At the recent wine club party, Mrs. Vino debuted a “hummus” made with Edamame. It’s one of my FAVE super easy, super healthy appetizers. It’s a beautiful fluffy dip for veggies or rice cracker. It’s also pretty good tossed with Asian noodles as a cold salad. This dish is absolutely wonderful with Morovino’s new Dry Riesling. There were numerous requests for the recipe, so here you go!
1 16 ounce bag of frozen shelled Edamame, thawed
2 T yellow Miso (red or white Miso works too, but Yellow seems to be the most readily available)
2 T warm water
2 T grated ginger (use your microplane grater and it’s about 2″ of ginger root)
2 T rice wine vinegar
1/4 t. Chili Garlic Paste
Mr. Vino is not a fan of very spicy dishes, so Mrs. Vino uses 1/4 t of Chili Garlic Paste. If you prefer a spicier dish, just stir in more chili paste at the very end of the dish.
Disolve the Miso in warm water to create a paste. Add all the ingredients into the bowl of your food processor. Process til smooth. Add a bit more rice wine vinegar or water if you need to thin it out a bit. Put it in a pretty bowl, then top it with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil if you like. YES, it is just that easy.
Now that we have Cosa Dolce back in the tasting room, I’ve received several requests for my favorite summer party beverage: La Cosa Dolce Vita Bellini. This is light and perfect for picnics and summer barbecues. Enjoy!
La Cosa Dolce Vita Bellini
(Made with Morovino Cosa Dolce)
1 large ripe peach (about the size of a tennis ball)
2T Club Soda or Ginger ale (Mrs. Vino likes Diet Ginger ale)
½ C. ice cold Cosa Dolce
1 t. orange juice
The Bellini was invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice and is generally made with Prosecco (sparkling wine). BUT, we think it is FAAAAABUUU when made with ice cold Cosa Dolce. Remove the peach pit, then cut the peach in cubes (including skin), and puree in your blender, food processor or mini-chopper. You want it very well liquified. Put 4 t. of peach puree in the bottom of a wine glass. Add 2T of club soda or ginger ale and stir well. Add the Cosa Dolce and the orange juice. Give another quick stir to blend. My one peach made about 4 glasses. ENJOY!
If you want to do a pitcher of these, use 2 peaches, 1 bottle of Cosa Dolce, 8 ounces of Club Soda or Ginger ale and 2 ounces of orange juice—assemble as above. Then bask in the glory of your friends’ admiration.
For a fun twist, try a frozen Bellini! Do these in full pitchers and Replace the fresh peach with 1/2 of a 10 oz bag of frozen peaches (I give my blender a break and let the peaches thaw just a tiny bit first). Kind of like a frozen margarita, only better!
I’m always happy to accommodate a request from a tasting room guest! So here are two of my favorite GREEN aps for St. Pats Day.
Boniet – pronounced bun-yet (Sounds gross, tastes fantastic)
2 bunches of fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley (don’t use the yucky curly kind)
1 small can (50 grams) of anchovy filets, drained
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
4T cider (or red wine) vinegar
8T Good extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 T tomato paste
Chop off the bottom 2″ of parsley stems, then thoroughly wash and spin the parsley dry in your salad spinner. Give the parsley a rough chop, then toss it in the bowl of your food processor with all the rest of the ingredients. Whirl until you have a paste the consistency of pesto. Serve this with warm crusty sourdough. Make it the day ahead if you can – it’s even better the second day. NOTE: If you are into the “zen” of the chop, you can do all this chopping by hand but it takes less than 5 minutes to put together in the food processor.
Bonus Points: If you have any left over, grab a Boboli thin wheat pizza crust. Top the Boboli or other flat bread (I am now loving “pocketless” pitas) with the parsley spread, then add sliced mushrooms, sliced tomato, grated mozzarella and diced up leftover Rotisserie chicken. Bake the Boboli per package directions. Absolutely Fantastic.
Super Easy Pesto
1 large bunch Basil
1/4 C. olive oil
3 large cloves garlic
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese
2 anchovy filets (if desired, also great without)
No Nuts – nope, just don’t like nuts in my pesto
Wash the basil in your salad spinner. Pick the leaves off the stems. Give the garlic a rough chop. Then put everything into your food processor and whirl it around. Put it on . . . anything. If you are looking for a lower calorie version of Pesto, use 1/4 C of evaporated non fat milk instead of the oil. It makes a nice creamy pesto that’s great over veggies!
We wish you the happiest of holiday seasons! The Sangiovese Mulled Wine has been an enormous hit! Just in case you lost the recipe that came with your “Kit” here it is.
MOROVINO HOLIDAY MULLED WINE
(make with Morovino Sangiovese*)
1 Bottle Morovino Sangiovese
½ Bottle of tap water (use the Sangiovese bottle)
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
1 Package Morovino Wine Mulling Spices
1/4 C. dried fruit (use dried cherries, dried plums, dried apricots, raisins – whatever you have, they all work!
In your saucepan or crock pot, add the Sangiovese, water, sugar, spice package (take off the tag, but leave cork and leave spices in the bag) and raisins/cherries/etc. Simmer on low in a saucepan or high in a crock pot for 1 hour or more (don’t let it boil). More time is better. When warm, ladle it into small coffee cups, or heavy wine glasses and serve. Yes, the dried fruit goes in the glass too – yummy. Or put it in a thermos and take it to a football game (in a Thermos, strain the dried fruit out or it will clog up the pour spout). Or make yourself a pot and sip on it while wrapping holiday gifts sitting in front of the fire listening to Nat King Cole. Really, try it. 100% of visitors to the tasting room who have tried it have loved it! NOTE: If you don’t finish the entire pot of mulled wine just let it cool a bit, cover it and put it in the refrigerator. It’s delicious when reheated the second day!
*If you use a wine other than Morovino’s Sangiovese, look for a low tannin Red wine and start with 1/4 Cup brown sugar then adjust to taste. Here are some reds that are usually low in tannin: Beaujolais, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Chianti, Merlot.
DON’T HAVE A BAG OF MOROVINO MULLING SPICES? Here’s the secret recipe for 1 bottle of wine:
1/2 T whole cloves
1/2 T whole allspice
1 and 1/2 Cinnamon Sticks
2″ of orange peel – just peel, no pith
Tie all the spices up in a piece of cheesecloth or in a coffee filter or put them in a tea ball and follow the recipe as above.
I recently invested in a cool new kitchen tool – a rice cooker. I’ve been making rice for decades, and I consider myself a good cook, but rice is usually hit-and-miss with me. As we eat a fair amount of rice, it seemed like a good investment. As it turns out, the rice cooker does a lot more than cook rice. In fact, I played with my rice cooker for two weeks before I actually tried to cook rice in it!
One of the things that my rice cooker does REALLY WELL is Quinoa. I love Quinoa – it’s healthy, it’s got nice texture, a great nutty flavor and you can do sooooo much with it. When I cook it on the stovetop, it frequenly comes out gummy. However, in the rice cooker (use the white rice setting) it turns out fluffy and light and perfect. The only downside to making Quinoa in my rice cooker is that you need to make at least 2 cups. That is lots of Quinoa. So here’s a great recipe to use up some of your leftover cold Quinoa. This salad is healthy and delicious.
CHICKEN AND QUINOA SPINACH SALAD
1/2 bag of prewashed spinach (or get 1 bunch and wash it really, really well)
1 pear, cored and sliced
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. crumbled bleu cheese
1 c. prepared Quinoa, chilled
4 green onions, sliced lengthwise, then crosswise in 1/2″ pieces.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (steamed in your rice cooker)
2 T olive oil
1 T cider vinegar
1 T Orange juice
1 small dollop of honey (let’s call it 1/2 t.)
Another great use for the rice cooker is steaming - one of my new fave easy meals is to make brown basmati rice in the bottom of the rice cooker while simultaneously steaming salmon filets in Teriyaki sauce in the steamer basket. Wow. More on that later.
Back to this recipe – let’s steam the chicken. Put water, 1 garlic clove and 2 bay leaves in the bottom pot of your rice cooker. Then put the steamer tray in the top. Put the boneless skinless chicken breasts in the steamer tray, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and steam for 18-20 minutes (or however long your rice cooker booklet says). Prewashed spinach is one of those amazing cheats that I don’t feel at all bad about using. Toss the Spinach, Quinoa, bleu cheese, pear slices, green onions and cranberries together in a large bowl. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Toss the dressing with the salad greens. Put 1/2 the salad on each of 2 dinner plantes. Top each salad with one of the sliced cooked chicken breasts. Sprinkle with a bit more of the crumbled bleu cheese. Yum-o-licious.
We are lucky enough to get a number of newer wine tasters in the tasting room. If you haven’t visited a wine tasting room before (or even if you have), here are some great tips on things to do (and not do) to ensure that you (and those around you) have an enjoyable experience. And, since Mrs. Vino doesn’t want you to think this is another “Rant,” in an effort to be balanced, I will soon post my thoughts on a “Wine Tasters Bill of Rights,” things that ALL wine tasters should be entitled to in a wine tasting experience.
WINE TASTING ETIQUETTE
1. Please come to the tasting room unscented. Nothing is going to mess up the experience for your fellow tasters faster than overuse of perfume or cologne. About 75% of wine tasting is experienced through the sense of smell and heavy perfumes can completely overwhelm the aromas of wine.
2. In a related note, if you are going to smoke, please do so at least 20 feet away from the tasting room door. And, please, give yourself a minute to air out before you walk back in the tasting room. You may not notice the smell of smoke on your clothes, but your fellow tasters will.
3. If you can’t be nice, be vague! Some wines you are going to like and some wines you are not going to like. Since wine tasting is a collaborative experience your comments effect the experience of everyone in the tasting room. Please avoid making overly negative “witty” comments about the wine. While leather and barnyard notes in a wine may not work for you, they might be delightful to the person standing next to you. Your negative comments will color their experience of the wine – a simple “This really isn’t my style of wine” or “This is not the wine for my palate” shows class and intelligence.
4. Use your “inside” voice. I fully appreciate that wine tasting is a social experience, and it’s natural that the more wine consumed, the higher the level of volume in the tasting room. Please remember that while your party is enjoying itself on the left side of the bar, on the right side of the bar I might be trying to discuss our wines with other guests or sign up a wine club member.
5. If you are coming in a group, please make sure to notify the tasting room in advance so we can make sure that we have adequate staff to ensure your experience is enjoyable, educational and entertaining. (Please see previous rant).
6. If the tasting bar is full, step up to the bar, get your taste and a brief overview of the wine, then step back and let someone else have an opportunity. Or better yet, come on a weekday. When things are less busy you will have much more of an opportunity to chat with the tasting room host or hostess.
7. Everyone savors at different speeds. But shooting the wine like whiskey tells the tasting room host/hostess that you are really only in it for the buzz. Taking a little time to finish your wine sample may actually net you a slightly larger pour or, maybe an extra taste or two.
8. Crackers (or other foods) are provided to clear you palate between wines. They are not ”snacks.” And they certainly are not “lunch.” And, by no means should you put the bowl down on the floor and feed them to your dog. (Oh yes, yes indeed, it has happened.)
9. Visitors new to the tasting experience (and those who have been tasting all day) should avoid over-enthusiastic swirling. If you keep the base of the wine glass on the bar while you swirl, you can avoid “decorating” your neighbors and yourself with the wine in your glass.
10. We know that wine tasting is recreation for you. But selling wine is my livelihood. If you enjoyed one of more of the wines, please consider purchasing a bottle or two. In most cases the cost of the tasting does not cover the cost to pour you a flight. Support your small local wineries that are passionate about bringing you amazing handcrafted vintages.
Tasting room staff really appreciate a patient, polite visitor. Being a gracious guest may reward you with additional tastes, discounts, recommendations and much more.
Next Up: Wine Tasters Bill of Rights. Some thoughts on what you are entitled to at every tasting room you visit.
EZ Roasted Olives (Thanks, Costco)
This EZ party appetizer was the hit of the Labor Day wine club party. Roasting really mellows the astringency/bitterness of olives. This makes A LOT of olives, but you will find that they all manage to disappear.
1 21-ounce jar of stuffed queen olives (Costco sells these in 2 packs)
2 C. Kalamata Olives (I ALWAYS have the big Costco jar in my kitchen)
2 T. Chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 C. Olive Oil (yep, I use the big Costco bottle – you want good olive oil, but it doesn’t have to be artisan/expensive)
1 bulb of garlic (*see note below), cloves separated and peeled in whichever way you find fun (I like the smash-em-good-with-the-flat-of-your-knife-method)
4 cranks of freshly ground pepper (let’s call it 1/4 teaspoon)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Pour the big jar of olives and the 2 C of Kalamata olives into a strainer to drain, pat them dry with paper towels. Put them into a large baking dish or roasting pan. You want them in a single layer if possible. Sprinkle the chopped rosemary on top of the olives. Use your microplane grater to grate the lemon peel over the olives (don’t have a microplane grater – YIKES they are the best kitchen tool ever!). Halve the lemons and squeeze the lemon juice over the olives. Scatter the whole garlic cloves among the olives*. Drizzle the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle the pepper. Mix it with a spoon to make sure the olives are coated with olive oil.
Place the baking dish in the oven and let the olives roast for about 30 – 40 minutes (oooohhhhh, your house is going to smell good). Stir the olives a few times to make sure they cook evenly. You can tell you are there when the olives soften and wrinkle a bit and the garlic is a bit golden/brown around the edges. Roasting really tames the astringency/bitterness in the olives and makes the flavors sooooooo mellow. This makes A LOT of olives. The good news is that they will hold for a week in the fridge. Great all by themselves or make a salad plate with a couple of slices of goat cheese, a few olives and a couple of thin slices of baquette. Be aware that these things are addictive.
NOTE: When I made these in the tasting room for our pick up party, I actually used an amazing product called Majestic Garlic, Raw Pickled Garlic with Cayenne instead of fresh garlic cloves. This is a great raw foods product that someone gifts us with. I think you can get it at Whole Foods or other gourmet specialty markets. If you find this, use 1/2 jar, drain them before adding to the olives and omit the black pepper.
You’ve gotta love any recipe that is drain, stir, bake, stir, eat.
Mrs. Vino considers herself to be a pretty easy-going person with a philosophy of “Live and Let Live.” But there is one thing that I just cannot stand: Bachelorettes. Over the past 5+ years, Morovino’s tasting room has seen many Bachelorette parties. In almost every case, Bachelorettes have been rude, whiny and obnoxious. We’ve seen far fewer Bachelor parties than Bachelorette parties, but HANDS DOWN I’d rather pour for a group of tipsy bachelors than bitchy bachelorettes. Even the bachelor party that insisted on paying for a wine tasting for the blow up doll and the bachelor party that offered to let me autograph the bachelor’s . . . appendage were preferable to 99% of the bachelorette parties I’ve worked.
Bachelorettes, I’m sorry if this post offends you (OK, actually I’m not really sorry). But Mrs. Vino is here to help. If you are a Maid of Honor, Bridesmaid or Friend planning a Bachelorette party at a winery or wine tasting room- here are a couple of suggestions and guidelines that will help make you a welcomed guest instead of a nuisance – resulting in a fun time for all! Non-bachelorettes, these rules are also true for wine tasting with any group of over 6 people.
1. Call in advance – if you are bringing 7+ people to a tasting room on a busy weekend afternoon, please call in advance to let them know you are coming. In addition to this is just being good manners, the tasting room staff can then ensure that they are adequately staffed and prepared to give your group excellent service. The follow up to this is please show up when you said you were going to show up.
2. Many Wine Tasting Rooms are Family Venues – so please don’t put your penis-shaped wine charms on the glasses without asking first if it is appropriate. And please don’t wear your penis-shaped tiara unless you check first to see if kids are present.
3. Expect to Pay for Wine Tasting – in today’s challenging economic climate, many wineries are using complimentary or discounted tasting coupons to introduce their wines to new customers. In general, tasting coupons are not intended to be used by large groups. Don’t be bitchy if we expect you to pay for wine tasting.
4. Don’t Bring In Your Own Food – without checking first. You may want to take a cupcake break, but please don’t bring out food without the permission of the tasting room staff.
5. Remember the Tasting Room is a Business – please keep your volume and your pitch down to normal social levels.
6. Buy Wine - I understand that wine tasting is recreation for you. But wine sales are my livelihood. In the past 5+ years, more than 90% of the time bachelorette parties leave without making a single bottle purchase. If you are paying less than $10 for a wine tasting, that fee does NOT cover the actual cost of pouring a tasting flight for you. That’s right ladies, pouring for you actually loses me money.
And the exception: Several weeks ago we had a delightful group of bachelorettes in the tasting room. They were polite. They were considerate. They were charming. They expected to pay for their wine tasting. Each of the seven bachelorettes walked out with a bottle and we were delighted to comp the tasting for the entire group. Ladies, you know who you were and we appreciated you!
Mrs. Vino is sorry if she sounds bitter, but having 3 back-to-back unexpected bachelorette parties through the tasting room just did me in. It’s so frustrating to watch wine buyers (carrying bags and boxes from other local tasting rooms) come up to my door, then turn away when they see the penis-bedecked bachelor girls taking over the tasting bar.
Mrs. Vino was introduced to tomatillos last year in her Cal Poly Organic Farm Harvest Box. I’d never cooked with them before, but they quickly became one of my very favorite “bright” ingredients. Tomatillos are typically used cooked or roasted, but this fresh salsa is great on just about everything.
Chunky Tomatillo Salsa
1/2 lb Tomatillos, husked and rinsed, core/stem removed
1 small onion
1 handful fresh Cilantro
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
2 T rice wine vinegar
2 t. sugar
2 garlic cloves
Now you can do this two different ways. Mrs. Vino finds a certain Zen focus in chopping things. There are times when she just needs to get out her knives and chop things into very, very small bits. So, the Zen version of this recipe involves taking all the veggies and chopping them into 1/4″ dice by hand. Very soothing. Then combining the veggies with the vinegar and sugar in a non reactive bowl and refrigerating for at least one hour before serving.
The instant gratification version of this involves giving all the veggies a couple of good whacks to cut them in pieces, putting them in your food processor with the sugar and rice wine vinegar and giving them a little whirl. THEN, putting the salsa in a non reactive bowl and refrigerating for at least one hour before serving.
Either way, this salsa is fresh and delicious. Mrs. Vino uses it on: scrambled eggs, chicken breasts, grilled cheese sandwiches, pork tenderloin, enchiladas, chilled avocado soup . . . the list is endless. For a fabulous summer salad, try this over a “Carpaccio” of very thinly sliced summer squash drizzled with olive oil. This salsa will hold for several days covered tightly in your fridge.