Sunday, November 10, 2013

Classic Comfort Food

Foodie Night!

With the boats out of the water, early darkness and chilly nights, the time seemed right for a comfort food menu.

When I picked the theme, I knew mashed potato would be part of the menu, but I didn't decide on the main until just the day before: Beef Burgundy, when I was flipping through The New Best Recipe.

"Does it Have to be Burgundy?"  The Cook's Illustrated verdict was that Pinot Noir was just as good, and saving a splash for the braise just before serving would make it even better. Very true. Adding brandy to the pearl onions and mushroom garnish was also a nice touch.

To prep the meal I made a herb bouquet with cheesecloth, something I've always meant to try but never seemed to get around to doing. So easy! And it definitely added a great flavour dimension to the braise. Three hours slow cooking in the oven made the house smell wonderful.

Appetizer course was Caroline's Mac and Cheese, another Cook's Illustrated recipe. It was so delicious I just had  to double check it was the same recipe. My cookbook was published in 2004 and wouldn't you know it, the version's evolved since then, with recommendations to start the dish with undercooked macaroni before baking. Yummy.

Salad course was served after the main, a dish of fresh spinach greens, caramelized butternut squash and toasted walnuts, all drizzled with maple syrup.

Maureen brought the dessert course. Pear Mincemeat Crumble with vidal ice wine and ice cream. A beautiful blend of flavours, temperatures and textures.

When Maureen went hunting for the right match at the LCBO they called one of their experts to assist. She said she was looking for a Burgundy, and the helper responded by saying they didn't carry many wines from England. What?!! Usually LCBO staff are quite knowledgeable about their wines, if not their geography.

Tasting Notes

I cooked with a Pinot Noir from Ontario called Coyote Run, pleasant but no real competition for the French burgundies served with the meal.

Chateuneuf du Pape, with its big fruit flavours, always a treat.

Bordeaux was a match too. 

Rodney Strong Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County was outstanding... made me want to visit the region.

photo credit for Beef Burgundy

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