Recipe: Cassoulet for Home Cooks and Armchair Travelers (Lange Estate Winery)

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Lange Estate Winery  |  “Cassoulet for Home Cooks and Armchair Travelers”

Anyone who has indulged in Cassoulet will tell you that between the layers of duck fat and Armagnac sausages—confit duck legs and bone white Coco Tarbais beans—that there is pure magic. It is easily Gascony’s most celebrated dish, named after the deep earthenware vessel it cooks in, the cassolle, Cassoulet inhabits a romantic place in our imaginations alongside the avant-garde posters of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who hails from the region.

It has an enviable history, one that we will not attempt to reproduce here, but that can be read at leisure on Clifford A. Wright’s excellent blog post on the topic.

There is, of course, an origin story about the besieged village of Castelnaudary pooling its meager resources during wartime, and the region’s own reverence of the dish captured in a saying that translates as: “Cassoulet is the God of Occitan cuisine. A god in three persons: God, the father, is that of Castelnaudry. God the son is that of Carcassonne, and the Holy Spirit is that of Toulouse.”

Divine it is. The process—the complete process, involves preparing the confit of duck well in advance. The method involves cooking the legs at a low temperature for a long period of time, what we affectionately call “low and slow”, and then preserving the legs in the rendered fat. Prepared correctly, the legs will keep for weeks, or even over the winter. The method, as with many modes of food preservation, is one that allowed for long-term storage in a time before refrigeration. Fortunately, in the modern era, it’s possible to obtain confit duck legs from your local grocer or butcher, or from online retailers like D’Artagnan. Added bonus, D’Artagnan carries most of the specialty ingredients you’ll need.

Our goal, to faithfully reproduce the recipe, comes with the advice that one must check the cassoulet throughout the cooking process to ensure that it doesn’t dry out. Don’t be afraid to break through the crust to add more water if the beans are too dry. Preparing a proper bouquet garni is another step that’s worth the time and effort. One cannot help but feel a sense of reverence for the process, the assembly, and enjoyment of this dish. 

Typically, cassoulet is paired a sturdy, well-structured wine such as a Côtes-du-Rhône or a Languedoc red. We paired ours with an elegant and earthy Pinot Noir from our North Block. Our Freedom Hill Pinot Noir also has the structure, depth, and body to stand up to the rich flavors of this dish. Recipe adapted from Chef Ariane Daguin. 

Cassoulet for Home Cooks and Armchair Travelers

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs pounds French Coco Tarbais beans (cannellini are a fine substitute) rinsed and soaked in water overnight
  • 12 oz whole Ventrèche (French pancetta)
  • 1 medium-sized head of garlic peeled
  • 2 medium Spanish or yellow onions diced
  • 1 carrot chopped into 1′ pieces 
  • 1 Bouquet garni 5 parsley sprigs, 3 celery leaves, 2 thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, ten peppercorns, 3 cloves, and 3 juniper berries wrapped in cheesecloth and tied
  • 6 Duck legs confit
  • 1 lb pound Armagnac or Toulouse sausage cut into thirds
  • 1 lb French garlic sausage cut into 1/4″ pieces
  • 12 oz duck or veal demi-glace dissolved in 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup duck fat at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

Instructions

  1. Place beans in a large pot and cover them with water. Leave them to soak overnight at room temperature.

  2. Drain beans then add them to a large stock pot along with the ventrèche, garlic, carrots, and bouquet garni. Cover the mixture with 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are just tender, about 1 hour. 

  3. Drain the mixture and discard the bouquet garni. Remove ventrèche and cut it into 1/4-inch cubes and set it aside. Season beans with salt and pepper to taste. Set them aside.  

  4. Preheat oven to 325 °F. 

  5. In a medium skillet over high heat, sautée the Armagnac and French garlic sausages with a dollop of duck fat, until just browned. Remove from the pan, and set aside. 

  6. Use some of the duck fat to lightly grease a large dutch oven or casserole. Place half of the bean mixture in casserole. Add duck legs, browned sausages, and ventrèche, and rizzle with duck fat. Cover with the remaining bean mixture.  

  7. Stir tomato paste into demi-glace and water mixture, stir until its completely dissolved. Pour evenly over the beans, then add the remaining duck fat. 

  8. Bake until hot and bubbling, about 2 1/2 hours, checking occasionally, this step is critical, to make sure the beans don’t dry out. Add more water as needed.  

  9. Serve piping hot with a generous glass of wine!


Recipe: Wine Truffles (Natalie’s Estate)

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Natalie’s Estate  |  “Wine Truffles”

This is something that we make in the fall, though it is delicious any time of year. It is made with our Cabernet Sauvignon and pairs deliciously with a glass of this wine. We also love serving this at our Cellar Club events or any time decadent chocolate is required.

Wine Truffles

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (the quality of the chocolate is most important)
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup Natalie’s Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
  • cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. Coarsely chop chocolate and place into a medium sized bowl. 

  2. Bring cream to a simmer, add butter and stir until melted.

  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is melted. 

  4. Add the Natalie’s Estate Cabernet wine and stir until wine is incorporated.

  5. Pour into an 8x8 baking dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

  6. Use a metal cookie scoop to scoop out a truffle. Coat your hands in cocoa powder and gently roll the chocolate until it forms a ball. Roll in cocoa to coat. Keep refrigerated.


Recipe: Pan Fried Pacific Razor Clams (Brooks)

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Brooks  |  “Pan Fried Pacific Razor Clams”

This was a Perfect Pairing feature at Brooks. Chef Norma loves visiting the coast, and since people aren’t really traveling right now, she brought some of the coast to the valley! Suggested pairing: Brooks 2018 Ara Riesling. 

 

Pacific Pan Fried Razor Clams

Ingredients

  • 1 lb razor clams cleaned and dried
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1/2 cup clarified butter (ghee)
  • 1/4 cup whole butter
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 lb haricots verts (green beans) blanched
  • 2 cups celery root peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon olive oil

Instructions

  1. To make the celery root puree, first peel and chop it into a small dice, then add to a pot of boiling water. Cook until they are soft and then drain completely. Place in a blender with 2 tbsp whole butter, lemon olive oil and sherry vinegar, puree until smooth and set aside.

  2. For the haricots verts, place the remaining 2 tbsp of butter into a saute pan along with the garlic and gently cook for up to a minute. Add the beans and season with salt.

  3. When you're ready to cook the clams first make sure they are dry (I use a paper towel to pat them off) then in a bowl mix together the flour, salt and pepper, coat the razor clams in the flour mixture, remembering to shake off excess flour, and gently place in a hot saute pan with the clarified butter. Cook on each side for 30 seconds, remove from heat and top them with the fresh lemon juice.

  4. When you're ready to eat make sure to put the puree on the bottom of your plate, this makes for a great sauce for the clams, add your haricots verts and finish with the razor clams. Enjoy!


Recipe: Earl Grey Tea Cake with Buttercream Frosting (Lange Estate Winery)

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Lange Estate Winery  |  “Earl Grey Tea Cake with Buttercream Frosting”

Recently our Hospitality Director, Ali, and her husband, Francisco, tied the knot. The pair hosted a small, physically distanced reception. To celebrate the occasion, our team decided to bake them a cake.

As office mates, we know that Ali’s favorite tea is a double bergamot Earl Grey, so the search commenced for the perfect Earl Grey tea cake recipe. This recipe is an adaption of a few we perused—after baking a test cake, we decided to amp up the Earl Grey to really concentrate its floral and citrus flavors throughout this rather dense, buttery dessert.

The recipe can be readily adapted to make the perfect afternoon tea cake. At its simplest, it can be baked in a bundt pan and finished with a light dusting of powdered sugar. To add moisture, and even more flavor infuse it with a simple syrup. Or, go all out and slather it (judiciously!) with a decadent vanilla bean buttercream frosting.

For Ali’s cake, we tripled the recipe and used tiered 3″, 8″, and 10″ springform pans lined in parchment paper. We sliced each cake round in half, which gave us a total of six layers. The cake is frosted sparingly—the fashionable term you’ll see for this method is a “naked” cake. Ours turned out to be more of a semi-naked cake. Successfully executing this kind of half-dressed styling takes research and patience, though we found several YouTube videos that do an excellent job explaining the technique. You’ll need a pastry bag, a sturdy icing spatula, and bench scraper to achieve the look.

To make the occasion truly festive, serve with a glittery flute of our Mia Mousseux Brut Rosé!

Earl Grey Tea Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

For the Milk Infusion

  • 1 1/2 сups whole milk
  • 2-3 bags double bergamot Earl Grey tea

For the Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp loose Double Bergamot Earl Grey tea finely ground
  • 3/4 tbsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup Earl Grey–infused milk, cooled

For the Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar sifted
  • 2 tbsp milk

For the Earl Grey Syrup (optional)

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 bags Double Bergamot Earl Grey tea
  • 2 tbsp whole milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°

    Bring milk and tea bags to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and steep for ten minutes. 

  2. Grease and flour two 9″ cake rounds (for a single cake) and line with parchment paper.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, tea, and salt until combined. Set aside.

  4. With a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy, around 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed and add the eggs one at a time, and mix until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla bean paste. Alternate adding flour mixture and Earl Grey-infused milk, and mix until just incorporated. 

  5. Evenly distribute the mixture between the two cake rounds and bake each round for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the rounds on a wire rack to cool, then turn them out onto wire rack. Allowing cakes to cool completely before icing them is key. 

  6. For the optional simple syrup, place sugar, water, and tea bags into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer 5 minutes, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and steep for 5 minutes, then discard the tea bags and cool it completely. 

  7. For the frosting, cream the butter with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Incorporate the vanilla bean paste. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated. Add the milk and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes. 

  8. To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with approximately 2/3 cup of buttercream frosting and spread evenly. Repeat with remaining layer. Use an icing spatula to and smooth frost the outside of the cake. Use a bench scraper to remove excess the frosting. To make the occasion truly festive, serve with a glittery flute of our Mia Mousseux Brut Rosé!


Recipe: Lemon Verbena Sausage with Hazelnut Romesco (Soter Vineyards)

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This was paired with Soter’s 2017 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir at their 2019 Fall Wine Club Release party. 

Learn more about Soter Vineyards

 

Lemon Verbena Sausage with Hazelnut Romesco

Chef Sara Hauman, Soter Vineyards

Ingredients

Lemon Verbena Sausage

  • 1 lb ground pork 60% lean preferred
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon verbena chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • zest of one lemon

Hazelnut Romesco

  • 3.5 oz dried espelette peppers de-seeded and rehydrated in warm water
  • 4 oz roasted hazelnuts
  • 8 oz roasted sweet peppers
  • 8 oz tomatoes peeled
  • 2 tbsp garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt

Instructions

Lemon Verbena Sausage

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl making sure to really work the sausage and form an emulsification between the fat and protein. Form into patties or use a sausage stuffer and hog casings to stuff the sausage. Make sure the sausage is cooked thoroughly to 160F.

Hazelnut Romesco

  1. Blend the rehydrated peppers with water until a thick paste forms. Roast the peeled tomatoes in the oven on high until they begin dried out and slightly charred. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process on high for a few minutes until the mixture is not completely smooth, but is thick. Season with salt as desired. This sauce is best when allowed to rest in the refrigerator overnight.


Recipe: Slow-Cooker Short Ribs (Sweet Cheeks)

Harvest Recipes

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SWEET CHEEKS WINERY – “SLOW-COOKER SHORT RIBS”

This is the best meal you could possibly wish for after a long day of harvest. Best enjoyed once the weather starts to turn to 50- to 60-degree days, with maybe a little drizzle outside. We make this annually for the harvest crew—I can put everything together at once, and once my day gets going it’s hard to break away and think about cooking a big meal for the harvest crew. This one is amazing because of the slow-cooker aspect.

Pair this with Tempranillo. 

– Jessica Thomas, General Manager

 

Slow-Cooker Short Ribs

Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs beef short ribs
  • 2.5 cups onion diced
  • 2 tsp garlic diced
  • 1 cup Tempranillo or red wine of your choice
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle all sides of the short ribs with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat a pan over medium-high heat, sear all sides of the short ribs.

  3. Place the garlic in your pan for 20 seconds, toss the onions in the pan.

  4. Let the onions and garlic soften for 2-3 minutes.

  5. Place the onions and garlic on the short ribs.

  6. In a bowl, whisk the wine, ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Pour on top of the short ribs.

  7. Place the sprigs of thyme on top.

  8. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. When you get home, remove the stems of the thyme, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy. This goes really well with creamy garlic and Parmesan mashed potatoes and pan seared kale. You could also cook this in an Instapot.


Recipe: Moroccan Chickpeas with Chard (Boedecker Cellars)

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 Boedecker Cellars – “Moroccan Chickpeas with Chard”

It used to be that a hearty beef stew, spaghetti and meatballs and Halloween candy were all we ate at Harvest. But health awareness and dietary restrictions have changed our outlook and I started providing the crew hard boiled eggs (plus donuts) and healthy, flavorful dishes vegetarian that keep everyone’s energy up so we can work with smiles during the long days and nights of harvest.

Pair this with a crisp white: Boedecker Cellars Pinot blanc or Chardonnay.

Moroccan Chickpeas with Chard

Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Spanish onions chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper seeded if desired, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger root
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bulb fennel diced (save fronds for garnish)
  • 1 large bunch swiss chard stems sliced 1/2-inch thick, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 turnip peeled and diced
  • 1 lb dried chickpeas soaked overnight in water to cover or quick-soaked (see note)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped preserved lemon to taste
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped (more for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat. Add onion and jalapeño and sauté until limp, 3 minutes. 

  2. Add garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper and cayenne and sauté until they release their fragrance, about 2 minutes. 

  3. Add tomato paste and sauté for another minute, until darkened but not burned. (If tomato paste looks too dark too quickly, lower heat.) Add fennel, chard stems, carrot and turnip and continue to sauté until vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes.

  4.  Add chickpeas and water to barely cover. Return heat to high if you lowered it and bring to a simmer. Partly cover pot, lower heat to medium low, and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until chickpeas are softened. Add more water if needed (this should be like a stew). 

  5. Add chard leaves, apricots and preserved lemon to pot and continue simmering until chard is tender, about 5 minutes longer. 

  6. Season with more salt if desired, and serve garnished with cilantro and reserved fennel fronds. 

    Note: To quick-soak chickpeas, bring them to a boil in water to cover by 1 inch. Turn off the heat and let soak for 1 hour. Drain.


Recipe: Chef Alex Daley’s Consommé (Soter Vineyards)

Harvest Recipes

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Soter Vineyards – “chef alex daley’s Consommé”

This recipe never fails us as an elegant first course, or with a loaf of crusty bread for a harvest lunch. Made with a medley of roasted meat bones and clarified through a traditional technique, this broth is crystal clear and layered with flavor.

We pair this with our 2016 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir. The earthy, umami flavors in the soup serve to highlight the pure, focused red fruits that dominate this wine.

Chef Alex Daley's Consommé

Ingredients

  • 4 cups meat stock (we prefer a roasted bone stock for richer flavor)
  • 1 lb lean chicken ground
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 rib celery chopped
  • clove garlic
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • red wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, blend together all ingredients (except the stock) until a paste forms. 

  2. Add cold stock and meat mixture to a large stock pot. Set over medium heat and stir only for the first couple of minutes to incorporate the meat into the stock. Do not stir again. 

  3. As the stock heats, the meat and vegetables will rise to the top and form a ‘raft’ of solids. Slowly simmer the stock (DO NOT BOIL!) and, using a ladle, break a hole in the middle of the raft and carefully ladle the broth over the solids. 

  4. After 1 hour, strain the broth through a double layer of cheese cloth. Do not pour the stock, but rather ladle it through the cloth slowly so you don’t break up the solids. Season your broth with red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and enjoy!