How about some wine and cheese to go along with your current read? Plus a recipe for wild mushroom risotto. If so, you came to the right place. Many thanks to Durella DeGrasse, certified wine professional, and Chef Jean Denham for the following contribution to Book Blather.
An Informal Wine's Uncomplicated Charm
I was so happy when my local Costco, where I work as the Wine Specialist, began getting some Italian, French and Spanish wines in stock. We've had a very poor selection of these countries' wines as long as I've been an employee. Realizing that the warehouse is situated at the beginning of wine country in Washington state, this Costco has made a real effort to showcase Washington wines. But there are knowledgeable and sophisticated wine buyers in the region, so I was excited that with our new offerings we would have a better global wine selection.
I guess there are some really rich people who love wine and have plenty of money but are still looking for house wines: straightforward, inexpensive and tasty and which require little money to buy and little effort to enjoy. These are the kinds of wines to keep around at all times, simply to pop open and enjoy when you get home from work. Which brings me to the title wine: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. This is an inexpensive wine that is charming, so easy, and so drinkable that it seems like part of the family as soon as it's opened.
Montepulciano d' Abruzzo is made from the Montepulciano grape from the Abruzzo region of Italy. This is a wine "to drink," not "taste." So instead of swirling, sniffing, tasting... just enjoy it! These wines are generally pillow soft, with raspberries, blueberries and sometimes blackberries on the nose and on the palate. Many of the Montepulciano d' Abruzzos are not oaked but there is often minerality. The minerals give the wine depth and call out for food and/or more wine. This is a great wine with pizza.
Because the wine is so affordable, I am happy that people are trying an Old World wine instead of just picking up the least expensive wine from the new world (California, Washington or Australia).
WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO
Makes 3 to 4 servings
1/2 ounce (about 1/2 cup) dried mushrooms, diced
3 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup (8 ounces) arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1/2 cup parmesan, grated 3/4 cup
fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
Soak dried mushrooms (porcini and morel work great) in 1 cup cold water for 30 minutes, then drain and dice. Heat stock in small saucepan and leave on low heat.
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan and add onion. Sauté until onion is translucent. Add Arborio rice and continue to stir until grains are coated. Stir in diced mushrooms and add 1/2 cup stock while stirring continuously until liquid is almost gone (add wine now if using).
Continue to add stock 1/2 cup at a time stirring constantly until all stock has been used up. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan and serve! Garnish with extra Parmesan and chopped parsley.
Cook’s tip: to add flavor to the dish, add peas just as the risotto is almost ready to serve.
Basil and goat Cheese Dip
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted
2 green onions, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups basil leaves
1 cup soft goat’s cheese (Chèvre)
3 Tablespoons garlic-infused oil
Process the walnut pieces, scallions & basil leaves, then add the goat cheese and oil; process again to make a grainy paste. Transfer to a bowl. You can use feta in place of goat cheese.
a Chef’s Journey tip: for easy infused garlic oil, heat the 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a small sauce pan with 1 large clove of garlic minced. Just bring to a simmer, don’t allow to boil, and remove from heat. Let sit until cool before using.