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Beef and Guinness Stew by Darina Allen

Beef and Guinness Stew by Darina Allen

INGREDIENTS

  • 900g lean stewing beef
  • 3 tablespoons oil or dripping
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper and cayenne
  • 2 large onions (about 285g), coarsely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée, dissolved in 4 tablespoons water or 1 tbsp of Tomato Paste
  • 300ml (½ pint) Guinness
  • 225g carrots, cut into chunks
  • Sprig of thyme
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

PREPARATION

  1. Trim the meat of any fat or gristle, cut into cubes of 5cm and toss them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon oil. Season the flour with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch or two of cayenne. Toss the meat in this mixture.

    Heat the remaining oil or dripping in a wide frying pan over a high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Add the onions, crushed garlic (if using) and tomato purée to the pan, cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes.

    Transfer the contents of the pan to a casserole, and pour some of the Guinness into the frying pan. Bring to the boil and stir to dissolve the caramelized meat juices in the pan. Pour on to the meat with the remaining Guinness; add the carrots and the thyme. Stir, taste, and add a little more salt if necessary.

    Cover with the lid of the casserole and simmer very gently until the meat is tender - 2 to 3 hours. The stew may be cooked on top of the stove or in a low oven at 150C/gas mark 2. Taste and correct the seasoning.

    Scatter with lots of chopped parsley and serve with champ, colcannon or plain boiled potatoes.

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The life of an inventor

As Thomas Edison once said "Genius - 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration"

 We get complemented frequently for our very creative and innovative products. While this is always delightful to hear we are constantly reminded that the path to invention is not an easy one. It is often fraught with setbacks, expensive molds, patents (we have 3), trademarks (we have 4) lawyer fees, and worst of all products that don't work initially and send us back to the drawing board. We've spent many hours at work and over meals at home thrashing out ideas and perfecting them.

Most of the ideas spring from frustrations we have in our daily lives that stop us in our tracks and makes us think "hey, how come no one has ever invented this before?" We have a Steve Jobs quote on our idea board in the office "Simple is more difficult than complex" and we try to adhere to this dictum but sometimes the process just seems daunting and onerous. 

We're currently working on our latest invention. We gave it a surreptitious unveiling at the Housewares Show a few weeks ago to some of our best customers and were blown away by the response. Now we're frantically finishing up labeling, production, adding small tweaks, getting samples for key customers and deciding on colors and then the big decision - how much should we produce. More tough decisions lie ahead like where will we put inventory as we are bursting at the seams since the tote+able merger. We want to get it out to market as soon as possible but also need to make sure everything is done with the level of perfection we demand. 

Each time we launch a new product, and we've launched one per year since we started this in 2012, there are always new hurdles to jump but the excitement pushes us on. We're thankful for some terrific partners, customers and rep groups but most of all the group who show up to work here every day. They hear most of the ups and downs of invention and are some of our biggest cheerleaders, they're also some of the first to test the products. 

So the next time you see one of our products in a store or even better still actually use one of them, just take some time to think about the work that went into bringing it to market and cheer us on to keep going and to keep inventing! We love it and we hope you love our products as much as we do! We can't wait to share our latest and greatest with you. Stay tuned....

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Plin

Plin

We discovered this terrific dish when we attended the International Housewares Show in 2016 at a wonderful little restaurant called Osteria Langhe. It was recommended to us by a friend from our wine days, Brian Duncan and we'll be forever grateful. It was a major highlight of our trip and now the restaurant is a regular pitstop once a year when we visit Chicago. On returning home we were obsessed with how to make it and Walt immediately set to figuring out how. It helped a lot that our daughter knew how to make pasta. It is now a classic dish in our home. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do every time. 

For Pasta (Follow your favorite pasta recipe or cheat by using won ton skins)

Flour

Egg

Water

 

Filling

La Tur Cheese (Italian soft cheese somewhat like brie but in a little tub)

For Sauce

¼ cup     White Wine

¾ cup    Chicken Stock

1             Garlic clove (smashed)

3             Thyme sprigs

1 tsp      Thyme leaves

3tbsp     Butter

 

Directions

Make pasta and roll into thin sheets, then cut into three inch squares.  Alternatively, use square won ton wrappers.

Remove La Tur cheese from refrigerator and spoon about ½ tablespoon into center of pasta square.  Wet the edges and seal into a triangular package.  Please on a parchment lined, floured baking sheet.  Repeat until you have made the desired quantity. (5 is a good number per person for a hearty appetizer)

Boil six quarts of water to cook pasta.  Meanwhile heat white wine and chicken stock in a small saucepan.  Add smashed garlic and thyme sprigs and simmer until pasta water is ready.  If liquid evaporates too quickly, add more chicken stock as needed.  You will want about ¾ cup of liquid when finished.

When water comes to a boil, salt generously and cook the plin until they are al dente and rise to the top – about three minutes.  While this is cooking, strain the sauce into a clean bowl and return liquid to pan and simmer.  Whisk in butter one tablespoon at a time until incorporated in sauce and remove from heat.

Drain the plin and divide evenly into small bowls.  Spoon the sauce equally over the top of each and sprinkle with thyme leaves.

Serve with something delicious - this past week we opted to enjoy it at the restaurant with a bottle of delicious Arneis from Vietti. 

 Word of note - this is Mr CapaBunga's version of the dish - the picture of the actual dish from the restaurant is above. 

 

 

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Uncle Waltie's Quick Local Halibut Perfection

Uncle Waltie's Quick Local Halibut Perfection

This delicious dish, I have to admit, was from a truly fantastic Valentine Dinner made by, non other than our resident chef, Mr CapaBunga, earlier this week! It was our first meal after a 3 day cleanse but still worked within a non sugar, carb, gluten diet (Plant Paradox) we've been trying. Walt, who can often make quite elaborate meals, tells me that this one is super simple so it seemed like a perfect one for our next blog post. We served it with a delicious Gobelsburger Riesling 2015  which really brought out the best in the wine and in the dish - ENJOY, I know we certainly did even though diet wise, we weren't meant to have the wine (well, it was Valentine's after all)

See recipe below. 

Ingredients

4             Wild caught California (not Alaskan) Halibut Fillets – 4 oz each (Substitute snapper if halibut unavailable)

4             Heads of baby bok choi, roughly chopped and washed

4             stems of green(spring) garlic

½ tbsp   grated ginger

½ tbsp   white wine

2 tbsp    French butter

               Olive oil

               Salt

               Pepper

Process

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Remove outer, slightly red portion of green garlic and chop only the white portion.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and drizzle with a small coating of olive oil.  Pat halibut dry and place on parchment.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium and melt one tablespoon of butter.  Add ginger and green garlic and sautée for one minute.  While this is cooking, put halibut in the oven and set timer for six minutes.  Add bok choi to skillet and sauté with the ginger and green garlic.  Meanwhile, heat white wine in small saucepan on medium-low until just simmering, then whisk in one tablespoon of butter and turn off heat.

After six minutes in the oven, turn on high broiler and cook halibut for two more minutes.  During this time, place bok choi mixture in the center of each plate.  When halibut is finished, remove from oven and place one fillet on top of each bok choi mix, then spoon the butter/wine “sauce” over the top of each piece of fish.  Sprinkle with salt and serve with a delicious bottle of Riesling - we chose Gobelsburger, a veritable bargain at around $15-$20! 

Serves 4 – Approximate time 20 minutes

 

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Chicken Wings and a Lifelong Support of the Rams

Chicken Wings and a Lifelong Support of the Rams

Well as you can see our attempt to get the blog thing going went awry after the fires and the crazy fundraiser we did to raise $70K for our neighbors who lost their homes.

Here we are over a year later with very welcome rain pounding on the windows and we're dreaming about getting the blog going again with recipes from the wine country and wine recommendations from two wine industry veterans, Walt and Máire. Walt cooks some terrific meals which you'll see pics of on our instagram account with #mrcapabungarocks but we're going to start accompanying the pictures with recipes.

Currently we're thinking about a weekend at home in our PJs after a very busy show season and are excited for a Rams/Pats game on SuperBowl Sunday. Walt grew up in LA and followed the Rams to St Louis and now back, sometimes it feels like half his wardrobe is Rams Gear, the other half is CapaBunga. Máire lived in Beantown for 12yrs so it should make for an interesting Sunday!

Every year we go to a friend's to watch the game and Máire brings her version of Chicken Wings. It seemed like a fitting way to kick off recipes on the blog. Something easy to make but always satisfying. 

Barbecued Chicken Wings

5lbs Chicken Wings

1 Cup Brown Sugar

3/4 Cup Sherry

1/2tsp Dry Mustard

1 Cup Soy Sauce

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

Cut off tips of chicken wings (you can freeze for soup broth). Cut wings into 2 pieces at the joint. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 350 for 30minutes. Combine brown sugar, sherry, mustard, soy sauce and garlic in saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pour over wings. Cover the pan and set aside for later. After wings sit for a while bake for 2 hours until sauce has been absorbed and wings are well glazed. Makes 50 or 60 pieces. 

 

 

 

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Thanks for all the LOVE

Thanks for all the LOVE

Walt and I really didn’t want our third blog post to be about the terrible wildfires we’ve had here in beautiful wine country since Sunday night, October 8th but we’ve had so many of you asking after us and our area that it seemed the best way to share news.

First of all let us say that because of amazing firefighters we are all safe and miraculously have not had to evacuate from Windsor. Earlier in the week it was incredibly scary and it was hard to focus on anything other than safety and survival. When the fire near us started on Sunday night it was moving incredibly fast, fueled by a perfect storm with 50+mph winds. There was also low humidity and very dry brush, conditions ideal for massive destruction. At one stage the fire was moving 100 yards every 3 seconds.

By the middle of early Monday morning we were all watching the news around the clock trying to make the right decisions for our families. By Monday night we learned family members and dear friends had lost their homes - thousands had been displaced and Santa Rosa, the town three miles to the south of us, looked like a nuclear wasteland in parts. Latest reports say that 2800+ homes and 4,400 commercial spaces have been destroyed and reduced to ash just in Santa Rosa!

Photo Credit: Christopher Chung, Press Democrat

Video of devastation

The town of Windsor has been very smoky and we’ve been without gas, Wi-Fi and hot water at home for most of the week but that is minor compared to what our neighbors have suffered.

On the plus side our kids have been off school and eager to help us at CapaBunga during one of our busiest times of year. Reinforcements have swarmed into the area and we now have 8000 firefighters fighting 200,000 acres of fire in California. We have 747s dropping fire retardant and the winds have died down. The fire closest to us is 35K acres wide but is now 20% contained, that’s up from 10% yesterday. We still have 10+ fires in Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties but we're very hopeful they will be under control soon.

Our hearts go out to all those who have lost family members, homes or suffered because of these fires. It will take a long time to rebuild and restore this beautiful place to its former glory. Demand will be high for temporary homes and for builders. In the meantime we hope you’ll buy wine from our region and support those businesses that have been affected. If you would like to donate we’d recommend any of the following

Redwood Credit Union

Redwood Empire Food Bank

Sonoma Humane Society

Thanks so much for all your offers of help - it means a lot! 

Máire, Walt, Elizabeth, Lynette and Tracy

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Trade Show Season = Harvest Time

It’s harvest here in Wine Country. Tons of ripe clusters of luscious grapes hang brightly on the vines, begging to be crushed. That’s how we feel standing at NYNow, the last show of our season – crushed.

After weeks and weeks of showing our new items, we are grateful for all of the compliments, and of course orders, from new customers and long standing customers. It’s kind of like harvest. We’ve spent months and months nurturing the new products, bringing them to maturity. Now it’s time to bottle them up and send them out into the marketplace for Holiday gifts.

 

But unlike the grape harvest, we also have the Winter Trade Shows. That means that while we are shipping out Holiday orders, we are simultaneously growing a new crop of items for 2018. It’s the equivalent of operating a winery in California and Australia simultaneously!

We love what we do. And we love that we can do it in the heart of Wine Country. And don’t worry, once this show is over, there will be a few minutes to catch our breath and enjoy the fruits of our labor on some tasty wine.

 

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One if by land, two if by sea, three if it makes a four course meal

One if by land, two if by sea, three if it makes a four course meal

Living in Wine Country has its positives and negatives. The weather is great, the landscape is beautiful, the wines are delicious and the food is world class. There are beautiful parks, miles of trails to hike, redwoods to gaze and lovely rivers and streams. You can forage for mushrooms in the winter, tend your garden in the spring, bask in the warm days and cool nights of summer, and harvest a bounty of produce in the fall.

On the positive side, the beautiful Pacific Ocean is just a short ride away, with its rumbling surf tumbling over Dungeness crabs and abalone. Okay, so maybe there aren’t any negatives, but how would you know if you’ve never had the chance to visit or somebody to let you know. That’s where we can help.

Máire and I have had the good fortune to live in Sonoma County for 20+ years, and the greater fortune to travel the world and experience new sights, sounds and flavors. Putting that all together into our daily lives is an amazing opportunity that we’d like to share with you. Follow us as we trudge through our days full of work and play, layered liberally with transporting our daughter to her long calendar of activities. We’ll stop along the way to cook, eat, drink and enjoy the surroundings and document it for your pleasure. It may be a delicious meal, a great wine bargain, a fun new recipe or just a beautiful sunset. We hope you enjoy it!

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