Sunday Lunch

A gathering of our growing family, once a week, where we bicker, share laughter, stories, and catch up on everyday life, coined by us as “Sunday Lunch”.

Sunday Lunch is a very special time I look forward to each week.  Our immediate family including 4 children, one spouse, brother in law and a grandmother, plus periodic showings by friends, relatives and girlfriends.  We include at least 8 people each week.

Most Sunday’s  begin with a visit to various supermarkets to pick up the essential ingredients for Sunday Lunch.  Upon arrival home I turn on the music, open and decant multiple bottles of wine to be served with lunch and begin to prep the food for our feast.  It usually takes 2 – 4 hours to prepare and cook our meal and people start arriving between 1 and 2 pm.  It begins with a cacophony of banter and play fighting between our eldest who is married and our youngest, who has to prove he is finally stronger than she.

The first to arrive is my wife’s brother, the only early arrival, ever.  My mother shows up exactly in time to sit down, not a moment earlier and the married children, well they have yet to learn to read a clock!

Once all have arrived, we usually start around 2:30.  Often we squeeze around the kitchen table but on occasion when we hit 9-10 people we move to the dining room.  Meals vary in style and selection but Italian food is predominant, given my penchant for loving everything Italian.  We eat, drink, laugh and chit chat for a few hours.  The meal is always large as anyone could expect in an Italian home, complete with homemade desserts and espresso, more often than not followed by a digestivo such as Amaro.

Throughout this blog, we will recant not only our fun filled afternoons, but focus on the foods we prepare and eat.  We will include recipes and videos as often as possible, as  my son has become quite the videographer.  We will talk about the food in detail,  the wine (of course!) we have chosen to drink with this meal.  Why did we choose this wine?  What makes it so perfect a match for not only the meal but for us?  We hope everyone reading this blog will come to see that wine is a big of every Italian household meal.  There will be pictures and pictures of the food, the wine and wonderful deserts, which are prepared by my wife,  which are often times even gluten free (though you may be surprised when you see it.)  We may even include stories of various European visits, which almost always revolve around food and wine.

The most important take-away I hope everyone gets from this blog, will be to convey what a short time we spend on this planet. I think the most important anyone can do in life is  to slow down, take a breather and just sit, relax and laugh with the most precious part of your life, your family…  or as we say in Italian, La Famiglia!     

Ala Nera Nero D’Avola

The Ala Nera has a beautiful nose full of wild berries and baking spice. The aromas of clove and pepper carry over to the palate, which is bursting with fresh cherries and raspberries. Food Pairing Pizza with sausage and caramelized onions, Bologonese, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs.  

Stuffed Sicilian Eggplant

This is a recipe I created after eating something similar in Sicily, while drinking an inexpensive Nero D’avola.

The wine was from a small vineyard only 10 km away from the town and was fresh and delicious.  It paired perfectly with this dish.

Cut egglants horizontally down the middle and scoop out the soft seedy inside with a spoon into a bowl and save.  Cut up peppers, onions, carrots, garlic and celery into small chunks and saute’ for a few minutes in olive oil.  Add the insides of the eggplant to this and continue to saute’.  Next add salt and a small amount of balsamic vinegar.  When the ingredients are starting to soften, remove from heat.   Scoop the vegetables into the precut eggplants until a nice mound has been formed over the top.  Place on baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and put in preheated oven at 400 degrees.

Check the egglants after 20 minutes and again every 5 – 10 minutes until done.  The skin on the outside will soften and the top of the vegetables will start to crisp.  Remove from over, sprinkle with grated cheese if desired and more olive oil.  Serve with a simple glass of Nero D’avola!  Buon Appetito

Banshee Mordecai

Banshee Mordacai is a cool red blend from California featuring mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Red Zin, the blend is rounded out with Merlot, Carignan, Cabernet Franc and Cinsault. The wine exhibits red and blue fruits with spice and dried herbs on

the nose, similar to a wine from the Rhone valley of France.  The wine is distinctly California on the palate, lush fruit and just the right amount of tannins and acidity to give it nice structure and a strong backbone.
If you love this wine try the Ramey Claret for a special occasion or the Charles & Charles Cab Syrah blend for an everyday sipper.

Casa Cadaval Padre Pedro Tinto

Casa Cadaval’s Padre Pedro is an amazing value wine that hails from the Tejo region of Portugal, the family has a history of making wine dating back to the mid 1600’s.   The wine is a red blend of Trincadeira, Aragonez, Cabernet Sauvignon 

and Merlot.  Padre Pedro is a well balanced wine that features a blend of red and blue fruits and a touch of baking spice on the nose, the palate is full of candied cherry and raspberry with hints of cocoa and spice.  The finish is long with just the right amount of acid and and well integrated tannins, this is the perfect wine to pair with duck and roasted red meats. 

Polenta and Baked Grouper

Baked grouper on a bed of polenta covered in a red vegetable sauce medley.

This sounds like a winter meal and it is, but try this in the summer with a chilled bottle of Padre Pedro, a red blend from Portugal, our featured wine of September 2017.  It pairs well with the creamy polenta, the vegetable and yes, even the fish!

In a sauce pan begin with garlic and olive oil, then add carrots, celery, onions and a few cut up tomatoes.  Cook down until the vegetables soften just slightly.  Next add a can of either chopped or pureed tomatoes along with chopped fresh parsley and salt.  Cover and simmer until the rest of the meal is ready.  

While this is simmering cook the grouper in the oven at 400 degrees.  Season the grouper with lemon and salt and add some white wine to the pan.

In a large saucepan, cook the polenta.  Polenta is just cornmeal cooked in boiling salted water.  You should add a generous amount of butter when cooking also.  Directions are usually on the package.  You simply boil the water, add the butter and salt, then whisk the polenta into the water very slowly and you must keep whisking so the polenta does not clump.  Whe

n it is no longer grainy or hard it is ready.

Add a large spoon of polenta to a plate, create a crater in the center with the ladle.  Place a piece of the grouper on top of the polenta then ladle some of the vegetable mixture on top. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and drizzle with olive oil.

Buon Appetito!

July Featured Wine: Bieler Rosé

Robs Review

Bieler Pere et Fils Rose

 

This fantastic Rose from Provence France is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Rolle.  This classic style rose features beautiful notes of raspberry and strawberry with a mid palate of floral and citrus.  The finish has nice minerality and refreshing acidity creating a well balanced wine.  Enjoy the Bieler rose all throughout these summer months, it is perfect with light fare, and all by itself.    

 

Light Fare for a Bright Rose’

Rose’ is such a summer time wine; it’s fresh and delicious!  This is a light fare I had with the Bieler Rose’ and it was just perfect.  The summer is here celebrate with simple food and bright Rose’ from Provence, the Rose’ capital of France and the world!

Frittata

Frittata

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scramble 6 – 8 eggs, add a little coconut milk and set aside.  In a cast iron skillet, saute a little garlic and olive oil and whatever vegetables 

you desire.  After few minutes, pour the eggs into the skillet and cook on stovetop for only a few minutes so the eggs set.  Then move the skillet to the oven and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes.  Check to see if done with a toothpick.  Remove and let cool to room temperature.  Remove entire frittata from pan gently and place on round plate and add fresh arugula and cherry or grape tomatoes to the top.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and serve room temperature.

Caprese

This is an easy summer dish, it is just tomatoes and mozzarella.  Use whatever tomatoes and mozzarella you have and it can be prepared in a bowl with small tomatoes and small mozzarella balls or you can use gigantic slice

Caprese

s of each on a plate, or anything in between.  The key is FRESH BASIL.  Once plated, add salt and olive oil, but just a touch then use fresh basil, cut lengthwise and sprinkled on top.

Shrimp Scampi

This is super easy and delicious and goes well with Rose’.  Clean and prepare shrimp and place in a baking pan.  Chop a generous amount of garlic and put in small mixing bowl with olive oil, lemon and either parsley or basil (your choice but please use fresh).  Mix together until it looks slightly congealed then pour over the shrimp.  Add just a little white wine as well to the

Shrimp Scampe

shrimp.  Put in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Check to see if done, remove and plate, add more fresh herbs to the

June Featured Wine: Fontaleoni Vernaccia Di San Gimingano

Vernaccia di San Gimignano is from just outside the village of San Gimignano in Tuscany.  It is considered one of the finest white wines of Italy and was the first white wine to be granted DOC status.  The wine is a pale yellow green color with medium intensity. Floral, lemon and melon notes hit you on the nose, with citrus notes and minerality on the palate.  The wine finishes with refreshing acidity and minerality. Fontaleoni is one of the best producers of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, normally $13.99, this month on sale for $10.99.  

What to Eat it With

Vernaccia is a crisp white wine from Tuscany.  It pairs well with vegetables, fish and light chicken dishes.  I had this with a light dinner of mostly vegetables and some cheese.  We usually eat our large meal mid-day so dinner is light.

Cucumbers and Peppers:

No cooking here, simply wash and slice the cucumbers and place in a bowl.  Also, wash and cut 2 red peppers, remove seeds and slice.  Also place these in a bowl.  This evening I used avocado oil, lemon and cilantro.  Whisk the lemon and oil until thick, add cilantro and salt and whisk some more.  Pour half of mixture over the cucumbers and peppers.  Using a spoon, lightly toss the vegetables in the dressing.  Place the cucumbers on a circle in a round plate with peppers in the center.

Avocado and Tomatoes with tune and chick peas:

Remove the skins and pit from an avocado and slice into 5 or 6 slices lengthwise, put aside.  Next slice a large plum or roma tomatoes in the same fashion.  Place the tomatoe and avocado on a plate forming a circle, first an avocado slice then tomatoe, continue until you form a circle around the plate.  Leave the center open.  Using a can of tuna, preferably packed in olive oil from Italy, remove most of the oil and put tuna in a bowl.  Next open a can of chick peas, from Italy, Spain or the middle east, drain and pour into the same bowl.  Add a little finely chopped raw onion, cilantro, one table spoon of real mayonnaise, salt, lemon and olive oil.  Mix well with a spoon and taste, add additional salt as needed.  Plate the tuna and chick peas into the center of the dish with avocado and tomatoe.  Pour the remaining dressing from the cucumbers over the avocados and tomatoes.

Cheese:

You can of course use any cheese of your liking, but this evening I used a pecorino and a provolone, both from Italy and a simple brie from France.

That’s it!  No cooking, 15 minutes to prepare and you have a simple light meal for two.  Just add a bottle of Vernaccia and if desired some nice crusty French or Italian bread.  
Buon Appetito!

May Featured Wine: Why Whine?

Robs Review

Why Wine Pinot Noir is a fantastic California Pinot Noir that is light in body and full of flavor.  There is candied cherry and strawberry on the nose.  The flavor on the palate is beautiful red fruit with nice oak spice and smooth tannins.  This wine pairs well with light fare and drinks well all by itself on a warm spring day.   

What to Eat it With

Why Whine?  I don’t know, but everyone does sometimes.  When it’s your time, whine with us!  

Why wine is a simple traditional California Pinot Noir with a really cool label.

We wanted to have our first private label be simple and recognizable yet stand out!  The label design is the feature that stands out.

California Pinot noir is one of the most popular and recognizable red wines in the country and it pairs well with so many different foods.  Its simplicity makes it so versatile.

Recently I made gourmet burgers for our Sunday lunch.  They were very simple, just organic grass fed beef rolled into balls and pressed flat onto a cast iron pan, seared to perfection!

On the side we had caramelized onions, sauted portobello’s, a roasted red pepper aioli, raw onion and tomato as well as 4 types of cheese.  It was a make your own gourmet burger and the Why Whine Pinot went perfectly.

The cheese included cheddar, muenster, gouda and Havarti slices.  The rolls I also made myself using pizza dough.  I tool a pound of pizza dough, cut it into 6 equal pieces, rolled into 6 balls and placed on the baking stones in the oven.  450 degrees for about 15 minutes.  They were perfectly soft but just slightly crunchy outside.

The sides included glazed baby carrots, baked sweet potato fries and green beans.  

Bon Apetit!

Glazed Carrots – mix just a table spoon of maple syrup in a bowl with olive oil and salt, then using a brush spread on the carrots.  Place in 400 degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes to bake.  

Baked Sweet Potato Fries – wash then cut up the sweet potatoes into strips, keep the skins on.  Place on baking sheets, only one layer with spaces between each potato.  Using the same basting mixture as the carrots, brush on the fries.  Place in 400 degrees oven for 30 mins or until they are cooked to your preference.

Green Beans – simply boil in salted water until starting to turn soft but still a little cruncy.  Remove from water, drain and dry.  10 minutes before serving, saute the green beans in olive oil, lemon and garlic then salt to taste and serve.

Vinho Verde Food Pairings

Check out our two amazing recipes below!

For a downloadable PDF just click here for Tile Fish or here for Sicilian Cod.

Sicilian Cod

This dish is very simple and very indicative of the Italian culture.  Much of Italian cooking, in the home not in restaurants, is done with a mixture of this and that, whatever is local and available.  I have prepared this many times at home, especially when feeding a lot of people at short notice.  Do your best to use FRESH ingredients, it makes ALL the difference in cooking.

Feeds 6 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds WILD CAUGHT Cod, never use farm raised fish
  • 28-32 ounces of chunky tomatoes (I use boxes of POMI)
  • 1 bunch of FRESH Basil – half chopped, half rolled and sliced
  • 3-6 cloves of garlic – Diced
  • 8 ounces of Kalamata olives – pitted and diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Capers
  • 1-2 large lemons – juice and set aside (real lemons – NEVER buy lemon juice)
  • 1-2 cups white wine

 

Directions:

 

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees (always cook on high heat)
  • Cut cod into pieces that make sense for a single serving, place in 2” high baking pan
  • Add ½ wine, ½ lemon juice, drizzle with olive oil and salt – put on side
  • In large sauce pot, coat bottom with Olive Oil, sauté garlic on high heat for a few minutes until starts to turn color just slightly (not too much, if they burn, throw out and start over)
  • Add olives, capers, ½ of the wine and ½ of the lemon juice, sauté for 2-3 minutes
  • Add all tomatoes and all of the Chopped Basil, cook while stirring slowly, until tomatoes hot
  • At this point if you like hot pepper, add a few shakes of red pepper flakes
  • Pour tomatoes mixture over the Cod, put in oven, cook for about 15 minutes
  • You need to start checking the fish 10 minutes after putting in oven, it should feel firm to the touch and just a little bouncy. When ready it should flake apart, should not be mushy.
  • Once ready, remove from oven, sprinkle top of fish with remaining rolled and sliced Basil

 

Suggested Sides:

 

  • Asparagus sauté with shallots, lemon, salt and pepper
  • Crisp Romaine lettuce salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon, salt, pepper and basil

 

Tile Fish (can be any firm fish)

 

I used tile fish, filleted, because it is a firm meaty fish, grouper also works well.  This recipe and set of pictures shows a 3 pound fillet.  We were feeding 6 people.

 

The fish was fresh and wild caught. If you make less than 3 pounds, reduce recipe accordingly.

 

Ingredients

3 lbs filleted fish, meaty such as tile or grouper

Full bunch of fresh parsley, chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 lemons and 1 lime

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 cup white wine

2 pints grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Lay fish skin side down in deep baking pan

Drizzle olive oil over fish, enough to coat top, rub into fish with hand

Sprinkle salt over fish lightly, same with pepper

Rub all garlic over top of fish with hands, spread evenly

Spread tomatoes over top of fish

In a bowl whisk together 2 fresh squeezed lemons, 1 lime, cup of white wine and few table spoons olive oil.

Drizzle mixture over top of fish, lightly, don’t let liquid push garlic off top

All excess liquid will just fill pan

Spread all parsley over top of fish and tomatoes

Drizzle a little more olive oil over top

Put in preheated oven, cook about 15-20 minutes then check if done

Touch thickest part of fish, it will be firm but bouncy or cut into middle, should be white and flaky

 

Suggested Sides

Roasted vegetables with olive oil and fresh herbs and lemon

Steamed broccoli, sautéed with garlic, olive oil and lemon

 

Vera Vinho Verde Review

Our Review

Vera Vinho Verde is a delicious white blend from Portugal. This light refreshing wine has hints of lemon and lime with just the right amount of minerality.

A slight fizz and refreshing acidity on the finish make this the ultimate warm weather quaffer.

Vinho Verde pairs perfectly with snacks, or light meals like sushi, chicken, salads and seafood. Be sure to try this interesting white that’s guaranteed to please with the coming warm weather we are all craving.

Pro Review
Super Fresh, this Vinho Verde sets the bar for Delicate, light, dry whites. A perfect little wine to have every day. Pair it with salads and ALL fish dishes. Delightful stuff!

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo & Food Pairings

Braised Skirt Steak

Start with making a marinade. Mine was very simple, onions, peppers chopped very fine, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, hot sauce and wine (your choice white or red). First salt the meat, kosher salt, both sides. Then place in baking pan. Next chop the onions, garlic, peppers, etc…and mix in bowl with whisk or spoon. Once mixed, pour over the meat in the baking pan. Cover pan with plastic and put in the fridge overnight. If you don’t have that kind of time, a few hours will work.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and put steak in the oven. Check the steak after 40 minutes with a meat thermometer. Remove from over when it is rare and let sit in baking pan for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Lamb Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

There is a wonderful sausage which most people have never heard about or tried. It is called Cervelatte in Italian, but there are other spellings and pronunciations in French and German, but the Italian sausage is special. It is predominantly made from lamb and is in a lamb casing. Most sausages, even if not pork, are made with pork casing, but this has a lamb casing.
This sausage is so absolutely perfect! It is a little fatty, as is lamb usually, but cooks to a perfect crisp on the outside and just plump on the inside. It grills up on a BBQ perfectly or on a skillet on the stove.

During the summer I use the BBQ but in the winter I use the stove top. It is so simple, just turn on the stove, heat the pan, place in the sausage, which usually come wound in a wheel and grill. No need for oil or seasoning, it is perfect all alone.

The perfect vegetable with this sausage is broccoli rabe, another very Italian food. This is in the broccoli family, but is slightly bitter, which is what gives it the perfect flavor. Start a pot of salted water to boil. Cut the bottom 2 inches off the plant then blanch in the boiling water for 3 – 5 minutes. Remove and put in colander to dry. It should sit for at least an hour but the longer the better. In a skillet, saute some garlic, olive oil and sundried tomatoes or red peppers. As you saute add the broccoli rabe and cook for at least 10 minutes. Once broccoli rabe begins to soften, it is ready.

Place the broccoli rabe on a platter and the sausage on top. Serve immediately with Vignetti Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano is produced in Abruzzo, a region in central/southern Italy in the mountains. This meal is a typical meal of this region and of course will pair well with this wine.

Check out our video recipes!


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