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Shrimp Pad Thai

13 May

Become an expert on Pad Thai. Tricks from a true Thai on how to create this authentic dish at home.

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Daily Dose 4/18/11

18 Apr

Herb Heaven: In an effort to eat more vegetables and sacrifice my old habits of producing lunches full of preservatives (ie deli meat), I created this vinaigrette which can be applied to roasted vegetables at dinner or as the dressing for a zesty bean salad in your lunch sack. Keeping in sync with this all natural way of thinking, I even bought the beans in a bag rather than a can… soaked and cooked them myself!

Cilantro vinaigrette

  • 2 cups cilantro
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 lemon squeezed
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp honey
Simple processs: In a blender, puree the ingredients.
Option 1: Serve over grilled vegetables: red bell pepper, zucchini, yellow squash.

Option 2: Use as the base for a bean salad. Dressing, feta, chopped tomato and bell pepper, minced shallot, white cannellini beans
Wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Similar acidity to balance out the vinegar and lemon, grassy qualities that will match the cilantro.

Tropical Spring Salad

23 Mar

Salads don’t have to just be dinner for dieters… a hearty, healthy, balanced concoction that won’t leave you hungry again at midnight. Tropical fruits are in season and I’m keepin it fresh with this meal.

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“Corner Bistro” Inspired Crab Cake Portobello Sandwich & Sauv Blanc

3 Aug

Sometime in the last few years, Food Network launched a TV show called “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef”. Since the show began I have thought this idea was brilliant. We all go out to restaurants and pay three times more than it costs to make the dish. When the entree arrives we hope for it to be much  more inventive, interesting, and delicious than we could make ourselves. The idea behind the show is to give the consumer confidence to make these meals at home. Well congrats Anne Burrell, you’re show has inspired me. Every time I eat out, I try to pick an item off the menu that is completely different than anything I have ever had. Once I’ve committed, I read all of the ingredients and description listed on the menu. If the server seems knowledgeable, I will even go as far as asking about the process. This past weekend, we ate out at a cafe in Haddonfield, NJ called Corner Bistro. They specialized in the usual lunch fare… sandwiches, salads, and soups. As I looked up and down the menu I saw the traditional items like an Italian panini, French dip, and tuna salad sandwich. Off to the bottom left I saw a few specialty items. I generally am the most indecisive of the party at a restaurant; however, when I saw the crab cake on ciabatta with grilled portobello and a honey balsamic reduction, I started to salivate immediately. This sandwich truly was as delicious as it sounds. With each bite, I concentrated on the flavors so that I could make it at home a few days later. Tonight, I am revealing the secrets of the Corner Bistro Restaurant. Made completely from my memory and with an added Kristen spice, enjoy! See below wine pairing for recipe. This will be the first of four white fish recipes. After my beef kick in July, white fish is on the horizon!

Luckily, when I made this dish, I had three open white wine bottles in the refrigerator. Although it may seem as though we are alcoholics, it’s summer time and I am a wine rep that samples as many as ten wines a day for restaurants and stores. When considering a wine to pair with the crab cake sandwich, I considered the distinct flavors that should be highlighted in the wine. After sampling a grassy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, an acidic and citrus focused Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, and a slightly oaky Chilean Chardonnay, we arrived at a preferable glass to pair with this white fish concoction. Rayun Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley in Chile is a perfect accompaniment. The wine has a nice citrus focus which outlines the lemon in the crab cake and has a nice acidity for the white fish. I love how this wine is not too complicated, making it a wonderful wine with food. I always think the wine should accent the food and not overpower it. Also, the lump crab tends to be pricey so the Chilean wine will save your pocket a bit. This wine retails below $10 a bottle.

Crab Cake Portobello Sandwich on Ciabattta with a Balsamic Honey Reduction

For the crab cakes:
1/2 green bell pepper chopped finely
– 1/3 red onion chopped finely
– 1 jalapeno minced(optional)
– 1 lb lump crab meat
– 1 cup panko bread crumbs
– 2 tbsp mayo
– 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
– 1 egg
– 2 tsp Worcestershire
– 1 lemon squeezed
– salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder
– Sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme minced(optional and can be substituted for other fresh herbs of choice)
– flour for dusting
– 1/2 cup peanut oil

For the sandwich
– crab cake
– ciabatta roll
– grilled portobello mushroom
– sliced cheese like sharp white cheddar or sharp provolone
– balsamic and honey reduction

Start with a saute of the bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno in oil over medium heat. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Cook mushroom over medium heat with lid on and flip once, about 10 minutes total, set aside. Meanwhile, in a smaller saucepan, simmer 1 cup balsamic and 1/4 cup honey over low heat. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for crab cake and make into patties like a burger. Dust a plate with flour and the tops of the patties. Heat pan with peanut oil on high heat. Add crab cakes when the oil is hot and cook on each side for a few minutes until desired crispness. Add sliced cheese to top of crab cake once removed from pan. Slice mushroom and layer on bottom of ciabatta. Lay crab cake on top of portobella and drizzle the reduction over top. Enjoy!

Recommended side: Sweet Potato wedges. Heat punctured sweet potato in microwave for 2-4 minutes. Slice into wedges, lay in pan with olive oil and garlic salt. Bake at 400 degrees until softened in middle with crispy edges. 20-40 minutes.

Restaurant Style Salmon, Risotto & White Wine

12 Jul

Ever go to a fancy restaurant, order the salmon, and it comes with this rich, creamy, savory sauce on top? Most of us probably can’t afford to go out and get dishes like that all the time. It always seems that those types of places are the ones right on the beach or on the 15th floor overlooking a big city. With wine, appetizers, dessert, ambiance… that’s easily a $200+ night for two. I decided to try to make this gourmet style experience at home.
Let’s start with the wine. This meal fortunately would be a wonderful dinner to make any time of the year. If you are preparing this salmon in the summer, I highly recommend a light white wine with a citrus backbone. Ever heard of Pedro Ximenez? Yes that is the grape varietal name and is also known as PX. It is mostly planted in Spain and used in Sherry; however, Chile has started creating their own style in the Elqui Valley. This acidic style white wine has notes of lemon and lime which really bring out the zest I put into the dish below. Considering this varietal may be hard to find, a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc would be just as refreshing. If you are preparing this meal in the winter, I suggest a buttery Chardonnay since that wine carries a little more meat on its bones than a lighter summer white wine.
Recommended wines: Cucao PX, Quintay Clava Sauvignon Blanc,
Landmark Overlook Chardonnay
After pouring yourself and guest(s) a splash of white wine, you are ready to begin the at-home gourmet dining experience. This dish definitely calls for quite a few ingredients but I feel that each one adds that extra touch needed. For instance, lemon zest. The zest captures the citrus flavor in tiny compacted particles that burst in your mouth when eating. The capers create a salty sensation. Shallots are a more subtle way to add flavor rather than the harsh bite a regular onion can give. Let’s face it, butter and cream are fatty but sometimes there really just isn’t a better alternative. Less can be more with these ingredients and a healthier option too. I have included side dishes as well. I find zucchini to be a hearty vegetable that sautes nicely and soaks up excess sauce. Risotto has a slightly creamy texture and pairs great with the salmon. I have attached a photo; however, I became a bit too antsy to eat after slaving away in the kitchen for 45 minutes and may have taken a few nibbles off the plate.
Salmon with a Creamy Caper Sauce
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • white wine
  • heavy cream
  • clam sauce or fish stock
  • lemon juice and zest
  • 1 shallots chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • capers
  • chives (chopped green onion)
  • chopped italian parsley

Salt and pepper both sides of salmon. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in saute pan over medium heat. Cook salmon for about 5 minutes on each side. To cook thoroughly, cover with lid between flipping. Avoid flipping more than once to keep from getting dry. Set aside salmon and cover to keep warm. In the meantime cook risotto and saute vegetables.

Heat 1-2 tbsp. of butter in same pan salmon was cooked in. Reduce heat to medium low. Add shallots and garlic. Saute for a few minutes and then add 3/4 cup white wine. Add 1 tbsp of lemon zest. Cook off most of wine and add 1/3 cup clam juice or fish stock. Add juice of one lemon. Add about 1/2 cup cream. Add more liquids as preferred. Work in 2 tbsp capers. Simmer sauce for about 5-10 minutes and add final touches of chives and chopped parsley. Pour sauce over salmon and serve.


  • 1 green and 1 yellow zucchini julienned ( long thin slices)
  • excess chopped shallots from above
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Saute in pan with olive oil over medium high heat for about 10 minutes. I like them slightly crunchy with grill marks. With this dish, simple is best since the salmon has so many flavors.


Many grocery stores with specialty aisles, carry boxed risotto. In that case pick out one that suits your flavor profile. I like the mushroom with herb or Parmesan. Cook as directed and add Parmesan and lemon zest on top. If your local store does not carry these items follow directions below.

  • 1 pot prepared white rice
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • parmesan cheese
  • lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • excess chopped parsley and minced garlic from above.

Combine broth and prepared rice and cook off. Add all other ingredients and serve.

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