You may taste pears while your dining companion tastes apples and vanilla. After I note my perceptions of both smell and taste, I like to read the notes on the wine bottle. If the wine doesn’t provide any notes on the back of the label, I Google wine reviews and learn what Wine Enthusiast had to say about it. I then take another sip and see if I now taste new flavors based on the tasting notes of others. This isn’t to see if I am right or wrong; there isn’t a right or wrong in wine tasting. For me, it’s about training my palate. Please don’t ever read tasting notes before you taste yourself, as you will only taste what the notes tell you.

Sources:

1 Wine Folly: Essential Guide to the Provence Wine Region. Accessed July 6, 2022.

2 Wine Folly: Provence (Rosé). Accessed July 6, 2022.

3 Vine Pair: 10 Perfect Provence Rose and Fall Food Pairings. Accessed July 6, 2022.

4Dornenburg A and Page K. (2006.) What to Eat with What You Drink. (pp 253-4) Voracious/Little, Brown and Company.

5Wine Enthusiast: How to Taste Wine. Accessed May 26, 2022.

6The Spruce Eats: How to Taste Wine Like a Professional. Accessed May 26, 2022.

7Wine Folly: The Wine Color Chart. Accessed May 18, 2022.

8The Wine Aroma Wheel Official Website. Accessed May 18, 2022.

Saffron Shrimp Sheet Pan Dinner

Saffron Shrimp Sheet Pan Dinner

This is a simple dinner that goes well with a glass of white wine on a summer night. Enjoy!

Saffron Shrimp Sheet Pan Dinner

Wine Pairing: Albariño.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb potatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with a small amount of oil. Add salt, pepper, and paprika and mix well.
  3. Spread the potato mixture in a sheet pan lined with foil or parchment paper and roast for 15 minutes.
  4. Cut the kernels off of 4 ears of corn. In a bowl, toss corn kernels and green beans with a small amount of olive oil.
  5. After the potatoes have roasted for 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir. Add the corn and green beans. Return to oven for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Mix the shrimp into the vegetable mixture and add sprinkle with a pinch of saffron. Salt lightly.
  7. Turn on the broiler. Place the sheet pan back in the oven and broil for 3 to 5 minutes or until the shrimp is opaque.
  8. Serve with lemon wedges.
Vegan Ceviche Stuffed Avocados

Vegan Ceviche Stuffed Avocados

Once I decided I would select Albariño as my first wine for recipe pairings, I knew I had to create a ceviche. There was just one problem.

I’m just too Midwestern. Coastal home cooks can just pop off to their local fish market and select the freshest seafood for their ceviche. Here in Metro Detroit, seafood comes from the supermarket and all of it is previously frozen. I never know how fresh my seafood is, so to create a recipe centered around raw seafood is questionable at best.

And then I read that hearts of palm make a great vegan seafood substitute, similar to how jackfruit can be a vegan pulled pork alternative. I was intrigued and knew I had my solution to the ceviche dilemma.

Would I mistake the hearts of palm for scallops or fish in this recipe? Honestly, I don’t think so (although I was expecting the hearts of palm flavor, so it was hardly a blind test), but I will say this vegan ceviche is delicious and that’s what matters. Serving it on an avocado half elevates it to an elegant appetizer.

If you have never had hearts of palm, you’ll look for it in the canned vegetable aisle. It is tender with a mild flavor and tastes a little like artichoke hearts.

Hope you enjoy!

Vegan Ceviche Stuffed Avocados

  • Servings: 4 entrees or 8 appetizers
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Wine Pairing: Albariño.

Ingredients

  • 1 can hearts of palm (14 oz), drained and chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • ½ bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cucumber, chopped
  • ⅓ red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt
  • 2 Hass avocados (or 4 small avocados, if serving as an appetizer)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Tortilla chips for serving

Directions

  1. Combine the first nine ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Halve the avocados and scoop out of the peel. Tutorial here.
  3. Place avocado halves on plates and top with the ceviche mix and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips on the side.
Cheesy Crab Tostadas

Cheesy Crab Tostadas

crab tostada, seafood appetizer, appetizer, wine pairing, albarino

I was in college the first time I tried crab. There are two reasons for this. The first was I didn’t come from a seafood eating family. My sister and I both believed that Red Lobster commercials were the grossest thing on TV, and we had no desire to eat crustaceans. (We have since both repented of this.) The second was I was the pickiest eater alive as a child. Today, I am excited by new foods but once upon a time, new foods gave me anxiety. I also rejected things based on smell, and seafood is nothing if not smelly. When I married into a family of picky eaters, I couldn’t help but feel that this was punishment for what I put my mother through when I was a child.

Therefore, I was 21 and a senior in college the first time I tried crab. Reader, it was instant love. Nevermind, that it was merely crab cakes I tried as an experiment while on spring break in Florida (I tried actual crab legs soon after), I immediately understood that I had denied myself something delicious for two full decades of my life.

These tostadas are a casual weeknight-friendly way to eat crab. If your grocery bills aren’t giving you as much pain as mine are, feel free to increase the amount of crab in the recipe and decrease the veggies. As written, this recipe is fairly mild. For a spicier version, add more jalapeno and use a hotter pico de gallo. Like all of the recipes to be posted in June, these tostadas will pair perfectly with Albariño.

Cheesy Crab Tostadas

  • Servings: 4 dinner portions or 8 appetizer portions
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Wine Pairing: Albariño.

Ingredients

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 12 oz crab meat (2 6-oz cans)
  • ½ cup jicama, diced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ⅓ cup celery, diced
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (or ⅓ cup mayo)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded cheese (Mexican 3-cheese blend)
  • Toppings: pico de gallo, diced avocado, cilantro

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Spray the tortillas with nonstick spray on both sides. Place in a single layer on one or two sheet pans. Bake for 5 minutes on one side. Flip tortillas and then bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. While your tortillas are baking, combine crabmeat, chopped vegetables, yogurt, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  4. Top your tortillas with crab salad mixture and shredded cheese. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Serve tostadas with pico de gallo, avocado slices, cilantro, and lime wedges.
Food and Wine Pairing: Albariño

Food and Wine Pairing: Albariño

Albariño, food and wine pairing, summer menu

In the northwest region of Spain, in Galicia, grows a white grape that is used to make the perfect summer wine. Albariño is a crisp white wine with flavors of citrus, honeydew, nectarine, honeysuckle and just a hint of salt. It is light in color and body, dry, and acidic. The white wine that Albariño is most similar to is Sauvignon Blanc, but Sauvignon Blanc is a bit more herbal in flavor than Albariño.1-3

While Albariño is predominantly grown in Spain, it is also grown in Portugal where it is known as Alvarinho. These days, you can also find Albariño from the US (California), Uruguay, Australia, Chile and Brazil. While Albariño may not be as common as some white wines, you can find it at any store with a decent wine selection, usually in the Spanish wine section. Prices tend to range from $12 to about $23 where I live (Metro Detroit). It is most commonly served young.1-3

Like one would expect from a dry and acidic white wine grown in a coastal region, Albariño pairs well with seafood. Think ceviche, fish tacos, and grilled seafood. It is not uncommon for dry white wines to pair well with fish and seafood; Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio pair similarly well with these foods and are easier to find in a grocery store. However, there are some instances where it is better to search out an Albariño rather than pick one of these more accessible wines. A unique thing about Albariño is it can handle a bit of spice, while most wines cannot. I wouldn’t pair it with anything extremely spicy (you’d want to pick a Riesling in that case), but it can hold its own with Cajun or Thai food or a seafood dish with a slight kick. Also, Albariño pairs well with herbs, so if your recipe uses pesto or chimichurri, you may want to seek out an Albariño.1-4

Seafood isn’t your only option with Albariño. It will also pair with light meats, soft cheese, semi-hard cheeses, herbs, and grilled vegetables. Consider it a to-go wine for a summertime tapas party.1-4

Recipes to Serve With Albariño:

Cheesy crab tostadas (Recipe here)

Vegan “ceviche” stuffed avocado (Recipe here)

Saffron shrimp sheet pan dinner (Recipe here.)

How to Taste Wine: 

Step 1: Examine the color. First hold the wine up to the light, and then examine it against a white background (tablecloth, napkin, etc.). White wines range in color from pale straw to deep gold. Wine Folly has a great color chart on their website that can help you narrow down the shade of your vino. Other questions to ask yourself: Is the wine clear or opaque? Can other shades be seen along the edges of the glass? If the wine is browner near the rim, it may indicate the wine has been aged. If it’s pale near the rim, it may be a less flavorful wine. 5-7

Step 2: Swirl the wine glass. Yes, it looks snobby, but swirling your wine has two purposes: releasing aroma compounds and indicating alcohol levels. After you swirl, you will find there are tears running along the sides of the glass. These are called the legs. Is your wine a thick thighed gal? That indicates she has a higher alcohol level and you do not want to underestimate her.5-6

Step 3: Sniff. Note the distinctive aromas, which can be fruity, floral, herbal, or mineral. Take another sniff and see if you can identify new scents. Distinguishing aromas can be challenging. You might note that you smell berry, but you can’t identify which berry is triggering your scent memory. One way to simplify (or possibly complicate) the matter is to refer to the Davis Wine Aroma Wheel, which was created by Dr. Ann Noble, a chemist who retired from UC Davis.5-6, 8

Step 4: Taste. Your first sip should be swirled around your mouth so all the flavors are released. My first impression is always whether the taste matches the scent. White wines I usually find to be pretty consistent, but every now and then, I come across a red wine that smells like sweet ripened berries and tastes like gravel. Other things to note when tasting include acidity, sweetness, alcohol content, and tannins (wines with high tannins will “dry out” your tongue). The last thing is the wine’s finish. Do the flavors linger after your sip? If yes, your wine has a long finish. Is it a pleasant finish? Some wines may mellow out in the finish, while others taste delicious initially only to have an unpleasant finish.5-6

Step 5: Cheat. Okay, I made this step up. Wine tasting is subjective. You may taste pears while your dining companion tastes apples and vanilla. After I note my perceptions of both smell and taste, I like to read the notes on the wine bottle. If the wine doesn’t provide any notes on the back of the label, I Google wine reviews and learn what Wine Enthusiast had to say about it. I then take another sip and see if I now taste new flavors based on the tasting notes of others. This isn’t to see if I am right or wrong; there isn’t a right or wrong in wine tasting. For me, it’s about training my palate. Please don’t ever read tasting notes before you taste yourself, as you will only taste the flavors you anticipate that you will find.

Sources:

1Wine Folly: Albariño (Alvarinho). Accessed April 20, 2022.

2The Spruce Eats: What is Albariño Wine? Accessed May 26, 2022.

3The Grape Grind: All you need to know about Albariño. Accessed May 26, 2022.

4Dornenburg A and Page K. (2006.) What to Eat with What You Drink. (pp 203.) Voracious/Little, Brown and Company.

5Wine Enthusiast: How to Taste Wine. Accessed May 26, 2022.

6The Spruce Eats: How to Taste Wine Like a Professional. Accessed May 26, 2022.

7Wine Folly: The Wine Color Chart. Accessed May 18, 2022.

8The Wine Aroma Wheel Official Website. Accessed May 18, 2022.

Ukrainian Cheese Vareniki (and ways to help Ukraine)

Ukrainian Cheese Vareniki (and ways to help Ukraine)

ukrainian vareniki (vareniky)

I don’t know much about my great-grandmother and great-grandfather in Ukraine. I knew my maternal grandparents, who lived in Ukraine in their youth, then emigrated to Paraguay and many years later to the U.S. But when I try to go back farther than my grandparents, the only thing I can say with any confidence is that I am the descendent of Eastern European farmers. Farmers from Ukraine on my mom’s side and farmers from Belarus on my dad’s.

Family names and family stories have not been passed down to me. My parents did not know their own grandparents, as they were both raised in Paraguay, while my great-grandparents remained in what would become Soviet territory after the Second World War. At the time when both sets of my grandparents emigrated, it was not yet Soviet land. All of their documentation declared them to be Polish, even though no one in the family considered themselves to be Polish.

Ukraine as a conquered land is an old story, but that never makes it less terrible. We are not Russians; we are not Poles; we are Ukrainians. We have our own language, culture, etc. Of the people taking refuge or walking to Poland or taking up arms against Russian invaders, I don’t know any of them, but some of them might be my second or third cousins. But I am comfortable in my own home, consumed by my own problems, as I was saved from this predicament due to the actions of the generations that came before me.

I don’t know much about my ancestry, but what I know is the food. My connection to my ancestors and to modern day distant relatives is in what I eat, the food I was raised on. This is my comfort food, and my mom’s, and I’m sure it was my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s comfort food. If you try, I am sure it will become your comfort food, even if you aren’t Ukrainian.

Ukrainian Cheese Vareniki

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

Cheese Filling: *16 oz cottage cheese *1 package farmer cheese (mine was 0.64 lb) *1 egg Dough: *5 cups sifted flour *2 teaspoons salt *1 egg *1 ⅔ cups water *¼ cup sour cream *Melted butter to keep vareniki from sticking together

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients for the cheese filling in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together egg and sour cream until well combined, then whisk in the water.
  3. Add in the flour and salt and knead until it is the right consistency. If it seems too sticky, add some flour. If too dry, add more water. Divide the dough into 3 parts.
  4. Fill a large pot with water and salt and bring to a boil.
  5. While your water is heating, roll out your dough on a well floured surface until it is 1/8" thick.
  6. Using either a cookie cutter or an upside down coffee mug, cut the dough into circles.
  7. Add a spoonful of filling in the center of each circle. Carefully fold in half and pinch to seal the vareniki shut. (My mom’s tip: Get your fingers damp with water if the vareniki are not sealing properly.)
  8. Once your water is boiling, drop your first batch of vareniki (6 to 10 vareniki, depending on size) into the water.
  9. Boil the vareniki until they float to the top, then remove from the water with a slotted spoon and brush with melted butter.
  10. Repeat with remaining batches.
  11. Serve with sour cream

Recommended wine pairing: Riesling

Ways to Help Ukraine:

Photo by Kostiantyn Stupak on Pexels.com

Donate:

Act:

  • Pray for Ukraine, if you are the praying type.
  • Write your representatives.
  • Attend a protest.
  • Bring awareness in person or online.