This one has summer written all over it. Fresh blackberries (any berry will do), our favorite Rose (currently the 2011 Taft Street Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir), and simple syrup add up to a refreshing end to any meal. It’s also great by itself.
- 2 cups fresh blackberries
- 2 cups Rose of Pinot Noir (only Taft Street will do!)
- 2 cups simple syrup
- Cook all ingredients for 10 minutes. Cool. Pass through food mill to extract most of the seeds. Refrigerate for an hour.
- Put into ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze.
It’s grilling time! Much of our entertaining this time of year is done behind the bar b que grill or smoker. I always keep a supply of chile paste on hand, using it as a rub, sauce or part of dressings or spreads.
- 2 ounces dried guajillo or other dark chile
- ¼ cup chopped garlic
- ¼ cup soaking water
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Toast the chiles in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes, then soak in hot water for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain, seed and stem, and save ¼ cup soaking liquid.
- Put chiles and remaining ingredients in a blender and puree to a smooth paste. Can be refrigerated for the rest of the summer.
On the 4th of July we’ll be serving this with ribs and our just released 2011 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir!
With St. Patrick’s Day approaching Irish cuisine is in the air. Colcannon goes well with corned beef. Traditionally it is made with cabbage, but I like Tuscan Kale for the color contrast. Any cabbage, chard or kale will work.
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed and chopped
- I pound medium potatoes (Yukon Gold)
- 2 leeks
- 1 cup milk
- Salt & pepper
- ½ cup melted butter
- Blanch kale in boiling water for 1 minute. Set aside. Boil potatoes until soft. Remove and drain. When cool enough to handle, skin.
- Chop leeks and simmer in milk until soft.
- Season potatoes and mash. Stir in milk and leeks and kale. Add melted butter and mix well. Serve.
We plan to serve this with corned beef and a bottle of Taft Street 2008 Alexander Valley Merlot. Can’t wait!
Since we bottled our 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Asian food has been on my mind. What better way to celebrate Chinese New Year than pair the new wine with an old favorite – potstickers.
- 24 circular dumpling wrappers
- 4 ounces white radish (daikon)
- 4 ounces minced pork
- 1 egg
- Salt & pepper (Sichuan if available)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
- 2 teaspoons chili oil
- 1 minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Peel radish. Cut into thin slices, then slivers. Blanch in boiling water, drain, and squeeze dry.
- Mix radish with pork, egg salt and pepper.
- Place a teaspoon of pork mixture on top of wrapper, moisten the rim of half the wrapper, and seal tightly. Lay dumplings on floured tray.
- Mix soy sauce, vinegar chili oil and garlic. Place in dipping bowl.
- Heat wok or non stick skillet with a tablespoon vegetable oil until quite hot. Add 12 dumplings and cook for 2 minutes or until golden. Add ½ cup water, cover, and cook 6 – 7 minutes or until water has been absorbed. Place of serving dish and repeat with remaining 12 dumplings.
Happy Chinese New Year!
I love onion soup, but most of the time I get a strong chicken or beef broth flavor which hides the taste of onion. In Michael Ruhlman’s new book – Ruhlman’s Twenty – he suggests substituting water for stock. The results are amazing! Here is a twist on his recipe.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 7-8 pounds Spanish onions, thinly sliced
- Salt & pepper
- 6-8 slices country bread, toasted
- 1/3 cup sherry
- ½ pound Irish cheddar cheese, grated
- 6 cups water
- In a large pot on medium heat, melt butter, add onions, and heat until onions start to steam. Uncover, season, and turn to low, and cook until onions turn brown (several hours). Stir occasionally.
- Add six cups of water to the onions, bring to simmer, add sherry, and season to taste.
- Preheat broiler. Portion soup in ovenproof bowls, float toast on top and cover with cheese. Cook until nicely browned. Serve immediately.
Both Taft Street Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir go exceptionally well with this dish.
This is a good recipe to have in your Holiday collection. It can be done ahead of time, and can easily be doubled or tripled.
- 3 10oz packages frozen spinach, thawed
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoons black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cup cream
- 2 pounds (2 whole) butternut squash, peeled and seeded
- 2 ounce parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 400. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Squeeze spinach, coarsely chop and put in bowl.
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter in pan and cook garlic and onion, 5 minutes. Stir into spinach with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cream.
- Cut squash into 1/8 inch thick slices. (A mandolin or microwaving the squash briefly can be of help here.)
- Layer the squash and spinach in baking dish, starting and ending with the squash. Sprinkle cheese over top layer and dot with remaining butter.
- Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover and continue until brown and bubbly, another 10-15 minutes.
Enjoy as part of a feast with an appropriate Taft Street wine!
The rush is over. We opened our cellar doors one last time on November 8th for some Late Harvest Riesling, but that was it. The wines have finished primary fermentation and are awaiting their long winter’s nap. May they rest in peace.
Meanwhile the cellar staff is gearing up for winter bottling. Through the New Year we will attend to our clients’ bottlings. After the Holidays we will bottle out 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, followed by the 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris and the 2011 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir. These bottlings are timely, as we are out of the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and are quickly running out of the 2010 Pinot Gris. We might add that stocks of our two stunning 2007 Pinot Noirs – the Sonoma Coast and the Russian River Valley – are running low. This is an excellent time to take advantage of great pricing on a fine vintage.
Our California direct sales staff enjoyed another best-month-ever in November. Kudos to Clayton, Mosha and Diana. Our Tasting Room is busy with Holiday shoppers, both in person and online. This Sunday, December 4th, is wine club appreciation day for all West Sonoma County Wineries wine club members. We will try something new this month, as we host a private dinner in our barrel room. If it works as well as we expect, barrel room dinners could become yet another arrow in our party sheath.
West County is gorgeous this time of year, as there is still color in the trees and vineyards. The pace has slowed, and a stop in our Tasting Room will invigorate those exhausted by Holiday shopping. We will be open daily at our regular hours with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Season’s Greetings from the folks at Taft Street!
President, Taft Street Winery
When you have three fig trees, you’ve got to develop a series of recipes (kind of like zucchini). Here’s a versatile recipe, one that goes well with crème fraiche and/or pound cake.
- 2 pounds fresh figs
- ¼ cup sugar
- Zest from ½ orange
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons water
- Wash figs and cut into eighths
- Place all ingredients in pan. Mix.
- Heat gently to boiling, simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve warm or at room temperature
I like this with a glass of 2009 Russian River Valley Riesling.
So what do you do with a bunch of quinces? Jam doesn’t quite work. After a little research, it seems that quince is the main ingredient in membrillo – a Spanish spread that goes well with cheese and red wine. And it’s easy!
- 4 Quinces, peeled, cored and chopped
- Sugar, to be determined
- Place quince in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook 30 minutes, or until fruit is soft. Drain.
- Process fruit until smooth. Add equal amount of sugar and combine.
- Cook over low heat until paste thickens and quince has turned a deep orange color (60-90 minutes).
- Spread evenly on a parchment paper lined rimmed pan. Place in a low oven (125F) for one hour.
- To serve (with cheese) – cut in small wedges.
This goes great with our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and our Russian River Valley Zinfandel!
Quick and easy, and perfect after a long day harvesting fruit and veggies.
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons rice wine or sake
- 1 ½ tablespoons minced shallots
- 3 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons chopped red fresh chile
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 3 red onion, peeled and cut into julienne slices
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons water
- 1 ½ cups basil, leaves rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped
- Cut chicken into 3 inch x ½ inch x ½ inch pieces. Mix ingredients 2 – 4 and toss in chicken to marinate.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil to skillet until quite hot, add ingredients 6 – 8, and cook 2 minutes, or until onions are tender. Push to side of skillet.
- Add remaining 1 ½ tablespoons oil heat until quite hot. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes. Mix ingredients 9 – 12 and pour into pan. Bring to boil, add fresh basil and mix. Scoop chicken on serving platter and serve with rice and vegetable, if desired.
Serves 6. Try this with Taft Street 2010 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir. You won’t be disappointed.