Filet Mignon w/ Mushroom & Madeira Sauce

 

INGREDIENTS

3 TBSP butter 2 tablespoons olive oil 12 OZ button mushrooms, thinly sliced 1/2 cup minced shallots 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme 4 5-ounce filet mignon steaks (each about 3/4 inch thick) 1/2 cup Madeira 1-1/2 cups beef stock or beef broth 1/2 cup whipping cream Salt and Pepper

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 TBSP olive oil in heavy large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes until tender. Add 1/4 cup shallots and half of garlic, sauté until shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in thyme; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushroom mixture to medium bowl. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plate, cover with foil. Add remaining 1/4 cup shallots and garlic to same skillet. Sauté 2 minutes. Add Madeira and boil until reduced by half. Add broth and boil until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup. Add cream and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Return steaks to skillet, cook to warm up, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.

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WINE PAIRING

A meal as regal as this one calls for an exceptional wine. So far in 2009, the Spann Vineyards Cabernet from Sonoma is the best Cab I've had all year at any price. For $35 you would expect a good wine. The Spann Cabernet is a GREAT wine and could easily fetch $60.  This is an "OMIGOD" wine to be sure.  At least one person lucky enough to get a glass will inevitably blurt out something along those lines.  It's rich, it has depth, it's like cashmere in a glass balancing sweet jammy fruit with elegant nuances.  Peter and Betsy Spann have the ability to create beautiful wines that aren't over the top or overpowering, yet show layer after layer of interesting notes.  This reminds me of the 1988 Cheval Blanc I had last fall.  Perfectly balanced between sweet, sour, salty and bitter, it compliments the Filet pefectly.

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Pork Shoulder with Potato & Butternut Bake

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INGREDIENTS

5 LB shoulder of pork 1 small onion, peeled 1 TBSP flour 10 OZ dry cider 10 OZ vegetable stock 3 large potatoes 1 Butternut squash Butter Parmesan cheese sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 475ºF.  Score the skin of the pork.  Place pork in a roasting pan skin-side up.  Cut the onion into wedges and place slightly underneath the pork.  Season pork with salt and pepper.  Roast in oven for 25 minutes.  Reduce oven to 375ºF and cook for 2 hours.  Remove from oven and let stand for 30 minutes.  Remove pork from roasting pan, place roasting pan over burners on low and sprinkle flour in mixing with a wooden spoon.  Turn heat up to medium and gradually add cider and stock.  Mix together until you have a smooth gravy.  Salt and pepper to taste. FOR THE BAKE: Pell and thinly slice potatoes, peel and seed butternut squash.  Put a layer of potatoes in a buttered ovenproof dish then layer with butternut.  Layer 2 more times.  Place 2 or 3 knobs of butter on top, pour in 275ml of stock.  Cover generously with parm cheese.  Bake at 170ºF for 1 hour.

What wine to pair?

Do yourself a favor and get a really good pork shoulder for this recipe.  You can see the recipe list and preparation isn't too complicated, so it does well with a nice cut of pork.  Read through the ingredients and preparation and imagine where you're going to taste the sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami flavors.

Pork is cooked with vegetable stock can get pretty salty, but you'll offset that with the sweet cider.  I find this recipe can be adjusted so there's a good balance of flavors, and sometimes I'll add a TBSP of rosemary just for a little more.

Some of the grapes that tend to compliment this dish well are domestic Pinot Noirs or some lighter Syrahs.  Cabs and Merlots from new world regions aren't ideal, but 1995 Chateau Musar Cuvee Rouge went well.  That's a Cabernet blend made with some Cinsault.  It didn't overpower the flavors of the pork.  One of these days we'll try pairing it with the Chateau Musar Blanc, which, according to Serge Hochar is his "red wine".  The whites are sublime and might stand up nicely to this dish.

Tonight's pairing will feature 2005 Maison Bouachon La Tiare du Pape from Southern Rhone.  The blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre from Chateauneuf du Pape vineyards are influenced by Mistral winds, and are grown in in clay and limestone soils, covered with quartz round stones.  I don't believe there's a "perfect" wine and food pairing, but I have fun experimenting and trying new combinations with the hope that one day I'll experience that one life-altering experience that is "the perfect pairing".  Please leave suggested pairings of what you think would be good with this dish in the comments below.  Cheers!

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Chocolate Raspberry Pudding

Melanger that mixes chocolate liquor with othe...
Image via Wikipedia

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5 TBSP unsweetened cocoa 1 OZ semisweet chocolate, grated 1 OZ white chocolate, grated 1/2 cup sugar or Splenda 1/2 TSP salt 1-1/2 TBSP corn starch 1/8 cup warm milk 1 cup heavy cream 1/2 TSP vanilla 1/2 TBSP Raspberry Liqueur

In a small bowl, mix together milk, sugar, salt, cocoa, cornstarch until it makes a paste. In a small saucepan, heat cream until just before scalding, then add dark and white chocolate shavings.  Stir in the cocoa paste.  Mix well and bring to a boil.  Add liqueur and vanilla, stirring constantly.  When pudding thickens, remove from heat and let stand. Pour into serving bowls, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Serve with some whip cream a fresh raspberries on the side.

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Pork Tenderloin w/ Carmelized Pears & Pear Cream Sauce

Pork, Pork, Pork and more PORK!

Gotta love how flexible pork is to cook with.  I love pork tenderloin because the recipe usually goes well with some of my favorite wines.  After living in Oregon for 17 years, I fell madly and deeply in love with the Pinot Noir grape, especially from Oregon.  So when dinner involves pork paired with Pinot, I'm a super happy camper.  This recipe is one of the top three best pork recipes I've had in the past year.  If you make this, I'd love to hear what wine you'd pair with it.

INGREDIENTS 1 pork tenderloin, around 1 lb. 2 TBSP olive oil 4 TBSP butter 1 TSP sugar 3 ripe pears, peeled and cut into slices 1/2 cup shallots, minced 1/2 TSP cayenne 1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped 1/3 cup pear jelly 1 TBSP ginger, minced 1 cup whipping cream 1/4 cup sweet dessert wine like late harvest Gewurtz or Riesling (pear brandy can be sub.) 1/2 cup chicken stock Salt and Pepper to taste

Season pork tenderloin with salt, pepper and cayenne. A few hours in advance is even better.

Melt 2 TBSP of butter in a medium skillet, Add sliced pears and sugar, sauté over high heat until pears are golden and tender. Usually 5-10 minutes.

Heat grill to high heat. Grill pork tenderloin over high heat about 12 minutes total making sure to get outside of pork nice and grilled with a crisp exterior. Cooking a shorter time on high heat keeps the center moist, and making the outside crisp. The olive oil will drip off causing the fire in the grill to intensify, making the outside of the pork well grilled (just short of blackening). Pork can also be sautéd in a large skillet instead of grilling.

In a separate large skillet, melt 1 TBSP of butter. Sauté shallots, ginger and thyme for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Add chicken stock and dessert wine, reduce until sauce is thick and almost a glaze. Add in pear jelly and cream and boil until sauce thickens.

Slice pork into medallions and serve with sauce spooned over top. Then light a cigarette.

WINE PAIRING There's a number of different ways you can go with the wine pairing. I'd love to hear suggestions in the comments below.  I tried pairing two wines with this recipe.  The 2007 Cristom Mt. Jefferson Pinot Noir from Oregon and the 2007 Hahn SLH Pinot Gris.  I was curious how the pear/cream sauce would go with the raspberry/strawberry/cranberry notes of the Pinot versus the Granny Smith apple and pear notes of the Pinot Gris from Hahn.

Part of wine+food pairing is trial and error—This was one of those times.  Ultimately, the Pinot Noir was good with pork as it usually is because the two go together like peas and carrots.  But the subtle pear and tree fruit notes didn't compliment the red fruits in the Pinot Noir.  The Hahn SLH Pinot Gris on the other hand DID pair well because Pinot Gris has flavors that match up with the pear and cream sauce.  In this case, the Pinot Gris had enough alcohol and acidity to stand up to the pear cream sauce.

Please let me know what you think would be ideal with this pairing.  Cheers!

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Independence Day Sliders

.. Fourth of July is a great time to fire up the BBQ and grill up some burgers.  This year I tried some different slider recipes, especially now that grocery stores have slider buns in their baked goods section.  Here's a few winners from the weekend:

Pulled Pork Sliders

Ingredients: 2 lbs pork belly 1 medium onion, finely chopped 1/2 cup ketchup 1/3 cup cider vinegar 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup tomato paste 2 TBSP paprika 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce 3 TSP salt 1 1/4 TSP black pepper coleslaw toasted slider buns

Directions: Combine all the ingredients except the pork belly, slaw and the buns in a slow cooker and mix together. Add the 2 pieces of pork and cover the slow cooker. Set for 8 hours on low.

After 8 hours, using 2 forks, shred the pork and remove the pork with the remaining sauce into a large bowl. Toast the slider buns and add some of the pulled pork to each bun along with coleslaw.  Light a cigarette after then repeat.

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Inside Out Cheeseburger Sliders with Forever Caramelized Onions

Ingredients: 1 lb. ground chuck 1 egg breadcrumbs 1/4 TSP chili flakes generous salt and pepper cheddar cheese cut into cubes toasted slider buns thick cut bacon, slow cooked 1 Walla Walls sweet onion, sliced 2-3 TBSP butter

The title of this recipe has "forever caramelized onions" in it for a reason. For best results, remove skin from onions and slice thin. Cook with butter in a crock pot for 24-36 hours on low checking occasionally. You won't believe how good the flavor comes out! Add a little more butter accordingly if necessary.

Combine ingredients in a medium to large bowl. Work in the egg and breadcrumbs so the ground meat will hold it's shape. Shape into small golf ball sized servings, then work a cube of cheese in the middle making sure it's fully covered on all sides by the meat mixture. Press your thumb in the top before grilling.

Serve by grilling to desired doneness with your choice of condiments, thick cut bacon and those beautiful golden onions.

Lamb Sliders

Ingredients

1/2 lb ground lamb 1/5 tbsp minced garlic 1/2 cup minced shallots 1 TBSP minced thyme 1 TBSP minced cilantro leaves 1 TSP minced mint leaves 1/4 TSP ground cumin 1/2 TSP coriander powder 1/2 TSP ground black pepper salt to taste

12 slider buns or mini pita breads

Method

Place all the ingredients for the patties in a mixing bowl and combine well using your hands. Shape into about six small sized patties not too thin, but not too thick either. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes for the flavors to combine.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Remove the patties from the fridge and make about three holes each in the patties with your finger.

In a large oven proof non-stick skillet, heat the oil and add the onions. When the onions start to sizzle, arrange the lamb patties on top of the onion bed without touching each other.

Bake in the oven for 6 minutes on one side. Turn the patties over, and stir the onion bed to make sure they don’t burn. If it shows the signs of burning, remove the onions from the pan after the first 6 minutes, and finish caramelizing on stove top, when the patties finish cooking on the other side.

To serve, warm up the pita bread/buns in the oven, spread some spicy mayonnaise or a blended yogurt or chutney of your choice, arrange the meat patties and top it with the caramelized onions. You can add some lettuce, tomato etc to the burger as well.

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#WorldCup wines Tasting Notes: 2004 Pizzato Tannat from Brazil

Vivid, dark, red with violet traces in appearance; red fruit, spices, raisins, jam, cocoa nose; it’s a well balanced, good length, and medium to high-bodied, medium-dry wine with fine tannins.

Here's a suggested food pairing to go with the wine:

Ingredients:

240g rack of lamb (2 cars) 120g Sweet Potato 70g onion 50g Pine Nuts 70 ml Dry white wine 80 ml Dry red wine tannat 15g Gorgonzola 6g Garlic 2 bay leaves 1 Orange 1 Egg Salt to taste Thyme to taste Pepper to taste Butter to taste Olive oil to taste

Preparation:

Cleans the ingredients. Make a marinade for the car with white wine, bay leaf, salt, pepper, thyme, garlic and half the onion. Peel sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. When cooked mash until a puree, add the grated orange and blue cheese .. Beat the egg whites and mix gently Bring to boil pinion. Once cooked peel and chop into brunoise (finely chopped). Reserve. Seal the rack of lamb in a skillet with olive oil. Return to oven to finish cooking. In the same pan used to seal the car and without washing, place the red wine and release the juice that was at the bottom of the skillet, add the remaining onion finely chopped. Pass the sauce through a sieve and return to fire. Season with salt, pepper and add the already cooked and chopped pine nuts. Mount the plate putting the mashed sweet potatoes on the rack, drizzle with some sauce and garnish with pine nuts.

Note: If you have not Pinion, need not ask. Seal: Skip the meat in a skillet with hot fat until they are stained with both sides.

Preparation time: 40 minutes + 2 hours for marinating

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Roast Lamb with Shallots, Mint and Mustard

Roast Lamb Chops

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS For lamb: 1 crown of lamb made from two 8-rib racks (about 4 1/2 pounds total) 3 TBSP butter, room temperature 1 TBSP plus 1/2 TSP Dijon mustard 2 TSP dried rosemary

1 cup dry white wine large shallots, chopped 1/4 cup chicken stock 3 TBSP fresh mint, chopped

For Spring Vegetables with Mint: 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, halved 1 baby carrot bunch, stems trimmed to 1 inch, peeled 1 10 OZ. basket pearl onions, peeled 1 LB fresh asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into thirds

3 TBSP butter 3 TBSP fresh mint, chopped

Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon mustard and 1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary in bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place lamb in roasting pan. Rub all over with butter mixture. Roast 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. and continue roasting until thermometer inserted into lamb registers 140°F. for medium-rare, about 40 minutes. Transfer lamb to platter; let stand 15 minutes.

Pour off fat from roasting pan and set pan aside. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over low heat. Add shallots and 1/2 teaspoon rosemary; sauté until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add wine to roasting pan and bring to boil over high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Add wine to skillet. Add stock; boil until slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon mustard and mint. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon vegetables in center of and around roast. Serve, cutting lamb into chops and spooning sauce over.

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Herb Crusted Filet of Beef paired w/ Quilceda Creek Cabernet

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tenderloin

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS 1 3-lb. Beef Tenderloin 3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1/2 cup Madeira 2/3 cup Vermouth 1/4 Cognac 1 bay leaf 1 TBSP butter 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 TBSP marjoram 1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped 1/2 cup cold water sea salt and pepper

HERB CRUST: 3 slices white bread, crusts removed 1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped (thyme, marjoram, rosemary, parsley) 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

At least 2 hours before cooking, combine all ingredients together (not Herb Crust or Madeira) in a large bowl or pan. Place meat in mixture and cover entire cut of beef with herb mix. Refrigerate for later cooking.

To make herb crust, place bread in food processor with herbs and garlic. Process until well blended and fine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grill Method: Preheat grill to medium high. Take beef out of marinade and set marinade aside for later. Cook each side of meat 4 minutes or so giving it a nice sear on all sides. After searing, move beef to upper rack or cooler side of grill and cook 20 minutes.

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 425°F. Oven sear beef (brown sides, about 5-7 minutes each side) then reduce heat to 350°F. Cook for 30-35 minutes making sure to baste throughout cooking.

After beef is done cooking, remove filet from grill or oven and place on a platter, then cover with foil tent. Place platter in oven with oven off and door open, or with the oven on WARM for 20 minutes. Take the marinade that was set aside and pour it into a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil and reduce liquid by half, add madeira, then reduce by half. Serve sauce on the side late with beef. If you cooked the beef in the oven, you can use the roasting pan instead of a small saucepan so you get all the yummy bits.

To finish, rub herb crust mixture all over beef, brush a light amount of olive oil if needed. Place herb-covered beef back on the grill and cook each side about 2-3 minutes per side taking care to not burn the crust. If using the oven, broil each side for 2-3 minutes taking care to avoid burning.

Carve beef and serve with sauce on side.

Wine Pairings: Here's a regal beef dish that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. If you actually like the people you have over at your house you can bring out the good wines to impress them. Better yet, pull out a magnum. If it's your family and they're driving you up one wall and down another you can opt for the lower tier swill. If you dine at Chez Bakas, chances are it's all good stuff. Because this beef dish requires a little extra preparation, why not serve a wine that's got a little extra Bruce Lee round house kick to the taste buds? I'd serve these wines with this dish:

+ Quinta do Crasto Old Vines Reserva - Portugal + Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - Washington + St. Supéry Dollarhide Ranch Cabernet - Napa + Vilafonté Series C - South Africa

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Butternut Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced 1-1/4 LB potatoes, peeled and diced 3 carrots, peeled and diced 1 QT vegetable stock 2 TSP lemon juice 2 TBSP brown sugar 1/2 cup white onion, roughly chopped 1 Pint cream 2 TSP curry powder 2 TSP curry powder

In large heavy pot, melt butter on low heat.  Add onions, squash, potatoes and carrots.  Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables are translucent but not brown, about 1 hour.  Add vegetable stock, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add cream and curry powder.  Use hand blender and blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Citrus-Dusted Tuna *What wine would you serve?

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6 6-OZ tuna steaks 1 cup fresh orange juice 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup fresh lime juice 3 TBSP sugar 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 TBSP fresh ground pepper 1 TSP salt

Heat grill on medium-high.  In a medium bowl, combine OJ, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and garlic.  Bring to boil, cook until reduced to 1/2 cup.  Remove from heat. Season tuna steaks with salt and pepper.  Spray grill with cooking grill spray like PAM, grill fish for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Brush fish with OJ glaze, grill for 1 minute, turn fish and glaze other size with OJ glaze.  Cook 1 minute for medium-rare tuna steaks.

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Greek Mahi Mahi

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INGREDIENTS

1-1/4 LB mahi mahi fillets 1/3 cup olive oil Juice from a lemon 3 TBSP fresh oregano, chopped 4 TBSP fresh mint, chopped 2 garlic clove, minced 1 TSP lemon zest 1/4 salt

Rinse mahi mahi and pat dry.  Cut fish into bite-sized pieces.  In a small bowl stir together olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, mint, lemon zest and salt.  Marinate fish in mixture for at least 1 hour. Pour marinade in a separate bowl.  Prehat grill to medium heat.  Spray grill with grill spray and grill fish for about 5-6 minutes each side.  Brush with marinade while grilling.  Serve with diced tomato and mixed vegetables.

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Wine Pairing -

Picture the ingredients and how they'll register on your palate.  Start to imagine how they'll be perceived by your sweet, sour, bitter and salt combined with umami receptors.  The lemon will provide some sour while the garlic will lend some of the bitterness.  Umami will be perceived by the cut of fish, try to get the mahi mahi as fresh as possible by going to a market other than a massive chain grocery store.

There's not much sweetness going on here.  You can either match flavors by getting a wine that compliments the lemon flavor like a Sauvignon Blanc or you could contrast that and go for something that isn't lemon, and is sweeter like a Riesling.  Personal preference.

Personally, I'd go with a wine that's more closely aligned with the region the dish originated from.  Since this is a dish that comes from the Greek/Mediterranean part of the world, I'd seek out a wine that is also from that region.  Greek producer, Boutari produces a white wine called Moschofilero that would pair beautifully with this dish.  The wine comes from the Mantinia regoin of Peloponnese from 2100 feet above sea level.  That provides a climate for a fresh, crisp wine with the acidity to stand up to the sauciness.  Look for honey, citrus and melon notes that will intermingle with the Oregeno and Mint on your tongue.  Enjoy!

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Avocado, Apple and Field Greens Salad

Kitchen Still Life
Image by kiddharma via Flickr

. . Serves 4

INGREDIENTS 5 cups greens such as watercress 1/3 cut rice vinegar 1 TBSP finely chopped Walla Walla sweet onion ¼ cup finely chopped Fuji apple 4 TSP soy sauce 3 TBSP olive oil 1 ripe avocado 1 TSP sugar

In small bowl mix together vinegar, olive oil, onion, apple, sugar and soy sauce. Trim greens keeping thin stems and leaves only.  Toss greens with enough dressing to lightly coat greens.  Quarter, pit and peel avocado then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Toss with greens.  Serve on a chilled salad plate.

Wine Pairings: This is a pretty straight forward recipe that's quick, healthy and tasty. There's some nice tanginess from the soy and rice vinegar, which is offset by the creamy texture of a nice ripe avocado. You want a white wine, and probably one with some acidity that cuts through the avocado without tasting weird with the tanginess.  The apple helps bring it all together with a white like a French white like a Pouilly-Fuisse or Chablis.  Those are likely to be grown in limestone soils in climates that provide more acidity.  I recently had the Louis Jadot 2008 Pouilly-Fuisse and thought it was decent for the price:

Jadot is pretty widely available.  If you want to try something that's domestic, check out what they're doing in Washington's Horse Heaven Hills appellation.  Great stuff starting to come out of there at very reasonable prices.  One of my favorite places to visit is Walla Walla because the drive from Portland, Oregon to Walla Walla is incredible.  Woodward Canyon is one of the first wines I started collecting back in the day.  Their 2008 effort is awesome (like all their other wines).

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Birthday Wine+Food Extravaganza

When Mrs. B's birthday was approaching, I asked her what she wanted to have for dinner.  My offer was to make anything and open any bottle of wine, because that's how we roll in Chéz Bakas. She just said she wanted some sort of cream based pasta and that's it.  I ended up making 2 courses because it was a school night, and she didn't get home until almost 8pm.  So here's what we had:

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Créme D'asperges Soup

paired with P Gimmonet Brut Champagne

2 lbs asparagus 1 large yellow onion, chopped 1 potato (wrap in a towel and microwave for 5 minutes, cut into cubes) 6 cups chicken broth 3 TBSP butter 4 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 TSP fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup créme fraîche or heavy cream 3/4 TSP sea salt 1 TBSP fresh ground pepper

Cut tips from a dozen asparagus

Cut asparagus into 1/2" pieces (not the base of each stalk - flavor is bitter). Cook onion, potato and garlic in 2 TBSP butter in large pot over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until onions are soft. Add 6 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil, then simmer covered until asparagus is soft - about 20 minutes.

Purée soup in small batches (seriously! small batches.  I burned the @#$* out of my hand when the top of the blender popped off).  Tranfer small batches into a large bowl.  Once all soup has been puréed into a smooth texture, pour back into the pot and add créme fraîche.  Add more broth to thin if needed.  Bring just to a boil and whisk in 1 TBSP of butter.

Add lemon juice, then serve garnished with reserved tips.

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Linguine with Lemon Orange Cream and Crab Cake

paired with 2007 Hahn SLH Pinot Gris

2 TBSP butter 3 shallots, minced 1 cup chicken stock (or broth) 2 TSP grated lemon peel 1 TSP grated orange peel 1/2 TSP cayenne pepper 1 cup frozen peas (thawed) 1 cup heavy cream 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice 12 oz Linguine (cooked) 3 TBSP fresh mint leaves, sliced thin salt and pepper fresh grated Parmesan cheese

For the crab cake I saved some time and picked one up from Whole Foods. My crab cake recipe of choice is here.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Sauté shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken stock and simmer over medium-high heat until it's reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Add cream, lemon and orange peel and cayenne pepper.  Simmer until sauce thickens—4 minutes.

Stir in peas, then simmer another 2 minutes.  Add in half the mint leaves and lemon juice.  Stir in cooked pasta until coated, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a large bowl or plate with crab cake on top, garnished with remaining mint leaves.  Add fresh grated Parmesan to taste.

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Grandma Jay's Hamburger Steak in Mushroom Gravy

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This is a recipe my Grandma made for my Mom, who in turn made it for us growing up.  Chances are we'll make this for our kids some day.  It's quick, easy and can be substituted with ground turkey.

INGREDIENTS

1 LB ground beef 1 egg 1/4 cup coarse dry bread crumbs 1 TSP Worcestershire sauce 1 PKG dehydrated onion soup mix 2 TBSP olive oil 2 TBSP flour 1 can mushrooms, drained (save juice) 1/8 TSP ea. Salt and Pepper

Mix meat, egg, crumbs, seasonings and half the dry soup mix together.  Shape into 4 patties and brown in a large skillet on both sides in oil.  Remove meat, set aside.  Blend flour into drippings, then add mushroom liquid plus enough water to make approx. 2 cups.  Cook until thickened and smooth, stirring occasionally. Add remaining onion soup mix plus mushrooms, cook 5 minutes, then add meat.  Heat meat in gravy, spooning gravy over top until desired serving temp.

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Grilled Chicken & Honeydew Salad

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1-1/4 cup boneless and skinless chicken breasts 1 TBSP olive oil 1 cup honeydew, cut into small bite sized pieces 1 bunch green onion, finely chopped 1 TSP dijon mustard 1/2 cup mayonnaise (low fat) 2-1/2 TSP brown sugar 1 TBSP Kirin 2 TBSP fresh tarragon, finely chopped 1/4 pecans, toasted and chopped 1 TBSP pepper

In a medium bowl, combine mayo, , mustard, rice vinegar, half the brown sugar, tarragon then season with salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate. Heat grill to medium heat, spray with PAM for grills.  In a small bowl mix together pepper with remaining brown sugar and 1 TBSP olive oil.  Cover chicken breasts with mixture.  Cook chicken on grill turning once.  Chicken is done when juices run clear. Chop chicken into bite sized pieces.  Mix chicken, melon and green onion to dressing mixture.  Serve on salad plates.

Since spring is sprunging around the country, there's a natural desire to savor the fresh veggies and eat something healthy.  Chicken and salads are some of the healthiest things you can eat, but let's face it, they're BOOORRRRING!

So I like to add a little something called flavor to the salad so you actually enjoy eating something that's good for you.  The mayo is the one ingredient that can derail this whole, "I'm eating healthy so I think I'll have seconds" train.  Take a look at cutting the mayo down in half or replacing it altogether with a soy based mayo.

Because there's some creaminess to the salad, a wine pairing that has some acidity to cut through the creaminess is needed.  You can go a few ways with a wine+food pairing.  I'd go for a Chardonnay/Viognier blend or a Pinot Gris.  Why?  'Cause that's how I roll.  But more to the point, a Chardonnay would work fine, but the dijon is going to give a little Jackie Chan kick to it, and there's honeydew.  Bang for the buck I found the Cycles Gladiator has great quality for not very much money.

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Southwestern Skillet Steak with Chipotle Salsa

. In the middle of winter grills often sit covered in snow, waiting for a nice day to come along so they can once again serve as man's other best friend.  That leaves BBQ fans challenged to cook their steaks indoors and still get that grilled texture.  My father-in-law introduced me to this recipe that will scratch the itch for people who love a good grilled steak.

skillet

INGREDIENTS for STEAKS 2 8-ounce New York strip steaks (about 1" thick), trimmed 2 TBSP olive oil 1 TSP coarse salt 1 large onion, sliced 2 large garlic cloves, chopped 2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro 1 TBSP plus 1 TSP chili powder 1/4 TSP dried crushed red pepper 1/4 TSP Cumin 1 TBSP water 2 poblano chilies, seeded, sliced Additional chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix in onion, garlic, 2 TBSP chopped cilantro, 1 TBSP chili powder and crushed red pepper. Add 1 TBSP water. Cover and cook mixture 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chilies and sauté until tender about 6 minutes. Transfer mixture to plate leaving some bits in the skillet.

Rub each steak with salt, pepper, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Raise heat to high and add steaks to same skillet. Cook as desired, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to platter and cover with aluminum foil. Top steaks with cilantro. Serve with onion mix on top or on the side with salsa.

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INGREDIENTS for CHIPOTLE SALSA 3 cups fresh corn kernals (about 3 ears) 4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced separately 2 TBSP unsalted butter 2 garlic cloves, minced 1-½ TSP coarse salt 1-½ TSP ground cumin 1-TSP chili powder ½ TSP black pepper 2 plum tomatoes, finely diced 1 to 2 fresh chipotle chiles, finely diced, including seeds

Heat a dry large cast-iron skillet over moderately high heat until hot, then pan-roast corn, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Cook white part of scallions in butter with garlic, 1 TSP salt, ½ TSP each cumin and chili powder, and ¼ TSP pepper in skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until scallions are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in corn, tomatoes, and chipotles.

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WINE PAIRINGS - With most steaks you can pair most hearty reds like Cabernet, Meritage blends or similar wines.  Because this steak has some heat, you want a hearty red with a ripe style so the sweetness offsets the heat.  Think of wines with a "jammy" component like some Australian Shiraz or Petite Sirah style wines.  The finished steak will have texture that is almost blackened.  Here's a few wines that will marry up nicely:

one of my favorite Australian wineries

The Tapestry wines are phenomenal!  And they're widely available in the U.S. in most states.  This wine should be between $15 and $20 on the shelf at most retailers.  I like it because you get the riper style without over extraction.  This gem comes in at 14.5% alcohol and is aged in French, Yugoslavian and American oak.

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Quixote wines from Napa have reinvigorated my love for Petite Sirah.  The winery sits nestled away in the hills of the Stag's Leap District right next door to Shafer.  Full throttle, dark, inky, naughty, funkified velvety goodness that'll stand up to this meal.  Enjoy!

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Balsamic Glazed King Salmon

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I'm finding salmon to be a really great fish for wine and food pairings.  There are so many different ways to prepare salmon, and a wide range of wines to pair with.  One of my favorite grapes is Pinot Noir, and Pinot just happens to go hand in hand with salmon.

This dish makes good use of the Balsamic vinegar to cover up any fishy taste.  Norwegian salmon is nice and fatty, and has a flavor perfect for this dish.  When you grill the salmon, the grilled flavor really gives the salmon a nice glaze.

Check out the 1996 Domaine Leroy Bourgogne from Burgundy. Burgundy Pinot Noirs take longer to come together in the bottle so you have to be patient.  When you get a good one, it's magic in a bottle.  Burgundy has 4 levels designated on their labels:

Bourgogne - when you see that on the label, it means the grapes were sourced from anywhere in Burgundy.  Pretty broad area.

Villages - Burgundy is broken up into villages, such as Cote de Nuits.  This zooms into a smaller area within Burgundy.  Grapes from that village are in a Villages bottle, pronounced (vilaj).

1er Cru - Also known as Premiere Cru.  This zooms in even more to a specific vineyard that's within a village, which is within Burgundy.  Pinot really starts to express terroir when you get into a specific vineyard.  Quality and collectility goes up.

Grand Cru - When you get a wine from a Grand Cru vineyard, you have something special.  This is the ultimate expression of terroir and winemaking.  Some Grand Cru wines from Burgundy fetch upwards of $2,000 a bottle because the quality is the highest, but supply is the lowest.

Leroy is one of the top producers in Burgundy, so although her Bourgogne is the lowest of the four levels, hers is still spectacular.  The 1996 is very youthful, velvety and complex.  Aromas out of the glass are like a tractor beam bringing the glass to your lips—you're powerless to stop it.

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recipe from Chef Ron Barber

INGREDIENTS 4 salmon steaks – about 6 ounces each, 1 inch thick 1 cup balsamic vinegar 1/2 cup Cabernet Franc 1 TBSP fresh lime juice 1 TSP sugar

Combine the balsamic vinegar, wine, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and reduce the mixture by half – allow to cool.  Add the salmon steaks to the marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Prepare a charcoal or gas grill.  Remove the salmon from the marinade and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper and grill over high heat for about 4 minutes per side.  Serve with grilled vegetables and steamed rice.

photo via SheKnows

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Dungeness Crab Cake Salad with Watercress, Fennel and Orange

watercress INGREDIENTS for CRAB CAKES 1 egg, beaten 1 LB fresh Dungeness crab 3/4 cup bread crumbs 1/3 cup grated pecorino cheese 1/4 cup mayonaisse 3 shallots, finely chopped 2 TBSP dijon mustard juice from one lemon 1/4 cup green bell peppers, minced 1/4 cup red bell peppers, minced 1 TBSP green onions 2 TBSP parsley, finely chopped 1 TBSP butter 1/4 TSP cayenne pepper

INGREDIENTS for SALAD 4 cups watercress, rinsed 4 oranges, peeled and separated juice from one lemon 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 1 fennel bulb, cleaned and sliced thinly Salt and Pepper to taste . . To prepare the crab cakes, heat butter in a sauté pan over medium low heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together shallots, grated cheese, lemon juice, mayo, egg, mustard, bread crumbs, bell pepper, salt and cayenne.  After mixing, add in crab meat, then divide into 8-10 balls.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To prepare salad, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl, toss watercress, orange segments, fennel and onion together.

Remove crab balls from refrigerator and flatten into one inch thick cakes.  Heat 2-3 TBSP oil or butter in a skillet and cook for 4 minutes on each side over medium heat.  Distribute salad mix on chilled plates, top with dressing and crab cakes then serve.

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Wine pairings for this dish are pretty easy.  It's a flexible dish suitable for many Chardonnay's or rich whites.  The crab cakes are pretty hearty, so make sure to serve with a white wine that can hang.  I've tried oaked Chardonnay's and unoaked Chardonnays.  The both worked.  Pinot Grigio, Semillion, Viognier and other whites also work.  If I had to pick one wine as the most ideal pairing, it would be the Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay from Livermore.

I'm more of an unoaked Chardonnay kinda guy, but once in a while, you just want that buttery butter ball that even Mrs. Butterworth thinks is buttery.  The Riva Ranch Chardonnay isn't obnoxious — still refined and a great expression of the vineyard.  Many people don't realize the Wente's were one of the first wine family's in California going back to the 1850's.  They've quietly gone about producing consistent well-priced estate wines.

The Riva Ranch has a creamy "dusty" texture with mineral highlights that can best be described as a combination of wet rocks and smoke.

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