Winter Squash Delight
This recipe was inspired by my mother’s old-fashioned baked yams that we enjoyed every Thanksgiving while growing up. But instead of yams, I used winter squash for this easy to make recipe, and most any variety of winter squash will work. The only hard part is cutting the squash in half and scooping out the seeds. Please be careful with the knife when splitting the squash.
Since winter squashes come in different shapes and sizes, I don’t use exact measurements for this recipe. Add the unsalted butter, sugar and cinnamon to your taste. If you like butter, add more! If not so much cinnamon, add less.
Any variety of winter squash
Unsalted butter (coconut oil for vegans)
Coconut Sugar (maple syrup or brown sugar also works)
I recommend pairing it with Frey Organic Sauvignon Blanc.
We tried this recipe with several varieties of winter squashes and each had a delectably distinctive taste and texture. Try different varieties and explore which ones you prefer. We used:
Cut winter squash in half. Careful with the knife! Scoop out seeds.
Place squash halves into a baking dish, flesh side down.
Add ½ inch or so of water. Bake in 400F oven for approx. 45 to 55 minutes. The larger squashes like kabocha and butternut take a little longer. Smaller squashes like acorn, delicata, and honeynut don’t take as long to bake.
Meanwhile, prepare another baking dish. Coat the bottom and sides with a generous amount of the unsalted butter. Sprinkle generously with coconut sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
When the baked winter squash is tender, remove from oven to cool. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into the butter-lined baking dish.
Top generously with unsalted butter pats, more coconut sugar, and lots of cinnamon. Bake 20 minutes or so at 350F or until it’s all bubbly, aromatic and appetizing.
Serve with vanilla ice cream and another splash of cinnamon. Enjoy with a glass of Frey Organic Sauvignon Blanc!
Spreading out the butter
Adding the cinnamon
By Chef Tamara Frey, Frey Vineyards
This three-part dish is seasonal and delicious, consisting of:
1.) Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Malbec Mushroom Cream Sauce
2.) Roasted Honeyed Carrots and Potatoes with Chili Flakes
3.) Rubbed Kale Salad
My son and his fiancé went to a nice restaurant in Montreal recently. Cauliflower steaks were on the menu, the latest trend. They loved the dish, and this recipe was inspired by their memorable Montreal culinary adventure. The dinner is broken down to three quick and simple recipes that pair beautifully with Frey Organic Malbec, making a balanced, delicious, and satisfying vegetarian meal.
First prep the Cauliflower Steaks along with the roasted Honeyed Carrots and Potatoes. As they are roasting, start on the Malbec Mushroom Cream Sauce, and finish off with the Rubbed Kale Salad.
1.) Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Malbec Mushroom Cream Sauce
For the Cauliflower Steaks:
1large head of cauliflower
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Heat oven to 400F.
Cut the head of cauliflower into 1 inch slabs. (Like a steak).
Place on roasting tray and drizzle on both sides with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Roast for approximately 15 minutes (but keep an eye on it as ovens vary) until golden and beginning to soften. (Not too soft, nor too hard).
For the Malbec Mushroom Cream Sauce:
1 pound thinly sliced portobello mushrooms
1 large red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped sage
1/4 teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, adjust to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup Malbec
1/2 cup minced parsley for garnish
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Sauté the sliced mushrooms and onions in the butter until juices evaporate and the vegetables become slightly golden in color. When the mushrooms and onions are nice and golden, deglaze with the Malbec and add the chopped garlic and sage. Cook down until the wine is more concentrated and the alcohol is cooked off. You can tell by the smell. The essence of the wine will emerge in the scent. Add the cream. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Place the Roasted Cauliflower Steak on a plate, top generously with Malbec Mushroom Cream Sauce and garnish with minced parsley.
2.) Roasted Honeyed Carrots and Potatoes with Chili Flakes
(It is best to put this in the oven with the Cauliflower Steaks. Start on the Malbec Mushroom Sauce and the Rubbed Kale Salad as they’re cooking.)
5 large carrots-cut into sticks
12 small potatoes-cut in half. Can use 4 large potatoes cut in 1 inch cubes.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to your taste
Chili flakes to your liking
Preheat oven to 400F
Place the carrot sticks and the cut potatoes in a roasting pan and sprinkle on the olive oil, honey, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Toss and roast approx. half hour. Meanwhile whip up this simple and delicious Rubbed Kale Salad.
3.) Rubbed Kale Salad
1 bunch kale, finely chopped. (I used curly leaf and Dino.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
The juice of 1/2 or 1 lime, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 large tomato, halved and sliced
Put the finely chopped kale in a salad bowl and add the olive oil, garlic, lime juice, and a pinch or so of salt. Rub and massage the kale with your clean hands (they are your best tools). Taste for seasoning and set aside. When placed on the plate, garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese and the halved sliced tomatoes. Enjoy!
LEMON MERINGUE PIE on a GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
With Strawberries and Cream
Lemon meringue pie is a tasty and refreshing dessert classic. I prefer using Meyer lemons and fresh farm eggs. I’ve always loved lemon meringue on graham cracker crust, paired with a Frey organic white wine!
Makes one pie
For the crust:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
2 cups crushed graham crackers
2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon zest
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla
12 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Mix thoroughly and press into a pie pan.
Bake 15 minutes and set aside.
For the filling:
Mix in a medium saucepan:
1¼ cup sugar
6 tablespoons corn starch
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons finely chopped Meyer lemon zest
Mix until smooth: 1 cup fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice
Stir in: 4 large beaten egg yolks (save whites for the meringue)
Add: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces
Add slowly and stir constantly:
1 ½ cups boiling water
Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about a minute until smooth, thick, and creamy.
Remove from heat and pour into your baked pie shell.
For the meringue:
Make sure meringue bowl is very clean and dry. NO egg yolk should be in the egg whites. A glass bowl is best.
Beat 7 egg whites (the 4 egg whites you saved, plus 3 more) on medium speed until foamy.
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar. Beat a minute, then increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form-about 4 minutes.
½ cup superfine sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt.
Beat at high speed one more minute and add:
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon finely minced Meyer lemon zest
Beat at high speed another minute until shiny stiff peaks form.
Spread onto the pie filling, forming peaks and bake in at 325° for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Let it cool for an hour or so, then into the fridge to cool another few hours.
Serve with Maple Vanilla Cream and sliced strawberries!
To make the Maple Vanilla Cream:
Use whipping cream. Whip until almost done, then add maple syrup and vanilla to taste. Finish whipping, put in a bowl, lightly sprinkle with Meyer lemon zest finely minced.
Pair with your favorite Frey organic white wine. Enjoy!
This dish was inspired by a trip to Baja California where I had a wonderful plate of tequila jalapeno cream sauce with shrimp and scallops. I’ve created a vegetarian version using leeks instead of seafood and Frey wine in place of tequila. It turned out very tasty!
2 cups leeks, cleaned and sliced in 2 inch strips
2 cups sliced red pepper, remove seeds
2 portabella mushrooms, slice in strips.
1/2 cup sliced jalapeno. Cut in half, de seed, wash, and cut into strips.
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 pound penne pasta. Cook, drain, keep warm and set aside.
1 1/3 cups cream
1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 cup Frey Chardonnay
3 tablespoons sweet butter
2 tablespoons lime juice from fresh lime
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large sauté pan with the butter on med high to high heat. Add the leeks, red peppers, mushrooms and jalapenos. Sauté a few minutes until almost done. Deglaze with the wine and add the lime juice. Cook down for a minute or so and add the cream. Reduce until the cream sauce thickens. Add half the grated cheese and half the cilantro. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix the sauce into the pasta and put in large serving bowl. Garnish with the rest of the grated cheese and cilantro. It you like it spicier, garnish with fresh chopped jalapeno.
As we look ahead longing for cool rains here in California my mind turns to the cozy season ahead and fresh, homemade sourdough bread.
Simply stated, sourdough starter is a stable culture of yeast and lactic acid bacteria in a flour and water mixture. Yeast strains present in sourdough starters are usually species in the genus Saccharomyces or Candida. The bacterial component is most often a strain of Lactobacillus, and there are many different strains. The beauty of making your own starter is that the specific strains of yeast and bacteria in your kitchen and their proportion to each other will be unique and yield one of a kind flavor.
You can use any kind of flour you like. I started with all-purpose wheat flour but have slowly transitioned my starter over to a gluten-free baking mix flour. The possibilities of which flour you use are limited only by your tastes and imagination.
Starting and maintaining a starter can seem daunting, but it is really quite simple. All you need to get going is a handful of grapes, and a cup each of flour and non-chlorinated water. While grapes aren’t necessary for getting a sourdough starter established, the yeast naturally present on grape skins will help kickstart the fermentation and get you off in the right direction.
Here are the steps:
1) Mix 1 cup flour and 1 cup water together in a glass jar. A quart canning jar works well. I prefer wide mouth for ease of feeding.
2) Rinse the grapes but do not scrub them, we want the yeast on their skins to enter the mixture. Roughly chop the grapes and mix into the water and flour slurry.
3) The next day, pour off and discard a cup of the mixture, (discard as few grapes as possible) and replace with ½ cup fresh flour and ½ cup water. This is called “feeding.”
4) Repeat step 3 daily. If liquid pools on top of your starter, simply mix it in.
5) After about a week your starter should smell tart, sour or tangy and have visible air bubbles.
6) Once established it will not require daily feeding and can be kept in the fridge resting for a few weeks. It’s a good idea to feed it every week or so for the first 6 months and after a long period of rest it may require a few feedings to become lively again. Your starter will grow stronger over time and can last a lifetime.
With all raw home fermentations I like to go by the old adage, “the nose knows.” Trust your own sensory analysis; does it smell, taste and look good? If it has a smell that is just downright yucky, or if you see active mold growing, discard and begin again. I’ve never had this experience with sourdough and if you do not neglect your starter, you should not have any problems.
Once you are ready to attempt a loaf look online for one of hundreds of recipes. When I first experimented with sourdough bread many years ago I read several recipes that dictated how long I should let the dough sit, how many hours to the let the bread rise and so forth. I followed the directions faithfully and got a few nice loaves, but then things fell flat. What was missing was my own observation. Now, instead of using prescribed time periods for the various steps, I use my eyes, nose and hands to guide me. It has become a much more intuitive process. I hope you have fun and enjoy the process.
Try your bread with your favorite cheese and favorite Frey wine. It should pair just fine with any of our wines!
Ginger Peach Cobbler
Peach season is upon us! A family member dropped off a box of them last week, fresh from our vineyard peach trees. This led me to think of how the aromas of peaches are often detected in wines. So I set out to include a wine reduction in this recipe, a Pinot Grigio syrup, to bring out even more complex and wonderful flavors in wine and bring them into this peach dish. If you make this, we’d love to hear about it!
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup Frey Pinot Grigio dry white wine
1.5 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 quart fresh sliced peaches, unpeeled
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 dash of salt
Zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350°
Pinot Grigio Syrup
Mix together in a sauce pan the Frey Organic Pinot Grigio (or another dry white wine), 1/2 cup coconut sugar, and the grated ginger. Mix and bring to a boil. Simmer until it thickens and reduced by half, more or less. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the Peaches
I do not peel them. Instead I remove the peach fuzz by rubbing them on a clean dish towel. Slice thinly and set aside. (I prefer to leave on the skins to preserve the nutritional value in skins.)
Prepare the Batter
In a separate bowl mix together the flour, 1 cup coconut sugar, baking powder, dash of salt, milk, cooled Pinot Grigio syrup, lemon zest. I like making my own fresh lemon zest with a peeler, then chopping it fine.
Slice up the butter and scatter across the baking dish (DO NOT rub it in), then place in the preheated oven until the butter melts. Take out of oven and pour in the batter, distributing it as evenly as possible as you pour. But DO NOT STIR the batter. Distribute the sliced peaches over the batter. DO NOT STIR the peaches either!
Bake for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, or until browned and bubbly around the edges, and the center is quite firm.
This sweet and spicy noodle dish is Thai inspired. It’s light and fresh and pairs nicely with Frey Organic Pinot Grigio.
o 16oz wide rice noodles or regular linguini pasta
o 4 chicken thighs, diced (optional)
o 3 tablespoons soy sauce
o 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
o 4 tablespoons honey
o 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
o 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes to taste
o ¼ cup sesame oil
o 2 cups shredded carrots, about 2 large carrots
o ¼ cup sliced green onion
o 1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
o ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1. In a large sauté pan heat about 1 tablespoon oil and cook chicken thighs until golden, then set aside. (To make vegetarian you can omit from recipe.)
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook noodles until al dente, approximately 6 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, shred carrots, chop green onions and cilantro
4. In a small bowl mix soy sauce, hoisin, honey, chili garlic paste, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
5. A couple of minutes before the noodles are done, in the large sauté pan, heat sesame oil over medium heat and add sauce and stir, and cook the garlic.
6. When noodles are done, drain, then add immediately to pan with sauce, add chicken, and stir until the noodles are well coated.
7. Top with carrots, peanuts, cilantro, green onion. Mix and serve with a chilled glass of our organic Pinot Grigio. Enjoy!
We always try to use organic ingredients when possible.
A tagine is a delicious Moroccan-style stew that is slow-cooked in a ceramic pot of the same name, but you can also cook the dish in a regular baking pan as I did for this recipe. I used a tagine pot for presentation. Leave out the chicken for vegetarian version. I hadn’t made a tagine for years until a client recently requested a dish. It turned out so good I had to share! It paired wonderfully with Frey Organic Pinot Grigio.
Tagine pots are easy to find online.
Chicken and Butternut Tagine
Chicken: 6 wings & 3 thighs.
1 large butternut squash (peeled, de-seeded, chopped into 1 inch pieces)
2 onions, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons chopped ginger
Half bunch cilantro, chopped coarsely
5 Tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons softened ghee
2-3 teaspoons salt
2 pinches saffron threads (about 1 teaspoon, don’t crush)
2 Meyer fresh lemons or regular lemons, de-seeded, coarsely chopped.
5 tablespoons ghee
1 can pitted green olives
3/4 cup blanched almonds (place in simmering water for one minute and remove skins)
4 tablespoons thinly sliced preserved lemon (preserved lemons can be found online if your local supermarket has none)
Blend all marinade ingredients in Cuisinart or blender. Thoroughly massage marinade into the chicken in a baking pan and over the butternut squash pieces. Let marinate for a few hours or even better, overnight. For vegetarians, use butternut squash and leave out chicken.
Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. After baking 20 minutes, and every 15 to 20 minutes thereafter, stir the dish in the oven. Chicken should be nicely browned after an hour.
Pull from oven and immediately toss with 5-6 tablespoons ghee. Add and toss the green olives, blanched almonds, thinly sliced preserved lemon, then garnish with cilantro.
A ceramic tagine pot for cooking or for presentation, and a jar of home-made preserved lemons.
Peeled garlic and squash.
Ingredients in the blender.
Rub in the marinade. Left is vegetarian version, right is with chicken.
Blanching the almonds in simmering water.
Removing skins from blanched almonds.
Vegetarian tagine dish ready to eat!
In deep skillet or Wok, fry mustard and cumin seeds in 1 Tbsp oil until the cumin seeds begin to pop and brown; then add onions and sauté until soft and translucent. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until they are stewy. Add sugar, turmeric, masala, curry, cayenne pepper and coriander; stir till completely combined. Add Cauliflower and Chickpeas, cover and steam until the Cauliflower is just tender. You may have to add a little water to steam. (If not using coconut milk, let sit for 5 minutes before serving over rice. Add salt to taste.)
If using coconut milk: Add coconut milk and mix in well. Let simmer for 4 minutes covered on low heat, then uncover, take off heat and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving over rice. Add salt to taste. Garnish with a little lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro and enjoy with a glass of Frey Organic Pinot Grigio.
Eliza Frey with wild mustard in Frey biodynamic Cabernet vineyard.
After weeks of rain and the chill of the polar vortexes, spring is arriving in Mendocino County. One of my favorite spring pastimes is taking to the fields and gathering wild spring greens, or edible weeds – a tonic to the body and the spirit. With their beautiful shapes, shades of green and wide array of flavors, they make a wonderful addition to springtime cuisine. Wild edibles spice up any salad or sandwich, add layers of flavor and texture to stir fries, deepen the flavors of soup or provide a unique garnish for any dish.
Wild edible plants connect us back to the abundance of Mother Nature, and to our ancestors, who relied on foraging for survival. Wild plants don’t need humans to help them grow, and there is something beautiful and complete about their ability to get what they need and thrive on their own. Gathering wild greens is easy and fun as long as you follow some common sense guidelines.
Make sure you know what you are eating! Never eat any plant without first knowing that it is edible. Many wild edibles have close look-alikes, so make sure you are well informed before ingesting any new plant. The information below does not include identification details for the listed plants. A great way to make sure you’re being safe is to find a friend or neighbor who is knowledgeable and invite to come forage with you. Local foraging classes and groups are popping up all over the nation. There are countless websites and books about gathering wild plants, and a quick internet search can connect you with plenty of resources.
Edible weeds are only healthful when harvested from areas free of chemicals and pollutants. Avoid harvesting from chemically maintained lawns, near motor roadways, non-organic farms or in areas where there may be high dog traffic. After harvesting wild greens, make sure to wash them thoroughly.
Never harvest an entire stand of wild plants. A general rule of thumb is to leave at least 2/3 of any given patch untouched, allowing the species to complete its life cycle and reproduce, and ensuring that there is plenty for wildlife.
The abundance and variety of wild edibles varies greatly among different climates and regions. While the varieties listed below are available and abundant for Mendocino County, California, in spring, your location will ultimately dictate what you have access to and when.
Here are a handful of my favorite green treats to gather on the Frey Ranch in late winter and early spring:
Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Miner's lettuce, an annual flowering plant, is also known as Indian lettuce, spring beauty, and winter purslane. Native to the west coast of North America, it prefers cool wet areas, and in inland Mendocino County it is available from Late January to April. Fleshy stems lead to rounded rosette leaves that cup the morning dew. White or pink flowers develop on a slender stem that grows out of the center of the leaf. It is abundant at the edges of our vineyards, in shady areas at the forest’s edge.
It is best picked when fresh and green, before flowering. The stems are crisp and juicy, and the leaves are tender with a mild watery flavor, well suited as the base of a salad, or used as a substitute for lettuce in any context.
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Chickweed is a low growing annual that reseeds yearly and emerges in late winter, as rainfall and warmer temperatures allow germination. Its tiny leaves climb wispy mats of stems in semi shaded edge areas and sunny fields. As it matures tiny white flowers form at each leaf node.
It has a pleasant, mild flavor and is a great substitute for sprouts on sandwiches and in wraps. It is also lovely in salad. It gets slimy when cooked so try enjoying it raw. For larger, leggy plants, you may want to use only the leaves, as the stems can be a bit fibrous. Chickweed doesn’t store well, and is best eaten within a few hours of harvest.
Common Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale subsp. vulgare)
This is the most common variety of dandelion, although there are thousands. Dandelion is a perennial plant native to Europe. In California jagged leaves re-sprout from taproots in the late winter. In wetter climates the greens can be harvested throughout the growing season. A thick, fleshy stem develops and forms bright yellow, multi-petaled flowers that eventually turn into globes of fluff that scatter on the wind with our wishes. Dandelion’s nutritional value eclipses most of the fruits and vegetables you can buy in the grocery store. It is recognized as a tonic to the liver, kidneys, blood and digestion.
Dandelion has an intense bitter flavor that is somewhat of an acquired taste. The entire plant, including the leaves, stems, flowers, and roots, is edible and nutritious, packed with vitamin C, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin, riboflavin, beta-carotene and fiber. Due to their intense flavor, greens are often cooked, and are delicious with a bright lemony dressing. The flowers of dandelion are also beautiful and pungent before they start to form seed heads, great as a garnish or sautéed with garlic. Dried and roasted roots can be ground and brewed as dandelion coffee, and are an ingredient in traditional root beer.
Wild Mustard (Brassica Spp.)
Wild Mustard is found all over the world and mustard and its cousins radish and turnip have been grown since ancient times. Here in Mendocino County the spring brings an explosion of color as the bright yellow flowers fill the vineyards, delighting bees and foragers alike. Mature plants can be up to 4 feet tall, but they are tastiest when harvested young.
The mustard flower is a beautiful garnish on salads, with a rich pollen-like flavor and gentle heat. The greens need to be harvested young, as they get spiny as the plant reaches maturity. They are a wonderful addition to any stir fry, chopped fresh in potato salad, or served wilted with a vinaigrette dressing.
As flowers drop and the plant forms seed-pods, the tender green pods can be harvested and pickled. As the plant finishes its life cycle the mature seeds can be harvested and ground into mustard.
Sheep’s sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
Sheep's sorrel is a low growing perennial herb in the buckwheat family is native to North America. It makes its home in disturbed soils and spreads from seeds and fleshy, horizontal roots. Clumps of green arrow shaped leaves form at the base of the plant, which redden as the plant grows and forms upright flower stalks for tiny reddish-brown flowers and seed pods.
Tender green leaves have an intensely tart lemon flavor that is a great accent in salads and soups, and adds pop to pesto. Its seeds are also edible and can be eaten raw or cooked.
Winter Pea Shoots (Pisum sativum)
While winter peas are not wild in our vineyards, they are part of our annual cover crop mix. Peas are legumes that fix nitrogen into the soil. They grow tendrils that help them climb amid ryegrass and bell beans and have fleshy silvery leaves that form in whorls along the rigid stem, and they form beautiful edible pink flowers as temperatures rise.
Harvest the top 2-4 inches of the pea shoots to enjoy their distinctly sweet and nutty flavor that is wonderful raw or cooked. Try them sautéed with garlic and olive oil or in place of spinach in your favorite soup. The flowers are tender and mild and gorgeous as a garnish or salad ingredient. Consider adding them to a winter cover crop for a delicious supply of late winter greens!
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