Recipe: Salumi, Ricotta, and Tarragon Bruschetta

bruschetta

While developing recipes for our wine club, I often refer to a book called What to Drink with What You Eat. It’s collection of foods and drinks in list-format with associated pairings. It’s very handy when I’m venturing off into uncharted food or wine territory – an issue I ran into when dreaming up recipes for our 2012 Quarticello “Neromaestri” Lambrusco, featured in our Spring wine club collection. I consulted this book and decided the best course of action was a light and summery appetizer featuring classic Lambrusco pairings of ricotta and salumi, served atop crusty bread in the form of Bruschetta.

This is a very simple, fast, and tasty antipasto, the perfect compliment to your fizzy Lambreezy (as I like to call it) on a nice spring or summer day. To take it to another level, grill the bread instead of toasting it.

Salumi, Ricotta, and Tarragon Bruschetta
wine pairing: Quarticello 2012 “Neromaestri” Lambrusco
prep time: 15 min
serves 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients:
1 Italian rustic baugette, sliced on the diagonal
8 oz basket ricotta cheese (I like Bellwether)
4-6 oz salumi, sliced thin (I used Fatted Calf’s fegatelli)
3 sprigs fresh tarragon (or fresh basil if you can’t find tarragon)
Olive oil

Method:

  1. Brush the bread slices with olive oil and lightly grill on a BBQ (or broil if you don’t have a grill).
  2. Spread a little ricotta on top of the grilled bread.
  3. Arrange the sliced salumi on top of the ricotta.
  4. Chop the tarragon and sprinkle on top of the bruschetta.

Recipe: Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Salad

spinachsalad
I have a secret: I’ve been religiously going to the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning for… well, years. I’m sure if I ever didn’t show up for a couple of weeks in a row, one of the merchants I shop with every week would file a Missing Person’s report for me.

When we’re developing recipes for the wine club, this farmer’s market is usually the inspiration for our creations. You can buy literally ANYTHING here, if it’s in season and grown within a 200 mile radius (with the exception of garlic scapes, which I’ve given up on). It seems natural that I’d name a salad after this magical place, the muse in my lifelong culinary adventure.

This beautiful, seasonal salad is full of top-quality ingredients from some of my favorite Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market vendors. The spinach is from Star Route Farms in Bolinas; the strawberries are from Dirty Girl Produce in Santa Cruz; the goat cheese is sourced from Petaluma cheese-maker Andante Dairy; the delicious crispy pancetta is from my favorite Hayes Valley butcher shop, Fatted Calf; the dressing comes from the market, too – the olive oil is from olive grower Sciabica & Sons, and the balsamic vinegar from Bariani. I’ll admit, even the sea salt used in the dressing comes from our very own San Francisco Bay. I feel very fortunate to have the bounty of California at my fingertips.

These ingredients converge to create a classic salad with a little bit of an Italian twist (I am part Italian, after all). It has all of the flavor components one could wish for in a salad; herbal, sweet, savory, salty, pungent, and creamy. They are a match made in heaven, and you can elevate it to another level by pairing it with the Grace Wine Co. Santa Barbara Highlands Rosé of Grenache, available in our online store. This superbly bright and aromatic rosé is the perfect compliment to such a salad, and I can easily imagine enjoying the two together every day for the rest of my life.

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Salad
prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:
1 basket sea scape strawberries
4 oz pancetta or bacon, diced
3 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2-3 big handfuls of baby spinach, washed and dried
for the dressing:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. high-quality balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and cook the diced pancetta or bacon until crisped. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  2. Slice the strawberries in half lengthwise, into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a small jar, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Shake or whisk well.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the spinach and strawberries, then toss with the dressing.
  5. Transfer the dressed strawberries and spinach to individual bowls, and top with the crumbled goat cheese and diced pancetta or bacon. Serve alongside a tasty, fragrant rosé.

 

Recipe: Tortilla Española

tortilla-1Which five simple ingredients will create a dish that will change the way you think about snacking? Chances are, you already have them at home. Potatoes, onions, eggs, olive oil, and salt, that’s it! With these five pantry staples, you can create a Spanish tapa that is more satisfying and delicious than you could ever imagine something so simple to be. In Spain, it’s called tortilla Española, tortilla de patatas, or simply tortilla. It’s similar to an Italian fritatta, except that instead of being finished in the oven, it’s finished on the stovetop.

When I first visited Spain, I remember seeing tortilla on the menu at every tapas bar we visited. It was a welcome interlude to all the salty cured meat and preserved seafood that dominate the tapas bars. The Spanish enjoy this regional delicacy by itself as a tapa or on a baugette as a bocadillo. I knew that when I got home, I’d have to figure out how to make this thing because my husband loved it so much.

It turns out, this recipe is very simple and easy to make. You just need a few pieces of equipment; a 10″-12″ skillet at least 1-1/2″ deep (preferably, but not mandatorily nonstick), a big bowl, a large plate, and a sharp knife. It helps to have a mandoline; it’ll save you some time, but it’s not essential. A steady hand and a sharp knife will do just fine.

The best thing about tortilla Española is how versatile it is. It tastes great cold, warm, or at room temperature. It makes a great weekday lunch or mid-day snack. Take one to a potluck and you will be the talk of the town.

This recipe was developed with our 2012 Talai-Berri “Finca Jakue” Getariako Txakolina in mind – a deliciously fizzy white wine from the Basque region of Spain. The txakoli is perfectly contrasted by the richness of the tortilla – it has enough acidity to cut right through the olive oil and potato flavors. Enjoy the two together on a warm afternoon, the txakoli with a good chill and the tortilla served cold alongside some tomato-rubbed bread and jamón.

Tortilla Española
prep time: 15 min
cooking time: 30 min
Serves 8-10 as an appetizer

Ingredients:
4 medium russet potatoes or 6-8 yukon gold potatoes
1 large onion
6 large eggs
1/2 tsp. sea or kosher salt
3/4 cup olive oil

Special Tools:
10″-12″ frying pan, at least 1-1/2″ deep
Large bowl
Large plate, at least the size of your skillet
Sharp knife or mandoline

Method:

  1. Fill the large bowl halfway with cold water and set next to your work surface.
  2. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes, 1/8″ thick or a little thinner, with your knife or mandoline. Place the sliced raw potatoes in the bowl of water to prevent them from oxidizing.
  3. Peel the paper off the onion and slice in half, lengthwise. Thinly slice the onion and set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  5. Drain the potato slices well and add to the oil, along with the onions. Cook the potatoes and onions over medium heat for about 20 minutes, turning the slices often. Avoid letting them brown. The potatoes and onions are done when they are fully cooked and easily pierced with the corner of your spatula.
  6. While you’re cooking the potatoes, whisk the 6 eggs and salt in a large bowl until combined.
  7. Remove the potatoes and onions from the pan with a slotted spoon and add to the egg mixture, reserving the olive oil in the pan. Mix the potatoes and onions into the egg batter with a large spoon, being careful not to crush or mash the cooked potato slices.
  8. Strain the oil from the skillet into a clean jar, and wash the skillet well enough that the surface is free of any stuck-on potatoes.
  9. Heat the skillet again over medium-high heat. I like to use non-stick cooking spray for this step (I don’t have a non-stick pan), or you can use 2 tbsp. of the reserved olive oil.
  10. Make sure the skillet is good and hot, but not hot enough to burn the oil. Add the potato/onion/egg mixture to the hot pan. It’s important the pan is hot, so the tortilla doesn’t stick.
  11. After about a minute, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the tortilla is set but the surface is still runny. Remove from the heat.
  12. Give the pan a shake to loosen the tortilla, use a spatula to help loosen it if you need to.
  13. Take your large plate and set it upside-down over the surface of the tortilla while it’s still in the skillet (if the plate is bigger than the skillet, that’s OK). Carefully invert the skillet and allow the tortilla to fall onto the plate.
  14. Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel and return it to medium-high heat. Add another coating of non-stick cooking spray or 2 tbsp. olive oil.
  15. Slide the tortilla back into the pan, uncooked side down. Turn the heat down to medium after a minute. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. In the meantime, wash and dry the plate you used to invert the half-cooked tortilla onto.
  16. Shake the pan to loosen the tortilla, and remove it by inverting it out of the skillet back onto a plate. Allow it to cool, then slice it into wedges and serve.

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Recipe: Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings

honeysrirachawingsI’ll tell you a secret – I love a good chicken wing. Love isn’t a strong enough word to describe how I feel about a succulent, crispy, perfectly seasoned wing. So many places get them right, and I’m not ashamed to say I love the wings at Hooters and Buffalo Wild Wings. One problem with those places, however, is the quality of the meat they are using. I’m sure those chickens did not come with their papers – chances are they are mass produced, factory-farmed, miserable little creatures. Winelandia believes in eating locally and sustainably, so we try our best to eat responsibly-farmed meat. Pasture-raised chicken tastes better, is healthier for you, and better for the environment. The other issue is that wings in restaurants are almost always deep-fried. It’s bad enough wings are full of fat – frying them isn’t helping the situation.

Leave it to me to try and health up and green-wash a chicken wing party platter. They may not technically fall into the “health foods” category, but they are certainly better than what you get at Hooters. After several attempts at getting these wings just right, I’ve finally found enough success to share the recipe and technique with you. First of all, these wings are baked – not fried. We roast them at a high temperature on a wire rack over a cookie sheet with only salt and pepper on them – no oil. They have enough fat in the skin to baste themselves, and we want to render all of that fat out so they aren’t getting soggy in a pool of their own fat while they cook. The elevated dry-roasting at a high temperature also breaks down the connective tissue so that the meat just falls off the bone, making them easier to eat.

We finish them off with a yummy honey-sriracha glaze, adapted from a FoodNetwork.com recipe. If you’ve never heard of Sriracha sauce, it’s a Thai chili-garlic sauce originating from Thailand (but lots of it is produced in California). I cut back on the butter in the glaze and changed up the cooking method, so it’s not quite the same recipe. I left the proportions of honey and sriracha the same, though, because I felt it was already perfectly balanced between spicy and sweet.

To pair wine with your chicken wings, look for an off-dry Riesling, off-dry Gewurtztraminer, off-dry Chenin Blanc, or an inexpensive sparkling wine with a little bit of residual sugar. You could also pair an aromatic dry white wine, because the wings have enough sugar on them already to temper the heat. A slightly sweet wine will pair better, but a dry wine would be just fine as well. I paired a delicious Blanc de Blanc Champagne from Jacques Lassaigne, which was totally uncalled for and absolutely perfect. If you want to splurge and enjoy your wings with a bottle of real Champagne, go for it – you won’t regret it.

Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings
Author: Tala Drzewiecki
adapted from FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients:
2 lbs. pasture-raised chicken wings, tips removed, cut into two pieces (wings & drumettes)
1/3 cup local honey
1/4 cup sriracha chili sauce
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. lime juice
salt & pepper

Special Tools:
Baking sheet
Wire rack (about the same size as the baking sheet)
Non-stick cooking spray
Aluminum foil

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Spray your wire rack with non-stick cooking spray and set on top of the foil-lined baking sheet.
  4. Pat your wings dry, and toss them in a bowl with plenty of salt and pepper.
  5. Put the wings on the wire rack and bake at 400F for 40 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  6. While the wings are roasting, prepare the sauce. Combine the sriracha, honey, butter, and soy sauce in the pan over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Turn the heat off, add the lime juice, and stir. Set aside.
  7. Remove the wings from the oven and toss them in a bowl with half of the sauce. Put them back on the wire rack over the baking sheet and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the wings from the oven and toss again in the same bowl with the other half of the wing sauce.
  9. Garnish with parsley or sliced green onions, and serve with your favorite sparkling or off-dry white wine.

 

Recipe: Spring Lamb Chops with Herbes de Provence

P2010142Lamb is especially delicious in the spring, and this dish is meant to highlight the ingredient. The preparation is a snap, and the cook time is 10 minutes or less! High-quality lamb chops are not inexpensive, but they impress a dinner party, or a special someone. We got ours from Olivier’s Butchery, in the Dogpatch. We highly recommend their always-fresh products – they carry poultry, beef, pork, lamb, and include a variety of both well known and lesser-known cuts. Check ‘em out!

Mourvèdre is most often grown in the Provence and Rhone regions in France, and are described as having a “garrigue” quality. Garrigue is the scrub on the land in that area, similar to our chapparal in California. This dish is meant to pair with the 2012 La Clarine Farm Cedarville Mourvèdre. We use herbes de Provence, a French herb blend that evokes garrigue, as the spice on these chops. That integrates the flavor evoked by the wine into the flavor evoked by the dish, making them truly complementary.

Prep time: 1 hour, active time 15 minutes
Serves 4 as an entree
Author: Colleen McGarry

Ingredients:

8 lamb chops – about 2 lbs. (2 per person)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. herbes de provence
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil

Method:

  1. Peel, then mince the cloves of garlic. Sprinkle the salt over the garlic, then using the blade of the knife like a spatula, rub the salt into the garlic. Once the mixture resembles a paste, move the paste into a small bowl.
  2. Add the pepper, herbes de provence, and olive oil to the garlic paste and mix well.
  3. On a large plate or cutting board, lay out the chops flat. Pat dry if there is any surface moisture.
  4. Divide half the paste evenly onto the surfaces of the chops, and rub the paste to coat evenly. Flip each chop, and divide the remainder and rub to coat the other side of the chops. Set the chops aside on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour.
  5. Heat a cast iron pan or skillet on high on the stovetop for 5-10 minutes, or until it is searingly hot. Add 2-4 chops the hot pan, being careful not to crowd the pan you’re using. We did 3 at a time in a 12” skillet.
  6. After about 3 minutes, when there’s a brown crust on one side, flip the chops. Cook for 2-3 minutes longer, to achieve medium doneness.
  7. When done, move to serving plate and tent loosely with foil if you have additional chops to sear. Serve immediately.

6 Great Tips for Holiday Entertaining

PC210024_webThe end of the year is often a hectic time for people from all walks of life, but especially for those of us who get a kick out of entertaining and hosting. Too often we will decide to have “a few” friends over for drinks and snacks, and it quickly snowballs into something about as manageable as cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 20 people.

I love to entertain, and at times I feel like it’s what I was born to do. A weird calling in life, for sure, but I really do enjoy it. I throw a lot of parties, mostly centered around food and wine. I’d like to take a moment to share with you some of the tricks I’ve learned over the years to help make entertaining as affordable and easy as possible for the gracious host, so you can spend more time with your guests.

  1. Get as much of your prep done ahead of time as possible. This is something caterers have known for ages – sometimes preparing (and freezing) ingredients weeks in advance. Many recipes will tell you what can be done ahead of time, and that combined with some common sense is a great way to get ahead of the curve. Chop all of your veggies, juice your lemons, make your salad dressings, purée your dips, mince your garlic, make your soups, and anything else you can think of the day before. Focus especially on things that are time consuming, like snapping the ends off your green beans.
  2. Find ways to make ingredients stretch and repurpose leftovers. Entertaining for a large group of people can be very costly, and nobody wants to ask their guests to chip in to help with the cost of food. Did you cook a pot of beans earlier in the week? Turn the leftovers into bean dip. That stale, day-old bread? Crostini. Last night’s risotto? Arancini. Restaurants do this, so why can’t you? My favorite trick: Go pick up some fresh pizza dough from your local grocer and make flatbreads with all the odds and ends in your refrigerator that need to be used up. Just because it’s left-over, doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious and worthy of a spot on your table.
  3. Don’t wait until the last minute to sort out your menu. Seasoned pros do a lot of planning, so if you are feeling overwhelmed it’s probably a good idea to plan everything out ahead of time. I like to use spreadsheets to keep track of the dishes I’m preparing, what ingredients I need, URLs to recipes, what I need to buy vs. what I already have in my kitchen, etc. Spreadsheets can be color-coded and are a great visual planner, and if you upload it to Google Docs you can also use it as your shopping list. It’s a good way to organize your thoughts and to prevent forgetting things like tarragon.
  4. Prepare things that are rich, filling, comforting, and inexpensive. One of my favorite family-style appetizers is ricotta cheese topped with honey. The two ingredients on their own might not be especially inexpensive, but they are super rich a little goes a long way. All you have to do is plop the cheese into a bowl, cover it with honey, and serve it with bread or crackers. Another idea is to serve a fresh, sliced baguette with a side of olive oil and sea salt, like you get an Italian restaurant. Home-made hummus can be prepared ahead of time, and garbanzo beans are very inexpensive. Make a big platter of carrot sticks, celery, and other dip-worthy veggies as vehicles for your hummus or bean dip (your paleo friends will thank you!). Make a huge, healthy arugula & shaved fennel salad to cut the richness of your cheese plate.
  5. Ask your friends to help out by bringing a dish or a bottle of wine to share. It’s easy to take it all on head-first and not ask for any assistance – believe it or not, your guests are more than happy to help. If you want to deal with the food, ask your guests to help out by bringing a bottle of wine or a fancy beer. If you blew your budget on exotic wines and cocktail provisions, ask your friends to help out by bringing snacks to share. My point is, if you crowd-source your parties, your life becomes much easier. It’s way classier than asking people to chip in a few bucks as well.
  6. Be aware of the food allergies and dietary restrictions of your guests. I have several friends who have serious seafood, nut, and dairy allergies, along with a smattering of vegetarianism. While you don’t have to make everything nut, seafood, meat, and dairy free, it’s a good idea to make notes of what has what in it and to make sure you alert your guests if your dishes contain any food allergens. If I have a vegetarian friend coming, I ensure that nothing meat-related is touching the foods s/he can eat, and I also make sure that there is no cross-contamination during preparation. Your guests will be thankful that you went out of your way to accommodate their needs.

PC210053_webDo you have any awesome tips for being a great host? Most of what I know, I learned from others. Share your knowledge and entertaining tips in the comments!

Recipe: Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll be honest – I am not a great baker. I do bake from time to time, but I limit it to recipes that are easy to follow and hard to screw up. I am not one for rules; making precise measurements and refraining from tinkering with things is not really my style. I do, however, enjoy delicious things, so every now and then I’ll make a sacrifice and follow a recipe to the T. This is a requirement if you want to bake a cake, as explained in this video.

Recently, a good friend was throwing a holiday party and I wanted to bring something to share with people and to commemorate her mom’s birthday, who was in town visiting at the time. I needed something fast, easy, and fuss-free. Perhaps I could employ that bundt pan which I have owned for a year but hadn’t used even once? I knew my friend’s madre liked chocolate, and a quick google search for Chocolate Bundt Cake returned one of my favorite food blogs – Two Peas and their Pod. They had an intriguing looking Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake recipe that looked easy to follow and hard to screw up. Perfect!

The key with this cake is the quality of the chocolate you use. Do not skimp here! I used Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate baking chunks for the topping and Guittard Dutch Process Cocoa for the cake. Be sure to get a Dutch process cocoa, the authors of the recipe insist on it. That’s what I used and the recipe came out great.

Everyone at the party loved this bundt cake, and I liked it so much I wanted a second piece. Generally speaking, cake doesn’t do much for me. This cake is the exception to that. It would be perfect for a potluck, housewarming party, birthday, or any other occasion that requires feeding cake to a lot of people quickly and easily. It’s rich, gooey, moist, perfectly sweet, and big enough to have leftovers to take home.

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake
adapted from Two Peas and their Pod

Yield: Serves 10
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:
For the cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1/3 cup cocoa powder (we use Dutch process)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour, plus more for the pan
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate glaze:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup (or agave nectar)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Method:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt, and water and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, just until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add half of the melted butter mixture and whisk until completely blended. The mixture will be thick. Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until completely blended. Whisk in the sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Let cool completely before glazing.
5. While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate glaze. Place the chopped chocolate and corn syrup (or agave) in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the heavy cream and sugar in a small saucepan and put over medium heat. Stir until the cream is hot and the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
6. Generously drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Cut into pieces and serve.

Recipe: Clams with White Wine and Shallots

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When Tala and I were planning Secret Wine Club: Loire a few weeks ago, we had very little idea of what we were going to drink or serve up until a few days before the event. The one thing that was certain, however, was that we would pour a Muscadet, and we’d pair it with clams. This pairing is off-the-charts successful, and we both recommend you try it – but the recipe and the wine do stand on their own as well. More of a technique than a recipe, I’ll tell you what you need and what to do.

Ingredients:

Clams – the smaller the better, cherrystone, manila, and littleneck are three types that come to mind. You’ll want around 1lb per person for an entrée, or somewhat less as a snack or an appetizer. (I would not be lying if I said I could eat 2lbs by myself if you let me. Just sayin’.)

Shallot – 1 or 2, depending on how many clams you’re preparing, chopped

Garlic – 2 cloves, minced

Butter – 2 tablespoons

Olive Oil – 1-2 tablespoons

White Wine – about 1 cup (anything dry will work, I used what I had open, which was a Chardonnay, but if you’re pairing the dish with a Muscadet, and you can stand to give some up, use that!)

Water – about 1 cup

Parsley – about 2 tablespoons, chopped

Crusty Bread, sliced

Rinse your clams under cold water just to make sure there’s no debris on the outside. If you’ve bought them from a high-quality seafood shop like Hog Island, you won’t have to worry about sand on the inside, either! Start by drizzling the olive oil and melting the butter over medium heat in a saute pan with a tight-fitting lid. Once the butter is melted, add in the chopped shallot and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until softened. You don’t want to color the shallots. When the shallots are softened, about 3-5 minutes, add in the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Turn the heat up to medium high, and add the wine and the water. Once the liquid is simmering in the pan, add the clams, spread in the pan evenly, and cover with the lid. Wait about 2-3 minutes, and check on the contents to see if the clams are starting to open. Give ’em a shake to redistribute. Cover and wait another 1-2 minutes. After about 5 minutes, most of the clams should have opened. If most are still closed, give them a bit more time. After 5-7 minutes total, turn off the heat, first transfer the clams to a serving bowl with tongs or a spoon, and then pour the pot liquor (all that delicious stuff with clam juice, wine, water, garlic, shallot, butter, and olive oil in it!) over the clams. This helps distribute the good stuff into each little clamshell, so that when you’re eating them, you don’t need to dig at the bottom of the serving bowl!

Make sure you serve the clams with an empty bowl at the table for the shells, and several slices of warm, crusty bread. Sourdough is great for this, as the tang and the sweetness and the fragrance of the clams all go together quite nicely. You can dip your bread in the pot liquor. That, my friends, is heaven.

Variations: This recipe is very flexible, and very forgiving. You can use a sweet onion, or even leeks instead of shallots. You can add some cubed bacon or pancetta or crumbled chorizo to the shallots and saute until cooked through. You can swap the white wine for a nice light, crisp beer. You can use a vegetable or chicken broth instead of water, for richer flavor.

Ever since I learned how easy it is, I almost never order them in restaurants, because I can make them at home in 15 minutes or less! This is one of my favorite things to eat when I’m alone, because it’s easy, fast, and delicious. Have you ever prepared clams? Maybe you were too nervous until now? Let us know!

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Sign up for Winelandia’s Inaugural Wine Subscription!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo you love wine? Do you find it difficult to select good wines from the vast, overwhelming walls of plonk at your local market? Do you have trouble picking the perfect foods to pair with that delicious wine you bought? Do you drink 2 or more bottles of wine per month? We have a solution for you!

Sign up for Winelandia’s inaugural wine subscription, which will ship just in time for the holidays. We will pack and ship 6 bottles of awesome wine to your doorstep for no more than $25 a bottle. With your shipment we will include recipes, food pairing suggestions and tons of information about the wines you receive. Click the link below and join the waitlist – we have a few more slots available in our current allocation and will send you an email confirming your spot.

http://club.winelandia.com

We are looking forward to helping you impress your friends and elevate your wine-fu to a new level. Join today!

Recipe: Easy Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

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It’s officially the middle of June. Spring sprung a while ago and now the days are getting longer and warmer. One of the most lovely seasonal ingredients you can find around here this time of year is fresh blueberries. They are delicious! Tart, flavorful, juicy and bite-sized. Blueberries are extremely versatile; you can add them to your oatmeal or pancakes, enjoy them with fresh ricotta cheese or hide them inside of cornmeal muffins for a delectable surprise. To top it all off, they are my favorite color – blue!

I get my blueberries from a family farm at the Alemany Farmer’s Market called Hooverville Orchards. This vendor is only at the market for the summer, fall & winter seasons. They grow apples, pears, citrus, peaches, sweet cherries, sour cherries, blueberries and various other fruits. You can find them at the Alemany market from early June through February. Because they grow sour cherries, I find myself coming here starting in late May, hoping to find them on their first weekend back at the market to ask when their sour cherries will be in (more on that later).

For now, we have settled for blueberries. Since Father’s Day is upon us, I thought it would be nice to cover a pancake recipe. Dads love pancakes, it’s a well-known fact. My own father used to make pancakes for us every Saturday morning while we watched the Smurfs. He wasn’t much of a cook so he used Bisquick instead of making them from scratch. I always assumed that since my father never made them from scratch then they must just be too complicated to make without a mix. How wrong I was! Pancakes are very easy to make, you just have to use a light hand, butter and medium-low heat. Anybody could make these, even kids.

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes
(adapted from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
2 tbsp. butter, melted
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
Additional butter for cooking

Method:
In a medium bowl, add the vinegar to the milk and let stand for 5 minutes while it sours. Melt the 2 tbsp. butter on the stovetop or in the microwave. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda & salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg & melted butter into the soured milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until just barely incorporated – there should still be some small and medium lumps in the batter (this will ensure tender, fluffy pancakes!). Gently fold in the fresh blueberries.

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Melt enough butter to just cover the bottom of the pan. Pour batter 1/4 cup at a time onto the skillet and cook until you start to see bubbles on the surface of the pancake and the edges begin to dry. Flip the pancake and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar & fresh blueberries for garnish, and serve with syrup of your choice.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!