Saturday, July 28, 2007

Food & Wine Article Published June 2007 in WomanScope Newspaper

For those who didn't get a copy of the paper featuring my article, I've posted it for you to read.
Food & Wine By Natasha OrtizFortier

Welcome to the debut issue of WomanScope. I am truly delighted to be apart
of this venture. In this “Food and Wine” column, I will share thoughts, inspirations, ideas, and (yes!) recipes about Food, Wine and Spirits. In this column, “Recipe Round-up” includes some of my family recipes as well as recipes of my “foodie” friends. The goal is to keep prep time to a minimum
so you can get to the good part…eating!

When I was 20-something and single, I had more expendable income than bills.
Now that I’m 30-something married with child (mortgage, etc.), the reverse is true. Budgeting is a part of my everyday life. I’ve been forced to re-evaluate my ‘wine snob’ ways. What I’ve discovered are a lot of great wines of good quality that won’t negatively impact “the budget.”

In “Sipping Notes,” I will share some great wine finds for under $20. It will occasionally include cocktail recipes as well as notable liquors (scotch, rum, gin, vodka, etc).

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must share that I am completely in love with food, and eating even more. It’s my mothers’ fault; she’s a phenomenal cook and quite food curious. It wasn’t unusual to find 5 different types of mushrooms in our icebox. Or for us to eat red snapper stuffed with shrimp and crab on a Wednesday night. While I didn’t inherit “the golden spoon” it was passed down to my sister. I do share her culinary curiosity, love of good food and passion for quality ingredients. There are those who will spend hours shopping to find the perfect pair of pumps or a sparkly pair of earrings to compliment that cute little black dress. I stalk produce departments (and sometimes the managers) for premium red Holland peppers for shrimp kabobs. I am quite the CSI when it comes to examining and selecting meat, seafood or poultry for a week night dinner. And I’ve been known to travel great distances for a good slice of homemade pie, pizza or bakery fresh vegan cupcakes. I consider it a healthy obsession. You gotta eat, right?

With the warm summer months approaching, I am giddy about the bountiful delicious brightly colored fresh produce to come. The abundance of complex culinary tastes and textures to be offered by farmer’s market, wine festivals and other ethnic food fairs.

I have a particular affinity for summer. Warm weather and outdoor activities aside, it’s grilling season. Nothing sings sweet music to my soul like the crackling and sizzling of cold meat on a smoky hot grill.
The savory fragrance of hardwood charcoal released by the fiery embers makes my mouth water. Grilling is so multi-purpose. Fish, chicken, steak, veggies even fruit--can be grilled. It can even make those of us who didn’t inherit
the ‘golden spoon’ into a crowd-pleasing cook.

Recipe Round-up:
The fresh ginger and red pepper flakes really spice up the
flavor of the meat.

Famous Fortíer Family Marinade
4 Steaks or Chicken breasts
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 fresh lemons, juiced
1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (can sub apple cider)
1 Tbsp Dry cooking sherry
1/2 cup Lea & Perrins Steak sauce (or Worchester)
2 Tbsp of honey
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Place meat in ziploc bag. In a bowl, whisk ingredients together. Pour liquid over meat inside ziploc bag. Shake well to ensure all meat is covered with marinade. Marinate for 1 hour. For best results, marinate overnight. Grill to your liking.

Salad is a dinner-time staple during the hot sticky months. I love to
experiment and make my own salad dressing. There are a variety of fresh
vegetables (and fruits) available to create your own signature salad. I once
had a salad made of watermelon, red onions and feta cheese tossed in
vinaigrette. It was delicious! It completely reinvented the way I thought of
salad. Try something new. Be creative. Don’t limit your self to just lettuce.
The vinaigrette below is simple to make and tastes great. You probably have
most of the ingredients in your pantry.

*Champagne Vinegar is a fabulous flavorful alternative to apple cider and
regular vinegar. I use the Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar from Trader Joes.

Summer Salad Dressing
1/2 cup Champagne Vinegar*
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Fresh strained Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp Italian seasoning (dried)
1-2 packets of Splenda®(more if you like a sweeter vinaigrette)
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (optional)
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Pour all ingredients into a bowl and use a wire whisk to mix.
Feel free to adjust the ingredient amounts to suit your taste.
Pour mixture over your favorite salad and enjoy.

My foodie friend, Chef Kevin Bryan created this succulent recipe. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Even the kids gobbled it up. At our last bbq, it disappeared faster than the ribs!

Chef Bryan’s Grilled Parmesan Zucchini
3 Large zucchini
1/3 cup Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup dried basil
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup dry parmesan

Cut zucchini lengthwise (about half inch thick). Set aside.
In a bowl, mix ingredients together, adding parmesan last.
Pour mixture over zucchini and place in a Ziploc.
Marinate for 30 minutes (no more than an hour).
Grill over medium heat until brown.
About 2-4 minutes on each side.

Sipping Notes:
2004 Avalon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($12)
This wine made me reconsider my position on cabs. I tried this one completely by accident at one of my favorite local wine shops (Grand Cru). You will find it light, fruity and flavorful. It’s great compliment to grilled foods (especially bbq ribs…yummy).

Writer Bio___________________________________________________
Natasha OrtizFortíer is a writer, educator and creative marketing communications consultant living in Baltimore City. It’s not unusual to find her sipping green tea or a glass of vino while pouring over several “food sections” and a stack of culinary rags at a local coffee shop or wine bar. Please feel free to share your thoughts, inspirations and culinary finds by e-mailing

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