Scallop, Orange and Endive Salad

INGREDIENTS 16 scallops ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 2 TBSP red wine vinegar 1 TSP coriander seeds, toasted and cracked 3 TBSP orange juice concentrate Salt and pepper 3 oranges, peeled and segmented 2 endives, cut lengthwise, ¼ inch slices 1 red onion, thinly sliced ½ cup chopped walnuts (toast for 10 min. @ 400 covered with butter and honey) ¼ cup dried cherries or cranberries

Blend ¼ cup olive oil, orange juice, red wine vinegar, coriander, salt and pepper. Set aside. Combine oranges, endives and red onion in salad bowl. Toss with half of olive oil mixture. Season scallops with salt and pepper. In large pan heat 1 TBSP olive oil over medium heat. Lightly brown scallops (3-4 min/side). Remove from pan, keep warm. Only cook up to 8 scallops at once. Add walnuts to salad. Portion onto 4 plates, scallops on top. Sprinkle with cherries or cranberries.

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This recipe is good, REALLY good. When you chomp into a bite, the subtle orange flavors light up your taste buds like a pinball machine. But it's not just because orange flavors have a tanginess to them, it's because the supporting cast of other nuances compliment different taste regions on your palate. So it's not just about hitting one taste region on your tongue, it's about hitting 'em all at once. I love this salad. When it's complete, it looks like a creation you'd find in a high falutin' restaurant in a cosmopolitan city like San Francisco or New York. It not only tastes good, it looks good--kind of like the type of dish that would be on the front cover of a cook book. But this out when you have someone over you want to impress. And if you really like your guests, pair this salad with a white wine that has more tropical mojo like the Gewurztraminer-like Traminette from Pheasant Ridge in upstate New York. This wine is made from organically grown grapes, and is a hybrid grape which resembles a heartier Gewurztraminer. It's perfect for more interesting chef salads like this one. Bon App!

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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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Holiday Wine+Food Pairing Recipes

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Strawberry and Almond Spinach Salad

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INGREDIENTS 1 LB baby spinach leaves, washed 1/2 cup sliced green onions 1/3 cup slivered almonds, drizzled with honey and slightly toasted 1 cup sliced strawberries 2-3 TBSP chopped fresh dill

INGREDIENTS FOR DRESSING: 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1/4 cup sugar or Truvia 1 TSP garlic, minced 1/4 TSP sea salt 1/4 TSP fresh ground pepper 1/4 TSP dry mustard powder 1/4 TSP onion powder 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, sugar or Truvia, olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper, dry mustard and onion powder.

Wash dill and pat dry or use a spinner. Trim off feathery ends, discarding thick stems. finely chop dill and set aside. Wash and slice strawberries.

Wash spinach and spin dry or pat dry with paper towels. Place spinach in large mixing bowl. Thinly slice green onions and add to spinach in bowl. Add slivered toasted almonds and chopped dill and mix together.

Whisk dressing a few time to be sure it's well-mixed, then add desired amount of dressing to salad and toss.  To keep dressing from making leaves heavy, pour dressing around sides of bowl mixing spinach against it rather than pouring dressing directly on to spinach.

Arrange salad on individual serving plates. Toss sliced strawberries with 1-2 TBSP of dressing, then arrange strawberries over salad on each plate and serve.

Wine Pairings: The strawberries deliver a bit of tanginess that would benefit from a touch of salt and pepper. This recipe is meant to be easy to make and easy to transport to parties. It's colorful, it's light and it's healthy. Better yet, this recipe is created to pair with wines you'd expect to find at holiday parties like Chardonnay or Pinot Gris. An unoaked Chardonnay will be even better because the fruit and acidity will be more complimentary with the strawberries. Here's a few wines I'd recommend:

+ Bethel Heights Pinot Gris - Oregon + Spann Vineyards Chardonnay/Viognier - Sonoma + St. Supéry Oak Free Chardonnay - Napa

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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.

To make spring vegetables: Place potatoes in vegetable steamer and steam 10 minutes. Add carrots and onions and steam until vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes longer. Add asparagus and steam until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes more.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mint and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and stir until vegetables are coated with butter.

Wine Pairings: The right selection of lamb will make all the difference. Colorado lamb is some of the best in the country and should be readily available at most decent markets. The resulting holiday dish will be tender and flavorful which bodes well for a lighter style red wine. Cabernet or high alcohol reds will most likely overpower the flavors. Here's a few I recommend:

+ Chateau Musar Rouge 1995 - Lebanon + Twisted Oak River of Skulls - Calaveras County, CA

+ Lucienne Pinot Noir Doctor's Vineyard - Central Coast, CA

+ Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc - Walla Walla, WA

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Herb Crusted Filet of Beef

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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Garlic Roasted Chicken

garlic roasted chicken

INGREDIENTS 1 free ranch whole chicken 2 whole heads of garlic, unpeeled and cut in half horizontally 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 cup white wine 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, Marjoram Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375° Rinse chicken inside and out with cold water. Drain and pat dry. Mix together 1 TBSP fresh ground pepper, 1TBSP sea salt and herbs in a small bowl. In a 9x14 roasting pan, cover chicken with olive oil making sure to coat entire bird. Rub salt, pepper and herb mixture all over chicken including inside the cavity. Wrap chicken legs together with string. Put halved garlic heads into pan around chicken. Put roasting pan in oven on center rack and cook for 20 minutes. Baste chicken with wine and roast for another 25 minutes. Baste chicken again using pan juices. Turn chicken over and repeat process. After 90 minutes chicken skin should be golden brown. Chicken is done when clear juices run from thigh after poking with a knife.

Place chicken on platter with tail in the air so moisture and juices flow downhill to breast meat. Cover with foil and let chicken stand 10 minutes before serving with roasted garlic.

Wine Pairings: Here's a chicken dish that'll go with that buttery butterball Chardonnay you've been wanting to open. It's chicken. Keep it simple and enjoy! A few wines I'd serve:

+ Au Bon Climat Nuits Blanches Chardonnay - Santa Barbara + Sokol Blosser Evolution - Oregon + Domaine Jean-Marc Vincent, Les Hautes, Auxey-Duresses 2006 - Burgundy

Snowball Cookies

snowball cookies

INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup butter 2 TBSP sugar 1 TSP vanilla 3/4 cup chopped pecans 1 cup flour 1/4 TSP salt Powdered sugar

Cream butter Add all other ingredients, except the powdered sugar. Mix well. Shape into 1" balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes. These should be light in color, not brown. Cool and roll in powdered sugar.

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Asian Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers (specifically, Gherkins) gathered fo...
Image via Wikipedia

INGREDIENTS

10 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped 2 TSP honey 2 TSP toasted sesame seeds 1/2 cup white wine vinegar 1/2 TSP sesame oil 5 TBSP low sodium soy sauce Mixed salad greens

Arrange cucumber slices and green onions in a shallow glass dish.  In a covered container, shake remaining ingredients together (except salad greens).  Pour mixture over cucumber and green onions.  Refrigerate for at least one hour. Drain dressing from cucumber and onions.  Serve cucumbers and onions on salad greens with dressing drizzled on top.

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Balsamic Marinated Rib-Eye

A Porterhouse steak on the grill
Image via Wikipedia

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INGREDIENTS 4 Organic corn-fed ribeye steaks ¼ cup balsamic vinegar ¼ cup finely chopped rosemary 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped ½ cup olive oil

In medium bowl mix together balsamic vinegar, rosemary, chopped garlic and olive oil. Cover steaks, marinate 2 hours.

Grill over medium heat about 7 mins a side or to desired temperature.

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