As your entree is resting, removed from skillet, sweat a couple of chopped shallots, adding a knob or two of unsalted butter depending on how many servings you need. Keep the pan quite hot but be careful not to burn. You don’t want the shallots to brown. It’s okay to leave the skins on. The skins are edible and pretty much disappear. Sprinkle with just a little kosher salt.

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When the shallots are nearly mashable, sprinkle with a pinch of ground cloves, a flutter of fresh minced or LiteHouse fresh freeze dried thyme, basil, mint and a tiny pinch of my homemade fresh deep-fried sage from your pantry jar if you have it. You could add a little extra heat using a few drops of Tabasco. If you have sugar cubes, add just one or a teaspoon of maple syrup or my date syrup.

I was recently introduced to Two Oceans South African Shiraz and was told it’s the same as my often used Obikwa. An oxymoron: the same but different. And I’ve also found Two Oceans Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. Typically I have a severe reaction to merlot in general as many are heavily oaked. Which brings a real estate story into play.

Nearly 39 years ago I was being recruited by a midsize private brokerage. The owner decided we should discuss business outside the office to protect my privacy. He booked lunch at a high-end restaurant.

Without inquiring if I drink, apparently presuming all agents do, and himself considered a wine connoisseur I later learned as his hobby was wine-making, he ordered a high-end whole bottle of merlot and proceeded to pour each of us a glass.

Out of courtesy I sipped. Immediately I knew I couldn’t drink the heavily oaked merlot and apologized. No sense inviting anaphylactic shock. To my horror, over a two-hour lunch as he presented all his corporate reasons why I should join his firm, he drank the whole bottle. Not a large man, five feet tall and maybe 140 pounds, clearly he must have been used to such consumption.

I was always glad I had driven myself to the restaurant. Should a recruiter ever make such a presumption? Other than that, he was a perfect gentleman. But it taught me a valuable lesson. I was just over a year in the industry and was already being seriously recruited. I didn’t yet understand the value I brought to an office. There’s no way for a newbie to know. And it never even dawned on me that “I” was a marketable product in some eyes. But I never accepted another recruitment luncheon engagement in all the years, and I had frequent invitations.

Not being a wine connoisseur personally, I indulge in my connoisseur kitchen only for a few test sips. I’m not terribly indulgent of oaked spirits, but in developing my original gourmet recipes I find I enjoy the nose especially, and the wonderful bouquet permeates the air. Wonderful inhaled. I will sip a spoonful to see if my particular palate can deal with it. Not everyone’s systems can tolerate oaked spirits.

Add your favourite Shiraz to the hot sauté pan, perhaps a cup or two, and stir in maybe a cup of homemade chicken broth. There are no amounts. This is an eyeball recipe for an experienced cook. Reduce the spicy sweet sauce as it thickens, coating a metal spoon, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Adjust heat, as necessary.

Pair my favourite Obikwa South African Shiraz, Two Oceans label, or your favourite with my oxtail recipes; a thick Shiraz spicy sauce swirled with coins of cold unsalted butter coins from your compound butter reserve logs when ready to serve is a nice pairing with any of my chicken or pork or beef recipes. Use the Shiraz first to deglaze the hot sauté pan while each recipe is resting.

Or prepare the sauce to serve with a whole large family-size filet oven-roasted, encased in a salt cast, after you crack open the cast.

Drizzle a tablespoon of the Shiraz spicy sauce over my rustic mushroom soup, served in a flat open soup plate (don’t stir, but perhaps run a fork through so you can see the swirled sauce since first we eat with our eyes).

If you want to really impress your guests, serve my sauce over oysters in half shells and bubble under an oven grill on high heat for just seconds.

Sprinkle with minced watercress and a tiny dab of my watercress hazelnut pesto or even add a very tiny dab of my golden homemade oven-roasted, refrigerated in sterilized glass container, mild garlic puree.

Remove and drizzle each filled oyster shell with just a splash of Shiraz direct from the bottle only when ready to eat.

Switch it up by adding a little reduced, thickened hot cream (I use half and half) to the spicy sauce before adding to the oysters.

For a most unusual sauce, when ready to use, add a tablespoon of crushed homemade candied nuts from your pantry jar; maybe even mince a little homemade candied citrus rind from your pantry sugar jar.

Drizzle this version over barbecued grilled portobello mushrooms, removed from the grill and filled with my marinated, quartered, coins of creamy Celebrity brand goat cheese. Served alongside any of my salads, this is a terrific backyard treat.

You could always consider deep-frying shucked oysters in my Chinese batter or beer batter in Mazola Corn Oil at 350 F, just until the batter is a light golden colour. Pop individual batter-fried oyster back in its half shell and drizzle with my Shiraz spicy sauce.


© Spirits in My Kitchen: Lady Ralston – Canadian Cooking with Bouquets and Aromas – Good Food Made Better Adding Spirits  

© Lady Ralston’s Canadian Contessa Kitchen gets Saucy ~ Sauces, Aolies, Dressings, Drizzles, Drops, and Puddles

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The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.

1 COMMENT

  1. “Bing Cherries in Shiraz Sauce”

    Often produce choices are limited unless in season, so I keep a few tins of Bing Cherries in my pantry. Clearly they are not crunchy as the fresh cherries are but they do impart some flavour.

    Let 2 cups of Two Oceans Shiraz or Obikwa come to a soft boil. Turn down heat and reduce by half. Stir in a half cup of crushed roasted capers and add 2 large dried bay leaves.

    Add a quarter cup of red wine vinegar. Add a tablespoon of my caramelized onions from your freezer container. Stir in a small dab of my homemade oven-roasted garlic puree from your sterilized refrigerated glass jar; the onions are limp but you’re looking for the flavour.

    Turn off the heat and let rest, tented. Strain the reduced sauce to remove the onions and bay leaves. Add the tinned Bing Cherries and their tinned liquid. Reduce. Spritz a little fresh squeezed lemon juice over the sauce and add a coin of frozen compound butter from your coin reserve log. In this sauce perhaps choose a lemon zest coin. Do not stir. Just let the coin melt as you swirl the pan.

    ALTERNATE: Reduce a cup of coconut cream. Add a half cup of mashed ready to eat chestnuts from your pantry package. Add a teaspoon of fresh roasted minced fennel. Sprinkle with Pernod or Chartreuse. Stir into your cherry sauce.

    Store any leftover sauce in a sterilized Mason Jar. Sterilize the screw top lid also. The sauce will keep, refrigerated for about a week.

    Either of these sauces is tasty served with meat, fish, or poultry. Maybe even serve on roasted partridge, duck, or even on rabbit. Just a drizzle in each service. Reheat the sauce in a Bain Marie.

    (Take either sauce, pre-made, up north to the cottage in a sterilized thermos.)

    © Lady Ralston’s Canadian Contessa Kitchen gets Saucy ~ Sauces, Aolies, Dressings, Drizzles, Drops, and Puddles

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