Food and wine pairing: Swiss Steak

February 27th, 2020

By Alisa Star

What says comfort food like Swiss Steak. This recipe is great for the month of March. It’s easy, delicious, and will put a smile on your face and bring you right back to being in your mother’s kitchen for some good old home cooking.

This savory dish pairs perfectly with red or white wine. Either one will complement the flavors of round steak, sauteed onions and bell peppers. For the white wine I would pair a partially oaked dry Chardonnay, such as Kendall Jackson, or Dönnhoff riesling would go well also. If you’re a red wine drinker you want something earthy and acidic. A good Barbaresco will pair excellent with this dish such as Rabaja, or Bruno Giacosa. Enjoy!

2 pounds bottom round steak
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
¾ cup flour
¼ cup bacon drippings
1 large onion thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
1 bell pepper thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 1/2 cup beef broth

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Cut meat to ½ inch slices and salt and pepper both sides. Tenderize the meat with a mallet, until each slice is ¼ in thick. Place flour into a pie pan. Dredge both sides of the meat with the flour mixture.

Add the bacon drippings to just cover the bottom of 4-5 qt dutch oven, place over medium-high heat. Once oil begins to shimmer, add the steaks to the pan, cook until golden brown. Continue to do this until all pieces are browned.

After removing all steaks, add to drippings the sliced onions, bell peppers, and celery. Saute 3 minutes, add garlic and tomato paste, stir well together to combine mixture. Next add the tomatoes, paprika, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth. Stir to combine. Return the meat to the pan, submerge the meat slices down in the mixture. Cover the pot with the lid and place in the oven and cook for 2 hrs, or until meat is tender to fork.

Valentine’s Day Dinner

February 1st, 2020

By Alisa Star

AMORE… love is in the air! It’s a day where people all over the world celebrate love. It’s a day to show affection and friendship and celebrate over a romantic dinner together. We often splurge over that expensive meal with the one we love, making reservations at the most romantic restaurant around the town.

This Valentine’s Day treat you and your loved one to the perfect romantic candlelight dinner for two at home, with this mouthwatering recipe and decadent wine pairing meal. With a few key ingredients and some simple steps, you will be finding yourself creating the perfect Valentine dinner.

Nothing says LOVE like homemade spaghetti and meatballs. Everything about it is romantic, even where the recipe originated — Italy. To make this decadent rich sauce is a bit time consuming, to slow simmer it for hours is the key to a delicious mouthwatering sauce, the longer it simmers, the more the flavors bloom into pure bliss.

For the meatballs:
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 egg
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

For the sauce:
1 tbsp good olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 cans plum tomato puree
1/2 cup good red wine such as Chianti
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped basil
1 tsp fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

1 — Combine ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper, and egg in a bowel. Combine lightly with a fork, make sure to mix all the ingredients together well. Using your hands form the fixture into 2-3 inch meatballs. You should have enough for 12-14 meatballs.
2 — Pour vegetable oil into skillet to a depth of about 1/4 inch deep, heat oil to a medium heat. Place meatballs in batches and brown on all sides, turning carefully with a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. (If you don’t want to fry the meatballs, you can bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes). Set aside. Discard oil, but don’t clean pan.
3 — For the sauce, heat olive oil in the same pan. Add onions and saute over medium heat until they are translucent, 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the wine and cook on high heat, stir and scrape bottom of pan until the liquid evaporates; this takes about 3 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, and the puree, and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Add parsley, basil, and thyme salt and pepper. Simmer for another hour.
4- Return meatballs to sauce, cover on low heat, simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over cooked spaghetti, grate fresh parmesan over top. Place basil leaves over top of meatballs for garnish.

South American and Californian wines like cabernet Sauvigon, merlot and malbec all go well with spaghetti and meatballs. Tomato based sauces have high acidity, and need wines with equal or higher acidity levels to match them. If you like a sweeter wine I would go with a malbec, Kaiken Ultra Malbec is a great choice. If you like a bolder flavor with more tannins, go with a good Cabernet, Caymus cab is good, or 2018 Prisoner cab will pair just as equal. If you’re a merlot lover, try Duckhorn Vineyard Merlot, it’s quite popular, and will pair great with red sauce.

Steak au Poivre with Sauteed Asparagus

December 31st, 2019

 By Alisa Star

Classic steak au Poivre is a simple dish of seared peppercorn-crusted steaks with a creamy butter pan sauce. The secret is to start by encrusting  the steak on only one side. Pre-salting the steaks will allow the surface of the meat to dry out allowing the peppercorns to stick.

Pairing this easy elegant meal with a rich full bodied red is a given. Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet 2015. It has an exciting nose of maraschino cherries, blackberry bramble and brisket with notes of clove and star anise. This wine has a fruity mid-palate of current with toasted vanilla and roasted brown sugar from American oak barrels. (Bonanza Cabernet is a great substitute. It mirrors Caymus).

  • 4 (6-8 oz) boneless steak medallions, such as filet mignon
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Salt steaks first, let dry for 15 minutes. Meanwhile crack peppercorns into rough halves with a pepper grinder, or a mortar and pestle. Spread peppercorns evenly over only one side  top of each firmly so the peppercorn imbeds the medallion.In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add steaks, peppercorn side down, and cook until peppercorns are well toasted, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn steaks, trying not to break the crust. Add butter thyme and garlic and cook, coating the steaks with a spoon as they cook in the sauce, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, and check the internal temperature of the steaks. Medium rare will be 125F; if you want your steak medium you can continue to cook to 145F. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet, discard the thyme and garlic, add shallots and more crushed peppercorn, continue cooking over medium heat, until shallots are tender. Add brandy, cook until the smell of the alcohol goes away, add chicken stock and simmer, about 2 minutes. Whisk in heavy cream until sauce has reduced enough to glaze a spoon. Add mustard, and season with salt. Pour sauce over the tops of the steaks.  Coat asparagus with olive oil, lemon, salt and crushed garlic. Saute in pan for 8 minutes.

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