Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Wine and Spice Route | Lamb & Beetroot Curry



One of the more challenging; but rewarding wine and food pairings is that of Asian cuisine, a broad palate, covering the cuisines of China, the South seas, and the Indian sub continent. I recently prepared this fantastic lamb and beetroot curry from the Westminster Cinnamon Club in London and found its best wine match.
Spice whether sweetly aromatic like cinnamon, ginger, or garam marsala or herbal like fennel, cumin, or coriander reacts differently to wine. An all rounder, that not only bridges the two styles of spice, as well as the texture, heat, and flavour of curry may be surprising to many; but Shiraz – particularly chilled sparkling Australian Shiraz is one of the best matches.  The curry had some great flavour enhancers and elements that paired extremely well with the wine. The key spice elements of garam marsala, clove, and chilli along with the unusual herbal notes of the camporus and smokey black cardamom pods in the background as well as beetroot with its earthy aromas and cooked sweetness added additional texture and complexity.

Aromatic & Herbal Spices

Black Cardamon 
Aromatic & wet spices
Cinnamon Club Lamb and Beet Root Curry

Ingredients (serves 4): 
750g leg of lamb, deboned and cut into 1½ inch cubes 
400g beetroot, boiled whole and cut into 1½ inch cubes 
500ml water 
4 tablespoons oil 
1 teaspoon cloves 
4 pods black cardamom 
3 medium size onions, thinly sliced 
150g yoghurt 
3 teaspoons salt 
1½ tablespoons red chilli powder 
1 tablespoon coriander powder 
2 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste 
2 teaspoon coarse red chilli flakes 
1 teaspoon garam masala powder 
4 sprigs of fresh coriander 
Juice of half a lemon 

For pickled vegetables 

500ml distilled white vinegar 
500ml water 
70g sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon fennel seeds 
1 teaspoon black onion seeds 
8 baby carrots, cleaned 
8 baby turnips, cleaned 
8 baby radish, cleaned 
8 baby parsnips, cleaned

Method: 

Marinate the meat with yoghurt, salt, red chilli powder, ground coriander and ginger-garlic paste and keep aside for 20 minutes. 

To prepare the pickled vegetables, combine the water and vinegar with sugar, salt and spices and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables and simmer until they are cooked, but still a bit crunchy. Remove from heat and strain. Retain the liquid for future use. 

Heat oil in a thick bottom pan, add the whole spices and stir for 30 seconds. Add sliced onions and fry until golden brown. Into the same oil, add the marinated meat and cook over a high heat for 10 minutes with constant stirring. Add the chilli flakes and cook for another 2 minutes. Now add the water, reduce the heat and cook for another 20-25 minutes. 

When the meat is nearly cooked and a little water remains, add diced beetroot and garam masala and cook for 5-6 minutes or until meat is tender. 

Remove from the fire and serve hot garnished with coriander sprigs and finished with a squeeze of lemon. 

Serve the lamb curry with rice or bread, topped with the pickled baby vegetables.
My home version 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Nest Protect Smoke Detector

Minimal Packaging
        It was only a matter of time before the much-reviled smoke detector became an object of desire
       that may actually save your life. Nest Labs of Palo Alto released in November their wifi enabled
    “ Nest Protect” a smoke and CO detector that breaks the mold on design and functionality of 
      necessary home appliance. Designed by Tony Fadel, design head of Apple’s first eighteen 
      generations of the Ipad and three versions of the Iphone, the Protect exudes well thought out 
      design aesthetics and user friendliness.

 Fresh out of the box, the detector strikes a cord with its square    shape  resembling a 
      ceiling mounted speaker, than life saving device. Installation is straightforward and  easy 
    to understand with detailed and easy to read instructions.  Downloading of the Nest app
    and a few minutes of configuring and the detector is ready to go. Using the app you can 
    program the detector to function differently depending on the room you choose. 
 Our installation was in our kitchen so I programmed the unit to allow for hand wave silencing using gestures and for the automatic night light when motion is detected at night.

The unit itself contains a photoelectric smoke sensor, along with sensors for carbon monoxide, heat, humidity, ambient light, and ultrasound motion detectors. Voice commands and prompts are US accented female “Siri” which according to the Nest website gets the attention of sleeping children more than a piercing alarm. The voice can be programmed to speak in English, French, and Spanish. Along with voice prompts of early warnings of smoke or CO and loud alarms in the event of fire or warning ignores, the unit also displays its status with coloured LED rings. Blue=set-up and testing, green=safe, yellow=early warning and heads up of smoke/CO levels increasing, red=emergency and white=night path light.

Iphone App and
Notifications

With the Protect wifi enabled any change of status causes a push to your smartphone for a heads up along with interconnectivity between units. Smoke in the kitchen informs the detector in your bedroom or living room as to where the fire is located. In the event that you burn some toast or leave a candle smoldering a voice prompt will inform you and can be silenced just by waving at the unit using the built in NestWave sensor.

The Nest Protect is available in both black (on-line only) and white. In Canada retail pricing is $129 for either the wired or battery version. Debating the merits of photoelectric over ionisation units – the Nest works extremely well for us especially in close proximately to our gas range. A bit dear but considering the cost a  decent smoke and CO detector and the possible life saving benefits I'd highly recommend the upgrade. Looking at the on-line reviews it appears that Nest Labs may have other future plans for this and their thermostat with its array of built-in sensors. Home automation looks exciting. 


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mince Pies and Wine

A carrot for the reindeer and a mince pie for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve was one of my early memories of these sweet and savoury treats. The noble  minced pie may have its roots  and connections with the crusaders of the 13th century, the Romans, or the Tudors; but it endures like Christmas cake sans the jokes. If lore is correct, the first pies were made from shredded meats, suet, and dried fruits, and as time and commerce progressed the addition of exotic spices from the Near East.

Today's typical mincemeat recipe consists of apples, raisins, currants, candied citrus peel, suet, butter, sugar, and sweet spices. These key elements make wine pairing straightforward. Seek out wines that are comparable or sweeter than the dessert and complement the flavour profile of the pies (orange and raisin). 


Top choices from lightest to fullest.
 
Muscat (California)
Muscat de Baumes-de-Venise (France)
Passito di Pantelleria (Italy)
Tokaji 5 Puttonyos or sweeter (Hungary)
Tokay Muscat (Australia)
Malmsey Madeira (Portugal)
Tawny Port (Portugal)
East India Sherry or PX (Spain)

If you are in the UK or have family there consider bidding on some extraordinary mince pies for child charity.  One hundred British chefs are creating pies pushing the limits of creativity. Some of these recipes would make amazing wine pairing possibilities. Here's a few intriguing mince pie variations.

Nobu Mince Pie 2012 | Black coconut ashes
 and black sesame
Gymkhana Mince Pie Naan: raisins, orange zest, pistachio, coconut, cardamon and Brandy Rabri

Duck & Waffle: Lemon meringue mince pie, roasted marshmallow, vanilla lemon curd

Nobu: Maguma mince pie: Kuro-Goma dough with a spicy core

SmokeHouse: Swirls of cinnamon and bacon sugar puff pastry, bacon and bourbon mincemeat all dipped in bourbon butterscotch

Happy Christmas!