Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Bloggable Wine Guy!

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You know all those high brow cookbooks where the authors tell you to make friends with the butcher, the fish monger, the farmer at the market? Well, I'm not sure about you, but I have yet to meet a fish monger in land-locked Memphis (the Mississippi does NOT count). There is a butcher at the meat market, but the dudes at the grocery don't do much meat cutting, I know, my dad is a master. And as for meeting farmers, I get to the market a few times a month and there are hoards of people, unfortunately no one remembers me. But for me, I think the most valuable person in a foodies arsenal is the Wine Guy.

I love my liquor store. It is all of 2 minutes away, yes, I timed it. They have a great selection, and they have a happiness guaranteed policy. I am not a creature of habit when it comes to drinking. I am in the habit of drinking a few times a week, and I prefer something red, preferably a pinot, but I hop from label to label. If I buy one and hate it, I return it...no questions asked. I love that. Did I mention my Wine Guy? Jim. He knows everything there is to know about wine, and if he doesn't, well then he is a great salesman. But he has yet to lead me astray. Yesterday my sister and I went in for a bottle, and left with 6. Now that's a sales job! The cheapest, about $12, the best about $32. He would never make me feel bad if I wanted a $12 bottle of wine to enjoy with a night of American Idol. Which we did with an A to Z Rose, delicious!

Last summer, I ran in for a quick bottle because I had biscotti in the oven. ATTENTION NOVICE BAKERS: Do not try an alcohol run with cookies in the oven! When I mentioned I was in a hurry because of the cookies, he hinted that perhaps my service would be better with a few samples....okay, what the hell. I'm Italian, and I really love to feed people. So I brought him biscotti. He wanted more this week, so I pulled out my newest cookbook, totally altered the recipe (sorry Chef Stitt) and am offering my sugar for the Wine Guy.

As an aside, this is the greatest attachment for a stand mixer. This particular brand is a SideSwipe. I ordered it online at www.sideswipeblade.com. The silicone flaps on the flat beater make mixing quicker, scraping down unnecessary and whipping up dough a breeze. Do not use it for bread and pizza dough, but try it out for cookies and cakes. It's a winner!

BISCOTTI

2 cups unbleached flour
1 ¼ cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
2 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
5 eggs, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1⅓ cup coarsely chopped raw almonds: I didn't have time to toast them and the cookies were great!

Mix dry ingredients in a a small bowl. In a bowl of electric mixer, mix eggs and sugar until pale and thick. Add extracts and mix. Slowly add dry ingredients, and then the almonds Add a few Tablespoons milk if necessary to bind the dough. Using your hands form 2 logs on a large baking sheet lined with a Silpat. Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes, or until cooked but not too brown. Cool logs about 10 minutes and slice into ½" thick slices. Turn oven to 325° and bake about 10 minutes more until crunchy and golden brown. Great Dunkers!

So, if you're in Memphis, check out my Wine Guy at Baptist Liquor (okay, it's called Poplar Pike Liquor, after a glass I'll tell ya how the Baptist name came to be). Ask for Jim, and if you're up for anything, start with the Morgan Pinot Noir. MMMMMMM!
Now get in there and cook!

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