Home on the Range
Wine country and television chefs share the main dishes, sides and desserts that mean the most to them at holiday time.
I grew up in the Bronx, New York, and when I was a kid we used to celebrate holidays like Hanukkah with some of the old-fashioned foods that Grandma had learned to make from her mom in the Old Country, Russia. Among these were homemade chicken soup with knaidlach (matzoh balls) and, my favorite, latkas—super-greasy potato pancakes served with a topping of homemade apple sauce.
Every once in a while, someone from my family goes retro and cooks up a batch of latkas for the holidays. Whenever they do, I'm happily transported back to my childhood.
So it made me wonder, when a professional chef prepares a holiday meal for family and friends, what comfort food from childhood is included?
Recipes compiled and edited by Steve Heimoff and Janet Forman
"My mum saved this dish for special occasions since beef fillet was so expensive," recalls Gordon Ramsay of his youth in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where tough braising steak was the usual fare. Yet even with 12 Michelin stars and several hit TV series such as Hell's Kitchen under his belt, Ramsay still remembers that first experience of "melt in the mouth tenderness. It made me realize quality ingredients speak for themselves and need very little fuss." Chef
Ramsay still cooks this dish for his four children, sometimes as a decadent filling for baked potatoes. While his favorite childhood pairing was milk—with everything—these days Ramsay would sip Rosemount Diamond Label Shiraz with this dish, or Rosemount Balmoral on special occasions. —J.F.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt, pepper to cover beef
1 pinch sweet paprika
1¼ pounds beef tenderloin, cut into thin, 1-inch strips
½ cup unsalted butter
10 ounces small white mushrooms, quartered
5 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
In a large skillet over a high heat, heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Season half the portion of beef with salt, pepper and paprika, then flash fry very quickly so that the beef is browned but still pink in the center. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining olive oil, seasonings and beef.
Return skillet to heat and add the half cup of butter. When it's just starting to brown, add mushrooms and onions, stirring for about ten minutes until brown and soft. Add the garlic and brown gently for about two minutes, then add tomato paste and flour and cook for a further four minutes. Pour in the wine and stir for another two minutes, then add two cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about two to three minutes until it starts to thicken, then add the sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, parsley and chives. Check seasoning and add more if needed.
Place beef and any juices back in the pan and reheat gently so as not to curdle. Serve with buttered noodles or plain steamed white rice. Serves six.
Lidia and Joseph Bastianich
Mother's Chicken and Potatoes (with My Special Touches)
My Mother's Chicken and Potatoes (with my special touches)
Grandmother Erminia's caramelized Chicken and Potatoes is Joe Bastianich's favorite platter of (as the restaurateur and winemaker describes it) "sticky, gooey goodness." This dish, which crowns the four-generation Bastianich holiday table, has roots in the family's native Istria, Croatia, a region which was once a part of Italy. "Food brings us closer and identifies who we are," maintains his mother, Lidia Bastianich, the author, TV star and cofounder of restaurants such as Felidia and Del Posto. Lidia vividly recalls helping at the trattoria where her grandparents produced olive oil and wine, distilled grappa and cured their own meats. If Lidia's favorite childhood tipple was a traditional bevanda— sugared water with a spoon of vinegar or wine—today she pairs this chicken with a Bastianich Vespa Bianco. Joe feels the dish calls for the caramel notes of his winery's Tuscan La Mozza "I Perazzi" Morellino di Scansano. —J.F.
2 ½ pounds chicken legs or assorted pieces (bone-in)
4 to 6 ounces sliced bacon (five or six slices)
½ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 pound red bliss potatoes, unpeeled, preferably no bigger than two inches across
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or more
2 medium-small onions, peeled and quartered lengthwise
2 short branches fresh rosemary with plenty of needles
1 or 2 pickled cherry peppers, sweet or hot, cut in half and seeded
To prep and brown the chicken, potatoes and bacon:
Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels. Trim excess skin and all visible fat. Cut drumsticks from thighs. If using breast halves, cut into two small pieces. Cut bacon slices in half crosswise and roll each strip into a neat, tight cylinder. Stick a toothpick through the roll to secure it; then cut or break the toothpick so only a tiny bit sticks out (allowing the bacon to roll around and cook evenly).
Pour canola oil into a skillet and set over high heat. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of salt on the chicken, covering all sides. When the oil is very hot, lay chicken pieces skin side down an inch or so apart. (Watch out for oil splatters.) Don't crowd the chicken: if necessary, fry in batches with similar pieces (like drumsticks) together.
Drop bacon rolls into the oil around the chicken, turning and shifting them often. Let chicken pieces fry in place for several minutes to brown the underside, then turn and continue frying until they're golden brown on all sides: this may take seven to 10 minutes for drumsticks, possibly just five minutes for the breast. Remove from oil as soon as they are golden. Continue to cook the bacon rolls until lightly crisp but not dark. Adjust heat to maintain a steady sizzling and coloring.
Meanwhile, rinse and dry the potatoes; slice each one through the middle on the axis that gives the largest cut surface, then toss them with olive oil and the other ¼ teaspoon of salt.
When all the chicken and bacon are cooked and out of the skillet, pour off the frying oil. Return skillet to medium heat and add all the potatoes cut side down in a single layer. Add olive oil to the skillet; drizzle a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Fry and crisp the potatoes for about four minutes to form a crust, then move them around the pan, still cut side down, until they're brown and crisp: this should take seven minutes or more. Turn them over and fry another two minutes to crisp their rounded skin sides.
To assemble the dish:
Still over medium heat, toss the onion wedges and rosemary branches around the pan with potatoes. If using cherry peppers cut the seeded halves into ½-inch-wide pieces and scatter them into the pan.
Return leg and thigh chicken pieces (not the breast) along with any chicken juices that have accumulated to the pan, along with the bacon rolls. Raise the heat slightly, carefully turning and tumbling the chicken, potato, onion, bacon and pepper pieces to heat and coat them with pan juices. (Take care not to break the potato pieces.) Spread everything out in the pan with potatoes on the bottom as much as possible to continue their crisping, and cover.
Return heat to medium and cook for about seven minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, then uncover and again tumble the chicken, potatoes (and bacon rolls). Cover and cook another seven minutes or so, then add breast pieces. Give everything another tumble and cook covered for ten minutes more.
Remove the cover, turn pieces again and cook in open skillet for about ten minutes to evaporate the moisture and caramelize everything. Taste a bit of potato (or chicken) for salt, and sprinkle more as needed. Turn the pieces now and then; when they are all glistening and golden and potatoes are cooked through, remove skillet from stove and bring it right to the table. Serves four or more.
Wine pairing: Lidia pairs this chicken with a Bastianich Vespa Bianco. Joe feels the dish calls for the caramel notes of his winery's Tuscan La Mozza "I Perazzi" Morellino di Scansano.
Jimbo's Hambo (Ham with mustard glaze and pineapple salsa)
"My dad Jim was renowned for this crazy mustard concoction he smeared on holiday ham," recalls spiky-haired California chef Guy Fieri, the popular host of Food Network shows such as Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. "When I made it for him the first time he was pretty proud." Guy admits his current version, which he named in honor of his dad, is more "dialed in" or professional: "I use more cloves and cook it a bit longer, plus I make gravy out of the drippings." Fieri likes Sauvignon Blanc with these assertive flavors, but as a child, "every time the Champagne popped, we kids expected our cups to be filled with sparkling apple juice." —J.F.
For the Ham:
Full hind leg of Berkshire ham, cooked
20 - 30 cloves
Smoke chips, hickory soaked (enough to cover bottom of smoking pan.)
For the mustard glaze:
½ cup yellow onions, minced
2 ounces garlic, minced
2 ounces yellow mustard
2 ounces Dijon mustard
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ounce honey
4 ounces pineapple juice
3 ounces apple juice
1½ ounces Cognac
For the grilled fruit salsa:
2 cups pineapple, fresh
2 cups mango
1 cup red onion, minced
1 red jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined
1 ounce honey
Prepare the mustard glaze: In a saucepan, sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add mustards, brown sugar, pepper and honey. Reduce for two to three minutes. Deglaze with pineapple juice, apple juice and Cognac, cook until reduced about 20%.
Prep the ham: To make diamonds on top of ham, slice diagonally approximately 1½ -2 inches deep from left to right and then right to left. Press a clove in each point of the diamonds. Liberally apply mustard glaze. Let ham sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Cook the ham: Preheat grill or oven to 350 degrees. Place chips in smoking pan and let grill or oven fill with smoke. Place ham in a roasting pan on a cooking rack so ham does not sit flat. Place ham in oven off the heat source (indirect cooking), baste with glaze and cover with foil. Add a small amount of water to base of pan to keep drippings from burning. Cook ham for two hours, remove foil cover and let cook for another 30 minutes, while continuing to baste. When browned, remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
Prepare the grilled fruit salsa: Grill pineapple and mango slices until slightly brown and caramelized. Remove and let cool, then cut fruit into ½" by ½" pieces. Finely dice onions and jalapenos. Toss everything in bowl with honey.
Prepare gravy and serve: Move ham to a serving platter. Pour drippings from roasting pan into mixing bowl. Combine drippings with remaining mustard glaze and stir. Serves eight.
Wine pairing: Fieri likes Sauvignon Blanc with these assertive flavors.
White Chocolate Pecan Pie
Food Network "Iron Chef" Cat Cora loved to host tea parties as a child in Jackson, Mississippi, especially since the pre-party baking sessions earned the undivided attention of her beloved Grandmother Alma, a retired Army nurse Captain. "It was our 'girl time,'" she recalls. During the holidays when Alma turned out pies, Cora eagerly awaited that first big piece of her favorite, White Chocolate Pecan. "I still do as an adult," declares Cora, who now has four sons of her own, since "it reminds me of all the great holidays I spent with her." While Cora now replaces her childhood milk with rosé wine, either a Bandol or a sparkling, she won't alter Alma's recipe: "I would never mess with perfection!" —J.F.
For the pie crust (makes a double crust for a 9-inch pie):
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons water
For the filling:
2 cups halved pecans
1 1/3 cups white chocolate or vanilla flavored chips
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Prepare the crust: In a food processor, mix flour, powdered sugar and salt. Add butter and cut in using on/off pulses turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk one yolk at a time with water until blended. Add to processor by tablespoonful and process until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate one hour.
Prepare the filling and assemble: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the bottom crust and arrange in a 9-inch pie pan. Layer pecans and chips in the crust-lined pan.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add brown sugar, syrup and flour and blend well. Pour over white chocolate-pecan mixture. Bake for 25 minutes then cover with spray-coated foil. Bake for another 10 or 15 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is set in center. Cool completely, approximately 2 hours. Store in refrigerator. Serves 12.
Wine pairing: Chef Cora recommends a rosé, either a Bandol or a sparkling.
My Grandmother's Apple Cheese Tart
John Ash hit the ground running in 1980, when he opened John Ash & Company in Sonoma County, one of the earliest California-cuisine, wine-centered restaurants. He grew up with his grandparents on a ranch in Colorado. "In retrospect, my grandmother planted the cooking seed in me," he says. One of his favorite recipes was her twist on the classic Midwest-style warm apple pie topped with a slice of cheddar cheese. "Instead of simply putting a slice of cheese on top," he says, "she made a streusel topping that incorporated freshly grated cheese. Two other interesting twists she added were to barely sweeten the crust and add either lemon zest or cider vinegar to give it a contrast to the sweet filling. She also added a little white pepper to the filling to give it interest." As for a wine pairing, Ash recommends "something luscious and sweet, like a Muscat or Riesling. I also love Quady Essencia with this." Every time he makes this pie (usually during the holidays), John Ash thinks of his grandmother. —S.H.
For the crust:
6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into half-inch bits and well chilled or frozen
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (or 2 tablespoons cider vinegar)
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water, or as needed
For the filling:
6 cups tart green apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
½ cup brown sugar (or to taste)
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Â½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
â…“ cup golden raisins (optional), soaked in brandy or Grand Marnier if desired
For the topping:
½ cup sugar
½ cup flour
3 ounces cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into small bits
¾ cup dry jack, asiago, Parmesan or sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup finely chopped toasted almonds
Make the crust: Place the butter, flour, sugar, salt, zest and egg in a food processor and pulse four or five times until the mixture resembles very coarse cornmeal. Add water a tablespoon or two at a time and pulse until dough holds together when pressed in your hand. If not, add more water sparingly. Gather and gently press dough together into two cakes, wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour before using. Roll out one of the dough cakes on a lightly floured surface and line a lightly buttered and floured nine-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Prick crust well. Remaining dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to four months. Makes two 9-inch tart shells or one double crust pie.
Make the filling: Mix all ingredients together well and fill the tart shell evenly. (Note: You'll sometimes be instructed in recipes to place the apples in acidulated water to keep them from browning while you're cutting them up. Don't do this! They absorb water, dilute the flavor of the apples and make the crust soggy when the water leaks out during baking.)
Make the topping: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse two or three times until it forms a coarse crumbly mixture. It should be loose. Scatter topping evenly over the filled tart.
Finish the pie: Bake in pre-heated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with lightly sweetened whipped cream if desired. Makes one 9-inch tart, serving 8.
Wine pairing: Something luscious and sweet, like a Muscat or Riesling in the 3% R.S. range would work nicely, says John Ash. I also love Quady Essencia with this.
Rudolph Family Brussel Sprout Gratin
"We would spend most of our holidays at my grandparents house," says Peter Rudolph, executive chef of Madera, the signature restaurant at Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, California. "My grandfather was obsessed with Brussels sprouts. He would bring them home and boil the life out of them. He would put vinegar all over them and then try to hoard them, which didn't end up being a bad thing! When you are five, sharp tastes like vinegar have a very abrupt effect on your mouth. I nearly formed a lifelong dislike for the vegetable." Over the years and the family gatherings, Rudolph not only learned to like them—"I made them ten times better! I add my own tradition, in this case, creating an amazing gratin." A crisp, unoaked Pinot Grigio, such as Pighin 2007, from Friuli Grave, or Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Prince Abbes, from Alsace, pairs well with this side dish.—S.H.
2 fresh baguettes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, small diced
2 cloves garlic
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, bulk or sliced
3 pounds Brussel sprouts, quartered
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, fresh picked
3 leaves sage, chopped
1 pinch nutmeg, fresh grated
1 teaspoon black pepper
15 small Bodega Bay oysters, shucked
Remove the crust from the baguettes, break bread into small pieces and let air-dry for two hours. In a medium-size pan pour olive oil and slowly sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the sausage and cook until the fat starts to render. Add the Brussel sprouts, turn heat to high and cook five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool till warm. Add the bread into the mixture.
In a mixing bowl incorporate the egg into the cream. Add the cream mixture in one cup increments to the brussel sprout mixture until the mix is mostly saturated. Add the thyme, sage, nutmeg, black pepper, salt and oysters, gently folding together so you don't break the oysters. Loosely place into a casserole dish; the mix should fit into the dish snug but not be broken or mashed in. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, till the edges of the bread are brown. Let rest 10 minutes in a warm place after removing from the oven. Serves eight.
Wine pairing: A crisp, unoaked Pinot Grigio, such as Pighin 2007, from Friuli Grave, or Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Prince Abbes, from Alsace
Pan-seared Duck Breast with Caramelized Root Vegetables and Duck Leg Hash
Michael Pryor fondly recalls the root cellar under the kitchen of
his grandparents' home. "The cellar was a culinary gold mine; onions, potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, squashes and Brussels sprouts were common finds." Pryor, chef at the Langtry and Guenoc wineries in southern Lake County, spent his boyhood holidays at the grandparents' house in rural, upstate New York. "The centerpiece of the meal was often something that my grandfather had hunted, typically venison or a game bird of some kind supplemented with a bounty of homegrown vegetables." Inspired by those memories, he still serves game birds during the holidays. "Duck is one of my favorites and I often make this dish for my California friends," he says. "It really satisfies the soul as well as the stomach." The flavors in this dish call for a wine with earthiness, spice and perhaps a touch of animal. The full-bodied, smoky 2005 Langtry Estate Serpentine Meadow Vineyard Petite Syrah is a fine choice. Another duck-friendly possibility is a richer style (almost Syrah-like) New World Pinot Noir. —S.H.
For the braised duck leg:
2 tablespoons duck fat
2 large duck leg quarters
¼ cup onion, peeled, diced
¼ cup celery diced
1/8 cup carrot, peeled, diced
2 teaspoons tomato paste
¾ cup dry red wine
2 cups duck stock, roasted chicken stock, or chicken stock
3 or 4 pieces dried porcini
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
For the hash:
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup celery root, peeled, small diced
½ cup parsnip, peeled, small diced
½ cup carrot, peeled, small diced
½ cup turnip, peeled, small diced
½ cup rutabaga, peeled, small diced
½ cup Yukon gold potato, peeled, small diced
1 tablespoon duck fat
¼ cup onion, small diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
3 scallions, sliced
Reserved shredded duck leg meat
Salt and pepper to taste
For the finished dish:
Reserved duck braising liquid
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh black winter truffle
4 small duck breasts, 5-6 ounces each
Reserved duck leg hash
Salt and pepper to taste
To braise the duck: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small, enameled cast iron pot, heat the duck fat over medium heat and very lightly season the duck legs with salt and pepper. Brown the duck legs in the fat and remove. Add the onion, celery and carrot and lightly caramelize. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute more, then add the red wine and reduce by half. Add the duck stock, dried porcini, bay leaf and thyme to the pot. Bring to a simmer, add the duck legs, cover the pot tightly and place in the oven. Cook until the duck legs are very tender, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the duck legs from the pot to cool. Strain the sauce, degrease and reserve for the finished dish. Pull the meat from the duck legs and shred. Finely chop the duck skin if desired and add to the meat. Reserve for the hash.
To make the hash: Toss each of the root vegetables and potato with just enough canola oil to coat, season lightly with salt and pepper and roast each vegetable separately in a 375 degree oven until cooked through and lightly caramelized. Heat the duck fat in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the root vegetables and the thyme and stir to combine. Add the scallions and duck meat and cook for a minute more. Adjust seasoning and reserve the hash for plating.
To finish the dish: In a small saucepan, reheat the duck braising liquid and reduce to sauce consistency. Stir in the black truffle, taste for seasoning and hold. With a sharp knife, score the duck breasts on the skin side in a cross hatch pattern. Heat a sauté pan large enough to hold the duck breasts over medium heat. Season the breasts with salt and pepper and sear, skin side down, for 5-6 minutes to brown and render some of the fat. Turn the heat up to high, and turn the breasts, searing for 2-3 minutes on the other side for medium rare. Remove from the pan and let rest for a few minutes before slicing. Reheat the hash and put a small amount on 4 serving plates. Slice the duck thinly and arrange around the hash. slightly overlapping it. Spoon the warm sauce around and serve. Serves four.
Wine pairing: The flavors in this dish call for a wine with earthiness, spice and perhaps a touch of animal. The full bodied, smoky 2005 Langtry Estate Serpentine Meadow Vineyard Petite Syrah is a fine choice. Another duck-friendly possibility would be a richer style (almost Syrah-like) New World Pinot Noir.
Baked Acorn Squash Casserole
Ruben Gomez, winery chef at Iron Horse in
2 cups acorn squash, peeled, seeded and sliced into 1/8-inch slices
1 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 ounces butter melted
½ cup romano pecorino cheese, finely grated
2 whole eggs
2 cups half and half or heavy cream
2 pinch nutmeg ground fresh
1 lemon zest chopped fine
1 tablespoon thyme chopped fine
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place the squash, ginger, garlic, sugar, melted butter and cheese in a large mixing bowl. Toss these ingredients until all are coated well and place in an 8-inch-square pan or casserole. In a separate bowl beat eggs, cream, nutmeg, lemon, salt and pepper until well blended. Pour the custard mixture over the squash and cover with aluminum foil. Place the casserole in the middle of the oven on a larger baking pan. Fill the larger pan with hot water to create a water bath. Do not fill the water bath higher than halfway up the side of your squash pan. Cook the casserole for an hour or more until a knife penetrates the squash easily. Allow the casserole to cool until it sets then slice into squares. Serves 6 to 8.
Wine pairing: This dish pairs wonderfully with an Iron Horse unoaked Chardonnay. It is also good with a silky, New World-style Pinot Noir.
Tonnarelli with Shrimp
"Preparing dinner for the holiday was something that my entire family was involved in—grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a big production. Everything was made by hand, including the wine," recalls Luca Rutigliano, executive chef at CordeValle, a Rosewood resort in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. On Christmas Eve, the entire family would rise early in the home built by Rutigliano's grandfather outside of Rome. "Everyone had their job. One of mine was to collect fresh eggs with my grandpa, then I'd head to the local market with my grandma and mother to pick up shrimp, and buy a bucket of sardines, or blue fish, as we called them. When we'd get back all of the kids would clean the sardines" for the traditional fried sardines with caramelized onions appetizer. Rutigliano strives to introduce his family to many of these traditions and dishes—"although, I must admit that there are one or two dishes that I just can't make the way my mom does, no matter what I try." Pair this dish with a rich, barrel-fermented Italian Pinot Grigio, like the St. Michael-Eppan Sanct Valentin, or a racy California Gris, like Buena Vista's. —S.H.
1 pound fresh peeled shrimp
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bundle of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 heirloom tomatoes
1 head of fresh garlic, chopped
2 pieces of pepperoncini or chili flake
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound spaghetti or tonnarelli pasta
Cut the shrimp into small pieces and season with a sufficient drizzle of olive oil plus salt, pepper and parsley (reserving some parsley for the garnish), and set aside. Chop fresh heirloom tomatoes into small cubes.
Boil 2-4 quarts water and add salt. Cook pasta until al dente. While pasta is cooking, in a saucepan add the remaining olive oil, garlic and chili flakes. Add the heirloom tomato pieces and cook at low flame, adding white wine, to taste. When tomato is cooked add shrimp and cook for a few minutes more, making sure not to overcook.
Drain pasta, reserving water, and add pasta to the sauce. Cook all together, adding small splashes of pasta water. Serve with fresh chopped parsley. Serves four.
Wine pairing: A rich, barrel-fermented Italian Pinot Grigio, like the Sanct Valentin St. Michael-Eppan. Alternatively, a racy California Gris, like Buena Vista's.
Sardines & Caramelized Onions
2 pounds onions, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
4 tablespoons fry oil
2 pounds fresh sardines
Salt, pepper to taste
1 cup white flour
1 bundle fresh parsley
Sauté thinly sliced onions with butter and brown sugar until dark. Remove from heat and add vinegar.
Clean the sardines, removing the center spines and heads. Salt the fish and cover with flour. Heat the oil in a fry pan and add the sardines, in groups if need be. Be careful to not cook for too long. Remove from heat and blot the excess oil.
Position sardines on plate and cover with onion and fresh chopped parsley. Serves four.
Wine pairing: A fruity, complex, barrel-fermented white blend, like Signorello's white Bordeaux-style Seta, or Au Bon Climat's Hildegard, a blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Aligoté.
Christmas Butter Tarts
Matthew Batey, chef at Mission Hill Winery in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, wants to make it clear that when it comes to the holidays and home, "my father is the cook in the family." Batey's father, Ian, enjoys baking as a means of relaxation after work, and inherited the family cookbook from his mother. Batey acknowledges that there are many fine variations of this classic tart recipe. "The one my father makes is full of the necessary raisins and the nice saucy butter sugar mixture but the addition of walnuts makes them our own," he says. They are so highly regarded that "when my siblings and I arrive to the family house during the festive season, we have to hunt the baked goods down. My dad hides them!" The honey and mango notes of Mission Hill Family Estate's aromatic Reserve Vidal Ice Wine pairs nicely with this tart, or try a sweet late-harvest Riesling, such as Arrowood's. —S.H.
For the pastry shells:
2 cups butter, unsalted
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla pod, scraped
1 free-range egg
5 cups all-purpose flour
In an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla. Add the egg gradually, scraping down bowl. Add flour and mix until dough forms. Rest dough in the refrigerator until chilled and then roll out and cut into two- or three-inch tart rounds and press into ungreased tart tins.Note: Leftover dough can be refrigerated or frozen for future use.
For the tart filling:
2 free range eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup seedless raisins
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/2 teaspoon clove, ground
1/3 cup butter
4 tablespoon heavy cream
1 cup broken walnuts, roasted
Warm oven to 375°F degrees. Beat the eggs and stir together with remaining ingredients, except walnuts. Bring to a simmer and cook at medium heat for three minutes. Add the walnuts and remove from heat. Place unbaked tart shells on flat pan and spoon the filling into tart rounds evenly. Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 15 individual tarts. Note: This recipe is easily doubled. Also allows for experimentation of other ingredients, such as a splash of Ice wine, rum or Bailey's.
Wine pairing: The honey and mango notes of Mission Hill Family Estate's aromatic Reserve Vidal Ice Wine pairs nicely with these. Or try a sweet late-harvest Riesling, such as Arrowood's.