Let's Do Acid

This post is not about tripping on drugs. As a certified control freak that is absolutely not in the cards for me. This post is about acid though - tartaric, malic and citric acids specifically. I am an acidity freak. I love lemons, I love Sour Patch Kids, I love high acid wines, I love all the things that make your lips roll back in on themselves and cause your saliva glands to work overtime. From the food I eat to the beverages I drink, acidity is a common theme and I've noticed my recent eating and drinking habits have had a fair amount of acidity on display.

Why do I love that face squinching, drool inducing character? I don't know. What I do know is that to me, acidity is synonymous with refreshment. The words often used in the wine world to describe the sensation of acidity are bright, lively, crisp, clean, and refreshing - and the same can be said for food. Add a squeeze of lemon juice on seafood to 'brighten the dish'. High acid foods and wines are also perfect for spring, making us feel rejuvenated. Here are a couple of rejuvenating, acidity prominent recipes, and wines to go with! Please enjoy! Also I'd love to hear from my fellow sour pusses - what are your favorite tart wines and ways to bring acidity to the table? As an acidity junky I'm always looking for new ways to get my fix.

Spring Vegetable Tart
Serves 4
*This recipe has tangy goat cheese on top which is really the only acidity in the dish, it does the job, brightening the dish up. This recipe is a wonderful springtime accompaniment with one of my favorite high-acid white wines, chenin blanc. Also, yes morels and chanterelles are expensive, but this recipe calls for such a small amount that you won't feel the pain in your pocket.

1 small bulb fennel
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only
10 spears of asparagus, trimmed
1 oz wild mushrooms, (like morels, chanterelles, etc.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper
1 14-ounce package puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg
4 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs like dill and mint, but whatever you like

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Trim fennel, reserve fronds, and quarter bulb from top to bottom. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, cut fennel and leeks into paper-thin slices. Slice asparagus spears in half lengthwise. Clean and slice mushrooms.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add fennel and leeks and sauté until just tender but not brown, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Heat tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium heat and add asparagus, saute about 4 minutes, set aside; add mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes.

3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Lay the puff pastry on the baking sheet. Fold over the sides to make a 1-inch rim, overlapping the pastry at the corners and pressing it lightly. Inside the rim, prick the pastry all over with a fork. Brush edges of pastry with some egg. Bake until pale gold, about 10 minutes. If pastry has puffed up inside edge, press it down gently. Spread with fennel-leek mixture. Artfully arrange asparagus spears along the length of the tart. Add the mushrooms and crumble goat cheese on top.

4. Return to the oven and cook until tarts are warm and cheese softens, about 8 minutes. Garnish with fennel fronds and herbs.

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Lemony Salsa Verde
Serves 4
*This lemony salsa verde is good on pretty much everything (seafood, chicken, etc) but I love how it livens up meaty flat iron steak and I love that is uses the whole lemon, fruit to peel.  I like to pair this with high acid reds from Piedmont - nebbiolo, barbera, dolcetto or, a wine I just brought into the wine shop, Tenuta Pergola Rosso Il Goccetto - a dry Brachetto, very unique and very delicious.

1 small shallot
1 garlic clove
½ lemon (with peel), seeded, rough chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil
¾ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 pounds flat iron steak, or blade chop steak


  1. Put shallot and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add lemon, season with salt and pepper and pulse until fine.  Transfer to a bowl and let sit 5 minutes. Stir in oil, parsley, cilantro, and chives. Season with salt, pepper.
  2. Remove steak from package and pat dry with a paper towel. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat grill over medium heat. Grease the grill with a bit of vegetable oil or with cooking spray. Once the grill is nice and hot, add the steak and grill uncovered flipping halfway through; 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare. Allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.
  4. Drizzle with the lemony salsa verde and serve immediately.

Veal Francese
Serves 2
*Tart lemon and white wine make this classic dish a mouthwatering winner. Serve with pasta, polenta, or rice. For wine I like to pair this with a crisp Italian white like a Gavi di Gavi or Falanghina.

4 small veal cutlets, pounded thin (you  are sold at the grocery store already pounded thin)
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, with rind, cut in thin rounds
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

  1. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, beat the eggs with 3 tablespoons of water to make an egg wash. Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet.
  2. Dredge both sides of the veal cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden, turning once. Remove the cutlets to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.
  3. Toss the lemon slices into the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the wine, broth, and lemon juice, simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. Roll the butter in some flour and add it to the skillet, this will thicken the sauce. Stir to incorporate and dissolve the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and return the veal to the pan; place the lemon slices on top of the cutlets. Simmer gently for 2 minutes to heat the veal through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.


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