Tag Archives: wine

beautiful things: wineglasses

Sometimes beautiful things just catch my eye, and it really doesn’t matter how much they cost. In fact, the less they cost, the better. My little town is fairly isolated — about two hours from any decent shopping — so when I travel, I like to shop.

During a work trip to San Francisco a year and a half ago, I went in a CB2 with some friends who were shopping for appetizer plates. I had no intention of purchasing anything, but these tumblers caught my eye. The glasses are technically double old-fashioned glasses, but they are just the right size for wine. And, of course, at about $2 per glass, it doesn’t matter much if one breaks.

wine on a spring evening

I usually use them for red wines. Sometimes I drink a white in it, but only if it’s a white wine that can tolerate a bit of warming up since hands tend to warm up the glass.

wine

And in this glass? A 2008 Mollydooker Two Left Feet, a shiraz blended with a bit of merlot and cabernet sauvignon.

a favorite wine glass

You can find the wine here, and the glasses here.

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shrimp risotto with peas

My life is crazy. Let me just put that out there. Since I finished medical school almost ten years ago, I have worked full time (and sometimes way more than full time). Almost 6-1/2 years ago, my daughter was born. And then three years after that, my son was born. And I still work full time, because I love what I do. My husband works a lot, too, because he loves what he does. My daughter is in kindergarten, and my son is in preschool. Both kids just started swim practice – this week, in fact – and that activity now takes up a good hour in the evening twice a week.

shrimp

So, my point? It’s really hard to make time to cook. Really, really hard. I have found some tools that help me survive these crazy work weeks. One of them is my husband, who shares in all the household and parenting responsibilities equally — but you can’t have him. A couple of other tools that I rely on are my slow cooker – an ancient appliance that was a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law and looks like it might be straight out of the 1960s – and my electric pressure cooker, a Cuisinart.

Earlier this week, during one of those usual crazy days, I decided to utilize my pressure cooker to make a risotto. It’s so simple and straightforward, and I can have a risotto prepped in no time. Thankfully, I like risotto. The pressure cooker is good for other things too, but the fact that I could make risotto in the pressure cooker was a bit of a surprise for me. Hence, this post.

shrimp

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As I mentioned in my last post, we have this great little fish market in my neighborhood. I stopped by on the way home from work and picked up some fresh St. Augustine shrimp. Everything else I had on hand. Turned out to be a perfect – and quick – weeknight meal, with plenty of leftovers for the next night.

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For the wine for this meal (both for cooking and for drinking), I opened a 2005 Franciscan Chardonnay from Napa. This chardonnay is a lighter, crisper style than one might think of in a traditional chardonnay. It worked well with this dish, but I probably would have preferred a sauvignon blanc or a riesling given the hint of spiciness in the shrimp from the crushed red pepper.

franciscan chardonnay

Shrimp Risotto with Peas

(Adapted from Bon Appetit; Directions are for using an electric pressure cooker. You can always use your traditional risotto recipe if you don’t have a pressure cooker.)
Ingredients for Shrimp

2 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

3/4 pound shrimp

1/2 cup dry white wine

Ingredients for Risotto

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped onion or shallot

2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon kosher salt

5 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 cup frozen peas (more or less)

Preparation

In a skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Add shrimp and saute for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp begin to turn pink. Add 1/2 cup white wine and simmer until shrimp are done, another 2-3 minutes. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon and set aside. Pour cooking liquid into bowl and reserve.

In the pressure cooker, place 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon butter and the chopped onion or shallot, and saute for 2 or 3 minutes until the onion/shallot is translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add in the arborio rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is opaque (about 3-4 minutes). Add the wine and salt and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. Add 4-1/2 cups chicken stock, stir, and set the pressure cooker to high pressure and cook for 6 minutes. When the 6 minutes is up, use the quick release to release the steam in the pressure cooker. Open the lid carefully.

To risotto, add in 1/4 cup of reserved shrimp cooking liquid and the last 1/2 cup of the chicken stock. Stir until absorbed. Add in the shrimp and peas. Serve immediately.

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celebration of wine

This weekend was the annual Celebration of Wine charity wine tasting and wine auction. The proceeds from ticket and auction sales benefit local public radio. There were over 300 wines to taste, but we went with a cheat sheet of wines we knew we simply must try.ready to taste

With wine glass and map in hand, we wandered around the 39 tables and tried champagnes, proseccos, chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, zinfandels, meritages, cabernet sauvignons, and even a dessert wine or two.
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Some of my favorites included the Ridge Zinfandel Ponzo, the Lail Blueprint Cabernet Sauvignon, a Corison Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Barlow Barrouge Cabernet/Merlot blend.
celebration of wine

We had tasted several of the wines before, some on our 2009 trip to Napa. Because we knew of some that we liked already, we went back to have another taste of some favorites – the Ehlers 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon, Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir, and the Alexander Valley Vineyard’s showcase wine, Cyrus. They did not disappoint.
celebration of wine

Breaks were critical. If we’d tasted wines for five hours straight, we’d have been stumbling home. The silent wine auction gave us a good excuse to leave the tasting room. Plus, I’m a sucker for silent auctions, so I had to get a good look at the bidding sheets to see what kind of competition I’d be up against.
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The Celebration of Wine always ends with a live wine auction. Last year, probably due to the horrible economy, the wine auction was filled with great bargains. We were expecting that this year, but people were very generous with their donations during this auction. In fact, the couple of items we tried to bid on were quickly bid up past retail value and out of our price range. Not good for us, but very good for public radio. And, in hindsight, it was probably good for us too. We can definitely find other uses for that money.
oakville ranch

We did walk out with one “win” in the silent auction. Last June in Napa, we spent an amazing afternoon at the Oakville Ranch winery in Napa. When we saw the 2002 Oakville Ranch Robert’s Blend in the auction list, I knew that we’d be bidding on it. It will probably sit collecting dust for a while, but when we do drink it, we’ll have great memories of our trip there last summer.

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