Posts Tagged ‘cooking with wine’

Chardonnay Clam Sauce

October 27th, 2011 No comments

Here’s a simple and delicious clam sauce recipe that’s perfect for pasta, and perfect for the fall.  You’ll need:

Hands holding Littleneck Clams

Littleneck Clams, image from Wikipedia

  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (Extra Virgin is usually best)
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Fresh, Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Chardonnay
  • 1 Pinch Salt
  • 1 Pinch Black Pepper
  • 8 to 12 Fresh Clams in Shells (or a can of baby clams)
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh, Chopped Parsley
  • 1/2 Lb. Pasta (I use linguine, cooked as directed on the package)
  • Shaved Asiago Cheese, to Taste
WineKeeper--Napa 4 Bottle

WineKeeper--Napa 4 Bottle

Before cooking your linguine/pasta, steam your fresh clams until their shells open; this is the sign that they’re cooked and ready.  (If using canned clams, there’s no need to steam.)  Prepare your linguine/pasta according to the package’s instructions.  When the pasta is almost finished cooking, combine the butter, olive oil, and garlic in a skillet.  Melt the butter, and saute the garlic for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add your Chardonnay, and pour in a little residual clam juice, if desired (about 1/4 cup from the bottom of your steamed pot of clams, or from the can).  Reduce temperature to low, and cook for 1 minute.  Add clams and parsley, heating them for another minute.  Put the cooked linguine/pasta on a plate, and cover it with this sauce.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper, evenly distributed, then cover with shredded Asiago cheese, according to taste.  Enjoy, and don’t forget to serve the rest of the Chardonnay with the meal!  If you choose to have another wine in its place, don’t waste your Chardonnay; use The Keeper Wine Preservation System, or the Napa 4 bottle WineKeeper dispenser and preserver unit to save the rest for another time.  Enjoy!

Wine Cherry Treats

October 18th, 2011 No comments

They’re like a Jell-O shot, but with the addition of some class. And cherries. What’s not to love?

You’ll need:

orange half sphere silicone baking pans

Half-sphere Silicone Baking Pans

  • 1 jar of maraschino cherries with stems
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 7 1/2 teaspoons of gelatin powder
  • 2 cups red wine, your choice!
  • Rainbow sprinkles

Coat two mini half-sphere silicone baking pans (the kind with 15 indentations per pan) with a light covering of cooking spray.  Pour the orange juice into a saucepan, and cover it with 2 1/2 teaspoons of gelatin powder.  Heat on low, stirring frequently for approximately 5 minutes.  Immediately fill each half-sphere in the baking pan about 1/3 full with this, then refrigerate for 1/2 an hour.  While waiting, pour your wine into another saucepan (or rinse and reuse the same one) and add 5 teaspoons of gelatin powder.  Heat on low, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.  Remove, and allow to cool.  After the baking pans have cooled in the fridge for 30 minutes, take them out and put a cherry into each half-sphere.  Then, fill each half-sphere to the top with the wine and gelatin mixture.  Put the pans back in the fridge, and chill overnight.  Before serving, sprinkle colored sprinkles on top of each cherry treat.  Enjoy!

Marsala Wine Sauce and Turkey Cutlets

October 4th, 2011 No comments

A few years ago, I was offered plain turkey cutlets at a dinner.  (The bland poultry was less-than impressive!) After giving them a second try, however, this time dressing them up with this delicious sauce, I discovered that they can easily make a satisfying entree.

A bottle of Marsala wine, courtesy of Wikipedia

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 Turkey Cutlets
  • 1/3 Cup Marsala Wine
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Flour
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1/3 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 Tsp. Fresh Chopped Rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Parsley

On a large plate, mix the flour and pepper.  “Dunk” the cutlets in this mixture until they are covered completely with the flour and pepper mix.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan.  Add the cutlets, cooking each side for about 3 minutes.  Next, move the cutlets to a plate, and stir the garlic into the hot pan, sautéing it for 2 minutes.  Then, add the wine and chicken broth.  Cook on medium for about 4 minutes; some of the wine and broth will evaporate.  Add the rosemary and salt to the pan.  Put the 4 cutlets back into the pan, and cover them with the sauce.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees (usually in 2-4 minutes.)  Place the cutlets on clean serving dishes, cover with sauce, and top with parsley.  Enjoy!  For extra flavor, consider adding 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms or 1/2 cup of sliced scallions to the pan when you add the garlic.

Death to Breath Mints

September 20th, 2011 No comments

While good food and wine pairing is always to be encouraged, even the best wine can be reduced to ruin on one’s tongue under certain conditions.  Here are six things to avoid before sipping on what would be a delicious glass of vino:

common restaurant breath mints

Courtesy of

1. Breath mints.  We all want to have fresh breath, especially on dates, but sucking on or chewing a handful of strong peppermints will unfavorably color any wine you taste for about 10-20 minutes afterward.  The same goes for brushing your teeth before a meal.

2. Hot chili peppers.  These are found in many salads, but even a mild chili pepper makes all the wine you drink afterward taste dull and even a bit diluted.

3. Drinks from the bar.  Cocktails work quickly to dull your perception of a wine’s subtleties.  3-star chef Fernand Point even warned that, “After one cocktail, or worse yet, two, the palate can no more distinguish a bottle of Mouton Rothschild from a bottle of ink!”

4. Vinegar. Again, it’s a popular salad topping (think “oil and vinegar”) but its high acidity blocks the tongue’s ability to taste the subtle flavors hidden in many high-quality wines.

5. Asparagus.  Sometimes this great veggie can turn a sip of wine into a V8 commercial.

Asparagus tied together

Courtesy of

6. Eggs.  Yes, hard-boiled, they often appear in salads.  (Sounds as if I’m dissuading you from having a healthy dinner!)  But egg yolks can leave a thin coating on your tongue that also insulates you from experiencing a wine’s more delicate flavors.

The above “wine blockers” are often why, at a dinner where everyone’s dish differs, some people–all with the same taste in wine–really enjoy the table’s bottle of wine while others don’t.  Food, mints, and cocktails have more say in wine perception than most people think!  So the next time you order a bottle at your favorite restaurant, try skipping the pre-dinner mints, drinks, salad additives, and asparagus.  The wine you try next might just be one of the best you’ve had with a meal!

Mulled Wine: a Late Summer, Early Fall Treat

September 13th, 2011 No comments

Traditionally known as a “winter” drink, mulled wine can also be enjoyed in the late summer/early fall season.  It actually makes a great segue into fall, and its familiar aroma often brings back happy childhood memories. (And since there is abundant evidence that connects our sense of smell with episodic memory, a warm cup may just surprise you with an image you’ve long forgotten!)  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 bottle dry red wine (a Merlot is especially good)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cloves (whole)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 pinch of allspice
  • 2 strips of orange peels
  • 2 strips of lemon peels

Mix your entire bottle of wine with the water, sugar, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, orange and lemon peels in a saucepan.  Simmer over low heat for 25 minutes.  If desired, add more sugar for a sweeter drink.  A bit of honey can also be added, or even substituted for sugar, for an alternate variation.

And while enjoying your own mulled wine, ponder this profound passage from Marcel Proust’s The Remembrance of Things Past: “When from a long distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”

Red Sauce, White Sauce

September 9th, 2011 No comments

While looking for more sauces with wine as a primary ingredient, I came across two delightful ones on  I’m re-posting the recipes here, and you can check out the source of these at

Red Wine Sauce

This makes a thick, intensely flavored red wine sauce that’s great on red meat.


•1/4 cup shallots, chopped fine

•1 tsp. honey

•1 tsp. paprika

•1 bottle red wine

•1 Tbsp. butter

•1 Tbsp. crushed bay leaves

•1 Tsp. fresh thyme


1. Sauté the shallots in the butter.

2. Stir in the paprika, bay leaves and thyme and continue to sauté for one or two more minutes.

3. Add the wine, then reduce until only one cup of liquid is left.

4. Add the honey and continue to reduce until thickened, about two or three minutes.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste, then strain to remove the crushed bay leaves.

White Wine Sauce

This white wine sauce is good on pasta or as an accompaniment to most seafood.


•1/4 cup dry white wine

•1 Tbsp olive oil

•2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

•4 cloves crushed garlic

•4 lemons, juiced

•4 Tbsp. butter

•Pinch of nutmeg


1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat.

2. Add the olive oil and garlic and sauté until the garlic becomes yellow and aromatic.

3. Add the lemon juice and wine.

4. Raise the heat to medium and reduce the liquid, stirring to prevent the liquid from boiling.

5. Add nutmeg and parsley to the sauce.

6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Both of these recipes are easy to make, and utilize ingredients most people readily have in their kitchens.  The next time you’re in a rush to make a decent wine-based sauce, give one of these a try.  They may just save the day!

Image courtesty of

Creamy White Wine Sauce

September 7th, 2011 1 comment

I came across a delicious, easy-to-make white wine sauce I felt compelled to share.  The only ingredient you may have to run out and get is heavy whipping cream!

In a small to medium-sized saucepan, add 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 3/4 to a cup of your favorite white wine.  Stir well while heating over medium heat until boiling, then add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of dried parsley.  (Freshly-dried parsley tastes the best, but dried parsley from your spice rack will work fine in a pinch!)  Stir well.  If desired, you can even add a dash–or two–of cayenne pepper for pizzazz.  Reduce heat and let the mixture cool to a warm serving temperature, stirring occasionally.  Pour over your feast, and enjoy!

White Wine Sauce Image Courtesy of

Regardless of the white wine you choose to use, this sauce goes very well with chicken, including Cornish game hens, and potato dishes.  This sauce also makes a terrific pasta topper!  Try it with traditional pasta dishes, including tortellini and ravioli.  And, to tie your meal into a balanced little bow, don’t forget to serve your guests the wine you used in your sauce!  Enjoy!

Easy Port Wine Sauce

August 26th, 2011 1 comment

Though a perfect addition to any winter dinner, this easy-to-make port wine sauce recipe is ideal for those later, cool days of summer–those days when you can “sense” that fall is just around the corner!

You’ll need a bottle of your favorite port wine, 1 tablespoon butter, 2 tablespoons chopped shallots, 1/2 cup of mushrooms (thinly-sliced), 1 tablespoon of cream, 1/2 cup of beef or chicken stock, thyme, rosemary, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.

In a deep frying pan, melt the butter. Sauté the mushrooms and shallots over medium heat. When done, add about 1/2 a cup of port wine, plus the other ingredients listed above: cream, beef or chicken stock, and a pinch of thyme, rosemary, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir well, and reduce heat to low once the mixture boils. Simmer, while stirring occasionally, until your main dish is almost fully-cooked, then remove the sauce from heat for 2-4 minutes. (Sauce will naturally thicken.) Drizzle your port sauce liberally over your main dish, and even side dishes, and serve. Watch for smiles, and listen for “yummy” sounds! This sauce makes a delightful companion to almost any dish with beef, chicken, pork, veal, turkey, goose, bass, figs, eggplant, and (for those of you who have overcome your childhood aversion) Brussels sprouts! Enjoy this sauce with a glass of your favorite port now, as a precursor to the colder months ahead.

Port wine sauce with veal and assorted vegetables

Image courtesy of

Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings: Recently Improved!

August 5th, 2011 2 comments

Natalie MacLean holding a glass of wineAlthough we’ve already given this app our stamp of approval back in May, its continued popularity and recent improvements have made it emerge as one of the most practical wine and food apps ever.  Renamed from Nat Decants to Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings, and updated to version 2.2 on July 19th, the app’s already convenient barcode scanning logic was vastly improved.  This means it’s even easier to use your smartphone to scan a picture of a bottle’s barcode.  You’ll then get instant tasting notes, wine scores, recipes and pairing recommendations.  What is more, you can also see how many bottles of the wine in question are available at nearby stores, better helping you decide whether to buy a bottle now, or later!

Natalie comically describes how her app can assist during a common wine-buying situation: “You’re in the liquor store wondering if you should buy the bottle with the castle on its label or the one with the fluffy squirrel.  Now you just point and click to find out if that shiraz actually is a good wine to go with your pepper steak, or if the sauvignon blanc would work with your grilled veggies. No more guesswork based on castles and critters.”

In terms of publicity, Natalie compares having an app featured on Apple’s App Store Homepage “almost as good as being interviewed by Oprah for your book.”  If this is truly the case for app developers, Natalie certainly made quite the splash; Nat Decants is also the only wine app to make appearances in both Apple’s top 10 “Food & Wine” apps and “Date Night” categories.

In summary, Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings is a free app that provides thousands of wine reviews, wine articles, and winery listings.  It also possesses the miraculous ability to recommend some of the most perfect wine and food pairings this blogger has ever tried.  In addition, all of Natalie’s pairings were personally tested.  No automated, computer-driven approximations or “tricks!”  For more food for thought, the app contains thousands of original recipes with matching wine recommendations, and you can easily keep track of your own wine cellar inventory with a simple-to-use, intuitive interface that has even won over wine lovers who sometimes feel “technologically-challenged.” (And may I mention, again, that this app is absolutely free?)

Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices with iOS 4.0 or later.  It is also available for Android, and BlackBerry devices with an OS of 4.3.0 or later.

App shot from Natalie MacLean's wine app

A Healthy Red Wine and Veggie Dish

July 20th, 2011 No comments

For those of us working hard to incorporate more veggies in our diets, here’s a fun recipe that uses a variety of tasty produce as well as your favorite dry, red wine.  Think veggies and reds don’t mix?  Think again!  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 potato chopped into cubes (each about 1”)
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion (white), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely-chopped (or minced)
  • 1/2 lb of sliced mushrooms
  • 4 cups pinto beans, cooked
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup water (for later)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite dry, red wine

In a big pot, cook the chopped onion, browning slightly (if desired), while adding 1/4 cup water gradually.  Next, add the chopped carrot, potato chunks, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, and 1 1/2 cup water.  Bring the pot to a boil, stirring frequently, and let it continue to boil uncovered until the potato and carrot pieces soften, approx. 20-25 min.  (Note: If the water level gets too low, add more H2O so the veggies remain submerged and do not burn.  This may vary depending on elevation.)  After the potato and carrot are done, add your favorite dry red wine, the pinto beans, chopped onion, salt, and garlic.  Bring the pot back to a boil, then let it simmer over low heat an additional 10-15 minutes.  Take out the three bay leaves; they are for flavor, only, and not to be eaten!  While the pot finishes simmering, brown the mushrooms over low heat in a greased frying pan.  Once they are done, stir them into the pot!  Now, it’s time to eat!  Bon appétit!

Have a favorite wine recipe you want to share? Tell us about it in the comments!