Wine Country Recipes

Rich Mushroom Soup

  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 1 C dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 t butter
  • 1 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 2 t chopped garlic
  • 2 t finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 1/2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 1 pound)
  • 2 (8 oz) packages sliced button mushrooms
  • 4 C fat free less sodium chicken broth
  • 1 C 1% low fat milk
  • 1/2 C half and half
  • 1/4 C dry Amontillado Sherry
  1. Place flour in a small skillet over medium-high heat; cook 2 minutes or until flour turns light brown, stirring constantly. Transfer flour to a small plate; cool.
  2. Combine boiling water and porcini mushrooms in a bowl; cover and let steep 20 minutes. Strain porcini mushrooms through a sieve over a bowl, reserving soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms.
  3. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper; sauté 30 seconds. Add shiitake mushrooms; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add button mushrooms; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chopped porcini mushrooms and broth to pan.
  4. Combine reserved porcini soaking liquid and toasted flour, stirring with a whisk, and add to pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Add milk; simmer 10n minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in half and half and Sherry. Place 2 cups soup in a blender; process until smooth. Return pureed soup to pan. Warm the soup over low heat for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Yield: 8 servings (serving size 1 cup).


Bama Macaroni Salad

  • 1 lb macaroni salad pasta
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 small can black olives
  • 4-5 whole sweet pickles (reserve 1/4 cup pickle juice for later use)
  • 3 boiled eggs
  • 3/4 cup Mayonnaise (preferably Bama if you can find it)
  • White pepper
  • 1 T Celery seed

Boil pasta in heavily salted water until Al Dente (about 8 minutes), feel free to throw in the eggs with the pasta to save some time and dish washing. Drain the pasta and separate the eggs for cooling. While the pasta and eggs are cooling finely chop the red pepper, celery, onion, black olives and sweet pickles.

After the pasta and eggs have cooled, peel and chop the eggs and dump into dish you will be serving and chilling in. At this point, put enough white pepper on the pasta to make the top "dusty" and add the celery seed. Take the mayo and add the juice from the sweet pickle and mix together until it is like a smooth sauce. Add all the chopped vegetables, mix with the pasta and egg totally, and then add the mayo sauce. If it's not "wet" enough feel free to add more mayo or pickle juice.

Red Quinoa Salad

  • 1 1/4 cups red quinoa
  • 1 small onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 yellow and/or orange bell peppers, quartered
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped and blanched
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice (I like a little more than the recipe calls for)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • White pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 scallions, chopped
Prepare grill for cooking.

Wash quinoa in at least 5 changes of water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off water, until water runs clear. Drain in a large sieve. Add quinoa to a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook 10 minutes. Drain in sieve and rinse under cold water.

Set sieve over a saucepan with 1 1/2 inches boiling water (sieve should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes. (Check water level in pan occasionally, adding water if necessary.) Spread quinoa on a baking sheet to cool.

OR - the easy way is to put in rice cooker with a brown rice option and follow directions provided by the rice cooker for brown rice, 2 parts liquid to 1 part dry. What I like to do for extra flavor is add the chopped onion with the quinoa and broth in the rice cooker.

While quinoa is cooking, grill bell peppers on a well-oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until slightly softened, about 4 minutes on each side. Cut bell peppers crosswise into thin strips. Peel the peppers after grilling for a nicer salad.

After quinoa cools completely to room temperature, whisk together oil, lime juice, soy sauce, and cumin in a large bowl and stir in quinoa, bell peppers, zucchini, cilantro, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste.
Chefs' Notes:
You can make quinoa salad 1 day ahead and chill, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving. If you prefer, grill bell peppers in a hot well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat.

Birthday Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup "regular" quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 2 yellow/summer squash chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 3-4 scallions chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro destemmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • White pepper
  • Kosher salt

Wash quinoa in at least 5 changes of water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off water, until water runs clear. Drain in a large sieve. Add quinoa and coarsely chopped onion to a saucepan of boiling broth cover reduce heat and cook approximately 20-30 minutes.
OR - the easy way is to put in rice cooker and follow directions provided by the rice cooker for rice, 2 parts liquid to 1 part dry. What I like to do for extra flavor is add the chopped onion with the quinoa and broth in the rice cooker. After quinoa has cooled to room temperature add remaining vegetables and herbs and gently mix together. Sprinkle kosher salt and white pepper to taste. I would suggest about 1-2 tablespoons salt and enough pepper until the top of the quinoa is dusty looking. Whisk rice wine vinegar and olive oil together and drizzle over quinoa mixing until it glistens.

Melanie's Thai Cabbage Slaw

  • 1/4 head Napa cabbage, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1/4 head green cabbage, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 jalapeno chili or Fresno chili 1/8" diced
  • 1/2 bunch green onion sliced 1/4"
  • 1/3 bunch cilantro, whole leaves
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and sliced 1/4"
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot chili oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cut the cabbages, rinse and spin dry. (I use my Cuisinart with the shred blade then put in a salad spinner after.) Combine the cabbage, green onions, chili pepper, cilantro and cucumber. Set aside
Combine the balance of the ingredients except the chopped peanuts and mix until blended.
Add the dressing and all but 1 Tablespoon of the chopped peanuts to the cabbage salad. Toss until coated.
Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper.
Plate the salad and garnish with remaining peanuts and a couple sprigs of cilantro. Chef's Notes:
I do not use the peanut oil for the wine tour due to nut allergies many folks have and I find that a nice light Canola oil or Grapeseed oil works just fine in replacement. I also keep the chopped nuts separate until serving for that reason as well. So, if you're confident that no one has allergies, follow the recipe as written because it has a little extra flavor.

Charter Green Bean Salad

  • 1 pound French Haricot Vert Beans
  • 2 oz baby carrots
  • 1 pound very small new potatoes
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 large shallot (chopped)
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and mashed with a pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons thyme, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (Meyer lemon if you can get them - they rock)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Blanch beans and carrots in water for about 2-4 minutes and then place in an ice bath for several minutes to stop the cooking and keep their "raw" color.
Cook the potatoes until on the edge of done and then dice into bite size pieces.
Drain the beans and carrots and combine with the potatoes and tomatoes.
Whisk together the balance of the ingredients with salt and pepper to taste. Then toss the vegetables with the dressing and serve.
Chef's Notes:
This dish is best served as close to room temperature as possible. It stores great overnight in the fridge, but warm it up naturally before serving.

Watermelon Salad

  • 1/2 watermelon cubed bite size
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
  • 1 small bottle Balsamic Vinegar

Pour entire bottle of Balsamic into a small saucepan and bring to a boil until it reduces by at least half and becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Gently toss remaining ingredients and dish onto serving plates/bowls. Drizzle with cooled Balsamic reduction.
Garnish on the side with very small cubes of pan-fried pork belly, or pancetta if desired, and serve while still warm. (I highly recommend this.)

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