Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sharp Tools and Red Wine

In professional kitchens, the cooks bring their own knife kits to the job.  Most line cooks have a Japanese Mandoline, or Benriner slicer in their roll, even though any good kitchen will have a stainless steel French mandoline (about a $300 item) for general use.  The French mandolines have slightly more uses- they can cut waffle weave chips, for example-  but they are difficult to sharpen and clean.   Benriners are hard to sharpen too, but they stay sharp a long time and cost about $20.  At home, you might be able to use your food processor to slice vegetables for slaw, chips, or stir fry, but you won't be able to get them as thin as with a Benriner.  If you see one in an Asian food store,  you might want to pick it up.  But beware- these things are incredibly sharp!  I've seen a lot of accidents when cooks were not paying attention to their fingertips.
This is my Benriner and a mound of cabbage for slaw.  The slicer has attatchments for cutting julienne (matchsticks) as well.

Well, I broke my diet and had a burger form the grill last night.  My husband's request for a last taste of summer.  I did make a nice slaw, though.  Plain old coleslaw- savoy cabbage, red onion (TIP: rinse the sliced onion under cold water for a few seconds to tone down the harshness), yellow pepper and carrots, all sliced paper thin.  
Basic Slaw Dressing:
1/4 c mayo
1/4 c buttermilk
1 t sugar
1 T mild vinegar such as Cider
salt, pepper, Mrs Dash if you keep it in the house.
 This slaw dressing is very basic and can be customized as you like- with lime juice and zest and cilantro for a Southwest jicima slaw,  or used in a Waldorf type salad- its all about the balance of sweet, tangy, and creamy.
Use red wine vinegar and add blue cheese to make a dip/dressing.
Sub sour cream for buttermilk for a richer texture.
Use rice vinegar and a splash of sesame oil for an Asian flavor.

Red Wine:  AFTER sharp tools!  This is a mixed varietal red from Stone's Throw, which is a vintner in Door County WI that uses CA grapes.  I am usually a fan of Stone's Throw wines.  This bottle was about $8 at Sendiks.  I'm holding it against the mac to show the color.    The bottle does not tell the types of grapes they used- from the color, flavor and mouthfeel I'm guessing there's Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and possibly some Zinfandel.  See how it is a brick red instead of a purple red?  And you can see through it?  The Bordeaux grapes- Cab S, Merlot...and Syrah for that matter-they tend to be more opaque in a young wine like this, and have a more purple hue.  The first taste was thin, with a flavor of nearly ripe plums that had been sitting on aluminum foil.  It opened up to some oak, strawberry, geranium, and rain on dry ground aromas.  Very light tannins (the puckery mouth flavor) and decent acidity though it is fairly thin and one dimensional with a short finish, meaning the flavors do not linger in your mouth.  Not a bad wine, it would pair well with pizza, chicken cacciatori, or pasta with cream sauces for those who prefer a red.  

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