The Eat & Drink Northwest cookbooks is a series of books that come out approximately 3 times annually. They are small format, and come at a very reasonable $8.95 per volume. Each book contains about 20 recipes, and while the first in the series also included 20 wines, the wine pairing suggestions have tripled in later volumes. I love the way they approach the wine pairing. Not only do the suggest a varietal, but they typically offer two to three Northwest wines to choose from. Each recipe has a photo of one or two of the ingredients and a few bottles of wine, some of which are smaller local labels.
The cookbooks were made in a smaller format so that you could take them to the grocery store or the wine shop, which I like. We would have preferred if the books had page numbers and either a Table of Contents or an index. While the books are small, I think it would make them even easier to use - particularly when you have more than one of the books.
All in all, we made close to ten of these recipes, and there wasn't one that we won't make again. Volume 1 makes a point of saying that "these recipes are not meant to be thrown together in 20 minutes around the hustle and bustle of your daily routine. Instead, they are intended for a time when you can slow down, relax, and share the event of cooking with family and friends." I appreciate that and I think the food benefits from this approach. I think too many books are jumping on the bandwagon of 'quick and easy and under 20 minutes.' That's not to say there's not a place for that type of cooking - there definitely is - but there's something to be said for spending time with food as you cook it. It brings a greater appreciation to the table. I also liked that the books don't shy away from including sauces. A perfect example is the stuffed poblanos in (Vol. 2 Ed. 1), which were spicy but had a good flavor profile. The spice was not overwhelming and the roasted yellow pepper sauce did a really good job of balancing the spice from the poblanos. We paired the dish with Delille's Doyenne Rose and it was a great compliment. We found, however, that one pepper apiece wasn't quite enough for a meal in and of itself; when we make this again, we'll very likely add rice to the stuffing mixture to make it heartier.
The Prosciutto Wrapped White Fish with Roasted Vegetables was paired with a Horse Heaven Hills Grenache we went with Maison Bleue though it's not in the book. The fish is a roulade with a sun-dried tomato puree. The sun-dried tomatoes give the fish a rich Mediterranean taste that speaks of a long and deep marinade. The reality, though, is the cook time on this dish was more than reasonable. The Grenache was a good choice as the wine stood up well to the rich layered flavors of the fish as well as the simplicity of the vegetables.
One of our favorites, and one that will definitely be making future appearances in our house, was the Slow Cooked Tomato and Duck Ragu with Bowtie Pasta.
Slow Cooked Tomato and Duck Ragu with Bowtie Pasta (shared with permission)
Make a little extra time for this one. The sauce simmers for two hours, but trust me when I say that it's well worth it.
2 duck breasts
4 slices bacon
1/2 c small diced carrot
1/2 c small diced celery
1 1/2 c small diced sweet onion
coarse salt and cracked black pepper
2 garlic cloves
3 T sherry vinegar
2 T tomato paste
1 c red wine
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 1/2 c chicken stock
1 tsp cinnamon
2 dried bay leaves
1 rosemary stem
1 package bowtie pasta
- Trim off excess fat from each duck breast and discard. Chop duck breasts into medium dice and saute in a large, dry pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook for five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove duck and bacon and all but 2 tablespoons of liquid from the pot and into another bowl.
- Add carrot, celery and onion to the pot over medium-high heat and stir. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. cook for 5 minutes, add garlic and cook another 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Reduce heat to medium and deglaze with sherry vinegar and stir. Add tomato paste, stir, and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add wine, stir and cook for a few more minutes. Adjust to medium-high heat. Add the can of whole tomatoes, chicken stock, bay leaves, rosemary stem, and stir (If you have a Parmesan rind you have been saving for sauce, this would be a great time to add it).
- Bring up sauce to a low simmer and cook for 2 hours uncovered. Every 20 minutes, skim the fat off the surface and discard. Taste for seasoning and adjust with sale and pepper and sherry vinegar.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Serve Slow Cooked Tomato and Duck Ragu over bowtie pasta.
I paired the food with wines I had on hand, what I love about these books however is that they recommend specific Northwest wines from smaller producers, like Buty, Pend Oreille and Amavi. And because of the books size, you could take it to a well stocked grocery and pick out the particular wines they recommend should you choose. I also want to acknowledge my lovely wife Gwynne and her help with working on this post with me. Her blog, Look What I Made You is a great stop for food and craft folks.