Sunday, January 31, 2010

Great Grapes Wine Tasting Party

Drinking wine is one of life's simple pleasures.  A good glass of wine at the end of the day can relieve stress, bring out the flavors in a home-cooked meal, and bring together friends.

There are so many varieties of wine available today. From the most educated wine enthusiast to novices like myself, most drinkers of wine will profess to prefer one variety over another. Putting these preferences to the test can make for an enjoyable evening with friends.  Invite a small group over for a wine tasting exercise to put everyone's palette through a blind tasting.

Start by selecting 3 varieties of wine, like Malbec, Shiraz and Merlot.  Cover the labels of each with paper; we used a cut up brown paper bag.  Using PlaceTile WineTags (you'll need 3 for each guest) write the name of each variety on a tag so that every guest has one tag for each variety.  Let guests sip and sample each wine to try and figure out which variety they are tasting.  Then have them place the varietal WineTag on the bottle they think it matches.
Once everyone has voted, you can unveil the bottles and see who got it right & who got it wrong.  You can even spice up the competition by giving a bottle of wine to the person who got the most correct.  It makes for a fun evening and really gets the conversation going. You can add some wine knowledge to evening by printing out information about each wine and grape that you have selected.   Cellar Notes is a great site for inforation about wines.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Healthy Year, Healthy You

Welcome to PlaceTile Designs Blog.  It's our New Year's resolution to blog at least twice a month for the year.  Our focus is on food and entertaining since that's what we love and that is what PlaceTile Designs is all about.  We hope you enjoy the blog!

Keeping the new years resolution to eat food that is better for you, can be challenging.  Especially when you're juggling all the other balls that life has thrown at you.  One way to make it easier is to plan ahead and remind yourself what's for dinner each night of the week.  Seeing your weekly menu written down on  PlaceTile Designs MessageTiles will help to remind you to stick to the plan and it can give you something to look forward to each day.  The MessageTile can be displayed in your kitchen and reused each week.

To help kickstart your weekly menu's we have provided 5 delicious meals and a grocery list for the week.  To simplify your life, many of the ingredients are used more than once in the week; turn the roast chicken and barley salad into chicken and barley soup and the bison burger into tacos.  Bison is a great low fat, high flavor alternative to cow's meat and can be found at most grocers. For more information on bison, click here.  These recipes are courtesy of Chef Christopher Paternotte, a graduate of The French Culinary Institute, who has been Exuctive chef of Kali's Court, Vin, and most recently Taverna Corvino in Baltimore.  More great weekly menus can be found at Epicurious and among others.

Each recipe serves 2

Grilled Salmon with Feta and Barley Salad
•   2, 8oz salmon fillets
•   1 cup barley
•   1Red bell pepper
•   1/2 sweet onion
•   1/2 cup French feta
•   1 tbsp  fresh rosemary (chopped)
•   1 tbsp  fresh oregano (chopped)
•   3oz. balsamic vinegar
•   6 oz olive oil (use the best you have)
•   sea salt

            Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add barley and simmer until tender, about an hour (if planning to use barley within a couple days, boil off what you need, drain and reserve in refrigerator). Dice peppers, and onions into small dice. Sweat onion over low heat until translucent. Add in diced peppers, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. In the mean time rub salmon with a tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper. Make sure grill is clean and on high when placing salmon on. Always begin searing fish on opposite side of skin when skinless, when skin on always start with skin side first.  Whichever you decide, skin on or off, begin by searing for 4 minutes while turning heat to medium. Flip salmon over leaving there for an additional 4-5 minutes. To check for doneness  look for the white fat of salmon to bead up on outside of fillet. Remove salmon from grill. Add in barley, rosemary and oregano to the onion and pepper and mix together over heat. Remove from heat and toss in vinegar, olive oil and feta. Season with sea salt and serve warm underneath salmon.

Roasted Chicken and Edamame Succotash
•   1 whole Chicken (3-4 lbs)
•   1/2 cup minced  fresh rosemary, oregano, parsley
•   Sea Salt (or kosher), Black pepper
•   olive oil, lemon
•   1 cup edamame beans
•   1 cup corn off the cob
•   1 cup lima beans

            Very thoroughly rub chicken with the minced herbs (reserve some for succotash), sea salt, olive oil and lemon inside and out, let stand for several hours, over night is optimal. Remove from refrigerator and let come up to room temperature prior to roasting, this will aid in more even and true cooking. Place in an oven proof baking dish, preferably one with sides. Roast chicken at 425 for an hour and a half (depending on size). In the mean time, remove the edamame from the shell, cut the corn off the cob and combine with the lima beans in a sauce pan with an ounce of olive oil and salt and pepper. Simmer for about five minutes on medium heat or until corn is tender and not starchy. Set aside. Use some of the juice from roasting the chicken and the reserved herbs to flavor the succotash. Pull desired meat off the bone and serve with the succotash. By sprinkling a little sea salt or kosher salt over food when plated, you will boost  the flavor of the dish, but keep in mind to never over season your food!

Bison Burger with Caramelized Onion, Feta, and Roasted Pepper and Olive Spread
•   2, 6 oz hand formed Bison patties
•   2 Whole wheat buns
•   4 oz olive oil
•   1 sweet onion
•   Fench feta
•   1 roasted red pepper
•   1/4 cup black olives, seeded
•   3 cloves roasted garlic
•   Large pinch of chopped oregano and parsley
•   1/2 cup roasted eggplant
•   1 oz Balsamic vinegar

       For the onions: halve and julienne onion into thin slices. In a small (6”) saute pan on low heat add a teaspoon of oil, and onion. Slowly cook onion stirring intermittently to allow caramelization to occur on pan and onion. If needed, deglaze (or clean bottom of pan) by adding a splash of water and color on onion will richen.
            For the spread: halve a small eggplant and toss with the whole red pepper, an ounce olive oil, salt and pepper. Place pepper, and eggplant in the oven on 425 and roast until pepper skin is dark brown and blistered. Toss one head of un-peeled garlic with salt, an ounce of olive oil and pepper and wrap in tinfoil and roast along side the eggplant and pepper. The garlic will take longer, so anticipate for this time. When all is roasted, extract the 3-4 cloves of garlic (reserve the rest for another night), scrape the eggplant, and peel and deseed the pepper. Place the roasted ingredients, olives, and the herbs in a Cuisinart and blend. Add any additional olive oil as needed to create a harmonious spread, and finish with balsamic vinegar.
            For the Burger patties: form two 6 oz patties by hand trying not to over work the meat. Let rest for 20 minutes at room temperature. Place on a clean grill on high. Wait 4 minutes and flip while turning heat to low. Wait 3 minutes and  remove for a medium burger. After cooking let meat of this size rest for minimum of 2 minutes, other weights may vary.        

Chicken and Barley Soup with Rosemary Garlic Bread
•   roasted Chicken Carcass
•   1 sweet onion
•   2 small carrots
•   2 stalks of celery
•   thyme, parsley (reserve some for presentation) and bay leaf
•   one head of garlic
•   3 cups lima beans
•   3 cups cooked barley
•   Rosemary (chopped)
•   Olive oil
•   Rustic Italian loaf

            Using reserved carcass of chicken with leftover pulled meat aside, place into oven at 500 for 15 minutes or until complete browning had occurred. Sweat chopped onion, peeled garlic, celery and carrot together in a soup pot. When onions are translucent, add in browned carcass , herbs, and 2 quarts (8 cups) of water to cover bones. Bring to a boil and keep at a low simmer for 2 hours. Strain through a fine sieve. Bring liquid to a boil, add lima beans, and barley. Lightly toast bread then slice and drizzle with oil and chopped rosemary. Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Garnish each bowl with warmed pulled chicken.

Bison Tacos with Spicy Napa Cabbage Slaw
•   1 lb ground Bison
•   1 tbsp Cayenne,
•   1 tbsp Chili Powder
•   1 tbsp cumin
•   1 tsp Garlic powder,
•   1 tsp onion powder
•   1 tsp sea salt
•   12, 6 inch Corn ( or wheat ) tortillas
•   3 cups Nappa Cabbage
•   1/4 Sweet onion
•   1  Jalapeno
•   1/2 red pepper
•   1/4 cup lite sour cream
•   Juice of one -two limes depending on juciness
•   1 Tbsp Siracha Sauce
•   Crumbled queso Blanco
•   1/2 an Avocado

            Slice cabbage, red pepper, jalapeno (deseeded) and onion in a thin julienne, juice the lime(s), and set aside. Toss the vegetables, sour cream, Siracha sauce, lime juice and salt together. Let sit for up to 24 hours.
            Combine all spices and coat ground Bison. Heat a large saute pan with a splash of olive oil and add seasoned Bison to the hot pan. Stir often to keep meat ground and separate. Keep tortillas warm in foil in a low oven.
             Slice avocado and crumble Queso Blanco for use as toppings for the tacos. Keep some Siracha sauce on the side as well if more hot sauce is desired. Assemble tacos as preferred.

2 8oz salmon fillets
2 lb ground Bison
1 whole Chicken (3-4 lbs)
5 cups barley
1 Red bell pepper
jar of roasted red bell pepper
1 eggplant
3 large sweet onions
1 lemon
2 limes
2 bags of frozen edamame beans
1 box of frozen corn
4 cups lima beans
a head Nappa Cabbage
1  Jalapeno
1/4 cup black olives, seeded
1 bunch of fresh rosemary
1 bunch of fresh oregano
fresh thyme
fresh parsley
bay leaf
1 head of garlic
Chili Powder
Garlic powder
onion powder
sea salt
Black pepper
balsamic vinegar
olive oil (use the best you have)
Siracha Sauce
Whole wheat buns
Rustic Italian loaf
12, 6 inch Corn ( or wheat ) tortillas
1/4 cup lite sour cream
Crumbled queso Blanco
1 cup French feta

Happy Dining and please be sure to visit us again soon to get more recipes and more entertaining ideas!

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