Semolina Cake w/ Herb and Citrus Syrup

Recipe Date: March 8th, 2021
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Semolina Cake with Herb and Citrus Syrup

Adapted with changes from Azlin Bloor, Lins Food

Italian semolina cakes are traditionally desserts made with a rich cornmeal or grain created for celebrations like Carnival. This moist dense cake incorporates a touch of sweetness when it is adorned with an infused simple syrup of perfume-y lemons or citrus. With our semolina cake, we used fresh-picked Castello rosemary and lemons to create a dynamic flavor profile pairable with our Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay – a perfect treat for anytime of day!

Cake Batter

220g (7 4/5oz) fine semolina (semolina flour)

120g (4 1/5oz) ground almonds (almond flour)

1 tsp baking powder

240g (8 2/5oz) salted butter

240g (8 2/5oz) caster or granulated sugar

3 large eggs

80g (1/4 cup) Lemon Curd

Rosemary and Lemon Syrup

125ml (1/2 cup) water

100g (1/2 cup) white sugar

1 lemon – rind and juice

3 sprigs rosemary

2 Tbsp limoncello (optional)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180˚C/160˚C Fan/350˚F.
  • You will need a 20cm (8″) round cake tin. Grease and line it as required. Mine doesn’t need lining, just greasing. Set aside.
  • Place the semolina, ground almonds and baking powder in a large bowl, mix and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar for 1 whole minute until pale and light in texture. Depending on the speed of your mixer, you can reduce the time.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, along with a tablespoon of the semolina mix with each egg. Beat at high speed for a good 30 seconds between each addition. Adding flour with your egg, or in this instance, semolina and almonds, will stop the eggs from curdling. I do this for all my cakes. If your batter does curdle, it doesn’t matter, your cake will still be fine, if just marginally different in texture.
  • Fold in the lemon curd, then the semolina and almond mix. Fold in or beat on the lowest setting.
  • Pour your cake batter into your prepared tin and bake for 1 hour. If your oven runs hot, check it at the 55 min mark. 
    • Side note: If you notice your cake browning at the top darker than you prefer, take some foil to cover the edges and top about 30-35 minutes into baking. 
  • Take it out of the oven and pour half the syrup all over. Leave to cool slightly before taking out of the tin and serving. Folks with a sweet tooth, can add their more syrup to the individual slices.

Rosemary Syrup

  • Use a vegetable peeler and peel long strips off the lemon, then slice these strips thinly.
    • We peeled (2) lemons for extra flavor!
  • Place the lemon strips, water and sugar in a saucepan on low heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Take it off the heat and add the lemon juice and rosemary sprigs. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then strain and stir in the limoncello if using. Keep the syrup aside until needed. You can hang on to the lemon peel and rosemary for garnish
Notes:

Yield: 12 servings

Prep & Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Salute!


Wine Pairing – Pinot Bianco



Pesto Pasta

Ziti Rigati w/ Pesto Guanciale & Romano

Pesto Pasta

Recipe Date: March 1st, 2021
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Ziti Rigati with Fava Bean Pesto Guanciale & Pecorino Romano

From Amy Gulick Italy Magazine

When asked to create an Italian-inspired dish using Castello products, Executive Chef of Oak Avenue Catering, Shannon Kelly delivered! “My inspiration for our pasta dish is simply SPRING! In the middle of Winter I crave the warmth and sunshine of springtime. Fava beans express to me the essence of spring and I feel this dish utilizes these simple but flavorful ingredients to capture springtime on a plate.” Footage of the chef recreating the dish coming soon!

 

Oak Avenue Catering Fava Bean Pesto 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fava beans
  • ¼ – 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Castello Basil Grape Seed Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon and juice
  • Salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

Put favas into the bowl of your food processor along with the cheese, zest, juice, salt and red pepper flakes and pulse a few times. Add the oil and continue to pulse until you have a somewhat chunky but

amalgamated pesto. Taste the pesto and season. Process longer if you want a smoother consistency.

 

Ziti Rigati with Fava Bean Pesto Guanciale & Pecorino Roman

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces guanciale or pancetta, cut into thin strips
  • 1 pound of Castello-imported Ziti Rigati Pasta
  • Castello Basil Grape seed Oil
  • Salt for cooking pasta

Directions

Cook your pasta al dente in plenty of salted water, and in the meantime cook thin strips of guanciale/pancetta in grape seed oil until just turning crisp. When the pasta is ready add it to the guanciale/pancetta along with several scoops of your pesto, some grated pecorino Romano and freshly ground black pepper. Add a small amount of pasta water to make a creamy sauce. Sprinkle some more grated Romano cheese and drizzle some basil grape seed oil over the top and serve with a glass of Castello Vermentino!

Notes

Yield: 6 servings | Prep & Cook Time: 1 Hour

Enjoy and cheers!

March 2021 Competition

The entry rules are as followed:

Call Wine Club with any questions at 7079676274!


Wine Pairing – Vermentino



Flourless Chocolate Cake

Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Recipe Date: February 1st, 2021
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Torta Tenerina—Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake

From Our Sweet Adventures

The Origin of the Torta Tenerina: A Love Story

Torta Tenerina translates to “very tender cake.” This decadent and traditional Italian dessert, with its’ crispy edges and melting chocolate center, hails from Ferrara of northern Italy. In 1896, King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy Met Elena Petrovich of Montenegro at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice during the International Art Exhibition. History states it was love at first sight and the couple soon wedded on October 24,1896. The two had a loving marriage and ascended to the throne in 1900. queen Elena became known as “the bride with the tender heart.” The people named the cake after her and often referred to it as the Torta Montenegrin or Torta Regina del Montenegro as well.

Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups (283 grams) of grated 70%
  • chocolate bars
  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • 3/4 Cups granulated sugar (separated into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate slowly by stirring constantly. Then add the butter in increments until a silky-smooth mixture forms.

Whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture turns pale yellow and begins ribbon stage.

Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture and mix thoroughly. Then add the cornstarch and a pinch of salt into the batter until combined. At this point, the batter will be thick and paste-like. Set aside.

In another bowl, create a meringue by whisking together the egg whites with the remaining sugar until medium-stiff peaks form.

Carefully fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture in three increments. You do not want to over mix or you will lose air in the batter.

Pour the cake batter into the greased springform pan. Level it out evenly. Then bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes. You will know when the cake is finished baking when it feels firm to the touch.

Note: To compliment the rich flavors of this cake, pair it with a glass of La Fantasia or our La Castellana

 

 

Notes

Yield: 8 servings | Prep & Cook Time: 50 minutes

 

Enjoy and cheers!


Wine Pairing – La Castellana or La Fantasia



steak florentine recipe

Florentine-Style Steak

steak florentine recipe

Recipe Date: February 1st, 2021
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Bistecca Alla Fiorentina (Florentine-Style Beef Steak)

From Flapper Press

In the 16th Century, the Piazza San Lorenzo served as an international crossroads in Florance, Italy. When the English knights visited the Piazza, they would express their appreciation of the Florentine Streak shouting “beef steak,” influencing the Florentines naming the meat “bistecca.” This hearty steak, typically the T-Bone of a cow, is grilled over charcoal for a caramelized outside with a rare and juicy inside.*

Ingredients

  • 1 Porterhouse steak, cut 2-3 inches thick, 3-3.5 pounds
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2-4 sprigs of rosemary (optional, for serving)
  • Lemon wedges (optional, for serving)

Directions

Prepare your grill, with coals or wood embers. Using an electric grill or cast-iron griddle would work as well.

Heat the surface of the grill. Place the Porterhouse steak standing on the bone to warm the interior and soften the fat fiber. Continue for about 15 minutes.

Now heat the grill to a very high temperature. Place the steak on its’ side for 5 minutes without moving the meat. The meat should roast without burning and come away with beautiful grill markings.

Final Touches

When the meat is done to your liking, remove it from the grill and let it rest for about 15 minutes in a warm place for the juices to settle.

Carve the filet and strip the steaks off the bone. Slice each steak against the grain and place on a serving platter with lemons, rosemary, and salt.

 

Notes

Serves: 3-4 People | Cook Time: 25 min

 

Enjoy and cheers!


Wine Pairing – Il Barone or Cabernet Sauvignon



Pasta Recipe

Cacio e Pepe

Pasta Recipe

Recipe Date: December 2nd, 2020
Difficulty: Easy
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Cacio e Pepe

From Laura in The Kitchen

The Cacio e pepe pasta, an incredible dish of the ancient Roman Sheppards’ dating back to the 5th century. This remains a simple dish for the everyday people that is now quite famous in Italian cuisine. We are pairing this pasta with our Pinot Noir that gives a complimenting spice when paired together. The recipe below is by Laura Vitale of the Laura in the Kitchen Youtube channel. She began cooking in the kitchen of her Grandmother in Naples, Italy and brought her love of creating “food that feeds the soul” to the United States.

Ingredients

  • 8oz of Spaghetti
  • 3oz of Finely Shredded Pecorino (see notes below)
  • 1-1/2 tsp of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Salt

Directions

• Fill a pot with water, add a generous pinch of salt (not too much) and bring to a boil, add the pasta and cook 2 minutes shy of package instructions.

• In a large skillet (I prefer a non-stick heavy duty skillet here) add the ground black pepper, toast for about a minute, meanwhile reserve a couple of cups of starchy cooking water and set aside while you drain your pasta.

• Add 1/2 cup of the starchy water to the bowl of shredded cheese, stir and set aside.

• Add an additional 1/2 cup of the starchy water to the skillet with the pepper, then add the spaghetti (make sure the heat is on low) and start adding your cheese mixture, constantly stirring until Emulsified and adding any additional cooking water if needed. Continue the process until your sauce comes together.

Notes

This dish is one you need to practice, so many things can create a clumpy split mess so I hope these tips help avoid that. Make sure your cheese is grated finely using a Microplane and make sure it’s at room temperature. Keep an eye on the heat level, you might need to remove the pan completely from the burner to avoid overheating the cheese. Avoid using a thin metal pan, it gets way too hot and heats unevenly, most of the time I’ve tried making this dish in anything besides my heavy duty all clad non-stick skillet, it turned out a mess. Don’t over-salt your water, I know it looks like I added a lot of salt in the video but keep in mind I don’t use fine table salt, I use coarse kosher salt so it’s technically triple the size of a regular fine salt. This is a dish that needs to be eaten HOT, right off the stove and traditionally it should be served on warm plates to keep the sauce from setting and hardening the second it hits a cold surface. Use the best (imported if possible) pecorino Romano you can find, if you use a cheaper version or pre-shredded I can guarantee you it will clump in a second! I also use a bit more cheese but it’s easier to start with 3oz and once you have the technique down you can add another ounce. I hope these tips help, for such a simple dish it’s the technique that really matters and it does take some trial and error.

 

Enjoy and cheers!


Wine Pairing – Pinot Noir, Il Rubino



Ahi Avocado Salad with Ponzu

Recipe Date: June 6th, 2018

Serving Size:

Cook Time:

Difficulty: Easy

Measurements: Imperial (US)

Ahi Avocado Salad with Ponzu

From Mary Davidek

Ingredients

1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tbsps water
2 tbsps rice vinegar
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 1/2 tsps lime juice (with zest to taste)

Directions

Mix well and pour over cubed Ahi and Avocado.

Chardonnay may not be the traditional go-to for Ahi salad, but, a bit of aging leveled off the acidity and the velvety texture of the avocado played off the creamy notes of the Chardonnay. This was a delicious and luxurious pairing.”

– Mary Davidek

See this recipe featured in Mary’s Food and Wine Blog: In Defense of a Napa Valley Hero



Food and Wine

Perfect Pairings Dynamic Duo

Mary Davidek

February 11th, 2013

Perfect Pairings Dynamic Duo

The first time I saw the man who would eventually become my husband I was dumb-struck (quite a confession those who know me will attest).  Just my type; tall, dark (it was summer), and handsome.  After a chat over a glass of vino (what else?), I made the fatal mistake of telling him I thought he was smarter than I was.  I say fatal mistake as it is now 24 years later and he won’t let me forget that statement.

Our friends often tell us they have never met 2 people more suited for each other, meant to be together.  Better together as 1 than separate as 2.  Like peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, peas and carrots……it just works.

Perfect pairings certainly enhance and intensify and one thing which is singularly good, but with food and wine, perfect pairings take on a new meaning.  If you have ever been on the Royal Pairing Tour at Castello di Amorosa you may have experienced a few of these perfect pairings.  A rich pate’ with Castello’s award winning Il Passito comes to mind.  Sommeliers agree this match is perfection.  Popular wine writer Karen Macneil says “this luxurious pairing comes perilously close to maxing out the human tolerance for pleasure”.  An endorsement like that certainly piques the imagination.  But, must perfect pairings always be so lofty, and quite candidly, so costly to be perfect?  Does perfection have a price?  A rule of thumb, pair rich with rich and humble with humble.  One of my affordable favorites, a simple roast chicken (any grocery store’s rotisserie is fine), and a bottle of Pinot Noir.  The rustic flavors of a simple roast chicken, a loaf of crusty bread and the earthy tones of Pinot Noir are magical together.  When selecting your pinot go for light and fruity bottlings from Sonoma.  For my dollar Castello’s Los Carneros Pinot Noir is the perfect choice with a hit of clove balanced with bright fruit.  This Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to perfect pairings, celebrate this dynamic duo with your honey.  Light a couple of candles, put in your favorite music, pour a couple glasses of vino and relax.
Throughout the year, connect with your inner match-maker; go forth and discover new and exciting pairings.

And remember, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder……

Cheers and Happy Valentine’s Day

Mary Davidek C.S., C.S.W



Left Over---But Not Forgotten

Mary Davidek

November 24th, 2012

Letf Over – But Not Forgotten

Having a birthday on or near a holiday has its good and bad points. Obviously, friends and family gather to frolic and take part in festive merriment. Unfortunately, said merriment typically has little to do with the birthday and everything to do with the holiday. Me, I share my birthday with a Turkey. November 25th is always crammed with either celebration preparation or post-feast recovery. Every 7th year my birthday is THE day and the turkey proves a formidable rival; pumpkin pie with birthday candles does not have the allure of butter cream frosting with bright neon pink birthday wishes.

My mother was sensitive to this scheduling conflict, thus, when I was very young I was appeased with a trek to the toy store and carte blanche up to $25. In my teens, it was off to the movie theater with my friends for whatever movie was making its blockbuster holiday premier and a pizza sleep-over. As I grew up and eventually, out, we took on a new tradition. I was crowned the decision maker as to what to do with the turkey left-overs. Finally, the bird’s day in the spotlight was over, literally left-over.

A few of my favorites were fairly ordinary; Shepherd’s Pie, Turkey pot pie and Turkey noodle soup were regulars. As I got older, the requests were a bit more sophisticated. Turkey and sour cream enchiladas met with approval and when I requested Turkey Taquitos–that was a keeper.

However, one of my favorites was nothing inventive, creative or inspired by culinary vision. Regardless of my left-over request, turkey salad on mini cocktail bread made an annual appearance and truth be told, I would have forgotten about the other gastronomic explorations in favor of the plate of petite pleasers. As I came of age to share a bit of vino, a glass of bubbly or a fruity rose was included in the party.

I no longer compete with the bird, instead, we are allies. I happily share my birthday with the invited guest and relish the tasty treats it provides.

I thank the bird as left-over memories fill me with happiness.

Not only a great way to use the turkey, but with this salad you can toss in fennel, celery, apples, onion, or cranberries. The La Fantasia has bright berry notes and a slight effervescence; what a way to welcome the holiday season.
Mary Davidek C. S., S.W.

Merlot Napa Valley


Food & Wine Tour Napa Valley

Brussels Sprouts, Wine and a Founding (foodie) Father

Mary Davidek

November 14th, 2012

Brussels Sprouts, Wine and a Founding (foodie) Father

My inaugural blog is inspired by the season (harvest, Thanksgiving) as well as a pivotal election year. Lately, I have found myself churning with thoughts of presidents, Thanksgiving feasts and, of course, wine. For some inexplicable reason this combined into one seemingly implausible package when suddenly an image of Thomas Jefferson became etched in my mind. After a little cyber-searching clarity was resumed; apparently, for me, nothing says ‘Thanksgiving’ like Thomas Jefferson, Brussels sprouts, and wine!

Although the exact origins of Brussels sprouts are not known, Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing these curious plants to the United States and they were planted at Monticello, his Virginia home. Jefferson loved wine and became one of the world’s most quoted wine connoisseurs. He said ‘wine is a necessity of life’. Well, along with great wine our nation’s 3rd president also had quite an appetite for interesting food and was known for his sophisticated palate. Jefferson frequently hosted lively dinner parties and would often tantalize and intrigue his guests with new delicacies and served delicious wine and unusual foods to promote stimulating conversation. I can only imagine the questioning glance of an inquisitive guest as a platter of odd mini- cabbages were set upon the table and unexpectedly found them to be deliciously savory little vegetables.

With mouthwatering dishes, wine flowing, animated discussions and laughter filling the air……….I then pictured a pleased Thomas Jefferson, content and giving thanks.

Shucked Brussels Sprout leaves Sautéed with shallots and pine nuts
(Aka How to Convert Brussels Sprout Haters into Brussels Sprout Lovers!)

Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable as are cabbage, broccoli, and kale.  They contain healthy amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fiber and are believed to protect against certain cancers.

It takes a bit time but it is oddly therapeutic. Once shucked from the core, the green leaves of the sprout don’t have a bitter tang. 1 pound of Brussels sprouts shucked leaves serves 4.

Sea salt, pepper (white or black), butter, pine nuts, shucked leaves, shallots, chicken stock

Lightly sauté pine nuts and shallots in 1TBSP butter and sprinkle w/ salt. Remove from heat.

Sautee sprout leaves in 1 TBSP butter and season w/ salt and pepper. Add 2 to 5 ounces chicken stock as a light braising liquid. Boiling sprouts results in significant loss of nutrients but sautéing or roasting does not. Add pine nut and shallot mixture once the sprouts begin to cook down.

Although veggies are not typically wine-friendly, the butter and pine nuts make this a match for Chardonnay. Castello di Amorosa’s Reserve Chardonnay offers just the right touch of juicy pear and stone fruits balanced with a texture of creamy nutty tones that compliments the richness of this dish.

For extra goodness, sprinkle with grated parm.

Buon Appetito.

Merlot Napa Valley


Sangiovese-Braised Short Ribs

Recipe Date: February 16th, 2012
Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 2
Cook Time: 03:30
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Sangiovese-Braised Short Ribs with Cranberries and Brown Onions

From Chef Alejandra Schrader

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs 4 Bone-in short ribs
  • 1 tbsp Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 tbsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp ground ancho chili
  • 1 tbsp grape seed flour
  • 1 cup brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups Sangiovese wine
  • 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

Preheat oven at 375°F

Season short ribs with cocoa powder, paprika, ancho chili, salt, and pepper; rub all over using your hands and let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Heat 2 tbsp of grape seed oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven; sear ribs until golden and crispy, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Return pot to heat and sauté onions for a couple of minutes, then add cranberries and sauté for 1 more minute. Sprinkle grape seed flour and stir with wooden spoon. Return ribs to pot and add wine, balsamic vinegar, and water.  Stir and make sure to scrape any bits from the bottom of the pot. Cover and transfer to oven; cook for 3 hours. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes, uncovered, before serving.

Serve two short ribs on each plate and top with cranberries and onions. Spoon some of the sangiovese sauce and garnish with green onions.