I had been craving a burger for weeks it seemed. Juicy red meat with a soft bun and lots of fun and interesting things on it. Michael had been making pickles and I had come upon a carrot ketchup recipe that I was ready to riff on. And…we had a bottle of Carhartt Vineyards Cabernet Franc that was looking perfect to go with this.
So we took Bobby’s advice and went to find 80/20 ground chuck and returned to make these burgers inside, out of the heat, in our cast iron skillet. Nothing added but salt pepper and a bit of attention, but no fiddling! Heat the pan with some canola oil in it. Make the patties, salt & pepper, put a thumbprint on the top and put them in the pan, then just be patient, flip them after 3 minutes, then let them cook on the other side for 4.
We added Muenster and did the quick trick of putting the cheese on, then tossing in just a little water and sticking on the lid. 30 seconds and your cheese is perfectly melted.
Top a burger with a little Muenster some arugula and some home made yellow beet and carrot ketchup and pair it with a Cabernet Franc
We topped the burgers with fresh pickles, arugula, and some of this amazing beet and carrot ketchup that I had made from farm fresh veggies
Full of umami, this yellow beet and carrot ketchup is just the thing to spice up your burger condiments
This was perfect with the cab franc and I was in burger heaven.
The Carhartt Cabernet Franc was a 2013 from Curtis Vineyard. Curtis is out on Foxen Canyon Road and is part of the larger Santa Ynez AVA.
Cab Franc seems to thrive at this vineyard, which has been around for a while and is a warmer site. This wine is dark currants, raspberries and plums with nice spice and a richness that melded beautifully with my medium rare burger.
This Cab Franc was rich and lush without being too heavy. It paired with the umami of the rare grilled meat and was mellow enough that it allowed the other ingredients to shine though. The ketchup with the little bit of Worcestershire had a nice zing that it didn’t cover up and it didn’t fight with Michael’s homemade pickles. All the ingredients danced happily in my mouth.
At the Farmers Market, as usual I was looking for something fresh and seasonal for dinner. I was at the Downtown Summerlin Farmers Market, strolling through the Intuitive Forager indoor produce market and Stu, the Produce Manager (and my go to guy for recipes) had introduced me to the Fava beans. These favas, while a little work, are fresh but warm and creamy, and they are a go. Tagliatelle (fresh if I can find it), is Stu’s suggestion for a pasta and we turn to Bonnie for advice on the mushrooms. The morels are beautiful, but better with a red meat (and I admit to being a little intimidated by them). We determine to go with the Chanterelles. So favas, chanterelles, in maybe a carbonnara or a little Burrata….? Maybe not so creamy, perhaps a little lemon or chicken stock and a little wine. Stu pulls fresh thyme and a branch of fresh pink peppercorns for me, my basket is full and I am off to put together this creation. First, to choose the wine, since we need to have it ready to include in the dish.
Opening Fava Bean
Prep Ingredients Herbs
Wine with Chanterelles
Mushrooms & pinot noir are a classic. The earthiness of the two meld perfectly. But my dish really wants a white wine. Lighter, springier, but still with a bit of warmth. I find suggestions for pairing a lightly oaked Chardonnay with Chanterelles. Chanterelles have a symbiotic relationship with oak trees. The mushrooms tap into the tree roots for nourishment and in turn provide the tree with minerals. So the oak on the wine and the oak in the mushrooms seem symbiotic for our pairing. Luckily, I had a 2012 Riverbench Estate Chardonnay from the Santa Maria Valley AVA in Santa Barbara. We picked this wine up when we did a Vineyard tour at Riverbench with the Vineyard Manager Rawley Hermreck, last year during the Santa Barbara Key to Wine Country Weekend. Enjoying a wine pulled from vineyards that we had walked through should just enhance the experience.
Chanterelle & Fava Tagliatelle with Riverbench Chardonnay
Fine tuning the recipe
So I know I am using Chanterelles, Favas, and Tagliatelle. Stu gave me thyme and fresh pink peppercorns, and I talked about not wanting a really creamy dish, so it didn’t cover up the beautiful mushrooms and the freshness of the fava beans. And…I know that I want to incorporate the Chardonnay. Stu also reminded me to scent my oil. This is a great way of adding garlic flavor that is not overpowering. I settle on creating a light sauce by adding green onions, chicken stock, lemon zest (not juice) and creme fraiche. This will give it a little creaminess but still keep it light. We will finish it with parmesan, fresh chives and fresh basil. I will be honest with you, I didn’t measure. This was a bit of this and a bit of that with liquid enough to keep the sauce at the consistency that I was looking for, but here is the basic list
fresh fava beans
fresh yellow footed chanterelle mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
sliced green onions (about 3 and only the white part)
a splash of white wine (I’m telling you, a lightly oaked Chard is the way to go)
a splash chicken stock
fresh ground pepper
zest of 1 lemon
1 heaping spoonful of creme fraiche
freshly grated parmesan
fresh basil chiffonade
Chanterelle & Fava Tagliatelle
Time to cook
Now to cook.
I didn’t find fresh tagliatelle, so this will take a little longer to cook (8 minutes for dried as opposed to 2 minutes for fresh). So a pot of water, salted like the sea goes on the stove.
Now on to shelling the fava beans. The velvet interior makes this a very calming and meditative practice. Once shelled we blanch them in boiling water for just 2 mintues and then put them in an ice bath to quickly cool. Now shell again, popping open the outer lining and releasing the bright green bean inside. These can sit to the side while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
In the meantime there are more ingredients to prep. The chanterelles have been stored in a brown paper bag in the crisper. They get a quick plunge bath to clean them, then the bottom of the stem is sliced off and they are cut in half, top to bottom. The thyme is pulled from it’s stem, a bit of fresh garlic chives come in from the garden, a clove of garlic sliced into thirds, 3 green onions sliced on a diagonal using just the white base, I pull out the wine, some chicken stock, and the pepper corns which I crush with a mortar and pestle. My meyer lemon and some parmesan are standing by to zest and grate, as well as a couple of fresh basil leaves to chiffonade.
Olive oil goes in the pan and the garlic is tossed in to scent the oil. Just a couple of minutes then scoop it out. The onions go in to soften for 2 minutes, then the chanterelles, thyme, peppercorns and salt go in. After a minute or two a splash of white wine and let it cook off a bit. Then drizzle in just a little bit of chicken stock. After this cooks for a couple of minutes, the heat is turned off. Now in goes freshly zested lemon. I used a Meyer lemon which is a little softer both in skin texture and flavor and seemed to meld perfectly with the dish. The bright green fava beans go in and a heaping tablespoon of crème fraiche. Stir it all around.
By this time the pasta is perfectly al dente. It gets drained, put in a bowl and tossed with olive oil. Add all the wonderful sauce and toss it then top with shredded parm, basil and chives.
Pour a glass of lightly oaked chardonnay and enjoy.
So we did a non-traditional Thanksgiving this year. We bagged the turkey and instead did a stuffed flatiron steak, and instead of potatoes for a starchy side, we went with a pumpkin lasagna. We of course tied in some traditional sides with cranberries in red Belgian ale, green beans almandine and a bright arugula salad with flavors of the season with apples, pecans, maple syrup and bacon. So what to pair with our eclectic Thanksgiving? We dug into the cellar and here’s what we decided.
Start with a sparkler!
It’s a celebration and I was ready to celebrate when we finally had dinner complete and ready to eat. We looked in the wine fridge and Michael pulled out a sparkling wine from a very (I mean VERY) small winery called Lumiére in Temecula, California. We did a blog post on them awhile ago which you can read here. Lumiére is only open on weekends and only once have we been able to stop by. The owner and winemaker’s mother, Martha was there pouring. They have a charming tasting room on a hill off of Calle Contento Road on the North side.(more on the winery here). One of the final things we tasted was their Voulez Vous Brut sparkling wine.
This is a Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc and it was lovely with the salad of arugula, pink lady apples, pecans, maple brown sugar bacon and the dressing of maple syrup and yogurt.
Chardonnay with Pumpkin Lasagna
So an Oaked Chard with a rich cheesy pumpkin lasagna seemed the right choice and allowed us to relish some great memories at the same time. We pulled a bottle of 2011 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay. This Santa Barbara County Chardonnay comes from the Los Alamos Vineyard and was a gift when we stayed at the Clendenen Ranch in the spring. This vineyard is beautiful, take a look at the photo on our homepage. That was the view we were privileged to enjoy. The home is warm and obviously meant for relaxing and entertaining friends & family. There is history here also. The first Au Bon Climat Winery was in a small barn that you can see from the house. The story, as Marissa told us is, after long days of harvest the folks that owned the house on the hill and had the olive orchards would invite the entire gang up for dinner. When the owner was looking to sell the property,s Jim Clendenen quickly bought it up, as it was filled with so many fond memories. The previous owner still makes olive oil from the olives on the trees, which you can find in her olive oil tasting room in Los Alamos called Global Gardens.
This Chardonnay is one of their Historic Vineyard Collection Wines. They harvest by hand, gently press and then ferment in 75% new French Oak and leave them in these barrels to age surlee for another year. The amazing thing about this wine is that you get the richness of the oak and a full nose and then it is beautiful and bright on the palate. If you ever want to explain to someone what French Oak is…pour a glass of this and stick their nose in it. Au Bon Climat has a tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara and a history that is as rich and exciting as their wines.
Au Bon Climat 2011 Chardonnay
Pumpkin Queensland blue & Sweet meat squash Lasangna
So as a pairing the richness of the nose of the Chardonnay, went beautifully with the lasagna and then the brightness of the wine on the palate kept you from getting bogged down in all of that glorious cheese! One sip had your palate reinvigorated for another decadent bite. The Lasagna was more than just pumpkin too. We did 3 different types of puree, pumpkin, queensland blue and sweetmeat. Each got a layer in the lasagna between layers of ricotta, parmesan and fontina.
Stuffed Flatiron Steak Screams for a Red
This recipe called for a dry red wine. While it suggested a not too fruity Syrah or Zin…Michael found a beautiful 2008 Ferrari-Carano Merlot. We opened this way early to start cooking with it and give the wine time to open up. We have a history here too. While working on Smokey Joe’s Café in Reno we were at the El Dorado Casino, which is owned by the Ferrari-Carano’s and got hooked on their wines there. We have since made a couple of trips to their Northern Sonoma Vineyard and Winery.
So these steaks are flatiron steaks which are a shoulder cut. They are pounded out and filled with a stuffing of toasted bread in olive oil, prunes rehydrated with the red wine, rosemary, roasted chestnuts, pancetta, pecorino, salt, pepper & cayenne. The Merlot went beautifully with this.
2008 Ferrari-Carano Merlot
Flat iron Stuffed Steak
So there you have it. A feast to be thankful for with beautiful pairings that brought back great memories of visits to 3 different areas of California Wine country. Now that’s a perfect Thanksgiving.
The Key to Wine Country event in Santa Barbara was created by the Santa Barbara Vintners to give you a chance to get to know a little more about the wineries. More than just discounted tastings, many of the participating wineries set up unique events to give you an insiders perspective on their wines, vineyards and styles.
Our Key Weekend began in the Santa Maria Valley at Riverbench Vineyard with a vineyard walk on Friday morning with Rawley Hermreck the Vineyard Manager. Rawley walked us into the vineyard and explained the planting and trellising techniques that they use.
We were able to see the new vines that would be planted the next day in the front block (watch for some pictures of this process!). Laura the tasting room manager set us up to learn how to dip their pinot bottles in wax for the beautiful wax closure, and then we enjoyed lunch on the back patio with Rawley and his dog Sadie complete with a tasting of the Riverbench wines. They have a sparkling program and the Blanc de Blanc was really lovely. Of course I left with that bottle of Pinot I dipped!
We had some free time before our next event and spent a little time wandering in Los Olivos, ending up in the tiniest tasting room and enjoyed the casual laid back atmosphere at Carhartt.
Carhartt Tasting Patio
Our next event was the Larner Winemaker Dinner at the Ballard Inn. The Ballard Inn is a beautiful spot just south of Los Olivos. Chef Budi Kazali is also the owner of the the Inn, purchasing it in 2004. He blends Asian and New French styles with fresh local ingredients to create some captivating dishes.
Ballard Inn, Ballard CA
The evening began at 6 pm with Michael Larner pouring his Rose as well as the Malvasia Bianca and guests relaxed in the parlor or on the porch, watching the sun start to dip and the trees start to glow. Passed hors d’oeuvres kept our stomachs at bay as we waited for the main event. The pairings were beautiful and the intimate dining room made for a singular experience. Watch for the full blog post on this incredible evening as well as our series of conversations with Michael Larner.
Presquile Wine Event
Saturday our day began with a unique event at Presqu’ile Winery in the Santa Maria Valley. Presqu’ile gathered 4 winemakers, including their own Dieter Cronje, to taste through wines made from grapes from the Presqu’ile Vineyards.
On hand were Ernst Storm of Storm Wines, Kevin Law of Luceant Luminesce and Ariki Hill of Labyrinth. We tasted through 9 wines doing side by side comparisons and listening to the winemakers discuss their winemaking techniques and unique aspects of each vintage. The event took place on the crushpad of the winery, high above the tasting room in this gravity flow space. Matt Murphy, President of Presqu’ile is warm and welcoming and kicked off the event with an introduction and welcome. This was a fascinating journey to taste the differences in these wines and search for the underlying commonality that the soil and the site bring. It was truly an amazing event for a wine geek! I was in heaven and took page upon page of notes! Of course the atmosphere was stunning as you looked to the panel sitting next to the railing that looked down on the winery floor, the glassware, the charcuterie laid out with such care and the attentiveness to warmth and hospitality… it was a beautiful event.
We had to dash out sooner than I would have liked so that we could make it to Buellton for another unique event. Cold Heaven Cellars was holding a “Rhone Scentual” event. We arrived at the Buellton tasting room and were greeted by Kara and Liz.
Coldheaven Rhone Scent-ual Experience
In the barrel room they had 2 tables set with tasting wheels, sheets for notes and lovely blue mason jars each filled with a different item to spark your aromatic senses. We began with the white wines (Viogniers of course!) and while we were all a little shy at first, this quickly became a case of grabbing for jars and then wanting to share the fragrance with the people around you. Conversations were animated and we all found that we were smelling things in a new way and with much more thought. It was a discovery each time you opened a jar. Kara and Liz had samples of diatomaceous earth, white pepper, white flowers, fresh peaches, grapefruit peal and so many others. For the Reds at the other table they had chocolate, leather, fresh berries, cinnamon, just to start, I can’t remember them all! This was really a wonderful experience and Kara was there every step of the way encouraging you to make more discoveries and talk about other fragrances that you found in your scent memory. This event, broke down those barriers of intimidation from tasting notes. You may think that you can’t smell the habanero on that wine, but once you dip your nose in that jar, your memory is sparked and you can find it! Those tasting notes aren’t really as crazy and out there as people sometimes think. It’s just a matter of creating those scent memories and keeping them active!
With a little time to kill before the evening event, we headed to Industrial Eats for lunch. Mention Industrial Eats to anyone in the valley and you will get the same response. People will often close their eyes briefly, envisioning the last thing they had there, and then will animatedly tell you about the amazing things you should order there. We had attended the Sta. Rita Hills AVA dinner here back in April and were excited to go try some wood fired pizza for lunch. The tables are long community tables allowing large groups to sit together or smaller groups to make new friends. The food here is phenomenal and the service is great. Don’t miss stopping here!
Ross Rankin, Imagine Wine Maker
Our last event of the day was in Santa Ynez at Imagine Wine. They held an evening of Music, Art, Food and “Blogging”. I’m blushing a little, the “blogging” was added since we were attending. Located on the corner of Numancia and Edison this tasting room is also an art gallery that is flooded with natural light from 2 sides. For this event they featured the work of Robert Karl Vogel, as well as music from Jim Campbell and then of course the wines. Ross Rankin, the owner and winemaker had barrel samples out on the corner of the porch and took guests through the stories of each wine. Jim
Campbell performed “every song you know by heart (almost).” (really, I could sing along with everything!). Lyndee Rankin had great food set out to accompany the wines and you could wander and sip as you enjoyed the “En Plein Air” paintings by Robert Karl Vogel, landscapes and cloudscapes of California and the Sierras. Also sculptures by Blake Rankin, (son of the winemaker) dotted the tasting room. The centerpiece for the gallery is a sculpture called Wings, which is the inspiration for one of his father’s wines.
Ross’s wines are unique in that he believes in aging his wines before release. We did get to taste his new (Barbera)? which he created specifically to have a wine for a quicker release. It was a lovely evening with the art, music and wine inspiring great conversations among the varied guests. Watch for a video blog with insights from Ross on his wines!
I unfortunately had to fly home to Vegas, so Michael enjoyed the Sunday Vineyard Hike and Farm-to-table lunch at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard without me. So here…I’ll turn it over to him.
Buttonwood Wine Tasting with Karen Steinwachs
It was a great weekend for wine tasting and a beautiful morning. I was looking forward to seeing the Farm and tasting the wines. We had stopped by their booth at the grand tasting during the Spring Vintners Weekend event and their wines were amazing. After tasting them again that still held true. Karen Steinwachs, their winemaker told us during the tour, that they try to keep the wines affordable. This is possible because they do everything in house, but the wines really could sell for twice the amount they sell them for. When you drive in you only see the tasting room and the surrounding farm, that is because the vineyard and winery are up on the plateau. So we drove up the hill and started out the day at the winery at the top of the plateau where Karen poured our first wine a 2013 “Zingy”, a Sav Blanc, and told us stories about how it was named. She then gave us a tour of the wine making and storage facility, followed by a walk around the picturesque views of the vineyard. We made our way back to the winery tried another Sav Blanc, the 2011 Devin, we then made our way back down the hill to the picnic grounds below,
Pascale Beale, Salad Demo
Salad with Grenache
where we were treated to a chef Demo by Pascale Beale and tasted various wines with fresh from the farm Salads. We will have a more complete Blog post and video on this adventure at Buttonwood. This is a must stop, to see the combination of Farm and Vineyard. If you can visit this Fall while they are doing their Harvest Tour, it should not be missed.
Stay Tuned, in the next couple of weeks we will be Posting Blogs and Videos on this amazing Weekend. We will also be launching a Ballard Canyon Series, with Interviews with Michael Larner of Larner Vineyard & Winery, and Steve Beckmen of Beckmen Vineyards. This will be a 4 week Series starting July 7th 2014. We will also be at the Wine Bloggers Conference in July to talk to with more winemakers and hear more stories from Santa Barbara. So you can expect more information on this incredible region for wines.
Potatoes and Syrah! Yeah, I bet you are thinking that the exclamation point is a little out of place. But…my potatoes are sexy and paired nicely with the Ex Umbris Syrah. Here’s the lowdown on this quick and easy dish that you can share, or, like me enjoy as a quick dinner.
thinly sliced potatoes
So we start with some potatoes that I picked up at the farmers market. I recommend getting your potatoes from a farmer that you know. Did you know that most big potato farmers that grow for big companies won’t eat their own potatoes? This is because of all the chemicals they can absorb. So..buy small potatoes and from small organic family farms. Mine were a mix of white, red and purple potatoes and I sliced them thinly on a mandolin.
Then I went to the backyard and picked some rosemary and tossed liberal amounts of that in with the potatoes.
I pulled out my rod iron skillet and heated some canola oil and dropped in my potatoes and rosemary. As they were finishing I added a little salt & pepper ( I like the pink himalayan salt and the lemon pepper that each come in their own grinder from Trader Joe’s) I drained them on a paper towel.
Then I layered them on a small plate with goat cheese. (Three layers all total I think)
They got a drizzle of balsamic reduction at the end to give them a nice tie in with the Syrah.
So here it is! My solo dinner with a beautiful bottle of 2011 Ex Umbris Syrah, courtesy of the best Secret Santa on the planet!
This beautiful wine comes from Owen Roe in the Columbia Valley and has a story… I love wines with a story!
“This wine was introduced as a one-time bottling in 2002 after a wild fire struck the vineyard’s surrounding hillsides. The residual ash and smoke resonated in the Syrah grapes, creating a very memorable wine. Year after year, we are asked to develop a Syrah to keep the story of this wine alive! Now, 10 vintages later, we hope you will enjoy this bold Syrah comprised from several exceptional vineyards in the Columbia, Yakima and Walla Walla Valleys.”
Stay tuned as I find a pairing to go with my other Secret Santa wine…a beautiful Vouvray!
It was Thursday and our night for pairings, so I pulled out Sid Goldstein’s book “The Wine Lover’s Cookbook” and pulled together a menu that will pair a little with Chardonnay and a little with Viognier.
We are having Chilled Corn and Sundried Tomato Chowder, Crab Jicama and Mango Salad with Lemon-Curry dressing and Chicken Paprika with dried apricot and almond relish. The Chowder will pair with a 2007 Miramonte Chardonnay, the Crab salad will pair with both the Chardonnay and a 2010 Zaca Mesa Viognier (Happy 40th Zaca Mesa!), and the Chicken Paprika will pair exclusively with the Viognier.
Farmer’s Market vegetables
So this morning I got up early, hit the gym and headed to the Molto Vegas Farmers Market at the Springs Preserve to pick up the produce!
As you can see I scored fresh desert corn, butter lettuce, garlic, onion, a Meyer lemon, a mango, and two regular lemons. I raided my pantry and freezer for chicken stock (we had some frozen that I Michael made), cumin, coriander, paprika, olive oil, honey, turmeric, chili powder and tarragon. Hit the garden for chives and green onions and made a trip to Whole Foods for the rest. I figured Whole Foods would be a one-stop shop for the varied items that I needed. We picked up organic chicken breasts, blue crab meat, sour crème, dried apricots, sweet paprika, caraway seeds, sliced mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and pasta. I picked up slivered almonds from the bulk area since I just needed 3 tablespoons, season croutons for the soup and jicama. So I have seen sliced jicama in the produce section but they didn’t have any so I had to have someone come and help me find it! It is a bulbous root that runs around $1.49 lb. and the one I picked ran me $2.79. I only used about 1/3 of it.
So I started with the soup since it needed to chill for 3 to 4 hours. Olive oil, onions, tarragon, cumin, turmeric and lemon zest get going in the soup pot then you add the corn, corn cobs, chicken stock and white wine. I used a Viognier that I had already opened. This boils, and then simmers a bit then you pull out the cobs and add the roasted garlic, lemon juice and sour crème and then process it in the blender or food processor. Add the rough chopped sundried tomatoes and toss it in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours.
While that is chilling I jump onto the crab salad. Crab meat, diced mango, diced jicama and then a dressing with Meyer lemon juice and zest, champagne vinegar, mayo and a homemade curry powder with cumin, turmeric, chili powder and coriander. Mix it all up and pop it in the fridge for 2 hours. (there is a chillin’ theme here!)
On to the relish for the chicken. Dice the dried apricots; add champagne vinegar (it called for raspberry, but I wasn’t buying a whole bottle for ¾ teaspoon!), honey, green onions, caraway seed, lemon zest and toasted almonds. Then chill this for an hour!
Finally the chicken. I pound out the breasts season with salt, paprika, sage and lemon zest and brown them in butter and oil then drain them on paper towels. Then cook the onions add the mushrooms, marjoram, sweet paprika, caraway seed and roasted garlic (I had this left over from the previous recipe and it gave a sweeter flavor to the dish). Once this is cooked up I added the chicken stock and sour cream and then put the breasts back in. I cooked up some buttered noodles to serve this on.
Now for the pairings. The Chardonnay was beautiful with the Chowder. And this chilled soup just develops more flavors the longer it chills. (I enjoyed it for lunch for several more days!). The salad was fine with the Chard, but the jicama really came to life with the Viognier. The Chicken and the Viognier were spectacular on several levels. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the sauce were really lovely creating a new depth when paired with the wine and then the apricots and the relish really popped.
All in all, I was pretty impressed with myself. Thanks Sid for the help! I look forward to cooking my way through this book!
Mount Charleston is a great Spring Getaway, pair this with Bel Vino/Stuart Cellars Field Blend you have the Perfect Day Off.
After an afternoon hike at Mount Charleston, it was time for a simple but delicious dinner. I had discovered beets in the garden this morning (I thought it was chard before!) so I planned to pull those up and roast them for a salad, on the way home I looked online to see what best compliments a beet salad and came up with….Riesling, pinot noir, pinot blanc, rose, and French Chablis.
We headed to Whole foods to be inspired by a protein. Michael picked up 2 macadamia nut encrusted Mahi Mahi fillets and then some Thai quinoa salad.
In looking up pairings for the Mahi Mahi, I found some sort of matches…a pistachio crusted Mahi Mahi suggested a Pinot Noir other suggestions for Mahi Mahi included Gewurztraminer, Sav Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Malbec and Merlot… And the Alton Brown recipe for Mac crusted Mahi suggested a buttery Chard! What’s a girl to do?
Michael was definitely in a mood for white wine, so we settled on a Bel Vino Stuart Cellars Field Blend. It is a blend of Viognier, Riesling and Muscat, so on the sweeter side. We will pull it out of the wine cooler about 20 minutes before we plan to eat.
The Mahi Mahi will not have any sort of sweet glaze or fruit with it so the sweeter wine should pair nicely. The beet salad will have Gorgonzola, herb greens and roasted salted pecans with a balsamic dressing, again not on the sweet side so the wine should be good with it. Sweet wines should be sweeter than the dish they are paired. I look for the saltiness in the salad and the fish to pair well with the wine. The Thai spiced Quinoa should again be toned down by the wine and pair nicely. Now I guess we wait and see what we get!
Overall the wine went fine with everything. The quinoa turned out to be pretty bland, the salad with the beets, roasted salted pecans and Gorgonzola went nicely (especially the gorgonzola). The fish smelled delicious and buttery and the initial taste was savory. When paired with the wine it brought out a sweetness in the coating of the fish.
This was a perfect evening to enjoy dinner outside. Who knows perhaps the gods will be kind and we will get another week or so of nice weather that we can enjoy before the heat takes over and we long for fall. We will take advantage and enjoy it while we can!
I love farmers markets and I have a habit of overindulging when I go. So my crisper ends up over flowing and then sadly rotting on the bottom. This week I was determined to us the beautiful golden beets that I had purchased, but alas I left them in the crisper long enough for the beet greens to not look so appetizing. So….rather than buying new beets for the greens for the recipe I wanted to make I picked up some fresh swiss chard. If you have ever looked at beet greens they are very similar to chard, same family and similar flavor. So I had my substitution and I was off to make one of my favorite recipes for pasta with roasted beets, beet greens and pine nuts.
I based last nights recipe on one from http://www.theitaliandishblog.com Then I needed to find a wine pairing! I searched a little more online and found a recipe with a similar flavor profile on http://www.grouprecipes.com. The recipe didn’t include pasta but was for roasted beets and beet greens with a balsamic vinegar. It suggested pairing with a Zin or a Shiraz and there was a comment saying that the pairing was perfect. I needed to pick up pine nuts and pancetta to finish the dish and run to the wine store. It is sad to say that I don’t have a small family run wine store close by where I live. There is a fantastic one on the other side of town, but that would have taken 45 minutes to get there. So…I head to the giant wine store close by. I love the selection mostly. Often the more obscure varieties can’t be found there, but there is one wine guy that always has great advice for me. The trouble I find with going there (or anywhere) to pick up wine is that in trying to be all crunchy granola I take my wine bag with me. Well my wine bag holds 4 bottles and I feel the need to fill it. I picked up 2 roses because it is summer and it’s hot in Vegas! And then I search through the Syrah’s. I love a smoky syrah. If it has a little meat on the nose, all the better (yes I know that is bret!). I settle on a Syrah from Chile, a 2009 Ona Anakena. I also pick up French Syrah-Mouvedre blend This is a 2010 Luc Pirlet Reserve. Now back to get cooking!
Here is my adapted version of the ingredients
3 medium size golden beets
1/4 cup of pine nuts (or more)
2 ounces of pancetta (You can be kind to the piggies and leave this out and go vegetarian. I admit to feeling guilty.)
1 med red onion (I actually had 3 very small ones from the garden)
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (I used balsamic)
1 small bunch of beet greens (or in my case swiss chard)
sea salt, ground pepper
fresh grated parmesan cheese (that wasn’t in the recipe, but….)
I had roasted my beets earlier in the day. Take each beet, trim the greens off and the end of the root. Wash and scrub them then rub them with olive oil and wrap each in aluminum foil. Pop them into a 375 degree oven for 45 min to an hour. If you have really big beets it could take them up to 1 1/2 hrs. Take one out and open it and see if a knife will easily go in. If so, they are ready. To keep them warm I kept them on the stove while I cooked the rest of the meal.
Next you toast your pine nuts in a small frying pan over med heat stirring until they are lightly toasted. I cheated and bought mine pre toasted at Trader Joe’s.
Next chop the beet greens or chard about 1 inch sections. Keep the stems separate from the greens.
About now you would want to start the pasta water.
Now get a large skillet and toss in the pancetta. Cook it until it is crispy then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave the grease! Lower the heat to medium add a little olive oil and toss in the chopped onion. After a few minutes add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the red wine or balsamic vinegar and cook another 2 minutes. This will thicken the vinegar and give it that rich flavor.
Now toss in your beet stems (just the stems) and 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook 10 minutes.
Add the greens and pancetta and cook another 10. When you add the greens, it’s also time to add the pasta to the pasta water.
At this point with 10 minutes to wait I decided to peel
my beets. I peeled them by hand. The skins slid right off. And…my beets were golden so my hands didn’t turn pink. If you are using red beets, you might want gloves. If the skins don’t slide off used a knife. Then cut the beets in quarters or eighth’s and rewrap in the aluminum foil to keep them warm.
After the 10 minutes add 1/2 the pine nuts (I admit, I added the entire 1/4 cup, cause I like pine nuts). This is where you season to taste with salt and pepper. To taste…means taste it! Pancetta is salty so you will already be seasoned and you don’t want to over do it.
Remove the pasta from the pasta water with a strainer and add to the pan with the sauce. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to incorporate the sauce. Then I grated parmesan cheese on top and mixed, and grated some more and mixed, and one last time for good measure.
Plate it on a large dish, pasta in the center, beets around the edge. Sprinkle the beets with sea salt (I used pink himalayan salt) and top the pasta with a little more grated parmesan and some more pine nuts. Voila!
The pairings were perfect. The earthiness of the beets and greens works nicely with the syrah. I preferred the Syrah Mouvedre blend because of it’s smoothness. There was no heat from alcohol (it was at 13.5 %) and was really velvety and layered.
I have a new favorite summer salad. Michael came across this recipe online from Food Network(Giada De Laurentiis Recipe) and we made a few adjustments for what we had handy. We had picked up a small watermelon at the farmers market and were looking for something more than just eating it plain. This recipe is quick and adjustable. Cut 2 lbs of watermelon into cubes add 4 oz of cubed (or crumbled) feta, the zest and juice of one lemon 2 tbls of olive oil 1 cup of packed arugula (or watercress, but we used arugula and sunflower sprouts) salt and pepper. Toss and serve immediately. Michael was so so on it but I thought it complimented the grill tuna beautifully. We had a Riesling with dinner, but I think that a Sav blanc would go very nicely with this.