Portalis Staff Dreams Big for the Holidays

It’s a tradition! Every December we ask your lovely Portalis staff what they would like to drink for the holidays. Here’s what they said:

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Jens & Paul Reitz Vosne Romanee
Jens:  Ahhh, this year it’s Burgundy! I’d pick the Claude Nouveau Premier Cru or the Paul Reitz Vosne-Romanée, either one. Festive, beautifully-made wines. Cherry, dark fruit. They pair with everything. Always a class act!

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Rhiannon & Lagrein Riserva
RhiAnnon: You’ve corrupted me. My go-to was always my high-end Washington wines (which I love), but I’m going Old World this time: Burgum Novum Lagrein Riserva. When you take a sip of this wine, it will make you stop mid-sentence and think about what you are enjoying. Lesser-known varietal. It will knock your socks off!

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Travis & Stevenson Barrie PN
Travis: Stevenson – Barrie 2009 Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley! Great structure and acidity with lingering black cherry & cedar finish.

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Matt & Pelassa Barolo
Matt: This past year saw me get married in my personal life as well as learn to serve wine to the public in my professional life. In both cases, I’ve learned that patience is, in fact, a virtue. In this same vein, I would love to have  Pelassa’s 2007 Barolo, a wine beautiful now, and even more so in the years to come.

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Evann & Priorat
Evann: I’d choose the Bodegas Maset 2011 Mas Viló Priorat. The first time I tasted it I fell in love! It reminded me of cold weather and the holidays! A wonderful Christmas Dinner wine!

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Daniel & ferrer
Daniel: My pick for wine is Achaval 2007 Quimera. Because once opened up, it has lovely texture & complexity with a hint of plum, cinnamon & chocolate. This makes it an excellent winter wine!

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Tracey & Jean Veselle
Tracey: Same song, different year! Champagne! This year I’d go with the Jean Veselle Reserve if I had my choice. Cheers!

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Julie & Rauda Musai
: Probably because I want to go there, I’d choose a deep, dark, well-aged Spanish Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero. Since I lived in Germany in the early 1990’s I’ve dreamt of a trip through northern Spain. Now 20+ years later, it would be a wine trip through northern Spain. Sounds good, huh? My friend Catherine Reynolds (you can find her at the Spanish Table) once described wines from this part of Spain as ‘hedonistic pleasure bombs’. I can’t wait to try mine: Bodegas Rauda 2009 Musai de Tinto Roa. Cheers!

From our house to yours, happy holidays!
Jens, Julie + the Portalis team

Remembering Holidays Past

Holiday Recipes & Wine Pairings_2010
Three years ago, Chef Tracy got the idea to create a Little Book of Recipes. We got Jens to do the wine pairings, did a little research on how to create a beautiful, handmade book, and we were off with a lovely little book of Portalis recipes for the holidays. It flew off the shelves! It was such a hit that we have decided to post some of our favorite recipes from that wonderful little book, along with updated wine pairings. We hope you enjoy these delicious yet totally doable holiday home recipes. Cheers!

Gougères with Gorgonzola Mousse,
Red Grapes & Walnuts
~ paired with ~
Cave de Bissey Crémant de Bourgogne

Mâche Salad with Roasted Butternut
Squash & Cranberries
~ paired with ~
Castelfeder 2011 “Lahn” Kerner

Roasted Duck with Pomegranate Molasses Sauce,
Maple Sweet Potato Gratin &
Brussels Sprout Gratin with Hazelnut Crust
~ paired with ~
Domaine de Nalys
2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réserve

Sticky Toffee Pudding
~ paired with ~
Porto Kopke 20-Year Old Tawny Port

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Gougères with Gorgonzola Mousse, Red Grapes & Walnuts

Little Book of Recipes_Gougeres & Bissey

1 cup water
3 oz butter
1 tsp salt
pinch white pepper
pinch nutmeg
1 cup flour, 4 eggs, 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put water, butter, salt, pepper & nutmeg in a saucepan on medium heat and bring to simmer. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the paste is pulling off the sides of the pan. Take off the stove & stir in the parmesan cheese. Put mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment & mix on low until the steam stops coming out of the dough. Then add eggs (one at a time) scraping the bowl in between to incorporate eggs evenly into the dough. Then I put the dough in a piping bag and pipe onto a sheet pan, making them about the size of a quarter and placing them about 1½ inches apart. Bake for 20 minutes until golden in color & puffy. Note: if you don’t want to use a piping bag you can use a teaspoon to drop onto the sheet pan.

These gougeres can be served warm by themselves as simple little cheese puffs or you can cool them, cut off the top & fill them with anything you like. I like to fill them with a gorgonzola mousse:

Gorgonzola Mousse
8 oz crumbled gorgonzola (room temp)
4 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 Tbs butter (room temp)
red pear or red grapes & toasted walnut halves to garnish

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whip attachment, whip cream cheese on high speed until light & fluffy. Then slowly add the gorgonzola & whip until light & fluffy. Add butter & mix to incorporate.

Then cut the top off of the gougères and fill with the mousse.
(Again, I use a piping bag but you can use a spoon.) Garnish with red grapes cut in half or a slice of red pear and a piece of toasted walnut.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Mâche Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash & Cranberries

Little Book of Recipes_Salad & Kerner

2 medium butternut squash
1 cup dried cranberries
1 5-oz container of organic mache (usually with the bagged salad mixes in gourmet grocery stores; substitute spinach if you like)
pinch of nutmeg
1 oz olive oil

Peel butternut squash, scrape out seeds & medium dice. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the diced squash, olive oil, salt, pepper & a pinch of nutmeg in a bowl and put on a sheet pan. Roast for 7 to 10 minutes until squash is tender. Cool.  Then, in a salad bowl, toss the squash, mache & cranberries with the maple vinaigrette (recipe to follow), adding enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the salad.

I make candied walnuts as a garnish but to save time you can buy candied walnuts or pecans, which you can usually find in the bulk food sections of most grocery stores.

Maple Vinaigrette
¼ cup best quality maple syrup
1/8  cup sherry vinegar
1 tsp minced shallot
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
pinch of salt & pepper
½ cup olive oil

Place maple syrup, vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt & pepper in a bowl and slowly whisk in olive oil. You can also use a hand blender and drizzle in the olive oil to make a thicker, emulsified vinaigrette. Toss with salad immediately before serving.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Roasted Duck with Pomegranate Molasses Sauce

Little Book of Recipes_Duck with cherry molasses sauce & Nalys Reserve_v2

I recommend a pomegranate molasses sauce for its sweet & tart components as the perfect complement to the richness of the duck.

1 whole duck
½ cup kosher salt
2 Tbs sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice

This is a 2-day process, so you’ll need to plan ahead. First thing you want to do is wash the duck inside & out with cold water and pat dry with a towel. Then combine all other ingredients to make your salt rub. Rub inside of cavity with the salt rub & thoroughly rub the outside as well. Put on a sheet pan place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day wash the duck again in cold water to get the salt rub off & pat dry with a towel. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the duck on a roasting rack (breast side up) and roast for 10 to 15 minutes to crisp up the skin and render out some of the fat. Then turn the oven down to 250 degrees & roast for 3 to 4 hours, basting the duck every 30 minutes with the fat from the bottom of the pan. The duck is done when the leg moves easy at the joint.

8 cups pomegranate juice
1 sprig of sage
1 star anise pod
1 shallot (sliced)
1 tsp black peppercorn

Put pomegranate juice in a sauce pan on medium high heat. Bring juice up to a simmer & reduce by half. Then add sage, star anise, shallot & peppercorn and reduce on low until juice is thick like molasses.  Strain sauce & serve warm with the duck.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Maple Sweet Potato Gratin

1 lb Red Garnet sweet potatoes
1 lb yellow sweet potatoes
1 lb butter
2 cups Grade A maple syrup
1 cup pecans (chopped)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
½ cup cold butter (diced)

Melt 1 lb butter & maple syrup on medium heat until it begins to simmer, then take off the heat & set aside.  Peel & slice potatoes into ¼ inch slices.  Put into a bowl and toss with the maple butter mixture and salt & pepper. Put the potato mixture in a 10 inch round gratin dish, patting down to compress the potatoes. Put foil over the gratin & bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are baking, make the pecan streusel topping. Put the pecans, brown sugar & flour in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cold (½ cup) butter & pulse a few times until mixture resembles course bread crumbs. Then take the foil off the potato gratin, add the pecan topping & bake for 15 more minutes uncovered.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Brussels Sprout Gratin with Hazelnut Crust

1 lb Brussels sprouts
1 cup bechamel sauce (recipe to follow)
1 cup cave-aged gruyère (shredded)
½ cup skinned hazelnuts
½ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup butter (melted)

Bechamel Sauce
1 cup half & half
½  yellow onion
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
1 sprig thyme
1 garlic clove
pinch nutmeg
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour

To make the bechamel, put the half & half in a sauce pan and add bay leaf, clove, sprig of thyme, garlic clove & nutmeg and simmer for 15 minutes to infuse flavors. Strain and cool to room temp. Then in a sauce pan melt butter, add flour and stir with a whisk until a paste forms. Then slowly pour in the half & half while whisking over medium heat and continue to whisk until sauce thickens. Cool to room temp.

Wash Brussels sprouts in cold water & pull off the outside leaves. Cut the bottom off & then slice Brussels sprouts in a ¼ inch slice. Melt 2 Tbs butter in a sauté pan & add the Brussels sprouts. Cook on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until the sprouts are tender. Season with salt & pepper. Set aside in a mixing bowl.

Add the cooled bechamel & gruyere to your Brussels sprouts and fold together. Pour the mixture into a gratin dish. Put the hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse a couple times. Add the bread crumbs & butter and pulse again to combine. Crumble over top of the gratin & bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes until the edges are bubbling.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Little Book of Recipes_Sticky Toffee pudding & port

2 cups diced dates
2¼ cups water
1½ tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour an 8 inch square baking pan (2 inches deep), knocking out excess flour. In a 2 quart saucepan, simmer dates in water (uncovered) for 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and stir in baking soda. (Mixture will foam.) Let mixture stand at room temp for 20 minutes. In a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, ginger & salt. In a stand mixer beat together butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating after each addition until just combined. Add date mixture with a spatula and stir batter until combined. Pour batter into baking pan. Set pan into a larger baking pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the smaller pan. (This water bath insulates the cake so that it doesn’t heat up too quickly, causing the center to rise & crack.) Bake in middle of the oven until tester comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove pan from water bath & set on a rack to cool.

¾ cup plus 2 Tbs unsalted butter
1½ cups dark brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a 2 quart saucepan over moderate heat. Add the brown sugar and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream & vanilla. Simmer sauce until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.  Then serve warm pudding with warm sauce over it. I like to garnish with brandy whipped cream or the ice cream of your choice.

Hope you enjoy these recipes! Happy Holidays to you & yours!