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Summer Beet Burgers Discover the Best of Autumn 2016 From Annette Shafer
Fall is here and farmer’s markets and produce aisles are offering up a bounty of rich color and flavor. Check out Annette Shafer’s new recipes for a meal that brings some of the best seasonal hearty, mouthwatering ingredients to your dinner table.  
Appetizer 
Roasted Root Panzanella

Servings: 4

Ingredients

For the salad
4 medium red beets, washed and scrubbed
1 red onion, peeled, cut into large dice
4 medium carrots, peeled, cut in half length-wise and then into 1” pieces
2 medium kabocha squash, cut in half, seeded and sliced into ½-1” pieces
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil as needed

4 slices of seeded bread of your choice, we use a seeded sour rye
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
Zest of 1 lemon
2-4 oz fresh goat cheese

For the dressing
2 Tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

Preparation
Preheat your oven to 400°F

Wrap the beets with foil, seal tightly, and place in a roasting pan. Place in oven and roast for approximately an hour, until still firm but roasted through.  Remove from the oven when fully roasted. Unwrap the beets, reserving any liquid to use later in the dressing. Peel the beets. Depending upon size, either quarter or cut into eight large pieces. (The idea is to have all of the roots close in size, an attractive visual touch when mixed together in the salad.) Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, when the beets are in the oven, place the onions, carrots, and squash on an oiled sheet tray, keeping each separate (in case one roasts more quickly than the other). Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and thyme. Roast for 25-40 minutes, or until just beginning to brown around the edges. Once the sheet tray of vegetables is roasted, remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Cut or tear the bread into ½-1” pieces and place in a large bowl. Add pumpkin seeds, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Place onto a clean sheet tray and roast in the oven for about 5–10 minutes, or until the bread starts to crisp and the seeds are toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside.

For the dressing, carefully pour the juices from the roasted beets into a bowl and whisk in the olive oil, mint, and mustard, and red wine vinegar. Adjust vinegar-to-olive-oil ratio to your taste. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the salad gently with the dressing, making sure the ingredients are well coated with the dressing. Top with small pieces of goat cheese. Serve and enjoy!

In Your Glass
This savory, zesty dish lends itself to many great wines. We’ve enjoyed it a number of times with a French rosé, one that is fruit forward, dry and crisp. Depending on what we felt like opening, we’d be just as likely to pull the cork on a Chardonnay with crispness and great fruit such as Red Shoulder Ranch.

 

Entrée 
Autumn Roasted Vegetable Bourguignon
With Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Servings: 6

Ingredients
1 cup Heirloom Cranberry Beans, sorted and soaked overnight
1 piece kombu
1 bay leaf
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted with boiling water, sliced into 1/4” pieces
1-1 ½ cups of a full-bodied red wine
2 Tablespoons mirin
1 Tablespoon tamari
2 medium carrots, peeled (optional) and cut into medium dice
3 cups peeled, medium-dice butternut squash
2-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
¾ - 1 pound shiitake mushroom caps (optional: stems removed), cut into ¼-inch slices
1 cup ¼” sliced celery
2 medium shallots, cut into medium dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme
2-3 cups vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Preparation
Ideally the day before, but as little as 2-3 hours before, rinse and drain beans. Place in a medium pot with kombu, bay leaf, and water to cover by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cover pot, simmering until beans are just beginning to soften, about 40-60 minutes. Drain beans and place in a medium bowl. Allow to cool slightly and then add sun dried tomatoes, red wine, mirin, and tamari and allow to marinate. Allow to cool fully and if preparing this a day ahead, refrigerate until you're ready to use.

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place butternut squash on one and carrots on the other. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and roast until tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the vegetables are roasting, warm 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 8-10 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Add celery and shallots and continue to sauté briefly. Stir in garlic and sauté for another minute or two, until fragrant. Stir in thyme. Add beans, with their marinade, reduce briefly, and then add enough stock to cover; bring to a boil, cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add carrots and squash and continue to simmer until the flavors have married and the bourguignon tastes rich and flavorful.

Dissolve cornstarch in 1-2 tablespoons filtered water and slowly drizzle into simmering stew. Stir constantly until mixture thickens slightly and begins to simmer again. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and remove from heat. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve with Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes (method below).

Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Servings: 6

Ingredients

For Mashed Potatoes
4 medium/large red potatoes (about 3 cups), rinsed, eyes and rough skin parts removed, cut into 1½" pieces  (optional: you can peel the potatoes completely, but the skin adds texture and nutrition!)
4-5 cups cauliflower, rinsed, cut into 1½" pieces
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
⅓ cup milk or more as needed for desired texture (optional: use unsweetened almond milk)
Pinch sea salt, to taste
Freshly-cracked pepper, to taste

For Roast Garlic
4-6 cloves roasted garlic
Olive oil as needed

Preparation

For Mashed Potatoes
Bring a large pot filled ¾ full of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook for 12-15 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Remove with slotted spoon and keep warm. Next, add the cauliflower and cook for 7-8 minutes, until cauliflower is fork-tender. Remove cauliflower with slotted spoon as well.

Discard the water from the pot used to cook the potatoes and cauliflower and put the empty pot back on the burner you were just using, that is now turned off. Put potatoes and cauliflower back into the pot. The residual heat will help the potatoes and cauliflower to dry out a bit. Let rest uncovered 2-3 minutes.

Mash the mixture briefly with a handheld potato masher and add milk, salt, garlic (see below), thyme, and pepper. Depending on the texture you prefer, at this point use a food processor or immersion blender to finish. You may need to add additional milk until the mixture reaches your desired texture.

For Roast Garlic
Heat the oven to 400°F. Set a rack in the middle position. Separate as many cloves from a head of garlic as needed, leaving the cloves in their papery skin. Trim just the tip off each clove. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Wrap the cloves in foil and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until soft.

Remove from the oven and let the garlic cool slightly. Press on the bottom of a clove to push it out of its paper. Roasted garlic can also be refrigerated for up to two weeks or frozen for up to three months.

In Your Glass
The fall flavors of squash, mushrooms, beans, and shallots in this entrée usually have us uncorking a hearty wine, such as a Burgundy from the Clos de Vougeot region. On a cold evening when we’re looking for lush, richness Hillside Select is always a wonderful choice!  Another fun option — of many — is a Spanish Tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero region.

 

Dessert 
Chocolate, Cranberry & Pear Buckwheat Cake

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

½ cup buckwheat flour
2 Tablespoons potato starch
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ cup ground hazelnuts
½ cup raw sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate
½ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1 pear, peeled, cored and diced
½ cup dried cranberries, reconstituted in boiling water until plump, drained
Grated zest of 1 orange
3 large eggs
½ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease a 9” springform pan, line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

Sift the buckwheat flour, potato starch, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add ground hazelnuts, sugar, and salt and whisk to combine. Add chocolate, pistachios, diced pear, cranberries, and orange zest. (Reserve a few pistachios and/or chocolate for the top of the cake). Mix together and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla together. Add to dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Transfer to the prepared pan and (optional) scatter over top the reserved pistachios and/or chocolate.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool before removing the pan’s collar. Enjoy!

In Your Glass
As with so many dishes, including dessert, there are always lots of nice wine options. In fact with this dessert we often just carry forward the dinner wine. If though you have a bottle of tawny Port or Shafer’s Firebreak dessert wine just waiting to be opened, here’s an excellent reason! And on a ‘school night’ a decaf cappuccino is also an excellent accompaniment!

 

Summer Beet Burgers Savor The Best of Summer 2016 from Annette Shafer
Summer is finally here and gardens, farmer’s markets, and produce aisles are a riot of color and flavor. Check out Annette Shafer’s new recipes for a meal that brings some of the best seasonal ingredients to your dinner table.
 
Appetizer
Strawberry Avocado Salad with Pistachio Crunch

Servings: 4

Ingredients

Pistachio Crunch
1 cup raw, shelled pistachios
1½ teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Dash allspice
Dash cayenne
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 Tablespoon maple syrup

Salad
8 cups mixed baby kale and arugula
2 Tablespoons lemon juice + 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (for avocado)
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch sea salt
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
2 cups diced fresh strawberries
1 cup peeled, steamed, and cooled diced beets
1 large avocado, diced and sprinkled with lemon juice
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
½ cup pistachio crunch (see below)

Balsamic Dressing
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar (more as needed)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Pinch sea salt
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
Whisk together all ingredients

For the Pistachio Crunch
Preheat oven to 300°. In a small bowl, toss pistachios with oil. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until almost dry, about 15- 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cayenne and sea salt in a medium bowl. Drizzle maple syrup over pistachios and stir well to coat. Transfer to spice mixture bowl and toss to coat. Return pistachios to baking sheet and roast until dry, about 15 minutes, being careful not to let them burn. Set aside to let cool completely before serving.

For the Salad
In a large bowl, gently toss salad greens with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt. Divide among 4 individual salad plates or bowls. Divide remaining ingredients 4 ways and sprinkle evenly, first the quinoa over the lettuce followed with sea salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with balsamic dressing and top with pistachio crunch. Serve.

In Your Glass
The beauty of wine is that you’re never done exploring and coming across delicious new finds. With this salad I reach into our wine collection for something light and crisp with good acid but isn’t not too big. To me the strawberry element here with the rich nuttiness of the pistachios offer a long list of dance partners. Doug and I have enjoyed it with Chablis, Albariño, and Champagne — always a favorite at our house. In the Shafer portfolio, Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay is a natural in our glass for this one.

Entrée
Summer Beet Burgers

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients
2 medium beets, peeled and quartered
1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 ½ cups quinoa flakes (or rolled oats)
½ cup cooked beluga lentils
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
3 cups cooked, drained white beans (cannellini, navy, etc.)
1 egg
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon sumac
Pinch sea salt

To serve
Lettuce of choice
Microgreens of choice
Condiments of choice

Preparation
In a food processor fitted with a grater attachment (or using a handheld box-grater), finely grate beets and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside. Changing to the ‘S’ blade in the food processor, process the red onion and garlic together.  Set aside.

Heat a medium sauté pan and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add onion and garlic mixture. Sauté briefly and add the grated beets. Continue to sauté until the beets just begin to soften. Remove from heat, let cool briefly, then, toss with quinoa flakes, lentils, and rosemary. Set aside.

Next, process the walnuts briefly in the food processor. Add cannellini beans, egg, smoked paprika, sumac and sea salt and continue to process just until smooth. Scoop into the large bowl with beet mixture and stir to combine.

Form mixture into 6-8 even 1-inch thick patties. Allow patties to sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator so the quinoa flakes will absorb some of the moisture.

Preheat BBQ grill to medium high. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease with olive oil (nonstick foil works well too). Place patties on foil and then slide the foil onto the grill. Grill until the underside is beginning to brown and then carefully flip the patties over. Cover grill. Continue to grill until the underside is brown and the patty is warmed through. Alternatively, you can sauté patties, flipping once the underside has browned, and finish them in a 350˚F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.

To serve
Serve on a whole grain bun of your choice and with your favorite condiments. We love to top them with spicy Dijon mustard and microgreens!

In Your Glass
The lovely surprise of these burgers is how moist and meaty they are and are so beautifully complemented with a nice full-bodied red such as a Grenache on the rich side or a Syrah such as Shafer’s Relentless. Enjoy!

Dessert
Raspberry Peach Picnic Bars

Servings: 12-16

Ingredients

¼ cup coconut oil, plus extra for greasing pan
½ cup butter
1 ¾ cups rolled oats
1 cup spelt flour
⅓ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
¼ cup coconut sugar
Pinch sea salt
1 ½ cups peeled and roughly chopped peaches
1 cup raspberries
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper and grease with a scant bit of coconut oil.

Melt the coconut oil and the butter in a saucepan (large enough to hold all of the other ingredients as well) over medium heat. Once melted, remove from heat. Add the oats, flours, ½ cup brown sugar, coconut sugar, and a pinch of sea salt.  Stir to mix.

Set aside ½ cup of the mixture for the topping. Press the rest of the mixture into the bottom of the pan with an offset spatula until it’s compact and an even thickness.

Place chopped peaches into a bowl; drizzle lemon juice over plus the remaining 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar and toss gently to mix. Gently fold in the raspberries.

Next, scatter the fruit over the base and sprinkle with the reserved topping. Bake until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is golden, about 35-40 minutes.

Let the bars cool in the tray (you can do this in the fridge to speed things up), then cut into roughly 30 pieces. Store in the fridge; they will keep for 4-5 days.

In Your Glass
Enjoying wine with these bars opens up many delicious possibilities. The peach and raspberry combo is a hit with summery aromas and flavors in Viognier or a nice dry rosé.  Likewise ending a meal with these bars and a glass of Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay is a treat you won’t want to miss.

 
Mediterranean Lamb Shanks With Cannellini Beans and Spring Leeks Bite Into The Best of Spring 2016 from Annette Shafer
With the arrival of spring comes the chance to enjoy the zesty, vibrant flavors of a new season. Check out Annette Shafer’s latest recipes for a meal that brings together some of the best seasonal ingredients you’ll find now in produce sections and farmers markets.
 
Appetizer
Asparagus, Spring Pea and Baby Spinach Salad

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

Salad
2 bunches asparagus, about 1 pound each
1 cup fresh English peas, shelled
6 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, washed and spun dry
1 cup pea shoots

Dressing
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice + 1 Tablespoon
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
Divide the asparagus in half. To prepare the first half, lay a single stalk on a cutting board. Holding onto the tough end, use a vegetable peeler (a Y-shaped peeler is easiest, but a standard one works too) to shave off thin asparagus ribbons from stalk to tip, peeling away from the tough end. Discard the tough ends once you’re done peeling. Gently pile the ribbons into a large serving bowl. Squeeze 1 Tablespoon lemon juice over the asparagus, drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Toss gently and place covered in the refrigerator while preparing the remainder of the salad.

To prepare the remaining asparagus, snap off the tough ends and discard them. Peel the remaining stalks and then slice them, on the diagonal, into 1-inch pieces.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil over high heat. Add the asparagus, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until bright green and tender crisp. Refresh in a bowl of ice water. When fully cooled, drain and set aside.  

Next, cook the peas for 2-3 minutes or until bright green and tender crisp. Refresh in a bowl of ice water. When fully cooled, drain and set aside. 

Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mustard and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the cooked asparagus, peas, and spinach in the large serving bowl with the asparagus ribbons. Drizzle over the dressing and toss gently until well combined.

Serve immediately.

In Your Glass
This salad is nice and mustardy and would be great with a white with good acid like a Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc produced in the Sancerre region of France). Likewise a lean, crisp Italian Pinot Grigio has proved a delicious choice for us. At other times we’ve gone for a white wine that, like the dish itself balances crisp acidity and with some rich flavors, such as Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay.

 

Entrée
Mediterranean Lamb Shanks With Cannellini Beans and Spring Leeks

Servings: 4

Ingredients         

Lamb
4 lamb shanks, each about a pound; 1 shank is 1 portion
Sea salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup flour
4 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (split between each stage)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 medium celery ribs, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
¼ cup fresh orange juice
3 cups vegetable broth, more as needed
½ cup green olives, pitted and chopped 

Beans
1 cup cannellini beans, soaked overnight  (or 3 cups canned)
1 bay leaf
2” piece of kombu
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 cups chiffonade of leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned of all sand
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 Tablespoon olive oil plus extra for serving
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

For the lamb
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large dutch oven on medium-high. With salt and pepper to taste, season the lamb shanks, then dredge in the flour, shaking off the excess. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, then the lamb shanks and sear them evenly on all sides, about 5 to 6 minutes per batch.

Once the meat has finished searing, remove to a paper towel-lined plate, making sure to remove any bits of black charring from the Dutch oven.

Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the vegetables – onions, carrots, celery, and sweat them until they’ve released their juices and are just soft.  Add garlic and continue to sauté until the aroma is released. Stir in the cayenne and rosemary.

Add the tomato paste and cook the whole mixture briefly to concentrate the flavors.
Deglaze the vegetables with the red wine, then add orange juice and simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot, until all is incorporated. Add 2-3 cups broth as needed.

Place the lamb back into the Dutch oven along with any accumulated juices, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover with the lid, and place into your preheated oven, braising the lamb for 2.5 hrs.

Remove the lid, add the olives, and cook uncovered for another 15-30 minutes as the juice reduces to the desired consistency.

For the beans
Starting after you’ve put the lamb in the oven, place the beans in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, add bay leaf and kombu (which improves digestibility and enhances flavor) and simmer for 1 ½ or 2 hours adding more water as necessary. Add vinegar when the beans are ¾ way through the cooking process. (Beans can be cooked a day ahead.)

Meanwhile, warm an additional 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large pan at medium-low heat, add the chopped leeks. Sauté gently until leeks are creamy and soft. If they begin to color, add water as needed and continue to sauté until tender.

When the beans are soft, drain, and add to the leeks. Stir the mixture together gently. Add red pepper flakes, sea salt and pepper to taste.

To plate family style
Place the bean mixture onto a large serving platter to make a bed for the lamb. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. With tongs, transfer the lamb onto the beans and serve.

In Your Glass
Lamb provides challenges for some when it comes to choosing a wine. But we always give a nod to what we most feel like drinking – no ‘rules’ allowed – and that keeps it fun and stress free! With a dish with these flavors I’ll usually lean toward something earthy and savory with ripe, full-bodied fruit. A Spanish Tempranillo has been the winner some evenings. On others we might go with either a Shafer Merlot or Cabernet. Each will bring its own combination of richness and lush flavors that make this lamb dish truly memorable.

 

Dessert
Flourless Rhubarb, Earl Gray and Meyer Lemon Cake

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients

Cake
2 cups almond meal
¾ cup hazelnut meal
2 cups sliced rhubarb, sliced into ½ inch pieces
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
¾ cup caster sugar (or unrefined sugar pulsed in a blender)
Finely grated zest of 1 large Meyer lemon
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Earl Gray tea bags, steep in ¼ cup hot water

Rhubarb Compote (make a day ahead)
1 ¾ pounds rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into ¾-inch pieces
½ cup unrefined sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 inch piece fresh peeled ginger, finely grated

Meyer Lemon Labne (make a day ahead) (optional)
2 cups of whole goat or sheep yoghurt
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
2-3 tablespoons muscovado sugar

Preparation

For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and line the base and sides of a 9 x 2 inch cake pan with parchment paper.

Combine the rhubarb, almond meal, and hazelnut meal in a large bowl, mixing well to evenly coat the rhubarb.

In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest and one egg at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla and 2 Tablespoons of the steeped Earl Gray tea. Fold the wet mixture into the almond meal mixture until just incorporated. Pour into the cake pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes before removing the cake pan and transferring to a wire rack to cool. Serve with rhubarb compote and Meyer lemon labne (optional). Enjoy!

For the Rhubarb Compote
Stir together rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan (no heat); let stand until rhubarb releases some liquid, about 10 minutes.
Bring rhubarb mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb has broken down but some whole pieces remain, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Place ginger in a fine-mesh sieve set over a smallbowl. Press down firmly with a spoon until juices are released (to yield about 1 teaspoon). Discard solids. Stir ginger juice into rhubarb mixture.

Let sauce cool completely before serving.

For the Meyer Lemon Labne
Place a sieve over a medium bowl and line with cheese cloth. Combine yogurt and zest. Pour ⅓ of it into the sieve, sprinkle over a little muscovado sugar. Repeat in layers, finishing with yoghurt. Fold over the muslin to enclose and refrigerate at least 4-5 hours, preferably overnight. The next day, tip out the whey that will have collected in the bowl. Unwrap muslin and turn labne into a small bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

In Your Glass
The warm, inviting flavors of this cake open up lots of delicious wine possibilities. We’ve enjoyed this with a tawny port – the golden raisin, racy sweetness, and silky mouthfeel is too good not to try. Other times we’ve reached for an older vintage of Shafer’s Firebreak, a Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine, which offers its own lush, hedonistic way to end your meal.

 

 
Mushroom Ragu Enjoy the Best of Winter 2015 With Recipes from Annette Shafer
The weather outside may be frightful but your dinner table can be delightful with the best aromas and flavors of the season. Annette Shafer is back with recipes that will bring some sparkle to those long winter nights. Check out our latest recipes.
 
Appetizer
Beluga Lentils and Arugula Winter Salad

Servings: 4

Ingredients

Salad
1 cup Beluga lentils
2 cups water
2 teaspoons olive oil, or more as needed
1 cup peeled, cubed baby Chioggia or red beets
1 cup peeled, cubed butternut squash
1 cup cored, cubed Gala apple
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 cup arugula
1 cup baby beet greens
½ cup flat leaf parsley leaves
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon thyme leaves

Vinaigrette
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Pumpkin Seed Crunch
Yield: 4, 2 oz. portions
8 oz pumpkin seeds, soaked 4 hours (drained well)
1 ½  teaspoons coconut oil (melted)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne

Preparation
Prepare Pumpkin Seed crunch (see below). Set aside. (Can be prepared a day ahead.)

Place lentils in boiling water. Cover. Turn heat to a simmer and continue to cook until just cooked al dente, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and spread them out on a baking sheet to cool. Once cool, they can be refrigerated until needed. (Can be prepared a day ahead.) 

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Place beets into glass baking dish. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over the beets and toss gently to coat. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45-minutes, or until tender. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, toss the squash with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, place on sheet pan and roast on the lower rack of the oven until just tender, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, toss together the roasted beets, squash, apple, and radishes.  Drizzle a scant amount of vinaigrette into the bowl and toss again gently. 

In a separate bowl, toss together arugula, beet greens, parsley leaves and thyme.  Drizzle a scant amount of vinaigrette around the outside of the bowl. Toss.

Vinaigrette
Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, oil, shallot, and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pumpkin Seed Crunch
Preheat oven to 300˚F. Rinse and drain pumpkin seeds. In a small bowl, toss pumpkin seeds with oil. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until almost dry, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix cinnamon, allspice, salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl. Move roast pumpkin seeds into a separate bowl, drizzle maple syrup, and stir with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle spice mixture into bowl and toss to coat. Return pumpkin seeds to baking sheet and roast until dry, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside to let cool completely.

Serving
Place greens on salad plate. Sprinkle with lentils. Spoon beet mixture over the top. Garnish with Pumpkin Seed Crunch. Enjoy!

In Your Glass
With its hearty winter flavors, this salad lends itself well to a wide-open field of great white wine partners. Doug and I have enjoyed it with a nice, crisp Spanish Albariño and on other occasions have reached for Shafer’s lush Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay that has a wonderful minerality, which also greatly compliments the salad’s earthy richness.

 

Entrée
Mushroom Ragu with Polenta and Truffle Oil Drizzle

Servings: 4

Ingredients

1 cup dried mushrooms (any mix of your choosing — porcini, chanterelles, black trumpets, morels, etc.
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 shallots, small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons butter
1 pound fresh mixed mushrooms (shiitake chanterelles, miatake, king trumpet, etc) — larger ones cut into chunks, smaller ones halved
¾ cup white wine
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
Sea salt and pepper
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley (for garnish)

Polenta
2 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
Pinch of sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ cups milk
¾ cup polenta
1 Tablespoon butter (optional)
1 oz grated Pecorino cheese, plus extra for garnish
1 Tablespoon truffle oil

Preparation
Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Soak for 10-15 minutes until well hydrated. Drain and reserve the soaking liquid. 

Meanwhile, gather the ingredients for the polenta. In a medium saucepan, add 2 cups of the stock, salt, bay leaf, pepper flakes and milk. Bring just to a boil and begin to whisk in the polenta slowly until it’s all incorporated. Turn the heat to simmer and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon periodically until the polenta has absorbed all the liquid and is creamy and soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in Pecorino cheese to taste, reserving the remainder for garnish. (Use reserved stock if mixture becomes too thick.) The truffle oil will be drizzled over the dish upon plating.

For the mushroom ragu, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, add the shallots, stir until translucent and then add the garlic until it releases its aroma. At this point if you’d like you can add the optional butter and when it’s melted, begin to add the fresh mushrooms. Toss to coat them in the butter, shallot, and garlic mixture. Continue to sauté until they have released their juices and have begun to caramelize, about 10 minutes. (It is best to sauté mushrooms in smaller batches if you don’t have a fairly large sauté pan so they will more easily caramelize.) When the mixture is dry, add the wine, oregano, thyme, dehydrated mushrooms and the reserved mushroom ‘stock’ (strained through a fine sieve) and cook, stirring gently, for another 10 minutes or so, loosening any bits from the bottom of the pan in the process. When the mixture has reached the consistency you desire, transfer to a metal bowl and season with sea salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice and stir gently to combine.

Serving
Divide the warm polenta between 4 bowls and top with the mushroom mixture.  Drizzle with truffle oil. Garnish with chopped parsley and remaining pecorino.  Enjoy!

In Your Glass
The predominance of the rich, wild mushrooms in this entrée sets the stage for wines with a lot of personality. Doug and I might think first of a bottle of Shafer Relentless, which definitely has that quality and a wonderful flavor profile that stands well alongside this dish. Another option, of course, with its peppery and rustic charm, would be a wine from France’s Cote Rotie region. Either would be a delight with this dish on a cool, wintery evening with a roaring fire in the fireplace!

 

Dessert
Winter Pear and Hazelnut Tart

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

1 ¼ cup skinned, roasted hazelnuts + ¼ cup, halved for garnish
⅓ cup organic superfine sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
6 Tablespoons butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ripe, yet firm pears
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple sugar

Pastry (chilled)
½ cup white whole wheat flour
½ cup unbleached, all purpose flour
¼ cup ground hazelnuts
1 Tablespoon organic cane sugar
Pinch sea salt
3 oz cold, unsalted butter
1 small egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon cold water

Preparation

Pastry
Place the whole wheat and all purpose flour into the bowl of a food processor. Add ground hazelnuts, sugar, and salt. Mix with a quick pulse to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse until it’s the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the egg and continue to pulse until it begins to come together. Add only enough water for the dough to come together, being careful not to add too much in order to avoid sticky pastry.

Remove the dough from the food processor and flatten into a disc. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 1 hour.

The pastry shell
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a fluted 9.5” tart pan. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a circle a bit wider than the pie dish. Transfer it to the tart pan and carefully nudge the pastry into the fluted spaces around the pan. Trim off any excess pastry being mindful to leave just a bit above the edge to account for shrinkage during baking. Chill through, about 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling while the crust is chilling
In a food processor, pulse together the hazelnuts and 2 Tablespoons of the sugar until finely ground. Add the flour, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg and pulse just to incorporate. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and remaining sugar until fluffy and pale in color. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract gently and then stir in the nut mixture until incorporated.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and line it with baking parchment and pastry weights/beans. Bake for 10-15 minutes, just until the edges begin to turn a golden color and the pastry is opaque. Remove the parchment and continue to bake another few minutes, until the interior of the shell is set. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Once cooled, spread the filling evenly into the tart shell. Peel (optional), quarter (lengthwise) and core the pears. Then, slice them horizontally. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Arrange the sliced pears decoratively on top of the filling leaving space to sprinkle in the halved hazelnuts, pressing them lightly into the filling.

Bake until the pears are golden and the filling is puffed and golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. When you remove it from the oven, sprinkle with the maple sugar. Allow to cool until set and serve warm.

In Your Glass
This tart invites some fun wine exploration. A white dessert wine from Germany or Austria comes easily to mind as I contemplate the tart’s pears and hazelnuts. If you can find it, there is a delightful wine called Ruster Ausbruch, from the little Austrian town of Rust (pronounced “roost”) with wonderful floral aromas and full of flavors reminiscent of honey, spice and vanilla. And of course another can’t-miss possibility, and perhaps a bit easier to come by, is Shafer’s own Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine, Firebreak.

 

 
Roasted Cauliflower, Farro & Lentils with Toasted Pistachios and Tahini Drizzle Indulge in the Best of Autumn 2015 With Recipes from Annette Shafer
Twilight is arriving sooner, the evenings are cooler, and we’re craving the aromas and flavors of autumn. Annette Shafer has rounded up some of the season’s best ingredients for a scrumptious fall meal you won’t want to miss.
 
Appetizer
GOUGÈRES

Yield: 36

Ingredients
½ cup whole milk  
½ cup spring water
8 Tablespoons sweet, unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour (Cup4Cup is our gluten-free choice)
5 large eggs at room temperature
1 ¾  cups coarsely grated cheese, such as a local California Fiscalini cheddar (6-8 ounces)

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 425°F. You will need two racks in the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bring the milk, water, butter, and salt to a rolling boil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over high heat. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat, and immediately start stirring rapidly with a heavy whisk. The dough will come together quickly. Keep stirring heartily for another minute or two with the whisk or a wooden spoon until the dough is a bit dryer and very smooth.

Place the dough into the bowl of a mixer and let it sit briefly. Using a paddle attachment add the eggs one by one, beating after each addition and then finally until the dough is thick and shiny. Next, beat in the grated cheese.

Drop the dough by 1 Tablespoon at a time from a spoon onto the lined baking sheets leaving a couple of inches between each. Place the baking sheets in the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 375°F.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the gougères are golden, firm, and puffed, another 10-15 minutes. Serve warm, or transfer the pans to racks to cool. Best to hide them if not serving immediately!

Optional: serve alongside a simple arugula salad with shaved pears, pomegranate seeds, toasted walnuts and a Champagne vinaigrette.

In Your Glass
A deliciously vivid memory from our travels in France, particularly in Burgundy where they are said to have originated, Gougères are everywhere! Always a welcome amuse-bouche accompanied by a cool, refreshing glass of Champagne where the interplay between its toastiness and the gougères ‘eggy’ richness is a delight! Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay is an equally charming dance partner.

 

Entrée
Roasted Cauliflower, Farro & Lentils with Toasted Pistachios and Tahini Drizzle

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

For the Roasted Cauliflower, Farro and Lentils
1 - 2 heads Cauliflower, trimmed and cut into ¾” thick ‘steaks’
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 medium red onion, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
⅓ cup diced red bell pepper
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 Tablespoons golden raisins
3 cups cooked farro*
1 ½ cups cooked beluga lentils, drained
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives for garnish

For the Tahini Drizzle
1 cup whole goat milk yogurt or Greek yogurt
6 Tablespoons Tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
4-6 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

For the Spiced Pistachio Crunch
8 ounces shelled Pistachios
2 Tablespoons Grade A Maple Syrup
1 ½ teaspoons coconut oil
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon allspice
dash nutmeg
dash salt
dash cayenne

*Note: for cooked farro: Place 1 ½ cups dried farro in a small saucepan with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer 10-12 minutes or until just cooked al dente.

Preparation
Prepare Tahini Drizzle and Spiced Pistachio Crunch and set aside.

Tahini Drizzle
Mix all ingredients with a whisk. Add more lemon juice or water as needed for desired consistency. Set aside in refrigerator until serving.

Spiced Pistachio Crunch
Preheat oven to 300°F. Toss pistachios with maple syrup and coconut oil. Sprinkle in remaining ingredients. Mix well. Place on parchment lined baking sheet into oven. Bake 20 minutes or until Pistachios begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Roasted Cauliflower, Farro and Lentils
Blanch the cauliflower steaks in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain well and pat dry. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear the cauliflower steaks in 2 batches (may need additional olive oil) for 2 minutes on each side or until light golden brown. Gently transfer the steaks to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven until tender, about 8-10 minutes.

While the cauliflower is roasting, add remaining olive oil to sauté pan over medium high heat. Sauté the onion until just translucent. Add red pepper, garlic, mustard seeds, cumin, and coriander, stirring briefly. Add the golden raisins, farro, and lentils to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until heated through. You may need to add a splash of water if the mixture becomes too dry. Season with red pepper flakes, sea salt, and pepper. Add lemon juice and toss.

Serving
Place one large cauliflower steak (or 2 smaller steaks) on a plate (or bowl if preffered). Add the farro mixture leaving a portion of the cauliflower steak exposed. Drizzle with Tahini sauce and sprinkle with spiced pistachios and chives. Enjoy!

In Your Glass
A lot of nutty, chrewy, carmelized autumn textures and flavors are going on in this dish and when it comes to wine Doug and I often find that a nice “pop” of red fruit is just the thing. We’ll usually reach for a Pinot Noir or a Shafer Merlot — both offer a lot to love with this dish.

 

Dessert
Double Chocolate Beet Cake

Servings: 8

Ingredients

8 ounces beets, unpeeled, rinsed and scrubbed
7 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
7 ounces sweet, unsalted butter
¼ cup strong espresso
1 cup all purpose flour (or gluten free option)
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
5 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 cup organic superfine sugar
½ cup cacao nibs
Mascarpone cheese for serving
Poppy seeds for garnish

Preparation
Simmer the beets in enough water to cover them until they are very tender — about 30-45 minutes. Oil an 8” springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Drain and then rinse beets under cold water. Peel and cut into large dice. Add to food processor and process until beets form a coarse puree.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium-sized bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, melt the chocolate stirring only toward the end. Once it’s almost all melted, turn off the burner. Add the butter, swirl gently with a spatula to mix. Gently whisk in the espresso. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and sea salt in a separate bowl. Set aside.

Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat. Let it cool for a few minutes. Stir the egg yolks together and whisk a bit of the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Once fully incorporated, add the egg yolk mixture to the chocolate mixture and quickly whisk the mixture together. Fold in the beet puree.

Whip the egg whites until stiff in a stand mixer (or by hand). Gradually fold the sugar into the whipped egg whites with a spatula and then fold them into the melted chocolate mixture — first a third of the egg white mixture and then the remaining egg white mixture.

Gently fold in the flour and cocoa powder mixture and fold in the cacao nibs.

Place the batter into the prepared springform pan and place it on a baking sheet and then in the oven. Reduce the oven to 325°F and bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until the sides are just set but the center is still a little soft. Be careful not to overbake.

Let the cake cool completely. Remove from the pan.

Serving
If you can wait, allow the cake to cool completely before serving. Serve Mascarpone (or crème fraîche) and poppy seeds along side for garnish. Or serve with a scoop of vanilla gelato — always a crowd favorite!

In Your Glass
With this dessert we like to let the cake do all the sweet talking and enjoy it with a glass of something rich (but dry) like a Cabernet such as Shafer’s One Point Five. At the same time it’s hard not to love this with an aromatic espresso.

 

 
Pan seared sea scallops Savor the Best of Summer 2015 With Recipes from Annette Shafer
It’s summertime and some of the year’s best fresh aromas and flavors are here. Celebrate this delicious time of year with Annette Shafer’s latest seasonal recipes, sure to inspire a meal to remember.
 
Appetizer
Heirloom Tomato Watermelon Burrata Salad with Shiso

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients
For the Vinaigrette
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil

For the Salad
4 ounces balsamic vinaigrette
3 heirloom tomatoes, large dice
½ of a small watermelon, large dice, chilled
1 cup baby arugula
½ cup watercress
6 Shiso leaves, chiffonade
6 ounces Burrata cheese
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Preparation
Vinaigrette
Whisk the vinegar in a bowl with the honey, garlic, salt and pepper until salt dissolves. Then whisk in the oil, pouring slowly and whisking constantly. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Salad
Combine watermelon and tomatoes. Set aside. Toss the arugula and watercress lightly with some of the balsamic vinaigrette. Divide the greens mixture evenly between plates. Top with watermelon and tomatoes. Divide the Burrata evenly among the plates. Sprinkle with a little sea salt, pepper and the Shiso leaves. Drizzle a little of the balsamic vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

In Your Glass
The sweet and savory acidity of the tomato and watermelon, combined with the to-die-for creaminess of the Burrata for me cry out for a light Vouvray with some nice minerality — this is a sparkling wine made from Chenin Blanc. Of course we’ve enjoyed this one as well with a Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay.

 

Entrée
Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Corn, Roasted Peppers and Baby Shiitakes

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients
For the Scallops
2 pounds sea scallops, cleaned
1 Tablespoon olive oil + 2 teaspoons

For the Corn Salad
4 ears sweet white corn, shucked, cleaned, kernels cut away
1 ½ cups sliced baby shiitake mushrooms
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and diced
¼ cup diced red onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

For the Greens
8 ounces baby arugula
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 teaspoons lemon juice
¼ cup chopped chives

Preparation
Corn Salad
In large sauté pan, sauté the red onions in the 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat until opaque. Add garlic and sauté just until you notice the aroma. Add corn and mushrooms, continue to sauté to heat through and soften mushrooms. Toss in the red pepper. Season with sea salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Set aside.

Scallops
Place cast iron pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté scallops,  achieving a nicely browned surface before flipping them to finish sautéing.

Greens
Meanwhile gently toss the arugula with the olive oil and lemon juice.

To Serve 
Arrange the warm corn salad in the center of the plate. Place scallops to the side and garnish with arugula and chives.

In Your Glass
At our house this dish offers a toss-up between red and white wine. We’ve enjoyed it with a delicious fruit-forward Pinot Noir or a mouth-filling Shafer Merlot. Likewise a white wine with a zesty, exotic quality such as Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay can offer terrific enjoyment.

 

Dessert
Blueberry Corn Ice Cream Parfait

Servings: 6

Ingredients
For the Ice Cream
6 cups fresh sweet white corn kernels (from about 6 ears), cobs reserved (if using fresh)
4 cups 2% milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 ⅛ cups sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

For the Compote
3 cups fresh blueberries
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups fresh sweet corn (from about 1 ½ ears)

For the Popcorn
⅓ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for bowl
2 Tablespoons popcorn kernels, air-popped (about 6 cups popped)
2 Tablespoons light agave syrup
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

For the Whipped Cream
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
Ice cream
Set a large bowl in an ice-water bath; set aside. In a large saucepan, bring corn, corn cobs, 3 ½ cups milk, heavy cream, vanilla bean seeds, and pod just to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and remaining ½ cup milk until well combined. Remove corn mixture from heat; slowly add about a third of the hot corn mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly until combined. Remove cobs from milk mixture and pour egg mixture back into saucepan, whisking constantly. Return saucepan to medium-high heat. Whisking constantly, cook until custard mixture coats back of a wooden spoon, 4 to 5 minutes; stir in vanilla extract and sea salt.

Pour custard mixture into bowl set in ice-water bath; let cool completely. Transfer custard mixture to refrigerator and let chill overnight.

Transfer custard mixture to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, discarding solids. Then transfer custard mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Keep ice cream frozen in an airtight container up to 3 days.

The Compote
Place 1 ½ cups blueberries and the sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until berries burst and mixture begins to look syrupy. Add corn kernels, stir to combine and remove from heat.

Stir in remaining cup and a half of blueberries. Cool. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until cool, up to 24 hours.

The Popcorn
Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat; set aside. Butter a large heatproof bowl and add popped popcorn to bowl; set aside.

Heat sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, and agave syrup in a medium saucepan over low until butter and sugar melt. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring, until sugar mixture becomes golden brown. Remove from heat and carefully add vanilla and salt (mixture may splatter slightly). Pour sugar mixture over popcorn; stir until popcorn is completely coated.

Turn popcorn out onto prepared baking sheet, working quickly to separate kernels; let cool completely. Transfer popcorn to an airtight container until ready to use.

Make the whipped cream: Place all whipped cream ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk until soft peaks form.

Place two spoonfuls of blueberry compote in each of 6 large parfait glasses; top with two scoops corn ice cream. Top each with another spoonful of compote and a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with toffee popcorn and serve immediately.

In Your Glass
If you want a real wine adventure you can try this dessert with a variety of Ports or Cabernet dessert wines. Personally, I love this best with rich, warming espresso.

 

 
Black Bean Chili DISCOVER THE BEST OF SPRING 2015 WITH RECIPES FROM ANNETTE SHAFER
With the change of season comes a host of spirited new aromas and flavors. Celebrate spring with Annette Shafer’s latest seasonal recipes, sure to inspire a meal to remember.
 
Appetizer
Arugula and Fava Bean Crostini

Servings: 4

Ingredients

½ cup shelled fresh fava beans (¾ pound in pods) or shelled fresh or frozen edamame
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus additional for drizzling
¾ cup packed baby arugula, divided
1 ½ Tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 small Pain Levain baguette
1 garlic clove, halved crosswise
8 mint leaves, chiffonade

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Blanch fava beans in boiling water, uncovered, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain and transfer to an ice bath. Gently peel off skins (if using edamame, don't peel).

Pulse fava beans in a food processor until very coarsely chopped, then transfer half of mixture to a large bowl. Set aside. To the favas in the food processer, add 1 Tablespoon oil, ¼ cup arugula, cheese, lemon zest and juice, pinch sea salt and black pepper and purée until smooth. Fold into favas in the bowl. Coarsely chop remaining ½ cup arugula and gently fold into fava-bean mixture.

Cut 8 diagonal slices (⅓ inch thick) from baguette and place on sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of oil. Bake until pale golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Rub with cut side of garlic.

Spoon fava-bean mixture onto baguette toasts, then drizzle with remaining oil and top with mint.

In Your Glass
This dish takes me right back to springtime in Tuscany, where you’d likely see this Crostini served with a chilled local white wine such as Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a delicious combination in its simplicity and balance of delicate flavors! Closer to home, Doug and I have enjoyed this with a crisp, effervescent California blanc de blanc sparkling wine or a younger Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay.  

 

Entrée
Halibut with Asparagus, Baby Bok Choy and Millet Salad

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 ¼ pound Halibut, (4, 5oz. portions)

Marinade
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely minced lemon zest
1 Tablespoon white wine
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste

Asparagus, Baby Bok Choy and Millet Salad
1 cup millet
2 cups water
1 bunch asparagus
2 heads baby bok choy
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Juice from 2 lemons
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 large garlic clove, minced
Sea salt & pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint or basil
1 bunch fresh parsley, rinsed, dried, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
½ cup raw pistachios, roughly chopped

Preparation

Marinade
Combine lemon juice, lemon zest, white wine, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside. Rinse halibut under cold running water and pat dry. Remove any bones. Place in a glass dish and pour marinade over halibut, making sure to coat both sides. Cover. Let marinate 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

While the fish is marinating, combine the millet with water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cover and let cook until all of the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes). Leave covered and remove from heat once finished cooking. Allow it to finish steaming for another few minutes before fluffing with a fork.

While the millet is steaming, wash and cut bok choy on the diagonal. Set aside. Wash, peel and trim the asparagus. Cut into one-inch pieces. Place both asparagus and bok choy in a steamer basket placed in a medium size sauce pan filled with a small amount of water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and steam until tender (3 - 5 minutes).

For the dressing, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside until ready.

Place cooked millet in a medium bowl. Toss in parsley and mint. Add asparagus and bok choy and toss lightly. Sprinkle dressing on top and toss. Add salt and pepper as needed. Add a little more lemon juice or olive oil if more moisture is needed. Set aside.

To prepare halibut: Heat a non-stick sauté pan to medium high heat. Add olive oil and swirl around pan. Drain halibut pieces. Sauté just until halibut loses its interior translucency — a little bit of translucency is fine since the fish will continue to cook a bit once removed from the heat. Remove from the pan. Set aside.

To Plate
Place millet salad on plate and top with halibut. Sprinkle with pistachios. Enjoy!

In Your Glass
With the subtle flavors of the halibut and bok choy, and the earthy assertiveness of the asparagus, I tend to reach for a well-balanced white wine with distinct minerality like a French Chablis. You’ll also find rewards in trying this dish with a lighter style Pinot Noir — yes, we often drink red against what has become convention! As we buck tradition, from the Shafer portion of our wine cellar, I’d reach for a Shafer Merlot which is always a welcome pleasure.

 

Dessert
Strawberry-Rhubarb Galettes

Servings: 4

Ingredients

Whole Wheat Pastry

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons organic granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6 ounces unsalted butter, well chilled
⅔ cup ice water, plus or minus 1 tablespoon as needed
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Filling
4 ounces rhubarb, trimmed and sliced ¼ inch thick (1 ½ cups)
4 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced ¼ inch thick (1 ½ cups)
¼ cup organic lavender sugar* or unflavored organic sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Dash coarse sea salt
1 medium egg white, lightly beaten
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling atop crust

*To make lavender sugar, pulse 1 teaspoon chopped fresh lavender buds with ¼ cup organic sugar in a food processor.

Preparation

Whole Wheat Pastry
In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, and salt. Slice the butter into ½-inch cubes and toss with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture is mealy and butter is in pieces ranging from the size of a lentil to a pea. Make a well in center of the mixture. Combine the water and lemon juice in a small bowl and add to the flour mixture all at once. Gradually pull the dry ingredients into the well with a fork, mixing gently until combined. Check the dough by gathering a small fistful; if it holds together, it’s ready. Chill the dough until thoroughly chilled or overnight.

Galettes
Preheat oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry 3/16 inch thick. Cut into 4 squares, about 5 inches each; arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, lavender sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Arrange ⅓ cup mixture in center of each pastry square. Fold edges in; crimp to form rounds. Brush edges with beaten egg white and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Freeze until firm, 20 minutes.

Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

In Your Glass
The lushness of the rhubarb and strawberry make Shafer’s Firebreak, a Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine, a go-to for us. The sweetness and fruit of both are a beautiful thing.

 

 
Black Bean Chili TASTE THE BEST OF WINTER 2014 WITH RECIPES FROM ANNETTE SHAFER
Annette Shafer invites you to enjoy her latest selection of seasonal recipes. Even in the bone-chilling days of winter you can enjoy color on your plate and bright flavors on your palate.
 
Entrée
BLACK BEAN CHILI WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND QUICK-PICKLED JALAPEÑOS

Servings: 6

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1, 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
½ pound dried black beans, rinsed
2 teaspoons dried chipotle chile
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano
2 cups chicken broth (more as needed)
1 ½ cups butternut squash cut into cubes
½ cup partially cooked faro
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until soft and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Sprinkle chili powder and coriander over; stir 1 minute more. Stir in tomatoes with juice, beans, chipotles, and oregano. Add 2 cups chicken broth (more as needed) and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer until the beans are tender. Season to taste with coarsely ground pepper and salt. Stir squash and faro into chili. Continue to simmer uncovered until the squash and faro are tender, about 30 minutes. Divide among 6 bowls. Pass the garnishes.

Optional garnishes:

Greek yogurt
Pomegranate seeds
Coarsely grated goat cheddar
Diced red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Arugula
Quick-Pickled Jalapeño rings

Quick-Pickled Jalapeños

½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
A pinch of kosher salt
3 jalapeños, cored (seeded), thinly sliced
Warm water as needed to fully cover the jalapeños

Preparation

Whisk vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add jalapeños; toss to coat. Use just enough warm water to make sure the jalapeños are submerged. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally, for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Pickled jalapeños can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

 

Side Dish
HEARTY WHOLESOME CORNBREAD

Yields: 9 pieces

Ingredients

1¼ cups yellow cornmeal, medium grind
¾ cup white whole-wheat flour
1 Tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1¼ cups goat kefir (or buttermilk)
2 tablespoons canola oil

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with oil.
Whisk cornmeal, flour, agave, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk egg, kefir, and oil in a separate bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake the cornbread until the top springs back when touched lightly, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

 

Dessert
CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN BUNDT CAKE

Servings: 12-16

1¾ cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½  teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
⅛ teaspoon cloves
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup olive oil
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cups sugar
½ cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 lb. (2 cups) canned solid pack pumpkin
Confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 325F. Generously spray a 10 or 12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray then flour.

Sift together all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the olive oil and then with the sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating well after each addition. On low speed add half of the dry sifted ingredients, then the pumpkin, and finally the remaining dry ingredients. Do your best not to over mix.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean and dry. Remove from oven and cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes. Cover with a rack and invert. Remove the pan and allow the cake to cool on the rack. Let it stand for several hours or overnight before serving. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.
Tastes even better the next day.

 

 
Pulled Pork Enjoy the Best of Autumn 2014 With Recipes From Annette Shafer
With the change of seasons comes a new crop of fruits and vegetables that lend themselves to richer, warmer aromas and flavors. In these recipes for fall, Annette Shafer took inspiration from the hearty fare favored by her German grandmother at this time of year.
 
Appetizer
Fall Greens Salad with Persimmons and Walnuts

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients

¾ cup fresh tangerine juice
1 tablespoon grated tangerine peel
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large head Romaine, torn into 2-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
1 large bunch watercress, stemmed (about 6 cups)
2 cups mixed baby greens
2 Fuyu persimmons, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
½ cup walnuts, lighlty toasted

Preparation

Simmer tangerine juice and tangerine peel in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Whisk in next 5 ingredients. Once cooled, season dressing with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Rewhisk before using.)

To serve: Slowly drizzle dressing around the sides of a large salad bowl. (Just enough to gently coat the salad leaves.) Place all greens and half of persimmon slices in large bowl and toss to coat. Divide salad among plates. Top each with remaining persimmon slices and walnuts and serve.

In Your Glass
In our house Champagne or Sparkling wine is more than just a liquid hors d’oeurve; we enjoy it with food all the time and this salad is no exception. A brut rosè is a nice partner here as are a whole range of wines including another house favorite, Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch® Chardonnay.

 

Entrée
Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder Over Creamy Sage Polenta

Servings: 8

Ingredients

1 skinless, bone-in pork shoulder (5-6 pounds)
Sea Salt, freshly ground pepper
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup finely chopped fresh sage (pineapple sage is a nice option)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh marjoram
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Preparation

Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 325°F.

Season pork with salt and pepper. Mix mustard, sage, marjoram, and garlic in a small bowl. Spread over pork thoroughly.

Place the pork, fat side up, on a rack set inside a roasting pan. Roast, basting with pan juices about every hour and tenting with foil if pork browns too quickly, until pork is well browned and very tender, 5-6 hours (depending on size of pork shoulder).

Let pork rest at least 10 minutes before serving (the meat should pull apart easily).

Serve this over a bed of soft sage polenta for catching the juices!

Sage Polenta

If the polenta is ready before the rest of the meal, keep it in the pan and press parchment or waxed paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming; partially covering the pan with the lid will also work. Stir well before serving.

Ingredients

10 cups water, plus more as needed
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups coarse Italian polenta
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon dried chili flakes
½ cup grated Pecorino cheese

Preparation

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Whisking constantly, add polenta in a slow, steady stream and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer. Cover partially; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is creamy and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30-40 minutes, add sage, and chili flakes during the last 5 minutes. If polenta is too thick to stir, add more water (up to ½ cup), a little at a time, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat. Stir in Pecorino, and season to taste with pepper and salt.
Serve hot.

In Your Glass
Everything that I said about the wines that complement the Winter Squash dish apply here too – this will be a delicious dance partner with Cabernet Franc or Merlot. In addition, I’d recommend opening a Barbera d’Asti, which offers high-toned fruit and soft, beautiful tannins. If you’re a fan of red wines with some age, say a Cabernet like One Point Five®, that’s reached at least the eight or ten year mark, you’re sure to enjoy its soft tannins and elegant fruit as you experience the combination of savory and creamy in this entrée.

 

Side Dish
Winter Squash with Caramelized Onions

Servings: 8

Ingredients

4 pounds Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons canola oil
½ cup (about 1 ounce) slivered almonds
6 large onions, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons organic cane sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ cup golden raisins, plumped in warm water and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the squash in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and bake until tender, 45-50 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly toast the almonds under the broiler. Remove from oven to cool. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the onions once the oil is hot. Cook, over a low flame, stirring occasionally, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the sugar and cinnamon, increase the heat to medium, and continue cooking until the onions turn golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the raisins and cook, stirring, until heated through. Toss onions with squash and season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with the toasted almonds and serve.

In Your Glass
A bottle I like to reach for with this dish is a Cabernet Franc, a red wine that has nice softness and an inviting, pleasant floral character. Try a Chinon Rouge from a region within France’s Loire Valley, where the Cabernet Franc is grown on stony terraces and the wines tend to be dry and medium-bodied with some spice. We’ve also enjoyed this dish with a Merlot, such as Shafer’s, which offers a good deal of red and black fruit that will make your mouth sing.

 

Dessert
German Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen)

Yield: one 10-inch Bundt cake; 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

2 cups organic, unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup organic, white whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 ¾ cups organic cane sugar
3 large eggs, separated
½ cup milk, try goat milk for a nice option
8 medium (about 3 pounds) apples, such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Jonathan, Pippin, or any combination, peeled, cored and diced

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a kugelhopf or 10-inch Bundt pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the flour mixture and milk.

Beat the egg whites on low speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold one-fourth of the whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining whites.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread with half of the apples. Top with the remaining batter, then the remaining apples.

Bake until golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

In Your Glass
Some combinations seem written in the stars: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Bogart and Bacall, Ben and Jerry. Here’s another — this apple cake and a German Beerenauslese, a late harvest dessert wine made with Reisling grapes. It embodies a gorgeous balance of rich sweetness and acidity. Of course there are lots of others to choose from and not surprisingly, we have loved this one with Shafer’s Firebreak®, a Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine make from the same fruit as Hillside Select®.

 

 
Grilled Halibut Enjoy the Best of SUmmer 2014 with Recipes from Annette Shafer
Summer is perfect for outdoor grilling with friends and family. Annette Shafer’s latest recipes offer tantalizing ideas for zesty seasonal aromas and flavors that will keep your guests wanting more.
 
Appetizer
Grilled Stone Fruit Salad

Servings: 4

For the Salad
4 cups Mesclun greens
2 cups arugula
2 ripe medium peaches, halved and sliced into wedges
2 medium ripe plums, halved and sliced into wedges
1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ cup mint, cut chiffonade
½ cup lightly toasted, coarsely chopped walnut pieces

For the Dressing
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil, or to taste
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the Salad: Heat a grill to medium-high. When hot, wipe lightly with oil and grill the peaches and plums about 1 minute, or until char marks form on the flesh. Remove, cool slightly and toss with lemon juice. Just before serving, toss with cherries and mint.

For the Dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.

To Serve: Toss the greens gently with a drizzle of the dressing. Divide the greens among 4 plates and top with fruit and nuts and drizzle a scant amount of dressing over the top.

In Your Glass
The summer fruit flavors here are delicious with a range of wines. Doug and I have enjoyed this salad with a crisp Pinot Blanc from Alsace, and, of course, a house favorite, Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay which balances lushness with bright natural acidity.

 

Entrée
Grilled Halibut with Lemon Herb Quinoa, Sweet White Corn, Hemp Seeds and Thai Basil

Servings: 4

For the Quinoa
1 cup red quinoa, dry
2 cups water, cold
1 cup quickly-blanched and slightly charred sweet white corn
¼ cup fresh Thai basil, finely chopped
½ small hot red chili, thinly sliced
¼ cup hemp seeds
3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon organic maple syrup
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

For the Halibut
3 Tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup chiffonade of fresh basil
4, 5- to 6-ounce halibut steaks (about 3/4 inch thick)

For the Quinoa: Rinse the quinoa if required in a mesh strainer with cold water. Transfer to a small pot with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking 12-15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit, covered for another 5 minutes. Then, spread it out carefully with a fork onto a sheet pan to cool completely.

Lightly toss together quinoa, white corn, basil, red chili, and hemp seeds.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, salt and black pepper. Pour over quinoa mixture and toss again lightly. Add feta with one more gentle toss.

For the Halibut: Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and lemon peel in small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon vinaigrette over halibut. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill or broil halibut steaks until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from grill.

To Serve: Divide quinoa mixture among 4 dinner plates. Top with halibut. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette to taste and garnish with basil.

Optional: Garnish with borage blossoms for an extra touch of color.

In Your Glass
This entrée invites many flavorful wine combinations and of course we invite you to enjoy it with a wine that most appeals to you. At our house we have a passion for exploring different flavor combinations when it comes to wine with food. A dry Riesling from Australia, from Clare or Eden Valley, will offer crisp flavors and attractive floral aromas without sweetness getting in the way. An elegant, un-fussy Grenache Rosé provides great accompaniment (and to me even feels like summer) as does a zesty, pleasing Chardonnay such as Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch. We’ve also enjoyed this dish with Shafer’s Merlot — I know, I know, that may not follow conventional wisdom but give it a try in the name of adventure!

 

Dessert
Merlot & Rosemary Macerated Figs with Fromage Blanc Sorbet

Servings: 4-6

For the Sorbet
¾ cup organic sugar
1 ½ cups water
1 Tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
8 ounces fromage blanc or crème fraiche
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the Figs
½ cup sugar
2 cups Merlot
2 stems fresh rosemary
3 strips (3 inches each) lemon zest
1 pound fresh figs (any type), quartered

For the Sorbet: Bring the sugar, water, honey, and lemon zest to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and let stand 10-15 minutes. Whisk in fromage blanc and then the lemon juice. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, overnight is best.

Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to a large container, and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

For the Figs: Sprinkle sugar over bottom of a 10-12-inch sauté pan. Cook over medium-high heat, gently swirling pan occasionally, until sugar is lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add wine in a slow, steady stream, stirring gently to make sure all the sugar dissolves. Add rosemary and lemon zest, and simmer until reduced by half. Add the figs, and simmer until liquid is syrupy and figs are soft, about 3-5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Remove rosemary and lemon zest.

To Serve: Divide sorbet among dessert dishes, and spoon figs and syrup over the top. Enjoy!

In Your Glass
For dessert deliciousness, we’ve enjoyed this end-of-meal dish with several wines including a fruit-forward sparkling Rosé. And, no surprise, another good choice which offers a vivid, youthful profile is Shafer’s Merlot with its enticing blend of blackberry and dark cherry flavors and aromas.

 

 
Crostini on plate Enjoy the Best of Spring 2014 with Recipes from Annette Shafer
Springtime offers the first new flavors of the year in all their verve and brightness. Annette Shafer has crafted a dinner’s-worth of recipes that capitalize on the best aromas, colors, and palate-pleasing flavors of the season.
 
Appetizer
Crostini with Spring Peas, Mint and Parmesan

Yield: 12 pieces

Ingredients

12 slices of seeded baguette bread
1 small garlic clove, crushed plus 1 garlic clove, whole
1 ½ cup fresh, shelled peas
Sea salt, to taste
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
1 teaspoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Garnish
Olive oil, to taste
Fresh mint, chiffonade
Freshly grated aged Asiago cheese

Directions

Fill a medium bowl with ice and cold water, and set it aside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and cook only until the water returns to a boil. Remove peas and immediately submerge them in the ice water. When they have cooled, drain and set them aside.

Preheat an outdoor grill or broiler to medium-high. Slice the baguette into 3-inch-long oval slices, ¼ inch thick. Using an atomizer, spray one side of each slice with the olive oil. Grill on both sides until toasted. Rub top side with garlic clove. Set aside.

On a cutting board, sprinkle ¼ teaspoon salt over 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic. Mash the garlic with the flat side of your knife until the mixture forms a paste. In a small bowl, combine the garlic paste, 2 teaspoons of the extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped mint, shallot, and a couple of grinds of pepper. Mix well, and set aside.

In another small bowl, mash the spring peas with the back of a fork until there are no whole peas; you should have a mixture of pea halves and paste. Add the garlic mixture and stir gently to combine.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture onto each crostini. Repeat with the remaining crostini. Drizzle a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil over the top as desired, and sprinkle with Asiago and the chiffonade of mint.

In Your Glass
As with any dish, there are always so many great options for your wine glass. The light white-peach and floral elements, balanced by the nice the minerality, of an unoaked Viogner – such as a classic from the Condrieu region of France – will provide stellar accompaniment. Perhaps easier to find, and just as delicious, is an Austrian Grüner Veltliner. And with a bit more mouth-richness, but definitely as agreeable, is the honey-hued Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay, always a favorite at our house.

Entrée
Fusilli with Asparagus, Spring Peas and Lemon Ricotta Sauce

Serves 4 - 6

1 lb asparagus, stem ends snapped off, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch lengths (about 1 ½ – 2 cups)
1 cup fresh, shelled peas

½ cup low fat ricotta cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups whole grain fusilli bucati (or pasta of your choice)

Garnish
1 bunch pea shoots
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon olive oil
Sea salt

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Quickly blanch both asparagus and peas separately and cool each in an ice water bath. Drain and set aside.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil for cooking the fusilli.
Add the fusilli to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally until it is al dente. Reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl.

While the pasta is boiling, stir together the ricotta, ¼ cup of the Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper in a small bowl until smooth. Add the 1/3 cup reserved pasta cooking water to the ricotta mixture, whisking until smooth.

When ready to serve, toss the pea shoots with lemon juice, olive oil and salt. In a separate bowl, toss the pasta with the ricotta sauce.

To serve, sprinkle with Parmesan and top with pea shoots. Enjoy!

In Your Glass
One of the beauties of this dish is that it can easily be enjoyed with either a red or white wine. I prefer a wine with a bit less tannin giving the asparagus its best chance to shine. In the red category, we would likely pour a Pinot Noir to accompany it. Of course there is also a wide range of white wines that works well too including Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay or, just as likely, the Shafer Merlot. Exploration is a big part of the pleasure when finding the food and wine combinations that work best for you.

 

Dessert
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Bars

Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

For the streusel
½ cup unsalted butter, melted, plus room temperature butter for pan
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup coconut sugar
¼ tsp. sea salt
1 ¼ cup organic, unbleached all-purpose flour

For the bars
½ lb. rhubarb, cut into ½'' pieces
½ lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced ¼" thick
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup organic, unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
½ cup white whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup agave
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting finished bars

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9'' square baking pan and line with parchment paper. (If you leave a slight overhang of parchment, it is easier to lift from the pan when baked.) Butter and flour parchment paper in pan, tapping out the excess flour. Set aside.

For the streusel
Whisk together the butter, brown sugar, coconut sugar and salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the bars
In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, brown sugar, and ¼ cup of the all-purpose flour. Set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk the remaining all purpose and white whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and agave until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Mix just until combined.
Spread batter in prepared pan. Top with rhubarb and strawberry mixture, then top with prepared streusel. Pull a few pieces of strawberry and rhubarb up through the streusel so that you can see it when it has finished baking.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a bit of moist crumbs attached, about 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and carefully lift cake from pan. Cut into bars and dust with powdered sugar. Serve as is, or with crème frâiche or unsweetened whipped cream.

In Your Glass
The strawberry and rhubarb in this dessert really invite wines with similar red fruit characteristics such as a Grenache or Shafer Merlot. Or if you want to end your meal on a bubbly note, you can’t go wrong with a Champagne or sparkling blanc-de-noir, such Billecart Salmon, which is always on hand at our house. As a matter of fact, this would be brilliant with the whole meal — or at least in the beginning and back again at the end especially if you wanted to make certain to include a red in the lineup!

 

 
Winter Recipes from Annette Shafer Brighten Your Winter Table With Recipes from Annette Shafer
With winter bringing long nights and cold temperatures, it’s high time to chase the gloom away with lively colors and bright aromas and flavors. Check out Annette Shafer’s latest recipes, which offer some of the most enlivening dishes of the season.
 
Side
Blood Orange, Beet and Radish Salad With Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

Servings: 4

Ingredients

1 ½ pounds roasted, peeled beets, cut vertically into 8 sections each
2 Tablespoons minced shallots
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
2 blood oranges, peeled and sectioned (with juice)
4 radishes, sliced thinly on a mandolin
½ small red onion, peeled, cut in half and sliced thinly
1 ½  cups fresh baby spinach
1 ½  cups fresh arugula
2 Tablespoons fresh mint leaves
¼ cup shelled, unsalted Pistachios

Preparation

Whisk together shallots, vinegar, oil, mustard, orange juice (reserved from sectioning oranges), and salt and pepper. Add beets. Toss gently to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, toss radishes, blood orange sections, and red onion together. Set aside. Combine spinach, arugula, and mint leaves. Remove beets from refrigerator. Combine beet mixture with orange mixture. To assemble: Place greens on plate. Top with beet mixture and pistachios. Drizzle Avocado Green Goddess Dressing over the top and serve.

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

Ingredients

1 garlic clove
1 cup packed avocado flesh (2 small avocados)
⅓ cup water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup packed fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon tarragon leaves, (optional)
1 Tablespoon chives
½ cup packed green onion (green part only)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3-4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
Pinch of cayenne (optional)

Preparation
Place garlic clove in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the avocado, water, oil, herbs, chives & onion. Process until smooth. Add the apple cider vinegar and lemon juice slowly stopping to taste for flavor – you may not need all the lemon juice. Add sea salt and cayenne (optional) to taste. (Thin with water if needed.)

In Your Glass
This salad offers an enticing wintry mix of textures and flavors – the spicy acidity of the Blood Orange, earthiness of beet and radish and the creamy goodness of the avocado. Certainly a clean crisp white wine such as a Grüener Veltliner or something with a bit more richness such as Red Shoulder Ranch® Chardonnay will provide delicious accompaniment. We’ve enjoyed this one, too, with a lighter style red wine, which could be a Rosé or a delicate Pinot Noir.

 

Entrée
Curried Lentils, Chicken and Sweet Potatoes with Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

1 ½ cups Heirloom Forbidden Rice or Black Japonica Rice
3 cups water
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 teaspoons curry powder*, or to taste
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
Sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
1 ½ cups red lentils
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
¾ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

Preparation

In a saucepan, bring rice, water and a pinch of salt to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low an simmer until water has been absorbed, 40-45 minutes. When done, fluff with a fork and keep warm for serving.

While rice is simmering: Pat chicken dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. In a heavy, large sauteuse pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the chicken and brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until opaque. Add garlic and continue just until it is fragrant. Stir in curry powder and fresh ginger. Add chicken broth and sweet potatoes. Stir to combine. Add chicken back to the pan, turn to coat and bring just to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring and turning the chicken over occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add lentils and continue simmering for another 10-15 minutes, or until chicken and vegetables are cooked through. Transfer chicken to a medium bowl and, using 2 forks, shred the meat; return it to the sauteuse. Add the lime juice and stir to combine. Serve topped with yogurt and cilantro, and (optional) Naan with lime wedges on the side.

*Curry powder
Yield: approx. 2 Tablespoons (note: store remainder that is not used up to 5 days)
2 teaspoons coriander seed

2 teaspoons cumin seed
1½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds (optional)
Dash ground cloves
Dash ground cardamom

Preparation
Heat small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add coriander and cumin. Toast seeds, tossing constantly, until fragrant. Transfer to spice grinder to grind. Toss with remaining ingredients.

In Your Glass
This dish is a favorite in our house in part because it fills the kitchen with the appetizing scents of winter comfort food – chicken, lentils and sweet potatoes – with a curried twist. You’ll have plenty of delicious choices when reaching for a bottle out of your wine rack. There’s lots of natural richness to make me pull out a Cabernet Sauvignon such as One Point Five® and yet at the same time I could easily see loving this with a Malbec or a Merlot. Let the mood in your kitchen help you decide.

 

Dessert
Merlot Poached Pears with Crème Fraîche and Spicy Ginger Cookies

Servings: 4-6

Merlot Poached Pears Ingredients
4-6 Peeled, cored and halved pears (Bosc recommended)
2 cups of Merlot
⅓ cup of granulated organic sugar
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 vanilla bean, split open lengthwise
1 cinnamon stick

Crème Fraiche Garnish

8 oz. container crème fraîche, softened
½ cup Greek yogurt
Pinch of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons amber agave syrup (or to taste)

Spicy Ginger Cookies Ingredients
Yield: 2 ½ dozen

6 oz. (hot) brewed espresso
1 cup chopped, pitted dates
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons molasses
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
Dash allspice
Dash nutmeg
½ cup chopped, crystallized ginger
3 Tablespoons turbinado sugar

Merlot Poached Pears Preparation
Combine all ingredients, except pears, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and add the pears. Simmer pears for 10 minutes and then turn pears over and simmer for an additional 8 minutes or until they are tender (to test, fork tines will penetrate easily). Remove pears and let them cool. Continue to simmer wine sauce until the liquid has been reduced by half, cool. To serve, place two pear halves onto plate, pipe crème fraiche mixture into center of pear halves and drizzle lightly with the reduced sauce.

For the Crème Fraîche garnish:  Whisk together crème fraîche, Greek yogurt, cinnamon and agave until smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag and pipe filling into cored pear halves.

Spicy Ginger Cookies Preparation
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine coffee and dates and let sit for 10 minutes or until dates have softened. Put mixture in a food processor and process until smooth. In a bowl, whisk eggs and molasses. Continue whisking and add date puree. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda salt, and spices. Add ginger pieces, toss. Stir into date mixture. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or until firm but still scoopable. Using a teaspoon, place dough on a parchment-lined tray, allowing space for them to spread just a bit. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over top. Bake 10 minutes or until they feel spongy yet firm and spring back when gently prodded.

In Your Glass
A dessert like this, which combines two complementary elements, the poached pears and the ginger cookies, offers a lot of delicious wine options. One of my favorites is Shafer's Firebreak®, a Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine. The Ginger Cookies cry out to be dipped in it while sitting by a crackling, warm fire.

 

 
Autumn Favorites from Annette Shafer Enjoy the Best of Autumn 2013 with recipes from Annette Shafer
The days are getting cooler, the nights are getting longer and we’re craving richer food and more luxuriant wines. Check out Annette Shafer’s latest seasonal recipes which deliver the best aromas and flavors of fall.
 
Appetizer 
Abundant Fall Kale Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

6 cups Lacinato kale, midribs removed and leaves sliced 

Juice of 1 lemon 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 

2 cloves garlic, minced 

Sea salt & pepper, to taste 

Red pepper flakes, to taste 

2 medium Fuyu persimmons, sliced
⅓ cup, chopped, toasted walnuts
½ cup grated Asiago cheese
Preparation

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, sea salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Pour over kale in serving bowl and toss well. Set aside for 5 minutes to let the kale soften a bit.

Next, add persimmons, walnuts and Asiago cheese. Toss lightly and serve.

In Your Glass

As with any dish we love, Doug and I enjoy trying a variety of wines. Two recent favorites, working beautifully with the combination of flavors, have been a good Pinot Gris from the French region of Alsace or a glass of Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay. The pristine acidity in wines like this create a compelling combination with the flavors in this dish.

 

Entrée 
Pomegranate Marinated Roast Loin of Pork with Roasted Pear Chutney

Serves 6

Ingredients

Marinade
⅓ cup pomegranate juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Pork
2 - 2.5 pound portion of center cut pork loin (5 oz. portions)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Rosemary sprigs

Garnish
⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
Flat Leaf Parsley (optional)

Preparation

Whisk pomegranate juice, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, sea salt and pepper together in a dish large enough to accommodate the pork. Add pork and toss to coat. Cover and marinate at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Drain and pat pork dry. Trim excess fat off loin if necessary. Straddle a flameproof roasting pan over 2 burners and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown pork on all sides. Then transfer to large plate. Deglaze the pan with water enough to loosen any browned pieces. The deglazing liquid can remain in the pan.

Put a metal rack in pan and place rosemary sprigs atop it, then place the loin on top of the sprigs, fat side up. Add more water if needed — this is to prevent the drippings from burning on the bottom of the pan and to keep the meat moist during roasting. Transfer to oven and roast until thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 150°F, about 35 minutes. Monitor the pork periodically during the roasting process to ensure that there is enough moisture in the pan to prevent the bottom from scorching.

Transfer pork to platter and tent with foil to keep warm for a few minutes before serving. Slice after meat has had a bit of a chance to rest and the juices have been reabsorbed.

Slice and plate with Roasted Pear Chutney. Sprinkle pomegranates atop chutney and allow to fall around plate for a festive presentation. Enjoy!

 
Roasted Pear Chutney

Yield: 2-3 cups

Ingredients

2 ripe, Bosc pears, medium dice
2 Tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
3 Tablespoons organic sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons canola oil
¼ cup maple syrup
½ medium red onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons golden raisins
½ cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Toss the pears with lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon of the sugar, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Transfer to a greased (with 1 teaspoon of canola oil) sheet pan and roast 20 minutes or until tender but still holding their shape. Remove from oven and cool.

Meanwhile, add remaining canola oil to small saucepan and sauté onions over medium heat. When onions are translucent, add garlic and continue to sauté just until the fragrance is evident. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Combine cooled pears and cooled onion mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to combine.

 

In Your Glass

You are likely to find many wines that will provide real pleasure with this dish. Two favorites in our house are a balanced, fruity Pinot Noir from France’s celebrated Burgundy region or Shafer’s Merlot. The pomegranate and spices make for an intriguing combination with wines that are notably fruit forward.

 

Dessert 
Spiced Pumpkin Flan

Serves 6 (6, 6 in. ramekins)

Ingredients

Caramel
Atomized canola oil (canola oil in a pump sprayer) for coating ramekins
½ cup organic sugar
¼ cup water

Flan
⅓ cup organic sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 cup roasted pumpkin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
Dash ground cloves
1 vanilla bean
1 cup nonfat milk
½ cup goat kefir
½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°F.

To prepare caramel, lightly coat 6, 6-ounce ramekins with atomized canola oil. Combine ½ cup organic sugar and ¼ cup water in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook 4-5 minutes or until sugar dissolves stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, without stirring, 6 minutes or until mixture turns golden brown. Divide evenly into prepared ramekins. Set aside.

To prepare flan, combine ⅓ cup organic sugar and egg yolks in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in pumpkin, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. In a heavy saucepan, combine milk, fresh ginger and vanilla bean. Heat over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges. Take care not to let it come to a full simmer. Remove vanilla bean, scraping inside portion of the pod back into the milk mixture. Gradually whisk in kefir. Then, add ⅓ of hot milk mixture to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add this all back to the remaining milk mixture. Reduce heat and cook until almost simmering.   Remove from heat.

Pour milk mixture evenly among prepared ramekins. Place cups in a baking pan large enough to accommodate them all. Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1-inch. Place in oven for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove cups from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Chill at least 8 hours.

To serve: Carefully loosen edges of custards with a knife. Invert ramekins onto plates. Drizzle any remaining caramel over custards.

In Your Glass
At our house we have relished the richness and warm, characteristically autumnal spice of this end-of-meal dish with a glass of Port, whether a vintage Port from the Douro Valley in Portugal or Shafer’s luscious Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine called “Firebreak.” This is one time you’ll certainly be glad you opted in for this dessert duet!

 

 
Summer Favorites from Annette Shafer Taste the Best of Summer 2013 With Recipes from Annette Shafer
It’s time to light up the grill! Annette Shafer rounds up the most mouthwatering flavors of the season for an entire meal that will be ideal for your next outdoor cookout with friends and family.
 
Appetizer 
Grilled Apricot, Burrata and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Drizzle

Serves 4

Ingredients
8 fresh apricots, pitted and halved
1 teaspoon olive oil (to brush apricots prior to grilling)
12 oz. burrata cheese, sliced and divided into four portions (fresh mozzarella can be substituted)
3 cups fresh arugula

Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle
½ cup balsamic vinegar reduced by half

Preparation
Brush the fresh apricots with olive oil and grill, cut side down just until the grill marks appear. Remove from grill and let cool.

Meanwhile, toss the arugula with only enough vinaigrette to coat the leaves. Divide arugula among 4 salad plates. Top with cooled apricots and burrata cheese. Drizzle with a small amount of the reduced balsamic vinegar and serve.

In Your Glass
This salad offers a delightful balance of bright, crisp flavors with the creaminess and nuance of the burrata cheese. A number of wines will play well with this salad like a crisp Riesling from the Alsace region of France or a wine closer to home such as Red Shoulder Ranch® Chardonnay.

 

Entrée 
Mediterranean-spiced Lamb Sliders

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the topping
½ cup plain, whole milk Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive tapenade (or finely chopped olives)

For the sliders
1 ½ pounds ground lamb
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons grated garlic
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Vegetable oil, for the grill

To assemble
4 whole wheat slider buns, sliced in half and lightly toasted
½ red onion, sliced into 4 rings
1 cup baby arugula, divided into 4 portions
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces); divided into 4 portions
1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced and divided into 4 portions

Preparation

For the topping
Place the yogurt and tapenade (or olives) in a medium bowl and mix to incorporate. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the sliders
Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl and, using your clean hands, mix until just combined. Split the meat into 4 equal portions and shape each piece into a patty that is ½-inch-thick and roughly ½-inch wider than the burger buns.

Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high (about 450°F to 550°F). Rub grates with oil to prevent sticking.

Place the patties on the grill, close the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip each patty and cook with grill closed until the patties are firm to the touch. Remove to a clean plate and let rest in a warm place for a few minutes before assembling sliders.

To assemble
Spread about 1 tablespoon of the topping on each top and bottom bun (you may have some topping leftover). Divide red onions and cucumber slices amongst slider roll bottoms, top with a patty, then garnish each with remaining ingredients. Top with the bun and serve immediately.

 
Whole-Wheat Slider Buns

Makes: 8 buns

Ingredients
1 cup low-fat milk
⅓ cup lukewarm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 large egg, at room temperature lightly beaten
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or canola oil
1 ¾ cups whole-wheat flour
1 ¾ cups (approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal, for sprinkling

Preparation
Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the surface just begins to shimmer. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour water into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the water, stir, then add 1 tablespoon of the all-purpose flour. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk into the milk.

Next, add the egg; whisk well. Whisk in sugar, salt, and oil. Stir in whole-wheat flour. Using a dough hook on the electric mixer, make sure the flour is well incorporated. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Start adding all-purpose flour to the dough, about ⅓ cup at a time, beating well (with dough hook attachment) after each addition. When the dough is somewhat firm and no longer too sticky to handle, continue to ‘knead’ in the mixer for another 5 minutes or until the dough is no longer tacky to the touch. You may need to add more flour if the dough seems too moist.

Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Add the dough and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 ½ hours.

When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Using a dough cutter or chef's knife, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.

Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray and dust it with cornmeal. Shape the dough into tight balls and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Coat a large sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place it over the buns, sprayed side down.

Set the buns in a warm, draft-free spot until they have risen by about half, 25 to 30 minutes. Gently press down on the buns, pressing right on the plastic, to flatten them a little. Let them rise for another 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove plastic and bake the buns on the center rack until golden and crusty, about 25 minutes. The bottoms should sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

In Your Glass
This summer entrée invites fun experimentation with wine. Some of Doug and Annette’s favorite bottles with this have been fruit-forward Pinot Noir from Burgundy, a Syrah-Grenache blend from the Rhône Valley or elegant reds such as Shafer’s Merlot. Ultimately you’ll probably be happiest with a wine offering juicy red and black fruit to go nicely with both the richness of the lamb and the savory Mediterranean flavors of the spices and toppings.

 

Side 
Grilled Corn with Lime and Queso Fresco

Serves 4

Ingredients
4 ears of fresh corn in husk with silk removed; soaked in water 30 minutes prior to preparation
2 limes, cut in half
4 oz. queso fresco

Preparation
Heat the grill to medium high. Place corn directly onto grill and close the grill. Allow corn to steam for 5-8 minutes. Check doneness. When it is almost cooked, pull back the husks and place directly on the grill. Remove when grill marks are evident. Place back in husk pulling back one or two husks to reveal the corn. Squeeze each ear with juice from ½ lime and sprinkle 1 oz. queso fresco on top. Serve.

 

Dessert 
Marion Blackberry Galette

Servings: 4-6

A free-form pie, this French-inspired galette captures the memories of a warm summer afternoon in the country with the captivatingly sweet smell of blackberries carried with every gentle breeze. Simple, yet inspiring. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Pastry
1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
¼ cup stone-ground cornmeal
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup unsalted, cold butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup fat-free buttermilk, more as needed

Filling
6 cups marion blackberries
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon skim milk
1 egg white
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Preparation
Pastry: Combine flour(s), sugar, cornmeal and salt and place in a food processor; pulse lightly a couple of times. Add butter to the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Slowly add the buttermilk with another couple of pulses — just until dough forms. Gently press the dough into a flat circle and cover with plastic wrap. Chill one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Prepare filling: combine blackberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Toss to incorporate.

On parchment paper, roll dough into a 12-14 inch circle. Place on baking sheet. Arrange berry mixture in the center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold edges of dough toward center, pressing gently to seal edges. Berries will show in the center.

Whisk together skim milk and egg white. Brush pastry with mixture and sprinkle on turbinado sugar. Bake at 375° F for 30 minutes. Cover and lower oven temperature to 350° F and bake another 20 minutes, or until berries are bubbly and crust is crisp. Let stand to cool; cut into wedges.

In Your Glass
The sweetness and rich berry flavors offer a wide range of possible delicious choices in your glass. For a lighter approach try a blanc de noir Champagne or a French rosé. For something rich and silky Shafer’s Cabernet dessert wine called Firebreak® offers a can’t-miss flavor profile.

 

 
Spring Favorites from Annette Shafer Taste the Best of spring 2013 with Recipes from Annette Shafer
Spring has sprung with abundant new flavors. Annette Shafer's latest recipes offer creative, delicious ways to prepare ingredients now showing up in farmers markets and store shelves full of enticing seasonal color, aroma and taste.
 
Appetizer
Shaved Carrot and Asparagus Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
1 medium shallot, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salad
4 ounces fresh asparagus, peeled
3 medium carrots, peeled
½ cup thinly sliced dates
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
5 cups arugula

Directions
Combine vinegar, mustard, shallot, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Pour in oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.

Toast sunflower seeds briefly under a broiler or in a hot cast iron pan. Set aside to cool.

Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, shave asparagus and carrots into a large bowl. Add dates, sunflower seeds, and arugula. Toss.

Sprinkle vinaigrette over salad. Toss gently and season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.

In Your Glass
As with most dishes, we’ve tried a few different wine styles with delicious results. The flavors in this salad make me wish for some of the wines we tasted on our last adventure to Italy such as a Pinot Grigio from the Alto Adige region. It’s a medium-bodied white wine with aromas of delicate white flowers, clean acidity, and a distinct mineral quality characteristic of the area. Closer to home, we’ve enjoyed this one with newer vintages of Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch® Chardonnay. The 2011 vintage is newly bottled and is loaded with crisp citrus, grapefruit and kiwi flavors.

 

Entrée
Ricotta Gnocchi with English Peas and Spring Onions

Serves 4

Ingredients

Gnocchi
6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
16 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Pinch black pepper
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
½ cup organic all-purpose flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour

Sauce
3 cups shelled fresh English peas (frozen is ok)
½ cup finely sliced spring onions
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
½ teaspoon red chile flakes, or to taste
1 cup pea tendrils, washed and dried
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh mint

Shaved Pecorino cheese, to taste

Directions

Gnocchi
Combine the Parmesan, ricotta, lemon zest, black pepper, sea salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Mix until well combined. Add the flour(s) and mix into the cheese mixture until it is just incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead gently for a minute.

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a long snake shape and cut into gnocchi-sized pieces. Hold a fork in one hand and place a gnocchi against the tines of the fork. Using your thumb, press in and down the length of the fork. The gnocchi should curl after coming off the fork.

Cook the gnocchi in a pot of salted boiling water. When the gnocchi rise to the surface, they are cooked. Remove and drain.

Sauce
Blanch the fresh peas in boiling water, drain, and cool in an ice bath. (If frozen, bring just up to room temperature.)

Wash the spring onions in a bowl of cold water, taking care to lift the onion slices out and leaving any dirt behind. Drain.

Heat about the olive oil in a sauté pan, add the spring onions and sauté over low heat until they begin to caramelize. Then add the garlic and sauté just until you smell the garlic’s aroma. Add the cooked gnocchi, peas, lemon zest and a little of the cooking water to moisten; heat through. Season with salt, pepper, and chile flakes to taste. Add the pea tendrils just before serving.

Divide the gnocchi and vegetable mixture between four bowls and top with a sprinkling of mint and shaved Pecorino cheese.

In Your Glass
This dish invites a lot of fun experimentation with wine. A favorite of ours is a dry French rosé from Provence – all Provençal rosés have some common characteristics: on the palate they tend to be fresh, crisp, bright, and dry. (In other words these aren’t the sweet pink wines you may have tried from other regions.) Good rosé has enough acid to make it an excellent food wine and enough tannin – from the red grape skins – to give it a little bit of backbone. For a richer experience, we like to pour Shafer Merlot, which has lively red cherry and plum flavors along with an underlay of darker, more elegant fruit.

 

Dessert
Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

Yield: 2 dozen

Ingredients

½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup coarse-ground white or yellow corn meal
⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 medium eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup agave syrup
⅓ cup canola oil
1 Tablespoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1 cup dried tart cherries
1 cup shelled, raw pistachios

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together all purpose and white whole wheat flour, cornmeal, coconut, baking powder and sea salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix eggs, sugar, agave, oil, and zest on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed, add flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Fold in cherries and pistachios.

Transfer dough to a parchment lined baking sheet and pat into a slightly flattened log – 3 inches wide. Bake until firm and golden, 30-35 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and reduce oven to 325°F. Once cool, transfer log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into ½ inch slices.

Arrange slices on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake, rotating half-way through, until just golden around the edges, 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely.
Store in an airtight container until serving.

In Your Glass
The dried cherry and pistachio in this dessert offer up some appealing flavor options. We’ve enjoyed this at the end of a meal with an older Cabernet Sauvignon such as a 2004 or 2005 One Point Five® Cabernet Sauvignon or even an older Hillside Select® Cabernet Sauvignon. In a different vein, we’ve savored the biscotti with a glass of Sauternes, a French sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux, which typically offers some good acidity with its rich sweetness as well as an enticing nutty character.

 

 
Seasonal Favorites from Annette Shafer Taste the Best of Winter 2012 with Recipes from Annette Shafer
Annette Shafer invites you to enjoy her latest selection of seasonal recipes. Even in the gray, overcast days of winter you can enjoy color on your plate and bright flavors on your palate.
 
Appetizer
Citrus and Greens Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients
3 cups baby spinach, washed and spun dry
3 cups arugula, washed and spun dry
2 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned (pith removed); juice reserved
1 ripe Hachiya persimmon, quartered and sliced horizontally
½ small red onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
1 pomegranate, seeds only, outer shell and inner pith removed
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
1 avocado

Dressing
1/4 cup fresh juice from the oranges
2 Tablespoons lemon juice + 1 teaspoon
2 teaspoons grainy, stone-ground mustard
1 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions
In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, mustard, and oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, toss spinach, arugula, orange slices, persimmon pieces, red onion and pomegranate seeds with only as much dressing as needed to thinly coat the leaves of the greens. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss again.

Halve the avocado and remove pit. Scoop out flesh and thinly slice lengthwise; drizzle with remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Arrange on top of salad, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.

In Your Glass
Doug and I enjoy wines from the Savoie (if you are a Chablis fan you’ll enjoy the similar, crisp character), which go nicely with the bright, tangy, citrusy flavors of the salad. Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch® Chardonnay is another can’t-miss choice with its fruit bowl of zesty and exotic flavors. 

 

Entrée
Oven-Roasted Acorn Squash with Curried Lentil Stew

Serves 4

Ingredients

Squash
2 small acorn squash
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon garam masala *
1/4 teaspoon salt

Stuffing
2 ½ cups water
1 cup red lentils
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup finely diced carrots
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
½ cup finely chopped jalapeños
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, diced (or canned, diced)
1/4 cup thinly sliced roasted red peppers
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°F.

To prepare squash: Halve squash through the stem end; scoop out seeds. Cut a small slice off the bottom of each half so it rests flat. Place cut-side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Combine olive oil honey, garam masala and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; brush the cut sides of the squash. Cover with foil.
Bake until the squash is tender, 40-45 minutes more. To test for doneness, the flesh should be fork tender. Turn off the oven, tent the squash with the foil and leave in the oven to keep warm.

To prepare stuffing: Bring water, lentils and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Adjust heat so the water is simmering, cover pan and cook until the lentils are not hard, but still maintain their shape, about 7 minutes. Drain, saving any lentil-cooking liquid; set lentils and liquid aside.

Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and cumin seeds and toast, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Place in a spice grinder and grind until fine. Add back to the pan together with leeks, garlic, carrots, shallots, ginger and pinch of salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in jalapeños, coriander and turmeric and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Stir in tomatoes and 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid from the lentils (if there isn’t enough, make up the difference with water). Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the reserved lentils and simmer until they are soft and tender but not falling apart, 1-2 minutes. If the mixture seems dry, add more cooking liquid (or water). Stir in roasted peppers. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Divide the lentil stuffing among the squash (a generous 1 cup per half). Serve garnished with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt.

* Garam masala, a blend of spices used in Indian cooking, usually includes cardamom, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, fennel, cumin and coriander. It is available in the spice section of most supermarkets.

In Your Glass
The richness in this dish comes from the carmelization of the squash as well as a bit of hearty olive oil and the blend of savory and spicy herbs. Red wines from Spain’s Rioja region come to mind as a nice compliment to the dish. Some older vintages are now on the market and are tasting great. From Shafer, Doug or I would likely reach first for the Merlot with its enticing red and black fruit flavors.

 

Dessert
Cranberry-Pear Tart in a Walnut Shortbread Crust

Yield: 8-12 Servings

Ingredients
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon plus ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons canola oil

1 ½ cups plus 2 teaspoons plus ⅓ cup and 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon plus 2 dashes salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch dice
⅓ cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped

3 large ripe pears, such as Anjou or Bartlett
2 cups fresh cranberries, picked through, rinsed, and dried
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

Directions
Make the crust: Position a rack near the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk, yogurt, vanilla (½ teaspoon) and oil. Put the flour (1 ½ cups), sugar (3 tablespoons), and salt in a food processor; pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarsely ground cornmeal.

With the processor running, add the yolk mixture in a steady stream and then pulse until the moisture is fairly evenly dispersed, 10 seconds or just until the mixture comes together. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Gently knead in the chopped walnuts to distribute them evenly. The dough will be a bit of a crumbly mass.

Pour the mixture into a 9 ½-inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Starting with the sides of the pan, firmly press the crumbs against the pan to create a crust about ¼ - inch thick. Press the remaining crumbs evenly against the bottom of the pan. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork and freeze for about 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and bake until the sides just begin to darken and the bottom is set, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Filling
Peel the pears, quarter them lengthwise, core, and cut crosswise into 1/4 -inch-thick slices.

In a food processor, coarsely chop the cranberries. In a medium bowl, mix the pears and cranberries. In a small bowl, mix the sugar (2/3 cup), flour (2 teaspoons), cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt (dash); add to the cranberry-pear mixture, tossing to combine. Spoon the filling into the par-baked crust, leveling the filling and pressing it down slightly.

Make the streusel and bake: In a small bowl, mix the flour (⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon), brown sugar, and salt (dash). Add the melted butter and vanilla (1/4 teaspoon). Combine with a fork or your fingers until the mixture begins to clump together in small pieces when pressed. Sprinkle the streusel over the filling, breaking it into smaller pieces if necessary.

Bake until the fruit is tender when pierced with a fork and the streusel and the edges of the crust are golden brown, about 50 minutes. If the tart begins to get overly brown at the edges, cover with foil. Let the tart cool on a rack – It’s best when fresh from the oven still slightly warm.

Adapted from: Fine Cooking Tarts and Crisps

In Your Glass
This is a dish that you could take in a few different directions in terms of a wine partner and demonstrates that there’s never just one ideal wine option with food. Doug and I might even continue with the Shafer Merlot or perhaps we would move on to a white Port, which would go nicely with the pear and do a lovely dance with the walnut, all-spice and cardamom. Yet another delicious option is Shafer’s Firebreak®, a Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine made in the style of late-bottled vintage Ports from Portugal. Not overly sweet, this wine offers an ultra-plush Cabernet richness sure to please.

 

 
Seasonal Favorites from Annette Shafer The Best of Autumn 2012 From Annette Shafer
As fall comes into full swing we begin to enjoy a whole new season of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Annette is offering recipes for a meal that focuses on the bolder and heartier flavors and textures you’ll find at this time of year.
 
Appetizer
Arugula, apple, fennel and pomegranate salad with Walnuts

Servings: 8

Ingredients
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 large fresh fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, very thinly sliced
1 8-ounce Breaburn apple (or other tart, crisp apple) , halved, cored, cut into matchstick-size strips
8 cups washed and trimmed arugula leaves
½ cup Pomegranate seeds
½ cup Walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted

Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and shallots together in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine fennel and apple in medium bowl; mix in 2 tablespoons dressing.
Place arugula in large bowl. Add fennel-apple mixture. Toss, adding more dressing to taste. Divide salad among 8 plates. Sprinkle each with walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Serve.

In Your Glass
Doug and I like to move into dinner offering our guests a glass of white wine. With this salad in mind, I like something with brightness and elegance. The salad has a bit of acidity along with a touch of sweetness from the pomegranates. There are many great wines from which to choose. We may select a Chablis, or a Pinot Gris from Alsace, or, of course, Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay.

 

Entrée
Cabernet Braised Shortribs with Asiago Polenta

Serves 8

Ingredients

Ribs
16 (2 ½ to 3-ounce) bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 grinds black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped shallots
½ cup chopped, peeled carrots
½ cup chopped, peeled celery
5 garlic cloves, peeled and gently smashed
2 sprigs rosemary
2 cups cabernet sauvignon or other hearty red wine
2-3 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Polenta
4 cups fat-free milk
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes
1 cup dry polenta
⅓ cup grated fresh aged Asiago cheese

Gremolata (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced

Heat a large Dutch oven (or a cast iron enameled pan with a tight fitting lid) over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil to the pan. Then, add 8 ribs and sauté, browning them for 5-6 minutes. Remove ribs to a holding platter and then repeat with remaining oil and ribs. When brown, remove to platter.

Preheat your oven at this point to 350°F.

Add onion, shallots, carrots, celery, garlic, and rosemary to the pan. Sauté 3-5 minutes. Add wine to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping pan to loosen the browned bits and them back into the sauce. Simmer until the wine is reduced by a third. Add broth and bay leaf to the pan and bring back to a simmer.

Return ribs to the pan. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Turn the ribs and bake for another 45 minutes. The meat should be very tender at this point. Remove the ribs from the pan and keep warm.

Over a small bowl, strain the cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids. Then, skim the fat and discard. Return the cooking liquid to the pan. Whisk together flour and 1 tablespoon cold water in a small bowl. Whisk into the broth and bring just to a boil. Simmer until reduced to about 1 cup. Remove from heat and add vinegar. Keep warm for serving.

Polenta: Bring milk, salt, pepper and red chili flakes to a boil. Turn flame to low and slowly stir in polenta. Cook until thickened, about 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from flame and stir in the Asiago cheese.

Gremolata (optional garnish): Combine all ingredients.

Serving: For each serving, place a ½ cup polenta in a shallow bowl and top with 2 ribs, 2 tablespoons sauce and 1-2 teaspoons of the gremolata mixture (optional).

In Your Glass
This short ribs dish offers a whole host of robust flavors and textures for fall. With its heartiness, you’ll find a lot to choose from among Cabernet Sauvignons or Merlots from various wine-producing areas around the world, especially those originating in New World regions. From California, our go-to for a dish like this is Shafer’s One Point Five® Cabernet Sauvignon. Its elegant profile of bold freshness makes it a compelling companion.

 

Dessert
Olive Oil Cake with Glazed Pears

8 servings

Ingredients

Cake
2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour
1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
¼ cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (fruity rather than peppery base flavor)
½ cup Greek yogurt
¾ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Glazed Pears
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
4 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced (about 4 cups)
½ cup pear juice (or apple cider can be substituted)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and place a piece of oiled parchment in the bottom of the pan.

Cake: Whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until combined; add the lemon zest, orange zest, olive oil, yogurt, milk and brandy and whisk again until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. You may need to cover the cake with foil the last few minutes of baking to prevent the top from becoming too brown.

Let the cake cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the loaf and invert it onto the rack, removing the parchment carefully. Let cool completely.

Pears: In a medium sauté pan, simmer the sugar and water over medium heat, swirling the pan (do not stir with a spoon) until it is a dark amber, about 5-8 minutes. Carefully fold the pears into the caramelized sugar. Add the pear juice and cook over medium heat until the apples are tender and translucent, another 5-8 minutes.

Cut the loaf into 8 slices and divide among plates. Spoon the apple mixture over the cake and serve.

In Your Glass
A number of classic dessert wines could accompany this cake but instead we might lean toward a white port, “leve secco”, or “light dry”, which hails from Portugal’s Douro region. With a little less alcohol than the other traditional ports, and a hint of sweetness, it complements dessert with lovely almond and vanilla aromas and flavors. Doug and I like to find wines that avoid being overly sweet as they tend to mask some of the cake’s more delicate flavors. Of course I’m also partial to Shafer’s Firebreak made in the style of late-bottled vintage Port.

 

 
Seasonal Favorites from Annette Shafer The Best of summer 2012 from Annette Shafer
With summertime comes the fresh, alluring flavors of a new season. Annette is offering some of her recipes for a meal that focuses on the abundance you'll find at this time of year in produce sections and farmers markets throughout the country.
 
Appetizer
Summer Squash and Fresh Fennel Salad

Serves: 4

Light, fresh and clean flavors perfect for a warm Summer’s evening.

Ingredients
4 small zucchini
4 yellow squash
1 fennel bulb
1 pint red cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tablespoons lightly toasted, coarsely chopped, walnuts
½ cup shaved ricotta salata (feta is a good option)
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 1-2 Meyer lemons
1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade
½ cup fresh mint leaves, cut chiffonade
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Using a mandolin, julienne the zucchini and squash (only as far as you see the seeds are exposed). Cut tops off of fennel bulb and cut into quarters. Shave thinly.

Toss together the zucchini, squash, and fennel. Just before serving, add the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, mint , salt and pepper. Toss just to coat, then add the cherry tomatoes. If plating, save the ricotta salata for garnish as you plate the salad. If serving family style, shave the ricotta salata over the top of the entire salad and serve.

In Your Glass
This salad offers an intriguing balance of bright, distinct flavors with some of the creaminess that the ricotta or feta brings. Annette says she and Doug have enjoyed this on various evenings with a Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc produced in the Sancerre region of France), a crisp Riesling from the Alsace region of France or a wine closer to home, Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay.

 

Entrée
Chili crusted (grilled) Wild Salmon with Fresh Corn Salsa

Serves: 6

Ingredients

Salmon
2 ¼ lbs. fresh Salmon filet (skin on), cut into 6 oz. portions
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon allspice

Salsa
4 medium ears fresh corn
¼ cup diced red onion
1 small red bell pepper, diced
½ cup sliced scallions, include some of the green
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon agave syrup (optional)
½ cup cilantro leaves, (additional for garnish)
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat grill to medium high, around 400°F. Prepare the salmon first by taking the small bones out of each filet. (Easiest if you use small, needle-nose pliers.) Tear a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to hold all of the salmon filets and place on a platter. Place each piece of salmon, skin side down on the foil. Sprinkle with lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix sugar, chili powder, cumin and allspice. Sprinkle mixture liberally atop salmon. Refrigerate until grill is heated.

Salsa: Clean the ears of corn, removing husk and silk. Grill just prior to putting Salmon on the grill – and just long enough to roast the corn until you see a bit of charring on both sides. Remove the corn to cool.
At this point, slide the foil with marinated Salmon off the platter and onto the grill. Close the grill hood and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to 325-350°F and continue to grill until salmon is almost cooked through, approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove from grill and let stand a few minutes before serving.

Salsa: Shave the corn off the ears and place in a medium bowl. Add onion, pepper, scallions lemon juice, olive oil and agave. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add cilantro leaves just before serving. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated or served at room temperature.)

Plating: Place one (skinless) salmon filet on plate (skin will stick to the foil for easy removal of the cooked fish). Spoon ⅓ cup salsa (or more as desired) over top of each salmon filet. Garnish with additional Cilantro.

In Your Glass
It’s tempting to play it safe and serve this entrée with a white wine but Annette says she and Doug have enjoyed the delicious rewards of being more adventurous. Their favorite wines with this have been lighter style reds such as a fruit forward Pinot Noir from Burgundy or even a richer style red such as Shafer’s Merlot – something juicy to go nicely with both the richness of the salmon and the flavors of the chili crust.

 

Dessert
Almond Crisps with Sweetened Ricotta and Strawberries ‘Pazzo’

Serves: 6 - 8

A fun twist on traditional Strawberry Shortcake. And the term ‘pazzo’ refers to an Italian word for crazy. Adding a bit of Balsamic seems a bit crazy at first, but please hold judgment until you try it!

Ingredients
1 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted lightly
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash ground nutmeg
8 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed

Sweetened Ricotta
12 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
¼ cup crème fraiche
2 Tablespoons sugar (or more to taste)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
Pinch of sea salt

Strawberries ‘Pazzo’
2 cups of fresh strawberries, quartered
2 Tablespoons superfine sugar
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)

Crisps: Pulse the almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; pulse to combine. Add the butter, a little bit at a time, pulsing until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

With the machine running, add the ice water, 1 Tablespoon at a time. Add enough just until dough starts to come together. You may need to add more water – if so, add 1 teaspoon at a time. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold and slightly firm, 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll dough out to ⅓ – ½ inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface and cut with a round biscuit cutter. Cut out 6-8 circles. Transfer the rounds to baking sheets lined with parchment. (Roll out remaining scraps and repeat.)

Bake until the edges of biscuits turn golden brown, about 30 minutes.Transfer to wire racks. Let cool completely. When serving, place a dollop of the ricotta on the crisp and top with the berry mixture.

Sweetened Ricotta: Place the ricotta in a fine sieve and set it over a bowl to drain for 10-20 minutes. Discard excess liquid. Stir together the ricotta, crème fraiche, sugar, vanilla, lemon peel and salt. Refrigerate until serving.

Strawberries ‘Pazzo’: About 30 minutes before serving, toss the strawberries with sugar and vinegar. Keep at room temperature until service.

Plating: Place the biscuit into a shallow bowl, top with ricotta and then strawberries. Enjoy!

In Your Glass
Annette says this one is great with a blanc de noir Champagne, an unexpectedly lovely way to finish a meal. She and Doug have also enjoyed this with a well-chilled, Marsannay rosé or Shafer’s Cabernet dessert wine called Firebreak – each brings its own alluring flavors and textures.

 

 
Seasonal Favorites from Annette Shafer The Best of Spring 2012 from Annette Shafer
With the start of spring comes the delicious chance to enjoy the fresh, bright flavors of a new season. Annette is offering some of her recipes for a meal that focuses on the abundance you’ll start finding in produce sections and farmers markets.
 
Appetizer
Asparagus, English Pea and Leek Soup

Serves: 6

Ingredients
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Canola Oil
1 ½ pounds asparagus, stalks peeled and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
¼ cup chopped shallots
1 cup chopped leeks, both white and tender green parts
½ cup chopped, peeled celery
¼ cup chopped, peeled carrot
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
½ cup white wine
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups freshly shelled English Peas
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt to taste

Nonfat Greek Yogurt mixed with lemon juice for garnish
6 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Whisk together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a stockpot, heat the oil and sauté the shallots, leek, celery, and carrots until just translucent. Add the asparagus and continue to sauté until soft, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté just until the aroma of garlic is noticeable. Then, add the wine, simmer and reduce by half, scraping pan to incorporate into soup. Next, add the stock and bring just to a boil. Turn down heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, until all vegetables are soft. Add the peas and cook for 5-6 more minutes just until they are soft.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pureé with an immersion blender (one of my favorite tools!) if available or alternatively in a blender in small batches. If using a blender, as when pureéing anything warm, leave the blender top ajar and place a dishtowel over the top to catch any soup that escapes.

Serve the soup warm or cold garnished with a swirl of the Greek Yogurt with lemon.

In Your Glass
With the bright yet delicate springtime flavors of this soup we have enjoyed a glass of Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay as well as a selection of wines from Chablis (also Chardonnay). It's also great to try some lesser-known whites such as an elegant Vermentino from Tuscany’s Bolgheri coast with its fruit forward essence and pleasurable minerality.

 
Entrée
Seared Halibut with Soba Noodles

Serves: 6

Ingredients
2 pounds Halibut (6 filets)
1 Tablespoon Hoisin sauce
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon finely minced lemon zest
1 Tablespoon white wine
1 Tablespoon canola oil
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 lemon wedges (for garnish)

Soba Noodle Salad
12 ounces soba noodles or other wholegrain pasta
¾ cup buttermilk
1½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon zest
3 Tablespoons minced chives
1 cup watercress
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
1 scallion, sliced thinly
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper, to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste

Preparation: Rinse halibut under cold running water and pat dry. Remove any bones. Combine hoisin, lemon juice, lemon zest, white wine and canola oil. Place halibut in a glass dish with just enough room for all filets to lay flat. Pour marinade over halibut, making sure to coat both sides. Cover. Let marinate 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

While the fish is marinating, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add soba noodles and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Mix together, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, chives, and salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, gently toss soba with buttermilk mixture. Add watercress, cucumber, scallion and salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss to incorporate. Serve or refrigerate until ready to eat.

To prepare halibut: Heat a non-stick sauté pan to high heat. Add olive oil and swirl around pan. Add halibut pieces. Sauté just until halibut looses it’s interior translucency – a little bit of translucency is fine since the fish will continue to cook a bit once removed from the heat. Remove from the pan.

To serve: Place one serving of the dressed soba noodles on serving plate. Top with seared Halibut. Squeeze lemon juice over halibut just before serving – or allow guests to make the choice. Enjoy!

In Your Glass
This is one of those great dishes that we have loved trying with both red and white wines. A Shafer Merlot can be a delicious companion as can a Pinot Noir or a white with a medium to full body, such as a favorite Sémillon.

 
Dessert
Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cake with Caramel Sauce

Serves: 6 - 8

Ingredients
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated (baker’s) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups lightly toasted walnuts, finely ground
½ cup ground bittersweet chocolate

Caramel Sauce for garnish, optional
1 cup of sugar
6 Tbsp butter
½ cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut parchment in a circle to fit the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan. Butter and flour once parchment has been laid into the pan. With an electric mixer and paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks using the whisk attachment. Fold ⅓ of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Add the walnuts and chocolate and stir to blend. Fold in the remaining egg whites just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Cool before removing the cake from the pan.

To serve: cut into wedges and garnish with a drizzle of caramel sauce (optional) or a scoop of vanilla gelato.

Caramel Sauce Recipe
Yield: Makes a little over one cup of sauce

Note: Before you begin, make sure you have everything ready to go, your “mise en place”, the cream and the butter measured out and next to the pan. It is important to work quickly, with all ingredients at hand, or the sugar may burn.

Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. (It is important to use a pan with high sides since the addition of the heavy cream will cause the caramel to foam up considerably.) As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want, from this point on.
As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be dark amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.

Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. After 5 seconds, slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate.

Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then pour into a glass jar and let sit to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, you can store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Warm before serving.

In Your Glass
We've enjoyed finishing a meal with this cake and a little of Shafer's Firebreak, a Cabernet dessert wine, or a double espresso.

 
 
Selected Food and Wine pairings

Selected Food and Wine Pairings
Here's a sample of dishes that have matched nicely with various vintages of
Shafer wines.

Tea Smoked Duck

Delicious Staying Power
Chef Cindy Pawlcyn captures the essence of Mustard’s Grill in a cookbook that has as much staying power as her legendary restaurant

The Cookbook Library

Timeless Flavors
The Cookbook Library is a tour de force that goes where no cookbook has gone before – the distant past

Small Plates, Big Flavor

Small Plates, Big Flavor
Little dishes create fun setting for wine discovery

Chanterelle Quail Polenta

Discovering Wild Food
The Wild Table asks: would you like some adventure with your risotto?

Older red wine

Butternut Squash Risotto
Here's a delectable new recipe from Annette Shafer that pairs beautifully with an older red wine such as Hillside Select.

Older red wine

A Delicate Balance
Celebrated author Gerald Asher gives his approach to creating a memorable dinner that pairs with the delicacy of an older red wine.

Bites of Spring

Bites of Spring
In her cookbook, Seasons in Wine Country, Kate Conniff of the Culinary
Institute of American, Greystone, takes readers on a hunger-inspiring journey
through the bounty of spring.

Cheese of course

Cheese of Course
Cheese aficionado and author Janet Fletcher offers delicious pairing tips for
red wine.

Top Chef Dave Martin

Winning recipe from Top Chef Dave Martin
Truffle Mac 'n Cheese was judged to pair show-stoppingly with Hillside Select.

Shafer Tasting Room

A Shafer Early Summer Feast
Check out recipes for a special dinner featuring hearty, authentic seasonal
ingredients prepared by Annette Shafer and Shafer staff members.

red Wine with Lighter Fair

Red Wine with Lighter Fare
Eating less meat? You can still pair your favorite wines with savory, sumptuous cuisine.


 

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