Chef to Chef

With so many remarkable stories and products in this issue of Table Two, there wasn't even a second thought about a theme for recipes. We simply wove the wine, winter and wooing into a romantic dinner menu, along with tips from Heinen's chef Jacki Novotny. What a wonderful way to celebrate February!

Red Winter Salad
Cypress Grove Chevre shared this gem of a recipe created for their Humboldt Fog Cheese by writer and cook Laura Werlin. The crispy red cabbage, toasted nuts and warm dressing make it the perfect seasonal salad.

1 medium-size red cabbage head, halved
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted
3 1/2 ounces Humboldt Fog, cut or pinched into small pieces
4 to 6 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place cabbage halves flat side down. Starting at top of head and slicing across, cut very thin strips of cabbage. Avoid using thick, core portions. In large bowl, toss the strands of cabbage with toasted pecans.
In medium sauté pan, cook bacon over medium-high heat, until crispy and browned. Drain on paper towel, then coarsely chop bacon and set aside. Discard the bacon fat (or see chef's tip), but don't wash the pan. Return pan to range top and, over medium heat, add olive oil. Heat until very warm but not hot or smoking. Reduce heat and stir in vinegar. Add the cabbage and pecan mixture into the pan, tossing for a minute to warm. Transfer to serving bowl and add bacon, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Toss and serve. Serves four to six.

Chef Jacki's Tip: Made in our own smokehouse, Heinen's Bacon has a sweetness that works marvelously with these ingredients. For more flavor depth, reduce the olive oil in the dressing by one tablespoon and substitute one tablespoon of the bacon fat.

Table Two Braised Short Ribs
We were inspired by Allison Steltzner of Steltzner Vineyards to share our recipe for braised short ribs. 'You know, there's just something about short ribs,' she told us, and we agree. Serve them with her family's Cabernet Sauvignon and you'll have the perfect fireside pairing.

6 beef short ribs, trimmed
4 tablespoons cooking oil
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper
1 pound, 1-inch diced yellow onions
1/2 pound, 1-inch diced celery
1/2 pound, 1-inch diced peeled carrots
6 stems fresh parsley
5 garlic cloves, peeled and coarse-chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons Lawry's seasoned salt
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
3 cups tomato purée
3 quarts unsalted beef broth or beef stock

Dredge short ribs in flour, shaking off excess, then season with salt and cracked pepper. In large, heavy saucepot, heat oil until sizzling. Sear the floured short ribs until evenly browned.
Transfer ribs to a plate. Using same saucepot, reduce heat to medium-high and brown together the onions, celery, carrots, parsley, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, seasoned salt and pepper. After five minutes, stir in tomato purée and cook two minutes longer.
Add the ribs back into pot and pour beef broth over entire mixture. Bring to full boil, stirring occasionally. Cover with lid and transfer to 350-degree oven and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is fork-tender.

Chef Jacki's Tip: For a savory, rich broth, transfer the short ribs when done to a warm platter and cover. Then, continue cooking the sauce on range top over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce it to about one quart. When serving, ladle the sauce over short ribs and coarsely mashed redskin potatoes. Note: you can make this dish a day ahead. Skim any fat before gently reheating in covered pot. Serves six.

Chocolate Chambord Truffles
Chef Jacki Novotny of Heinen's uses this simple recipe for chocolate truffles laced with Chambord, the black raspberry liqueur. Then, Dry Creek Vineyard Chef Kevin McKenzie has a beguiling truffle tip of his own. Don't miss it.

16 ounces good quality semi-sweet or milk chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon Chambord
1 cup coatings such as cocoa powder or chocolate sprinkles

In a double boiler, slowly melt chocolate, butter, cream and espresso powder. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and if using, whisk in Chambord. Refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours). Working quickly, scoop chocolate mixture with teaspoon or melon baller and shape into balls. Roll in choice of coatings and place on parchment-lined tray. Refrigerate for an additional 30 minutes. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to two weeks. Makes about three dozen truffles.

Chef Kevin McKenzie's tip: I've used sea salt as a garnish when making chocolate truffles. The salt helps not only to bring out the characteristics of the chocolate but also the wonderful qualities of Dry Creek Vineyard Bullock House Merlot, which pairs so nicely here.

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