Pinot Noir Marinated Portobellos – 2016 SLH Pinot Noir

This is a riff on a sandwich I did for a restaurant many years ago. The mushroom flavor goes well with the savory notes of this Pinot Noir. Originally, the mushrooms were served on a brioche bun with a little homemade mayonnaise, a couple slices of ripe late season tomato, and some butter leaf lettuce.


Blueberry Sauced Duck Breast – 2013 Graciano

The first time I tasted Graciano my mind went to oil cured olives, herbs, good farm soil, and blueberries. This recipe resulted from that combination.


Neutral flavored oil as needed

1-3 tablespoons butter as needed

1½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

1 heaping tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine dice

3 tablespoons shallot, fine dice

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced + 1 sprig

½ teaspoon fresh marjoram, minced + 1 sprig

¼ teaspoon fresh oregano, minced + plus 1 sprig

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup or so of dense duck or chicken stock, or water, or as needed to thin the berry sauce

Red wine vinegar if needed

2 or 4 duck breasts, depending on size and how hungry people are*, closely scored on the fat and trimmed of overhanging fat


Heat a small heavy saucepan over medium low-heat. When pan is hot, film with oil and heat oil until just rippling. Add shallots and ginger and toss to coat with oil. Cook until translucent.

Add a tablespoon of butter, allow to melt. Add half the herbs, a little pepper and small pinch of salt. When aromatic, add the berries and stir to distribute the herbs, ginger, and shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until the berries are breaking down. If they are slow to do so, add a couple tablespoons of stock or water. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until berries break down. This should take around 15-20 minutes.

Transfer pan contents to a powerful blender or food processor. Purée until smooth and skins are destroyed. Fine strain the sauce into the now cleaned saucepan. Warm the sauce gently.

Taste the sauce and add more of the herbs to brighten the flavor. Season with salt and pepper. If the sauce seems a little flat, add vinegar drop-by-drop, tasting each time, until the blueberry and ginger flavors pop. If the sauce seems too thick, dilute with stock or water, a little at a time, until it achieves a texture that coats the back of a spoon. If too thin, simply reduce until sauce like. Taste for balance and adjust as needed. Keep warm until needed. If needed, just before serving add some butter to smooth the flavor and texture of the sauce and whisk in over medium heat.

For Duck

Heat oven to 425 F. Heat an ovenproof pan over medium-high. Pat the duck dry and season with salt and pepper. When pan is hot, lay the duck, skin down, into the pan, leaving space between them. Lay the herb sprigs into the pan. Cook, pouring off the fat as it accumulates. Save it for sautéing potatoes. Cook the duck until crisp and golden. Turn the duck to just kiss the other side, just giving them color. Drain fat and turn to skin down again. Transfer to oven and cook 7 minutes. After 7 seven minutes, remove duck to paper towels, blot skin side, the turn skin up and tent with foil for 4-5 minutes to rest duck.

Slice across grain, fan out, and place on a puddle of sauce. Pass any extra sauce.

Chef’s Notes: *Duck breasts come in various sizes ranging from around 5 ounces to almost a pound. I usually figure 6-7 ounces per serving, as you lose some weight to fat melting off. You can use the sauce on seared halibut, or marinate Portobellos and roast them, or roast or sauté King Trumpets sliced diagonally and use with sauce.

Serves: 4

Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen

Fennel Lavender Pork Tenderloin – 2015 Mélange Rouge

The rub on this dish talks with the flavors in the wine, and brings out the nuances the blend has. This would be a good rub on duck breast and chicken as well. Be sure to use culinary lavender (un-sprayed and NOT English lavender), and go easy with it as too much and the wine will taste acrid and bitter.


Grilled Scallion and Baby Leek Red Wine Sauce

This recipe was originally made with ramps, which is a wild onion which does not grow here in California, and is really delicious and has a season about a month and a half long it seems. This is an approximation of that sauce made with items readily available here-baby leeks and scallions.


Port Wine Salad Dressing

Use port you are drinking, or buy a mid-range port if you wish. Don’t buy a great vintage just for this dressing, but don’t buy something really cheap, and NEVER buy “cooking” port or wine.


Red Wine Butter Broccoli

Shamelessly stolen from Ashley Christensen’s Poole’s Cookbook. This is a really good way to eat broccoli, especially if you have become tired, as I have, of the vegetable.


Roasted Saffron Cauliflower – 2016 Grenache

Initially I was going to write up the recipe for the lamb skewers that were the protein of the dinner that went with the ’16 Grenache, but for me it was the vegetables, particularly this one, that really pleased me.