Fig Bostock

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.

Thinking About Onions

Thinking About Onions

Instead of a recipe this month, I thought I might write about how recipes come about. Last week we celebrated our 36th year in business (Taft Street became a bonded winery on April Fools Day, 1982), and I barbecued some chicken and served it with potato salad.

Potato salad needs onions, but I don’t like raw onions, so I soaked a couple of sliced red onions in some white wine vinegar overnight. They retained their crunchiness and were a nice addition to the salad. A jar of beautiful pink vinegar was left over – what to do?

I mixed a ¼ cup of soy sauce to the vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. While barbecuing the chicken (which had been dry rubbed the night before), I kept the meat moist be spraying it periodically with the seasoned vinegar.

The result – a nice tangy potato salad and chicken combo.

Oh, the Taft Street 2017 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc was a perfect match.

barbecue-bbq

Spring Lamb On The BBQ

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Crank up the BBQ and get ready for another season in front of the grill. We started the season off on Easter with a butterflied leg of lamb with garden herb sauce.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Handful of mint, rosemary, thyme
  • Juice from 3 lemons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4-5 pounds boned leg of lamb

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In blender mix herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth.
  2. Unfold meat and cut along folds and thick parts to create a roughly uniform thick slab of meat (1 ½ inches). Marinate meat in sauce for an hour at room temperature.
  3. Place meat on bar b que at medium heat. Cook 12-15 minutes a side, where internal temperature should be 125-130 for rare/medium rare.
  4. Serve with potatoes, salad and Taft Street Pinot Noir.

YUM!!

Colcannon

It’s that time of year again – St. Patrick’s Day will soon be here. Instead of the rather mundane boiled potatoes and cabbage try this variation. It goes well with corned beef and other roasted and grilled meats.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound cabbage, halved and cored
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • ½ cup chopped scallions
  • Butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ up Irish cheddar

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Steam cabbage until tender, 15 – 20 minutes. When cooled, finely chop.
  2. Peel and quarter potatoes. Pour into pot of water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until tender, 20 – 25 minutes.
  3. Drain potatoes and out in large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons butter, cabbage, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste. When cooled a bit, stir in egg.
  4. Melt remaining butter and brush pie plate

Dal On A Winter’s Eve

Dal, or spiced lentils, is a treat on a winter’s evening, either by itself or as a part of a multi course meal. An added attraction is it is easy to prepare.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • I medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, pee
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • Cilantro for garnish

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in large pan and saute inion until soft. Add sweet potato and cook for a couple of minutes. Add ginger and garlic, stir and continue to cook on low heat.
  2. Add chili, lentils and garam masala to pan and stir until lentils are well coated. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook until lentils are tender (30 minutes).
  3. Season to taste, stir, and cook until thickened (10 minutes). Serve in bowls with chopped cilantro as a garnish.

We find this goes particularly well with our 2016 Sonoma County Merlot, although any Taft Street wine is appropriate.