"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Monday, October 12, 2009

Heirloom Tomato and Basil Bruschetta; Grilled Salmon Fillets w/Cherry, Red Wine Vinegar, and Honey Glaze

One of my favorite appetizers is a Tomato and Basil Bruschetta that I love to make every once in a while for my family.  This weekend, I made this old-time favorite as a special treat.  Along with that, I grilled some salmon fillets with a sherry, red wine vinegar and honey glaze.  I served that with a side of brown rice with some chopped fresh parsley stirred into it.  Here are the recipes below.  Give them a try!

2 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1/4 cups of fresh basil, finely chopped (or use about a teaspoon of dried parsley)
1/4 cup of Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus 1 tablespoon for the bread
1/4 cup of crumbled Feta Cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Goat cheese (as much as you want for the bread)
1 sourdough or sweet baguette

Put the tomatoes, garlic, and basil in a medium bowl
Add the balsamic vinegar, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, and feta cheese
Stir everything well to mix
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
[Add more balsamic vinegar/olive oil, if you need more flavor]
Cover and let sit for 10 minutes (this gives the ingredients a chance to blend in together)

In the meantime, slice the baguette into 1/4 inch thick slices (use as many as you want)
Brush the bread slices with the remaining olive oil
Toast the bread in a 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes
Top each slice of bread with a dollop of goat cheese
Spoon the tomato mixture on top of each slice of bread, and serve as appetizer.

Grilled Salmon Fillets w/Sherry, Red Wine Vinegar, and Honey Glaze

1/4 cup of Sherry (may leave out, add more vinegar)
1/4 cup of Red Wine Vinegar
3 Tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce (or use soy sauce, if you don't have Worcestershire sauce)
1 Tablespoon of minced shallots (or onions)
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 salmon fillets

Rinse salmon fillets with cold water, pat dry, season with salt and pepper, and set aside
In the meantime, combine all the ingredients (up to the pepper flakes) in a small bowl
Add some salt and pepper, and taste
Grill the salmon fillets on the grill (skin side down first, if they have skin), for about 4-5 minutes per side
Brush each side with the glaze, as the fillets grill
Remove from grill and serve with the rice below

Brown Rice w/Fresh Parsley

1 cup of Brown rice (Brown rice is a bit healthier than white rice)
2 Tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

Cook rice per package instructions (I use a rice cooker; 2 cups of water for every cup of rice; I also add 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the rice cooker to season the rice as it cooks)
Once cooked, stir in the chopped parsley
Season with salt and pepper, to taste (if you add the salt in the rice as it cooks, don't add again)
Serve rice with the salmon fillets

Suggested Wine Pairing
With this meal, Patrick and I tried a glass of a Sangiovese our friends Evelyn and Rene brought over to our house recently.  It is made by the Rios-Lovell Estate Winery in Livermore, California [http://www.rioslovellwinery.com].  This wine is medium-bodied, with fresh strawberry bouquet.  It has flavors of cherry with soft tannins on your pallet.

Evelyn and Rene are members of the Winery's wine club.  They recently took us wine-tasting there.  It was fun and the wines were delicious. If you are in Livermore, we recommend a visit to this winery. Thank you, Evelyn and Rene!  Let's go wine-tasting again real soon.

Another great wine that would go really well with this meal is a Zinfandel that our friends Michele and Bill brought over to our house this weekend.  It is Cline's Ancient Vines Zinfandel.  This winery has special meaning for Michele and Bill because that is where they got married.  We had dinner with Michele and Bill this weekend, and we tried this wine for the first time with pizza, served with a green salad and a home-made red wine Vinaigrette dressing.  But, I think it would pair wonderfully with the salmon.

This Zinfandel is just wonderful.  It is full-bodied, with flavors of raspberry, blackberry, with hints of white pepper, spice, as well as traces of coffee and chocolate.  The ripe fruit flavors are married with a taste of vanilla in your mouth.  The soft tannins make it a very easy wine to pair with most food.  The Ancient Vines Zinfandel is also special because it is made from grapes grown on 100-year-old vines.  Give it a try next time you are shopping for wine.  Here is a link to the winery's webpage: (http://www.clinecellars.com/index.cfm?method=storeproducts.showDrilldown&productid=390f8ac0-fe3c-48a0-54a1-40fba3bfbc81&ProductCategoryID=75119e30-c7d7-cba6-5bf3-611315a990c6&OrderBy=PXPC.DisplayOrder+Asc,+P.Price1).  
Thank you, Michele and Bill!

I hope you try some of these (and all of my) recipes, and the wines.  Please be sure to post a comment and let me know what you think.  Also, please post a comment to add on some of your favorite recipes or wines.  Remember: Food and wine are more enjoyable when shared with friends and family.

Until next time . . . Cheers!


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