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October 22, 2012

Pleasures of the Harvest Table

Posted by Celia

The pounding rain on the roof last night confirmed to all that autumn has indeed arrived. Many wineries around the valley had a busy weekend getting those last loads of grapes off the vines and hauled in for pressing before this storm arrived, and now it's time to raise a glass to what was a wonderful season. A great way to toast a successful 2012 harvest would be to gather some friends and have a harvest dinner party, pairing a delicious recipe with a wine from our own Napa Valley. The Napa Valley Vintners have compiled a beautiful electronic cookbook called "Pleasures of the Harvest Table" featuring pairing recipes from some of Napa Valley's best chefs. We're pleased that our own recipe from Chef John Adamson can be found on page 49. Click on the photo below to explore this fun cookbook:


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October 9, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin of Beef

The 2009 vintage of Amici's long-awaited single vineyard wines has just been released, and Chef John Adamson developed this recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Beef Tenderloins specifically to pair with the Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. He notes, "The richness of this tenderloin of beef showcases the deep, concentrated flavors of the Morosoli Vineyard Cab, while the fresh flavor of the chimichurri highlights the wine’s dark fruit characteristics." The addition of Crispy Yukon Gold Potatoes completes the meal and makes an elegant presentation worthy of your next dinner party.

Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin of Beef with Chimichurri and Crispy Yukon Gold Potatoes
Amici Cellars Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Recipe Courtesy Chef John Adamson

Serves 4

For the Beef:
4 ea Bacon, sliced
4 ea Tenderloin of Beef, 7-8 oz
4 ea Skewers, 4”, soaked in water
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Fill a one-quart saucepot with water and bring to a boil. Place the bacon into the boiling water and blanch for 3 minutes. Remove from the water and cool to room temperature.

Preheat an oven to 450°. Wrap the blanched bacon around the tenderloin and secure with the skewers. Place a cast-iron skillet or heavy bottomed sauté pan over high heat. Season the bacon-wrapped tenderloins with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle the tenderloins with the olive oil, and place the bacon side down into the pan, allowing them to cook on each side for approximately a minute. Lay the tenderloins, flat side down, and place in preheated oven. Cook for approximately five minutes, and turn. Cook another five minutes or until medium rare. Remove from the pan and remove the skewer. Rest for five minutes before serving.

For the Chimichurri:
1 c Parsley, washed
¾ c Cilantro, washed
¼ c Oregano, washed
1 ea Garlic Cloves
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 c Olive Oil, pure
2 T Red Wine Vinegar
to taste Salt and Pepper

In a food processor, add all ingredients and puree the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to sit for at least two hours, keeping cold until ready to serve.

For the Potatoes:
8 ea Yukon Gold potatoes, about 1½”
2 c Olive Oil, pure (as needed to fill sauté pan)
to taste Sea Salt, coarse
to taste Pepper, freshly ground

Place potatoes in a two-quart sauce pot. Cover the potatoes with salted water and place over medium-high heat. Cook until tender, approximately 15-18 minutes.

Remove the potatoes from the water when done and cool to room temperature. When cool, “smash” the potatoes with the palm of your hand until they are slightly crushed, but still in one piece. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and place the potatoes into the heated oil. Cook until the potatoes begin to turn golden brown, turn and repeat. When finished, drain the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

On each plate, arrange several potatoes topped by a beef tenderloin and dotted with chimichurri. Serve with Amici Cellars Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and enjoy!

Click here to download a PDF file of this recipe:

Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin of Beef with Chimichurri and Crispy Yukon Gold Potatoes.pdf


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October 2, 2012

Herb-Marinated Lamb Skewers

To celebrate the release of the 2009 Amici Cellars Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Chef John Adamson developed this wonderful recipe featuring grilled lamb skewers. The fresh notes of the herbs and the complex flavors of grilled lamb and peppers are wonderful complements to the wine’s dark red fruits and silky tannins. Accompanied by Chef Adamson's Harvest Ratatouille and Parmesan Polenta Squares, it's a perfect meal to enjoy during the harvest season.

Herb-Marinated Lamb Skewers with Harvest Ratatouille and Parmesan Polenta Squares
Amici Cellars Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Recipe Courtesy Chef John Adamson

Serves 4

For the Lamb:
1½ lb Lamb top sirloin, trimmed of all fat, thinly sliced to ¼” thick
2 T Marjoram, fresh, roughly chopped
2 T Thyme, fresh, roughly chopped
2 T Mint, fresh, roughly chopped
2 T Parsley, fresh, roughly chopped
2 T Olive Oil, extra virgin
to taste Salt and Pepper
16 ea Padrón Peppers, or other small sweet pepper
8 ea 6” Bamboo Skewers, soaked overnight

Lay the thinly sliced lamb onto a baking sheet or large plate. Season with the chopped herbs, (reserving some for garnish) olive oil, salt and pepper. Starting with a pepper, skewer the marinated lamb, and alternate until three peppers and two strips of lamb have been placed on each skewer.

Build a fire with charcoal or preheat a gas fired grill to medium. If building a charcoal fire, allow the fire to cool quite a bit; grilling the skewers over a medium fire is important to not burn the skewers. Grill the skewers 4 minutes per side, or until well caramelized and the meat is medium rare.

For the Harvest Ratatouille:
as needed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 ea Garlic, clove, minced
2 tsp Thyme, fresh, chopped
8 ea Button mushrooms, small, chopped
1 ea Red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, small dice
2 ea Green zucchini, seeds removed, small dice
1 ea Red onion, small, small dice
1 c Japanese eggplant, seeds removed, small dice
2 T Parmesan cheese, grated
2 T Basil, fresh, roughly chopped
½ c Tomato purée, jarred or canned
to taste Salt and Pepper

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat until it is very hot and has smoke emanating from the edge of the pan. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add the garlic and cook until it just begins to brown. Immediately add the thyme, followed by half of the mushrooms, lightly season with salt and pepper, and cook, resisting the urge to move them, until browned on one side. Toss gently and then remove from the pan and place on parchment lined sheet tray. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Continue this process, allowing the pan to recover to the smoking point before starting with the red bell pepper, zucchini, red onion, and eggplant, cooking each separately, in small batches and removing to the sheet tray.

When finished, place the sautéed vegetables in a bowl, and add the parmesan cheese, chopped basil, and the tomato purée. Gently mix and keep warm.
(NOTE: This ratatouille is a versatile dish which is wonderful on crostini, in risottos, and with eggs.)

For the Polenta Squares:
1 T Butter, unsalted
2 ea Garlic, clove, minced
3 c Milk, whole
¾ c Polenta, yellow
¼ c Semolina
3 oz Fontina cheese, grated
½ c Parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 T Butter, unsalted, softened
1/3 c Parmesan cheese, finely grated
to taste Salt and Pepper

Add one tablespoon of butter to a heavy-bottomed two-quart saucepot over medium heat. When butter is melted, add garlic and cook until it begins to brown. Add milk and bring to a boil. In a slow and deliberate stream, whisk in the polenta stirring constantly. When polenta begins to thicken, change out the whisk for a wooden spoon. Continue to cook until polenta is tender and peels away from the side of the pan. Remove from heat. Add fontina and parmesan cheeses to the pan and incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour into a rectangular (6”x3”) pan, and cool in the refrigerator until completely set.

Preheat the oven on the broiler setting. Cut the polenta into squares or rounds with biscuit cutters. Spread the softened butter evenly over the top of the polenta and then dip the buttered side into the parmesan cheese. Place on an oiled tray and brown in the broiler until golden brown. When ready to serve, top the polenta with the warm harvest ratatouille.

Serve the lamb skewers accompanied by the polenta squares topped with harvest ratatouille. Enjoy alongside a bottle of Amici Cellars Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

Click here to download a PDF file of this recipe:

Herb-Marinated Lamb Skewers with Harvest Ratatouille and Parmesan Polenta Squares.pdf


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June 27, 2012

Summer Wines and Summer Evenings

Posted by Celia

Our long-awaited summer is here, with its see-saw temperatures of hot days and cool nights. In the hills above Napa Valley, where almost every evening the cooling effects of the Pacific Ocean sweep away the day’s heat (making it an ideal place to ripen grapes), we rarely get to enjoy ourselves outside at nighttime without a sweater. I have come to adore the handful of evenings we get every summer when the day’s hot air remains trapped in the valley, the onshore breezes carrying the coastal fog stalled out at sea for a short time. Those evenings—warm, balmy and virtually insect-free—are the best part of summer. When it looks like one is coming, I try to rearrange our schedule so we can fire up the grill, invite a few friends over and enjoy ourselves in the warm night air with some summer wine.

This summer the wines on our table are the 2010 Olema Chardonnay and the 2011 Amici Sauvignon Blanc. I reach for the Chard when I’m in the mood for something with good acidity, balanced by round, tropical notes that the wine gets from being 50/50 barrel and stainless fermented, and 75% malolactic. It’s superb with cedar plank wild salmon fresh off the grill.

The Sauv Blanc is my choice when I’m looking for a complex wine that has hints of minerality alongside the fruit flavors. I love the elegance of its layers of honeysuckle, guava and melon offset by its clean, wet stone minerality. To create all these complexities Joel blended 80% Sauvignon Musque and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, and barrel fermented 25%.

When plans change at the last minute and we have an impromptu gathering to take advantage of one of those lovely warm evenings outside, I need to keep dinner plans super simple. We like to grill some halibut steaks, seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and finish them with this super simple but wonderfully flavorful Lime Butter Sauce, which I adapted from Gourmet magazine years ago. Serve with Amici Sauvignon Blanc and a balmy evening, and it’s a summer match made in heaven.

Lime Butter Sauce
1/2 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsated butter, melted

Puree garlic with lime juice, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth. With the motor running, add melted butter and blend until emulsified, about 30 seconds.


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April 20, 2012

Pancetta-Wrapped Salmon w/ Pesto Whipped Potatoes

Friend of the winery and well-known Napa Valley chef John Adamson developed this recipe specifically to pair with Amici Cellars Pinot Noir. The smoky richness of pancetta and salmon balanced by the bright fruit flavors in the Pinot Noir makes it an exquisite pairing. The basil pesto adds an additional layer of complexity that makes this dish one to serve when you need to impress your guests!

Pancetta-Wrapped Salmon with Pesto Whipped Potatoes

Recipe courtesy Chef John Adamson

Serves 4

  • 4 each Salmon Fillet (5-6 oz. each), skinned and pin boned
  • 8 slices Pancetta, sliced 1/16" thick
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
  • 4 each Russet Potatoes, medium (approx. 8 oz each), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • to taste Salt and White Pepper
  • 1 cup Pesto (see below recipe)

For the Salmon: Lightly salt and pepper the salmon. Carefully wrap the pancetta around the salmon fillets. Place a stainless steel or non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan has been heated, add the olive oil and wait for a slight smoky haze to rise from the pan. Immediately add the salmon. Cook the salmon for approximately three to four minutes on each side or until the pancetta has crisped. Continue to cook the salmon, turning to crisp all four sides.

For the Potatoes: Place the peeled and cut potatoes in a small stainless steel pot and completely cover with salted, cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until tender. In a separate saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Drain the potatoes and add them to the scalded heavy cream. With a potato masher, combine the potatoes with the cream and continue to mash until smooth. Add the salt and white pepper. Add the pesto, about a cup, folding it in until it is well blended. Place the pesto whipped potatoes on a warmed plate and top with the pancetta wrapped salmon.

For the Basil Pesto:

  • 2 bunch Basil Leaves, fresh, picked
  • 1 bunch Italian Parsley, leaves picked
  • 1 each Garlic Clove, medium
  • 1¼ cup Olive Oil, extra virgin
  • ¼ cup Pine Nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
  • to taste Salt and Pepper

In a large pot bring 4 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil. Fill a medium sized bowl with ice water and set aside. Plunge the basil and parsley into the boiling water, stir once, making sure the all of the basil and parsley leaves are blanched and the pour into a colander to drain. Immediately plunge the leaves into the ice bath and cool completely. With a lint free cloth, squeeze the basil and parsley of as much water as possible, making sure the herbs are very dry. Roughly chop the herbs and place into a blender with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Add the garlic and pine nuts. Pulse the blender three to four times. If the pesto is not blending easily, add additional olive oil. Run the blender for about twenty seconds, or until all ingredients are well blended. When the pesto is combined, remove it from the blender to a bowl and fold in the parmesan cheese. Cover the pesto tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated.

Serves 4 with enough pesto leftover to freeze.

*Note: commercially produced pesto can also be used, but the salt content of the pesto will likely be higher so adjust the seasoning of the potatoes and salmon accordingly.


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April 6, 2012

Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs

To celebrate the newest release of our flagship wine, the 2009 Amici Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, Chef John Adamson created this wonderful recipe for short ribs braised in Amici Cabernet. Don't skip the Parmesan Polenta--it's sinfully good!

Amici Cellars Cabernet Braised Short Rib with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Recipe courtesy Chef John Adamson

These succulent, fork-tender short ribs pair beautifully with Amici Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Serves 4

For the Short Ribs:

  • 4 short ribs, boneless (approximately 2 - 21/2 lbs)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 2 celery rib, sliced
  • 2 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup Amici Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 14.5 ounce diced tomatoes, canned
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 6 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 3 juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy 8-quart sauce pot over medium high heat; add the olive oil and short-ribs and brown the ribs evenly on all sides. (You could also do this over a wood fire, which would add a smoky dimension to the finished product.) When browned, remove the short ribs and set aside. Pour off any excess fat and return the pot to the stovetop. Add the onions, carrot and celery to the pot and cook until well caramelized. Add the garlic clove, dried oregano, and tomato paste and cook until the tomato paste is well distributed. Add the Amici Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, and deglaze any bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Reduce until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot, including the browned short ribs. Bring to a simmer, cover and place in the oven. If the liquid does not completely cover the meat, cut a round piece of parchment paper and place directly over the short ribs, and then cover. Cook for 21/2-3 hours, or until short ribs are tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. When they have cooled, remove the ribs from the braising liquid. Strain the liquid and then place ribs back into the braising liquid and keep warm.

For the Polenta:

  • 1 each Garlic Clove, minced
  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup Polenta
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock
  • ½ cup Parmesan Cheese
  • to taste Salt and Pepper

Add one tablespoon of butter to a heavy-bottomed four-quart saucepot. When butter is melted, add garlic and cook until just beginning to brown. Add milk and chicken stock and bring to a boil. In a slow and deliberate stream, whisk in the polenta stirring constantly. As the polenta begins to thicken, change out the whisk for a wooden spoon. Continue to cook until the polenta becomes creamy and begins to peel away from the sides of the pan when stirred. Finish with parmesan cheese and butter, stirring until butter is melted, and adjust consistency with additional milk or chicken stock as needed. Serves 4.


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