Looking for a special Valentine bottle? Show your love some love with one of these great options that won’t break the bank. I’ve got three pretties to share: a white, a red and a sparkler. Just because its good doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Cheers!
The white is Hugel Gentil, 2014 is an Edelzwicker (blend) from Alsace, France. It’s heavy on the Gewurztraminer with smaller amounts of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Muscat. A full-bodied and refreshing wine with a beautiful perfumey nose. In the glass are crisp fruit flavors with a lean, lemony finish. A great choice with fish and shellfish alike. This wine is an old favorite of mine that is consistent from year to year. Dry and $15.
2015 Charles Smith Wines “Velvet Devil” Merlot, $14, is from Washington. A dense red wine that begs for beef dishes or dark chocolate dessert. Expect a mouthful of dark cherries and blackberries, big cedar and sweet tobacco. Velvet Devil offers big flavor in a luxurious, velvety smooth finish. This one goes down fast and easy.
This unique sparkler is bone dry and dark red with pretty pink foam. Midici Ermete I Quercioli “Secco” is a Lambrusco from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and will set you back about $15. This works beautifully with cheesy pasta dishes like Ravioli and is also a successful choice with clams, mussels & oysters.
@Hugel @CharlesSmithWines @MidiciErmeteIQuercioli #ValentineWine #WinesUnder$20
I’m a member of the @HCMGA Hamilton County Master Gardeners Association. Tomorrow is the day if you want to score some awesome heirloom seeds and a wealth of knowledge. Check out this free event and the tantalizing line-up of guest speakers. @seedsavers #saveseeds #HCMGA
Growing up, Sunday meant carry-out from Hollyhock Hill, a popular family-style restaurant on the North side of Indianapolis. Fried chicken with all the fixin’s and a late afternoon meal with family. I’m not sure when we stopped doing that with regularity, but I imagine it had something to do with everyone’s schedules taking them in different directions. About a year ago, my family decided to resurrect Sunday dinners and it has been a wonderful thing. I thought I’d share this sort of intimate gathering with you, because I can’t think of entertaining that I enjoy more.
Sundays now rotate between the homes of various family members. We take turns hosting. Dinner is at 6:30 and if you can come, you bring something. If you can’t make it, not a big deal but I’m finding that everyone largely enjoys it and has prioritized gathering.
Sometimes we have a theme (This past weekend was Greek. Opa!) but often it’s just tasty, down-home fare. Since there are about 10 regular attendees, I’ve been working on a delicious version of meatloaf in a double-batch quantity. I’m going to share the recipe with you. If you are entertaining, great! Make it as is. If not, you can freeze one of them to use later or simply cut the recipe in half.
I’ve served it with both baked and mashed potatoes and a green salad. Leftovers make an excellent meatloaf sandwich. This version uses lean beef, lots of seasoning and doesn’t dry out. Let me know what you think and if it inspires you to gather with family and friends.
Elizabeth’s Maple-Glazed Meatloaf
2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
2 cups of dried, seasoned bread crumbs
1 white onion, diced
1 cup of milk
¼ c ketchup
2 T Worcestershire salt
1 t salt
1 t garlic powder
1 t black pepper
For the Glaze:
½ cup ketchup
2 T apple cider vinegar
¼ cup maple syrup
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatloaf and mix very well to incorporate the bread crumbs and milk. This is a fairly “wet” mixture but won’t disappoint.
Divide the mixture between two (lightly greased) loaf pans and shape the tops to resemble smooth loaves of bread.
In another bowl, combine the ingredients for the glaze and whisk together to combine. Pour half of the glaze onto each of your meatloaves and use a basting brush to cover each with the mixture.
Place both loaves on the center rack of a 350-degree oven. Bake for 55 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Sometimes the very best parties are the simplest. Enjoy.
A few weeks ago I shared my love of Sherry. Right on the heels of Sherry seems like the perfect time to mention another fortified wine: Port. Red Port is a blend which uses many grape varieties and comes from the Duoro river valley in Portugal. A “vintage” designation is given to those wines from the best years. They are great during the holidays and cold weather, but actually appropriate throughout the year. Sub them for an after-dinner drink, or even a stand-in for dessert.
2011 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port is a crowd-pleaser. It can be described as a classic. A smooth but meaty option with heaps of black cherry. It is a delicious mouthful and great with chocolate and caramel. A little pricey at $49 for the smaller, 375mL bottle.
2008 Dow’s Port, Quinta Senhora da Ribera presents a deep, dark color with spiced berries on the nose. The finish is at once bright, long and lingering. An intense and concentrated wine. Lovely with dark chocolate. $75
2016 Kopke Vintage Porto is another black beauty. Kopke is the oldest port house in the world, founded by a German diplomat in 1638. The hand-stenciled bottles stand out on a bar and add a sentimental nod to tradition. Very dark in color with aromas of black fruit in the glass and one of my favorite flavor combos: cocoa, violet and black pepper on the tongue. An aggressive mouthful, Kopke layers balance, flavor and tannin beautifully. Big, long finish. About $60
The aforementioned will be a hit with dark chocolate, caramel and fruit desserts but work with dinner, too. Berry flavors can be a terrific match with savory fare like roasted meat, blue cheese and duck. Cheers!
@TaylorFladgate @DowsPort @KopkePorto #PortWine #Portugal
Elizabeth Morse cooks professionally, is an Advanced Master Gardener and lover of all things local.