Veggies to eat before you die: Zucchini Au Gratin

Yes yes yes, veggies to eat before you die is back with a vengeance. This one is a fabulous spin off from a Julia Child recipe. Why a spin off you say? Because as much as I love Julia, I can't take the dairy. Well, I can't take all the dairy. I wish I could.

What you'll need

2 Zucchini no more than 1.5 inches in diameter
1-1.5 cups of onion, sliced
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp of flour
1/3-1/2 cup of almond milk (you can totally use real milk)
1/2 cup grated cheese. We used three cheeses, Julia suggests swiss.
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/2-1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat your oven to 425ºF.

First grate the Zucchini (food processor or hand grater will work). Then place the zucchini, in batches, in a hand towel and squeeze any excess juice off. Save the juice por favor.

Saute the onions in 2 tbsp of butter. I like to brown my onions slightly, I like the richness it give the dish. Add the zucchini to this mixture and continue to sautee.

In the meantime, melt the remaining two tbsp of butter in a small sauce pan. Stir in flour to make a roux. The darker the roux, the less it will thicken the final sauce, so keep that in mind. I have a hard time telling you how dark to make your roux because it is a total personal preference thing. I let mine get golden. Then stir in the almond milk and let thicken. Salt and pepper to taste (keeping in mind that you will be adding cheese, grate some nutmeg in and ...) Voilá, béchamel.

After this, take your béchamel and stir it in with you zucchini/onion mixture. Thin out to desired consistency with reserved zucchini juice. (If you forget to reserve the juice, which I did, you can thin with water, cream, milk, stock, or almond milk.) Stir in the cheese!

Transfer the entire mixture to a buttered baking dish and top with fresh breadcrumbs. Bake for 20-25 or until it is bubbling up the sides.

This dish is heaven, very rich even without all the called for dairy. Personally I think almond milk is the most fabulous real dairy sub, transferring well from everything to cereal to mashed potatoes to béchamel, so all you non-dairy folks out there give it a try. I actually think this whole dish could be done vegan with a olive oil and flour roux and vegan cheese but, seriously, that's pushing it.


Review: Folk Machine Central Coast Pinot

So I've been reading up on Folk Machine in order to give it an educated write up. I've read that its back story isn't that exotic, that there's no fancy pedigree behind it. Blah Blah Blah. The story of this wine is cool as shit. The winemaker is 31 year old Kenny Likitprakong, owner of Hobo Wine Co., part time skateboarder and snowboarder, with a history of wine making and distillation in his blood. He's got a wine making philosophy, who doesn't? Affordable wines that are crafted for taste, not to match the popular current rating system. The path he took to get to wine making is a little "Billy of Family Circus-esque" which is a definite turn on for me. I need a little "make your own way" inspiration these days. And the wine has a cool label.

But on to the wine. Oh. My. God. Collin said it best when he said "Taste this, you'll be back in Cali sucking on a beef rib in three seconds." Or something like that. Beautiful Central Coast Pinot. Super bright, full of berries. Chewy tannins (I love saying chewy tannins). A very drinkable wine. I do have one slight complaint. On its own, fabulous; With food it turned into a cherry pie. It was a little too much for the food, and the food was a little too much for it. For the money it's definitely worth a try. I wouldn't mind having a few bottles on hand.


Review: Thief Wine Shop and Bar

A little bit of California right here in the Midwest.
Milwaukee has the best downtown market- The Milwaukee Public Market. It's full of satellite stores from local businesses all under one roof. It's been a favorite spot of ours for some time now. It can be a bit sticky to negotiate on the weekends because the touristas flock so since I started working the 9-5 and the weekends are the only good time to get down there, my patronization has slacked off. I know, I digress.

One day about six months ago I was shocked to see my once favorite organic salad bar and veggies vendor gutted, poof. I prayed for a re-model, a new-and-improved, a something. And while I thought it couldn't be possible, much to my surprise we got something better. A wine bar.

Thief Wine Shop and Bar is a wine bar/vendor out of California. The owners have recently re-located to the great state of Wisconsin to live out their dream of opening a wine bar and it's off to a great start. If you've ever been to California wine country you know how fabulous it is to go in, sit down and taste taste taste. Thief offers a diverse selection of wines by the 2 oz taste, 5 oz glass and the carafe (our favorite). They offer flights of tastes, pre-picked or create your own, and incentives to keep you coming back. Buy 12 flights of wine, # 13 is free AND 10% off any bottles that you taste in house AND nightly specials AND you can bring food from any of the vendors in the market and eat at the wine bar AND the wine list is constantly rotating. The extremely helpful woman pouring for us yesterday (I have got to place a priority on learning people's names) said that they have been open a little shy of three months and they are on their fourth wine list.

The owners, Phil and Aimee hand pick taste everything on the shelves, and are always at the store ready to answer any questions you might have. I enjoy that. Dedicated owners breed dedicated customers. It's a reversion to the way businesses used to be run and it makes me feel special dammit.

Collin and I got our first flights under our belts (tasting notes to come) and snagged a delicious central coast pinot- Folk Machine and Triebaumer, an Austrian Rosé. We plan to check out some of the mid-week specials too. For instance, Thursday nights they have specials on wines that go well with oysters, because Thursday nights are the St. Paul Fish Company's (another of the fabulous vendors in the Public Market) oyster night. The possibilities are endless.
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