Saffron 75

Cocktail Cookies for Valentines Day

Why not whip up something a little more sophisticated for your sweetie?

Here is a link to a really great Chocolate-Cayenne cookie from Food & Wine that is sure to please

Another tried and true pleaser are these Rosemary Cookies.  I just cannot tell you how delicious these are.  They pair well with wine, a cup of hot tea, or a cold glass of milk. My family has been making them for several years and I’m unsure of the recipe’s origin.  Likely it came from the Baltimore Sun.  You will get the best result from using very soft fresh rosemary.  I also like to use a rosemary sanding sugar to roll them in.

Rosemary Cookies –

you will need parchment paper, a ruler, 2 paper towel role tubes (sans paper towels)

2 sticks of butter

3/4 C sugar

1 egg

1t vanilla

2 1/2 c flour

1T chopped fresh rosemary

3/4 salt

1/2 c coarse sanding sugar to roll in

In a stand mixer beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 2 min.  Mix in egg and vanilla.  On low speed add flour, rosemary, and salt until just incorporated.  Divide dough in half and shape each piece into a log.  Place each log onto a 12×16 piece of parchment paper.  Roll the parchment log to 1 1/2″ diameter, pressing a ruler against the roll at each turn to get rid of air trapped in the dough.  Insert each parchment roll into a paper towel roll tube and place in the freezer for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove dough logs from wrapping and roll the dough logs in sanding sugar.  Slice into 1/4″ thick cookies.  Bake 16 to 20 minutes until the edges are just golden.


Savory Pie

So there is nothing quite so succesful as starting a food and wine blog for fun and then going on a diet…  last year did mark the departure of 20 lbs but no blogs for most of the year.  Great recipes and wines were discovered and I plan to do a better job of sharing them and I hope enjoying them in 2012.

This recipe is completely lifted from a very interesting cookbook, The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso and can also be found on the epicurious website   It is just about perfect.  It is the very best of homey comfort food, packs well for a potluck, and is special enough for guests.  It pairs well with a CdP, Pinot Noir, Ale, or a cold glass of milk.


Pork and Apple Pie with Cheddar-Sage Crust

For the crust

  • 2 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage, finely crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 egg blended with 1 tablespoon water
  • Fresh sage leaves for garnish (optional)

For the filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 3 large) firm-sweet apples, unpeeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 3 large) firm-tart apples, unpeeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges  I love Honey Crisp
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 pounds  ground pork (preferably 15 to 17% fat)
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs

First make the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sage, and salt until well combined. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour mixture and use your fingers to work them in (you want to rub your thumb against your fingertips, smearing the butter as you do so). Do this until the mixture looks like cornmeal with some pea-sized bits of butter remaining. Stir in the cheese with a fork until evenly distributed. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over the mixture and stir with a fork until the dough begins to come together. If needed, add an additional tablespoon or two of ice water (you shouldn’t need much more). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead three times. Gather the dough into a ball, then divide into two portions, making one slightly bigger than the other. Press each portion down into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Make the filling: In a skillet over medium-low heat, cook the apples without any oil, stirring gently, until they just begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside. Add oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the onion, pork, brown sugar, salt, and spices. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat, until it is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let the meat mixture cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a food processor. Add the breadcrumbs and pulse five times until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand. Set aside.

3. Prepare the crust: Unwrap the larger disk of dough and put it in the center of a large sheet of parchment paper or wax paper. Cover the dough with a second piece of parchment. Roll out, working from the center, to a 13-inch circle. Peel off the top piece of parchment and transfer the dough to a pie plate, peeled side down. Peel off the remaining parchment and press the crust into the sides of the pie plate, draping any excess over the edge. Unwrap the smaller disk of dough and put it in the center of a large sheet of parchment paper. Cover the dough with a second piece of parchment. Roll out, working from the center, to an 11-inch circle. Set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 425°F and set a rack to the second-to-bottom position. Fill the pie: Pour the meat mixture into the bottom crust and gently smooth the top with a spatula. Arrange the cooked apple slices over the meat, pressing down to make the whole construction as smooth and neat as possible. Peel the top sheet of parchment off the top crust. Transfer, peeled side down, to the pie, then peel off the remaining parchment. Using a sharp knife, make two 3-inch slashes in the crust to allow steam to escape. Fold the edges of the bottom crust up over the top crust and crimp the edges to seal. Brush the crust with the egg wash and decorate with sage leaves, if desired. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake until the crust is golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool 25 minutes before serving.





Dave’s Smokey Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Dave’s Smokey Verde Chicken Enchiladas

This is an easy recipe for authentic enchiladas inspired by a great meal we had at a small Mexican resturant while on a road trip in California.

 Sauce Ingredients

3 tomatillos roasted and skinned                                    

2 poblanos roasted and skinned                                     

4 cloves garlic minced

½ red onion

10 oz can green chili enchilada sauce

1 cup sour cream

Black smoked sea salt

Ground white pepper

To make the sauce:

Roast or grill the poblanos and tomatillos until the skins are blackened and then place in a plastic bag.  Once cooled removed skins from both and seeds from the peppers. We also like to roast or grill the onion and garlic because it gives the sause a more complex flavor but you can use them raw if you prefer.  Place the poblanos, tomatillos, garlic, onion, green enchilada sauce, and sour cream into a food processor– process until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Stuffing Ingredients

 1 rotisserie chicken picked and shredded

4 oz can green chili

¼ c dices red onion

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ tsp chili powder

To make the stuffing:

Pick and shred the chicken meat and mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Assembling the enchiladas:

Preheat oven to 350. We prefer whole wheat flour tortillas but any good tortilla works.  Prepare your pan (9 x 13 Pyrex works well)  by lightly spraying it with PAM and then spread ½ cup of sauce in the bottom. Smear 1 tsp of sour cream on 1/3 of the tortilla, place ¼ to ½ cup of stuffing on top of sour cream, sprinkle some shredded cheddar on top.   Fold sides in and then roll up to create closed ends and lay in the pan seam side down.  Ladle another ¾ cup of sauce over the enchiladas.  Reserve the rest of the sauce to serve alongside.  Sprinkle with ¼ cup of shredded cheese and sprinkle lightly with chili powder. You can also garnish the top of the pan with sliced jalepenos. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 350.  Remove foil and continue to bake for another 5 minutes before removing from oven.

Beverage Recommendations: Beer is always a good choice with Mexican food and you can’t go wrong with Corona here. If you are more interested in wine –  a Sauvignon Blanc makes a nice pairing. My favorite everyday Sauvignon Blanc is Kim Crawford from New Zealand.

Enjoy – D. & E.

Chai Tea Creme Brulee

Chai Tea Crème Brulee

Two great tastes that taste great together!  This recipe is so easy and quick to pull together.  You could serve it with a Sherry, coffee, or …Chai tea.  The joy of this desert is the crack of the sugar crust as the spoon breaks the surface and glides into the silky custard.

 7 egg yolks

4 T sugar

2 ¼ c cream

¼ c Tazo Chai Black Tea Latte Concentrate

Boiling water – 4 c or so

1T sugar

 Beat egg yolks and sugar until creamy and light yellow

In a sauce pan bring the cream and Chai to just boiling

Add a little of the cream to the egg/sugar mixture and whisk briskly (this is tempering) – then add the mixture back into the heated cream and whisk thoroughly.

Pour mixture into ramekins and place ramekins in a steep sided pan – I used a 9 x 13 Pyrex

Pour the boiling water to ½ the height of the ramekins (this is a water bath)

Place pan in a 375 oven for 20 to 35 minutes (depending on ramekin size) – they are done once they have reached a firm/jiggle stage – kind of like Jell-O

Cool in the pan of water for 15 minutes and then refrigerate for several hours or overnight

Before serving cover with sugar – shaking off extra – and put under the broiler or use a butane kitchen torch to melt the sugar.  It will liquefy and brown.  Once removed from the heat it will harden to a crust.

Dave’s Savory Breakfast Scones

Here is a quick and easy scone recipe. I love to fix them on Sunday mornings as part of a brunch that includes a lovely Bloody Mary. They also pair nicely with a coddled egg. The best part is if you make a double batch they keep nicely and make a great on the go breakfast during the week.


 1 cup All purpose flour

1 cup Yellow cornmeal

2 Tbsp Sugar or Splenda

1 tsp Ground ancho pepper

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp Kosher salt

4 Tbsp Chilled stick margarine

1/3 cup diced red bell pepper

1/3 cup cubed pre cooked ham steak

1/3 cup diced green onion

1/3 shredded extra sharp cheddar

2 Tbsp fresh thyme

2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley

3/4 cup buttermilk



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl; cut in margarine with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add bell pepper, ham, green onions, cheddar, thyme, parsley and buttermilk; stir until just moist.

Pat dough into a 6-inch circle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and cut into 4 wedges.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

Enjoy! –D

Recipe Inspired by: Cooking Light Nov./Dec. 1997 Red Pepper Scones

Grilled Lamb Lollies and Polenta

It is still snowy and cold in the Midwest in March.  While we are dreaming of warm weather vacations and bathing suits we are craving the comforts of roasted meats and richly flavored starches (under the cover of thick sweaters).  When friends stopped by this past weekend, we enjoyed a simple and satisfying meal of grilled rosemary lamb lollies with blue cheese polenta topped with arugula, caramelized onions and toasted walnuts.    

We washed it down with 2005 Duckhorn, Paraduxx and 2007 Alain Voge, Cornas “Les Chailles”.  Duckhorn is located in Napa, CA. Despite several trips to the region we have not visited this vineyard…yet.  Our friends say that the grounds are very lovely and that your tastings are served by waiters that resemble Antonio Banderas.   Paraduxx is primarily Zinfandel blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and a splash of Cabernet Franc.  Domaine Alain Voge is located in the Rhone region of France – on my bucket list. The Cornas is all Syrah grapes.  Both wines are redolent of brambly fruit- namely blackberry and have an earthy spiciness that marries well with the food. 

We buy the Kirkland brand frenched lamb rack from Costco and the product is consistently good.  I would prefer to find a local resource and encourage you to do so if one exists in your area.  

Grilled Rosemary Lamb Lollies  

Marinade – 

3 cloves garlic minced                 2 Rosemary sprigs stripped, leaves chopped

1 lemon zested and juiced            3 T olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper 

Cut rack of lamb (2lbs) into chops and place in the marinade for ½ hour and up to overnight.  Grill on high heat to desired doneness – we like ours still pink. 

I used the following polenta recipe but rather then cutting the polenta into squares and frying it I baked it off in the oven – 350 for about 20 minutes.  I topped it with the arugula, caramelized onions, and toasted walnuts.  I always use Bob’s Red Mill polenta.


Dave’s Chipotle Shrimp Tacos

This recipe is quick, easy and light. I have adapted it from several dining experiences that left me thinking – I could do this better. It is always a hit with our guests – it’s easy to scale for a group and can be mostly prepped in advance. 

Cilantro Rice:

Boiled white rice – (portioned to your needs)

1/2 jalapeno, diced, seeds optional

2 ears roasted corn, cut of cob or (1cup frozen corn will do)

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste 

Cook rice. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro, corn and jalapeno. Cover and set aside.

 Shrimp for Tacos:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, diced

1small red onion ,diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Chili powder

11/2 pounds medium shrimp (about 30), peeled and deveined

8 flour tortillas

8 sprigs cilantro for garnish

2 limes, cut into wedges

 Heat a stovetop or outdoor grill to medium-high. In a frying pan heat olive oil, red onion and garlic until they become translucent. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Grill the shrimp until translucent, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side. Lightly season with chili powder, salt and pepper

Grill tortillas, until slightly charred and pliable, about 20 seconds per side. (Alternatively, wrap in a damp paper towel and heat in a microwave.) Spoon Chipotle mayo on the tortilla, then top with about 3 or 4 shrimp, rice, lime juice, salsa and a sprig of cilantro.

 Chipotle Mayo:

1tbsp lime juice  1 ½ cups mayo

1 small can chipotle peppers in adobe sauce

In food processor or blender combine mayo, lime juice and 2 chipotle peppers plus 1 tsp of adobe sauce.

 Wine and Drink Pairings: With a spicy dish like this you have several options. Here are a few ideas. Wine – Sokol Blosser Evolution – this is a unique white blend from Oregon, it has a citrus nose, crisp and slightly sweet – a perfect companion for a dish with spice and heat! If you’d rather go with beer, a solid choice would be Blue Moon with a slice of orange. Of course, you can never go wrong with a classic Margarita!  –D

Grilled African Spiced Chicken with Quinoa Taboule

Here is an excellent grilled chicken recipe if you’re in the mood for something a little different. I found this several years ago in a magazine, possibly Epicurious. From the ingredients list it looks hot but it isn’t. It is what I would call pleasantly spicy.  The coriander, the earthiness of cumin, and the hint of licorice from the caraway seeds create an interesting and complex flavor. You can create a unique meal with a Mediterranean flare by pairing with a side of Quinoa Taboule.

8 (2-inch-long) dried hot red chiles
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 large chicken breast halves with skin and bone (about 3/4 pound each)

Preparing the spices to make the pest is best done with an electric coffee or spice grinder.

If grilling on charcoal a 17- by 12- by 3-inch disposable aluminum roasting pan should be used to grill the chicken.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking with medium-hot charcoal. See below for gas grill instructions.

Coarsely grind chiles, spice seeds, garlic, and peppercorns in grinder, then stir together with salt and oil in a bowl to form a spice paste. Rub paste all over chicken.

Oil grill rack, then grill chicken, skin sides down first, over coals, turning over occasionally and moving around if flare-ups occur, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes total.

Move chicken to area with no coals underneath, arranging chicken so that thicker sides are closest to coals, then cover with inverted roasting pan and grill, turning chicken over once, until just cooked through, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Cooks’ notes:
• Chicken can be grilled on a gas grill. Preheat all burners on high, covered, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately high and brown chicken, skin sides down first, covered, turning over occasionally, about 4 minutes. Turn off 1 burner (middle one if there are 3) and put chicken, skin sides up, above shut-off burner, then grill, covered, without turning, until just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
• Chicken, rubbed with spice paste, can marinate, covered and chilled, up to 4 hours before grilling.
• Spice paste keeps, covered and chilled, up to 1 week.

Serves 4

Quinoa Taboule preparation: You can usually find Quinoa in the baking aisle of your grocery store. It is usually located with specialty grain and baking products such as Bob’s Red Mill products.

Follow cooking instructions on bag. Prepare 2 cups cooked quinoa.

 To the cooked quinoa stir in:

 1 cup chopped parsley

½ cup chopped scallions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 clove minced garlic

1tablespoon minced fresh basil

½ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe is from Bob’s Red Mill.

 The quinoa provides a refreshing balance to the spicy chicken. (About Quinoa: Organic Quinoa Grain (pronounced keen-wa) is a high-protein grain cultivated by Incan tribes in the Andes Mountains of South America. Grown in Ecuador, this mild powerhouse grain is quickly becoming a staple in healthy diets. Quinoa can be substituted for rice in most recipes, source: Bob’s Red Mill)

Recommended Wine Pairings: For a light and refreshing pairing I suggest either a Rose (Tablas Creek Vineyard or Goats do Roam) or a Pinot Gris (Ponzi or Adelsheim). However, if you are more interested in something to accentuate the spice, try a Syrah such as Owen Roe Ex Umbris or Copain Syrah.

Enjoy!!  –D

Shrimp Grits: A Southern Classic

Here is a recipe for Shrimp Grits that I developed over a couple of years, after trying several variations of the dish. It is a favorite of my friends and family. I hope you’ll like it too. Shrimp grits are a classic southern dish. If you are not a “fan” of grits, fear not. This is not your typical diner, coarse ground white grits that you find on your plate next to some eggs in a truck stop down south. These are creamy, medium ground, yellow grits (polenta) in the Italian style and they provide the perfect palate on which to blend shrimp, kielbasa and Andouille sausage with fresh summer vegetables.

Dave’s Low Country Shrimp Grits

2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

Salt & Pepper

1 stick unsalted butter

1 can Rotel Tomatoes, diced w/green chile peppers

3 Andouille sausage

3 Smoked Kielbasa sausage

3 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium zucchini, sliced and quartered

3 cups sweet corn (fresh off the cob or frozen)

2 cup finely chopped green onion plus 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion tops

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

3 finely chopped jalapeno pepper

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons minced parsley

Polenta, follow directions on bag

Tabasco Sauce


 Prepare your sausage by slicing it on the bias (diagonally) and browning it in a large skillet. Remove from skillet and set aside.

In a separate skillet, sauté shrimp and 1TB of garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil & 1 tablespoon butter. Cook until light pink, do not overcook.

Using the same skillet you browned the sausage in, sauté your vegetables. Start with the garlic, peppers, zucchini and 2 cups of green onions about 7 minutes then add two cups of corn and the can of tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, then cook another 5 minutes. Reduce to low heat. Add the shrimp and sausage to the skillet and simmer.

Make polenta according to the package directions, I recommend Bob’s Red Mill Polenta. Usually 3 cups water to 1 cup polenta. After polenta begins to thicken reduce heat to low and add cream, remaining cup of corn and the cheese, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve place polenta in a bowl, cover with shrimp, sausage and vegetable mixture. Garnish with parsley, green onion tops and a dash of Tabasco sauce.

Wine Pairing:

This dish pairs beautifully with a big, buttery Chardonnay. A few recommendations are Rombauer Caneros Chardonnay, Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay or Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay. For the budget conscious try Bogle Chardonnay or Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay.

Bon Appettite!  –D