Posts Tagged ‘recipes with wine recommendations’

Watermelon & Black Olive Salad

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

When watermelons are piled high at the supermarket ideas of summer picnics rush into my head. This unique recipe can be enjoyed as a side salad or I have thread watermelon cubes onto wooden skewers interchanging with black olives and the pour vinaigrette over top and serve as a kebab. Refreshing with a crunch and a zing!

Watermelon & Black Olive Salad

From Wish Magazine

For Salad:
4 cups seedless watermelon cut in ½ inch cubes
1/3 cup chopped black olives
1/3 cup chopped green onions


Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl & set aside.

For Vinaigrette
1 Tablespoon *garam marsala
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup olive oil

* garam marsala: An East Indian spice mixture that generally includes coriander seed, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, tumeric, nutmeg, cloves & cinnamon. Purchase a package of this spice mixture at an Indian grocery or health food store.


  1. Mix together all ingredients for vinaigrette.
  2. Gently mix in vinaigrette to cover watermelon.
  3. Chill until ready to serve.

What bottle of wine to uncork?

There are many flavours in this recipe. Best with something light & refreshing like a Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris (same grape, different name depending on wine region made) or a dry Rosé from France.



You’ve come a long way – Stoney Ridge celebrates 25 years

Posted by Derek

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Stoney Ridge Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

October brings with it a noticeable change in seasons as the leaves turn from green to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows.  We experience shorter days and longer nights as October is the month our clocks fall back an hour.  October is also the month were we enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with friends and family.  To celebrate the change in season, the extra hour of sleep and the last long weekend before Christmas the Savvy Team is excited to present to you wines from the Stoney Ridge Estate Winery.   


We are especially excited about this month’s Savvy Selections because Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath was able to meet and interview Jim Warren the original founder of Stoney Ridge and now is the General Manager of the winery. Many involved in the Canadian wine industry, Jim is a pioneer and mentor to aspiring winemakers. Jim & Stoney Ridge are celebrating a milestone this year as it is the winery’s 25th anniversary – all the more reasons to raise a glass of Savvy Selections wine!


The Savvy Selections tasting panel is thrilled to select the following wines crafted to commemorate the winery’s 25th anniversary:

·         Excellence Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2009

·         Excellence Pinot Gris VQA 2009

·         Petit Verdot VQA 2008


Derek was telling me that the tasting panel was excited to include a Petit Verdot.  This wine is unique because rarely is Petit Verdot produced as a single varietal.  It is usually used as a constituent in a blended wine as it provides additional colour and structure.  One of the many benefits of being a Savvy Selection member is that you get to experience different and unique wines such as this one! 


As always, the Savvy eZine includes the panel’s tasting notes along with recipes chosen to pair with these wines.  Check out the prosciutto asparagus chicken roulade – Derek swears by it as an easy way to impress your guests!


If you are in the Niagara area we encourage your to stop by Stoney Ridge.  The winery is also known as the Garden Winery because of the beautiful gardens interlaced into the property.  Visitors are encouraged to walk around and take in the beautiful gardens or check out the artisan cheeses in their cheese boutique.


You won’t find these wines at the LCBO!

Stoney Ridge does not have their wines on the store shelves at the LCBO, so feel free to contact me to arrange for additional bottles of your favorite Stoney Ridge wines or wines from any previous Savvy Selections. It’s easy to arrange  and best of all – we do all the work.     



Cheers, enjoy & Happy Thanksgiving!

Debbie & Savvy Team



Stoney Ridge Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath


Jim Warren’s entry into the wine industry started in a rather innocuous way when his wife bought him a home winemaking kit as a Christmas gift.  The rest, as the saying goes, “is history” and a rather serendipitous history at that as Jim has gone onto become a godfather in the Ontario wine industry.

Humble Beginnings
Stoney Ridge was opened in 1985 by Jim and a couple of business partners as a “fun thing to do”.  At that time operations were rather rudimentary so much so that they did not even have running water.  Despite the lack of some of the basic tools Jim and his partners persevered, guided by a simple principle of producing quality wines.  In its first year of operations the winery produced only 500 cases of wine.

Stoney Ridge quickly gained a reputation for producing quality wines and as a result became one of Canada’s most awarded wineries.

When it opened back in 1985 Stoney Ridge was only the 18th licensed winery operating in Ontario. Twenty-five years later the wine industry in Niagara is flourishing in large part due to pioneers such as Jim. 


An Industry Pioneer
Jim has all of the hallmarks of a pioneer.  He was one of the first to enter the fledging Canadian wine industry and continues to remain a staunch supporter of it.  He understood the need for a winery to produce quality products and the importance for a winery to consistently produce innovative products.  


A Spirit of Innovation
Jim has enthusiastically experimented with bringing new products to the market.  Some of Jim’s innovations include: Gewürztraminer Ice wine, peach wine and even a successful cranberry wine which the LCBO consistently carries.  In the words of Jim “if it can be fermented I will try and make a wine out of it”.


Quality Matters
Jim’s philosophy towards wine making is pretty simple and straight forward:

a)    Quality begins in the vineyard as a healthy vineyard and well tended to fruit will produce good grapes which in turn help make good wine

b)    The winemaker is the custodian of the vinification process (winespeak for winemaking). Therefore the wine maker must be proactive during the winemaking process by keeping an eye on the health of the wine.

c)     “Keep your options available” as Jim told me during the interview.  If you are going to make a blended wine make sure the blend is correct because once you blend a wine you can’t un-blend it.


Paying it Forward, a Lasting Impact
One of Jim’s forward thinking views was his involvement with Niagara College.  By profession Jim is a teacher.  As a result of being an educator before a winemaker, Jim saw a need to have an educational program specifically geared towards winemaking.  He was instrumental in working with Niagara College to create the Winery and Viticulture program.  (Coincidentally, next month’s Savvy Selections will feature Niagara College Teaching Winery)

The program at Niagara College is a lasting legacy as people now interested in becoming a professional winemaker can follow a formal educational training program.

Metaphorically speaking Jim has been involved in planting some of the important vines in the Niagara wine industry.  These vines are now beginning to bear great fruit from which we are all benefiting from. Cheers.

Here’s to Jim & the winery’s 25 year milestone…


Cheers & Enjoy!

~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Excellence Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2009, $23.00
The Stoney Ridge Sauvignon Blanc presented in this months Savvy Selection is on par with Sauvignon Blanc that you would find from New Zealand.  The grapes for the 2009 vintage were harvested at various times in order to capture different aspects of the grape which in turn provides the winemaker more options in crafting the wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This is a straightforward Sauvignon Blanc.  It is wonderfully crafted with expressive aromas of gooseberry, cut grass and citrus peel.  Dry on the palate the wine displays intensive flavours of green apple, grapefruit and citrus peel.  It has a long zesty finish in which the fruit flavours continue to remain intense.  What more could you ask for?    

Suggested Food Pairing:  It may seem a little complicated to make but following the tasting notes is a recipe for prosciutto asparagus chicken roulades.  The richness of the lemon tarragon sauce will pair nicely with the crisp acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc.

Cellaring: Sauvignon Blanc is not known for aging that is why we recommend enjoying this wine in the next 6 to 12 months.


Excellence Pinot Gris VQA 2009, $23.00

When it comes to Pinot Gris, Ontario is beginning to garner some attention.  This is attributed in large part to the quality that Stoney Ridge has crafted with their Pinot Gris grapes.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale lemon with a youthful nose of honeysuckle, peach and sweet spice. This medium-bodied wine is dry on the palate with expressive notes of green apple, peach and honey.  The acidity, concentration of fruit flavours and length of finish transpire to make this a quality wine.

Suggested Food Pairing:  The acidity and fruit characteristics in this wine would make it a great match with grilled shrimp or a charcuterie platter of artisan cheeses and meats.  To hang on to the summer barbeque season we have attached a recipe for grilled white fish fillets with a cucumber dill sauce.

Cellaring: This wine could keep for 12 to 18 months but why wait enjoy it tonight chilled.

Petit Verdot VQA 2008 $28.00
Consumers rarely see a single varietal Petit Verdot due to the fact that the grape is challenging to produce as it requires a long hang time (wine speak for it needs to stay on the vine for a long time before it ripens).  Savvy Selection subscribers are fortunate for two reasons #1: the growing season in Ontario in 2008 was such that it enabled the Petit Verdot berries to ripen #2: Stoney Ridge decided to craft a unique and different wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  The 2008 vintage offers a youthful bouquet of cloves, black current berries, vanilla and cedar.  The bouquet carries over to the palate as you experience black current, cedar and pepper notes.  This medium-full-bodied dry red wine has soft tannins and a decent length.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This wine would be a wonderful match with barbeque pork ribs or beef stew.  In keeping with the theme of “let’s hang on to summer” the tasting panel is recommending that you pair this wine with tenderloin steaks in a merlot sauce, the recipe for which follows.

Cellaring: This wine can be enjoyed with the Thanksgiving feast or can cellar for another 3 to 5 years.



~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Stoney Ridge Excellence Sauvignon Blanc…
Prosciutto Asparagus Chicken Roulades
From Canadian Living, April 2004 
Serves 4

16 asparagus spears

4 chicken breast (bone in skin on)
¼ cup (50 mL) loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves

8 thin slices of prosciutto

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter, melted

¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

cup (150 mL) chicken stock

cup (75 mL) dry white wine (or water mixed with 2 tsp / 10 mL white wine vinegar)
3 egg yolks

2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice

½ tsp (2 mL) cornstarch
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh tarragon



1.  Snap off woody end of asparagus.  In a pot of salted boiling water, blanch asparagus until colour brightens and still crisp, about 2 minutes.  Drain and chill under cold water; drain again.


2.  Starting at thick end of each breast and keeping knife angled towards bones, run knife between flesh and bones to remove bones.  Place, skin-side down, between plastic wrap.  With heavy pan or meat pounder, pound to flatten to generous ¼ – inch (5 mm) thickness.


3.  With fingers, gently loosen skin from flesh; place one-quarter of the tarragon leaves under the skin of each breast.  Turn and place 2 slices prosciutto over flesh.  Place 4 asparagus spears along 1 edge of each breast; roll chicken around asparagus ensuring skin covers all around.  Secure at edge with tooth pick.  Place, seam side down, in small roasting pan; brush with butter and sprinkle with salt.  Pour in stock and wine.


4.  Roast in 375° F (190°C) oven until chicken is no longer pink in centre, about 30 minutes.  Baste with pan juices.  Broil until skin is golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer to platter; keep warm.


5.  Pour pan juices into measuring cup; skim off fat.  If necessary, add more stock to make ¾ cup (175 mL).  Pour into small sauce pan; bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, in a heat proof bowl, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, cornstarch and pepper; stir in chopped tarragon. Slowly whisk in boiling juices.  Return to sauce pan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and without boiling, until thick enough to coat spoon, about 3 minutes. Serve with chicken.

With Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Gris
Grilled Fish Fillets with Cucumber Dill Yogurt
From LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, Early Summer 2006,
Serves 4

Ingredients – Cucumber Dill Yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded if necessary and diced

1 cup (250 mL) plain yogurt

2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh dill
½ tsp (2 mL) grated lemon zest
2 tsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Ingredients – Fish
4 thin fish fillets (trout, tilapia, pickerel, halibut)

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
2 tsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1.    For the Cucumber Dill Yogurt, place a cucumber in a sieve and sprinkle with 1 tsp (5 mL) salt.  Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes.  Press out moisture and pat cucumber dry.  Transfer to a bowl.  Add yogurt, oil, dill, lemon zest and juice.  Toss gently to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or for up to 1 day.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


2.    For the fish, preheat the grill to medium-high.


3.    Cut 4 pieces of foil slightly larger than the fish fillets and fold up edges to create a rim.  Place 1 fish fillet on each piece of foil.  Combine oil and lemon juice and brush over fish (over both sides if skinless).  Season with salt and pepper.  Slide foil piece onto baking sheet and then onto grill, removing sheet.  Grill fish, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness, until just cooked through (or broil about 6 inches/15 cm away from heat).

With Stoney Creek Petit Verdot….
Tenderloin Steaks with Merlot Sauce
From Eat Well, Lose Weight – Better Homes and Gardens,
Serves 4


2 tsp (10 mL) cracked black pepper
4 beef tenderloin steaks, cut 1 inch thick
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
½ cup (125 mL) finely chopped onion
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) snipped fresh thyme or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme, crushed

½ cup (125 mL) Merlot or other dry red wine or lower-sodium beef broth

2 tbsp (30 mL) lower-sodium beef broth or water



1.     Use your fingers to press pepper onto all sides of the steak.  In a large skilled heat oil over medium heat.  Add steaks to skillet; cook until desired doneness, turning once.  Allow 10 to 13 minutes for medium-rare doneness (145°F) to medium doneness (160°F).  Transfer steaks to a serving platter; keep warm.


2.     For sauce, add onion, shallot and dried thyme (if using) to drippings in skillet.  Cook and stir for 4 to 6 minutes or until onion is tender.  Add Merlot and broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Boil gently for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced by about half.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme (if using).  Spoon sauce over steaks.





Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!









The family is deeply rooted in its vineyard at Cattail Creek

Posted by Derek

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Cattail Creek Family Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

For me the Labour Day long weekend marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall, however as I write this Savvy Selections eZine, I have a feeling that summer is not quite ready to step aside. I hope many of you were able to spend time outside enjoying the summer of 2010, either lying on a dock by a lake or relaxing in a lounge chair by a pool always with a glass of wine near by.   


For Ontario’s grape growers and winemakers, 2010 is shaping up to possibly be one of the best vintages on record. Some predict that the 2010 harvest will be better than the outstanding 2007 vintage.  Mother Nature got things off on the right foot with an early start to spring.  That early start combined with long hours of sun, great temperatures and just the right amount of rain has helped in producing great grapes…and great grapes go a long way in helping a winemaker craft great wine.      


The Savvy Team is excited to bring to you wines from the Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery.  A name you may recognize as we featured Cattail in the Savvy Selections when they opened in December 2007.  At that time the proprietors Roselyn and Andrew Ciezkowski had fulfilled their dream of a family run winery.  Three years later, Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath caught up to Andrew to find out how the winery has grown.


Choosing the wines to feature is hard work (OK…loads of fun too!). Our tasting panel included a team of Savvy Sommeliers Julie, Doug and Derek who were joined by Savvy Selections subscribers Heather & Bill and Nancy & Paul.  In fact Heather & Bill kicked off their wedding anniversary ‘date night out’ by joining us for the tasting then headed off to a romantic dinner afterwards.  These “Savvy Sippers” diligently tasted, analyzed and discussed the range of Cattail Creek wines.  Our hard work and tireless effort (wink, wink) resulted in choosing the following wines for you to enjoy:

·         Chardonnay Musqué VQA 2009

·         Merlot VQA 2008

·         Cabernet-Merlot VQA 2006


Accompanying each wine are the panel’s tasting notes along with recipes specifically chosen to pair with these wines.


Would you like to join us for the monthly Savvy Selection tasting panels? 

Keep watching your inbox for your invitation! It’s fun, no cost to you and best of all, educational as you get to enjoy a structured tasting with our accredited Savvy Sommeliers. We enjoy meeting our subscribers and getting feedback about the wines that we deliver to you each month.


Anytime you would like more Cattail Creek wines or previous Savvy Selections, simply contact me to arrange an order for you.  



Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Cattail Creek Family Estates

Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath


Andrew Ciezkowski, is a busy guy – so busy that it took me almost 2 months to finally catch up with him to interview him for this Savvy eZine!  Understandably, when you are the owner of a growing family business, you are always on call to be the chief, cook and bottle washer.  Or in the case of Andrew the sales rep, the marketing manager, the delivery guy and the grounds keeper.

Owning a winery often has a certain air of glitz and glamour. At times there is definitely some of that to be enjoyed. However, as with any small business, when the work needs to be done the owners have no other choice but to roll up their sleeves. During our first interview Andrew had just arrived home from cleaning up the winery parking lot, while his wife Roselyn had been called back to the vineyard to help prepare for the harvest.

During our second interview Andrew was multi-tasking as he packed the Savvy Selections readying them for shipment. “It never seems to stop”, says Andrew, “we continue to receive incredible accolades, awards & are certainly gaining a good reputation for wines – all great news for our small business.”

Cattail began operation in 2006 with their first vintage released in 2007.  I was curious to know what had changed at the winery since they first started operations. Andrew sums it up, “In one word…LOTS!”

For starters production size has changed significantly.  In its first year, they produced 1,800 cases. Now, three years later, Andrew is projecting that production will be reach approximately 4,600 cases.

Andrew recently changed his career. In March, he left his job as the Canadian Head of Sales & Marketing for Boisset (the 3rd largest wine company in France and the largest in Burgundy) because the operations at Cattail had rapidly grown to such a level that he was required to be there full time.   

Another change…a new winemaker. Colin Ferguson joined the Cattail Creek Family in 2009.  His wine making skills have been honed through a combination of hands-on training and formal education.  The “hands-on” component came by way of a two year stint in Bordeaux, France while Colin’s “formal education” was gained as a a graduate of the Niagara College Winery and Viticulture Technician Program. 

A new winemaker brings new energy and a new style and according to Andrew, “Colin has a style that lends itself to being more Old World in nature due to the fact that he spent two years in Bordeaux.”   


Not all things have changed…in fact some things have remained the same. 
Roselyn’s family has been growing grapes since 1957 and continues with no intention of changing that anytime soon.  The family has been able to capitalize on their wealth of grape growing knowledge and experience over the three generations, understanding what vines thrive in their vineyards.  This intimate knowledge results in high quality fruit year after year. 

The size of the vineyard remains constant.  Cattail has 100 acres under vine and according to Andrew, they keep 15% to 20% of the harvest for Cattail wines – selecting premium grapes – then sells the remainder of the fruit to other Niagara wineries as they have practiced for many years.

Cattail Creek’s approach to winemaking has not altered.  Always striving to produce the best quality wine in which all aspects of the finished product are well balanced.  As Andrew explains, “our philosophy is to produce the best wine that is expressive of the terroir and displays the ingenuity of the winemaker”.

Another constant is the family’s reputation.  For generations they have built a reputation for growing quality grapes for other wineries and now, Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery is growing their reputation as being a quality boutique winery.  Cheers!


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Chardonnay Musqué VQA 2009, $17.00
Chardonnay Musqué is a clone of the Chardonnay grape varietal that is intensely aromatic – similar to that of Muscat grapes.  2009 marks Cattail’s third vintage of this unique wine and is one of the first wines crafted by their new winemaker Colin Ferguson.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale lemon in colour with intense aromas of pear, white peach and pineapple.  What you smell in the glass continues through on the palate as your taste buds are awarded with a generous portion of ripe tropical fruit complemented by a hint of spice.  This off-dry medium bodied wine is well balanced with a rich mouth feel and a lingering fruity finish.  It’s the way late summer should taste and at $17 a bottle, this is a great value. 

Suggested Food Pairing:  A light curry dishes or stuffed pork tenderloin would be an excellent food pairing.  For a vegetarian option we recommend a baked polenta casserole – recipe follows.

Cellaring: Chardonnay Musqué is a varietal that is designed to be consumed relatively early.  You can enjoy it now or you can keep a few bottles on hand to be savored again next summer


Merlot VQA 2008, $18.00

2008 provided for a long growing season thus enabling the berries in the grape bunches to slowly attain high levels of ripeness. The result of well ripened fruit is more natural sugar in the grapes – beneficial in the wine making process.  This Merlot was barrel aged in French oak imparting soft and subtle flavours.  After 8 months in oak, the Cattail winemaking team noted that the wine had developed sufficient structure and complexity, both from an aroma profile and tasting profile – it was definitely ready for bottling.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Bright ruby red with floral notes (our tasting panel noted lavender and violets – can you find these?), accented with aromas of stewed plums and dark chocolate.  The wine is balanced with soft tannins and an intense concentration of flavours, both on the nose and on the palate. Medium bodied with decent length that leaves the inside of your mouth feeling silky.

Suggested Food Pairing: This Merlot is begging to be enjoyed with grilled red meats or penne pasta in a Bolognese sauce.  For an international flare, try Korean flank steak – recipe below, it’s easy and tastes absolutely amazing.

Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now or could be cellared for 2 to 4 years.

Cabernet Merlot VQA 2006 $17.00

Unlike fashion, wine never goes out of style.  Why do I say that?  Well, believe it or not the 2006 Cabernet-Merlot that was selected by the September 2010 tasting panel was also one of the Savvy Selections featured wines in December 2007. And unlike the bell bottom pants of the 1970’s or the big hair and even bigger shoulder pads of the 1980’s this wine has some serious staying power!  It’s a blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot and was aged in a combination of American and French oak for approximately 8 months.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Garnet red with a noticeable brick coloured rim (a typical sign of aged wine).  The nose is complex with aromas of cedar, vanilla, dark fruit and stewed plums.  Dry on the palate with a level of acidity that balances well with the fruit.  The tannins are still noticeable but are beginning to integrate nicely. The wine is full bodied with a medium length finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Although we are not trying to hurry the seasons along, the Savvy Selections tasting panel unanimously recommended that this wine would by dynamite with a fall or winter stew. So in keeping with that theme accompanying is a receipt for Spiced Braised Pork with Pan-Roasted Root Vegetable & Gremolata.  For those people that don’t know or are too afraid to ask (and I am one of them) gremolata is a chopped herb condiment typically made of garlic, parsley, and lemon zest  According to Savvy Selections subscriber Heather who joined us for the tasting panel, this recipe is a little work but is definitely work the effort (Thanks Heather for sharing the recipe!).

Cellaring: Enjoy now or cellar for no more than another 3 to 5 years.



~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Cattail Creek Chardonnay Musqué…
Baked Polenta Casserole
From Heart Smart, the Best of Heart Smart Cooking, Bonnie Stern
Serves 8 to 10
Ingredients – Polenta
5 cups (1.25L) water
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
1½ cups (375 mL) cornmeal (regular or quick-cooking0

Ingredients – Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch hot red pepper flakes
2 28-oz (796 mL) cans plum tomatoes, with juice
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ lb (250 g) light ricotta cheese, broken up
¼ cup (50 mL) basil pesto
¾ cup (175 mL) grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp (25 mL) grated Parmesan cheese


1.  In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Slowly add cornmeal to boiling water in a thin stream, whisking constantly.  Reduce heat and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes for regular cornmeal and 5 minutes for quick-cooking, until thickened and tender.  Stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.


2.  Pour polenta into an 8 x 4 inch (1.5 L) loaf pan that has been lined with wax paper.  Chill for a few hours or over night.


3.  To prepare sauce, heat oil in a large, deep non-stick skillet on medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook gently for 5 to 8 minutes or until mixture is very fragrant and tender.


4.  Add tomatoes and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until thick.  Puree sauce.  Add pepper, salt and parsley.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.


5.  To assemble, unmold polenta and cut loaf into ½-inch (1cm) slices.  Cut each slice on diagonal.  Spoon about 1 cup (250 mL) tomato sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9 inch (1.5 L) baking dish).  Arrange overlapping slices of polenta on top of sauce.  Dot with ricotta and pesto.  Spoon remaining tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan.


6.  Bake in a preheated 375° F (190°C) oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is slightly golden and casserole is bubbling.  Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


With Cattail Creek Merlot….
Korean Flank Steak
From Welcome to Jill’s Table, Jill Wilcox
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients – Marinade
2lbs flank steak
2 tbsp (30 mL) low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) sesame oil
3 green onions, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) rice wine or sherry
1 tbsp (15 mL) ginger, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) toasted ground sesame seeds
2 tsp (10 mL) brown sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) chili paste (optional)

Ingredients – Sauce
3 tbsp (45 mL) low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) sesame oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
2 tbsp (30 mL) rice wine or sherry
1 tsp (5 mL) toasted sesame seeds
1 green onions, minced
1 small cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) chili paste
2 tsp (10 mL) sugar


1.    Lightly score the flank steak and then place in a zip lock freezer bag.


2.    Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl, whisk and then pour the contents of the bowl into the freezer bag containing the flank steak sealing the bag.


3.    Lightly kneed the sealed bag so that the flank steak is fully coated with the marinade. 


4.    Refrigerate for at least two hours.


5.    Preheat a grill and grill for 5 to 7 minutes per side.


6.    Remove from the grill, loosely tent with foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.  Slice the steak very thinly, against the grain.


7.    For the sauce combine all ingredients in a bowl.  It can be made ahead and stored in a jar in the refrigerator).



1.    For best results the grill should be very hot for best


2.    Never grill past medium rare or meat will be tough


3.    Slice the steak very thinly against the grain.



With Cattail Creek Cabernet Merlot….
Spiced Braised Pork with Pan-Roasted Root Vegetables & Gremolata
This recipe was highly recommended by Heather – a Savvy Selections subscriber who participated in the tasting panel. 

Notes from Heather: the meal is quite complicated and requires a lot of up front planning, but it is well worth it.  

Source: Well Fed web site


Ingredients – Pork seasoning
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
3 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch chunks
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano plus 3 whole sprigs
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

Ingredients – For the braise
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion (about half a large onion)
1/4 cup diced carrot (1/3 a medium carrot)
1/4 cup diced fennel (1/4 a medium fennel bulb)
2 bay leaves
1 chile de arbol, crumbled
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups veal stock
1 lemon
4 to 6 sprigs fresh cilantro

Ingredients – For the pan roasted root vegetables
3 medium carrots, peeled
3 medium parsnips, peeled
3 medium turnips
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup shallots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

Ingredients – For the gremolata
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves (about 1 teaspoon) minced garlic


1.     Toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a skillet over medium heat until they release their aroma and are slightly browned.  


2.     Place the seeds in a spice mill or a mortar and pulse or pound until coarsely ground.  The texture is better from using a mortar and pestle.  


3.     Place the pork in a large bowl and sprinkle with the crushed cumin, coriander, and fennel as well as the cayenne, the crushed garlic and oregano leaves and sprigs and the thyme leaves.  Using your hands, toss well to make sure everything is coated well.


4.     Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate overnight.


5.     Take the meat out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.  After 15 minutes, season it on all sides with 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt and some black pepper.  Reserve the crushed garlic and the oregano sprigs.


6.     Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.


7.     Heat a large Dutch oven over very high heat for 3 minutes.  Pour in the olive oil and wait a minute or 2, until the pan is almost smoking.  Place the meat in the pan, being careful not to over crowd it.  Sear the meat until well browned and caramelized on all sides.  Adjust the heat if it seems like the pork is getting too dark.  After the meat is browned remove from the pan and reserve on a plate while you continue with the rest of the pork.  


8.     Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, carrot, and fennel.  Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the brown crusty bits left in the bottom of the pan.  Stir in the bay leaves, crumbled chile de arbol, and the reserved garlic and oregano sprigs.  Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables start to caramelize


9.     Pour in the white wine and reduce by half, about 5 minutes.  Next, add the stocks and bring to a boil.


10.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel off long strips of zest from the lemon.


11.  Turn off the heat and add the browned pork to the pot.  Tuck in the lemon zest strips and cilantro sprigs. 


12.  Cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil and place on the lid.  Put in the oven and braise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.


13.  While the meat is braising, you can prep the root vegetables.  Cut off the stem and tip of the carrots and then slice in half lengthwise.  Place the carrot halves cut-side down and slice on an angle into 1/4 inch thick pieces.  Do the same thing to the parsnips.  To prep the turnips, cut of the stem and root ends.  Cut the turnips into quarters and then slice each quarter into small wedges approximately the same thickness as the carrot and parsnip pieces.


14.  Next make the gremolata.  Place the lemon zest on a cutting board and top with the parsley and garlic.  Chop the whole mixture together until very fine.  Set aside.


15.  Back to the pork.  To test the meat for doneness, remove the lid foil being careful of the steam and spoon out a piece of meat.  It should yield easily with the tip of a knife and almost fall apart.


16.  Turn up the oven to 400 degrees F.


17.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the pan and place on a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Return the pork to the oven to caramelize, about 10 to 15 minutes.  


18.  Meanwhile, place the Dutch oven over high heat and reduce the braising liquid to a thick sauce.  Taste for seasoning.


19.  While this sauce is thickening and the meat is caramelizing, you should pan roast the vegetables.  Heat two large skillets over high heat for 2 minutes.  Swirl in the olive oil and wait 1 minutes.  Divide the carrots, parsnips and turnips between the 2 pans and season with 1 teaspoon of pepper 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and the thyme.  Stir the vegetables to coat with the oil then cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables have just started to brown.  


20.  Add the butter and sauté another 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add the shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue to cook until the shallots are soft and the vegetables are tender, about 5 more minutes.  Combine the vegetables into 1 of the pans and toss with half the gremolata, reserving the rest for garnish.


21.  Spoon the pork onto a large platter and pour over the reduced sauce.  Scatter the gremolata coated pan-roasted root vegetables over the top of the pork and then sprinkle with the remaining gremolata.





Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!