Archive for category Main Courses

Cab-Tastic Barbecue Sauce

Do you like your BBQ Sauce Sweet?  Spicy?  How about a super easy sauce that’s a bit of both. This is one of those recipes that looks a bit complicated because it has more than 3 or 4 ingredients. BUT, I’ll bet you have most of these in your cupboards anyway! If you can’t bring yourself to use the Morovino Cab in the sauce (and I can’t really blame you), use any full bodied red.

1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ t. smoked paprika
¼ t. cumin
1 C. Morovino 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (or other full bodied red)
1 T brown sugar
½ C. Ketchup
2 t. Sriracha sauce (Asian hot sauce)
1T soy sauce
1T cider vinegar
1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
½ C orange juice
2 T orange marmalade

bbq chickenThis is one of those recipes that looks a bit complicated because it has more than 3 or 4 ingredients. BUT, I’ll bet you have most of these in your cupboards anyway! If you can’t bring yourself to use the Morovino Cab in the sauce (and I can’t really blame you), use any full bodied red. In a saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic and smoked paprika in the olive oil until garlic turns light gold – about 1 minute. Add wine and brown sugar and simmer until reduced by half(ish)–about 4-5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the marmalade and simmer until they start to thicken a bit. Finish by stirring in the marmalade. Let cool before using.

This sauce is lightly sweet and lightly spicy. Try it with meatballs on a sourdough roll for a yummy meatball sandwich. Marinate cut up chicken overnight in ½ the sauce, remove the chicken to the grill, then use the other ½ of the sauce for basting. It’s YUMMY on pork tenderloin, or use with a pork tri-tip in the slow cooker for a pulled pork sandwich.

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Easy Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes

EZ Baked Shrimp and Tomatoes (adapted from Cooking Light)
Make and serve with 2015 Beach Blonde

2 leftover heels of French bread
3T. minced fresh dill or 1 T dried
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T butter, divided use
2 T olive oil, divided use
1 ½ lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined (save shrimp shells)
¼ t salt, divided use
¼ t black pepper, divided use
¼ c. Beach Blonde or other dry white wine
2 large tomatoes (preferably one red, one green)
2T balsamic vinegar

Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Vino are fans of the heels of French Bread. So Mrs. Vino pops them in her freezer to use whenever she needs bread crumbs. This is both frugal and delicious – packaged bread crumbs taste like cardboard. To begin, cut the bread heels into slightly smaller pieces and send them for a spin in your food processor or mini chopper until coarsely crumbed. Then add the dill and garlic and pulse a few more times until you have fine crumbs. Heat 1 T of butter and 1T of oil in a small non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the crumb mixture to the butter, watching carefully cuz they are gonna want to burn, and cook for about 3 minutes until lightly browned – stir frequently.

Then, preheat your oven to 450. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish (or a prettier one if you have it – or even 6 individual gratin dishes) with the remaining 1 T of olive oil. Arrange peeled shrimp in a single layer in dish(es). Sprinkle with 1/8 t. salt and 1/8 t. pepper (that’s about 4 twists of Mrs. Vino’s grinders). Sprinkle shrimp with wine, then scatter half of the bread crumbs on top of the shrimp.

tomatoes2Now, about those tomatoes. Many grocery stores are now offering a clamshell container with heirloom tomatoes. These heirlooms taste much better than any other grocery store tomato. And, in some cases, they are priced less than 2 lbs of the “cluster tomatoes” from the supermarket that basically taste like plastic. Frequently the heirloom tomatoes feature a green tomato. The green tomato really brightens this dish. Do you have to use it? No, of course not. If no green tomatoes are available, use whatever you have. Back to the dish.

Slice the tomatoes into thin ¼” slices. Put an overlapping layer of tomatoes on top of the bread crumbs (which are on top of the shrimp). Sprinkle the tomatoes with 1/8 t. each of salt and pepper. Then top with the remaining breadcrumbs. Dot the casserole with the remaining 1 T of butter. Bake it at 450 for about 15 minutes or until shrimp are opaque and pink. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar just before serving.

This dish is great all by itself with a big green salad and loaf of bread. Or, for extra credit, make a big batch of risotto (using the recipe on the package of Arborio rice or from the Morovino website). Then top risotto with a big spoonful of this shrimp dish. That will stretch the shrimp dish from feeding 2-4 to feeding 6-8 for just a few cents more. And it is incredibly yummy.

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BLT Pasta

BLT PastaWe were lucky enough to be gifted this holiday season with a wonderful pasta called Pici (Thanks Robert & Mary!). This is similar to a thick spaghetti or Bucatini, but it includes the germ of the wheat – making it a big mouthful of nutty pasta-y goodness. I had so much fun trying to decide how to top the Pici. I wanted something that would be hearty enough to stand up to it, without overwhelming it. This pasta was inspired by a lunchtime BLT Sandwich. In this case, the Pancetta takes the place of the Bacon, Arugula Pesto takes the place of the Lettuce. And the tomato is roasted. The yummy, nutty pasta replaces a great whole grain bread. It’s super simple to make and delicious with Barbera! Enjoy.

BLT Pasta

Serve with Morovino 2013 Barbera

4 Roma Tomatoes halved lengthwise
1/2 lb Pancetta (a slab, not sliced)
4 C. Arugula (4 big handfuls)
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley (mostly leaves, not stems)
4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus 1 t for drizzling
2 Garlic Cloves, roughly chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 t. salt
9 ounces of Pici (or other hearty pasta)
1/4 c. shredded or shaved Asiago

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with sides (sometimes called a jelly roll pan) with parchment paper. Cut the slab of pancetta into 1/2″ish cubes. Scatter the pancetta cubes on the jelly roll pan. Place the tomato halves, cut side up, amongst the pancetta on the pan. Put into the oven for 30-35 minutes – stirring every 10 minutes or so to flip the pancetta cubes and the tomato pieces so they brown evenly. Cook the Pici (or pasta according to package directions).

In the bowl of your food processor, add the arugula, parsley, garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice. Pulse until smooth.

Drain the pasta and drizzle with th 1 t of olive oil to prevent sticking. Plate a nest of the pasta. Top with the Arugula Pesto. Add the roasted tomato and pancetta, then top with the shaved Asiago. Salty, tangy, nutty, hearty – perfect winter comfort pasta!

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Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Make and serve with 2014 Beach Blonde Pinot Grigio

super easy soup that you make from ingredients that you probably already have on hand.

super easy soup that you make from ingredients that you probably already have on hand.

4 C. chicken broth
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 C. Beach Blonde (or other dry white wine)
1 rib celery, diced
1 t. Herbs d’Provence
4 baby carrots, diced (or 1 regular carrot)
1 T olive oil
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 C. cooked diced chicken (or leftover turkey)
4 T cooked rice (or orzo pasta, or Quinoa, or . . .)
1/2 C. spinach or kale or collards or other tangy green, chopped
4 scallions, finely sliced
2 T. Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream

This is a pantry soup because it uses things you probably already have in your pantry or fridge. We get so little rain in California these days, that when rain finally comes, it’s nice to be able to create a soup without having to go shopping! In a big pot over medium heat, saute the onion, celery and carrotsin the olive oil until softened. Add the Herbs d’Provence and stir for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the wine and let the wine reduce by halfish. Add the broth, the cream of chicken soup and the chicken or turkey and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the greens and let simmer for 5 more minutes (until greens are tender). Add salt and pepper to taste. Put 2 T of rice, grains or pasta in the bottom of each of 2 pretty bowls. Ladel the soup on top. Top with a float of Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream and a sprinkle of scallions. Tastes just like Chicken Pot Pie – in a soup!! So easy. So comforting!!

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Truffled Pasta with Soft Boiled Egg

Truffled Pasta
Serve with 2013 Barbera

No, I’m not referring to the chocolate dessert truffles (although they are amazing). Yes, yes. Mrs. Vino knows that truffle oil is expensive. But it’s a great way to add flashy decadence to a dish. And if there is anything Mrs. Vino loves it’s a dish that flashy/easy/delicious. In fact, if Mrs. Vino were to get her own television show on a cooking channel – that’s what she’d call it:
FLASHY/EASY/DELICIOUS! Until you can find F/E/D on your local channel, here’s a great recipe:

1/2 lb of the pasta of your choice – I like Fettucine with this
1/4 c. good olive oil
2t Black Truffle Oil*
1/4 c parmesan cheese
2 farm fresh eggs
1 dried morel mushroom
Salt & Pepper to tastesteamer basket

This recipe is ALL ABOUT THE EGG!  So first, get your water boiling and your pasta started – according to package directions.  The perfect soft boiled egg isn’t really boiled, it’s steamed (ditto the perfect
hard boiled egg).  So put about 1″ of water in the bottom of a small saucepan.  Insert a steamer basket (this is a $4 tool that is indispensible in your kitchen – you can get them at most grocery stores in the
kitchen tool aisle). Its the little strainer that folds up to fit in
different sized pots.

Put the steamer basket in the pot with the boiling water.  There’s a bit of multi tasking with this recipe – when in doubt spend time on the egg – the pasta can be drained and sit a bit.  When you have about 2 minutes left on your pasta, place 2 eggs in the steamer basket (remember, the pot already has the water boiling in it) and cover the pot. You are going to let the eggs steam for EXACTLY 6 minutes (TIP: steam them for 15 minutes if you are doing hard boiled eggs). While eggs are steaming, drain the pasta, toss with the olive oil, truffle oil, salt and pepper and set aside.  When the eggs have reached the 6 minute mark, pull the pot off the heat, take off the lid and run cold water in the pot to stop the cooking. When the eggs have 20150806_195054cooled a tiny bit and can be handled, crack the large end of the shell (where the air bubble usually lives) and CAREFULLY peel them under warm running water. Your goal here is a whole egg with no shell.  Set aside on paper towels for a moment.  Plate the pasta. Top it with the cheese, split the eggs in half and quickly place two egg halves on top of each pile of pasta – the yolk should still be  a bit runny.  Grab the dried morel and your microplane grater (a microplane is a kitchen MUST HAVE). Grate the mushroom over the pasta and egg – voila, Mushroom Dust.  And you are done.  There’s a reason that there is a hashtag called #eggporn.

*Black truffle oil is a bit stronger and earthier than white truffle oil.  Start with 2 t, but feel free to add more if you desire.  Also, please check the ingredient list on your truffle oil. If it says “Truffle Essence” or “Truffle Flavor” you don’t want it. Truffle Oil can also be drizzled on steamed veggies, on air-popped popcorn (oh yeah, that’s a good one), or in your morning scrambled eggs.

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Pasta with Brie

pasta brie progressPasta with Brie
Serve with 2014 Pinot Grigio

This is one of Mr. Vino’s absolutely favorite recipes. We don’t make it too, too often – most of the time Mrs. Vino makes it for his birthday – as it’s not what you’d consider a “diet” recipe. Hello, 7 ounces of cheese! Some things are just not worth trying to lighten up and this is one.

1 lb Pasta of your choice (I like Fettucine)
1 pint Cherry or Grape tomatoes, halved
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
2 large handfuls of baby Arugula, roughly chopped (Spinach is also delish)
2 T olive oil
7ish ounce wedge of brie, rind removed and cut into small (1/2″ish) cubes
1 garlic clove, grated or finely minced (it doesn’t get cooked, so make sure it’s fine!!!)
Fresh cracked Ground Pepper

Oh my dears, you simply won’t believe how easy and delicious this is. Prepare the pasta accordinpasta brie finishedg to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, hack up the cheese and veggies and put everything in a bowl. The order is a bit important, so just add them in the order they are listed in the recipe (everything after pasta). When the pasta is cooked, drain and dump the hot pasta on top of the cheese and veggies in the bowl. Let everything sit for a few moments while the heat of the pasta melts the brie and tempers the garlic a bit. Give it a good couple of tosses until the brie has made a yummy creamy sauce, then serve with a nice loaf of french bread! Leftovers are wonderful the next day (assuming that anything is left over).

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Maple Roasted Chicken Thighs

MAPLE ROASTED CHICKENSometimes it’s hard for people to envision pairing a sweet wine with a savory dish!  But this beautiful recipe has it ALL goin’ on – Sweet, tart, salty, spicy, and umami – it tickles all your taste buds.  And the spicy black pepper is the perfect foil for the lightly sweet riesling.  You are going to love it!

Serve with Cosa Dolce Riesling

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. ground black pepper
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/3 c. real maple syrup (Use the closest thing to real maple syrup you can find – NOT Aunt Jemima Lite)
zest of 1 lemon

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large ovenproof baking dish, combine the sweet potatoes and the olive oil. Toss well to coat. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt and black pepper. sprinkle half of this mixture over the sweet potatoes and toss or stir to coat. Arrange the sweet potatoes in an even layer in the bottom of the baking dish.

Rub the remaining sugar mixture over the chicken thighs with your hands (sure it’s a little messy – but so much fun). Arrange the chicken in a single layer over the sweet potatoes. (I don’t need to tell you to wash your hands thoroughly at this point, do I?) Drizzle the maple syrup over the thighs. Cover the baking dish with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for another 15 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees at the thickest part of the thighs. Serve the chicken on top of the sweet potatoes – just before serving, sprinkle the lemon zest over the chicken. It’s great served with biscuits to sop up all the yummy maple juices.


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Braised Beef Shanks

Yes, Mrs. Vino knows that braising takes a looooooonnnnngggggg time.  But most of this is completely hands off.  No really.  Don’t lift the lid and peek.  Keep your hands off!  This recipe actually only has about 10 minutes of active cooking – and the way your house will smell is totally worth it.

Serve with 2012 Dolcetto (also good with the Merlot)

2 1/2 lbs of beef short ribs or cross-cut beef shanks
1/4 c. flour
1 t. salt (plus more to taste at very end of dish)
1 t. granulated garlic (garlic powder – if using garlic salt, omit the salt referenced above)
1/2 t. black pepper
1 T canola oil
a 1-gallon zip lock bag
1 small onion sliced thinly
1 Bay leaf
1/2 C beef broth
1/2 C red wine

Mrs. Vino loves a good braise! This long, slow cooking method doesn’t have to be hard. Put the flour, garlic, salt and pepper into the gallon zip lock bag. Heat a sauteuse pan over medium high heat (that’s a round pan with a thick bottom, a cover and 3-4″ tall sides) and then add the Canola Oil and heat til it shimmers. While the oil is heating, put the shanks/short ribs in the zip lock bag, seal and toss with flour mixture to coat (it’s best if you do the meat one piece at a time). Remove the meat, shake off excess flour and place in the hot oil. Brown all sides of the meat (The secret to good browning is not to move the meat – let is sit on each side for at least 3-4 minutes – no peeking. You can smell it if it starts to burn and it will release from the pan as it starts to brown. If it sticks or you feel like you have to force it, it’s not browned yet.)

When the meat is completely browned, add the broth, Bay leaf, wine and sliced onion to the pan. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and let braise for 2 1/2 hours. Check the pan after a few minutes, you are looking for a simmer – not a boil). Once it is simmering, leave it alone.  No peeking needed. After 2 1/2 hours, remove the lid, carefully take the meat out of the pan (it will be fall apart tender) and keep it warm, then adjust the sauce/gravy as needed. Depending on how lean your meat is, you might need to add extra wine or you might need to turn the heat up to a boil to thicken/reduce. When the sauce is to the consistency you like, remove the Bay leaf and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve the meat with roasted or mashed potato (polenta is also yummy) and cover everything with the sauce. Comfort food at its easiest/most affordable.

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Pasta with Creamy Avocado Sauce

Pasta with Avocado Sauce

Pasta with Avocado Sauce

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite vegan blogs (Oh She Glows) – which you should definitely check out.  The sauce is also amazing on zucchini noodles for a refreshing summer salad!

Serve with Morovino 2012 Sangiovese (but any of our Barberas are also awesome with this)

2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
1 tablespoon citrus olive oil (I like Robbins Family Farm Mandarin Olive Oil, but lemon or other orange olive oil works just as well. Don’t have citrus olive oil – no problem it’s delicious with plain extra virgin olive oil, too)
1 ripe medium avocado, pitted
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (1/4 t if you use 1T of lemon juice, 1/2 t if you use 2T of lemon juice – the salt balances out the acidity)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 lb bay shrimp (the tiny salad shrimp)
1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
Zest from the lemon
1/2 lb of your favorite pasta (I like fettucine with this)

While your pasta – whatever kind you like – cooks, make the sauce. Cuz Avocados turn brown pretty quickly – this sauce is not a make ahead. OK, Kids, this is pretty simple. Place everything through black pepper into your food processor or blender. Actually, I use my “knock-off” magic bullet for this, cuz it works perfectly! If the sauce feels a bit thick, add 1 or 2 T of the pasta water to the blender.

When your past is cooked, drain it and place it back in the pot. Add the avocado sauce and toss until combined. Put it on a big plate (or individual plates). Top with lemon zest, shrimp and feta. Yummmmmmm.

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Tea-Poached Salmon

Oh my dears, this recipe is perfect with Morovino’s 2012 Pinot Noir.  This is our new, go-to, honey-I-really don’t-feel-like-cooking-let’s-do-something-easy recipe!

Serve with 2012 Pinot Noir

2 C. water
4 Oolong tea bags (Smoky Lapsang Souchong tea is also awesome)
1 lime, zested then halved
1 t. toasted sesame oil
2″ fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into “coins”
4 garlic cloves, slivered
1/2 c. dry white wine, divided use (I use Beach Blonde)
3 T soy sauce, divided use
1 T honey
2, 1/2-lb salmon filets (or steaks)
Salt & Pepper
1/8 t. Sriracha (literally 2 tiny drops)

Super easy, super delicious and pretty healthy, Mrs. Vino loves poached salmon because it is basically impossible to over cook. First, let’s make the poaching liquid!

In a sautese (That’s a saute pan with high straight sides – you must invest in one, my dears! Mrs. Vino uses it for everything.), combine the water, tea bags, 2 T soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, 1/4 c. wine and the juice of 1/2 of the lime (not the zest). Simmer liquid over medium low heat for 5 minutes. While the poaching liquid is simmering, salt and pepper the salmon filets/steaks. Remove the tea bags from the poaching liquid and discard. Remove 1/2 c. of poaching liquid (liquid only, no bits) and set aside for a minute. Slide the salmon into the remaining poaching liquid and cover. Simmer for 7 minutes.

Put the poaching liquid in a very small saucepan over high heat with the second 1/4 c wine and 1 T of soy sauce and reduce down by half (this will become the sauce for the salmon). When the sauce is reduced, add the honey, Sriracha and the juice and zest of the lime and whisk together. Put the salmon on a plate and drizzle with a tiny bit of the sauce. Serve with salad and rice or a nice crusty French bread. YUMMMMMM. Really, one of Mr. Vino’s new faves.

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