Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cherries in Red Wine

Cherry season is well under way here in San Diego, and the farmers' market has been selling wonderful juicy bing cherries for over a month now. The season in San Diego lasts for several months starting in mid-late May, so now is the time to buy them at their best.

As the cherry season is short in most areas, preserving them is a great way to prolong the season, and they can be used in sweet and savory dishes. This recipe for cherries in red wine can be done safely using a hot water canner, as the cherries have high acidity, as do the wine and orange juice. You will need 4 Ball or Kerr pint jars, together with lids and bands to make this recipe. Alternatively, if you do not wish to hot water can the fruit, simply make the recipe and refrigerate the fruit, but use within 2-3 days.

Recipe for Cherries in Red Wine
Ingredients (makes 4 pints)
  • 2 quarts red wine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 24 whole cloves
  • 16 3-inch strips orange zest
  • 4 pounds Bing cherries, pitted (about 8 cups)
  1. Place the wine, sugar, orange juice, cloves, and orange zest in a medium pot. Bring to a low boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Have ready 4 scalded pit jars and their bands (to scald, dip the jars in boiling water. You don't need to sterilize the jars, as you will be processing them for more than 10 mins).
  3. Simmer new lids in a small pan of hot water to soften the rubberized flange.
  4. Add the cherries to the wine, simmer for 10 minutes, until they are soft but not collapsed.
  5. Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon, and ladle them into the hot jars.
  6. Reduce the wine mixture to about half its volume.
  7. Strain the wine mixture, and pour over the cherries in jars, leaving 1/2 to 3/4 inch headspace.
  8. Wipe the rims, set on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.
  9. Place the jars in a big pot with a rack in the bottom and add enough water to cover he jars by 3 inches.
  10. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and gently boil the jars for 20 minutes.
  11. Turn off the heat, allow the jars to rest in the water for 5 minutes, and then remove.
  12. Allow the jars to cool, untouched, for4 to 6 hours.
  13. Check the seals, and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.
This fruit is amazing drizzled over pound cake, cheesecake, or served in tall glasses with whipped cream, ice cream, or yogurt. It makes an elegant dessert in minutes, and looks stunning with the dark fruit.

It can also be served with savory dishes, if you heat it first. More recipes can be found alongside this one in the book, Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone, a great book for anyone interested in home canning.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Growing Grapevines from the Mercato

As Gourmet Fusion is a vendor at the Little Italy Mercato on Saturdays on Date Street, San Diego, I am often able to go and see what some of the other vendors are offering for sale. This week I was talking to Lissy Keily with Maness Vineyards about growing grapevines in San Diego, and could not resist buying some to try out.

Maness Vineyards of Jamul is selling a selection of grapevines at the Mercato for you to grow at home yourself and are happy to give you information about growing the vines, the wine these grapes produce, and the tours and products offered at their winery.

I live by the coast and have a container garden with many different kinds of plants which thrive all year round, but as every gardener knows, there are also the plants that simply don't make it, so I am keen to see what happens to these three plants.

The vines we chose were Nebbiolo (red), Sauvingon Blanc, and a red Zinfandel. I planted them on Sunday and am trying to find a sunny spot for them, as they like plenty of sun, but also like cool evenings, so the marine climate by the beach may work. Grapevines also like a climate that has more sunny days than rain, so that is not a problem in San Diego county. They apparently don't need a lot of water (also good), and according to the Sunset Western Garden book the vine can grow unchecked for the first summer, and the more leaves the better. They are pretty small at the moment, just 12 - 18 inches tall, but I'll keep you posted on their progress.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mediterranean Olive Oils & Vinegars at Gourmet Fusion

The Gourmet Fusion store is now offering specialty olive oils and vinegars through its online store. These delicious oils and vinegars are perfect for summer salads, pasta, and grilling (the lemon oil is especially good with fish).

We have three types of Spanish extra virgin olive oil - mandarin orange, Spanish lemon, and rosemary, as well as a natural extra virgin olive oil.

Our two vinegars are a rich, dark Vindaro Rioja Balsamic vinegar, and a 12-year reserve Moscatel semi-sweet vinegar.

If you are looking for a simple salad that is a little different, this mixed spring greens salad takes minutes to make, and is sure to be a hit at any dinner party or barbecue.

To make the salad we used Mallafre Catalonian extra virgin olive oil pressed with mandarin oranges and the Sotaroni white Moscatel vinegar.

To make this delicious salad, all you need is:

1 packet of mixed green salad
1/2 can of small mandarin oranges
2 tablespoons Mallafre mandarin oil
1 tablespoon Sotaroni white Moscatel vinegar

Rinse and pat dry the mixed salad, and place in a salad bowl. Mix together the oil and vinegar and pour over the greens. Toss together to distribute the dressing, and place the mandarins on the top. Serve as a light main course, or as a side dish with crusty bread.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Ossobucco, a northern dish, came to mind recently when I bought a new paperback by Stuart Woods the other day, as one of the main characters in his books, Stone Barrington, always asks for this dish when he visits his favorite Italian restaurant.

in Italian literally means "bone with a hole", and consists of slowly cooked veal shank which is cooked until tender. It is often served with risotto or pasta, but can also be served with fresh vegetables such as asparagus. This recipe includes carrots in the sauce, but these are optional.

Ossobucco Recipe
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 slices veal shank, each 1 1/2 inches thick, tied with kitchen string
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups meat stock
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 small cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  1. Spread the flour on a plate and dust the veal, tapping off the excess. In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the veal and cook on the first side until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  2. Turn the meat and add the onion, carrot and 1 crushed garlic clove to the pan, scattering it around the pieces of veal. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on the second side about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the wine, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, turning occasionally, until the meat is tender, 1 1/2 - 2 hours. (The dish can be prepared up to this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. To continue, reheat gently over low heat for 20 minutes).
  4. Combine the parsley and remainder of the garlic on a cutting board and finely chop together. Transfer to a bowl, add the lemon zest, and toss together. Scatter the mixture of the veal. Baste the veal with the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes longer.
  5. Transfer to a warmed serving dish or individual plates and serve at once with risotto, pasta or vegetables.

Pizzaiola Halibut

Pizzaiola is an Italian classic sauce which is often served with beef but works equally well with any firm such as, halibut, tuna or swordfish. La is made with tomatoes, garlic and oregano in olive oil, the same as a pizza sauce. The sauce is very easy to make and when served with fish makes a light and healthy summer meal. This recipe is from Antionio Carluccio's book, an Invitation to Italian Cooking.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 halibut steaks
  • 1 medium can tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pinches dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • flour for dusting
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Dip the fish into the flour.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan over a high flame.
  3. Fry the fish in the oil turning once until cooked through.
  4. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  5. Slice the garlic and add it to the olive oil, reduce the heat a little and almost immediately, before the garlic starts to brown, add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper.
  6. Stir and cook for 5 minutes, then return the fish to the sauce.
  7. Heat through for a further minute or two to allow the fish to soak up the flavor of the tomatoes before serving.
  8. Serve the fish with the sauce with a green side salad and crusty bread.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


If you are looking for a tasty meal, and feel like making something more adventurous than Spaghetti Bolognese, is a great alternative. Braciole is stuffed beef rolls in a marinara sauce. It takes a little time to prepare, but it is well worth the effort.

The recipe below serves four, and the rolls can be made several hours ahead of time, and kept in the refrigerator, so that you are not rushing around when your dinner guests arrive.

  • 4 thin slices of round steak
  • 4 slices prosciutto ham
  • 1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated romano
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 tablespoons flat-leaved (Italian) parsley, minced
  1. If your supermarket has a butcher, ask him to pound the slices of steak, otherwise, you will need to do this yourself. They need to be quite thin in order to roll properly.
  2. Blend breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, parsley, oregano and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place a slice of prossciutto on top of each steak, then spread one fourth of the breadcrumb mixture in the center of each slice, roll it up, tuck in the endss and tie with thread.
  4. Heat olive oil in a heavy casserole, and brown the meat rolls on all sides.
  5. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, wine and half a cup of stock, bring to the boil.
  6. Cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Add more stock if necessary.
  8. When the meat is tender, season the sauce with salt and pepper, and serve with pasta such as penne, or rigatoni.


This weekend I decided to make , as it is a dish I have not made for some time. Jambalaya is a Creole dish found in many different forms in the southern states of America and in Central America. The dish contains pepper and chillies which gives it its hotness, and often the fleshy oysters found in the Gulf of Mexico are included. These are shelled and arranged over the rice a few minutes before the dish is cooked, so that they solidify, but remain fleshy.

However, when I arrived at the supermarket for the ingredients, not everything was available, so some improvising was necessary. Stone crab claws could not be found anywhere (not even frozen), but here in California we had an abundance of Alaskan King Crab legs, so I used these instead, chopped into approximately 3-inch lengths, resulting in a slightly more sweet flavor which contrasted well with the pepper and tangy lime flavors. The recipe below gives the original recipe, but feel free to substitute seafood and pork flavors with whatever you have available locally.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 2 medium green peppers
  • 18 oz tomatoes
  • 4 oz boiled ham
  • 8 oz large shrimp, shelled
  • 4 crab claws (Stone or Common crab)
  • 4 rashers rindless smoked bacon
  • 3 oz onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 7 oz long grain rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • sprig of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon balm
  • 1 chili, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
  • chicken stock to cover
  1. Dry fry the diced bacon, and then lightly fry the onions in the bacon fat, over a moderate heat. Add the crushed garlic and finally the diced peppers. Simmer the vegetable mixture for about 5 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the onion transparent.
  2. Sprinkle in the rice, and stir until it is transparent and beginning to swell. Add the salt, pepper, thyme and lemon balm.
  3. Marinate the finely chopped chili in the lime juice for 10 minutes before adding it to the other ingredients in the pan. Make sure that the chili is well distributed throughout the dish.
  4. Stir in the ham and tomatoes. Pour on the chicken stock and cook oer a high heat for 5 minutes. Then fold in the prawns, crab claws. Set the oven at moderate (180 C, 350 F, gas 4). Place the pan in the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes.
This recipe was found in the book Shellfish by Anton Mosimann and Holger Hoffman.