Family Meal Season 1 Episode 4
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 fourth episode now! The transcript is below. ↓↓↓↓
The hardest thing about cooking isn’t the cutting. It isn’t the standing over the stove.
It’s figuring out what to cook. How do you make something tasty without cooking the same 5 dishes over and over again. If you need some new food inspiration, you’ll love the “Date With a Dish” inspired recipes you’re about to see in this video. Pair this kind of food with good wine and what you have is a Family Meal.
Welcome to the June 2020 episode of Family Meal. It’s a virtual wine tasting party y’all. Each month I show you how to prepare a delectable feast with wine pairings. Then, you get to watch as my friends tell me what they think about it all.
This month, there will be 7 eaters enjoying recipes that are inspired by a cookbook that represents a culinary first, the first cookbook written by a black person for black people.
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 Edna Lewis’s 1986 cookbook: The Taste of Country Cooking. This cookbook/memoir hybrid is about the food she ate growing up in rural Virginia. Edna Lewis was a champion of farm-to-table cuisine in the 1950’s, 20 years before the movement gained mainstream appeal.
Based on her recipes, I pushed myself to cook duck and fresh peach pie. And, the flavor was worth it. That episode includes 5 dishes and included 7 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 Freda DeKnight’s 1973 cookbook: Date With a Dish. Freda was the first food editor at Ebony magazine. At the time, Ebony Magazine was one of the premiere tastemaking publications for black folk. And the version I have of her book was actually marketed as the Ebony Cookbook.
Although DeKnight was a great cook, she is better known for the culinary research she did while collecting recipes from across America and beyond. Her cookbook reflects the breadth of black cooking in America. It also shows how black people made French, Spanish, West Indian, Chinese, African, Dutch, and German dishes their own.
Any time you eat an Italian dish with tomato, that’s Italian people making an American food their own. Any time you eat noodles at a Japanese restaurant that’s Japanese people making a Chinese food their own.
If something is yummy, people will integrate it into their own cuisines. The recipes in this cookbook are doing the same thing.
Anybody who can show you how to combine food in new ways 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.
Ready to hear what’s on the menu this month? Let’s get into it.
This month, we’re starting off with seafood: A lobster scrapple that we’re frying up to get crisp just before serving. This is what you’d get if meatloaf, pickle loaf and lobster mousse had a baby. That’s what happens when sherry is involved… in a recipe; and there is, 2 oz to be exact.
I’m serving the scrapple with a dry cava. I think it should pair well with seafood. And in general, bubbly is great with crispy and oily things.
For the next course, I’m serving two different Torrontes, both from around Mendoza Argentina.
This kind of wine will be great with a warm bowl of peanut soup, in my opinion. If you’re familiar with ground nut stew, this is similar. Both are peanuts stews or soups with a base of chicken stock and peanuts. But, I’m using sweet potato and spinach instead of pulled chicken so that it’s just a bit lighter.
The main event this month is grilled trout and a warm hominy salad. It’s hot here now, in the low 100’s. So, I want something filling but not too heavy. A smoky piece of oily trout fits that bill.
Then there’s a warm and creamy salad on the side. Corn salad is perfect on a hot summer day. And, that’s what hominy is, a kind of corn with bigger kernels. If you’ve ever had grits or you’ve had hominy. Grits are ground up hominy. I’ve added some summery seasonings so that it’s a bright accompaniment next to the fish.
These two dishes will be served with a white and a red. An unfiltered/unfined Sauvignon Blanc and a Cannonau.
To finish off the afternoon, we have a sour milk chocolate cake with nuts and ginger. You know that tang you get from cheesecake? Imagine that flavor in a chocolate cake. That’s what this dish is, plus some ginger and nuts.
It will be paired with two sweet raisiny-flavored fortified wines.
Do some of these dishes and pairings seem crazy to you? Yeah, to me too. But, that’s what I was going for: a menu that’s crazy enough to be uniquely good. Now, the question is whether I went too far. Let’s see what my friends think. Let’s get into the recipes and tastings.
You might be thinking, “Lobster meat loaf! What a waste.” Don’t worry. I’m not hacking up a fresh Maine lobster tail. This is canned lobster that I’m turning into something delicious. And, it’s quite easy.
Open the cans of lobster and drain them. Next chop all of the ingredients in a food processor until chunky.
Now add the lobster and pulse just to cut it up a bit. You don’t want the lobster too cut up.
Place all of the ingredients into a lined mold such as a loaf pan or terrine. Bake at 350 for 60 minutes. Then chill overnight to firm it up.
After you have a firm loaf cut the desired number of slices. We are going for 7 slices here. Preheat your skillet just until you see some smoke. I always use cast iron, but steel works too.
Then you can cook the slices for 2-3 minutes on each side. You don’t need to add oil to the pan because there’s butter throughout the slices already.
When you flip onto the other side, you should see that it’s getting nice and brown. But, if you’re not happy with the brownness, you can always revisit a side. And that’s it.
Serve it hot out of the pan. You can also serve it as a main dish for breakfast. Just add a fried egg and some fried potatoes. Or put a slice on top of an English muffin with egg, spinach and Hollandaise. Or even cut the slice into strips, pop it into a tortilla and cover it with your favorite salsa, sour cream and cilantro. It’s really quite a versatile dish.
Today we’re serving it with some crackers. So you can get a little bit on each cracker like an hors d’oeuvres with a few fresh herbs on top. Don’t these look perfect for a wine tasting party, a brunch or even a cocktail party?
I’ve paired this dish with a dry white Cava from Spain. This kind of wine hails from the wine region around Barcelona, in the northeast of the country. I think the bright citrus and mineral flavors of this wine go so well with food that tastes like the sea. In the same way you probably put lemon on fish, you can pair this acidic and citrusy wine with fish and seafood. And the acid and citrus flavors also complement the oily fry we put on the scrapple. It cuts right through that fat.
I think it will be a nice combination. But what does the eating panel have to say?
Well, what do you know. they liked it. they really liked it.
I know it’s 100 degrees outside, but I think you can always eat a warm and centering bowl of soup, especially if it’s a light soup. That’s what’s next on the menu.
While this recipe is based on Freda’s, I’m confident she was riffing on Groundnut stew, a dish common throughout West Africa. The main ingredients in groundnut stew are chicken, peanut butter and ginger. I’ll be using pureed peanuts and chicken stock instead of peanut butter and chicken meat. I want this dish to be lighter since it’s hot and because we have more food coming in this wine pairing feast. It’s going to be a wonderfully light and herbaceous soup topped with appetizing looking garnishes.
I’ll start by pureeing some chicken stock and peanuts with ginger, pepper and cumin. Add the remaining puree to the stock. This is the base of the soup.
I’ll bring that to a simmer and melt in some butter.
Once that’s melted in you can add the sweet potatoes. These have been cooked in salted water. You want them to be firm enough to keep their shape, but tender enough to chew easily.
And there’s a bit of spinach for color and flavor as well.
Now, it’s time to put it all together.
Ladle some soup into the bowl. Put a few chunks of sweet potato and steaming spinach. Those are the main accompaniments to this dish, but wait there’s more. We’re going to add some garnishes. We have some chopped tomato and onion, sliced ginger, mint and crushed peanuts. I love a soup that has lots of goodies on top of it. Don’t you?
I’ve paired this soup with a knock your socks off white wine: Torrontes. It’s more like smelling a live flower than a white wine. No, really. You have to try this wine if you haven’t. There’s hints of jasmine and peaches and citrus. I think it’ll be great with a soup that has ginger, onion and peanuts. People often pair this wine with Asian food. And, those flavors are often found in Asian food.
Both wines are from around Mendoza, Argentina, a region known for producing great examples of Torrontes. Let’s see which bottle they like best and which one they think is best with the food.
I think it’ll be a match. But, I might be outvoted. Let’s see.
I think I have some Torrontes converts on my hands. And, I can’t say I blame them.
Summer and grilling go hand in hand. It’s a tasty way to cook without heating up the house and while getting some fresh air: a win-win. Instead of hamburgers, hot dogs or ribs, I’m grilling fish. It’s light enough for a hot summer day but will have that smoky grilled taste you crave in the summer.
I’m starting with filets, but a whole fish looks extra tasty on a platter with garnish too. But whether whole or not, a marinade is important. I’m creating a marinade of lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, tomato sauce, tarragon and onion and some salt and pepper. I’ll start by marinating the fish for about an hour.
Once the fish is marinated, grill at 550 degrees on each side for about 6 minutes until the fish is flaky.
Now that the fish is cooked, it just needs to be garnished.
You can place the filets on a platter. I’m just going to arrange these lemon and lime slices so that each piece gets some. And, then we’re done. I think that’s grilling at its best.
But, it needs a side dish. I am making a corn dish, because it’s also a summer food for me. Stopping at road side u-pick stands for fresh corn on hot weekends is one of my fondest childhood memories. Normally, we’d just boil the corn, salt it, butter it and eat it. Simple and good.
Today, I’m making a corn salad fit for a wine tasting party. It’s a warm hominy salad with peaches, basil and feta cheese. I’m not a chef, but I still like to get everything together first. That way I don’t have to stop midway through a dish to chop something or pull an ingredient from the back of the pantry. I can just cook.
So, I have everything diced, the onions, peppers, peaches and chopping the basil, very finely chopped. And there’s chunked up feta cheese. Those are the accompaniments to the hominy.
Ok, this is top secret. This hominy is from a can. But, who cares if you can make it taste good. Now that the excess water has drained away, I’m heating it in the microwave until it’s just warm.
Then, I can mix everything up. in goes the onions, pepper and peaches.
Let’s dress it up a bit.
Put this out in a nice bowl and top it with the cheese and the remaining basil. This dish might be the first to go at the next summer picnic.
Sometimes you pick wines because you want to compare them to each other. At other times, you pick wines because you want to see how well a wine pairs with food. This wine pairing is of the latter sort. I want to see which wine is better with this grilled fish and salad course. It’s grilled, so there’s some smokiness. It’s an oily fish, but it’s still fish. I wanted something to match this main course middle ground I’m experimenting with. So, I picked two very different styles of wine: an unfiltered and unfined Sauvignon Blanc and a Cannonau di Sardegna.
Sauv Blanc is known for its grassy and citrus flavors. I’m expecting these flavors to be even stronger in an unfiltered wine that still has some fine yeast cells and grape bits in it. Most wines filter all of that out. But, if you leave it in, it continues to flavor the wine, making a more intense version of what you’re used to. So, it’s a more intense version of a wine you might normally pair with fish.
Then, we have a Canonnau, which is a Grenache from Sardinia in Italy. I saw fatty grilled fish paired with Cannonau in books decades old. It’s clearly a classic pairing. And, if there’s any red wine that you can pair with fish, it’s perhaps Grenache. It’s light and fresh with high acid and bright red fruit flavors like cherry. It’s also got low tannin so it’s not very drying in the mouth or very bitter. This kind of wine would stand up better to the grilled and smoky character of the oily trout without overwhelming it. But, I won’t be sure until I try it. Let’s see what happens.
Wow, that was fun. Sometimes it pays to try something that seems a bit out of the box.
Chocolate cake is our sweet finish this month. But, this isn’t just any chocolate cake. It’s sour milk chocolate cake with ginger and almonds. This should be a light, but tangy, nutty, spicy and chocolatey cake, not at all your generic sheet chocolate cake. It’s definitely got a point of view, perhaps several. At the same time, it’s not overly fussy or complicated to make. You’ll see.
Dissolve baking soda into sour milk or buttermilk. It’s going to froth a bit. That will help it rise. So, will the egg whites and baking soda we will add later.
Add the vanilla to the milk to get that flavor infused. And a bit of almond extract.
Next, cream the butter and sugar together.
Sift the remaining dry ingredients together and add the almonds and ginger and get them coated. Combine the ginger pieces and sliced almonds into the mix and get them well coated.
Then combine wet and dry ingredients.
Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
Fold the egg whites into the mixture.
Now it’s ready to bake. It only needs 30 minutes at 350 degrees. I have a cake pan and I’m smearing it with butter, then a little flour so that it doesn’t stick.
Then in goes the batter.
Here’s what it looks like when it’s done. I can put a toothpick in it and it comes out clean.
If you want to frost it, you’ll need to wait until it’s cool. But, I’m going to pretty it up a different way, a simpler way. I’ve got some powdered sugar and more almonds. I can use these to create a nice decoration for the cake.
And oh yeah, the eaters are getting ginger sauce with this cake too. This cake is better with sauce. You can see the recipe for the sauce on Winosity.com
How’s that look?
I have two sweet wines to go with the cake. I have a fortified, oxidized and aromatized ginger wine from England and a fortified and oxidized Sherry from Spain. Both are sweet and rich.
It’s probably clear how the ginger wine works with this dish. They share the same flavor. But, I’ll admit that when I first heard about this wine, I was skeptical. But, it’s a recipe that’s been around since the 18th century. It also uses raisins in the winemaking. One of my favorite wines, Amarone, also does. So I thought it was worth a try. As for the Sherry, it has a nutty flavor that I’m hoping matches the flavor of the almonds. These two wines could be delightful with the cake or a disaster. We’ll see.
Who knew that.
So, there you have it. I made five dishes, inspired by Freda DeKnight’s 1973 cookbook: Date With a Dish.
I made lobster scrapple, peanut soup with sweet potato and spinach, grilled trout, warm hominy salad, and sour milk chocolate cake with nuts and ginger.
In the beginning of this video I said that coming up with new dishes to cook is the hard part. A blank page is a very hard place to start from. It’s hard to come up with new dishes unless you have some good dishes to start with. That’s what Freda is offering us, some great starting points.
I revised this menu perhaps 5 times before I settled on the dishes you saw. But it was more like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle rather than making a puzzle. A much more fun task and one I can be successful at, and you too.
DeKnight was a culinary pioneer who can teach us so much about pulling together tasty dishes by integrating food traditions from across the country and the world. It’s not fancy. It’s approachable, yet innovative. The kinds of recipes I can really sink my teeth into.
I don’t know about you, but I take advantage of every opportunity I get to create something I’ve never eaten before. I find it inspiring to create new dishes by building on things I’ve cooked in the past and from food other people have cooked for me. That’s what got me excited about using these recipes for this virtual wine tasting party. I used these recipes as a launching point to create dishes that were new to me, at least. In the same way Freda was encouraging home cooks to try new food ideas, I took her idea one step further and incorporated ideas I’ve picked up along the way.
One person said this was the best soup they’ve eaten in their life! It doesn’t get any better than that. And paired with fruity and floral Torrontes, the soup course was beyond delicious. But, the grilled fish with Cannonau was also a stand out. There’s a reason why this is a classic pairing. You should definitely try it. Yes, fish and red wine can go together.
So, that was Episode 4 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 July, yes we’re half way through 2020 already, for the next episode. I’ll be cooking recipes from Milton William 1981 cookbook, The Party Book. If you hadn’t guessed, this book is about how to throw a fabulous party. Milton was THE caterer in Hollywood in the 70’s and 80’s. He planned the kind of parties that cost $400,000 in 1970’s money. That would be over two million dollars today. But, don’t get scared. This book is about how YOU can entertain at home. The first chapter of the book is even entitled “Stop being afraid to have a party.” So, you can do it. And, I can too.
Thanks for watching, folks. Bye!
Check these wines for your reference:
NV Borrasca Brut Cava (SP)
2017 Crios De Susana Balbo Torrontes (AR)
2018 Maipe Torrontes (AR)
2017 Argiolas Costera Cannonau (IT)
2019 Bevan Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
Stone’s Original Ginger (UK)
Osborne Amontillado Sherry (SP)