Friday, July 14, 2017

Creating a New Appetizer for a Wine Tasting

Smoky Beef & Currant Empanadas
Smoky Beef & Currant Empanadas
At each year's event to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Aberdeen, there is an auction held for a wine tasting for 20 to 25 people, to be held in the winning bidder's home - with appetizers by A Harmony of Flavors (that's me!). This year, the people that won the auction are holding their wine and food tasting on August 4th, so it's right around the corner.

Two things I planned to make, just because they are scrumptious, and because they easily pair with certain types of wine, are my Smoky Beef & Currant Empanadas and Aloo Samosas. There is no link for Aloo (meaning "potato") Samosas yet in my blog, but all I did was remove the chicken from my Chicken & Raisin Samosas, and increase the amount of potatoes to 1½ pounds. The rest of the recipe is absolutely the same. The Empanadas were originally served with an Argentine Malbec, but they will also pair nicely with a
Chicken & Raisin Samosas
Chicken & Raisin Samosas
full bodied Cabernet, which will likely be served at this upcoming home wine tasting. The Chicken and Raisin Samosas originally paired with a Conundrum White, which was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Semillon and Muscat Canelli. With or without the chicken (some at this upcoming wine tasting may be vegetarian, so I try to have something for everyone), they will pair with Chardonnay or possibly a Sauvignon Blanc, if it's not too much on the tart side. 

Spanakopita Cups for Sauvignon Blanc

So, I had something to go with a strong red and something to go with a rounder, buttery white like Chardonnay. Next I thought about the more austere whites, like Sauvignon Blanc and opted to use the Spanakopita Cups, since spinach and Feta cheese are both things that will pair with that white wine. My original Spanakopita recipe is for the spinach/feta mixture to be rolled, flag-like, in phyllo dough. In
Spanakopita Cups
Spanakopita Cups
order to simplify while still using phyllo, I used frozen phyllo cups. Making the filling mixture just the same, I then filled two packages worth (30 in all) of phyllo cups with the mixture, then set the cups onto a baking sheet in the center of a preheated 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes, until the filling is set and the phyllo cups are golden. You can find a printable version of my Spanakopita Cups as the Bonus Recipe in my February Newsletter, found here.

But then, what could I make to pair with a softer red, like a Pinot Noir or maybe a fruity Zinfandel or Merlot? I never know what wines the wine representative will bring to these tastings, so I try and prepare for most possible options. I thought about blackberries, because I had just bought a bunch of them, and thinking maybe making something like a chutney of sorts would go nicely with pork. But then, what to do with the pork? 
Hoisin Pork with Blackberry Chutney
Hoisin Pork with Blackberry Chutney

Many years ago, for an impromptu wine tasting I held for family, my sister brought a pork tenderloin, that her husband would grill just before we sat down to taste and pair. I asked, since the pork was supremely tasty, just what was the marinade? She said she was almost embarrassed to say it, but all she did was dump a small jar of Hoisin sauce onto the tenderloin and marinate for 24 hours. At another time, she commented that she had started the marinating with Hoisin, but then didn't get to use it right away, so it marinated for at least 2 days. And - it was even better! Grilling will take a little while, depending on how thick or large your pork tenderloin might be. When I made it a few days ago, I also tied cotton twine around the tenderloin, in order for it to stay as round as possible, so the slices would be nice and round. It took about 25 minutes to grill it to doneness.

Hoisin Pork with Blackberry Chutney

Hoisin Pork with Blackberry Chutney
Hoisin Pork with Blackberry Chutney
pork tenderloin(s)
1 jar Hoisin sauce
Baguette, sliced thinly
olive oil, for brushing
Blackberry Chutney, recipe below
Chevre cheese, optional
Marinate the pork tenderloin in Hoisin Sauce for 2 days, then grill it. Once grilled to at least 155 degrees, tent it with foil for 10 minutes, then slice it thinly, getting something like 25 to 30 usable slices (I'm making 2 tenderloins for the event). Slice a baguette thinly and set the slices in a single layer, close together on a baking sheet. Brush the tops with olive oil, then broil just until they start to look toasted. Set a slice of tenderloin on each piece of baguette, and then top with a small dollop of Blackberry Chutney. For an alternate method, whip together 2 tablespoons of the Blackberry Chutney with 2 ounces of Chevre cheese, until smooth. This mixture can be used instead of the chutney on its own, or alternately make some with each, for a pretty presentation.

Back to the Blackberry Chutney

I wasn't totally sure how the Hoisin marinated tenderloin would go with a blackberry chutney, but I figured I'd never know till I tried, so I went ahead and made the chutney. And it was mighty good! It would be good on pork of any kind. When preparing to create the recipe, I thought about the flavor profile I wanted: tart, with the blackberries, tart apple and vinegar, a little bit of sweet with some currants and palm sugar, rosemary and juniper for an herbaceous note, some serrano chilies and black pepper for heat. Sounded good to me, so I started preparing. And it was superb!

The apple I used was cooked with the skin and seeds left in. This is to help release pectin into the mixture so the chutney would set up thick. It is really best if you own a food mill to puree this mixture, as it can be quite tedious trying to pass this through a strainer.

Blackberry Chutney
Blackberry Chutney

Blackberry Chutney

Makes about 1 cup

1¼ cups fresh blackberries (133 g / 4.7 ounces)
¼ Granny Smith Apple, skin & seeds intact

Cook these first two ingredients with a tiny amount of water to get them started, until they are very soft and tender, 20 or so minutes. Pass the mixture through a food mill, preferably, to remove most seeds and the apple skin and seeds. Discard the seeds and skins and set the puree aside until needed.

1 teaspoon olive oil
½ medium red onion (123 g / 4.35 ounces), finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of palm sugar or brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely minced rosemary leaves
5 juniper berries
1 small Serrano chili, minced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon currants (or raisins, chopped)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until very soft and translucent. Add the palm sugar, wine vinegar, rosemary, juniper berries (in cheesecloth for easy removal later), Serrano chili, black pepper, and currants. Stir to dissolve sugar and blend flavors. Add the pureed fruit to the saucepan and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir in for another 2 minutes. Pour into a clean glass jar and seal tightly. Keep refrigerated until needed. Should keep for at least a week or so.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at AHOFpin. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.