Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Bon Appétit, June 2008.
- 3/4 c. unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), at room temperature, divided
- ¼ c. packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 3 cups pitted cherries (about 21 oz. unpitted cherries)
- ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ c. whole milk
- ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
Directions: Place oven rack in the center of oven. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
In a 10 or 11-inch oven-proof skillet with at least 2-inch tall sides, stir together ¼ cup of the butter with the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Place over medium heat, and stir for about 2 minutes, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, then add the cherries and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt until combined. Set aside.
Place ½ cup of butter in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, and continue to beat for 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, in 2 additions each, beating just until blended, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Set aside.
Place the egg whites in a medium bowl, and use clean (and dry) beaters to beat until foamy. Sprinkle in the cream of tartar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Use a rubber spatula to fold ¼ of the egg whites into the batter. In three additions, fold in the remaining egg whites. The resulting batter will be thick. Spoon the batter over the cherries in the skillet, and spread evenly to cover.
Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown on top and a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in the skillet on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife or spatula around the edges of the cake to loosen. Place a large serving platter on top of the skillet, then (using oven mitts) firmly hold the platter and skillet together and invert. Let the skillet sit on top of the platter for 5 minutes before removing. Allow the cake to cool at least 45 minutes before slicing into wedges and serving. Delicious slightly warm, or at room temperature. Makes 10 servings.
Star Recommends: Haden Fig Pinot Noir—Sourced from Cancilla Vineyard, Bjornson Vineyard and Croft Vineyard, deep red cherry, cranberry, orange peel and subtle mushroom.
Smoky Roasted Cherry Jam
Adapted from www.eatingwell.com.
This jam could be served with roasted chicken or pork tenderloin, or spread on a grilled cheese sandwich.
- 4 c. pitted, halved cherries
- ½ c. orange juice
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme, or ½ tsp. dried
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp. salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 450˚F. In a 9x13-inch baking dish, combine the cherries with the orange juice, thyme, smoked paprika, and salt. Roast for 35-45 minutes, stirring 3-4 times, until the liquid has thickened and the cherries have begun to break down.
Store in a covered container, refrigerated, for up to 1 week. Makes 1 ½ cups.
Star Recommends: Benzinger Pinot Noir—Aromas of tart, red cherry and raspberry engage the senses and co-mingle with the palate. Cherry, raspberry, strawberry and a touch of clove make this a light and easy drinking Pinot.
Adapted from www.mamaslebanesekichen.com.
This classic Lebanese salad packed with toasted pita, summer vegetables, and loads of herbs tends to be a hit with everyone, and is filling enough to serve as a meal.
- 5 loaves good quality pita
- 2 tsp. sumac, plus 2 Tbs.
- 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus 1/3 cup
- 2 lbs. tomatoes, chopped into 1-inch chunks
- 1 lb. Mediterranean cucumbers, sliced into ¼-inch half moons
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed, sliced
- 1 bunch fresh mint, stems removed, leaves chopped
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, leaves chopped
- ½ bunch radishes, trimmed, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 large green pepper, diced
- 1 large head romaine lettuce, cleaned, trimmed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/3 c. pomegranate molasses
- ½ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Directions: Preheat oven to 400˚F. Separate each pita loaf and slice into 1-inch squares. Spread onto baking sheets and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of sumac. Toast in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until light brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, mint, parsley, radishes, green pepper, and lettuce in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoons of sumac, and a pinch of salt. Drizzle in the 1/3 cup of olive oil and whisk to combine. Taste and add more salt as needed.
Add the toasted pita to the large bowl of vegetables, and gently toss to combine. Drizzle with dressing, and toss to coat. Serve immediately, so the bread doesn’t get soggy. Makes 4 servings.
Star Recommends: Calcada Rose—This Rose edition presents a beautiful cherry red color with intense aroma of red fruits. In the mouth it’s fresh with good mouth volume and long finish.
Pressed Chicken with Yellow Summer Squash and Tomatoes
Adapted from Gourmet, August 2008.
- 4 chicken breast halves with skin and bone (2 – 2 ¼ lbs.)
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 3/4 lb. summer squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 lb. tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tsp. chopped fresh marjoram, divided
Directions: Pat the chicken dry, and sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper. In a heavy, 12-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down. Cover with a round of parchment, then place a heavy skillet on top, followed by a 3-5 pound weight (use a couple of 32 oz. cans). Cook for 10 minutes, then remove the weight, skillet, and parchment, and flip the chicken over. Cover again with parchment, skillet and weight. Cook about 8 minutes more, just until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Add the squash, tomatoes, garlic, 2 teaspoons of the marjoram, and ¼ teaspoon of salt to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes, until the squash is tender and the tomatoes begin releasing their juices. If the chicken has released any juices on the plate, add these to the skillet and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the squash and tomato mixture over the chicken, and top with the remaining teaspoon of marjoram. Serve hot. Serves 4.
Star Recommends: Quecerto Chianti—Though packed with fresh cherry, berry and tobacco flavors, this is also chewy, with a spice and cedar side that adds depth. A modern style, yet harmonious and polished.
Zucchini and Corn Parmesan Fritters
Adapted from www.flourishingfoodie.com.
Adding fresh corn to the batter gives these zucchini fritters a special twist.
- 2 medium zucchini, grated
- ½ tsp. salt, plus more for seasoning
- 3 Tbs. butter, divided
- ½ small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- kernels from 2 ears of corn (or 1 ½ cups of corn kernels)
- ½ c. all-purpose flour
- ½ c. cornmeal
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 large egg
- 1 c. milk
- ½ c. grated Parmesan
- sour cream
- minced chives
Directions: Toss the zucchini with ½ teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Let rest for 10 minutes, then squeeze the zucchini to wring out excess water. Transfer to a colander and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over low heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the corn, and sauté for an additional 5 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and baking powder. Whisk in the egg and milk. Fold in the corn mixture. Give the shredded zucchini one more squeeze, and fold this into the bowl. Add the Parmesan and season the fritter batter with salt and pepper.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium heat. When it’s sizzling, add the batter in heaping half-cup scoops. Fry each side until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Add the last tablespoon of butter to the pan before frying the 2nd batch of fritters. Serve warm, with sour cream, minced chives, and a squeeze of lemon. Makes 6 large fritters.
Star Recommends: Chateau Salmoniere Muscadet—Searingly dry with a salty tang to the finish, this is wonderful with a plate of oysters. Just close your eyes and you could almost believe you’re at the beach.
Penne Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Olives
Adapted from www.feedmephoebe.com.
Serve with an herby, lemony salad for a satisfying meal, or serve as a side dish alongside something grilled. Try using gluten-free pasta!
- Olive oil
- 1 lb. zucchini or other summer squash, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
- 1 c. cooked chickpeas
- ½ c. roughly chopped pitted kalamata olives
- 2 Tbs. sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- 1 c. coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
- ½ c. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 large clove garlic
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 lb. pennepasta
Directions: Heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with a thin coat of olive oil. In batches, arrange the zucchini in a single layer in the skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until they begin to brown, 1-2 minutes. Flip the zucchini over, and continue to cook until golden brown and very tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining zucchini, adding more oil if needed.
Reduce heat to medium-high, and add the chickpeas and olives. Sauté about 2 minutes, until the chickpeas begin to brown, and the olives are fragrant. Transfer to the bowl with the zucchini. Drizzle with the vinegar and add ½ teaspoon of salt. Toss to combine and set aside.
Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Place the basil, parsley, garlic, lemon zest and juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of salt in the bowl of a food processor. Purée until smooth (see note). Add it to the bowl of zucchini, chickpeas, and olives. Add the cooked pasta to the bowl, and toss to incorporate the vegetables and coat everything in the herb sauce.
Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Note: To do this without a food processor, finely chop the basil, parsley, and garlic by hand. Place in a small bowl and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Makes 6 servings.
Star Recommends: H&B Languedoc Red—Well-structured, with an intense core of red currant, plum and dark cherry flavors that are very pure and minerally tasting. Mocha, smoke and tar fill the powerful finish.
Pan-Seared Steak with Salsa Verde
Adapted from www.marthastewart.com.
A flavorful sauce made with parsley, mustard, and vinegar really makes this meal.
- 2/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbs. capers, finely chopped if they’re large
- 2 Tbs. minced shallot
- 4 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- black pepper
- 1 1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 2 strip steaks (6-8 oz. each, 1-inch thick)
Directions: In a small bowl, combine the parsley, capers, shallot, vinegar, mustard, and 2 tablespoons water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the steaks in the skillet and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, flipping once, until well browned, 2-3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove from pan and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the sauce. Makes 2 servings.
Star Recommends: Cholilia Ranch Malbec—Deep purple color. Aromas of ripe plum and mulberry with violet hints. Ripe black fruits and fig on the palate with touches of smoke and vanilla. A truly powerful yet balanced wine with a persistent finish.