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A little #wine for #NationalTacoDay

4 Oct

It’s not every day I sit around praying for the Taco Muse to visit me as I contemplate what to write about for National Taco Day. But like something straight outta Homer’s Odyssey, a taco recipe landed in my inbox from…wait for it…a Greek food company.

And I know I’ll catch el infierno from my Mexican friends, but I’m gonna pair it with–get ready–Chilean wine. Hey, what’s not to love about a little peace, love and global cuisine in Today’s Crazy World? Besides, I’ve been feeling all ornery-like since the candidates’ debate, so this is me stirring the palate pot.

Further down you’ll find the recipe for Grilled Chile-Lime Flank Steak Soft Tacos with Charred Pineapple Salsa (say that 10 times fast), courtesy of the muy Greek Gaea. But in the meantime, here’s my pairing suggestion.

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A bee-yoo-tee-ful glass of 2013 Montes Twins Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon blend is going to send your Taco Tuesday into maximum overdrive. Big, bold blackberries, a trace of red roses and sweet spices will play nicely with the seasonings in the taco recipe. And the saucy tannins are going to grip that flank steak like they mean it. [El Full Disclosure: I received this bottle of wine as a sample from a public relations company, but my opinions are my own. As always. Why can’t the FCC just be happy with me writing about stuff I like? But that’s a whole other story. El Heavy Sigh.]

Oh, and don’t wait until your tacos are ready. Heck, crack open the bottle while you’re cooking. Last but not least, this recipe’s a little on the long side (and no, that’s not me looking a gift Taco Muse in the mouth, but just sayin’), so I’ll sign off for now. ¡Salud!, my darlings, and wish me well on my International Entrepreneurship midterm tomorrow.

Taco recipe.jpg

Grilled Chile-Lime Flank Steak Soft Tacos with Charred Pineapple Salsa

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of fat
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons of Gaea’s Kalamata D.O.P. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Charred Pineapple Salsa

1 small pineapple, 3 to 3 1/2 pounds
1 small red onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of Gaea’s Kalamata D.O.P. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ fresh jalapeño or serrano pepper, scraped of seeds and minced
16 6-inch corn tortillas

For the Steak Marinade:

In a small bowl, mix all spices, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and blend well to make a paste. Place the meat in a shallow dish and rub the paste evenly over both sides. Cover the steak and let it marinate for 1 to 4 hours.

For the Charred Pineapple Salsa:

When the steak is done marinating, preheat the grill; you’ll cut and grill the pineapple first and then put the steaks on the grill when the salsa is ready.

To cut the pineapple, slice off the leafy top and just enough of the bottom of the fruit so it rests flat on a cutting board. Slice off all the skin with a sharp knife, cutting from top to bottom and taking off as little of the flesh as possible, rotating the pineapple as you go. Discard the skin. Cut out any “eyes” with a paring knife and discard. Slice the fruit away from the core in four or five grill-friendly slabs.

When the grill is hot, place the pineapple slabs on the hot grill and grill quickly until the fruit just begins to show some browning, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. (If you want one side to be truly charred or blackened, let it go for 4 to 5 minutes on one side only.)

Take the fruit off the grill when it’s as browned as you like. Set it aside to cool for a few minutes and then dice the pineapple for the salsa. In a medium bowl, mix the diced charred pineapple, red onion, cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, vinegar, remaining olive oil, salt, and minced hot pepper and blend well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To cook the steak:

Place the steak on the grill and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side or slightly longer if you like it more well done. Remove the steak from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. While the grill is hot, place the tortillas on the grill and grill for 10 seconds on each side then wrap in a linen napkin for serving.

Slice the steak into 1/2-inch slices, place on a platter, and spoon over the charred pineapple salsa. Place the tortillas on the table and serve family style.

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¡Mucho Gusto! Get to know Barbaresco

22 Jan

Happy Wednesday, chicas y chicos!

I’m still reveling in the newness of 2014, and in my never-ending quest to bring you snob-free wine knowledge, I’d like to introduce you to ¡Mucho Gusto!, a brand-new feature on Señorita Vino. Well, it’s not literally on me, but you get the picture.

Once or twice a month, I’ll be focusing on a different wine, with a bit of history, flavor and aroma characteristics, pairing ideas and maybe even a recommended label or two. The purpose of this new department is to inspire you to learn about and taste wines you may not typically drink. Some you may have heard of, others not, but I promise you’ll learn something new, even about wines you already drink.

So without further ado, heeeeeeeere’s Barbaresco!

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HOLA, ME LLAMO: Barbaresco is a red wine made from the Nebbiolo grape.

MY ROOTS: Barbaresco hails from the Piedmont region in northwest Italy. It’s a DOCG wine (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), the highest quality ranking for Italian wines. Bear in mind that California, Chile and Mexico also make wine from the Nebbiolo grape, but the wine can only be called Barbaresco if it’s produced in designated districts in Italy’s Piedmont region.

ALL ABOUT ME: Barbaresco is a dry wine known for having softer tannins than its “cousin,” Barolo, an Italian wine also made from Nebbiolo grapes. For this reason, Barbaresco is considered by some to be easier to drink than Barolo. Because the wine is aged in wood for a maximum of two years, you may smell cedar or oak. Barbaresco has lush berry and plum aromas, along with floral notes of violet and spices such as vanilla and licorice. This is a full-bodied wine, which means it will feel heavier on the palate and have a higher alcohol content.

FOODS I LOVE: Because of the tannins and body, Barbaresco pairs nicely with the traditional meat and game stews of northwestern Italy. Want a little Latin sabor? Pair it with carne asada, seco de cordero (Peruvian lamb stew), carnitas or roast pork. If you love a good charcuterie plate as much as I do, try it with salami,  mortadella, and if your arteries can handle it, lardo di Colonnata.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: Expect to pay anywhere from $14 to $400 or more for a bottle of Barbaresco. You can get a good one for $30-$60. Some respected labels include: Ceretto, Gaja, Pio Cesare, Bruno Rocca and Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy.

Now that you’ve met Barbaresco, what do you think? Is it a wine you think you’ll try? Are there other wines you’d like to see in a future ¡Mucho Gusto!? Share your comments – I’d love to hear from you.

¡Salud!

East LA Meets Napa. ¡Vámonos!

3 Aug

Uh, yeah. About that final installment in the Canada wine series…

Well,  this cheap-o file cabinet in my office is self-destructing:

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And I can’t open the drawer with my passport in it.  Seriously. Which is a major problema, because without a passport, I can’t travel. I mean, it’s not like you need a passport to go to Napa  if you’re already a U.S. citizen, but still. It’s the principle (muchas gracias, Big-Office-Supply-Company-That-Sells-Cheap-Crap-Whose-Name-I-Won’t-Mention-Here).

So while I spend the rest of my Saturday afternoon emptying the file cabinet and sorting through old paperwork to extricate my passport, you can take a journey that doesn’t require you to leave the comfort of your sofa.

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Learn about vinos fabulosos, made by Mexican-American winemakers.  Score a recipe for the most beautiful tortillas you’ve ever seen, courtesy of uber-famoso chef John Rivera.  And find out how sipping wine and noshing on Latin American food can help people in the Los Angeles area gain access to much-needed healthcare.

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It all came together at this year’s East LA Meets Napa, one of my favorite wine tasting events in the vino universe. Read about it in this article I wrote for Latina magazine’s mouthwatering food and wine website, TheLatinKitchen.com. No passport required.

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A #Pisco Cocktail for Peruvian Independence Day

27 Jul

Break out the lomo saltado and the bottles of pisco, chicos y chicas: Tomorrow is 28 de julio, or Perú’s Independence Day ! I know I promised you part 3 in the Canadian wine series, but guess who’s up to her eyebrows in deadlines? So in lieu of the final installment in the Canadian wine series, I present you with a re-blog of a post that was a hit about this time last year: Señorita Vino’s very own “Caipirinka” recipe: A Peruvian twist on a Brazilian classic, with pisco (of course!) as the main ingredient. So shout it with me one more time: ¡Que viva el Perú, carajo! 

Variety, chicas y chicos, is the spice of life, so to add a little sabor to your weekend, it is my supreme pleasure to introduce my latest invention…the Caipirinka. It’s a refreshingly  exotic blend of mangoes, lime and pisco.

Yep, it’s like the Brazilian Caipirinha but with a two-fold Peruvian twist: 1). Pisco is the national drink of Perú*, and 2). Mangos grow happily in Perú. And of course, there’s 2a: Señorita Vino’s parents hail from the land of the Incas.

If you’re not familiar with pisco, it’s a clear alcoholic spirit made from grapes. Some say it’s comparable to Italy’s grappa and Greece’s ouzo. And  like grappa and ouzo, pisco can knock you flat on your asti spumante, so be forewarned: un poquito goes a long way.

Adding to the Caipirinka’s uniquely Peruvian flair is the mango. Perú is one of six countries that exports mangos to the U.S.  The mangos I used to make the Caipirinka were generously provided by the Mango Board, which probably had no idea I’d use them to make an alcoholic beverage.
In case anyone’s keeping track, this is arguably the world’s most nutrient-rich cocktail. Mangos contain more than 20 different types of nutrients and vitamins, and just one cup of mangos is 100 calories and provides 100% of your recommended vitamin C allowance. See? Señorita Vino cares muchísimo about the health (and girlish figures) of her readers.

I used fresh, pureed ataulfo mangos, the oblong, bright yellow fruit in the photo above. ¿Porqué ataulfo? Because this variety has no fibers and is as smooth as butter, making it a great option to blend in cocktails or fruit smoothies. Not only that, but the flesh is gloriously golden, calling to mind the gold treasure of the Inca empire. Now there’s a culture that literally worshipped its bling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So without further ado, here’s how you can add a little Inca gold to your Peruvian Independence Day celebration. Because we all have different palates (See “Vino 101”), you may want to adjust the amount of sugar, lime or pisco. If you do up the pisco content, Señorita Vino takes no responsabilidad if you wake up in an exotic land, covered in gold sequins and tropical bird feathers. ¡Salud!

*There is some debate between Perú and Chile as to which country ‘invented’ pisco. It was Perú, of course (see 2a above).

Señorita Vino’s Caipirinka 

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 cup of ripe Ataulfo mangos (about 2), cubed

6 tablespoons of  sugar syrup (make ahead: Dissolve 8 tablespoons of baker’s sugar into 8 tablespoons of water in a pan over low heat. Bring to a boil, then boil for 1-2 minutes. Refrigerate. Keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge).

8 ice cubes, cracked

4 key limes (or 2 regular limes), cut into small wedges. Save a few slices as a garnish, if desired.

4 teaspoons raw cane sugar, divided

4 ounces of pisco

3 additional ice cubes, cracked

In a blender, place the 8 cracked ice cubes, the mango and the sugar syrup. Blend until the mango is completely liquefied. Set aside. Place an equal amount of lime wedges into four small glasses. Add a teaspoon of raw cane sugar to each glass. With a muddler (see photo) or wooden spoon, crush the lime and sugar until it forms a paste.

Place the remaining three cracked cubes in a cocktail shaker. Add 2/3 cup of the mango puree and the pisco and shake until condensation forms on the shaker.

Shake it, chica!

Pour immediately into the cocktail glasses. Garnish with lime wedge if desired.

A Recipe for Cinco De Mayo

2 May

No one loves a fiesta like Señorita Vino, and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. Before we get into full party mode and a sabroso Cinco de Mayo recipe, here’s a handy little history lesson that will make you sound like the smartest reveler in the room on Sunday.

Image credit: SMU Central University Libraries via Wikimedia Commons.

Image credit: SMU Central University Libraries via Wikimedia Commons.

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. Rather, it commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French on May 5, 1862 during a battle in Puebla, Mexico. Why such a fuss over one measly battle? Well, Mexico had 4,000 soldiers, and the French had twice as many, and they had fancier equipment. Mexico won. ‘Nuff said. Second, the Battle of Puebla was the last time a nation in the Americas had to fend off a foreign invasion besides the Beatles.

Now you’ll know exactly what to say when the Mexican Independence Day topic comes up this weekend. De nada.

Okay, enough history, chicas y chicos. It’s time for a fiesta-ready dish that’ll add a cool vibe to your Cinco de Mayo party–along with wine pairing suggestions.

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it takes all of 15 minutes to throw everything in the blender, but it looks like you slaved away for hours. You do need to let the soup chill for a few hours, but that’ll give you time to hang your piñatas and gather your maracas.  ¡Arrrrrrrrribaaaaa! [Cue the mariachis].

Señorita Vino’s Chillin’ Avocado Soup

Wine pairings: Chilean or Mexican Sauvigon Blanc or a Gruner Veltliner from Austria or California.

Why: Acidic white wines will balance the creaminess of this soup and complement the crab topping. A full-bodied red wine may give a metallic taste to the seafood and cancel out the flavors of the soup. Dry white wines will work better with this dish; sweeter white wines will overpower the delicate sweetness of the crab and make it taste flat. Plus, who wants to drink sweet wine with onions?

(4 to 6 servings)

THE SOUP:

5 small ripe avocados (or 3 medium sized)

3 tbsp. nonfat plain yogurt

1 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

THE TOPPING:

8 oz. of canned crabmeat (fresh is better, but canned was all I had in the kitchen!)

1/2 persian cucumber, seeded and diced

2 green onions, sliced

1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Peel and seed the avocados, chop and toss them in a blender. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, crushed garlic clove, salt and chicken broth. Blend until smooth. Add salt to taste; chill. Drain the canned crabmeat and place it into a bowl. Add the sliced green onion, diced cucumber, chopped cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Toss until well-mixed and adjust seasonings according to taste. Chill the crab topping. Pour the avocado soup into a bowl and top with two or three forkfuls of the crab mixture. Now relax, pour yourself a glass of chilled vino blanco and enjoy the fiesta!

Put a Little Passion in Your Pisco

12 Apr

I’m baaaaaaaack! From vacation, that is.

Two weeks in Perú have left me jonesin’ for the latest spin on the Andean nation’s  cocktail of choice, the Pisco Sour. This popular new version features an intoxicating splash of passionfruit for an exotically fruity twist and can be found in trendy restaurants or bars from Lima to Cuzco and points beyond.

Passionfruit Pisco Sours, as enjoyed at Ache restaurant in Lima's Miraflores neighborhood.

Passionfruit Pisco Sours, as enjoyed at Ache restaurant in Lima’s Miraflores neighborhood.

Here’s Señorita Vino’s own take on a drink that will leave you longing for Llama Land. This cocktail is the perfect aperitif, or you can do what I’m doing and use it to cure a case of post-vacation blues.

Señorita Vino’s Passionfruit Pisco Sour

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups pisco

1 cup sugar

1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, no seeds or pulp

1 cup passionfruit juice (you should be able to find this in an ethnic grocery store)

Angostura bitters (just a few drops’ll do ya!)

12 ice cubes, crushed

2 egg whites

METHOD:

Pour pisco, sugar, lime juice, passionfruit juice and a couple of drops of Angostura bitters into a blender and blend on medium speed until thoroughly mixed (two to five minutes). Next, add the crushed ice and the egg whites and blend again for about three minutes. Pour the mixture into small shot glasses and top with a drop of Angostura bitters.

¡Salud!

Serves about 8 (or four if no one has to drive!)

Cooking with Wine

21 Feb

Vino’s not just for drinking. Cook with it and add a splash of sabor to your favorite recipe. Or if you’re like me, drink it and cook with it–all at once–and put a little excitement into a night at home.

Here for your culinary pleasure are six tips on cooking with wine, as they appeared in a recent article I wrote for Latina magazine’s TheLatinKitchen.com. You’ll also get Chef Ricardo Zarate’s recipe for choritos, or Peruvian mussels in a yellow chile sauce.

Rule number one: Don't cook with anything you wouldn't drink (Photo credit: M0les via Wikemedia Commons)

Tip number one: Don’t cook with anything you wouldn’t drink (Photo credit: M0les via Wikemedia Commons)

What are some of your favorite techniques for cooking with wine? Share them here!

¡Salud!

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