Merlot Beef with Broccoli

Recipe Date: October 12th, 2018
Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 4
Cook Time: 00:30
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Merlot Beef with Broccoli

From Mary Davidek

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 pound sirloin beef tips, sliced against the grain 1/8 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 10 ounces broccoli florets
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Merlot (approximately 4 ounces)

Directions

Toss together cornstarch, salt, pepper, and beef in a bowl until meat is coated.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok or sauté pan over medium high heat until hot but not smoking, stir-fry beef until just cooked through, approx. 1 minute.

With a slotted spoon, transfer beef to another bowl and keep warm.

Add remaining oil to sauté pan along with broccoli and garlic.

Stir-fry until broccoli is just tender and garlic is pale golden, about 2 minutes.

Add soy sauce and wine and bring to a low boil.

Return meat to skillet. Stir until sauce is thickened.



La Fantasia Summer

Mary Davidek

July 28th, 2016

La Fantasia Summer

I hate the heat. I do. I cannot mince words or flower this up— at all. I also acknowledge as a native Californian I am not the greatest barometer for uncomfortable temperatures. I am too hot when temps soar above 90 and too cold when the mercury dips below 60. I guess as grapes are concerned, I would be Pinot Noir; a little fickle and I respond to temperature extremes. Precisely why Pinot Noir is not prolific in Napa Valley. …summers can get hot!

Napa Valley is a Mediterranean climate which among other climate indicators translates to a long growing season due an optimum diurnal variation necessary for yielding successful wine grapes. A diurnal variation, or the difference between daytime and night time temps of almost 35 degrees means the sugars in the grape go into semi hibernation in the evenings thus arresting or slowing the ripening process. Even when the valley floor reaches 95 degrees, nighttime ushers in a welcome cool down courtesy of the big air conditioning to the west, the Pacific Ocean. Most evenings warrant a wrap or light sweater when dining al fresco or while watching star-filled nights unfold.

Lucky Napa Valley! Less than 5% of earth’s land surface is blessed with this amazing mediterranean climate!

These evening temps are a welcome reprieve but I just can’t get past the heat and the constant craving for something cool and refreshing on my palate. My shopping cart at the grocery store has been jam-packed with fresh summer fruit, thirst quenching beverages and frozen treats. Luckily, our appetites also diminish a bit when the temps soar so refreshing fruit and veggie platters have been consumed with enthusiasm. Dessert? Well, that is simply a no-brainer—enter the simple and delicious Fantatini!  Made with lightly effervescent and slightly sweet La Fantasia. Simply pour over a frozen fruit sorbet and this yummy chilled finale is the perfect respite.

So chill it down…and when old man winter brings on the big chill-down (it may actually get below 60!), we will have to come up with another excuse to partake in this tasty concoction.

Frizzante-style La Fantasia is a proprietary blend of red grapes and is a perrenial favorite. Just a bit of effervescence brightens the fruit notes of this lightly sweet wine.

Grab some fresh fruit and a frozen sorbet and get ready for instant delicious.

A sweet finale on the Castello di Amorosa Royal Pairing, the Fantatini. Recipe?… Simple. Scoop and pour!



Silence of the Lamb Shanks

Recipe Date: October 26th, 2015
Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 4
Cook Time: 00:30
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Silence of the Lamb Shanks

From Mary Davidek

Ingredients

  • 1 can of fava beans
  • spinach
  • broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 14 ozs (1 can) Italian-style diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 9 cloves diced garlic
  • 5 large sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 sweet onion, cut into large slices

Fava Beans with Pancetta and Spinach

  • Remove the outer skin of the fava beans, then soak them in salted water. Let soften in in the salted water for 10-12 hours. Simmer the fava beans in salted water for about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, sautée the pancetta and garlic.
  • Add the fava beans and top with spinach leaves.
  • Add broth to wilt the spinach and sauté until tender.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Silence of the Lamb Shanks

  • Coat the lamb shanks with grape seed oil and brown them in a large pan. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Place seasoned and browned shanks into crock pot and top with the red wine, beef stock, dice tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, and sweet onion.
  • Set the crock pot to low for 6-8 hours.
  • Remove the shanks and plate them with the sauce and fava beans, and pour yourself a nice glass of Sangiovese!

As seen in Touring & Tasting Magazine


Related Products


TGI Frittata

Mary Davidek

August 28th, 2015

TGIFrittata

I was raised in a large and lively household. With 2 parents, 4 of us kids along with 1 grandparent, my mother was faced with the daunting challenge every week to procure economical yet delicious ways to feed our sometimes demanding and always hungry mob. Schedules were constantly changing, I had piano lessons and swimming, my brothers balanced after school jobs and sports. In the summer, Dad often worked late. This meant not only did food have to be delicious and economical, but had to be just as good and easily re-heated to accommodate our unpredictable schedules.

Sunday night pasta was a regular on our menu. Essentially left over tidbits from the week slow cooked in a rich tomato sauce and served over pasta, a good way to start a busy week. Soups were another yummy option and minestrone often filled the pot. Basic minestrone was a smart use of left-over roast beef with an assortment of veggies and pasta. Frittata was a popular catch-all in our house and seemed to be a Friday night staple. The saying became TGIFrittata!

Frittata is a flat Italian-style omelet that’s usually prepared in a cast-iron skillet. A Frittata can be made with an assortment of ingredients; mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, or zucchini. For a heartier main course preparation, ground sausage, bacon or potatoes can be included. To make a frittata, beaten eggs are cooked briefly in a hot skillet along with other ingredients like onions, spinach, bacon and/or potatoes, and then topped with cheese and finished in the oven.

The Castello provided the bounty for this frittata. The royal chickens supplied the organic free range eggs. From the castle garden; zucchini, red and yellow pepper and serrano chili peppers.

The kick of spice made the wine selection for this brunch easy—Gioia, a dry and fruity rosé of Sangiovese.

When cooked in a round skillet, frittata is traditionally sliced into wedge-shaped portions for serving. And re-heated…it was just as yummy as it was just out of the oven.

Frittata

♦ In medium size bowl, using a fork, blend together 4 – 6 eggs, grated Parmesan, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt.

♦ Heat 12-inch non-stick, oven safe saute pan over medium high heat.

♦ Add butter to pan and melt. Add frittata contents. Pour egg mixture into pan and stir with rubber spatula.

♦ Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the egg mixture has set on the bottom and begins to set up on top.

♦ Sprinkle with parsley and additional grated parm.

♦ Place pan into oven and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned and fluffy.

Mary Davidek C. S., S.W.



Have Wine Will Travel—oh the places you will go!

Mary Davidek

August 27th, 2015

Have Wine Will Travel—oh the places you will go!

I am getting ready to go on a 1 week vacation. Trust me– this does not happen often as I usually opt for sporadic 3 day get-a-ways rather than a week or more at a time. However, once a year my husband and I travel with our good friends (also from Napa Valley) leaving our vineyard paradise for a far off island paradise. That’s right…we are Maui bound.  I love love love living in this idyllic vineyard Avalon but hey, a girl’s gotta travel to keep it fresh and lively and I need to spend a bit of quality wine and dine time Island style.

Ciao to the vineyard scape…….

Aloha Maui!

I will report back with delicious seafood creations, all the latest island food trends and of course, interesting pairings with our favorite Castello wines to tie it all together.

Did I mention I am bringing two cases of wine? Yes, I know…just two.

Travelling with wine was once standard and as easy as boarding with a laptop (or a lap-dog!) is today. I had a rolling carrier and would stuff it full of bottles, on board it was tucked it into the overhead compartment. This made for easy access on long flights if the Merlot du jour or the in-flight chard was well, not worthy. I would uncork a bottle (yep, corkscrews were okay too!) and enjoy. Quite often, I shared with my row mates and neighbors and once, a flight attendant even enjoyed a (very) tiny sip! It was a (very) long flight.

Although security restrictions make travelling with wine a bit challenging; it is nothing a little creativity and a nifty new design combined with smart packing can’t overcome.

If you are packing your suitcase and hoping to include a couple of bottles remember, you can’t carry wine on the plane so the bag must be checked. Make sure the bottle is surrounded by clothing and not on the perimeter but safely in the interior. Roll a bottle in jeans or a sweater or thick clothing or shoes to provide a bit of cushion.

If you are not the trusting or adventurous packing type, padded plastic bottle jackets seal tightly and will provide a little extra assurance to protect your liquid asset.

Because sometimes you need more than a bottle, the styro case transporter is the perfect solution. Rolling castors make it easy to maneuver and provides peace of mind. Treat like a piece of luggage and on the trip home, replace with new wines you’ve discovered or other trinkets for safe transport. These rolling wine suitcases are available throughout wine country and of course, the Castello boutique.



Salmon with...

Mary Davidek

August 4th, 2015

Salmon with…

It is well known the health benefits of salmon are seemingly endless. From cardiovascular health to muscle and tissue regeneration, to eye health– regularly including this meaty fish in our diet even bolsters our metabolism! Additionally, salmon is an excellent source of beneficial fatty acids like omega-3 as well as a good source of vitamins A and D.

Salmon is also exceptionally wine friendly; the chameleon of the sea when looking for the perfect pairing. Salmon works with whites, reds and rosé, so if salmon is on the menu let the cooking method and spices guide your pairings.

In the words of Billy Joel “a bottle of red and a bottle of white, it all depends on your appetite”.

Well, your appetite and perhaps what was in the latest Castello Wine Club shipment!

Chardonnay with Lemon Pepper and Garlic Baked Salmon

With brilliant stone fruit, a hint of creamy citrus (think merengue) and just a breath of fig and hazelnut the 2013 Bien Nacido Chardonnay is the perfect canvas for this salmon preparation. Keep the sides fresh and vibrant like this hash of sweet corn and edamame. Liberally season the fish with garlic salt and lemon pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, on a non-stick baking sheet or in a non-stick pan. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes at 450 degree oven.

Sangiovese with Cajun Spiced Salmon

Salmon is a hearty meaty fish with high fat content (the good fats!) so it can play with high acid, high clarity varietals like Sangiovese. For the seasoning I used a Cajun spice rub but added additional garlic and black pepper. I wanted the spice to bring zing and pizzazz with our latest Sangiovese release. The 2012 Sangiovese shows vibrant notes of ripe red raspberry, rhubarb and trademark anise. It is a mid-palate explosion of delicious and perfect with the rich spiced salmon

Pinot Noir with Ginger, Soy, and Balsamic Grilled Salmon

A simple soy sauce, brown sugar and ginger marinade, with a dash of lemon and garlic, are the perfect salty-sweet complement to rich salmon fillets. Evocative Asian notes of ginger and soy are classic flavors for Pinot Noir pairing and the smoky grill perfectly accentuates this earthy wine. Our Anderson Valley Pinot Noir has just a touch of exotic spice but the palate showstopper is the obvious grace and elegance iconic to cool climate Pinot Noir.



Summer (Food and Wine) Ramblings

Mary Davidek

June 29th, 2015

Summer (Food and Wine) Ramblings

Admittedly, I have been remiss in my food and wine blogging; although I have been writing (daily), thinking (constantly says this insomniac), photographing (my nemesis, just putting it out there) all while enjoying amazing meals and drinking ridiculous wine. Ridiculous meaning copious amounts of delicious, of course. I have been taking pictures and eventually it all comes down to….just do it. The following are a few images (be kind) and I will keep it going through the season of summer ramblings.

I encourage you to email your ramblings–inspirational recipe ideas along with pictures of friends and food with Castello di Amorosa wine to foodandwine@castellodiamorosa.com

Happy summer!

Fresh  halibut fish tacos with watermelon salsa and tequila lime crema. Halibut courtesy of top angler and Napa native Tim Berg of Peninsula Processing (http://www.great-alaska-seafood.com/)

As we wait for summer’s tomato harvest this cool and refreshing Watermelon Salsa is super tasty and perfect to top any grilled white fish:

  • 3 cups diced seedless watermelon
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, (approx. 1/2 bunch)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion (1/2 small)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

    

This was the final road trip for our 2011 Sangiovese. Paired with halibut and exotic mushroom and shallot risotto. This wine was ideal for the rich creamy risotto and earthy mushrooms.

In nearby Calistoga, Sam’s Social Club at the newly renovated Indian Springs Resort has become a popular dining spot for up-valley residents. Pictured is seared Foie Gras paired with a classic 1989 sauternes.  Next time I am bringing Il Passito Reserve Late Harvest Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc, as Sam’s never charges a corkage fee!  Castello di Amorosa’s Il Passito is made with classic sauternes wine-making techniques. Extended French oak fermentation delivers not only an extremely age worthy wine but provides layers of complexity and unctuous mouthfeel.

Caprese salad with grilled shrimp and scallops turns a starter salad into a delicious entrée.

Because it is good to be king! King Crab Legs, yum!

And finally, enjoy your summer of food and wine ramblings with amazing friends!

Mary Davidek C. S., S.W.



Cinco De Mayo Meets Cinque di Maggio

Mary Davidek

May 4th, 2015

Cinco De Mayo Meets Cinque di Maggio

Cinco de Mayo, like St Patrick’s Day are regional celebrations that do not limit participation based on heritage or ethnicity. Across the United States every 5th of May brings colorful festivities and parties filled with fruity margarita concoctions, icy cold cerveza and tasty foods from south of the border. I was raised in a heavily Mexican-American influenced area of Southern California and well, let’s just say I know my around a carniceria. Carne means meat so technically a carniceria is a meat market but used as a word for a neighborhood market with a meat counter, fresh produce and other grocery items. Cinco de Mayo meant we were heading to our friend’s home for an evening of delicious food, fun and drink…. but first a stop at the carniceria. I can still smell the smoky aroma of grilled Carne Asada and the sweet spice of the marinated carnitas wafting from the busy market. Orders were made early as this was a big day, regardless of a school night or weekend Cinco de Mayo does not wait for Seis de Mayo.

As I have mentioned I am of Irish-Italian heritage and while Mom’s pale Irish skin and grey-green eyes stuck out in the olive-skinned mix, her tortilla making skills were top notch! Freshly-made hot tortillas could “melt the ice-cold heart of any poor sot” mom would say and she was so right…warm to the touch and impossible to resist; zesty salsa fresca, chips and guacamole, charred and smoky barbacoa tacos, fragrant and spicy chile verde, all so mouth-watering and intoxicating.

For bebidas (drinks!) at some time during the party they would put the margarita salt aside and set the beer on ice as the southern Italian in my dad needed to have a bit of vino with every meal regardless of the occasion and Cinco de Mayo was no exception.

Just a few of the favorites….

Italian Varietals like Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese offer juicy fruit and natural acidity which are simpatico with these big latino flavors.

The Best Guacamole!

Although avocados have natural oils, the addition of olive oil adds a textural emulsification that takes guacamole to the next level. Of course, olive oil or garlic had to eventually enter this equation somehow!

Combine:

♦ 2 large ripe Haas avocados (just slightly soft to the touch)

♦ ½ small lemon, juiced

♦ 1 small roma tomato diced

♦ 1 cup finely chopped cilantro

♦ 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

♦ ½  Tbsp. salt

♦ 2 Tbsp. olive oil



Maui (re) Visited

Mary Davidek

March 24th, 2015

Maui (re) Visited

Returning from a vacation typically means back to the grind, even when the ‘grind’ is a beautiful castle winery in a picture perfect vineyard, vacations are rejuvenating and refreshing. As I was looking at pictures from our trip I realized the majority of the images were not of lush ocean tropical landscapes but of the delicious foods and amazing wines we enjoyed. Fresh seafood flown in from Alaska from our good friends and travel partners Tim and Carol Berg (www.great-alaska-seafood.com) dominted the menu during our time in Maui. I admit, Alaskan seafood in Hawaii may not be the norm but our 49th and 50th states definitely made for delicious pairings! Next year…maybe Lomi-Lomi Salmon on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula!

The best seafood salad dressing and certainly one of the easiest-

Combine 4 parts Mayo to 1 part spicy cocktail sauce and 1 tsp sesame seed oil

   

Hawaiian Portuguese inspired Paella made with fresh clams and linguiça paired with Sangiovese and yes, the biggest king crab legs this side of Hana!



Terra de Promissio - Checkmate Castello

Mary Davidek

February 8th, 2015

Terra de Promissio – Checkmate Castello

I love a game of chess, deep thought and out-maneuvering, strategy and calculating, all while carefully not giving up your advantage.  Chess is also an apt metaphor for many life situations; social posturing, politics of work, positioning friends, and dare I say…family?  Business is a place we commonly employ schemes and strategies, even the business of wine can pose circumstances which entail positioning and thoughtful approach. Admittedly this may seem counter-intuitive; to many, wine is perceived to be artistic and cerebral. Wine evokes romance and esoteric conversation, not strategy or offensive and defensive tactical maneuvers. However, as in all business, great success requires planning and navigating. After all, for a winery,  in the vast world of palate-pleasing if one only makes wine one likes or prefers, you may appeal to, well, one.

Which brings me to my point…and yes, I have one.

At a recent staff meeting the topic du jour was the release of the Castello’s much anticipated Pinot Noir from the Terra de Promissio vineyard in Sonoma County. Certain die-hard cab-loving staff members were having a bit of a challenge wrapping their mind and palate around this particular bottling.  Full disclosure, this is not a Cabernet lover’s Pinot. No, the Terra de Promissio vineyard is planted with prized Burgundy clones, the fruit displays structure with finesse and elegance rather than some Cali Pinot Noir’s cab-like vim and vigor.

This pedigreed vineyard is located on a 50-acre ranch in Sonoma, overlooking the town of Petaluma in an area of much viticultural success known as the Petaluma Gap. Caution; an internet search result may yield directions to an outlet mall so include the term ‘Pinot Noir’ if searching for info about the Petaluma Gap. (unless you are looking for jeans or a sweater!)

The “Gap” is actually a wind gap named for the coastal mountain opening that stretches east from the Pacific through the town of Petaluma and south to San Pablo Bay. This marine cooled gap creates perfect growing territory for cool temperature loving thin-skinned Pinot Noir grapes.

With the acquisition of Terra de Promissio fruit, Castello has advanced on yet another strategic post of wine making and palate-pleasing, classic old world meets new world Pinot Noir. This base is covered…the palates are pleased. Good move.

Now, back to the point I assured you I would make. While it is true, Cabernet Sauvignon is the powerful king of the sun-drenched Northern end of Napa Valley, Pinot Noir is most certainly the reigning queen from Sonoma.

And, just like the game of chess……it is the queen who takes the game.

Checkmate.

Chinese Five Spice Chicken Thighs

Five Spice is a preblended mixture of Star Anise, Cloves, Cinnamon, pepper and ground Fennel Seed and is a tasty rub for pork, salmon and poultry. Five Spice doesn’t overwhlem Pinot’s subtlely, instead, the bright red fruit notes of the Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir create a perfect complement for this exotic spice rub. This quick and delicious preparation is also ideal for chicken legs or appetizer wings.

Directions:

  • Rinse and dry chicken pieces.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Coat the chicken with a dry rub of Chinese Five Spice.
  • Place the chicken thighs in a pan and into oven and bake for about 25 to 35 minutes – until completely cooked through (an inserted thermometer should read 170 degrees).
  • Serve with rice and enjoy!