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A Duo of Delicious Spreads

Monday, December 20th, 2021

If you’re entertaining, these simple and delicious spreads might be just what you’re looking for. Serve these wine-friendly spreads individually or as a colorful duo with a basket of flatbread crackers, crostini or pita crisps. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Sparkling Wine or Sparkling Rosé.

A Duo of Delicious Spreads

Ingredients:

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Feta 

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper, skinned and seeded 
  • 6 ounces (scant 1 cup/180 g) feta  
  • 1 large garlic clove 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • Hot red pepper and sea salt to taste 


Spinach, Cilantro and Tahini Spread 

  • 1 cup (1.5 oz/45 g) packed baby spinach leaves (no stems) 
  • ½ cup (65 g) frozen peas (no need to thaw) 
  • 1 green onion, white and pale green part only, sliced 
  • 6 to 8 sprigs cilantro, no thick stems 
  • 1 small garlic clove, sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) tahini 
  • Sea salt 
  • Lemon juice, as needed 


Directions:

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Feta 

In a food processor, puree all ingredients until fully blended. The mixture will be soft. Chill slightly to firm it. 

Spinach, Cilantro and Tahini Spread 

Put the spinach, peas, green onion, cilantro and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the tahini and a large pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Taste for salt and add a few drops of lemon juice if needed to brighten the flavor. 

Suggested Pairings:

Callaway Winery ~ NV Sparkling Bella Rosé – Elegant in both color and flavor, this charming wine greets you with juicy peach aromas touched with spicy white pepper. 

South Coast Winery ~ Extra Dry Brut – Delicate apple and berry with toasty yeast notes.

Thornton Winery ~ NV Brut – A blend of primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, giving our wine exciting, crisp fruit characters while taking on a clean and straightforward yeast flavor from the lengthy tirage time. 

Wilson Creek Winery ~ Rosé Sparkling Wine – Crisp, elegant and flavorful.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.

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Maple Almond Shortbread Cookies

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Maple Almond Shortbread Cookies

Indulge your sweet tooth with these Canadian-inspired maple almond shortbread cookies. Local maple syrup sweetens these easy and buttery cookies while sliced almonds provide a delicious savory crunch. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay or Sparkling Wine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup room temperature butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp Maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1/8 cup slivered or sliced almonds for topping after cookies are rolled and cut
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar or all-purpose flour for rolling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees

Toss the 1/8 cup of slivered or sliced almonds into a small strainer over your mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the icing sugar over the almonds and mix until almonds are lightly coated, and sugar has fallen into the mixing bowl below. Set aside the sugar-coated almonds

Add butter, flour, maple syrup, and chopped almonds to icing sugar and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Cover with saran wrap or clean towel and place in refrigerator for 15 to 20 min.

Take the dough out and lightly dust the rolling surface with icing sugar or flour.

Roll dough out to about 2 mm thick and cut into desired shapes.  Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper or silicon sheet.

Sprinkle sugared almonds on top of cut cookies and bake for 10 to 15 min or until golden brown.

Suggested Pairings:

Altisima Winery ~ 2019 Chardonnay – Boasting strong oak aromatics, a creamy texture, and a butter finish.

Bottaia Winery ~ 2019 Spumante – This 2019 vintage Spumante was made in the Cremant style lending both bright acidity with a balanced creaminess.

Lorenzi Estate Winery ~ 2019 Chardonnay – This chardonnay offers nuances of slightly toasted oak, meyer lemon, vanilla and pineapple.  

Wilson Creek Winery ~ Brut Sparkling Wine -Light and refreshing, and very fun!

Recipe and photo courtesy of The Wine Institute of California

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Mushroom, Kale & Butternut Squash Pasta

Friday, October 1st, 2021

Mushroom, Kale & Butternut Squash Pasta

As the weather turns chilly and the crisp autumn air has us gathering around a warm fire at night, this comfort food dish will be a sure hit that it will have you making it again and again. This Autumn-inspired pasta showcases the best of the harvest season and pairs perfectly with a loaf of fresh crusty bread. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped oyster mushrooms or shitake
  • 1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 2 cups shredded kale
  • 1 cup small of diced butternut squash
  • 2 oz white wine
  • 2 cups 35% cream
  • 1 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 6 cups cooked bowtie pasta
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan (big enough for all ingredients) heat butter.
  2. Cook onions, garlic, and diced squash on medium heat until onions are soft and starting to brown.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook on medium for about 5 min.
  4. Add white wine and stir. The wine should clean the bottom of the pan up and incorporate all that goodness.
  5. Add kale, cream, cheese salt, and pepper. Cook till cheese is melted and kale is wilted slightly. (Approx 3 min)
  6. Add pre-cooked noodles and toss together. Cook for another 3 min on medium to re-heat noodles.
  7. Serve and top with toasted almonds and chopped green onions.

Suggested Pairings:

Bel Vino Winery ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – Bold & smooth. This elegant wine has aromas & flavors of blackberry, blueberry & Dried cherry.

Foot Path Winery ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine’s delicious full-body gives it the qualities that makes it so beloved worldwide. This wine can be enjoyed in its youthful stage or when it is aged to perfection.

Lorimar Winery ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – Truly the holy grail of wine, with complexity to spare; perfumes of black plums, medjool dates, root beer leaf and cedar mingled with black peppercorn and the weathered leather of a whip.

Ponte Winery ~ 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Red berry mix aromas and a touch of roasted red pepper, black pepper and a touch of cedar at the finish with graphite.

Recipe & photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Blue Cheese and Walnut Stuffed California Figs

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Figs, blue cheese and walnuts soar in this wine-friendly appetizer. Invite a few friends to drop by, then assemble this super simple hors d’oeuvre with juicy California figs, creamy blue cheese, toasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey. It’s an easy app that’s ready in five minutes, max. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay.

CA Grown Happy Hour at Home: Credit CA Grown

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 8 fresh California figs, halved  
  • ¼ pound (125 g) blue cheese, such as Point Reyes Farmstead Original Blue or Bay Blue 
  • ½ pound (250 g) walnuts, toasted and chopped 
  • Honey for drizzling 

Directions:

Cut the figs in half. Cut a small slice off the curved side so the figs stay stable. Place the figs on a serving plate and top each fig with a nugget of blue cheese. Sprinkle generously with the walnuts. Drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.    

Suggested Pairings:

Avensole Winery ~ 2020 Chardonnay – Notes of tropical fruit are balanced with minerality and stone fruits as they greet the palate, followed by a luxurious, creamy vanilla finish.

Chapin Family Vineyards ~ 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – Provides an array of smooth flavors such as blueberry, mocha, plum and vanilla. 

Monte De Oro Winery ~ 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon – Classic black cherry, plums, and craisins come alive when you start drinking it, with brown sugar, black pepper, and fennel rounding out the taste.

Peltzer Winery ~ 2019 Chardonnay – Yellow apple, apricot, and lemon meringue pie.

Recipe and photo courtesy of CA Grown and the Wine Institute of California

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Grilled Fish Tacos

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

You can use any kind of fish for these grilled tacos, or shrimp if you prefer. Pacific halibut is lean, with thick flakes, and easy to grill. Offer the salsa separately so lovers of spicy food can add as much as they like, and others can pass. Of course, pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc.

Grilled Fish Tacos

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Scant ½ teaspoon whole cumin seed or ground cumin 
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt 
  • Scant ½ teaspoon paprika 
  • 1 pound skinless Pacific halibut, preferably in 1 piece 
  • Olive oil 
  • 1 heart of romaine, dark green outer leaves removed 
  • 1/3 cup crema (Mexican-style sour cream) or sour cream 
  • Canned chipotle chile en adobo or chipotle hot sauce, optional 
  • 8 corn tortillas 
  • 16 cherry tomatoes 
  • 1 small avocado, halved, pitted, and sliced lengthwise 
  • Coarsely chopped cilantro 
  • Salsa verde, store-bought or homemade 

Directions:

If using whole cumin seed, toast it in a small dry skillet over medium heat until it darkens and becomes fragrant. Let cool, then pound fine in a mortar or grind in a spice grinder. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, salt, and paprika. Brush the fish all over with olive oil, then season with the spice mix. Refrigerate on a plate for 30 minutes. 

Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to high. 

Cut the romaine in half lengthwise, then slice thinly crosswise. Set aside. Put the crema in a small bowl. Whisk in enough cold water to make it thin enough to drizzle. If desired, whisk in finely minced chipotle chile or hot sauce to taste. 

Wrap the corn tortillas in aluminum foil or a clean kitchen towel. Bring an inch of water to a boil over high heat in the bottom of a steamer. Put the tortilla package in the steamer basket, cover, and steam for 1 minute. Then turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  

In a small bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes with enough olive oil to coat them lightly. Season with salt. Put them on a small heatproof stainless grill tray or other heatproof baking dish and set on the grill directly over the flame. Cook until the tomatoes are sizzling and lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Set aside. 

Place the halibut on the grill rack and grill without turning until the flesh just flakes, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to a platter and divide the fish into 8 pieces of roughly equal size. 

To assemble the tacos, put 2 hot tortillas on each of 4 plates. Top each tortilla with some of the shredded romaine, then with a piece of fish. Divide the tomatoes and avocado slices among the tacos. Drizzle crema over the fish, top with cilantro and put a lime wedges on each plate. Serve immediately, passing the salsa verde separately. 

Suggested Pairings:

Briar Rose Winery ~ 2019 Rosé Fume

Frangipani Winery ~ 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

Mount Palomar Winery ~ 2017 Sangiovese Rosé

Vindemia Winery ~ 2018 Sauvignon Blanc

Recipe & photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Grilled Pork Shoulder Chops with Nectarine Slaw

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

If you have grill duties this 4th of July, show everyone you have the right stuff with these succulent pork chops. Shoulder chops aren’t as common as loin chops so you may need to ask a butcher to cut them for you. They have more flavor, and this garlicky rub guarantees that they will be a dish you want to make all summer long. Juicy California nectarines make this slaw a standout. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

Grilled Pork Shoulder Chops with Nectarine Slaw

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Rub: 

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed between your fingers 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt 
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder 
  • ¾ teaspoon ground fennel 
  • ¾ teaspoon paprika  
  • 4 bone-in pork shoulder blade chops, about 8 ounces (225 g) each and ½ inch (1.25 cm) thick 
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 

 Dressing: 

  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or more as needed 
  • 2 teaspoons honey  
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

 Slaw: 

  • ½ pound (225 g) green cabbage, cored and very thin sliced 
  • ¼ pound (115 g) radicchio, cored and very thinly sliced 
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated 
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) minced green onion, white and pale green parts only 
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) toasted slivered almonds 
  • 1 large ripe but firm nectarine, very thinly sliced 


Directions:

In a small bowl, combine all the rub ingredients. Brush the chops on both sides with the olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of the chops with the rub, pressing it into place with your fingers. Place the chops on a rack set over a tray and refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling. 

Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Prepare a moderately hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.  

Make the slaw: In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, radicchio, carrot, green onion, almonds, and nectarine. Toss to mix. Add enough of the dressing to coat the slaw lightly; you may not need it all. Toss gently and taste for seasoning. 

Grill the chops about 5 minutes per side for medium doneness. Let rest 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle, then serve with the slaw. 

Suggested Pairings:

Bella Vista Winery ~ 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – Deep red color that highlights flavors of blackberries and cassis.

Leoness Cellars ~ 2018 Cellar Selection Zinfandel – Offers beautiful aromas and flavors of sweet black fruit with hints of vanilla, allspice and black licorice framed by soft tannins and a long, silky finish.

Masia de la Vinya ~ 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – Rose petals, baked cherry pie, slight bite of white pepper.

Wiens Family Cellars ~ 2019 Dualis – While being a true 50/50 split, our 2019 Dualis shows more classic notes of Zinfandel, with the Cabernet playing a supporting role.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.

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Grilled Five-Spice Chicken with Cucumber Peanut Salad

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

Grilled Five-Spice Chicken with Cucumber Peanut Salad

Vietnamese chefs introduced Californians to the delights of five-spice chicken, and the dish is now entrenched in the Golden State repertoire. A cool, crunchy, lime-laced cucumber salad provides a refreshing contrast to the highly seasoned chicken. The marinade makes the chicken skin extra-crisp and tasty, so purchase skin-on thighs if possible. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Merlot!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Marinade 

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 2 teaspoons Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce  
  • ¼ teaspoon five-spice powder 
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on, about 1-1/2 pounds (680 g)

Cucumber Peanut Salad 

  • 1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced 
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated 
  • ½ small sweet red onion, thinly sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice with some pulp 
  • 2 tablespoons water 
  • 1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce  
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced 
  • ½ small jalapeño chili, minced (remove seeds first, if desired) 
  • ¼ cup (10 g) coarsely chopped cilantro 
  • ¼ cup (30 g) chopped roasted unsalted peanuts  
  • Lime wedges 

Directions:

Prepare the marinade: Combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, five-spice powder, garlic, shallot, and sugar and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Put the chicken thighs in a glass baking dish or other container just large enough to hold them. Pour the marinade over the thighs and turn them to coat all over. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours, turning once halfway through. 

 Prepare the cucumber salad: Put the cucumber, carrot, and onion in a bowl and toss gently to mix. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, water, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and chili. Whisk until the sugar dissolves, then pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently. Add the cilantro and peanuts and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning. 

 Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to high. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place skin side down on the grill. Brush the flesh side with any marinade in the baking dish. Cook on both sides until the skin has browned and crisped and the chicken juices run clear, not pink, when probed at the bone, about 20 minutes.  

 Divide the cucumber salad and the chicken among 4 dinner plates. Garnish with lime wedges. 

Suggested Pairings:

Frangipani Winery ~ 2017 Merlot – Smooth from start to finish, berries and spice throughout.

Leoness Cellars ~ 2015 Vineyard Selection Merlot – Well balanced and well structured, with beautiful layers of blackberry, black cherry, and plum complemented by earthy aromas

Monte De Oro Winery ~ 2016 Merlot – A medium+ aroma intensity of freshly picked raspberries, bing cherries, and strawberries with vanilla, cocoa bean, red bell pepper, red flowers, clove, cinnamon and charred oak.

Thornton Winery ~ 2016 Merlot – Merlot has cherry, black berry currant and blueberry notes along with a fruit-driven entry that is complemented by oak barrels from France, Eastern Europe and North America.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Carrot Hummus with Spring Vegetable Crudités

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

Carrot Hummus with Spring Vegetables

Blending carrots, chickpeas, and tahini produces a hummus with a captivating new taste. Cook the carrots first to heighten their sweetness, and then surround the fluffy spread with a garland of crunchy spring vegetables for dipping. Briefly blanching sugar snap peas and asparagus tips will brighten their color. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • ½ pound (225 g) carrots, peeled and coarsely grated 
  • Sea salt 
  • ½ teaspoon whole cumin seed or ½ teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 can (15.5 oz/439 g) chickpeas, drained, or 2 cups cooked chickpeas 
  • 2 large cloves garlic 
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice, or more to taste 
  • ½ cup tahini 
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts  
  • Aleppo pepper, hot red pepper flakes, or paprika 
  • Spring vegetables for dipping, such as radishes, baby carrots, roasted beets, sugar snap peas, asparagus tips, Persian cucumbers, hearts of romaine, and scallions 

Directions:

Heat a 10-inch (25-cm) skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is almost smoking, add the carrots and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the carrots have wilted slightly and lost their crunch, about 3 minutes. Set the skillet aside. 

If using whole cumin seed, put the cumin seed in a small dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking the skillet often, until the cumin seed darkens and begins to smell fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool, then pound fine in a mortar. 

Put the carrots, toasted cumin or ground cumin, chickpeas, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until very finely chopped. Add the tahini and process until well blended. With the machine running, add enough water through the feed tube to make a smooth puree, about 1/3 cup. Add salt to taste and more lemon if desired. Process for 5 minutes to make a smooth, light hummus. Transfer to a serving plate, spreading it with a rubber spatula and making some “valleys” where oil can pool. 

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook, shaking the skillet constantly, until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour the hot oil and pine nuts over the hummus. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper and serve at once with vegetables for dipping. 

Suggested Pairings:

Hart Winery ~ 2019 Sauvignon Blanc – This alluring, food-friendly, classically-styled wine was produced from Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown entirely in the Hart Family Vineyard. 

Longshadow Ranch Winery ~ Cloud Peak Sauvignon Blanc – A nicely crisp Sauvignon Blanc with hints of pink grapefruit. Nice sour finish.

Sweet Oaks Winery ~ 2017 Chardonnay –  The nose is bright and fresh with lemon-lime zest and golden apple aromas prevailing, due to stainless steel fermentation

Vitagliano Vineyards & Winery ~ 2018 Chardonnay – This bold yet balanced wine has aromas of peach and vanilla jumping out of the glass, it leads into a palate of velvety granny smith apple.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Soft-Centered Chocolate Babycakes with Red Wine Raspberry Sauce

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Chocolate Babycakes with Red Wine Raspberry Sauce

Served warm with red wine raspberry sauce, they are almost molten inside, with crunchy edges. The recipe makes four, so you can have one cake apiece with your sweetie and save the other pair for lunch the next day. When cool, they taste like a super-rich brownie. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley dessert or sparkling wine.

Ingredients:

Sauce 

  • ½ cup dry red wine 
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar 
  • ½ pint (6 ounces) raspberries 

Cakes 

  • 5 ounces (155 g) unsalted butter 
  • 5 ounces (155 g) bittersweet chocolate (65% to 75% cacao), chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso or coffee powder 
  • 2 large whole eggs plus 1 egg white 
  • ¾ cup (185 g) granulated sugar 
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • Pinch sea salt 
  • ½ cup (60 g) sifted all-purpose flour 
  • Confectioner’s sugar for serving 

Whipped cream or ice cream, optional 

Directions:

Prepare the sauce: Put the wine and sugar in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced to 1/3 cup. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate several hours until cold. Set aside 1 dozen raspberries for garnish, then put the remainder in a small food processor or blender. Puree until smooth, then add the chilled red wine syrup and puree again. Pass the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds, pressing firmly with a spatula.  

Prepare the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour the insides of four 1-cup (250-ml) ramekins, shaking out excess flour.  

 Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and espresso powder. Let stand until the chocolate melts, then whisk to blend. 

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg white. Add the sugar gradually, whisking well. Add the vanilla and salt. Whisk until the sugar is no longer grainy. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk to blend. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour. 

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared ramekins. They will be about two-thirds full. Set them on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the cakes are well risen and mounded on top, with many surface cracks, 30 to 32 minutes. 

Protecting your hands with oven mitts, immediately invert a cake onto an individual dessert plate, then quickly invert onto another dessert plate so that the cake is right side up. Repeat with the remaining cakes. Let cool for 5 minutes. 

Spoon the red wine raspberry sauce around the warm cakes, dividing it evenly. Scatter the reserved raspberries on top of the sauce. Dust the surface of the cakes with confectioner’s sugar.  Serve immediately, with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. 

Suggested Pairings:

Bel Vino Winery ~ Prima Vintners Select -Aged in French oak barrels for 10 years, Prima is incredibly silky, smooth and caramel like, with a great balance of flavor and sweetness.

Chapin Winery ~ Chapin Allure Bubbly Sweet Moscato – Flavors of honeysuckle, apricots and pears.

Lorimar Winery ~ NV Dolce Vita – A blend of several years Zinfandel harvests that date back 15 plus years. With luscious chocolate, caramel, brown sugar on the nose with a rich, sweet finish. Smooth, seductive and sultry; a true treasure.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ Sparkling Gewurztraminer – Finished with a delicate sweetness that enhances the overall fruity character.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California


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Bruschetta with Warm Goat Cheese, Roasted Asparagus, and Pistachio Pesto

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Wine Paired Bruschetta

California’s asparagus season is short so it’s a good idea to get your fill while you can. When you crave a change-up from plain steamed or roasted asparagus, try them this way: on top of crunchy toast with warm, creamy goat cheese and a dollop of fragrant pesto. Serve as a hearty appetizer at a dinner party or enjoy for lunch with a green salad. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Riesling or Rosé.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Pesto:

  • ¼ cup (35 g) raw pistachios
  • 16 large basil leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic, sliced
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dozen very slender asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 4 slices sourdough bread, each about 4 by 3 inches (10 by 7.5 cm) and ½ inch (12 mm) thick
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 to 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Sea salt
  • ¼ pound (110 g) fresh goat cheese with no rind

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). 

Make the pesto: In a food processor, combine the pistachios, basil, garlic, and olive oil and pulse until the basil and nuts are finely chopped but do not grind to a paste. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the lemon zest and salt to taste. Add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the flavor.  

If necessary, trim the asparagus spears so they are no longer than the bread. Place them on a baking sheet and toss with enough olive oil to coat them lightly, about 2 to 3 teaspoons. Sprinkle with salt and roast until they are tender and starting to char, about 8 minutes.   

If the goat cheese is firm enough to slice, cut into three or four evenly thick slices and place them in a lightly oiled baking dish just large enough to hold them. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. If the goat cheese is too soft to slice, spoon it into a lightly oiled baking dish, flattening it slightly with the back of a spoon, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake until the goat cheese quivers when touched, like a soft custard, about 5 minutes. 

Toast the bread. Brush one side of each toast with olive oil. Divide the warm cheese among the toasts, spreading it evenly. Top each toast with asparagus and a dollop of pesto, dividing evenly. Serve immediately. 

Suggested Pairing:

Akash Winery ~ 2020 Parlez-Vous Rosé – A bright and intriguing French-style rosé as lovely as its name.

Baily Winery ~ 2019 Riesling – Delicate, dry and fruity white.

Miramonte Winery ~ 2018 Riesling – Spicy citrus, lemongrass, orange blossom, honeyed lemon, butterscotch, zen stone finish.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards – 2019 Lyric Rose – Dry Rosé made of Syrah grape, pale salmon hue, delicate bouquet of rose petals with peach skin exuding with flavors of guava and ripe peach.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.

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