Family Meal Season 1 Episode 3
Each month, on this cooking show, I show you how to prepare a delectable feast with wine pairings. Then, you get to watch while my friends tell me what they think about it all.
Family Meal is about exploring food from different places and different times to understand how people make awesome food with what they have.
For our first season, we are cooking from vintage African-American cookbooks.
Check out our third episode now! ↓↓↓↓
Are you a new gardener? Or maybe you’re getting back into gardening. It’s spring and things are starting to grow. So, it’s time to start thinking about how you will use all of the food you planted. If you’re a burgeoning home farmer and a home cook, you’ll love the garden grown goodness we’re cooking in this video. Pair this kind of food with good wine and what you have is a Family Meal.
Welcome to Family Meal: experimental home cooking for the 21st century. Each month I show you how to prepare a delectable feast with wine pairings for my friends. Then, you get to watch as they tell me what they think about it all.
I’ve been using the garden to help pass the time while we’re on lockdown here in California. I’ve been eating from it everyday and really tending to it. It’s been nice. So, this month’s care packages for my food drop for this month’s episode included a 16-leaf salad made from all of the lettuces and herbs that are growing in my garden right now. That’s how we started off our wine pairing meal this month.
Last month we looked at Rufus Estes’s 1911 cookbook, Good Things to Eat. Captain Estes was best known for cooking for the premier class diners on luxury trains. His diners were the elite of their day and his recipes reflect that. Last month’s eaters really loved his recipes, which means they must be good. I cooked five dishes inspired by his cooking. If you want to see that episode click here or look below for the link.
But in this episode, we are riffing on recipes from Edna Lewis’s 1986 cookbook: The taste of Country Cooking. This cookbook/ memoir hybrid is about what life was like in the rural Virginia community where Lewis grew up, the food she ate growing up and when. Sunday Revival Dinner, Morning after Hog-Butchering Breakfast, and a Wheat Harvesting Dinner are all included. These feast-sized menus are for when people got together. And they are very seasonal. What was fresh was what when on the table. This book highlights the best of farming and foraging for your food.
After she became an adult, Lewis moved to New York City. There, she began cooking at Nicholson Café. The restaurant became popular among the bohemian artist set of the city. Writers such as Truman Capote, William Faulkner and Diana Vreeland frequented the cafe. They loved Lewis’s seasonal and farm fresh style of cooking.
Unlike in Lewis’s day, Farm-to-table cuisine– where restaurants buy directly from farms and ranchers rather than large food companies– is very popular. Perhaps the most famous farm-to-table restaurant is Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, which opened in 1971. If you’re familiar with farm-to-table food, you might associate it with the 1970s and with California. But Edna Lewis was championing that kind of cooking in 1958 and on the other side of the country.
Lewis was a food pioneer who can teach us so much about how to use the little plots of land we have around us to make good food. Anybody who can do that with food is someone worth learning,about. But don’t take my word for it. Make these dishes yourself and tell me what you think. Comment, like and subscribe so I can see if these recipes resonate with you too. And, make sure you hit the bell, so you’ll be notified of all Winosity’s future videos.
Ok, let’s get into the dishes.
The first dish is ham biscuits. It’s just what you think it is. Drop biscuits with little pieces of ham in them. I’m also adding some herbs from the garden.
Soup and bread is the most classic of food pairings. That’s why I’m serving the biscuits with a steaming bowl of vegetable soup. This soup has a flavorful pork stock and all the fresh garden veggies you can think of.
Those two dishes are the first wine pairing course for this episode. And we’ll be enjoying them with two light red wines: A Beaujolais and a Cinsault.
For the next course we’re going to enjoy crispy skin duck. It’s cooked with a few spices until tender. It’s a great meat to serve people because it seems a bit fancy. But, it’s really quite easy if you know what to do.
The duck is being served with wilted lettuce in hot vinegar dressing. This is a quick side you can make most any night and anytime you have extra greens in the garden.
These two dishes are paired with two big and bold red wines, made from Mourvedre or Mataro.
And as usual, we are ending with dessert. This month, it’s peach pie with sweet muscat wine. Here in California, we are just getting the early peaches in and I’m taking advantage of that.
Let’s see if my friends think I was able to get some flavor out of these peaches. And frankly, what they think about the rest of the food and wine.
Maybe you’ll find something you’d like to cook too. So, keep watching.
Southern Ham Biscuits
It’s pretty customary to start a meal with bread, right? But, how often do you get fresh biscuits at the beginning of your meal, let alone biscuits with ham!
And they’re not hard to make. You just have to be a bit precise to make sure they come out the way you want.
It starts with sifting dry, chilled ingredients into a bowl. Next, Grate frozen butter into dry ingredients and mix until ingredients have a grainy texture kind of like cornmeal.
Then, add the cold ham.
Add very cold milk and mix just until a dough is created. You don’t want to work the dough so much that the butter softens, but you do want the dough to get firm.
Begin folding it onto itself at, least 5 times, on a very cold work top. I put this marble in the freezer before working with the dough.
Then, roll it out to a ½ in thickness. Cut the dough into the desired shape with a cutter. Try not to twist the cutter — which I’m not perfect at. Just push straight down.
Try to get as many pieces from the dough as you can. Reroll and recut the dough until the dough is all used up. Place the biscuits so that they touch in your pan. And bake at 475 for 125-20 minutes until crisp and brown.
And this is how it looks when cooked. They are nice and browned. And you can see bits of ham everywhere.
These are absolutely ready for jam and butter.
Or for dipping into a rich, steaming bowl of soup.
Homemade Vegetable Soup
There’s nothing more centering than bone stock. This vegetable soup recipe begins with a clarified pork bone stock made from pork shanks. You can buy pork stock, but I’m doing it from scratch today.
Start by washing the shanks. Then sear them well on all sides.
In the same pot, cover the meat with water and bring it to a boil for 5 minutes. You’ll notice some debris and foam in the stock. Skim the foam from the stock and strain it to get out all of the bits. Next, put the strained stock, bones and meat in a pressure cooker on high for 30 minutes. This is what really gets all of the flavor out of the bones.
After you’re done with the pressure cooker, add the vegetables stock and meat to a pot and let the stock reduce for one hour on the stove to enhance flavor and to tenderize the vegetables. .The soup is almost ready. It just needs some seasoning. It didn’t season it earlier because if I put salt in before the soup reduced, it would have been too salty. This way, I can get it just right.
And, it’s ready to go. Won’t this be great with hot buttered biscuits. Let’s see if my friends agree.
I’ve paired this dish with two light reds: a Cinsault and a Beaujolais. Both of these wines are bright (meaning high acid) and fruity. Even though we’re eating a rich bone stock, we also have some fresh vegetables. So, I chose these wines as a balance between those two components.
The Cinsault is from Chile and the Beaujolais is from France.
We’re off the races with our first course. We’ll see if it’s a hit or miss.
Crispy Pan Fried Duck Breast
The next dish is wilted lettuce with hot vinegar dressing. It’s getting hot here, so the lettuce is bolting. It’s still edible, but a bit bitter. Wilting it down and cutting the bitterness with sugar and vinegar is the perfect way to use this lettuce. This is a quick, easy and flavorful recipe, with some bacon!
All you have to do is fry the bacon up until crisp and dice it up. Then use a bit of the bacon grease to wilt the lettuce. And, incorporate the sugar and vinegar. Then crunch the bacon on top. That’s it.
How’s that for easy? And it looks super tasty too. It’ll make a nice side dish for the duck I’m making next.
Duck can get stringy if it’s cooked incorrectly. That’s why I usually oil poach my duck and crisp the skin up in a pan at the end. But, I’m trying something different today. I’m going to fry and baste. Let’s see how this goes.
This is room temperature duck that I dried off. You want to score the skin to help the fat render off as the duck cooks. I’ll make a hatch mark pattern on all of the breasts. And, I’m going to pan fry the breasts starting skin side down for about 10-15 minutes. Once some of the fat renders off, add the spices so that the their flavors infuse into the oil. Every now and then, baste the duck with this fragrant oil. Then, turn the duck over and cook for about two minutes more. I took the duck to about 135, which is rare.
Let duck rest for 5 minutes before cutting or serving.
And this is how it looks when cooked. It’s golden brown with a crispy skin and very fragrant from the spices and oil. With a little garnish over the top, I think that looks like a picture. Don’t you?
I’ve paired this dish with two bold reds. Duck is an intensely flavorful meat and needs a wine that can stand up to it. Mourvedre or Mataro is known for its spicy flavor. Sometimes it tastes like black pepper to me. It also has flavors of dark and ripe berries like blackberries. These intense flavors are perfect with duck in my opinion.
One wine is from Central California, Santa Barbara. The other is from Spain, the home country for this grape.
Also, I am cheating a little bit. We have a blackberry and red wine sauce for the duck to make the matching even tighter. I didn’t post the recipe for it. These are the kinds of yummy surprises that is the perk of tasting in person.
I wonder what they’ll think about this pairing.
Drunken Peach Pie Recipe
Guess what. It’s pie time!
I make a peach cobbler about once a year, usually in the summer. It’s 93 degrees here today, so I think that counts.
Some people say the difference between a cobbler and a pie is the dough. Cobbler dough is more like biscuits, spongy and soft. And the pie crust is crispy and flaky. Others say that anything that isn’t round is a cobbler. I’m not jumping into that debate. But I’m going for a spongy and square version today.
I start by mixing the peeled fresh peaches with sugar, salt, some thyme and sweet sherry. That’s the filling and next is the crust.
I start by mixing the cold, sifted dry ingredients together in a bowl. Next, I grate the frozen butter into dry ingredients and combine it all. I’m using two knives to cut up the butter even more. Just like the biscuits, we’re making a cornmeal-like texture so that you still have small chunks of butter in there.
The cold water is the last ingredient to be added. The recipe calls for ⅓ of a cup. But you should use more or less depending on how dry your flour is. You just want to get the ingredients moistened up.
Form the dough into a ball and let the dough rest for 15 minutes to get completely hydrated.
Cut the dough in half if you’re making a top and bottom crust.
Roll out the bottom crust, place it into the pan, then add the fruit mix.
Now repeat rolling for the top crust, and place it on the pie. Then take a little time to make it neat. I fold the crust over so it looks neat, and Voila!
Bake this in the oven for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
And this is what it looks like after it’s baked. It’s my first pie using fresh peaches. I think it looks great. Don’t you?
I think there’s a reason and a purpose for every wine. I know some people that only drink sweet Muscat or Moscato wines. But to me, this is the best way to use them, with something sweet. And better yet with a stone fruit like peaches. Muscat is known for its stone fruit flavor. It usually tastes like peaches or apricots. It’s also very floral. So, it should go well with the pie.
Today, we’re tasting Muscats from Argentina and Italy.
Let’s see if my friends like these.
So, there you have it. I made five dishes, inspired by Edna Lewis’s 1986 cookbook.
I made ham biscuits, vegetable soup, crispy skin duck, wilted lettuce with hot vinegar dressing and for dessert a peach slab pie.
I make peach cobbler on special occasions always with canned peaches. So, in my first draft of this episode, I was going to make peach pie with canned peaches. I actually bought the canned peaches. But, I started feeling guilty about that. Edna was about fresh food. So, I changed my mind and made the pie with fresh peaches. And I’m really glad I did. This was the best peach dessert I ever made, hands down. It wasn’t that much more effort to peel and slice 8 peaches. But, it was worth the flavor, that’s for sure.
I also really enjoyed cooking these dishes`. Edna’s food has a simple elegance that’s quite inspirational. And it really inspired me to use my garden. I used lettuce, collards, onions, tomatoes, herbs and celery from my own little patch of ground. Each course had something that I grew in it.
As for the wines, I’m singing the praises of Cinsault. It went quite well with the light broth of the soup. It was a fresher wine, much like the food we were eating it with. But, the favorite of the day was the Spanish Mourvedre from Jumilla: a spicy wine with a spicy duck dish. Everyone rated it as one of their favorite wines of the meal. Maybe I’ll have to get some more bottles of that one.
So, that was Episode 3 of Family Meal and our wine pairings. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, like, and subscribe. Make sure you hit the bell to get notified about upcoming episodes. And don’t forget to share Family Meal with your friends.
If you want these recipes, you can find them on the blog at Winosity.com where you’ll find other food and wine pairings and the Winosity app, where you can keep track of the good wines you discover out in the world and get wine recommendations based on your preferences.
And I hope you will join us in late June for the next episode. I’ll be cooking recipes from Freda DeKnights 1973 Ebony cookbook. Freda was the first food editor at Ebony magazine. At the time, Ebony magazine was one of the premiere taste-making publications for black folk. On Family Meal, we’ve looked at Mother Waddles, who largely cooked for the poor. Then, we looked at Rufus Estes, who largely cooked for the rich. The Ebony Cookbook trumpets a kind of middle-class and dignified food, where all ingredients were treated glamorously, whether rustic or refined and where influences from many cultures were embraced heartily.
Until then, folks. Bye!