With warm weather upon us, outdoor entertaining becomes the rule and informal dishes make it easier on everyone. Here is a go-to plate which does not take too much preparation but delivers big on flavor. Moreover, it pairs well with Taft Street Rose of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc – two of our summertime favorites.
- 1 pound shredded chicken breast
- 8 ounces peeled, seeded and finely sliced cucumber
- ½ cup neutral oil like corn oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 inch minced fresh ginger
- 3 sheets whole wheat lavash
- 36 x 3 inch toothpicks
- Combine top seven ingredients in large bowl. Divide into fourths and spread over lavash sheets.
- Roll each sheet into a roll with the long side in front of you horizontally.
- Cut each roll into 12 pinwheels, securing each pinwheels with as toothpick.
- Pop the corks on the Rose and Sauvignon Blanc and enjoy!
We’ll be serving these at our 31st birthday celebration this weekend. The recipe multiplies easily. Taft Street Russian River Pinot Noir goes especially well with these.
- 4 ounces smoked salmon
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 cup softened cream cheese
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 4-5 drops sriracha sauce
- Fresh dill sprigs
- 24 slices rye cocktail bread
- Mix salmon, onion, capers, cream cheese, lemon zest and sriracha.
- Spread on rye bread and garnish with dill sprigs.
Makes 24 appetizers
There is still time to enjoy the heartiness of winter salads with your favorite grilled or braised meats. Here is a simple yet tasty salad which utilizes only a handful of ingredients.
- 1 bundle Tuscan Kale
- 1 small radicchio
- ½ cup almonds, chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- Slice the kale and radicchio into thin ribbons. Combine with almonds
- Mix dressing ingredients until emulsified. Dress greens. You will have some dressing left over. Serve.
This salad goes well with heartier dishes, and a red wine such as the Taft Street 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir would be especially nice.
This is a nice twist on white chili. The chocolate and coffee add an extra layer of flavor, which nicely complements a spicy red – Taft Street 2009 Dry Creek Valley Syrah comes to mind.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 ½ pounds ground turkey
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ounce dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon coffee beans, finely ground
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 x 28 ounce can tomatoes in juice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 x 15 ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
- Heat oil in large pan. Cook onion until soft, 6 – 8 minutes. Add oregano and cumin and stir for a minutes. Add turkey and stir until no longer brown.
- Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, chocolate, coffee, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes and broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Add beans, discard bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes. (Can be made a day ahead.)
Diced red onion, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro and sour cream can be served as condiments. Cornbread also goes well with this dish.
Among the many blessings of living in wine country is the winter citrus season. Oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines and more excel in our cool, moist (and short) winters. Among our favorites is the Meyer lemon, a particularly sweet and tart variety with a smooth skin.
- 3 pounds Meyer lemons (10-12)
- 2/3 cups kosher salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 pint jars with lids
- Blanch 6 lemons in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain. When cool cut into 4 wedges lengthwise. Discard any seeds and toss with salt.
- Pack into pint jars. Squeeze juice from remaining lemons and cover lemons. Screw on lids and let stand at room temperature for 5 days.
- Top up with olive oil and refrigerate. Will keep refrigerated for a year.
Preserved lemons are a natural with Moroccan food, but will also enhance fish soups, roast chicken and salads. Of course a wide spectrum of Taft Street wines will add to the enjoyment.
We cooked these for Thanksgiving and they were a big hit. They match well with many winter dishes – roasts, soups, and the like. Plus, they really work with our current house favorite – Taft Street 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir!
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup flour
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup grated cheese
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped hers (rosemary, parsley, sage …)
- Preheat oven to 450. Lightly coat a standard muffin pan with butter or oil spray. When oven is heated, heat the pan for 8-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in bowl whisk together milk, eggs, butter, flour and salt until well blended. Add cheese and herbs and mix well.
- Remove pan from oven and pour batter into each cup about 2/3 full. You should use all the batter. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven to 400 and bake 15 minutes more.
- Cool for a couple of minutes and serve warm. Enjoy!
Fall is upon us, and heartier dishes with red wine fit the bill. Here’s a festive vegetarian dish that works with a number of red wines – I particularly like the 2009 Dry Creek Syrah.
2009 Dry Creek Syrah.
- 12 ounce puff pastry
- 3 head garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup water
- ¾ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 8 ounces goat cheese
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- In a fluted tart pan roll out puff pastry to line bottom and sides. Put waxed paper on bottom with weights, put in fridge for 30 minutes, then blind bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove weights and bake 10 more minutes.
- Put garlic in pan cover with water and blanch for 4 minutes. Drain. Fry garlic in oil for 2 minutes, add balsamic and water and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar, thyme and salt and cook until liquid has evaporated (10 minutes).
- Break cheese into pieces and scatter in tart shell. Spoon garlic and syrup over cheese. Whisk egg, cream, salt and pepper and pour over tart.
- Reduce oven to 325 and cook for 40 minutes when the tart has set. Cool.
Serve with green salad and Taft Street 2009 Dry Creek Valley Syrah. Enjoy!
Last week we hosted a group of judges and officials from the annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair. We decided to go whole hog, so here’s what we did.
We called our friend and neighbor Lou Preston, who supplied us with a 74 pound (dressed) pig. We took her to the winery where we put her in brine (50 gallons water/10 pounds salt/5 pounds sugar) and filled the tub with ice (50 pounds). There she sat for 36 hours. We pulled her out, dried her off, and let her sit for six or seven hours.
At 2:00 a.m. on Friday morning we lit a fire with oak logs in our smoker. After an hour and a half there was a nice bed of coals, so we placed the pig in the smoker. We kept the fire going at a temperature of about 225 by adding a log to the fire every hour or so. We would occasionally mist the pig with a spray mixture of soy sauce and cider vinegar.
By 3:00p.m. Friday afternoon we had internal temperature reading of about 150, a sign that the pig was ready. We took it out of the smoker and let it sit for an hour and a half.
After that it was skin, slice and serve with slaw and baked apples stuffed with bleu cheese.
Oh yes, and a variety of Taft Street wines!
We served these little beauties at a recent wine/food pairing event involving our neighboring wineries (GRILL 116).
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 pound ground chicken
- ½ cup minced shallots
- 1 piece sliced bread, soaked in milk, drained and crumpled
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- ½ cup mint leaves, chopped
- 1 head butter lettuce
- ½ cup cucumber, cut in matchsticks
- 2 thinly sliced scallions
- Combine 2 tablespoons fish sauce, lime juice, sriracha, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Combine remaining fish sauce, chicken, shallots, bread, garlic, mint and cilantro in a bowl. Mix until integrated.
- Shape mixture into 2 inch balls – you should have 8. Refrigerate for an hour.
- Grill or sauté until cooked (4-5 minutes) Wrap each meatball in lettuce leaf, garnish with cucumber and scallion, and serve with dipping sauce.
The time is now! The Taft Street harvest for 2012 begins Wednesday, September 5th, when our first grapes arrive. This year the honors go to Russian River Valley Pinot Gris and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. In another week we’ll be in full swing. So far everything looks good, including the weather report!
Winemaker Evelyn White prepared for the harvest by pouring our wine at the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend – Taste of Sonoma, held at the MacMurray Ranch on Saturday, September 1st. This is perhaps Sonoma County’s premier wine showcase, and thousands of oenophiles attended from all over the country and beyond. The Taft Street wines were a real hit, with the 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and the 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay especially praised.
The fun continues at the winery. We enjoyed our fourth successful concert with the music of the Rhythm Rangers, and will conclude our series by bringing back Bottle Shock on Sunday, September 30th. This week we will host a dinner for the folks of the North Bay Biz Magazine; and on Thursday, September 27th we will roast a whole pig from farmer/vintner Lou Preston in our barbecue smoker for the judges and officials of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The following day is the Harvest Fair Awards Dinner, and our concert concludes this very busy month!
President, Taft Street Winery