Frenching. 

Frenching, such a wonderful techinque!  It certainly is a talent we all should learn if we want to impress the ones we love. It takes finesse, patience, a bit of natural talent, but definitely a great deal of skill. It also requires a very sharp knife. 

I am speaking about frenching bones, of course. Removing the meat from the tips of its bones adds a great deal of elegance and looks absolutely beautiful. Think of it as the bowtie of your meat! It adds flair, and is oh, so sexy! 

After a few tips, this daunting task will seem simple. You can apply it to just about any meat; lamb, pork, poultry, beef, even venison if you’re so inclined. The important things to remember are to buy what you can afford, (because meats are expensive), and to be careful when using a very sharp knife. 

The first cut will always be the easiest. Follow the natural slant of the meat, and use smooth strokes rather than sawing the meat. Cut down and out at an angle, but remember to keep your knife steady and straight. Cutting through the membrane and scraping the bones of your meat is the most tedious and requires patience. Using the blunt side of your knife, or your fingers can be helpful, but the sharp blade of a knife will save time! 


                                                                      #athomesoigné 

Holiday Soirée ideas to entice fellowship! 

December is a busy month for the at home hostess! With so many friends and acquaintances from different pockets of life, it is easy to include every one who has made your year special. Hosting a holiday Soirée may seem more daunting than festive, however. Will your Michelin starred Chef friend get along with your Yoga buddy? Will your Yoga buddy have anything to talk about with your Flute instructor? 

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to collaborate with Nicole Osibodu, the clever genius of Pink Pineapple Event Designs.

 For Affinité magazine, Nicole and I came up with ice breaker Soirée ideas to make any party merrier and bright, while bringing all your friends together. 

Enjoy! 

French Style Pavóchon!

Holiday Traditions are such a joyful pleasure. For those lucky to have traditions centered around a dinner table; eat, drink and be merry becomes an annual lifestyle!

Yesterday, Thanksgiving, was the busiest day of the year in the gastronomic world. It also traditionally signifies the beginning of the Christmas season.  Ding, Dong Merrily on High!

My brother Jason is quite the at home Chef. With my sister in law Beth at his side to deck their dinner table – (not to mention their home), the duo has certainly Mastered the Art of Living. The Crye family Black Friday Pavóchon is a tradition worth noting. My brother has  adepted his Pavóchon based off a Stephane Reynard recipe: Dinde Farcie de Bonnes Choses.

11 pound, deboned Turkey

3.5 ounces of bacon

3.5 ounces of pork belly

14 ounces pork loin

5 ounces chestnuts

6 cloves of garlic

3 shallots

1 cup heavy cream

half cup pistachios

2.5 Tablespoons Armagnac

half cup of white port

Olive Oil for sautéing, salt and pepper to taste

Peel, dice  the shallots and garlic, and sauté in olive oil.

Chop all the meat. Crush the nuts. Combine with cream, Armagnac, Port, garlic and shallots.

Spoon the stuffing into the Turkey cavity. Close it up with string. Oil the turkey and season.

Roast in a 235 degree oven for 3-4 hours, basting regularly.

#athomesoigné

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Virginia is for wine lovers

Just before Christmas in 1784, Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend and wine contact John Bonfield, The American Council in Bordeaux. He expressed a fear. He wrote to his friend, “I have written a letter to Monsieur d’Yquem for 250 bottles of his newest vintage, but I am afraid he will not know who I am.” Mr. Bonfield in favor wrote to Monsieur d’Yquem introducing Thomas Jefferson, Minister of The United States of America. By February of 1785, Jefferson had received his 250 bottles which were described as “bottled with greatest care” in a letter signed by Count Louis-Amédée Lur Saluce, the newest proprietor of what Jefferson referred to as “House of Yquem.”

Thomas Jefferson’s introduction into the circles of French society was welcomed. They viewed him as “warming to intelligent conversation” and found his colonist lifestyle intriguing. His greatest friends included French liberals such as the Duke of Rochefoucauld, the Marquis de Chastellux, and General Lafayette. Through these influences and eventual life long friends, Jefferson discovered that fine wine and fine food is a great way to meet informally with political friends and foes. He approached gastronomy as a gentile art, and encouraged the newly American citizens to embrace it as a refined accompaniment for everyday life. During his time as president, Jefferson frequently used dinner parties as a form of legislative lobbying.

The success of Virginia viticulture was one of Jefferson’s greatest ambitions. He saw a vision in a state of breathtaking views, majestic mountain ranges, favorable climate, and diverse soils. “The best Virginia soil from an agricultural point of view is clay soil.” Exclaims Gabriele Rausse, the dubbed Godfather of Virginia wine and Director of Gardens and Grounds at Jefferson’s beloved home of Monticello. “As the Virginia wine industry started to take off people started to experiment with areas which were not clay.” Says Rausse. “Virginia also has a lot of loamy soil.”

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Virginia has a topography which compares very much to the Friuli region in Italy, and now produces quality wine as well. Though Jefferson’s predictions of Virginia wine were seen as over enthusiastic, now 200 years later Gabriele Rausse along with other Virginia winemakers have turned Jefferson’s vision a reality!

Autuman in Alsace

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West of the Vosges mountain range and bordering east of the Rhine river is Alsace. A true gourmand delight. Its rich soils and long warm summers are ideal for slowly, ripening grapes that produce delicious cool climate wines; arguably some of the best in France.

(Yes, I said it).

Though one of the smallest wine growing regions in France, Alsace is most known for Vendange Tardive, or late harvest. Lucky for us, we get to enjoy these luscious liquids just in time for our favorite Autumn recipes!

Binner Negoce Pinot Noir 2012 is Natural, Biodynamic and is great evidence that natural wines can age and age well. Open your mind to blackberry and boysenberry aromatics with a smoky mesquite finish.

Reminiscent of bon fires and hay rides, it is aged for 11 months in 100 year old oak barrels and is certified organic, biodynamic with no added sulfites.

Binner has been around since 1770 and has holdings in two of the most valuable growing areas in Alsace. 40% of their vines are over 60 and many are reaching 100 years old. The grapes are hand harvested in early to mid October, and yield fully ripen fruit.

This wine is best enjoyed decanted. Decant and it will open itself up to a Burgundian style Pinot Noir. I promise you’ll like it.

 

White Truffles!

While strolling the city, I’ve noticed the colors of the leaves are changing . Autumn has arrived! One of the world’s most rare ingredients has arrived too; the white truffle. These are not the black truffles of Burgundy, France seen on menus all over the world.  The Alba white truffle is one of the most expensive foods in the world. It grows wild and it can not be cultivated. The Alba white truffle is a true piece of gastronomic luxury.

Starting in early to mid  September through December truffle hunters along with their dogs prowl the Piedmont in search for what some call the diamond of the culinary world.

Once brought to surface, the truffles are sold to purveyors around the world. These precious fungi contain an aroma that is very earthy and can compare to mildew, or sweat, but trust me, it is strangely becoming and very intoxicating. You can smell a truffle from a few feet away but once shaven, the aroma fully exposed floats in the air. The truffle purveyors save their largest truffles for the best Chefs and restaurants and they eventually end up on your plate; garnishing buttered pasta, risotto, pizza, steaks, burgers, and even eggs. img_3126

I wish you a happy truffle season. Bon appetite! 

Panzanella!

img_3439The Italians love their pasta. They also love their Panzanella. Variations of this dish are known throughout the boot of Italy, though, there is nothing quite like savoring the flavors of this dish – especially in the Summer. Tomatoes are ripe and plentiful, and gatherings with friends are many. Preparation for Panzanella is easy for the novice cook, and the freshness in flavor is bound to impress anyone. Paired with a crisp bottle of Roero Arneis, the fruit forward notes provide a subtle balance while still offering a bit of a bite. Raise a glass, send off the Summer season in style!

1 (12- to 16-ounce) loaf sourdough bread

2 to 3 large heirloom tomatoes

1/2 large cucumber

1 medium red or yellow bell pepper

1/2 medium red onion

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper, to taste

1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Instructions

Slice or tear the bread into roughly 1-inch cubes. I usually leave the crusts on, but you can remove them if you prefer. You should have about 10 overflowing cups of bread. Tear your bread for a more rustic presentation.

Spread the bread cubes over a baking sheet. Bake in a 300°F oven until hardened on the outside but still slightly soft in the middle, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once or twice during baking.

Chop the tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper into bite-sized pieces. Peel, and deseed the cucumber.  Slice the onion into thin slices and soak in a bowl of cold water for 10 to 15 minutes while assembling the rest of the salad.

Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper in a small bowl and whisk together.

Combine the bread and chopped vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over top and thoroughly combine.

Let the salad sit for 1/2 hour to 4 hours: Let the salad sit at least half an hour before serving, or up to 4 hours. Stir occasionally so the juices and vinaigrette are evenly distributed.

Add fresh basil just before serving. This salad is best eaten the day it’s made.

Mangia!