Loving LaTour

2011 LaTour Netofa Red – At $35 a bottle, this red wine from Israel is versatile kosher wine that offers a lot in a single glass. It can be used to accompany a holiday meal or just enjoyed on its own while talking the night away. Give it time to breath, and you won’t be disappointed. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 LaTour Netofa Red – At $35 a bottle, this red wine from Israel is versatile kosher wine that offers a lot in a single glass. It can be used to accompany a holiday meal or just enjoyed on its own while talking the night away. Give it time to breath, and you won’t be disappointed. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

While I don’t keep kosher throughout the year, during the 8 days of the Jewish High Holidays, I’m careful about the food I eat. There’s no bacon or pork chops, no cheeseburgers…and my wine is almost exclusively kosher. I was particularly excited about opening the 2011 LaTour Netofa Red this year because two blogs I trust–Yossie’s Corkboard and Kosher Wine Musings— had great things to say about it. And, what better way to celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year than with a wine that I had high expectations for?  So, after I came home from synagogue on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, I opened the LaTour while Hubby started dinner.

2011 LaTour Netofa Red

2011 LaTour Netofa Red

The 2011 LaTour Netofa Red (winery, snooth) was made in the Galilee region of Israel and is a blend of Mourvèdre and Syrah. It was a dark ruby color with a touch of garnet on the rim. The nose was big, with blueberries, blackberries, nutmeg and hints of tea leaves, black pepper, and dried roses. In the mouth, there were blackberries, dark plums, and hints of blueberries, black tea, and dark chocolate. The wine was full-bodied with big tannins and acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $35 a bottle, this wine offers a lot in a single glass. It definitely needs to time to breath, so either decant it before drinking it or use an aerator when pouring. As long as you do that, it’s a wine you can sit and puzzle over, pair with a delicious holiday meal, and enjoy while talking the night away. It’s versatile and worth checking out, even if you aren’t looking for a kosher wine.

Question of the Day:  Do you have recommendations for a great red wine that is under $30?  My hunt for the elusive inexpensive kosher red is still on!

Price: $35
Purchased at Kosherwine.com
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Rugelach and Yarden Merlot

Chocolate Rugelach

Chocolate Rugelach

Sunday, September 20th was a pretty normal Sunday in the A Glass After Work household. The morning was spent doing yard work, while the afternoon was spent doing other chores around the house, preparing for the week ahead, and baking cookies. The universe of who gets cookies these days has expanded– several dozen are for my coworkers, a dozen are for my brother and sister-in-law who are in the military, and a half dozen or so go to the guys in the UPS office who do a fantastic job helping me package and ship cookies across the country every week. As my baking has continued, I’ve started focusing on cookies that fit the season or test my creative baking skills. So, with Sunday being in the middle of the Jewish High Holidays and figuring most of my coworkers and the UPS guys had never had homemade rugelach before, I decided that the Jewish cookie would be the best option. Sure, they’re a bit of work, but I opened a bottle of Merlot, turned on the radio, and was ready to go!

2009 Yarden Merlot

2009 Yarden Merlot

The 2009 Yarden Merlot (winery, snooth) was a deep purple with hints of ruby. On the nose, there were blackberries and hints of black cherry, tobacco, and vanilla. In the mouth, there were blackberries mixed with vanilla and hints of tobacco. The wine had a medium body, medium acidity, and medium tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass. At $30 a bottle, I wanted more from this wine. There was nothing bad about it, but there was nothing memorable either. It was a little thin, the flavors fell flat in my mouth, and the finish was short. The wine opened up after breathing a little, but even with that, each sip just left me wanting something different.  Maybe I would have felt different if this wine was half the price, but $30 just seems like a lot of money for an average wine.

The cookies, though, were a huge success. My coworkers devoured them all before lunchtime, and my brother texted to tell me they were “awesome…honestly, some of the best [he’d] ever had.” I will definitely be making them again.

Overall, the pairing the Merlot with the rugelach actually helped the wine, and the cookies stood up to the stronger drink choice. If you’re a rugelach fan, I would definitely recommend making these and pairing them with some wine.

Question of the Day:  How much impact does price have on your wine selection?  What about on your enjoyment of that bottle?

Chocolate Rugelach
Print Recipe
A Jewish pastry-like cookie that can be filled with chocolate, a mixture of nuts and raisins, or jam.
Servings
32 rugelach
Servings
32 rugelach
Chocolate Rugelach
Print Recipe
A Jewish pastry-like cookie that can be filled with chocolate, a mixture of nuts and raisins, or jam.
Servings
32 rugelach
Servings
32 rugelach
Ingredients
Dough
Chocolate Filling
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup chocolate , finely chopped (I used mini chips, but if you use regular sized ones make sure you chop them!)
  • 3 Tbs butter , unsalted; melted and cooled
Servings: rugelach
Instructions
Making the dough
  1. Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Place cubed, chilled cream cheese and butter in food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is mixed.
  3. Add egg, vanilla, and sugar. Process until incorporated.
  4. Add flour mixture, and pulse until the dough starts to clump together. The dough will form large, curdlike clumps.
  5. Form dough into ball and divide in half. Chill dough for a minimum of 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Chocolate filling
  1. Melt butter and let it cool.
  2. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and chocolate.
  3. When butter is cooled, pour into cinnamon-sugar mixture and mix thoroughly.
Assembling rugelach
  1. brush the butter over the rolled out rugelach, sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, then press the chocolate down evenly over the dough. Roll up and bake.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  3. Remove dough from refrigerator, and let it stand for 5 minutes or until it is malleable enough to roll.
  4. Flour work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10 to 12 inch circle and until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. When you are finished rolling, use a pizza cutter to trim the edges of the dough to make an even circle. As you're rolling, be sure to rotate and reflour as necessary. If the dough becomes too sticky to work with, you can briefly place it back in the refrigerator until it is firm enough to roll.
  5. Mark the center of the dough with the tip of a knife. Cover the dough with the filling, making sure to spread evenly. Avoid putting the filling in the very center of the dough, as the filling will push towards the center when the triangles are rolled up.
  6. Use a pizza cutter to cut the circle into 12-to-16 equal-sized wedges.
  7. Starting with the outside of the circle, roll each triangle tightly and carefully to make the classic rugelach shape. Place the rugelach seam side down onto your parchment.
  8. Place each rugelach on the baking sheet. It's best to put them seam side down to help keep them closed, although I wasn't as careful about that as I should have been.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes, and the rotate the baking sheet in the oven for even baking. After rotating, bake for another 5-10 minutes, for a total bake time of 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  10. Once the baking sheets are removed from the oven, let cookies set on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Recipe Notes

**adapted from The Crepes of Wrath and The Baking Bible

Price: $30
Purchased at Total Wine & More
Overall: 3 Corks

Sunday Baking: A Kosher Cab & Hamentaschen

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Purim, like many Jewish holidays, it celebrates how the villain’s plot to destroy the Jewish people was foiled.  The Jews are saved, and the villain is vanquished.  The holiday takes place before Passover, and it’s very festive.  In fact, there is usually a carnival-like celebration that includes plays and costumes, and Jews are supposed to drink so much on Purim that they can’t tell the difference between the cursed Haman and the blessed Mordecai, although how much alcohol that actually is remains unclear.  And, of course, there are cookies called hamentaschen!

While I didn’t make it to a Purim carnival this year, I did make poppy seed-filled hamentaschen.  Hubby had never had them before, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take my cookie baking skills up a notch.   Admittedly, they weren’t the prettiest cookies I’ve made, but they were recognizably hamentaschen.

2010 Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon &  Hamentaschen --  At $17, this red wine from Israel is a good everyday Cab.  It needs a little time to breathe when you open it, but would pair pair nicely with a heavier dish like pasta and truffle sauce or beef ribs.  Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2010 Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon

To go with the baking fun, I opened a 2010 Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth).  The wine is made in the Galilee region of Israel with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  It was a very dark purple with a hint of ruby on the rim.  On the nose, there were currants, blackberries, and dark cherries with a hint of nutmeg, black pepper, and vanilla.  In the mouth, there were dark fruits mixed with nutmeg and hints of vanilla, cocoa powder, and black pepper.  The wine had a full-body, good acidity, and strong tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine/beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $17, this wine is a good everyday Cab, although it needs a little time to breathe to help take away some of the sharpness.  Finding a good kosher red wine under $20 continues to be challenge for me,so I was pleased to find this one.  It was enjoyable on its own, and I imagine it would pair nicely with a heavier dish like pasta and truffle sauce or beef ribs.  This wine also has a little bit of aging potential, so if you have the space, it may be worth buying a bottle to drink now, as well as a second bottle to enjoy in two or three years.

The cookies ended up being a big hit at work, particularly with my coworkers who had never tried hamentaschen before, but they were not such a hit at home.  Hubby ate one, said he was glad he tried it, and left the rest for me to take to work.  I thought they turned out well, and the poppy seed filling was a good match for the Gamla Cabernet.  All in all, it wasn’t the best pairing I’ve done, but it wasn’t the worst one either.

Question of the Day: Have you had a kosher red wine that you’ve enjoyed lately? (I’d love to hear your recommendations!)

Hamantaschen with Poppy Seed Filling
(*adapted from Rose Levy Beranabum’s recipe in The Baking Bible)

Ingredients for Poppy Seed Filling

  • 3/4 cup poppy seed
  • 1/1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons apricot jam

Directions for Poppy Seed Filling

  • In a spice mill or blender, grind the poppy seeds. They will fluff to about 1 cup.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk
  • Add the poppy seeds, stirring until milk is absorbed (a few seconds).
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add sugar, honey, lemon zest, and 1 Tablespoon jam.
  • Cool at room temperature.

Ingredients for Egg Glaze

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons milk

Directions for Egg Glaze

  • In small bowl, whisk yolk and milk.
  • Strain the mixture into another small bowl, pushing it through the strainer with the back of a spoon.
  • Discard the thicker part that does not pass through.

Ingredients for Dough

  • 1 stick butter, cold
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Hamentaschen and wine corkDirections for Cookies

  • In medium bowl, mix together flour and salt. Set aside.
  • In small bowl, mix together egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Set aside
  • Grind sugar in food processor until fine,
  • Cube the cold butter.
  • Add to food processor and pulse until sugar disappears.
  • Add flour mixture and pulse until the butter is no larger than small peas.
  • Add egg-cream-vanilla mixture and pulse until just incorporated, about 8 times. Dough should be crumbly pieces.
  • Place dough in plastic bag or on large sheet of plastic wrap and press until it holds together.
  • Knead a few times until it becomes one smooth piece and ensure there is no visible pieces of butter.
  • Press into ball.
  • Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit for 5 minutes or until you can roll it without cracking the dough.
  • Using floured rolling pin on a floured surface, roll dough into 1/2 inch thick rectangle.
  • Cut out 3-inch discs of dough
  • Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets. Keep cookies about 2 inches apart.
  • Brush outer 1/2 inch of dish with thin coating of egg glaze (it’s not necessary to cover all the dough).
  • Place 1-2 teaspoons of poppy seed filling into the center of disc
  • Fold disc into triangle (Tori Avey has easy to follow directions on how to fold properly).
  • Brush outside of dough with thin coating of egg glaze for shine.
  • Once formed, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to help hold shape when baking.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes; rotate cookie sheet; bake for another 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Price: $17
Purchased at Kosherwine.com
Overall: 4 Corks

Sunday Baking: Kosher Petite Sirah & Candied Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

2009 Carmel Winery Petite Sirah– At $18 a bottle, this kosher red wine from Israel offers a lot of wine for not a lot of money. It’s luscious, easy to drink, and food-friendly…everything a red wine should be. Rating 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2009 Carmel Winery Petite Sirah– At $18 a bottle, this kosher red wine from Israel offers a lot of wine for not a lot of money. It’s luscious, easy to drink, and food-friendly…everything a red wine should be. Rating 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Carmel Winery CorkI’ve wanted to experiment with putting bacon in my cookies for a while, but I felt there was something intimidating about putt

ing the sweet and savory, particularly bacon, together in my cookies. Since the “My Chocolate Chip Cookies” started me off with a good chocolate chip cookie base, though, I decided to make some tweaks to that underlying recipe and bite the bullet by adding bacon to my cookies.

Tidy Mom’s Candied Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies seemed like the perfect place to start.  Since I didn’t have any bacon fat to use, first I made bacon (with a little extra for breakfast), then I candied it and let it cool, before finally being able to make the dough and letting it chill for several hours in the refrigerator.  It was a bit of a process and learning experience, but candying the bacon actually wasn’t too difficult.

2009 Carmel Winery Old Vines Petite Sirah

2009 Carmel Winery Old Vines Petite Sirah

Thinking through the flavors in the cookie, I really wanted a deep, bold red wine to match the spices and savoriness, and I was looking for something with a little bit of acidity to help cut through the fat.  So, I grabbed the 2009 Carmel Winery Old Vines Petite Sirah.  As someone who is Jewish but doesn’t keep kosher, it wasn’t until after I opened the wine and started taking pictures and notes that I realized I paired a kosher wine with a bacon cookie. Eeeek!  That said, while my kosher readers won’t be able to indulge in the pairing, the two went together very nicely.

The 2009 Carmel Winery Appellation Old Vines Petite Sirah (winery, snooth) is made in the Judean Hills of Israel with 100% Petite Sirah grapes.  The wine was a deep, inky purple with flecks of ruby throughout.  On the nose, there were blueberries and violets with a hint of something that reminded me of a freshly paved driveway.  On the mouth, there were blueberries, violets, with a hint of black pepper.  The wine was full-bodied, with medium-to-high acidity, and firm tannins.

2009 Carmel Winery Old Vines Petite Sirah and Candied Bacon Bour

2009 Carmel Winery Old Vines Petite Sirah and Candied Bacon Bour

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $18 a bottle, this Petite Sirah offers a lot wine for not a whole lot of money.  This wine takes every stereotype of kosher wines and throws them out the window.   Instead, it’s luscious; it’s easy to drink; it’s food friendly, but also enjoyable on its own; and, ultimately, it’s everything I look for in a red wine.

As for the Candied Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies, there was a lot going on with this cookie…and I think it was a little too much.  While I understand the flavors that were being attempted, I will simplify it when I make another batch—definitely eliminate the cayenne pepper and the bacon grease, probably eliminate the bourbon, and add a few more strips of bacon.

Overall, the cookies and the wine were a success.  Regardless of whether you’re looking for a kosher wine, this is one to grab…and if you eat bacon, I recommend pairing it with a Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip cookie.

Question of the Day: Do you like to mix your sweet and savory flavors?  Do you like pairing those flavors with wine?

Candied Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe*

Ingredients

Ingredients for Candied Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients for Candied Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 5 slices bacon, raw (Next time, I will use 7 or 8 slices)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/3 cups bleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Next time, I will eliminate)
  • 9 tablespoons butter (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) or 7 tablespoons if you don’t plan to clarify the butter
  • 1/4 cup bacon grease, chilled (Next time, I will eliminate)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (Next time, I might eliminate)
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions
For Candied Bacon

  1. Preheat oven to bake at 375°F.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Toss bacon in maple syrup; I put the bacon in a Ziploc bag and pour the syrup in to evenly coat without breaking the bacon.
  4. Lay bacon on prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove bacon from oven, allow to cool, then crumble candied bacon and set aside.

For Cookies

  1. Clarify and brown the butter.   Measure out 7 tablespoons of butter, scrape in the browned solids, and let it cool to below 80 degrees F before combining other ingredients.
  2. In medium bowl, combine chocolate chips and crumbled bacon.
  3. In second medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and pepper (if you use it).  Set aside.
  4. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter, bacon grease, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until very light, between 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  6. Add vanilla and bourbon, mixing until combined.
  7. On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix for 30 seconds.
  8. Add chocolate chips and bacon, mixing on low until just until evenly incorporated.
  9. Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  10. Preheat oven to 375F.
  11. Remove each batch 5 to 10 minutes before shaping it.
  12. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  13. Take a rounded tablespoon of dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1 to 1/2 inch balls.
  14. Place the dough balls onto the baking sheet 2 to 3 inches apart and press them down so that each is about 1/2 inch high.
  15. Place in oven and bake until golden brown, about 9-11 minutes.
  16. Remove from oven and place the baking sheet on wire rack for 1 minute before transferring the cookies onto another rack to finish cooling.

*Recipe adapted from Tidy Mom’s Candied Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies and Rose Levy Beranbaum’s My Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Price: $18
Purchased at Kosherwine.com
Overall: 4 Corks

A Spring-Inspired White

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

2011 Yarden Mount Hermon White Wine corkThis week at work was supposed to be quiet, since Congress is in recess and many of the schools have Spring Break.  A lot of my coworkers have taken time off to be home with their kids or travel for the holidays, including both the Big Boss and the Boss.  Their absence would normally add to the calm and even result in an long office lunch or two.  However, I’ve had calendar packed with meetings.  Tuesday, in particular, left me envious because it was pouring all day, and I had to keep walking between the House and Senate sides of the Capitol, outside in the rain.  Even with an umbrella and raincoat, there was no preventing the “drowned cat” look.  Meanwhile, I was getting emails from a coworker teasing me about being out in the rain and missing team bonding at a new happy hour spot that opened walking distance in the office.  By the time I got home, I was sorry to have missed the outing and convinced I would never dry out.

While the day was busy, Hubby and I had a quiet, uneventful evening.  We both went to the gym for a 3-mile run.  Afterwards, Hubby and I chatted about our days while he made dinner, and I opened a bottle of wine.  Then, I caught up on the DVR’d shows and made some knitting progress on my last pair of socks.  It was the exact opposite of my work day.

2011 Yarden Mount Hermon White Wine

2011 Yarden Mount Hermon White Wine

The 2011 Yarden Mount Hermon White (winery) is from Galilee, Israel and is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Semillion grapes.  The wine was a light, greenish-yellow.  On the nose, there were limes, pineapples, champagne mangos, and a slight hint of ginger.  In the mouth, there were pineapples, champagne mangos, and a hint of honeysuckle.  The wine had a medium body and bright acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass of wine.  At an SRP of $14, this was a solid white wine and surprisingly inexpensive for being kosher.  It paired well with leftover turkey and green beans and had a nice taste of Spring to help getting into the spirit of the warmer weather, even though it was damp warmer weather.

Question of the Day: Do you have any “Spring Break” plans or is it life as usual for you during this time of year?

Suggested Retail Price: $14
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3 Corks