Tag Archives: Dinner

Tolosa Winemaker Dinner

Last night about 50 lucky diners were treated to a gourmet feast at the Tolosa Winemaker Dinner at Fab’s in Sherman Oaks, created by guest chef Rico Mandel. Fab’s is the neighborhood restaurant frequented by my “wineaux” friends  for dinner and our monthly wine tastings. And while there were many more guests at this event, it still felt comfortable and intimate as friends and family of Chef Rico gathered to begin the feast.


After a glass of perfectly chilled Proseco at the bar, we took our seats, and our gracious hostess, Amelia Yokel, promptly poured us a glass of Tolosa 2009 Oaked Chardonnay. The “oohs” and “aahs” were immediately audible as the amuse bouche was set before us as well. The roasted peach slices with fresh fig, pancetta lardons and treviso was a work of art and a fantastic combination of textures and flavors.


The next course reflected the bounty of the summer season combining lobster, heirloom tomato and watermelon slices with dill, hazelnuts and a drizzle of truffle oil. This course was paired with Tolosa 2010 No Oak Chardonnay, and each served to elevate the other.


After Amelia poured our first red of the evening, the Tolosa  2009 Pinot Noir, our first entreé arrived. Prosciutto wrapped chicken roulade stuffed with sundried tomatoes and greens, with asparagus and sage cream sauce. Have you ever seen a table full of adults pick up their plates and lick them clean? Well somehow we managed to maintain some level of decorum, but that sauce was “crazy delicious”!


As we recovered from this buttery indulgence, Amelia came by with the first of two Syrahs we would be enjoying with the meat course, Tolosa 2009 Syrah. Winemaker, Larry Brooks, explained to us that the fruit for this wine and the second Syrah, 2007 “1772” Reserve Syrah, are from the same vineyard, but some vintages produce fruit that is so special it winds up in the “1772”. Indeed I did prefer the raisin-y, earthier flavors of the “1772” with the venison chop with baby artichoke hearts, chanterelles, summer squash and Hibiscus sauce, but both syrahs were lovely.


Dessert, poached apricots, ricotta mousse and chocolate dipped almond florentine topped with blackberry syrah sauce (yum) was paired with an equally (yum) dessert wine, Tolosa’s 2009 Legacy Sweet Viognier.


Ahhhhhh……delicious wine…..savory food…..laughter…..good friends…..and all on a Wednesday! I’ll Drink to That!

Sunday Dinner #3 – Honey Marinated Pork

One of my all time favorite meats is pork tenderloin. There are so many ways to prepare it and it is always tender and juicy whether you grill or roast them whole or pan fry slices. This last Sunday I had to be out all day so it was the perfect opportunity to try a recipe that called for marinating for a few hours. It was ready for cooking when I got home with only the sides to get prepared.




Honey-Marinated Pork w/Gremolata on a bed of Cornbread Dressing

Honey-Marinated Pork w/Gremolata on a bed of Cornbread Dressing



4 cups cubed cornbread, toasted – (1 box Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix can be used instead)

1/4 cup butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large brown onion, diced

5 ribs of celery, sliced

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp minced sage

about 1/4 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

1/4 cup white wine or 3 Tbsp Jack Daniels

2/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Approx 4 cups chicken stock


In large saute pan over med high heat, sweat onions in butter and olive oil till opaque. Add celery and apple and continue to cool till just tender. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Add sage and seasoning mix from TJ’s mix, if using. If not, along with sage and Creole Seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1 Tbsp dried parsley. Add wine and about 2 cups of chicken stock, cranberries and pecans and simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In large mixing bowl, mix bread cubes and vegetable mixture along with enough additional chicken stock to moisten, but not too mushy. Season again to taste with salt and pepper and more Creole Seasoning. Place in buttered casserole baking dish and bake at 375 degrees along with pork till heated through and slightly crusty on top.


2 12 oz bags of frozen french style green beans

1 lg red onion, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 tsp honey

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

In medium saute pan with olive oil and butter, slowly cook onion till deeply browned, about 15-20 minutes. Add honey, balsamic and pinch of salt and cook 1 minute more, stirring. Season with pepper. Can be prepared ahead and set aside.

Cook green beans in boiling salted water just till heated through. Drain immediately and well and add to pan with onions, mixing well. Cook over med heat till warmed. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a bit more Creole Seasoning. ( I put this stuff in everything!)

Presentation: Slice tenderloins and lay overlapping on top of cornbread dressing in casserole. Pour juices from pan over meat then sprinkle with gremolata. Serve with green beans and some really good fresh bread. Pour a full bodied Zinfandel.


Tobin James Fatboy Zinfandel, 2007 – ($55) – The name says it all. This wine is full-bodied, rich and jammy with flavors of star anise and blackberry, and a velvety vanilla finish. This is Paso Zin, folks, not for the meek and mild. Made from grapes sourced from some of the most famous Zinfandel vineyards in Paso Robles, with some being from 50 year old or older vines.  Cheers!

Sunday Dinner #2

This last Sunday really got away from me…shopping, cleaning, cooking, social media updating.  Are our lives really simpler with computers? Are they a distraction keeping us from things we should be doing? An addiction to hard to resist? Are we hiding behind our user names in a world where we are more “out there” than ever? All the more reason I say to get into the kitchen and cook that special dinner for friends or family.

This last Sunday, I went for a version of pasta and meatballs. Basic idea, but tweaked just enough to feel “special”.


Muhammara (Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto) with Pita Chips

Florentine Meatballs with Wild Mushroom Sauce

Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Prosciutto


Meyer Lemon Budino

The Muhammara is a delicious pesto like dip and any leftovers can be served over steamed broccoli, pasta or roasted chicken.

The meatballs are a version of a Rachael Ray recipe, and I added the rich mushroom sauce.

I didn’t include a salad recipe – use your favorite and be creative.

Recipe: Meatballs

1 box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and completely drained by pressing with a fork in a small strainer

1 pkg ground turkey (about 1 1/3 lb)

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

Salt and pepper and olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine first 8 ingredients in bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Form into large meatballs, about 3 tablespoons each, and place on cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick spray. (Alternatively, a Silpat silicone liner is great if you have one) Drizzle with olive oil and roast about 20 minutes, or till cooked through. Meanwhile make the mushroom sauce.

Mushroom Sauce:

1 (.88 oz.) pkg Mixed Wild Mushroom Medley (Trader Joe’s )

2 Tbsp butter

1/2  cup chicken stock

1/2 cup reserved mushroom liquid

1/2 can condensed roasted garlic cream of mushroom soup

3 Tbsp cream or milk

1/4 cup sherry or dry Marsala

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried basil

Rinse mushrooms and re-hydrate in bowl by pouring boiling water over to cover. Let soak for about 10 minutes. Drain reserving liquid in measuring cup. Chop mushrooms and saute in butter till softened and just starting to brown. Add chicken stock and reserved mushroom liquid. Bring to simmer and stir in soup. Add milk or cream. Bring to simmer and add Marsala and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange meatballs on platter and pour sauce over.

Florentine Meatballs with Wild Mushroom Sauce

Florentine Meatballs with Wild Mushroom Sauce

What can I say about Mac and Cheese, except that I think it is the ultimate comfort food. This version is extra creamy, pretty with the broccoli and a little smokey from the prosciutto. Of course you could use bacon instead or leave it out all together.


1 lb pasta (I prefer DeCecco Galletti, looks like half moons, but any kind of shell- like pasta will do)

4 cups of broccoli florets

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

4 cups whipping cream

1 cup Quatro Fromaggio, about 4 oz. (shredded 4 cheese blend includes parm, fontina, mozzarella and provolone – found at Trader Joes)

1/2 cup additional Quatro Fromaggio for topping

1 cup (about 4 oz) grated cheddar cheese

5 oz chopped prosciutto

Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Add broccoli and cook just till crisp tender. Drain well. While pasta is cooking make sauce. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in cream. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes, stirring often. Add cheeses and stir until sauce is smooth. Add to pasta and broccoli along with prosciutto and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour into oven proof casserole and top with additional shredded cheese. Broil just till slightly browned.

Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Prosciutto

Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Prosciutto

Meyer Lemon Budino

Meyer Lemon Budino


Bridlewood Central Coast Viognier – Reserve – 2007 – $24.00

I love white Rhone varietals, especially blends, with so many of the Fall foods we like to eat. Even this wine, although it is 93% Viognier, there is also 3% Rousanne, 3% Chardonnay and 1% Marsanne blended in. This full bodied wine opens with aromas of honeysuckle and guava giving way to flavors of peach, honey and tropical fruits with a creamy texture. Also great with lobstser and crab, or as an accompaniment to fruit and cheese.