One thing we learned last fall—which should have come as no surprise—is that winemakers are also foodies. Whether you’re looking for pairing ideas or elegant recipes that use wine as an ingredient, you can find plenty of both on Sierra winery websites.
In fact, here is our suggestion for a lovely romantic dinner for two—think Valentine’s Day—courtesy of one of our fall wine tour participants, Iron Hub Winery in Plymouth, Calif.
By Thea Marie Rood
Photo from iStock
Ginger and Black Pepper Salmon Steaks
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter 1 small shallot, minced (or 1 tablespoon of minced onion)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tomato (canned is OK) peeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup zinfandel
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup of chicken stock
salt and pepper
2 salmon steaks, fresh and wild-caught
1–2 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger
1–2 tablespoons of fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a small sauté pan over low heat. Add shallot and sauté for two minutes. Add garlic and tomato and continue to sauté until shallot is soft. Increase heat to medium, add wine and balsamic vinegar and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add chicken stock and continue cooking until volume is again reduced by half. Turn off heat and cover while preparing salmon.
Grate ginger into a bowl and mix in black pepper and olive oil.
Lightly salt salmon steaks and spread ginger-pepper mixture on both sides. Grill, sauté, or broil salmon until done (about 10 minutes total time per inch of thickness).
While salmon is cooking, reheat sauce to a simmer. Off the heat, whisk in one tablespoon of butter. After it is incorporated, whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter to get a creamy consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide sauce between two plates and place a salmon steak on each. Serve with roasted potatoes, steamed spinach, and an old vine zinfandel.
Iron Hub Zinfandel Brownies
1 cup zinfandel
10 ounces melted Ghirardelli 60% cocoa, dark chocolate squares
1.5 cubes unsalted butter
1.5 cups sugar
1/8 cup flour
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate double chocolate chips
In a saucepan, simmer wine to reduce by half, measuring 1/2 cup.
In another saucepan, melt together butter and chocolate squares, then in a mixer, beat together with sugar. With mixer on low, beat in eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to be incorporated. Beat at medium high for an additional five minutes or until mixture has lightened in color. Fold in reduced wine and vanilla, then flour and chocolate chips. Mix until fully combined.
Spread finished mixture in a buttered square baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes, rotating pan half way through bake time.
Brownies are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out with a sticky crumb.
Iron Hub of course recommends its own wines for these recipes, and their 2014 Clockspring, Old Vine and Esola zinfandels, released this past fall, are excellent choices with or in either of these dishes. Iron Hub also just opened its sleek new tasting room, with views of rolling hills, vineyards and the snow-covered Sierra out every window. Tasting room hours are Friday–Monday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. 12500 Steiner Road, Plymouth, CA, 209-245-6307, ironhubwines.com.