Great Recipe Ideas


Orange ‘N’ Brie Dream

cheese8 oz. Belmont Brie (ripe)

8 oz. Sarabeth’s Blood Orange or Orange-Apricot Marmalade

1 box Anna’s Orange Thins

Position an 8-oz. wheel of brie in the center of a plate and place 8 oz. of marmalade on top of the brie. Serve with orange thins.


Carissa’s Chicken Salad

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 red onion

1 head Romaine lettuce

1 head iceberg lettuce

3 tomatoes (plum)

1 carrot

ranch dressing*

1 pkg. corn tortillas*

1 8-oz. pkg. Carolyn’s Sweet & Spicy Pecans

flour, paprika, celery salt, pepper

2 eggs

1/4 cup water

Cut the chicken breasts into strips. In a separate bowl, mix flour and spices. In another bowl, mix eggs and water. Dip the chicken pieces first into the egg/water mixture and then into the flour/spices mixture. Heat oil in a pan and fry all the chicken strips; set aside when done.

Cut tortillas into 1/4-inch strips and fry in oil until crispy.

Break lettuce into small pieces; slice onion, tomatoes, carrot.

Place lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and carrot into a mixing bowl. Toss with a bit of dressing.

Put salad ingredients into a bowl and place chicken strips on top. Sprinkle with tortilla chips and 4 ounces of pecans. Add a bit more dressing (optional).

*For additional Southwest flavor, try a jar of Frontera Grill’s Chipotle Salsa with sour cream (in place of the ranch dressing) and Frontera Grill’s Blue Tortilla Chips.

A nice, light – but filling – idea for lunch or dinner. Serve with a nice California Chardonnay


Easy Shish Kebabs

“Light and easy” are keys in my cooking style. Any recipe that can be made with one pan, or on the grill are top on my list of favorites. Skewered food is attractive, simple to prepare, and can be grilled or broiled in the oven. Two delicious shish kebabs are Amy’s Mediterranean Brand Chicken sausage ($4.98 for 4 sausages = 9 oz.) with red and yellow peppers, and Amy’s Apple Maple Sage Sausage ($4.98 for 4 sausages = 9 oz.) with Granny Smith apples and Vidalia onion. Both are great marinated for a few minutes in a balsamic vinaigrette.

Sausages by Amy are precooked creations of Amy Kurzawski, granddaughter of Leon Tiahnybik, founder of Chicago’s famous Leon’s Sausage Company. Amy and her husband, Chico, have developed a whole line of lower fat, uniquely flavored, chicken sausages. Two of the best are the Mediterranean and the Apple Maple Sage.

Bamboo skewers are just fine for this project. You can find them at most grocery stores. If you can’t find them in the party and paper goods section ask the butcher, sometimes they have them stashed in the back.

Once you have all the parts, sit down with a broiling pan, cutting board, sharp knife, ingredients, and beverage of your choice and start chopping. If you’re making the Mediterranean kebabs you need to wash and core the red and yellow peppers. You will need either two small, or one large pepper of each kind. Cut the peppers in 1-inch strips, then cut the strips into triangles. The Mediterranean sausage should be cut into 1-inch chunks. Now skewer the sausage and peppers alternating the color of the peppers, (sausage, red pepper, sausage, yellow pepper until the center of the skewer is full). Leave at least one and a half inches at either end so they can be easily picked up. When you are finished making the kebabs pour balsamic vinaigrette over them. Cugino’s Italian dressing works really well ($4.98 for a 12oz. bottle). Let the kebabs marinate a few minutes before broiling, or grilling them.

If you’re making the maple sage kebabs cut the granny smith apples in one-inch pieces, the onions in small wedges, and the sausage in one-inch chunks. Skewer first the sausage. Then apple, then onion, and repeat until the middle of the skewer is full. Then pour the Cugino’s over them and let them marinate for a few minutes before broiling or grilling. Cook until the veggies are soft (about 10 minutes in a 375-degree oven. Time varies when grilling. On a barbecue, cook over low coals and allow about 6 to 8 minutes (use your judgement, you’re the grill master after all).

Both recipes make 8 skewers. I serve 2 per person for an entrée portion. I usually serve the shish kebabs over buttered rice with a full-bodied, buttery Chardonnay like the Edna Valley Vineyards, or a light Pinot Noir like the Rodney Strong or Lorane Valley. Happy grilling! – Sandra Peterson


Pesto Shrimp with Pasta

This meal takes less than one half hour to prepare. First, make sure the Drake’s Ducks Basil Pesto ($5.98 for 7oz.) is at room temperature. Next, start a 6-quart pot of water boiling. Cut the broccoli into small florets. Peel, devain, and rinse 1 pound of pre-cooked shrimp in cool water (I usually buy them already cooked at the grocery store). Once the water is boiling, add Elena’s Spinach Linguini ($4.98 for a 12oz. package) and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the florets to the pasta and let them cook on top for three minutes. In the last minute of cooking time toss in the shrimp. Cook all ingredients together for approximately one to two minutes longer, until the shrimp are warmed through. Drain the mixture and toss with Drake’s Ducks Basil Pesto. Serve warm or cold. This recipe serves 3-4 people. A nice Sauvignon Blanc like the Bernardus, or a Pinot Grigio like the Peter Zemmer is terrific with this meal! Buon Appetito! – Sandra Peterson


Ginger-Sesame-Crusted Filet Mignon with Grilled Vegetables

For the filets

Two trimmed 8-ounce filet mignon steaks

Salt and freshly ground black peper

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Oriental sesame oil, or extra-virgin olive oil

For the vegetables

3 tablespoons Forest Glen Shiraz

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons good quality brewed soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons oriental sesame oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and spun dry

1 bunch chives

1/2 bunch watercress

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into quarters

1 small yellow squash (about 4 ounces), trimmed and cut lengthwise into 4 slices

4 thin scallions, trimmed

Pat the filets dry with paper towels and season them generously with salt and pepper. Mix the ginger and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Rub this mixture into both sides of the filets. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Combine the Forest Glen Shiraz, orange juice, soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil and salt in a blender and blend on low speed 10 seconds. Add the basil leaves and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender once or twice.

Choose two of the thickest, sturdiest chives. Divide the watercress into two even portions. Tie each bunch securely with a chive. Place the red pepper, squash and scallions in a medium bowl. Pour about half the basil mixture over the vegtables and toss to coat. Turn the watercress bundles gently in the bowl until lightly coated with basil mixture.

Prepare an outdoor grill or place a grill-pan over moderate heat. The grill rack or grill-pan should be very clean and lightly oiled before heating.

Rub both sides of the filets with sesame or olive oil. Grill the filets and vegetables, turning once, until the filets are cooked to desired doneness and the vegtables are tender and well-marked.

Meanwhile, grill the watercress bundles just until the leaves are wilted, about 1 minute. To serve, place the watercress bundles to one side of large plates, with the stems pointing to the center of the plate. Arrange the grilled vegetables around the watercress. Place the filets over the watercress stems. Drizzle the remaining basil mixture over the vegetables and filets. Serve immediately.


Carbonara: It’s Easier Than You Think!

2 cups diced Lucca Bacon

1 and 1/2 cups of diced Spanish onion

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup unsalted butter

6 room-temperature egg yolks

1 and 1/2 cups grated domestic parmesan cheese

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1# Pasta La Bella Radiatore

Recently I was playing in the kitchen and decided to make some carbonara. Here’s the recipe: First, dice 2 cups of Lucca bacon and cook until crispy in a heavy fry pan. Remove from the heat. Drain away extra fat leaving just the bacon pieces in pan. In a separate skillet heat 1/4 cup olive oil to sauté 1 and1/2 cups of diced Spanish onion. Once onions are translucent add 1/4 cup unsalted butter and bacon, reduce heat and simmer together until butter is melted, remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl combine 6 room-temperature egg yolks, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. I used the pre-grated domestic parmesan that we sell, 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream and salt and pepper to taste. Then stir in the bacon and onions. While all this is going on, a pot of water should be boiling — big enough to hold 1 pound of pasta. I suggest radiatore because it holds the sauce very well. Cook the pasta to al dente. While the pasta is cooking chop 1/4 cup fresh parsley. When the pasta is cooked, drain off the water and mix in the sauce. Stir in the fresh parsley and you’re ready to go. Enjoy! – Sandra Peterson


Sweet Sundried Tomato Risotto

1 and 1/2 cups Riso Baricella Arborio or Carnaroli rice

4 TBS unsalted butter

2 TBS Extra virgin olive oil

1 cup diced Spanish onion

1/2 cup grated domestic parmesan cheese

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

5 cups chicken stock

Small pinch of saffron (approx. 1/4 tsp.)

1 and 1/2 oz. California Harvest Red Sun-Dried Tomatoes diced

2 tps Sea Salt with Herbs

2 tsp ground black pepper

1 cup dry white Bordeaux

Dissolve saffron in heated chicken broth. Add sun-dried tomato bits and simmer. Using another heavy-bottomed sauce pan, saute onion in 2 TBS butter and 1 TBS olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the rice, stir 2 minutes. Add wine stirring slowly for another couple of minutes. Add broth slowly, stirring, until all broth is absorbed. Reduce heat to low, stir occasionally for 20 minutes, taste for firm but tender consistency. Stir in cheeses and remaining butter, cook 3 minutes more. Serve at once. Serves 4. – Sandra Peterson


Wild Mushroom Risotto Casserole

6 oz. jar of California Harvest Portabella Mushroom Tapenade

1 stick unsalted butter

2 bunches green onions chopped

3 carrots, peeled and minced

2 cups Riso Baricella Arborio or Carnaroli rice

1/2 cup dry white Bordeaux

4 1/2 cups beef stock

1# fresh white mushrooms (pre-sliced are great!)

2 tsp minced garlic

3/4 cup chopped parsley

salt and pepper, to taste

2 cups grated domestic parmesan

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 eggs

Pinch ground nutmeg

Melt 1/2 stick butter (4oz.) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and scallions and sauté 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring to coat the rice with butter and vegetables. Cook for two minutes. Add wine and enough stock to cover the rice. Simmer covered at a low heat adding more stock when necessary to keep the rice covered. Cook about 30 minutes (until rice is tender but firm). While the rice is cooking melt the remaining 4 oz. butter and sauté the sliced mushrooms adding to it the portabella tapenade, garlic, and parsley and simmer together 8 to 10 minutes adding salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 3-quart casserole. Spread half the rice in the bottom of the baking dish. Top with mushroom mixture. Sprinkle 1 cup parmesan over mushrooms and top with the rest of the rice. Mix together cream, eggs, and nutmeg and pour evenly over the casserole. Top with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6. This recipe has been adapted from an old favorite recipe of mine from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. (sandra)


Crostini with Goat Cheese and Pesto

Crostini is great with Cugino’s Four Cheese and Garlic Spread. Spread the Cugino’s on the crostini and bake in a 350 degree oven until the cheese starts to bubble (about 3 to 5 minutes). Serve warm. For more information on Cugino’s, check the new product selection.


Beer Can Chicken

on the boardFirst we saw it was done on The Rosie O’Donnell show (a friend of mine watches that show) and then it was mentioned in Bon Apetit Magazine. Steve Raichlen wrote about it in his Barbeque Bible and had a big article in the New York Times about it. So I had to try it, and it was as great as everyone had said it would be.

“It” is “Beer Can Chicken” and it’s a simple grilling technique that results in a wonderfully tender and crispy-skinned chicken. I got a 4 lb. chicken and seasoned it inside and out with a dry chicken rub we sell here. Any seasoning will do. Then I opened a can a beer and “poured off” about an inch, and put seasoning in the can. I made a few extra holes in the top of the can with a church key and placed the can of beer in the cavity of the chicken.

The legs of the chicken serve as a tripod to keep it standing. Place chicken standing up on the grill above a drip pan, with coals to each side (the indirect method of cooking). After about 40 minutes add fresh coals to each side, otherwise keep it covered, and no peeking. It will be done after about an hour and a half. Remove the chicken with tongs and a large spatula under the can (careful! HOT beer!) and keep the chicken standing on the cutting board. Let stand ten minutes and then carve standing up on the can. The meat will fall off the bone. Discard can with carcass.

Variations I intend to try include using cans of Orange Soda or Aranciatta (by San Pellegrino) or Squirt or Fresca. I also want to try more aromatic herbs such as rosemary and thyme. There seems to be room on a Weber for two or three at a time. Should serve 4 per chicken but luckily there were only two of us. Try it!