MO wines

Gratuitous Fall Cooking Blog

It’s that magical time of year, so here’s pumpkins, apples, and all things fall!

Originally posted October 2014.

Yesterday I went apple picking and picked out some pumpkins. Yes, I was THAT GIRL, walking around the orchard in a scarf and a chambray shirt, picking apples. Today I have more apples than you can shake a stick at. Hence, today’s Gratuitous Fall Cooking Blog: apples, pumpkins, and warm spices. Put on your riding boots and let’s embrace autumn!

Slow-Roasted Pork Loin with Apples, Carrots, and Onions

Ingredients:
4-5 apples, skins on, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
Pork Loin, about 3 lbs
Salt & pepper, to taste
Wine, enough to cover

1) In a crockpot or slow-cooker spread a layer of apples, onions, and carrots.

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The apples we picked were golden delicious and another one that was “like a Jonathan”. I used a little of both, and threw in a couple of carrots since I had them laying around.

2) Lay the pork loin over the apples, onions, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper.

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My 3-pound pork loin actually ended up being 2 smaller ones packed together. I’m cool with that, leftover pork loin makes awesome sandwiches and can even be chopped and used as an omlette filling!

3) Pour wine over everything until mostly covered. I used Briolette Apple wine (shout out to my new gig) but you could use a Riesling or even beer in it’s place.

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The wine pictured is Briolette Cut, a seasonal Apple wine from my new gig at Weston Wine Company!

4) Slow cook at 200F 8-10 hours or until tender, serve over noodles, or with roasted potatoes.

Roasted Pumpkin Purée
Make your own puréed pumpkin and never buy canned again! The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:
2 pumpkins, I used one regular pie pumpkin and one Amish pie pumpkin

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On the left is the regular pie pumpkin, on the right is the Amish. Pie pumpkins are in general better for making pies because there is way more flesh inside. I decided to try both to see what the difference was.1) Preheat oven to 350F

2) Cut the pumpkins into quarters and remove the stems. The stem on the Amish pumpkin popped off much more easily than the stem on the regular pumpkin.

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Here’s the inside of the Amish pumpkin. The seeds are quite a bit smaller than a traditional pie pumpkin. No extra charge for dramatic lighting. 🙂

The inside of the traditional pie pumpkin. See how thick the flesh is? Imagine trying to make a jack o' lantern out of this baby.

The inside of the traditional pie pumpkin. See how thick the flesh is? Imagine trying to make a jack o’ lantern out of this baby.

3) Scoop out the seeds and gooey stuff and set aside. Toasted pumpkin seeds are yummy!

4) Place skin-side-down on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 45 mins.
5) Remove from oven and allow pumpkins to cool at least 10 mins until able to handle easily.

Freshly-roasted pumpkin!

Freshly-roasted pumpkin!

6) When cooled, remove flesh from skins and place in blender. Blend flesh until smooth. I added about 1/4 C of water to help it blend more smoothly.

Pumpkin in my blender getting puréed.

Pumpkin in my blender getting puréed.

7) Allow to cool at least 30 mins. Maybe be frozen or used immediately in place of canned pumpkin, such as in pumpkin pie. This recipe made enough pumpkin purée for 2 9-inch deep-dish pies. The equivalent of about 2 cans.

Play-date Wednesday

For a few weeks now I’ve had a play-date planned with my friend & co-worker. We work together for a small company, so if we want to go somewhere together a little planning is in order. Back in August, I went & checked out Windy Wine Co. It’s a cool little spot about an hour away where they’re making some very cool, outside-the-box wines and meads. Recently, I was able to hit it up again; the line-up has changed & evolved seasonally (which is often apt to happen with smaller wineries) & I was able to taste some of the same wines I tasted last time, and I few new (to me) ones. On my last visit, I met Kraig, the vintner, very briefly. This time he did our tasting & we were able to talk about wine-drinking, wine-making, wine fests, mutual friends and acquaintances, and Dr Who.

We sampled the full line-up, which amounted to more than a dozen wines. Here are my picks from this visit:

Apple Wine

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Windy’s Apple Wine had a lovely clean, slightly tart flavor with just enough sweetness. It’s made with locally grown Gala & Jonathan apples (my 2 faves), and has some very subtle woodiness. Reminded me of sitting in a tree on an Autumn day eating apples straight off the branch.

Blushing Mallard

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Blushing Mallard was another outside-the-box offering from Kraig. It’s made from local Norton grapes, which are not typically my favorite. I shouldn’t say this too loudly while in Missouri, since Norton is their state grape and has something of a cult following. However, instead of the typical spiciness and heavy tannins you usually find in a Norton, it’s much fruitier with an “untamed” wild cherry note (see what I did there?) starting in the middle and going all the way until the end. They recommend it with wild duck, but it would stand up beside any wild game.  Very tasty.

Chipotle Mead

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This guy was my winner of the day, surprisingly. I am not a huge mead drinker, I don’t go out in search of mead, although I know that plenty of folks do. This one is pretty unique, there are 3 layers of flavor here. At the back you have an earthy note, from the honey, then the expected sweetness and thickness coating your mouth & tongue, then on the end the deep, spicy chipotle. I definitely bought this with the intention of cooking with it, but I’m still trying to decide whether I want to slow-cook some chicken or pork, or maybe make some jelly. Or both. That will be coming up soon, so stay tuned.

After we got done at Windy, we ended up stumbling onto a nice little Greek joint I found on UrbanSpoon, Gyro Paradise in St Joseph, MO (the birthplace of Eminem incidentally). We had some yummy lamb gyros, stuffed grape leaves, and falafel. The nice young guy at the counter even let us taste the baba ganoush and a few other items. Prices were great, staff was great, food was tasty. Will definitely be back the next time I’m in the neighborhood. It’s a little hard to schedule my wino/foodie field trips in my line of work, but I already have a few ideas for my next one, so this will definitely not be my last.

What’s in my glass: WBC Row Hard Root Beer and Blumenhof Chambourcin AKA: The night I forgot to drink the wine…

Had dinner with some friends Friday night. Bleu Cheese stuffed burgers, spinach salad, pasta salad, fries for the kidlets. I, naturally brought the booze and my daughter prepared her “precious little apple babies” for dessert.

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Here’s a pic of the booze I brought…

On the left is a growler of Row Hard Root Beer from Weston Brewing Company.  On the right, Blumenhof Winery’s 2012 Chambourcin. The Chambourcin was given to me by a grateful co-worker for whom I covered a shift. She did some detective work and figured out that Chambourcin is one of my favorite varietals. I thought it would be the perfect compliment to the yummy bleu cheese burgers. The root beer is getting a ton of great word of mouth, and my friend’s hubby is something of a “drink geek” so I thought it would be fun to try…

We cracked open the growler. In preparation for it’s sampling my hosts had graciously provided chilled glasses. We poured three glasses and resumed pre-dinner chatting. I was happy to find that the root beer did not disappoint. I’m not sure quite what I was expecting– beer with a slight root beer flavor? But this tasted JUST LIKE ROOT BEER. Which I love. There was a very slight beer-ish aftertaste. But it was quite delicious. In fact, I believe one of the first statements I made after tasting it was that if O’Malley’s Pub was not serving root beer floats made with Row Hard that they were really missing the bus. Guys, if you are not, MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

The mishap of the night was that I enjoyed the root beer so much that I poured myself a second glass and completely neglected to taste the Chambourcin. I did give it a sniff when I was first uncorked. The nose was unremarkable. Some fruit, a good bit of oak, the earthiness that I enjoy so much in a Chambourcin was all but nonexistent in the bouquet. It was also much lighter-bodied than other Chambourcins I have enjoyed. I am disappointed to say that’s all I can offer in review of this wine. But I have learned my lesson. Never will I forget to taste the wine again. You have my word.

Update: I spoke to Corey Weinfurt from Weston Brewing Company this morning and he offered me a bit of insight on the Row Hard Root Beer as well as the Pedal Hard Ginger Beer, which were both collaborations with The Root Sellers. These have been in development for about a year, the Pedal Hard released in June, the Row Hard available this month on tap (and in growlers). In the coming months they should be available for purchase in 6-packs. I am very excited to try the Pedal Hard as well and will be bringing my growler over for it soon! 

Credit to The Root Sellers for the pic of the taps at the UNICO Microbrew Festival at Zona Rosa.

Wino Field Trip: Windy Wine Co.

 I had heard about this winery several years ago, but while I was checking out the list of 2014 Missouri Governor’s Cup winners something jumped out at me and I knew I would have to make the trip (just about an hour from my home) and check out what these guys were doing for myself. What was the gamechanger? Peanut Butter and Jelly Wine. It brought home the GOLD. I needed to go and experience this wine for myself.

Being in the wine-selling business makes it challenging to go and check out other local wineries; and to find friends who aren’t working to accompany you. Last Friday worked out perfectly. Dropped the kidlets at summer camp for the weekend, grabbed a girlfriend who was willing to sham out of work for the day, and made the pilgrimage out to Osborn, MO

We were doorbusters, as in we arrived just as they were opening at 11AM. The tasting room is where their vines are, so it’s kind of remote but lovely. I had my game face on and was ready to taste some wines!

Here are some highlights:

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Tyrannosaurus Red brought home a Silver Medal from the 2014 Missouri Governor’s Cup

Tyrannosaurus Red: This wine has a lot going on. That’s actually what I said when I took my first sip. It’s a blend of Norton (the Missouri state grape and not usually my favorite) and Chambourcin (another locally-grown grape with a delicious earthiness to it). T-red is aged in American, French, and bourbon barrel oak. According to Kraig, the vintner, the bourbon barrel imparts flavors of “rich vanilla and smooth toasted spices”. What I really enjoyed about the T-red was its complexity- layer upon layer of flavors. An undertone of soft earthiness, then vanilla, spice box, black pepper, and cherry notes each take their turn on your palate. A bottle of this one followed me home!

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White Chocolate Strawberry won a Bronze Medal at the 2014 Missouri Governor’s Cup

White Chocolate Strawberry: This wine had me skeptical. First of all, I detest white chocolate. Really, it’s not even chocolate at all. According to the FDA a chocolate should contain cocoa solids as well as cocoa butter. Also, in the realm of all berries, strawberries are probably my least favorite. Strawberries aren’t actually berries either, but that’s another blog post. I was fully prepared to have my friend, who likes both of these things, evaluate this wine more fairly than I could. Boy, did this wine prove me wrong. The strawberry wine was just sweet enough, and just tart enough. Like eating an actual strawberry. The white chocolate was more of a mouthfeel than a flavor. A slight sweetness, behind the strawberry and a softness in your mouth at the end. A very nice surprise.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly brought home a Gold Medal at the Missouri Governor’s Cup!

Peanut Butter and Jelly: I was so excited to try this wine. In fact, it was a big part of the reason I made the trip. What an unusual, creative idea! Last year, when I was doing wine pairings for the Missouri Wine passport program, I was pairing Concord wine with peanut butter pie! I was all over this! Just for the record, I have no idea how I felt like there was actually peanut butter on the roof of my mouth at the end of this wine. Here is the tweet I sent after my tasting: 

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Mmmhmm, Definitely brought one of these home…

We were also fortunate enough to try a sample of the Mango Mead that wasn’t even bottled yet (nice and summery) and it was super-nice of them let us test-run a Mediterranean platter of pita, crackers, hummus, veggies, and feta.

The munchies they hooked us up with! You had me at hummus....

The munchies they hooked us up with! You had me at hummus….

We are already planning our return trip to try out some of the fall wines such as Campfire Mead (I’m told it tastes like toasted marshmallow!) and to let our men try some of the beers they have available brewed by Black Belt Brewing Co. I’m not a beer gal, mind you, but I really liked the Ninja Breakfast, a milk stout that had a gentle flavor and was not overly heavy. 

Thank you for your hospitality Windy Wine Co –you’ll be seeing me again soon!