Silver Lake Merlot 2002

I should preface this by saying P. and I really don’t like Silver Lake. We have been to their tasting room several times (once to try it, and a couple more times with visitors who wanted to check it out), and each time we’ve been there, we’ve barely been able to get through the tasting.

P.’s parents were big fans of Silver Lake before they tried the wine. Some friends of theirs are shareholders, which sounds pretty cool except once you start reading the fine print, it sounds just like belonging to a wine club other than it costs a lot more and also you can get personalized business cards.

Anyway, they were all excited about trying it until we brought them to the tasting room.

When they came out for Christmas, they met up with their shareholder friends, who gave them this bottle of 2002 Merlot. They promptly regifted it to us.

When I got home tonight, P. had opened it. I don’t know what he was thinking. He poured me a glass. I gave it a swirl and a sniff. It had aromas of Welch’s grape juice with undertones of dirt. Seriously. I tasted it. It tasted like stems. If I were being generous, I might say it was woody, but that implies flavor nuances from aging in oak, and I mostly tasted stems. I could tell there was a bit of fruit underneath, trying to get out, but it was way too faint.

I’m thinking this wine will never balance. The fruit will completely fade away before the tannins calm down. And anyway, I don’t even think young tannins are the problem with this wine. It’s the stems.

P. couldn’t even drink a second glass. That’s how you can really know it’s bad because you would think he came from the depression with how much he can’t waste anything. We’ll see if he tries it again tomorrow.

italian subs

Continuing my efforts to use up what we have, and yet still keep things relatively healthy, I made up some subs earlier today. We had them for dinner and P. said that they were so good I had to write down how I made them, so here goes.

12 cherry tomatoes, seeded and diced (you could probably use any tomatoes; I used what I had)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 tbl each oregano and basil, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and pepper
2 tbl olive oil
3 tbl red wine vinegar
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella
baguette

I mixed everything together in a bowl, sliced the baguette lengthwise, scooped out the soft bread inside, and added it to the bowl. Then, I put the mixture back into the hollowed out bread (both sides), pressed the bread together, and wrapped it really tightly with plastic wrap. Then, I refrigerated it until dinner (about 7 hours).

The flavors all melded together and soaked into the bread. And it was so easy to make.

roasted cauliflower

Last night, I made a meal of all the leftover vegetables we had to use up before their time was up. I made cream cheese mashed potatoes, chipotle sweet potatoes, creamed spinach, and roasted cauliflower with cheese sauce.

I almost forgot how much better I like roasted cauliflower than steamed and I had just started the water for steaming when I remembered. I preheated the oven to 450 and cut up all the cauliflower and put it in two baking dishes. I had 3 heads of cauliflower to use up so they took up a lot of space. I sprayed them with cooking spray and added salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Then I roasted them for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile I made the cheese sauce.

2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
3 whole cloves
1/2 red onion
1 bay leaf
1 dried habanero
pinch each ground nutmeg and allspice
4 tbl butter
4 tbl flour
salt and pepper
pinch paprika
1 tbl mustard (I used sweet potato mustard)
dash dry mustard
1 cup low-fat cheddar
1 cup bread crumbs

I simmered the milk with the cloves, onion, bay leaf, habanero, nutmeg, and allspice while I made a roux of butter and flour. After about 10 minutes of cooking each, I strained the milk and added it to the roux, whisking all the while until it thickened. I added the other ingredients, other than the cheese, and stirred that all together. I then added the cheese a little at a time until it melted.

I took the cauliflower out of the oven, combined it all into one pan, then poured the cheese sauce over the top and sprinkled the bread crumbs over it. I added a bit more salt and pepper and let it bake about 20 minutes more. When it was done, I sprinkled a bit of sea salt on top.

Roasting the cauliflower really brings out the flavor and makes it crispy on the edges. And of course, how can you go wrong with cheese sauce?

meatball subs

I have a huge backlog of food and wine and restaurants to talk about. I’m thinking I’d better write it all down soon before it’s gone from my head forever.

P. loves meatball subs and I’ve been experimenting with different recipes for a while, but I haven’t come up with anything I really think it spectacular. But this last attempt was the best try yet. I even tried to make it somewhat low-fat, so it’s a keeper all around.

Meatballs
4 slices low-fat bread (I used Sara Lee Delightful)
1/4 c low-fat buttermilk
1 lb ground turkey breast
4 links italian chicken sausage, casings removed
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c egg beaters
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
2 Tbl each chopped fresh basil, oregano, and thyme

I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and sprayed cooking spray in 2 six muffin tins.

I tore the bread into pieces and soaked it in the buttermilk while I mixed everything else together in a large bowl. Then, I added the bread and mixed that in.

I made 12 balls and put them in the muffin tins then baked until done (I think it was about 30 minutes). (When they were done, I put the meatballs on paper towels to drain some of the fat.)

Sauce
1 tbl olive oil
I small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup red wine
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
28 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste
2 pinches sugar
2 tbl each chopped fresh basil, oregano, and thyme

I cooked up the onion and garlic with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste, deglazed the pan with the wine, added the canned tomatoes, sauce, and paste. I let everything simmer for about 20 minutes, then added the sugar and herbs. I let it simmer a few minutes more.

I split open some crusty bread rolls, put two meatballs on each, poured sauce over, then added some sliced (low-fat) mozzarella. I had oven fries on the side (that I had tossed with the herbs, salt, and red pepper flakes before baking). We had it with more red wine.