Wine Wednesday – Müller Thurgau

With the holidays right around the corner, Gigi Trattoria has a real gift for you. One of our best white wines is now on our glass list! The Müller Thurgau from Muri Gries is really a stellar wine. From Trentino Alto-Adige right near the Austrian border, this light to medium bodied wine is cultivated 500 meters above sea level. The vines are planted on calcareous till facing east-south and some are up to 30 years old. But the grape itself is much older.

Müller Thurgau is a variety of white grape created by Herman Müller in 1882. It is a cross between a Riesling with Madeleine Royale and is used to produce wines in many countries including Germany, Austria, the United States and of course, Northern Italy. It is considered one of the most widely planted grapes of the “new breed” variety.

The Muri Gries Müller Thurgau definitely makes the top of the list of wines produced with the Müller Thurgau grape. It has a delightful minerality with hints of flowers and citrus fruit. It has a young freshness that makes it beautiful as an aperitif or paired well with appetizers, fish and even lighter meat dishes. We recommend it with our mussels. Our mussels are from Prince Edward Island and most often served steamed in a broth of wine, garlic, red onions and tomato with just a hint of spice. The crispness and earthiness of the Müller Thurgau compliment the mussels while also refreshing the palate.

No matter what it is paired with, the Müller Thurgau from Muri Gries is a wine you cannot miss. It will only be on our glass list for a short period of time so hurry in to sample it. We will bet that you will be buying it by the bottle by your next visit.  If you come on a Wednesday, the Müller Thurgau and all of our bottle wines are 30% off.  And since it is the holidays and we are in a giving mood, a bottle is just $37 and a glass is $12.  Cheers!

Learn more about Müller Thurgau here and here.

Kohlrabi Remoulade

About Kohlrabi…
Mentioning Kohlrabi typically doesn’t often light up people’s faces, but this highly underated vegetable is enjoyed in dishes around globe. It also grows exceptionally well here in the Hudson Valley.  The literal translation means “cabbage turnip” in Germany and “ugly root” in Africa. It’s flavor is anything but “ugly” offering a blend of all the wonderful flavor profiles of its cruciferous vegetable family ( broccoli, turnip, cabbage, brussels sprouts, rutagaba), and it has all of the protective phytochemicals and antioxidants they share.

So what to do with this “alien” root?

Immediately get to the tender and delicous flesh under that tough protective exterior. There is a chewy fiberours layer under the hard outer skin, so be sure to peel thoroughly down to the crisp and moist flesh. Use a paring knife to trim ends, and then work down the hard outer body to delious edible portion using a vegetable peeler.

1) Raw: Using a madoline, sharp knife, or cheese grater, slice it very thinly or shred it and eat it raw. Enjoy it on a crudite plate with a dip or use it as you would cabbage by preparing a slaw.

2) Puree: Chop, boil and and puree it then enjoy with some olive oil or butter and seasoning. Pureed kohlrabi also blends with mashed potatoes, mashed root vegetables (kohlrabi and carrots is a personal favorite).

3) Roast: Chop or slice into “fries”, toss with a bit of olive oil, season with salt and peper, and then oven roast until caramelized and tender.

4) Add to soups, stews and braises:  Kohlrabi adds flavor and nutrients to any/all cold weather cooking. Chop it and add it to your favorite bubbling winter meal. Its flavor holds up well to intense seasoning, and it’s particulary good in curries or other full flavored dishes.

5) Gratins and “pies”and quiches: Slice thinly and layer into gratins or grate then saute (with or without other vegetables) to fill pies and quiches.

Here’s one of my favorite preparations, a rift on the classic celeriac remoulade, which is a perfect winter salad:

Kohlrabi Remoulade

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 medium, kohlrabi (about 1 ½ pounds)
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to season
3 tablespoons of good quality mayonnaise*
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt preserved capers, rinsed
Pinch cayenne pepper
Finely shredded parsley to garnish

Directions

Working quickly, trim the ends from the kohlrabi and peel. Cut into halves and finely grate using a cheese grater or a food processor fitted with the shredding blade. Transfer to a medium bowl and immediately toss with lemon juice to prevent browning. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, and garlic; season with salt and cayenne. Fold the mixture into the bowl with the kohlrabi. Serve immediately or allow to sit, refrigerated, in a nonreactive airtight container, for 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Variations:

Add: shredded apples and/or cornichons

 

Turkey Tetrazzini with Fontina, Mushrooms & Radicchio

This delicious casserole makes good use of Thanksgiving’s lingering bounty.  Enjoy it immediately or prepare in advance and re-heat at 350 for 30 minutes before serving. It’s just as good, if not better, the day after.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons butter, plus 2 teaspoons to grease casserole dish
3/4 cup coarse dry breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan (preferably Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano)
1 pound Wiltbank Farm shitake and oyster mushrooms*, cleaned and sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
¼ cup dry white wine
1 radicchio head, halved, cored and cut into thin ribbons
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 medium shallots, diced
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 cups low-fat milk
1 ½ cups (4 ounces) diced Fontina cheese**
8 ounces egg pappardelle pasta
3 cups shredded or diced roast turkey

*Substitute any fresh mushroom of your choice if not available.
**Substitute grated cheddar or Gruyere if desired.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Butter a 3-quart casserole.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and Parmesan. Set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, and cook, tossing or stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Pour in the white wine and reduce completely. Add the radicchio and sage and cook just long enough to wilt the radicchio, 1 or 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until they soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the the flour and whisk constantly until fully blended into the butter. Gradually whisk in enough of the milk to form a thick, smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk in a steady stream. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Turn off the heat and stir in the Fontina. Taste, then and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Set aside.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Gently stir in the turkey, mushroom and radicchio mixture. Pour in the sauce and mix until just combined. Transfer to the buttered casserole, shaking the pan gently to evenly distribute pasta.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. Let rest slightly 10 to 20 minutes. The casserole will firm up slightly and will the perfect temperature to serve.

 

Fregola Stuffing with Dried Fruit and Sage

This version of Thanksgiving stuffing uses the native Sardinian “pasta” called Fregola. This toasty larger grain cousin of couscous offers a pleasing blend of flavors, textures and colors, and, when combined with traditional stuffing seasonings, it has flavor to match but much less fat and more nutrients than traditional bread stuffing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 1/2 cups *Fregola
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or canned, low-sodium broth (vegetable stock or broth may be substituted)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced or thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced thinly
1/3 cup mixed dried fruit (any combination of apricots, seedless raisins, currants, cranberries or prunes cut into small pieces)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
Salt and freshly grated pepper to season.

In a large pot, bring the stock or broth to a boil.  Add the salt and the fregola, stir and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the cooked fregola into a colander.

While the fregola cooks, in a large non-stick skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the dried fruit, sage, coriander, and cumin; cook, stirring, another 1 to 2 minutes, then add the white wine, simmering until fully reduced. Now add  the fregola, stirring or tossing to combine. Add the reserved cooking broth, which will quickly come to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the Parmesan, and stir to combine.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Enjoy hot or let cool to stuff your turkey, Cornish hen or favorite “roulade”.

*Fergola is a semolina grain (resembling large couscous) that is a good source of protein and fiber.  It can be found in gourmet and Italian specialty markets.  In Italy, Fregola is used like barley is here, in soups and stews.  It is also served on its own, sauced like pasta.

Makes six servings.

Root Vegetable Gratin

I started preparing this dish for guests about ten years ago, and now I cannot entertain in the fall or winter without a request for it. I’m happy to comply. Root Vegetable Gratin is now a selection on our ‘Thanksgiving Made Easy’ order form.

Classic Béchamel
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
6 cups whole (or 2 percent) milk, hot
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter, softened
1½ quarts (6 cups) béchamel *See recipe below
2 small smoked chili peppers (I use anchos or dried smoked jalapenos)
3 medium russet potatoes (about 3 pounds),  peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1½ cups fresh or canned roasted red peppers, cut into strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 medium sweet potato (8 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 small or ½ large rutabaga (about 12 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds

Prepare Béchamel: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste bubbles; don’t let it brown. After 2 or 3 minutes, whisk in the hot milk. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring or whisking constantly until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and cook, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat.

Prepare Gratin: Preheat the oven to 350F°F and grease a 12- to 14-inch round baking dish or a 9 x 13-inch rectangular baking dish with the butter.

Simmer the béchamel over low heat, add the whole dried chili, and steep for about 10 minutes. Remove the chili and discard.

Peel vegetables and slice them very thinly on a mandoline to 1/8-inch thickness. Place half of the russet potato slices in a single layer on the bottom of the dish. Top with a third of the red pepper strips. Season with salt and pepper. Evenly spread 1½ cups of the béchamel on top,covering the potatoes and red pepper strips. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheddar. Arrange the sweet potato slices over top,slightly overlapping in a spiral pattern. Season with salt and pepper and top with another ⅓ of the red pepper strips. Again top with 1½ cups bechamel followed by 1 cup of cheddar. Add the slices of rutabaga, slightly overlapping in a spiral pattern,and strew with the remaining red peppers strips. Again, add 1½ cups bechamel followed by 1 cup of cheddar. For the final layer,arrange the remaining slices of russet potato on top,slightly overlapping in a spiral pattern. Season with salt and pepper. Put the remaining 1½ cups béchamel and 1 cup cheddar on top.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top of the gratin is bubbly and nicely browned, about 20 minutes. A knife inserted in the center of the gratin won’t meet any resistance, but should pierce easily into the fully cooked and soft root vegetables.

Serving suggestion: This is great to eat piping hot right out of the oven, but it’s also good reheated the next day.

Variations:

* To lighten this dish, you can make a cornstarch/water slurry, stir it into chicken broth,and thicken simmering until it achieves a béchamel-like consistency.
* Omit the chili pepper and/or roasted red pepper.
* Substitute turnips for the rutabaga.

Nutrition: Roasted red pepper strips add flavor, color between the layers, and lots of vitamin C.

Economy: $$$

Note: This recipe has been adapted from the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

Wine Weekly – Ribolla Gialla

As the weather gets cooler, many people seek warmth in a glass of red wine.  But for those of you that may not be fans of red or are open to variety, we have a cool weather white for you, Ribolla Gialla from Tenuta La Ponca.

Many may not know that the Ribolla grape from Italy actually originated in Greece and made its way to the Fruili region of Italy by way of Slovenia.  This grape almost did not survive the phylloxera epidemic in the 19th century because many farmers decided to plant French grapes after much of their Ribolla crop was destroyed.  But the Ribolla survived and by the 1990’s most of the white wines produced in Fruili were at least 1% Ribolla.

Not only is the long journey of the Ribolla what makes it a stand-up wine for November, but the crisp acidity, apple and pear aromas, and dry finish make it perfect to drink with food.  At Tenuta La Ponca, the Ribolla grapes are picked the last week of September.  They are then pressed and settle for 24 to 36 hours before they are fermented in stainless steel and then refined for 8 months on nobile dregs.  The result being a light to medium bodied white wine with a beautiful straw yellow color. Try the Ribolla Gialla with an appetizer such as the Verdure platter or enjoy it with the complex Pasta Intregale.  The fruit characteristics bring out the sweetness of the vegetables while the acidity refreshes the palate.  The Ribolla Gialla would even be a great wine to drink with turkey!

The Riboilla Gialla from Tenuta La Ponca has survived quite a journey in order to make it to the Gigi Trattoria wine list.  Now we challenge the Ribolla to survive the cold weather of the Hudson Valley and warm our wine-loving customers. For $42 a bottle, you cannot pass up trying this delicious wine.  Come by on Wednesday and the Ribolla Gialla and all bottles are 30% off!  That deal alone can warm the chill out of anyone.

Wine Weekly – Barbaresco, Beni di Batasiolo

Considered one of the greatest wines of Italy’s Northwestern region, Barbaresco made from Nebbiolo grapes is held with very high regard.  That is why Gigi Trattoria carries one of the best.  Barbaresco, Beni di Batasiolo is aged for 10 days in stainless steel to allow the skins to ferment and then continues its aging for one year in oak casks and another in the bottle.  This process makes for a full-bodied wine with spicy oak, chewy tannins and hints of cherry and blackberry.  There is even a bit of cinnamon on the palate, making it a perfect wine for a brisk autumn night!

From a small village overlooking the Tanaro River, Batasiolo winery creates this 100% Nebbiolo wine.  The Nebbiolo grape, in case you are unfamiliar with it, is a black-skinned red wine grape that is the star of both Barbareso and Barolo.  These are two of Italy’s most acclaimed red wines.  Originally, Barbaresco was Barolo or Nebbiolo with Moscatello and Passeretta grapes added to it for a touch of effervescence and hint of sweetness.  It was not until the 19th century that Barbaresco was vinified for a dry style.  The result being a competitor or brother for Barolo.  Like any good set of siblings, there are many differences between Barolo and Barbaresco.  Barbaresco has a slightly warmer, dryer and milder climate, which causes the grapes to ripen quicker and makes for a less tannic wine.  Still the age and acidity of Barbaresco will please any avid red wine drinker but will be slightly more approachable.

Not that there is a specific season for drinking red wine, but if there were, having a glass of Barbaresco, Beni di Batasiolo on a cold fall night with the smell of spices in the air and the warmth of company, sounds pretty perfect.  That is why we want to offer that comfort to you!  Come into Gigi Trattoria to experience a once in a lifetime chance to have our Barbaresco by the glass for only $15!  A bottle goes for $95 but if you come on Wine Wednesday, this delicious wine and all bottles are 30% off.  Hurry, before the wine runs out!

Learn more about Barbaresco wine here and here.