I normally like my white wines dry and crisp, but with a spicy Asian inspired dish, there’s nothing better than an off-dry white wine. This week I want to introduce you to Sokol Blosser‘s Evolution White, a delicious blend of 7 different varieties that is absolutely perfect for that purpose.
Hailing from the Dundee Hills in Oregon, Sokol Blosser was founded by Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser in 1971. (Side note: this is also the year of my birth. Happy coincidence?) Today the winery is capably run by their children, Alex and Alison Sokol Blosser. While Sokol Blosser, and indeed the Dundee Hills themselves, are famous for its Pinot Noir, don’t overlook their other varieties, particularly this white blend. The high elevation and warmer temperatures of the area, combined with the iron-rich and fertile soil of the Dundee Hills, make for perfect growing conditions.
The 17th edition of the Evolution White is an inspired blend of Muller-Thurgau, Riesling, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and Chardonnay. An unusual combination for sure, yet a superb result. The palest of yellows in color, on the nose it is overwhelmingly floral and tastes of tropical fruit with a crisp bite of citrus flavors to temper the sweetness so typical of Riesling and Gewurztraminer. The finish is soft, lush, and oh so perfect with a spicy Asian dish.
I absolutely love this wine with my Sriracha Chicken and Asparagus Rice Bowl. The Evolution White enhances the spicy sriracha while the sriracha brings out the lush, tropical flavors of the wine. It is truly a match made in heaven!
Sometimes meals need to be simple. I like to have a repertoire of easy, go-to meals that I can throw together quickly on those nights when time is short in between work and whatever other activity I have going on. This recipe is one of those.
I love spicy sriracha sauce, especially on Asian dishes. For this dish, I used sriracha as the foundation for the marinade that I used on lean, boneless, skinless chicken breast. While the chicken needs to sit in the marinade for about 20 minutes to really absorb the flavor, sometimes I start the marinating process in the morning before I leave for work, or even the night before, to save even more time after a busy day at work.
Once the chicken is marinated, all that is left to do is sauté up the asparagus, add in the marinated chicken, and then finish the dish off with some sliced green onions and cilantro. I like to serve this over a quick cooking brown basmati rice which has a great nutty flavor. All in all, excluding the marinating process, the entire dish takes less than 20 minutes to prep and cook, making it a perfect add to my repertoire of weeknight meals. The fact that it’s lean and healthy is an extra bonus.
What’s your favorite go-to dinner recipe for those busy weeknights?
Here’s the lesson of the week: never pack your laptop in checked luggage.
It all started with a trip to beautiful Napa, California. I go there every other month to visit my aging grandmother, which is not exactly a hardship for a food and wine lover such as myself. On this trip, my cousin and her husband from my mother’s side of the family were also there on holiday and so we met up to tour some wineries and taste some delicious wine.
Beaulieu Vineyards has beautiful big cabs.
I wasn’t impressed with the wine at Heitz Wine Cellars but their back patio was beautiful.
The back patio at Heitz Wine Cellars was topped by a pergola covered in a gorgeous blooming wisteria.
I loved the dogwood off to the side of the patio at Heitz Wine Cellars. The dogwood is my favorite flowering spring tree, especially fitting for Easter. Do you know the story of the dogwood?
Benches surround a firepit on the patio of Heitz Wine Cellars, looking out over the miles of vineyards coming into bloom.
Our final stop for the day was Sterling Vineyards, which makes a decent budget cab. Here you ride a tram to the winery high above the valley.
Once at the winery, you wander from terrace to terrace, stopping at different tasting stations, and appreciating the view down St Helena Highway in the Napa valley.
Of course as a result of these excursions I came home with some wine, as well as some delicious, high quality balsamic vinegar from Olivier. I packed these carefully into my carry-on, which means that I had to check my bag as the liquids would never make it past security. With a severe case of Sunday lazies after a busy weekend with my family, I decided to squeeze my laptop into my carry-on as well. I just didn’t feel like toting it around.
Can you guess what happened? Somewhere in between being squished in my luggage and being thrown around by the baggage handlers when I checked it, the screen was damaged. When I turn my laptop on, I see only a series of rapidly flashing streaks of color.
All of this is my way of explaining to you why you haven’t heard from me in a while. I was fully ready to share this recipe for Slow Cooker Parmesan Bean and Spinach Soup with you last weekend, only to discover my laptop was not cooperating. While it is almost 4 years old and I could certainly use an upgrade, for now I’ve connected it up to a monitor that I picked up on the cheap at Goodwill and am making do.
Leftover parmesan rinds become the base for a delicious soup.
I suppose this soup is a way of making do as well. I mean, what do you do with leftover parmesan cheese rinds except throw them away? I always thought that is such a shame, after all a good block of parmesano reggiano is so good and there’s so much flavor still left in that hard rind. So I decided to use the rinds as a base for a soup, injecting a unique flavor into the broth without all of the heavy calories of actual cheese.
I added some cannellini beans, onion, sundried tomatoes and herbs to round out the flavors and give the soup some bulk. Then at the end I throw in some fresh baby spinach for a pretty pop of color and additional nutritional value. With a hunk of crusty bread for dunking, it’s a deliciously easy dinner.
Place the parmesan cheese rinds at the bottom of a slow cooker pot.
Add in the cannellini beans, onion, sundried tomatoes, broth, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, red chile pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.
Stir, cover and cook in the slow cooker for 8 hours.
Remove the parmesan rinds and bay leaf from the soup.
Stir in the baby spinach leaves, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
I love to use dried beans because they are so much cheaper and healthier than their canned counterparts. Simply cover these dried cannellini beans in 6 cups of water, bring it to a boil then simmer on medium for about 45 minutes until tender. Drain, rinse and they are ready to use!
Today I want to introduce you to the Albariño grape variety. While not many Americans have tried this scrumptious white wine, it is as popular a variety with the Spanish as Pinot Grigio is for Italians. Predominantly grown in the Galicia area on the northern coast of Spain, this is my favorite wine to pair with seafood. Crisp and dry with mineral undertones and a light citrus finish, it is best served very, very chilled. What could be better on a warm summer day?
Martin Códax Rías Baixas Albariño 2011
This Martin Códax Rías Baixas Albariño 2011 is an outstanding example of the variety with its pale yellow straw color, aromas of herbs, apple and citrus, and notes of crisp lemon on the palate. Bodegas Martín Códax was founded in 1986 in the southwest of Galicia and is named after a famous Galician troubadour whose medieval poems, the oldest of Galician-Portuguese language, have been preserved. In the poems, the troubadour sings of love and of the sea of the Galician coastline. Who wouldn’t want to drink a wine named after such a man?
The grapes are harvested from vineyards owned by a collective of 300 local families and farmed using sustainable practices. The vineyards are located near the coast which means the soil is very sandy and mineral, lending a salty quality to the wine. Wines are fermented in stainless steel, giving the whites their clean, crisp finish with no tell-tale notes of oak.
I especially love this wine with my Halibut and Asparagus with White Wine and Herbs en Papillote, I use it both in the recipe as well as to accompany the dish. The crisp lemon notes complement the dish perfectly. I can’t wait for summer to heat up here in the Pacific Northwest so that I can try this with some fish on the grill.
Spring is in the air and the winds of change are blowing through my life.
First, I offer you a halibut recipe. That may seem fairly tame, but what if I told you that I have never been a fan of halibut? And what if I told you that as I experimented with different varieties of fish for this recipe, I simply fell in love in with this dense, flaky, buttery fish?
Fresh halibut filet nestles atop tender spring asparagus and thin slices of lemon then is dressed with fresh thyme, salt, pepper and white wine.
Well I did. Halibut is not cheap, but for a special meal for 2 people this recipe hits the spot. I simply toss some fresh spring asparagus with a little olive oil then top it with some lemon slices, halibut fillet, salt and pepper, fresh thyme, and white wine. When baked in paper French style, the wine, lemon and thyme combine to create a sauce that steams the halibut to scrumptious perfection.
The white wine, lemon and thyme combine to form a delicious sauce in the packet.
Learning to love halibut was not the only change in my life this week, though. I took the unprecedented step of changing my Facebook status from “Single” to “In a Relationship” this week. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but what if I told you that is the first time ever in my singleton life that I’ve done that? I’ve been wrestling with the idea for a couple of weeks, going to that profile page and hovering my mouse over the edit button then chickening out and going back to what I was doing. But this week I finally screwed up the courage and did it.
I think this was a daunting change for me because it is such a public declaration of how I feel about a certain someone. And the thought of that relationship ending and having to change my relationship status back is even more terrifying to me. Again, because it is so public to my family and friends.
Trusting myself and my own feelings has been the biggest challenge for me in this relationship. I thought I loved someone (my ex-husband) before and that did not turn out so well for me. While that marriage left me with two beautiful children – whom I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world – that relationship of verbal, emotional and physical abuse left me with severe self-esteem and trust issues that I still carry around.
I introduced you to my new guy about 6 weeks ago, we’ve known each other for a long time but just reconnected in January. When he first told me how amazing I am and how in love he is with me, my first reaction was one of skepticism. How could he possibly love me? Doesn’t he see all my flaws? Then as I’ve worked past that self-doubt into acceptance, I’ve found myself questioning my own feelings. Is this really love that I’m feeling? Or is it just lust? I confused the two before and it’s difficult for me to trust what I’m feeling.
I’m still not completely sorted out. I can tell you that I love how he makes me feel and the picture of a future together that he paints for me is thrilling. So perhaps updating my Facebook status – publicly declaring my commitment to my family and friends – is the first step in learning to trust myself again.
Next step? Introducing him to my children.
Life is never boring, is it?
Halibut and Asparagus with White Wine and Herbs en Papillote
Flaky fresh halibut and tender spring asparagus are baked French style in paper with dry white wine and thyme for an effortless, healthy meal that will leave you wondering how such good food can be good for you too.
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-3" pieces
2 tsp olive oil
1 lemon, thinly sliced
½ lb. raw, fresh halibut filet
¼ tsp coarse sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbsp dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Lay out 2 pieces of parchment paper 20" in length. Fold down the center of the width of each, creasing it hard with your index finger.
Divide the asparagus pieces into two halves and lay each half on each piece of parchment paper next to the crease. Toss each with 1 tsp of olive oil.
Top each pile of asparagus with lemon slices.
Divide the halibut into two halves and lay one half over each packet on the top of the lemon slices. Season the halibut with a bit of salt and pepper.
Lay 2-3 sprigs of thyme over the top of each halibut piece and drizzle each with 1 tbsp dry white wine.
Fold the paper over and, starting with the longest edge, fold the edges together, tightly creasing them to ensure a good seal. Place the packet on a baking sheet and bake at 400F for 10 minutes per 1" of thickness of the halibut filet.
Carefully cut open the packet and serve immediately.
I highly recommend a Spanish Albariño wine both in and accompanying this recipe.
This week I’m really pleased to feature a small-batch, artisan wine producer that is from my own backyard, Portland. ENSO Winery was co-founded by winemaker Ryan Sharp, who began at Arcane Cellars and started in the other co-founder’s, Chris Wishart’s, garage. Today, grapes are sourced from Washington, Oregon, and California then brought to ENSO’s new urban winery in the heart of hip southeast Portland where you can sample and buy bottles at your leisure.
The Resonate Red #9 is a full-bodied red table wine that is a Rhone style blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Primitivo. Grapes are sourced from the renowned Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington state, famous for its big cabs. Aged in French oak, the Resonate Red #9 has rich dark red and black fruit flavors, such as raspberry and currant, with a hint of cocoa and a silky finish.
A bold wine like this is perfect with hearty meat dishes, such as my Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Tenderloin and Bean Stew. The flavors of smoky molasses, sweet honey, spicy pepper and tender juicy pork tenderloin play well against the big, rich flavor of the ENSO Resonate Red #9. I can’t wait to try it with my first summer barbecue as well.
With only 370 cases produced and a budget-minded price of about $16/bottle, these beauties will go fast. So pick some up today!