Going to Grape Lengths: Pt. 2

Last week we covered grape’s different roles in wines made from underripe and…let’s just say very overripe sates. Today we’re going to chat a bit about putting grapes on the hot seat so to speak. Intentionally heated wines that is.

Madeira and The Dutch: Out of the Fire and Into the Cask

“C’mon, Hancock. Leave some room for the rest of us!” – Franklin probably

There was a romanticized version of American history taught to me well throughout my public schooling. I think that’s probably true for a lot of people to be honest. It wasn’t until college American History that I learned the genuinely fun fact that our Founding Fathers were pleasantly buzzed during the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. And rightfully so. It was a scary thing they were doing committing all that treason and what not. A little liquid courage goes a long way when one needs to sign a document that could have you drawn and quartered. But what was it that they were drinking? Well the preferred drink at the time was Madeira, a lovely beverage from the region of the same name in Portugal.

Madeira has a history that begins during the age of exploration and like many stories from the book of booze it began as one thing and ended up as something entirely different. Much like the founding fathers bolstering their spirits with spirits, early explorers stocked their ships with alcohol for the voyages ahead. Intensely long stays on the ocean blue and the hot Sun’s continuous presence led to eventual spoilage of the wines they had picked up from ports of call in Portugal. After some time this style of heavily oxidized, nutty and straight up boiled wine became a flavor preference not only for the sailors but the people they brought it to at the ports they visited.

USS Are We There Yet

Making a trip around the world in just to cook and age your wine is not what we would call efficient, though I imagine it would be a mean marketing gimmick in 2019. Thus, the Estufagem (bless you!) process was created. Estufagem, or ‘stoving’, emulates a long sea voyage on the more tropical parts of the ocean. There are a few ways this environment is re created, from circulated hot water to barrels exposed to hot steam. The most time intensive and interesting involves barrels being stored high above the ground in hot rooms for up to a century. Should you find yourself looking to kickback and drink like a revolutionary, there are many available types and brands of Madeira out in the world waiting for you to discover.

Here at vomFASS MOA we have a very special Whisky produced outside the city of Mumbai in India. This Whisky is aged for 6 years in 98 degree heat giving it an uncommon maturity for other Whiskies of the same age. ‘Amrita’ has an alcohol of 45.6% and a decidedly maderized quality about it. It’s a deliciously different Whisky and we will be happy to give you a taste next time you find yourself in Bloomington, Minnesota!

A different approach to stocking ones vessel with valuable wine was employed (albeit anecdotally) by the Dutch. The Netherlands Natives had reservations concerning cooking/spoiling the wine on long journeys. To prevent the maderization of their precious cargo they would first distill the wine into what could be equated to concentrated wine. This wine spirit, called Brandewijn or ‘burnt wine’ was, for all intents and purposes, eau-du-vie or unaged brandy. They popped that hooch into barrels with machinations of reconstituting later on with water. Of course as you have no doubt guessed by now, people preferred this different alcohol and interests shifted in favor of brandy.

Cognac is said to be the wonderful outcome of forgetfulness and neglect much in the same way Tokaji MUST have been (nobody sets out with hopes and dreams of drinking mold wine, right?). Hundreds of years ago grapes from Cognac were cheap and they made cheap uninteresting still wine. That wine however sold well. Eventually after having been concentrated down through distillation, someone popped that hooch into a barrel and promptly forgot about it at the port. Upon returning some considerable amount of time later it was discovered that, hot dang, Cognac is delicious. The motif here is necessity breeding ingenuity and ingenuity leading to now long established traditions and products. Cognac is the most famous brandy in the world next to Armagnac and Calvados (made from apples) and we only stumbled upon it because we were trying to preserve our precious wine.

Whether cooked beyond recognition or distilled into something entirely different, grape based alcohols seem to be endlessly versatile. Grapes truly seem to be Homo Sapiens favorite fruit.

Satiate your thirst for brandy anytime at our vomFASS location in The Mall of America. We stock a plethora of world class Cognac from the Seguinot family, Armagnac from the DeLord family and other worldly brandies. We offer 10 year old, 25 year old and vintage 1973 Armagnac to a 12, 20 and 50 year old Cognac. Other options include a phenomenal 20 year old Italian brandy and 15 year old Spanish brandy from the Sherry Triangle in Jerez. You will also find a wonderful apple brandy from Madison, Wisconsin and a 20 and 25 year old Calvados from Normandy, France. If I still have your attention, you should also know about our Pear eau-du-vie and Kirsch eau-du-vie, both beautiful unaged brandies.

Stay tuned next week as we wrap up our journey with tales of Italian Grappa and a foray into the world of natural wines.

Will O’Reilly spends his days surrounded by brandy. Find him, and the brandy, at vomFASS in Bloomington, MN.

Mediterranean Lifestyle: Tapas, por favor!

This week’s Mediterranean Lifestyle Cooking Class at vomFASS in Mall of America put the spotlight on Spain and their delightfully delicious tradition of tapas.

Tapas are a variety of small savory Spanish dishes, often served as a snack with drinks, or with other tapas as a meal. To “tapear,” going from bar to bar for drinks and tapas, is an essential part of the social culture of Spain, especially in the south. Learn more about tapas in this great guide to tapas bars and restaurants in Sevilla.

 

Tapas are perfect appetizers for your summer parties, or serve several for a “small plates” dinner party. Pair them with one or more of our Spanish wines currently in stock. I especially love Cava or Tempranillo with these dishes. These recipes were a huge hit in class this week (and vomFASS staff scarfed up the leftovers very quickly!). I hope you enjoy them as well! And I invite you to join us in a future cooking class. Check out our schedule.  Call us at 952-426-3222 to order the vomFASS products included in these recipes.

Tater Tapas Serves 8 – 10

15-20 mini potatoes

Tapas Cooking Class Potatoes Tom vomFASS Mall of America
Tom did a great job of demonstrating how easy it is to create Tater Tapas!

¼ C. Manchego Cheese, finely shredded
¼ C. vomFASS Truffle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
vomFASS Sea Salt & Pepper
¼ C. Sour cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
½ t. vomFASS Fried Potato Spice
3 green scallions, tops cut on a diagonal

Fill stock pot with enough water to cover potatoes, add a teaspoon of sea salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 5 – 10 minutes, depending on the size of potatoes (do not overcook).  Strain and cool enough to handle or refrigerate up to 4 days before using.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using a paring knife, cut each potato with 3 to 4 slices halfway through. Place potatoes on baking sheet. Drizzle with Truffle oil. Sprinkle with cheese, salt & pepper. Roast until slightly brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. While roasting potatoes, combine Fried Potato Spice and sour cream or yogurt. Remove potatoes from oven and cool slightly. Top with a tiny dollop of sour cream/yogurt mixture and garnish with scallions before serving.

Tuna & Red Pepper Toasts Serves 12

½ C. mayonnaise

Tapas Cooking Class Tuna vomFASS Mall of America
Jake demonstrated impressive kitchen skills as he showed the class how to create delicious Tuna & Red Pepper Toasts.

½ C. vomFASS Don Carlos Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided; more for serving
1 T. minced garlic
3 t. vomFASS Calamansi Balsam Vinegar, divided
2  – 7 oz. cans tuna, drained
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 T. small brined capers
3 T. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, divided
vomFASS Pyramid Sea Salt and freshly ground Peppercorn Mix, to taste
1 jar vomFASS Red Pepper Pesto
¼ C. Manchego Cheese, finely shredded
12 baguette slices, cut on a sharp bias Brush baguette slices with olive oil and lightly toast under a broiler or on a grill.

Combine mayo, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, 1 t. Calamansi Balsam Vinegar and sea salt, to taste. Set mixture aside for a moment or make in advance and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Combine Red Pepper Pesto with Manchego cheese and set aside.

Place tuna in a medium mixing bowl and break it up with a fork. Add to tuna: ¼ cup of the aioli you just made, minced shallot, 2 teaspoons Calamansi Balsam Vinegar, capers, 2 tablespoons minced parsley, and ¼ cup of olive oil. Fold mixture gently to incorporate all ingredients. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, adding more vinegar, olive oil, or aioli for flavor if desired.

Spread Red Pepper Pesto mixture in a thin layer onto toasted baguette slices. Arrange baguette slices on a serving board. Top them with a spoonful of tuna mixture, followed by a small dollop or drizzle of remaining aioli. Sprinkle with remaining parsley, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Serve immediately.

vomFASSified by Tamra Kramer, inspired by this recipe from Serious Eats.

Shrimp and Chorizo Flatbreads Serves 16

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, or 1 1/2 C. fresh diced tomatoes
2 T. vomFASS Don Carlos Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 T. vomFASS Forest Honey
1 T. vomFASS White Balsamic Vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t. vomFASS Aglio Olio Pepperoncino spice blend
vomFASS Sea Salt and freshly ground Peppercorn Mix
½ C. hummus (see recipe below)
4 pocketless pita breads
½ C. thinly sliced dry chorizo (2 ounces)
½ pound shelled and deveined cooked small shrimp
1 C. Manchego cheese, shredded
vomFASS Aceto Balsamico Maletti, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°. In a medium bowl, mix tomatoes with olive oil, honey, vinegar, shallot, garlic, spice blend, salt and pepper. Stir in shrimp.

Spread hummus on pita breads. Top with chorizo and Manchego. Bake directly on the oven rack for about 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Transfer flatbreads to work surface. Using slotted spoon, top with tomato mix. Quarter flatbreads, drizzle with Maletti and serve.

vomFASSified by Tamra Kramer, inspired by this recipe on FoodandWine.com

Garlic Hummus

1 can chick peas, drained

Tapas Cooking Class Hummus vomFASS Mall of America
Nice job of making hummus for the first time, Pete! And what’s up with only the guys demonstrating recipes this week?!

2 T. vomFASS Toasted Sesame Oil
2 T. vomFASS Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more, as needed)
1 T. vomFASS Calamansi Balsam Vinegar
vomFASS Sea Salt, to taste

Directions

Using a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients. Slowly drizzle in more garlic olive oil while mixing, if needed, until desired consistency. Serve with corn chips, fresh veggies as a dip. Also good as a sandwich spread or pizza base sauce.

Deviled Eggs Two Ways

So maybe you wouldn’t trade that Cadbury Chocolate Egg for a Deviled Egg. But then again, maybe you haven’t tried a vomFASSified Deviled Egg! Here are two recipes for putting some zip in your app!

Curried Deviled Eggs

Serves 12 (2 each)

12 large eggs, hard boiled and peeleddeviled eggs Easter vomFASS Mall of America Minnesota Food1/3 C. mayonnaise
2 t. vomFASS White Grape Balsamic Vinegar
½ t. vomFASS Madras Curry Powder, more for garnish
1 T.  vomFASS Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard
vomFASS Himilayan Sea Salt and Indian Green Pepper to taste
vomFASS Calamansi Balsamic Pearls
cream or milk to moisten yolks, as needed

Slice eggs in two, lengthwise. Spoon out the yolks into a bowl and mash with fork until smooth.  Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, curry powder, mustard, salt and pepper and mix well. Spoon the filling into the egg whites, or put the yolk mixture into plastic re-sealable bag. Cut one corner off and squeeze yolk mixture into egg whites. Garnish with Curry  and Calamansi Balsamic Pearls before serving. Use a small spoon to create a little divot in each yolk mixture to keep the pearls in place. Enjoy!

 

Smokin’ Good Deviled Eggs

Serves 12 (2 each)

Ingredientsdeviled eggs recipe Easter vomFASS Mall of America Minnesota Food

12 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/3 C. real mayonnaise
2 T. bacon bits (optional)
1 T. vomFASS Spanish Red Wine Vinegar
1 T. vomFASS Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard
vomFASS Garlic Pepper Whole Blend and Danish Smoked Sea Salt, to taste

Cream or milk, as needed, to make the filling easy to pipe.
vomFASS Spicy Smoked Paprika and Raspberry or Calamansi Balsamic Pearls, for garnish

Directions

Slice eggs in two, lengthwise. Spoon out the yolks into a bowl and mash with fork until smooth. Add mayonnaise, vinegar, seasonings, and mustard, and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings and vinegar, as needed. Add a teaspoon or two of cream if needed. Spoon the filling into the egg whites, or put the yolk mixture into plastic bag. Cut one corner off and squeeze yolk mixture into egg whites. Garnish with paprika by putting it in a fine strainer and tapping over eggs. Make a small divot in each yolk and add a few balsamic pearls. Enjoy!

 

Easy Summer Party Food

It’s summer in Minnesota, and if your calendar looks like mine, it’s clear that we all try to IMG_3005pack in as many gatherings as possible with family and friends during the social season – otherwise known as summer, a.k.a. road construction season. And to me, socializing goes hand in hand with fabulous food and drink!

I’ve noticed that my cooking class recipes have had a certain Summer theme: Food and drinks that are fast and easy (because our summers are SUPER busy!), don’t require much heat to prepare (because it IS occasionally hot in Minnesota!), and include ingredients that can be left out for a couple hours at an outdoor party without spoiling (olive oil, balsamic vinegars and spices are great for that!) Of COURSE these dishes are delicious, because otherwise, what’s the point?! (psst! don’t tell anyone they’re pretty healthy, too!)IMG_3003

So here is the handout from one of my recent cooking classes: Mediterranean Lifestyle Summer Party Recipes. Three quick and easy party food recipes and three yummy sangria recipes to get you started on your summer party menu planning. By the way, there are LOTS more recipes from my classes, so if you need more ideas, just stop by vomFASS at Mall of America or call us at (952) 426-3222. Ask to speak to someone about ideas for putting vomFASS products to work on a SMASH HIT menu for your next social gathering, whether you’re hosting or just bringing a dish to pass!

Happy Summer Socializing, fellow foodies!

Chili Mango Shrimp & Sautéed Green Beans

The food has to been delicious and satisfying, especially when I’m giving my img_1503body a break from carbs and sugars! I see it as an opportunity to step up my menu planning to meet the challenge. So far, so very good!

Chili Mango Shrimp  Serves 4

Ingredients
24 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 T. vomFASS Chili Sunflower Oil (may substitute Lemon EVOO for all or part of Chili Oil for less spicy)
2 T. vomFASS Mango Balsamic Star
1 clove minced garlic
½ t. vomFASS Texas BBQ spice blend
½ t. vomFASS Himalayan Sea Salt
Freshly ground vomFASS Garlic Pepper Whole Blend, to taste
Cilantro, chopped, as garnish

Directions
Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, half the salt and a few cranks of pepper in a glass bowl with cover or zip top bag. Add shrimp and marinate 15 – 20 minutes. Do not marinate longer, as shrimp will break down in the acidity.  Empty contents of bag or bowl into hot stir-fry pan. Toss just until cooked through. Finish with additional sea salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately or chill to serve as an appetizer. In the unlikely event of leftovers, try tossing with salad greens and drizzle with a dressing of oil and vinegar.

Garlic Sautéed Green Beans Serves 4

Ingredients
1 lb. Fresh green beans
2 T. vomFASS Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
vomFASS Danish Smoked Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly ground vomFASS Garlic Pepper Whole Blend, to taste

Directions
Steam green beans to tender crisp, about 3 – 4 minutes. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium burner. When the oil is shimmery, add green beans. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until beans are lightly browned/blackened.

Cara Mia Hot Chocolate

Yes, I have made certain New Year’s resolutions that align better with salads than hot caramiahotchocchocolate, but I believe that dolce decadence has a place in my definition of a quality lifestyle, more or less in moderation! And it incorporated one of our newest delicious liqueurs – Cara Mia Caramel Vodka! This recipe will go a long way toward inspiring gratitude for winter!

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 – 4 shots of vomFASS Cara Mia caramel liqueur, to taste

Whipped cream topping

  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
  • ½ t. vanilla
  • vomFASS Cinnamon, ground, for garnish

Directions

Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn’t scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Whip cream with mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla. Divide hot chocolate between 4 mugs. Add Cara Mia liqueur. Top with whipped cream and garnish with cinnamon. Enjoy!

It’s Chili Season!

When the temperature drops below freezing, I turn to one of my favorite types of meals – soup. This classic Chili con Carne recipe is so simple and quick – not to mention delicious! Easy to convert to vegetarian/vegan – just eliminate or replace the meat with a vegan substitute and leave off the cheese garnish or use a vegan cheese. And if you’re cooking for only two, the leftovers are even better the next day! Enjoy!

Classic Chili – Serves 4

1/2 pound ground beef or turkeychili.jpg
1 medium onion, diced
1 can red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
3 C. tomato juice (I used 3 cups of a jarred spaghetti sauce that I deemed too thin to use as a pasta sauce)
1 T vomFASS Chili con Carne spice blend (or more, to taste)
vomFASS Sea Salt and Peppercorn Mix, ground, to taste
Shredded cheese, sour cream or other toppings for garnish and flavor.

Brown the meat over medium heat, breaking up into crumbles with spoon as you stir. If using turkey or very lean beef, coat the pan with chili sunflower oil and preheat pan before adding meat.  If there is a lot of excess fat in the pan after browning meat, drain it off. Add the remaining ingredients (I did not drain and rinse the beans). Heat over medium-high heat until bubbling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes to bloom flavors. Dish up and enjoy!