Here’s to a Healthier New Year: Two ways to cook with wine

January is definitely a time of reflection and revision, a chance to clear out all the excesses that seem to pile up during the holiday months. Gym memberships are on the rise and most people are looking for ways to cut calories and just generally start this year healthier than they ended the last one.
 
Lots of people even (gasp) take a hiatus from drinking. Now, you might think that being winemakers we would hold this practice anathema, but on the contrary, here at Union we support that 100%. A little break is always a good thing to realign mind, spirit and body. And if this includes a short sojourn into teetotaling, then have at it. But we would be remiss if we didn’t mention there are many other, specifically culinary uses for our wines that will help you stick to your resolutions by making your healthy choices that much more delicious.
 
This week we present two recipes that each employ the use of our Underwood Pinot Noir. The first is an arugula salad with red wine vinaigrette; the second is oven-roasted lentils with red wine and winter vegetables. Both recipes are well rounded, healthy options to bolster your January resolutions.

Arugula Salad with roasted hazelnuts, quinoa, dried apricots, ricotta salata and a red wine vinaigrette 

For the salad, you will need:
1 large bunch of Arugula
1 C roasted hazelnuts
1 C cooked quinoa
1/2 C quality dried apricots
1/2 C ricotta salata cheese (or other crumbly salty cheese)
For the vinaigrette, you will need:
6 oz olive oil
2 oz red wine vinegar
2 oz Underwood Pinot Noir
juice of half a lemon
1/4 of a shallot, peeled and diced
1/2 t white sugar
salt and pepper

Kitchen Tip: How to skin hazelnuts

In most supermarket bulk sections, you can buy raw hazelnuts. These come with the skin on them. It’s okay to eat the skin, but much more delicious if most is removed. There is a very simple way to do this. First, roast the hazelnuts in a pan at 350 degrees until they just begin to darken. Let them cool slightly and then, in batches, place the nuts in a rough kitchen towel, vigorously rubbing to remove the skins. Pick out the skinned ones and repeat with all nuts until they are mostly skin free. (Some skin will always remain no matter how diligently you do this.)

Making the vinaigrette

Simply combine all the ingredients in a measuring cup and then transfer to a glass jar for storage. Since there are no eggs or dairy in the vinaigrette, it will stay good for a long time. You can store this in the refrigerator or the pantry. Shake well before using.

To finish the dish, dress the arugula in a bowl with the vinaigrette and then add all the other ingredients. And Voila!

Next up….

Oven Roasted Lentils with red wine, thyme and winter vegetables

For the uninitiated, lentils are in the legume family and come in three main color types, black, green and red. I recommend the green for this dish because I find them to be the most hearty. You can boil lentils,  but roasting them in the oven gives them a much richer flavor. (I was personally not a fan of lentils until I discovered this method.)

For this recipe, you will need:
1 C dried green lentils
4 C water
1 C Underwood Pinot Noir
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 medium carrots—cut into chunks
1 large shallot—thinly sliced
2 medium parsnips
1/2 bunch of hearty kale
olive oil
salt & pepper

STEP ONE:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a metal or ceramic roasting dish, place the lentils, sliced shallot, carrot chunks, and fresh thyme. Drizzle liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast uncovered for about 25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes.

STEP TWO:
 
While you are roasting the lentils, sauté the parsnips and kale on high heat. You want some color on the parsnips, but do not cook them all the way thru.

STEP THREE:
Remove the pan from the oven. Add roughly 1 cup of the wine and return to the oven, still uncovered. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the wine begins to reduce. Then add the water and cover with tin foil. Cook for about 40 minutes.

STEP FOUR:
Remove the tin foil, add the parsnips and kale and return the dish to the oven, cooking uncovered for another 20 minutes or until lentils are tender but not mushy. Add more water if necessary. Remove the thyme, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Bon Appétit!

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

A Healthy Start to the New Year: Making your own Kombucha

Homemade kombucha

In many ways, 2019 was a challenging year. (I think you know what I mean…) Well, we can’t control everything, but what we can do is look inward and start the new year with some healthy routines to keep the mind and body feeling great. The time for New Year’s resolutions is here again.

I can honestly say that just a few years ago I had never even heard of kombucha, but now it is a huge part of my diet and life. For the uninitiated, kombucha is simply a deliciously funky beverage made by fermenting sugar and tea with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). This process creates living probiotic bacteria that are wonderful for digestion and all around general health.

When I looked into making kombucha at home, I couldn’t believe how easy and inexpensive it was. I did several test runs and came up with a recipe that is delicious and consistent, but I encourage you to adjust the ingredients as you see fit for a sweeter, more sour or less carbonated finished product.
The first step in making kombucha is to make a healthy SCOBY. This will become the soul and backbone of your kombucha. (I named mine Scoby-Wan Kanobi.) This process is similar to the actual making of kombucha but must be done first. Here’s what you will need:

MAKING A STRONG SCOBY

A One Gallon Glass Jar
Cheesecloth or Paper Coffee Filters
4 C store bought unflavored kombucha*
2 T tea*
1/2 C regular granulated white sugar
1 Quart tap water

*For this, I recommend two local shops right across the street from each other on SE Belmont Street. First head over to the Soma Kombucha Taproom to pick up your unflavored kombucha. Feel free to bring your own Mason Jars. Then head across the street to The Tao of Tea to pick up the loose tea you need. I experimented with many teas but found the Malty Assan always seemed to work the best.

Homemade kombucha

Place the water, tea, and sugar in a large pot. Bring the water to a boil. Stir to dissolve all the sugar. Turn off the heat and let the tea steep for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid into the gallon jar. When cooled to room temperature, add the unflavored kombucha and cover with the cheesecloth or coffee filter- secured with a rubber band. Wait about 3-4 weeks and you should have a fully formed Scoby. I’m not gonna lie. Scobies are pretty gross, but they are firm and resilient to handling.

It is said they have a tendency to mold- at which point you would need to throw it away and start over- but I have been making kombucha for a year and have yet to encounter any mold. If you are worried, there are many visual examples you can find online.

Believe it or not, this is what a fully formed healthy Scoby looks like:

Homemade kombucha

Now that you have your Scoby, it’s time to make the Kombucha. It’s a very similar process using all the same ingredients, just with different proportions. In general, this first batch is too acidic to drink, but keep 2 C of the liquid for making your kombucha. (You will do this every time you set up a new batch.)

HOMEMADE KOMBUCHA RECIPE

12 C water
1 and 1/4 C granulated white sugar
1/4 C loose tea leaves
2 C of the liquid from your Scoby process

Just like before, place the water, tea, and sugar in a large pot. Bring the water to a boil. Stir to dissolve all the sugar. Turn off the heat and let the tea steep for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid into the gallon jar. When cooled to room temperature, add the unflavored kombucha and the Scoby and cover with the cheesecloth or coffee filter- secured with a rubber band.

Homemade kombucha

You can keep your kombucha at any temperature but remember that the colder it is, the longer the process takes. You can let the kombucha ferment anywhere from 1 week to a month. Since I keep mine at a colder temperature, I usually wait the full month before doing the second fermentation. This is done to add a specific flavor to the kombucha. There are myriad flavor choices for this step and I encourage you to try a few. For this project, I chose ginger and mint as my flavors.

*VERY IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE

When your kombucha is ready, you must put it into sealable bottles for the second flavoring fermentation. I STRONGLY recommend getting 6-8 Grolsch Beers. Drink the beers (duh!) and then use those bottles. I have had several bottles explode from the pressure built up during the second fermentation, but I have NEVER had a Grolsch bottle fail me.

Homemade kombucha

Whatever flavor you choose, pour your kombucha evenly among the bottles, leaving some room for the extra ingredients. Add the juice, ginger, herbs, etc. and then allow these to sit for about a week before drinking. It is perfectly acceptable to open the bottles every 2-3 days to let a little pressure off. This will not detract from the final effervescence.

One gallon usually makes about 6 Grolsch bottles worth.

Homemade kombucha

Homemade kombucha

I know that this was a practice in healthy starts, but let’s face it, we are a wine company, so we couldn’t end the post without coming up with a simple cocktail to show off your new creation. So here for your drinking pleasure, I present:

AFTERPARTY AT THE CO-OP

2 oz ginger mint kombucha
1.5 oz Underwood Pinot Gris
.5 oz Giffard Caribbean Pineapple Liqueur

Measure all ingredients into a shaker, fill with ice, shake heavily and strain into a glass. Enjoy!

Homemade kombucha cocktail

I hope this post will inspire you to try your own kombucha. It’s cheap, easy and fun for the whole family.

Happy New Year and keep those #pinkiesdown.

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

Simplifying New Year’s Eve: A Sparkling Batch Cocktail

Underwood Bubbles French 75

Whether you are entertaining at home or just pre-gaming before a big night out on the town, perhaps at the Local & Legendary Tony Starlight’s Soft Seventies Rockin’ Dinner Show (it’s amazing BTW) it’s always fun to get New Year’s Eve started off on the right foot with a delicious cocktail. And since there is bound to be a few bottles of Bubbles around the house, we thought the classic French 75 would be a great suggestion.

A relatively simple drink to make, the French 75 got its start around WW1, when it was said that the drink had the kick of being shelled by a powerful French 75mm Field Gun. Here at Union, we believe in drinking responsibly, even on New Year’s Eve, but just one won’t hurt.

And we figure you won’t be drinking alone, so we decided to set you up with a batch cocktail—one who’s base can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge. That way, when your guests arrive, just stir with ice, strain, and top off with Union’s Underwood Bubbles. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

You can use your favorite Gin, but we recommend Portland’s own women-owned-and-run craft distillery, Freeland Spirits Gin. We have been loving this locally made brand lately and highly recommend checking them out.

Underwood Bubbles French 75
French 75
(This recipe is designed to make 4 drinks.)

6 oz Freeland Spirits Gin
3 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice*
2 1/2 oz simple syrup
2 C ice cubes
1 bottle Underwood Bubbles

*Since Meyer lemons are in season right now, we recommend them, but regular lemons are fine too.

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STEP ONE:

Measure out the first three ingredients into a glass mixer and place in the fridge until your guests arrive. When ready to make up the cocktails add the ice and stir well.

Underwood Bubbles French 75
STEP TWO:

Strain the chilled base into 4 coup or other stemmed glasses. No need to be super fancy or even have all matching glasses—sometimes its fun to mix and match your vintage-ware.

Underwood Bubbles French 75
STEP THREE:

Top off all the glasses with some ice cold bubbles and you are ready set go! It’s that simple.

So, from everyone here at Union, we would like to wish you and yours a safe and happy new year! Whether staying in by a roaring fire, or heading out for a night on the town, have a blast but please stay safe, keep those pinkies down, and for gosh sakes, take a LYFT!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Underwood Bubbles French 75
Photography and Text by David L. Reamer.  (@dlreamer)

Make it a Mimosa Morning: Variations on a Classic Cocktail

Union Wine Co Underwood Mimosas

The holiday season is upon us once again. There is shopping to be done, parties to attend, relatives to host. And best of all, if all goes well, there will be a few mornings to sleep in and then start the day right… with some friends, a lazy brunch and a light cocktail.

That makes it a perfect time for mimosas. Generally made with orange juice and sparkling wine, we thought we would give you a few other options to spice up your brunch, impress your guests and make some deliciously unexpected mimosa combinations. Best to stock up on a few extra bottles of Underwood Bubbles. Once these mimosas start flowing, you don’t want to run out of sparkles to keep the party going.

First up, a simple but classic combination, Bubbles with Chambord, a raspberry liqueur from the Loire valley in France. Garnish this classic combination with some fresh raspberries for a little extra jazz in your glass.

Chambord Mimosa

5 oz Underwood Bubbles
1 oz Chambord
Fresh Raspberries for garnish

Union Wine Co Underwood Mimosas

Next up, we recently discovered an amazing locally made ginger syrup from Portland Syrups. They brew their syrup with “mountains of fresh ginger root… and add Japanese chilies for an authentic, slightly hot finish.”

You can add this to plain soda water to make a refreshing ginger ale, but we found it also went great in a mimosa with some fresh rosemary as a fragrant garnish.

Ginger Mimosa

5 oz Underwood Bubbles
.5 oz Portland Syrups Ginger Syrup
Fresh Rosemary for garnish

Union Wine Co Underwood Mimosas

Their season is very short, but right now most markets are selling fresh blood oranges. If you’ve never indulged, we can’t recommend these enough. True to their name, this sweetly sanguine citrus is as colorful as it is delicious. It makes for a simple but beautiful addition to your mimosa arsenal.

Blood Orange Mimosa

5 oz Underwood Bubbles
Juice from one blood orange

Underwood Mimosas

For our final concoction, we decided to try some yuzu syrup. Made from the Japanese yuzu fruit, it is like a blend of lemon and grapefruit with just a touch of salt. When we were making this drink, we decided it needed a little more sweetness to balance out the cocktail, so we juiced a clementine as well. We recommend going easy on the yuzu syrup… it can be pretty intense!

Yuzu and Clementine Mimosa

5 oz Underwood Bubbles
1/4 oz Yuzu Syrup
Juice of 1 Clementine

Underwood Mimosas

Hopefully, this gives you a few new and interesting options for entertaining this holiday season. Whatever flavor strikes your fancy, we hope you have the opportunity to share a late morning brunch and cocktails with your friends and family.

Underwood Mimosas

Bon Appétit and #pinkiesdown!

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

Pasta in the Pink: A Harms’ Family Classic Recipe

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

We have been posting stories, recipes, cocktails and more all year long, but we had yet to focus on the Paterfamilias, Founder and Fearless Leader the Union Family… Ryan Harms. We asked Ryan how we could get him involved and he suggested sharing a classic family recipe that he makes often with his sons, Noah and Ethan. Ryan also personally cooks and serves this dish every year to his harvest crew.

In Ryan’s own words, “I worked at Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island, during the summer of 1998. This is where I learned to make grilled pizza’s and this recipe comes from my experience there. Working there was transformational for me in getting a great base of cooking. They were doing farm to table before that was even a term. George and Joan created an amazing culture that continues on today.”

This particular recipe that Ryan adopted, ‘Shells Baked with Tomato, Cream and 5 Cheeses’ makes use of a basic but delicious tomato sauce base that was used in many of the Al Forno dishes. By adding a bounty of fresh cheeses and herbs, this simple pasta dish turns into something amazing. Its an easy recipe once you get the technique down, which we will happily guide you through…

Before any of the prep begins, preheat your oven to 500 degrees and get a large pot of salted water boiling for the pasta.

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

Ryan specifically uses two different cans of tomatoes, one whole peeled and the other crushed. He begins by sautéing 4 cloves of garlic in a pan, and just as they start to brown, he adds a 1/2 C of chicken stock and a 1/2 C of Kings Ridge Pinot Gris.

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

As this cooks, Ryan’s son Noah opens the two cans of tomatoes into a large bowl, adds the garlic and liquid (once it has come to room temperature) and gently mashes it all together.

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

Union Wine Co Pasta in the PInk

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

Once the sauce is well blended, Ryan adds the following cheeses:

¾ c freshly grated Pecorino Romano
¾ c coarsely shredded fontina
4 tbsp. crumbled gorgonzola
2 tbsp fresh ricotta

Keep this separate to top the dishes before baking:
2 small (4 oz. total) balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

Then Ryan’s younger son, Ethan steps in and mixes all the cheeses as well as 2 C of heavy cream into the sauce, giving it a distinctive pink hue.

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

As this is being done, Ryan chops:

1 small bunch of italian parsley
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
8-10 springs of fresh thyme

This gets mixed into the sauce.

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

He also chops 4 scallions on a hard bias (diagonal cut) and places in ice water to keep from wilting. This will be the final garnish on the pasta.

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

Once all the prep is done, Ryan adds 1 pound of pasta shells to the boiling water and par cooks for five minutes. Immediately strain and add all the pasta to the sauce.

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

Union Wine Co Pasta in the PInk

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

Ryan then mixes the shells until fully coated in the sauce and cheese mix. Then he scoops into a large baking dish or several small ceramic dishes for individual servings. He tops each one with a thick slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and a few small dabs of butter. Bake for 10 minutes or until the pasta starts to crisp on top.

Remove the pasta, allow to sit for 5 minutes, garnish with the fresh scallions and dig in!

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

The finished product is nothing short of amazing!

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

Everyone in the Harms family: Kathleen, baby Mia, Noah, Ryan and Ethan wish you a hearty Bon Appétit!

Union Wine Co Pasta in the Pink

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

Recipe by Ryan Harms (@harmsryan)