March Madness

I'm not talking about college hoops, I'm talking about the effect that the month of March (and April quite frankly) have on my psyche. Spoiler alert: it is not good. It's dark, grey, wet, cold, and generally grim and horrible. Glimmers of spring poke through, but they are promptly doused by freezing rain. Everything is the color of blah. It's difficult to shake off the effects of such a depressing time. You know it's bad when you're dog doesn't want to go outside. More couch snuggles instead? Yes please.

My best effort to keep the moodiness at bay is to cook. Spending time in my kitchen is my therapy. It's hard to feel bummed when delicious smells envelope you. Oh, and wine. I'm often asked if there is a slow time in the wine business. Yes, but not really. Wine is one of those things that you drink when it's warm and when it's cold. You drink it when you're happy and when you're not so happy. Wine is always in season. I've been enjoying some high acid, low alcohol quaffers (definitely always in season for me). My favorites right now...

Chateau D'Epire Cuvee Speciale Savennieres 2015 (chenin blanc from the Loire Valley) has notes of honeyed lemon peel and wooly quality, like an afghan for your tongue! It's racy acidity makes it my go-to wine to drink while cooking in the kitchen.

Thevenet & Fils Macon Pierreclos Rouge (gamay from Burgundy) is so cheerful with aromatics of red and purple fruits - raspberry, cherry and cherry blossom perfume the glass. It’s bright and clean on the palate with notes of cherry-berry, soft tannins, and a spicy finish. Utterly food-friendly and a joy to drink.

Lapierre Raisins Gaulois (gamay from Beaujolais) gamay is possibly the perfect grape - it delivers some of the most thirst-quenching red wines. This one from Lapierre is brilliant with a chill on it. It displays pretty notes of red cherry, blackberry, pomegranate, and some classic Beaujolais gravel. Extremely gulpable.

Below are some recipes I've made recently that kept me from the edge. It's another grey day today. Sigh. Excuse me while I get back in the kitchen.

Swiss Chard and Sardine Gratin
Serves 6-8
*From Saveur

1 1⁄2 lb. Swiss chard, stemmed, leaves roughly chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup flour
2 1⁄2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Gruyère
1⁄4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten
2 (4-oz.) cans sardine fillets packed in oil, drained
1⁄2 cup panko bread crumbs


1. Cook chard in salted boiling water until wilted, 1–2 minutes. Drain, let cool, and squeeze dry. Heat 4 tbsp. butter plus oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook garlic and shallots until golden, 5–7 minutes. Add flour; cook 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, cream, salt, and pepper; boil until thick, 2–3 minutes. Stir in chard, half the Gruyère, the nutmeg, and eggs.

2. Heat oven to 400°; grease an 8″ x 11″ baking dish with oil. Spread half the chard mixture into dish; top with half the sardines. Repeat layering. Stir melted butter and bread crumbs in a bowl; sprinkle over top with remaining Gruyère. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Sticky Spicy Grilled Country Style Pork Ribs
Serves 2-3

2 ½ lbs country style pork ribs
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
⅛ tsp cayene
¼ tsp ground thyme
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp gochujang (Korean red chile paste)
¼ cup red pepper jelly
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
6 garlic cloves, minced
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 scallion, sliced


1. Mix dry ingredients together with ribs and let marinate in the fridge at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

2. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix together well.

3. Using a gas grill, turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until very hot, about 15 minutes. Clean and oil cooking grate. Reduce heat to medium-high and add ribs to grill, glazing uncooked side with sauce, cover and cook about 2 minutes. Flip ribs and glaze other side with sauce, cover and cook another minute. Flip and glaze again until ribs are well crisped and cooked through, about 5 more minutes.

4. Transfer ribs to a platter and tent with aluminum foil and let rest 5 minutes. Sprinkle with sliced scallion and serve.


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