Recipe: Pork Wonton Soup a la Tala

wonton2

I’m going to tell you a secret: There’s a French-style butchery in San Francisco’s Dog Patch neighborhood that has the best quality meat in the city with a price tag that won’t make you balk. It’s called Olivier’s Butchery, and they don’t have a single freezer in their whole shop. You can browse their amazing selection of fresh pre-cut meats, roasts, and groceries, or special order any cut of meat you like and Olivier will cut it to order. This place has been my go-to since I learned about it, and I’ll never go to Whole Foods again.

Occasionally, Olivier will offer a “Meat Box”; for a set price you receive a menagerie of meat products of his choosing. The draw is that you save money (15%-20% off retail) by purchasing in bulk. Everything is vacuum-sealed so it can go right into your freezer. This is a great way to force yourself to branch out and try cooking something new, as I did with the ground pork that came in my Olivier’s Meat Box. After a bit of googling, I decided that an Asian-style dish would best showcase this ground pork. I settled on Pork wonton soup, as I had some home-made tonkotsu broth in my freezer.

Before we begin, let me clarify one thing: There is absolutely nothing authentic about this recipe. It’s my creation, utilizing local ingredients, heirloom vegetables, and stuff I found in my ‘fridge. You can adapt it any way you like – change the filling of the wontons, use a different kind of broth, top it with anything you like. If you’re a purist, it’s probably not the recipe for you.

wonton1

Pork Wonton Soup
Serves 2, with plenty of leftover wontons to freeze and enjoy later
Prep time: 30 min + 1 hour of waiting
Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
Wontons-
1 package square wonton/potsticker wrappers
1 lb ground pork
1 small head of cabbage (I used savoy), sliced very thin
2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled & grated
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. peanut oil

Soup base-
4 cups low-sodium or unsalted broth (I used pork tonkotsu broth, but you could substitute chicken or anything else you have on hand)
Splash of Shaoxing rice wine (optional)
Soy sauce, to taste
Salt, to taste

Toppings-
Handful of watercress or thinly sliced green onions
Drizzle of sesame oil
Drizzle of hot chili oil

Method:

  1. Heat a medium skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
  2. Add 1 tbsp. peanut oil and heat until it shimmers.
  3. Add thinly sliced cabbage to the pan and sprinkle with a little salt to get it to release it’s liquid (you could also throw in a splash of Shaoxing rice wine to get it going). Turn the heat down to medium, toss in the pan, and cook until tender (approx. 8-10 minutes).
  4. Remove cabbage from the pan and set aside to cool.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, grated ginger, minced garlic, green onions, cooled cooked cabbage, 1 tsp. sesame oil, and 1 tbsp. soy sauce. Use two forks to mix the ingredients until well-combined. Put in the refrigerator for 1 hour to let the flavors meld together.
  6. Meanwhile, heat your broth in a small saucepan. Add the rice wine, salt, and soy sauce to taste (it should be salty, but not too salty. If you over-salt it, just add some water). Turn heat down, cover, and keep hot. This is your soup base.
  7. Prepare the work surface to make your wontons. You will be making them in batches (I did 10 at a time), so your work surface should be large. Put a big plate or cutting board off to the side to place your finished wontons on after you make them.
  8. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 3 tbsp of salt and keep it hot until you’re ready to cook your wontons.
  9. Get a small bowl of water and place on your work surface – you will be using it to wet your fingertip to seal the wontons.
  10. Lay out 10 square wonton wrappers on your work surface.
  11. Remove your wonton filling from the refrigerator and spoon it into the center of your wonton wrappers. I found that 1 heaping teaspoon of filling was the right amount for the size of my wrappers – yours may be a different size, so just be sure not to overfill (they will be hard to seal if they are overfilled).
  12. Start to make your wontons. I do them systematically in batches of 10 – you will save a lot of time this way. You can fold them any way you like, there are a million ways to do it. This website explains 10 different ways (I used the “samosa with a twist”).
  13. Set your finished wontons aside and continue on to the next batch until you run out of filling or wrappers.
  14. Next, put enough wontons for two people (I can eat 7 or 8 of them, they are so delicious!) into the pot of salted, boiling water. Cook for 7 minutes. (Side note: You are going to have way more wontons than you can eat, and they freeze beautifully. Flash freeze your extra wontons by putting them onto a cookie sheet and into the freezer, uncovered, until frozen. Then put them into quart size mason jars or freezer bags and return to the freezer until you’re ready to eat more wontons.)
  15. Divide the cooked wontons between two large soup bowls. Ladle the hot soup base over the wontons.
  16. Top the soup with a drizzle of sesame oil, hot chili oil, and a handful of watercress or thinly sliced green onions. Enjoy with a yummy beer like Sapporo or TsingTao.

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.

tortilla-2

 

Recipe: Asparagus with Morels, Green Garlic & Egg

asparagus

By now, you may have seen the mountains of asparagus at the Farmer’s Market. Asparagus is at the peak of it’s season, and you can buy fat, tender, delicious spears for a reasonable price. Sure, you might be able to find asparagus at the grocery store any time of the year, but if it’s not spring, it has traveled thousands of miles and usually tastes like cardboard. This is why I choose to eat seasonally – things just taste better.

When choosing your asparagus, go for the fatter spears, not the skinny ones. They tend to be more tender and flavorful. Choose bunches with tightly closed, firm tips, free of any rot. Once you get your asparagus home, don’t cut the ends off – instead just bend the bottom third of the spear and let it snap where it will – this will remove any fibrous or woody bits.

One of my favorite flavors to compliment asparagus with is spring morels, fresh from the forest. Their umami flavor is a wonderful enhancement to the sweet, tender asparagus. Green garlic is another springtime favorite of mine, which has a natural affinity for all things Spring. I wanted to combine these ingredients to make a healthy, delicious, seasonal meal – and so I did. This dish was so fantastic, I wanted to share it with all of you.

Wine pairing: Asparagus is notoriously difficult to pair with wine. For best results, go for an unoaked, aromatic white wine such as sparkling Vouvray, dry German riesling, Gruner Veltliner, or Sauvignon Blanc.

Asparagus with Morels, Green Garlic, & Egg
Author: Tala Drzewiecki
Cooking time: 35 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 bunch fat, fresh asparagus spears, preferably organic, tough ends snapped off
2 very fresh eggs
2 oz. fresh Morel mushrooms (or any wild mushroom you can find), sliced
1 stalk green garlic, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 small head frisée
1 oz. fresh goat cheese (optional)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Freshly grated Parmesan, to taste
Olive oil
2 tbsp. white vinegar
Salt & Pepper, to taste

for the salad dressing:
2 tbsp. Champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a small pan, heat the butter over medium heat until it foams. Add the morels and green garlic to the pan with a little salt, and sautée until the garlic is soft and the mushrooms begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Heat a pan of water until it simmers (not boiling) for poaching your eggs, then add 2 tbsp. white vinegar to the poaching water.
  4. Toss the asparagus in olive oil and season with salt. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil and roast in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until cooked but still crisp.
  5. Divide the frisée between two plates.
  6. Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl, whisk, and drizzle a small amount over the plated frisée.
  7. Crumble a little goat cheese over the frisée.
  8. Start poaching your eggs. Don’t let the water boil; keep it at a simmer. Poach the eggs for about 3 minutes, until cooked soft or medium.
  9. While the eggs are poaching, divide the roasted asparagus between the two plates, laying the spears neatly on top of the dressed frisée.
  10. Remove the poached eggs with a slotted spoon and place on top of the plated asparagus.
  11. Shave some Parmesan over the hot eggs and asparagus, to taste.
  12. Top the poached egg with the sautéed morels and green garlic, then season with fresh ground black pepper.

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.

Recipe: 3-Grain Asparagus & Mushroom Risotto

P2010144Asparagus and mushroom risotto is a perennial spring dish, making use of the best the season has to offer. We kicked up the seasonality of the dish by incorporating green garlic, an ingredient that shares it’s season with asparagus and mushrooms. In order to make it a little more visually interesting and healthful, we decided to riff on it with multiple grains – this version has classic carnaroli or risotto rice, plus pearled barley and quinoa. You can swap in myriad other grains too, if you have a personal favorite. The grains are cooked separately to maintain their structural integrity, and the risotto is prepared in the traditional way – with lots of stirring. The veggies are sautéed and then everything comes together at the end. This risotto is a match made in heaven with the 2012 Radoar “Etza” Muller-Thurgau (featured in our winter wine club collection), a grape that is known to pair with asparagus – a very difficult-to-pair ingredient. Its acidity and depth match both the asparagus and the creaminess of risotto.

Prep time: 1 hour
Serves 4 as side dish
Author: Colleen McGarrry

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup quinoa (we used rainbow, any will do)
1 cup risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli, etc.)
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 stalks green garlic, sliced into thin rings
1 small yellow onion, diced
4-6 oz. morel or black trumpet mushrooms, chopped
1/2 bunch asparagus, cut diagonally into 1” pieces
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 cup fresh shredded parmesan salt

Method:

  1. Bring a 2 or 3 quart pot of water to a boil, with 2 tablespoons of salt added. Once boiling, add the pearled barley. Cook the barley over a simmer until it’s hard in the middle, but beginning to give on the outside, about 10-15 minutes. Then, add the quinoa to the same pot and cook until both grains are tender, about 10-15 minutes more. Drain in a fine mesh strainer so the quinoa doesn’t escape. Set aside.
  2. In a large dutch oven or pot (at least 5 quarts), melt one tablespoon of butter and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once sizzling, add the diced onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the risotto and stir constantly until the grains are translucent but not brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the chicken or vegetable stock in a separate pot until hot but not boiling, and leave at that temperature on a back burner on your stove. We used a quart of stock and 2 cups of water, but you will need anywhere between 4 and 6 cups of liquid.
  4. Once the rice is translucent, add the wine and stir constantly until almost completely absorbed.
  5. Commence “risottoing!” Add a ladleful of the hot liquid and stir every few seconds. Lower the heat to achieve a low simmer, and adjust the heat as needed to keep it there. Stir every 30-90 seconds, and when the liquid is almost absorbed, add another ladleful. Keep doing this while you proceed to step 6.
  6. In a skillet or sauté pan, combine the remaining tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the green garlic and sauté until soft, 1-2 minutes more.
  7. Add the asparagus and sauté for 1-2 minutes, then add 1/4 cup water to the pan, put the lid on, and let steam for another 1- 2 minutes. Remove the lid, keep the heat at medium or medium high, and evaporate the remaining water. Remove the pan from the heat, moving the contents to a bowl, and set aside.
  8. Keep adding liquid and stirring the risotto until the rice is al dente – a tiny bit of chew in the center of a grain, but mostly soft and creamy. This will take somewhere around 20-30 minutes. Taste for salt and texture periodically along the way.
  9. Once the rice is about where you want it, add back in the barley and quinoa to allow the flavors to meld. You’ll want to add another ladleful of liquid to compensate for the additional grains. You’re aiming for a loose texture – looser than you think – because it will tighten up between the stove and the plate. Add the asparagus/mushroom mixture and stir, then turn off the heat. Stir in the parmesan and pepper, and taste for seasoning one last time. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Creamy Dungeness, Avocado & Citrus Salad

P2010108The California Dungeness crab season usually runs from November to May. This local delicacy is highly regarded as one of the tastiest crustaceans in all of the sea. Dungeness crab is succulent and sweet, which makes it an excellent compliment to a wide variety of flavors.

In this recipe, we combine sweet Dungeness crabmeat with tangy seasonal citrus, creamy Hass avocado, and slightly bitter endive. We bring the variety of complimentary flavors together with a lemony tarragon crème frâiche dressing, and serve the salad atop “spoons” of Belgian endive. It’s surprisingly easy to make – the most important thing to remember is the quality of the ingredients you use. Taste the citrus before you buy it, make sure your avocado is perfectly ripe, and ensure your crabmeat is as fresh as you can get it.

This recipe was created to pair with the 2012 Frantz Saumon Minéral + Chenin Blanc offered in Winelandia’s winter wine club collection. The richness and texture of the dish is perfectly complimented by similar components of the wine, which also has juicy acidity and a taut mineral edge that makes what’s already a delicious dish even more delectable.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

12 oz fresh Dungeness crabmeat (if using live/whole crab, get a 2 lb crab)
2 medium cara cara oranges or 1 ruby grapefruit, peeled, segmented, and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium hass avocadoes
2 Belgian endives, separated into individual leaves

-Dressing-
1 cup (8oz) crème frâiche
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. finely ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Combine ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, around the seed. Remove the seed and cut the avocado into a grid pattern with the tip of a knife, being careful not to cut through the avocado skin or your hand. Scoop the cubed avocado out of the skin with a large spoon.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the crabmeat, avocado cubes, and citrus pieces.
  4. Dress the salad with the prepared crème frâiche dressing, a little at a time. Dress to your taste – you will probably have some dressing left over. Gently fold the dressing into the salad with a large spoon, being careful not to mash the avocado.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  6. Scoop the prepared salad into the endive “spoons” and arrange on a serving plate. Garnish with more fresh chopped tarragon or fresh chopped chives.
  7. Open a chilled bottle of 2012 Frantz Saumon Minéral + Chenin Blanc and enjoy with people you love.

P2010136

Recipe: Wild Mushroom Risotto with a Poached Egg

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s winter, which means there’s an abundance of wild mushrooms at the market. One of my favorite wild mushrooms is the hedgehog mushroom – a ‘shroom which has “teeth” under the cap instead of gills. They taste very much like a chanterelle and are typically cleaner and cheaper than a chanterelle. They have hollow stems, so they weigh less than the average mushroom, which makes them quite economical to cook with.

One of the best ways to showcase the earthy, foresty flavors of wild mushrooms is by using them in risotto. Contrary to common belief, risotto is very easy to make and hard to screw up. There is definitely a technique to it, which I will describe below. Mostly, it just requires a lot of attention and stirring, but it’s not hard to make. Risotto is a very versatile dish, and you could substitute any of the ingredients here with similar ones. Instead of veggie broth, you could use chicken or mushroom. Instead of shallots, you could use an onion. I used dry white vermouth instead of white wine, because that’s what I had on hand. If you can’t find hedgehog mushrooms, use chanterelles, creminis, king trumpets, or porcinis. Don’t be afraid to adapt this dish to whatever ingredients you have available to you.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow you may ask, why the egg? Well, it’s a cheap and delicious source of protein for one. Secondly, they are a classic pairing with wild mushrooms. Third, I like to eat risotto with something “saucy” on top, whether it be ossobucco, pork ragu, or some other sort of braised meat with a rich sauce. I don’t always have 5 hours to slow-cook a veal shank, so the ooey-gooey center of a perfectly poached egg is a great substitute.

The single most important factor in good risotto is the quality of the stock being used to cook it with. Home-made stock is best. If you’ve never made your own stock at home, now is a good time to start. Vegetable stock takes just a couple of hours (vs. chicken stock which can take 8 or 9 hours) and you can use whatever you’ve got kicking around in the fridge. If you have time for chicken stock, you can find my recipe for it here. Otherwise, you can use low-sodium stock from the market in a pinch. Just be sure it’s low-sodium, because you are cooking off a lot of the liquid and the risotto can easily wander into too-salty territory before you know it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next point of consideration is the variety of rice to use. I always use arborio rice, an Italian variety of startchy, short-grained rice commonly used in risotto here in the US. There are other types you can use, but arborio is the easiest to find. Carnaroli is considered to be one of the finest and creamiest varieties. If you can find some of that, let me know so I can get some too.

Be sure to read this recipe from start to finish before you begin. I’ve written it in such a way that everything will be perfectly timed. You will be poaching your egg while your risotto finishes cooking, so there is a little multi-tasking involved. Be sure that you understand how to poach an egg before you begin (I’ve included a link to my poached egg tutorial below). If you are not comfortable poaching an egg, you can fry one over-easy for a similar result. Most of all, don’t forget to stir! Risotto is all about constant stirring, and while you can rest for a minute or two at a time, be vigilant so you don’t burn it.

Wild Mushroom Risotto with a Poached Egg
Serves 2 (dinner-sized portions)
Prep time: 15 min.
Cooking time: 20 min.

Ingredients:
1 cup arborio rice
5+ cups home-made or low-sodium stock (vegetable, chicken, or mushroom)
6-8 oz. wild mushrooms, sliced (hedgehogs, chanterelle, porcini, king trumpet, cremini, etc.)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or other hard Italian cheese
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
1 large or 2 medium shallots, finely diced
2 very fresh eggs
2 tbsp. vinegar (any kind will do, but I tend to use white wine vinegar)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Heat the stock in a small pot and keep it hot (but don’t boil it).
  2. In a small skillet, heat 1 tbsp. of butter until it foams.
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan with a sprinkle of kosher salt (this helps draw the moisture out) and cook for 5-6 minutes until most of the moisture cooks off and they begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp. of butter over medium heat until it foams.
  5. Add diced shallots to the pan and sprinkle with kosher salt to prevent browning.
  6. Cook shallots, stirring frequently, until they turn translucent, but don’t allow them to brown.
  7. Add the arborio rice to the shallots and butter. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes until the edges of the rice grains become translucent. This step is important and will result in creamy risotto.
  8. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the white wine or vermouth to the rice and stir constantly until mostly absorbed.
  9. Add a ladle-full (or 3/4 cup) of the hot stock to the rice and stir constantly until mostly (but not completely) absorbed. The mixture should be bubbling, but not sizzling. Keep repeating this step, it will take 15 minutes or so to get through all the stock. Keep stirring, stirring, stirring, and be sure to taste it as you go, testing for done-ness.
  10. When you are about halfway through your stock additions, fill a tall-sided skillet or low-sided saucepan with 2-3 inches of water and heat it until it simmers.
  11. Add the 2 tbsp. of vinegar to the simmering pot of water.
  12. Back to the risotto – keep stirring, tasting, and adding hot stock. You will notice the liquid changes from brothy to creamy when it’s approaching done-ness.
  13. Once the risotto is almost done, you can add your eggs to the small pot of simmering water to poach. Click here to read my full tutorial on poaching eggs. Once they are in the water, cook them for 3 minutes until the yolks are still soft to the touch but the whites are cooked through. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  14. Add the cooked mushrooms to the almost-finished risotto and stir.
  15. At this point, your risotto should be done or close to it. Keep going until the consistency is perfectly creamy but not over-cooked. You want it to have enough liquid so it’s just slightly soupy. Once it’s done, add more stock to make it a little creamier, if needed.
  16. Turn off the heat. Add the grated cheese and season to taste with salt & pepper. You will probably need quite a bit of salt if you used home-made stock. Don’t be afraid of salt, but taste it as you go so you don’t over-salt it.
  17. Plate your risotto in a large bowl, mounding it in the center. Make a little well in the middle with your spoon, then lay the poached egg in the middle. Sprinkle the hot egg with a little salt, some fresh black pepper, a little extra grated cheese, and finally sprinkle with chopped parsley.

 

You’re done! It should look a little something like this:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are eating this for breakfast, you have won at life. If you’re eating it for dinner, be sure to pair it with some dry bubbly wine, such as an inexpensive crémant or even a real Champagne if you’re feeling fancy. I would even go as far as pairing it with a French sparkling rosé of pinot noir, to compliment the earthy mushroom flavors. I would avoid any wines that are excessively fruit-forward, erring on the side of mineral.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy risotto? Do you have any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!