Homemade Soup: Silky Smooth Seven Veggie Soup

Union Wine Company Fall Soup

With the arrival of autumn, it is true that we begin to lose all those delicious colorful vegetables that seemed so plentiful just a few weeks ago. But the following months give us the opportunity to really explore some fresh new realms in the kitchen, i.e. amazing soups and stews. Once you get the general techniques down, there are literally endless variations that will keep you and your family happy, warm and well-fed through the winter.

If you are new to the world of homemade soups, it’s best to start simply, with a delicious blended soup. We wanted to jazz things up a little bit, so we decided to start with a soup that is both simple and complex at the same time. By incorporating seven different vegetables into this blended soup, the technique is still relatively easy but the taste is much more nuanced.

So without further ado, let’s first head out to the local supermarket to collect everything you will need.

Union Wine Company Fall Soup

Seven Vegetable Blended Soup
Makes 2 Quarts

2 medium sweet onions
2 large cloves of garlic
2 large carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 large stalk of broccoli, stem removed
2 medium white or golden sweet potatoes
1 large Delicata squash, peeled and seeded

5-6 cups organic vegetable or chicken broth
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 small lemon

For garnish:
toasted pumpkin seeds
ground cayenne pepper

STEP ONE:

Peel and chop all 7 vegetables into a uniform size. This doesn’t have to be perfect, as you will be blending everything, but keeping all the pieces a similar size assures equal cooking time for everything.

Union Wine Company Fall Soup

STEP TWO:

Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large high walled pot or rondeau. Add onions, garlic, carrots and celery and season with salt and pepper. Keep stirring so veggies don’t develop any color.

After 5-10 minutes, add celery, broccoli, sweet potato and squash. Re-season slightly and keep moving all vegetables around in the pot to soften but not brown.

After another 5-10 minutes, add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until all vegetables are fully soft. Turn off heat and let the pot rest on the stovetop for 10 minutes to cool down slightly.

Now you are ready to blend…

Sidebar:
To Vitamix or not to Vitamix

Union Wine Company Fall Soup

Many people swear by their Vitamix. And I won’t lie, its a lean mean blendin’ machine. If you own one, I highly recommend you use it. But if you happen to still own an old school blender, fear not. You can still make a delicious smooth soup, you just have to pay a little closer attention.

STEP THREE:

If using the Vitamix, blend in 2 batches, trying to get roughly the same amount of vegetable and broth in each batch. Add just enough liquid to cover the vegetables. You can always add more liquid if need be, but if you add too much, your soup will be too thin.

If using a smaller blender, patience is the virtue! Blend in 5 or 6 batches—the most important thing is to not overcrowd the vegetables so that they can blend smoothly. Pulse vegetables at first to break them down more evenly. A little extra broth or water may be necessary when doing it this way.

STEP FOUR:

As you blend the soup, return each finished batch to a new, clean pot on the stove. Once you have blended all the soup, readjust seasoning with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Reheat soup if necessary and ladle carefully into bowls.

Garnish with the toasted sunflower seeds and a small amount of cayenne pepper (a lot goes a long way!) This soup pairs beautifully with a nice cold glass of Underwood Pinot Gris.

Bon Appétit!

Union Wine Company Fall Soup

Photography and Text by David L. Reamer.  (@dlreamer)

The Hood River Fruit Loop Apple Picking in the Gorge

Union Wine Co Fruit Loop

If the idea of a Fruit Loop conjures up sugary Saturday morning cereal, you wouldn’t be alone. But out here in the Pacific Northwest, we Portlanders know it as something very different. In fact, an incredibly healthy alternative, the Hood River Fruit Loop is a series of U-pick farms and orchards specializing in Autumnal produce.

Great for day trips with the whole family, the Loop is a very simple drive from Portland: about an hour out Hwy. 84 along the Columbia River and then just up Hwy. 35 through the town of Hood River. On a clear day, the views are beautiful and as much fun as the apple picking. There are many farms along the Fruit Loop to choose from. Each has a myriad of apple varieties available at different points during the Autumn season, as well as pears, grapes and other fruit. You can see what is available and when everything is available on the Official Fruit Loop Website.

Union Wine Co Fruit Loop

For my recent trip out there, I chose to visit one of the farms that is the farthest away from Hwy. 84, but well worth the extra few miles drive: Kiyokawa Family Orchards. Located in the small town of Parkdale, this very accessible family-run orchard has one of the largest selections of apple varietals on the Fruit Loop. I was on the hunt for my favorite apple—Honey Crisp—and I was not disappointed. The Honey Crisps at Kiyokawa were the size of softballs; red, delicious and ready to be picked.

Union Wine Co Fruit Loop Union Wine Co Fruit Loop

Kiyokawa Orchards has many different sections to pick from, so even on the busiest of Autumn weekend days, there is never an issue of overcrowding or a lack of fruit to be harvested.

Union Wine Co Fruit Loop Union Wine Co Fruit Loop Union Wine Co Fruit Loop Union Wine Co Fruit Loop

To commemorate my trip out to the Fruit Loop, I created a cocktail using one of the many amazing hard ciders that are produced out in the Columbia River Gorge, Son of Man Sagardo. A Basque-style cider, possibly the only one produced in this region, it has a very dry flavor that I thought would pair really well with the off-dryness of the Underwood Pinot Gris.

I just needed a little bit of herbaceous flavor to round out the cocktail and found that Dolin’s Génépy des Alpes, with its rich Artemisia flavor, worked perfectly. A very simple cocktail served on the rocks, it really embodies the full flavors of Portland’s most glorious season.

(Note: Son of Man can be purchased at a few places around town, but I found it at Belmont Station.)

Underwood Pinot Gris Apple Cider Cocktail

Basque in the Glory

2 oz. Son of Man Sagardo Basque Style Cider
1 oz. Underwood Pinot Gris
1/2 oz. Dolin Génépy des Alpes

Pour all ingredients over ice, stir vigorously and enjoy!

******************

Photography, Text and Cocktail by  David L. Reamer.  (@dlreamer)

Union Wine Co. Kitchen Skills: How to Truss a Chicken

There is something warm and inviting about roasting a whole chicken. It’s delicious, it’s easy, it feeds a whole family, and it’s literally a blank canvas to pair with any side dishes. Here at Union Wine Co., we especially love it because it goes great with white wine, red wine, rosé or bubbles. How many proteins can say that?

If you’re going through the effort, why not make it the most delicious chicken you can? One easy way to really step up your chicken game is to truss it, or secure it with butchers twine. The reason why this is important is because when you roast an untrussed chicken, the breast cavity remains wide open, allowing too much hot air to circulate inside, drying out the breast before the legs and thighs are properly cooked. Trussing holds the whole chicken together for a moist and evenly roasted finish.

For those of us who have spent time in professional kitchens, trussing is second nature. But for the home cook, this can be a little daunting. That’s why we’ve decided to give you a simple step-by-step process.

*********

Before you begin, rinse the bird in cool water and pat dry. Then measure out a good amount of butchers twine. Butchers twine can be purchased at most grocery stores but just about any butcher will give you some if you ask nicely. A good measure for length is the width of your arms outstretched. (It is always better to have a little extra twine than not enough.) Then, grab a sharp knife, pour yourself a nice cold glass of Underwood Rosé Bubbles, and let’s get to trussing.

STEP ONE:

Find the middle of your twine and slide in directly under the center of your bird.

How to Truss a Chicken

STEP TWO:

Pull the string forward above the wings.

How to Truss a Chicken

STEP THREE:

Cross the string in front of the bird and pull tight.

How to Truss a Chicken

STEP FOUR:

Pull the twine back toward you, securing the wings to the side of the bird.

How to Truss a Chicken

STEP FIVE:

Cross the twine again under the crown of the chicken (the tip of the breast bone) and pull tight.

STEP SIX:

Push the twine forward coming over the tops of the legs.

How to Truss a Chicken

STEP SEVEN:

Bring the twine back under the drumsticks and pull tight.

How to Truss a Chicken How to Truss a Chicken

STEP EIGHT:

While holding the twine as tight as you can flip the bird over and wrap the string three times and tie a tight double knot. It is VERY important to wrap the twine three times before knotting as this will keep the twine tight and allow for you to knot it without loosening the whole truss.

How to Truss a Chicken

How to Truss a ChickenSTEP NINE:

Trim the excess string and you are ready to roast!

How to Truss a Chicken

Now, if you like, season the bird with olive oil, salt and pepper, place on a bed of chopped up mirepoix (carrots, onion, and celery) and roast in a 375-degree oven for about 1 hour. Cooking time may vary but your bird is done when the thick part of the leg reads 160 degrees.

Bon Appetit!

Thanks to Quincey Sanders (@quinceysanders) from Canard for his expert trussing skills!

Photography and Text by David L. Reamer.  (@dlreamer)

Underwood Bubbles and a Traditional Texas Fish Fry

Welcome to Texas Hill Country

Underwood The Bubbles

Texas is so big that if you drive Northwest from Houston for 5 hours, you are still not even technically in ‘West Texas’ but rather a beautiful part of the state called Texas Hill Country (picture the area out past Austin and San Antonio). Known for its tall limestone hills and many beautiful rivers, Texas Hill Country is not only a gorgeous part of the state but visually unlike the rest of Texas. As it happens, my wife and I have family who have a house on several acres out in the region, so we visit whenever we can.

This year I was informed that for our visit, we would be treated to a traditional Texas Fish Fry. I thought it would be fun to share some recipes and also some views of the area for the uninitiated. I also thought that some Underwood Bubbles would be a great addition to the festivities.

The menu included fried catfish, hush puppies, Texas-style coleslaw and peach cobbler. You actually have to drive through a peach orchard to get to their property, but more on that later.

Let’s get the recipes out of the way first so we can enjoy the party!

COLESLAW

Underwood Wine

Unlike many mayo-heavy coleslaws, this crisp and colorful sweet and sour version just uses sugar, oil, and vinegar. It is best made the night before for maximum flavor absorption.

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C cider vinegar
1/4 C vegetable oil
8 C shredded green and purple cabbage
1 C thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 C thinly sliced yellow bell pepper
1 medium onion thinly sliced
1 carrot coarsely shredded

Whisk sugar, vinegar, and oil to blend.
Add all ingredients and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

HUSHPUPPIES

These little bombers are absolutely integral to a good fish fry. Best made the day of, you can also make them the night before and warm in the oven just before serving. (Makes about 2 dozen.)

2 C yellow cornmeal
1/4 C AP flour
1 t baking soda
1 T baking powder
2 t salt
1 egg lightly beaten
1/2 C finely chopped green onion
1 1/4 C buttermilk
vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Stir in egg, buttermilk and green onions, mixing gently until ingredients are evenly combined.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy skillet to 375 degrees. Carefully drop batter by teaspoonfuls and fry until golden brown, turning as necessary. Drain on a paper towel.

And now for the main event.

FRIED CATFISH

There are obviously many variations on the seasonings that go into the batter so feel free to add or subtract as your taste desires.

3-4 lbs of catfish fillets, skin and bones removed
2 C milk
2 T lemon juice
3 C vegetable oil for frying
1 C cornmeal
1 C all-purpose flour
2 t paprika
2 t ground black pepper
1 T kosher salt
2 t garlic powder
1/2 t cayenne pepper

Mix all dry ingredients and set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet until 375 degrees.

Cut fillets into manageable pieces—about 3-4 oz a piece. Combine milk and lemon juice in a baking dish and soak catfish for 5 minutes.

Working in batches, put several pieces of catfish in a strong ziplock bag (Texas Represent!) and shake well.

When fish is evenly coated, gently place in hot oil, frying for 3-4 minutes on each side. If doing several batches, allow the oil to come back to temperature before adding more fish.

Let fried fish drain on paper towels, and keep warm in an oven until ready to serve.

Then all you need is some ice cold Underwood Bubbles, cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, ketchup and a few willing participants with big appetites!

Underwood The Bubbles

Underwood The Bubbles

Underwood The Bubbles

Underwood The Bubbles

Underwood The Bubbles

As mentioned above, our family’s neighbor has a huge peach orchard (Roaring Rock Ranch) and is always happy to share his bounty. They usually end up with 20 or so pounds of fresh peaches which they skin, freeze and use throughout the winter.   We thought a traditional peach cobbler (with some Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, of course) would make the perfect end to the party. Apparently, Cobbler gets its name from its biscuit-style topping, which resembles cobblestones. (Ya learn something new every day.)

Underwood The Bubbles

PEACH COBBLER

Underwood Peach Cobbler

1 C AP flour
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 C cold butter- cut into small pieces
2/3 C sugar
1/4 C water
1 T cornstarch
5 C fresh or fresh-frozen peaches
1 egg
1/4 C milk
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
For the topping, stir together flour, the 2 T of sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in chunks of butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

For the filling, combine peaches, sugar, water, and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat and stir until slightly thick and bubbly. Set aside, keeping the mixture warm.

In a small bowl, stir together egg and milk. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until moist. Transfer hot filling mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. Using a spoon, drop flour mixture into 6-8 mounds on top of the filling.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.

******************

So there you have it. Everything you need to host your own Texas Hill Country Fish Fry. I want to thank my in-laws, Bob and Virginia for hosting and cooking up such a delicious meal, and my wife, Meredith, for motivating on making the peach cobbler.

Until next time,  Bon Appétit!

Union Wine Co Texas

Underwood The Bubbles

Photography and Text by David L. Reamer.  (@dlreamer)

Dinner prepared by Virginia Rizzari, cobbler prepared by Meredith Rizzari.

A Delicious Collaboration: Pinot Noir Salt

Here at Union Wine Co., our main focus is obviously on making amazing wine, but we always have our ear to the ground in search of new and interesting ways to use our wine.

Even if you are not from the Portland area, chances are you have heard of, or maybe even use Jacobsen Salt. Ben Jacobsen, owner, purveyor and the genius salt guru behind Jacobsen Salt, has been making fine flake, kosher and finishing flavored salt for almost 8 years. Ben takes the water right from Netarts Bay on the Oregon coast and boils it down in huge caldrons to remove all the water from the salt.

When Ben approached us to do a Pinot Noir Salt we were really excited about the concept. Unlike many “flavored” salts that are just salt mixed up with various other flavors, the Jacobsen Pinot Noir Salt is a literal infusion. Ben takes our Underwood Pinot Noir and reduces it to concentrate the flavor, color, viscosity, and aroma. Then, while the salt is still wet he sprays the wine reduction over the salt, so as it dries, the flavors and color fully infuse. This process is repeated 3-5 times, depending on size and dampness of the salt. For this product, Ben specifically uses pure flake salt.

Then at his ‘Salt Works’ on the shores of Netarts Bay, he dries, flavors and packages all of his salts.

Jacobsen Salt Co Underwood Pinot Noir Salt Jacobsen Salt Co Underwood Pinot Noir Salt Jacobsen Salt Co Underwood Pinot Noir Salt

So…what the heck do you do with Pinot Noir Salt, one might ask. Well, Ben recommends using it on just about anything that would go well with Pinot Noir such as burgers and steaks, but his favorite combination is actually stone fruit, such as peaches and nectarines.We decided to try it out with a ‘7-minute egg’ and it was a delicious pairing.

To cook, brings the eggs to room temperature. Add about 3 inches of water to a pot that will comfortably hold all the eggs you wish to cook. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer. Gently add the eggs and cook, ensuring the water stays at just a simmer for exactly 7 minutes. As soon as the timer goes off, place the eggs in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once they are fully cooled, VERY gently peel the eggs and serve with a generous sprinkling of Pinot Noir Salt.

We would like to thank Ben for spending some time with us to explain the infusion process, and for putting Netarts Bay on the map with his phenomenal products.

Jacobsen Salt Co Underwood Pinot Noir Salt

Photography and Text by David L. Reamer.  (@dlreamer)

BEN JACOBSEN IG:   @ben_jacobsen
JACOBSEN SALT CO IG:  @jacobsensaltco