Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine

Strawberry Almond Shortcakes

For seasonal eaters, nothing is more delicious than the very first strawberry of the season, eaten straight from its container. Except, perhaps, this. Strawberry shortcake tastes even better than you remember with a moist, almond-scented (and surprisingly easy) biscuit, berries that have been macerated in a splash of sweet wine, toasted almonds, and a generous billow of whipped cream. Spring (or shall I say, summer?) has officially arrived.

Serves: 6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 14-16 minutes

  • Parchment paper
  • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons natural cane sugar (such as Florida Crystals)
  • 3 tablespoons sweet dessert wine (optional)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup natural cane sugar (such as Florida Crystals)
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Scant tablespoon turbinado or demerara sugar
  • Toasted sliced almonds
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the strawberries, sugar and sweet wine (if using).
  3. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream with the almond extract. Refrigerate. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed and cut to the size of small peas (alternatively, cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a fork or pastry cutter). Scrape the dough into a bowl. Using a fork, mix in the sour cream until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until it just holds together, about 4-6 turns.
  4. Divide the dough into 6 roughly equal portions. Very gently shape each portion into a 3/4-inch thick disc (a light touch makes for flakier biscuits). Line the discs on the parchment-lined baking sheet leaving 2 inches between each. Brush each biscuit with cream and sprinkle with turbinado or demerara sugar.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden with dark brown peaks.
  6. Cool the biscuits for about 4-5 minutes (or until you can handle them without burning your fingers). Carefully cut each biscuit in half horizontally. Place the bottom halves in the center of each plate. Top each half with berries and some of their juice, followed by a sprinkle of toasted, sliced almonds and a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Perch the other biscuit halves on top and serve. Do Ahead: The biscuits can be made 2 hours in advance and left at room temperature. Reheat in a 450˚F oven before serving.

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Farro Salad

This spring salad is picnic fare at its finest—rustic yet refined, scrumptious yet simple. If you haven’t yet tasted farro, you’ll definitely want to give this a try. Farro is an ancient Italian whole grain with an irresistible nutty and slightly sweet flavor. Bianco Sardo is a hard sheep’s milk cheese from Puglia that is salty and a tad floral—if you can’t find it, Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano will make a good substitute. Enjoy this salad on its own or as a side dish with poultry or fish. It’s best savored outside on a warm spring day, preferably with a chilled glass of Italian Pinot Bianco close at hand.

Serves: 6-8
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

  • 2 cups farro
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), tough ends cut off
  • 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium yellow beets (about 1 pound without greens), roasted, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice*
  • 1 cup freshly grated Bianco Sardo cheese (about 1 ounce)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (1 1/2 – 2 lemons)
  • 1 plump garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a large bowl, cover the farro with cold water and soak for 25 minutes. Drain, then place in a medium pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes, skimming any foam from the surface. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook 2-3 minutes, or until vibrant green and crisp tender. Transfer to the ice bath. Once cool, remove (reserving the water) and pat dry. Add the onions to the ice water and soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Slice the asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces and fold them into the farro, along with the red onions, beets and cheese.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil while whisking. Pour the dressing over the farro salad and toss well. Preferably, let the salad sit covered at room temperature for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours to let the flavors meld. Do Ahead: The farro, beets, asparagus and dressing can be prepared the day before and stored separately (covered) in the refrigerator.

*To roast beets, place the cleaned beets (green stems removed) in a small oven-safe dish and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast in a 400˚ F oven for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until tender when pierced with a paring knife. Cool, then peel.

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Also known as gnudi, these ricotta dumplings are “little pillows of love,” as a good friend lately proclaimed. Rich in flavor, yet brightened by a hint of lemon and fresh herbs, they make for a gorgeous first or main course (and best of all, they’re thrown together in under 30 minutes). Pair with a light style red or citrusy white.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • 2 large cage-free eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pound fresh ricotta (scant 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus additional for serving
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced to a paste
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped herbs, such as thyme, chives, tarragon and mint
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons organic olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and dust it lightly with flour. Put a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat to come to a boil.
  2. Beat the eggs with the salt and nutmeg. Mix in the ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic and herbs. Gently stir in the flour to form a soft dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide it into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a 1-inch rod, then cut each rod with a sharp knife or pastry cutter into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Line another sheet pan with parchment paper. Cook half of the dumplings in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the dumpling to the parchment-lined sheet pan and toss with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Repeat with the rest of the dumplings.
  4. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the butter, swirling the pan occasionally, until nutty brown and fragrant. Stir in the lemon juice (the butter will bubble and sizzle). Slide the dumplings into the pan and cooked until just coated and warmed through. Remove the pan from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Shower the dumplings with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and serve immediately.

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The name might appear a tad suspect (isn’t a frittata in a cup suspiciously similar to a quiche?), but there’s a reason for the distinction – here, cooked frittatas are slipped into flaky phyllo cups right before serving. The cups stay light and crisp and are the perfect counterpoint to the creamy mint- and feta-scented frittatas. A fruity, dry rosé makes a great pairing.

Makes: 24 mini frittatas
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 8-11 minutes
Special equipment: mini muffin tin (24 cups), pastry brush

Phyllo Cups
Cooking spray
3 sheets phyllo dough (from 16 oz package), defrosted in the box overnight in the fridge
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  • Cooking spray
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives, plus additional for garnish
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped artichoke hearts
  • 1 roasted red pepper (either made fresh or from a jar), coarsely chopped (1/4 cup chopped)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Flaked sea salt for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough out on the counter (don’t worry if it cracks or breaks a bit). Cover the remaining dough with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out. Brush the sheet with half of the melted butter. Lay a second sheet directly on top and brush with the remaining butter. Lay the third sheet on top. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 24 rectangles. Press each piece of dough into a muffin cup, firmly pushing against the bottoms and sides (note: push back the top overhang; this will make it easier to slip the cooked frittatas into the cups later on). Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until golden around the edges and bottom. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool. Do Ahead: The phyllo cups can be made one day in advance and stored in a covered container at room temperature.
  3. Wipe out the muffin tins, then spray them with more cooking spray.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mint, chives, salt and pepper. Fill the muffin cups two-thirds of the way full with the batter (tip: to make this easier, transfer the batter to a spouted measuring cup and pour it into the cups). Divide the chopped artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper and crumbled feta cheese among the cups.
  5. Bake for 8-11 minutes, or until puffed and just set in the middle (they will still look a tad creamy on top). Let the frittatas rest for a minute or two (they’ll deflate), then run a small knife around each one to help it dislodge from the pan (don’t worry if you muddle some of the bottoms-they’ll be covered up by the cups!). Do Ahead: The mini-frittatas can be made the day before, cooled completely, then covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature or reheat slightly before serving.
  6. Before serving, gently press the mini frittatas into the individual phyllo crusts (if the frittatas are having trouble fitting, trim them slightly). Garnish with flaked sea salt and snipped chives and serve.

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Lemon-spiked white beans and garlicky, balsamic-laced spinach are tangled over toasted bread then topped with Parmigiano Reggiano in this crave-worthy crostini. A ripe Chardonnay or bright Tocai Friuliano works well alongside.

Serves: 8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

  • 1 French baguette (white or whole wheat), cut on the bias into 1/2-inch slices
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for toasting bread
  • Sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 6 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Brush each baguette slice with extra-virgin olive oil on both sides. Line up the slices on 2 large baking sheets and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 6 minutes. Turn each slice over and bake an additional 5-6 minutes, or until just crisp on the outside. Rub each slice with one of the garlic clove halves. Set crostini aside while you make the topping (you can turn your oven off).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the drained and rinsed white beans, lemon zest, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook 1 minute, or until slightly softened. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the spinach leaves and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the spinach starts to wilt. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until the spinach is mostly wilted.
  4. Scrape the spinach mixture into the bowl with the white beans. Grate a bit of nutmeg over the top, then gently mix everything to combine. Taste and add a bit more salt and/or pepper if desired.
  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the spinach and white bean mixture on each crostini and garnish with a shaving of Parmigiano Reggiano. Transfer to a large platter or individual plates and serve.

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Sweet balsamic-caramelized onions, salty blue cheese and buttery puff pastry. What could be better? Serve this as an appetizer or first course with a chilled glass of full-bodied Chardonnay.

Serves: 8-12
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, very thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt (preferably kosher or sea salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 1 tablespoon of leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (14 oz, 11 x 13 inches), preferably Dufour Brand, defrosted in the refrigerator (keep refrigerated until ready to use)
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (scant 1/2 cup)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray.
  2. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, salt and pepper; stir well to coat the onions in oil. Cook, stirring often, until dark golden in color, about 18-22 minutes. Add the chopped thyme and cook 30 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir until the vinegar is completely distributed and absorbed. Transfer the caramelized onions to a bowl. Do Ahead: The onions can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the edges of the pastry with water and fold them over to create a 1-inch rim. Using a fork, poke the dough all over (not on the rim).
  4. Bake the pastry for 15 minutes or until it is light golden and puffed. Remove the pan from the oven and arrange the onions evenly over the top (inside the rim), deflating the puff in the middle. Scatter the cheese over the onions. Bake 20-22 minutes longer, or until deep golden brown around the edges and under the onions. Turn the oven off, but leave the tart inside for 10 more minutes, allowing the pastry to dry out slightly.
  5. Let the tart cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and cut into squares or wedges using a sharp knife. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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This luscious ragu starts with organic beef oxtails, which are simmered with pancetta, garlic, vegetables and herbs in red wine until the meat is falling-off-the-bone-tender. Use a good-quality, full-bodied organic red wine such as a Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon (and be sure to save some for sipping alongside the finished dish).

Serves: 6-8 as main course
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 2 – 2 1/2 hours
Special Equipment: Heavy pot or Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid

  • 1 pound organic oxtails (about 4 1-inch oxtails), trimmed
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced (about 1 cup diced)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 medium or 2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (2 tablespoons minced)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 4-inch sprig rosemary
  • 4 large sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig parsley (with stem)
  • 2 cups full-bodied organic red wine, such as Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • Papperadelle pasta (preferably fresh)
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Season the oxtails on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisped, about 5-6 minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large plate.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Sear the oxtails in the hot fat in a single layer (if your pot isn’t big enough to fit all the shanks in one layer, do this in 2 batches). Cook until deep golden brown on each side. Transfer the shanks to the plate with the pancetta.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot along with the onions, carrots and celery. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, tomato paste, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Pour in the wine, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook 1 minute.
  5. Put the oxtails and pancetta back into the pot with any juices. Pour in enough beef broth to nearly cover the meat. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cover the pan tightly and simmer gently for 3 – 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and beginning to fall off the bone.
  6. Remove the bay leaf and herb sprigs and discard. Transfer the oxtails to a cutting board to cool. Meanwhile, bring the liquid in the pot to a boil and cook 2-5 minutes, or until reduced slightly and thickened. Lower the heat to a simmer. Coarsely chop the meat from the cooled oxtails, discarding the bones. Add the meat back into the pot and cook just until warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, toss the ragu with cooked papperadelle pasta and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle additional cheese over each serving before digging in.

Do Ahead: The ragu is even better if made a day or two in advance. Cool completely then cover tightly and refrigerate. Reheat on the stove over medium-low heat. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month.

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  • Enjoy these great organic recipes this holiday season put together for the Organic Wine Journal by Chef Susan Bishop of Napa, California.

    Blackberry Cornish Game Hens with Zinfandel

    As an alternative to turkey, try these sweet and savory Blackberry Cornish Game Hens. This matches perfectly with a Zinfandel such as the Frog’s Leap 2005 Zinfandel, which is enhanced by the combination of 75% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignane and 3% Napa Gamay.

    • 4 organically grown Cornish game hens (such as Delaware Chicken Farm & Seafood Market at
    • 2 cups blackberries (Marion berries or other berry favorites)
    • ½ cup organic Zinfandel
    • ¼ cup organically grown and made olive oil (such as Long Meadow Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil—Napa Valley Select at )
    • 1 teaspoon organically grown Dijon mustard
    • 3 tablespoon organically made blackberry jam (such as Wild Organic Blackberry Jam from Bienmanger at
    • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped finely
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1-teaspoon fresh crack black pepper

    Prepare the game hens by cutting them open through the breastbone with kitchen shears and flattening them skin side up by pressing firmly to crack the bones. Remove backbone by cutting it out.

    Assemble the marinade in a large zip closure plastic bag. Mix wine, oil, mustard, jam, thyme, salt and pepper. Place the berries in a food processor or blender and puree. Pass through a sieve or strainer to remove seeds. Add the berries to the bag and close it. Push contents around to mix well. Now add the birds. Divide between two bags if one is not sufficient. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.

    Place the birds in a roasting pan skin side up. Put the marinade in a bowl and reserve for basting birds. Roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 45-55 minutes. Brush the birds with the marinade every 15 minutes. You will know the birds are done when the thing meat is no longer pink. Serve with organically grown wild rice!
    Serves 4

    Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup with Sauvignon Blanc

    • 1 organically grown onion, finely diced
    • 3 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh gingerroot
    • 2 tablespoons organic butter
    • 2 tablespoons organic olive oil
    • 2 cups organically grown butternut squash peeled and cut into small chunks
    • 3 cups organic chicken broth
    • 2 cups organic apple cider
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 tablespoons organically grown limejuice (optional lower calorie version)
    • ½ cup organic half and half (optional)
    • ½ teaspoon salt (your favorite freshly ground)
    • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper (white would be preferable)
    • Freshly grated nutmeg (don’t skimp on this one—buy the whole nut, crack it open andgrate it! There’s nothing like it.)
    • In a soup pot sauté the onion and gingerroot in the butter and oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is softened and opaque in color. Add the squash, chicken broth and apple cider. Bring mixture to a boil, and then turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Stir in the garlic and cook a few more minutes.

      Puree the mixture in a food processor or a blender. You may need to do this in two batches depending on the size of your machine. Return the soup to the pot. For a lower calorie version and absolutely delicious add the limejuice, salt and pepper to taste and then stir in the grated nutmeg or for a creamier version add the ½ cup of half and half and the salt and pepper taste and then grate the fresh nutmeg over the top.

      Susan Bishop is a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef for wineries in the Napa Valley and Sonoma. She is a wine educator and specializes in food and wine pairing.

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