Turkey, White Bean & Kale Soup with Roasted Mushrooms & Carrots… recipe and wine pairings

Turkey, White Bean & Kale Soup with Roasted Mushrooms & Carrots

Sometimes you just want something warm, chewy, chunky, hearty and delicious. Things like stew, chili, escarole and sausage… etcetera. I know with the winter we’ve been having, I’ve been craving dishes like that almost every single day! But, let’s face it, we can’t eat sausage, bacon, or ground beef every single day… as much as we’d like to. With this in mind, I recently took my love of escarole, white beans & sausage as inspiration and morphed it into a healthier, but no less satisfying, soup. So here you have my recipe for a Turkey, White Bean & Kale Soup with Roasted Mushrooms & Carrots.

Serves 4-6 as an entree.

*One quick note… If you’d like to make this dish even healthier you can omit the 2tbsp of butter from the soup altogether, and replace the butter from the mushrooms with 2tbsp of olive oil. The butter just makes a richer, more flavorful dish.

Ingredients (soup):
1 1/4lb Ground Turkey
2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1/2 Large White Onion, chopped
2tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2tsp Salt
1 1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper
8c Chopped Kale
2c Dry White Wine
6c Chicken Stock, low sodium
4c Water
2 Bay Leaves
58oz Canned Cannellini Beans, rinsed
2tbsp Unsalted Butter

Ingredients (roasted mushrooms):
1lb Baby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
3tbsp Butter
1tsp Salt
1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2tsp Garlic Powder

Ingredients (roasted carrot ribbons):
6 Large Carrots, ribboned
1tbsp Olive Oil
1tsp Granulated Sugar
1tsp Salt
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2tsp Garlic Powder

In a large sauce pot (I use an 8qt) heat the olive oil at medium, add the chopped garlic, onion, and 1/2tsp of salt and saute for 3 minutes, stirring periodically. Increase the heat to high, add the turkey, as well as 1/2tsp of salt and 1tsp of black pepper, and cook until lightly browned, stirring periodically. Add the chopped kale and 1/2tsp each of salt and pepper, cook until the kale is lightly wilted, stirring periodically. Add the wine and simmer on high until reduced by half. Add the chicken stock, water and bay leaves, bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-high and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring periodically. Reduce the heat to medium, remove the bay leaves, and add the cannellini beans, simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring periodically. With 5 minutes left add the 2tbsp of unsalted butter and season to taste, if needed (I didn’t, but everyone’s taste is different).

While the soup is simmering you can work on the mushrooms and carrots.

Heat your oven to 375F.

Clean and peel the carrots, then using either a mandolin or peeler ribbon the carrots lengthwise, as thinly as you can. Put the ribbons in a large bowl, then toss with the olive oil and seasoning until evenly coated. Spread the ribbons out on a baking sheet and bake until moderately browned, stirring around periodically to promote even roasting, approximately 25-30 minutes.

In a large saute pan melt 3tbsp of unsalted butter at medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and seasoning and saute until browned, stirring regularly, approximately 15 minutes.

Set the cooked carrot ribbons and roasted mushrooms aside at room temperature until needed.

Once the soup has finished simmering go ahead and plate it up (or should I say bowl it up?) then top it with the roasted mushrooms and a nest of carrot ribbons.

That’s it, you’re done!

So let’s talk wine pairings. I would strongly recommend sticking with red wine here, preferably something medium to full bodied and on the rustic side. Think Rhone Valley, Languedoc, Piemonte, Valle D’Aosta, Rioja, Chinon from the Loire… you get the picture. If you absolutely have to go white, then it better be full bodied and able to hold its own! California Chardonnay, skin-fermented Pinot Gris or Vermentino, dry Trebbiano, oak aged Malvasia or Rioja Blanco… something along those lines. You can’t walk into this party with a light crisp Pinot Grigio! Here are a few wines that I would recommend.

Hermanos de Peciña Crianza 2009, Rioja, Spain – The Crianza is a blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano and 2% Garnacha aged for two years in neutral American oak, and an additional two years in bottle. In the glass is a medium to full bodied wine of deep garnet hue. The bouquet reveals aromas of black cherry, cassis, fennel frond and subtle potpourri. On the palate are distinct notes of ripe cherry, blackberry and tart bramble fruit, as well as nuances of leather and nutmeg, with beautifully integrated acidity and soft tannins giving balance and backbone. Truly a beautiful wine and an unbelievable value. PP Score: 91 (Retail $18-22) For more information on Peciña and this particular wine see my article here.

Piaugier Côtes du Rhône Rouge La Grange 2013, Rhone, France – Piaugier is a small producer primarily located in and around the village of Sablet (with additional small holdings in Gigondas) currently run by a husband and wife team that is extraordinarily humble and sweet. The Côtes du Rhône Rouge La Grange is their entry level offering made from a blend that is predominantly Grenache, as well as small amounts of Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan. In the glass you’ll find a medium bodied wine of ruby hue with purple edging. On the nose are aromas of cherry, cassis, dried herbs and cracked peppercorn. The palate opens with notes of dark cherry and tart bramble fruit with moderate acidic presence, transitioning into slightly spicy, earthy, herbal middle, finally leading into a lush finish of macerated fruit and pantry spice, rounded out by chewy tannins. A pleasant offering for the price point. PP Score: 88 (Retail $11-13) *Practicing Organic

Cantalupo “Agamium” Colline Novaresi 2010, Piemonte, Itlay – Cantalupo was established by the Arluno family back in 1969, but they had been producing wine from their vineyards in around the village of Ghemme for centuries. The Agamium (which translates to Ghemme in Latin) is their entry level bottling, made from 100% Nebbiolo sourced from the vineyards of Carella, Baraggiola and Valera. Agamium is meant to be friendlier and softer than their higher tiers wines, and should be consumed young. On the palate you’ll find beautiful notes of dark cherry, fresh fig, garden herbs, tobacco and pantry spice with subtle acidity and soft tannins completing the picture. This is truly a pretty wine that is wonderful with food, but could easily be consumed alone. PP Score: 87 (Retail $15-18)

There you have it, my hearty, delicious, stomach & soul warming and moderately healthy (even more so if you take out the butter… lol) soup recipe. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, and I certainly hope you’ll make the recipe and try some of my wine recommendations. As always, new content is coming soon. In the meantime crack open a rustic old world red, sit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!

Buon Appetito!!!

Asian Noodle Soup with Shrimp & Seared Scallops… recipe and pairings

Asian Noodle Soup with Shrimp & Seared Scallops

Once in a while I get into a phase where I crave certain flavor profiles and that dominates what I cook for at least a week. Well, a few weeks back I was craving ingredients like soy, miso, scallion and snap peas, so pretty much everything I made that week had an Asian flare to it, like the Asian Meatloaf that I recently posted. One particular evening I was not only craving those flavors, but I also wanted seafood, and done in a way that was comforting… so I decided to make an Asian Noodle Soup and incorporate shrimp, scallops and fresh vegetables. It came out absolutely delicious, quite possibly one of my best dishes in a while!

Another great thing about this recipe is that from prep to plating you should be done in about an hour.

Serves 4 as an entrée, 8 as an appetizer.

Ingredients (soup):
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Heart of Lemongrass, sliced in half length wise
2tbsp Fresh Grated Ginger
1tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/4tsp Salt
4c Vegetable Stock
8c Water
3tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1c Scallion, chopped
1lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined
8oz Rice Vermicelli
1c Snap Peas, julienne
1c Red Cabbage, shredded

Ingredients (scallops):
8-12 Large Sea Scallops
1tbsp Olive Oil
1tsp Salt
1tsp Ground Black Pepper

In a large sauce pot (I used an 8qt) heat 1tbsp of olive oil on medium, then add the garlic, sliced lemongrass heart, grated ginger and sprinkle with 1/4tsp of salt, sauté for 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, water, soy sauce and 1tsp of salt. Increase the heat to high and boil uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring periodically. Strain the broth into another pot to remove any solids, do not put the strained broth on heat. Add the uncooked vermicelli, shrimp and scallion and cover the pot, allowing the hot broth to cook the raw ingredients. Leave covered at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving, stirring once about halfway through.

Heat your oven to 400F.

While the broth is finishing it’s time to cook your scallops. Rinse them off in cold water, then pat dry with a towel. Sprinkle both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan on high. Once hot add the scallops and sear until browned, then flip and repeat, 2-3 minutes per side. Put the scallops in the oven for 5 minutes to finish cooking.

To serve, create a nest of vermicelli in the bowl and ladle with broth and shrimp. Top with the seared scallops then liberally garnish with julienne snap peas and shredded cabbage.

Now let’s talk pairings. If you’re having wine then it’ll have to be white… red wine simply isn’t going to work. Look for whites with pronounced acidity and subtle fruit and florals, which will help cut through the soy but also accent the natural sweetness of the seafood and vegetables, but that also have some depth and richness. Think Bordeaux Blanc, dry Alsatian Riesling or Gewurztraminer, dry Chenin Blanc, or even a denser Sauvignon Blanc from California, preferably Napa. Or if you’d like to go in a different direction I would recommend a floral Sake from a southern Japanese prefecture, or even a lighter bodied beer with subdued hops and notes of florals or fruit. Here are a few things that I would recommend.

Château Sainte Marie Entre-Deux-Mers Vieilles Vignes 2013, Bordeaux, France – Sainte Marie was established by Gilles Dupuch in 1956, but it was always a hobby for the family as Gilles’ primary vocation was his insurance brokerage. However, in 1997 Gilles’ son Stephane took over and was able to focus all of his time, energy and passion on making the family wines, transforming the vineyards and drastically improving the final product. Their blanc is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle aged on lees in stainless steel. In the opening you’ll find pronounced citrus notes and subtle salinity, as well as sharp acidity. The Semillon becomes evident mid palate with rich, dense, slightly yeasty notes, leading to a moderately soft finish with subdued minerality and delicate nuances of white peach and crushed flowers. With over 8,300 cases made on an average vintage the wine should be readily available in most major markets. PP Score: 88 (Retail $13-17)  *Certified Organic

Cultivar Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Napa, California – Cultivar is a relatively new petit négociant out of Napa, sourcing from top vineyard sites throughout the valley. Their Sauvignon Blanc is a very authentic representation of how the varietal should drink from this region. In the glass you’ll find a medium-to-full bodied wine of golden hue. The bouquet is redolent with aromas of lime zest, Meyer lemon, grapefruit pith, slate and crushed white flower. The palate reflects the nose, with undercurrents of balancing acidity, surprising depth and grip, and a mildly creamy mouth feel. One of the better Sauvignon Blancs I’ve had from California in some time, regardless of region or price point. PP Score: 92 (Retail $18-21)

Fukucho “Moon on Water” Junmai Ginjo Sake N/V, Hiroshima, Japan – Fukucho by the brewery Imada Shuzo, which was founded in 1868. On the palate the Sake is slightly sweet, with distinct notes of cantaloupe, lime and most especially fennel. It has a crisp clean mid-palate and lingering finish where the fennel notes continue to shine. Easily one of my favorite southern prefecture Sakes. Available in both 300ml and 720ml. PP Score: 93 (Retail 300ml $18-22, Retail 720ml $37-45)

Magic Hat Brewing Company “Elder Betty”, Vermont – Elder Betty is a Weiss-style ale made with elderberry, by Vermont’s iconic brewery Magic Hat. In the glass you’ll find a light-to-medium bodied brew of straw color with hints of orange, minimal head and no lacing. On the nose are aromas of elderberry, juniper and sourdough. On the palate the beer is surprisingly dry and crisp with pronounced effervescence and only subtle hints of fruity sweetness. Elderberry is obviously the primary flavor profile, but it is nicely balanced with malts, subtle hops and a slightly tart acidity, leading to a short finish. This drinks dangerously easy, luckily it’s only 5.5% ABV. PP Score: 3.82 (Retail $9-10 per six pack)

Well, there you have it, my newest recipe and recommended pairings. I must point out that this is a momentous post as it’s my first with a beer pairing included! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the read, and will try the recipe and pairings. As always new content is coming soon, in the meantime crack open a dangerously addictive bottle of Elder Betty, sit back and relax… and keep the rest of the six pack within reach so you don’t have to keep getting up for another! Life is short, enjoy it.


Asian Meatloaf & Slaw… recipe and wine pairings

Asian Meatloaf & Slaw

One of the things that I love about meatloaf is that it’s one of the ultimate blank slates. By definition it’s ground meat, with seasoning, formed into a log and baked, typically with some type of sauce spread on the outside. I mean c’mon, you can turn that into whatever you want! You can do traditional, southwest, Mexican, Jamaican Jerk, Thai… heck, you can even stuff it and roll it with vegetables, meats and cheeses. You can really go wild! So when my kids asked me to make them meatloaf a few weeks ago, I knew that I wanted to do something fun and different, so I went Asian… and they LOVED it.

Here’s my recipe for that Asian Meatloaf & Slaw that my family devoured. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients (meatloaf):
1lb Ground Beef, do not go leaner than 85/15, you need fat in there to keep it moist!
1lb Ground Pork
1/3c Carrot, chopped
2tsp Salt
1tsp Onion Powder
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
2tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
1tbsp Sriracha
1tbsp Low Sodium Soy, if you use regular Soy then cut the salt down to 1tsp
1 1/4c Panko
1 Egg
1/3c Cheriyaki, also sold as Rib Sauce

Ingredients (slaw):
4c Red Cabbage, julienne
1lb Mushrooms, sliced
2c Asparagus, chopped on a bias
2tbsp Olive Oil
2tsp Salt
2tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/3c Mirin
2tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
2tbsp Lime Juice

Heat your oven to 350F.

In a large bowl mix all of the meatloaf ingredients well, minus the Cheriyaki. Place in a lightly greased 9×13″ baking dish and form into a loaf, then evenly coat the entire outside with the Cheriyaki Sauce (Rib Sauce). Bake in the oven for 1 hour at 350F. Allow to rest 15 minutes at room temperature before slicing.

While the meatloaf is in the oven you can make the slaw. Heat the olive oil on high in a saute pan, add the sliced mushrooms and 1tsp each of salt and pepper. Saute until browned. Add the asparagus and Mirin, cook on high until the Mirin has reduced by half, then remove from heat and set aside at room temperature. Once cooled add the shredded cabbage, lime juice, rice wine vinegar and 1tsp each of salt and pepper, toss well. Leave at room temperature until ready to serve.

Slice the meatloaf, hit it up with some slaw, and dig in!

Now let’s talk wine pairings. Both the meatloaf and slaw have some sweet notes to them from the Mirin, brown sugar and Cheriyaki, offset slightly by the saltiness of the soy and smokiness of the Sriracha. What I’m getting at is this isn’t the easiest dish to pair with. Being that it already has a fair degree of sweetness you don’t want to go with Riesling, Gewurztraminer, etc. like you normally would with Asian cuisine… My recommendations would be an umami laden Sake, a medium bodied white with moderate acidity, or a full bodied red with lush berry notes and subdued tannins. Here’s what I would recommend.

Kanbara Bride of the Fox Junmai Ginjo Sake N/V, Niigata, Japan – Kanbara is located in Niigata, one of the norternmost brewing prefectures in Japan. Sakes from the north tend to be fuller bodied with layers of tropical and savory notes. In the glass you’ll find a Sake of light straw color, bordering on clear. On the nose are aromas of mint, sage, melon, lime zest and roasted peanuts. On the palate you’ll find the Sake to be surprisingly dense, with more tropical notes of melon, lime and mint prevalent in the opening, leading into a surprisingly savory mid-palate and finish with distinct notes of herbs, mushroom and roasted peanuts. A wonderful Sake to pair with food. PP Score: 91 (Retail $16-19 3ooml/$32-38 720ml)

Filippi Castelcerino Soave Classico 2012, Veneto, Italy –  Normally I’m not the biggest fan of Soave’s. They’re typically very aromatic and are very fat in the mouth with overt honeyed notes and little-to-no balancing minerality or acidity. The Soave’s of Filippo Filippi (yes, that’s his real name), however, are anything but typical. Filippi’s estate and vineyards are located in Castelcerino, which is the highest elevation region in the Soave DOC. The family has been making wine from these estates since the early 1900’s, but it wasn’t until 2003 that they started bottling under their own name. On the nose the Classico is very typical Soave, being super aromatic, but the palate is a completely different story. The wine is medium bodied, and while there are honeyed notes evident, there are also beautiful hints of grapefruit pith, white peach and lemon zest, framed by crunchy minerality and subtle acidity. This is easily the most complex, yet well balanced, Soave I’ve ever had, and at the price it’s an absolute steal. PP Score: 90 (Retail $13-16) *Certified Organic

Bedrock Wine Co. Old Vine Zinfandel 2013, Sonoma Valley, CA – Bedrock is the brain-child of Morgan Twain-Peterson, the penultimate Golden Child of California Zinfandel and field blends. The 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel is taken from prestigious sites like Bedrock Vineyard, Monte Rosso, Nervo Ranch, Sodini Ranch, Stampede Vineyard,  Casa Santinamaria Vineyard and more, with an average vine age of 80 to 123 years old. In the glass is a full bodied wine of ruby hue. On the nose are aromas of black cherry, bramble fruit, dried herbs, potpourri and pantry spice. On the palate are lush, ripe fruit notes of black cherry and overripe raspberry with nuances of dried herbs, and ground black pepper, leading into a long, lingering finish redolent with spicea and subtle heat. One of my favorite affordable Zinfandels of all time… PP Score: 94 (Retail $25-30)

So there you have it, my delicious Asian Meatloaf & Slaw recipe, and some kickass wines to pair with it. As always, new content is coming soon. In the meantime crack open some Sake, sit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!


Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

The other day I made a variation on one of my favorite hearty, cold weather dishes, my roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken with Thyme. On the side I served some Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes that came out so unbelievably delicious that I simply had to share the recipe. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8

2 1/2lbs Russet Potatoes, unpeeled
4tbsp Unsalted Butter
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
8oz Sour Cream
4tbsp Grated Parmesan, plus more to sprinkle over the top
2tsp Salt, plus a pinch for the garlic
2tsp Ground Black Pepper

Put the whole potatoes in a large pot and fill with water until they are entirely submerged with an additional 2″ layer of water beyond their tops (as you boil the water will evaporate, you need a buffer to keep them completely under water so they boil evenly). Boil the potatoes until a knife easily passes through their center, roughly 25-30 minutes depending on their size.

While the potatoes are boiling melt the butter in a small pot at medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to low and slowly simmer for 10 minutes, stirring periodically. Turn off the heat but keep the pot on the stovetop until needed to prevent the butter from thickening.

Once the potatoes are tender through the center strain them from the water, and place them back in the pot. Quickly break down the potatoes using a hand mixer or potato masher. Add the cooked garlic and butter as well as the salt, pepper, grated parmesan and sour cream. Mix until thoroughly blended. Plate and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese.

Hope you love ’em as much as my family did!

Stromboli… the ultimate crowd pleaser

Stromboli... the ultimate crowd pleaser

Looking for the perfect appetizer for a party, game day, or a great snack for the whole family? It doesn’t get any better than Stromboli! Moist bread, gooey cheese, salty pepperoni… how can you beat that?

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

2 1/4tsp (2 Envelopes) Active Dry Yeast
2tsp Granulated Sugar
1 3/4c Warm Water (105-110F)

3 1/2c All Purpose Flour + more for kneading
2tsp Salt
1/4c Granulated Sugar
2tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted

1/3lb Sliced Pepperoni
1/2lb Shredded Mozzarella
3tbsp Grated Parmesan
1tsp Dried Oregano
2tsp Garlic Powder

2tbsp Olive Oil, 1tbsp to coat dough prior to rise, 1tbsp to brush before baking
Cooking Spray

Combine the warm water, yeast and 2tsp of sugar in a bowl and set in a warm area for 15 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. The yeast should create a creamy layer above the water (called the “bloom”).

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, salt and 1/4c of sugar. Add the yeast/water mixture and begin mixing on low, using a dough hook attachment, and slowly add the melted butter. Mix for 2-3 minutes… The dough should be wet and tacky, if it is not add another tablespoon or two of warm water and mix for an additional 1 minute. Stop mixing the dough and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. This gives the gluten a chance to relax and spread back throughout the dough. Once rested, mix for an additional 3 minutes at medium speed. The dough should have pulled from the sides of the bowl and be slightly elastic.

Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured cool surface and knead it until it develops a slightly elastic consistency, approximately 6-8 minutes. Add small amounts of flour to the surface as needed while kneading.

Place the dough in a large bowl and coat it thoroughly with 1tbsp of olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and set the bowl in a warm, draft free place until the dough doubles in size, approximately 1 hour.

Heat your oven to 375F.

Turn the dough back out onto the lightly floured surface. Do not knead it, simply release some of the air by gently pressing it with your fingers. Using your hands, press the dough out into a large rectangle, roughly 16×20″. Layer the shredded mozzarella over the spread dough, leaving 2″ bare at the top and bottom edges, and 1″ along the sides. Evenly spread the oregano, garlic powder and grated parmesan over the mozzarella, then evenly layer the sliced pepperoni.

Starting from the end closest to you, fold over the 2″ of bare dough then continue to gently roll the dough moving towards the opposite edge, folding in the ends before each roll.

Place parchment paper over a large baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray, then place the rolled Stromboli on the sheet with the crease on the bottom. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place for 20 minutes to allow the dough to begin rising again.

Brush the Stromboli with 1tbsp of olive oil, then place it in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is browned.

Allow to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Buon Appetito!!!

Carrot Ginger Bisque with basil honey creme… recipe and wine pairings

Carrot Ginger Bisque

As I mentioned in a previous post I recently made dinner for my mother-in-law’s birthday party, and this bisque was how we started the meal. Of everything I made that night (all of which was delicious of course!), I have to say that this was probably the best dish of the bunch, and was a huge crowd pleaser. Carrots and ginger are such a classic combination of flavors, and the addition of the slightly sweet basil honey crème really put it over the top.

I do apologize for the photo… I was in the middle of plating for 15 hungry people and didn’t really have time to snap a good pic. Oops!

Serves 8-12 as an appetizer.

Ingredients (bisque):
2lb Carrots, large dice
1/4c Olive Oil
3tsp Salt
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Granulated Sugar
1/2tsp Ground Nutmeg
1tbsp Fresh Grated Ginger
2c Dry White Wine
4c Vegetable Stock
6c Water
1qt Heavy Cream
1/3c Honey

Ingredients (basil crème):
3c Fresh Basil
8oz Sour Cream
2tbsp Honey

In a large pot (I used an 8qt) heat your olive oil on high, then add the carrots and 1tsp each of salt and sugar. Cook until the carrots are lightly browned, then add the white wine and simmer on high until it has reduced by half. Add the vegetable stock, water, cream, 2tsp salt, black pepper, nutmeg, grated ginger and honey. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring periodically.

Puree using a hand emulsifier, or by doing separate batches in a food processor or blender, until you have a smooth bisque. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for an additional 25 minutes.

During the final simmer it’s time to make the crème. Pulse the basil in a food processor until finely chopped, 20-30 seconds. Add the sour cream and honey, then mix until fully blended and smooth. Keep the crème in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

Once the soup is done simmering it’s time to serve it up! Ladle it into some bowls, drizzle it with the crème, and enjoy… If you want to turn it into an entrée then serve it with some seared shrimp or scallops, or maybe some gnocchi that’s been sautéed in brown butter, or all of the above!

Now let’s talk wine pairings… You could go in a number of directions here. A dry sparkler or Rose, or possibly a drier style of Riesling or Gewurztraminer. I would stay away from anything too grassy, acidic or mineral driven, or anything too big, buttery and oaky. If you don’t do whites or pinks and have to do a red just make sure you keep it light, like Gamay, Frappato, Mayolet, a lighter bodied Pinot Noir, etc. DO NOT have this with a full bodied red, all of the subtle flavors of the bisque will be lost. Below are a few recommendations that I think would be ideal.

Bohigas Brut Reserva Cava N/V, Catalunya, Spain – The Bohigas estate was established in the 13th century and the family has been producing wine from their lands since 1290! The current generation is a father daughter team, Jordi and Maria, and I have to say that they are two of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Their wines are simply stunning, and unbelievably affordable. Their Cava Reserva can stand toe-to-toe with some Champagnes in my opinion, and at a third of the cost. On the palate you’ll find notes of candied lime zest, green apple, crushed rock and white flowers, with palate awakening effervescence and a slight yeasty density. A truly unbelievable value. PP Score: 91 (Retail $13-16)

Boundary Breaks Riesling No.239 Dry 2012, Finger Lakes, New York – Boundary Breaks is a newly established winery on the eastern shores of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes, and in my opinion, they have immediately established themselves as one of the top producers in the region. They are only in their second vintage, and the wines are beyond gorgeous. Bruce Murray’s dream was to create world class Riesling from New York State that could stand up to the top wineries of the Mosel and Alsace… Mission accomplished sir! So their No.239 Dry (No.239 referring to the Geisenheim 239 Riesling clone used for this bottling) is not an overly sweet Riesling, with only 0.6% residual sugar. It is beautifully floral and bright, but still has a slightly fuller mouth feel. On the palate you’ll find notes of Meyer lemon, orange blossom honey and white peach, as well as hints of smoke, tea leaves, and crushed granite. Production on these wines is TINY, with only 350 cases made of the No.239, so needless to say it’s going to be a challenge to find outside of New York… but for the rest of you there are a handful of boutiques that are selling the wine online, just let your fingers do the walking. PP Score: 91 (Retail $16-20)

Idlewild Vin Gris Yorkville Highlands 2013, Mendocino, California – Idlewild is a moderately new producer, but they are already making a big splash in the California wine scene, focusing their efforts on working with varietals that are not commonly found in the United States (i.e. Dolcetto, Barbera, Arneis, Cortese, etc.). Their 2013 Vin Gris is made from Grenache. Despite being a lighter bodied, ethereal wine, it is surprisingly complex. Portrayed are nuances of ripe strawberry, grapefruit pith, melon and dried sage that play enticingly on the palate, balanced by subtle acidity and a surprising presence of tannin, giving the wine a fleeting touch of depth towards the finish. With only 200 cases produced it’s certainly not the easiest wine to find, but it’s worth the search! PP Score: 92 (Retail $16-20)

So there you have it, my bisque recipe and a few recommended pairings. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read and will give the recipe and wines a try. As always, more new content is en route, in the meantime crack open a bottle of something special, sit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!

Parmesan & Thyme Spaetzle

Parmesan & Thyme Spaetzle

For anyone that has any amount of Eastern European heritage I’m fairly positive that it’s built into their DNA to love spaetzle… and being 50% Ukrainian I am certainly no exception! It’s not something that I make often, but every time I do my wife and I look at each other and she says “Why don’t you make this more often!?” Then again it’s also built into her, DNA being 50% German. In fact it was her beloved grandmother that first turned me onto these tasty little dumplings over 20 years ago.

So I made it the other night and it was a huge hit, even with the kids.

Serves 2-3 as an entree, 4-6 as a side.

1 1/4c All Purpose Flour
1/2tsp Salt
1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 Eggs + 1 Egg Yolk
1/2c Milk (Whole or 2%)

4tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1tsp Salt
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tbsp Fresh Thyme
2tbsp Grated Parmesan

You can make the batter by hand with a spoon or whisk, or with a stand mixer. My theory is that if God created stand mixers to make our lives easier, it would be wrong not to use them… haha.

Combine the flour with 1/2tsp each of salt and black pepper. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and egg yolk, and then beat in the milk. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and begin mixing on low using the paddle attachment. Once the wet and dry are well integrated increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until you have a smooth batter.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. In small batches, pour the batter into a colander with large holes and push it through into the boiling water with a rubber spatula (or use a spaetzle press if you’re smart enough to have one, which I’m not). Boil the spaetzle until they float the top, approximately 1 minute, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a second colander to strain. Repeat until you’ve used all of your batter.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan at medium heat and add the garlic, cook until it starts to sweat, 2-3 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the strained spaetzle and 1tsp each of salt and pepper. Sauté until the spaetzle very lightly browns, stirring regularly. Turn off the heat, toss in the thyme and parmesan, and plate it up.

There you have it, the delicious eggy little pasta’ish dumplings that we all love… Serve them as a side or as the main dish!