Cookery Maven Blog

An Abbot's Table & A Dandelion Addiction

I walked in to Bayfield Wine and Spirits to buy a nice bottle of wine to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of the school year (always a good idea to celebrate anything with wine). The minute my eyeballs spied the Abbot's Table from Owen Roe, I was definitely in a celebratory mood. It's a field blend of Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Blaufrankisch, Merlot and Malbec— medium bodied. lots of berries and a little spice and cedar. It was a lovely wine and perfect for the pizza I planned for dinner.

Pizza is always a good idea at our house— the kids prefer a more traditional approach while I like to shake things up a little. Michael, of Sassy Nanny fame, shares a cheese factory with an equally talented cheese maker, Fred Faye, and the Dandelion Addiction makes me so very happy. Happy Hollow Creamery makes a variety of sheep and cow cheeses and I'm a big fan of all of them. The Dandelion Addiction is a nice, mild brie without a hint of ammonia to be found, anywhere. It's hard to wrong when you take a good brie, sliced pear, caramelized onion and a reduced sherry glaze but it was a seriously good pizza.

Brie, Caramelized Onion & Pear Pizza

Pizza dough, use your own recipe or my recipe, here Crème fraiche, enough to coat the bottom of the pizza dough, about 1/3 cup 1 wheel of Dandelion Addiction brie (or your favorite brie), sliced into wedges 1 garlic clove, minced 1/2 cup caramelized onion 1 pear, sliced thin 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar glaze (available here) Maldon sea salt

Preparation Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place your pizza stone on the middle rack (a pizza stone makes all the difference, trust me). Make the pizza dough and stretch out into a 12 inch round. Sprinkle a pizza peel with flour or cornmeal and place the pizza dough on top. Coat the pizza dough with crème fraiche and sprinkle, evenly, the garlic and Maldon sea salt on top. Evenly place the brie wedges, pear slices and caramelized onions over the pizza round and then drizzle the sherry reduction over the pizza. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Let the pizza cool slightly and then slice and serve.

Sancerre Rose, Fini Sur La Paille & The Beach

Does rosé wine (the quintessential summer wine) have to be put away after Labor Day? I know that white shoes are déclassé after the first Monday in September and in case I missed the memo and there is a rule that I don't know about (you know how fond I am of group-think and rule following), I am getting this blog post out just in time. September is a beautiful month up here and I know we have plenty of beach days in our future but there's nothing like an August day on the beach. Before soccer practices, volleyball tournaments, dental appointments and school shopping start invading our calendar, previously free of any commitment but wine, cheese and a fire on the beach.

I remember the first time I had the pleasure of smearing a hunk of Michael's Fini Sur La Paille aged goat cheese on a cracker and popped it in my mouth— it's that good. The Chotard rosé (made from Pinot Noir grapes) was the perfect companion for the wheel of Fini in my fridge. Historically, I haven't been the biggest fan of rosé but this bottle changed my mind— it's bigger and creamier than a typical rosé but still has a lively acidity and clean finish. It's the perfect beach wine and when you throw a little French style aged goat cheese in the mix— it's a little slice of heaven.

These afternoons in the South Channel are etched in my brain— the kids, sandbars, blue water and the viscous light as the sun starts to set behind the hills. We've spent countless days on Long Island over the past fourteen years and it never gets old. There's always beach glass to find, boats to jump off, fires to build, forts to construct and walks to take. We are blessed to have the stories Long Island has given us in our trove of family memories.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. John Muir

There's So Many Good Wines To Seek Out

2009 Ghostwriter Chardonnay

This is not your usual California Chardonnay— it's deep golden-yellow color, perfume-y nose and slightly oxidized finish lets you know you're not in Kansas (or California) anymore. I bought it because I like the winemaker's (Kenny Likitprakong) style— all his wines are just a little different from what you'd expect from a Pinot Noir, Zinfandel or Chardonnay. This bottle is ready to drink now. It's on the cusp of beginning to show its age, but if you can find a bottle, give it a try.  I guarantee it's not what you're expecting— almonds, orange and honey with just a touch of oak but I bet you won't forget it.

2010 Renwood Zinfandel 'Premier Old Vine'

California knows how to 'do' Zinfandel and this one is a perfect example— ripe and lush with a dusty finish. It is definitely on the sweeter side, lots of dried fruit at first, but then the wine moves into cherries, spice and black pepper on the finish. It's acidity balances all the fruit nicely and it has a pronounced vanilla, raspberry and blackberry nose. All in all, a great wine for $20.00 and one I'm going to keep around the house.

Orin Swift E-1 Locations Wine

To say I was excited to try this wine is an understatement. Dave Phinney (of the Prisoner and Saldo fame) is another of my favorite wine makers and I love Spanish wine— I knew this was going to be good. And it was, I mean how can you go wrong with a blend of Grenache from Priorat, Tempranillo from Rioja, and Carignan from Ribera del Duero? It starts with a ripe nose of ripe blackberry, a little sage and violets and deposits you in a zesty and bright land full of ripe fruit, jam and figs with a few smoky and meaty notes thrown in for good measure. It's a nicely balanced, medium bodied, easy drinking wine for 18.00. This one is definitely worth seeking out. I'm on the lookout for more, it's that good for the price.

2010 Maison Alain Paret Valvigneyre Cotes du Rhone Syrah

This wine is 100% Syrah, harvested from 30 year-old vines in the Northern Rhone Valley. It pours a dark purple-ish black in the glass and has a nose of tart cherries, raspberries and herbs. It is medium bodied with plum, cherries and blackberry jam flavors and finishes with a bit of anise, minerals and smoke. It's definitely on the austere side but is nicely defined, with good lingering acidity. If you are looking for a bottle of wine with a bit of nuance, fruit and lively acidity, this is the one. If you want a fruit bomb— might I suggest the Renwood Zinfandel?

2008 Portal del Montsant Santbru Montsant Carinyenes Velles

As my wine tastes evolve, I've decided I was a Spaniard in another life because I can't get enough Spanish wine. It's a proprietary blend of Syrah and Carinena from very old vines and reminds me a little of Black Slate Priorat. There are lots of candied cherry notes, crisp acidity, ripe tannins and a nice long finish. Wine Spectator had this to say about this beauty, 'Featuring aromas of kirsch and blackberry, this dense red shows firm tannins that give way to ripe fruit, mountain herb and licorice flavors. Not muscular, but racy and long. Drink now through 2016. 91 points'. Trust me, they know what they're talking about— I'm saving my other two bottles for a special occasion.

2007 Bodega del Abad Carracedo Bierzo Mencia

More Spanish wine but this time it's a Mencia from Bierzo. It's another Wine Spectator darling, 'Plush and expressive, this modern red shows a dense, velvety texture that carries kirsch, plum, cocoa, anise and herbal flavors, with well-integrated tannins and just enough acidity to keep it all lively. 93 points.'— they pretty much nailed it on the head. It's a complex wine that needs a two or three hour decant or a couple additional years in the bottle to really show showcase the power of the Mencia grape. I need to explore Mencia a little more, it tastes like Cabernet Franc's Spanish cousin. Wine exploration, now that's a concept I can really get behind!

Three Of My Favorite Food Groups

2010 Domaine du Grand Montmirail Gigondas Cuvée Vieilles Vignes

I think I've mentioned this before but I'll say it again— Gigondas (jhee gohn dahs) is one of my favorite wine words to say, second only to  Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (mon tae pul chee AH noh dah BRUTE so). Throw in a little Vielles Vignes and you might just feel un peu français, at the very least you'll be drinking a nice glass of wine. The Southern Rhone region is known for rich, warm and spicy blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre— it's my favorite region in France. According to the Rhone Report, the 2010 Montmirail Gigondas is 'loaded with classical aromas of wild herbs, pepper, spice, and leather, as well as copious amounts of licorice drenched bing cherry and blackberry styled fruits, this hits the palate with a full-bodied, decadent, and layered texture that coats the mouth. Despite all of the fruit, it has solid underlying structure and plenty of freshness. While no doubt superb now, it will be even better with a handful of years in the cellar, and shine for 10-12 years. 93 points'.

This 15-year-old cheddar was my first introduction to Fromagination in Madison. Bob and Kelly brought a hunk of this crystalline, smooth cheddar to Bayfield and I was hooked. I knew I had a seriously good reason to drive 6 hours south (Jack's going to school down there) but the idea of an entire store devoted to cheese sealed the deal. 15-year-old cheese and a 19-year-old freshman— I'm going to be spending some time in Madison.

I don't have much of sweet tooth, more of a cheese tooth, but these little chocolates gave that 15-year-old cheddar a serious run for its money. They are from a shop in Madison called Candinas (another reason to make the journey) and they were little nuggets of smooth, chocolatey goodness wrapped up in the most beautiful packaging I've seen.

More Good Wines To Seek Out

2010 Bordeaux Supérieur Château Belrose Portraits Cuvée Maucaillou

I've recently signed up for email alerts from and it's really expanded my wine drinking horizons. Not everything is worth buying but now and then, they offer a good wine at a really good price. This one is a great example— it's a good, drinkable Bordeaux that isn't going to break the bank ($9.99) and make you sad when you open it on a Tuesday night for no good reason. It's a traditional Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. According to Wine Spectator, 'it's a chunky mix of plum, prune and mulled cherry fruit flavors, with a coating of dark toast on the finish'. I'd add it's an easy drinking, not terribly complicated Bordeaux and for $10.00 a bottle, a really good value.

2009 Monte Del Frà Tenuta Lena Di Mezzo Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore

Another WTSO purchase ($12.99) and a really, really good Valpolicella Ripasso (I'm picky about Valpolicellas, they can be too light bodied for my taste). Ripasso means to 're-pass' and Valpolicella Ripasso is fermented twice— once with the Valipolicella grapes (a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara) and then fermented again with the partially dried grape skins that have been left over from fermentation of Amarone. It's a fruit forward wine with a nice balance between lively acidity and raisin-y sweetness. Wine Spectator gave it 90 points and described it as, 'an elegant red, showing hints of black raspberry, plum and strawberry fruit bolstered by a spicy undertow of ground pepper, dried mint and thyme, anise and vanilla bean, with a mineral-tinged finish'. I'm hoping WTSO isn't really sold out of this vintage because if it comes around again, I'm buying a case!

2007 Clos LaChance Merlot Hummingbird Series Violet Crowned

Yet another WTSO purchase— this time it made its way to my house because it a great deal, $8.99 a bottle, and a great Bordeaux blend, 76% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 1.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 0.5% Malbec. If I had to sum up this wine in one word, it would be smooth. Aromas of red plums, mint and cranberries are followed by dried cherry, plum, vanilla and toasty oak flavors with subtle herbal notes. It's a medium bodied wine that's almost chewy and dense in the mouth. It's a solid wine for under $10.00. This is another wine I hope WTSO isn't really sold out of, I'd love to get me hands on a few more bottles.

2007 Ciabot Berton Roggeri Barolo

Barolo is a big wine and this bottle is no exception. It's definitely a bottle that a) needs a couple more years to grow up or b) needs lots of air to be the best version of itself in your glass. I bought 3 bottles from WTSO ($34.99) and I'm letting the two bottles I have left spend a few years downstairs, gathering themselves. I did enjoy the bottle I opened— cherry fruit flavors, earthy aromas, good structure, full-bodied and a long soft textured finish but it was a bit too rustic now. Wine Spectator gave this vintage 93 points and described it as, ' a warm red, exuding tar, tobacco, cherry, floral and sun-baked earth aromas and flavors, with a long, spicy finish. This still has the chewy texture courtesy of the tannins, but is developing nicely. Best from 2014 through 2026'. I'm going to give it another try in 2016— I think it's going to blow my socks off.

2007 Domaine Catherine le Goeuil Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne

Kermit Lynch know what he's doing when it comes to wine and as I've mentioned before, I've yet to meet a Kermit wine I don't like. This is a lovely bottle of wine, one of my favorites. It's a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise — a similar blend to those you'd find in wines from the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region. Kermit Lynch described it as— 'nose ripe and decadent; wild thyme, stones, and loads of Grenache fruit; chewy, concentrated, great tannins, palate-staining  sensations, and just a whole lot of rock ’n’ roll going on. There is also a rare quality that I’d like to see in more wines, something luxurious in the feel of  it on the palate.' Plus, it's organic— this is a wine definitely worth seeking out.

Wines Worth Seeking Out

2010 Lee Family Farm Rio Tinto

I had no idea what I was in for with this bottle but since it was from the folks at Morgan Vineyard in California, I figured it would work out okay. Okay, indeed— this is a really interesting bottle of wine for about $15.00. Made from traditional Port varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca and Alvarelhao, it's loaded with cherry, red currant and spice flavors. It's round on the palate with good mouth feel, nicely honed tannins and lingering fruit flavors. It's a fruit bomb that shows some restraint, I'm glad I took a chance and poured a glass.

2008 Domaine les Pallières Gigondas Terrasse du Diable

The word Gigondas (jhee gohn dahs) makes me so happy, I feel très français every time it rolls off my tongue (and the wine isn't too bad, either). It's a Southern Rhone blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Clairette. The Brunier brothers, of Vieux Telegraphe fame, and Kermit Lynch bought Les Pallieres in 1998 and the vineyard, operating since the 15th century, is producing some lovely wine.  It's a deep red in the glass with aromas of red berries, dried fig and pepper. It's definitely full-bodied with a vibrant mineral quality and lively acidity. While it was a good bottle of wine now, I'm keeping my last bottle in the cellar (okay, my basement behind the mountain range of clothes) for a couple of years. I know it's going to knock my socks off with a few more years under its belt.

Locations By Dave Phinney F1 Proprietary Red Blend France

When I read Dave Phinney, the mastermind behind The Prisoner and Saldo, had a new wine venture— I knew I had to get my hands on a few bottles. He had an epiphany at an airport— why not make a wine showcasing the best grapes each country has to offer and label the bottle with the country code bumper sticker? He's a smart guy and a brilliant winemaker. This bottle is a blend of Roussillon Grenache, Rhone Syrah and a few Bordeaux varieties (like Cabernet Franc). It's a solid, fruit forward bottle of wine with nice spice, soft tannins and a little oak. Not too terribly complex but it's an easy drinking wine with a nice, clean finish. For about $16.00, you can't go wrong and I suspect you'll be pleased when you take your first sip.

2010 Tons de Duorum Red Blend

Made from a blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (like the Lee Family Farm Rio Tinto), this wine is from the Douro region of Portugal. There are lots of fresh aromas of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and prunes off-set by well-balanced acidity and soft and ripe tannins. Port-like in its rich fruit, this is a young and vibrant wine, full of red berries and sweet tannins. It's a very well made wine for $15.00 and one I'm going to have around the house on a regular basis.

2008 The Mariner Dry Creek Vineyard

This is a splurge wine and it's worth every penny. It's a very dark ruby color with ripe and dried berry, currant, cedar and tobacco notes right out of the bottle. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc translates to an elegant and seamless experience on the palate with a core of juicy black fruit, chocolate, black plums, cassis, black and red cherry, black tea, vanilla and spice. The tannins are smooth and polished, providing wonderful structure and balance in the wine. Wine Spectator decided this wine deserved 91 points and I have to agree, it's that good.

The Best Beer In The World

I'm a fan, a really big fan, of wine but my beer knowledge is pretty limited. I tend to categorize beer by color (light brown, medium brown and dark brown) and we named our Newfie Guinness because he was black and stout— that's the sum total of my beer knowledge. So when my friend showed up with the 'best beer in the world', I was suspicious. I did what any good non-beer drinker would do when the 'best beer in the world' was sitting on the kitchen counter, I googled it. Turns out, he was right. According to Huffington Post, 'Westvleteren XII is produced by Trappist monks at the abbey of Saint Sixtus in the Belgian countryside, and only available  for purchase through hard-to-get reservations. The beer's sudden appearance in the States is a financial necessity for the abbey -- after a round of expensive renovations, the monks decided to sell the beer outside the monastery for one time only'.

After doing a kitchen renovation a couple of years ago, I completely understand coming in over budget and needing to raise some extra cash. Those Trappist monks are lucky to have some expensive beer ($84.99 for a six-pack and 2 glasses) to feather their newly renovated nest and I was lucky to get a taste of a pretty spectacular beer. Can I say it's the best in the world? I'm not sure what the criteria is for such a lofty title but I can say it was nicely balanced with prominent notes of chocolate, dried fruits, spice and molasses. Maybe the monks will decide to renovate the rest of the Abbey in 2013 and I'll get a chance at honing my beer tasting skills on another bottle of Westvleteren. I'll keep you posted.

California Zinfandel & Washington Syrah

"In water one sees one's own face; But in wine, one beholds the heart of another." An Old French proverb

2010 Owen Roe Syrah Ex Umbris

Not only is the label hip and cool, the wine inside the bottle is top-notch. A heady nose of wild berries, smoke and pepper combined with a dense and full body are pure Washington Syrah. There is a fair amount of dark fruit, cherries and licorice on the palate with a medium finish; it's not the biggest Syrah I've had but it's an easy drinking and very smooth wine. I'd recommend either opening the bottle early or decanting, it needs a little time to breathe in order to put it's best foot forward and show you how spectacular Washington Syrah can be. My favorite wine shop, Bayfield Wine and Spirits has a couple bottles left.

2010 Orin Swift Zinfandel Saldo

I really like California Zinfandel but I get tired of overly jammy, one note Zins. Dave Phinney. the winemaker behind The Prisoner, has an uncanny sense for blending big, assertive wines while still maintaining balance and nuance. This vintage is 82% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, 6% Syrah, 2% Grenache, sourced from 17 vineyards.  Saldo means 'balance' and the zesty spices and anise flavors provide a perfect counterpoint to the dark, lush fruit. This is one of my all time favorites. A glass of Saldo is balm for a rough day or a celebration in the glass for a good one— it's a versatile Zin with way more than one note.

What I've Been Drinking

2009 Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Bourgueil Cuvee Alouettes Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is often overlooked in a world of jammy, fruit bomb wines. It's definitely austere but once it opens up, the pure earthy spice and nuanced layers of fruit, minerals and herbal notes make it a wine to remember. This is another Kermit Lynch wine and I swear, I have yet to meet a Kermit wine I don't like. The Boucard family has been making wine in the Loire valley for seven generations and this wine reflects that life long connection to the vineyard. It has a strong vegetal nose and needs a little time to gather itself in the glass but once it does, it's spicy with good fruitiness and mild tannins. It's my Dorothy Parker wine— comes out swinging but eventually embraces it's complexity and really shines in the glass.

2010 Alchemist Pinot Noir

Where do I start with my love of Pinot Noir? I love the gamey, wet dog aromas, the rich, almost velvety, texture with gorgeous flavors of raspberries and spice. I went to visit my friend, Joanne, who owns Bayfield Wine and Spirits and there it was, a bottle of Alchemist just waiting to come home with me. The Alchemist is a full-bodied Pinot, loaded with red fruits, mocha, earthy spices and a touch of oak. It's a well structured wine with a lengthy finish and a silky texture— seriously good stuff. I went back for another bottle the next day.

2010 If You See Kay Cabernet Blend

Look at that label, it's like something out Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (remember Tina Turner's outfit and hair??). This is a bad ass wine with a sweet soul and I like it. It's primarily Cabernet with a little Petit Verdot and Primitivo thrown in for good measure from the Lazio region of Italy. I wouldn't have guessed there was a hint of Cabernet in the bottle when I had my first sip, it's definitely on the sweeter side and has very little acidity or tannins. It does have a big, jammy aroma, ripe berries and dried plums on the palate and a soft finish. It's not a complex wine with something to prove, it's an easy drinking wine good for an evening when you want to keep it simple but a little spicy.

2010 Caprazo Sangiovese Toscano

This is another wine from Bayfield Wine & Spirits and it's a good one. The Caparzo is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Alicante with a solid texture, firm structure and bright acidity. There are a lot of juicy flavors on the palate: raspberries, ripe cherries, vanilla, fennel and roasted herbs. The acidity and firm texture balances the jammy, ripe fruit flavors exceptionally well; it would really shine when paired with roasted meats or salumi.

2011 Orin Swift The Prisoner Zinfandel Blend

I had my first bottle of The Prisoner in 2006 and I was blown away. Lucky for me, even though Dave Phinny sold the label to Huneeus Vintners in 2010, I have yet to open a bottle of Prisoner and not be happy. It's a sophisticated California field blend with an emphasis on Zinfandel— lots of big fruit. The 2011 vintage is a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache and it's a powerhouse. It's a soft and round wine with a full body and enough acidity and structure to balance the plethora of fruit and savory flavors. Bayfield Wine and Spirits has a few bottles left and it's worth every penny, trust me.


2005 Michael David Winery Petite Petit

I buy some of my wine from Marketview Liquor and saw this wine on their website while I was looking for the If You See Kay wine. Unfortunately, it was too cold to ship the wine and I put it out of my mind, until I walked in Star Liquor and was wandering among the wine bottles (it's hard to miss a garishly colored label with two enormous elephants on it). I put two bottles in my basket, thanked Kevin for his wise wine procurement and headed back home to find my corkscrew. It's a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot from Lodi, California and since Petite Sirah is one of my favorite grapes, I was really excited to try it. This wine did not disappoint— it's beautifully balanced, relatively complex with lots of dark fruit, chocolate and smoky spice with a lush, round finish.

2009 Sotorrondero Bodegas Jimenz Landi Syrah Blend

This Spanish wine is a blend of 85% Syrah and 15% Granacha— two grapes that go together like peanut butter and jelly, hollandaise and crab cakes or lemon curd and shortbread cookies. It's another powerhouse of wine— full of ripe fruit, smoke and a hint of gamey meat. It's a nicely balanced, full-bodied and rich wine with a smooth texture and a long finish. Wine Advocate gave the 2009 Sotorrondero 92 points and I have to agree— if you like rich, assertive Syrah, I think you'll agree as well. It's available at Bayfield Wine and Spirits, can you tell Joanne and I have very similar wine palates??

2009 Bogle Vineyards Essential Red Blend

There's nothing too terribly special about this Bogle wine other than it's a decently complex wine that's easy to drink and a great value. I struggle with finding 'everyday' wines and this one was a pleasant surprise from Star Liquor.  It's a blend of old vines Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet— it tastes kind of like the younger sibling of Bogle Phantom (a terribly special wine). The predominant flavors of ripe berries, molasses, vanilla, a little oak and spice are nicely complimented by a medium body and a rich fig and prune flavored finish. I was frankly surprised by the quality of this wine and I'm thrilled to have an 'everyday' wine that I truly will enjoy drinking.

A Few Good Wines

'In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also as a great giver of happiness and well-being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary'. Ernest Hemingway A Moveable Feast

I really like red blends and I really, really like blends with Petite Sirah, Syrah and Zinfandel. I just ran across a great wine blog (Reverse Wine Snob) and read his recommendation for this wine. He was right on— it's a bold blend with beautiful flavors of  black cherries, blackberries and spice box with a subtle nose of mocha and nutmeg. It's a great value at 11.99 (I bought my bottles at Marketview Liquor).

A spectacular bottle of Pinot Noir always makes me happy and this bottle certainly put a smile on my face. It is definitely a splurge wine (I bought it at Bayfield Wine & Spirits) with a birthday gift certificate from Liz. It is about as close to a perfect California Pinot as you can get— lots of lush fruit, spice and earthiness. It has a beautiful acidity which balances the ripe fruit on the long and silky finish. Truly a special Pinot and one I hope to meet again.

Oh Kermit, let me count the ways I love you. When I was buying the wine for Good Thyme, Bill (my wine guy) gave me a book (Adventures on the Wine Route) to read about a wine importer from California who brought high quality, small producer wines to the United States. Not only was the book a pleasure to read, the wines he imports are a pleasure to drink. This is one of the first Kermit wines I bought for Good Thyme and it's still one of my favorites. This is a big, elegant wine with lots of dark fruit and spice flavor and has a lingering finish that will make you reach for another glass.

Another Kermit wine and another favorite. Marcel Lapierre made the most divine Morgon (a Cru Beaujolais) that I ever tasted. He passed away in 2010 and his son has taken over the winery— by the taste of things he's following in his father's footsteps. This is a young, light bodied Gamay with a heady nose of cedar, red cherry, earth and pepper. It's acidity is balanced by the wild strawberry, raspberry and prune flavors in your mouth. It's a truly refreshing wine— not too dear to drink on a Wednesday night but with enough structure and nuance to make me happy.

Okay, this is a seriously good wine. I have a thing for Washington wines and the Buty winery is one of my favorites. Every year, they make a limited production 'Beast' wine with the bits and pieces left over from their vineyards. It changes every year and 2009 was clearly a good year. This blend is Syrah, Cabernet and Malbec and it's a showstopper. The wine has aromas of vanilla and cedar followed by flavors of tart cherry, blackberry and licorice. Absolutely amazing.

Petite Sirah is typically used a blending grape but it's perfectly delightful on its own. Ironically, there is nothing petite about this wine— it's a big, gnarly, dark purple and deeply extracted wine. This wine needs to gather itself before you drink it, definitely let it sit in a decanter or open the bottle a couple of hours before you plan to drink it. It has plenty of dark, ripe fruit and roasted coffee flavors with firm tannins that would stand up nicely to a steak or roasted game. I bought this wine at Bayfield Wine & Spirits in Bayfield.

Another not so petite yet oh so lovely wine— this time it's a Petite Verdot from Argentina. This is one of the darkest purple wines I've seen for a while, it's almost black in the glass. There is some fruit in this wine but I'd say the predominant flavors are black pepper, spice, chocolate and fig. It had a remarkably soft, dense and velvety mouth feel and nicely integrated tannins. This wine definitely needs to be decanted in order to really shine, it's tight and kind of flat right out of the bottle. Bayfield Wine & Spirits carries this wine in Bayfield.

This is a great, easy drinking wine from a vineyard adjacent to the famous Chateauneuf du Pape appellation in Southern France. It's a blend of Merlot, Syrah and Grenache and it delivers on all fronts— aromas of cassis, spice and pipe tobacco with lush fruit flavors and soft tannins. The Rhone Report gave it a well deserved 90 points and I wholeheartedly agree with their assessment.

I need to learn to speak Italian— if only to correctly pronounce the lyrical names of some of my favorite wines. Who wouldn't like to have the words Valpolicella or Montepulciano roll off their tongue like a beautiful song? This wine is another blend— this time it's Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. It was aged in stainless steel and has a ton of bright, clean jammy fruit and spice flavors with a decent, but not overwhelming, acidity. This was another wine recommendation from The Reverse Wine Snob — he partnered Marketview Liquor in October and offered free shipping on his recommended wines. I am so glad I took a chance on this one, it's delightful.

An Afternoon With Tom & Jen

I knew it going to be a wonderful afternoon when Tom said, Domaine Serene and double magnum, in the same breath. What was even better was spending a few hours with my nieces, nephew, Tom, Jen and Maddie— their sock eating black lab.

There was dinner that night and swiss chard played a supporting roll. I wasn't entirely sure what to do with it but figured sautéing it in olive oil with onion, garlic and white wine made sense. I added some of the pepita parsley pesto (recipe here) and chopped fresh tomatoes and called it good. Beth Dooley has a great basic recipe for sautéed swiss chard, just add the pepita pesto and tomato when you add the leaves to the sauté pan and you can call it good too.

A Totem Pole Raising (or Re-Raising)

There was a minor set back when Ted was cutting down an old birch in the front yard. The totem pole was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the birch took it out. It spent a few months reclining in the yard, waiting for the day it would stand tall again. Being a lumberjack is hard work (at least that's Ted's story and he is sticking to it).

Ted called the man who put the pole up five years ago, I can't imagine how that phone call went. I doubt he has to re-raise many 20 foot totem poles. We bought it from Bill Vienneaux, a wood-carver in Washburn, and it's the only 20 foot totem pole he has made (so far). There were two spots open on the pole when we bought it and he carved the flying pig and the bear reading the book for us.

I remember the day it went up (the first time) in the summer of 2007. I had just finished putting in the flower garden, Guinness was at my side and Meghan was in Ted's arms. Time has flown by. We bought it as an homage to Ted's Dad. Frank passed away two weeks after we bought our house and he is buried in the Bayfield cemetery. We wanted to do something to honor the man we adored and missed terribly; I know he would have been pleased.

Frank and I had a lot in common: reading, love of food, the New Yorker and pigs. Maybe it was the Irish in us, pigs are considered good luck charms in Ireland. When Anne and Frank moved to Alabama, they asked what I would like from the cabin. I knew right away— the white pig, Horatio, that sat outside their door. It was fitting we put a pig with wings (and a smile on his face) on the totem pole.

I raised a glass to Frank after the totem pole was securely back in place. He saw the woman I was going to become before I even knew she existed. He gave me Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book, A Gift From The Sea, for Christmas when I was nineteen and just starting to find my way. I miss his unflagging love and loyalty, he was a helluva guy. The 2006 Coudoulet de Beascastel was the perfect wine to drink that afternoon— bittersweet cocoa, dried figs and black cherry. I was happy to see the totem pole upright but I was missing the man who inspired it.

Beef Kebabs- It's What For Dinner

Lately, we have been on a kebab and grilling bender. I use the grill in the winter but it is infinitely more enjoyable to cook outside when it's warm out. Beef tenderloin was on sale at the grocery store and I put in my basket (the kids love tenderloin). I was on the fence about hacking up a nice piece of beef and skewering it. Well, I am glad I jumped off the fence—it was a delicious idea and a perfectly good use of a beautiful piece of meat.

Allegro is my absolute favorite marinade for beef. We used to buy it at Cub Foods when we were young and broke. It was the cheapest marinade they carried and made tough and cheap pieces of meat loosen up a little.  Somewhere along the line, I decided to get fancy and make my own marinades. I forgot about my old pal, Allegro. Fast forward 17 years, I was at Byerly's and there it was, not quite as cheap but as good as I remember.

Kebabs are one stop shopping for dinner. Everything is fair game as far as I am concerned— parboiled potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, onions and red peppers. I marinate the vegetables in olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and Montreal Steak Seasoning (another absolute favorite) for an hour or so before skewering them. I keep the grill at about 400 - 450 degrees and grill them for about 10 - 15 minutes. The cooking time may be different if you are using a gas grill or a kettle grill. I have terracotta heat diffusers in my grill and the kebabs are not exposed to direct heat.

I love red blends and this 2008 Chateau de Lascaux from the Pic Saint Loup region was spectacular. I bought it a couple of years ago and forgot it was in the basement. It was the perfect wine for dinner— spicy, tart and lots of lush fruit. Talk about a powerful trifecta— Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah are beautiful when they are blended. The good folks at Wine Spectator agree with me, it was one of the top 100 wines in 2010.

Porchetta For A Pagan Dinner

The last Wednesday of every month is PDC (Pagan Dinner Club). I am game for anything that involves food, wine and conversation around a table. Plus, I have always felt a little pagan. Last November, I opened my issue of Bon Appetit and saw the sexiest piece of meat I have ever seen— Porchetta (take a look at the recipe and picture here).  For the past six months, that lovely piece of pork loin wrapped in pork belly would start calling my name but I never pulled the trigger. Until last Wednesday. It was my turn to host dinner and I knew exactly what to make, the porchetta of my dreams.  I followed the recipe to the letter except I used a full loin and pork belly and adjusted the spices and garlic accordingly. It was an extraordinary piece of meat— tender, flavorful and sexy.

What else does one serve with a massive amount of pork wrapped in luscious pork belly? Why, fingerling potatoes and sweet onions roasted in duck fat with pancetta and a Caesar salad (I forgot the anchovies) with croutons sautéed in olive oil and the drippings from the porchetta. Those croutons were a stroke of genius, one I intend to repeat over and over. I tossed the potatoes in duck fat and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 30 - 35 minutes on parchment paper. I laid pancetta on top about 10 minutes before they were done and crumbled it after I pulled them out of the oven. Duck fat is magic, the potatoes had the most delectable crust— amazing.

We drank a wine from the Piedmont, Cascina del Pozzo Lucrezia Barbera d'Alba. It was perfect with the pork— dry and elegant with subtle fruit notes. It was a little richer in body than other Barberas I have tasted and I really enjoyed it.

There are a few meals I have put together that stand out and this is definitely one of them. Not only was it a good meal, it was an even better evening filled with people I have come to adore. Jim Henson said, 'there's not a word yet, for old friends who've just met'. Ted and I are still new-comers to Bayfield, we have only been here for five years. As I looked around the table, I had a strong feeling that my fellow pagan dinner companions are indeed old friends we have just met.  I have been blessed many times over in my life with beautiful memories of children, family and friends around my table— it is no small thing to share a meal with those you love. I believe it creates a sacred space in our lives which is truly nourishing.

California Pinot Meets French Burgundy

Admittedly, I am a novice when it comes to wine knowledge. Everything I have learned has come from 'on the job' training, not that I am complaining. Drinking wine is hardly a chore. Pinot Noir is one of my favorite wines and I am always on the look out for a good bottle. The 2008 Talbott 'Sleepy Hollow' Pinot is a great bottle of wine, I mean it is a 'I am still thinking about it the next morning' bottle. Bob, my wine loving friend, was coming to dinner and I was excited to open a bottle and get his opinion. As it happened, he had a bottle of 2005 Andre Ziltener Burgundy in his hands when he walked in the kitchen. This was the perfect opportunity to taste a California Pinot against a French Burgundy.

The verdict? Talbott is a smooth, kind of flashy and relatively full-bodied Pinot— kind of like a really nice Lexus. The Andre Ziltener is a more nuanced Pinot with a depth and patina that reminded me of a classic old Mercedes in mint condition. The French have made wine for centuries and it makes sense I would taste the 'terrior' in the Ziltener wine. Maybe terrior tastes like a beautiful old Mercedes?? Regardless, I enjoyed both wines and hope to meet them again some day.

A Proper Chicken Caesar Salad

I was curious if there were other mavens out there, did a quick google search and ran across the Food Maven last week. I spent a little while exploring his maven-ness (he has two kitchens). He had a recipe for Chicken à la King (my quintessential childhood meal) and Jamie Oliver's recipe for a Proper Chicken Caesar Salad. I am a big fan of anything proper and I needed an idea for Saturday night dinner— sounded like a plan. One of my favorite roasted chicken recipes is Ina Garten's Lemon Chicken with Croutons and this recipe is the salad version. The croutons are addictive, full of roasted chicken flavor and lemon. I made a few additions to the original recipe: roasted Roma tomatoes, preserved lemons, onion and lots more garlic in the dressing. Ted said it was the best salad I have ever made.  

Proper Chicken Caesar Salad (adapted from Jamie Oliver)

8 - 10 Roma tomatoes, halved and roasted

6 whole chicken thighs, skin on

1 loaf ciabatta bread, torn into thumb-sized pieces

3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and roughly chopped

1 whole preserved lemon, rinsed and chopped

1 whole sweet onion, chopped

Olive oil

Herb and garlic salt (recipe here) or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 thin slices pancetta


4 cloves peeled garlic

6 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained

7 ounces freshly grated Parmesan, plus a few shavings to serve

3 heaped tablespoon crème fraîche

2 lemon, juiced

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 or 3 heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until brown and caramelized, about 30 - 45 minutes.

Place the torn up pieces of ciabatta, rosemary, preserved lemon and onion in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan. Place the chicken thighs on top of the bread mixture and season with salt and pepper. This way, the bread will soak up all the lovely juices from the chicken, giving you the best croutons! Pop the pan into the preheated oven.

After about 45 minutes the chicken should be nicely cooked. Take the pan out of the oven, drape the pancetta over the chicken and croutons, and put back for another 15 to 20 minutes for everything to crisp up. The chicken legs are ready when you can pinch the meat off the bone easily. When they're cooked, remove the pan from the oven and set it aside for the chicken to cool down slightly. If the croutons are not crisp, put them back in the oven for an additional 10 - 15 minutes.

Place the garlic, anchovy fillets, Parmesan, crème fraîche and lemon juice in a food processor or blender and pulse to combine. With the machine running, add 3 times as much extra virgin olive oil as lemon juice in a steady stream and process until thick and smooth. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Pull the chicken meat off the leg bones - you can use 2 forks to do this, or your hands if you're tough like me - and tear it up roughly with the croutons and the bacon. Wash, spin dry and separate the romaine, tear them up and toss with the chicken, croutons, bacon and dressing. Scatter with some Parmesan shavings and roasted tomatoes.

The 2010 Talbott Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay was the perfect wine for this salad. In my experience, California chardonnay can be a mouthful of buttery oak. This wine shattered that preconceived notion. It is a rich, lush chardonnay with a long bright finish. Makes me want to have a proper caesar salad again soon!

What Happens When You Run Out Of Oranges??

I have a pretty serious thing for cookbooks and nothing makes my heart go pitter-pat (other than dogs and good wine) like a gorgeous cookbook. David Tanis, a chef at Chez Panisse, has two cookbooks— A Platter of Figs and Heart of an Artichoke and they are drop dead gorgeous books with delicious recipes. It has been cloudy here and I grabbed the Heart of an Artichoke book for inspiration and color for my sensory deprived brain. We were having friends over for dinner and I needed something to get my creative juices flowing.

There is a Sicilian Salad in David's cookbook with oranges, fennel, spinach and radishes, it sounded like the perfect spring salad. I decided to introduce Sicily to Morocco and added some oil cured olives and cilantro. The fennel went in the oven to be roasted with the brussel sprouts (roasted fennel is one of my favorites) and I whipped up a vinaigrette. I am a firm believer in bright, acidic vinaigrettes and used raspberry and white wine vinegar as well as a healthy dollop of Dijon mustard. Dinner was looking better and better. I felt my brain fog start to lift. Everything was going along swimmingly until I opened the fridge to look for the orange, the shining star of my salad. I had grapefruits galore but not one orange. Grapefruit is round, grows on trees in Florida and is kind of orange-colored— a perfectly suitable substitute, right?? It turned out to be a fortuitous detour, the pink grapefruit was beautiful against the green spinach and it's acidity was well suited for the salad dressing and olives. The case of the missing oranges is still unsolved. I guess I should be happy the kids are eating fruit and not Doritos.

Of course, there was wine involved. Bob is one of my favorite dinner guests. He loves Pinot Noir as much as I do and always brings a couple good bottles to share. Bergstrom Pinot Noir is a typical Willamette Valley Pinot— cranberries, strawberries, spice and earth. A classic combination of strength and elegance that defines truly great Pinot Noir. It was a pleasure to drink and probably would have benefitted from a brief stay in the decanter but we were on a roll and popped and poured. We drank the Vietti Roero Arneis with dinner (we had roast chicken with lemons, herbs and kalamata olives). I am not the biggest white wine fan but I tend to like Italian white wines as a rule. This Vietti is a super food friendly wine with a lot of bright, fresh acidity with pears and green apple in your mouth and a nice floral nose. Plus, I love the label. The guy has such a beleaguered look on his face— winemaking must be hard work.

Moroccan Grapefruit Salad


A couple handfuls of baby spinach

2 grapefruits peeled, quartered and sliced

1 red onion sliced and placed in ice water for 10 - 15 minutes (removes the acidity from the onion)

1/4 cup pitted and chopped oil cured olives

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


2 Tbsp raspberry vinegar

2 Tbsp  white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp honey

1/2 cup good olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Assemble the spinach, grapefruit, red onion, olives and cilantro in a bowl. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a container and pour over the salad. I always salt my salad greens with Maldon Sea Salt before adding the dressing.


An Old Fashioned Primer

The Five O'Clock Club in Cumberland was the first supper club I ever set foot in. I learned two things that evening 20 years ago: Surf-n-Turf is a spiffy way to describe beef and seafood for dinner and a good Wisconsin bartender needs to know how to make a proper Old Fashioned (and maybe a Brandy Alexander). Lee was the bartender at the Five O'Clock and I looked forward to stopping at her bar for a cocktail every time we went in for dinner. She always remembered our names, asked after Ted's parents and could carry on a conversation peppered with sass and humor. In fact, the New York Times just wrote an article about Northern Wisconsin supper clubs— stiff cocktails and surf-n-turf are cool (again). As they said in the article, "good supper clubs have fine-tuned the rituals of dining and drinking to near perfection".

Over the past four years as a restaurant owner, I have learned countless things— never eat sweet potato fries off a customer's plate, don't gesture wildly in a crowded dining room, calf hair shoes do not belong in a kitchen and how to make a proper Old Fashioned. Brandy is the liquor of choice but an Old Fashioned made with rye whiskey is sublime. The Old Fashioned has four components: an amber-colored liquor, bitters, maraschino cherries and oranges. I know from my adventures in the kitchen, the quality of ingredients matter, a lot, and it is no different behind the bar. Clear Creek brandy or Willett rye, Luxardo maraschino cherries from Italy and Fee Brothers whiskey barrel aged bitters make a mean Old Fashioned. I think Lee would approve.

Good Thyme Old Fashioned

3 ounces brandy or rye

1 ounce simple syrup made with raw sugar

3 dashes of Fee Brothers Bitters

2 Luxardo maraschino cherries

1 quarter of a 1/2 inch slice of orange

7-up or Sprite

Muddle the orange slice  and cherries in a glass, add the simple syrup, bitters and ice. Pour the brandy or rye into the glass, top with 7-up and garnish with an orange slice and cherry.


Boston Butt, Dr Pepper And Chipotle Peppers- Who Knew??

There are cookbooks on nearly every shelf and table in my house. In fact, the first thing I purchased when we started renovating the kitchen was a bookshelf. While I use the internet to research recipes, there is something about standing in front of a bookshelf, looking for inspiration, that gives me joy. Ree Drummond's cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, caught my eye and I took it off the shelf and headed to bed, certain I would find the perfect meal for Thursday night. I made curried quinoa and farro salad on Monday and to say it was a not a hit with the family would be an understatement. Ree has kids, lives on a ranch and has a couple basset hounds, I knew she would have something that would please my crew. And there it was, Spicy Dr Pepper Pulled Pork— how can I go wrong with meat and soda in one beguiling dish? It was a hit and definitely is going to be a repeat performer at our dinner table. I served it on tortillas with avocado, fresh salsa, shredded cheese and cilantro.

A glass of wine sounded like a brilliant idea tonight (shocking, I know). The beauty of my dinner choice was that it had been in the oven since noon and I was spared the 5 o'clock 'I guess I should think about dinner' mental gymnastics. Not only was there time for wine and chatting with Ted, dinner would still be on the table before 8 pm— braises are a good thing for a girl like me. Wine is also a good thing for a girl like me and I love Pinot Noir. However, Pinot Noir is a fickle, little beast— it needs to be full-bodied and rich but delicate and nuanced. I like that it is a wine that doesn't give it up easily, it makes the truly great Pinots all the more extraordinary. There are a few wines that stick with me long after the last drops are poured into the glass and the 2010 Shapes and Shadows Potters Vineyard Pinot Noir in one of them. It is a showstopper—beautiful ruby color, an earthy nose and cherries and cranberries in your mouth. The winemaker, Kenny Likitprakong, is a 30 something former snowboarder/wanderer from Healdsburg and he is making some really special wines under the Hobo Wines label. A gifted winemaker is an artist and in my opinion, Likitpraking, is right up there with the best.

 Spicy Dr Pepper Pulled Pork

2 Large Onions, quartered

1 Whole Pork Shoulder ("pork Butt") - 5 To 7 Pounds

 Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Can (11 Ounce) Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce

2 Cans Dr. Pepper

2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

2 Tsp Orange Zest

 Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Peel the onions and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a large dutch oven.

 Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pan.

 Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Dr Pepper. Add brown sugar and orange zest to the juice and stir in.

 Place lid tightly on pot, then set pot in the oven. Cook for at least six hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should be absolutely falling apart (use two forks to test.) If it's not falling apart, return to the oven for another hour.

 Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, then remove hardened fat once it's cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.




Meyer Lemons, Roasted Chicken Stock And Lamb Chops

How's that for an introduction to a blog post? It was a bit of a disjointed food day. I made roasted chicken stock on Monday, which reminded me of the pasta I made on New Year's Eve. I had pancetta in the refrigerator from my trip to Northern Waters Smokehaus, which further reminded me of the pasta I made on New Year's Eve.  However, there were lamb chops from last night's dinner (and 2012's first grilled dinner) in the refrigerator.  Then there were the 6 pounds of Meyer Lemons I needed to preserve. Not to mention a half a bottle of 2007 Stonestreet Chardonnay (one of my favorite California Chardonnays) languishing in the refrigerator. What's a girl to do?? Preserve the lemons in salt, strain and freeze the roasted chicken stock, pour a glass of wine and have pasta and lamb for dinner. I think it all came together in the end.

Preserved Lemons (from David Lebovitz's blog)

Scrub the lemons with a vegetable brush and dry them off.

Cut off the little rounded bit at the stem end if there’s a hard little piece of the stem attached. From the other end of the lemon, make a large cut by slicing lengthwise downward, stopping about 1-inch (3 cm) from the bottom, then making another downward slice, so you’ve incised the lemon with an X shape.

Pack coarse salt into the lemon where you made the incisions. Don’t be skimpy with the salt: use about 1 tablespoon per lemon.

Put the salt-filled lemons in a clean, large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add a few coriander seeds, a bay leaf, a dried chili, and a cinnamon stick if you want. (Or a combination of any of them). Press the lemons very firmly in the jar to get the juices flowing. Fill the rest of the container with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Cover and let stand overnight.

For the next two or three days, shake the jar to redistribute the salt. At this point, I put the jar on the refrigerator and let them sit for a month or so. Once the lemons are soft, they are ready to use. Rinse to remove excess salt before you use them.

Marinated and Grilled Lamb Chops (from Bon Appetit April 2011)

3 large shallots, minced
6 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
6 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon raw sugar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
24 lamb rib chops (from three 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-pound racks of lamb, cut between bones into individual chops)
Mix minced shallots, chopped mint, chopped basil, minced garlic, sugar,olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon salt in small bowl. Rub mixture on lamb and refrigerate overnight.
Let lamb chops come to room temperature (about an hour). Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill lamb chops to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer lamb chops to platter. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs and serve.

I served the lamb chops with tzatziki and Isreali couscous with fresh peas and Meyer lemon.

 Porcini and Ricotta Tortellini with Butter Sauce, Celery, Apple and Pancetta (from Barbara Lynch's Stir)

You can use any kind of pasta you like. I had some porcini and ricotta tortellini in the freezer from my New Year's Eve dinner. This recipe makes enough sauce for 6 servings.

1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade roasted chicken stock

8 tbsp butter, cut into pieces

1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

3 slices pancetta, chopped

1/2 cup yellow onion, minced

1 small crisp apple, cut into small dice

1 celery stalk, cut into small dice

Saute onion and pancetta until crisp in a medium pan. Put the broth in a large skillet and bring to a boil. Add the butter a little at a time, whisking to combine. Whisk in the Parmesan and reduce to a gentle simmer. Add the pancetta/onion mixture, apple and celery to the sauce when you are ready to cook the pasta. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes- you want the apple and celery to have a slight crunch. Taste the sauce and season with a little salt, if needed. Serve over the cooked pasta and garnish with additional Parmesan cheese, if you like.