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GRASS-FED BURGER WITH AVOCADO AND CHIPOTLE MAYONNAISE

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Buttery avocados make any sandwich better, and they put this burger over the top. Grass-fed beef can be lean, but the sliced avocado and spicy chipotle mayonnaise ensure that this burger is a luscious, moist, flavor-packed experience. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Burgers:

  • 1 1⁄2 pounds (750 g) grass-fed ground beef chuck
  • Scant 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Chipotle Mayonnaise

  • 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) mayonnaise, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, if using store-bought mayonnaise
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated with a rasp grater or very finely minced
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons very finely minced chipotle chile in adobo, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  • 1 ripe but firm small avocado
  • 1⁄2 lime
  • About 1⁄2 cup (20 g) loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 large, soft lettuce leaves


Directions:

Make the burgers: Put the beef in a bowl and add the salt, garlic powder, and several grinds of black pepper. Mix quickly with your hands; try not to overwork the mixture. Divide into four equal portions, each 6 ounces (185 g), and shape into balls. Flatten each ball into a round patty about 3∕4 inch (2 cm) thick. Make the patties a little thinner in the center. They shrink a bit when cooked, and this step ensures they will be of even thickness after cooking. Place them on a tray and refrigerate.

Make the mayonnaise: Put the mayonnaise in a small bowl. If it is store-bought, whisk in the olive oil to improve the flavor. Whisk in the garlic and chile. Taste and add more chile if you like. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the broiler. Heat a large cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the patties and fry until nicely browned and done to your taste, flipping them with a spatula two or three times and adjusting the heat to keep them from getting too crusty on either side. For medium doneness, the total cooking time will be about 10 minutes.

Set the burgers aside on a platter to rest for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the buns, cut side up, under the broiler. Halve, pit, and peel the avocado and slice thinly.

Spread chipotle mayonnaise on both halves of the toasted buns. Top the bottom half of each bun with a burger. Divide the avocado slices evenly among the burgers. Sprinkle the avocado lightly with salt and a squeeze of lime. Top with a tuft of cilantro leaves, then with a lettuce leaf, and finally the top half of the bun. Cut in half with a serrated knife and serve immediately.

Suggested Pairings:

Baily Winery ~ 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – It offers warm, rich tones with subtle, herbaceous qualities and a hint of mint.
Miramonte Winery ~ 2015 Estate Syrah – Dusty boysenberry, wild cherry, fresh violet, sweet french oak, spiced mocha and a long graceful finish.
Oak Mountain Winery ~ 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – Bold fruit flavors and subtle nuances of toffee, espresso and dark chocolate
Wilson Creek Winery ~ 2015 Family Reserve Syrah -Cedar and spice are prominent in the aroma of the wine whereas cherry and sour plums are revealed on the palate.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.

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POTATO FOCACCIA WITH OLIVES AND ROSEMARY

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Potato Focassia with Olives & Rosemary

Welcome guests to your home for dinner with a glass of your favorite Temecula Valley rosé and a slice of warm olive focaccia. If you’ve baked the focaccia hours before, you can reheat it quickly in a hot oven, although it’s plenty tasty at room temperature, too. Pack it on a picnic or a hike with your favorite salami and cheeses. Or adapt the topping to showcase a seasonal fresh vegetable like halved cherry tomatoes or strips of roasted sweet pepper. Adding cooked potato to the dough produces an especially moist and tasty result.

Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 pound (250 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 3⁄4 cups (465 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 2 1⁄2 teaspoons (8 g) kosher or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating and brushing
  • 24 California olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary or dried oregano, finely crumbled

Directions

Put the potatoes in a small saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Do not add salt. Bring to a simmer over high heat, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced, 15 minutes or more, depending on size.

Remove from the heat, set aside 1 1∕3 cups (330 ml) of the potato water, and then drain the potatoes. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and pass them through a ricer or food mill fitted with a fine disk into a bowl. If you don’t have a ricer or food mill, mash the potatoes well with a potato masher.

Refrigerate the potato water until it cools to 105° to 115°F (40° to 46°C). Put 1∕3 cup (80 ml) of the cooled potato water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let soften for about 3 minutes, then whisk with a fork to dissolve and let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour and salt and whisk to blend.

Add the olive oil, riced potato, and the remaining 1 cup (250 ml) potato water to the proofed yeast. Stir to combine, then add the flour gradually, stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Keeping the dough in the bowl, knead it gently by hand until smooth, adding just enough additional flour to keep it from sticking to your hand. You should not need more than 1 to 2 tablespoons. Shape the dough into a ball and coat lightly with olive oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 1∕2 to 2 hours.

Punch the dough down. Using 1 tablespoon olive oil, grease the bottom and sides of an 11-by-17-inch (28-by-43 cm) rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. With well-oiled fingers, poke and prod the dough into a rectangle that fits the pan. The dough is elastic and will want to spring back. If it resists your attempts to flatten it enough to cover the pan, let it rest for 5 minutes and try again. If it still springs back from the edges, let it rest for 5 minutes longer and try once more. You should be able to flatten it sufficiently after a couple of rests, but don’t worry if the dough doesn’t completely fill the pan. Let rise, uncovered, until puffy, about 1 1∕2 hours.

While the dough rises, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). If you have a pizza stone (or baking tiles), put it in the oven on the middle rack to preheat—ideally for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Arrange the olives, evenly spaced, on the surface of the focaccia, then gently press them into place. Brush the surface of the dough with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then scatter the rosemary and a little salt on top. Place the pan on the baking stone, if using, and bake until the focaccia is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet back to front halfway through.

Immediately slide a long metal offset spatula under the focaccia to make sure it is not sticking to the baking sheet, then slide the focaccia onto a rack to cool. Slice into desired portions with a bread knife and serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes one 11-by-17-inch (28 by-43 cm) focaccia

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Riesling-Poached Pear with Caramel Sauce

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Share a silky, wine-poached pear with friends on a hot summer night. Both the pear and the luscious caramel-yogurt sauce can be prepared ahead, so dessert will be ready when you are. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Ingredients
1 cup (250 ml) Riesling
1 cup (250 ml) water
6 tablespoons (3 oz/90 g) granulated sugar
½-inch piece of vanilla bean
1 ripe but firm Bartlett or Anjou pear

Caramel Sauce:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
¼ cup (2 oz/60 g) plain whole-milk Greek yogurt, at room temperature
Small chunk of bittersweet chocolate, optional

Directions
In a small saucepan, combine the wine, water, sugar, and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Peel the pear with a vegetable peeler, leaving the stem intact. Place the pear on its side in the simmering liquid. Spoon some of the liquid over the exposed pear. Cut a parchment round a little larger in diameter than the saucepan and place it over the pear, tucking the edges under the liquid to hold the parchment in place. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook 10 minutes.

Remove the parchment and use 2 large spoons to gently turn the pear over without damaging the flesh. Recover with parchment, tucking the edges under as before, and continue simmering until the flesh is just tender when pierced, about 10 minutes longer. The pear will continue to cook as it cools. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pear carefully to a lidded container. Remove the vanilla bean from the poaching liquid. Simmer the poaching liquid until reduced to ½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml). Cool completely, then pour it over the pear.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day, turning the pear every few hours in the syrup.

Make the caramel sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the sugars and water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer until reduced to 2-1/2 to 3 tablespoons, about 4 minutes. Do not reduce further or the caramel will be too sticky. Pour into a measuring cup and let cool 2 minutes. Put the yogurt in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the caramel. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

To serve, cut the pear in half lengthwise. Core both halves with a melon baller. Put the halves, cut side down, on a work surface and thinly slice lengthwise, leaving the slices attached at the stem end. Using a spatula, transfer each pear half to an individual plate, maintaining the shape of the pear half. Press lightly on the slices to fan them. Spoon the caramel sauce alongside and drizzle about 1 teaspoon of the pear poaching syrup over the pear. If desired, use a rasp grater or other fine grater to grate a little bittersweet chocolate over all. Serve immediately.

Pairing Suggestions:

Baily Winery ~ 2017 Riesling – This cool and crisp white wine is perfect on a summer day, enjoy it poolside with friends and family!

Danza Del Sol Winery ~ 2017 Sauvignon Blanc – A mouthwatering balance of fresh fruit and acidity. Opens with aromas of white blossoms that lead to white peach, melon, and ripe citrus. Flavors include crisp apple and lime.

Hart Winery ~ 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – Citrus notes of guava and tangerine, a subtle herbal undertone and a clean peach finish.

Mount Palomar Winery ~ NV Riesling – The wine is fragrant with pear, guava, gardenia, and banana.  The taste is full with apricot, peach, tangerine, lychee, star fruit and guava.  

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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GRILLED SAUSAGES WITH FIG AND ONION JAM

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Grilled Sausages with Fig & Onion Jam

This recipe couldn’t be more perfect for a Father’s Day or summer BBQ. And chances are, you’ll find many other uses for this fragrant sweet-tart jam. Enjoy it on a grilled-cheese or ham sandwich or serve it with a cheese or charcuterie board. It’s the perfect complement for fresh goat cheese or a tangy Cheddar. Serve it with grilled sausages and pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

Ingredients
¼ pound (125 g) dried Calimyrna figs, stems removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, about 10 ounces (315 g), halved and thinly sliced from root to stem
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or more to taste
4 fresh Italian sausages, hot or sweet, 5 to 6 ounces (155 g to 185 g) each

Directions
Put the figs in a small saucepan with 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, thyme, and fennel seed. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft, golden-brown, and sweet, about 30 minutes. Lower the heat if necessary to prevent burning.

While the onions cook, prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

Lift the figs out of the liquid with a slotted spoon and slice thinly. Add the figs to the onions, along with the sherry vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the fig-cooking liquid. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has been absorbed and the flavors have merged, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste for seasoning. The jam should be moist with a balanced sweet-tart flavor.

Grill the sausages until they are nicely browned all over and feel firm when probed, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with the warm jam.

Suggested Pairings:

Akash Winery ~ 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – Bright aromas of pomegranate & fresh raspberry with hints of vanilla bean. Tart and round on the palate with tastes of cranberry, dark pepper, vanilla and cherry.

Chapin Family Vineyards ~ 2015 Syrah – Full-bodied taste, flavors of chocolate, blueberry and caramel with a hint of vanilla and finishes with a hint of spicy peppers.

Falkner Winery ~ 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – This delicious Cabernet has wonderful flavors of blueberry, blackberry, coco, and licorice on the finish. This is an easy to drink Cabernet without heavy tannins on the finish.

Leoness Cellars ~ 2015 Cellar Selection Syrah – This Syrah offers sweet blackberry and black cherry flavors complemented by hints of tobacco, black licorice and vanilla.

Photo and recipe courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.

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LITTLE GEM LETTUCES WITH OLIVE OIL-POACHED TUNA

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Serves 4

This dish requires a lot of olive oil for poaching, but you won’t waste a drop. Use some of the flavorful poaching oil in the salad dressing; strain and refrigerate the remainder for cooking greens or for dressing future salads. The strained oil will keep for a month. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc.

Ingredients
1 albacore tuna steak, about 10 ounces (315 g) and
3⁄4 to 1 inch (2 to 2.5 cm) thick
3⁄4 teaspoon ground fennel seed
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 large fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, halved
6 black peppercorns
1 3⁄4 to 2 cups (430 to 500 ml) extra virgin olive oil
dressing
6 tablespoons (90 ml) extra virgin olive oil (from the tuna baking dish)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salt-packed capers, rinsed and finely minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 cups (280 g) cooked chickpeas (drain and rinse if canned)
1⁄2 pound (250 g) Little Gem lettuce or romaine hearts
1⁄4 pound (125 g) radicchio
1⁄2 red onion, shaved or very thinly sliced
3⁄4 cup (125 g) halved cherry tomatoes
1⁄4 cup (10 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions
Preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C). Remove the tuna from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Season the tuna on both sides with the fennel seed and salt. Put the tuna in a deep ovenproof baking dish just large enough to hold it. Add the thyme, bay leaf, garlic, and peppercorns. Pour in enough olive oil just to cover the tuna.

Bake until a few white dots (coagulated protein) appear on the surface of the fish and the flesh just begins to flake when probed with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. The tuna should still be slightly rosy inside. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature in the oil.

Make the dressing: In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, capers, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chickpeas and let them marinate for 30 minutes.

With a slotted spatula, lift the tuna out of the olive oil and onto a plate.

Put the lettuce in a large salad bowl. Tear the larger outer leaves in half, if desired, but leave the pretty inner leaves whole. Tear the radicchio into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl along with the onion, tomatoes, and parsley.

Using a slotted spoon, add the chickpeas, then add enough of the dressing from the chickpea bowl to coat the salad lightly. By hand, flake the tuna into the bowl.

Toss, taste for salt and vinegar, and serve.

Pairing Suggestions:

Akash Winery ~ 2017 Parlez-Vous Rosé – A bright candied apple appearance matches the aromas on this Zinfandel rosé.

Hart Winery ~ 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – With citrus notes of guava and tangerine, a subtle herbal undertone and a clean peach finish.

Ponte Winery ~ 2018 Pas Doux – Its notes of strawberry and rose with a pleasantly balanced acidity make it a staple for everything from a springtime brunch to the dinner table.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ 2016 Tempranillo Rosé -Lightly sweet and abundantly fruity, the crisp finish make this Tempranillo Rosé a great warm weather sipper.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute

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CHICKEN-CHIPOTLE POSOLE WITH AVOCADO AND LIME

Friday, March 1st, 2019

A rich broth, moist hand-shredded chicken and smoky chipotle make this posole a standout. And you’ll have some extra poached chicken to enjoy in a salad the following day. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Barbera or Zinfandel.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 pounds (1 kg) chicken legs and thighs
2 quarts (2 l) water
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 dozen black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smacked
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed or ground cumin
1/3 pound (155 g) Mexican-style chorizo
Vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
½ green bell pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large plum tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup (10 g) chopped cilantro, plus some for garnish
1 can (15 oz/470 g) whole hominy, drained and rinsed
Canned chipotle chile en adobo, to taste
Kosher or sea salt.
1 small avocado, halved and pitted, then sliced crosswise
1 lime, quartered

Directions
Put the chicken and water in a large pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Skim any foam that collects on the surface. When the chicken stops producing foam, add the onion, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves. Adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer and cook 1 hour. Cool, then strain. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin. Refrigerate half the meat for another use. Shred the remaining meat by hand. Set aside 5 cups (1.25 l) of chicken broth and refrigerate or freeze any remaining broth for another use.

Put the whole cumin seed in a small dry skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the skillet often, until the cumin darkens and becomes fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool, then pound fine in a mortar or grind in a spice grinder.

Remove the chorizo from its skin and put it in a large pot over medium-low heat. Cook, crumbling it with a wooden spoon, until it has rendered its fat and is fully cooked. Transfer it to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving any fat behind. Add enough vegetable oil to the pot to make 2 tablespoons fat.

Add the minced onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato, oregano, and cumin and cook about 3 minutes longer to soften the tomato. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the 5 cups (1.25 l) chicken broth and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add the cilantro, hominy, shredded chicken, and chorizo and return to a simmer. Whisk in some of the thick adobo sauce from the canned chipotle chiles, adding as much as you like. Season posole to taste with salt.

Divide the soup among 4 bowls. Top each portion with a few avocado slices and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Pairing Suggestions:

Avensole Winery ~ 2015 Barbera – Dark cherry, strawberry, lavender, vanilla.

Hart Winery ~ 2015 Zinfandel – This fruity, classic Zin has been aged 12 months in premium American oak and blend with a kiss of Petite Sirah.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards ~ 2015 Barbera – Ripened cherry aromas and flavors, this wine is bursting with berries and bright acidity,along with tart blackberry jam and tobacco on the finish.

Wiens Family Cellars ~ 2015 Reserve Zinfandel – Dried fruit, toasted oak, refined tannins.

Photo and recipe courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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WINE COUNTRY RECIPE ~ CHICKEN-CHIPOTLE POSOLE WITH AVOCADO AND LIME

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

There’s nothing better on a cold winter day than a big bowl of hearty soup! A rich broth, moist hand-shredded chicken and smoky chipotle make this posole a standout. And you’ll have some extra poached chicken to enjoy in a salad the following day. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Barbera or Zinfandel.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 pounds (1 kg) chicken legs and thighs
2 quarts (2 l) water
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 dozen black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smacked
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed or ground cumin
1/3 pound (155 g) Mexican-style chorizo
Vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
½ green bell pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large plum tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup (10 g) chopped cilantro, plus some for garnish
1 can (15 oz/470 g) whole hominy, drained and rinsed
Canned chipotle chile en adobo, to taste
Kosher or sea salt.
1 small avocado, halved and pitted, then sliced crosswise
1 lime, quartered

Directions
Put the chicken and water in a large pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Skim any foam that collects on the surface. When the chicken stops producing foam, add the onion, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves. Adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer and cook 1 hour. Cool, then strain. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin. Refrigerate half the meat for another use. Shred the remaining meat by hand. Set aside 5 cups (1.25 l) of chicken broth and refrigerate or freeze any remaining broth for another use.

Put the whole cumin seed in a small dry skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the skillet often, until the cumin darkens and becomes fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool, then pound fine in a mortar or grind in a spice grinder.

Remove the chorizo from its skin and put it in a large pot over medium-low heat. Cook, crumbling it with a wooden spoon, until it has rendered its fat and is fully cooked. Transfer it to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving any fat behind. Add enough vegetable oil to the pot to make 2 tablespoons fat.

Add the minced onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato, oregano, and cumin and cook about 3 minutes longer to soften the tomato. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the 5 cups (1.25 l) chicken broth and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add the cilantro, hominy, shredded chicken, and chorizo and return to a simmer. Whisk in some of the thick adobo sauce from the canned chipotle chiles, adding as much as you like. Season posole to taste with salt.

Divide the soup among 4 bowls. Top each portion with a few avocado slices and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Suggested Pairings:

Doffo Winery ~ 2016 Zinfandel – 2018 People’s Choice Winner – This always popular Zinfandel is sure to delight the senses with aromas of plum, raspberry, figs, and cherries. The balanced acidity and voluminous mouthfeel leave a long lasting finish

Europa Village ~ Private Reserve Barbera 2014 -Complex nose of ripe wild plums, figs, dried herbs, and bourbon; the mouthfeel is fleshy and powerful, but nicely balanced with proper acidity.

Hart Winery ~ 2015 Barbera – Aged in fine American oak barrels, this Barbera displays typical varietal high acidity with a significant dollop of American oak on the finish.

Wiens Family Cellars ~ 2015 Reserve Zinfandel – Dried Fruit, Toasted Oak, Refined Tannins

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Pan-Seared Steak with Portobello Mushroom Sauce atop Mascarpone Polenta

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

This classic dish highlights the earthy flavors of Portobello mushrooms, the richness of mascarpone polenta and the elegance of seared, rib eye steak. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Merlot or Syrah.

Ingredients:

3 cups (750ml) water
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
1 cup (160g) course ground polenta
1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
3 tablespoons (45g) mascarpone cheese
2 (8-ounce/225g) boneless rib eye steaks, 1½- inches (3.81cm) thick, removed from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking
4 tablespoons (60ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ pound (225g) portobello mushrooms, stems removed
2/3 cup (160ml) Temecula Valley Merlot
2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (15ml) balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Pour the water and the chicken stock into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

When the water begins to simmer, whisk in the polenta and the 1 teaspoon (5ml) salt.

Stir for 5 minutes while the polenta is simmering.

Cover the polenta and turn the heat to low.

Cook for 40 minutes total stirring every 10 minutes making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan.

Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone cheese. Cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450° F (230° C).

Sprinkle both sides of the steaks generously with salt and pepper.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) of the olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Add the steaks and sear for 2 minutes on each side.

Transfer the steaks to a shallow baking pan. (Set the skillet aside for later use.)

Roast the steaks in the oven for 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the steaks from the pan and let the steaks rest while you make the mushroom sauce.

Thinly slice the mushroom caps into half moons then slice again crosswise into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) of olive oil in the skillet used for the steaks. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook and stir until golden brown. Add the wine and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the cream and balsamic vinegar and the ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and cover.

To serve, spoon desired amount of polenta in the center of each plate. Top polenta with sauce and strips of steak.

Suggested Pairings:

Avensole Winery 2014 Merlot ~ This wine is unique with blackberry and black cherry fruit with subtle hints of black licorice and vanilla, framed by silky tannins and a generous finish.

Carter Estate Winery & Resort 2012 Merlot ~ This Merlot has a very long finish that is silky and firm with a shapely, tart tannic backbone.

Fazeli Cellars 2014 Shiraz ~ Silky black currant and blackberry layered with hints of vanilla, earth and black pepper. Full-bodied with a rich, lingering finish.

Monte De Oro Winery 2014 Syrah ~  Accents of cocoa bean, clove, anise, red and black peppercorns with a long gripping finish.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Grilled Sausages with Fig and Onion Jam

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Chances are you’ll find many other uses for this fragrant sweet-tart jam. Enjoy it on a grilled-cheese or ham sandwich or serve it with a cheese or charcuterie board. It’s the perfect complement for fresh goat cheese or a tangy Cheddar. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

¼ pound (125 g) dried Calimyrna figs, stems removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, about 10 ounces (315 g), halved and thinly sliced from root to stem
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or more to taste
4 fresh Italian sausages, hot or sweet, 5 to 6 ounces (155 g to 185 g) each

Directions:

Put the figs in a small saucepan with 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, thyme, and fennel seed. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft, golden-brown, and sweet, about 30 minutes. Lower the heat if necessary to prevent burning.

While the onions cook, prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

Lift the figs out of the liquid with a slotted spoon and slice thinly. Add the figs to the onions, along with the sherry vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the fig-cooking liquid. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has been absorbed and the flavors have merged, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste for seasoning. The jam should be moist with a balanced sweet-tart flavor.

Grill the sausages until they are nicely browned all over and feel firm when probed, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with the warm jam.

Suggested Pairings:

Bel Vino Winery ~ Cabernet Sauvignon Vintners Selection – Aromas & flavors of black cherry, plum and dark chocolate.

Callaway Winery ~ 2014 Winemaker’s Reserve Syrah – Dark, spicy and brimming with black fruit, this vintage will only get better with time.

Danza Del Sol Winery ~ 2014 Syrah – Flavors of ripe black cherry, plum and hints of chocolate and tobacco laced finish.

Gershon Bachus Vintners ~ 2010 Aquilo God of North Wind Cabernet Sauvignon –  The smooth velvety finish carries a blackberry undertone

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Baked Striped Bass with Peperonata, Olives, and Saffron Aioli

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Braised sweet peppers, potatoes, and tomato make a succulent foundation for baked fish. Sauced with a garlicky, saffron-scented aioli, the dish needs only some crusty bread to complete it. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Grenache Blanc or Rosé.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, halved and sliced
1 pound (500 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch (6 mm) thick
½ pound (250 g) peeled plum tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced
1 green bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced
1 gold or yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley, plus some for garnish
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
Kosher or sea salt
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) white wine
1 dozen black olives, preferably unpitted
4 fillets of striped bass or other firm white fish, 5 to 6 ounces (155 g to 185 g) each

Aioli
1 large clove garlic
Kosher or sea salt
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large, wide Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion, potatoes, tomato, peppers, parsley, oregano, saffron, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes render their juice and the vegetables begin to soften, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Cover the pot and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and peppers are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Stir in the olives. Taste for salt.

Season the fish with salt and place the fillets on top of the bed of vegetables. Add ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) water, cover and cook until the fish just flakes, about 10 minutes.

While the fish cooks, make the aioli: In a mortar, pound the garlic and a generous pinch of salt to a paste; alternatively, mince to a paste by hand. Put the egg yolk in a small bowl, add a splash of lukewarm water, and whisk. Begin adding the olive oil gradually—drop by drop at first—whisking constantly. (Recruit a helper to pour while you whisk.) When you have achieved an emulsion, you can add the oil a little faster. When you have incorporated all the oil, whisk in the garlic paste.

When the fish is ready, tilt the cooking pot and draw off about ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) of the juices. Whisk enough of these flavorful juices into the aioli to make it thin enough to drizzle. Taste for salt.

With a spatula transfer the vegetables and fish to individual shallow bowls or plates. Spoon aioli over the fish. Garnish with more chopped parsley.

Suggested Pairings: 

Chapin Family Vineyards ~ Rosella Rosé – Delicate flavor with a hint of grapefruit and a slightly dry and crisp finish.

Hart Winery ~ 2016 Rosé of Sangiovese –  Lightly pink, near-dry, delicately scented and flavored Rose′ wine, very much in the dryer, food-friendly European style.

Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery ~ 2016 Grenache Blanc – Green apple and mandarin orange dominate with citrus peel with herbal notes in the mix.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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