Gravlax (Cured Salmon)

Gravlax (Cured Salmon)

I am currently emptying my freezer as I prepare for my annual fishing trip to Alaska. I am stuck with the enviable predicament of having too much salmon. Here is an easy and delicious way to solve that problem.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 teaspoon pepper, roughly cracked
  • 1 cup dill, chopped
  • 3 ounces coarse sea salt
  • 4 ounces sugar
  • 1 pound salmon filet, skin on and pin bones removed
  • 1 cup yoghurt/sour cream mix
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Lemon wedges

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a bowl mix pepper, dill salt and sugar.
  2. Place a large sheet of cling wrap on counter and pour half the mixture in the center in shape of the salmon filet.
  3. Place salmon skin side down on top of the mixture and top the salmon with the remaining mix. Wrap the salmon securely and place on dish.
  4. Top salmon with another plate and place weights on plate (eg 2 x 14 oz tins).
  5. Refrigerate 12 hours, flip salmon and refrigerate 12 more hours. Rinse, pat dry and refrigerate 3 – 4 hours.
  6. Serve on toasts with mustard sauce and lemon wedges.

This will serve 8 – 10 as an appetizer and goes especially well with Taft Street Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

Hearty Frittata

As we inch our way towards warmer weather our attention turns to casual dining. Here is a dish that can be served anytime/anyplace; equally appropriate from morning til evening.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked greens (spinach, kale….), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt
  • 12 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • ¼ cup cream
  • ½ cup goat cheese, rumbled
  • ½ cup chives, chopped

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 400. Heat 2 tablespoons  oil in large saucepan, adding garlic, shallot and pepper to taste. Add greens and salt to taste. After 2 minutes transfer to paper towels.
  2. Combine eggs, chicken, cream, salt, pepper and greens mixture. Heat remaining oil in cast iron or nonstick pan and pour in egg mixture. Cook until edges set.
  3. Mix cheese with chives and lemon juice and scatter atop eggs. Transfer pan to oven and cook 10 – 12 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through.
  4. Cut into wedges. Served 4 – 6.

This goes especially well with our 2018 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir. Like the frittata, good from morning til night!

Pasta Alla Amatriciana

Pasta Alla Amatriciana

During the rainy season (and it has been rainy!) comfort food is required. A simple pasta with baguette and Taft Street wine is all that’s needed on a blustery winter’s evening.

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • ½ pound quality bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 pound pasta (bucatini or fettucine work well)
  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put large pot of water on to boil. Saute bacon in olive oil until crisp. Drain and set aside. Cook onion in remaining oil/fat until soft. Add pepper flakes to taste
  2. Cook pasta to al dente (time will vary).
  3. In a large bowl combine bacon, onion, tomatoes and pasta. Heat and serve, topping with grated cheese.
    Serves 4 – 6 and goes particularly well with Taft Street Alexander Valley Merlot.
Harvest Potatoes

Twice Baked Potatoes

The Holidays Season is all about food (and family), and one dish that always adds a festive touch is twice baked potatoes. An added advantage is that the dish is easy to prepare.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • Olive oil, salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Optional garnish: crumbled bacon/chopped chives

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Brush potatoes with olive oil and salt, place on rimmed cookie sheet, and bake until soft (about one hour).
  2. Cool slightly and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop inside of potato, leaving ¼ inch edge to maintain shape.
  3. In bowl add butter, sour cream and scooped out potato. Mash until creamy, and add ½ cheese. Top with remaining cheese and optional garnishes.
  4. Cook in 350 oven until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

We served this on Christmas with a prime rib and Taft Street Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

Local Figs

Fig Bostock

The last figs are still on the tree. They won’t be for long. One way to enjoy this wonderful fruit is in a glorified French toast originating in Normandy (Brioche aux amandes).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and finely ground
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup honey
  •  1 egg
  •  ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium loaf brioche
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 8 fresh figs, quartered
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Using an electric mixer or food processor combine almonds, honey, egg, flour and salt until smooth. Chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 375. Slice brioche into 8 thick slices. Whisk eggs and 1 teaspoon water in small bowl and brush one side of brioche slices with egg wash. Place on rimmed baking sheet and spread each slice with 2 tablespoons almond crème, Top with figs, cut side up. Brush with butter.
  3. Bake until golden (18-20 minutes). Dust with sugar and serve.

This would make a wonderful brunch, with perhaps a Taft Street Pinot Noir to take it up another notch.

Sea Bass Stew

Sea Bass Stew

As we get into fall we need heartier dishes – and red wine. Here’s the dish – and the wine to go with it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, hopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped herbs (thyme, parsley, basil)
  • ¾ cup white wine (Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 quart crushed tomatoe
  • 3 cups broth
  • 2 pounds sea bass fillets, cubed

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, celery, salt and pepper and cook until soft (4-5 minutes). Add herbs and garlic and cook briefly (1 minute).
  2. Stir in white wine and crushed tomatoes and bring to simmer. Add broth and cook 20 minutes.
  3. Season fish with salt and pepper and add to pot, stirring gently to distribute fish evenly. Cook 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Ladle into serving bowls and serve with favorite crusty bread.

A 2017 Alexander Valley Merlot would accompany this nicely. Serves 4-6

Smoked Salmon

In July I had the great pleasure of taking my son and grandson on a fishing trip to Alaska. We had a great time, and brought home a load of salmon, halibut and sea bass. I’m currently working of this recipe with salmon fillets.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Cure
    • 1 pound salmon fillet, pin bones removed
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ¼ cup kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns
  • Rub
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons coriander
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lay a sheet of foil in baking sheet, topping with a sheet of plastic wrap. Sprinkle half of the cure mix into plastic wrap. Lay the fillet skin side down on top and sprinkle and spread the rest of the cure on top. Wrap the plastic wrap tightly around fish, and lay another sheet of foil on top. Weigh down with another baking sheet and canned goods.
  2. Cure in refrigerator for 8-10 hours. Remove from frig, unwrap and rinse. Pat dry and cover with rub mixture. Let rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours to form pellicle, a thin film which helps in the smoking process.
  3. Prepare smoker/barbecue to 175-185 degrees, and cook skin side down until internal temperature reaches 145(2 hours or so). Remove, tent, and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Right now I’m going with smoked salmon, toast, sour cream with chives and capers, and Taft Street Rose of Pinot Noir and/or just plain old Taft Street Pinot Noir. YUM!!

Tomatoes Taft

Tomatoes Taft

August starts serious tomato season in Sonoma County. Early Girls and a variety of heirlooms are now available for BLT’s and endless other treats. Here’s a versatile salad; try it with a chilled glass of Taft Street Russian River Sauvignon Blanc.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped olives
  • 4 – 5 medium tomatoes
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 12 basil leaves

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place shallot in bowl with garlic, salt, pepper and vinegar. Let soak for 10 minutes, then stir in olive oil, anchovy and olives.
  2. Slice tomatoes and arrange on platter. Season. Dress cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette, then spoon cherry tomatoes and vinaigrette over tomato slices.
  3. Garish with basil leaves. Serve at cool room temperature.

Pasta with Mushrooms & Prosciutto

There are many reasons to feel blessed by living in Sonoma County. Mushrooms are one. We are especially fortunate to be neighbors of Mycopia, mushroom cultivators who have a drop-in sale every Friday where they offer various exotic varieties at below market prices. Here’s a classic. Try this with a baguette and salad.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil +2 tablespoons
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 1 pound mushrooms, torn into bite size pieces
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 12 ounces egg noodle pappardelle
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoons butter

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In Dutch oven cook pasta in 2 tablespoons oil until crisp, about 5 minutes. Crumble and set aside.
  2. In remaining oil cook mushrooms on low heat for 6-8 minutes. Add shallots, thyme, salt and pepper and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Add stock and simmer for 6-8 minutes.
  3. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Transfer pasta to mushroom, add a cup of pasta water and simmer for 2 minutes. Add cream to coat.
  4. Remove Dutch oven from heat, mix in butter and prosciutto and serve.

Serves 4. Pinot Noir would be a great choice here. At the moment I’d pick our 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Skikos Vineyard – 35th anniversary special release.

Summertime Grill – Gochujang Style

Memorial Day is history, and we have now officially entered grill season. It’s time to clean the grates, break out some charcoal or propane or hardwood, and fire up your cooker.

We are going to start the season with a new favorite – grilled pork chops with gochujang barbecue sauce.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • ¼ cup sriracha
  • 4 thick pork chops, bone in
  • salt and pepper

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Prepare high heat grill with indirect heat. Bring vinegar, brown sugar, gochujang and sriracha to a simmer in a small pan; cooking for 12-15 minutes. Set aside to cool, and transfer half the sauce to a bowl for table service.
  2. Season pork with salt and pepper. Grill both sides about 3 minutes, until nicely browned. Continue cooking and turning, basting with half the sauce to create a glaze, another 5-6 minutes. When internal temperature reads 145 remove from grill and let rest 10 minutes.
  3. Slice and serve with reserved sauce.

Our 2016 Medallion, a blend of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, is a particularly good choice here.