Grape harvest meals
With the start of the 31st annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival just a couple of days away, and the whole valley deep in harvesting fresh grapes, apples, pears and vegetables, there’s a bounty of local produce everywhere you turn, even if your own garden is beginning to fade.
It’s enough to inspire the most jaded cook. Add in the option of pairing that wonderful seasonal food with local wines and the cook could probably be persuaded to use some of it to enhance the dish.
With hundreds of events up and down the valley, this very popular fall festival, which coincides with the excitement of the annual grape crush, offers something for everyone.
It kicks off with the B.C. Wine Awards at the Rotary Centre for the Arts on Thursday, Sept. 29, 7 to 9 p.m., where there’ll be a reception of tapas and a chance to taste test some of the award-winning wines.
The next night, the Westjet Wine Tastings will be held at the same venue, 6:30 to 9 p.m., with a chance to taste more than 150 wines from more than 40 wineries—as long as you sip, sample and spit, that is.
As far as food is concerned, there’s an even more exciting event which is new this year: the FortisBC Salute to Food and Wine at Manteo Resort from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, October 2.
Local chefs such as Matt Batey from Mission Hill and Bernard Cassavant from the Wild Apple will prepare local food paired with great local wines along with conducting live cooking demonstrations. You’ll even get to take home some recipes.
For tickets to these and more events, go to: selectyourtickets.com or call 717-5304. For details of the other events, pick up a brochure wherever wine is sold or at tourism centres or go to: www.thewinefestivals.com
For more wine-y recipes using local ingredients, in season, pick up a copy of my new book called Jude’s Kitchen, wherever books are sold.
Chicken in Wine Sauce with Grapes
This is excellent with grouse or other game birds as well as chicken.
I use seedless eating grapes like the delectable blue, locally-developed Coronation grapes. Don’t use grapes with seeds in them.
Pair this with the fruit-forward Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery’s Ogopogo’s Lair Pinot Grigio. Yum.
2 lb. (1 kg) chicken parts
flour, salt and pepper to coat
drizzle of oil and butter
1 large onion
1 celery stalk
10 medium mushrooms
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 c. (125 ml) dry white wine
1/2 c. (125 ml) chicken broth
1/2 c. (125 ml) yogurt
2 c. (500 ml) seedless grapes
Coat chicken with a mixture of flour, salt and pepper, and brown over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large frypan with a lid, in a combination of oil and a little pat of butter, for flavour.
Meanwhile coarsely chop onion and celery and quarter mushrooms. Mince rosemary.
Remove chicken and set aside, then add onions and mushrooms to the oil in the pot. Add a little more oil if needed.
Saute and soften the vegetables, then stir in any remaining seasoned flour or a spoonful more and cook for a minute. Stir in hot chicken broth and wine. Whisk the sauce until slightly thickened.
Return chicken pieces to pot and reduce the heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or so, or until the meat is tender and cooked through.
Remove chicken to a serving dish and keep warm. Add yogurt and grapes to sauce. Mix in and warm the grapes through.
Pour over chicken pieces on a platter and serve over rice or pasta.
These can be served for breakfast, brunch or lunch; with cheese, bacon or sausages, or as a vegetable dish with dinner. Next time we might add some minced jalapeno pepper to these.
We tried the new Haywire 2010 Gamay Noir Rose with them and found its spicy notes delightful with the zucchini. The berry aromas played out as a substantial mouth feel, but with a touch of citrus on the tongue, and finished with a pleasant zing; not too sweet, nor overly dry, but quite luscious.
2 c. (500 ml) grated zucchini
3 tbsp. (45 ml) Swiss cheese
1 small onion
2 tbsp. (30 ml) fresh parsley
1 tsp. (5 ml) tarragon
1/2 c. (125 ml) whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. (30 ml) oat bran
1 tsp. (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) pepper
1 beaten egg
Grate zucchini and cheese and chop onion finely. Mince herbs and mix it all together well in a bowl.
Mix dry ingredients and grated cheese in a small bowl until well combined and then sprinkle over the vegetables.
Beat egg and add it to the mixture, blending well.
Drop by spoonful onto greased frypan on medium-high heat and press each cake down. Turn when they’re browned and crisp.