Phoenix, Family and Food

Wow, what an amazing experience! A new relationship, family introductions, crazy dice games, sparkling wine, lots of holiday treats, and food!

For me, (and probably most) food creates the center, and this blog only stays relevant if I can offer you easy, fun ways to follow my mission of food, wine, and the art of living well!

The art of living well doesn’t mean living expensively, or lavishly, or flamboyantly. As a chef, and a wine educator, it’s generally a foregone conclusion that I’m gonna engage in my craft in one way or another, regardless of the circumstances. So, a trip to Phoenix is planned and I’m pimped out! For aunt, uncle and cousins, I’m engaged to cook a four course, Italian-themed, wine paired meal in an unfamiliar kitchen; add to this the caveat that one of the cousins is a vegetarian! Truly, I LOVE this! I LOVE the challenge. People think this is hard; it’s not. That being said, here’s what “Patrick’s” traveling parlor did…

Antipasti Course

Paired with Gavi

Oregano herbed Goat Cheese with Sundried Tomatoes and Caramelized Shallots


  • Goat Cheese
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sundried Tomatoes (packed in oil) alternately, use dried and rehydrate in hot water.
  • Shallots
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Oregano

Method: (As always, my recipes are designed to be measured by taste)

Mix equal amounts of goat cheese and cream cheese until blended and spreadable. Smooth cheese mixture on platter and set aside. Next, thinly slice the shallots, take a saute pan, heat to medium, add enough olive oil to coat the pan. When pan is hot, add shallots and saute until they release their moisture and begin to caramelize. When they reach a nice golden color, remove from heat and set aside for assembly. Next, take sundried tomatoes and slice thinly (julienne) and set aside for assembly. Next, mince fresh oregano and set aside for assembly.

Assembly: (You’re the artist at this point; let it show!)

Take your cheese that has been spread on the platter and alternately spread the shallots and sundried tomatoes in strips on top of cheese. Next, take some of your olive oil and drizzle it on top of the platter. Finally, take your minced oregano and dust the platter with it. Serve with sliced baguette or crackers, or crostinis, or whatever crispy little thing you want.

Wine Notes:

I served this with a Gavi. Gavi is a white wine from Northern Italy; it is made with the Cortese grape. This wine is a fun, light, crisp, clean wine. It makes a great palate cleansing wine with this creamy, intensely flavored antipasti. Pinot Grigio would be an obvious alternative if you can’t find a Gavi in your area. But, if you have a wine store with a large international selection (akin to a BevMo) you can usually find a Gavi.

Secondi Course

Paired with dry Rose of Cabernet

Fresh Tomato Soup with floated Crouton drizzled with Pesto and Creme Fraiche


  • Fresh Tomatoes  – blanched, pealed, seeded and diced (you can always use good canned diced tomatoes too)
  • Vegetable Broth – (or chicken if you’re not cooking for a vegetarian like I was for this meal!)
  • Minced Garlic
  • Finely chopped Yellow Onion
  • Pesto (I bought this pre-made, it’s also very easy to make – but I’m trying to keep this doable for you!)
  • Creme Fraiche (again, it’s easy to make, but easier to buy. If you can’t find it, you can use crema fresca, or a good sour cream that you’ve thinned with some milk)
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • Sour dough loaf for Croutons


If you’ve prepped all your ingredients in advance this is super simple and fast. First, heat your butter over low/med heat in your soup pot. Stir in your minced garlic and chopped onions, saute until onions are soft (be careful not to overheat – butter has a low heat point and garlic burns fast). Once the garlic/onion mixture is soft, add your broth and tomatoes. Heat to a simmer. Adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper and simmer until flavors have blended nicely… approximately 15/20 mins.

While soup is simmering, preheat an oven to 425, take your bread, slice it into large discs (imagine it floating on top of your soup in the bowl you plan to serve in). Lightly brush the bread with olive oil, arrange on baking sheet, and toast in the oven until crispy and golden brown.

Alternate option:

This is not a creamy tomato soup. It is a rustic broth based soup. If you want to make it creamy, simply prepare the soup as directed, and once done simmering, cool slightly, puree until creamy, add back to pot, reheat, and add half & half or cream… viola – you have creamy tomato soup.


Ladle soup into bowls, float a crouton in each bowl of soup. Drizzle each crouton with the creme fraiche, and finish with a dollop of pesto. See wasn’t that quick and simple?

Wine Notes:

This soup is simple, and basic. The pesto and creme fraiche bring structured contrasting layers to the soup. A Rose is a good choice for this soup. It harmonizes rather than contrasts (the Gavi with the Antipasti course demonstrates a contrasting approach to wine pairing). The clean, dry fruity flavors of the Rose add an additional flavor layer to the soup. If you choose a dry Rose, it will support the savory elements of the soup. If you choose a Rose that has a touch of sweetness, it will bring out the fruitiness of the soup… remember – tomatoes are considered a fruit!

Primo Course

Paired with Syrah

Sherried Portabella Ravioli’s finished with Tarragon Cream Sauce


  • Wanton Wraps found in any grocery store (trust me, way easier than making your own ravioli dough, but if you must – GO FOR IT!)
  • Portabella Mushrooms – finely minced or chopped in a food processor
  • Shallots – finely minced
  • Butter
  • Sherry
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Fresh Tarragon finely chopped (reserve some for plating)
  • Grated Reggiano Parmigiana
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Egg Wash for sealing raviolis

Method: (Stay with me, this is really very easy to do)

Heat butter a saute pan to medium heat, add mushrooms and shallots. Once the mushrooms and shallots start heating, and throwing moisture, continue to saute until they begin to dry out from the heat. Once this starts to happen, moisten with some sherry, continue to saute. During this time, add salt and pepper to taste (and throw in some tarragon if you want). The mixture will begin to dry out again; moisten with some more Sherry and continue this process until the mushroom and shallots are thoroughly soft, and the flavors are intensified. The mixture will be ready once it’s holding together, yet pretty dry from the heat (if you’ve ever made duxelles of mushrooms for Beef Wellington, this is basically what we are doing here). Remove from heat and cool for assembling the raviolis. Just prior to assembling raviolis, toss in some grated reggiano parmigiana to taste.

Ravioli Assembly:

Take your large wonton wraps. Lay one out flat. Place a dollop of the Mushroom mixture in the middle of the laid out wonton. Take your egg wash and brush the two bottom edges of the wrap. Fold the wrap over on itself so it creates a triangle. Press the top edges onto the bottom edges that have been brushed with the egg wash. Press firmly so the edges seal (it’s important that you get a good seal, so they fuse, rather than separate in the cooking phase.

As you’re making and reserving the raviolis for later cooking, make sure you dust them with a touch of flour to keep them from sticking together prior to cooking.  When you are done assembling the raviolis, set them aside while you make the cream sauce.

Cream Sauce Method:

Since the power flavor is in the raviolis, I like to keep this very simple. Take some Sherry, (maybe a half cup?), you can also use white wine. Throw the chopped tarragon in and bring to a simmer. Once the simmering, allow to simmer for a few minutes to thoroughly infuse the tarragon flavor. Once it has simmered for a few minutes, add the cream (maybe a cup or two?), bring to a gentle simmer and adjust seasoning with salt. Allow sauce to simmer until it reduces a tad and the cream begins to thicken. Again, I like the cream to stay pretty thin so it’s almost brothy, rather than thick like an alfredo sauce. Keep sauce warm while you cook the raviolis


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a bit of olive oil, and salt (I like to use olive oil to help keep the raviolis from sticking together). Once the water is boiling, gently add enough raviolis to the water to be able to cook without crowding each other. Basically, you’re going to cook them in batches. Have a pyrex style baking dish that has been warmed and coated with olive oil ready to reserve the cooked raviolis. Once you’ve cooked all the raviolis, simply arrange three or four on a plate, ladle the cream sauce over the top of the raviolis, and garnish with some fresh chopped tarragon.

Wine Notes:

Contrary to oft held wine pairing rules, red and white wines can both interchange with light and robust foods. The old rules of red with red, and white with white are silly! These raviolis would typically be served with a nice chardonnay based on conventional wisdom (and that would work well), but a big fat red simply sings with them. Just ask any Piedmontese Italian and they’ll tell you the same. The fat from the cream and the earthiness from the mushrooms makes this dish a forgone conclusion (a phrase you’ll hear me use often when talking about food and wine pairings) with a big, heavy red wine. I love an Old World Syrah, because of its earthy, savory notes. Also, any big Northern Italian red will work just as well… Barolo, Barbaresco, but be careful, these wines can be very tannic and off putting for some.

Finito Course

Paired with Moscato d’ Asti

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake (Sadly, not my recipe, so I’ve attached the recipe I use)

Ingredients for Pastry:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 beaten egg for wash

Ricotta Filling Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 pounds whole-milk ricotta cheese, (3 cups)
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon anisette liquor – Ouzo or Sambucca (or extract if you don’t want a bottle of anise flavored booze around – but I have to ask: Who wouldn’t?)
1/4 cup finely chopped citron or candied orange peel – optional (I love it; but sadly, many don’t)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus extra for dusting

Pastry Method:

For pasta frolla: In a bowl, mix dry ingredients, Using your fingers, rub in butter until it resembles a fine meal. Stir in eggs. On a floured surface, Knead dough lightly until smooth, then press into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until needed, at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Filling Method:

In a large bowl, stir sugar into ricotta. Stir in eggs, one at a time, then stir in remaining ingredients.


Preheat oven to 350f. Unwrap pastry. On a lightly floured surface, knead lightly until malleable. Cut off a third of dough and reserve. Roll remaining dough into a 14-inch round. Fit into a buttered 9-inch round pan. Trim dough even with top of pan. Pour in filling. Dust with 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.

For lattice: Roll reserved dough into a 10-by-8-inch rectangle and cut into 10 3/4-inch-wide strips. Paint strips with beaten egg. Place 5 strips on filling in each direction, trimming as necessary to fit, forming a diagonal lattice. Using a small knife to loosen bottom curst, fold edge of bottom crust over edge of top crust.

Bake in lower third of oven until crust is browned and filling is set, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan. Run a sharp knife blade around inside of pan to loosen pastry. Invert onto a platter, then reinvert onto another. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Wine Notes:

Moscato d’ asti is the slightly sparkling sweet wine from Northern Italy (Asti to be exact). It is simply fabulous with this dessert. It’s as if they both said, “I want my perfect partner” and were granted their wish. I won’t say more, just try it, and take a moment to truly experience the beauty of this pairing!

Here’s a little tid-bit about the Muscat grape. It hails from Northern Italy, and is generally regarded to be the mother of all grapes. Based on genetic testing, all wine grapes evolve from this sweet, aromatic, delectable piece of fruit.

If you want me to bring my parlor to you, help you do this, or let me teach your guests how much fun a dinner party can be when everyone helps cook it, then give me a shout. I’m available, I’m easy, and I’m so much fun!!!

Cheers – Patrick


5 Responses to “Phoenix, Family and Food”

  1. January 3, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    very nice!! I can’t wait to see this grow and grow!! Congrats!!

    • 2 Patrick Bartlett
      January 3, 2010 at 5:57 pm

      Thanks Anthony! Glad you took a look! Hopefully I’ll offer some recipes down the road that you’ll enjoy!

  2. 3 AJ
    January 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I’m the aunt, owner of the “unfamiliar” kitchen in Phoenix (Patrick is too polite to call it what it is: completely inadequate. I was shamed by my knives, but he used them so deftly), and I can tell you this was the most fabulous meal I’ve had in years. Patrick made it look easy (pretty sure it’s not THAT easy), but I may try it someday. After I buy new knives.

    Love the look of the Web site, and the gorgeous photos by Jake Sutter. Here’s my question: What are the 10 must-have items for the well-stocked kitchen? Do not be shy about sharing brand names, too.

    Aunt Janie

    • 4 Patrick Bartlett
      January 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm

      Dear Janie… watch the mailbag for the response! Thanks for your kind words. And working in your kitchen was not woeful! It was fun, and festive, and full of love… the way it’s supposed to be!

      Love back at ya,

  3. 5 askstanford
    January 3, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Gorgeous blog. This is gonna be fun!

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Patrick Bartlett

A conversation about food, wine, and the art of living well!


January 2010
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