Apple Pancake
Adapted from www.thekitchn.com.
This great big pancake is nice for a weekend breakfast, warmly spiced and filled with apples.

  • 2 large apples (or 3 medium ones)
  • 4 Tbs. sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 c. dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 eggs

Directions: Preheat oven to 400˚F. Peel and core the apples, then cut into thin slices. Chop the slices into halves or thirds, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of the white sugar with the cinnamon and ginger, and set aside. Pour the melted butter into an 8x8-inch baking dish or a deep cast iron skillet. Sprinkle the brown sugar into the baking dish, then arrange the apples on top. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the apples, then place in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the white sugar is caramelized and bubbling around the apples. In the meantime, whisk the flour with the last tablespoon of white sugar, the salt, and nutmeg. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Still whisking, add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time. Whisk until foamy, about 2 minutes, then let sit for five minutes.

Pour the batter over the apples, and return to the oven for about 20 minutes, until the center is set and the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool for a few minutes. The pancake will be puffy when you take it out of the oven, but it will fall after a few minutes. Serve warm as is, or topped with powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon. Serves 4.

Star Recommends: Ste Chappelle Dry Gewurztraminer
The wine is very typical of the grape, with lovely aromas and flavors of grapefruit and lychee nuts. Dry and full-bodied flavors are balanced by crisp acidity.


Apple and Cheddar Turnovers with Dried Cranberries
Adapted from www.bonappetit.com.
Enjoy the classic pairing of honey-sweet apples and sharp cheddar.

  • 2 medium apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 c.)
  • 1 1/2 c. (loosely packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
  • Pinch of salt
  • 17.3 ounce package of frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 Tbs. sugar

Directions: In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples, cheddar cheese, maple syrup, walnuts, cranberries, and pinch of salt. Mix well and set aside.

Arrange the oven racks so that one rack is in the top third of the oven, and one rack is in the bottom third. Preheat to 400˚F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one puff pastry sheet into an 11-inch square. Using a 5- or 5 1/2-inch bowl or plate as a template, cut four rounds from the pastry. Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry, and place the rounds on a separate baking sheet.

Place a spoonful of apple filling onto each round, brush the edges of the pastry with egg-water glaze, and fold over into a half-moon shape. With your fingers or the tines of a fork, press the edges to create a tight seal. Cut two 1/2-inch-long vents into the top of each turnover. Brush with the remaining egg glaze, then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until golden and puffy and juices are bubbling, about 25 minutes. Use a metal spatula to carefully transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 turnovers.

Star Recommends: DE PENNAUTIER 2011 L’Orangeraie Chardonnay
This wine represents a typical French bistro style Chardonnay. Light, fresh, and easy to drink, with notes of apples, lemon, and pear. Aged in stainless steel.


Coconut Roasted Buttercup Squash
Adapted from www.eatingfromthegroundup.com.
If buttercup is not available, delicata and kabocha, both of which also have edible peels, would be great substitutes in this creamy, coconutty dish.

  • 1 buttercup squash (large, washed)
  • 1 can coconut milk (full-fat)
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and slice into wedges about 1 1/2 inches thick. In a mixing bowl, combine the coconut milk, chili powder, lime zest and juice, and a pinch of salt. Add the squash wedges to the bowl and stir to coat.
Transfer the squash to a lightly oiled baking dish. Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of the coconut mixture, and roast until tender and just starting to brown, 20-30 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 4.

Star Recommends: Blanco Nieva Sauvignon Blanc
A greenish, straw-yellow color, it comes over clean and bright in appearance. The nose is particularly varietal, with herbaceous aromas, and hints of fig leaves, peaches and exotic fruits. It is generous, fresh and rather unctuous on the palate with good persistence.


Chicken, Grated Beets, and Beet Greens with Orange Butter
Adapted from www.epicurious.com .
An entire meal that comes together in just over 30 minutes, and even better: cooked in one pan!

  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange peel
  • 3 Tbs. butter, room temperature, divided
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 shallot, large, chopped (4 Tbs.)
  • 4 beets, greens stemmed and coarsely chopped, beets peeled and coarsely grated
  • 4 tsp. Sherry vinegar, divided
  • 2/3 c. water

Directions: In a small bowl, mix the orange peel into 2 tablespoons of the butter. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and black pepper.

Heat a large skillet over med-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, place the chicken breasts in the pan and sauté until cooked through and golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side. Take out four plates, and arrange a chicken breast in the center of each plate. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Melt the rest of the butter with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet over med-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add the beet greens, and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons of sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, then cook another 30 seconds. Arrange the greens on each of the four plates and cover up again with foil.

Add the grated beets and water to the skillet. Cover and let simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and add to the plates. Place a spoonful of orange butter on the chicken, and serve. Serves 4.

Star Recommends: Chateau du Segries Lirac
Deep blueberry and forest aromas precede the very long flavors of black cherry, bramble and black pepper. Muscular and packed, it finishes with drying tannins. A great value.


Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Loosely adapted from www.foodandwine.com.
This dish has the looks and rich flavors to have a place on a dinner party menu or a holiday table, but is fantastically easy to prepare.

  • 1 1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced (3/4 cup)
  • 2 oz. thickly sliced pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Salt

Directions: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pot and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise.
In a large heavy skillet, heat a tablespoon of the oil over moderately low heat. Add the shallots and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Arrange the Brussels sprouts cut side down and add the pancetta and a pinch of salt. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are browned and tender, about 10 minutes. Return the shallots to the pan and cook, stirring, until heated through. Season with salt to taste, and serve while piping hot. Serves 5.

Star Recommends: Silverado Mt. George Vineyard Merlot
Oak aromas of vanilla, cedar, and sandalwood are well integrated with the aromas of bright raspberry fruit, sweet baking spices and freshly picked herbs. Full bodied with well mannered tannins and a balanced long lingering finish.


Salmon and Brussels Sprouts with Ginger-Scallion Sauce
Adapted from www.dinneralovestory.com.
Yummy and weeknight-friendly.

  • 1 1/4 lb. salmon fillet
  • 3 c. Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 1 tsp. tamari
  • 1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch scallions, both green and white parts, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. finely minced ginger
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped mint

Directions: Preheat oven to 450˚F. Slice the salmon into 4-ounce pieces. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place the Brussels sprouts on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, tossing halfway through the cooking time. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and arrange the salmon filets among the Brussels sprouts, return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes.

While the salmon and Brussels sprouts are cooking, make the ginger-scallion sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, tamari, and rice wine vinegar, then stir in the scallions, minced ginger and mint.

Serve the salmon and Brussels sprouts with the ginger-scallion sauce. Serves 4.

Star Recommends: Fess Parker Pinot Noir
Captivating scents of black cherry and black raspberry mingle with a touch of nutmeg, forest floor and sandalwood. On the palate, the flavors of red currant, cranberry, vanilla, spice and mocha combine elegantly with a touch of oak. Velvety in texture, this is a crowd pleasing and food-friendly Pinot Noir.