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Eat this with…Paso Robles Wine

by Xochitl Maiman   October 16, 2014

Food and wine pairings from Paso Robles wine country.

Just a short 3 and a half hour drive north of Los Angeles lies the tranquil Paso Robles wine region. But don’t let the laid back feel of the area deceive you. Not only has Paso Robles solidly established its place as one of the premier wine grape growing regions of California, but it has developed a food scene to go along with all that wonderful wine. Exciting restaurants fill the downtown area with more opening on a regular basis. Farm to table dinners are now a mainstay at many of the local wineries, pairing locally grown and produced food with the area’s rhones, zins and cabs. Brigit Binns, renowned cookbook author has opened a cooking school and Lisa Pretty, winemaker, writer, foodie and author, has written two cookbooks focusing on the pairing of simple delicious recipes with the wines from the region.  “eat this with …Paso Robles Wine “- volumes 1 and 2, feature recipes from local wineries, chefs, caterers and Lisa herself with a selection of wine pairing options. This is “no brainer” wine and food pairing for any home cook, that will make you the the star of your dinner parties and weeknight family meals.

East this with Paso Robles wine - cookbook cover

Since I usually have a fair amount of Paso Robles wines on hand, I’ve begun to work my way through LIsa’s recipes and wine pairings and I figured I’d share some of them with you here on my blog.

Nothing says weeknight comfort food like meatloaf and macaroni and cheese. Lisa’s recipe in Volume 2, p. 118 for Turkey Loaf was my choice for last night’s dinner, as I already had most of the ingredients on hand. (No marketing is always a good thing after a busy day at the computer). This recipe features plenty of veggies in the mix for extra flavor and moistness. As for sides – I made mac ‘n’ cheese with Boursin and asiago, and hericot vert, cooked crisp tender with just a sprinkling of salt, pepper and thyme. Lisa suggested 7 possible wine choices from rosé to cabernet franc, but as it is Merlot Month, I went with the J. Lohr Merlot – 2012.

The turkey loaf turned out to be easy to make and really good – I’d definitely make it again. The wine, which I’d never had before, was also a winner. A complex nose of cedar, black pepper, cinnamon and dried strawberries – hints of tobacco and blueberry on the palate – a medium bodied wine with a very satisfying well rounded finish. (As a side note, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year!)

Paso Robles wine and food  pairing

I’m including the recipe below, but I think you might want to get your own copy of these books so you have all these great food and wine pairings on hand for any occasion. They’d make great gifts for the foodies on your holiday shopping list too.

TURKEY LOAF by Lisa Pretty

serves 6


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grated carrots ( I used purple and orange- added great color)
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery ( I didn’t have celery, so I substituted orange bell peppers)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock ( I used chicken)
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ddried thyme
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I substituted 1 T. dried basil)
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce]
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I used french bread crumbs)
  • 1/3 cup tomato based chili sauce ( I used 1/3 cup of catsup mixed with about 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce)

Pre-heat oven to 350F

Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan. Add onions and garlic, sauté for 3 minutes. Add carrots and celery then sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Stir in tomato paste, thyme, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl mix ground turkey,eggs and bread crumbs. Stir in the vegetable mixture and a little salt and pack into a non-stick loaf pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with chili sauce. Return to oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes.


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.


Sunday Dinner #1

Sundays I usually spend preparing a special meal to share with my family, including my “kids” when I can convince them to hang around, and my parents. I like to take the time to prepare something that perhaps I might not have the time for during the busy week prior. I thought I would start to share these Sunday menus with you in hopes that you’ll be inspired to gather friends and family more often, open some wonderful wine and share some quality time around the dinner table. Try some of these recipes, many of which can be found on-line at Epicureous.com, and let me know the results. Bon Appetit!



Roast Pork Loin with Fig Sauce (Recipe below)

Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Leeks and Corn

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar and Prosciutto (Recipe below)

Fuji Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp Chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp salt

1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 31/2 -4 lb boneless pork loin

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In small bowl, combine olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Place meat in roasting pan. Evenly spread oil mixture over pork. Roast, turning once, until instant-read thermometer registers 145 degrees in center. (About 45 minutes depending on your oven and weight of meat). About half way through roasting baste with 1/2 cup of liquid from fig sauce.

When meat is done, remove from oven, transfer to cutting board, tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile add roaster juices to sauce pan with fig sauce – heat. Pour over sliced meat. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.




4-5  Servings

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

4 ozs thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Place sprouts, oil, prosciutto and garlic in bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and combine. Spread on baking sheet in single layer. Roast until sprouts are tender and brown, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Drizzle sprouts with vinegar, sprinkle with thyme and stir to coat. Continue roasting until heated through, about 5 minutes.


This recipe calls to bake in two 9″ round cake pans. It also bakes up well in a 13″x9″ pan as well.



Four Vines – the Peasant – Paso Robles – 2007

This traditional Rhone blend is 33% Syrah, 37% Mourvedre, 21% Grenache and 9% Counnoise. On the nose, smokey black fruit and spice, vanilla crème brulee. On the palate, rich black fruit spice and anise finishing long into vanilla oak.