Fresh Figs with Cashew Cream
Adapted from www.thekitchn.com
This seemingly decadent dessert is something all can enjoy: it’s gluten-free, raw, vegan, and is only very lightly sweetened, and is incredibly delicious! Be sure to start the cashews soaking at least 6 hours before you’d like to serve it.

  • 1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 1 Tbs. of coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 10 fresh figs, cut in half

Directions: Place the cashews in a large bowl and cover with water. Allow to soak for at least 6 hours, or overnight. When ready to prepare, drain the cashews. Place them in a blender pitcher with a cup of fresh water, the vanilla extract, salt, agave, and coconut oil. Blend at high speed until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the sweetness if necessary. Set aside.

Toast the coconut flakes in a dry pan over medium-high heat until lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Spread the cashew cream on a serving platter and arrange the sliced figs in the cream. Sprinkle the toasted coconut flakes over the figs. Serve immediately at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve cold. Serves 8.

Star Recommends: Lustau Deluxe Cream Sherry
Deep amber in color with the taste of sweet raisins, dates and figs. Rich sweet ripe fruit that lingers smoothly and seductively. A powerful balance of sweetness, richness and maturity.


Aronia Berry Bread Pudding
Adapted from www.midwestaronia.com
This bread pudding is ideal for a brunch or breakfast get-together, and is easy to prepare ahead of time.

  • 10 slices bread, cubed, divided (challah bread would be delicious)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups aronia berries, divided
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Directions: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9x9-inch baking dish. Place half the cubed bread in the baking dish. Arrange the cubed cream cheese evenly over the bread, followed by half of the aronia berries. Top with the remaining bread and aronia berries.

Combine the eggs, milk, maple syrup, and butter in a mixing bowl. Pour over the bread mixture, then bake about 1 hour, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serves 8.

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This wine has a golden color and a characteristic nose, which combines notes of exotic fruits, wax, toast and spices. On the palate it is generous, with a smooth texture and classic “botrytis” notes. Displays a good balance of acidity and sugar and retains its sucrosité without being cloying.


Tomato Fennel Gratin
Adapted from www.gourmandeinthekitchen.com
This dish is perfect for making the slow transition from summer to fall.

  • 5 small Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, stalks removed, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup crème fraiche
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted, chopped
  • 3 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves, divided
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated, divided
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Butter a baking dish or gratin dish. Arrange the fennel in a steamer basket over several inches of water and steam until tender, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the crème fraîche, chopped olives, half of the thyme leaves, and half of the Parmesan. Toss to combine, then place in the prepared baking dish. Top with the sliced tomatoes, overlapping slightly. Season with salt and pepper, remaining thyme leaves, and Parmesan. Bake uncovered until bubbling and the cheese starts to brown, about 20-25 minutes. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Star Recommends: Vietti Barbera d’ Asti
Ruby purple color with ripe red cherry aromas with hints of mineral and vanilla. A dry, medium bodied red wine with refreshing acidity (making it perfect to pair with food) and soft tannins, the Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne is well balanced with good integration of oak, good complexity and a finish of more red cherries.


Watermelon, Fennel, and Goat Cheese Salad
Adapted from www.onevanillabean.com
This salad of simple ingredients is so refreshing!

  • 2 1/4 cup cubed watermelon, divided
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. lime juice
  • Kosher salt
  • pepper
  • 1 small fennel bulb, stalks removed, fronds reserved
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 4 ounces crumbly goat cheese

Directions: Press 1/4 cup of the cubed watermelon in a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl; you’ll have about 2 Tbs. of juice. Discard the watermelon in the sieve. Whisk the olive oil, lime juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper into the watermelon juice until incorporated. Set aside the dressing.

Roughly chop the reserved fennel fronds and place in a serving bowl. Slice the fennel bulb in half and pare out the core. Slice the bulb very thinly and add to the fennel fronds. Top with the arugula and mint, drizzle with the dressing, and toss well to coat. Arrange the watermelon cubes and crumbled goat cheese on top, and serve. Serves 2-4.

Star Recommends: The Royal Chenin Blanc
Relatively dry, with loads of exotic fruits and melon, crisp acidity and lots of personality. This wine is not only a spectacular value in Chenin Blanc but one of the best values in the store. Relatively dry, with loads of exotic fruits and melon, crisp acidity and lots of personality.


Aronia Berry Bread
Adapted from www.motherearthnews.com
Tart aronia berries, also known as chokeberries, are native to North America, and are chock-full of antioxidants.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup aronia berries, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a medium bowl, combine egg, butter, orange juice and sugar. Stir until creamy. Fold in the aronia berries and walnuts. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until moistened, being careful not to overmix. Bake in the prepared loaf pan for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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An elegant blend of just three ingredients—wildflower honey, water, and yeast—this is the purest expression of the meadmaker’s art. Enjoy its clean, dry flavor and gentle floral aroma.


Roasted Potatoes, Fennel & Radishes with Lemon Brown Butter Sauce
Adapted from www.thekitchn.com
Roasting is definitely not the usual treatment that radishes get, but try it once, and you’ll see—they’re amazing! The bitterness is gone, and they’re tender and juicy. Combined with roasted potatoes and fennel, and lemony brown butter, you’ve got quite a dish.

  • 1 lb. fingerling or very small yellow potatoes, washed, cut into quarters
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 lb. radishes, tops removed, trimmed, quartered
  • 1 fennel bulb without stalks, about 1 pound
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. maple syrup
  • Fresh mint leaves or dill fronds, to garnish

Directions: Preheat oven to 450˚F. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with 1/2 Tbs. olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until barely tender, 10 minutes. Trim the fennel bulb, slice in half lengthwise, then in half again. Cut into 1-inch wide pieces, then place in a large bowl. Toss with radishes and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper. After the potatoes have been baking for 10 minutes, add the radishes and fennel to the baking sheet, then roast for an additional 10-15 minutes until tender.

While the vegetables are roasting, heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it melts and turns brown, 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon juice, mustard, and maple syrup. When the vegetables are done, toss with the sauce and arrange on a platter garnished with mint or dill leaves. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Star Recommends: Clos de Chacras Malbec
Delicious and complex mature red fruit aromas, sweet and floral as well, violets and also fine notes of vanilla and tobacco with a touch of white chocolate brought by the oak barrels, completing this rich nose.