Posts Tagged easy

Dinner in 12 minutes!

Yes, it’s the Holiday Season and that means that schedules can be the tiniest bit frantic!  After a day of holiday shopping (shop local, please) sometimes the temptation is to pick up fast food.  But you can make a great delicious easy dinner with ingredients from your pantry – all  in the time it takes to boil a pot of spaghetti.  Here’s this year’s THE HOLIDAYS ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY quick dinner!Spaghetti with tuna and peas.

Make with Morovino Dry Rielsing, serve with Dry Riesling or Barbera

16 oz Spaghetti or Fetuccine
2 T Olive Oil
6 cloves of garlic, slivered/sliced
1/2 C. chicken broth
1/2 C. Morovino Dry Riesling (or other dry white wine)
2 cans tuna packed in water, drained
1/2 onion, diced
2 C. frozen peas
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper (seems like a lot, but you really do need this much)
1/8 t. salt (or to taste)
1/2 t. dried tarragon
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 C Parmesan cheese – grated or shredded
1 T butter

Fill a saucepan with water and put in on the stove on medium heat.  While the water is coming to a boil (about 3 minutes on my cooktop), dice the onion, sliver the garlic and zest the lemon.  As soon as the water comes to a boil – add the pasta and cook according to package instructions (about 9 minutes). While the pasta is cooking, put a saute pan on the stove over medium-low heat.  Add the olive oil and the onion.  Cook six minutes – you want to sweat the onions, not brown them.  Stir occasionally.  When they have softened, add the slivered garlic and saute for 1 minute.    Then add the wine, lemon juice, chicken broth, peas, tuna, salt and pepper and tarragon.  Stir gently until the peas are heated through – about 2 minutes.  While this is heating, the pasta should be finishing up.  Drain it.  Pull the pea mixture off the heat.  Add the cooked pasta, the parmesan and the butter to the saute pan with the peas and stir until the peas, tuna et all and pasta are mixed together.  If your saute pan isn’t big enough to hold the tuna/peas and the pasta – just dump everything into a big bowl and stir until mixed.  Spoon onto plates and garnish with a bit more parmesan, a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper and the lemon zest.  Nutritious.  Delicious.  Time elapsed – 12 minutes.  Serve with Morovino Barbera or Dry Riesling!

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Kohlrabi/Turnip Slaw

Serve with a crisp white like Morovino 2011 Pinot Grigio Rose

2 Kohlrabi, peeled
2 Turnips, peeled
2 large Carrots, peeled
½ cup non-fat plain yogurt
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 t. sugar
2T Rice Wine vinegar
1T prepared horseradish
Salt & Pepper

Shred kohlrabi, turnips and carrots using a box grater, or, even better, the shredding blade on your food processor.  Dissolve sugar in Rice Wine Vinegar.  Add yogurt, Dijon and horseradish to vinegar and stir well.  Place veggies in a non-reactive bowl.  Add yogurt mixture and stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for ½ hour before serving.

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Veggie Stock – it’s EASY

When Mrs. Vino first started receiving her Cal Poly CSA produce box, she found herself using many more veggies than usual (a good thing). Unfortunately, it seemed to take a VERY long time to clean and prep the veggies after a long, hard day slaving in the tasting room (a not good thing). And sometimes the veggies got a bit wilted before she could get to them (a really not good thing). Then Mrs. Vino remembered something her friend Roxanna had told her about saving the wilted veggies and veggie scraps/off cuts to make stock. Now, Mrs. Vino has a freezer full of delicious, nutritious veggie stock to use for soups, stews, crockpots, risotto (particularly delicious), etc. AND, cleaning veggies is no longer a chore, it’s Cooking! Here’s what to do:

Start with two one-gallon freezer bags. These will be your scrap bags. You will keep them in your freezer – yes, I keep the empty bags in my freezer too, so I know they will always be there. Everytime you go to prep a vegetable – put the peelings and off cuts in the bag in your freezer. These are just some of the things I put in there: onion peels, potato peels, peelings from carrots, cucumbers, beets, rutabegas, beet tops or other greens that have wilted beyond wanting to eat, cilantro stems (be careful how many of those you add, they are strong), wilted basil leaves, peelings from ginger root, tomato tops-not the stem-just the tomato part, cabbage cores, ends and strings of string beans . . . you get the picture! Put any clean, non rotten/non moldy piece of veggie into the bags in your freezer.

It won’t take long for you to fill up two freezer bags (takes me about a week). I usually start my stock when I start making dinner. Take a large pot and put your veggie peelings in it. Rinse out the empty freezer bags and put them back into your freezer. Add water to the pot to cover the veggie peelings (about 6 cups). Add 1 t. salt, 3 garlic cloves split in half (you don’t even need to peel them), 3 bay leaves and a pinch of red pepper flake. Bring the water in the pot to a simmer. Then ignore it for 2-3 hours. OK, the first time you make this, keep your eye on it so it doesn’t boil over. After that, you’ll know the right burner setting to just keep it at a simmer.

After 3 hours, pull the pot off the stove and let it sit there to cool down a bit. Before you go to bed cover the pot and put it in the fridge to steep overnight. And, clear a little space in your freezer, you’ll need it the next day.

The next morning, AFTER COFFEE, pull the pot out and strain it into a container. Pull out your muffin tins (come on, we ALL have them buried in a cabinet somewhere). Use a ladle and ladle the broth into the muffin tins – you will find that each muffin tin holds about 1/2 cup (one standard ladle full) of broth. Place the muffin tins in your freezer and go to work.

After work, pop the broth ice cubes out of the muffin tins and put them in a clean new freezer bag and store them in your freezer. Now anytime you need broth for a soup, stew, risotto, or just to add a bit of liquid to a pan, you can just add a broth ice cube and know that it is approximately 1/2 cup of broth.

I know it seems complicated and seems to take 2 full days. It’s really easy and the end result of the broth is healthy and delicious. QUICK NOTE: If you use beets in your veggie broth it will end up a very interesting pinkish color. I used that to make a risotto that ended up being a bit . . . unusual to look at, but tasted delicous. Just to be aware, in case you don’t like pink food.

Frugal doesn’t mean cheap, it means using the best possible food products and using them to their fullest.

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Oven Poached Salmon

This dish is so easy and delicious that Mrs. Vino realized she was preparing it once a week for an 8 week period.  It’s great for busy evenings and I do it for holidays as it is virtually impossible to overcook the salmon when preparing it this way.

Make and serve with Pinot Grigio – any of them!

1 filet of salmon (about 2 lbs), skin on or off, your choice
½ c. Morovino Pinot Grigio or other white wine (could also use chicken broth)
1 lemon
1 clove of garlic crushed
2T soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Thinly slice ½ the lemon. Put the wine/broth, the juice of the other half of the lemon, garlic and soy in a 9 x 12 baking dish. Put the salmon in the baking dish. If it has skin, it should be skin side down. Top the salmon with the slices of lemon. Cover with foil and put in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove from oven, and remove the skin. For gourmet bonus points, drizzle it with Black Truffle Oil (available at Von’s, online and at specialty food stores). Serve with a green salad and mushroom risotto.

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Chicken Barbera

I have had so very many comments on this recipe – it is easy, delicious and relatively healthy.  I hope you try it soon!

Make and serve with 2009 Barbera.

2 Large bonelss, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ lbs)
1 C. Morovino Barbera
1 Small onion, chopped
4 Cloves garlic, minced
½ package of mushrooms, sliced
1 small can sliced olives, drained
1 14 oz. Can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 T. olive oil
¼ C. shredded basil leaves
4 thin slices of prosciutto or pancetta

Add the oil to a saute pan and brown the chicken breast on both sides over medium heat (about 5 minutes). Remove the chicken breasts and put them in the oven to keep warm. Use the same pan to brown the onions, garlic and mushrooms over medium high heat (about 3 minutes). Add the Barbera to deglaze the pan and allow it to reduce by half. Add the tomatoes and the olives and let the juices reduce a bit more. Add the chicken breasts back to the pan and top with 2 slices of pancetta or prosciutto. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, add the shredded basil leaves and let simmer for 3-4 more minutes. You can top this with shredded parmesan, if you like it. This is great served with any type of pasta. Ooooohhhh. Mrs. Vino is getting hungry as she types this

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Mild Jalapeno Grilled Chicken

Make with . . . sorry – serve with 2009 Dolcetto

1/3 C. of your favorite steak sauce
1/3 C. mild Jalapeno jelly
2 T Worcestershire Sauce
1 t. granulated garlic
4 skinless, boneless breast halves
Cooking spray

OK, how easy is this!!  In a microwave safe bowl, melt the Jalapeno jelly for 30 seconds. Give it a minute to cool. Then add the steak sauce, Jalapeno jelly, Worcestershire Sauce and Garlic powder to the bowl and mix well (use a whisk for best exercise and results). Pour the marinade in a large ziploc bag, reserving about ¼ C. to use while cooking (DO NOT cook with the marinade the chicken has been sitting in—Mrs. Vino does NOT want you to have a close encounter with Sam & Ella). Add chicken breasts to bag. Seal the bag and let refrigerate overnight. Coat your grill rack with cooking spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill rack. Grill about 8 minutes per side, or until done. Use the reserved marinade to brush on the grilling chicken, if you like. Want to serve this in winter? It works just fine under the broiler or on your Foreman Grill (Mrs. Vino does love her Foreman Grill!!)

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Black Beans and Rice (Vegetarian & Carnivore Versions)

Make with . . .no wine, or add 1 C. of Morovino 09 Barbera instead of 1 C. water. Serve with Morovino  Sangiovese

1 lb dried black beans
2 C. water
2 C organic vegetable broth (vegetarians) or chicken broth (carnivores)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped (or, if red peppers are too expensive, double up on green peppers!)
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 T olive oil
3 t. salt
2 t. fennel seeds
2 t. ground coriander
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. dried oregano
2 T red wine vinegar (or balsamic, or white . . . you get the picture)
2 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained (you must find the ones with chilis, my dears—or use plain canned tomatoes and add a small can of medium heat green chilis)
5 C. cooked rice (Mrs. Vino prefers brown Jasmine rice, but any brown rice will do. White rice only if you must!)
Hot Sauce (optional)
1 Ham hock or 1C. diced sausage or Canadian bacon (carnivores only–vegetarians, it’s fine without)

Sort and wash beans, place in a large bowl covered with water and soak overnight. Combine the beans, 2 cups water and ingredients through Oregano in your slow cooker. Carnivores, add ham hock, sausage or Canadian bacon—Vegetarians, it’s fantastic without the meat, too. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours, or until you get home from work. Carnivores who used ham hocks—remove ham hock from beans, pull meat from bone and dice, then add meat back to beans. Everyone—add tomatoes/chiles and vinegar (don’t skip this step, it makes the dish). Serve over rice. Add a couple of dashes of hot sauce—taste it first, of course! Serve with a big green salad and you have a FABULOUS easy nutritious, cheap meal.

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“The Holidays are Driving Me Crazy” Pasta

Make with your favorite Morovino Red, serve with the rest of the Morovino Red

1 jar Ragu Roasted Garlic Robusto pasta sauce (or your favorite)
½ C. of Morovino red wine of your choice:  Barbera, Sangiovese, Cabernet, Dolcetto
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. dried basil
½ bag frozen chopped spinach fresh pepper to taste
1 lb your favorite pasta

Get home from shopping. Kick off shoes (this dish must be prepared barefoot or in slippers). Dump sauce ingredients in a big pot. Bring to a simmer, but not a boil. Let sauce simmer until pasta is done. Fill a big pot with water and bring to a boil. Dump in your favorite pasta. Cook it until pasta is done. Drain pasta. Put pasta back in big pot. Dump sauce on top and toss. Put on plates and top with grated cheese if you have it. If not, oh well. It’s got spinach and tomatoes in it—in Mrs. Vino’s book that means you don’t need a salad, vegetable, bread or anything else. It’s a complete meal all by itself. Sure it’s a “cheat.” But there is an art to doctoring up canned or jarred products and the holidays are the perfect time to explore that art! I don’t care what anyone says—if you applied heat or cut something, you COOKED it.

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Comfort Food/Beef Sukiyaki

Mrs. Vino has written about the concept of “comfort food” before. For me, it is comfort food if the very scent of it being prepared takes you back to your childhood. It doesn’t matter what type of food. What matters is the emotion the food invokes.

When I was growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, it was a tradition that on your birthday, you got to pick a restaurant and the family went out to dinner. We didn’t go out very often, so this was a real treat. One of my favorite restaurants was on the SF Waterfront and was called Tokyo Sukiyaki. At this restaurant, I had my first sushi, my first tempura and my first Sukiyaki. This restaurant was a favorite of several family members – so we went there quite a bit. And this restaurant inspired my mom to find a recipe for Sukiyaki – so she could prepare it at home. She found a recipe and it became a regular dish in her repetoire. Anytime she took out the electric frying pan (hey it was the late 60’s) we knew what was coming.

When mom passed away, I ended up with her recipe box. It sat in my cupboard, I just wasn’t able to open it. As part of my massive cookbook cupboard clean out a few months ago, I took out the recipe box and looked through it. I found the recipe my mom clipped from a 1968 issue of Sunset Magazine for Sukiyaki. Just reading the ingredient list brought back my childhood. I prepared Sukiyaki for Mr. Vino for dinner the next night. When I brought it to the table and had my first taste, I burst into tears. Mr. Vino is kind of used to this behavior. Food moves me.

Sukiyaki has become a regular part of my repetoire, too. It is my ultimate 15 minute meal. Here is a slightly revised version of the recipe (cuz I don’t cook with lard and I don’t think Japanese people usually do either!) which is light, easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Beef Sukiyaki (hot pot)
Make with Morovino 2011 Pinot Grigio Rose (or sake)
Serve with Morovino 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

3 T brown sugar
½ c. soy sauce (low sodium)
2 c. Dry Pinot Grigio, Sake or other VERY dry white wine
1 onion, very thinly sliced
½ small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
4 ounces of mushrooms (½ package) thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions, cleaned, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 2” pieces
3 carrots, peeled and sliced very thinly
1 lb. Beef tri-tip (or boneless rib eye) sliced in 1/8” slices (Mrs. Vino buys Tri-Tip when it goes on sale, cuts in into 1lb pieces and freezes it to save for this dish.
1” of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
¼ t. red pepper flake

If you don’t have the veggies listed, you can use zucchini or other squash, celery, parsnips, green pepper, green beans – pretty much anything that is seasonal and delicious.

The important thing is that you want really, really thinly sliced veggies so everything cooks quickly and takes the same amount of time. For the onion, cut in half through the core (stem-to-root, not across the circumference), then put the cut side on your board and slice very thinly (do you get the idea we are looking for THIN slices??) so that you get long skinny pieces – not onion rings. When you slice the carrots, slice across the width of the carrot, but slightly on a diagonal, so you get THIN slices. To get really thin slices of beef, start with a very sharp knife and put the beef in the freezer for an hour before slicing.

When I cook this dish, I use a 14” non-stick sauteuse (higher sides). You can also cook this in a wok or at the table using an old fashioned electric frying pan. I haven’t tried it with an electric fondue pot yet, but theoretically it should work.

Put the sugar, soy and Pinot Grigio into your pan and bring it to a vigorous simmer – just under the boil. Add the ginger and pepper flake. Now place the meat and veggies into the pan in bunches – I try to put the thickest/longest cooking temperature stuff in first – so for this dish start with the carrots, then onions, mushrooms, then beef, then cabbage, then green onions. Turn the heat down to medium. As everything cooks, make sure to press the beef and veggies into the simmering broth with the back of a wooden spoon. When the veggies are crunchy tender and the meat is still a tiny bit pink in the middle (about 5 minutes) it is done. To serve, put a spoonful of rice (brown sushi rice is my fave) in a pretty Asian bowl. Add a bit from each bunch of veggies and meat. Then top with a couple of big spoonsful of the broth. This is almost a soup, but not quite. It is a perfect pairing with Cabernet.

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Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks

Make and serve with 2009 Dolcetto

When the weather gets chilly, I spend lots of time in the tasting room talking about slow cooker recipes. This is one of my favorites.

2 lamb shanks
1 c. bold red wine (like Dolcetto)
1 c. chicken broth
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 3″ sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 large onion, peeled and diced (largish chunks)
2 carrots, peeled and diced (largish chunks)
4-6 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced thinly (slicing/slivering is better than chopping for this recipe)
1 t. worchestershire sauce
Juice and zest of 1 medium to small lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the wine, broth, tomatoes, onion, carrot and garlic to a large (at least 5 qt) crock pot. Strip the rosemary leaves off one of the sprigs and chop roughly. Add to broth mixture. Add salt and pepper – at least 1/4 t. of each. “Bury” the lamb shanks in the broth/wine mixture – so they are partially covered. I usually end up having to cross the shanks like a skull and cross bones to make them fit. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6+ hours (or until you get home from work). When you get home from work, start the polenta. Once the Polenta is started, add the zest and juice of the lemon, the worchestershire and the roughly minced leaves from the other sprig of rosemary to the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker to warm (if it has this setting or leave it on low if it doesn’t) and let shanks continue to simmer until polenta is done. Taste juice/sauce in crock pot and adjust salt/pepper if needed. Serve the shank to the side of your plate with a big dollop of polenta topped with the sauce/juice from the crock pot on the other side. YYYYUUUUMMMMM.

You can use any polenta – but I really like the baked polenta recipe that is on the website (yes, I double checked it is still there under sauces/sides page 2). It comes out creamy and it doesn’t require you to stand there for 15 minutes stirring.

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