Family Meal Season 1 Episode 6
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 fifth episode now! The transcript is below. ↓↓↓↓
I love special occasion food. You know, those dishes that mark important rituals and events. These are indulgent dishes, made from scratch and made with love. If you need a dose of once-a-year kinda cooking, this video is for you.
Today, we’re having a reunion. Have you had your family reunion yet this year? No? Then join ours. Anybody that eats at my table is family. Coming up are five crave-worthy dishes worthy of your next family get together. Pair this kind of food with good wine and what you have is… a Family Meal.
Act 1: Introduction
Welcome to Family Meal: a virtual wine tasting party. Every month I cook a 4-course meal and pair it with some fun wines. Then, you get to watch as my friends tell me what they think about it all.
It’s the hottest month of the year. It’s so hot that most people take this month off from their typical events. Social gatherings usually grind to a halt.
But, I wanted to keep going, because it’s important to stay connected during the pandemic. But, also because I’m developing a new habit here, a new ritual through Family Meal.
So, I can’t stop now. Plus, the food this month will be so good. We’re doing a virtual wine party across four houses. So, we rounded up the care packages and dropped them off to each house.
As you know if you’ve watched before, Family Meal is about exploring food from different places and different times to understand how people make awesome food for the time and place they live in.
Last month, we looked at Milton Williams 1981 cookbook: The Party Book. Milton was the caterer to the stars in Hollywood in the ’70s and ’80s. He was known for throwing extravagant themed parties with live performances and over the top decorations. I used his penchant for innovative parties to make some innovative dishes of my own.
I made a delicious grilled pork roulade with a curried fennel stuffing. That episode includes 5 dishes and 8 wine pairings. If you want to see it, click here or look below for the link.
In this episode, we are riffing on recipes from Barbara Smith’s 1999 cookbook, Rituals and Celebrations. Each month she gives readers a reason for a ritual or celebration. It’s a great book to look at for Family Meal, especially this month.
Her August celebration is the Family Reunion. I can definitely get into that vibe. If you’re at my table –or on my Zoom– you’re family. And, I think these recipes are great for a reunion.
Known widely as B. Smith, she was a renaissance woman in the truest sense of the term. She was a model, restaurateur, and a TV talk show host. She also had a home décor line and a successful series of cookbooks and even a magazine.
She got her start as a food writer with a newsletter that described the style and the food of her B. Smith restaurant. The ideas in these newsletters eventually developed into her first cookbook.
Today, we’re looking at Smith’s second cookbook. This book was honored by the James Beard Foundation, Food and Wine Magazine, and the American Library Association. Her writing was clearly resonating.
Her writing was popular in the 1990s and 2000s for the same reasons lifestyle influencers are today. Lifestyle writing is a blend of the writer’s hobbies and interests. For Smith, that was food, craft, and home decor.
Through the curation of the things she loved, she created events that were homey and made people want to return over and over again.
Anybody who can do that with food is someone worth learning more 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.
In the meantime, this month’s menu is super tasty. Here’s what I’m cooking this month.
Who doesn’t love crispy chips. The starting dish this month is veggie chips made from carrots, plantains, and sweet potatoes. They are salty, crispy, and very easy to make. We’ve also got a great seasoning mix on them. I’ll tell you what it is a bit later.
We’re pairing these chips with two dry rosés. I think rosé goes with herbaceous and flavorful foods. These three veggies are just lightly perfumed and fragrant. I think the delicate flavors of these veggies will pair nicely with the delicate and almost floral flavors in these wines. This is a great pairing for the hot summer. You want to start off with lighter flavors because it’s a hot day and because you’re at the beginning of the meal.
The second course this month is a summer salad. It has black-eyed peas, a tomato vinaigrette, and marinated octopus. A black-eyed pea salad is a classic dish. This is an updated version you’ll love.
The first cuisine I think of when I think octopus is Greek food. So this dish is paired with two Assyrtiko. This grape is most common in Greece. This is a floral and spicy white wine. Some say it tastes like ginger. It also has just a hint of saltiness, which should pair well with seafood.
Braised oxtails are the main course for this month. It’s got a rich red wine sauce that you’ll want to savor. Oxtails may not sound like tasty food. It is a cow tail after all. But, it’s got a deep umami flavor. This version will be fall off the bone tender, a bit like short ribs.
The side dish for this course is a cheesy rice pelau or pilaf. It’s a yummy rice risotto. It has a cheesy goodness on its own. But, it will also soak up all of the sauce from the oxtails.
This course will be paired with two Tannat. Both are from Uruguay. Tannat is known for its bold tannins. I think it’s one of the most unique wines in the world. But, it’s also one of the boldest, perfect to go with oxtails in my opinion.
Dessert this month is quite simple and lighter than some of the other desserts I’ve served at Family Meal. It’s balls of popped barley and corn. I have three flavors, caramel, basil, and cheese. You don’t want to end a big meal on a heavy note on a hot day. This is my attempt to do just that.
They will be paired with two sweet white sparkling wines. One is from New Mexico and the other is from France. Although these are sweet wines, they are also relatively light ending to the meal.
Act 2: Vegetable chips
There are a lot of veggie chip recipes on the web. Some use dehydrators. Others bake the veggies. And still, others fry them. My recipe is a hybrid. We’re going to do a bit of dehydration and then fry. But, the hardest part is the chopping. And, even that is assisted by a tool.
Cutting vegetables on a mandolin is the best way to get even and thin slices. Cut the vegetables so you have about 4-inch to 6-inch pieces. Then you slice them at the 1/16 inch setting on the mandolin. You can cut them again if the chips are too big. Ultimately, you want bite-sized pieces.
Soak the slices in cold water for about an hour. This will remove some of the excess starch and help to tenderize them. Next, let the slices dry in the refrigerator, uncovered until they are dry to the touch. This might take an hour also.
If there’s any moisture left, you can pat the vegetables dry with a paper towel.
After they are all dry, fry the chips in batches at 3 degrees. They only need about two minutes in the fryer. Let the oil drain off the chips and onto a paper towel for about 15 minutes. Let’s finish these up.
I’m topping the chips with a bit of sumac for sourness, some flake salt, and nutritional yeast. They are like cheesy, salt and vinegar chips. So good.
Sometimes, I spend some time plating a dish. But in this case, I think simple is better. I’ll put them in a blue bowl and let the natural and vibrant yellow and orange of the fried veggies shine. They are glistening since they are fried and you can see a few of the spices on there. And for fun, I’ll add a little dip for the chips. That’s a versatile appetizer you can use at a wine party or other events.
This appetizer is being served with two rosés. Your first thought might be to serve an oily and crispy dish like this with a white sparkling wine. And, that would be a good option too. But, I wanted to highlight the aromatic and floral aspects of this dish. That’s why I’m going with rosé. Well, also be because there’s perhaps nothing more refreshing than a cold rosé on a hot summer day.
The first rosé is from Portugal and is a bit more substantial. It’s got a bit of salinity and grapefruit. The other wine, from France, has more red fruit flavor and maybe a bit of violet.
Let’s see if my friends agree that this works, or if they think a sparkler would be better.
This take on chips and dip is a winner. Pair it with a rosé and it’s a perfect poolside snack.
Act 3: Black-eyed Pea Salad
I’ve enjoyed Black-eyed peas in several countries. Brazil, Nigeria, France, and of course, the United States. My grandmother cooked black-eyed peas quite regularly and I cook them a few times a year too. This recipe is a combination of Barbara’s black-eyed pea salad with a few of the hints from the dish I ate in Paris over 20 years ago. I’m lightening the dish up with a tomato vinaigrette instead of heavier stewed tomatoes. There’s also the addition of the octopus.
I start by soaking peas overnight in water. If you have the time, you can let them sprout. This reduces the gassiness. Or you can soak them water with baking soda. In any event, soaking makes them easier to cook the next day.
After rinsing them a few times, all you need to do is cook them for 45 minutes. I want them tender but not mushy. That should be enough time. Also, I’m boiling the peas in chicken stock to give the peas some extra flavor.
While the peas are cooking you can start on the dressing. Chop the shallots and cook in oil until soft. That’ll take you about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes to the pan and cook for 4 to 6 minutes. You just want to get the tomato flavor without them completely disintegrating. Ok, let that cool for a bit.
After the shallots and tomatoes have cooled add the remaining olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. That’s your dressing.
Also, let’s get some water boiling to blanch the carrots and peppers. You don’t want to cook them through. You just don’t want them to be ‘raw.’ Five minutes in boiling water will do the trick. Then drop them in an ice bath so they retain some crispness.
Next, chop up the octopus into still large, but bite-sized pieces. You want to notice when you get a piece of octopus. By the way, I bought this pre-cooked and pre-marinated. Cooking octopus well takes time and even more boiling water. So, I opted for the precooked. But, feel free to cook your own if you like. Now that everything’s ready, we can put it all together.
Once the peas are cooked and cooled, mix all of the ingredients with the dressing. Make sure every piece gets a bit of dressing on it. Look at all of that color and flavor. That’s a summer salad if I’ve ever seen one.
This dish is being served with two Assyrtiko. It’s a white wine that I’ve seen described as savory, which usually means slightly salty. Salty wines pair very well with food. This is a hot climate wine from Greece.
You might expect that little to no acidity in a hot climate wine white. But, that’s not true of Assyrtiko. They can remain fresh tasting with high acidity even in very hot years. So, it should also be refreshing with this summer salad.
Let’s see if this pairing makes sense to my friends.
If you’re looking for a great summer salad, I think this is it. It was enjoyed by all.
Act 4: Wine Braised Oxtails
I’m not sure if oxtail sounds much better than cow tail. But, either way, it tastes good. I don’t want this to be a stewy dish that eats like a soup. But, I do want a really rich sauce. I’ll start by getting the onion, celery, and carrots all diced up.
Start making a sauce with herbs, liquid, and oil. That smells amazing so far. But, I’m going to really pump up the flavor with the spices and dry ingredients. This will also begin to thicken the sauce.
Add vegetables. Next, I’ll add in the chopped vegetables. You can remove these later if you wish, but they add flavor and aroma too. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Add cinnamon stick whole.
Add to a pressure cooker and cook on high for 45 minutes.
Let pressure release naturally. This will take about 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove the cinnamon stick and remove the aromatics.
Add vinegar just before serving.
You want a sauce that completely coats the bottom of the plate. I’ll just put these oxtails on a nice plate. Then add the rest of the sauce. Finally, add some garnish to the top of the dish.
Pilav, pilau, pilaf, and pelau: different names are used in different parts of the world. And, they all have different seasonings and mix-ins. But the base is the same: rice that is sauteed in fat before cooking it in stock. So, the first step is clear. Melt some butter and mix into the rice in a hot skillet. Make sure the rice is well-coated and simmer for 10 minutes. This is Arborio rice, by the way, short-grain rice.
You add some stock and get it to a simmer. While the rice is simmering, beat the egg and mix with the herbs, grated cheese, and breadcrumbs. This is where all of the flavor is. So, be sure you mix everything all together.
Now add more water to get the rice creamy. This might take another 30 minutes. Season it at the end.
When you plate it I say put it in a bowl of a contrasting color. You don’t want a beige on white scenario. So, I’m using this nice shiny black bowl, then throwing in some peas and parsley for crunch and aroma. And a bit of cheese because we’re being decadent today. What do you think?
This course is paired with Tannat. This grape hails from the SouthWest of France. But now, Uruguay is the prominent wine region for this varietal. Both bottles we’re tasting hail from Uruguay.
If you’ve never had Tannt before, brace yourself. It’s intense. It’s a full-bodied red with high tannin. If you like this kind of intense wine, enjoy. But, I won’t think any less of you if you aerate this wine.
Besides the tannin, these wines offer flavors like tobacco, coffee, and smoke. Bold red wine drinkers will love those flavors. But, let’s see what my friends think about these wines and the food served with them.
Well, I’m still a Tannat fan. But, the group was split. That’s Ok. This is about trying new things and we did that.
Act 5: Popped Grain Balls
Our final course today is three different flavors of popped grain balls. They are made of corn. And, there’s a bit of barley thrown in for extra nuttiness. These are pretty simple to make and even more fun to make.
Start by putting 1 tbsp of oil in a hot skillet. Heat it until lightly smoking. Add grains by the handful to the hot skillet. Roll the grains around in the skillet until they pop. Then, rinse and repeat until all the grains are popped. Let the popped grains cool in a paper towel-lined bowl.
While the grains are cooling, combine corn syrup, water, and salt. This is the syrup that’s going to hold the popped kernels together. Cook this mixture on medium heat until it boils.
You can add any flavorings you like at this point. I’m going to add a bit of Thai basil to half of the syrup. Then I’m going to use a caramel sauce today as well. To make the caramel, just cook this sauce a bit longer until it browns a bit.
Now, I’ll put the balls together. First, drizzle each kind of syrup on each kind of grain. Then stir the grains to get them evenly coated. Finally, form the popcorn into about a tennis ball size sphere. Then, lightly roll through the popped barley to get some of that crunch in there. Now let’s plate these.
The basil and caramel are done. They are sweet and a bit tangy. I put a bit of cayenne in the caramel. And the Thai basil has a bit of a licorice or anise bite. Don’t those look great! They are light, sweet, nutty, and crunchy with two flavors to choose from.
This crunchy dessert is paired with two sweet sparkling white wines. Both have Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And the French wine also has Pinot Blanc. These are fruity and refreshing sparklers, perfect for summer.
Let’s see if my friends think these wines go well with their carnivalesque dessert.
What a great way to end a 4-course meal on a hot day, with a refreshing sparkling wine and a bit of popcorn.
Act 6: Epilogue
So, there you have it. I made five dishes, inspired by B. Smith’s 1999 cookbook: Rituals and Celebrations.
I made fried veggie chips with dip, a black-eyed pea salad with octopus, red wine braised oxtails, rice pelau, and popped grain balls.
I think this cookbook introduced the eaters to food they hadn’t had before. The oxtails were new to some. That’s always a fun experience, to try something new. But maybe more importantly, these are all friends I’ve eaten with before. It was a reunion after not having seen each other for maybe several months. It was a great time for a reunion.
Maybe you’ve noticed if you’ve watched before, two of my friends have been at all of the meals and they’ve RSVP’d for the next one. It’s become a little tradition, a little tradition for them and for me. I think Mrs. Smith would be glad to hear that. Her book is doing its job.
This meal, my new little tradition, takes me about three weeks to plan and execute. I have to buy the cookbook, make the menu, buy the food and the wine, then cook it all and deliver. It’s work. To be honest, I also build in some buffer time in case something doesn’t go according to plan. But, I enjoy it. I’m learning a lot from this project.
But, you don’t have to do something as complicated as this. Even a small tradition can have an impact. Make a point to share a few extra herbs from your garden each month. Or share a note about a good wine you had. As long as it’s something that you enjoy, it’ll stick.
As for the wines, I am a Tannat fan. But, it’s not a wine for the faint of heart. It’s perhaps one of the boldest red wines you can try. But, I encourage you to try it if you haven’t had wines from Uruguay before or if you’re in the mood to try something new.
I also really enjoyed the summery rose wines with the aromatic vegetables. They were served with some herbaceous dips too which just lifted that whole course. I think rose is great with herbaceous and aromatic foods. And, I think I’ll push on that theme more next month.
Chef: So, that was Episode 6 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 you’ll also find the Winosity app there, where you can keep track of the good wines you discover out in the world and get wine recommendations based on your preferences.
I hope you will join us in late September, for the next episode. I’ll be cooking recipes from Abby Fisher’s 1881 Cookbook: What Mrs. Fisher knows about Old Southern Cooking. We looked at Rufus Estes cookbook, Good Things to Eat. This is the first cookbook by an African-American chef. Abby Fisher’s cookbook is the first published cookbook by an African-American, period. By the time she wrote the book, she had 35-years of experience cooking. Fisher ran a pickles and preserves factory in San Francisco and won a number of local awards for her cooking. This is a groundbreaking book about a groundbreaking woman, so I’m excited to bring it to you next month.
Chef: Thanks for watching, folks. Bye!