All posts by Anne Pickett

Happy Moscato Day!

When I was a little kid, everyone got a glass of sparkling wine for celebrations. All the adults would get a glass of champagne, and the kids got tiny cordial glasses filled with moscato d’asti. Fast forward to today, when a liquor delivery truck covered in a giant ad for pink moscato tried to run me right off the Bay Bridge! Moscato has come a long way from those fun family occasions to mega buck in the wine business. What has happened to moscato in all this time? It’s flavored and colored and sweetened beyond what I remember. Let’s take a look at some of the traditional styles of muscat and moscato and the foods that pair with them.


Muscat is thought to be one of the oldest wine grape varieties, and is planted in every major wine country in the world.  The dry style of muscat is commonly grown in Alsace and some regions in Spain. With it’s orange blossom and tropical fruit aromas and crisp finish, dry muscats are a great match for spicy foods or difficult to match Pan-Asian cuisine. I love these wines with Thai green curry shrimp, grilled fish with mango salsa, fish tacos, or Morracan-style chicken made with preserved lemons. Here are some great examples of the dry-style of Muscat:

Muscat


Moscato d’Asti, or any other fizzy moscato, has exploded in popularity. Since 2011, sales have grown by 70+% and show no signs of slowing down. While there are all kinds of flavored moscato or moscato colored red or pink, nothing beats a traditional Moscato d’Asti. With it’s lively aromas of peach and nectarine, gentle bubbles, and softly sweet style, this fizzy wine is a charming and pleasing wine. Many people use this wine as a cocktail, but I enjoy it with many foods. Moscato d’Asti is an awesome match with any fruit and cheese platter. Try it with a grilled pear & blue cheese salad that is dressed with a champagne vinaigrette.  A Waldorf salad with grilled chicken, grapes, and apples is another great match for Moscato. Here are some of my favorite Moscato d’Asti:

Winelist1


Dessert-style muscats are awesome wines especially for you folks that love chocolate. The rich and aromatic wines from the South of France, Sicily, or Australia are a great way to finish any dinner party with a bang. You can match them up with a blue cheese and fig cake cheese course or even something simple like store-bought pound cake with peach sauce. A chocolate cake soaked in Grand Marnier has a best friend in dessert-style muscat. A warm peach & blackberry cobbler with or without ice cream is another delicious pairing. Here are a couple great examples of a dessert-style muscat:

winelist2


As you can see, the centuries old muscat grape is as versatile and fresh as ever. It is more than a pool-side sipper or something the kids drink while at the club. Have this wine throughout the meal, and enjoy it with your favorite summer fare. As they say in Italy “Faciamo brindisi!” with a glass of Moscato!

Food & Wine Fridays: Mother’s Day Brunch

Ok… How many times have you made pancakes for Mom on Mother’s Day? Surprise her this year with sophisticated brunch that pairs up well with wine or mimosas. These dishes are easy to prep ahead to time so that you can enjoy a glass of wine, too!

 

The Croque Madame

The Croque Madame

This variation on the classic Croque Monsieur is a wonderful brunch sandwich. I have simplified it a bit to make it easier to cook for your hungry family. Served with home fries of a light salad and you have a meal fit for the Madame of the house!

Pro Tips: You can make the Mornay Sauce the night before. It’s easier to scoop and spread when chilled. First thing in the morning, prep the sandwiches on a cookie sheet to save yourself some time, then all you need to do is broil them and fry eggs at brunch time. This recipe makes 2 sandwiches, but it multiplies easily to feed a crowd.

For the Mornay Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1Ž4 salt
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 4 ounces grated gruyere cheese (I have also used emmanthaler or white cheddar)

For the sandwiches:

  • 4 slices of good white bread ( The traditional bread is the French pain mie, but I use buttermilk bread or potato bread also)
  • Dijon mustard
  • 3 ounces of thinly sliced deli ham ( I love black forest ham)
  • 2 ounces grated gruyere (or 2 thin slices)
  • 2 large eggs fried sunny side up
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

To make the sauce:

  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour to the butter and whsk well to make a roux.
  2. Cook for a couple of minutes at medium heat to cook out any floury taste, but do not brown.
  3. Whisk in the milk and continue cooking until the sauce can coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Season with salt and nutmeg.
  5. Remove from heat, and whisk in the cheese.
  6. Cool the mixture and keep in the refrigerator over night.

Sandwich assembly:

  1. Heat your oven to broil.
  2. Toast the bread.
  3. On a baking sheet, lay 2 of the slices of bread and spread a thin layer of the mustard.
  4. On each slice of bread with 1.5 ounces of the ham, 1/4 cup of the mornay sauce, and 1 ounce of the grated cheese.
  5. Top each sandwich with the remaining slice of bread and then 1/4 of mornay sauce.
  6. Broil the sandwiches until they are golden brown and delicious.
  7. Place the sandwich on a plate, top with a fried egg, and season with the pepper. Stand back and watch your favorite Madame say, “oooh, la, la!”

Wines to go with:



Shrimp and Asparagus Omelet with Avocado

Shrimp and Asparagus Omelet with Avocado

This a super omelet with an easy “make ahead” filling. The avocado adds the lush richness of a hollandaise sauce without the trauma of trying to make it.

Pro tips: Remember, asparagus is a basically a flower. The tightest and most closed spears are the freshest.

For each omelet you will need:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 6-8 u 25 shrimp
  • 4-5 asparagus spears cut in pieces
  • 1/3 of an avocado sliced
  • butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

The night before, blanch the asparagus in salted water and drop into ice water bath to stop the cooking. Drain and store in the fridge. Blanch the shrimp until they just turn pink in a mix of water, white wine, a couple lemon slices, and salt and pepper. Drop them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking and store in the fridge.

The next day, in a pan with butter, heat up the shrimp and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk 3 eggs in a bowl with a tablespoon of water to keep them loose. Heat a sauté or omelet pan on medium, and add a pat of butter to the pan. When the butter is melted and foamy, add the eggs. Keep them moving in the pan to create a nice round base. To the side of the pan opposite from the handle, add your filling. Hold the handle firmly and tip the omelet onto the plate flipping the empty half over the filling. Garnish the top of the omelet with a shrimp, slice of avocado, and an asparagus spear. This is also a great dinner omelet!

 

Wines to go with:

 

Food & Wine Fridays: National Grilled Cheese Month

Does anyone really need an excuse to celebrate the joys of the ooey gooey goodness that is a grilled cheese sandwich? In my house, everyday is grilled cheese day! I love good old American cheese and white bread. For a change of pace, try one of these “big kid” sandwiches that are great as an entrée with soup or salad or cut up in bite-sized pieces for hors d’ouevres.

Pro tips:

  • Always put the cheese side down in the pan first. The sandwich will hold together well when you flip it.
  • If you are making several sandwiches, always have your ingredients prepped ahead of time.
  • Have patience. Once the sandwich is in the pan let it brown. Try to resist the urge to peek or flip too much.

 


 

Truffled Grilled Cheese

I had these wonderful little tapas at Commerc 24. They call them “bikinis” and they are neatly cut into triangles with the crusts cut off. My version here was made with a buttermilk bread and truffled Italian cheese. You can also achieve a similar taste using a creamy, easy-melting cheese and some truffle oil.

Truffled Grilled Cheese

Wine Pairings:

 


 

Grilled Cheese with Apples and White Cheddar

I love Irish cheddar in this sandwich and a granny smith apple. Slice the apples super thin and get some good crusty bread.

cheesey1

Wine Pairings:

 


 

Manchego Grilled Cheese with Fig Jam

I’ve often had salty creamy Manchego with sweet figs after dinner with a glass of wine. Grilled with some crusty bread is a perfect foil for this Iberian classic.

Cheese and Fig Jam

Wine Pairings:

 


 

Havarti and Sautéed Mushrooms Grilled Cheese

I make a big batch of sautéed mushrooms to keep in the fridge for quick weeknight suppers. Smooth, creamy harvarti is the perfect compliment to this earthy mixture.

 Wine Pairings:


 

MONTE CRISTO

The king of all grilled cheese, there are as many versions of this sandwich as there are characters at Disneyland. I like using a buttermilk white bread, while some people use brioche. Spread Dijon mustard on each slice of bread. Top each slice with a slice of Swiss cheese. Add some sliced ham and put the sandwich together. For the batter per sandwich you will need 1 egg, 2-3 tablespoons of milk, a pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk the ingredients together in a shallow dish. Dip the sandwich in the egg mixture, making sure that the bread soaks it up well. Griddle in a warm pan. You do not want the heat too high or it will burn and the cheese won’t melt. When it’s done, dust the top with powdered sugar. Serve hot!

 

Monte Cristo

Wine Pairings:


 

 

Food & Wine: Fish Fridays!

The other day a friend asked me, “Why is there always a clam chowder special on Fridays?”.  Well, folks, that comes from “fish Fridays”.  The one day a week when Catholics would abstain from eating meat.  Now, it’s only done during Lent, which is the season before Easter.  In my family, it meant tuna sandwiches for lunch and bacalao, salted cod, at my grandfather’s house for dinner.  Here are a few creative and easy fish recipes with matching wines for your Friday so that you don’t spend all of Lent eating fish sticks!

Buen provecho!

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Anne’s Chilean Sea Bass with Hazelnut Sauce

Sea Bass Image

Ingredients:

  • 2        Sea Bass Filets – Thick
  • 2        Tbsp Light Olive Oil
  • ½ c    Chopped & Roasted Hazelnuts
  • ½ c    Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc
  • 4 Tbsp     Butter – Cold
  • 3 Tbsp     Chopped Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Heat an oven-proof skillet on the stove. Add olive oil to heated pan.
  3. Season fish with salt and pepper and sear sea bass filet, skin side down.
  4. Place on skillet and transfer to oven. Roast fish for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and keep the fish warm on a serving plate.
  6. Return the skillet to the stove at medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook to translucent.
  7. Add the hazelnuts to shallots and then deglaze the pan with white wine.
  8. Turn the heat up to high and reduce the wine until there are only a couple tablespoons of liquid left in the pan.
  9. Reduce the heat to medium. Slowly add the fridge cold butter a hunk at a time to the pan. Swirl to incorporate. Do not stir.
  10. When all of the butter has been added, taste the sauce for salt and pepper and finish with chopped parley.
  11. Spoon mixture over the fish and serve.

Recommendation ideas:

*click image to download PDF recipe cards

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Anne’s Shrimp with White Beans and Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs   peeled and deveined shrimp (I used 20-25)
  • 3 Tbsp       Olive Oil
  • 1 bunch    Green Onions – chopped
  • 2 cloves   Garlic – minced
  • 2- 15oz cans    Cannellini Beans or White Kidney Beans
  • 1 pint         Cherry Tomatoes – chopped in half (these were an heirloom mix)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a sautee pan, sautee shrimp until they are almost cooked.
  2. Remove shrimp and cover to keep warm.
  3. Add green onions to the sautee pan and cook until softened.
  4. Add garlic.
  5. Drain the beans and save the liquid. Add the beans to the pan and some of the liquid.
  6. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until everything is heated through.
  7. Add back the shrimp.
  8. If the mixture looks dry just add more of the liquid, white wine or even just water. Adjust for seasoning.
  9. Garnish with more chopped green onion and serve with a big salad and lots of French bread.

Recommendation ideas:

*click image to download PDF recipe cards

 

 

Food & Wine: National Chili Day!

Anne's ChiliIt’s National Chili Day! There are as many recipes for chili as there are people in Texas. Chili is a great dish for these wintery days. Here is my oddball recipe for chili. It is not super hot, so it is wine friendly with some Zinfandel or Rhone. My favorite is topping a baked potato with the chili and the fixings and a big glass of wine!

Recommendation ideas:

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ANNE’S CHILI RECIPE

*click image to download PDF recipe cards