Friday, December 5, 2008

Red & White Wine Jams

There are sometimes when a bottle or bottles of wine are not finished in my apartment. This is rare, but after a big party there tends to be a few bottles of red left over that no one drinks and would otherwise go bad. I usually freeze the wine and use it for cooking in some vague future. That stockpile of frozen wine has built up. Thus these wine jams.

Wine and cheese, butter and popcorn, lamb and rosemary…these are a few of the iconic examples of ‘flavor pairings’; spices, libations or food combinations that enhance each other dramatically. You can pair almost any cheese with any kind of fruit preserve and its good! These jams just make it better.

Sauvignon Blanc, Chamomile & Pear Jam

Yield: 12 ozs.

5 Bosc Pears
1 ½ Bottles of White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Riesling)
½ Tbls Whole Coriander Seeds*
1 Tbls Whole Cardamom Pods
½ Vanilla Pod
½ Cup of Sugar
2 small Bay Leaves
1 Tbls Loose Chamomile Tea

1. Peel Pears and core. Coarsely chop and put into a small empty boiling pot.
2. Pour in the wine/s (you can use a blend of these 3 wines or just one varietal. I only used sauvignon blanc and it turned out great.). Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape the interior. Add the pod and scrapings into the wine and pears. Now put the stove on medium heat.
3. Shell the cardamom pods and crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle. Reserve.
4. Bouquet Garni: In a cheesecloth combine chamomile, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Secure the bouquet garni and add to the wine and pears.
5. Add the whole coriander plus the crushed cardamom seeds. Crank up the heat. Reduce by half.
6. After the pear/wine mixture is reduced by half, add ½ cup of sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon. At this point you should taste the jam. It maybe too tart, add more sugar. If you find that too much liquid is left in the pot AFTER you have added the sugar, reduce further. Add more sugar until the sweetness you desire is reached.
7. Chill and place in a jar

*I left the coriander seeds whole because once they cook for so long they soften up. Biting into a softened coriander seed with the pears is delicious. Plus it looks good in the jam. If it’s not your idea of ‘good’ then just grind it up in a mortar and pestle.

Pair this jam with a sheep’s milk Parmesan, Manchego or Gouda. Works well with roasted pork, Seared Wild Striped Bass or Black Cod or simply on toast in the morning.

Zinfandel, Herbs de Provence & Mixed berry Jam

Yield: 1 Quart
Time: 45 minutes-1 Hour

1 ½ Bottles of Zinfandel or Primitivo
½ Bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon
4 Containers of Blueberries*
2 Containers of Blackberries
½ Container of Raspberries
3 Tbls Herbs de Provence
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
4 Cloves
½ Tbls Allspice
2 bay leaves

1. Rinse all the berries and place into a 5-quart pot
2. Pour the wine into the pot. Turn the flame up to med-high heat.
3. Bouquet garni: Cinnamon. Cloves and bay leaves. Drop this into the simmering wine and berries. Add the Herbs de Provence.
4. Crank up the heat and reduce by half. Add sugar. If the mixture is still loose cook down further and stir with a rubber spatula keeping an eye on the heat. Do not allow the bottom to burn.
5. At this stage taste the mixture. If it is too tart, add more sugar. Remove the bouquet garni.
6. Chill and jar.

*Blueberries have pectin in them which is a natural gelatin. However, I used one Tbls of Knox dissolved in warm water and added it to the mixture before I chilled it.

Pair this with a Chicken liver pate or your turkey leftovers or cheese or toast or…you get the idea.

Chicken Liver Paté

My first experience with chicken liver pate was at the French Culinary Institute. A classmate of mine, Long Xiong was sautéing a ton of these nasty looking organs, and in a separate pot he was boiling all manner of trees and leaves. It was all chucked into a food processor and pureed. He spread it on toast points and I was reluctant to eat it, which usually isn’t my M.O., but I did and it was one of those tastes I’ll never forget.

A year and a half later, on Thanksgiving Day 2008 I tried to replicate Long’s pate. It was different but still lip-smackin’ good. It’s perfect with toast points and wine jam!


1 Quart Chicken Livers
2 Branches Rosemary
6 Branches of Thyme
6 Sage Leaves
2 Bay Leaves
1 Pint Heavy Cream
½ Large Yellow Onion, chopped fine
1 Cup Sherry or Port Wine
Salt & Pepper

Yield: ½ Qt. of Pate


1. Pour the cream, bay leaves and herbs into a boiling pot. Reduce by half on high heat.
2. While the cream is reducing, heat up some vegetable oil in a skillet until the surface is rippling. Sauté the chicken livers on med-high heat until the bottom side caramelizes (appx 5 minutes or less) flip and brown. Once both sides are browned, remove the chx livers from the sauté pan, lower the heat and add the chopped onions. Sprinkle with salt and sauté. Once the onions begin to brown, pour off any excess fat and deglaze with the sherry or port wine. Reduce by half on high heat.
3. In a large food processor, add chx livers, onion/sherry reduction, ¼ small teaspoon of salt and pepper. Pour in the reduced cream. Puree for 1 minute. Taste and adjust.
4. Set in chilled ramekins and place in the refrigerator for an hour.

Pan-Seared Chicken with Rutabaga Puree, Bacon & Diced Scallions paired with Cisco Breweries ‘Pumple Drumkin’ Spiced Ale

The Rutabaga. It’s gnarly looking and huge; bigger than the most feared pirate ever to sail the seas. Plus it’s really fun to say “Roo-tuh-bay-guh”. Root Vegetables are one of my favorite foods and an inside joke with my girlfriend and one of her best friends Meghan…I got shellacked on my birthday and came home ranting and raving about “Roo-OOT VEH-JUH-tuh-BullS” which I used to make a ravioli stuffing for culinary school on a previous night. I then, drunkenly started cooking under the watchful eye of my very concerned lady and demanded that everyone eat the ravioli stuffing. “No” was not an option. Anyways, I had never seen a rutabaga until recently at the Union Square Farmers Market. I had to have the biggest one and figure out what to do with it later.

When a chef doesn’t know what to do with something he or she usually puree’s it or it ends up in your Sunday brunch frittata as Anthony Bourdain points out in ‘Kitchen Confidential’.

Rutabaga pureed is like a smoother, richer mashed potato. However, it can have that bitter turnipy taste. To dull that bitterness down add a peeled potato (Big-ups to Sharlene for that trick), then either give the potato to the dog or chuck it out. It’s a worthwhile sacrifice. I am now a Rutabaga convert and found my enthusiasm is shared by such seemingly insane organizations as: The Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute & The Mangold Hurling Association who has been known to use Rutabaga’s for their competitions.

Beer pairings are popular right now and with the ever-growing number of microbreweries there are many selections available to you in a myriad of flavors. During the fall and winter pumpkin ales abound in the supermarkets. One you won’t be able to find (unless you’re in Nantucket) is the ‘Pumple Drumkin’. It is a super tasty spiced ale with few equivalents. Dogfish Head’s Pumpkin Ale is fantastic and could be substituted with this dish. Cisco Brewers make the usual styles of beer in an unusually delicious manner. The brew master, Jeff, is top notch and I urge anyone who enjoys microbreweries to check this one out. It is worth the traveling time.


½ a Chicken, skin on (for one dish)
Salt & Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Rutabaga Puree (Yield: enough for 4 dishes)

1 Large Rutabaga
1/8 Tspn Nutmeg
1 Tspn Cinnamon
¼ Tspn Allspice
2 Tbls Salted Butter
1 Potato

2 Strips of bacon per dish
1 Bunch of Scallions

Rutabaga Stock*
Black peppercorns
2 bay leaves


1. Cut off all the skin of the Rutabaga. Also, you should notice a white layer of flesh that is between the flesh and the skin about an 1/8 of an inch thick, cut that out too. Cut the rutabaga into cubes and place them in a 5 Quart pot filled ¾ of the way with water. Peel a potato and cut it in half. Add that into the water with Coriander Seeds, Whole Pepper corns and 2 Bay leaves. Bring to a simmer until the rutabaga can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove the rutabaga but keep the water simmering. Discard the potato. Reduce the rutabaga stock by half, strain and freeze for later use.
2. Remove the cooked rutabaga and place in a large food processor. Add spices. I used more nutmeg than an eighth of a teaspoon but season it according to the way it tastes good to you…which means, “taste and adjust”. Keep warm.
3. Dice up the scallions on a bias and start cooking the bacon.
4. While the Rutabaga is cooking, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add veg oil to a large sauté pan and put on med-high heat. When the oil is rippling and searing hot, add the chicken, skin side down to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes and check to see how golden brown the skin is, if it doesn’t look crispy delicious, then keep it cooking on that side. (Check the bacon.) Once the chicken is golden, flip it and cook for a minute and a half. Take the chicken out of the pan and let rest.
5. Spoon the Rutabaga puree onto a plate. Slice the chicken between the drumstick at the joint and plate. Garnish with bacon and scallions.
6. Drink with the ‘Pumple Drumkin’

*The Rutabaga stock is so sweet and delicious that it should not be thrown away. Use it for a chicken soup or Miso soup.