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Slow Cooked In Barolo Wine …

November 29, 2016

Recent Forbes posts include one published today – about how a Michelin star meal can be affordable. Other posts include the opening of Vinitech in Bordeaux and the drink you’ve likely never heard of spelled Pineau (but pronounced Pinot).

The photograph below, and the recipe that follows, are of veal cooked in Barolo wine. I wrote a few pieces about Barolo recently after a visit to Elton John’s concert there months ago, and a stay in the countryside of Piemonte where we compared this wine country to that of northern California.

This recipe requires patience: the meat cooks in wine for eight hours.


‘Brasato al Barolo’ – Veal Cooked in Barolo Wine

From Chef Valter Quirico and Winemaker Flavio Fenocchio of Marchesi de Barolo, Barolo, Piemonte Region, Italy


Preparation Time and Quantity –

20 minutes to prepare, 8 hours to cook. Serves 4 to 6 people


Ingredients and Amounts

Boneless veal shoulder roast – 1 [about 2 to 3 ½ pounds (1 to 1 ½ kilograms)]

Red onions – 2

Carrot – 1

Celery stalk – 2

Bay leaf – 1

Olive oil – as needed

Salt – 1 teaspoon (6 grams)

Barolo Cannubi wine (or similar Barolo wine) – 3⅓ bottles [2½ quarts (2½ liters)]


Preparation –

  1. Chop onions.
  2. Slice carrots and celery stalks.


Recipe –

  1. Cover bottom of saucepan with olive oil and place over medium heat.
  2. Add veal and chopped vegetables – onions, carrot, celery, bay leaf.
  3. Cook until beef is browned.
  4. Add salt and Barolo wine.
  5. Cover, and cook over low heat for 8 hours.
  6. Take meat out of liquid and allow to cool.
  7. Whip sauce left in saucepan.
  8. Cut meat into pieces and serve with sauce.


Serving –

Flavio writes –

“To accompany this special dish I particularly like to drink our Barolo Sarmassa, elegant but so full-bodied to cope with a very tasty meat dish.”


Valter writes –

“After slow cooking, the veal is so tender that there is no need to use a knife to cut it!”


Comments –

Flavio writes –

“Our cook Valter has been working with us for ten years. He has this special recipe, a very traditional dish here in South Piedmont and one of my favorites. And guess what? It needs Barolo wine!”


Tom’s Comments –

It’s true—you will not need a knife to eat this tender, savory beef when it’s ready. Serve with cooked vegetables, as well as pasta, rice or potatoes and a full red wine with plenty of body (such as Barolo). This meal showpiece is hearty, but still light. If Barolo is not available, try another tannic wine.

When cooking, remember to check now and then and adjust the heat so the liquid stays at a simmer.







Precious Does Not Have To Be Expensive – With Wine, Travel Or Food

November 15, 2016

Seasons have changed in the Gironde department of France

The bottles most cherished in my little cellar are neither renowned or expensive. Instead, they deliver memories. There is the 2008 Clos Apalta, purchased in Chile after meeting the winemaker (and months before Wine Spectator Magazine declared this Wine of The Year). There are magnums of biodynamic Cabernet Franc purchased from Clos Cristal of the Loire Valley after walking vines with the winemaker last year. Those bottles—one and a half liters of liquid magic—cost 30 Euros apiece are no longer available after the vineyard shut down. Or the few boxes of unique 2012 Les Angelots, made by friend Nicolas down the road. The label drawing includes two blue stone angels mounted on the winery’s outer wall. Somehow, Nicolas managed to bottle one of them. When I returned in spring after months working in Asia, the first priority was to phone and purchase his final box.


Precious wines are not necessarily expensive

Memory of place, people and situations can makes bottles of wine—open and finished, or unopened—more memorable than any association with expense, renown or prestige. That is a strange and simple truth about wine.

The notion that precious does not have to be expensive applies not only to wine, but travel. Traveling off-season can mean purchasing less costly tickets, paying reasonable prices for accommodation and bumping into fewer streams of visitors wearing multicolored neoprene tight and speaking your own language. Even day trips, often unexpectedly, can turn as memorable as a week spent in a distant country.


What’s precious can be fleeting … so enjoy now 🙂

On Sunday I visited the city of Cognac, an hour drive north. Soon I’ll write more about the city and the local drink Pineau (pronounced, yes—Pinot; it’s confusing). This blend of cognac and non-alcoholic grape juice is wildly popular here, yet apparently unknown in much of the world. In the meantime, here are some panoramic photos from that countryside drive and afternoon city walk. This getaway was precious, not costly. Tip of the week? When Google Maps alerts you to an alternate, non-highway, more scenic route that only adds eight minutes to a one hour drive—choose YES.




What else in life can be precious, without necessarily being expensive?

Food, sometimes. That’s one unsung benefit of Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.—the joy of sharing a long lunch or dinner with friends and new faces, often at home, sometimes with a drink or two, maybe with decent conversation and perhaps followed by a walk.

Here in southern France the cool season has arrived. It’s not cold enough for a wool hat or gloves yet, but that time draws close. The leaves that turned brown and gold weeks ago are now spalling off vines.

As for food, two European recipes are included below—from Italy and France. They are easy to prepare, will keep you warm, and could even be a T-Day appetizer or dessert.

The first recipe comes from the Alto Adige region in northern Italy (location of the gorgeous toothed Dolomite mountains) while the second is from Bugey in the Rhone region of southern France. Thank you Andrian Wines, as well as Marjorie and Bernard Rondeau, who supplied these recipes.


Terlaner soup (photo courtesy of Andrian Wines)

Terlaner Wine Soup

From Rudi Kofler, Cellar Master of Andrian Wines, Terlano Wine Region, Alto Adige Province, Italy

Preparation Time and Quantity –

5 minutes to prepare, 25 minutes to cook. Serves 4 people.


Ingredients and Amounts

Broth – 2 cups (½ liter)

Egg yolks – 4

Cream – ⅕ cup (50 milliliters)

Terlaner wine* – 1 cup (¼ liter)

Bread cubes – from 1 stale roll

Butter – 1 tablespoon (14 grams)

Cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt – to taste

Preparation –

  1.  Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius).
  2. Tear bread chunks from the roll so they are about ½ inch (1 centimeter) square.


Recipe –

  1. Mix cream and egg yolks until smooth.
  2. Pour butter over torn bread cubes, then roast for 10 to 15 minutes in the pre-heated oven.
  3. Remove bread from the oven and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  4. Pour broth and wine into a saucepan over low heat.
  5. Add cream/yolk mixture.
  6. Add a pinch of salt, a little nutmeg and cinnamon.
  7. When at a boil, remove from heat.


Serving –

Pour into bowls. Top with bread cubes and sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.

 Comments –

Andrian wines tells the history of this soup –


Rudi Kofler – Cellar Master (photo courtesy Andrian Wines)

“The Terlaner wine soup was first served in Berlin in 1965 at a culinary event presenting South-Tyrolean specialties. Andreas Hellrigl, Josef Theiner and Franz Tauber, three renowned South-Tyrolean chefs, elaborated old recipes and created the Terlaner wine soup.”

 * Terlaner wine is a composition of the Terlano wine region’s three most traditional grape varieties – Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc (the Pinot provides freshness and an acidic structure, the Chardonnay delivers warmth and mellowness, and the Sauvignon adds fine aromas). Choose a suitable blended white wine alternative.


^ ^ ^


Tarte Bugiste (photo courtesy of Domaine Cerdon de Bugey)

‘Tarte Bugiste’ – Tart from Bugey

From Marjorie and Bernard Rondeau, Owners of Domaine Bernard et Marjorie Rondeau, Boyeux-Saint-Jérôme, Bugey, France


Preparation Time and Quantity –

35 minutes until dough ready for first rising; 1 additional hour (after dough has risen) to finish preparing and to cook. Serves 8 people.


Ingredients and Amounts



Flour – 3½ cups (350 grams)

Sugar – 3 tablespoons (37 grams)

Butter (soft) – ¼ cup (60 grams)

Eggs – 2

Fresh yeast – 4½ teaspoons (15 grams) [or 1 sachet dried yeast]

Salt – pinch

Milk – 1 cup (240 milliliters)


Powdered sugar – as needed

Butter or heavy cream – as needed

Chocolate chips or chunks – as needed

Preparation –

  1. Warm milk and set aside.
  2. Melt butter.


Recipe –

  1. Add yeast to warm milk and stir.
  2. Beat eggs with sugar.
  3. Add melted butter and a pinch of salt to egg/sugar mixture.
  4. Add flour and milk/yeast mixture to the above mixture.
  5. Knead for several minutes (8 to 15) until this becomes homogenous, soft dough.
  6. Put dough in a bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for 2 to 3 hours in a warm location.
  7. When dough is ready, pre-heat oven to between 480 and 520 degrees Fahrenheit (250 and 270 Celsius).
  8. Punch down dough, knead again, then roll out to a disc and let rise a second time for 15 to 30 minutes. It’s okay if it looks lumpy and bubbled.
  9. Sprinkle dollops of butter or heavy cream (or both), and powdered sugar on top of dough, and (as Marjorie says –“for being greedy”) add chocolate chips or chocolate chunks.
  10. Bake in pre-heated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Serving –

Marjorie writes –

“Bon appétit. The specialty of our region is this Bugiste tart with cream.”


Tom’s Comments –

Sinfully soft and delicious. Try this with a sparkling rosé.

The amount of dough is small enough that you could knead it on a decent sized cutting board, if you don’t want to flour up a counter or table. Add flour liberally to keep the dough from sticking. Knead the dough the first time for 8 to 15 minutes or so, until it pushes back, turns springy and homogenous and looks slightly glossy.

Put on a lower shelf in the oven to avoid the top burning.

^ ^ ^ 

img_0371-1Elena Malgina of Lugano, Switzerland will provide additional assistance to move the book The Winemakers’ Cooking Companion forward. Elena’s background is working in financial management, though she recently opened her own literary agency, Ithaka. In the past months she arranged for the translation and publication of letters written by renowned Russian writer Andrey Platonov and recently represented a book about President Obama’s policies. The choice to work with Elena was based on her intelligence, energy, and enthusiasm for the publishing industry. “One of my most exciting epiphanies of the last couple of years,” Elena wrote soon after we met, “was the simple realization that profession and passion can simply coexist and make a magical synergy.”

Welcome Elena.

Finally, my latest Forbes pieces are here, including one about jazz pianist Daniel Gassin who is now in Dubai helping Quincy Jones open a jazz club. Future articles in the coming weeks will be about Loire Valley wines, Mont Saint-Michel island, the intriguing life of a flying winemaker (who is also a remarkable chef) and a Michelin starred lunch that costs less than a meal at Denny’s.

As always, thanks for tuning in.

‘Tis The Season For Wine Movies

November 1, 2016

The Winemakers’ Cooking Companion cookbook is now being represented by an aspiring young literary agent (also with a background in financial consulting) who is based in Lugano, Switzerland. She has a growing web of international connections and ample enthusiasm. We’ll introduce Elena more fully in a few weeks.

My latest Forbes posts include pieces about biodynamic wines, cannéle pastries, Roman wine merchants, wine bars at LAX airport, and the ‘lost’ grape of Bordeaux: Carménère. I was also recently asked to write a review for London’s Sunday/Daily Telegraph newspaper about a five-star hotel in Bordeaux city. Their wine list is good, but it’s worth exploring city wine bars for even more diversity.

Now, movies.

After asking friends to recommend wine movies, the input included surprises. For example, Andrew Carr of Kansas City recommended Star Wars.


We’ll get back to that one later.

More traditional wine related movies include romance or suspense and often both.

Bottle Shock was recommended by Californians Lynne Barry and Diane Sanders-Rehberger. This is actually the only movie I’ve seen 13 times. It is based on a renowned wine tasting that took place in 1976 which brought California’s wines to the attention of the world, and is set in both Paris and Napa Valley, California. (Friend Tiffany Tedesco Baumann informed me that the ‘Parisian’ scenes were actually filmed on the main square of Sonoma city in California.)

The movie A Good Year was recommended by Stephen Barrante of Connecticut and New York, as well as Tiffany Tedesco Baumann from Sonoma, Lisa Tyreman from London (and sometimes Palo Alto; she has an intriguing blog), as well as wine merchant Stephanie Niblock Cohen of vinously renowned Glenview, Illinois.

In the movie, financially motivated but fiscally dodgy London banker (Russell Crowe) inherits a vineyard in Provence, France – and with it comes a coyly attractive young American relative, encounters with an eye-catching French waitress, and a mystery wine that may be either stellar or plonk.

Back in the U.S., the cult classic Sideways (recommended by Kerry Harker of Laguna Beach, California and Stephanie Niblock Cohen) actually reduced the sales of Merlot wine in the U.S. for years. It also introduced many Americans to the finesse of Pinot Noir, and alerted the world that south of Napa Valley and north of Los Angeles spreads the magical Central Coast wine country with excellent quality wines at decent prices (as well, apparently, as heartache and romance associated with road trips).

Back in France, a recently released movie I’ve not not had the pleasure to see yet (though I wrote about it before) is titled Premier Crus. It is based in Burgundy and revolves around what appears to be a rough harvest and family travails. The movie is subtitled in English.

The Secret of Santa Vittoria was recommended by Peter Ratray from Sussex in the U.K. I’ve not yet seen this (though did read the fictional book a few years ago). Free and full editions of the movie are available on YouTube. Made in 1969 and starring Anthony Quinn and directed by Stanley Kramer (of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame), it’s about German occupation of an Italian village during the Second World War, and the hiding of precious wines.

A recommendation from Martin Robinson from London, as well as Kamala Balachandran Wright in the U.S., is for The Year of The Comet. This appears to be about a precious wine bottle hidden in a castle on Scotland’s Isle of Skye that must be transported to London by a beer loving Texan and his new girlfriend. Scenes involve thieving thugs, helicopter chases and a cliffhanger or two.

Kelly McGrath Quevedo of southern California suggested watching Mondovino. This documentary regards the impact and controversy associated with Robert Mondavi’s winemaking style and the changing of wine production techniques throughout the world.

Another documentary (released this year) is the second in a series about sommeliers, titled Somme: Into the Bottle. It is better than the first in the series. The variety of people interviewed helps keep the narrative grounded.

Diane Sanders-Rehberger also recommended A Walk in the Clouds, a 1995 movie about a young lady returning to Napa Valley with a few surprises for the family.

Back to Star Wars…

The original bar scene in the first episode (“a wretched hive of scum and villainy,” according to Obi-Wan Kenobi) is memorable, but the only mention I found of wine was from books associated with the series, not the movies themselves. ‘Wookieepedia’ informed me that Hans Solo kept the odd bottle of Corellian wine aboard the Millennium Falcon, and apparently Princess Leia once refused his inebriated advances by splashing this wine in his face.

The documentation is clear: the association of romance and wine historically stretches back a long time to a far, far away galaxy.

Thanks for tuning in. We’ll be back again with some more recipes and wine news later this month.

‘Vin de Garage’ in Northern California

October 18, 2016

Some friends, known since youth, joined gangs, fraternities, rotary clubs, professional associations or workers unions.

A few became “garagistes.”

According to  French lore, garagistes, or garage winemakers, began producing, well, vins de garage in the 1990’s. They were reputed as slightly edgy, streaked with rebellious tendencies and prone to wander far from any pack. They produced (or procured) grapes to produce low-yield, small volume wines produced with new oak.

Consider Château Valandraud, in Bordeaux, France. This one hectare (2.5 acre) plot of vines produced such superior low-quantity wine that, in the eyes of wine critic Robert Parker – it ranked higher than the famed Pètrus wine for quality. In the 1990’s word of this silent rebellion spread to the Ribera del Duero in Spain, then to Australia. California garagistes, though previously unlabeled, had been producing such wines since the 1980s, with cult labels including Screaming Eagle and those from Harlan Estate.


Harvested grapes from Rattlesnake Ridge, California (photo courtesy Diane Steinberg)

What made these bottle desirable, and pricey?

The answer is simple: their lack of availability, uniqueness and quality.

Ah, the lure of exclusivity.

Today the term garagiste refers to individuals who produce limited wines, often doing much labor themselves. They rarely have links to large capital investment or deep pocketed wealth, are not beholden to traditional beliefs and are often wary of predominant mindsets. They are as much entrepreneurs as agriculturalists.

As written before on this site, Robert and Tiffany Tedesco Baumann have been making 100% Sangiovese in their Sonoma city front yard for some 10 years now.


Low volume, high quality, and never a need to mow the front lawn

They brought bottles to a recent gathering at Sheep Ranch in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California (as well as their rosé). The red was wonderful – layered, complex, excellent with food, and the rosé crisp and delicious.


Beauty in Northern California

At the same gathering, Richard and Diane Steinberg from Los Altos brought their own bottles – including Syrah grown on their own acres using 19th century plantings from the Barossa Valley of Australia. Again, superb taste and professionally executed – balanced, full, well crafted.


Yes, their vineyard does have rattlers (photo courtesy Diane Steinberg)


Richard harvesting Syrah (photo courtesy Diane Steinberg)

To be honest, many wines I tasted after sampling these garagiste wines – bottles from professional winemakers in California – were surprisingly blunt in comparison. I found the handcrafted wines – honed from years of experience – to be a treat because they had an edge of individuality, and were not crafted to suit mainstream market tastes.

The point? When traveling, sample local wines when possible but also don’t be afraid to venture to a friend of a friend who produces small quantity, little known wine. I once tasted low volume Merlot produced by relatives of my nephew’s wife, Iris, in Italy – in the freezing cold weather of winter outside the shed where it was made. It was superb. Fortunately, Iris and her husband Malachi labeled the wine, then served it at their wedding.


Left to right – Domenico, Iris, Roberto…and that’s chilly delicious Merlot from the shed

Thanks for tuning in to this site again. My latest Forbes post includes a reason why spending time at LAX international airport terminal might actually be enjoyable.

California Versus France

October 4, 2016

During past weeks I’ve traveled from NoCal to SoCal, as they say – from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California to the gilded sand of Laguna Beach in southern California, stopping now and then to sample local wines.

The good news is that there are still ample great wines at decent prices (less than $20 a bottle) in California and that the styles – whether fruity or powerful – are usually well-balanced and delicious.

The rise of the ‘urban winery’ is also evident. I recently drank at a winery in Laguna Beach producing bottles using grapes taken from northern California (Napa and Sonoma), as well as at the inland Rancho Capistrano Winery – which also sources grapes from throughout the state.

California friends are also producing their own wines, including Corner Lot Winery’s Sangiovese from Sonoma County, and Rattlesnake wines from Los Altos (the vineyard includes 19th century vines from Barossa, Australia).

And good news – congratulations to Norm Benson of Dark Star Cellars for selling his winery – after years of dedicated, hard work.

When I tell California friends about France, they are intrigued by the notion of long afternoon lunches with good food and wine, walking to local markets for high quality cheeses and breads, and visiting ancient structures dotted throughout the countryside. For friends from France, the image of California beaches and a Beach Boys surfing lifestyle is attractive. When I asked my Spanish/French friend Monica in Bordeaux what she wanted me to bring her from California, she just said, “Malibu beach.” But of course!


Laguna Beach, California


Gironde Estuary, France

While getting a haircut in San Luis Obispo in the Central Coast of California, a woman who had moved to that town with her young child from Durango, Colorado, told me she loved the local lifestyle with good food, wine, free concerts and sunny beaches. She then made it quite clear that she also wanted to adopt the French lifestyle that included two-hour lunches with wine. (We used to have the three martini business lunch decades ago in the U.S….there must be a productivity related reason why that culture faded away.)

The openness and hospitality is quick and confident in California – including immediate invitations for porchside pizzas and Pinot Noir. In France, in contrast, it may take a more time to establish friendships, though once formed – the consequent depth and degree of camaraderie is solid and assured. And there will rarely be veneer with the people you befriend; what you see is what you get.


Civrac-de-Blaye, France


Sierra Nevada, California

But in this age of high-speed trains, AirBnb and relatively inexpensive flights – I mostly notice mutual curiosity between our nations.

We want to learn about each other. When over a glass of wine people describe memories of train trips and language courses taken overseas (whether in the U.S. or in Europe, or anywhere out of the country), their voices often take on emotion, as though they were describing a flood or hurricane or eclipse – that of wonder at having been exposed to new or unknown facets of reality.

“Vous êtes un énigme,” my French friend Annabelle once told me (“You are an enigma”) when she learned that I, an American, had moved to live in her rural town in France. No other US citizen then lived there. Why would I leave the beaches of California for the vineyards of Bordeaux? My reply, during a two-bottle lunch/language lesson, was – why not? As long as I can secure overseas contract work part of the year to pay bills, I am happy to be able to walk to open air markets, enjoy visiting the local park that is also a world heritage site, and purchase affordable and good quality food and wine in a laid back countryside atmosphere.

It works both ways. Other French musician friends – Laurence and Christian – left France to spend summer traveling around Wyoming and the Dakotas in the U.S. this year. Their pictures show them viewing bison, checking out ancient gun museums and dining casually off campground picnic tables (what a relief – just weeks ago Christian was visibly upset when, at a concert in France, he saw me drinking wine out of a plastic cup. He immediately replaced it with a stylish glass).


Malibu, California


Bordeaux, France

The French had their 18th century revolution soon after the U.S. war of independence. In the 19th century they graded their best Bordeaux wines in a way similar to how our third President Thomas Jefferson also ranked them. Their capital city has been a refuge and point of inspiration for many U.S. artists – including Woody Allen and author Ernest Hemingway, and Samuel Morse – inventor not only of a code, but a dedicated painter who thrived in Paris. Our curiosities are similar, our politics have parallels, and our mutual respect for the freedom of speech is enduring. In summary, there is no ‘California versus France.’ Differences do not divide us; mutual curiosities – instead –  draw us together.

Some French (and American) friends still believe I’m a spy, providing some mysterious degree of high level intelligence to aid our U.S. national security forces. I’m not sure what intel related to French wine production techniques could be translated into national defense policies. Still, if someone offers to pay for that information, I may take them up on it. After all, it may prove that the two-hour, two-bottle lunch really does provide excellent input for slowing any decline of civilization.

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My latest posts on Forbes are about wineries in California – including in Calaveras County, Malibu city, and Laguna Beach.



More Irish Wine

September 28, 2016

I’m traveling through California (sampling wines) – so this post will be short and light.

Years ago I wrote about Irish wine, as well as the history of wine being traded for sheepskins near the Dingle peninsula.

Now the same winery I wrote about is graced with serious reviews, as shown in the video below….

Thanks for tuning in, and please check out my latest Forbes posts about bread, Claus Meyer, and Calaveras County wine from northern California.

The Power of Food, Why Vets Turn Sommeliers, and The Taste of Zambela

September 13, 2016

First – friends who own La Galerie Restaurant recently hosted food and cuisine visionary Claus Meyer‘s flying visit from New York to Blaye, Bordeaux – which lasted less than 18 hours total. The buffet dinner was spectacular.


This visit is significant, because if this renowned food personality/philanthropist responsible for co-founding the 4 time recipient of the best restaurant in the world (Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark) embarks on a restaurant, it could become a worldwide focal point for innovation, quality, and respect for using local ingredients. Rather than inspect Paris or the city of Bordeaux, Claus has eyes on our little city (population about 3,000) of Blaye (pronounced ‘bl-YE’). Why? Perhaps because business partners suggested the benefits of this location, perhaps because his epiphany regarding food occurred decades ago in the nearby French city of Agen, perhaps because – like his restaurants in Denmark and Bolivia – the venue is not mainstream. Perhaps all these reasons contribute.

During a 6 am drive to the airport I managed to ask questions (included in my latest piece for Forbes). The man is straightforward, funny and energetic.

Second – Someone sent me a piece from The New York Post about how the need to impose order on stressful situation is why some military veterans are attracted to becoming wine sommeliers.

Third – a group of us co-own an exclusive 1 hectare (2.5 acre) vineyard near Blaye – previously owned by movie comedian Gerard Depardieu, and later by renowned artist Thierry Bisch. The red wine (Etalon Rouge; note this website is outdated) is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and the white is 100% Sauvignon Blanc.


Harvest is coming soon. If anyone is interested in bottles of 2015 (a stellar vintage), please let me know as my storage space is running out (shipping to the U.S. is for a minimum of 6 bottles).

Fourth – below is another recipe from the forthcoming book The Winemakers’ Cooking Companion. It is a recipe for Zambela dough from Maria Galassi’s winery in the Emiglia Romagna part of Italy. This general purpose dough can be creatively used for all sorts of desserts. I recently made half-moon shapes stuffed with chocolate chips, pine nuts, raisins and powdered hazelnuts. Thumbs up.


Zambèla Dough

From Maria Galassi, Owner of Galassi Maria Winery, Paderno di Cesena, Emilia-Romagna Region, Italy


Preparation Time and Quantity –

15 minutes to prepare dough, 20 minutes to knead, 30 to 60 minutes to form pastries, 15 minutes to cook. Serves 10 people.


Ingredients and Amounts

Flour – 5 cups (500 grams)

Sugar – 1½ cups (300 grams)

Zested peel of 1 lemon

Baking powder – 1 teaspoon (5 grams)

Brown sugar – as needed

Eggs – 3

Butter – 7 ounces (200 grams)

Lard (or shortening) – 1 tablespoon (14 grams)


Preparation –

  1. Pre-heat oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).


Recipe –

  1. Put all ingredients in large bowl, then mix together. Start with dry powders and lemon zest, then add others.
  2. Now knead this dough until it is consistent and homogeneous—about 20 minutes.
  3. Regardless what you make below, the baking time is about 15 minutes, or 25 to 30 minutes for larger items.


Maria wrote –

“Now it’s up to you – with this dough you can put no restraint on your imagination! This is what I do – I prepare a double dose of the dough and prepare three or four things.

You can:

  • Prepare classic oven cooking by rolling out the dough until getting a thin pastry, cutting in any shape you like, and covering with sprinkles.
  • Make circles, fill them with jam, and fold them into half-moon shapes.
  • Add other ingredients, such as chocolate drops, raisins, chopped hazelnuts, pine nuts – then cut into any shape you want. My advice – raisins and pine nuts or chocolate and hazelnuts. Really excellent!
  • Roll out the dough, spread it with jam or cocoa paste or almond paste, then roll it into the shape of a strudel.
  • Add some cocoa powder – 1 tablespoon (50 grams) –and some milk to half the dough, and making huge cookies.
  • Using two pieces of dough (one with cocoa powder, one without) you can superimpose two rectangles of rolled out pastry, roll this into the shape of a cylinder, cut it into slices and get a ‘girella’ (Swiss roll).
  • Shape it into a ‘ciambellone’ or ‘zambèla (similar to a chiffon cake), and cover the surface with brown sugar.


Tom’s Comments –

These are delicious, both the crust and insides.

It’s not often you have the pleasure of being told to put all ingredients in a bowl and mix together, but that is how easy the preparation is. Start mixing with a wooden spoon, then use your hands. Instead of a rolling pin I used a wine bottle (a trick learned decades ago as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa). Because there are no moving parts, this provides greater control.

To make half-moons, first make circles about 5 inches (12½ centimeters) in diameter. Fold each circle of pastry over, and crimp the touching edges at one end and continue crimping forward along the semi-circle until the pastry is shaped first like a funnel, then like a half-moon. Before closing it, you ‘stuff’ additional fillings inside to make the pastries full and generous.





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