Rejoicing and Revelry – 2009 Wine Favorites

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The photo above pretty much sums up what we’ve been up to at my house for the past few weeks – cultivating a heaping pile of wine corks. I usually don’t need much of a reason to pop a cork on a bottle of wine, it’s what I do just about every single day (can someone say Save the Liver?) but this season naturally brings out my celebratory personality. What can I say? I can’t resist a party.

Of course, I’ve been cooking too, along with some of my favorite people in the world. Putting a meal together with my family and friends is almost always a shared endeavor. We plan, shop, chop and cook together, wine glasses in hand. While I admit to being a total blog slacker, my sister-in-law L has been so much better at documenting our festivities on her blog – go have a peek.

After going through my pile of corks, I thought it was time to share a short list of some of the best wines I’ve had the pleasure to taste this year.

I usually try to keep my wine spending budget under $15, but a few of my faves exceed that. Needless to say that I think they’re worth the splurge. Happy New Year!

Gruet Brut, Blanc de Noirs or Rosé (New Mexico) $15 I admit that I have tiny problem – if there’s no sparkling wine in the house I start to get a little shaky. Nothing makes me happier than the promising sound of a cork popping out of a bottle of bubbly. This pick is priced right, and delivers the complex, crisp feel of something much more expensive.

Azur Rosé (California) $20 I hesitate to tell you about this Provencal-style wine since there are only a few hundred cases produced, but I fell in love with it when I first tasted it at Robust, my neighborhood wine bar this past summer. It’s a beautiful shade of pale salmon and tastes fresh and delicious, with a mouthwatering balance of fruit and acidity – perfect for sipping when it’s hot and sticky. Summer days are over and the wine is most likely sold out, but keep a look out for the upcoming 2009 release.

Felino Malbec (Argentina) $17 Paul Hobbs styles intense, high-end California wines, but has recently collaborated with a few South American winemakers to produce a handful of beautifully made – and much more affordable – wines in Chile and Argentina. This really is a great bargain – a big, rich and velvety red.

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

My Italian grandmother never made biscotti for me, but if she did I imagine that they would taste a lot like these, gently crunchy and sweet with lemon.

Biscotti are my favorite cookies to make because they don’t require much; no fussy rolling resting or cutting, which is the sort of process that makes me start to feel restless and fidgety – not the way I like to operate in this endlessly busy season.

And here’s another bonus – they’re perfect for holiday gift giving because they keep so well in a covered container. Bake a batch and stash away; when you need something for that last minute cookie tray you can take a deep, cleansing breath…one less thing on your holiday to-do list.

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Yield: about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  1. 3 large eggs, separated
  2. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  4. 1 cup pine nuts
  5. 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  6. 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
  7. 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  10. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  11. Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl with remaining 3/4 cup sugar to form soft peaks.
  12. Stir in the melted butter, pine nuts, lemon extract and lemon zest.
  13. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.  Add half the flour mixture to mixing bowl and stir; add the beaten egg whites, followed by the remaining flour. Stir on low speed until the dough is firm and slightly sticky.
  14. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a log approximately 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Arrange the logs side by side on the baking sheet and bake 20 - 25 minutes or until light golden brown.
  15. Remove from the oven and cool the logs for about 10 minutes; transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices with a very sharp knife.
  16. Arrange the slices cut-side up on the baking sheet and bake 5 minutes on each side or until gently browned and crisp.
  17. Makes about 3 dozen.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl with remaining 3/4 cup sugar to form soft peaks.
  3. Stir in the melted butter, pine nuts, lemon extract and lemon zest.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.  Add half the flour mixture to mixing bowl and stir; add the beaten egg whites, followed by the remaining flour. Stir on low speed until the dough is firm and slightly sticky.
  5. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a log approximately 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Arrange the logs side by side on the baking sheet and bake 20 - 25 minutes or until light golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool the logs for about 10 minutes; transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices with a very sharp knife.
  7. Arrange the slices cut-side up on the baking sheet and bake 5 minutes on each side or until gently browned and crisp.
http://familystylefood.com/2009/12/lemon-pine-nut-biscotti/