What We’re Cooking Now: Girls Night

Salmon Nicoise Salad
I hosted a gathering of girls the other night – wine, snacks and lots of laughter, my favorite kind of night.
The menu was simple, a salmon nicoise salad, fruit and cheese plate, white peach tart for dessert.  Very healthy, and a great pairing to the surplus of white wine we have recently found ourselves with.  (It seemed for months we had a surplus of red and no white…conscious buying made a change to that with a case of each King Estate Pinot Gris, Adelsheim Chardonnay and one of our favorites, Miner Napa Valley Chardonnay.)  The King Estate was on the menu for this night, filled with light, crisp flavors of peach, tropical fruit and star fruit.  King Estate, one of the most beautiful wineries in Oregon’s Willamette Valley produces a lot of Pinot Gris.  Though they do a lot of Pinot Noir as well, like many of their neighbors, Pinot Gris has really become their signature wine, and a perfect accompaniment to a hearty fish like salmon as the crisp white wine will cut through the fattiness of the fish and creaminess of the potatoes, and pair nicely with the clean salad flavors. 

Cheese plate was simple, as a cheese plate should be.  A few green apples, big bunch of red and green grapes, dried apricots and a stunning fig spread from The Girl and the Fig  in Sonoma….one of my favorite spots in wine country for both creating stunning picnics, and picking up items like the signature fig spread chock full of spice and ripe California figs.  The cheese, always a blue, tonight’s from another favorite, Rouge River Creamery Crater Lake Blue; an extra sharp white cheddar and an aged gouda.  I also included some warm brie, a stellar flavor with the fig spread, and so easy to do.  Place the unwrapped brie on a rimmed baking dish and place in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese starts to melt and get gooey.   Remove from oven and tent with aluminum foil for about 5 minutes to let the cheese gel a bit.  Serve with a crusty baguette and the fig spread.  Rosemary crackers are also great with all of these cheeses. The tart and salmon nicoise are almost this easy.  Follow the jump for more.  Read More

What We’re Cooking Now: Italian Celebration

 
Capotouille

A few weeks ago we celebrated a late birthday for one of my dear friends with a dinner gathering at our house. We decided to keep it simple…well simple as we can be….and just throw some pizzas out, make an easy risotto and a salad and call it a day.

However, when I went to my local Newflower market for supplies I was inspired by the beautiful veggies I found in abundance and decided to add a caponata/ratatouille recipe I had been playing with in my head but hadn’t actually attempted yet. (I am so glad I did…sometimes playing in the kitchen really pays off.) A quick stop at Jimmy’s for pizza dough and we start our day of cooking. We had 9 over for dinner that night so all recipes served the group easily with lots of left overs.
With a focus on Italian we pulled a few bottles of Italian wine from our stash….a Pinot Grigio from Albino Armani, an Italian wine producer in the heart of the Veneto region of Italy for over 400 years and the maker of a delicious, food friendly Pinot Grigio. They leave about 10% of the grapes on the vine past the normal harvest for about 10 days to really concentrate the juice and give it the optimal amount of sweetness. The result is an elegant and very fruit forward wine.
We also pulled a Valpolicella from Tenuta Sant’ Antonio “Monti Garbi”. I love a Valpolicella, and it’s papa an Amarone, and knew from tasting this one previously that it would be a great match to the Capatoullie (caponata/ratatouille) recipe I was going to try, as it has bold leather and tobacco aromas and an amazing palate filled with dark cherry, smoke and dried fruit flavors.
Recipes
Grilled Romaine with Parmesan and a Champagne Caper Vinaigrette
Ingredients
2 heads romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon + 1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow tomato
2 red vine ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup shaved parmesan
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons capers, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste Read More
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