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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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Classic Beef Stew with Flaky Cheddar Chive Scones

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

Classic Beef Stew

Most people have a soft spot for a good beef stew, the ultimate comfort dish on a cold night. This version will perfume your kitchen with the sweet scent of paprika and wine. On another occasion, try different vegetables, such as rutabagas, potatoes, or add chickpeas. Chances are you’ll devour a warm scone before you even get the stew to the table, but you’ll still have plenty of scones for dipping in the luscious sauce. If you’re pressed for time, serve the stew with egg noodles instead of the scones. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

Classic Beef Stew

  • 1-1/2 pounds (680 g) boneless beef chuck, in 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped 
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon California paprika or other sweet paprika 
  • ¾ cup (.2 l) dry white wine 
  • ¾ cup (150 g) fresh tomato pulp (see Note) or finely chopped canned San Marzano tomatoes 
  • 2 cups (.5 l) chicken broth, or more as needed  
  • 1 dozen fresh thyme sprigs, tied with kitchen twine 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • ½ pound (225 g) baby carrots, scrubbed 
  • ½ pound (225 g) small turnips, peeled and halved or quartered 
  • 1 cup (133 g) frozen peas, cooked and drained 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish 

Flaky Cheddar Chive Scones 

  • 2 cups (285 g) unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt 
  • 2 packed tablespoons thinly sliced chives 
  • 1 cup (70 g) coarsely grated Cheddar cheese, chilled 
  • Approximately 1-1/3 cups (320 g) heavy cream, chilled 
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted 

Directions

Prepare the beef stew: Season the meat all over with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Set the meat on a platter and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before continuing.

Dredge the meat with flour, shaking off excess. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, brown the meat, working in batches to avoid overcrowding. Reduce the heat if needed to prevent scorching. Transfer the meat to a platter as it is browned.

Pour off any fat in the pot and return to medium-low heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the onion, garlic, and paprika. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion has softened and moisture from the onion has dissolved all the browned bits on the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add the tomato and cook for 5 minutes. Add the broth, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir to blend, then add the browned meat and any juices on the platter.

Bring to a simmer, cover, and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the meat is almost tender when probed with a fork, about 1 hour longer. Add the carrots and turnips, stirring them down into the liquid. Recover and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. If the stew seems too thick, thin with broth. Remove the thyme bundle and bay leaves, then stir in the peas and parsley. Taste for seasoning.

While the stew cooks, prepare the scones: Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat if you have one, or with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and chives. Add the Cheddar and toss with a fork until well blended. Add the cream gradually, tossing with a fork until all the floury bits are coated. Use a dough scraper or spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the dough still in the bowl, gather it and knead it gently, just enough to form a cohesive mass.

Turn the dough out on the prepared baking sheet and pat and prod it into a ¾-inch-thick (19 mm) rectangle. The thickness is important, but the other dimensions don’t matter. Try not to work the dough or add additional flour.

With a sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 12 scones. Separate them on the baking sheet. With a pastry brush, baste the tops with melted butter.

Bake until nicely browned and well risen, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

Divide the stew among soup bowls, garnishing each portion with parsley. Pass the scones separately.

Note: To make fresh tomato pulp, cut 2 large plum tomatoes in half lengthwise. Grate on the large holes of a box grater until only the skin remains in your hand. Discard the skin. You should have about ¾ cup pulp (150 g).

Suggested Pairings:

Callaway Vineyard & Winery – 2017 Winemaker’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ~ The palate expresses notes of clove, chocolate covered cherries and dark fruits. Soft tannins with hints of caramel and toasty oak lead into a long smooth finish.

Churon Inn Winery – 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Upfront you will surround yourself with the aromas and flavors of cherry and bell pepper.  Finish off with a soft finish and lingering fruit. 

Falkner Winery – 2017 Syrah ~ Enjoy the wonderful deep purple color of this Syrah and the lush flavors or ripe plum, black cherry, tobacco, chocolate, and a bit of spiciness.

Foot Path Winery – 2016 Syrah ~ The vintage of this wine complemented the natural character of the Syrah grape. It caused the wine to be rich and bold, yet plush and fruity.

Recipe and photo provided by The Wine Institute of California

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WINTER BEET AND CITRUS SALAD WITH DATES AND ALMONDS

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

Winter Beet & Citrus Salad

Sweet, tart, crunchy, tangy—this colorful salad has it all. Its contrasting textures and surprising flavors keep you coming back for another refreshing bite. Serve the salad with store-bought roast chicken or grilled lamb chops. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Chardonnay or Sparkling Wine.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium golden beets, about ¾ pound (325 g), greens removed if attached 
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 
  • 3 whole allspice berries 
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme 
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • Sea salt  
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted 
  • 2 large navel oranges or blood oranges 
  • ½ large fennel bulb 
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise 
  • 2 ounces feta, preferably Greek or French 
  • Fresh mint leaves 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the beets in a baking dish with the vinegar, allspice, thyme, and ½ inch of water. Cover and bake until the beets are tender when pierced, 45 to 60 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets. Refrigerate, covered, until chilled, then slice thin.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Cut a slice off both ends of each orange so it will stand upright. Stand each orange on a cutting surface and, using a sharp knife, remove all the peel and white pith by slicing from top to bottom all the way around the orange, following the contour of the fruit. Slice the peeled oranges crosswise ¼ inch thick. Discard the first and last slices if they seem to be mostly membrane. Remove the small bit of white pith at the center of each slice.

Cut the halved fennel bulb in half lengthwise. With a vegetable slicer or by hand, shave or slice very thin. Put the fennel in a small bowl and add just enough of the olive oil-lemon dressing to coat the fennel lightly. Toss gently.

On a serving platter or on individual salad plates, arrange the beets and oranges informally, breaking the orange slices into half-moons or even smaller pieces. Scatter the fennel on top, then top with the dates, almonds, and crumbled feta. Drizzle with the remaining dressing. Scatter a few small mint leaves on top, or tear into smaller pieces if they are large. Serve immediately.

Suggested Pairings:

Callaway Vineyard & Winery ~ 2018 Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay – Silky on the pallet with flavors of green apple, tropical fruit and hints of honeysuckle.

Oak Mountain Winery ~ 2018 Chardonnay – This chardonnay is lightly oaked with French oak imparting rich flavors of vanilla, butterscotch, creme brulee and caramel.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ Brut – Delicate bubbles burst with lively fruit notes that combine with hints of toasted brioche, giving way to a layered, lasting finish.

Thornton Winery ~ NV Blanc De Noir – a rich, complex sparkler made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes. With a hint of color from minimal skin contact, it has a hint of strawberry and toasty yeast, with citrus and apple flavors.

Recipe & photo courtesy of The Wine Institute of California

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RIGATONI WITH PORK RIB SUGO

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Rigatoni with Pork Rib Sugo

The baby back ribs that most people throw on the barbecue make a succulent, rustic pasta sauce. You’ll need a friendly butcher to saw across the ribs for you, but the rest of the method is easy. The sauce (sugo in Italian) reheats well so you can make it a day ahead. Set your formal manners aside here. The best way to enjoy this dish is to nibble the meat off the riblets between bites of pasta. Cutting the meat off would spoil the fun! Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds baby back ribs, in 1 slab 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion, minced (about 2 cups) 
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 can (28-oz/800 g) tomatoes, pureed in a blender 
  • ¾ teaspoon ground fennel or finely crumbled dried oregano 
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil 
  • Pinch baking soda, optional 
  • 1 pound (450 g) rigatoni or penne  
  • ½ cup (35 g) freshly grated pecorino romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for topping

Directions:

Ask the butcher to saw the slab of ribs lengthwise into 1-inch wide (25-mm) strips. With a chef’s knife, cut between the ribs to make individual riblets. Season all over with salt and pepper. 

In a large, heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pot, brown the riblets all over, adjusting the heat to prevent burning. Transfer the riblets to a plate as they are browned. 

Pour off and discard any fat in the bottom of the pot. Return the pot to medium-low heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion is soft and golden brown and the meaty residue on the bottom of the pot has dissolved, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute to release its fragrance.  

Add the tomato puree, fennel, and basil and bring to a simmer. Return the riblets to the pot along with any juices on the plate. Cover partially and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the riblets are tender and the sauce is thick and tasty, about 1-1/2 hours, adding a splash of water occasionally if the sauce gets too thick. Season with salt and more fennel or oregano if desired. Remove the basil sprigs. If the sauce tastes tart, add a pinch of baking soda and cook for 1 minute. The baking soda will neutralize the acidity and make the sauce taste more mellow. Keep the sauce warm over low heat while you cook the pasta. 

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside 1 cup of the hot pasta water, then drain the pasta in a sieve. Return the pasta to the hot pot over medium-low heat. Add the sauce and stir to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove from the heat, add the cheese, and stir to combine, adding reserved pasta water if needed to moisten. Divide among 6 bowls, top each portion with another sprinkle of cheese, then serve.

Suggested pairings:

Baily Winery ~ 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon –  This Cabernet offers warm, rich tones with subtle, herbaceous qualities and a hint of mint. 

Briar Rose Winery ~ 2013 Estate Zinfandel –  A smooth, medium-bodied wine with red fruit characters of blackberry, boysenberry, and black cherry

Doffo Winery ~ 2017 Zinfandel – This Zinfandel is sure to delight the senses with aromas of plum, raspberry, figs, and cherries. 

Monte de Oro Winery ~ 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – Offers youthful and pronounced aromas of ripe to jammy red fruits along with vanilla, cocoa powder, baking spices, red bellpepper, dark flowers, and hints of stone and earth. online casino

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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