At the stroke of midnight on the third Thursday of each November, from little villages and towns like Romanèche-Thorins, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey through a sleeping France to Paris for immediate shipment to all parts of the world.
Banners proclaim the good news: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! “The New Beaujolais has arrived!”
One of the most frivolous and animated rituals in the wine world has begun. By the time it is done, over 65 million bottles, nearly half of the region’s total annual production, will be distributed and drunk around the world. It has become a worldwide race to be the first to serve this new wine of the harvest. In doing so, it has been carried by motorcycle, balloon, truck, helicopter, Concorde jet, elephant, runners and rickshaws to get it to its final destination. It is amazing to realize that just weeks before this wine was a cluster of grapes in a grower’s vineyard. But by an expeditious harvest, a rapid fermentation, and a speedy bottling, all is ready at the midnight hour. Huh, and I thought I was moved fast.
In America, Beaujolais Nouveau will fill many a Thanksgiving Dinner glass! Very likely just due to the fact that is incredibly affordable and everyone is promoting it this time of year! You spent enough on that organically grown, vegetable eating, Voltaire reading, Mozart listening bird that the Turkey Whisperer talked you into while at Whole Foods this week. It’s time to save on the wine 😉
So tomorrow, or this weekend before the Gobble Madness begins, why not throw a nice quiet civilized dinner party. One that does not have cousins, uncles, aunties, siblings, “steps” all of those and lots of screaming children, would be preferable. How about a dinner party for your best girlfriends or maybe just for you and the significant? After all, it’s about to get crazy with the Holidays approaching. Let me do the work for you….
Butternut Squash Ravioli w/shiitake Crème Sauce
Butter Leaf Lettuce Salad w/Stilton & Roasted Balsamic Beets
Gingery Apple Pear Crumble
* The eggplant can be prepared a day in advance, then reheated and assembled 15 minutes before guests arrive.
* The squash filling can be prepared a day in advance and kept refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the ravioli. If you know you will be pressed for time go ahead and pre-assemble the ravioli as well until ready to cook them.
* The roasted beets can be made earlier in the day and allowed to cool before assembling the salad.
* The crumble can be made up to 48 hours in advance, kept refrigerated and then reheated while you are having dinner.
Bring the season alive with your dinner décor, but not in the traditional sense. I mean honestly how many pumpkin centerpieces can one do in a lifetime? Go out and find Chinese lanterns (the flower). Create big fall arrangement with the lanterns, some pussy willows and vanilla colored roses. Use unusual gourds and squashes on the table in whites, creams and golden-yellow. Use more roses in all the fall shades to create mixed bouquets among the gourds. For your linens use a nice vanilla base and then mix in deep dark oranges, chocolate and gold. Low soft candles everywhere! Use some rough twine and cinnamon sticks to tie around the napkins. Miniature ornamental pumpkins are great place card holders. Write directly on the pumpkin, or cut a slit in the top and insert a card. Cheers!
Put together a soulful mix with artists like Joss Stone, Bon Iver, Jon Mayer, Ben Harper, Broken Bells, Jack Johnson and Norah Jones. Pressed for time, just download my mix off itunes under the title, Haute n the Kitchen – Harvest Dinner. Oh yes I did. Because I care.
|1||eggplant, cubed||2||cloves garlic, finely chopped|
|1||bunch basil leaf, finely chopped||1/2||cup pine nut, toasted|
|1/2||cup Parmesan-reggiano cheese, finely grated|
Preheat oven to 425.
Cut the eggplant into 1″ pieces and put into a mixing bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and let sit for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish, coat with olive oil and season with a few pinches of fresh ground black pepper. Add the garlic and stir once.
Roast for 30 minutes or until eggplant is roasted and soft. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add the basil, chopped pine nuts and cheese and stir to combine. Test for S&P.
Place baguette slices on a baking tray, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and put under the broiler for about 3 minutes till they just begin to brown. Remove from oven and top each one with about a tablespoon of eggplant mixtures. Grate some fresh reggiano cheese over each one and transfer bruschetta to serving tray. Garnish the tray with some chopped fresh basil.
Butternut Squash Ravioli with shiitake Crème Sauce
|1||butternut squash||1||teaspoon nutmeg|
|1||teaspoon cinnamon||4||tablespoons butter|
|1||package wonton wrapper||1||bunch sage, fresh|
|1||bunch thyme, fresh||1||large shallot, finely chopped|
|1||tablespoon flour||1||cup heavy cream|
|1||cup Shitake Mushrooms||1/2||cup sherry|
|1/2||cup Parmesan-reggiano cheese, grated|
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut squash in half vertically. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Brush each half with olive oil and sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon across the squash. Put 1 tablespoon of butter in each squash where you scooped out the seeds. Roast the squash for about 30 minutes or until it is super soft and easily mashed with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Scoop out all the squash into a mixing bowl and discard the skin.
Finely chop the herbs.
In a sauté pan over medium heat melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. When it begins to foam around edges add the shallot, sage and thyme and stir to combine. Cook together just a few more minutes to soften the onion. Remove and add to the squash. Stir to blend well into a creamy mixture. You may need to use a masher.
On a clean working surface, lay out the individual wonton. Fill a small bowl with some water. Place a teaspoon of squash filling in the center of ½ of the wonton. Using a small brush or your finger, coat the edges of the wonton with water; then place a second wonton on top to create the ravioli. Firmly press the edges together ensuring there are no holes.
When all are assembled cook them for about 5 minutes in lightly salted boiling water. Do not overcrowd the pan. You know when they are done because they float to the top of the pan. For the Sauce:
2 Tablespoons Butter 1 Tablespoon Flour 1 Cup Heavy 1 Cup shiitake Mushrooms ½ Cup Sherry
Melt the butter in a sauté pan and then add the flour. Whisk together to create the rue. When well combined add the cream and whisk while it warms in the pan and blends with the rue. Whisk continuously to prevent lumps from forming. When smooth add sherry, mushrooms and a few pinches each of salt and pepper. Continue whisking as it blends and reduces. Reduce another few minutes, test for S&P and remove from heat.
Serve over the Squash Ravioli and garnish with some fresh chopped thyme and the parmesan cheese.
*In the European tradition, serve the salad after the entrée.
Butter Leaf Salad with Stilton & Roasted Beets
|4||beets, peeled & cubed||3||tablespoons balsamic vinegar|
|1||tablespoon olive oil||4 1/2||slices Stilton Blue Cheese|
|1||teaspoon dijon mustard||1||head butter lettuce, washed & chopped|
|1||Cup red onion, rings|
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the beets into a roasting dish and coat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with SP and roast for 30-40 minutes until soft, tossing every 8-10 minutes. Add 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar after the beets have cooked for 25 minutes and toss to coat. When roasted, remove and cool.
In a salad bowl combine 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon mustard and SP. Whisk vigorously until it becomes a creamy dressing. Add the lettuce and onion to the bowl and toss to coat.
Assemble lettuce on individual salad plates. Place the Stilton slice on one side of the plate and when cooled scatter a spoonful or two of the roasted beets around the lettuce or grouped beside the Stilton.
Gingery Apple Pear Crumble
|2||granny smith apples||2||Bartlett pears|
|1||lemon||1||teaspoon ginger root, grated|
|1||teaspoon nutmeg||1||cup flour|
|3/4||cup sugar||3/4||cup brown sugar|
Preheat oven to 350.
Core, peel and slice the apple into 1/2″ thick slices and put in a mixing bowl. Peel and slice the pear; add to the bowl. Add the ginger and nutmeg and squeeze a teaspoon or so of lemon juice over the fruit to keep it from browning (and add a lemony taste).
Using either a food processor or a bowl and fork combine the flour, sugars and the butter until you have a crumbly consistency. Do not cream. I like to use my hands actually to get the right consistency.
Place the fruit mixture in a glass pie baking dish; spread evenly. Top with the crumble and bake for 25-30 minutes in oven until apples are bubbling up and the crumble has browned. Serve warm with either a scoop of vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream spiced with fresh grated nutmeg. Too Die.
*Adding currants or chopped pecans is a nice way to change it up from time to time.
*Full menu is from the book under the title “Harvest”!