Portobella Mushroom and Gorgonzola Blue Cheese Quinoa Salad with White Truffle Oil
for pairing with Winexpert Limited Edition: JANUARY, Washington Meritage
1 cup rinsed quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 shallot minced fine or 2 tbsp minced red onion
1/2 yellow onion minced fine
1 1/2 large cloves garlic or 2 small cloves minced fine
1 1/2 tsp truffle oil
3 oz chopped button mushrooms
3 1/2 oz chopped portabella mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp + 1 tsp gorgonzola blue cheese
Cook the quinoa in the broth for 15 minutes, fluff and set aside. (If all the liquid is not all gone, that is okay, it will absorb, just be careful not to overcook)
Heat a large saute pan on medium for one minute. Add in the truffle oil and 1tbsp of the butter and heat for one minute. Add in the garlic and the onions and heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the button mushrooms and heat for 2 1/2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the portobello mushrooms and heat for 2 1/2 minutes, stirring occassionally. (Try to keep the mushrooms slightly al-dente for an earthy chewy bite.) Add in the quinao, salt and pepper to taste, and stir well to coat and mix well. Remove from heat.
In a small dish, add 1 tbsp butter and the gorgonzola blue cheese. Melt in the microwave, stir together and pour over the quinoa. Mix well. Serve hot, or refrigerate for 24 hours to let the flavors mix and serve cold.
Truffle Oil: in this recipe we used Olio Aromatico White Truffle Oil. It is actually an aromatic olive oil infused with white truffle. If you are using a more concentrated version of truffle oil – reduce the amount in this recipe.
The star of this dish is the earthy flavor, so it is not so much one specific item as a blending of many. I tried many different kinds of mushrooms from dried to fresh, and found fresh better. Pick your favorite earthy mushroom and experiment. The gorgonzola blue cheese (available at Springbank Cheese) brings a freshness to the dish that shouldn’t be left out. Many people avoid any form of blue cheese as it is so strong. Cutting the blue cheese with butter and melting it prior to adding to the dish tempers the bite and infuses the flavor evenly througout the dish. The truffle oil is like the icing on a cake – not necessary if you don’t have it or don’t want to buy it – but truly brings the earthy flavor profile to completion, with a long linger of complexity on the tongue.
Applewood Smoked Cheddar Mini Bites
for pairing with Winexpert Limited Edition: FEBRUARY, California Petite Sirah/Zinfandel
Breton minis Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil
Applewood smoked Cheddar
roasted sesame seeds
PC Blue Menu light honey Dijon Yogurt Dressing
Place a cracker as the base and top with a thickly cut slice of cheese. Make sure the cheese fills the cracker to keep it from getting soggy, as well as a thick enough piece to strongly bring the smoky Cheddar flavor forward. Shred spinach and coat liberally with the sweet honey Dijon and place on top of the cheese. Sprinkle on the roasted sesame seeds and the smoked paprika to taste. Top with a second mini cracker to complete the sandwich.
How this pairing came together:
We tried many crackers and 5 different cheeses as a part of this pairing. All of the combinations were good, and the process was so much fun, especially when you discover the winning combination that rises above the rest. From the Winexpert recipe for this pairing ( Apple Cider Brined Thick-Cut BBQ Pork Chops) we pulled out flavor ideas such as honey, mustard, olive oil and cracked black pepper. From the alternate pairing suggestions ( BBQ Pork or Spinach Pizza) we pulled out spinach. Initially we tried a much more vibrantly flavored and crisper cracker, but the creamy aspect of the Bretton worked better. The star of this dish of course is the Applewood Smoked Cheddar. The cheese needs to be thick to make sure that the star of the sandwich is the smoky Cheddar. Adding in a dusting of smoked paprika added in more complexity of flavor. Be careful – a little goes a long way! This spice is more mainstream now, and you can purchase it at most grocery stores. Store in a cool dark area, and as with all vibrant colored spices, use within a year.
Norwegian Meatballs with Fresh Mango Peach Habanero Salsa
for pairing with Winexpert Ltd Edition: MARCH German Traminer Spatlese
2lb ground pork
1 lb ground turkey
2 eggs beaten
1 cup 1% milk (or your regular choice of milk)
1 cup dried bread crumbs ( I used 3/4 cup panko + 1/8 cup panko and 1/8 cup wheat germ)
1/2 cup very finely minced sweet white onion
2 tsp each of salt and white sugar
1/2 tsp each of ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice
1 tsp fresh ginger zest
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
Sauce: Garden Fresh Gourmet (brand) Mango Peach Salsa with a kiss of Habanero (available in the deli section at Costco)
Combine eggs, milk, crumbs, onion and seasoning. Let stand until crumbs have absorbed the milk. If not absorbing all the milk, add a little more crumbs.
Mix the two meats together well, then add the seasoning and mix very well. Make into balls and bake on a Pam sprayed roasting pan @ 400 degrees for 12 minutes, turn, and bake 12 minutes more. Remove to a cooling rack and blot with a paper towel.
To serve as a pairing, serve the ball hot, and top liberally with the fresh cold salsa.
Step one: Flavour – how to figure out which flavours to work with.
Winexpert puts out a recipe book to complement the Limited Edition selections. They are available in all our stores, and if you are ordering a Limited wine, consider picking one up to have on hand. In this book is a recipe for Peach and Blueberry Cobbler. Alternate suggestions without recipe provided were: spicy pork skewers, smoked meat, BLT or marinated sliced peaches. At this point Paul worked with me on suggestions on how to pull flavours out of a recipe.
Spicy pork skewers initially inspired the thought of spicy pork meatballs, and peaches appeared in two different recipes, so the idea of adding a fresh salsa with peach in it came from there.
Food Pairing with Winexpert Limited Edition APRIL Spanish Matador Trio Red
Dry Spanish Chorizo spicy sausage hand made @ The Butcher Shoppe in Airdrie.
Food Pairing with Winexpert Limited Edition JANUARY South African Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon
Spelt pasta ( available at Lina’s Italian Market ) with 4 Cheese Alfredo Sauce, sprinkling of real Parmesan cheese, with just a hint of dill.