Last Updated on June 27, 2021
Wine pairing and your plate
A wise maxim suggests always selecting a bottle you would be happy to drink when your recipe includes wine. Why spend money on good ingredients only to spoil the flavour of your dish with the sharp tang of paint stripper? Choose a good wine and the meal will be as tasty as the vintage in your glass. Recently I had the opportunity to put this into practice. Côtes du Rhône at Home sent me wine and a choice of recipes ranging from a pannacotta, chicken tikka masala, Greek dishes and even a picnic pairing.
I was sent three bottles of Côtes du Rhône wines – two reds and a rosé – the variety giving a good sense of the different flavour profiles. There is a huge choice of wine produced in the Rhône valley with a range of levels from which to choose. Côtes du Rhône Villages wines designate 21 villages that are allowed to name themselves on their wines and we were able to taste one of these from Sablet. Domaine de Cabasse, les deux anges, sablet, 2020 is a medium bodied blend of Grenache and Syrah as is the organic red we tasted from the Gabriel Meffre winery in Gigondas which is one of the Côtes du Rhône Crus with an Appellation D’origine Protégée (AOP).
Invited to choose a recipe, I picked a perfect Father’s Day meal which was sufficiently complex to impress my husband but not so complicated as to cause me stress. Created by talented Chef Exose Grant Lopo-Ndinga, côte de boeuf with tandoori rub was served with creamed mushrooms and spinach and pomme purée. This was followed by rosé poached peach, vanilla sponge, Chantilly cream, toasted oats and rosé syrup.
We rarely eat red meat, but the recipe for côte de boeuf captured my imagination due to the creative twist of the tandoori rub. I have wonderful memories of blissful meals in Paris where côte de boeuf was enjoyed with a simple pot of Dijon mustard and a huge pile of frites. I once tried to make this large rib of beef at home during which my pan caught alight, my house saved from the flames by my rushing out onto the patio with the burning pan where pelting rain extinguished the fire. With this personal legacy, things could only look up. And they did.
The day before the big cook, I bought a beautiful côte de boeuf from my local organic butcher. I was impressed with the care that was taken to discuss the meat before the final cut was made. The butcher was keen that I get full enjoyment from the meal. Côte de boeuf is a large piece of meat with a high fat content which gives it depth of flavour. It is also an expensive cut so taking care to buy it from a good butcher and following a reliable recipe will ensure that you get value for money.
Reading through Chef Exose’s recipes, I realised that I needed to get ahead. I always try to do some prep the night before especially if I want to arrive at the table in a relaxed manner. I made the tandoori marinade which had a long list of ingredients but was quick to prepare with the help of my food processor. I had anticipated that it would be really spicy considering that the marinade included 12 chillies, chilli powder, garam masala, cumin, ginger, garlic, curry powder and 500g of coriander. As it turned out, the marinade was beautifully herby with some heat, of course, but not overly hot. I think that the yoghurt, acting no doubt as a tenderiser, also mellows the spiciness.
Well before lunch, I removed the meat from the fridge as instructed by the butcher and slathered it with the green, aromatic marinade, setting it aside for an hour and a half while I got on with the sides. These were super easy to prepare. Potato purée simply needed cooking and mashing – I used a potato ricer to attain a uniformly smooth texture. The mash then enjoyed a great dose of dairy in the form of butter and double cream. Creamed mushrooms and spinach also had a generous dollop of cream.
I let the wines breathe while the meat marinated, my husband enjoying a tasting while he opened his cards and gifts. Once the meat was brought to the table there were sighs of pleasure. A côte de boeuf, like a tomahawk, is always impressive. Cut off the bone, the meat looks plentiful and very appetising. No matter how big the portion, I have yet to find a scrap left uneaten. Chef Exose provided exact instructions for the cooking time – the meat was seared on the griddle pan before finishing off in a low oven. It emerged beautifully pink, very tender and juicy and had the added interest of its tandoori crust. I have previously only eaten côte de boeuf seasoned with sea salt and ground pepper. The potato purée was as silky as would be expected with butter and cream. I added chopped chives as suggested in the recipe. The creamed vegetables were indulgent and a nod to fresh greens. This is not the sort of meal you would eat on a daily basis, but for a treat, it was absolutely spot on. The wine pairing worked very well. Côtes du Rhône wines are perfect for enjoying with food and the light fruitiness of the medium-bodied reds were well matched for the gentle spiciness of the tandoori rub. The Côtes du Rhône Rosé, E. Guigal 2020 derives from the Chateau D’Ampuis. We were impressed by the unexpectedly strong flavour of this rosé. It has a beautiful pink hue which simply demands a sunny day at the coast.
Dessert had me slightly worried. I am not a natural baker or decorator. The recipe called for piped Chantilly cream which had me convinced that my offering would look rather messy. Piping takes practice albeit that hundreds of baking Instagram videos make it look so very easy. I decided to bake the cake in the round rather than to portion it up for serving. My oven is no doubt slower than the one used by Chef Exose so I had to increase my baking time. Bear this in mind with the recipe below. Once I had poached the peaches in a most delicious Rosé syrup – infused with vanilla bean, fresh ginger, orange, star anise and sugar – I opted for decorating the cake with the halved fruit as an alternative to the usual slices. I managed, on my second attempt, to create the semblance of piped swirls which I topped with tiny leaves of Greek basil.
There were plenty of compliments when I brought the cake to the table. What home cook doesn’t love that moment? Then, even more, when the cake was tasted. I have made sponges a number of times but have never added the seeds of a vanilla bean to the batter. I would usually use vanilla extract but now I have a great tip to take forward. The flavour of the sponge was gorgeous. Vanilla suffused with the Rosé syrup that was brushed onto the cake while it cooled. I was so taken with the syrup that I turned the cake upside down and brushed the bottom too, all to get as much syrup into the cake as possible.
By the end of lunch, I needed a lie-down. As a celebratory meal, Chef Exose’s menu ticked all the boxes. A menu with which to impress. The wines were well selected both for pairing and for cooking. Côtes du Rhône at Home is a creative project that provides a challenge to the home cook and a great meal to enjoy with friends and family.
A light sponge with poached peaches and Chantilly cream
- Vanilla Sponge
- 175 grams margarine I used unsalted butter
- 175 grams caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 175 grams self raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 vanilla pod scrape out the seeds
- 3 tbsp milk
- Chantilly Cream
- 150 ml double cream
- 20 grams icing sugar
- 1/2 vanilla pod seeds scraped
- Rose poached peach
- 300 ml Cotes du Rhone Rose
- 100 grams honey
- 150 ml water
- 2 star anise
- 1 vanilla pod seeds scraped out
- 25 grams peeled ginger thinly sliced
- 1/2 orange peel and juice
- 2 peaches halved and stoned
- Toasted oats
- 50 grams oats
- 10 grams icing sugar
To make the vanilla sponge, pre-heat the oven to 160 C, then line a small cake tin with margarine (or butter) and baking paper. I used a 20cm round tin but you could use a square or rectangular tin.
Mix the margarine (or butter) and sugar together. I used an electric mixer but you can do it by hand. When it is light and fluffy add the eggs one by one and mix well in between additions.
Add the self-raising flour, baking powder, and salt and mix well. Finally add the vanilla seeds and the milk. Mix well.
Pour the mixture into your cake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a knife or skewer comes out clean. My oven took an extra 20 minutes to bake.
Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in the tin. Then you can trim the edges and portion into pieces or leave the cake whole as I did. You could use a cookie cutter to make round pieces if you like. Brush with the rose syrup.
To make Chantilly cream
Whisk all three ingredients together until thickened. Transfer to a piping bag with a star nozzle and refrigerate until use.
To make Rose poached peach
In a small saucepan add the Rose, water, honey, star anise, vanilla, ginger and orange and stir well, bring to the boil and then reduce heat.
Add the halved peaches and cover with a lid. Cook on a low heat for 30 minutes (or less) until the peaches are soft and tender. My peaches were ready after 15 minutes. Remove carefully from the liquid, remove skins if they haven't already come off in the poaching liquid and set aside to cool down.
Put aside enough liquid with which to brush the cake - I used half a cup - and then pass the liquid through a sieve. Put the strained liquid back in the saucepan and reduce down in the pan until it reaches a syrupy consistency.
To make toasted oats
Toast the oats in the oven at 160C for around 10 minutes until golden and toasted. Mine needed a bit longer. Dust with the icing sugar, mix well and set aside.
To complete the dish if serving cold:
Plate the cake, pipe Chantilly cream on top, serve 1.2 peach whole or sliced on the side of the cake and drizzle with the rose syrup and then sprinkle toasted oats around the plate
To serve warm:
Microwave the peach and cake for around 30 seconds each until warm, place cake on plate followed by 1/2 peach whole or sliced. Pipe Chantilly cream around the plate taking care that it does not touch the cake or peach or it will melt. Sprinkle the toasted oats around the plate. Drizzle with Rose syrup.
Garnish with micro-herbs or flowers if you like.
Check the official website for more about Cotes du Rhone Villages