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RECIPE: Homemade Tortillas

Want to make homemade tortillas for Cinco de Mayo?

Practice this weekend with this recipe from King Arthur Flour. They’re so much more authentic than the flat-pressed commercial versions.

Although traditionally made with lard, these tortillas are equally delicious using butter, shortening or vegetable oil as the fat.

This is also a flour tortilla version. The originals were made with corn flour, until wheat flour arrived with the Spanish in the 16th century. If you prefer a corn flour version, here’s a recipe and video from Mexican food specialist chef Rick Bayless, plus more about corn tortilla.

The resting period improves the texture of the dough by giving the flour time to absorb the water. It also gives the gluten time to relax, making the tortillas easier to roll out.

You may extend the resting, or skip it altogether if you don’t have the time—the recipe is pretty forgiving. The tortillas will roll out and stay thinner if you include the rest, though.

If there are leftovers, allow them to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic and store in the refrigerator. Reheat in an ungreased skillet, or for a few seconds in the microwave.

Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 15 to 25 minutes.

RECIPE: HOMEMADE TORTILLAS

Ingredients For 8 Eight-Inch Tortillas

  • 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional as needed
  • 1/4 cup lard (traditional); or butter, shortening, or vegetable oil
  • 7/8 to 1 cup hot tap water (about 110°F to 120°F)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dough: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
    Add the lard (or butter, or shortening; if you’re using vegetable oil, add it in step 3). Use your fingers or a pastry blender to work the fat into the flour until it disappears. Coating most of the flour with fat inhibits gluten formation, making the tortillas easier to roll out.

    2. POUR in the lesser amount of hot water (plus the oil, if you’re using it), and stir briskly with a fork or whisk to bring the dough together into a shaggy mass. Stir in additional water as needed to bring the dough together.

    3. TURN the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead briefly, just until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is very sticky, gradually add a bit more flour.

    4. DIVIDE the dough into 8 pieces. Round the pieces into balls, flatten slightly and allow them to rest, covered, for about 30 minutes. If you wish, coat each ball lightly in oil before covering to ensure that the dough doesn’t dry out. While the dough rests…

    5. PREHEAT an ungreased cast iron griddle or skillet over medium high heat, about 400°F. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a round about 8″ in diameter. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Fry the tortilla in the ungreased pan for about 30 seconds on each side.

    6. WRAP the tortillas in a clean cloth when they come off the griddle, to keep them pliable. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

    TORTILLA HISTORY

    The mainstay of the Mexican diet was, and still is, the corn* tortilla, made with indigenous corn from prehistoric times. Excavations in the valley of Valle de Tehuac, in Sierra Mountains in the state of Puebla, date their use to more than seven thousand years [source].

     

    Homemade Tortillas Recipe

    King Arthur Flour

    Woman Grinding Maize by Diego Rivera

    'Tortilla Maker' by Diego Rivera

    [1] and [2] Mmm…homemade tortillas. They’re so much more flavorful than most store-bought varieties (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [3] “Women Grinding Maize” by Diego Rivera. [4] “Tortilla-Maker” by Diego Rivera (photos of paintings courtesy Diego Rivera Foundation).

     

    The corn used was a very small wild cob (that was bred, by 3000 B.C.E., into the large ears we know today), ground corn foods, along with roots and fruits plus hunting, comprised the diet.

    The cooking process is little changed today. Corn kernels are cooked with lime to remove the husk (known as nixtamalization), then ground on a stone slab with a grinding stone (photo #3). The dough is formed into small round balls that make the individual tortillas, and patted out by hand into thin round cakes (photo #4) and cooked over a fire (today, homemade versions use a skillet on a stove top).

    For tamales, the cake is placed in an unbaked tortilla, filled and wrapped in a corn husk for cooking.

    When Hernan Cortez and his conquistadors arrived in the New World in 1519, they discovered that flat corn breads were a staple Aztec food. In the Aztec’s Nahuatl language, the word for them was tlaxcalli (pronounced tih-lax-CAH-leee. The Spanish gave them the name tortilla.

    Technology arrived centuries later, in the 1940s, when the use of small gas engines and electric motors became widespread to power grinders for making masa (the ground corn). A hand press became used to form the masa into tortillas.
     
    By the 1960s, small-scale tortilla-making machines could churn out hot, steaming tortillas every two seconds—quote a change from the hours they took to make before modern times.
    ________________

    *Wheat flour only arrived in the 16th century, with the Conquistadors, and became popular in Mexican/U.S. border cooking. By the time Spaniards reached the shores of what is now Mexico in the 1400s, indigenous Mesoamericans had a sophisticated and flavorful cuisine based on native fruits, game, cultivated beans and corn and domesticated turkeys.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Hand Pies Grow Up

    Gourmet Hand Pies

    Raspberry Hand Pies

    Hand Pie, Ham & Cheese

    [1] Hand pies plated as a gourmet dessert at Sirena Cocina Latina in San Diego (alas, now closed). [2] Use cutters to make prettier pies, and crimp the edges with a fork (here’s the recipe from Driscoll’s Berries). [3] A ham, brie and fig jam hand pie with grainy mustard sauce (here’s the recipe from Cooking On The Front Burner).

     

    Like pie? Like savory pie? Like fancy desserts?

    Combine the two with plated hand pies. The pies, meant to be eaten without plate or fork, taste even better with a bit of glamour.

    Sweet Hand Pies

    Restaurant Sirena Cocina Latina in San Diego plated fruit pies with dessert garnishes (photo #1):

  • Mango purée (use your fruit of choice)
  • Berries (use fresh, caramelized or grilled fruit of choice)
  • Ice cream (substitute crème fraîche, mascarpone or whipped cream)
  • Cookie crumbs (under the ice cream)
  • Any garnish you like, from chocolate shavings to edible flowers
  •  
    Savory Hand Pies

    For an appetizer or first course, you can make meat, cheese or vegetable hand pies—or any variation combination (photo #3).

    Choose savory garnishes:

  • Chutney
  • Dairy-based: horseradish cream, flavored sour cream or plain yogurt
  • Gherkins or other pickled vegetables
  • Herbs
  • Sauces (cheese, marinara, tomatillo, whatever)
  • Herbs or microgreens
  • Small salad: Asian slaw, cucumber salad, dressed mesclun, etc.)
  •  
    TIP: Sweet or savory, use your cutters to create a shape at the top of the pie (photo #2).
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF HAND PIES

    Since there was dough, something to fill it with, and something to bake it on or in, there have been hand pies—beginning with savory pies.

    Cultures around the world have what we now call hand pies: portable meals that could be stuffed with leftovers or any variety of kitchen ingredients. Empanadas, a popular Mexican street food, Jewish knishes and and Jamaican meat patties are hand pies.

    Until someone in the U.S. called them hand pies (if you know who, raise your hand), these grab-and-go mini-meals were called meat pies or pasties (rhymes with nasty, not tasty).

    In our own culture, they trace their origins at least to 19th-century England, where they were a convenient lunch for Cornish tin miners—but not as we eat pasties today.

    For miners, the pastry casing kept the filling warm and dirt-free. Holding the edges, miners would eat the filling and discard the dough.

    Cornish immigrants to northern Michigan brought the tradition to the U.S. [source] The concept engendered fruit versions among America’s home pie bakers, and corner sweet shops sold them to enthusiastic fans.

     
    Sweet hand pies traveled south, where they became popular in New Orleans (Hubig’s bakery made theirs in a half-moon shape, with fruit, custard and chocolate fillings). Hand pies became a Southern snack staple, made for church bake sales, picnics and home treats.

    They’re portable, requiring no plate or fork, and can sit in the heat without melting. Give us a good crust, and we’re in!

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Chilaquiles

    Instead of Huevos Rancheros on Cinco de Mayo, how about chilaquiles (chee-la-KEE-lace)?

    While there are numerous regional variations of this traditional Mexican breakfast or brunch dish, the basic recipe tops quartered, fried corn tortillas with salsa or mole sauce, and crowned with fried eggs.

    Pulled chicken can be added; the dish is topped with shredded queso fresco and/or crema, Mexican sour cream. Sliced raw onion, avocado or other garnish can be added. A side of refried beans typically completes the dish, which you can see in this recipe.

    Chef Adrianne Calvo of Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar in Miami sent us her own twist on the recipe. Forget the pulled chicken: She uses beef short ribs.

    We’ve broken her recipe into three separate ones, since you can use each in combination with other ingredients and dishes.

    RECIPE #1: SHORT RIB CHILAQUILES

    With Queso Fundido & Pickled Red Onion

    Prep time is 10 minutes; bake time is 2 hours 20 minutes to 2 hours 50 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds beef short ribs
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325F. In a small bowl, combine the salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

    2. WHISK together the agave, garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice and cayenne pepper in another small bowl. Sprinkle the ribs on both sides with the salt mixture, then place on lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

    3. BAKE the ribs for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Pull out and brush both sides with some of the agave glaze and bake for an additional hour. Remove the foil, brush with remaining agave glaze, and bake another 20 minutes.
     
    RECIPE #2: GREEN CHILE QUESO FUNDIDO*

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and roasted
  • 1 tablespoon yellow onion, chopped and roasted
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup oaxaca* or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup corn tortillas, quartered and freshly fried†
  • ________________

    *Oaxaca cheese, pronounced wah-HOCK-a, is called the Mexican mozzarella.” It can be purchased in a ball or a braid. Fundido, the Spanish word for molten, refers to melted cheese.

    †The quick substitution here are tortilla chips or strips. It’s not authentic, but it works.
    ________________
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Combine the jalapeño, onion, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, salt, honey, and oil in a blender and set aside.

    2. BAKE the cheese in a small ovenproof dish for 15 minutes or until bubbling.
     
    RECIPE #3: PICKLED RED ONION

    You may want to make quadruple the recipe: These pickled onions are a delicious garnish for just about anything.

    Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Short Rib Chilaquiles

    Raw Short Ribs

    Oaxaca Cheese

    Chilaquiles

    Pickled Red Onions

    [1] Short rib chilaquiles (photo courtesy Chef Adrianne Calvo). [2] Raw short ribs (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Oaxaca cheese (photo courtesy Cheese.com). [4] Traditional chilaquiles (photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico). [5] Pickled red onion (photo courtesy Inspired Taste).

     
    1. BRING the ingredients to a boil in a small pot, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5-7 minutes.

    2. ASSEMBLE: Place the tortilla on a clean work surface. Layer with short rib, queso fundido and the green chile. Top with pickled onion and fresh cilantro.
     

    CHILAQUILES HISTORY

    The name derives from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word chilaquilitl, meaning herbs (or greens) in chili broth.

    A traditional Mexican peasant dish, it provided a way to use stale corn tortillas, a staple food of Central America which are fried as the base of the dish. Chiles, too, were native to the area and readily available.

    The simplest form of chilaquiles simply topped them with a salsa to soften them somewhat prior to eating: an easy way to fill the stomach. Their cultural significance is as a versatile staple for peasants [source].

    As the dish evolved, it incorporated inexpensive ingredients, including leftovers, to make it a main dish: bits of meat, cheese, or eggs.

    As with most dishes there are regional versions: in sauce (green, red, white sauce), in protein (cheese, chicken, pork, shrimp), garnishes (avocado, beans, cheese, onion, radishes), seasonings and spiciness (epazote, hot chiles), consistency and so on.

    Mexico City is known for using a spicy tomato sauce and always tops each serving with an ample sprig of .

    While the dish may be centuries old in Mexico, the first published recipes found in the U.S. are from a cookbook dating to 1898: El Cocinero Español (The Spanish Cook), by Encarnación Pinedo [source].

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sauvignon Blanc Styles & Pairings

    April 24th is National Sauvignon Blanc Day, a grape that grows easily around the world and makes wines that are popular wherever they are made.

    Sauvignon Blanc (SAW-vin-yawn BLON) is an AOC-classified* French wine that is planted around the world. Its origin is the eastern part of France’s Loire Valley, where it abuts Burgundy.

    In France, where wines are known by their region or city, the Loire produces two major appelations: Sancerre after the city in Sancerre on the left bank of the Loire River, and Pouilly-Fumé from the town of Pouilly-sur-Loire, on the opposite bank. Elsewhere in the world, wines are known by their grape varietal names (i.e., sauvignon blanc).

  • In France, the grape is also used to make White Bordeaux (Bordeaux blanc), commonly blended with Semillon and Muscadelle, and often barrel-fermented and aged.
  • A smaller amount of Sauvignon Blanc is grown in the southwest of France, in Languedoc-Roussillon.
  • There is one White Burgundy made from Sauvignon Blanc: St. Bris, and its about $12 (photo #5, courtesy Goisot).
  • The Loire Valley also grows a smaller amount of red wine grapes (about 25% of total production), used to make red Sancerre and rosé.
  •  
    THE DELIGHTS OF SAUVIGNON BLANC

    The Sauvignon Blanc grape produces refreshing, dry, white wines with one of two key flavor profiles: grapefruit/citrus or grassy/herbaceous, depending on the terroir†. Both are delicious.

    The wine is known for high acidity, light to medium body and medium alcohol. It is most often unoaked.

    It is also very affordable, with bottles available from around $10, many in the $12 to $15 range, and the finest of the breed (such as Sancerre’s Ladoucette Comte Lafond) in the $35 to $45 range.

    By comparison, Chablis is double the price, with Grüner Veltliner in the middle.

    If you like white wines such as Chablis and Grüner Veltliner, you’ll likely be a fan of Sauvignon Blanc.

    Its acid backbone complements everything from plateaux de fruits de mer (raw seafood platters) and grilled chicken and fish to buttery sauces and rich cheeses; although the AOC cheese of the Loire, chèvre (goat cheese), is its most popular pairing.

    We go deep into food pairings at the end of this article. First, it’s important to understand the styles of Sauvignon Blanc.

    ________________

    *AOC, an abbreviation of appellation d’origine contrôlée, is a legal designation that places rigid standards on how and where a French product can be produced. This ensures consistent quality and preserves its reputation.

    †Pronounced tuhr-WAH, terroir is the French expression for sense of place, the unique environment in which something grows—its specific soil composition and microclimate. Microclimate includes temperature, amount of sunshine and rain. The flavor nuances of agricultural products, from grapes to olives to milk to cacao, is a function of its terroir.
    ________________

    STYLES OF SAUVIGNON BLANC BY REGION

    We start off with the tip to have a tasting get-together. If your group shares in the work, you can assign everyone a Sauvignon Blanc from a different region, and a food that goes with it.

    The grape is relatively easy to grow, and thus is grown in more than 10 countries, from Canada to Italy to New Zealand to South Africa—even in Romania, Moldova.

    With so many different terroirs and national preferences, you can find Sauvignon Blanc in a wide range of styles and flavors.

    Sauvignon blanc delivers minerality and very high acidity. From there:

  • Cool regions like the Loire and New Zealand produce grassy and herbaceous flavors, with notes of lime, minerals and sometimes, honeydew melon.
  • Warm climates like California and South Africa produce fruity, citrussy wines.
  •  
    The best regions for Sauvignon Blanc beyond the Loire Valley are California and Chile—but don’t let that stop you from trying examples from everywhere.

    Many thanks to Wine Folly for making these invaluable distinctions:

    Australia’s Sauvignon Blanc Wines

    Australia overall is a hot climate region, but there are cooler climate areas within Australia (Adelaide Hills, South Australia) suitable for growing good Sauvignon Blanc.

    These terroirs generate flavors of kiwi, honeydew, and white peach with medium-high acidity and light body.

    Wines from Western Australia (including Margaret River) have both vegetal and fruity flavors. Nuances of bell pepper and chervil mingle with passionfruit and minerality. The wines have high acidity and light body. Some high-end producers use oak for creaminess and texture.

    Chile’s Sauvignon Blanc Wines

    Most exported Sauvignon Blancs come from Chile’s Central Valley. The terroir generates flavors of grass, lime juice, green banana and pineapple, and, unique to the area, a bit of salinity.

    France’s Sauvignon Blanc Wines

    France is the world’s largest grower of Sauvignon Blanc. In the cooler climate of the Loire Valley, the wines yield flavors of cut-grass, nettles, elderflower, blackcurrant leaf and gooseberries combine with flinty minerality.

    These are the classic flavors of Sauvignon Blanc. But you may prefer flavors from other regions.

    Further south in Bordeaux, the terroir generates flavors of lemon pith, grass and gravelly minerals with high acidity and a simple light body. The high-end wines are often aged in oak, and develop other fruit flavors (gooseberry, kiwi, lemon curd, lemongrass, honeyed grapefruit) with a subtle nutty-creamy texture from the oak.

    Italy’s Sauvignon Blanc Wines

    The majority of Sauvignon Blanc in Italy is produced in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the northeast bordering Austria. It is usually labeled as Sauvignon, as opposed to Sauvignon Blanc.

    The primary flavors are fruity: gooseberry, orange blossom, pear and white peach. The acidity is very high and the body is light. High acidity and light body characterize more stringent wines, making this our least favorite country for Sauvignon Blanc.

    New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc Wines

    New Zealand is a cool climate country and Sauvignon Blanc is the country’s most planted grape. It is grown in the northern part of the South Island, in the Marlborough region.

    It is here that the wine is made in the most assertive style anywhere. Dpending on ripeness levels it can be more vegetal (e.g. green pepper) or smack of tropical fruit (grapefruit, guava, mango, passionfruit).

    South Africa’s Sauvignon Blanc Wines

    The warm, warm climate of South Africa produces high-quality Sauvignon Blanc, mostly in the Western Cape region.

    Most are not aged in stainless steel, but there are several smaller, more distinct areas that are known for producing barrel-fermented and aged (i.e., oaked) wines. Look for wines from Elgin, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch for these powerful oaked wines.

    Most Sauvignon Blancs from the Western Cape have a light-medium body and acidity. Flavors include green herbs, green bell pepper and guava. High-end wines may show you jasmine, honeysuckle, Meyer lemon and nuttiness.

    Spain’s Sauvignon Blanc Wines

    The majority of Spanish Sauvignon Blanc comprises value-driven bulk winegrows in the south, in La Mancha. However, there are a few quality producers elsewhere.

    Look for wines from Castilla y Leon: medium-high acidity and medium-light body, with dusty minerality and flavors of bell pepper and honeydew melon.

       
    Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard

    Sauvignon Blanc Grapes

    Sauvignon Blanc Glasses

    Sauvignon Blanc La Doucette Comte Lafon Loire

    Sauvignon Blanc  St Bris Burgundy

    Massey Dacta Sauvignon Blanc

    Jean Marc Barthez Bordeau Blanc

    [1] A Sauvignon Blanc vinpeyard in California (photo courtesy Ghielmetti Vineyard). [2] Sauvignon Blanc grapes on the vine (photo courtesy Italian Recipes. [3] In the glass, crisp and refreshing (photo courtesy Betches). [4] Our favorite: Ladoucette Comte Lafon, from Sancerre in the Loire Valley. [5] The only Sauvignon Blanc-based white Burgundy, Saint Bris AOC. [6] Massey Ferguson is a manufacturer of agricultural equipment, including tractor used in vineyards. The slang word for the tractor in New Zealand is “dacta.” Yes, the vineyard is named after its tractor! It’s a favorite of our wine consultant, Mary Taylor, and it’s around $15. [7] Another Mary Taylor favorite: this Sauvignon Blanc-based Bordeaux Blanc from Jean Marc Barthez.

     
    Rueda produces high quality Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo wines. The Verdejo grape produces wine with that tastes very similar to Sauvignon Blanc.

    The United States’ Sauvignon Blanc Wines

    Numerous wine-growing regions in the U.S. grown Sauvignon Blanc; but the best wines come from the North Coast region of California (Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma) and the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

    The California wines have medium acidity and body. In Napa, you’ll find flavors of grapefruit, honeydew and white peach. In Sonoma, the wines deliver light-medium body and medium-high acidity, with notes of green apple, honeydew and pineapple.

    Head north to Washington for light body, high-acidity wines with flavors of lime, grapefruit, and gravelly minerals.

    SAUVIGNON BLANC: A NOBLE GRAPE

    What makes a grape noble?

    The term is used to describe the grapes that are grown internationally, yet retain their fundamental characteristics regardless of growing region and the local terroir. The French term is cépage noble” (SAY-paj NOBL).

    There are six noble grapes (all grown in France), with an argument for a seventh. They are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon (red)
  • Chardonnay (white)
  • Merlot (red)
  • Pinot noir (red)
  • Riesling (white)
  • Sauvignon Blanc (white)
  • Syrah (red—the seventh contender)
  •  

    Bowl Of Mussels

    Plateau de Mer

    Salmon With Sauvignon Blanc

    Goat Cheese With Sauvignon Blanc

    Sauvignon Blanc Sorbet

    [8] Serve Sauvignon Blanc with seafood, cooked or raw (photo of mussels courtesy Duplex On Third | Los Angeles). [9] Plateau de mer at The Smith | NYC. [10] Serve it with salmon or any fish (photo courtesy Preserved Cherries). [11] With any and all goat cheeses (photo courtesy Bella Sun Luci).

     

    THE HISTORY OF SAUVIGNON BLANC

    The vineyards of the Loire Valley date back to the Roman era, where the grapes that grew wild were first cultivated.

    Sauvignon Blanc is likely a mutation of that wild grape cultivated by the Romans. “Sauvignon” derives from the French word sauvage, wild; blanc is white.

    With the collapse of the Roman Empire until the 12th century, monasteries became the main keepers of viticulture and winemaking; sacramental wine (vinum theologium) was essential to celebrate the mass.

    Monks had the resources, education and time necessary to improve their viticultural skills. slowly over time. Throughout the Middle Ages, monasteries owned the best vineyards. Their wine was superior to others, and they also produced large quantities for sale, to support their orders [source].

    In the Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc vineyards (and other grapes still grown there today) were maintained and enhanced by Benedictine monks.

    Red wine lovers will be interested to know that the white Sauvignon Blanc grape is one of the parents of the red Cabernet Sauvignon grape. The other parent is the the red Cabernet Franc grape.
     
    SAUVIGNON BLANC FOOD PAIRINGS

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that wines pair best with foods from their regions in which they are produced. That’s why winemakers bring out particular flavors, acidity levels, and so forth.

    In the Loire, this cuisine is noteworthy for its:

  • Fish: The ancient rivers have always provided fish, cooked simply: bream, eel, pike, perch (zander) and shad are common. In more modern times, beurre blanc, a butter sauce flavored with shallots and vinegar, has become a standard accompaniment.
  • Game: The Loire is full of duck, pheasant, pigeon, quail, rabbit, venison, and wild boar. Rich sauces made with the area’s wild mushrooms are classic.
  • Rillettes: A shredded, textured pâté served in a crock for spreading on bread. Pork is the principal meat, but duck and salmon rillettes are also classics.
  • Goat Cheeses: Crottin de Chavignol, young and spreadable or old and dry (this cheese was originally created for Sancerre: a perfect pairing); Pyramide de Valençay, a pyramid-shaped goat’s cheese also dusted with ashes; Sainte-Maure, a cylinder shape coated with ashes; Selles-sur-Cher, a tangy goat also dusted with ashes.
  •  
    What’s with all the ashes?

    Goat cheese is very fragile, and before modern packaging, plant-based ashes covered the cheeses to protect them on their way to market, over bumpy roads in horse-driven carts.

    There are more food pairings below, that address favorite foods beyond the Loire.

    For Dessert

    While you likely don’t want to have dessert with a dry wine, the region offers sweet, Chenin Blanc-based wines to end a Loire-focused feast. Look for:

  • Anjou-Coteaux de la Loire AOC, moelleux, doux orliquoreux‡
  • Bonnezeaux AOC, liquoreux
  • Coteaux de l’Aubance AOC, liquoreux and sélection de grains nobles (SGN)
  • Coteaux de Saumur AOC, moelleux to liquoreux
  • Coteaux du Layon AOC, liquoreux and sélection de grains nobles (SGN)
  • Quarts-de-Chaume AOC: Liquoreux
  • Vouvray moelleux, doux or liquoreux
  •  
    There are other sweet wines made in the Loire, but this is an excellent starter list. Two noteworthy desserts:

  • Sablés: The cookie, which originated in Normandy, has become very popular in the Loire. Sablé is a buttery, shortbread-like cookie that is often flavored with almonds, lemon or orange zest. The treat originally hails from the Normandy region but has also become quite popular throughout Loire. In the translation, “sand,” refers to the cookie’s crumbly texture. : plain, dipped in chocolate or sandwiched with jam.
  • Tarte Tatin: An apple tart with caramelized apples, this beloved dessert was an accident. It is now also made with different fruits ans aavory versions are also made. Here’s the history of Tarte Tatin.
  • ________________

    ‡Both moelleux (moy-YOO), doux, liquoreux (lih-coe-ROO) are general French terms for sweet wines. The translation of moelleux is sweet, soft, tender, smooth, mellow. A wine labeled doux in sweeter still. A liquoreux designation indicates the richest, most luscious sweet wines. Labels of sélection de grains nobles (selection of noble berries, abbreviated as SGN) indicates that the grapes were affected by noble rot (botrytis). These are the sweetest and richest wines, with the most concentrated flavors (and greatest cost).
    ________________
     
    MORE FOODS TO PAIR WITH SAUVIGNON BLANC

    Because Sauvignon Blanc is tart and tangy, it is the best wine to serve with salad, including Caesar salad topped with chicken or salmon. Its acidity complements the vinegar in a vinaigrette.

    Other classic food pairings are:

  • Asparagus, mushrooms.
  • Cheeses: In addition to fresh and aged goat cheeses, look for goat cheddar and nutty cheeses such as Gruyère and Alpine (a.k.a. Swiss mountain) cheeses. There are also cow’s milk cheeses made in the Loire. If you’re there, look for Cendré d’Olivet and Feuille de Dreux.
  • Citrus sauces (e.g. on chicken or fish).
  • Dairy: butter, crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt.
  • Chicken and fish, especially roasted or grilled, and/or with beurre blanc.
  • Garlicky recipes.
  • Greek mezze (spreads), anything with yogurt and dill.
  • Herbed recipes, including those with basil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, mint, parsley and rosemary, tarragon, thyme.
  • Pork, pan-fried, grilled or roasted.
  • Veal, chops or scallops.
  • Smoked fish, including smoked salmon.
  • Spices: coriander, fennel, saffron, turmeric, white pepper.
  • Spicy foods and spicy international cuisines (Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, e.g.).
  •  
    In addition to being drunk as is, Sauvignon Blanc is also popular in spritzers and white sangria.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Teriyaki, Beyond Japanese Food

    Teriyaki is a Japanese cooking technique in which foods are broiled or grilled with a glaze of mirin*, saké, soy sauce and sugar†.

    Proportions vary according to recipe: You can create a more sweet or more savory sauce, a thicker or a thinner sauce. Here‘s a basic teriyaki sauce recipe.

    The alcohol in the glaze gives a luster (teri) to the grilled (yaki) protein; the brown color comes from the caramelization of the sugar.

    Proper preparation of teriyaki involves repeated applications of the sauce during the latter stage of cooking, until the sauce thickens and acquires luster (the meat or fish can also be marinated in the teriyaki sauce up to 24 hours before cooking).

    While some Americans grilling the meat and then pour on the sauce, this does not produce the same results.

    The addition of garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and/or and chiles to teriyaki may be tasty, but is not traditional. The bottled teriyaki sauces that contain them are actually versions of the spicier Korean bulgogi sauce, which features garlic and hot chiles.

    Teriyaki dishes are served with steamed white rice, which is made flavorful with the excess sauce. The dish is often garnished with chopped scallions (green onion).

    While chicken teriyaki seems to be the most popular in the U.S., it isn’t even on menus in Japanese.

    Instead, the authentic teriyaki protein of choice is fish, such as mackerel, marlin, skipjack tuna, salmon, trout, yellowtail and sometimes, squid.

    ________________

    *Mirin and saké are types of rice wine. Both are fermented from rice, but mirin has a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content (as an analogy, thing of sweet and dry vermouths). If you have saké but no mirin, make a mirin substitute by adding a half teaspoon of sugar to the saké, and warm it slowly to dissolve the sugar.

    †Modern American substitutes include honey for the sugar and other alcohol for the saké (e.g. bourbon, vodka).
    ________________

    THE HISTORY OF TERIYAKI

    Most of the modern Japanese dishes familiar in the U.S. first appeared during Japan’s Edo period (1603 to 1867), an era characterized by stability and economic growth. That included exposure to new ingredients from abroad, which gave rise to new styles of cooking.

    Food historians believe that teriyaki was created in the 17th century, one of a number of new dishes using roasted or grilled fish and meat. The special sweet-and-savory glaze distinguished teriyaki from other grilled dishes.

    With the proliferation of Japanese restaurants in 1960s America (thanks to the 1965 Immigration & Nationality Act, which enabled many more Asians to emmigrate), teriyaki dishes became popular [source].

    To cater to American tastes, beef, chicken, lamb, pork, salmon and tofu with vegetables were offered instead of the traditional varieties of fish.

    More recently in the U.S., fusion cooking has engendered teriyaki burgers, meatballs and other variations; and teriyaki sauce is used as a dipping sauce and a marinade ingredient (more about this in a minute).

    In fact, the concept of a discrete teriyaki sauce (as opposed to a glazed fish dish cooked teriyaki [grilled] style) is believed to have originated in Hawaii, among Japanese immigrants. Local pineapple juice was incorporated, not just for flavor: It’s enzymes also help to tenderize the meat.

       
    Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

    Chicken Teriyaki

    Beef Teriyaki With Salad

    [1] Homemade teriyaki sauce (photo courtesy Olive This). [2] Classic chicken teriyaki with a not-so-classic side of sautéed bok choy. Here’s the recipe from Chowhound. [3] A fusion “steak and salad”: beef teriyaki bowl (photo courtesy Glaze Teriyaki).

     
    According to a history on Leaf TV, “there is apparently no official teriyaki sauce history, and the term refers rather to the aforementioned cooking method, and applies primarily to the preparation of fish, such as mackerel, salmon, trout and tuna.”

    TERIYAKI ON TREND

    Teriyaki was part of the first wave of Asian flavors to find a foothold here (source).

    Modern trends find teriyaki in all sorts of comfort food, from burgers and meatballs (try a meatball bánh mì sandwich) to grain bowls.

    Flavor And The Menu, a magazine that shares national restaurant trends for chefs and restaurateurs, notes dishes like these popping up nationwide:

  • Chicken Teriyaki Bowl: Grilled chicken with snow peas, onions, carrots, broccoli and rice; topped with teriyaki sauce (at RA Sushi, multiple locations). See the teriyaki bowl ideas below.
  • Fish Teriyaki Bowl combines wild mahi-mahi with tropical salsa, macadamia nuts, and lemongrass teriyaki sauce (at Tokyo Joe’s in Colorado).
  • Hawaiian-Style Meatballs with roasted pineapple, modernizing the teriyaki sauce by introducing coconut milk (from R&D chef Andrew Hunter).
  • Mexican Mash-Ups: tacos and burritos with teriyaki-seasoned fillings. Teriyaki Chicken Tacos, at Da Kine Island Grill in San Jose, combine chicken teriyaki, tomatoes, green onions and a fiery mango sauce.
  • Prime Teriyaki Tenderloin Bites with scallions and orange supremes (at Metropolitan Grill, Seattle).
  • Teriyaki Burgers, brushed with teriyaki sauce, served with teriyaki mayo (at Hotel Monaco | DC, photo #5).
  • Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich: grilled chicken breast, teriyaki, grilled pineapple, melted Swiss, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo (at Red Robin, multiple locations).
  • Teriyaki Lamb Pops with spicy apple-pepper jelly (at Share Kitchen & Bar, Williamsville, NY).
  • Teriyaki Meatball Hero: Teriyaki meatballs, Asian slaw and kimchi on a baguette with fresh basil or mint leaves, sliced jalapeño and scallions (at THE NIBBLE offices).
  • Teriyaki Peppercorn Shrimp with sun-dried pineapple (at Angelina Café, NYC).
  • Wings: Chicken Wings In Whiskey-Teriyaki Sauce (at The Comedy Zone in Greenville, NC), Wasabi Teriyaki Wings (at John & Peter’s Place, New Hope, PA), Maple-Bacon Teriyaki Wings (at Preston’s, Killington, VT), Sesame-Pineapple Teriyaki Wings (Dry Dock Bar & Grille, Norwalk, CT).
  • Other Meat Snacks: teriyaki-glazed meatballs, ribs, lamb riblets and skewers.
  •  

    Teriyaki Meatballs

    Teriyaki Burger

    [4] Teriyaki meatballs (here’s the recipe from Mom On Time Out). [5] Teriyaki meatball at Dirty Habit | Hotel Monaco | D.C.

     

    BUILD YOUR OWN TERIYAKI BOWL

    Mix and match:

  • Teriyaki-style fish or meat of choice
  • Grain of choice
  •  
    For The Salad

  • Salad of choice: mesclun, Asian cabbage slaw (recipe), other greens of choice
  • Bell pepper
  • Carrots (shredded if possible)
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Edamame, shelled
  • Onion, sliced
  • Peas: spring peas (shelled), snow peas, sugar snap peas
  •  
    Dressing

  • Ginger Dressing
  • Japanese Restaurant Salad Dressing (recipe below)
  • Mint cilantro vinaigrette
  • Miso salad dressing
  • Nobu’s sashimi salad dressing
  • Rice vinegar sesame oil vinaigrette.
  • Wasabi-passionfruit dressing
  • Yuzu dressing
  •  
    Garnish

  • Chopped scallions
  • Sesame seeds (ideally toasted)
  •  

    Love that textured, orange salad dressing at Japanese restaurants?

    It’s easy to make at home:

    Ingredients

  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 two-inch piece fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients except the oil in a blender. Process until liquified.

    2. ADD the peanut oil and pulse a few times to combine.

      

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