Monday, June 8, 2015

For The Love of Tomatoes! (Tomato Tart)


Ah, tomatoes - that summer vegetable (or is it a fruit?) we all love.  We grow them in our gardens, and put them in salads, and their red freshness is one of the beginning signatures of warm summer days.  But, I think the poor tomato sometimes gets left high and dry because apart from chopping it up and dressing it or putting it in a hamburger bun, how else can we eat it?

Two words - Tomato Tart.  This lovely, fresh tart is not only beautiful but delicious.  The crust is made by hand, and then layered with fresh tomatoes, sliced thin and layered in concentric circles.

Below is the recipe.  Bon appetit!


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp cold water

1. Combine flour and salt on the counter and cut in butter until it is in pea-sized chunks.
2. Cut in cold water and use hands to press dough together, folding as you knead, to create layers.
3. Form dough into a disk and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour.
4. Roll out dough into circle using a rolling pin and press into 9 inch tart pan.
5. Wrap the unbaked tart and chill at least one hour.
6. Place layer of aluminum foil in bottom of tart covering the bottom of sides and fill with rice or beans. (blind bake).
7. Bake tart with rice/beans inside for 12 minutes at 350 F.
8. Remove beans and bake empty crust an addition 5 minutes.


6 oz Gruyere cheese (thinly sliced)
4 tbsp fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 ripe tomatoes

1. Thinly slice tomatoes and cheese.
2. Chop basil and garlic.
3. Layer cheese on the bottom of the baked crust. Sprinkle basil and garlic on top of cheese.
4. Layer tomatoes decoratively in concentric circles in the crust.
5. Salt and pepper to taste.
6. Bake at 375 F for 25-30 minutes until tomatoes are cooked down and cheese is bubbling.

If you enjoy this recipe please let me know.  I would also love to hear about some of your favorite tomato recipes!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

River City Winery - New Albany, IN

2013 Vegh Davis Vignoles
Wine in Indiana? Seems like an unlikely fit for a state known mostly for corn.  However, River City Winery may take you by surprise.  Is the wine on par with your Napa or Sonoma winery? Maybe not. But the wine is surprisingly good for local fare plus you can get a good meal!  I visited River City Winery just this past weekend with a friend of mine.  We were looking for a local joint where we could grab a bite, be served, without being saddled with an enormous bill.  River City fulfills all of these criteria and then some.

When you walk into the winery you are greeted by a hostess who ushers you immediately into the large eating/bar area. The walls are made of exposed brick, with one wall taken up almost entirely by a bar stocked with (you guessed it) River City Wine.  The tables are scattered, but not crammed, within the main dining area, although you can also be seated in a private room off to the side.  My friend and I were seated at a high top almost immediately and greeted by our effusive, eager-to-please waitress.  Since I was torn as to which white wine to order, the waitress gave me ample tastings of two so I could make an educated decision.  I decided on a delicious white, the 2013 Vegh Davis Vignoles.  It was sweet but not cloyingly so and had notes of pear and honey as well as a long finish.

Spinach salad with chicken, feta, and bacon vinaigrette

The wine went beautifully with my dinner, a spinach salad with lemon infused chicken and bacon vinaigrette.  The salad was delicate, flavorful, and really hit the spot.  I definitely recommend it if you are seeking a lighter meal.  The wine was brought to the table promptly as was the food.  Our waitress was sweet and attentive but she did not "hover" (one my pet peeves at restaurants).  Throughout most of our meal we were able to enjoy the live strumming and singing of a local guitar player.  It all added to the casual elegant vibe being displayed by the winery.
Your fearless blogger, happy with wine.

This restaurant/winery also has a great price point.  All the entrees are between $7-$15 for dinner and under $10 for lunch.  The wine is, at maximum, $15/bottle and last night the wine was 20% off! You definitely can't ask for a deal better than that.  If you are looking to leave Louisville without traveling too far I definitely recommend River City Winery.  It is nestled in the heart of downtown New Albany, and is easy to find.  Parking is on the street but not difficult to come by.  So Kentuckians take a break from your bourbon - if you can - and check out this winery the next time you are looking for a drink!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Summer Riesling: 2011 Riesling Chateau Ste. Michelle (Columbia Valley)

Looking for that perfect, inexpensive Riesling for a hot summer's night? Look no further! Chateau Ste. Michelle is a great fit for any occasion.  Last weekend, I took it to a girl's wine night and it was one of the favorites.  It has a beautiful, pale honey hue in the glass, a sweet long finish, and a round full flavor. 

This wine literally "smells like summer". It smells of fresh honeysuckle, grass, and apricots.  All those smells remind me of my own childhood when I was playing in my parent's backyard.  The wine also has a very slight hint of effervescence so it tingles on the tongue in a most delightful way.

This bottle of wine usually sells for $12 but lately I have found it on sale for only $8! I definitely recommend checking out your local liquor store for this beauty.  You will not be disappointed.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Flaky Biscuits : 5 Tips for Success

Whether you are from the South or not, you know that having a crisp, fluffy biscuit for breakfast is a great way to start the day.  But what's the secret behind getting those biscuits high and light?  I'm going to share with you my recipe for biscuits as well as 5 quick tips to making the best biscuits ever.  (And by the way this whole recipe takes me less than 10 minutes to make!) So throw out your mixes and your pre-made frozen biscuits-you won't be able to go back when you have tried this yummy recipe.

Makes 10 to 12 biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt on a clean counter
  3. Cut the stick of butter into flour mixture until it is pea-sized.  Make a well in the dough and pour in the buttermilk.
  4. Gently knead the dough until it comes together.  It should be on the sticky side.  Fold the dough about 3 to 4 times to create layers and very gently press the dough out.
  5. Using a round biscuit cutter to cut out circles. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
Now that you have the recipe follow these five tips to make the PERFECT biscuits.

1. Use Cold Ingredients

The butter should be cold and the buttermilk should be cold.  The cold butter melts in the oven and creates pockets which become flaky, tender bites in the biscuit.  If the butter or buttermilk is too warm the dough will become homogeneous and therefore less flaky.

2. Undermix

Too much mixing develops gluten in the flour and softens the butter.  While gluten is a good thing in bread dough because you need that elasticity, in biscuits it makes a tough, hard product. When in doubt, undermixing is better.

3. Make a Moist Dough

A moist dough makes a moist biscuit.  If the dough is dry the biscuit will be dry too.  Don't be afraid to add more buttermilk to the recipe above if you feel the dough is not sticky enough.

4. Hand Mix and Press Out Dough

I cannot stress this enough.  Mixers and food processors are great for many things but you risk developing too much gluten if you use these devices for biscuits.  Use your hands to gently combine the ingredients and then press the dough out with your fingers (not a rolling pin).

5. Bake in a Hot Oven

High heat activates the leavening agent in baking powder and enables the biscuits to rise high, quickly.  A cold oven will not give the biscuits the lift they need.  For me a hot oven is 400 F.  For you, it might be 425. Try out a recipe you are familiar with first to determine if you are oven is running cool.  Don't be afraid to elevate the temperature if needed.

Mix dry ingredients together and cut butter in until pea sized.

Make a well and add the cold buttermilk.

Press the dough out gently using your fingers.

Place cut biscuits on baking sheet with ample room between.

Enjoy a fluffy hot biscuit!

Have questions or need additional tips on making a great biscuit?  Please provide feedback in the comment section below.  I would love to hear from you! Happy baking!