Homemade Gnocchi

2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes about 4 large or 8 small
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 egg whisked

Fill a large pot with cold water. If using large potatoes, cut them in half. Place in the pot and salt the water. Bring to a boil and cook 20-30 minutes, until they can be easily pierced with a paring knife.  Remove potatoes from water and let cool slightly on towels to absorb excess moisture. Once cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to peel the potatoes. Grate potatoes finely using a box grater or potato masher. Or use a potato ricer.  Spread the potatoes out and let cool enough so that the egg won’t cook when it is incorporated into the potatoes.  Sprinkle flour and salt over potatoes and using your hands make a well in the center. Pour egg into the well and combine ingredients using your hands. Lightly flour your surface and knead the dough, dusting with more flour as needed. Work the dough until it’s just smooth, being careful not to overwork it, about 2 minutes. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 24 inch long rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces, dust with flour, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper.

Cooking the gnocchi:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add gnocchi and cook until they begin to float (meaning they are done).  It should take around 90 seconds to complete cooking. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and pair with your favorite pasta sauce. Tomato based sauces pair well with a glass of Barbera.


Roast Rack of Lamb

Serves 4-6

1 lamb rack (8 chops)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp paprika
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Trim excess fat and thin outer covering from lamb rack, trim top inch of meat and fat covering from bones.  Score remaining fat in a diamond pattern. Combine salt, pepper, and garlic; mash into a paste. Add remaining ingredients and combine. Spread mixture over meat. Place lamb in roasting pan, fat side up (bones serve as rack) and roast at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  At 1 hour it will be medium rare. While the lamb is roasting baste occasionally with pan drippings.  Cut bottom ribs to release servings as chop portions. Reserve skimmed pan drippings as sauce.  For leg or flank cut double the amount of seasonings and roast 25 minutes per pound; 30 minutes medium well. Enjoy with a glass of Madonna Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon


Merlot Braised Short Ribs

6 bone-in beef short ribs about 5 3/4 pounds
1 onion
2 ribs celery cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 carrots peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 6oz cans tomato paste
2-3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 cups Merlot
1 bunch fresh thyme tied with a kitchen string
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
coarse ground black pepper
olive oil

Dry the ribs thoroughly with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Coat the bottom of an oven safe heavy pot or Dutch oven with olive oil and heat over high heat.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the short ribs and brown on all sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per side.  The pot should not be overcrowded.  If necessary cook the ribs in batches.  While the short ribs are browning, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Puree all vegetables and garlic in a food processor or blender until finely chopped into a thick paste.  Once browned, remove the ribs to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.  Drain the fat from the pot and add a fresh coating of oil. Add the pureed vegetables and season generously with salt.  Brown over high heat, without stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir, and let the vegetables brown for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the Merlot and, using a wooden spoon, scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan.  Stir occasionally, letting this mixture reduce by half.  Once reduced, return the short ribs and any accumulated juices to the pot along with enough water to almost cover the meat.  Add the thyme and bay leaves.  Cover your pot and place it in the hot oven. Allow to cook for 3 hours, checking periodically and adding more water if needed.  Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time, to allow the sauce to further reduce.  Transfer the ribs to a serving platter or dish.  Let the sauce and solids sit in the pot for a few minutes to cool and with a shallow spoon, skim off as much of the fat as possible from the surface.  Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper, and add the vinegar.  Serve the ribs on top of creamy polenta or mashed potatoes.


Cabernet Sauvignon Tri-tip Marinade

2-3 lbs Tri-tip Steak
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1-1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Teaspoon Salt
5 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
2-1/2 to 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
3 Sprigs Thyme (Dried-Use 1 Tsp)
1 to 1-1/4 Cups Cabernet Sauvignon

Mix ingredients together in medium-large mixing bowl.  In a covered pan or heavy duty resealable bag, combine marinade and steak & place in refrigerator. It should remain in refrigerator from 4-24 hours, with occasional turning. Remove meat and place on grill, reserving the marinate mix. Cook to desired doneness. (Approximately 25-30 minutes depending on grill temperature). Remove meat from grill and allow to rest 15-18 minutes. In a sauce pan, bring remaining marinade to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slice meat and top with the reduced sauce. Enjoy with a glass of our Cabernet Sauvignon.


Dark Chocolate Brownie Bliss

1 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (fine quality, no more than 60% cacao)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs
23 cup all-purpose flour
13 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa
12 teaspoon salt
34 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in center position. Butter and flour 13″ x 9″ pan. In a 3 qt heavy saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature. Whisk in sugar and vanilla into chocolate/butter combination. Whisk in eggs, one at a time until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In separate bowl combine Dutch process chocolate powder, flour and salt. Combine flour mixture with chocolate/butter and whisk thoroughly. Add chopped walnuts if using. Spread brownie batter in pan and bake for 25-35 minutes.  Cool completely. Pair with a glass of our Cabernet Sauvignon.


Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore with Pinot Noir

3 lb (6-8) chicken thighs
14 oz can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 large onion (sliced)
4 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
1 green bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 cup Pinot Noir
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp celery powder
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
1 lb farafalle (bowtie) pasta

Place all ingredients in slow cooker in no particular order except pasta, cornstarch, water and sugar. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours (chicken will fall apart).  It will not look like much liquid in the pot as much but after cooking for a few hours the juices from the chicken will change that. Do not add more liquid that the recipe calls for or it will be too much. Two hours before serving add sugar and stir. Twenty minutes before serving stir in well blended cornstarch/water mixture. Prepare pasta according to directions on the package. Place a few pieces of chicken on a bed of pasta and spoon desired amount of sauce over chicken and pasta. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan and enjoy!