From the Bar and From the kitchen – Box wine and snacks

love the quips from the folks at yourecards
love the quips from the folks at yourecards

I love box wine.  I love it for the taste and for the convenience, and it’s pretty “green” so I can feel good about that too.  I’ve had lots of bottled wines.  Some that were supposedly “good”, including some Chateau Neuf de Pape and Beaujolais nouveau, were pretty “meh”.   The one of the earliest wines I remember drinking, getting in a small tavern in La Mancha (as in “Man of ….”), was far better, even if strong and assertive in flavor,  especially with the bread and cheese offered. I suppose it was Manchego cheese, but this was in the mid 80s and I was a high-school student for the first time out of North America, just a pre-foodie back then.  I did try to make puff pastry from scratch at this age though, and failed miserably. But more on that in a bit.  (a good article on boxed and blended wines.  Yes, I’m sure I could have found an article prostrate in horror about boxed wines too.)

We generally get Franzia or Almaden or Vella.  It just tickles the gadget-fiend in me to have a box with a tap on it that I can get wine from any time I want.  The only thing that would be better would be a pretty fountain where I could fill a goblet full of a nice red.

(Incidentally, we had a good torrontes from Argentina, Alta Max 2011, this weekend. Very good, pear and vanilla notes with a nose of woodsy incense and little of the strong acid that mars so many whites to my taste. Tasty with pork chops and garlicky mashed potatoes)

This long weekend, having been stymied in my holiday travel by storms, I’ve made a few things.  One was a request by my husband for more cinnamon rolls and one was a treat for myself.  I loves salty snacks much more than sweet ones, have a addiction to Cheezits and decided to make a cheese based snack.  The blogging folks on the King Arthur baking blog helpfully reposted  their recipe for flaky cheese twists  (scroll and scroll some more, you’ll get to it).

This recipe is based on their fast and easy puff pastry.  I had some doubts when looking at the recipe.  It reads like a basic pie crust recipe, flour, chilled butter, etc, and I definitely didn’t want cheesy pie crust.  What does the magic “puffing” is the folding, which creates the layers, and the folding is exactly like you do for making croissants (which are easier than you think, just time consuming).  Having some experience in making pie crusts and pastry now (unlike my teenage self), I changed a bit of the process from the KA instructions which speeds it up a bit.

Take the recipe, and place everything but the sour cream in your friendly food processor. The butter only has to be sliced into pats around a half inch in thickness.   Pulse until the chunks of cold butter are about the size of a big pea.  Then add sour cream and pulse again until it starts to clump together.   Gather the crumbly dough out of the food processor bowl and put on floured surface.  Knead together a few times to get it into one mass, form into a vaguely rectangular shape and then roll until it’s around  a quarter inch thick (dough will be sticky so also flour rolling pin).  Then fold like a business letter, bottom third over middle third, and top third over that.  Roll back into rectangle.  And repeat.  The link has a good set of photos showing this.  Do this at least three times.

Since I was going to be using it in a few hours, I rolled mine into a 1/8 inch think rectangle and then chilled it.  Once chilled (a couple of hours), it was ready for the cheese. The dough is soft enough to tear by its own weight if you are not careful, but has a nice flexible hand, like a good soft leather.

photo from the KA blog
photo from the KA blog

I used Asagio, since I like it better and it’s less expensive than, say, Parmesano Reggiano.  This was grated on my old box grater on the coarse side. If finer, it probably would stay put better.  I then mixed in the spices, and then did as the recipe says, washing with the egg glaze as glue, placing the cheese on one side of the rectangle then folding the other side over and rolling it flat.  Then using a knife or pizza cutter (much easier) cut into ¾” strips.  Twist into spirals, brush with rest of egg wash and bake at 400 degrees.  I like mine very golden so I go for around 20-25 minutes.  I didn’t bother taking pictures of my twists since SURPRISE! they looked exactly as the KA ones.  The puff pastry works wonderful and has many lovely layers. The little cheesy things are extremely  addictive, perfect with my aforementioned glass of red wine.  A perfect treat for celebrating the New Year.   May everyone have a better year than the last.

4 thoughts on “From the Bar and From the kitchen – Box wine and snacks

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