Cooking with wine: A spirited menu

<em>Frozen Hazelnut Soufflés With Champagne Sauce, photo by Dan Kacvinski</em>

Frozen Hazelnut Soufflés With Champagne Sauce, photo by Dan Kacvinski

The addition of wine to your favorite recipes can impart wonderful flavor, but too much or the wrong style can potentially ruin a delicious dish.

Example: Fish is usually better with the addition of white wine — except when using a pinot noir with a salmon recipe. Red wine can give meat a lot of extra flavor as well as color.

Poultry, meat and fish all are enhanced by a wine marinade, as the French and Italians know so well. It cuts down on cooking time and ensures a tender and juicy result. And because most of the alcohol disappears during cooking or baking, foods cooked with wine are not only delicious but practically non-alcoholic as well.

Begin the meal with a Turkey Terrine in Wine Aspic. The dish is simple, elegant and looks as though it took hours to prepare, although it can be assembled very quickly and then stored in the refrigerator to chill.

Seafood can go into the oven and be on the table in only 20 to 30 minutes, and fish fillets baked with dry white wine and delicate seasonings add a wonderful flavor to the dish.

Tzimmes is a great choice for the busy cook. Lean beef brisket, vegetables and dried fruit are baked in the oven with a full-body Zinfandel or Syrah wine to provide an all-in-one-pot festive meal.

End the meal with a Frozen Hazelnut Soufflé in individual ramekins and topped with a Champagne Sauce. For deeper flavors, experiment by using wines such as port, sherry, Madeira or Marsala in your dessert recipes.


Chilled Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

3 cups hot turkey or chicken stock

2 tablespoons white wine

2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

2 1/2 pounds cooked turkey or chicken breast

3 small potatoes, peeled, boiled and cut in  chunks

2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and finely diced

1 tomato, peeled and finely diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Salad greens



Prepare Chilled Tomato Sauce; refrigerate until ready to use.

Combine stock and wine in saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Dissolve gelatin in hot stock; cool.

Line a 1 1/2- to 2-quart loaf pan with plastic wrap. Sprinkle parsley over bottom. Cut turkey breast into strips about 4 inches long and 1 inch thick. Arrange in alternating layers the turkey strips, potato chunks, eggs, tomato, and salt and pepper to taste, until pan is filled.

Pour in gelatin mixture, completely covering ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firmly set, about 6 hours. Invert loaf carefully onto platter and garnish with Chilled Tomato Sauce and greens. Serve with mustard.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, cored and quartered

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Place tomatoes in food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Add garlic, basil and olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill.

Makes about 2 cups.


Photo by Dan Kacvinski

Herbed Garlic Spread (recipe follows)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup water

3 to 4 pounds halibut fillets (1/2 pound each)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup finely sliced green onions

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1 cup Riesling or other dry white wine

1/2 cup vegetable stock


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Prepare Herbed Garlic Spread; set aside.

In a shallow bowl, combine lemon juice and water. Rinse halibut fillets with lemon-water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In an ovenproof pan, combine green onions, parsley, wine and stock; heat to boiling. Arrange fish fillets on green onion mixture in pan; top each fillet with a small scoop or slice of Herbed Garlic Spread.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Spoon sauce over fillets and serve at once.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


3 garlic cloves, peeled

1/4 pound unsalted margarine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil or 1 teaspoon dried

1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried

Salt to taste


In food processor or blender, drop garlic in and process until minced. Add margarine; blend. Add parsley, chervil and dill; pulse to puree. Season to taste with salt. Using a rubber spatula, transfer mixture to a bowl, then shape into a log or a cube; wrap with plastic wrap. Chill or freeze until ready to use, then let stand until slightly softened.

Makes about 3/4 cup.


2 tablespoons olive oil

4 onions, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups dry red wine

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

6 pounds beef brisket, trimmed

5 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced

2 whole heads garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled

1 cup dried pitted prunes

1 cup dried apricots


Preheat oven to 425 F.

Heat oil in a skillet; sauté onions and minced garlic until soft. Transfer to a large roasting pan. Add wine, tomato paste and brown sugar; mix well. Place brisket in pan, fat-side up. Surround with carrots, parsnips and whole, unpeeled garlic cloves.

Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 F, cover, and bake 2 to 3 hours longer or until meat is tender. Add prunes and apricots; bake 30 minutes longer.

To serve, slice brisket against the grain, transfer to a platter, surround with vegetables and fruit, and spoon sauce over all.

Makes about 12 servings.


Champagne Sauce (recipe follows)

4 eggs, separated

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon fruit-flavored liqueur or vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

1 cup finely ground hazelnuts

1/2 cup whole hazelnuts for garnish


Prepare Champagne Sauce; refrigerate.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar and liqueur until thick and lemon-colored.

In another bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form; fold the whipped cream and ground hazelnuts into egg yolk mixture. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; gently fold beaten egg whites into the whipped cream/egg yolk mixture.

Lightly oil six (6-ounce) ramekins. Tear off six sheets of foil. Fold each sheet in half lengthwise; wrap one around each ramekin so foil reaches 2 inches above top rim; tie foil in place with string.

Divide soufflé mixture into six equal portions, spooning into the ramekins to reach top of foil. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze for 6 hours.

Remove string and foil. Serve in ramekins, topped with whole hazelnuts, and Champagne Sauce on the side.

NOTE: If desired, souffle may be removed from ramekins and served on dessert plates. Dip bottom of each ramekin in hot water for 2 to 3 seconds; loosen by running sharp knife around inside. Invert onto chilled dessert plates.

Makes 6 servings.


3 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup Champagne


In top of a double boiler, over simmering water, combine egg yolks and sugar; beat with whisk until thick and lemon-colored. Add Champagne and continue beating until mixture has thickened.

Makes about 2 cups.


Not sure which wine to pick? In Southern California, there are several wine-judging events throughout the year. Competitors come from all over the world, and qualified judges are composed of wine journalists, winemakers, restaurateurs and winery owners. Wines are given scores and awarded medals based on color, aroma and taste.

One of the largest such events is the Los Angeles International Wine Competition in Pomona. This year, there were more than 3,000 wines entered from almost 950 wineries, and during the Los Angeles County Fair, which this year takes place Aug. 29-Sept. 28, many of the gold-medal wines will be available to taste.

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