10 December 2015

Serial season 2 is out!

You guys.

FINALLY. Season 2 of the Serial podcast is out! The first episode is finally up. I'm listening now and I'm on the edge of my seat!

This season is about Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. solider who was held captive by the Taliban for almost 5 years. Do you guys remember this? This is the guy who walked away from his post, right out into hostile territory in Afghanistan. The guy for whom Obama made a trade in order to secure his freedom. The series will focus on Bergdahl's conversations with film maker Mark Boal, who spent hours and hours talking to him. It sounds like it is going to be totally fascinating.

I listened to season 1 in about a day, so listening to this one in real time is going to be like torture! (Free Adnan, btw)

Will you listen?

02 December 2015

The Cook's Critique: The Flavor Bible

The Cook's Critique? You've seen it only twice before. What is it? Well, let me explain. Cook's Critique is a category for posts in which I review cooking related things. Home delivery services, products, helpful tools, the latest "it" name it!

This time around I want to share a little secret with you all..

Meet the Flavor Bible. This book is your new handbook to cooking. Forget cookbooks. You don't need them if you own the flavor bible. Written by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, this book is a serious weapon.

To start you off, there is a chapter on flavor. What is flavor? How do we identify it. It covers what your dish should have to come out with really great flavor and helps you understand how to get creative and build a balanced dish. Scallops with fennel and oranges? Yep! You'll read about how we taste, feel and experience our food. It is seriously eye opening.

Next, they cover how to take your knowledge of flavor and translate that into great cooking. There is a huge focus on the feelings we develop about food while eating- the emotions behind communicating with food. It helps you understand more how the best chefs tap into people to create their dishes.

Lastly, and this is my favorite section which basically takes up 90% of the book: the match making section. The entire section is full of ingredients. It takes an item, and in column form lists its taste profile, weight, volume, best cooking method and everything that compliments it. And here is where it gets really good: ingredients in lower case, normal font are good matches, those in lower case, bold font are better, and the stuff in ALL CAPS AND BOLD are best. For example:

Taste: Salty
Weight: medium
Volume: moderate
Technique: fry

cheese: fontina, Parmesan
....(many more)
pepper, black

It is incredible! Often at the bottom of a column you will get a full combination recommendation and even it will tell you what to avoid. Throughout the book there are snippets from chefs from top restaurants about the ingredient, what they do with them, why.... everything. If you love to cook, and especially love to do it for crowds and be creative, I fully recommend you purchase this book. Hardcover retails at $38.00 and digital versions are available for $16.99 via iBooks and others.

Hint: This makes an excellent gift.

01 December 2015

Dishes with Dee: The Easiest Stove Top Turkey Chili

When I was younger I would often remark on the passage of time. 
"Whoa, how is it already the end of the school year/ end of summer/ 1999!?" I would question in disbelief. 
And without fail, each time my counter-part- whether teacher, relative, or friend's parent- would always reply "Just you wait, it only gets faster!" 
Typical older person response, I would think. And yet. IT IS DECEMBER, YOU GUYS. This year flew by like none of its predecessors and I AM AN OLDER PERSON!
When did that happen?!
I feel like it was July, I blinked and suddenly: Christmas Lists. Amazing.

And so, here we are on the verge of another Cincinnati winter. Though Mother Nature is being quite kind keeping things in the 50s this week, we know it will not last forever. You will need some cozy winter recipes in your arsenal. Especially ones that don't require you to leave the sofa for long. This chili was super comforting and the greek yogurt based topping helped keep things pretty guilt free. Or in my case, served as my justification for more cheese!

So! With that, I give you the easiest stove top turkey chili ever:
(psst... keep scrolling at the end of the recipe for a bonus meal idea!)

So here's what ya need:

For the yogurt topping:
1 single serving container of plain greek yogurt
1-2 tsp of liquid smoke
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
A dab of honey

For the chili:
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
1 garlic clove- minced
1 medium white onion- diced, about 3 tbsp reserved for topping
1 red bell pepper- chopped
1 yellow bell pepper- chopped
1 cup frozen corn
2 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes- fire roasted with chilis if you can find it
2 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce
2 15 oz. cans of black beans- drained and rinsed
2 15 oz. cans of dark kidney beans- drained and rinsed
1/4 c. jarred jalape├▒os- roughly chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp onion powder

Additional toppings:
Finely shredded cheddar cheese
Sliced green onion
Tortilla chips
Fresh diced white onion

And here's what ya do:

1. For the yogurt topping: combine all ingredients in a mason jar and stir to incorporate. Seal and refrigerate while the chili cooks.

2. In a large pot or dutch-oven heat olive oil over medium-high heat until fragrant. Add onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add ground turkey and cook until it just begins to brown.

3. Add in all the rest of the ingredients and use the liquid to help scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Stir to combine, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook at a simmer for 1.5 - 2 hours.

4. Spoon into bowls and serve with all your toppings. Enjoy!

Bonus Meal:

You'll have plenty of left overs of this chili, so do what the pros do and make your own 4-ways! Simply cook a pasta of your choice, reheat the chili, and top with freshly diced onions, shredded cheddar cheese and anything else you want! For me: tons and tons of black pepper and the yogurt topping hit the spot!

Here is my secret to an amazing 4-way: when you spoon the pasta into the bowl, add a thin layer of shredded cheese to the steamy pasta before layering on your chili! It makes it super gooey and delicious.

This cheesy chili-mac is best served with a cozy blanket and an episode of Game of Thrones. (I just started watching and I'm hooked!)

29 October 2015

The Wine Record: Progress Report

How many of you have ever done a major renovation on your home or business? My goodness! The anticipation is more exciting than the build up to Christmas when you are a kid! We can't wait for all of you to come have a glass of wine, a good beer, or a cocktail designed and served by some pretty talented folks (more on that later)....

In the meantime, we have been passing inspections left and right so I wanted to give you a sneak peek at the new spot!

We love our custom made sign. Welcome to The Cellar!

The walls of the lounge area are made out of wooden wine crates, and oh-so cool:

Storage under the stairs is perfect for holding the bottle list selections: 

Our bar is 25 feet of poured concrete. Complete with USB ports for charging your phone... this is extremely important to me. 

The two top seating is a perfect place for some charcuterie and chats with good friends: 

The back end of the bar boasts unique shelving and a very cool old incinerator:

You'll even be able to catch a game on one of our tvs... plus check out those awesome window wine bottle installments:

I love everything about the space, but my favorite part? These Edison style light fixtures made from old wine bottles:

I think I speak for everyone when I say that I am so excited for this space to open! Very big thanks to all who have worked so tirelessly to get us up and running. Especially all the staff coming on board, our amazing contractors, and every one of the customers that we are so proud to serve.

Details on the Grand Opening to follow! 

19 October 2015

A penny-pinch...

So. Guys. How often does this happen to you?

You're making a recipe. It's from scratch and it's gonna be amazing and it only needs 1 Tbsp of CANNED COCONUT MILK. Gah! Maddening! What are you supposed to do with the rest?!


Freeze it of course! Freeze those left overs in 1 Tbsp portions using your ice trays and save them for the next time you're going to make that recipe! Here I have heavy cream, two kinds of mushroom stock, and shrimp stock!


15 October 2015

The Wine Record: Kristen + Ray

We love getting to know the people that come into the shop. Knowing more about the people who come here makes our jobs more fun, more interesting, and helps us bring in the right wines. Sometimes when Zach tastes wine, he will name out a specific customer and say "this should be on the shelves for them". When you start to get to know people that way, it gets really fun.

The folks that come by the shop begin to feel like family pretty quickly. It is so great to see the same people each week and I'm loving hearing their stories about how they found the shop and why it feels like "their place". Kristen and Ray are a great example. The shop has become their place so much so that they asked to have some of their engagement photos shot here! What a blast!

Here are a few photos from their session that we love:

Their photographer is Susan Stewart of Stewart Hunter photography. For more of her work you can check out their website here.

Wine shop. Soon to be bar. Photography studio.... why not?

12 October 2015

Dishes with Dee: Creamy Mushroom Marsala

Last week there was definitely a change in the air. Like literally, you guys, it got colder. Colder weather always gets me excited for this time of year. I love the leaves changing and football on tv with open windows and a warm blanket. It is just so cozy.

You know what else is perfect for this time of year? Comfort food. I posted about this lightened up version here, and this restaurant serving awesome comfort food here.

To me, pasta is everything comfort. Especially when you pair it with earthy mushrooms and rich sage. So, this delicious pasta recipe is just in time for crisp fall nights that have you curled up on the couch with a glass of red and fuzzy socks.

Creamy Mushroom Marsala

Here's what ya need:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot- diced
2 garlic cloves- minced
4 tbsp sage- roughly chopped
8 oz baby bella mushrooms- sliced, stems removed and chopped
1 pkg dried shitake mushrooms- reconstituted (direction in step 1)
1 pkg dried porcini mushrooms- reconstituted (direction in step 1)
1 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. mushroom stock (you'll get it from reconstituting the mushrooms- directions in step 1)
1 c. dry marsala wine
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c. heavy cream
fresh cracked black pepper
shredded romano cheese
1 lb-pasta cooked
1/4 c. starchy water from cooking the pasta

And here's what ya do:

1. Prepare the mushrooms: For the fresh bellas, trim the stems down to the caps, slice the caps into about 1/4 inch slices. Roughly chop the stems and set aside for the sauce. For the dried mushrooms, empty the contents of each dried mushroom package into a separate small bowl of room temperature water. Allow the mushrooms to soak for 30 minutes in order to reconstitute. Remove mushrooms from their soaking liquid and reserve 1/8 cup of both liquids. Note: A lot of directions will tell you to use hot water for dried mushrooms. I use room temperature because it allows the mushrooms to retain more of their flavor and works in effectively the same amount of time. The liquid is awesome for sauces and soups, as you'll see in this recipe.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, shallots, and mushroom stems and cook until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Add chicken stock and continue cooking on medium high heat until stock comes to a boil. Cook 3 more minutes. Add butter and swirl until melted. Add the marsala wine, all the mushrooms, and the soaking liquid from the dried mushrooms. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring the mushrooms occasionally. Once the sauce is boiling, reduce the heat to medium, add salt, pepper and 1 Tbsp of chopped sage and simmer until liquid reduces by about half.

3. Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta reserving 1/4 c. of the starchy pasta water.

4. Whisk 1/2 c. of heavy whipping cream into the mushrooms and sauce and add 1 more Tbsp of sage. Allow the sauce to simmer gently another 3-4 minutes for the sauce to thicken. Then, add the starchy pasta water and simmer a few more minutes while the sauce continues to thicken slightly.

5. Serve over pasta and top with remaining sage, freshly cracked black pepper, and plenty of romano cheese.

6. Enjoy with friends and feel all warm and happy.

Wine Pairing:*
Santo Cristo Garnacha. Get it at Oakley Wines for $13.99

*When possible, I will share the wine that I paired with dinner that night since I've got the inside scoop, now.