Category Archives: Tips and Techniques

This Chart Helps You Pick the Perfect Wine for Your Meal

Wine Pairing Chart

Just in time for your Valentine’s Day dinner planning, I’ve found this handy infographic. Although I don’t claim to be a wine-pairing expert, in my experience the chart’s pretty accurate. I especially like how each type of food has more than one option, because wine pairing is not really cut and dry. For example, I tend to heavily favor the red wine spectrum on this chart, while the sweet white wines are entirely off my radar. But that’s just my personal preference. The only hard and fast rule when it comes to wine is to drink what you like and not worry about any other rules you might be breaking. Continue reading

Ode to a French Butter Keeper

Butter keeper

If you’ve read my blog at all before, you may have noticed that I have a slight affinity for butter. I don’t like to broadcast it too much, lest I be classified as some kind of Paula Deen or something, but, well, there it is.

With all that butter love, you’d think I’d know everything there is to know about storing and serving butter. However, I was quite surprised one day when I received a French butter keeper as a thoughtful gift, because I had never heard of one before.

At first I was a little skeptical. Could it really keep butter that fresh sitting on the counter? However, the addition of the word “French” to the name inspired me to learn more (I’m a sucker for anything that seems to come from classical French or Italian cooking). Continue reading

A Primer on Salt

Salts

Okay, now that I’ve gotten off my salt soapbox, let’s get down to it: There are so many types of salts, how do you know what to use? Well, for cooking, there are two basic “parent” categories: cooking salts and finishing salts. Some may argue that it’s more complex than that (what about pickling salt or brining salt?), but that’s how I see them and use them in my cooking. Continue reading

What to Sip With Your Holiday Dinners

Copyright Emiliano De Laurentiis, Flickr.com

Note. In honor of the upcoming holidays and all of their associated dinners, I’m revisiting a post I wrote last year for the Pittsburgh Observer (November 2009). Happy Thanksgiving!

I recently completed a six-week wine appreciation course through the Community College of Beaver County’s noncredit class program. My fellow classmates and I were fortunate to be taught by two wine experts, Alex Sebastian, owner of the Wooden Angel restaurant in Beaver, PA, and Belinda Alvarez, a sales consultant for Southern Wine and Spirits of Pennsylvania. In addition to putting together his restaurant’s award-winning, all-American wine list, Sebastian is also a member of the wine advisory council on the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PALCB).

To help you impress your friends and family with your ability to pair food and wine at your holiday meals, here are some tips I learned during the course. Continue reading

Pie Fail: When You Don’t Want to Use Bacon

Bacon-Sweet Potato Pie

That’s right. I tried putting maple candied bacon on a sweet potato pie. It’s proof that some ideas are better in theory than in practice.

P.S. When David Lebovitz says not to candy bacon with maple syrup, listen to him. Don’t think you know better and that mixing sugar with your maple syrup will make it the right consistency for candying. He is the expert. You are not. Trust me, your house will thank you for saving it from thick, dark smoke from burnt maple syrup on the bottom of your pan. Five days later, my house still smells like burnt syrup.