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October 25, 2013     Cape Gazette
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Food Drink FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25 - MONDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2013 Cape Gazette Too busy to cook? Try a make-ahead meal ith the recent drop in temperatures, we've been craving com- fort food, Unfortunately, that concept usually translates into "food that takes a very long time to make," which can be a challenge when you're juggling so many demands on your time. One solution is to fmd an hour or so and fill it with cooking comfort foods you can freeze. Then, when you have one of your busy days, dinner just needs to be reheated. One of Jack's favorite dinners iork and sauerkraut. Sounds slfiiple enough, but you'll need to bake those chops for at least two hours to transform super- lean pork from tough to tender. An approach that's worked for me is to layer the chops over sliced apples and onions, pile on the sauerkraut, cover the pan with foil, bake the dish for the requisite hours and then freeze it. What happens in the oven is different from what happens stovetop (my previous ap- proach). In a skillet, the chops cook quickly and become dried out, despite the moisture from the apples and sauerkraut. This is because much of the juice escapes or puddles in the pan. In the oven, the tight seal of aluminum foil traps the mois- ture that melts the meat into fork-tenderness. Soup is another comfort food that can take a long time to reach the peak of flavor, and therefore a good candidate for freezing to create a future meal. The recipe below for split pea barley soup can be simmered in a slow cooker for several hours and then transferred into stor- age containers for freezing. One thing to be aware off the soup will thicken considerably dur- ing its time in the freezer. When you reheat it, you may need to add some additional broth to reach the correct consistency. The lasagna in the photo is a quintessential comfort food - layers of cheese, sausage, spin- ach and sauce packed between sheets of pasta. Some people will advise freezing the lasagna before you bake it. I would have great difficuky resisting the temptation to cook it first (so we can eat some immediately) and then get around to freez- ing it. Lasagna leftovers need SPINACH LASAGNA WITH CHICKEN SAUSAGE is a great meal to make ahead special handling. If you simply cover what remains in the pan and throw it in the freezer, you'll create dry edges and a soggy center when you try to reheat the whole thing. A better approach is to let the pan cool after dinner and store the lasa- gna in your fridge overnight. As it chills, it will solidify and become much easier to cut than when fresh from the oven. Cut the leftovers into indi- vidual servings. Wrap each one tightly in plastic, place each one in a zip-top bag and then into the freezer. When you're ready to eat the frozen pieces, let them first come to room temperature (or defrost over- night in the refrigerator) then microwave for about 5 minutes. The time in the microwave will vary, based on the size and thickness of each piece; keeping it wrapped in plastic during the heating will prevent moisture loss. With a few strategies for stocking the freezer in advance, you'll be able to serve comfort food without investing hours at JACK CLEMONS PHOTO of time. mealtime. Now it's time to go thaw out some lasagna. Split Pea Barley Soup 5 C broth 1 t garlic powder I/2 t salt I/2 t black pepper I bay leaf 1 C dry split green peas 1/2 C medium pearl barley (not quick-cooking) 2 C chopped ham 3/4 C sliced carrots Continued on page 93 2011 Ports are blockbusters but need cellar time azz fest was terrific! Thank you to the organizers, Delaware Celebration of Jazz, their President Dennis Santangini and all businesses that sponsored music. As usual, the local restaurants and bars outdid themselves bringing in top-quality entertainment for the event. There are many who help put this together, but spe- cial kudos to ]en Ellingsworth who was the driving factor for tle editing, coordination and creative work that went into the brochure/program of the wpk's events. Jen's a longtime valuable Cape Gazette employee and the brochure really exhibited her multifaceted talent with print media production. While I'm on local issues, please make time to participate in the Sea Witch Festival this coming weekend. Longtimers in the Rehoboth-Lewes region will remember when Sammy Ferro and his merry band would end our season on Labor Day, and the villages would roll up many of the sidewalks. Although there are those who preferred the good old days, from my perspective, the chamber of commerce and a large contin- gent of local business activists have helped grow the town by organizing the many events that have helped make Rehoboth into a year-round destination rather than a three- to four- month beach resort. Many are touting the 2010 Bordeaux. Most of it is quite good. However, keep your powder dry. lust as the 2009 are beginning to soften in price, so will the 2010. The good buys now are the 2008. I just rounded up a case of Chateau Bienfaisance St. Emilion Grand Crtr 2008 rated 92 by Wine Enthusiast, 90:92 by Parker and 90 by WS for $239. That's $20/ bottle for a Stephane Derenon- court-produced gem. You will remember my caveat, follow the winemaker. Stephane is the superstar consultant du jour en Bordeaux. I have written of him twice in the past year. This wine's dark purple color said "Air me out." It opened to a full bouquet of ripe plum and creme de cassis. On the palate medium to full body, complex flavor profile, some cherry, to- bacco, leather and licorice with balanced acid/tannin support. Tannins a bit high but will meld by 2015 at latest. If you wish to drink it now, it needs pour over decanting. Best window now to 2022; 90 plus 2 price points. This is an excellent QPR for those who drink Bordeaux with meals. Port is a bargain these days for big-buck buyers, and the 2011 are blockbusters. Everyone says over 95 points. Problem is, you need to cellar it at least 20 years. Compare Fonseca Vintage Port 1994 to the 2011. Jancis Robinson, my favorite- Port critic, gave the 199417/20, WS 100 points and Parker 97. It opened at $210 and is selling for $220/bottle. On the 2011, JR says 19.5/20, her highest port rating I'm aware of; Parker says 97-99. You can buy it for $80, probably $860/case. My advice on Port is buy a vertical case of half bottles and pay the premium. On Fonseca I recom- mend six each of 2003, '07, '09 and '11. Remember there are 24 halfs (.375ml or 13.75 oz.) per case. Each bottle has just over four 3-ounce servings. Average price/bottle is $46. Regular readers know I am an avid Snooth reader. Recently they published their readers' choice inexpensive and expen- sive lists. Go to Snooth.com and click on Discover Articles, then scroll down for articles about super premium and premium PVA winners for listings of more than 40 selections. Most of them are well chosen. Some I have not sampled yet. In closing, please try a bottle of Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc- Viognier, 92 points under $15. Winemaker Mike Beaulac re- ally has his act together. Since 2007, the lowest rating I have on this blend, with 20 percent Viognier, is 89 points. It is a dry, white, food wine where the fruit adds a sense of sweetness. It opens to a lovely bouquet of honeydew, spring flowers, pear and cantaloupe. On the palate is a palette of tropical fruit flavors and crisp acidity. The finish is clean with lovely grapefruit and pineapple nuance. This is not a cellar dweller, so only buy a few at a time unless you are a wino, in which case, a case won't be enough. Email John McDonald at chjonmc@yahoo. com.