How to Make your own Wine at home. 

      Making wine might seem like a complicated process better left for the experts, but it’s actually pretty easy. Making your own Wine is a fun hobby to get into to impress your friends and after a while save you some money.
      Wine making is a tradition passed down thousand of years. Being perfected every step of the way. The process, however, is an easy one. The science behind it is simple enough. A fruity sugary liquid is made and yeast added. The yeast eats the sugars and makes alcohol and carbon dioxide as byproducts. 
    I would reccomend buying a 5 gallon wine making kit off of the internet. They usually include a fermenter, a hydrometer, an airlock, a wine corker and other essential equipment for wine making. Brew stores are becoming a common place now, so you could find one near you and get even more advice on the process and what to get there. 
      First off, you’ll have to determine the wine you’ll want to make. I would actually reccomend buying grape juice from your homebrew store, or buy a different kind of juice at the store. Any fruit, or juice, can be fermented usually. If you’re going to buy juice at the store however make sure it comes with no preservatives. Just the juice and vitamin c are okay. Any preservatives can kill the yeast. Right now I have apple wine going. I found some nice apple cider from an orchard nearby and I’m making apple wine. 
       

Once you determime the flavor of wine you’ll be fermenting you need to add sugar to increase what’s called the gravity. The gravity is the density of sugar in your wine. The hydrometer that comes with your wine kit is the tool you’ll need. Fill up the test tube and place the hydrometer in it. It’ll have numbers down the side like 1.100, 1.050 and so on. The gravity will determine a few things. It’ll determine the alcohol potential of your wine. For example a liquid with a starting gravity of 1.050 could ferment to 6.5%. You can add more sugar to get a higher ABV. You’ll also want to take into account how sweet you want your wine. 

      The yeast is a living microorganism. It’s goal is to eat all the sugars it can until the alcohol level is high enough that the yeast is killed. Yeast comes in many strains. I when making wine use lavlin wine yeasts, because it’s easy and there are many charts on which strain to use for what. If you have a wine with a 12% ABC potential, but your yeasts tolerance is 14% than you’ll have a totally dry wine. If you have a wine with a 16% ABV potential and the same yeast you’ll be left with a sweet wine. You just need to determine what kind of wine you want and edit the sugar levels from there. 

      Once you have your sugary juice to the sweetness you want according to the hydrometer dump it into your fermenter. Now you’ll want to vigorously shake the fermenter to incorporate all the oxygen you can, this will help in the first few hours of fermentation when the yeast is rapidly reproducing.  

This you’ll want to place in a warm place, the yeast packet will tell you what range is best for it. Once your wine is around that tempature pitch your yeast, just sprinkle it on top. Now put in the airlock and let sit. The airlock is a small device that lets the carbon dioxide escape, bit doesn’t allow air in. You’ll see carbon dioxide bubbles within a few days or hours passing through it. 

     Now every step along the way you’ll want to make sure that everything is clean and sterile. I use starsan that comes with a lot of kits. It’s a sanitizer made for brewing that you don’t need to rinse off. Sanitation is big when making your own alcohol. You want to avoid bacteria that can make your wine sour or into vinegar. 
      I usually let my wines ait for about 2 months in 5 gallon increments. This gives it enough time to ferment and the yeast to clean up after itself. It’ll mellow out in this time as well, young wine is incredibly sharp. 
      Now take another gravity reading and this is your final gravity. Go on Google and look up an ABV calculator and enter both numbers into the box and it’ll tell you what your ABV is. I find 14% to be a nice number for most wines. 

     At this point pool at your wine to make sure it’s clear. If it’s still cloudy let it sit longer and clear or buy some fining agent to clear it much quicker. Then it’s good to bottle. When bottling make sure to avoid the bottom one inch of your fermenter. This is where your yeast cake will be and you don’t want any of that making it’s way into your bottles. It can cloud it up, but it’s not dangerous. 

      Once I’ve bottled it I let it sit for another month and drink. It’s really easy, especially once you’ve done it once. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes along the way it happens. 
     For more patient people I reccomend making a batch of mead. Mead is honey wine. Just dissolve honey into warm water until it’s the proper gravity for what you want and add your yeast in the same way. I say this requires patience, because you need to let this sit for a year. It’s like jet fuel for a long time then by the year mark it’s a golden delisuous beverage. 

     Fermenting your own Wine is a really fun project. It’s easy especially after your first time and you can make 5 gallons of wine for a significantly cheaper margin than buying at the store. This is after you’ve bought your equipment. You have complete control over flavors and preference. You get to make wine the way you like it and you get the knowledge of the science of fermentation. 
      I reccomend anyone give this a try. If anyone has any questions let me know, or if you’d like a more detailed look on any steps or equipment. 

Advertisements

Cheese and cheese boards 

All about cheese. As a kid I get up not far from the Tillamook cheese factory here in Oregon. It was amazing. Seeing how some of the best cheese in the country is made, start to finish. I grew up eating a lot of cheddar and swiss. Pretty standard decent cheeses. I wouldn’t touch American cheese them, because I couldn’t do the taste and now, because I’ve learned it’s very close in composition to plastic. 
However as I got older I realized that cheese isn’t a simple thing. There are thousands of different cheeses with different flavors and purposes. In this post I’m going to focus on a good cheese board and some differences in classifications of cheese. 
First of all let’s look at the main way cheese is classified, by it’s hardness. Cheese is separated into 4 groups this way. Soft, semi soft, semi hard and hard. This makes it far easier to find the cheese you want. For a good cheese board you want all 4. A full, well rounded experiance of cheese. Below I will post a helpful chart on how some cheeses are categorized, so you better understand the idea. 

The harder the cheese the more difficult it is for it to melt. American cheese melts extremely easy, because it’s a soft cheese. You can put a decent sized slab on top of it and it would melt just fine. That’s why pizzas are generally made with mozzarella, because it melts so easily. When I make my Alfredos when I add my Asiago or parmesan cheese it has to be shredded pretty fine to melt properly. Also the aging process makes cheese not melt as well. Most cheeses are hard because they’ve been aged a long time like parmesan. It changes the composition and makes it saltier and harder. 

When I put together a cheese board I put one of several of each cheese on. I will also look to put a nice rustic bread on my board. Cheese and bread are so nice together. I love spreading a soft cheese over crusty bread. The texture and flavor are incredible. This is one of those simplicity is bliss things. I always warm my bread and slice it relatively thick. Try something with a gentler flavor like a light sourdough or a baguette. 

Crackers are a classic on cheese boards. I prefer crackers for harder cheeses. Remember to slice your hard cheeses very thin. The cracker holds up much better than bread against these cheeses. Again likewise with bread pick a flavor neutral cracker. With it being eaten with a hard cheese that’s already salty, pick a cracker that is light on the salt. 

The best fruit for a nice cheese board is something mildly sweet and tart. This lets the cheese bloom and is a good underdone to the rich and salty cheeses. I really like fresh figs and grapes of several varieties on my board. It gives you options and flavor and allows you to eat a lot of cheese. Apple’s can also be nice, especially a green apple. 

Wine and cheese to me is almost as good as it gets. Due to the rich and salty nature of cheese a light red wine is my preference. It changes by what cheese I’m eating, but pinot noir is usually my go too. A generally smooth, gentle and fruity red wine it helps cut the fattiness of the cheese, without overpowering it. Never over power your cheese it defeats the purpose. Chianti can also be nice. It’s mildly spicy and aromatic it’s better for more flavorsome cheeses like a hard Asiago or blue cheeses. White wines can go well with a lighter, summery cheese board. If you choose a white wine make sure it’s fruity and tart. 

Blue cheese is an interesting thing. It’s the least popular of all the cheeses. It’s packed in flavor and it has a pungent odor that is off putting for a lot of people. Blue cheese is moldy, it’s injected with penacillium to encourage the bacteria growth. This mold is what gives blue cheese it’s salty and sharp flavor. This is also why it has the pungent flavor and blue veins. Blue cheese comes in many types too some more mild than others. 

What you need to know about tuna 

For the longest time most thought of tuna as the cans you buy for 50 cents that you mix with mayo and put on bread. Tuna is much much more than that. Canned tuna is all the scraps and lesser quality tuna cooked way longer than it should be. It’s dry and bland. It needs tablespoons of mayo to be attractive to eat. 

Tuna steaks can be really nice.  You need to make sure the tuna is of good quality. Good tuna is deep read and stays together nicley when you slice it. Most tuna at the grocery store has been frozen, so I reccomend a fish market. 

In my opinion, and that of most chefs, tuna should be seared all around and sliced. A nice tuna niscoise salad is great. Green beans, fingering potatoes and niscoise olives tossed in a simple dressing with your tuna sliced over top. 
When I sear my tuna I use sesame oil and get it smoking hot and sear it all around until it’s a nice golden brown all around. I set it aside and let it rest a bit. Slice it thin, it’s relatively dense, the texture is nicer if it’s sliced tjin.
Eating fresh tuna raw is also nice. However when you eat raw fish you always need to make sure it’s never been frozen and it’s fresh. If it’s not fresh and it has been frozen i won’t usually eat it raw it’s just a safety thing. Being safe is the most important.
Poke is nice with tuna. It’s sliced red and green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and the tuna diced small. It usually has a little more than that, but that’s the just of it. Raw fresh tuna of course is always nice on sushi.

Tips for a better burger 

An American staple, the hamburger. Burgers can take many forms. Every component is equally important to make the burger something really special. The bun, the sauce, the burger and the toppings. I’m going to give you some tips can that can make burgers go from good to great. 
First let’s start with the bun. You can bake a really nice burger bun. It’s relatively easy and they hold well. I usually opt to buy mine. You can find good ones in most bakeries. I always make sure to toast my buns. This helps the bun not to go soggy and it gives it a little more flavor. 
The sauce is important too. Mayo works just fine, however I prefer to either make my own special mayonnaise, or add to mayonias to give it a little something. The sauce is important, because its mostly made of fat and creates a thin protective layer on the bottom bun and it prevents it from going soggy. The sauce should be relatively neutral so the burger patty and toppings can define the burger. The patty and toppings being the main casts and the bun and sauce being the ensemble. 
The burger patty should be kept simple. Try adding some sauteed onions or mushrooms to your beef before you mix it. I like to sautee mushrooms and add it to my beef with blue cheese. This helps keep the burger moist, flavorsome and less messy when you eat it. Another burger I really enjoy making and eating of course is a burger with thyme, basil, sauteed onion and grated parmesaean cheese. Adding aromatic herbs is a really nice touch. Don’t overwork your beef mixture. Keeping your mixture cold and not working it too much will prevent a chewy and dry burger. Be mindful of how you cook your burger. I always reccomend medium for a burger. Cooked,  a little pink and juicy. It makes for a much more pleasurable eating experiance. 
Lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. The toppings almost every burger comes with. Boring. I really enjoy bacon, or super thin salami. Try cheeses that aren’t cheddar or Swiss. Try super thin Asiago, goat cheese, or mozzarella. Pickled vegetables are really nice on a burger too. Pickled watermelon radishes or peppers are interesting additions. My last tip is try lightly dressed greens like arugala or frisse. 

Tips and ideas for shrimp 

Shrimp are a fan favorite, ask my fiance. Packed with flavor and numerous ways to enjoy them cooked or raw. Every part of the shrimp can be used. I really dislike food waste.
Shrimp go very well with pasta dishes. I reccomend shelling your shrimp and making a stock out of the shells and heads, you can make the stock into a sauce, cook your pasta in it for a unique flavor or poach your prawns in it. If non of that suites your fancy than you can make shrimp oil. Take some neutral oil, such as canola oil and simmer your shells in it. Smash the shells with a potato masher and drain the oil from the shells. You can also make a compound butter out of shrimp stock simmered way down. 
Shrimp also go well with things like tacos and fajitas. Be gentle with your shrimp when sauteeing them for things like fajitas. They don’t take long to cook at all. Shrimp can go rubbery quick. If you cook them too long they also begin to lose some of their flavor. When making shrimp fajitas I season them gently with salt and cumin and add them once my onions and bell peppers are about halfway their. Also you can sautee your veggies in shrimp butter or oil if you made it. 
Try them on their own. Sautee them in a compound butter. Maybe add a little white wine and lemon juice. Finish with some herbs. All this in mind try to buy good shrimp that really helps. The shell bring good is important.

Make your own infused oils 

Infused oils can add a wonderful flavor to wherever you’re cooking. You can cook with it or use it to finish a dish as a drizzle. I see infused olive oil sell for a spendy amount. It’s easy and cheap to do it at home let me tell you a few ways how. 
You can heat your basic olive oil up gently and add your desired flavors. Garlic or herbs or vegetable. Gently simmer on a very low heat and set aside to cool. I always use a mid shelf olive oil. 
When I make my infused oils I cold infuse them. I get my bottle and put my flavors in it and let it sit for a while. I think I get a crisper and cleaner flavor this way. It’s also less fuss. Overtime the oil will absorb more and more flavor. So be weary the flavor will change overtime. Aging it is a good thing.
I prefer to do this myself, because it’s cheaper and it looks really nice sitting on the shelf. I also like having complete control over what flavors I infuse with my oil.

My easy homemade pasta recipe 

A lot of midshelf pastas are pretty decent and do a good job. It’s easy and ready and relatively inexpensive. Making home made pasta, however is fun, easy and neat. Making pasta from scratch is really easy. What you’ll need: 

3 eggs

2 cups of flour

Salt

1t olive oil 

Pasta roller
Growing up I was shown the well method. Where you make a well out of the flour and salt and pour your eggs in the middle. You slowly incorporate the flour until it’s perfect. I like this method, however I do this in a bowl instead of my counter. No risk of having to clean up egg off of the floor.
I just mix it all together until it forms a smooth ball. I need mine a little more than some. Then you have to let your dough rest. I usually let it rest for about an hour. 
At this point I’ll flatten it out with my hand until it’s thom enough to go through the roller. I start on the largest setting and work my down going through each number twice. I take mine fairly thin for most pastas. 
When I make linguini I roll my thin strips of pasta, cut into about one foot long by roller wide peices, through the linguini roller the machine comes with. It attaches to the back and uses the arm of the machine like the main roller.
The pasta is good to go now. Whatever you don’t use that day lay flat somewhere coated in flour. This will dry your pasta and it will hold a long time. 

Easy mushroom risotto 

Risotto is an Italian rice dish. Short grain rice, simmered and stired with stock until thick, smooth and creamy. Risotto is s beautiful thing, because it’s simple and versatile. I’ve made over 100 types of risotto and loved almost all of them. Try something simple. One of my favorites is just a simple wild mushroom risotto. Here’s my easy recipe. Use it as an appetizer, entree or a side. What you’ll need:
Butter

Salt/pepper

Onion 

Garlic 

Wild mushrooms 

White wine 

Chicken stock

Asiago cheese 
First you’ll want to heat your butter in a sautee pan. Add your onion, garlic and mushrooms. Season and sweat down until onions are translucent and mushrooms are well cooked.
Add your rice and coat with the butter and mushroom mixture. At this point add your chicken stock and stir and simmer. Simmer and stir until cooked. You’ll need to add more stock as time goes on. Stirring helps thicken the rice so stir regularly. Finish with shaved Asiago and serve. 
This is a nice recipe, because it takes the guess work and fuss out of cooking rice. Try making a few different kinds of risotto and share how it goes!

Tips for cooking a better egg

One of the simplest staples of every kitchen, the humble egg. So simple and perfect. You can do endless things with eggs beyond an egg dish, I put egg in my pastas, pastries and cakes. However this post will focus on how to do egg dishes better. So many people cook eggs wrong, or in a way that could be done better.
My tips for a really good scrambled eggs is this. Try using a double boiler, a metal bowl over a bowl of boiling water. This is very gentle and let’s you have complete control over your eggs. Add a little heavy cream to your eggs, just an ounce or two, this helps them be richer. Add chopped herbs. I even really like a little curry powder on mine. I like to keep mine simple, without too many other items like ham or peppers. I really like the egg to shine through. One of my favorite dishes is a piece of toast with herbed scrambled eggs and sauteed mushrooms over top. I cook my eggs to where they still look a little wet, scramble is meant to be served like that not hard cooked. 
Poaching an egg is one of the most annoying things for egg rookies to master. It can be so disastrous. The egg could break and now you have to start a while new pot of boiling water. I crack my egg or two into a little dish. Something like a small souffle dish, I know they won’t be cracked and I can set them down in the water as gently as I desire. When your eggs are in the water, don’t fuss with them. Breaking and egg that’s almost there is so frustrating.
To boil an egg is pretty self explanatory. I reccomend, however, you look up the doness of a boiled egg. Cook your egg too long and it won’t be very tasty, too short and it will be underdone. I personally like a 7 minute egg. The egg will be cooked, except the middle of the yolk will be runny. This is perfect for a salad. 
Frying an egg. The flip is the trick. When you fry an egg always use gentle heat, let it take it’s time. For a sunny side up egg just make sure the white is cooked. For an over easy flip and immediately turn off the heat. An over medium is a little longer than that. Flipping the eggs can be a little challenging. I reccomend using rice in a pan to practice the flipping motion. Having a little rice on the ground is better than egg all over your stove. 

Pork and why it’s so exciting.

      Many foods excite me. It’s a funny thing about chefs, some of the most basic foods can really be exciting. Pork is something it took me a long time to understand this well. Every part of the pig can be used. From the head to the tail.

     It took me until I started butchering pigs and observing how little waste they have to really grasp my appreciation for pork. The day we sous vide the face stuffed with herbs and vegetables and sliced it like a salami. I would be never imagined eating the face of the pig, but even that gets used. It was very good too.
      The feet or trotters we braised and mixed with cooked onions and herbs. We chilled and pressed it, sliced it and deep fried it. It’s so incredibly good. Serve it with a little stone ground mustard. Those are just a few parts that get used that are unconventional. 
     For something more common like a pork chop I reccomend using a brine. This will help season it and keep it moist. Maybe make a stuffed chop. Don’t overcook it like so many people do. The chop is my least favorite part of the pig to eat. 
    The belly is a dream. So fatty and flavorsome. This is where most people’s favorite food is, bacon! Now I like to stuff the belly with spicy pork sausage, fennel, onions and herbs, roll it and bake it. Porcetta is an amazing thing. Such a beautiful way to use the belly. Crispy and flavorsome. 
     Try some new ways to cook pork, try some parts you haven’t before. Be adventurous and have fun with it. Pork doesn’t have to be boring.