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Rustic Pear Tart with Late-Harvest Riesling

Rustic Pear Tart with Late-Harvest Riesling

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  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon late-harvest Riesling or other sweet white dessert wine


  • 3 large ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons late-harvest Riesling or other sweet white dessert wine

Recipe Preparation


  • Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor until combined. Add butter; using on/off turns, cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg yolk and wine; using on/off turns, mix just until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 40 minutes and up to 2 days.


  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 12-inch round. Remove top sheet of parchment and transfer dough, with bottom parchment, to rimmed baking sheet. Place pear slices, 1 tablespoon sugar, and flour in large bowl; toss to combine. Spoon pear mixture into center of dough, leaving 1 1/2-inch border. Using parchment as aid, fold up outer edge of dough over edge of filling. Bake until pears are tender, about 20 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, boil 1 cup wine, 1/2 cup water, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in medium saucepan until syrup is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes.

  • Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Drizzle half of syrup over filling. Continue baking tart until juices are bubbling thickly, about 20 minutes. Cool.

  • Whisk 2 tablespoons wine into remaining syrup. Cut tart into wedges. Drizzle with syrup. Serve with ice cream.

Recipe by Jeanne Thiel Kelley,Reviews Section

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Rustic Pear Tart with Late-Harvest Riesling - Recipes

Let's talk turkey -- and how to make gravy without lumps

Smart advice from chef Adam Siegel, 33, of Bacchus in Milwaukee

Tip: For succulent meat, brine the bird. "You can stop your turkey from being dry by brining it and not overcooking it. Whenever I serve roasted chicken in the restaurant, I usually brine it first because it keeps it moist," says Siegel, whose restaurant is in downtown Milwaukee, just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. "The same goes for turkey. Brining stops the drying out from happening. Basting also helps. And plenty of butter doesn't hurt either. Every year, Thanksgiving is at my house. My family comes in from New York and Florida, and I cook my turkey this way." Siegel's recipe is especially easy to prepare: Brining the turkey means you're not required to baste it as much during the cooking process.

Tip: For silken gravy, skip the flour. "Avoid using flour, because that's usually what causes lumps," Siegel says. "Instead, purée the vegetables you roast along with the turkey they become your thickening agent. And that, along with pan juices, becomes your gravy. You can strain it through a mesh strainer, or use cream and reduce it, and you'll avoid those lumps."

Brined and Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey with Simple Gravy
Brine Recipe
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3 bay leaves
1 Tb. black peppercorns
3 sprigs each of rosemary, thyme and sage
6 sprigs Italian parsley
1/2 cup iodized salt
3 gallons of cold water

One day before baking turkey, prepare brine. Combine all brine ingredients. Place the turkey in a bucket or very large pot and pour brine over turkey to submerge. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Remove turkey from brine dry off turkey with paper towels. Discard brine.

Turkey preparation
1 16-pound turkey (neck and giblets removed and discarded), brined using the directions at left
Salt and pepper to season turkey
In the bird:

2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 apple, sliced into wedges
1 orange, sliced into wedges
4 garlic cloves, peeled, whole

Under the bird:
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, whole
3 sprigs each of sage, rosemary, thyme
6 sprigs Italian parsley
3 bay leaves

On the bird:
1/4 pound butter, unsalted, sliced into pats
5 cups chicken stock, divided

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Brine turkey as instructed. Salt and pepper the brined turkey and cavity. Fill the cavity with carrots, celery, apple, orange and garlic bind the legs with kitchen twine.

In a large braising pan or disposable aluminum pan, spread onion, carrot, celery, garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Place the turkey on top of the bed of vegetables and herbs.

Put butter on turkey, or between skin and breast meat.

Place the turkey in the oven and roast 45 minutes. Pour half the chicken stock over the turkey roast 45 minutes. Pour remaining stock over turkey and roast 45 more minutes it will start turning golden brown.

Baste with pan juices, cover loosely with foil and roast an additional 45 minutes. When the turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165 to 175 degrees, remove from oven, keep covered and let rest at least 10 minutes before carving. Transfer to platter.

To make Simple Gravy:
From the bottom of the roasting pan, discard herbs and measure out 1 cup of vegetables and 3 cups of pan juices purée in a blender. To thicken, add more vegetables to thin, add more pan juice. Pour through a mesh strainer to make a smooth gravy. Makes 4 cups.

Serves 24. Per serving: 496 calories, 62g protein, 0g carbohydrates, 26g fat, 189mg cholesterol, 0g fiber, 979mg sodium.

Break out of the dessert rut
Smart advice from chef Spencer Budros, 34, of Pistachio in Columbus, Ohio

Tip: Make it rustic. "Take seasonal fruits, especially pears and cranberries, and spend extra time to do something a little different, making sure it's rustic and it looks homemade," says Budros, who opened patisserie Pistachio with sister Anne a little more than a year ago in Columbus' Short North district.

Tip: Bake ahead, then warm up. "Always create your desserts the day before," Budros says. "They will be fresh and often will taste better the next day. Refresh desserts such as pound cakes or tarts in a hot oven for five to 10 minutes before serving. This will warm the butter, releasing its true flavor."

Tip: Upgrade tradition. If you stick with traditional pumpkin pie, use only the best ingredients and fresh spices. See Budros' personal pumpkin pie recipe at

Cranberry-Orange Zest Pound Cake with Fruit Compote
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 oranges, grated zest only
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps. baking powder
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of salt
2 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
Powdered sugar for garnish
Fruit Compote

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, using a paddle attachment on medium speed, cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar until very light and fluffy.

Using low speed, mix in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract and orange zest, scraping the side of the bowl between each addition.

Stir together flour, baking powder, cloves and salt. Add to batter and mix on low speed until smooth. Do not overbeat. Fold in cranberries.

Pour into non-stick or prepared (greased and floured) 8- or 9-inch Bundt pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Cool thoroughly at room temperature and remove from pan.

Dust top with powdered sugar. Spoon compote into center and serve.

Fruit Compote
1 orange, rind slicedoff, and juiced (1/4 cup juice)
2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 cups fresh cranberries, divided
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. vanilla

To make optional candied orange zest, carefully remove all orange flesh and pith from the rind. Cut rind into 1/4-inch wide strips. In a small pan over high heat, bring rind and 2 cups water to a boil. Drain. Repeat boiling and draining process two more times. Return rind to pan. Add 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, and drain liquid.

In a sauté pan, combine 1 cup fresh cranberries, dried cranberries, cinnamon, vanilla, 1 1/2 cups sugar, juice and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add remaining 1 cup cranberries and optional candied orange zest. Stir to combine. Serve warm or chilled with cake. Makes about 3 cups.

Cake Serves 16. Per serving: 531 calories, 7g protein, 79g carbohydrates, 22g fat, 134mg cholesterol, 3g fiber, 154mg sodium.

Compote Serves 16. Per serving: 103 calories, 0g protein, 26g carbohydrates, 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1g fiber, 0mg sodium.

Pear Rustica with Late Harvest Riesling Glaze

Tart Crust
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup plus 1 Tb. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pats
1/2 cup whole milk, chilled

Pear Filling
3/4 cup apricot marmalade, divided
3 to 4 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, sliced
1 egg
1 Tb. water
1 Tb. cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Late Harvest Riesling wine
1 pear for garnish

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt and cinnamon. Using a fork, press butter into flour mixture along the side of the bowl until a meal crumb forms. Slowly pour in milk mix with spatula and by hand until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix. Form dough into a round ball and dust with flour. Wrap with plastic wrap and slightly flatten. Chill for at least 3 hours.

When ready to assemble tart, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 10-inch round. Lay dough in an 8-inch tart pan, edges extending over the sides. Spread 1/4 cup marmalade on crust. Fan sliced pears to cover marmalade. Fold crust over the pears about 1 inch.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg and water. Using a pastry brush, cover dough with egg wash. Combine cinnamon and sugar sprinkle generously over entire tart.

Bake until the crust and pears are a dark golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature.

Make glaze in a small pan over high heat: Whisk wine and 1/2 cup marmalade bring to a boil. Brush entire tart with hot glaze.

Garnish by placing whole pear on tart. Serve.

This tart recipe is from chef Spencer Budros.

Serves 8. Per serving: 562 calories, 7g protein, 76g carbohydrates, 26g fat, 95mg cholesterol, 4g fiber, 335mg sodium.

Features & guest posts

This is the perfect time of year for buying oranges and lemons but what effect do they have on the recipes you&rsquore making? Quite a marked one, if truth be told. Lemons in particular have a high level of acidity which will make any wine you drink with them taste sweeter. If that&rsquos counterbalanced in the recipe by sugar as in a lemon tart or lemon meringue pie, for example, the result is a dish that&rsquos really quite hard to match.


Many wines have some citrus notes in them of course but I find the lemon flavours in the dish are usually stronger. So a lemony chicken or pasta dish, for example, can make a citrussy Sauvignon Blanc taste flat. Or, if it holds its own, can unbalance the dish by creating an overload of citrus flavours.

Surprisingly the answer is often to pick a red, particularly a red with marked acidity of its own. The Italians do that instinctively when they reach for a bottle of Valpolicella with a spaghetti al limone or squeeze lemon over a bistecca alla fiorentina and pair it with a tannic Chianti. The acid in the fruit subdues the acid in the wine. Lamb cooked with lemon and herbs tastes great with a rustic red. I&rsquove even found oak-aged Spanish reds such as Rioja reserva taste good with a chicken and lemon tagine.

There are occasions when red doesn&rsquot &lsquofeel right&rsquo though, especially with seafood and here I find a neutral Italian or Spanish white can work well - something like an earthy Verdicchio, an Albariño or Spain&rsquos up and coming white Godello. A good Pinot Grigio can also do the trick.

Intensely lemony desserts are harder as you have to contend with both acid and sweetness, qualities you need to find in any wine you choose. I find top quality late-harvest Riesling does the job best but even then it&rsquos a struggle. Some advocate ice wine but that can add to the intensity of an already intensely flavoured dish. I still have to find a perfect solution - mint tea, maybe. Or perhaps one of the orangey liqueurs mentioned below - orange and lemon being natural bedfellows. (Though I'm not sure it would work the other way round - Limoncello with an orange-flavoured dessert.)

With a lighter lemon dessert like a souffl or mousse a sweet sparkling dessert wine like Asti or Clairette de Die generally works well.


Orange is easier and more forgiving. I&rsquove noticed a lot of chefs putting orange into savoury dishes this winter and it almost always enhances the match with an accompanying red wine. Usually they&rsquore meat-based such as the tagliatelle with duck livers, trompettes de la mort, orange and marjoram I had recently (ideal with a Barbera) but I&rsquove also had a couple of robust fish dishes with orange such as sea bream with hazelnut crust, fennel, chard, orange zest, capers and parsley and braised squid with fennel where a Mediterranean red also proved a good match. (Syrah, Mourvèdre and Tempranillo all seem to pair well with orange)

With lighter dishes such as some lightly cooked fish with a salad of fennel and orange I&rsquod go for a light, lush white with some acidity such as a Semillon or Semillon-Sauvignon blend, in the latter case one without too many herbaceous notes. A fruity Australian Colombard can also work well with chicken dishes that are flavoured with orange.

With orange-flavoured desserts, one&rsquos instinct is to think of matching orange flavoured wines such as an Orange Muscat but I tend to find that the orange in the dish wipes out the orange in the wine. For orange-flavoured cakes and richer puddings I find sweet - even cream - sherry a great match. With lighter dishes such as an orange fruit salad try a Champagne - or Cava - cocktail or a frozen shot of Cointreau (also a good match in dishes where chocolate and orange are paired together).

If you found this post useful and were happy to get the advice for free perhaps you'd think about donating towards the running costs of the site? You can find out how to do it here or to subscribe to our regular newsletter click here.

Enjoy Rich Flavors From S. Clyde Weaver to Pair With Your Favorite Drinks

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Octoberfest dessert recipes

Hi all!!
I work at an amazing little New Zealand Style ice cream shop in the beautiful Denver Colorado. I was hoping to get a little help on the subject of adding fruit into ice cream after extracting it and ensuring that, when the ice cream is frozen, the fruity bits don't turn into rock hard shards. I am planning on doing a cherry chocolate ice cream and I was going to soak some dried cherries that we're no longer using for something else. I was planning on using some brandy and a ton of sugar, but I was really hoping someone had a tried and true method they could send my way so that I KNOW that the fruit will be luscious as it's frozen. If you have a certain sugar ratio. I know there is the brix test, but to be honest it's been many years since pastry school and I am very rusty. Would love to hear from some of my fellow sugar-heads.
Thank you!

Hi guys! I got excited to post something as this is my first one.
So, the top 3 desserts I like to eat when I was still in Philippines were Halu-halo (literally means mix-mix in english), brazo de mercedes and chocolate crinkles.

1. HALU-HALO is one of the popular food during summer. This is basically:
shaved ice with evaporated milk,
and the following:
- nata de coco (coconut cream based on a google search, these are cube-like jellies),
- sweetened red beans,
- sweetened bananas,
- cooked sago or tapioca,
- ube or purple yam,
- leche flan (this is also one of the best desserts to eat),
- macapuno (made of coconut),
- sweetend jackfruit,
- sweetened kamote (this is similar to sweet potato but caramelized),
- sweetened kaong (sugar palm fruit)
- and topped with a scoop of ice cream.
These fruits are usually bought in jars (found mostly in Asian grocery stores). You basically put the fruits at the bottom, add sugar (if you want because almost all the fruits are sweetened so it's already sweet), then you fill the cup/bowl with shaved ice and add milk. And most importantly, mix it well before you eat because you don't want to eat shaved ice with milk only and then eat the really sweet fruits last.

Yah, I think the name is Spanish? I tried making this but I just failed. It's kinda hard to do and takes a lot of patience but it's really worth it. This is my favourite cake! In Philippines, most bakeries sell this but my favourite is from Goldiluck's which is located in shopping malls.
Brazo de Mercedes recipe

These are my favourite chocolate cookies! I think this one isn't really from Philippines but they are really popular. I was kinda shocked when I came here in Canada, because they don't sell these cookies in the bakeries I've been to so I tried baking these on my own. Since my post is getting long, I'll put the recipe as a link at the bottom. rinkles-recipe/
I hope you enjoyed my post! Happy eating and baking everyone!

Hoping for some help. I accidentally melted an old mould that is very important to us and I've had no luck searching around for a replacement.
If anyone knows where I could buy one - or even has one to spare they would be willing to sell - please send me a message.
The mould (label attached below) was originally labelled as "Easy as ABC gelatin mould", although we just call it the alphabet mould. Yes there are lots of alphabet moulds around, including new silicone ones, but we need the specific designs on this one to replace the one I damaged. Depending on the cost, I would consider paying for postage internationally (to Australia).
Thanks in advance!

Apple Galette Low-Carb

Autumn is in the air with the scent of apples and aromatic spice filling the house with comfort, especially when you have an Apple Galette baking to perfection in the oven, like your favorite warm fuzzy blanket. Also, we can’t forget to mention that it is Oktoberfest and it brings back memories of apples (not just beer and sausage) since the fall is harvest season and we recall having apple strudels at this time of the year from Corina’s German grandma “Oma”. Oh how we wish Oma Lena would make her famous apple strudel for us!

You know the feeling, when you almost can taste the food you are craving for and can’t wait to eat it again. To make an old fashioned strudel was quite a feat and time consuming. Oma would stretch the splendid dough across her crisp linen covered kitchen table so thin that we thought it will rip at any moment. But you know what, it almost never did. She then artfully drizzled the filling in just the right places, rolled it up, and baked it to crisp perfection.

With all of our busy schedules these days, we can’t even imagine attempting to bake the way she used to. Well thanks to the French, we have a quicker remedy for our apple craving. We made a healthier and easier French treat with a low-carb Apple Galette. As you may have noticed we are making healthier versions of some of our traditional favorites and this Apple Galette is made with no refined white sugar and no white flour.

The best part about this truly scrumptious Apple Galette Low-Carb version is that you don’t need any special pie shell just a plain cookie sheet. The aroma of warm apple and cinnamon is so tantalizing that every time we wish we would have baked two galettes instead of one. This rustic galette is really simple to make and we made a low-carb version by substituting Low Carb Bake Mix instead of regular flour, and used coconut sugar instead of refined sugar to make it a little bit more healthy.

In the past we never considered the negative effects of too much refined sugar and white flour. When Paul (Judit’s husband, Corina’s dad) in end of May got diagnosed with Diabetes you can imagine our shock because he was not over weight, and within a year he lost over 35 pounds and was already a slim and active person. Sometimes life gives you changes and first you think how difficult it will be until you realize it is actually a blessing. As we decided to live and cook in more healthful ways, we are excited daily to find small changes with big benefits. Judit lost 15 pounds without dieting and Corina 7 pounds and by the way Paul gained 16 pounds back and his blood sugar levels are much lower. Still not perfect but he will slowly get there!

It’s a daily change, but you still can splurge and enjoy our favorite foods in moderation. So we are more conscious of the ingredients and did you know that cinnamon is so good for you and as some studies say it helps with controlling blood sugar levels and fighting bacteria. Apples are high in soluble fiber and Vitamin C with pectin and antioxidants. They may even help your endurance when you exercise. Maybe we can run to the table faster now for another piece of Apple Galette!

When you take a bite (a Glamorous Bite) of this Apple Galette, you taste crunchy bits of buttery crust enveloped by warm tender apple and spiked with spicy nuances from the cinnamon coconut sugar with a jolt of sweetness from the raisins. You can’t stop at just once bite, you have to go for another and another…. It is the simplest of autumn indulgences and really is a celebration of the ripening of the fruits of the earth and the beginning of harvest.

September seems to be very moody lately, one day brilliant summery warmth of over 80F and the next few days are overcast and chilly. We do not mind the cooler evenings, especially now that the Holiday season is soon starting, because it is more inviting to stay indoors and get busy in the kitchen and we all enjoy freshly baked goodies with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. And it is Oktoberfest, a German festivity that started in the 1800’s in Munich with the wedding of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and today is celebrated in other parts of the world with the main attractions being beer, sausages, sauerkraut, and apple strudel. Thinking of Oktoberfest we were craving something with lovely apples, not too sweet and without too much fuss.

To find the most sublime apples we went to the ‘Tuesday’ Farmers Market in Santa Barbara. Almost every day is a Market day in some part of the town and on Tuesdays it is in the heart of downtown on State Street. A section of the road gets closed for the afternoon so that the booths can be set up and market goers can wander the street in search of locally grown produce.

Back home we examined our market treasures and as always perused through our bounty of shiny jewel colored eggplants, seedless red grapes, crisp round apples, local honey, salad and onions and bunches upon bunches delicate leaves of fresh herbs. First Judit put the herbs in vases (mason jars) filled with water so they retain their freshness longer and they do make nice decorations in fridge and on the kitchen counter. Corina quickly washed an apple and perched on the kitchen bar stool so we started to decide as to what shall be cooked first and when.

The gorgeous eggplants will become something next week…perhaps a delectable vegetable tartan or if we really want to splurge we might add cheese and breadcrumbs on top and make, as you may have already guessed, a lush vegetable gratin, well we will see. The red Gala apples looked especially good and crispy and we did end up with a lot of them which will be good for eating and of course for baking.

Corina took a bite of the scrumptious apple and thought it could have a higher purpose as a delicious apple tart or something more rustic like an Apple Galette. First grandma’s apple strudel came to mind but then we thought lets make something faster we can’t wait that long to have dessert. We both smiled over the idea, just look how agreeable we can be when it involves dessert and quickly started preparing the apples for the filling and rolled out the dough, which we had already made the day before and kept in the refrigerator. If you have not tried a galette before, be prepared, it is a simple dessert, but oh so decadent in status and is very addictive, at least it is in our kitchen it is.

The word “Galette” is originally adapted from French Cuisine and best described as a round flat crusty cake. We love the simple but elegant rustic look of this delectable tart (or pie or cake or just call whatever you like) but most of all we adore that is very quickly assembled in a freeform style. You can whip up the dough the day before as we did. This apple galette (or if you prefer apple tart or crostata) is so tasty it is hard to have just one piece. The slight sprinkling of cinnamon wafts in the air as the galette bakes in the oven.

Six Elements of Food and Wine Pairing

There are a few elements that make both red wine and white wine pairings work, and they’re derived from characteristics of the food and how they mingle with those of the wine. These are: fat, acid, salt, sweetness, bitterness and texture.

Fat Element

A lot of our favorite foods, both meat and dairy products, have high levels of fat. Wine doesn’t contain fat, so when matching a wine with fatty foods, remember that it has to balance that fat with acid, cut it with tannin, or match its richness with alcohol.

This is why a prime cut of steak tastes so good with a Cabernet-based wine the beef’s protein and fat softens up the wine’s mouth-drying tannins. This sets up the tongue for the wine’s fruit and berries and forest flavors to complement the smoky, meaty flavors of the steak.

Acid Element

Acid is another key element in both food and wine. In wine, it adds nerve, freshness and lift. It can do the same with food, as when lemon is squeezed on a fresh piece of fish. When looking for a wine to go with an acidic dish, you should make sure that the perceived acidity of the wine is at least equal to that of the food, or the wine will taste bland and washed out.

Salads are often a challenge for wine matching, but you can make it work if you moderate the acid in the dressing by cutting back on the lemon juice or vinegar. Try using some tangy, bitter greens and offset them with herbal flavors from Sauvignon Blanc or Sémillon.

Salt Element

Salty foods seem to limit your wine choices. Salt can make an oaky Chardonnay taste weird, strip the fruit right out of a red wine and turn high alcohol wines bitter. But with a bit of imagination, you can conjure up some remarkable combinations of salty foods and sweet wines. Bleu cheese and Sauternes is another one of the world’s classic food and wine combos.

Sparkling wines are a homerun with salty, fried foods. The carbonation and yeasty acids emulate beer and clean the salt from your palate, while adding more interesting textures and flavor nuances. Salt is also a principal flavor in briny seafood such as oysters. Acidic wines clean out the salt and balance the rich ocean flavors of the oyster.

Sweetness Element

Sweet desserts and other sugary foods seem easy—just pull out a sweet wine—but beware. Here’s where a rule really needs to be observed.

There are degrees of sweetness. Some recipes will have just a hint of sugar, such as a fruit sauce served over a pork loin. This light, fruity sweetness can be matched very well with rich white wines such as Chardonnay. Higher alcohol tends to give an impression of sweetness, and balances the sugar in the sauce.

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With desserts you must be certain that the wine tastes sweeter than the dessert otherwise the dessert will strip the wine of its sweetness and render it bitter or tart. Though red wine and chocolate is a combination often promoted by the wine industry, you have to be very careful about it. Use a bitter, dark chocolate and a red wine with some sweetness, such as a late harvest Zinfandel, and it can be quite wonderful. But a sweet chocolate dessert and a dry red? Terrible!

Bitterness Element

What about bitter flavors? In some cultures, bitter flavors are prized, but most of the time they are to be avoided. Anything more than just a hint is likely to be perceived as unpleasant. In wine, bitterness usually results from unripe grapes, or a failure to get the stems and pips (seeds) out of the fermenting tank, or mismanaged barrels. When bitterness in wine meets bitterness in food, it acts the opposite of sugar. One does not cancel out the other they merely combine.

Texture Element

As for matching textures, think light and heavy. Light foods are best with light wines heavy foods with heavy wines. That’s the safest way to go about it. A more adventurous path is to experiment with contrast: matching light foods to heavy wines and vice versa. This will require more testing, to keep the tension dynamic and avoid having the lighter flavors over-shadowed by the heavy ones.

For every rule of wine pairing there is, you will often find just as many dissenters. However, the most important rule of all is to trust your own palate and enjoy!

Wine Tour : Wine’s New Frontier

Barry Johnson poked a sturdy tri-tip crusted with seasonings, then flipped the meat so the oak fire would caramelize the other side. On one end of the grate was a shallow pan filled with melted butter, garlic, salt and beer. This was the dip for French bread that Johnson would toast over the coals when the meat was done. A huge pot of chili beans, made according to his special formula, was ready to dish up, and there would also be coleslaw decorated with juicy tomatoes grown nearby.

Every so often, Johnson adjusted the height of the barbecue grate with a mechanism rigged from an old Nash steering wheel and the gear box of a rototiller. Dressed in jeans, Western boots and a hat, he might have ridden in from the golden, oak-dotted hills that ringed the barbecue site.

Johnson is no cowboy. He rides herd on operations for the Gainey Vineyard in the fast-developing Santa Barbara wine region. And yet he exemplifies just what it is that makes Santa Barbara so different from the Napa Valley--an Old-West Early-California down-home spirit.

Daniel Boone has hung his coonskin cap on a wine label actor Fess Parker, whose film and television credits include Boone and Davy Crockett, has a 700-acre spread with a winery under construction. Maverick has ridden into these parts too. Actor James Garner has bought acreage planted in Chardonnay grapes next to Zaca Mesa Winery. Parker says he has contracted for some of the Garner grapes, and winemaker Mark Shannon will try them out with an eye to roping in the lot.

Not all the Western folk hereabouts come off the screen. Richard Dore of Foxen Vineyard is the real thing. He’s the great-great-grandson of Benjamin Foxen, an English sea captain who sailed around Cape Horn in the early 1800s and became a pioneer cattle rancher in northern Santa Barbara County. Foxen Canyon Road, named in his honor, winds through spectacularly beautiful ranch land and is itself a wine route that runs from Firestone to the Fess Parker Winery, Zaca Mesa, Foxen Vineyard and Rancho Sisquoc.

While Napa Valley is accumulating architectural wonders and palaces of art up north, Dore and partner Bill Wathen locate Foxen’s sales and tasting in a blacksmith shop dating back to 1882 and plant a crude wooden sign out front to indicate it’s open. The wine is cellared in a barn built around 1880.

Across from Dore’s winery is the white frame house in which he grew up. The core of the house is a thick-walled 1860 adobe that once was a mail stop on the stage route from Guadalupe to Santa Barbara. The furniture in one bedroom came around the Horn over a century ago.

The adobe at Mosby Winery in Buellton is even older--it was built in 1853. Warmed by a crackling wood fire and decorated with Western art and hunting trophies, the living room makes a cozy site for winemaker dinners. Owner Bill Mosby built the rustic iron chandeliers himself.

Lane Tanner, noted for her Pinot Noirs, doesn’t even have a winery. This fall she will crush the grapes at the same facilities as Au Bon Climat, ferment at Foxen and cellar the barrels at the Central Coast Wine Warehouse in Santa Maria. Tanner’s 1989 Pinots, the first under her own label, were released in May and sold out in two months.

The Tanner label may be new to the area, but it has lots of company. The Santa Barbara Winery, the oldest member of the Santa Barbara Vintner’s Assn., was founded in 1962. Firestone Vineyard and a handful of other wineries followed in the 1970s, but this area is so young as a wine producer that most of the 32 members of the association didn’t get started until the ‘80s.

But if the area is new, the hospitality tends to be downright old-fashioned. When Bill Mosby and his wife, Jeri, hold a winery dinner, they do the cooking themselves--Bill on appetizers and Jeri handling the rest of the meal.

That doesn’t mean just canapes and casseroles. Working in the adobe’s small kitchen, the Mosbys can produce a sumptuous dinner. The one planned for Oct. 26 will feature the following menu: salad of shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms with fresh salmon on butter lettuce linguine Gorgonzola breast of smoked duck grilled over Gewurztraminer canes with red wine sauce tomato and onion torte fall vegetables, and pumpkin pie with creme fraiche.

The basic taste of the region, however, is Old Western. For family and friends, the Mosbys might stoke up the grill for a typical Santa Ynez barbecue: beef tri-tip, beans, green salad and garlic bread. And if you ask for recipes around here, you’re not likely to get a lot of chowders made with two cups of cream and three lobsters. Marcella Parker is proud of her oven-barbecued chicken with homemade barbecue sauce. While the Napa Valley is famous for its fancy Continental restaurants, one of the most popular restaurants in this part of the country is the Hitching Post in Buellton, noted for its steaks and pork baby back ribs grilled over oak.

And when a group of local wineries--Kalyra, Babcock, Foxen and Rancho Sisquoc--threw a joint dinner party last year, they served Mexican food. So attuned is the area to Mexican flavors that Chris Whitcraft of the Santa Barbara-based Whitcraft Winery, one of the smallest producers in the area, swears his 1986 Late Harvest Semillon has a nuance of jalapeno .

Richard and Thekla Sanford, of Sanford Winery, are serious students of Mexican regional cuisines and folk arts. Dinner at their place might start with poblano chiles or squash flowers stuffed with goat cheese. Chile ristras , Mexican pots, ceramic figures and other craft pieces decorate their tasting room and office, and Sanford hopes eventually to build an adobe block winery.

But it’s not all beans, barbecue and Mexican food. Fred Brander of the Brander Winery holds an annual bouillabaisse festival and once brought in French chefs for a Bastille Day luncheon that was attended by Julia Child. And Zaca Mesa’s winemaker, Gale Sysock, adds an international note with his hearty Ukrainian borscht and shashlik.

The Wild West is also tempered by a love of music. Last year Firestone staged a dinner with music matched to each course, hiring opera singers to perform everything from Sondheim to Puccini. Santa Barbara’s Bach Camerata will perform an all-Mozart program at the Gainey Vineyard Oct. 27. And Parker anticipates symphony concerts at his winery when it is finally completed.

Still, it’s the frontier spirit that really characterizes the Santa Barbara wine region. Where else would you find a winery with a mobile tasting room and kitchen? When Zaca Mesa’s new 40-foot custom-designed motor home hits the road, winemaker Sysock may be behind the wheel. At each destination he shows off his wines by cooking up such delicacies as scallops smoked over Limousin oak shavings or shrimp marinated with sundried tomatoes, cilantro, garlic and cumin.

“I’ve met very few winemakers who don’t like to cook,” says Signe Zoller of Cambria Winery, herself an ardent cook. “They all love it because they are interested in flavor.”

Here are some recipes from Santa Barbara vintners.

Richard Dore remembers waking up to the cheerful clatter of his grandfather cooking a hearty breakfast of fried eggs, salsa and refried beans. The beans were pintos, grown on the family’s 2,400 - acre ranch. Dore has worked out his own version of the recipe, using canned pintos instead of dried beans, substituting olive oil for the bacon drippings that his grandfather liked and adding lots of garlic. “I’ve never had any this good,” he says.

REFRIED BEANS (Richard Dore, Foxen Vineyard)

1 (29-ounce) can pinto beans

Heat olive oil in skillet. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned. Gradually add liquid from beans, stirring each time until mixture thickens. Then add beans. Mash half beans but not all. Cook until blended, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Makes scant 2 cups.

Instead of cooking beans from scratch, Johnson uses canned chili beans, which he dresse s up with a surprising blend of seasonings including teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar.

BARRY’S BARBECUE BEANS (Barry Johnson, The Gainey Vineyard

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt

4 medium onions, cut into 1-inch chunks

3 medium green peppers, cut into 1-inch chunks

6 (15 1/2-ounce) cans spicy vegetarian chili beans

1 (16-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup bottled teriyaki sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/2 to 1 cup light-brown sugar, packed

Brown ground beef and season with garlic salt. Do not drain fat. Melt butter in large skillet. Add onions and green peppers and saute until onions are translucent.

In large stockpot, combine chili beans, beef, onions, peppers, tomatoes, Worcestershire, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and hot pepper sauce. Cover and heat slowly 1 hour. Stir in brown sugar to taste. Do not overcook or stir too much, or beans will become mushy. Makes 4 quarts.

Richard Sanford serves Sauvignon Blanc with his stuffed chiles because it pairs well with goat cheese. The tomatoes for the sauce and the chiles often come from the Sanfords’ large organic garden.


1/2 pound bucheron (goat cheese)

Place chiles directly over flame or on electric element of range and turn until well blistered. Place in plastic bag, seal and let stand 15 minutes to loosen skin. Peel chiles but leave whole. Make slit in side to remove seeds and veins. Rinse chiles and pat dry. Divide bucheron into 6 portions and place inside chiles.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Beat yolks separately and fold into whites. Heat oil 3/4-inch deep in medium skillet until hot enough to brown small dollop of egg batter. Roll chiles in flour until fully coated. Dip in egg mixture and immediately place in hot oil. Fry until browned on bottom. Turn and brown other side. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Chiles may be prepared 1/2 day in advance and refrigerated.

When ready to serve, heat sauce to simmer. Add chiles and simmer until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes.

To serve, place each chile in bowl and spoon sauce over top. Accompany with hot corn tortillas. Makes 6 servings.

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 jalapeno chile, seeds removed, if desired, and finely chopped

3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 (16-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, pureed

1/2 cup chicken broth, about

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Heat canola oil in saucepan. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno chile and saute until slightly browned. Add fresh tomatoes, pureed tomatoes and salt and simmer 30 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Add chicken broth as needed to adjust consistency of sauce. When sauce has thickened, stir in cilantro. Sauce may be made 1 day in advance and refrigerated. Makes about 3 cups.

Bill Wathen’s Mexican version of Chinese paper-wrapped chicken is easy to assemble and cooks in only half a minute. Wathen serves it as an appetizer accompanied by a Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc or “a good cold lager in summertime.”

PAPER-WRAPPED POLLO (Bill Wathen, Foxen Vineyard)

4 boneless chicken breast halves, skinned

Bottled red or green chile salsa

Cut chicken breast halves in 2x1/3-inch strips. Cut foil into 6-inch squares. Place 3 strips chicken in single layer in center of each square. Top with about 1 tablespoon salsa. Fold ends of foil to meet at top. Fold over together until sealed tight against meat. Fold sides in 2 or 3 times toward center. Packets should be securely closed.

Drop into sizzling hot oil and fry 25 to 35 seconds. Drain and serve at once. Makes 16 to 24 packets, depending upon size of strips.

“As with all of my cooking, this dish never comes out the same way twice because I use splashes and bits and whatever else I have around,” says Lane Tanner. She adds lots of garlic and herbs and pours in either Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, depending upon what bottle is open. “I drink Pinot Noir with the final product, which turns out to be rather thick and rich,” she says.

CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS (Lane Tanner, Lane Tanner wines)

5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs (tarragon, oregano, thyme and/or marjoram), chopped

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar or 1 to 2 cups wine

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 turnip, peeled and diced

1 parsnip, peeled and diced

Combine chicken, onions, garlic, parsley, herbs, Worcestershire, rice vinegar and pepper in tall stock pot. Add enough water or wine and water to cover bird and fill pot about 3/4 full. Cover and boil 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Check fluid level occasionally. Pot should remain about half full. Remove chicken and cool. Remove bones and skin. Set meat aside.

Add turnip, parsnip and mushrooms to pot. Cover and simmer until fluid is 2 1/2 to 3 inches deep and vegetables are tender. Return chicken to pan. Drop dumpling batter by spoonfuls into boiling pot. Cook uncovered over low heat 10 minutes. Cover pot and cook 10 minutes longer. Makes 4 servings.

2 cups buttermilk biscuit mix

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Thoroughly combine biscuit mix, poultry seasoning and cayenne. Stir in milk to make soft batter.

Marcy Parker might accompany her country-western chicken with Italian dishes such as arborio rice cooked with fennel thinly sliced mozarella cheese with plum tomatoes and basil and French or Italian bread accompanied by extra - virgin olive oil.

OVEN-BARBECUED CHICKEN (Marcella Parker, Fess Parker Winery)

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

4 whole chicken breasts, split, skinned and boned

Combine butter, garlic, catsup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce in small saucepan. Bring to boil and cook slowly 10 minutes. Wash and pat dry chicken pieces. Place in single layer in rectangular glass baking dish. Pour barbecue sauce over chicken. Top each breast half with onion slice. Bake at 375 degrees about 45 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Cambria winemaker Signe Zoller turns coconut milk and curry powder into a subtle, creamy sauce that is perfect with seafood. She accompanies the dish with Cambria’s 1988 reserve Chardonnay because it “has a definite coconut character.”

SEAFOOD IN COCONUT MILK (Signe Zoller, Cambria Winery and Vineyard)

18 to 24 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

3/4 to 1 pound red snapper, true cod or orange roughy fillets

2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk

1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

Few drops hot pepper sauce

6 cups cooked basmati rice

Clean shrimp thoroughly. Rinse scallops. Rinse fish and cut into 4x2-inch pieces. Place seafood in bowl. Squeeze lemon juice into bowl, toss gently to mix and set aside.

Place coconut milk in large skillet or wok. Add sliced onion, curry powder, hot pepper sauce and pepper. Bring to rolling boil and boil hard 5 to 7 minutes. Lower heat, add seafood and any juices from bowl. Cook until shrimp are pink and scallops and fish are done, 8 to 10 minutes. If desired, remove seafood and boil sauce to reduce slightly, then return seafood to pan. Serve over hot rice. Makes 6 servings.

Jim Clendenen has produced elaborate spreads of Thai, Burmese, Brazilian, Italian, Southwestern French and American foods for winery open houses. Next Sunday, when he joins with Frank Ostini of the Hitching Post to cook dinner for the Central Coast Chapter of the Chaine des Rotisseurs, the menu will include tortellini with white truffle oil and Parmesan cheese, grilled smoked pork loin and grilled swordfish with yellow tomato-verjus sauce. (Verjus is a French seasoning that Clendenen makes from Chardonnay juice, underripe grapes, Chardonnay vinegar, Chardonnay distillate and brown sugar.)

Clendenen came up with this vibrant, herb-flavored lentil dish for a friend’s birthday party in London.

Watch the video: Ciao Italia 2320 Apple and Pear Tart