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    Notes: March 2017


    Photo: (L to R) Mark Donaldson, Chris Churchill and Brad Barker pontificating on all things wine and music


    Once a month, Chris Churchill, Mark Donaldson and Brad Barker educate and entertain us as they talk about what is happening in the world of fine wine and music. And of course, they drink while they entertain.

    This week, Dunavar Pinot Grigio, Rocca del Dragone Falanghina, Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc, and Gran Feudo Reserva.




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    Spaghetti alle Vongole

    Spaghetti alle Vongole is a classic Italian pasta dish that finds regional adaptations across Italy and around the world, wherever fresh clams are available. It is a specialty of the Campania region and reaches its apogee in the restaurants along the Amalfi coast, where it is served with local white wine made from Grego, Fiano or Falanghina. When you order this dish in a restaurant it is usually served with the clam shells, to show that they are using fresh clams (not canned). Here, most of the clams are removed from their shells after the initial steaming and cooked with the pasta for extra flavour. This straightforward version is simple to prepare and moderately easy to master.

    Spaghetti alle Vongole in Bianco

    Ingredients:
    Kosher salt
    3 pounds (1.25kg) fresh small clams, such as little-necks, Manilas, or cockles (about 3 dozen little-necks or 4 dozen Manilas or cockles)
    3 Tbsp. (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
    3 medium cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
    Pinch red pepper flakes
    1/2 cup (120ml) Dunavar Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
    1 pound (450g) dried spaghetti
    1 Tbsp. (15g) unsalted butter (optional)
    2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley

    Method:
    Fill a large bowl with cold water and stir in enough salt to make it salty like the sea. Add clams and let stand 30 minutes. Lift clams from water and discard purging water; if there is sand in the bottom of the bowl, rinse it out and repeat this process until clams no longer release sand into the water (usually 2 to 3 purging cycles). Discard any clams that are gaping open and refuse to close when prodded.

    In a large skillet, combine oil with garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat until garlic is very lightly golden, about 5 minutes. (Adjust heat as necessary to keep it gently sizzling.)

    Add white wine and clams, cover, and increase heat to high. Cook, checking every 30 seconds or so and transferring clams as they open to a large heatproof bowl, until all clams have opened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

    Allow clams to cool slightly then pull meat from shells; save a few shell-on clams per serving for garnish. If clam meat is large (littleneck clams) you can roughly chop it.

    In a pot or large skillet of lightly salted water, cook pasta until just shy of al dente (about 1 minute less than cooking time on package). Transfer pasta to skillet with white-wine sauce, add a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water, and cook over high heat, stirring and tossing rapidly, until sauce has reduced and is beginning to form a creamy, emulsified coating on the noodles. Add butter and both clam meat and shell-on clams. Cook, stirring, until butter is melted and clams are heated through, about 1 minute; add more pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if sauce over-reduces and becomes dry or greasy. Season with salt if necessary. Remove from heat.

    Stir in parsley and a drizzle of fresh olive oil. Transfer to bowls and serve right away.

    Notes: February 2017


    Photo: (L to R) Mark Donaldson, Chris Churchill and Brad Barker pontificating on all things wine and music


    Once a month, Chris Churchill, Mark Donaldson and Brad Barker educate and entertain us as they talk about what is happening in the world of fine wine and music. And of course, they drink while they entertain.

    This week, Altano Red Portugal (release: Feb 18), Casa Silva Carmenere (release: Feb 4), Katnook Cabernet Sauvignon (release: Feb. 18) and D’Arenberg The Galvo Garage red (release: Feb 4).



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    Mushroom Stuffed Leg of Lamb

    Serve the lamb with simple sides that won’t distract too much.  Roasted potatoes and a side of green beans would work well.

    You can make the lamb roll the day ahead and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator. Make sure to take it out at least an hour before roasting begins.

    Ingredients:
    10 medium Swiss chard leaves (from 2 bunches), thick ribs removed
    1 tablespoon butter
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    1 1/4 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (such as portobello, crimini, and stemmed shiitake), finely chopped
    1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from day-old French bread
    2 tablespoons whipping cream
    1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
    1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1 6- to 7-pound boneless leg of lamb, butterflied to 2-inch thickness, excess fat and sinew trimmed
    4 ounces ground veal or lamb
    1 large egg
    3 garlic cloves, sliced

    Preparation

    Cook Swiss chard in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. Squeeze chard dry and finely chop enough to measure 1 1/2 cups. Transfer to large bowl.

    Melt butter with 2 tablespoons oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add wild mushrooms, onion and 1 minced garlic clove and sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes. Cool. Transfer to bowl with chard. Add breadcrumbs, cream, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1 tablespoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and mix to blend. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate).

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Open butterflied lamb like a book and place cut side up on work surface. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix veal and egg into mushroom stuffing. Spread evenly over lamb; press to adhere. Starting at narrow end, roll up lamb tightly, enclosing filling. Fasten ends with poultry skewers. Rub outside of lamb with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, then with remaining 1/2 tablespoon rosemary, and 1/2 tablespoon thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie lamb with kitchen string at 2-inch intervals to hold shape. Using small sharp knife, cut several 1-inch-deep slits in top of lamb, spacing apart; insert 1 garlic slice into each slit. Place lamb on rack in roasting pan.

    Roast lamb to desired doneness or until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of lamb registers 125°F to 135°F for medium-rare. Remove from oven. Cover with foil and let stand 20 minutes. Remove skewers and string. Cut lamb into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve.

    Serve with Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Gran Selezione Chianti Classico DOCG 2013
    Decant the wine for at least an hour prior to serving.

    Here are some roasting temperature guidelines: remember that every oven is different and cooking times will vary. It is best to use a meat thermometer. Once the lamb reaches 125°F, it tends to cook quicker. We usually wait for it to reach 130°F before taking it out of the oven. The centre parts will be medium rare and the ends will have a little pink in the meat.

    Roasting Temperature: 350°F

    • Rare: 125°F (about 15 minutes per pound)
    • Medium-Rare: 130°F to 135°F (about 20 minutes per pound)
    • Medium: 135°F to 140°F (about 25 minutes per pound)
    • Well-Done: 155°F to 165°F (about 30 minutes per pound)

    Notes: November 2016


    Photo: (L to R) Mark Donaldson, Chris Churchill and Brad Barker pontificating on all things wine and music


    Once a month, Chris Churchill, Mark Donaldson and Brad Barker educate and entertain us as they talk about what is happening in the world of fine wine and music. And of course, they drink while they entertain.

    This week, Segura Viudas Reserva Hereded, Domaine Pre Baron Touraine, Chateau de Gourgazaud Reserve and Dow's Late Bottled Vintage Port



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    Tiny Cheese, Onion and Olive Scone

    Here is our annual resurrection of our favourite bite-sized appetizer recipe. They match all sorts of wine and get along especially well with bubbly.

    This is an adaptation of a recipe from Delia Smith’s Christmas.

    Tiny Cheese, Onion and Olive Scones

    Delia Says, “These are so moreish that I don't think your guests could possibly survive on just one. They are simple to make and freeze superbly once cooked, provided you defrost and re-heat them in a hot oven for about 4 minutes before serving. If you're making them on the day of serving, split them once they're cooled and spread with a little herb cheese or a creamy blue cheese like Cambazola. Warm them in a hot oven just before serving”. 
 

    Ingredients: 

    1½ oz (40 g) Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), grated. 
1½ oz (40 g) 4 or 5 Year Old Ontario Cheddar, grated 
1 medium onion, diced 
6 Kalamta olives, pitted and chopped 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour 
½ level teaspoon salt 
½ level teaspoon mustard powder 
½ level teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1 oz (25 g) butter 
1 large egg 
approximately 2-3 tablespoons milk 
freshly milled black pepper 
 
Method: 

    Fry the onion in the oil over medium-high heat for about 5-6 minutes or until it's a nice brown caramel colour and darkened at the edges. Keep it moving about so that it doesn't burn. Transfer it to a plate to cool.

    While that's happening, take a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, salt, mustard powder and cayenne, and add a good grinding of black pepper (the scones need to have a piquant bite).

    Rub in the butter, toss in the cooled onion, the olives and two thirds of the grated cheeses, forking them in evenly.

    Beat the egg and pour this in, mixing first with a knife and finally with your hands, adding only enough milk to make a soft dough, but not too sticky.

    Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface, knead it gently till it's smooth, then roll it out to about ¾ inch (2 cm) thick, being careful not to roll it too thinly.

    Next, use a 1¼ inch (3 cm) plain cutter for cutting: place it lightly on the dough and give a sharp tap to stamp out the scones. Lightly knead together and re-roll any trimmings.

    Then, when all the scones are cut, brush them with milk, top them with the remaining grated cheese and bake them at 375F near the top of the oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove them to a wire rack to cool.

    Notes - September 2016


    Photo: (L to R) Mark Donaldson, Chris Churchill and Brad Barker pontificating on all things wine and music


    Once a month, Chris Churchill, Mark Donaldson and Brad Barker educate and entertain us as they talk about what is happening in the world of fine wine and music. And of course, they drink while they entertain.

    This week:

    La Merika Pinot Grigio, Waimea Pinot Noir, Bertani Ripasso and Encore Cabernet Sauvignon


    Have a listen!


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    Moroccan Pork Casserole

    Ingredients:

            1 lb diced pork tenderloin ( 500g)
            1 tablespoon olive oil
            2 teaspoons grated ginger
            2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
            2 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
            1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
            1 teaspoon ground paprika
            1 teaspoon Thai sweet chili sauce
            8 ounces winter squash, thinly sliced 250 g (Butternut works well)
            4 ounces spinach leaves, shredded roughly ( 100g)
            1 tablespoon lemon juice
            1/2 teaspoon salt
            1/2 cup chicken stock
            2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

    Directions:

        Preheat oven to 350F (180C)

        Heat oil in a large skillet and stir-fry the diced pork in two batches until browned

        Add ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin and paprika, and stir fry a further minute to cook the spices

        Add chili sauce, squash, spinach, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste), and chicken stock, and mix well

        Transfer contents of skillet to a casserole dish, cover tightly and cook in the oven for 45 minutes

        Check once or twice during cooking that the liquid has not evaporated, and add a little more stock if necessary

        When the meat and squash are tender, stir through the fresh cilantro and serve with rice

    Notes - August 2016


    Photo: (L to R) Mark Donaldson, Chris Churchill and Brad Barker pontificating on all things wine and music


    Once a month, Chris Churchill, Mark Donaldson and Brad Barker educate and entertain us as they talk about what is happening in the world of fine wine and music. And of course, they drink while they entertain.

    This week:

    Le Carla Colombard / Sauvignon

    Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc

    Cigar Zin Old Vine Zinfandel

    d’Arry’s Original Shiraz / Grenache


    Have a listen!


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    Impress friends and family with your knowledge of wine.

    Coffee and Herb Rubbed Lamb Chops

    It turns out that coffee and lamb like each other and the combined flavours are a super match for all three red wines featured above. Serve the chops with your favourite seasonal veggies and a variety of gently sautéed mushrooms.

    Use a meat thermometer and remove the lamb chops from the oven when they reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees. The lamb will reach 130 degrees while it rests and the meat will be cooked perfectly to medium-rare.

    For the Lamb Chops:

    •             2 lamb racks, frenched
    •             1/4 cup coffee, finely ground
    •             2 tablespoons paprika
    •             1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
    •             1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
    •             1 tablespoon brown sugar
    •             1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
    •             1/2 tablespoon coriander, ground
    •             1/2 tablespoon black pepper, ground
    •             1 pinch cayenne pepper
    •             salt, to taste
    •             1 tablespoon olive oil

    Combine coffee, paprika, oregano, thyme, brown sugar, mustard, pepper, coriander, cayenne and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle generously over the lamb racks.

    Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon reserved oil and the lamb racks. Cook over medium heat to brown all over, being careful not to burn the spices. Place the seasoned meat on a rack in the preheated oven. Cook until an instant-read meat thermometer reaches 125 degrees F. Transfer to a platter, tent with foil to keep hot and let rest for 10 minutes until ready to serve.


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