December wine review with recipe pairings

The crisp acidity and mandarin orange notes of this Spier 2013 Sauvignon Blanc complements the tanginess in Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with Green Beans. Spier 2013 Sauvignon Blanc –Knowing I wanted to balance the acid of tomatoes and tanginess of goat cheese in my goat cheese-stuffed chicken with green bean dish, I chose a sauvignon blanc but decided to shake it up a bit with a South African selection. Strong white peach on the nose of this one hinted to the pairing I was hoping for. I detected a gravelly quality, as well, and the crisp acidity, mandarin orange and citrus held up wonderfully to the pungent food characteristics while not overpowering the mildness of the chicken and green beans. $16 at Total Wine & More.

Medium acidity and balance, this affordable Napa chard held up to the slight spiciness of the tacos it was paired with.

Napa Cellars 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay – Tacos may not seem elegant enough for chardonnay but that’s the point. Wine is to be enjoyed and who wants to save it for a special occasion? This chardonnay was aged predominantly in French oak which is considerably more subtle and elegant than American. It showed clear, pale, lemongrass with citrus to apricot aromas. On the palate it was dry but almost gave a hint of off-dry with some nectarine. Medium acidity and balance, this affordable Napa chard held up to the slight spiciness of the tacos it was paired with. $15 at Evergreen Wine Cellar.

Pinot noir is not a knock-your-socks-off high tannin party girl but, rather, a medium-bodied wine with an elegant subtleness that whispers of her finer qualities.

Torii Mor 2011 Pinot Noir – From the moment I tasted the strawberry, mushroom and earthiness of this pinot, I knew it’d partner well with turkey but I love pinot with tuna, as well, and it satisfied with a simple tuna cake recipe that feels like a mid-week treat. Pinot noir is not a knock-your-socks-off high tannin party girl but, rather, a medium-bodied wine with an elegant subtleness that whispers of her finer qualities. $19.60 at Latte Da Coffee House & Wine Bar.

This Casillero del Diablo Reserva Carmenere 2013 is a very affordable, food-friendly table wine that paired as well with chicken sliders  as it did with salmon and bacon sliders atop home-made buns.

Casillero del Diablo Reserva Carmenere 2013 – As I mentioned last month, wines from South America can be an excellent value and this carmenere is yet another example. Concha y Toro harvest their carmenere from the Rapel Valley within the Central Valley where conditions are also warm enough for merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Originally a Bordeaux grape variety, carmenere can be medium or full bodied showing dark fruit and slight spice. This a really affordable, food-friendly table wine that’s seen some American oak and is up there at 13.5 percent alcohol. I paired it with salmon and bacon sliders atop home-made buns. $9 at Fred Meyer.

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Goat cheese-stuffed chicken with green beans

Sauce-

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

½ onion, diced

½ C chicken stock

1 14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp fresh basil (1 tsp dried)

1 tsp salt

Stuffing-

4 ounces goat cheese

5 Tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes

2 Tbsp olive oil

12 ounces green beans, fresh

4 boneless chicken breasts (4-5 ounces each)

To make the sauce, in a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add stock, oregano and basil. Pour stewed tomatoes in a blender and purée. Add tomatoes and salt to the sauce and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add the green beans and cook over medium-low for 15 minutes. With a sharp knife, cut deep incisions horizontally in each chicken breast. In a small mixing bowl, combine cheese, tomatoes and oil with a fork. Using fingers, stuff cheese mixture equally into each breast. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease a 10” round, oven-proof dish. Place breasts in the dish. Pour bean mixture evenly over breasts. Cook for 18-20 minutes. Serves 4. Recipe created by Viki Eierdam.

Tacos

4 tsp chili powder

4 tsp dried parsley flakes

3 tsp cumin

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb hamburger (or meat substitute)

6 – 8 inch flour or whole wheat tortillas or hard taco shells

Mix all the spices together. Over medium heat pour oil into a large skillet. Brown the meat for 20 minutes. Add the spices and incorporate well. Continue stirring until meat is cooked. Add water if mixture becomes dry. Can add chopped red cabbage. Spoon taco mixture into tortillas and add your favorite garnish (I.e. shredded lettuce, olives, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream). Serves 6.

Tuna cakes

6 green onions, chopped

6 Tbsp olive oil*

6 oz tuna, fresh-caught or canned Albacore

1 egg

1 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp dry mustard

½ tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp Old Bay Seasoning

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 C dry bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients in a bowl holding back 2 Tbsp olive oil. With a 1/4 cup measurer, form 6 patties and drop them into a pan coated with 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium to medium-high heat. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. Drain briefly on paper towels. Serve with aioli sauce –or- ¼ C mayonnaise mixed with one minced garlic clove. *Add roasted corn to cakes. **Substitute tuna with crab and pair it with a nice chardonnay. Serves 2. Original recipe author unknown.

Salmon-bacon sliders

Slider buns can be difficult to find. In a pinch, use basic, pre-packaged dinner rolls. Chef John’s Homemade Hamburger Buns recipe, found on Allrecipes, is used in my house.

6 mini buns

1 Tbsp cooking oil

8-12 oz salmon fillet

1 tsp coarse salt

¼ tsp pepper

2 onions, chopped

6 bacon strips

1 tomato, sliced

Lettuce

Barbecue sauce

mayonnaise

Cut buns in half and place on a cookie sheet. Toast in oven on high broil approximately four minutes or until golden brown. Pour 1 Tbsp of oil in a cast iron Dutch oven (or skillet). Heat over medium high until the oil starts to smoke. Add salmon skin side down. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes on medium high, turn over and cook an additional 4-6 minutes (or until cooked through). Set on plate to rest approximately 2 minutes. Coat a 10” skillet with oil, place bacon pieces in skillet and, over medium heat, cook turning half way through. Place onions in Dutch oven (or skillet) and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Divide the salmon, bacon and onions between the six buns. Add condiments of choice such as tomato, lettuce, barbecue sauce and mayonnaise. Serves 2-3.