This week we are suggesting good reads that pay tribute to the Victorian bridal tradition of something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue (or, in our case, something true).
Our wine and food pairings undertake the same theme, looking at old-stand-by’s, new cuisine, foreign dishes, simple no-fuss finger-foods, and a tasty and afforable wine.
Each of this week’s dishes can be served individually, or if you’re feeling really ambitious, make all four.
The M E N U
Teiglach: Grandma’s Honey-Nut Cookies
Black Soybean and Veggie “Sushi”
Tea Sandwiches with Lemon, Honey and Ginger
Mediterranean Red Lentil Pate
The W I N E
California’s Montevina Pinot Grigio 2007
I love the description, “Sunshine in a glass.” It is indeed a very bright, light, fall/summery wine that can be paired with all of the dishes. A perfect wine for our theme, Montevina is both a new and old wine. Pinot Grigio is the Italian term for Pinot Gris, the gray grape of France. A mutation of Pinot Noir, for generations it grew in the vineyards of Burgundy among its red relation and field blended to add softness and acidity to red wines. Today, Pinot Gris (Grigio) is considered one of the five noble varieties in the Alsace region of France.
The R E C I P E S
S O M E T H I N G Old
This is a treat that requires a lot of time in advance, so keep that in mind when planning to make these delicious cookies. You can complete step 1 a day before and step 2 the day of your event.
Most women’s teiglach recipes were kept secret and shared only with daughters and grand-daughters. They were the jewel in her culinary crown, and made her shine at occasions like baby showers and receptions. This version comes from a long line of such grandmothers and grand-daughters.
Makes 20-25 pieces.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 lb honey
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Powdered ginger
Step 1 Directions
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
- Make a well in the center and break the eggs in it. Scramble the eggs lightly with a fork.
- Add oil. Gradually pull flour into the center, mixing until dough is formed.
- Add a few drops of water if dry flour is left in the bowl.
- Knead the dough until it is smooth, then lightly oil the surface.
- Allow dough to rest for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Divide the dough into five equal pieces.
- Use your hands to roll each piece into a long “snake”, about ½ inch to ¾ inch in diameter.
- Sprinkle flour on a cutting board, dip the knife into the flour, and cut the rolls of dough into small nuggets, about ½ inch wide.
- Bake the nuggets on an ungreased cookie sheet for 20 min or until they are light gold in color.
Step 2 Directions
- Using a heavy pot, bring the honey to a boil over medium heat.
- Lower the heat and add the baked nuggets. Stir often with a wooden spoon to keep the bottom and sides of the pot from burning. Make sure the honey doesn’t boil over.
- After 30-50 min, the honey will begin to coat the nuggets. Continue cooking and stirring until all the liquid is gone and the honey hangs in strings from the sides of the pot.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in nuts. The honey will be quite thick; it will cling to the nuggets and harden as it cools.
- Turn the mixture out onto a wet wooden cutting board and use a wet wooden spoon to pat out a 15-inch square, approximately 1 inch thick.
- Cover the top with generous amounts of sugar and ginger.
- When the tieglach has cooled, cut it into 2-inch squares using a heavy knife (tap the knife gently with a hammer or wooden mallet) or break the teiglach into pieces with your hands. It will be crunchy, sticky and somewhat dry, like brittle.
S O M E T H I N G New
This fresh and delectable recipe comes from The New Vegan Cookbook by Lorna Sass. Not only are these “sushi” easy to make and high in protein, but they are vegan as well. Plus, the spread can be made a few days in advance to save time. Perfect meat-free finger food!
Ingredients ( Black Soybean)
- One 15-ounce can organic black soybeans (reserve liquid)
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon Japanese soy sauce (shoyu or tamari)
- 2 Tablespoons pickled ginger
- Chili oil to taste (optional)
- 4 sheets nori
- 4 tortillas, 8 to 9 inches in diameter (whole wheat are nice)
- 1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
- 8 strips red bell pepper, about ¼ inch wide
- 8 carrot sticks, about 1/8 inch in diameter and 5 inches long
- 1 cucumber (pickling Kirby recommended) halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 8 sticks
- To make the Black Soybean Spread: In a food processor, combine the ingredients for the spread. Blend in enough of the reserved bean liquid (usually 1-2 tbsp) to create a thick but spreadable paste. Add more soy sauce and/or pickled ginger if needed, to give the spread an assertive taste. Season with chili oil if desired.
- To assemble the “sushi”: Stack the nori and use kitchen scissors to trim the sheets into circles about ½ inch smaller than the tortillas.
- Spread 2 tbsp of the soybean mixture onto one of the tortillas, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Distribute ¼ cup of the cabbage over the spread. Gently press a piece of nori on top. Spread another 2 tbsp of the soybean spread on the nori. Set 2 red pepper strips horizontally about 1 inch from the bottom of the tortilla. Arrange 2 carrot and 2 cucumber sticks in a cluster in top.
- Wrap the bottom edge of the tortilla over the vegetables and roll tightly. If necessary, moisten the top edge of the tortilla lightly with soybean spread or water to seal.
- Gently press roll to shape it into an even log. Repeat steps to fill and roll remaining tortillas.
- Set each roll on a cutting board, seam side down, and use a very sharp knife to trim off edges. Holding the roll firmly with one hand, use a gentle sawing motion of the knife to cut the roll into 5 or 6 pieces, making every cut on the diagonal. Arrange the pieces flat side down on a platter and serve.
S O M E T H I N G Borrowed
LEMON, HONEY & GINGER
Not only are tea sandwiches a treat for the eyes, they are a luscious way to pack flavor into a small bite. This version is borrowed from Top Chefhost and cookbook author Padma Lakshmi. She recommends serving them with tea or sherry.
- 10 slices of good white brad, toasted on both sides
- 2 preserved lemon halves (sold in specialty food stores)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 Tablespoon freshly minced ginger
- 10 thin slices Italian cheese like pecorino or caciotta
- Arrange the toast on a platter.
- Chop the preserved lemons, being sure to remove any seeds first. Place them in a food processor or blender with the honey, red pepper, and ginger and make a smooth paste.
- Spread the paste on the toast and top with a slice of cheese.
- Diagonally cut each slice to make equal triangles from each toast.
- You can serve as is or heat them in an oven to 350 F for a few minutes, until cheese is melted and barely toasted.
S O M E T H I N G True
After reading Michael Pollan’s book, ‘In Defense of Food’, it became clear that true foods are whole foods. His manifesto of “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” is echoed in this savory appetizer, which happens to be vegan. Not to worry, with flavorful ingredients like fennel and garlic, you won’t be sacrificing a thing – and, you’ll be true to your body’s needs. One note: this will take about 2 ½ – 3 hours to make, so begin the night before or very early in your day for your evening book club.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling ramekins or loaf pans
- 3 Tablespoons toasted sunflowers seeds or chopped pistachios
- 1 ½ cups finely diced onions
- 1 cup finely diced shallots
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, gently crushed in a mortar or under a chef’s knife
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup dry white wine or vermouth
- 3 cups water
- 1 ½ cups red lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Accompaniments for serving: olives, slow roasted tomatoes, pickled onions, cornichons, marinated mushrooms or artichokes
- Brush oil on the bottom and sides of the loaf pans or ramekins. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on the bottom. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy, nonreactive pot, heat the oil.
- Cook the onions and shallots over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown which should be about 6 minutes.
- Stir in the fennel, thyme, garlic, and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds.
- Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook until most of the wine evaporates, about 30 seconds.
- Add the water, lentils, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
- Add the salt and pepper and continue cooking longer until lentils have melted into a coarse puree, 10 – 20 minutes longer.
- Remove the bay leaf and adjust the seasonings to your liking (check for salt).
- Stir well, smashing any whole lentils onto the sides of the pot to create a fairly smooth, thick mixture, with a texture similar to oatmeal. If the puree is loose and soupy, boil it uncovered, stirring frequently, until it thickens.
- Ladle the puree immediately into the oiled loaf pans or ramekins. Smooth the top with a spatula. Cool to room temp.
- Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
- If you want to unmold the pate, first run a knife along the edges. The set a plate on top, turn both loaf pan and plate over. This step is not necessary.
- Bring pate to room temp and arrange on a platter or individual plates with accompaniments.