Pesto Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from The Dinner Party Cookbook by Karen Brown

  • 1 Tbs. soft butter
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 c. ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. pesto
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts
  • Assorted crackers for serving

Directions: Preheat oven to 325°F. Use the butter to coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. In a small bowl combine the breadcrumbs and 2-tsp. finely grated Parmesan cheese; press the mixture into the buttered pan and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cheeses with the salt and cayenne pepper, using an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Ladle half of the egg mixture into a separate clean bowl and add the pesto to it, mixing well. Pour the pesto mixture into the prepared spring-form pan; carefully top with the plain egg-cheese mixture. Smooth the surface and sprinkle evenly with pine nuts. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until set. Cool the cheesecake at room temp, then cover and refrigerate at least eight hours. When ready to serve, loosen from the sides of the pan with a knife, then release the pan and transfer cheesecake to a serving tray. Arrange toast slices and/or crackers around the cheesecake for serving. Makes about 20 appetizer servings.

Star Recommends: L’Ecole No 41 Semillion
Few Semillons show their richness and complexitiy as those produced in Washington State. Full-bodied rich texture with rich honey fruit, citrus and fresh fig flavors. The richness of this wine will nicely complement the richness of this appetizer.

White Bean Chicken Chili
Recipe by Neighborhood Co-op Grocery, Carbondale, IL for the Co-op Advantage Program

  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or more to taste
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped dried chipotle pepper
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cans, 15-oz each, cannellini beans
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1 can, 7-oz, diced mild green chilies
  • 1/2 c. whipping cream
  • 1 jar green or tomatillo salsa, optional
  • chopped fresh cilantro, optional
  • cheddar cheese, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and dried chipotles. Saute 5 minutes. Push onion mixture to one side of pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to empty side of pan. Saute chicken 4-5 minutes until it is lightly golden. Drain beans. Add beans, broth, chilies and whipping cream to pot. Simmer until chicken is tender and cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with green or tomatillo salsa, cilantro, cheddar cheese or more chilies.

Note: Serve with your favorite cornbread or cheese quesadillas.

Star Recommends: Organic Wine Works Radical Red
“Soft earthy fruit aromas and flavors. Pressed from whole grape skins, this dry fruity wine can be quaffed with any meal! No sulfites added.”

Buttery Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar Caramels
Recipe by Chef Bret Bannon and reprinted with permission from

  • 2 c. packed (16 ounces) golden brown pure cane sugar
  • 1 c. organic heavy cream
  • 4 Tbs. (2 ounces) unsalted butter, plus some for greasing the pan
  • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt, divided
  • 1/2 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 c. dulce de leche, room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, reduced to 1 1/2 tsp. (If using a premium vinegar, reducing isn’t necessary.)

Directions: Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Grease the foil with butter and set aside. Combine sugar, heavy cream, butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt and corn syrup in a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan and turn the heat to low. Cook, stirring, just until the sugar dissolves, then cook until the mixture measures 248ºF on a candy thermometer. Early in the cooking process and using a pastry brush, wash down the sides of the pan with water to ensure that the sugar crystals have not “jumped” up on the sides of the pan. When the caramel has come to temperature, it is ready. (A small amount of it will form a firm ball if dropped into a glass of cold water. A calibrated candy thermometer is easier and more accurate though.) Once it reaches the appropriate temperature remove pan from heat and add the dulce de leche, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and balsamic vinegar. Gently stir to combine and pour into prepared pan; stirring aggressively will cause air bubbles to form. Let the caramel sit in the pan overnight. The next day remove block of caramel from pan and cut into squares. Wrap each square in waxed paper, twisting the ends of the paper. The candies can be kept for weeks and will develop flavor as the time passes.

Note: Dulce de leche is sweetened milk, cooked until very thick. It can be made at home or is readily available at local Latino groceries and will soon be available here at Willy Street Co-op.

Star Recommends: Lustau East India Solera Sherry
In centuries gone by, casks of sherry were lashed to ships sailing for the Indies as ballast, and were found to develop an extraordinary smoothness and complexity. Lustau has revived this style of sherry in the East India wine. Unforgettable flavors of raisins, candied peel and nuts. Robert Parker’s comment: “Nutty, sweet, crème brûlée smell.”

Make-Ahead Artichoke Salad
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home Entertaining, Reiman Media Group

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh parsley   
  • 1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 14-oz. can water packed artichoke hearts rinsed, drained and quartered
  • 1/4 c. ripe olives, sliced
  • 4 oz. fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 2/3 c. chopped red onion
  • 1/2 c. each chopped red and yellow bell pepper

Directions: Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, balsamic vinegar, garlic, mustard and salt and pepper to taste in a small jar with a tight-sealing lid. Shake until dressing ingredients are well-mixed and emulsified. Combine remaining ingredients in a large container. Pour on the dressing and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours or more. About 30 minutes before serving, transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter. Allow to come to room temperature before serving with a slotted spoon.

Star Recommends: Joel Gott Riesling
An off-dry Riesling with aromas and flavors of citrus blossom, orange peel, white pepper, star fruit, and honeycomb.

Homemade Applesauce

  • 3 lbs. apples
  • 1/2 c. water, apple juice or cider
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice, optional
  • Sweetener of choice to taste, optional
  • Cinnamon to taste, optional

Directions: Peel, core and coarsely chop apples. Place in a saucepot with water or apple juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until apples are tender, 15-30 minutes, depending on the variety of apple and size of chunks. When apples are cooked mash if smoother consistency is desired. Add lemon juice if apples were bland or too sweet. Add sweetener and cinnamon to taste if desired. Serve warm or cold.

Note: Using a mix of apple varieties will yield sauce with a more complex flavor. 

Star Recommends: Zardetto Prosecco
This is a clear, very pale greenish-gold wine that pours up with a frothy fizz when the Champagne-style cork is popped; it quickly settles back to a lasting stream of bubbles in the glass. Apples, a whiff of clover honey and a delicate hint of wildflowers mingle in an exceptionally pleasant aroma.

Simple Spaghetti Sauce

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef or meat substitute
  • 1 can, 28-oz, whole tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Warm oil in heavy saucepan; add onion and garlic and cook gently until onion is translucent. Crumble in the ground beef or meat substitute (if using) and cook until the beef is browned. Drain off any grease. Add tomatoes, crushing them with clean hands or a wooden spoon,  bring to a boil. Crush herbs and add them to sauce, along with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes.

Star Recommends: Di Majo Norante Sangiovese
This Sangiovese exhibits a fresh bouquet of violets, woodland berries, spices and leather. Deliciously smooth, plush and juicy on the palate with loads of ripe fruit.

Featherlight Potato Latkes
Recipe adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant by Vegetable Kingdom, Inc.

  • 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled if desired
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Oil for frying
  • Applesauce and sour cream or plain yogurt for serving

Directions: Grate the potatoes on the large holes of a hand grater or in a food processor; grate the onions more finely. Combine the potatoes and onions in a colander and drain well, pressing out as much moisture as possible. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the flour, salt, baking powder and pepper. Mix until smooth and then stir in potatoes and onions. Heat about 1/8-inch of oil in a large cast iron skillet, or griddle until hot; a drop of batter should sizzle. Drop the pancake batter by large spoonfuls and spread each into a thin pancake. Fry until bottom is brown and crisp, then turn and cook until the second side is also brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 200°F oven until all the pancakes are done. Serve with sour cream or yogurt and applesauce.

Note: Substitute grated sweet potato, parsnip, carrot or rutabaga for all or part of the potatoes if desired.

Star Recommends: MacMurray Pinot Gris
This wine possesses an expressive fruit-forward character, exhibiting rich aromas of fig, white peach, and pear. The bright aromas and complex varietal characters of citrus and elements of spice add both weight and interest to the wine. The flavors of peach, spicy pear and citrus meld together in a rich core, resulting in a round mouth feel which complements its crisp, clean finish.