Mac and Cheese with Fresh Peas, Cauliflower and Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs









This is creamy comfort food with a few surprising additions—and a crispy garlicky topping. Pair with California Chardonnay or Merlot.


2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons (30ml) all purpose flour

1 cup (240ml) whole milk

1 cup (240ml) half-and-half

1¼ cup (143g) grated sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup (56g) grated Gruyere cheese

6 cups cooked macaroni (made from 10 ounces/284g dry macaroni)

½ teaspoon (2.5ml) sea salt

2 tablespoons (30ml) extra virgin olive oil

2 cups (200g) cauliflower florets, cut into small pieces

½ cup (80g) fresh or frozen peas

For the topping:

2 cups (128g) fine dry breadcrumbs (preferably Panko)

½ cup (56g) grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons (30ml) extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons (10ml) minced garlic

½ teaspoon (2.5ml) sea salt

1 teaspoon (2.5ml) freshly ground black pepper



Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C)

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed, saucepan over medium heat, until sizzling. Add the flour and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Gradually stir in the milk and half-and-half, and continue to stir until the sauce thickens and begins to simmer.

Turn off heat, stir in the grated cheddar and the Gruyere until smooth. Fold in the macaroni and ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the cauliflower and cook and stir until lightly browned. Stir in the peas and cook for 2 more minutes.

Mix the cauliflower and peas with the macaroni and spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish.

To make the topping, mix the breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the macaroni.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

*Courtesy Wine Institute of California*

Spice-Rubbed T-Bone Steak with Pan-Fried Fennel Mashed Potatoes


2 teaspoons (10ml) chili powder
1 teaspoon (5ml) freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon (5ml) sugar
1 teaspoon (5ml) paprika
1 teaspoon (5ml) dried oregano leaves, finely crushed
1 teaspoon (5ml) dry mustard
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) ground cumin
2 teaspoons (10ml) salt, divided
2 (1-pound/450g) T-bone steaks, each 1 inch (2.5cm) thick
3 medium russet or other starchy baking potatoes (about 1½ pounds/675g), peeled and cut into thirds
3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons (45ml) half and half or light cream
3 tablespoons (45ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 fennel bulb (about 8 ounces/225g), stems removed, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced lengthwise

Mix the chili powder, black pepper, sugar, paprika, oregano, dry mustard, cumin, and 1 teaspoon (5ml) of the salt.
Coat the steaks on both sides with the spice mix and set aside at room temperature.
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan with enough water to cover them by 2 inches (5cm). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan, off heat. Add the butter, half and half, and the 1 remaining teaspoon (5ml) of salt. Mash with a large whisk or potato masher until the ingredients are thoroughly combined but still lumpy.

Heat 1 tablespoon (15ml) of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the fennel slices; cook and stir until they are slightly browned and tender, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Stir the fennel into the potatoes.

In the same skillet, heat 1 more tablespoon (15ml) of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Spread the potatoes evenly in the pan. Cook undisturbed for 6 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the potatoes over, one section at a time, and cook for 6 more minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the pan from heat and cover it to keep the potatoes warm.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Heat the 1 remaining tablespoon (15ml) of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the steaks and sear for 2 minutes on each side. Place the skillet in the oven and roast the steaks for 6 minutes for medium rare to medium. Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the steaks to a serving platter. Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

To serve, slice the steaks into strips and divide them among 4 plates. Spoon the potatoes next to the steak. Serve with a bold Blackridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon or an Anthony & Dominic Napa Pinot Noir.

Wine Institute of California

From Restaurante Caldereros Albacete Spain



250 gm of desalted cod
Three slices of tomato
Slices of potatoe (about two regular sized potatoes)
Half an onion
Pinch of Saffron
1/2 cup White Wine
Three bay leaves
Aldonza Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350
Boil potatoes then slice.
Cut the onion into julienne strips and sauté in a pan with Aldonza Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Once it is sautéed, add the white wine, the bay leaves and the slices of potato and tomato. Afterwards add a pinch of Aldonza Saffron and the cod.
Let it fry for about ten minutes on low then put into the oven for approximately 10 more minutes at 180C (350F). Remove.
Arrange on plate with potato slices and tomato slices and pour Saffron sauce over.
Serve with a light refreshing white wine.


Irish Stew

3 pounds lamb shoulder cut in 2-inch chunks (or use thick shoulder chops)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds onions (about 6 medium), cut in wedges
1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), cut in 3-inch lengths
4 cups chicken, veal or beef broth (or water)
1 large sprig thyme
3 pounds russet potatoes (about 12 small), peeled and halved, or cut in 2-inch thick slices

Pat lamb dry and season well with salt and pepper. Put oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Brown meat on all sides, working in batches.
Set meat aside and add onions and carrots to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook vegetables, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Return meat to pot, add broth and bring to a simmer. Put in thyme sprig and arrange potatoes on top (it’s fine if potatoes are not completely submerged). Season potatoes, cover pot and transfer to oven.
Bake for about 1 hour, until lamb is quite tender when probed with a skewer or paring knife. Remove fat from top of broth. Ladle stew into shallow bowls and serve.

Serve with The Quiet Man 8 year old Irish Whiskey.
Recipe courtesy of NYT Cooking



Juicy and tender, this red wine­ glazed turkey breast is infused with aromatic spices. Pair with California Pinot Noir.

½ cup (125g) salt
1/3 cup (65g) sugar
1 tablespoon (15ml) black peppercorns
1 (1-inch/2.5cm) cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
3 quarts (3L) water
1 quart (1L) ice-cold water
1 (3-pound/1350g) bone-in half turkey breast, skin on
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) ground cumin
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (30g) salted butter
½ cup (125ml) California Pinot Noir
2 tablespoons (30ml) sugar
4 large whole garlic cloves, peeled

1. In a pot that will hold at least 8 quarts (8L), add the salt, 1/3 cup (65g) sugar, peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaves, and 3 quarts (3L) of water to make the brine. Stir to combine.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and stir in the 1 quart (1L) of ice-cold water. Cover and refrigerate until completely cool.
3. Add the turkey breast to the cooled brine, cover, and refrigerate for 6 hours.
4. Remove turkey from the brine, pat dry, and place in a roasting pan bone-side down.
5. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
6. Mix the cumin, cardamom, and measured ground black pepper in a small bowl.
7. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in ¼ teaspoon of the spice mix.
8. Spoon the spiced butter evenly over the turkey breast.
9. Pour the wine into a small skillet. Stir in 2 tablespoons (30ml) sugar and remaining spice mixture. Simmer over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced to 3 tablespoons (45ml). Set aside.
10. Put the turkey in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
11. Toss the garlic cloves in the bottom of the roasting pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C) and roast for 45 more minutes.
12. Remove the turkey from the oven. Spoon the wine mixture over the turkey. Return to the oven and roast for 20 minutes longer, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F (70°C).
13. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the turkey to a serving platter. Let rest for 15 minutes.
14. Pour the juice from the roasting pan and any juice from the resting turkey into a small saucepan. Bring the juices to a boil, and then lower the heat to keep them warm.
15. To serve, slice the turkey and serve with warm pan juices.

Pair this with either the Blackridge Pinot Noir or the Ballard Lane Pinot Noir.

Recipe courtesy of California Wines.




Yield: Serves 4

20 piquillo peppers (Spanish wood-roasted sweet peppers), or one 13-ounce can
1 teaspoon sugar
2 clove garlic, peeled
Salt to taste
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
2 8-ounce flat iron steaks, trimmed of fat
Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees. Place 8 of the peppers in a large cup along with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Using a hand blender, puree the peppers.
In a small cazuela or terra-cotta casserole, lay half the remaining peppers in a single layer, taking care not to overlap the peppers. Spoon half of the pepper puree on top of the peppers and smooth it out with the back of the spoon. Split open the garlic cloves by placing them on a chopping board and pressing down hard with the base of your hand or the flat side of a paring knife. Scatter the garlic over the puree and season to taste with salt. Make another layer of peppers, cover with the remaining puree and season again with salt.
Cover the peppers with one cup of the olive oil. Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, until the peppers are completely tender. Remove from the oven, set aside and keep warm.
Increase the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in an ovenproof sauté pan over high heat. When the pan begins to slightly smoke, add the sirloins and sear on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the pan with the sirloins to the oven and roast for 6 to 8 minutes or until the sirloins reach 130 degrees on a meat thermometer (for medium rare). Transfer the sirloins to chopping board and let rest for 5 minutes.
To serve, spread the peppers and puree on a serving tray. Slice the sirloins into 1/2-inch thick slices and place them on top of the peppers. Drizzle the medallions with extra olive oil from the peppers and sprinkle with salt.

Pair this meal with Bodegas Felix Sanz Montenegro 2014

PA AMB TOMAQUET (Bread with Tomato)


1. Grab a ripe tomato and cut in half.
2. Cut a nice slice of bread. You can either toast it or not.
3. Take half of the tomato and rub it over the bread’s surface. Make sure you squeeze it while you rub it. The bread slice will absorb the tomato juice.
4. Sprinkle with some salt.
5. Add a generous quantity of Extra Virgin Spanish olive oil on top.
6. Add a good Spanish ham or Manchego cheese and a glass of Vina Cimbron 2013 Verdejo.

“Trust me this sounds easy, but for anyone that has had the opportunity to visit Spain, this is delicious!”