Recently in Holidays Category

FOOD & WINE PAIRING: Pan Roasted Duck & Merlot

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Recipe: Pan Roasted Duck with Roasted Chestnut-Cranberry Stuffing
Wine Pairing: Sterling Vineyards Reserve Merlot, Napa Valley 09

recipe_SterlingVineyards_duckBreast.jpgIngredients - Roasted Chestnut-Cranberry Stuffing
  • 6 oz. butter
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups rough chopped roasted and peeled chestnuts (*cooked and peeled chestnuts can be purchased from gourmet food stores and mail order)
  • 4 cups squab or chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, roasted in a 300° oven for 20 minutes
  • 4 cups fresh country bread cubes, crust removed and lightly toasted
  • 1 tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbs. chopped fresh sage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs. butter
Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Butter a 8 x 12 or so baking dish.
  • In a large sauce pot on medium high heat cook the onions and celery in the butter until very tender, stirring frequently to avoid browning.
  • Add chestnuts and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the stock, turn up heat to high and bring to a boil. Shut off.
  • Transfer mixture to a bowl. Fold in bread cubes, herbs and roasted cranberries.
  • Transfer to baking dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

FOOD & WINE PAIRING: Spiced Winter Squash & Chardonnay

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Stuck for an idea for a side dish to serve for the holidays? Kendall-Jackson has the perfect dish to serve - Spiced Winter Squash. Pair with Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay.


SPICED WINTER SQUASH
~ Recipe by Chef Tracey Shepos Cenami

kendall-jackson-recipe-spiced-winter-squash.jpgIngredients:
  • 3 lbs. winter squash (such as butternut, acorn or kabocha), peeled, seeded and cut into uniform 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp., plus 1/8 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. pepitas
  • 1½ tsp. pomegranate molasses
  • ½ orange, zested
  • 8 mint leaves, torn

RECIPE: Chandon Sparkle Cookie

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Chandon, the perfect bubbly to toast the holidays, is kicking off the season of celebration with Momofuku Milk Bar's Chef Christina Tosi. The award-winning pastry chef has teamed up with California sparkling pioneer Chandon to create a festive limited-edition cookie recipe incorporating the wine that adds pop to any holiday gathering.

Super scrumptious and with a flute cookie cutter, they will more than dazzle your friends and family!

Watch the video:

Serving up Mother's Day Brunch

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Serve up a delicious wine country inspired Mother's Day Brunch.

cia_ChiffonCupcakes.jpgThe Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has several recipes ideas perfect for a no-fuss menu for you to prepare that everyone, especially Mom, is sure to enjoy!

Chiffon Cupcakes
Every Mom loves flowers--but she also deserves something a bit sweeter. To help satisfy every deserving mother's sweet tooth, Chef Alison McLoughlin of The Culinary Institute of America has a great suggestion on how to create a beautiful "bouquet" of floral cupcakes for Mom that are sure to make her proud. Click Here for more details and recipe!

  • Fruit Salad with Orange-Blossom Syrup
  • Simple, sweet and the orange-blossom water adds a fragrant touch to this refreshing fruit salad. Click Here for recipe.
  • Raspberry Muffins with Pecan Streusel
  • Surprise Mom with rasberry muffins, a nice and fresh change from the ever popular blueberry muffin. Click Here for the recipe.
  • Asparagus Frittata
  • A frittata is a popular Italian-style flat omelet. The recipe from the CIA showcases fresh, tender asparagus that will make this dish a gourmet delight. Click Here for the recipe.

FOOD & WINE PAIRING: Shortbread Cookies & Champagne

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Recipe: Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookie Hearts
Wine Pairing: KORBEL Brut Rose

recipe_Korbel_chocolateDippedShortbreadCookie.jpgSubmitted by: KORBEL Champagne Cellars, Chef Robin Lehnoff

Plan a Romantic Dinner for Two

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Romantic-Dinner-Mumm.jpgLooking to spend Valentine's Day at home this year or just want to add a little romantic spice to your usual dinner fare? Then, why not make it extra special with a romantic dinner for two. Mumm Napa has the perfect menu to make glasses of their sparkling wines shared by candle-light or a warm roaring fire a night to remember. See some of the suggested recipes.

SKIP TO DESSERT
Forget what your mother told you about spoiling your supper. We are all for you skipping to dessert if the mood so suits, and even better if it's chocolate!



FOOD & WINE PAIRING: Chocolate Mousse & Cabernet Sauvignon

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By: Chef Justin Wrangler of Kendall Jackson

recipe_KendallJackson_ChocolateMousse.jpgRecipe: Valrhona Cabernet Chocolate Mousse

Wine Pairing: Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

A sweet pairing and personal favorite of the chef!

INGREDIENTS
  • 25 ounces of heavy cream
  • 8 ounces of Valrhona Bittersweet Chocolate 61%
  • 2 ounces of Kendall-Jackson Highland Estates Hawkweye Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon.

METHOD

In a medium size mixing bowl, whip 16 ounces heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place chocolate in a medium size bowl. In a small pot, add 9 ounces heavy cream and bring to a boil. Once cream has come to a full boil, pour over chocolate and stir until smooth.

Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes. Add the wine and half of the whipped cream. Fold approximately halfway and then add the remaining whipped cream. Fold gently until incorporated.

Spoon the chocolate mousse into a medium size pastry bag. Pipe the mousse into any desired cup or bowl. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

RECIPE: Gingerbread Spiced Sweet Potato - Plantain Mash

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When it comes to a special holiday dinner, traditional recipes are hard to beat. They're convenient and reliable and everyone expects to see them on the table year after year.

However, for a new take on the traditional sweet potato casserole, the chefs at The Culinary Institute of America suggest a Latin twist by making this side dish with plantains.


Click Here to watch more videos from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) highlighting many of their recipes perfect for any occasion.

Champagne - A Sparkling Addition to the Christmas Feast

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korbelChampagne.jpgChristmas brings families together, and the Christmas meal - whether Christmas dinner or Christmas brunch - ranks right up there with the gifts as one of the day's special highlights. Pairing that delicious Christmas feast with a wine equally delicious is easy and will make the meal a true celebration - just add champagne.

Champagne's reputation as a "special occasion" wine means many never discover champagne's compatibility and versatility with food. Brut champagne - with its bright acidity, tiny amount of residual sugar and lively sparkle - complements traditional Christmas dinners beautifully; from main courses like glazed ham, roast turkey, salmon, roast goose and chicken to side dishes like casseroles, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes.

Which brut champagne should you serve with Christmas dinner?  One that combines quality and value always is a good choice. Korbel Brut California Champagne offers elegant fruit, imperceptible sweetness and a crisp, balanced finish - it's as wonderful with food as it is all by itself. Readily available and readily affordable, Korbel Brut makes buying champagne for Christmas dinner a snap and assures there will plenty to go around.

Holiday Recipes & Pairings from Mumm Napa

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Things are sparkling brightly with Mumm Napa this holiday season!

MummNapaSparklingHolidayWineBanner.jpgPlan your complete Christmas Dinner with recipes and wine pairing from Mumm Napa this year. The menu puts a delicious Baked Ham with Honey Apricot Glaze front and center along with several tasty sides like spicy mashed potatoes and minted peas. In general, Mumm Napa recommends their most versatile sparkling wines Brut Prestige and Blanc de Blancs for Christmas. View all of the holiday recipes and pairings HERE.

MummNapaCindyPawlcyn.jpgMumm Napa has also teamed up with noted Napa Valley chef Cindy Pawlcyn (Restaurants: Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, Mustards,) to provide foodies and wine lovers even more festive pairings. Dare to inspire guests with a Swordfish Involtini, or a Chocolate-Hazelnut Truffle Tart. Of course, there are more recipes online which also include recommended wine pairings. Click here to view.

If all of this was not enough to whet your palate, ENTER TO WIN an exclusive Napa Valley Weekend getaway that includes airfare for you and a guest, 2 night accommodations, $1000 in spending money and a special pairing dinner hosted with Chef Cindy Pawlcyn.

Visiting Napa Valley or Sonoma? Stop in for a wine tasting visit at Mumm Napa's Tasting Room. Not only do they boast some fabulous sparkling wines, you can also view the breathtaking photography of famous photographer Ansel Adams at Mumm Napa's fine art photography gallery.

Mumm Napa
8445 Silverado Trail
Rutherford, CA 94573
(800) 686.6272



Food & Wine Pairing: Chocolate Cake & Cabernet Sauvignon

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Recipe from Louis M. Martini Family Recipes

Recipe: Luscious Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
Wine Pairing: Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon

recipe_LouisMartini_chocolateCake.jpgCake Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup premium semi-sweet chocolate, ground
1 cup flour
4 tsp. baking powder

Frosting Ingredients:
1 pint whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup premium semi-sweet chocolate, ground
1/2 cup slivered almonds


Wine & Food Pairing: Apple Dumplings

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By: Chef Justin Wrangler of Kendall Jackson

recipe_KJ_AppleDumplings.jpg
Recipe: Apple Dumplings
Wine Pairing: Kendall Jackson 2007 Grand Reserve Late Harvest Chardonnay

When you cut into these beautiful dumplings, the fragrance of apple & spices smells just like grandma's apple pie. These are great served with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Thanksgiving Dinner in Sonoma

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2012 Update!

turkeyDinner.jpgRestaurants That Will Be Open

It's not too late to have a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner with family and friends where you can leave the dishes and clean up to someone else. See below for which restaurants in Sonoma this year will be open to serve you a grand Thanksgiving feast.

CLICK HERE for a list of all the Sonoma wineries that will be open Thanksgiving Day as well.

Depot Hotel
Bring your family and friends and join Chefs Antonio and Michael Ghilarducci for Thanksgiving Dinner. Open for dinner 12 noon through 7pm with seatings every half hour. Call for reservations if you have a party of 6 or more. MORE DETAILS

Inn at the Tides - Bay View Restaurant
Join The Bay View Restaurant for a festive Thanksgiving Day feast.  Entree choices include traditional Roasted Turkey (children under 12, half price), Lobster Fettuccine, Poached Salmon, Pork Tenderloin, Rack of Lamb and Filet Mignon.  Full menu available on our website. Reservations strongly suggested. MORE DETAILS


KORBEL Long Drive Cocktail

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recipe_Korbel_LongDriveCocktail.jpgSubmitted by Korbel Champagne Cellars

Don't forget Father's Day is June 17th; celebrate with Dad by making him a KORBEL Long Drive Cocktail!

Ingredients
  • 3 oz. KORBEL Brut or Extra Dry Champagne
  • 2 oz. lemonade
  • 1 oz. blue curacao
In a tall glass, pour KORBEL Brut or Extra Dry. Add lemonade, blue curacao and ice.

Planning a visit to Sonoma County? Spend the day at Korbel Champagne Cellars...taste our delightful California champagnes, tour our historic winery and gardens, and enjoy a delicious lunch at our gourmet Delicatessen. Complimentary tours and tastings daily.



Chocolate Cabernet Truffles

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Submitted by Kenwood Vineyards Chef, Robin Lehnhoff-McCray

recipe_KenwoodVineyards_CabernetTruffle.jpgThis delicious recipe is easy to make and perfect for Valentine's Day. Enjoy with Kenwood Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Planning a getaway in celebration of romance this month? Why not stop by Kenwood Vineyard's tasting room for a complimentary tasting of their wines, including the wine suggested in this recipe

Ingredients:
  • 10 ozs. semi sweet (60%-70% cocoa)* chocolate (chopped small) <photo id="1" />
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Kenwood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 6 T heavy cream
  • 1 ¼ cup confectioners sugar (sifted)

Thanksgiving in Napa Valley

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2012 Update - Where to go for Dinner in Napa Valley!
CLICK HERE to see what Napa Valley wineries will be open as well.

turkeyNsides.jpgGrill at Silverado Resort & Spa
Enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day Buffet in the resort's elegant Grand Ballroom, featuring an array of traditional holiday dishes such as Butternut Squash Soup; Marshall Farm Honey Brined Petaluma Turkey Breast; Herb Roasted Prime Rib; Lock Duarte Salmon; Roasted Sweet Potato Gratin; and Wild Mushroom Stuffing. MORE DETAILS

Meadwood Napa Valley
Sit down to an elegant feast prepared at Meadowood Napa Valley featuring two preparations of Free Range Turkey (Brined & Roaste Breast, Crisp Skin Leg Confit), Duo of Housemade Bread Stuffing (Chestnut and Sage, Italian Sausage), several other sides and a decadent dessert buffet that include favorites pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie, apple crumble, and an assortment of other treats. First seating is at 12pm. MORE DETAILS.

Napa Valley Wine Train
Thanksgiving on the Napa Valley Wine Train is a traditional Thanksgiving feast in a non-traditional (yet extremely memorable) atmosphere. We'll have all of the customary Thanksgiving fixings, and of course, a perfectly cooked turkey. Many guests have made Thanksgiving on the wine train their family tradition, returning year after year. Lunch Train is already sold out! So make sure to call and make reservations for the Dinner Train.
MORE DETAILS

Siena Restaurant at the Meritage Resort
Keep calm and gobble on this Thanksgiving at The Meritage Resort. Leave the cooking to our award-winning restaurant and enjoy this time of thanks with your family and friends.
Savor a prefixed menu by our Executive Chef Michael Collins that includes turkey carving at your table, choice of an appetizer, a dessert bar, and much more. Turkey leftovers will even be wrapped to take home for a turkey sandwich the next day! MORE DETAILS



Cook for Your Mom!

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bouchon.jpgMother's Day is coming up and we think it's high time they got a break and are relieved from duty over the hot oven stove. Below are a host of recipes from our gathered from our Food Blog that would make wonderful brunch and dessert entrees for the special occasion.

Start things off with a Perfect Mimosa! Quick, simple and easy. While Mom is sipping and relaxing, put the final touches on any or all of the following:

What's for Breakfast?
Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Rabanda Brazillian Style French Toast
Garden Vegetable Frittata
Bacon and Egg Salad
Banana Hazelnut Pancakes
Mexican Souffle


Of course, you may want to treat your Mom to Dessert first! We are sure she won't mind . . .
Planning something more elaborate for dinner or lunch? See our full list of recipes HERE!




Carmelized Apple Bread Pudding

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concannonVineyard_breadPuddingRecipe.jpgwith Concannon Conservancy Chardonnay Cream
Recipe from Concannon Vineyard

Comfort and sophistication in every luscious bite, this is sure to be a holiday hit at your table this season.

Ingredients:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 c sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2 c hot milk
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 t grated nutmeg
  • 4 c cubed day old country style bread, crusted trimmed
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 c ¾ inch wedges Granny Smith apples, cored and peeled
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Holiday Entertaining

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Holiday wine and food pairing can be tough. Figuring out which wines to pair with such a wide assortment of foods is a challenge for even the most experienced chef and the thought of entertaining on top of everything makes is stressful! Here are a few guidelines to follow to ensure your food and wine pairings are easy and fun:

Main Dish
For the white wine lover, a soft Chardonnay is a great accompaniment to poultry and an assortment of sides. Even a Riesling or Pinot Grigio could work. The minerality and apple-citrus notes common to Pinot Grigio match well with rich holiday foods. Also, while many assume white wine is the ideal poultry pairing, Pinot Noir's fruity character and lack of tannins are ideal for serving with turkey. It's vibrant and fruity character is sure to please red wine drinkers too.

If you end up serving an elegant roast meat at your holiday dinner, select a bolder red wine, like a Meritage, to match the stronger flavors of the meat.

Side Dishes
Any of these earlier wine pairing suggestions will also work well with the myriad of rich side dishes that often accompany the main course. To complement the spices and flavors try a delightful Syrah-Malbec. This lighter red, with its own notes of spices and earthiness, will stand up well to any dish, from sweet potato mash to creamed pearl onions.

Thanksgiving Dinner in Napa Valley

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Restaurants That Will Be Open in 2012!
CLICK HERE to also see Napa Valley wineries open for tasting!

Spend more time with family this year. There's no need to slave all day in the kitchen cooking up everyone's Thanksgiving favorites. Leave the cooking and dishes to the chefs of Napa Valley! See what some restaurants have planned for the big Turkey Day!


Grill at Silverado Resort & Spa
Enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day Buffet in the resort's elegant Grand Ballroom, featuring an array of traditional holiday dishes such as Butternut Squash Soup; Marshall Farm Honey Brined Petaluma Turkey Breast; Herb Roasted Prime Rib; Lock Duarte Salmon; Roasted Sweet Potato Gratin; and Wild Mushroom Stuffing. MORE DETAILS

Meadwood Napa Valley

Sit down to an elegant feast prepared at Meadowood Napa Valley featuring two preparations of Free Range Turkey (Brined & Roaste Breast, Crisp Skin Leg Confit), Duo of Housemade Bread Stuffing (Chestnut and Sage, Italian Sausage), several other sides and a decadent dessert buffet that include favorites pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie, apple crumble, and an assortment of other treats. First seating is at 12pm. MORE DETAILS.

Napa Valley Wine Train
Thanksgiving on the Napa Valley Wine Train is a traditional Thanksgiving feast in a non-traditional (yet extremely memorable) atmosphere. We'll have all of the customary Thanksgiving fixings, and of course, a perfectly cooked turkey. Many guests have made Thanksgiving on the wine train their family tradition, returning year after year. Lunch Train is already sold out! So make sure to call and make reservations for the Dinner Train.
MORE DETAILS

Siena Restaurant at the Meritage Resort
Keep calm and gobble on this Thanksgiving at The Meritage Resort. Leave the cooking to our award-winning restaurant and enjoy this time of thanks with your family and friends.
Savor a prefixed menu by our Executive Chef Michael Collins that includes turkey carving at your table, choice of an appetizer, a dessert bar, and much more. Turkey leftovers will even be wrapped to take home for a turkey sandwich the next day! MORE DETAILS



Bourbon-Glazed Roast Turkey

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turkey_detail.jpgSubmitted by Sterling Vineyards

Paired with Sterling Vineyards Three Palms Vineyard Merlot 


Serves 18

Ingredients
  • 15 pound whole turkey, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large tart apple, quartered
  • 1 cup peach preserves
  • 3 Tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons Angostura bitters
  • butter as needed
  • spiced pickled peaches for garnish, drained

Feasting in Sonoma This Thanksgiving

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By Deirdre Bourdet

If you find yourself in Sonoma on November 25th this year, skip the stressful prep and aftermath of the Thanksgiving holiday, and focus on the feasting at one of these great local restaurants. From the rugged coast to the inland valleys, Sonoma has a wealth of delicious ways to give thanks.

Alexander's is perched right on the dramatic Sonoma Coast in the Timber Cove Inn, and enjoys panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean from the dining room. Their four course, $60 "Celebration of Cultural Heritage" menu begins with a wild mushroom soup paired with foraged local acorns. Next, a punchy salad of apple and watercress with guanciale, blood orange oil, walnuts, and marigolds freshens the palate before the bird of the hour arrives at the table. The turkey here comes in two parts--herb roasted breast and cocoa-confit leg--accompanied by an Okinawa sweet potato gratin, wild mushroom stuffing, brussel sprouts, and a house-made cranberry sauce. The meal ends on a sweet and shiny note with "laminated" pastry and a poached Suckle pear. Since the Timber Cove Inn is right there on site, dinner here is the perfect spot for an impromptu romantic getaway.

Oktoberfest in Wine Country

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wineriesofnapavly.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Just because Napa is known more for its grapes than its beer doesn't mean beer-lovers should look elsewhere for entertainment.  The number of local breweries is growing, and new opportunities to taste beer alongside (or even instead) of wine are popping up all around, just in time for October. 

The Wineries of Napa Valley tasting room next to the Visitor Center launched downtown Napa's first beer tasting bar at the end of September.  The casual tasting counter (separate from the wine tasting counter for permitting reasons) offers five Northern California artisanal brews on tap, available by the pint for $5 each, or as part of a tasting flight of four, for $8.  The current lineup includes Racer 5 IPA from Bear Republic Brewery, Blue Star wheat beer and Scrimshaw pilsner from North Coast Brewing Company, Boont Amber Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company, and an organic California Blonde Ale from Eel River Brewing Company in Humboldt County.  I'm hard pressed to imagine anything more refreshing after a long day of wine tasting than a flight of these effervescent local beauties. 

Chocolate Red Wine Cake

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Submitted by Keller Estate

recipeKellerEstate.jpgA delicious chocolate cake recipe from Keller Estate located in Petaluma, CA that you have to try at home! Their advice? "Bake two cakes, your family and friends will ask for more!" If you're planning a wine tasting trip or already here in the area, why not swing by their tasting room and taste the Syrah featured in this recipe.

How To Feed Your Lover

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By Deirdre Bourdet

Valentine's Day is upon us.  Do you know what you're feeding your lover?  

Much has been written about aphrodisiac ingredients, but if your love target doesn't like them--skip 'em.  The key to a romantic dinner is making food that is attractive to the object of your desire, and doesn't weigh either of you down too much.  Definitely choose dishes that inspire the senses through fragrant herbs and spices, exciting textures, beautiful shapes, and addicting flavors, but steer clear of things you know are on their Do Not Eat list. I will never attempt to seduce my partner in crime with lamb, for example, no matter how irresistible and succulent it may sound to me.  Stick to things they like.  With this in mind, here are some tasty ideas for a happy Valentine's Day.
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Eating for Luck in the New Year

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By Deirdre Bourdet

New Year's is a time for renewed energy, and renewed hope for a brighter future...given a bit of luck. Small wonder then that most of the world sets the New Year's table with dishes designed to maximize their good fortune in the coming year. Lucky colors, lucky animals, and vegetables that look like money are all welcomed to the party. Here are some ideas to make 2010 the best year yet.

VIDEO: The Classic Holiday Roast Recipe

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Learn to cook like the pros for the holidays! Chef Charlie Palmer (of Dry Creek Kitchen at Hotel Healdsburg) shows Harry Smith and Debbye Turner Bell how to cook a holiday rib roast and some unique side dishes with winter vegetables on the CBS Early Show.

 

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Holiday Hors d'Oeuvres

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smoked oysters.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Smoked Oysters with Fennel and Lemon

(approx. 4-6 hors d'oeuvre servings)
Rediscover the retro magic of smoked oysters! The dressing is highly acidic so you don't want the oysters to sit in it too long, or it will ruin their luscious texture.

Just Desserts!

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cranberryChocDessert.jpg
Frozen Grand Marnier Torte, Recipe by Sarah Tenaglia, Photography by Mark Thomas

It's no wonder everyone's New Year's resolution is to lose weight considering the homemade treats and delectable goodies that begin to bombard us this time of year! One is not even safe at work.

Case in point - as I sit and write this blog, there is a plate of candy on the bookshelf next to me, a bowl of chocolate on my way to the kitchen and on our reception desk. I think the candy at the reception desk is the most cruel. I enter the building - "oh look! candy. Let me take one for the trip to my office".  I leave the building to go to the bathroom - "oh look! candy! Let me reward myself".  I enter the building back  from the bathroom - "oh look! the candy is still here. I think I'll just take another piece". The vicious cycle continues throughout the day whether I'm leaving for lunch, taking a call outside or going on break.

It doesn't stop at candy. Workmates bring in muffins, cakes, cookies, and pastries of every kind. All diet plans woefully go awry this time of year yet we forgive ourselves because 'tis the season to indulge especially if you've been good all year. (If you weren't, we'll pretend)

So without further ado, here are some dessert recipes. We say, "savor and indulge!" at every possible chance whether its at the family dinner table, a friend's coffee table or (gulp) the office break counter!

Foodie's Holiday Wish List

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By Deirdre Bourdet

cheeseKnifeSet.jpgMy family insists that I am difficult to buy gifts for, due to my extremely personal and subjective taste (aka "pickiness") when it comes to clothing and the like.  I remind them annually that it's actually very simple to get me something I will love - as long as it relates to food or wine (or is in fact food or wine), doesn't clutter up my cabinets and counters, and doesn't dominate my kitchen aesthetic, I'm a happy camper.  In this vein, I offer you some suggestions for the picky foodie in your family, virtually guaranteed to please those who love to cook and eat:

(1) Laguiole 3-Piece Cheese Knife Set 
Laguiole is still the gold standard for cheese service knives, and for good reason.  The traditional design is classic, elegant, but also sleekly modern.  And the knives are fantastic: a razor-sharp cleaver for the hardy mountain cheeses, a short rounded spreader for the soft stuff, and versatile long blade with pointed tip to spear that hunk of camembert you've just sheared off.  Gorgeous and functional, these knives are welcomed everywhere they go.  

Thanksgiving Desserts To Die For

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It's no wonder that everyone's New Year resolution is to lose weight considering that one gorges themselves for a month straight starting with Thanksgiving through Christmas!

Of course, it's quite hard to resist all of the wonderful foods this time of year especially all of the sweets and baked goods.  Dancing in my head are pies, cakes, tarts, cookies and many other warm, feel good treats. One is not even safe at work. So without further ado, start the baking, grab the elastic waistband pants and let the feasting begin!

Pecan Pumpkin Butter Pie with Butterscotch Cream

Frozen Pumpkin Mousse w/ Walnut Toffee Crunch
"With no pastry crust to wrangle, these luscious parfaits of pumpkin mousse and cream are easier to make than pumpkin pie."

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle
"I am a huge fan of trifles, and this is so easy and so delicious. It has the right ingredients for the holidays to bring in all the warm fuzzies of past years." - Linda, Food Network

Pumpkin Cake w/ Caramel-Cream Cheese Frosting
"In this fun variation on traditional pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake spiced with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves gets frosted with a slightly tangy, super-caramelly frosting. It's delicious served cold or at room temperature."

Olive Oil & Sauternes Cake w/ Roasted Pears
"Because Neil Perry has a passion for wine, he uses Sauternes in every component of this dessert, from the cake to the sauce. He also adds olive oil to the batter, which creates a delightfully moist crumb. Pair w/ Riesling."

Caramel Pecan Pie
tart2.jpgOf course, your family expects a traditional holiday meal. But, you yearn for the fun and challenge of cooking up something a little different and adventurous. Why not do both? Prepare the traditional meal of time-honored favorites your family loves, but this time, give tradition a tasty timely tweak. Here are some recipes to help you discover that traditional doesn't have to mean predictable. We've taken holiday menu classics and recharged them with a few fresh new ingredients. Try these delectable subtle flavors that add to but don't overpower the familiar ones and take your holiday dinner from being a good meal to a great one.

Cranberry relish gets a new taste makeover - and powerful antioxidant boost - with the addition of a splash of Petite Sirah and a half cup of fresh blueberries mingled with the cranberries. The delicate sweetness of the blueberries helps tone down the cranberries' tartness in a beautiful glistening tapestry of rich jewel colors.

Stuffing: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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Stuffing is personal and subjective.  Everyone has their absolute favorites and some guests are just downright insistent that THEIR recipe is used for the big Thanksgiving Dinner  Sometimes the stuffing turns out great and we're grateful.  Other times, they are plain AWFUL and so we tend to skip that whole area on our plate for fear it contaminates the rest of our food!   So we ask you, what's been your experience with "the good, bad and ugly" of stuffing?  We've found a few stories and recipes to get you started...

Kasha:  "My favorite is stove top, I swear!  As embarrassing as that is, I can't help it.  I would eat it by itself!  The worst....LIVER or GIZZARDS  in my stuffing. That culinary practice should be BANNED!  I did have a relative insist on having her stuffing by the way.  It was okay....I missed my stove top."

Candi:   "Good Stuffing comes from my Grandma!  She makes hers from scratch including the cornbread. The bad and ugly came to me one holiday dinner at my brother's house. I asked what it was and my sister-in-law said STOVE TOP!  That is the WORST stuffing ever!!! UGHHHH. That is NOT how stuffing is supposed to taste.

The Untraditional Turkey

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To most, turkey and Thanksgiving is as obvious as peanut butter and jelly.  What isn't obvious anymore is how we cook that turkey.  In addition to the traditional basted, bagged and roasted turkey methods we now have a myriad of new, exciting and untraditional ways of cooking that delectable bird. Step into the culinary world of turkey grilling (yes, on the bbq!), smoking, deep frying and rotisserie. Set your fears aside and discover the "untraditional turkey" this year.  You may be surprised at the response you and your bird get this year, kissing your traditional method goodbye forever.
 
Don't believe me?  Then let me tell you a story ....

Last Thanksgiving, my husband decided to smoke the turkey instead of the traditional "bagged" turkey. While my husband is great on the grill and smoked turkey sounded wonderful, I did not like the idea of being adventurous on Thanksgiving. Truth be told, I was a little worried that it wouldn't quite turn out as expected. What's more, we were expecting quite a few people for dinner!

To be safe, I cooked my traditional "bagged" turkey and it came out as expected - juicy and delicious.  However, my turkey sat virtually ignored and my husband's turkey was completely devoured. He clearly "smoked" the competition-namely me. I conceded defeat.  The smoked turkey was good, absolutely memorable, and our family can never go back.  Our traditional turkey has forevermore flown the coup and has been replaced by our new tradition-the "untraditional turkey". 


To help you find your own new Thanksgiving un-tradition, we've provided a few our favorite recipes and methods below.  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Pumpkin Lovin

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Pumpkin Cupcake Karas 3.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

This time of year you can't turn around without a pumpkin or nine staring you in the face. Every storefront has trotted out at least ten or twelve for the window display, and the Stanly Ranch Pumpkin Patch is rockin' and rollin' with its hay bale maze, giant sunflowers, and pumpkins of every size and color. Though the decorative pumpkin frenzy will die down after Halloween, the edible pumpkin bandwagon is just getting going in wine country. It's one of my favorite seasons for sweets.

A Hare-Raising Easter Brunch

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easter_bunny.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

You could say that everyone feels like a kid again at Safari West - and this Easter will be no exception. Come April 12, the exotic animal park that prides itself on cultivating "the spirit of Africa in the heart of wine country" will host "Hunt for the Hare," a unique Easter celebration that's sure to be a hit with kids both young and old.

Eggsibitionist™ Gifting This Easter

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By Courtney Cochran

When I hosted a "Salty & Sweet" wine and food tasting in San Francisco last spring, I sought out products for sampling whose sophistication and good taste was matched by sense of whimsy. Hotel Chocolat - a decidedly design-forward luxury chocolatier with a penchant for capricious concoctions - fit the bill perfectly, a fact evidenced by the sheer delight with which many of my guests greeted the UK-based company's Chocolate Dipping Adventure kit, a centerpiece at the event.

Gift Guide 2008 - Chocolate

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vogesChoc1.jpgVoges Haut-Chocolate
Ordinarily, you might think of chocolate for the holidays as a stocking stuffer or just a candy dish treat. Don't get stuck in boring traditions. Chocolate should be on your list for a friend, workmate, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin...you get the point.

Voges Haut-Chocolat offers decadently, rich chocolates, truffles, caramels, toffee, and even brownies, ice cream and cake for the sophisticated "I love chocolate" palate. But now that you've scampered across the website, in this menu and the the other, salivating at all this chocolaty goodness, what to get is the now burning question.

What Does YOUR Typical Thanksgiving Dinner Include?

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Thanksgiving is around the corner. Do you know what you're having? Besides the Turkey - it, of course, is always the main attraction. But what about the lesser known side dishes? They deserve love and attention too and are typically family favorites. Who can resist yams or mashed potatoes, turkey stuffing, green beans, and cranberry sauce!

Not necessarily a side dish, but definitely worth pairing up - Turkey Wines!

Below are links to "side attraction" dishes worth checking out:

Please post and let us know what YOUR typical Thanksgiving Dinner includes!

Thanksgiving: Turkey, Stuffing, and Gravy - Oh My

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Where would Thanksgiving be without the Turkey and Stuffing. Oh sure, there's a few people out there that may be vegetarians or are like my roommate who does not eat turkey but has lasagna on Thanksgiving. However, for the majority of you, Turkey will be on the menu, placed in the middle of the table, and dressed in all it's stuffing/dressing/gravy glory!

Your mouth is watering already in anticipation...and why not...Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away where good eats will abound. Let WineCountry.com point you in the right direction with a few ideas for this year's grand Turkey entrance!


Turkey pairs well with wine and we have the perfect Turkey Wine Guide.

Don't forget about the delicious side dishes!




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