Stuffed Mushrooms with Cameron Hughes Wine

Thank you Cameron Hughes for sponsoring this post. Capture the celebratory spirit of the holidays, and toast to the season with Cameron Hughes wine!

One of my favorite appetizers in the world are stuffed mushrooms. They can be of any kind. But paired with another fav, the glorious Thanksgiving side dish I go crazy for; stuffing, the combination is deliciously lethal. But anything that goes perfectly well with a nice hors-d'oeuvre is a really nice glass of wine. Exceptional wine, extraordinary value. Great wine doesn't have to be expensive and Cameron Hughes wine's mission is simple: Buy the best possible wine for the best possible price. Which is why I'm so happy to partner with this San Francisco-based wine company founded by Cameron Hughes! In today's post, I'm sharing my thoughts on three different bottles of wine from this brand including my very own quick and easy stuffed mushroom recipe.

The stuffed mushroom recipe literally consists of only 3 items, minus the butter and boiling water. Aside from that, all you need are white mushrooms, sweet Italian sausage (or any sausage you'd like to try it with), and Stove Top's 'Savory Herbs' stuffing. I do know how to make homemade stuffing, which I do almost every Thanksgiving, but it does require more time and it does always taste better cooked in the bird. All that flavor you're missing out on! But sometimes, for something simple and painless this recipe takes less than an hour to prepare + make on top of going well with either a red or white wine. 

photos + recipe by ©   Suzanne Spiegoski

photos + recipe by © Suzanne Spiegoski

Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

24 oz fresh whole white mushrooms (about 28)

1/2 lb bulk spicy Italian sausage, cooked and drained

1 box Stove Top 'Savory Herbs' stuffing

Directions:

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove stems from mushroom caps; discard stems.

On an ungreased 15x10-inch pan with sides, place mushrooms, stem-side down. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until they just start to release their juices. Remove mushrooms from pan; drain. Remove any liquid from pan.

In a medium bowl, mix Stove Top (cooked) and sausage until well blended. Divide and spoon filling into mushroom caps, mounding slightly. Place mushrooms in the same 15x10-inch pan.

Bake 13 to 18 minutes or until golden brown on top and heated through.

My friends and I first tried the Chardonnay. The super fresh nose of honeysuckle, pear, and apple gains weight and complexity with a bit of air, adding papaya and orange creamsicle to the mix. Creamy and supple on entry, this wine really hits the “umami” button, with rich orange sherbet and vanilla notes riding that honeyed beam of acidity I find so thrilling about the Chardonnays from this region. Robust yet wonderfully complex even at this young age, it finishes in long waves of ripe fruit and creamy vanilla. Yum.

Next up is the beautifully balanced, complex Pinot Noir that will have broad appeal, providing ample punch but also carefully delineated flavors. Pale ruby in the glass, this Pinot starts with rose petal and earthy black cherry on the nose, opening up to reveal the warmer plum and brown baking spice notes with hints of pepper. Ample yet very refined on the palate, with perfect balance and emerging complexity that will definitely improve in the short term as this opens up in the bottle over the next month or two before settling in for long-term aging. Rich and concentrated on the palate with pretty yet ripe plum mingling peppery spice notes, this wine has plush texture and balance in a long, smooth, harmonious finish.

And lastly, no expense spared, icon-level winemaking. Aged in 50% new French oak, this opaque black wine is textbook, classic Rutherford Cabernet. Sumptuous and suave on the nose, it features a gorgeous mélange of blackberry, cherry, cassis, dark chocolate and mint underpinned with graphite and mineral wrapped in lavender florals. The palate is juicy and succulent, with red and black fruit and a finely knit but resounding kirsch/mocha punch. I have to say out of the three, the reds were my favorite, especially the Pinot Noir. What kind of wine do you normally drink with an appetizer? 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

LOVE & XX'S,

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Ultimate Cheese Plate with Wines of Garnacha/Grenache


European quality Garnacha/Grenache wines are not as expensive as some other styles of high-quality wines, making them the perfect wines to impress guests without breaking the bank. Their wide range of styles and aromas mean there is a European quality Garnacha/Grenache wine for any occasion or seasonal celebration.A symbol of European food culture, European quality Garnacha/Grenache wines are meant to be shared with others and enjoyed with delicious food and loved ones. Since the Garnacha/Grenache grape comes in all styles, European quality Garnacha/Grenache wines can pair with anything: Garnacha/Grenache's tannins are moderate enough as to not taste bitter when paired with sweet, sour, salty or spicy sauces, yet Garnacha/Grenache retains enough tannins to cut through meat fats; There is the umami factor, specifically, the reaction of salt and acidity when activated by foods high in amino acids (such as mushrooms, aged cheeses, sea vegetables), which reduces the sensation of bitterness. In today's food & wine post, I'm sharing my ultimate cheese plate (some of my faves) paired with wines of Garnacha/Grenache, in that both French and Spanish wines can go together very well with this assortment of nibbly food! Yum...

Obviously, with a cheese plate comes the cheese, so let's talk about which kinds of cheeses are my favorites and which ones go well with which wine. 

  • Emmental (Emmentaler or Emmenthal) is a yellow, medium-hard Swiss cheese that originated in the area around Emmental, Canton Bern. It has a savory, but mild taste. This cheese is produced in the central cantons of Switzerland. It is a traditional, unpasteurized, hard cheese made from cow's milk. It's hard, thin rind is covered by paper with producer's name on it. The aroma is sweet with tones of fresh-cut hay. The flavor is very fruity, not without a tone of acidity. Emmental has walnut-sized holes. It is considered to be one of the most difficult cheeses to be produced because of it's complicated hole-forming fermentation process. The cheese tastes delicious with a glass of wine, for example, Côtes du Roussillon.
  • Colby Jack or Cojack is a classic American combination of Colby and Monterey Jack cheese. The cheese was invented when Colby and Monterey Jack were blended together before pressing. A semi-soft cheese, it exhibits a unique eye-appealing marbled white and orange exterior that makes it a fun snack to eat on-the-go, and is probably one of my most favorite cheeses ever. The taste of Colby Jack varies from mild and smooth, to lightly sweet, to sharp and tangy. It groups well with deli meat, sandwiches, soups, sauces, burgers, dark breads like pumpernickel and rye, omelets, casseroles, steamed vegetables, baked potatoes and fruits like apples and pears. Perfect with red.
  • Camembert Marie Harel created the original Camembert cheese from raw milk in Normandy, France in 1791. Today, however, a very small percentage of producers make cheese from raw milk with the same process as Marie Harel would have used. Those who produce cheese using Marie Harel's method can legally call their cheese Camembert Normandie under the AOC guidelines. However, the production of Camembert cheese has now transcended the AOC designation. Very good varieties of Camembert cheese made from pasteurized milk can be found in Normandy today. The best of them is the Camembert Le Châtelain. The fresh Camembert cheese is bland, hard and crumbly in texture. Young Camembert has a milky and sweet taste. As the cheese matures it forms a smooth, runny interior and a white bloomy rind that is typical to Camembert cheese. It has a rich, buttery flavor. The rind is bloomy white caused by a white fungus, called penicillium candidum.The rind is meant to be eaten with the cheese. Goes well with red wine.
  • Gruyere is named after a Swiss village. It is traditional, creamery, unpasteurized, semi-soft cheese. The natural, rusty brown rind is hard, dry and pitted with tiny holes. The cheese is a darker yellow than Emmental but the texture is more dense and compact. Slightly grainy, the cheese has a wonderful complexity of flavors - at first fruity, later becomes more earthy and nutty. To make Gruyere, raw milk is heated to 93 degrees F and liquid rennet is added for curdling. The resulting curd is cut into small pieces which release whey while being stirred. The curd is cooked at 110 degrees F and raised quickly to 130 degrees F. The pieces become shriveled which is the cue to place the curd in molds for pressing. The cheese is salted in brine for 8 days and ripened for two months at room temperature or a quick method: 10 days at 50 degrees F. Curing lasts from 3 to 10 months (the longer the curing period the better the cheese). Loved this the most with the red Garnacha Las Moradas de San Martín.
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The Las Moradas de San Martín Garnacha wine was the winner in my book of all the wines I paired with my ultimate cheese plate. Their winery began in 1999 on the Madrid side of the Gredos range of hills, recovering the ancient Garnacha vineyards that have been cultivated since the 12th century in the municipality of San Martín de Valdeiglesias. Pago de los Castillejos is where the Madrid region meets the northern part of Toledo and the southern part of Ávila on the edge of the Gredos range. Its climate and special soils make it possible to make wines with plenty of personality and quality. A commitment to the future of people and this land. “Las Moradas” (known in English as “The Interior Castle”) is the title of the last book Saint Teresa wrote. The name is intended as a nod to literature, as the wine of this area is mentioned by the most important writers of the Spanish Golden Age, and we reflect this on the labels of our bottles. 

I also really appreciated the Côtes du Roussillon Les Vignes de Bila-Haut white Grenache wine as well. A little background on this wine: The Roussillon history is complex and compelling, and has at times been quite violent. Terraces on stony soil, with a rich geological background and a climate that man has adopted for his crops. The Roussillon was bound to attract Michel Chapoutier’s attention. He decided to locate his domain at Latour de France. Black and brown schist to give the wine a solar touch. Gneiss for minerality and freshness. Combination of Limestone and chalk for strength and balance. Three varieties of grapes grow on the land covered by Domaine de BILA-HAUT. Syrah, with its savage aromas of scrub and spice. Grenache, so full of surprises. And Carignan, for mineral wines with crispy tannic notes. The “Vignes de BILA-HAUT” and the “Domaine de BILA-HAUT Occultum Lapidem” are the main expressions of this terroir. The pale yellow color with green tints exhibits citrus aromas such as lemon & grapefruit with smoky notes. It has great acidity (perfect with the Emmental cheese) with a lot of freshness on the finish mixed with salty notes, which express the minerality of the wine. 

Other favorites included in my cheese plate are Saucisson Sec aux Herbes de Provence (cured sausage), Mousse de Canard au Foie Gras or rather, duck foie gras, duck liver and duck meat elegantly combined, then sweetened with fresh grapes, raisins, and Sauternes wine. (oh so lovely with the white wine), cornichons (miniature pickles... sort of ha ha!), and lots of bread and red seedless grapes to pair with everything together. What are some of your favorites choices in a cheese platter of sorts? And how do you like to pair your plate with what kind of wine(s)? Leave your comments down below with your favorites and don't forget to check out these delicious Garnacha/Grenache wines here and here! Right in time for the weekend :)

LOVE & XX'S,

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Korean Coq Au Vin

Happy Friday and Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! Kiss me, I'm Korean (and Polish)! ;)

In light of the 'blizzard' this week here in NYC, we got lucky. Expecting over 2 feet turned over to only about a foot and the conditions were mostly icy with frigid temps! I bet a lot of you are looking forward to spring just as much as I am! With a snow day on our hands midweek (seriously everything was closed, from schools to banks... even Starbucks!), I cooked up more of a fall/winter dish that I've been dying to make. A well known French dish, I also wanted to put a twist on it and created a Korean Coq au vin.  

Korean Coq Au Vin

Serves 2-4

photos + recipe by  Suzanne Spiegoski

photos + recipe by Suzanne Spiegoski

Ingredients:

24 to 30 pearl onions
4 chicken thighs and legs, or 1 (5 to 7-pound) stewing chicken
¼ to ½ c AP flour
2 Tbsp water
6 ounces bacon, chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp butter
2 bottles red wine, preferably pinot noir or cabernet
2 Tbsp Gochujang
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, quartered
2 medium carrots, quartered
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock

Directions:

Preheat oven to 245 degrees F.

Cut off the root end of each pearl onion and make an "x" with your knife in its place. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in the onions for 1 minute. Remove the onions. Allow them to cool, and then peel. You should be able to slide the onions right out of their skin. Set aside.

Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the chicken pieces, a few at a time, into a large sealable plastic bag along with the flour. Shake to coat all of the pieces of the chicken. Remove the chicken from the bag to a metal rack.

Add the 2 tablespoons of water to a large, 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat along with the bacon. Cover and cook until the water is gone, and then continue to cook until the bacon are golden brown and crispy, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the salt pork from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, using the remaining fat, add the pearl onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté until lightly brown, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside. Next, brown the chicken pieces on each side until golden brown, working in batches if necessary to not overcrowd the pan. Transfer the chicken into a 7 to 8-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven.

Add the mushrooms to the same 12-inch sauté pan, adding the 1-tablespoon of butter if needed, and sauté until they give up their liquid, approximately 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Pour off any remaining fat and deglaze the pan with approximately 1 cup of the wine. Pour this into the Dutch oven along with the chicken stock, tomato paste, gochujang, quartered onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Add all of the remaining wine.

Place the chicken in the oven and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the chicken is tender. Maintain a very gentle simmer and stir occasionally.

Once the chicken is done, remove it to a heatproof container, cover, and place it in the oven to keep warm. Strain the sauce in a colander and remove the carrots, onion, celery, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf. Return the sauce to the pot, place over medium heat, and reduce by 1/3. Depending on how much liquid you actually began with, this should take 20 to 45 minutes.

Once the sauce has thickened, add the pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon and cook for another 15 minutes or until the heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, remove from the heat, add the chicken and serve.

*Tips: If you want to do it overnight, just do everything up to putting the chicken in the oven. That part is for the next day :) The longer you marinate, the better the flavor! xo

Coq au vin is a French dish of chicken braised with wine, lardons, mushrooms, and optionally garlic. What are we talkin' bout here, optional?! I LOVE garlic so hell YES you best put those bad boys in with the rest of the ingredients! So what's the Korean twist? Kimchi? Nope. I used a spicy red pepper paste called gochujang. It's a staple paste in Korean cuisine and I thought the already-complex flavors would be killer-good in this dish. And with old school mashed potatoes? Oh YAY. 

What's the secret to the most delicious mashed potatoes of your life? Butter, milk, and salt. That's it. I make sure to really boil the bejeezus out of the potatoes and make sure they're Idaho! I feel like this is the starchiest potatoes and are perfect for mashing. I know I'm sure I've mentioned it before but you guys have no idea how much I LOVE mashed potatoes. I always tell people if I were deserted on an island and only had one choice of food to live off on, it'd be just that. And I'd die a happy woman. HA HA HA! BUTTTTTTT, (enter sad face) I've discovered after experimenting for a few months, that the more dairy products I consume, the more my skin breakouts! Also, did you know that eating more dairy also dries your scalp, leading to dandruff and other skin issues? A good substitute is chicken or vegetable broth, if you want to opt out on the milk in the potatoes.  

Stay tuned for a new post coming up on the blog featuring an amazing NYC-based ethical luxury handbag brand that I had the pleasure of working with! Can't wait to share with you guys our photo shoot! It snowed that day and we had lots of fun taking photos in the Financial District of Manhattan. Soon to come, have a great Friday, friends! For more recipes, check them down below. :)

LOVE & XX'S,

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MaQ Shepherd's Pie

Sponsored Post: This post is intended for 21+ and sponsored by Wente Vineyards, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Check out Wente Vineyards Wine  Here .

Check out Wente Vineyards Wine Here.

Happy Sunday! The fall season has arrived and you know what that means - I get to cook all my favorite recipes to share with you guys! I am also discussing more about my passion in cooking today with Wente Vineyards wine! You'll rarely see me drink a glass of red during the warmer seasons, but as soon as that crisp air kicks in, I'm stocking up on a ton of pinot noir! And Wente Vineyard's Riva Ranch Pinot Noir is absolutely delicious! I had to create a hearty Autumn dish to perfectly go with my new favorite wine!  

One of my go-to fall meals is the classic Shepherd's pie (or Cottage pie as it's sometimes called). Rich in ground beef with carrot, onion, & garlic, and topped with gorgeously browned mashed potatoes, I did a tiny twist on my creation. Using the German Shepherd rolling pin from Stodola, I created thin-like biscuits to put on top of the pie. I was going to go for a rectangular pastry puff piece, but was concerned it might come out too mushy on top of the mashed potatoes. So instead I made circular biscuits using a glass. I loved how the pastry gave the dish more texture. It's flaky goodness made me oh so happy!  

MaQ Shepherd's Pie

Photos & recipe by  ©   Suzanne Spiegoski  

Photos & recipe by © Suzanne Spiegoski 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1.5lbs ground beef or lamb
Olive oil
1 large carrot
1 onion
Fresh thyme
Fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves
1/2c red wine (Wente Vineyard Riva Ranch Pinot Noir 2014)
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2c chicken broth
2Tbsp tomato paste
salt & pepper
5 large potatoes
1/4c heavy cream
3Tbsp butter
2 egg yolk
1c Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 400 degrees.
  2. Peel potatoes. Boil in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain, cool and set aside.
  3. Grate onion and carrot. Mince garlic and fresh herbs.
  4. Add olive oil in pan and cook meat until brown. Drain grease.
  5. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and salt & pepper.
  6. Add thyme, rosemary, tomato paste, red wine, and Worcestershire sauce.
  7. Add chicken broth. Cook on medium heat until most sauce has thickened.
  8. Meanwhile, mash potatoes in a bowl. Add salt & pepper, butter, heavy cream, egg yolks and Parmesan cheese. Mix well.
  9. Place meat in casserole dish. Then layer with mashed potato mixture. Take a fork and lightly poke.
  10. Cook in oven for 20-22 minutes. Serve immediately.

--- For the MaQ Shepherd biscuits, I used puff pastry and the German Shepherd rolling pin from here.

What's the secret to getting that nice golden color on the mashed potatoes? Parmesan cheese! I tried to focus the browning around the edges so the biscuits would have all the room they needed to also bake nicely on top.

Karl Wente, a 5th generation winemaker, blends his two passions of making wine and making music together. I love music and normally have some on while I cook (and maybe dance), and blending passions with Wente Vineyards is something you can do too! Watch Karl's video and share what inspires you or what you might pair your bottle of Wente wine with! I know I will be going through a ton more of red wines from them. :) 

Try Wente Vineyard wines and take advantage of their free shipping for a limited time only! Use code, 'JRNYSHIP1' and join the Wente newsletter to stay in touch with all things Wente! I used the Riva Ranch Pinot Noir 2014 wine to cook the minced meat with. Smooth and full of body it was also the perfect wine to accompany dinner with! I even got to enjoy dining al fresco afterward! Got to take advantage of this gorgeous weather we've been having in New York!  

What are your unexpected ways of pairing wine with your passion? I'd love to hear and see what favorite wines you all drink while out and about doing your favorite thaaaannng! Are you more into reds or whites? Maybe only rosé? Alright, Sunday Brunch is here and leftovers of MaQ Shepherd's Pie is calling my name! Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everyone! 

LOVE & XX'S,

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