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

-Dario Zucconi

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lemon, Onion, and Fresh Herb Stuffed Striped Bass Roasted to Perfection

On a day light today -- where you wish you had 5 extra hours in the day or wish you were on some tropical island somewhere sipping on pina coladas -- having a comforting meal makes the whole day seem like a blurr.  But, having a delicious meal that is easy to make, simple, and packed with flavor, is icing on the cake.

Tonight, I made one of my favorites: Roasted fish.  This time, I roasted a whole Striped Bass.  No worries. . . It's on the "Green List" of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch, as my environmentally-conscious daughter often reminds me.  This fish was simple and fast to make, and mouth-wateringly delicious. As a side dish, we had some mashed yams/sweet potatoes that I made last night -- another easy to make and to store side dish.  As my husband thankfully commented on at least two occasions during his meal: "This fish is buttery and really tasty. Thank you Babe!" See the recipe below next time you are in the mood for a fresh and healthy, yet comforting, meal:

  • 1 whole Striped Bass (~ 2-3 lbs).  Have your butcher clean and scale the fish, with head on, and cut a few slits through the skin on each side.  [I got my fish at Berkeley Bowl, and the butchers there are pretty helpful.  All I do at home is rinse the fish under cold water with some lemon juice.]
  • 1 whole yellow onion (sliced in 1/4 inch rounds).
  • 1 lemon (sliced).
  • 4 garlic cloves (peeled).
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme. (I like the flavors of lemon thyme; use dry herbs if you don't have fresh ones.]
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter (cut into small cubes).
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste).
  • 1 Tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Rinse fish under cold water (with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice).
  • Place some aluminum foil in a glass baking dish (or cookie sheet).
  • Drizzle some oil on top of the foil, and about 1/2 of the cut-up cubes of butter.
  • Place fish on top of the foil.
  • Season the fish with salt and pepper (inside and out).
  • Place the onions, lemons, garlic, and herbs inside the fish. [Try not to over stuff it. If you have too much, arrange them around the fish in the dish.]
  • Drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top of the fish.
  • Sprinkle the rest of the butter on top of the fish.
  • Place in the oven (uncovered) and bake for about 20-30 minutes until the fish is flaky and white.
  • Serve with rice, vegetables, or your favorite side dishes.
NOTE: There may be some small bones, so be careful if giving it to children.

For the mashed sweet potatoes/yams, just bake the yams in a 350º until soft (just like you would bake regular potatoes).  Wait until they are cool enough to peal, and mash.  Place the peeled yams in a large bowl.  Mix in some cinnamon powder (to taste), vanilla extract (the real stuff, not imitation), and brown sugar (just about a Tablespoon).  Stir in some unsalted butter (about 1 Tablespoon).  Or, for something real decadent and a little creamier, stir in about 1/4 cup of Mascarpone Cheese (available in the specialty cheese section of most grocery store including Trader Joe's).  Voilà!

Here is to a happy week.

Until next time . . . Cheers! ZinAdel

Friday, October 14, 2011

Altano Douro: A Delicious Red Wine from Portugal

If you are near a Cost Plus World Market, and are in the mood for trying a new wine, I highly recommend that you pick up a bottle of the Altano Douro (Reserva 2006).  This is a wine from Portugal.  I picked up a bottle last weekend while I was at Cost Plus just because I wanted to try something new.  It was normally $15, but it was on sale for $10.

Tonight, Patrick and I opened it up and we had it with some pizza (Fennel sausage and Portabella mushrooms).  It was very delicious -- Just what I needed after my draining, energy-sucking, and mentally exhausting two days I had at my deposition in Sacramento.  This wine is medium bodied, smooth on the palate, dark ruby colored in the glass, and has a very inviting aroma.  I actually want to go back to Cost Plus and pick up a few more bottles.  It's a wonderful and inexpensive red wine to keep on hand for those "end of the week" dinners, mid-week dinners, and casual get-together/catching up with friends.

The New York Times did a story on the Douro a couple of years ago.  Check it out:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/dining/reviews/14wine.html

Until next time . . . Cheers! ZinAdel

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Roasted Rock Cod: A Delicious, Healthy, and Fun Fish Meal for The Whole Family

I have a binder on my kitchen counter, labeled "Adelmise's Favorite Recipes."  I also have a couple of online recipe books that I keep so that I can easily find my favorites when I feel like making something that I love. Some of the recipes that I consider my favorites are my favorites because they are simple and easy to make. Some are my favorites because they are convenient, but packed with flavors. Others are my favorites because they are healthy and kids like them (those are true keeps!). Still others are my favorites because they are fun to make. Life is stressful as it is. I think any chance you have to make cooking "fun" you should take it.  Some of the recipes make their ways to my "Favorite Recipes Binder" because, well, they are all of the above.  This recipe from Wolfgang Puck is one of those recipes that I consider my favorites: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/wolfgang-puck/roast-rock-cod-with-fennel-and-beurre-blanc-recipe/index.html

The recipe calls for a whole fish (Rock Cod).  http://fishcooking.about.com/od/standardfish/p/rockfish_profil.htm. Some people may be intimidated by the idea of cooking a whole fish. But, here is what I did, which may help reduce the intimidation. Today, I wanted to make and enjoy a nice meal for my family (tough busy week already and it's only Wednesday, but at least we're all healthy).  While at work today, I called the San Francisco Fish Company in the Ferry Building (San Francisco) and asked them what sorts of fresh wild fish they had on hand. Well, they had a lot! So, I walked over and brought in the recipe. They scaled the fish for me. They also cleaned and cut the pockets into the fish for me. So, all I had to do when I got home was rinse the fish out, pat it dry, and season it.  Easy!  It was really fun showing the kids the whole fish.  They absolutely loved it!

I modified a couple of the ingredients in the recipe. I did not use the alcohol the recipe called for - I used a tablespoon of brandy, which I already had in my pantry. I also did not use the red pepper flakes because I wanted the kids to eat the fish.  Also, I used only 1 fennel bulb, and used more fingerling potatoes because I personally like potatoes more than fennel because of the texture, but fennel has an essence and flavor that you can't replace with anything else. I also omitted the garnish (lemon and parsley) because it's a weeknight, kids were hungry, and I wanted to get the food on the table.

This dish can be made as a weeknight meal or a weekend meal, depending on what you have on hand. For me, I had everything at home except for the fish, potatoes, fennel, and tomatoes. So, constructing the dish was easy, convenient, fun, and super flavorful! From start to finish, it took about 1 hour to enjoy a delicious, flavorful, healthy meal.

To thoroughly enjoy the dish, and wind down from a looooong day at work, Patrick and I enjoyed a glass of one of our favorite wines (Ferrari Carano's Siena 2009). http://www.ferrari-carano.com/trade/pres-bldr/images/Siena09btg.pdf  This wine is a truly amazing blend of red wines (Sangiovese blended with Malbec and Syrah).  We first fell in love with this wine during a romantic anniversary visit to Sonoma a few years ago.  I love the winery's description of this wine as: "A remarkably harmonious and well integrated red, smooth, ripe, rich and concentrated, with complex black cherry, raspberry, anise, sage and spice flavors. Finishes with a long, fruity aftertaste."  This wine pairs extremely well with the fish dish because of the fennel and onion flavors in the dish. You can buy it at Safeway for $19.00.

Next time you are in the mood for a delicious fish dish, I hope you download this recipe and enjoy!

Until next time . . . Cheers! ZinAdel

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Who Says Chicken Is Boring? This Portuguese Chicken Dish Is Anything But!

Today's post is about a little bit of planning ahead and a lot of flavorful ingredients packed into a pot to enjoy a delicious weeknight meal for your family at the end of a long, hard day at work.

Today, I had one of those non-stop, never-ending, adrenaline-rush types of days.  Anyone with small kids knows that the house may not always be the most peaceful place to be after you've had a crazy day at work.  But, I usually find that my evening's tempo changes during the first five minutes when I walk into the door.  No matter how bad of a day I have had, the reception I get form my children usually changes my mood instantly.  

Tonight, when I pulled into the garage, I was welcomed by the most amazing aromas emanating from fresh herbs (such as Bay leaves and parsley), pearl onions and garlic, sweet paprika, Tawny Port, and dijon mustard.  Then, I opened the door, my three little kittens gave me the best welcome hugs that any mom could ask for.  I then lifted off the foil covering the platter of the most enticingly beautiful-looking chicken.  I, of course, took a little taste.  I literally felt that I somehow had been transported into heaven on earth.  In my mouth was the most delicious chichen dish that I have ever tasted.  This was courtesy of a Bon Appetit recipe that I found over the weekend: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/02/portuguese_chicken

I prepared all the ingredients this morning before I went to work.  I put everything in a dutch oven pot and placed the pot in the refrigerator. Our fabulous Au Pair, Ten, put it in the oven for us 2 hours before I got home.  The dish was so flavorful.  We served it with steamed rice and a roasted corn salad.  Our daughter absolutely loved the chicken, especially the sauce (which she kept saying was tasty). For an 8-year-old picky eater to say something was "tasty", that was a successful dish in my book.

NOTE: This is also a perfect dish to make on a Sunday, and save the leftovers for the week.  

Patrick and I enjoyed a glass of a Reserve Malbec from Argentina (Graffigna Centenario 2008), which I had picked up from Costco for $9. It was a delicious pairing with the chicken. It tasted like a Merlot-type blend - easy to drink, smooth, with mild tannins, and not overpowering.  For this hearty chicken dish, you could pair any wine that you like, including a Cabernet.
Until next time . . . Cheers! ZinAdel

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Right In Your Slow Cooker: A Delectable Bolognese Sauce With Spinach Pasta

If you have school-aged children, you probably are very aware that the summer is about to come to an end.  You probably either have already purchased, or are in the process of, purchasing school supplies, uniforms, school clothes, etc.  Well, today was "back to school reality" day for us.  We spent the day shopping for not one, but two sets of school supplies/uniforms.  Yep, we have one peanut going into 4th Grade, and another peanut starting Kindergarten in the Fall.  Hard to believe!

Although I was determined to get some of the back-to-school shopping done today, I also wanted to make a delicious/comforting meal for my family.  The kids love it when we do Sunday dinners.  Frankly, so do we! It's a great way to end the busy weekend by sharing a relaxing meal together, and get ready for the workweek ahead.  So, before we left the house to tackle the much-delayed school shopping, I wanted to throw something in the slow-cooker (a busy-woman-who-loves-cooking's best friend!).  I wanted something delicious and comforting.  I recently came across this Bolognese Sauce recipe from OregonLive's website: http://www.oregonlive.com/foodday/index.ssf/2008/06/recipe_detail.html?id=7580.  Bolognese sauce is a meat-based Italian sauce typically served with pasta.  It's called Bolognese because it originated in Bologna, Italy.  Patrick and I fell in love with this type of sauce when we went to Italy on vacation a few years ago. It is one of our favorite sauces.  It appears that the author of this recipe also got her inspiration from a trip to Italy.  Take a look at her story: http://www.oregonlive.com/foodday/index.ssf/2010/11/beef_pork_make_richer_bolognes.html.

Well, we put the sauce in our slow cooker when we left this morning.  When we return, the first thing that greeted us at the door was the aroma of the sauce from the onions, celery, bay leaf, Parmesan rind, and garlic (I added some garlic for extra flavor).  As we entered the kitchen, and I lifted up the lid to the slow cooker, I found a pot full of delicious, fragrant, and savory sauce.  I finished the sauce with some fresh chopped parsley and basil.  Then, I stirred the heavy whipping cream.  When I tasted the finish product, my mouth literally exploded with flavor. 

I cooked some spinach pasta that I had in the pantry from Berkeley Bowl market.  With a heavy meat sauce, I find the spinach pasta a little lighter and healthier than regular pasta.  It's also a whole grain pasta.  The whole dish really was about comfort.  We had a wonderful family dinner.

NOTE: If you have picky eaters (like we do), this is a great meal to make because, well, I don't know too many kids who don't like pasta.  Plus, with the diced carrots in the sauce and the spinach whole grain pasta, you get them at least a serving of vegetables.  Even if you use regular pasta, it's still a good dish for the whole family to enjoy.

As an accompaniment to the dish, Patrick and I had a glass of one of our all-time favorite Italian wines -- Villa Antinori Toscana 2006.  This is a Super Tuscan-type red wine, which is a blend of various grape varietals consisting of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah http://www.winespectator.com/wwdn/show/id/44307. If you like Italian wines (or if Italian food is on your next dinner menu), I highly recommend this wine.  It's reasonably priced (I found it for $13 at Costco, and Safeway typically has it for $16).

I hope you had an enjoyable weekend with your family.  Until next time . . . Cheers!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

From the Farmers' Hands to Our Dinner Table

With our busy schedules - work, kids, chores, errands, occasional exercise -- it surely is difficult for us to take the time and enjoy what mother nature has to offer.  For me, Saturdays are always one of my favorite days.  It's a day that I stop and breathe after a long week of work. 

Whenever possible, here is how I love to spend my Saturdays: Being woken up by the kids (well, I wouldn't say that's necessarily our favorite part since the kids don't seem to comprehend the concept of sleeping in!).  A scrumptious breakfast with the kids.  Going to the Lakeshore Peet's Coffee Shop to get a Cappuccino (a Latte for my hubby!).  Going for a run around Lake Merritt.  Taking the kids to the playground by the Lake.  Walking to the Farmers' Market where we can sample all kinds of fresh fruits and picking out the freshest produce in season.  Having lunch with the kids (sometimes after Nelianne's ballet class).  Running errands (those little things that we intended to take care off during the week, which somehow we were never able to do).  Thinking of what to make for dinner, based on what I picked up from the Farmers' Market.  Preparing a delicious dinner for my family (sometimes, with friends!).  And, sitting at the dinner table and eating together as a family.  Nothing compares!  Well, today was one of those Saturdays when my heart was filled with some wonderful memories of spending an exceptional day with my family.  It was, as it always is, a busy day for us.  But, it ended with a delicious dinner.

I wanted to share some of the highlights with you.  For dinner, we had some New York steaks (pan seared and finished in the oven, thanks to my steak master husband).  The side dishes consisted of these beautiful and incredibly delicious sweet multi-colored carrots that I picked up from the Farmers' Market, simply prepared (see below for recipe).  I also sauteed some Swiss Chards (recipe also below). 

Carrots Recipe:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and peel the carrots. Peel and slice some red onions. Place the carrots and onions on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle some extra virgin olive oil on the carrots. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of Italian Seasonings.
Bake the carrots in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Swiss Chard Recipe:

Wash Swiss Chard under cold water (very important to wash well and remove any dirt). Cut off the tip of the bottom and discard. Chop chard into bite size pieces. Dice 1 clove of garlic. Heat up about 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add the chopped Swiss Chard. Saute until softened (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and serve.

Okay, for those who know me well, you know that I don't usually make dessert. Every once in a while, I'll make some simple dessert.  Tonight, I decided to make a Peach Cobbler with some crunchy and sweet white peaches that I picked up from the Farmers' Market.  I used this simple recipe from the Food Network (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-specials/peach-cobbler-recipe/index.html). The result was pure heaven! 

Of course, a dinner at the Warner household wouldn't be complete without some great wine. Tonight, we tried an incredible Cabernet Sauvignon (unfiltered) that we picked up from BevMo's $.05 sale. It's Arrowood's Cabernet (Sonoma, CA 2004). With the $.05 sale, it came to about $24/bottle. Not necessarily cheap, but OMG, that was an amazing bottle of wine. Perfect accompaniment to the New York Steak.

I hope your Saturday was an enjoyable one.

Until next time . . . Cheers! ZinAdel

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beer Braised Chicken: An Easy and Comforting Homecoming Meal

Today was a busy Saturday in our house.  The day began with all of us going to the Boys' preschool for Spring Cleaning Day, which started at 8:30 a.m.  Following that, Patrick and I split up: He took the Boys to a birthday party at Pump It Up, and I took Nelianne to her Basketball game in Alameda.  After that . . . lunch, laundry, grocery shopping, and housecleaning. With a busy day like this, and given that it's been raining all day, dinner in our household was all about simplicity and comfort.  But, with Patrick coming home from his business trip, I wanted to make something comforting and delicious to welcome him home.

I found this great recipe on the Food Network: Beer-Braised Chicken (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/beer-braised-chicken-recipe/index.html).  This recipe is easy because my shopping list consisted of buying a bottle of beer, a few red potatoes, and some frozen pearl onions. How easy is that! I had everything else either in my freezer (like chicken thighs and bacon) or pantry or fridge.

I served the chicken with steamed rice and gratin of corn kernels.  To make the corn, I boiled some water in a deep pot. Then, I added a bag of frozen corn in the boiling water. I let it boil for about 2 minutes or so. Then, I drained the corn. Then, I stirred about 1 tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper, cheddar cheese, and a Tablespoon of milk.  I put the corn mixture in a oven-proof baking dish, and baked it in the oven for about 15 minutes (or until the cheese is all melted).

Patrick and I had a glass of Estencia Pinot Noir (Monterey, CA 2009) with this dish. Pinot Noir is a good wine pairing because it is a little lighter and not overpowering. It's also a slightly fruity and dry red wine, which goes well with the beer and mustard flavor of the chicken dish. If you like white wine, I would suggest a nice Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. 

For my hubby (and my children!) who love chocolate, I decided to make individual Molten Chocolate Cakes With Raspberry Filling in mini ramekins.  The kids helped with this. Well, Nelianne helped me melt the chocolate. The Boys just licked the spoons -:) This recipe is courtesy of Food and Wine Magazine (http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/molten-chocolate-cake-with-raspberry-filling).  This dessert was a great excuse for me to try my Iced Riesling that Patrick brought back for me from Germany.

Well, the day may have started out a little hectic. I wouldn't trade it for anything (except maybe a day at the spa!).  But, it ended out with an amazing family dinner, a warm fireplace, and spending quality time with my loving family. 

I hope your day was all you wanted it to be!

Until next time . . . Cheers!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Warm Comforting Beef Stew On A Cold Rainy Day

I don't think there is anyone who likes it when it rains all day.  Especially those of us who have kids who need to be running around outside and burn off some energy so they can be as tired as they can be when bed time comes. Rain all day usually means that we're cooped up inside the house all day.  But, there is an "up" side to rainy days, believe it or not. On rainy days, it means that I can actually make dishes like stews or braised meats because, well, I got nothing but time!  

Today, I took advantage of this rainy weather that we're having in the Bay Area.  I made one of the most delicious beef stews I have ever had: Food Network Start Tyler Florence's "The Ultimate Beef Stew".  See this link for the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/the-ultimate-beef-stew-recipe2/index.html.  It was the perfect dinner for our family. Patrick has had a stuffy nose.  And, I woke up this morning with a slight sore throat.  It was so cold today we actually had the fire burning all day. So, this was exactly what the doctor ordered for us.  Even Nélianne raved about how tasty it was. She even had a second serving, which in our house means a successful dish.

This stew would be a perfect meal by itself with the carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, and peas. But, I made a side of Orzo pasta to serve with it because (1) I like having something to soak up the juicy stew broth and (2) the kids love the "special rice pasta" and are more likely to eat the stew if it's mixed with some rice or pasta topped off with some cheese.  It actually paired up very nicely.  If you don't have orzo, rice or some egg noodles would be perfect too.

Of course a meal in our household wouldn't be perfect without a glass of a delicious wine. For this beef stew, Patrick and I had a glass of a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon by Benziger Family Winery (Sonoma County, CA). That Cabernet is superb.  It actually received a 90 point rating by Wine Enthusiast and was picked as an Editor's Choice in December 2010 (check out this link: http://www.benziger.com/assets/client/File/Sell%20Sheets/07_cabernet_sauvignon_sonoma_county.pdf.   The wine is a full-bodied Cabernet with aromas of dark fruit such as blackberry and wild cherry, and rich earthy notes of cedar and chocolate.  Although it is an intense and complex wine, it is smooth and balanced on the palate with a lasting finish.  It paired incredibly well with the beef stew.  You can find this wine at Safeway for less than $15.00.

Well, I hope you stay warm and dry this long holiday weekend.  If you are looking for some delicious and comforting food to make this weekend, I hope you try this dish. 

Until next time . . . Cheers!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Delicious Braised and Glazed Pork Spareribs

If you are like me and don't know how to, or don't like to grill (that's what my husband is for!), or even if you are a grill master, the recipe of "Rubbed, Braised and Glazed Pork Spareribs" from Food and Wine Magazine (http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/rubbed-braised-and-glazed-pork-spareribs) is sure to impress!  And, to me the best part (besides the fact that it is mouth-watering good) is braising, which means that you have time to do other things while the food is cooking like play with your kids, do chores around the house, run errands, or (as I did today) work!  The honey glaze on the spareribs gives it a delicious sweet flavor that even my little picky eaters tried a few bites.  And, the roasting at the end (in a 500° oven) gives it a wonderful smoky flavor that one could never tell you didn't stand over a hot grill all afternoon.

As a side dish, we a homemade red potato salad -- dressed with a homemade Meyer lemon and honey vinaigrette instead of ranch dressing.  

For the cooking wine, I used a bottle of Kenwood Vineyards Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley, Sonoma, CA) to braise the ribs with -- Yep! A whole bottle.  Don't worry, the alcohol totally cooks off during the 3+ hours of cooking. This Pinot is full-bodied and a little fruity, which is a great option for braising the ribs.  

To drink, we had a glass of Toasted Head's Untamed Red.  This wine is a really good every day dry, full bodied, red red wine blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petit Sirah.  This wine pairs well with the spareribs that are both sweet and savory.  The characteristics of each grape varietal complement the ingredients in the ribs really well. The Syrah adds a subtle peppery spice to the palate.  The Zinfandel contributes a somewhat jammy dark fruit character and sweet, fragrant spices like cinnamon.  The Petit Sirah grape adds some beautiful color (deep, dark, inky purple), more rich ripe fruit and silky character.  As for taste and flavors, you will find hints of deep fruits such as blackberry, black cherry, and plum; earthy and fragrant spices such as cinnamon, cloves, thyme; and a little smoky aromas like cedar planks and hints of dark chocolate. Although this wine is inexpensive (about $10 at Safeway), it is a deliciously intense wine with a long finish. 

Until next time . . . Cheers! ZinAdel

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rutabagas: Who Knew This Root Vegetable Was So Versatile and Delicious!

Today, I was inspired yet again at the Farmers' Market. I was standing in front of one of the stands at the Lake Merritt Farmers' Market this morning. In front of me were all kinds of green, leafy vegetables -- different varieties of kales, collard greens, chards, etc.  Next to them were different colored beets (reds, yellows), parsnips, turnips and something that I was not too familiar with -- Rutabagas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutabaga).  I asked the Farmer what the difference was between the turnips and the Rutabagas. A lady next to me said that Rutabagas are a little sweeter than, and not as bitter as, turnips.  She said that she sometimes mixes the Rutabagas with potatoes and makes au gratin rutabaga and potatoes. I thought to myself: "Interesting!" She said give it a try. I said "I will."

Well, tonight I decided to give it a try.  I gotta say, that is a very healthy alternative to pure potato au gratin, which can be overly starchy.  Knowing me, I experimented with something else.  I decided to add some chopped purple Kales that I also got from the Farmers' Market to the au gratin dish for some added color and texture. 

Rutabagas in raw form.                                                  Purple Kales . . .
                                                                                       Really cheap at the
                                                                                      Farmers' Market

Here's the way I prepared it:

2 Rutabagas (unpeeled, with roots and leaves removed, sliced thin)
1 pound of mixed Yukon gold and red potatoes (sliced thin)
1/2 cup of chopped red onions
1 cup of shredded Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
4-5 branches of Kales  -- about 1/3 of a bunch (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

Butter the bottom of a Pyrex or ceramic baking dish. Arrange a layer of sliced Rutabagas on the bottom of the dish. Spread some onions on top of the Rutabagas. Arrange a layer of sliced potatoes. Season with salt and pepper (to taste). Add some more onions. Add some shredded cheese.  Add 1/2 of the chopped Kale.  Repeat the layering (Rutabagas, onions, potatoes, salt and pepper, onions, [this time] Kale, then cheese).  Add the cream. Cover with foil. Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes (or until vegetables are soft).

Serve with your favorite protein. Enjoy with your favorite wine. For us, we had it with some stuffed pork chops (stuffed with a mixture of dried prunes and blue cheese).  Patrick and I enjoyed a glass of Duckhorn's 2008 Merlot that our friends, Chris and Karla, gave Patrick for his birthday. This Merlot is thoroughly enjoyable. It's actually a blend of 86% Merlot, 9.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.5% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc. If you thought you didn't like Merlots (Patrick and I didn't think we did), you're in for a big surprise!

If you haven't visited Duckhorn winery in Napa, we highly recommend it. Until you get a chance to enjoy their wines at the winery, you can always buy a bottle of their Decoy wine (which is delicious and can be purchased at Safeway).  Decoy is a Bordeaux style red wine blend containing 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot that you can purchase for under $20.00.  I don't believe you can purchase their other varietals in the stores.

Have a wonderful weekend. Until next time . . . Cheers!