Orange Peel Wine

With the exception of the occasional mulled wine, I have not been a fan of altering wine in any way to make some sort of wine cocktail.  I'm not even a huge fan of Kir Royale - Champagne (or Prosecco) is so lovely on its own and why mess with a good thing?

But lately...well...I've been altering wine like crazy.  I have several cookbooks that have recipes for wine-based drinks, and I've been finding myself intrigued.  For instance, one recipe was for a winter-inspired rosé recipe - you add lemon and sage to it (spoiler alert: it did not taste great).  Likewise, I have several different mulled wine recipes.

There is one recipe that stood out, though: Orange Peel Wine.  Which, not surprisingly, is from one of my favorite cookbooks, French Food at Home by Laura Calder.  The coriander gives the wine a bit of bite and the sugar gives it a roundness that you really want out of a white wine in winter.  Calder recommends a Muscadet, and I concur - I use a rather inexpensive bottle that I get from Fresh Direct.  The major thing to remember is that you need to make sure there is no white on the orange peel; believe me, it'll make the wine super bitter and yucky.  Other than that, this is a cinch to make.  Drink it as an apéritif or digestif.

from French Food at Home by Laura Calder

One 750-ml bottle dry white wine
1 medium orange
1/3 cup/65g sugar
8 coriander seeds

Open the wine.  Pour out about half a cup so that the bottle doesn't overflow when you add the other ingredients; of course, enjoy the wine while you finish the recipe.

Shave the zest from the orange with a vegetable peeler.  Remove every trace of the bitter white pith from the back with a sharp knife.  Poke the orange zest into the bottle of wine (if you have any trouble, I found that using the handle of a wooden spoon will get the zest into the bottle).  Funnel in the sugar.  Drop in the coriander seeds.  Recork the bottle Turn it upside down and right side up a few times until the sugar has dissolved.  Refrigerate 1 week, giving the wine a shake once a day.

Strain into a carafe and serve well chilled.

I have three bottles marinating in my fridge right now.  What will I do with all that wine?  Well, I bought carafe type bottles at Fishs Eddy the other day, and I plan on giving out small carafes of this to some friends this holiday season.  More on that soon!

This was a good lesson for me.  Rather than sniffing my nose haughtily about how I don't drink "wine cocktails," I needed to expand my mind a bit and embrace the possibility that wine and coriander, together, might just be delicious.

Eat, drink, and stay open-minded.

Other recipes I've posted from Laura Calder's French Food at Home:
Pear Pork
Bacon and Hazelnut Leeks


New Toy(s)

I'm having way too much fun with this.  Thanks to Garance Doré, I've now discovered the wonderful world of my iPad, a stylus, and the Noteshelf app.  More fun to come (and bear with me as I experiment)...

Thanks to Fishs Eddy for the awesome picture and the endless delights in their shop!


Where Am I?

So where am I when I'm not here?  Well, obviously, I'm in the kitchen...reading...working...etc.  I meant, where am I online when I'm not here?  I wanted to remind you all that I'm elsewhere on the interwebs and I'd love to see you there!

Twitter: @foodandbooks (I just surpassed 1,000 followers!)

Pinterest (a.k.a. one of my biggest time-sucks)

Instagram (Username: lauralutz.  By the way, did you hear that Instagram has now surpassed Twitter in number of daily mobile users?)

And see that box at the top of the right-hand column?  You can subscribe to Pinot and Prose!

Eat, drink, and connect!

Recipe: Farmhouse Cheese Spread

We love football in our house.  American football, that is.  Every year we plan activities around it: Opening Day, Draft Night (we're fantasy football fiends), and then every Sunday thereafter.  Adam loves the Pittsburgh Steelers but, generally, we just watch any match that we think will be entertaining.

One of the best parts about football is the food.  Of course.  I've documented football food extensively here in the past (hereherehere...and here too!).  I love that it's almost always a snack-type food and something you can eat with your fingers; likewise, I love that it's always something crunchy and salty.  I do try to keep it a little light so we can snack all day without feeling full or bloated.  And it needs to be easy - you don't want to spend all your time in the kitchen and away from the action on TV.

This year, I made my annual Roasted Red Pepper and Cannellini Bean Dip; it's become a tradition (see the links above for proof!).  It's so light - for the most part, it's just roasted peppers food-processed with cannellini beans.  Accompanied by pita chips and veggies, it's the perfect Game Day snack.  This year, I was still in a hazy lovefest with my cookbook du jourFarmhouse Kitchen Favorites by Paula S. Croteau (I posted the recipe for Stuffed Croissant French Toast) so I made the Farmhouse Cheese Spread.  I mean, football snacks can't all be healthy, right???

This spread packs some serious punch, flavor-wise.  The cheese is rich and creamy, the tomatoes are sweet, the pine nuts are crunchy - this dish really does have it all.  Paired with baguette slices, it was a welcome addition to my Game Day repertoire.

Inspired by Farmhouse Kitchen Favorites by Paula S. Croteau
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 - 8 oz. container cream cheese
1/4 c. Roquefort or blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 c. red onion or scallion, finely chopped
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 c. pine nuts, toasted
sprig of rosemary, to garnish

1. In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients, except nuts, until combined.
2. Transfer into a ramekin or form a ball with dampened hands.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until solid.
4. Top ramekin or roll cheese ball in pine nuts until ready to serve.
5. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
6. Bring to room temperature, serve with a baguette.

NOTE: Croteau added 1 tablespoon of capers to the spread, but capers are one of the few foods I just can't stand so I omitted them. You can feel free to add them back in, of course.

Sports are great, right?  I can't speak for other countries, but don't you love how American sports and specific foods go hand-in-hand?  Hot dogs, Cracker Jacks, nachos, beer...it's all part of the glorious tradition.  And while I didn't serve any of those this year (well, except for the beer), the idea is still the same: I look forward to football every year not because I love the sport so much but because I love the food.

Eat, drink, and cheer on your favorite team.

NOTE: As I've mentioned before, my fantasy football team names often have to do with something food- and wine-related.  Two years ago, it was "Vino Vixens"...last year, it was "Pinot She Daaan't" (some people in my league didn't quite get that one - do you guys?)...and this year, it's "ChamPAIN on You!"  I know, I'm a dork.



Smorgasburg in DUMBO is my new favorite NYC experience.

I knew of its existence but it never rose to the top of my consciousness until this last Saturday when Cup of Jo reminded me of it.

Smorgasburg takes place in the old roof-less tobacco factory along the East River in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), which boasts one of the coolest views of any market, to my mind:

Brooklyn Bridge seen through the factory

Manhattan Bridge in the distance

So our Sunday was spent in the best way possible: eating and drinking.  It started with grilled cheese sandwiches from Milk Truck, a lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound (which pairs insanely well with Maine Root Soda), and an arepa con queso:

Then we moved on to Smoked Brisket sandwiches (I can't find the vendor name...crap):

Then it was mini homemade Pop Tarts (with plum jam in the middle!) from Anarchy in a Jar and gourmet S'mores from S'More Bakery:

We refreshed ourselves with Grady's Cold Brew coffee (I bought this bottle so I could continue to enjoy it all week) and cherry shaved ice from People's Pops:

Stuffed and drowsy - because, yes, we did eat all this between just the three of us - we went home to Manhattan via one of NYC's transportation gems - the East River Ferry:

An outstanding day: one of our best in the seven years we've lived in New York.

Eat, drink, and wear loose pants.


Recipe: Stuffed Croissant French Toast

Our friends Tina and Vic recently moved to Long Island City (Queens)...which we're thrilled about on multiple levels, not the least of which is that our travel time to visit them has been cut by half!  They invited us over to check out the new place, and we had a phenomenal time that included a spirited bocce tournament and outstanding street-style tacos:

And check out the view from their place:

Long Island City is looking tempting!

And because I can be a nosy person, I always check out the cookbooks my friends have on their shelves.  Before I could comment, though, Tina took FARMHOUSE KITCHEN FAVORITES* by Paula S. Croteau off the shelves and told me I had to borrow it from them.  I happily agreed.

Tina and Vic actually discovered the cookbook through Croteaux Vineyards, which is a Long Island winery that is a particular favorite of theirs.  Paula S. Croteau, of Croteaux Vineyards, also has her own school, Farmhouse Kitchen Cooking School; though, according to the website, classes are on hold for 2012.  As you can imagine, I am keen to get out to Long Island to visit the winery - it looks like it's a beautiful, welcoming space for tasting!

I've tried four recipes from the cookbook so far, and they have each been outstanding.  "Keepers," as Adam and I call recipes that have wowed us.  The first I want to share with you is Stuffed Croissant French Toast with Maple Blueberry Compote.  If you read the recipe and think it sounds too rich...well...you're probably right...

Adapted from Paula S. Croteau's Farmhouse Kitchen Favorites
Makes 6 croissants

1 cup half & half
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 8-oz package mascarpone, softened (okay to substitute cream cheese)
6 croissants
1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon canola oil, melted to coat griddle (I substituted olive oil, which was fine)

1. In a shallow dish or bowl, whisk the eggs, half & half, sugar, vanilla, and salt together.
2. Cut croissants almost completely in half.
3. Spread each croissant with 1 tablespoon of mascarpone cheese.
4. Gently soak and turn croissants in egg mixture until saturated.
5. Heat griddle or nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
6. Place the croissants on the griddle and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
7. Gently flip and cook the second side until golden.
8. Serve immediately or cover with foil and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.
9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with maple blueberry compote (actually...I did both).


1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1. Place the berries, syrup, cinnamon, and pecans into a small metal skillet.
2. Simmer the mixture on medium-high heat until the berries soften, about 4-5 minutes.
3. Serve with French toast or pancakes.

NOTE ON KID-FRIENDLINESS: Croteau recommends mixing fruit jam in with the cheese stuffing.  But Bug doesn't like jam, and I decided I could do without it.  And I think it worked - jam would have just been that much richer and - believe me - this thing is rich enough on its own.  Also, Bug didn't want the compote - so she just went with powdered sugar.

The result?  Awesomeness.

Eat, drink, and add richness to your life.

* Buy FARMHOUSE KITCHEN FAVORITES at Croteaux Vineyards online store.



This news has made me very happy: Lucy Knisley's RELISH: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN has a release date of April 2, 2013 (pre-order it at Powell's)!

If you'll remember, I adored her book FRENCH MILK.  I can't wait to check this one out!

Macmillan has a deliciously tantalizing preview - check it out.


Photo experimentation: Panzanella

As you regular readers know (especially those on Instagram - follow me - "lauralutz"), I recently returned from a trip to Europe (Dublin, Zurich, and Hamburg).  We had some jetlag to deal with when we returned, of course, so I've been keeping my meals relatively simple.  One of those meals was Panzanella.  There are lots of recipes for Panzanella (here and here, for example), but I just did my own thing: bread, mozzarella, and tomatoes.  For the bread, I tossed the cubes in olive oil, salt, and pepper; I tossed the oil-saturated bread cubes in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat until they were toasted: croutons!  (Note: croutons are not necessary for this recipe; in fact, this is the first time I've ever toasted the bread.  Usually, I just tear up old bread and that's it)  For the tomatoes, I tossed those in olive oil, salt, and pepper as well.  At which point, I plated the dish.

So here's the thing: I'm not a trained photographer (obviously), and I've never taken a single class.  I have recently acquired a bunch of lenses, plus a fancy flash, and I'm in full experimentation mode.  Add a huge chunk of non-blogging, non-photo-taking time...and I'm such a newbie with all this.

So for fun, here's a sample of my photos for this dish:

I didn't use a flash here.

No flash here either.

No flash.  Just kept changing the angle and F-stop.

I got my Greenmarket flowers into the action...

My particular favorite, of course...lordy...  Obviously, I introduced the flash here.

Less flash...

Even less flash...

I started playing with the flash angle.

I tried using less flash.

Still. Not. Right.

I'm unhappy with all of them, of course, but I kept the whole series as a learning experience. And it adds to the whole experience when Adam says over my shoulder, "Why are all your shots centered?  Try something off-centered!" and Bug says, "Mom!  Mom!  I can get the white board to bounce the light!  Can I be in the picture?  Can we just eat now?"  Lordy.

As for the Panzanella, it's such a lovely end-of-summer dish: simple, light, flavorful.  Normally, I dump all these ingredients into bowls, toss it around, and serve it as a bit of a mess.  This is the first time I've plated it this way and I thought it was pretty classy.

Between teaching at Pratt and our European vacation, this summer has gone by so much faster than I expected.  This was the perfect way to celebrate our return home (and our break from restaurant eating!) and the end of an incredible season.

Eat, drink, and enjoy your Labor Day weekend!


Dublin, Day 1

I'd say that dinner in Dublin at Dunne and Creszenci agrees with me:

Day One of my European vacation has been a smashing success.

Eat, drink, and fall in love with Ireland.



You didn't think I forgot, did you?

I won't bore you with details or any "I've been so busy!" type talk...that sort of thing is so boring.  In fact, I recently read "The Busy Trap" by Tim Kreider (New York Times), and it completely spoke to me; I vow to resist blabbing anymore about how oh-so-busy I am, particularly when most of it is indeed self-created (or self-inflicted?).

Besides, nothing like that happened anyway.  I haven't blogged for two simple reasons: 1) I've been feeling uninspired, and 2) I feel like I've lost my center a bit.  So I've just been focusing on really getting my house, my life, myself back in order again.  Which, believe me, is nowhere near as dramatic as I just made it sound.  All is well, actually.

So I don't have a recipe to share with you today but, given that I do share so much of my life here with you, I thought I'd show you what I've been up to.  It's been a lovely summer so far.   We've actually been without Bug for a solid month (a month!); she's coming home tomorrow and I'm beside myself with excitement.  And that's why I can't share any recipes with you, actually: Adam and I have been going out nearly every damn night!  I have done a shockingly tiny amount of cooking in the last couple months.  Which is okay and fine.  Sure, I miss cooking...but you do what you gotta do sometimes, right?

 My late spring started with a riverside NYC picnic to celebrate Adam's birthday:

I've eaten lots of ice cream in the past couple months, including Shake Shack's incredibly smooth and rich olive oil ice cream:

This was a highlight: another riverside picnic, this time to watch E.T. in Brooklyn Bridge Park with Adam and the Soul Twin.  Naturally, I ugly-cried...E.T. is just as lovely and heartbreaking to me now as it was to my 7-year-old self.  Luckily, the downtown NYC view I enjoyed this time was much better than my young heart could have imagined:

Bug graduated from elementary school.  Yowza.  Middle school, here we come (seriously, is that the face of a kid old enough for middle school?!):

Adam and I enjoyed a much-needed day at the beach:

We had our annual Ginger Man summer celebration (this was our 4th year), which wouldn't be complete without pretzels and beer (along with lots of laughter and our urban adopted family and friends):

Adam and I just returned from a four-day, Bug-free vacation to Tucson, which including many, many margaritas pool-side...

...and blue skies and sunshine...

Our next stop?  As if our summer hasn't been full enough, we leave this Sunday for a 3-week trip to Europe: Dublin, Zurich, and Hamburg.  I had grand visions of learning elementary German before leaving...but that didn't quite go as I planned.  So I'll just have to get by being able to count to ten to any German or Swiss citizen who asks. 

Thanks, everyone, for sticking with me - I do hope as the fall arrives, Bug starts school, and I'm in more of a routine, that I'll be here much more.  I've missed it very much.

Eat, drink, and stay centered.


NYC weather...

Good lord, guys.  I'll be back as soon as my Seasonal Affective Disorder has been addressed.

Eat, drink, and consider moving back to Arizona...