Your behind-the-scenes look into Israeli Wine Direct and the re-emerging Israeli wine scene!
It’s Time for a BBQ!
We are getting ready to fire up our grill here at Israeli Wine Direct for our Independence Day festivities. Of course, a BBQ wouldn’t be complete for us without the perfect wine list, which we’ve carefully prepared to go along with our delicious food. For this posting, we’re going to talk about the wines that will pair perfectly with the menu for July 4th so get ready for fireworks, a dip in the pool, and of course, the perfect glass of wine!
Our first course will naturally be a salad, but we’re taking it to the next level by pairing it with a delicious Sauvignon Blanc from Shvo Winery. This wine is rich in texture with the perfect balance of acidity to complement our salad. For this first course, we’ve chosen Bobby Flay’s Grilled Fennel and Orange Salad with Almonds and Mint. The warmth of the grilled fennel and richness of the almonds will mimic the wine’s smoothness while the orange and mint will bring in the zest with the wine’s acidity. This is an easy and delicious salad, a perfect way to kick off a fantastic BBQ!
2 bulbs fennel, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 oranges, peeled and segmented, plus 1 orange, juiced and zested (only zest half of orange)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
Heat grill to high. Brush the fennel with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until slightly charred and almost cooked through. Place fennel on a platter and scatter orange segments over the top. Whisk together the orange juice, zest, mustard, and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad. Sprinkle with almonds and mint and serve.
Our next wine is a unique Chardonnay. Many people shy away from this grape because they dislike the buttery oakiness of the wine. Our Pelter Chardonnay is unoaked and is thus missing all of the aforementioned flavors. What it has is flavors of bright tropical fruits, perfect to offset the smokiness of grilled mushrooms and brine of seafood. We’re pairing this wine with two dishes, Grilled Lobster Paella and Portobellos Stuffed with Corn and Mushrooms.
Grilled Lobster Paella
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 pound Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/2"-thick rounds
6 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced, or 2 finely chopped leeks, white and light-green parts only
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 1/2 cups short-grain rice (such as bomba, Valencia, or calasparra)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
7 cups hot seafood or chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1–1 1/4-pound lobsters, halved lengthwise, claws cracked
2 cups shelled peas or frozen peas
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 halved lemons
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill. Let burn down to red-hot coals; rake to edge of grill. (For backup, start a second round of coals in a charcoal chimney on pavement nearby.) Put a 16"–18" paella pan on grill grate; heat 1/2 cup olive oil. Add 3/4 lb. Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/2"-thick rounds, and 6 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced, or 2 finely chopped leeks, white and light-green parts only; cook until golden, 3–4 minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon smoked paprika and 2 1/2 cups short-grain rice (such as bomba, Valencia, or calasparra); cook, stirring often, until rice is coated, 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads to 7 cups hot seafood or chicken stock. Add stock to pan and season to taste with kosher salt; stir to distribute ingredients. Let cook, undisturbed, until stock simmers and rice begins to absorb liquid, about 10 minutes. Rotate pan every 2–3 minutes to cook evenly.
Arrange 3 1-1 1/4-pound lobsters, halved lengthwise, claws cracked, over the rice. Continue cooking, rotating the pan often, as the rice swells and absorbs the stock. Add more coals from charcoal chimney to maintain even heat under the pan. Cook until the rice is almost tender and the lobster is cooked through, about 10 more minutes.
Scatter 2 cups shelled peas or frozen peas, thawed, on top. (If the liquid evaporates before the rice is tender, add more hot stock.) Cook without stirring, allowing rice to absorb all of the liquid, so that a crust (the socarrat) develops on the bottom and the edges begin to dry out and get crusty, 5–10 minutes, for a total cooking time of about 40 minutes.
Remove pan from grill. Cover with large clean kitchen towels and let rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and serve with 3 halved lemons, making sure to scrape some of the socarrat from the bottom of the pan onto each plate.
Portobellos Stuffed with Corn and Mushrooms
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons corn oil
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
5 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
8 5-inch-diameter portobello mushrooms
1 pound assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as oyster and stemmed shiitake), sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup crumbled Cotija or feta cheese
Whisk 1 cup oil, garlic, vinegar, 3 teaspoons thyme, and 2 teaspoons oregano in medium bowl to blend. Season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer 1/3 cup garlic-herb oil to small bowl; reserve.
Trim and thinly slice Portobello stems; set aside. Brush both sides of Portobello caps with remaining garlic-herb oil; place caps, rounded side down, on large rimmed baking sheet. Preheat broiler. Broil Portobello caps until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from broiler. Turn caps rounded side down. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add assorted mushrooms and Portobello stems; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in reserved 1/3 cup garlic-herb oil; sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Add corn; sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add cream; simmer until almost absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture among Portobello caps, mounding in center. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)
Preheat broiler. Broil Portobello until heated through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons each thyme and oregano.
For our last glass of white (it is summer, after all!), we’re going back to Shvo vineyards, this time to enjoy their Chenin Blanc. This is a bold white wine, filled with flavors or dried fruit and minerals. This is the kind of wine that should be paired with sweat/savory food. Therefore, we’re pairing this wine with Grilled Halibut, Eggplant, and Baby Bok Choy with Korean Barbecue Sauce and Cranberry BBQ Sauce Turkey Sliders (we know it isn’t Thanksgiving but what is more American than turkey and cranberry sauce?!).
Grilled Halibut, Eggplant, and Baby Bok Choy with Korean Barbecue Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced serrano chile with seeds
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
8 baby bok choy, halved lengthwise
4 medium-size Japanese eggplants, trimmed, halved lengthwise
4 6- to 7-ounce halibut fillets (each about 1 inch thick)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and chile; sauté until fragrant and light golden, about 3 minutes. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and 3 tablespoons water and bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes (sauce will be thin). Remove barbecue sauce from heat; whisk in sesame oil. Transfer 1/4 cup barbecue sauce to small bowl and reserve for serving.
Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Combine bok choy and eggplant halves in large bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush fish with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables and fish until vegetables are tender and slightly charred and fish is just opaque in center, turning occasionally and brushing with sauce, about 10 minutes total for vegetables and 7 minutes total for fish. Transfer vegetables and fish to plates; sprinkle with green onions. Drizzle with reserved sauce and serve.
Cranberry BBQ Sauce Turkey Sliders
Celery Apple Slaw:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 granny smith apple, cored but not peeled, cut into 2-inch matchsticks
Cranberry BBQ Sliders:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup Cranberry Sauce, recipe follows
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups shredded turkey
12 sweet dinner rolls
One 1-pound bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange, zested and juiced
Cranberry BBQ Sliders:
For the sauce: Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, oil, celery, apples, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside while you make the sliders.
For the sliders: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cranberry sauce, ketchup, vinegar, Dijon, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully pour the sauce into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Place the turkey into a large bowl and pour the sauce over the turkey, stirring to coat evenly with the sauce. To serve, spoon a 1/4 cup of the turkey onto the bottom half of the rolls, garnish with 2 tablespoons of the slaw and top with the top half of the roll.
Combine the cranberries, maple syrup cinnamon, orange zest and orange juice in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Turn the burner off. Using the back of your spoon, lightly mash the cranberries to desired consistency. Chill until ready to serve.
Three glasses of wine and plenty of food in, we’re feeling pretty good! Done with the whites, we’re moving on to richer reds, hopefully it’ll be cooler outside! This round is our Pelter Cabernet/Shiraz which tastes of raspberries and cherries with a smooth, long finish. The smoothness of the Cabernet with the pepper of the Shiraz pairs perfectly with juicy lamb, a staple in Mediterranean cuisine. This Minted Lamb Burgers with Feta and Hummus is flavorful and fresh, a great compliment to your wine and BBQ!
Minted Lamb Burgers with Feta and Hummus
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1/2 cup minced fresh mint
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 7- to 8-ounce block feta cheese, sliced
4 kaiser rolls, split, lightly toasted
8 onion slices
4 romaine lettuce leaves
Mix first 7 ingredients in medium bowl; shape into four 4-inch-diameter patties. Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to skillet; cook until bottoms are well browned, about 3 minutes. Turn patties over and top with feta cheese. Continue cooking to desired doneness, about 3 minutes longer for medium-rare.
Place roll bottoms on plates. Top each with onion, burger, lettuce, another onion, and hummus. Press on roll tops.
We’re almost there. One more glass! For this one, we’re going all out and opening a bottle of Margalit Enigma. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend is bold and complex and it needs a dish to stand up to it. What better way to off set it than with a juicy steak to round off the meal? And to make it even more delectable, this steak comes with a whiskey (whoever says whiskey and wine don't go together is dead wrong!) butter. YUMM!
Grilled Steak with Whiskey Butter
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 shallots minced, soaked in 1 shot of Jack Daniels or other whiskey or bourbon
3 teaspoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons Jack Daniels or other whiskey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
White pepper to taste
4 cowboy steaks, bone-in rib eye steaks, or other favorite steak, about 1-inch thick
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, coarsely ground
Chopped parsley, optional
Grilling Method: Combo/Medium-High
Make Whiskey Butter:
Make Butter at least 3 hours in advance. Combine butter, shallots soaked in Jack Daniels (or other bourbon or whiskey), parsley, Worcestershire, mustard, whiskey, salt, and pepper. Mix well. On a piece of plastic wrap, drop butter in spoonfuls to form a log. Roll butter in plastic wrap and smooth out to form a round log. Refrigerate until hard and easy to slice into round, coin-shaped pieces.
Allow meat to come to room temperature about 15 minutes before grilling. Just before grilling, brush both sides of the steaks with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place steaks directly over medium-high heat for about 1 to 2 minutes, just long enough to get good grill marks. Turn steaks and sear the other side. Move steaks to indirect heat and continue cooking for about 7 more minutes for medium rare. Remove steaks from the grill, top with a pat of the whiskey butter and allow to rest at least 5 minutes but no longer than 10 before serving. Spread the melted butter all over the tops of the steaks and top each with a fresh slice of the whiskey butter and parsley, if desired.
That's it! We've grilled our hearts out and drank wine to our utmost content. Finish off your meal with a bowl of fruit salad or, if you're us, one more glass of your favorite wine!
Happy 4th of July!!