Recipe and Wine Pairing: Sauteed Diver Scallops and Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc

By Robert Haas

I got to do dinner for two last night because my wife, Barbara, had a 6 o’clock meeting to attend.  I had planned on diver scallops from our excellent local fish market, Pier 46 Seafood in Templeton.  As I was walking out of the winery to my car I saw walking in Chris Couture, the vineyard manager at Chequera Vineyard where we get much of our Syrah for Patelin de Tablas.  He was carrying a box of fresh asparagus from his organic farm picked that morning.  He kindly offered me two bunches.  What good timing!  I had been on my way to shop for veggies.  Now I could head straight to Pier 46 for my scallops.  I bought three quarters of a pound (8) of the big diver scallops.

2007_esprit_blancThe menu was to be sautéed scallops and simmered asparagus with a chopped hard-boiled egg vinaigrette dressing.  One of the great things about the menu was very little prep and very short cooking times: 15 minutes to hard-boil and chop the 2 eggs, and shave and trim the asparagus and make the vinaigrette.  Add about three minutes to chop a teaspoon of tarragon while simmering the asparagus and a total of about five minutes sautéing the scallops.

Scallops Recipe:

  • Heat the pan over medium heat and then add about two tablespoons of butter to melt. 
  • Add the scallops and sauté, half at a time, about three or four minutes each lot.  Don’t overcook! 
  • When each lot is done, transfer it to a bowl. 
  • After transferring the second lot to the bowl, add to the pan the chopped tarragon, the juice of one lemon and the scallops.
  • Cook just until everything is hot, turning the scallops to coat them in the glazed pan juices.

Asparagus Recipe:

  • Boil two eggs for 14 minutes until hard boiled, then cool and chop.
  • Make a vinaigrette by dissolving a generous pinch of sea salt into a teaspoon of good white wine vinegar, then stirring in a half-teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Add 2 tablespoons of good olive oil, then whisk to combine.  Add fresh-ground black pepper to taste.
  • Trim the ends of the asparagus and shave the skin off the bottom portion of any thicker stems.
  • Simmer the asparagus in boiling water until tender but not mushy, 2-3 minutes.  Let cool slightly.
  • Arrange the asparagus on a plate, then top with the chopped egg and the vinaigrette.

We drank a Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc 2007 with the meal and I was reminded what a muscular vintage it was: rich and flavorful without being alcoholic or heavy.  Our tasting notes from a review tasting last year were:

Rich and powerful, with an explosive nose of ginger and honey, rose petals, and licorice stick.  In the mouth it's thick and broad, lifted nicely at the end by a herby white tea note.  A really long finish, the longest of any of the wines that we tasted [in our review tasting of 10 vintages].” 

And that is exactly the way it tasted last night: almost four years in the bottle and still young and vibrant.  It was terrific with the buttery scallops and even handled itself well with the asparagus with its egg vinaigrette.


A Winter Dinner and a Beautiful 1985 California Cabernet

By Robert Haas

As our late Indian summer in Paso Robles turns toward winter our appetites turn toward winter dishes. This last Sunday we had friends over for dinner and we served a Moroccan tagine, a savory slow cooked mixture of sweet and savory from a recipe in The Heart of the Artichoke, by David Tanis, published by Artisan. The book is a collection of delicious, traditional dishes organized by seasons.

Pine Ridge 1985

A tagine is a North African cooking vessel and tagine also is the name of the dish that my wife, Barbara, served us: Fragrant Lamb With Prunes and Almonds. The recipe includes, besides prunes and almonds, a panoply of spices: garlic, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and cayenne. We did not have a tagine handy so she used a heavy Le Creuset French oven for the two hours stay in our oven. We purchased shoulder of San Luis Obispo County lamb from J & R Custom Meat and Sausage in Templeton.

One would think that all the sweet and savory elements would be tough on a dry red wine but no! We ended up with a perfect match: a 1985 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon that has been in my cellar since the days back in the eighties that my Vineyard Brands company represented Pine Ridge in the U.S. market. The wine was perfectly aged and absolutely brilliant: soft, delicious, and beautifully balanced and accommodating the food and the palate at 12.7% alcohol.

It and the dish echoed each other beautifully: the dish bringing out the sweet fruit flavors and ripe, mature tannins of the cabernet and the wine accenting the savory lamb flavors. Yum!


Lobster Terrine Recipe

I've spent the last few days in Vermont with my parents and sister, in the house in which I grew up.  As is usual when we're together there, we spend most of the day cooking, eating, or planning meals.  This trip, my dad decided to make a lobster terrine for the first time, and it was surprisingly easy and notably delicious.  It's basically the same ingredients as a lobster salad, but more elegant.  We enjoyed it at lunch with Ed Behr, owner and publisher of the Art of Eating and a friend of my parents.  The recipe is below, but first a photo of the end result:

Terrine with tomatoes1

Serves 4 as a main dish or 8 as a first course.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups chopped cold lobster meat (roughly the meat from two 1-pound lobsters or one 1 3/4 pound lobster)
1 cup chopped celery
1/4 small onion, minced
1/4 cup cold lobster broth (easy to get; just drain the lobster over a bowl when you're dismembering it)
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Chop the lobster meat, celery and onion in a food processor until it is a coarse paste.
  • Place the lobster broth in the top of a double-boiler or in a small enameled saucepan.  Add the gelatin and heat gently until gelatin is dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  • In a large bowl, add the gelatin/broth mixture to the mayonnaise, while stirring. 
  • Add the lemon juice to the broth/mayonnaise mix, stirring.
  • Mix the lobster and vegetables into the mayonnaise/broth/lemon juice.
  • Whip the heavy cream and then fold it into the mixture.
  • Season to taste with pepper.
  • Spoon the mixture into a one-quart terrine, cover and chill in the refrigerator until firm.
  • Serve with a simple tomato salad (garden tomatoes, onion or scallion, and salt).

We cooked the lobsters the night before and chilled them in the fridge overnight.  There was still plenty of juice in the lobsters to use for the broth.  We used simple storebought mayonnaise but it would be good I'm sure with homemade as well.  Just be careful not to overwhelm the delicate flavor of the lobster. 

The lunch began with a tasting of Tablas Creek wines with oysters on the half shell from Barbara Scully's Glidden Point Oyster Sea Farm. The wines that showed best incuded what we expected (the 2010 Vermentino and the 2010 Patelin de Tablas Blanc) and also the richer 2010 Antithesis Chardonnay and the 2010 Marsanne, both gaining sweetness and complexity when paired with the briny oysters.  The oysters:

Last Import - 11

And the lineup of wines:

Last Import - 39

The terrine was richer fare, and while both the Antithesis and the Marsanne continued to show well, the Roussanne-based wines provided the best match.  The 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc played wonderfully with the rich texture of the mousse, and the 2010 Roussanne, a bit young and spiky on its own, rounded out with the lobster into a remarkable pairing where each partner informed the other a bit.  The terrine, with our favorite pairings:

Roussannes1

A delicious meal, fun pairings that illuminated the different wines, and great company.  A day well spent.


Wonderful food pairing: Pasta Puttanesca and Tablas Creek Mourvedre

Over the holidays, we had lots of elaborate meals.  Christmas dinner, for us, was lobster with drawn butter, with which we paired the 2007 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, my pick for the best white wine we've ever made.  The pairing was great, and the lobsters delicious.

But one holiday meal has stuck with me more than any other.  And it wasn't by any stretch the most elaborate.  It was the last meal we shared before all the various family members decamped back to their homes and real life resumed, and for that meal we chose a pasta puttanesca with wide pappardelle noodles from the cookbook Geometry of Pasta by Jacob Kennedy that my brother-in-law Tom received for Christmas.  We served the dinner for a dozen, ranged in age from one to eighty-three.  Everyone finished what they had and scraped the serving bowl clean for seconds.

Pasta puttanesca (literally "whore's pasta") originated in Naples, and has the benefit of being beautiful as well as delicious.  The red of tomatoes, the black of olives, the yellow of fresh pasta noodles and the green of capers, parsley and basil make for a colorful presentation.  Thanks to my sister Rebecca for taking and sharing the photos:

Puttanesca for Jason

We paired the pasta with our 2008 Mourvedre, not because we had any great expectations for the synergy, but because it's a wine that's in a very friendly place right now, and we had some at the house.  The match was a revelation, with the sweet-but-earthy character of the Mourvedre reflecting similar flavors in the pasta.  What's more, the pasta brought out a beautiful mineral note in the Mourvedre.  We finished three bottles and had to move on to a Syrah (not Tablas Creek) we happened to have to hand.  The Syrah paired much less well, with its overt oak tasting dried out and hard compared to the Mourvedre's elegance.

I was pleased to find the recipe we used online on the Web site for the Geometry of Pasta

A few other photos of the pasta's preparation, the noodles on the left and the mixing on the right:

Puttanesca - noodles   Puttanesca - mixing

The last photo is another I loved, with a closeup of the jar of capers that was used for the puttanesca. And yes, Rebecca got a new camera for Christmas; if you like these photos, you should check out her blog Campestral.

Puttanesca - capers


Cream of Grilled Asparagus Soup Recipe

Every summer in the Central Coast brings wonderful asparagus to the local farmers' markets.  Unfortunately, asparagus is notoriously difficult on wine, to which it imparts a bitter aftertaste.  Fortunately, grilling the asparagus solves the issue, and pairing it with a wine with a little natural bite to it like our 2008 Vermentino can be wonderful.  

This recipe, provided by Chef Jeff Massey of Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido, California, was part of a delicious Tablas Creek wine dinner last April and one of my recent summer wine pairing revelations.

Vermentino_2008_bottle Cream of Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto “Tartare” and Truffle Oil
(serves 6-8)

Ingredients
3 to 3 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, whole
½ medium onion, chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream (more may be needed for a
creamier style soup)
8 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Truffle oil

Directions

  • Trim the woody ends from the bottom of the asparagus.
  • Place spears in a large mixing bowl with the olive oil and toss to coat. Lightly season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  • Place the spears evenly on a hot grill; be careful not to burn the spears, but some charring is good. Watch for flare up from the dripping oil. [Note: If you do not have a grill, place the spears on a cookie sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.]
  • In a large saucepan, combine the stock, garlic and chopped onion with the grilled asparagus. Bring to a boil and simmer until the asparagus is tender.
  • Pour the mixture into a food processor and set the saucepan aside.
  • Blend until it reaches the consistency of puree, then (for the smoothest soup) pass the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan.
  • Cut the prosciutto slices in half and place in a food processor.
  • Pulse in 3 to 4 second bursts until the meat is finely chopped, then form into one ounce “tartare” meatballs and set aside.
  • Return the stock mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to thicken.
  • Stir in the heavy whipping cream, bring the soup back to a boil then remove it from heat.
  • Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
  • Place one “tartare” meatball in each bowl and ladle soup into bowls.
  • Drizzle a little truffle oil in each, and serve.

Incidentally, no one should dismiss Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens as a typical brew-pub.  Their food is thoughtful and very good, sustainably sourced (the week after I was there they did a dinner where every item was harvested or caught locally and within 24 hours of preparation) and their wine program is nearly as good as their amazing beer list.  Oh, and the beer's pretty terrific too.  The can be found at 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, CA, phoned at 760-471-4999 or visited online at http://www.stonebrew.com


Provencal Fish with Fennel and White Wine Recipe

08_GrenacheBlanc As the summer warms, we start to look for summer dishes that are lighter and quicker to prepare than many of the stews and roasts of winter.  Provencal cuisine is full of dishes like these, often combining the bounty of the Mediterranean Sea with local herbs and vegetables.  This Provencal fish with fennel and white wine recipe is the result of tinkering over last summer.  The recipe listed below is perhaps the simplest version, but it's easy to adjust the flavors by bringing in other aromatic vegetables or changing around the assortment of herbs.  In any of its forms, it's a great pairing with the rich, tangy and anise-laced flavors of Grenache Blanc, whether as a single varietal wine (like the 2008 Grenache Blanc, pictured right) or as a part of a white Rhone blend.

This recipe also can be found in our Spring 2010 Newsletter.

Ingredients:
1 lb. meaty, flaky white fish fillets (like cod)
1 bulb fennel, sliced
1 shallot, sliced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 small plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large sprig parsley, chopped
fresh-ground black pepper
salt

Directions:

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
  • Add the fennel and shallots and saute for a few minutes until they start to soften.
  • Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add wine and turn heat up to medium-high. Boil for 3 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and boil for 2 minutes.
  • Submerge fillets in bottom of saucepan; add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until fish flakes easily -- about 10 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice, and correct seasonings.
  • Ladle into bowls, top with parsley, and serve with crusty bread for dipping.
Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main dish.

Better Holiday Roasting - and Better Wine Pairing - with Barbara Kafka

[Barbara Kafka is a longtime friend of the Haas family and a limited partner in Tablas Creek. She is former food editor for Vogue, a frequent contributor to the New York Times and is the author of numerous award-winning cookbooks. She contributed this article for an upcoming Tablas Creek newsletter, and her below recipe is reprinted from her 1995 cookbook Roasting: a Simple Art. Learn more at www.bkafka.com.]
 
BETTER BIRDS WITH RED
Barbara Kafka

There is a silly tendency to think of roasted birds—for instance chicken and turkey—as foods to go with white wine. I would contend that this is an error when the birds are roasted giving them a deeper taste. Certainly, when it comes to duck and game birds, red is the hands down best choice. I would even argue that a good turkey does better with these wines than with white especially if serving a giblet gravy.

In the Rhone, fine red Rhone wines are often served with roasted birds. Made from the same grapes, Esprit de Beaucastel would do very nicely. It has enough body to partner the fowl; but it also has a liveliness that keeps the whole thing from getting stodgy and heavy. The 2006 Esprit is tasting particularly well now.

I do not recommend stuffing any bird for health reasons. Instead I bake stuffing in the oven. A stuffing using the bird’s liver sautéed and with chestnuts—now available in jars cleaned and roasted—would also go well with these darker tastes.

The only thing to be careful about is avoiding acid vegetables unless they are made smoother with olive oil and even garlic as with broccoli di rape. Braised vegetables such as leeks and endives are perfect friends for these roasts.

I roast somewhat differently than many other people. I roast most things at 500 F. which melts the fat under the skin to baste the bird. I do not brine nor do I baste. The exception is a somewhat complex way of roasting duck. I poach the duck when its skin has been thoroughly pricked with the tines of a fork. Then I dry it and roast it. This gives moist meat and crisp skin. I cannot really suggest duck for a holiday dinner unless there are very few people or a superfluity of oven space.

If gravy seems like too much trouble, the roasting pan can be deglazed with some red wine after the bird comes out. This is a perfect use for some Esprit left over from an earlier feast. Put the pan on top of the stove over medium heat, pour in the wine, bring to a boil and scrape like crazy with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Another advantage of this method is that it cleans the pan.

The oven must be very clean before roasting, or cooking at this high temperature will cause unpleasant smoke. In any case, there will be some smoke, so turn on the fan or open a window.

Happy roasting and eating.

SIMPLE ROAST TURKEY

Ingredients:

  • 9 to 20 pound turkey, thawed if necessary, and at room temperature (expect a turkey to take several hours to reach room temperature).
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup red wine

Directions:

  • Place oven rack on second level from bottom of oven. Heat oven to 500°F.
  • Rinse the turkey inside and out. Pat dry. Sprinkle the outside with pepper. If stuffing, stuff cavity and crop, securing openings with long metal skewers. Do not truss.
  • Put turkey in an 18” x 13” x 2-inch roasting pan, breast side up. Put in oven legs-first.
  • Roast until the leg joint near the backbone wiggles easily, about 2 hours for a 15-pound turkey (for other sizes, or for stuffed turkeys, consult the chart below). If the top skin appears to be getting too dark, slip a doubled piece of aluminum foil on top of it. Remove the foil 10 minutes before the turkey comes out. Move the turkey around with a wooden spatula periodically to keep from sticking.  Alternately, measure doneness with a meat thermometer: rare 135°F-140°F... medium 160°F... well done 170°F-180°F. The last is criminal.
  • Remove the turkey to a large platter. Let stand 20 minutes before carving.
  • Pour off grease from roasting pan and put pan on top of stove. Add the wine. Bring to a boil while scraping bottom of pan vigorously with a wooden spoon, loosening all the crisp bits in the bottom of the pan, until reduced by half. Serve on the side in a sauceboat or add to your gravy.
BASIC ROAST TURKEY COOKING TIMES AT 500°F
Weight Stuffed Unstuffed
9 pounds 1 hour 45 minutes 1 hour 15 minutes
12 pounds 1 hour 50 minutes 1 hour 20 minutes
15 pounds 2 hours 30 minutes 2 hours
20 pounds 3 hours 30 minutes 3 hours

 


Easy Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe

After tinkering with blender mayonnaise recipes for a while, I got to one that is delicious, easy, and repeatable.  And it's good to have a homemade mayonnaise recipe when you know you're staring down several days of leftover turkey sandwiches...

Ingredients:
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions:
Combine olive oil and vegetable oil.  A two-cup measuring cup with a pour spout is perfect.

In a blender, combine egg yolks, egg, and mustard. Process for 5 seconds.

Add lemon juice and salt. Process for one minute.

With the blender running, slowly pour in half the oil mixture in a steady stream. It's particularly important to be slow for the first half of the oil.

Finish adding the oil. Don't worry if not all of it combines.

Pour the mayonnaise into a bowl; whisk to combine if some oil is left unmixed.

Check seasonings and add more lemon juice, mustard or salt to taste.

Wine Pairing:
We had this with stone crab claws and the 2007 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, which was a terrific pairing.  The combination of the richness and bite from the olive oil, the acidity of the lemon juice, and the creaminess from the eggs makes it a great foil for the minerally density of Roussanne-based whites.  And it would be equally good with a rich but not too oaky Chardonnay... like a Premier Cru or Grand Cru white Burgundy.


Andalusian Gazpacho Recipe

08_Rose_revised There is no food that is more evocative of summer than gazpacho.  In the late summer, when local tomatoes are plentiful around most of the country, it's one of the easiest, most impressive ways to begin a summer meal.  With the richness of the pureed bread, it can even be a light meal on its own. 

Those of you on the Tablas Creek mailing list will see this recipe in our summer newsletter (due in mailboxes in the next week or so).  I thought I'd give followers of the blog an advance taste.  It's an absolutely knockout pairing with the 2008 Tablas Creek Rosé. We'll be having this ourselves this evening.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

4 slices country-style white bread, about 1 inch thick, crusts removed
4 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 lbs. very ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup water
salt

Directions

  • Soak bread for 30 minutes in a small bowl in water to cover. Squeeze out moisture with your hands.
  • Puree bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and water with an immersion blender until very smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a little more water.
  • Season to taste with salt (and additional vinegar if necessary).
  • Cover with aluminum foil and chill gazpacho in refrigerator.
  • Adjust seasonings and serve in individual glasses or soup bowls.

10-Minute Blender Bearnaise Sauce Recipe

I don't usually post recipes here.  But, I'll make an exception because this one was so good, and so easy.  Before I do, though, I should note that we do publish recipes in our quarterly newsletter, and have compiled them in a recipe archive on our Web site.  That said, read on!

Sauce_BearnaiseImage from Wikimedia Commons by Sacha47 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

I've always loved Bearnaise and Hollandaise sauces as a special treat, whether with steak or with green vegetables like broccoli or asparagus.  My dad will eat just about anything with either sauce on it, and I grew up thinking that these two sauces were the height of luxurious dining.  I guess not much has changed!  But I also remember my mom carefully whisking the butter into the eggs for what seemed like hours and being frustrated when some inevitably separated.  So, I've mostly stayed away from trying them.  But last night, when I discovered that we were out of charcoal and so were going to be cooking some beautiful bone-in ribeye steaks I'd gotten on the stove, I thought it was worth trying again with Bearnaise.  And it turned out great, was amazingly fast, and should be endlessly reproducible.  Seriously: 10 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp champagne vinegar
2 tbsp dry white wine
1 small shallot, minced
2 sprigs tarragon leaves, minced
3/4 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 large egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
Combine vinegar, wine, shallot, half the tarragon, 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

In a blender, combine eggs, 1/2 tsp salt, and cooled shallot-wine mixture and blend for 30 seconds.

With the blender on, add the melted butter in a slow stream. It should take you about 30 seconds to add all the butter.

Add the other half of the tarragon leaves and blend for another few seconds.

Move to a small pitcher and serve with steaks.

Wine Pairing:
We served this with a 2004 Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape, which was really too young, but we decanted it and watched it open gradually throughout the meal.  By the last glass, the wine was gorgeous.  A marbled steak and the rich tang of Bearnaise pair with most substantial red wines, and would be a beautiful match with an Esprit de Beaucastel, young or old.