On The Road in Napa: Part 2

With the rustling of fall leaves, and crisp, cool air comes a yearning for the harvest season in the Napa Valley. Our annual trip this year to America’s wine Mecca did not disappoint, and we were dazzled by the swirl of (many) fragrant glasses, and tantalizing tastes around every corner. The girls and I spent time in the town of Napa, as well as our favorite wine village of St. Helena. Here are some of the amazing places that we enjoyed during our recent adventures through food and wine.

Vintner’s Collective: 1245 Main St. Napa, CA 94559, (707) 255-7150                    Vintner’s Collective is a multi-winery tasting room, featuring the spoils of some boutique local wineries. The staff is extremely personable (ask for Andy), and knowledgable on all of the wines that you’ll taste while in their shop. To really try a diverse tasting of the region, make sure that you ask for the house favorites. We loved the wines from Ancien. Try their crisp Chardonnay or sprightly Pinot Noir.

Then there was Mumm…

Mumm Napa: 8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA 94573, (800) 686-6272            Mumm really is a sacred place. The legendary sparkling wine producer is located in the heart of Napa Valley, on a gorgeous property that exudes the essence of what a trip to the region is all about. You can relax & enjoy a tasting of a variety of their wines while overlooking the vines on the patio or in the tasting salon. If you have thought well ahead, you can enjoy reserved seating on the Oak Terrace (think: exclusive tasting of vineyard specialties, and misters for hot Napa afternoons). The service here is unparalleled, but reservations are a good idea during the busy season.

For us, no trip to Napa is complete without a stop at V. Sattui.

V. Sattui Winery: 1111 White Lane. St. Helena, CA 94574. (707) 963-7774                  Browse their deli and specialty food shop prior to visiting their tasting room and wine store. Then gather all the necessities for a picnic out on their grounds. They also do a house BBQ on Fridays with house smoked meats and delicious sides.

Angele: 540 Main St. Napa, CA, (707) 252-8115                                                                     For some authentic french fare, stop by Angele located on Main Street in Napa. Their French Onion Soup is to die for.

Bounty Hunter: 975 First St., Napa 94559,  (707) 226-3976                                                 If you’re looking for a place to stop for an appetizer and some local smoked BBQ flavor, check out Bounty Hunter. They have an amazing cheese plate pairing, as well as the best beer can chicken this side of the Mississippi.

Bonus: play the ‘guess-the-wine’ game. A house choice mystery bottle is concealed in a paper bag. Guess the varietal and region, and its free!

Oxbow Public Market: 644 1st St # D  Napa, CA 94559,  (707) 226-6529                  Oxbow is a marketplace that is reminiscent of La Boqueria in Spain, but of course on a much smaller scale, and with the flavors of  the artisans and purveyors of Napa. Browse the stalls for some great gift items like regional cheese or chocolate, or post up at one of the bars and enjoy happy hour. While you’re there, try a Ceviche shot (pictured below!) from Pica Pica Bar.

And finally, we had to take a trip to see the Parallel Vines (owned by some dear friends of mine!). Parallel is a winery based in St. Helena, but is the product of 4 partnered friends, from the Park City / Salt Lake City Area who all share a love of wine and skiing (‘parallel’ skiing’). Their winemaker, famed Philippe Melka, creates a Cabernet Savingnon that is a deep, rich, robust cab often described as a ‘Cab lover’s Cab’.  My favorite Chardonnay worldwide is Parallel’s, which I call: oakey, smokey, and beautiful (my catchphrase which I personally think they should trademark…).

Thanksgiving Recipe: Squash Leek Soup

Still searching for that perfect soup course recipe to serve at the Thanksgiving table? With rich seasonal hints of fall, a taste of zesty leeks and complemented by a bit sweet sage, this one is a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium- large bananna squash (about 5-8lbs)
  • 1 small bunch of leeks
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • .75 oz package fresh sage
  • 32 oz chicken or veggie stock
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tbs butter
  • olive oil
  • fresh parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/4 c. beer

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

2.  Cut off the hairy end of the leeks. Slice whole leek in half vertically (from white end to green) and chop. Put chopped leeks into a bowl of cold water and swish around with your hands, allowing the dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Let soak while you prep the remaining veggies.

3. Clean and prep the squash by quartering the squash and then cutting or peeling the skin off. Remove seeds and ‘guts’. Cut squash into cubes.

4. Take 3/4 of the sage and combing with sea salt and ground pepper on a cutting board. Rough chop all ingredients together. Chop remaining sage alone and set aside.

5. Combine squash, leeks, garlic (set aside about 1 clove), and sage & salt and pepper mixture in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, until squash is soft.

6. In a soup pot over medium heat, melt butter and bring to a simmer remaining garlic and sage. Add beer and allow alcohol to cook off.

7. Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree roasted squash and leeks 2 cups at a time, adding 1/2 cup of stock with each batch. Add to soup pot.

8. Once all of the squash mixture has been added to the pot, add shaved parmigiano reggiano to taste. Stir regularly and bring soup to a simmer, adding stock until desired consistency is achieved.

Chocolate Chip Cookies- My Secret Family Recipe

Everyone needs a go-to Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. There really is nothing better than filling the air with the sweet aroma of cookies baking in the oven. This last batch I made turned out so irresistibly delicious, I decided I needed share my family’s secret recipe. Since it was my grandmothers, this recipe is written in a different format then I usually use. Enjoy!

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Start with:

2/3 c. butter

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

Cream these ingredients together, and then add:

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix together thoroughly.

Sift the following dry ingredients together:

1 1/2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Blend dry mixture into creamed ingredients. Then add:

1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

1 package chocolate chips (usually around 12 oz.)

Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Roasted Tomatoes

The simple recipe for Roasted Tomatoes is a base staple ingredient in many recipes, or to use as topping on salads, appetizers and garnishes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small tomatoes, OR
  • 20 grape tomatoes
  • pan spray
  • coarse sea salt

1. Slice tomatoes as thinly as possible.

2. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet coated with pan spray.

3. Lightly sprinkle sea salt over the tomato slices (roughly enough so that each slice gets a few grains of salt. This will help draw out the moisture of the tomatoes, and bring out the desired sweetness).

4. Bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until slices have become shriveled. Some thinner ones will be browned (these ones are extra delicious!).

Chipotle Tomato Soup (with Cheddar Crouton & Fried Sage!)

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup is a classic piece of American comfort cuisine. Here’s a ‘grown up’ take on the soup that can be combined with a cheesy, melty sandwich on a chilly day, or served at your next dinner party in a crystal glass as a utensil free appetizer.

Ingredients:

Soup

  • 3 lb. tomatoes, roasted
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic (put cloves in tinfoil with a drizzle of olive oil. seal foil, and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes)
  • 1 clove raw garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 Tbs chopped sage (about a palmful of leaves)
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (canned), chopped
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. beer (I used an IPA)
  • 32 oz chicken or veggie stock
  • 2 tsp. sugar

*you will need a hand blender, food processor, or blender for this recipe

1. Using a large soup pot, bring 1 Tbs. butter and olive oil up to medium-high heat, until butter is melted. Add raw garlic with shallots and bring to a simmer. Add the chopped sage and chipotle pepper and continue to simmer for one minute.

2. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of beer. Allow the alcohol to cook off for about 5 minutes, while scraping the bottom of the pan for all the ‘brown bits’ of flavor.

3. Add the roasted garlic and tomatoes to the pot, and stir until they are fully coated with the simmering mixture.

4. If you are using a hand blender: puree all ingredients in the pot while pouring in the chicken or veggie stock. Add the sugar, and give the soup one final blend until a smooth consistency is achieved. Bring soup to a simmer, and cover until you are ready serve.

4. If you are using a blender or food processor: once all the ingredients have been simmered together in the soup pot, transfer into the blender and puree until smooth. You may have to do this in 2-3 batches, and set aside puree in a large bowl. Once all ingredients have been pureed, transfer the puree back into the soup pot, and start to whisk in the chicken or veggie stock and sugar. Bring soup to a simmer, and cover until you are ready to serve.

Serve with a cheddar baked crouton topped with a piece of fried sage.

Cheddar Baked Crouton

1 small loaf crusty bread or baguette, sliced into 2-3 inch pieces

olive oil

1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar

Arrange bread pieces on a baking sheet, and drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top. Bake at 375 for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the pieces over. Pile shredded cheese on top of each piece, and bake for 4-5 more minutes or until cheese is melted and edges are golden brown.

Fried Sage

2 Tbs Butter

10-15 fresh sage leaves

Melt butter In a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add sage and saute until leaves have become crisp and brown (about 3 minutes). Set leaves aside on a paper towel until you are ready to serve the soup.

Make-your-own Holiday Gift Goodies

We did a great Studio 5 segment on tasty holiday treats that you can put into pretty packages and dole out to your friends and family as gifts! What’s a better way to spread holiday cheer than by sharing some comfort sweets?

Look here for recipes for Seasonal Granola, White Chocolate Mint Fudge, and Cinnamon Almond Butter.

Watch the show! Click here.

White Chocolate Mint Fudge

Easy-Peasy creamy, minty holiday fudge in 3 quick steps.

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 oz. package white chocolate chips*
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/4 c. crushed pistachios
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Method:

Line a 8-9 in. rectangular or square baking dish with wax paper, ensuring that the paper covers the edges of the pan.

Over medium heat, combine 1/2 of the sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 bag of white chocolate chips and stir while melting together. Add the remaining half of the milk  and chips, vanilla and mint extracts, salt.  Continue to stir until all ingredients are incorporated and mixture is smooth.

Pour the mixture into the lined dish, and spread evenly. Sprinkle the crushed pistachios on top. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm. To cut, remove the fudge from the pan by lifting the wax paper out of the dish, remove the paper and slice into preferred portion sizes.

*For a ‘firmer’ fudge consistency, use 1 1/2 – 2 bags of white chocolate chips.

Cinnamon Almond Butter

Making your own almond (or any nut) butter is really easy, but it takes a little bit of patience, a little bit of love, and a great food processor.

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz almonds
  • 1.5 c. canola oil
  • 1/2 c. honey (liquified, 20 seconds in microwave)
  • 3 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • dash salt

Method:

Add almonds to a food processor, and switch on to high, scraping / shaking down the sides periodically when mix climbs up.

At  about 7 minutes into processing, add 1/2 c. canola oil mix for 1 minute and turn off the processor. Add another 1/2 c. oil, the cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, vanilla and dash of salt. Continue to process, and drizzle in remaining 1/2 c. of oil slowly for another 7-8 minutes, or until mixture reaches desired creamy texture*.

*For an even creamier texture, continue to process and add oil until your ideal texture is achieved.

Lunch at Zuriick (the shoes not the city)

Lunch Party!

Shiso took over Zuriick shoe company for a hearty fall luncheon. The boys (and girl) had a great time munching Chili Lime Chicken Clubs and sipping on Chipotle Tomato Soup (with a cheddar crouton and fried sage!) while working on the latest designs of the most fashionable foot apparel out there.

Sharing is Caring

Check out the recipes from their lunch party, and also feel free to brows their wares while your at it!

Roasted Chipotle Tomato Soup