Archive for the 'Recipes' Category


Lamb Burger Wednesday!!!

My good friend in Sacramento just sent me the following suggestions for Lamb Burgers!!! I had to post it verbatim because it sounds fantastic! Add a Greek salad, or my favorite grilled vegetables, and you have a feast. I LOVE LAMB and this is calling to me… How about you?

Complements of Brian in Sacramento:

“Not so much of a question, but over the past couple of years we’ve “discovered” ground lamb as a great substitute for ground beef.  We use it pretty much in any recipe where we would normally use ground beef (ie, spaghetti, meatloaf, etc.).  Our favorite usage of it, though, is “lamb-burgers”.  We will mix the ground lamb with crumbled feta cheese, ground cinnamon, and whatever other herbs and spices we have laying around–usually coriander, parsley, maybe fresh mint, crushed rosemary, salt, etc.  We form this into hamburger-sized patties and grill them just like hamburgers.  Serve this in a hamburger bun with a little bit of greek yogurt mixed with dill or just eat the burger by itself.”

Wine Pairing – Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel, Cabernet


Pinot and Pork = Perfection!!!

I sent out a coming-soon teaser on this a few days ago. It’s truly one of my favorite meals to cook, both for family meals and casual entertaining. I’ve even used it for culinary seminars because it includes so many culinary techniques – pan searing, roasting, cooking temps for perfect meat, harmonizing flavors, etc. Hope you enjoy it as much as I  do! The picture is my dinner from last night! And don’t stop reading til you get to the end of the post for the wine-pairing! I promise, it will entertain you ;-)

Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Creminis, Sweet Onions and Dried Cherries


  • 2 (approximately)2lb Pork center-cut tenderloins – they usually come two to a package.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 Small package cremini mushrooms – thinly sliced
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup dried Cherries
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh minced thyme


Preheat oven to 375. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large oven proof sauté pan over medium heat. Season tenderloin with salt & pepper. Sear tenderloin in sauté pan until golden brown on each side; remove from heat.  Add remaining olive oil, sauté garlic, mushrooms and yellow onion until beginning to soften, add dried cherries, and half the wine (this will also deglaze the pan adding additional flavor). Cook until the wine is reduced, add the cherries, minced thyme and the remaining wine. Remove from heat, add the seared tenderloin back into the pan and place pan in oven to finish roasting.  Roast in oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until pork reaches an internal temperature of 135f, remove from oven and to rest pork for about 10 minutes – this should allow the pork to reach a finished temp of 140f – PERFECTION!!!


Plate this wonderful tenderloin with mashed potatoes, or broad-cut pasta. Finish with some roasted red peppers for added plate texture and spoon pan jus over finished plate – OH, and don’t forget to complete your masterpiece with a sprig of fresh thyme!!!

Warning: Provocative picture ahead! But it’s also educational – “Pigeage”: The french term for punching down grapes during fermentation. This is how the color and flavors in the skins are continually reincorporated into the juice. At the wine production company I manage, all our wine is hand made and goes through “Pigeage” three times a day until the wine is put through the press after fermentation is complete! I picked this pic because the grapes are Pinot Noir.

Wine Pairing:

Pinot Noir, PERIOD!!!

Here’s why, a good Pinot Noir has a classic earthy nose sometimes reminiscent of mushrooms, or wet straw, with a fruity bouquet of bright cherries, raspberries, and a soft finish of tobacco. Truly one of the great wines of the world, and this dish SINGS with it for obvious reasons!!! Obvious you ask? Pork tenderloin is a low-fat cut of meat, and Pinots usually don’t have overly pronounced tannins, therefore they don’t need a lot of mouth-coating fat like a big Cabernet might. The mushrooms, and thyme harmonize with the earthiness of the wine, and the cherries… well, do I really need to point that one out? Bottom line is “THIS DISH IS A PARTY IN YOUR MOUTH WHEN PAIRED WITH A GOOD PINOT!!!” Sorry for my exuberance, just can’t help myself!

Please try this one! Let me know how it goes, and as always, recipe improvements are appreciated!


Red, brown, or wild, it’s all good!!!

I frequently look in my fridge and observe what’s left-over, and ponder what to do with it! So the other day, I did pan seared salmon, my stand-by roasted veggies and steamed red rice. This rice is a chewy, nutty rice, and it was wonderful as a neutral balance for the meal. So next evening when I’m standing at the fridge pondering what to do, viola! Red rice = Rice Cakes! I had everything I needed to make a basic cake, and so I expanded my creativity as I forged ahead. The following recipe is my fast-born creation. As always, I’m a loosey-goosey cook, so feel free to adjust this recipe as needed to perfect it for you – one warning though: Be careful with the flour for the final binding, use it sparingly and just enough to hold them together for the pan searing. Too much flour and you’ll have gummy cakes… YUCK! Other than that, have fun and PLEASE do try them and let me know how they turned out and what you did to make them yours!!!

Red Rice Cakes


  • 2 cups cooked red, wild, or brown rice
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ cup minced dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup minced green onions
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg – slightly beaten
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons Clarified butter


Combine first 5 ingredients together in mixing bowl, when done stir in slightly beaten egg, season with salt and pepper, and add only enough flour to gently bind the mixture (mixture will still be sticky, don’t add too much flour or cakes may be gummy when done).

Put panko in a shallow bowl and reserve for coating cakes.

Shape mixture into small patties, and gently coat each patty with panko. When done shaping and coating rice cakes, heat clarified butter in small sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, place cakes in pan and cook on each side until golden brown. Remove from heat and reserve for plating.


These cakes are wonderful as stand-alone appetizers, or as a first course on a bed of greens tossed in a light vinaigrette. They are also excellent topped with fruit chutneys, mango salsa, lemon aioli, etc. Trust your taste buds and have fun!

Wine Pairing:

These cakes are earthy,  savory, and a little sweet. A dry Riesling would be my first choice. It creates a nice counter-balance to the cakes, plus if you plate them with a vinaigrette the wine won’t be trounced by the acidity in the salad. Another choice would be a medium bodied Chardonnay or Viognier. Stay away from overly bright acidic whites like Pinot Grigio, or NZ Sauvignon Blanc. They are too bracing and bodacious if you’ve added the dried fruit. If you’ve omitted the dried fruit and kept them very savory, then these wines would work, but they’d HATE any sort of vinaigrette, so go the aioli route with them! MOST importantly, trust your palate… after all, you’re the one eating them!!!


Grilled Veggies – never enough!!!

I can’t help myself. not only are they beautiful to look at, but this is my favorite way to cook them PERIOD!

Patrick’s same ol’ same ol’ grilled veggies

  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Bell Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Any thing else you’d love to grill with these (not zucchini – I’ve got another recipe for that later), just watch the density (remember my roasted root veggies density rule!)

Preheat the oven to 400f, clean and prep the veggies, toss them in your favorite olive oil, add some balsamic if you’d like, season with kosher or sea salt and cracked pepper, toss in some fresh or dried herbs if you’d like, arrange them artfully on the roasting pan (this is essential if you want them to be happy in the roasting phase), and roast them for about 15 minutes, or until they are al dente – eat them alone, or if you have to, add some protein – steak, chicken, pork, pasta… it’s all good!



I promised and here it is! It’s not my recipe, but it’s truly the BEST recipe for gnocchi I’ve found! The recipe is from the Tre Vigne cookbook. It’s written by Michael Chiarello. His method is what makes this special… baking the potatoes rather than boiling so their glutens aren’t as pronounced making a very light and fluffy gnocchi. These delectable little darlings are often called Angel Pillows, and this recipe truly supports that image; they are super easy to make. When I make them, I do the roll out, cut them into bite sized pieces and then simply press a dimple in the middle of each one – this works just as well as the fork roll, and is much faster.

Once you get the hang of it, trying experimenting with enhanced versions – use sweet potatoes (I’d suggest half sweet and half regular since sweet potatoes are more dense). Add some fresh herbs to the dough for extra zing. Gnocchis traditionally hail from Northern Italy. The Northern Italian cuisine is more influenced by the Swiss and Germans than the rest of Italy – more cream, butter, less olive oil, etc. So, in keeping with this, try simple cream based sauces, or browned butter and sage with Parmigiano-Reggiano as a finish… GET CREATIVE!!!


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound russet potatoes
  • 3 to 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon gray salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting board and dough


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Spread a layer of kosher salt on a baking sheet and arrange the potatoes on top. Bake until a bit overcooked, about 45 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle, cut in half, and scoop out the flesh. Reserve the potato skins, if desired, for another use.

Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer or grate them on the large holes of a box grater. You should have about 2 cups. Make a mound of potatoes on the counter with a well in the middle, add 3 of the egg yolks, the cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix in the potatoes and mix well with hands. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour over the potatoes and, using your knuckles, press it into the potatoes. Fold the mass over on itself and press down again. Sprinkle on more flour, little by little, folding and pressing the dough until it just holds together, (try not to knead it.) Work any dough clinging to your fingers back into the dough. If the mixture is too dry, add another egg yolk or a little water. The dough should give under slight pressure. It will feel firm but yielding. To test if the dough is the correct consistency, take a piece and roll it with your hands on a well-floured board into a rope 1/2-inch in diameter. If the dough holds together, it is ready. If not, add more flour, fold and press the dough several more times, and test again.

Keeping your work surface and the dough lightly floured, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 1/2-inch in diameter. Cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces. Lightly flour the gnocchi as you cut them. You can cook these as is or form them into the classic gnocchi shape with a gnocchi board, ridged butter paddle, or the tines of a large fork turned upside down. Rest the bottom edge of the gnocchi board on the work surface, then tilt it at about a 45 degree angle. Take each piece and squish it lightly with your thumb against the board while simultaneously pushing it away from you. It will roll away and around your thumb, taking on a cupped shape — with ridges on the outer curve from the board and a smooth surface on the inner curve where your thumb was. (Shaping them takes some time and dexterity. You might make a batch just for practice.) The indentation holds the sauce and helps gnocchi cook faster.

As you shape the gnocchi, dust them lightly with flour and scatter them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or waxed paper. Set gnocchi filled cookie sheet in front of a fan on low for 1/2 hour (turning gnocchi after 15 minutes). If you will not cook the gnocchi until the next day or later, freeze them. Alternatively, you can poach them now, drain and toss with a little olive oil, let cool, then refrigerate several hours or overnight. To reheat, dip in hot water for 10 to 15 seconds, then toss with browned butter until hot.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Drop in the gnocchi and cook for about 90 seconds from the time they rise to the surface. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a skimmer, shake off the excess water, and serve as desired.

Cook’s Note: Baking potatoes on a layer of salt allows heat to circulate 360 degrees. Scrape the salt into a jar and reuse it again and again. If you do not have time to shape the gnocchi, you can freeze the dough, defrost it in the refrigerator, and then shape it. To freeze shaped gnocchi, line baking sheets with waxed paper and dust with flour. Spread the gnocchi on the prepared sheets and freeze until hard. Remove to individual-portion-size freezer bags. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. To cook, drop the frozen gnocchi into boiling salted water. Cook for about 2 minutes after they rise to the surface.


Liquid nirvana with a touch of white pepper… oh and some prawns too

I’m a huge advocate for different and interesting wines. I love it when people bust out of the ordinary for the extraordinary! One of my favorite white wines is Albariño. Albariño is Spain’s most popular white wine, and is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most loved white wines, and qualifies in my wine lexicon as extraordinary! It is a bright crisp, aromatic style wine with peaches and apricots being the typical fruit characteristics. It also has a touch of white pepper, usually found in the mid-palate. This delicious wine is considered to be just about the most perfect pairing for shellfish! So I’m suggesting you go to your local wine store, buy a bottle or two, stop at your local market, pick up some nice prawns, head home to make the extremely simple cocktail sauce I’ve included and have your self a little Albariño and shrimp cocktail celebration this weekend!!!

Cocktail Sauce

  • 1 cup organic ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons pure prepared horseradish (you can use the creamed that’s all that available)
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh tarragon – minced (this adds a wow factor to the sauce)
  • Lemon Juice to taste


Blend the horseradish, fresh tarragon and lemon juice into the ketchup and adjust ingredients based on your preference. I suggest you make this and let it chill for about an hour before serving to allow the flavors to open up and harmonize.


Chocolate Decadence – trust me, this is all I need to say!

My dear friend (and one with an amazing gift of hospitality) Larry has asked for a nice Valentine’s Day dessert. So, I’m telling all of you chocolate lovers… THIS IS A TO-DIE-FOR (Flourless) CHOCOLATE CAKE – If you can call something so dense and rich a simple cake. Anyway… here goes… and don’t be afraid of it, it’s really very easy to make.

Chocolate Decadence


  • 9 ounces sugar (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 9 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 eggs
  • Heavy whipping cream – whip into cream with a touch of powered sugar and vanilla for topping cake
  • Fresh rasberries – for garnishing cake


In a small saucepan combine 6 ounces of the sugar and water, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate, stirring to incorporate completely. Stir in butter and set aside.

Use an electric mixer (a whisk and a strong arm works too), combine the eggs with the remaining 3 ounces of sugar and whisk for 2 minutes on high speed.

Add chocolate mixture slowly to egg mixture and stir until well blended. Pour batter into a  buttered 9 inch loaf pan that has been lined with buttered parchment paper. Place in a hot water bath and bake at 350f for approximately 50 minutes. Remove from oven, cool, and refrigerate the cake for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Alternate baking method:

You can also use individual ramekins or those cute little heart shaped baking pans. Just remember to make sure they are well buttered and adjust baking time based on batter to pan ratio (just make sure cakes are set, but don’t overcook or they’ll dry out!)

Patrick Bartlett

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


May 2018
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