Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cookbook Review: the comfort table by Katie Lee Joel

Okay, why such a large image; I love the cover, and she is having a glass of wine! I just got this cookbook last week, and I read the entire book. Katie Lee Joel seems like a young woman I would love to meet. I could see us cooking together and having a glass of wine. The book is "soulful" in the way she describes her past and how it shaped her into the person and cook she is today. She conveys a sense of humility while still knowing her abilities and her status in life; she is the wife of the famous rock star Billy Joel. I suppose Katie Lee Joel can be an "Uptown Girl" when she needs to be all dressed up full of beauty, style and grace and just be a regular southern cook in the kitchen. Boy, she seems to have coined my style (smile).

The food has southern roots, so I feel a kinship to her in that way, being a woman born and raised in New Orleans. Katie Lee Joel also embraces her personal style while remaining true to her southern roots as it relates to her cooking style. "Relaxed elegance"  would be my coined phrase to describe the look of the finshed dishes that appear throughout the photographs in her book. Cooking and entertaing can sometimes go hand in hand. We can cook just for the immediate family, but when we entertain, dressing the part is so important, and she shares that with her readers through her photographs in the book. She refers to herself as a "hillbilly princess", and I just love that she is comfortable enough, within her own skin to be able to use that oxymoron rooted phrase to describe herself. On another note, not only is she beautiful, she can write; I guess that is where the phrase "beauty and brains" really says it all!

The recipes seem to be great; I have not had a chance to try any yet, but the ingredients and preparation lead to believe they will be great. Paula Deen likes her cooking and who can argue with the Food Network's queen of southern cooking (y'all spoken with Paula's southern drawl)?

One last thing that I noticed and loved was that she explained just what "the comfort table" was, what it really meant to her and how she really feels about the cooking lifestyle. I loved this book so much I sent a copy to my adult daughter Angelle. Angelle never wanted to learn how to cook when she was a kid growing up; she was and still is an academic. But the funny thing about that is, now as an adult, an English Instructor at my old university, she has become interested in cooking and loves it! As you can see I love my daughter and I am so pleased I could share something that we both love, a good cookbook!

What red wine do you all think is in Katie Lee Joel's wine glass on the book cover? These are two of my guesses:

2008 Rodney Strong Alexander Valley, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine has a dark garnet color. The nose is filled with aromas of ripe dark fruit and a hint of chocolate. The palate has flavors of blackberries, dark plums and chocolate with very smooth tannins. This wine was lovely! I love a wine that is great to sip on its own and also be paired with meals, and this wine fits the bill. This wine would pair well with burgers, steaks or my super bruschetta. Note: This wine was a sample provided by Rodney Strong Vineyards. SRP $25.00

Honig 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Let me first say that I was lucky enough and honored to sample this wine prior to its release. Winemaker  Kristin Belair has crafted a wine that is so "honest",  with the fruit being the star, and the oak being the supporting actor. This wine is a blend of 95.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4.5% Petit Verdot. I found this wine to be intoxicating and lush; just like the" perfect woman" one would see on the silver screen, playing the role of the seductress. I usually don't write flowery reviews, but I needed to provide this bit of imagery for the reader to fully understand my tasting experience.

The wine was a dark garnet color. The nose has aromas of ripe dark fruit integrated with lovely exotic spices. The palate mimicked the nose showcasing flavors of blueberries, dark cherries, hints of blackberries along with faint hints of coffee and coconut along with sweet vanilla oak finish. The oak was not overpowering, but played the role of creating balance and structure in the wine. The wine is rich and lush and  has a long finish.  The wine was paired with a rib eye steak pan seared in olive oil with a few sprigs of  rosemary, which infused the meat with a lovely earthy flavor that pairs so well with Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is wonderful to sip alone or pair with aged cheddar or Cahill Porter Cheese. Note: This wine was a sample provided by Honig Vineyard & Winery SRP $40.00



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