Roasted Cheese Pumpkin

This Roasted Cheese Pumpkin is will compliment any dinner as an appetizer especially now that fall has arrived!

Serves 8 appetizer servings

Ingredients:

  • Roasted Cheese Pumpkin 21 pumpkin, 4-5 pounds
  • 4 ounces smoked gruyere, shredded
  • 4 ounces swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup chardonnay
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • a few pinches/grates of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 112-inch baguette, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled but intact
  • Vegetable oil

Preparation:

Cut the top out of the pumpkin and scrape out the innards. Save the seeds for another use, if desired.

Toss the cheeses and thyme together in a bowl. In a large measuring cup or a bowl with a spout, combine the cream, milk, chardonnay, honey, nutmeg, and salt.

Toast the baguette slices and rub each slice with garlic. Lay a few baguette slices in a single layer inside the pumpkin. Top with some of the cheese mixture, then pour on some of the cream mixture. Repeat this until all of your ingredients are used up. (You might have a bit left over; no problem.)

Pop the top back on the pumpkin, place the pumpkin in an oven-safe dish of some kind, and coat the outside liberally with oil. Roast at 375 degrees for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the pumpkin is tender all over. Let it stand for about 15 minutes before diving in.

Serve with toast rounds, raw veggies (yeah, right), crackers, or pita chips. Try to scoop a little pumpkin onto each bite.

Roasted Cheese Pumpkin

Recipe and photo from www.Food52.com.

Don’s September Collector’s Series Top Picks

Reyneke & ValencisoThe Collector Series Top Picks are always fraught with angst, but here is goes.  My first Top Pick this month belongs to the folks at Reyneke and their elegant, flavorful, beautifully balanced 2011 Stellenbosch Syrah.  Reyneke’s 2011 Syrah is truly world class Syrah.  It exhibits the elegance and polish that one expects from top notch producers from France’s Rhône Valley as well as plenty of ripe fruit and a wonderful array of complex flavors.  This is South African wine at the top of its game, a wine to sip and enjoy with cheese or the best meal one can muster.

My second Top Pick is really a toss-up.  Valenciso’s 2011 Rioja Blanco is perhaps the finest white Rioja I have tasted in decades, but it is still young and in need of additional time in bottle to fully blossom.  Rustenberg’s 2010 John X. Merriman is another classic, a meritage or red Bordeaux blend that highlights how good South African wine can be and how dedicated many of the folks on Africa’s Western Cape are to making great wine.  Rustenberg’s John X. Merriman, also, outshines many red Bordeaux and California meritage offerings costing twice the price.  But like the Valenciso Rioja Blanco, it, too, is quite young.  So, decide if you’re in the mood for white or red.

A votre santé.
Don Lahey

Don’s September Premier Series Top Picks

Verdicchio GrapesThis month belongs to the fine white grape varieties of Italy.  Consequently, my first Top Pick goes to Tavignano’s 2012 Torre Villa Verdicchio.  Verdicchio is and always has been a better wine than the mass produced amphora shaped fish bottle that many came to associate with Verdicchio, and Tavignano’s delicious Torre Villa provides further proof of Verdicchio’s consummate charm.  Tavignano’s Verdicchio is a true crowd pleaser: pure, fresh, simple and elegant this delicious white wine delivers pleasure in every sip and slips down ever so easily.

My second Top Pick goes to Cantina del Taburno’s 2012 Greco.  The ancient Greco variety is one of the Amalfi Coast’s and Italy’s greatest white grapes and the folks at Taburno have truly raised the bar with their 2012 Greco – in my opinion their finest Greco to date.  This is a splendid wine to enjoy on its own or with seafood. This month’s red wines shine as well, but for September, I give the nod to Italy’s beautiful white wines.

A votre santé.
Don Lahey

Zinfandel: California’s Own Grape

Zin GrapesFor more than a century Zinfandel has run the gamut in California from boom to bust and back.  Brought to fore during California’s Gold Rush, the hills of Amador County still yield plenty of  the luscious, spicy, often chameleon-like grape we call Zinfandel.  Zinfandel is widely believed to be descended from Primitivo, a European varietal now cultivated in Italy, which happens to be identical in DNA to the ancient Croatian varietal Crljenak Kaštelanski.  This DNA match up confirms Zinfandel as one of the oldest continuously cultivated grape varieties in the world.  Yet, it wasn’t until Zinfandel traveled to America that it found its true home – California.  Although the first definitive California plantings of Zinfandel took place just prior to the middle of the 19th century, it didn’t take long for Zinfandel to gain favor in America, first with the 49’ers and then with the waves of Italian immigrants who made their way west.

Today, Zinfandel is widely acknowledged as America’s Heritage wine with more than 50,000 acres under cultivation, nearly all of it in California.  Although most important grape varieties have their reference points in Europe, Zinfandel bills itself as an American success story, and its history reads as the classic rags to riches tale. What has no doubt made Zinfandel so popular in America is the grape’s ability to adapt to different climates and treatments.  Zinfandel is a grape capable of producing rich intense red wines of more than 15% alcohol as well as light fruity “blush” wines.  What more can one ask for?  How about a glass and a bottle of Terra d’Oro’s 2010 Amador County Zin?

Salud!
Don Lahey

Grilled Pizza with Asparagus and Caramelized Onion

Grilled Pizza with Asparagus and Caramelized OnionFresh and fast, this will make an excellent first course or unique main course! Try using different seasonal vegetables for a quick meal year round! We paired ours with August’s Premier selection Lungarotti Torre di Giano Umbria Bianco 2012.

“For an out-of-the-ordinary first course, offer guests a wedge of this veggie-topped pizza with smoky flavor from the grill. Start with purchased fresh pizza dough; many supermarkets now offer fresh dough in their delis or bakeries.”

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups thinly vertically sliced onion
  • 2 cups (2-inch) slices asparagus (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced ready-to-use sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) portion fresh pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 5 minutes or until browned. Add asparagus to pan; cook 5 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Stir in tomatoes and salt.

3. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface; brush each side of dough with 1/2 teaspoon remaining oil.

4. Place dough on a grill rack; grill 1 1/2 minutes or until crust bubbles and is well marked. Reduce grill heat to low; turn dough over.  Arrange onion mixture over crust; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Cover and grill over low heat 3 1/2 minutes or until cheese melts; remove pizza from grill. Sprinkle with oregano and black pepper.

Recipe and photo from: www.MyRecipes.com