Parve French Onion Soup, Meat Lasagna, Roasted Green Beans, Spinach Kugel, and Many Kosher Red Wines

Some five weeks ago found my wife and I gathered around the table with our dear friends, good food and wine.  Wow, the blog has been in the basement for a bunch of weeks, but hopefully we will get back into the swing of things soon.  So now on to the food!  We wanted to have some friends over that we did not see for sometime, and they brought over a guest from the east coast.  The funny thing is that the guest did not eat certain foods, which foods – the VERY ingredients that we were using to make the courses that would grace our table.  Thank goodness we had other menu items that met her food needs.

Anyway, the meal started with a Parve French Onion Soup.  The core of this recipe came from a cookbook called Spice and Spirit, but the recipe in the cookbook called for too few onions, brown sugar, and no wine!  So instead, I modified the recipe so that it looks more like what is found below.  The recipe used to be a serious pain in the neck, because of the need to thinly slice the onions.  Well that is easy now!  How Because my wife bought me this wonderful contraption called a mandolin.  The device is a God send!  It easily makes quick work of 8-10 onions, which used to make me cry, and not just because of Syn-Propanethial-S-oxide.  With the ability to easily slice onions, recipes like French Onion Soup, vegetable additives for you lox & bagel or burger, become a joy and almost a game, to see how thin and how nicely you can slice the onions! Thank you so much Oxo!  Not only does the mandolin, it was cheap and stores away easily.  The only con is that it does not slice tomatoes so well, and it cannot handle very large items, which should be avoided anyway, as on the average, the larger a vegetable gets, the less flavorful it becomes.  A quick note, if you are sick of peeling and crushing garlic, get some of this stuff!  It tastes great and is always waiting for you in your freezer, as long as you buy some!  Trader Joes has some along with other supermarkets.  Another note, this is an obvious twist on the classic French Onion Soup, but there is no animal product to be found, so no Gruyère cheese.  However, in an attempt to mimic the cheese like consistency, we throw in rice, which when it swells up thickens the soup and gives it that sticky and gelatinous like structure.

Parve French Onion Soup
3 tbsp oil
8-10 thinly sliced white or sweet onions
3 tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried Oregano
2 tsp dried parsley
3 or 4 bay leaves
4 or more cloves of garlic (frozen is easiest)
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups of red wine
4 cups of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 a cup of brown rice

Put the oil in a Dutch oven and heat it up till the oil starts to shimmer.  Then throw the sliced onions into the pot and sauté them till golden brown.  One they are truly brown, add in the nectar and spices, and sauté for another 10 or so minutes, or until all the liquid is gone.  Toss in the rest of the ingredients (except for the rice), and simmer for 30 or so minutes until the soup reduces by 20% or so.  Then toss in the rice and cook for another 15 or so minutes or until the soup looks and moves semi-gelatinous.

The meal started off with a bottle of the 2006 Ella Valley Ever Red.  A nice bottle, and one that is ready to drink up.  It was followed by my wife’s not-classic (and THANK GOD for that) whole wheat challah.  The challah did not survive past the soup course, which is par for the course, and totally appreciated by the table.  We paired the 2008 Elvi Wines Matiz with the soup.  The extreme acid base of the wine paired nicely with the tomato note high acid) soup.  Normally, when pairing one wants to not fight fire with fire.  However, that rule is only for extreme cases.  For instance, when pairing spicy food with wine, I recommend you use a nice sweet yet acidic wine, like Hagafen White Riesling, which has enough acid and sweetness in harmonious balance to counteract hot peppers.  However, when the flavor in the food is not as extreme as hot pepper or chocolate soufflé sweet, the correct course of action is to fight fire with a bit more or at least the same amount of fire.  So, when enjoying a tomato based food like Tomato soup, that has no animal products in it (that help to balance the flavors), you are left with a tart/acidic soup whose best bet is to balance the flavors with a bit of sugar and starch.  Still, the soup is still acid in nature, and is best paired with an acidic core wine, like almost any estate bottled red from Four Gates Winery (whose wines always have a natural acidity to them), or an Italian  Chianti, or a lovely Tempranillo like the Matiz, which packs more than enough acid and tannins to keep up with the tomato soup.

For the second course we served meat lasagna, parve spinach quiche/kugel, roasted green beans, and a fresh green salad.  The guest could not eat the lasagna or the spinach kugel, but she brought some chicken over for herself before shabbos.  Some of our friends who joined us that evening do not eat meat, so we also made a lovely Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf – recipe below.  To pair with this menu we opened two other bottles, a 2003 Château Labégorce-Zédé and a 2006 Castel Petite Castel, the wine notes are found below.  making the meal was a blast as was the company.

Quinoa Onion Mushroom Pilaf
Sauté onions until golden brown and then sauté mushrooms until they have released most (but not all of their liquid).  The excess liquid will be appreciated by the quinoa.  Throw in salt, garlic, and some basil.  Throw in 2 cups of quinoa, and let the quinoa soak up all the liquid and just start to toast.  Then throw in a cup of white wine and then three cups of water, and let the quinoa cook till fluffy.  Then let cool, and add oil, toasted almonds, and optionally some craisins to boot.

Wines notes follow below (listed in the order they were tasted):

2008 Elvi Wines Rioja Matiz – Score: B+

The nose on this dark garnet to purple colored wine has raspberry, black cherry, rich plum, stone mineral, oak, herbs, and kirsch. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and mouth coating with black cherry, kirsch, tart cherry, and raspberry. The mid palate is bright with heavy acid and not yet integrated tannins. The finish is spicy and long-lasting with black cherry, coffee, and nice tannins. NOTE: This wine has sediment, not sure why such a young wine has so much sediment, so keep the wine upright for a couple of days and make sure not to pour the wine till the last drop, as the last poor person, may get a slushy or chunky glass of wine.

2006 Ella Valley Cabernet-Merlot Ever Red – Score: B+ to A-
The nose on this dark garnet to mahogany colored wine starts with some blackberry that over time blows off, along with ripe raspberry, plum, oak, cherry, crushed spices, tobacco, and smoke. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is ripe with soft caressing tannins that give the wine a fuller mouth, along with ripe raspberry, plum, and cherry. The mid palate is a bit fat though balanced with just enough acid and oak. The finish is long and smoky with ripe red fruit, tobacco, soft tannins, and oak. Drink up as this one is ready if not already on its way down, if only from its color and length of life in the glass.

2003 Château Labégorce-Zédé – Score: A-
The nose of this garnet colored wine is hopping with rich oak, truly lovely ripe and rich raspberry, blackberry, ripe black plum, lovely blueberry, tobacco smoke, herbs, and slight stone minerality. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is super rich and layered with lovely tannins that gives you a full mouth with ripe and rich raspberry, plum, and blackberry. The mid palate is balanced with rich oak, tannin that shows nicely, tobacco, and chocolate. The finish is long with oak, tobacco, herbs, mineral, and blueberry. A really lovely wine that is at its peak and worthy of drinking.

2006 Domaine du Castel Petit Castel – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is a beautiful and rich experience with rich tobacco, ripe and rich plum, rich cedar oak, crushed/roasted herbs, blackberry, and chocolate. The mouth of this full-bodied wine has a rich full mouth that has lovely mouth coating tannins, rich oak, ripe plum, and blackberry. The mid palate is balanced with rich oak, integrated tannins, and tobacco. The finish is long and luscious with tobacco, black plum, rich oak, chocolate, and herbs.

Posted on June 17, 2010, in Food and drink, Kosher Red Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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