Food blogger, wine expert, and self-acclaimed "male version of Julia Child," Gabriel Cabrera walks hungry readers through some of his favorite recipes for three special occasions: a fall picnic, a dinner party with friends, and a romantic homecooked meal with the one you love. Have a snack in hand (alongside a glass of La Crema, of course) as your tastebuds anticipate these delicious dishes soon-to-be added to your culinary repertoire.
Fall is one of the best seasons to have a picnic. It brings the beauty of milder weather with a touch of crisp fresh air that is just cool enough to keep you comfy. For this picnic with friends I decided to bring lots of snacky things and one homemade dish: a Roasted Tomato Savory Clafoutis. Just make sure you don't forget the vino! With the flavor profile of the clafoutis in mind (rich, cheesy, and savory), I needed something to keep things fresh--probably something in the chardonnay spectrum. My taste search brought me to La Crema's Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, which has some delicious citrus notes and just the right amount of acidity to cut through all that clafoutis richness.
Roasted Tomato Savory Clafoutis
Note: I baked this recipe in different sized baking dishes including a small iron skillet, you can either do that to serve them as individual portions or just make one big one for all.
Dairy free version: substitute sour cream for silken tofu, the milk for any non-dairy option of your liking, and leave the cheese out of the equation. Do add more seasoning as tofu will soak up all the flavor.
-5 large eggs at room temperature
-1 pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 30 minutes in hot water, drained
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup milk
-1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
-1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed
- 1/2 cup aged gruyere, shaved (I also recommend using grana padano)
-Fresh cracked pepper to season
1. Preheat the oven at 350F. Grease 4 ramekins or one big baking dish
2. In a bowl, crack the eggs, add salt and whisk until frothy and pale. About 4 minutes.
3. Place the cashews in a food processor or blender and pulse a few times to break it down. You want the consistency of small crumbles. Don't blend too much or you'll end up with cashew butter
4. Sift the flour and fold into the eggs, then gently fold the cashews into the mixture. Add sour cream, milk, and thyme and combine.
5. Add a few tomatoes into each baking dish and top with cheese (divide cheese among all your dishes). Add some cracked pepper and a pinch of salt to season.
6. Pour the egg mixture into each ramekin (try to distribute it equally). You can add extra cheese if you want or leave as is.
7. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until they have puffed a little and the top gets nice and golden brown. I suggest placing the baked clafoutis under your broiler for a minute or two for an extra crispy top.
You can bake them the night before or the day of, and you can eat them at room temp with some baguette. Dee-lish!
When it comes to entertaining we stress out a lot thinking about a million details: the food, decor, drinks, outfits. It's a never-ending list of "must-do." So what's one to do? Cue: long table style dinners.
First, and most importantly, consider the food: Pesto, Fig, and Prosciutto Flatbread. Super rustic and yummy. It also happens to be the perfect interactive dish that your guests can make their own. Second, you need to have some drink options. My suggestion would be to have both one signature cocktail of your liking and some wine. When it comes to the wine, I say stick with something delicate so you please everyone. A light spicy Pinot Noir to be specific. Try La Crema's Willamette Pinot Noir. It has a bit of a fruity spice (I got mostly anise and pomegranate) that doesn't "cut" through the flavors of the meal, but rather, joins the ride. Lastly, for the table decor, long table dinners have foraged items. Don't get anything colorful or bright though; go for something earthy and neutral. For this party I used eucalyptus branches and some billy balls; the quintessential bloom of the long table style dinners.
Sage & Arugula Pesto, Fig, and Prosciutto Flatbread topped with Fresh Figs
For the flatbread:
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup water
-2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
For the pesto:
-2 1/2 cups of arugula
-3 sage leaves
- 1/4 cup almonds
-1 lemon, juiced
-Salt and pepper to taste
-2 tablespoons olive oil
For the toppings:
-Parm cheese (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients and mix in a stand mixer with a hook attachment or mix by hand using a wooden spoon. Mix just until dough comes together, about 5 minutes. The dough should come together nicely, if it's too dry, add an extra tablespoon of water, if it's too gooey add a light dusting of flour.
2. Take the dough out and knead it on a flat surface using your hands for about 3 minutes, until it gets a bit elastic (don't worry about kneading it a lot, we are not making bread here)
3. Divide the dough in small balls (you should have 8 to 10).
4. Heat up a pan or griddle and brush it with oil. While it's heating up, roll out a ball using a rolling pin and form a thin disk, dust with flour if it gets sticky. Place disk in the smoking hot pan and let it cook for 3 minutes until you see bubbles puffing and the bottom side starts to brown. Flip the flatbread and cook for 1 more minute (not more, as it could dry). Repeat the same process with the other dough balls. Cover the flatbreads with a clean kitchen rag so they don't dry.
5. To make the pesto: put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you form a paste. Little bit on the chunky side is better. Place in a bowl with a spoon to serve.
6. Cut the figs in quarters, place them on a plate and leave them to warm up at room temp for 10 minutes before serving. Shave the cheese and also put it on a plate.
To serve, place the flatbreads on a platter. Have all the toppings and pesto nearby and deck out the table with cutlery and plates, and then let your guest do their magic.
If you are planning to have a romantic dinner with your love, go for something simple and satisfying. Start with a trip together to the farmers market so you can both pick your favorite produce, then head back home. One cooks, the other helps with the dishes and takes care of the drinks. It all culminates with a feast, a meal you both actually love.
For this setup I cooked up a Pork Loin with Spicy Ginger Plum Chutney and Roasted Veggies. I chose those ingredients because they're in season and they're mighty tasty right now. If you can't find the same veggies, go for whatever is available in your region. To accompany the main dish, I served a French baguette with heirloom tomatoes so you can make impromptu crostinis. Have olive oil, salt, and pepper handy to season them. To bring it all together I needed a wine that is bold and smooth, since we have some strong flavors with the ginger and roasted veggies. La Crema's Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is most suitable for this affair with bold cherry and plum notes. I also enjoyed how it smooths out at the end of the sip.
Roasted Pork Loin with Spicy Ginger Plum Chutney
For the pork loin:
-1 pork loin (1 lb will serve 2 people)
- 1/2 pound farmers market carrots, washed, cut in half
- 1/2 nugget potatoes (add a few different varieties if you can), washed, cut in half
-1 small onion, chopped
-2 cloves of garlic, peeled
-3-4 sprigs of summer savory (sub for rosemary if you can't find it)
-Salt and pepper to season
For the chutney:
-1 Lb Italian plums, pitted, sliced
-1 small onion
-1 clove of garlic
-1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice (sub for ground anise or ground clove if you don't have it)
-3 tablespoons brown sugar
-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
-Salt and pepper to taste
To make the chutney:
Place all ingredients in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat with some oil. Let the ingredients brown a little, then reduce the heat to low and stir. Continue to stir for 10 minutes (be careful, it can stick to the bottom of the pan so keep an eye on it) until it thickens and looks like jam. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
To make the loin:
1. Preheat the oven at 400F
2. Take a big pan, put some oil in it and turn on the heat on high. Pat dry your pork loin, then rub it with pepper (don't add salt now as it'll dry it out). Place the pork loin on the smoking hot pan and sear it (let it be for 3 minutes and don't move it!) once the side is nicely seared, turn it and repeat. Do not cook! You just want to have a nice caramelized crust. Remove loin from pan, place on a plate and cover with tin foil.
3. In a big bowl place the carrots, potatoes, summer savory sprigs, and garlic cloves, toss with olive oil (coat them well), and season with generous amount of salt and pepper. Place seasoned veggies on a roasting pan (or big skillet). Bake them for 20 minutes or until 3/4 done.
4. Lower the oven temp to 350F, remove the pan with veggies from the oven, place the pork loin on top of the veggies, sprinkle loin with sea salt and bake for 20 minutes until 3/4 done or the inside of the loin registers 145F.
To serve, get some of the roasted veggies on a plate, then top with slices of the pork loin, spoon a generous amount of chutney, pour more wine, and you're done.
To learn more about the wines featured in this series, visit La Crema.
About Gabriel Cabrera
Gabriel Cabrera is a culinary-trained rebel turned Food & Prop Stylist. He also happens to be the one-man-show behind Artful Desperado, a site where he shares his favourite recipes. He likes to think he's sort of a male version of Julia Child with an almost-dangerous penchant for chocolate and spice. When he's not styling, he can be found enjoying one (or two) craft cocktails with friends or relaxing at the beach. You can follow his many foodie musings on Instagram, Facebook, and his blog.