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The Monte Cristo Sandwich

The origins of the Monte Cristo sandwich are not entirely known. What is known is that a version of the sandwich was likely served in Paris cafes in the 1920s, and then gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1930s. When it first appeared in American cookbooks it was not called the Monte Cristo, but was rather referenced with its straight-to-the-point name “French Sandwich”. For those unfamiliar with the Monte Cristo, the sandwich posits that breakfast can be enjoyed all day, as the basis of the dish is a sweet and savory blend of a ham sandwich and french toast. 

The brilliance of a Monte Cristo is arguably in its simplicity, as it is just a ham and cheese sandwich that has been battered and fried. But the sweet and savory notes of the dish can be accentuated with a finer selection of ingredients and a few twists to a classic sandwich.

Suggested Pairing: Los Alamos Pinot Noir

The sweet and savory nature of the Monte Cristo lends itself to a complimentary wine pairing with our fruit forward and robust Los Alamos pinot noir. Its ripe cherry and fresh berry fruit profile accompanies the sweet notes of powdered sugar and jam– meanwhile, a touch of acid found in the wine helps cut through the richness of the Monte Cristo. The more savory notes of earth, leather, and forest floor on the wine compliments the smoke and salt found in the Monte Cristo’s ham and turkey.

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices of brioche bread
  • 8 slices of smoked turkey
  • 8 slices of ham
  • 8 slices of Swiss cheese
  • Dijon mustard
  • Raspberry or strawberry jam
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)
  • Parsley for garnish (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Assemble the Sandwiches:
    • Lay out 4 slices of brioche.
    • Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on each slice.
    • Layer 2 slices of turkey, 2 slices of ham, and 2 slices of Swiss cheese on each slice of bread.
    • Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread to create sandwiches.
  2. Prepare the Batter:
    • In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cinnamon until well combined.
  3. Dip the Sandwiches:
    • Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat and add a tablespoon of butter.
    • Dip each sandwich into the egg mixture, ensuring both sides are well-coated.
  4. Cook the Sandwiches:
    • Place the dipped sandwiches on the hot skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Serve:
    • Remove the sandwiches from the skillet and let them rest for a minute.
    • Cut each sandwich diagonally into halves or quarters.
    • Dust with powdered sugar for a touch of sweetness.
  6. Add a Sweet Twist:
    • Serve the sandwiches with a side of raspberry or strawberry jam for dipping.
  7. Garnish (Optional):
    • Garnish the plate with fresh herbs, such as parsley, for a touch of color and freshness.

Chicken Gaston Gérard

Yet another kitchen disaster made good in the name of invention. The recipe was created in 1930 by the wife of the Deputy Mayor of Dijon, Gaston Gérard. She was cooking for an esteemed guest, Maurice Edmond Sailland, AKA Curnonsky, a celebrated food writer dubbed The Prince of Gastronomy. Gravity intervened and she accidentally dumped a load of paprika into the chicken dish Madame Gérard was cooking. To rectify it she added crème fraiche, white wine and a dollop of mustard. Curnonsky loved it, and he named the dish after his host. It is now a Dijon classic.

Suggested Pairing: While Chardonnay and our Hildegard Estate White share similar traits, Hildegard has a more expressive fruit character and crispness that makes it incredibly food compatible. Its velvety mouthfeel and bright citrus notes are a heavenly pair with creamy, rich chicken dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/4 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¾ cup Crème Fraiche (or sour cream if creme fraiche is unavailable)
  • 3/4 cup grated Comté or Gruyère cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (optional), leaves removed and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp dry breadcrumbs

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces. Heat oil & butter in skillet until butter is sizzling and frothy. Brown the chicken breasts; about 3-4 minutes each side.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish and then place in the oven to finish cooking, about 10-15 minutes. 
  4. In the same skillet, sauté the shallot until golden then add white wine, simmering until wine is reduced by about half. Lower the heat and add to it the creme fraiche, mustard, thyme and paprika and let simmer a few minutes more.
  5. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with grated cheese then top with breadcrumbs.
  6. Return to oven to warm chicken and melt cheese.
  7. Serve immediately with a baguette (or wild rice), mixed green salad and a glass of Hildegard.

Mom’s Heartwarming Spin on Hungarian Lecso/Lecho/Leczo

The Perfect Comforting Stew for Cool Evenings From WikToria

Wiktoria Marroquin at Au Bon Climat Winery

As the cold raindrops gently tap on the window pane and a soft breeze whispers through the trees, there’s nothing quite like the comforting embrace of a warm bowl of Hungarian lecso. This cherished family recipe has been passed down through generations, and it holds a special place in our hearts. Today, I’m excited to share my family’s Polish spin on this classic Hungarian stew – a dish that my Mom used to lovingly prepare on cold rainy days, making it the best comforting meal ever. Let’s dive into the heartwarming world of our Hungarian lecso!

Ingredients:

  • 4 red peppers
  • 2 zucchinis 
  • vegetable broth
  • 1 big yellow onion
  • kielbasa (you can get a real deal one at Euro Market in Goleta, the best one is from Pulaski Meat)
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes 
  • salt 
  • pepper

Procedure:

  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Best Served: The Next Day
Prepare the Ingredients:

Start by washing the red peppers and zucchini thoroughly. Slice the bell peppers into thin strips, and the zucchinis into half-moons. Set them aside.

Create the Flavorful Base:

In a large pot, add some olive oil and sauté the onion until it becomes translucent and slightly caramelized. This is the foundation of our stew, adding a hint of sweetness and depth of flavor. Take your time with this step to get it just right.

Add the Peppers and Zucchini:

Once the onion is ready, add the sliced red peppers to the pot. Let them cook for a few minutes until they start to soften. Then, add the zucchini and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to mingle.

Introduce the Kielbasa:

Now comes the star of our spin of lecso – the kielbasa! The most famous thing in Poland. My personal favorite is when my brother makes one from scratch but when you are an immigrant you deal with what you can find, right? Cut the kielbasa into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pot. Their smoky richness will infuse the stew with a delightful savory note.

Pour in the Crushed Tomatoes:

Open the 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and carefully pour its contents into the pot. The tangy sweetness of the tomatoes will complement the other ingredients, creating a harmonious balance of flavors.

Season to Perfection:

Season the stew with salt and pepper to taste. Keep in mind that the kielbasa can add some saltiness, so go easy on the salt at first, and you can always adjust later.

Simmer Slowly:

Now, it’s time to let the magic happen. Pour in the vegetable broth and 3 cups of water until all the ingredients are just covered. Bring the stew to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and let it simmer for at least an hour (I do 2-3 hours), stirring occasionally.

Patience Is Rewarded:

After the long, slow simmer, your Hungarian lecso will have transformed into a comforting stew with layers of rich flavors. But trust me, the patience is worth it! The next day, the flavors will have melded even further, creating a symphony of taste that will leave you wanting more.

Enjoy & Share the Love:

Serve the lecso in deep bowls and savor the heartwarming goodness with your loved ones. Don’t forget some crusty bread on the side to soak up the flavorful broth. Share stories, laughter, and the love that goes into making this treasured family recipe.

There’s something magical about the way a comforting stew can bring warmth to your soul, especially on cold evenings. Our family’s spin on Hungarian lecso has been a source of joy and comfort for generations, passed down from my Mom’s kitchen to ours (my American husband is addicted to this leczo). As you take your first spoonful of this heartwarming dish, you’ll feel the love and care that goes into each and every bowl. So, on those cool evenings when you crave a warm and comforting meal, give our Polish-Hungarian lecso a try. It’s not just a stew; it’s a taste of family tradition and the best kind of comfort food.

Enrique’s Pasta with Bacon, Corn, and Scallops

Enrique Rodriguez has been our cellar master at Au Bon Climat for over 3 decades. His role in winemaking is vital, but his side gig was as Jim Clendenen’s “sous chef”. When Jim was traveling, Enrique made lunch for the winery staff and guests.  With Jim gone, he is now the “Chef de Maison” for the winery and our daily lunches continue to be exemplary. This recipe is a staff favorite and is highly adaptable; it’s the bacon, corn and cream that give the basic flavors.  You can switch out the scallops for shrimp, clams or even crab.  Enrique uses whatever we have on hand, and it’s always delicious.

A bowl of pasta with scallops and bacon, garnished and ready to serve hot!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box bowtie pasta
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen corn (or six ears of fresh cooked corn)
  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto sauce
  • ¾ cup cream
  • ½ cup basil leaves, chopped

Procedure:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add salt and pasta.
  2. While the water begins to boil, fry bacon in a large sauté pan until crisp.  Drain bacon on paper towel.  Pour off most of the grease from the pan.  When cool, rough chop bacon.
  3. Return pan to stove, when hot, add onions.  If onions stick, add some olive oil.
  4. When onions soften, add bag of thawed corn.  Sauté corn for 3 to 5 minutes.  If it needs moisture add some wine.
  5. Add scallops and sauté until scallops are almost cooked, just a minute or two.
  6. Add wine and pesto sauce.  Let the wine cook down a bit then add cream and mix thoroughly.  You may add more wine or cream, or some pasta water if you want additional sauce.  Add chopped bacon and half of the chopped basil to sauce.  
  7. Drain cooked pasta and toss with a little olive oil and place in large serving bowl.  
  8. Pour corn and scallop mixture over pasta and toss until pasta is well coated.
  9. Garnish with remaining basil and serve hot.

Mushroom Wellington

The nutty flavor of creminis makes this a flavorful dish well matched with Pinot Noir. Serve with a mixed green salad with pear, toasted walnuts and dried cranberries.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz cremini mushroom
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup vegetable or mushroom broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 oz spinach
  • nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, sheet
  • flour, for rolling out puff pastry
  • 2 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for wash)
  • water

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Add the mushrooms to a food processor and pulse until crumbly, 10-12 times. Be careful not to over-process.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and sauté until the onions are translucent and most of the broth has evaporated.
  4. Add the garlic and sauté for 3 minutes more, or until fragrant.
  5. Add the mushrooms and soy sauce and sauté until most of the liquid has released from the mushrooms and evaporated, 10-12 minutes.
  6. Push the sautéed veggies to the sides of the pan and add a bit more olive oil to the center. Sauté the thyme and rosemary in the oil until fragrant, then incorporate into the rest of mixture.
  7. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted. 
  8. Let mixture cool.
  9. Grease an 18 x 13-inch baking sheet with nonstick spray. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out puff pastry sheet to fit the baking sheet. Transfer the puff pastry to the pan.
  10. In center third of the pastry, add a layer of potato slices, side by side. Lightly season with salt. Top with half of the mushroom mixture and spread in an even layer, about ¾-inch thick. Add another layer of potatoes and the rest of the mushrooms, and top with a final layer of potatoes, seasoning each time.
  11. Fold one side of pastry over the filling, then the other side. Seal the top and bottom ends over the filling. Score the top of the Wellington diagonally with a sharp knife. Do not cut through the dough.
  12. Beat egg with 2 tablespoons water in small bowl until frothy and brush over the Wellington. Decorate with more pastry, if desired. Poke a few air vents in the pastry.
  13. Bake for 35-40 minutes. until golden brown and puffed.
  14. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into thick slices.

Thanksgiving Potato and Celery Root Gratin

A festive dish perfect for this time of year created by our General Manager, Michael Melusky. This recipe was created after a bountiful day at a farmers’ market in the South of France to accompany roasted leg of lamb; plus serve a dual purpose as a way to use up the week’s leftover cheese.

On its own, the Potato & Celery Root Gratin pairs perfectly with the Le Bon Climat Chardonnay, but as a side dish for Thanksgiving with all the other competing flavors, Hildegard is the perfect Thanksgiving wine.  The go to red wine for Thanksgiving would have to be the Le Bon Climat Pinot Noir. Both are meant to be enjoyed with those you love. 

Scalloped gratin potatoes topped with grated cheese and herbs. Recipes, Au Bon Climat, Thanksgiving Recipes, Wine Pairings

Ingredients:

  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 1 large celery root
  • 4 tbs Butter
  • 3 tbs Flour
  • 2 cups heavy Cream or half and half
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere Cheese, or mixture
  • 1 cup Panko
  • Nutmeg
  • White pepper

Procedure:

Peel potatoes and celery root, celery roots can be quite large so you may want to split it down the middle. Using a mandolin or paddle slicer, thinly slice peeled potatoes and celery root.

Spray a nonstick spray or butter a baking dish.  Alternate layers of potatoes and celery root.  

Separately Warm up one cup chicken stock and two cups half and half or heavy cream in the microwave.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan; once it’s melted add 3 tablespoons of flour, whisk together for a minute to create a roux.  Slowly whisk in cup of chicken stock, will quickly create thick paste.  Slowly whisk in two cups of cream.  Let it thicken a few minutes, whisking occasionally, be careful not to let come to a boil.  Add about 2 cups of cheese.  Use Gruyere as a base but if you add other cheeses as well it can create better flavor, add some truffle cheese for a bit of decadence.  Stir until cheese melts and blends into white sauce. Add nutmeg and white pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce over the potatoes. Jiggle the dish to make sure the sauce filters down through all the layers.  

You can cover and refrigerate for a couple hours at this point.  Let it get to room temp before baking.  

Cook for an hour in a 350-degree oven. Cover for the first half hour and then uncover and sprinkle Panko and return to over for last 15 to 30 min.  Insert knife in center to ensure potatoes are fully cooked.  Depending on how full you made the dish you may want to bake with a cookie sheet under it.  Can bubble over.

Panko-Crusted Halibut, Grilled Apricots, and Grilled Romaine

Here is a wonderful and healthy entrée that can be grilled outdoors. We suggest pairing this with our Au Bon Climat Chardonnay from the Sanford and Benedict Vineyard. This wine is very versatile for a rich, barrel-aged Chardonnay. It can hold up to creamier dishes such as risottos or pastas, while also complimenting smokier dishes.

Panko-Crusted Halibut, Grilled Apricots,  and Grilled Romaine

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 pounds of Halibut
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 3 sprigs of Oregano
  • 3 rashers of Bacon (optional)
  • 1 cup of Panko crumbs
  • 4 Apricots
  • 1-2 heads of Romaine
  • Clendenen Family Olive Oil

Procedure:

  1. If you decide to use the bacon, cook until crispy.
  2. In a food processor, blitz the garlic cloves, oregano, bacon (optional), panko, olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. The consistency should stick together, but not be too soggy.
  3. Turn the grill on. Use high heat.
  4. Portion the halibut if needed. Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Half and pit the apricots. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  6. Half or quarter the romaine, depending on size. Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  7. Add the panko crust to the halibut. Spray the hot grill with oil. Place the fish on the grill and do not move it. Close the grill for 2 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size.
  8. When the fish is half-way cooked, add the romaine and apricots to the grill. When the romaine and apricots have a nice char, they are ready to remove.
  9. Drizzle a little more olive oil and finish the dish with some nice sea salt. Voila!

*Pro tip: Use a cake tester or a thin knife, insert into the thickest part of the fish. Then place it under your lip, or on your wrist. If it’s hot, then the fish is done!