Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine

Here is our second recipe from 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love that author Jill Silverman Hough wanted to share with our readers for summer.

Steak Salad with Tomatoes, Parmesan, and Dijon Vinaigrette
Pair with Zinfandel
From “100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love” by Jill Silverman Hough (Wiley, 2010)

You can definitely enjoy red wine with salad, especially if it’s a hearty salad like this one, where although the portions are light, the flavors are bold. Ingredients that help make the bridge to Zinfandel include not only the grilled steak but also the bright vinaigrette, playing off the acid in the wine, and the slightly bitter radicchio, playing off the tannins.

Serves 6

  • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press or minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese
  • 12 ounces boneless sirloin steak or flank steak, about 3/4 inch thick
  • 6 cups loosely packed mixed salad greens (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/2 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head radicchio, halved, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch shreds (you should have 2 3/4 to 3 cups)
  • 9 cherry tomatoes, halved

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, garlic, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, whisking to dissolve the salt. Whisk in the olive oil. Set aside. (You can prepare the dressing up to 3 days in advance, storing it covered in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature before serving.)

Use a vegetable peeler to cut the cheese into thick shaves (you should have about 1/3 cup). Set aside. (You can shave the cheese up to a day in advance, storing it covered in the refrigerator.)

Prepare the grill to high heat and lightly oil the grate. Sprinkle the steak with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Grill to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove the steak from the grill and let it rest, loosely covered with foil, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the greens, onion, and radicchio with about half of the dressing. Arrange the mixture on a platter or on individual plates, dividing it evenly.

Cut the steak across the grain diagonally into thin slices. Arrange the steak and tomatoes over the greens. Drizzle with the remaining dressing, sprinkle with the cheese, and serve.

Copyright Jill Silverman Hough. All rights reserved.

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The other week we reviewed 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love and the author, Jill Silverman Hough, wanted to share some recipes with our readers that would be great for summer. First up is her Cold Peach and Mango Soup Shooters which she pairs with a Gewürztraminer.

Cold Peach and Mango Soup Shooters
Pair with Gewürztraminer
From “100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love” by Jill Silverman Hough (Wiley, 2010)

This soup is just charmingly fun. It’s pretty, it’s tasty, and it’s easy to make. A gulp or two, served in a little glass, makes for a quick, refreshing treat.

For best results, make it in the summer when fresh peaches are in season. In a pinch, you can use frozen fruit, but make sure it’s unsweetened.

Serve the shooters at a standing-and-eating sort of party or as an amuse-bouche between courses. You can also serve the soup as a first course, which would be a great way to kick off a summery dinner party. If that’s your plan, double the recipe for six one-cup servings.

Makes 12 shooters (1/4 cup each)

  • 2 limes
  • 1 ripe freestone (the flesh doesn’t cling to the pit) yellow peach, pitted and cut into chunks
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, or more to taste
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 12 fresh cilantro leaves

Zest the limes. Set the zest aside. Juice the limes to yield 3 tablespoons of juice. In a blender or food processor, combine the lime juice, peach, mango, buttermilk, orange juice, salt, and cayenne and process until very smooth, scraping down the jar or bowl as necessary (you may have to do this in batches). Transfer the soup to a container and chill for at least 2 hours. (You can prepare the soup up to 3 days in advance, storing it covered in the refrigerator.)

Taste, ideally with your wine, and add more lime juice and/or salt if you like. Serve the soup chilled, each serving garnished with a cilantro leaf and some of the lime zest.

Food and Wine Tip:

If your fruit is particularly sweet, you might notice that the soup makes your wine seem a little sour. To fix this, just add more lime juice, a teaspoon or two at a time, until the soup and the wine nicely complement each other.

Copyright Jill Silverman Hough. All rights reserved.

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As March makes her entrance, I crave neither the heavy fare of winter nor the light dishes of spring, but something in between. This dish wins the goldilocks challenge, marrying the warm and comforting flavors of the months behind with the light and vibrant flavors of the season ahead. A glass of not-too light, but not-too heavy Chianti, and well, it’s just right.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 6-24 hours of marinating time
Cooking time: 10-12 minutes, plus 1 hour for the polenta

  • 1 ¼-pound skirt steak
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced thyme, divided
  • ¼ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small chunk Parmigiano Reggiano for grating
  • Creamy polenta (see below)
  • Salsa verde (see below)
  • Marinated slow roasted or sun-dried tomatoes from a jar for serving (optional)
  1. Trim the steak of any excess fat and cut it in half horizontally (or in thirds) for easier grilling. Put the steaks into a large re-sealable plastic bag and add half of the garlic, half of the rosemary, half of the thyme and ¼ cup of the olive oil. Mix the marinade around to evenly coat the steak, and refrigerate for 6-24 hours.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the broccoli rabe. Prepare an ice bath. Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling water and cook 2-4 minutes, or until bright green and crisp tender. Using tongs, transfer the broccoli rabe to the ice bath to cool. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. (If not using immediately, wrap the blanched broccoli rabe in paper towels and store in a large re-sealable plastic bag for up to 24 hours.)
  3. 30-45 minutes before cooking, take the meat out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature. In a shallow dish, combine the blanched broccoli rabe with the remaining garlic, rosemary, thyme and 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a grill-pan to medium-high heat. Brush the marinade off of the steaks and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the steaks for 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil.
  5. Grill the broccoli rabe on both sides until lightly charred in places. Transfer to a platter; season with a bit of salt and pepper. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and grate Parmigiano Reggiano over the top.
  6. Slice the steak thinly against the grain and serve over creamy polenta. Drizzle the salsa verde over the steak and sprinkle some of the marinated tomatoes alongside. Serve with the grilled broccoli rabe.

Creamy Polenta
The ratio for polenta is 4 parts of water to 1 part of stone-ground cornmeal. The trick to a luscious texture is to cook it low and slow. You don’t have to be anchored to the stovetop while it cooks, but you will need to pop into the kitchen every now and again to give it a stir. Nothing will compare to the resulting bright corn flavor and creamy texture.

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup stone-ground polenta (or cornmeal)
  • 1-1 ½ cups milk
  • 2-4 tablespoons butter (to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Bring the water back to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook until the polenta starts to thicken, 2-4 minutes. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and stir with a wooden spoon. Simmer the polenta gently (there should soft bubbles with an intermittent plop), stirring occasionally and adding a splash of milk every now and then to moisten. Cook for 45 minutes.
  2. After 45 minutes, taste the polenta to see if it’s done (be careful—it’ll be hot!). It should be creamy without a grainy texture. Continue cooking for 10-15 minutes if it’s still grainy.
  3. Add butter to taste, along with a bit more milk if needed until you reach the consistency you want. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you’re not serving it right away, drizzle a bit more milk over the top (this will prevent a crust from forming) and cover the polenta to keep warm (it can sit for up to an hour; stir before serving).

Salsa Verde

  • 1/2 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1 anchovy filet, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallots (about ½ small shallot)
  • 1 scant teaspoon each minced rosemary, thyme and oregano
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  • 2 walnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Pinch salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

In a mortar and pestle or mini food processor, combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and process to a thick paste. Slowly add the olive oil and process until incorporated. Let the sauce sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving to let the flavors meld. Do Ahead: The salsa verde can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for a week.

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This vibrant and light winter salad provides a welcome contrast to the rich fare of the season. Thinly shaved fennel and glistening orange segments are tangled together with winter greens, toasted hazelnuts and crumbled feta for a crunchy and refreshing beginning to any holiday meal. Serve it with a glass of Prosecco and let the party begin.

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes

  • 2 navel or blood oranges
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs
  • 2 cups mizuna, arugula or tatsoi leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces if large
  • 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 2-4-ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Cut off the stem and bottom end off each orange. Stand one orange on a flat end and cut away the peel, moving your knife from the top to the bottom. Holding the peeled orange over a bowl, cut in between the membranes to remove the segments (drop them directly into the bowl). Squeeze out any remaining juice into a separate bowl. Repeat with the second orange.
  2. In the bowl with the juice, add honey and balsamic vinegar to taste (until you find a balance you like—this will depend on the sweetness of the oranges), along with the rosemary, crushed garlic clove, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk until the honey is dissolved. Let sit while you prep the vegetables to let the flavors infuse.
  3. Cut off the fennel stems and discard, reserving 2 tablespoons of fronds. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut the fennel into paper-thin slices and transfer to a large bowl. Add the winter greens.
  4. Remove the garlic clove from the vinegar mixture and discard. Whisk in 1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil to taste.
  5. Toss the salad with vinaigrette (you will not need it all). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the hazelnuts, feta and reserved fennel fronds.

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This warming jumble of onions, apples and Weisswurst (German white sausages scented with cardamom, lemon peel, parsley and ginger) is taken to new heights with the addition of crème fraiche and apple cider. Sweet and sultry, yet earthy and satisfying, it’s like slipping into your favorite wool sweater. For a simple and nourishing dinner, serve it over pureed buttercup or butternut squash with a glass of dry Riesling or a stein of ale.
Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25-35 minutes

  • 4 Weisswurst (white pork sausages), 12-ounces
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 crisp, sweet apples (such as Fuji, Gala or Jonagold), cored and cut into 16 wedges
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup crème fraiche
  1. Cut the sausages on the bias into 1/4-inch slices.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high and coat with olive oil. Add the sausages and cook until lightly browned on each side, about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Add the sliced onions with a pinch of salt and pepper; if the pan looks dry add a bit more oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the apples, rosemary and sage and cook, covered, 3-5 minutes, or until the apples are softened. Transfer to the plate with the sausages.
  3. Put the pan back over the heat and add the apple cider. Boil until reduced by three quarters, about 8-10 minutes. Whisk in the crème fraiche and simmer 2-3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Add the sausage, onions and apples back into the pan and cook until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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As fall starts nibbling away at summer with its crisp and colorful display, I naturally start craving warmer flavors and heartier fare. This quick and easy pan-seared ribeye steak, finished with Cabernet glazed mushrooms, is the perfect way to ease into the cold-weather flavors ahead. While the steak makes a sumptuous meal for one, it becomes an elegant (and economical) meal for two when thinly sliced and served with seasonal sides such as roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed broccoli. With a few glasses of the leftover Cab, fall has never tasted so good.

With its lower fat content, grass fed beef requires gentler cooking than “conventional” grain fed beef (why is it that we call beef that is fed an untraditional diet of grain, which it is not designed to digest, “conventional?”). It will take less heat and less time than a grain fed steak.

Serves: 1-2
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • 1 boneless grass fed ribeye steak, 1 inch thick
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms, such as shitake and cremini
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or other full-bodied red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon truffle oil (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Let the steak sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Meanwhile, chop and measure the remaining ingredients.
  2. Brush the steak with olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the steak on both sides until browned, 2-3 minutes per side. Put the pan in the oven and cook 4-6 minutes for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board to rest.
  3. While the steak rests, make the pan sauce. Place the cast iron pan with its drippings over medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter is melted, add the mushrooms and toss. Let the mushrooms cook, without stirring, until they begin to brown 2-3 minutes. Add the sprig of thyme, minced shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Pour in the wine and stir, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter and the truffle oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. Carve the steak against the grain into thin slices and serve with the mushrooms.

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It was a perfect seventy-five degrees outside, with just the faintest whisper of fall in the evening breeze. Turning on the stove was not an option, not with only a few more hours of sparkling sunlight left. Luckily, I happened to have a half baguette in the freezer, a load of market goodies, and a can of tuna on hand—but this was not your ordinary canned tuna. This was American Tuna, a brand comprised of 6 fishing families in San Diego who hand-catch and inspect their fish. As the company states on their website (

All the albacore that we catch and process from the colder Pacific waters are specifically between the ages of 2-5 years old. Using the ‘hook & line’ methods allows us to monitor and inspect each catch. Mercury levels in such fish are at minimal trace levels, some non-detectable. The albacore we catch from the northwest has a very high oil content.

That’s my kind of company, and it’s my kind of tuna. A clean, pure, flavor unlike any other canned tuna I’ve tasted, and unmarred by worries of mercury contamination or environmental degradation. The sandwich was delicious, paired with a glass (actually, a paper cup) of Rosé and a gentle sunset in the park.

Serves: Makes 2 sandwiches

  • 1 6-oz. can American tuna
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus additional for serving
  • 2 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for serving
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 small sweet or red onion, thinly sliced, rinsed in cold water and drained
  • 1/2 French baguette, cut in half then sliced open horizontally
  • 2 small handfuls organic baby arugula
  • 4 slices heirloom tomato
  • 2 hard-boiled cage free eggs, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped niçoise olives
  • 4 anchovy filets (optional), rinsed and patted dry
  1. Put the tuna with its juices (there is no oil or water added to American Tuna; if you’re using regular tuna, drain most of the liquid first) into a medium bowl and break up the chunks with a fork. Add the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste; stir gently to combine. Fold in the sliced onions.
  2. Line the 2 bottom bread halves with a layer of arugula, followed by overlapping tomato slices and a few slices of egg. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the eggs. Divide the tuna among the sandwiches. Top each with chopped olives and 2 anchovy filets, if using. Sprinkle a few extra drops of vinegar and oil over each sandwich, then top with the remaining bread.
  3. Wrap the sandwiches tightly in parchment paper; press down gently. Let the sandwiches sit for 15-30 minutes to let the flavors meld, just enough time to grab a blanket and get to the park.

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Summer Stuffed Peppers

Take advantage of summer’s vibrant organic produce with this easily adaptable dish (great for outdoor dining or potlucks). Sweet roasted red peppers are stuffed with nutty barley, sautéed vegetables, fresh herbs, pine nuts, balsamic and Parmigiano, then finished off with an oozing layer of melted Comté cheese (mozzarella would also do the trick). Serve the stuffed peppers as an appetizer or as a main course with a light to medium style red.

Serves: 2 as main course, 4 as appetizer
Prep time: 45 minutes (includes cooking barley and roasting peppers)
Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing pan
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 small yellow or sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeds and ribs discarded, diced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 very small or 1/2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, rosemary and oregano
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) shredded Comté cheese
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup pearled barley with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook 15-17 minutes, or until water is just absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Brush a small pan or casserole with oil. Cut the red peppers in half lengthwise (through the stem). Remove and discard the stems, seeds and ribs. Bake cut side down for 15 minutes; turn the peppers over and cook an additional 15 minutes. Set aside (keep the oven on).
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, yellow pepper, and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook 3 minutes. Add the garlic and pine nuts and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the barley. Add the chopped herbs, grated Parmigiano, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the egg.
  4. Sprinkle the pepper halves lightly with salt and pepper, then divide the barley filling among the halves. Do Ahead: The peppers can be stuffed one day in advance then covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded Comté evenly over the top of the peppers and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly toasted in spots. Serve warm.

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