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Fresh fall flavors

Posted: September 28, 2010 3:49 p.m.
Updated: September 29, 2010 3:49 p.m.
Creamy corn soup with bacon toasts Creamy corn soup with bacon toasts
Creamy corn soup with bacon toasts
Roast chicken with spiced pomegranate-orange glaze Roast chicken with spiced pomegranate-orange glaze
Roast chicken with spiced pomegranate-orange glaze

This fall, create a menu to remember by incorporating fresh, seasonal flavors into the traditional, comforting dishes of the season. As the air becomes crisp and the sun sets a little earlier each day, it’s the ideal time to warm up your kitchen while experimenting with fresh ingredients. Plus, matching each dish with a corresponding wine is a simple technique for enhancing the flavors in the food and wine.

Chef Aida Mollenkamp, host of the popular Food Network show “Ask Aida” and Cooking Channel series “FoodCrafters,” suggests adding bright bursts of flavor, such as citrus zest, or a unique topping like chimichurri, to give a dish an unmistakable taste of the season.

To start off a great meal, or even as a light main dish, try Aida’s version of creamy corn soup topped with an indulgent cheese toast and crumbled bacon. Paired with a glass of crisp Chardonnay from Cali­fornia’s Mirassou Winery®, this is a perfect pairing for any autumn evening. For a main dish, pump up the flavor of a juicy roasted chicken by following Aida’s recipe that incorporates a spiced pomegranate-orange glaze. Served with Mirassou’s fruit-forward California Pinot Noir, this pairing is a crowd-pleaser for any occasion. Or, try topping a grilled hanger steak with a colorful and spicy basil chimichurri, and pair with a glass of Mirassou’s lush Cabernet Sauvignon to create an unforgettable fall flavor combination.

For more recipe ideas from Aida, and wine pairing tips, visit

Roast chicken with spiced pomegranate-orange glaze
Pair with Mirassou California Pinot Noir
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
    1     tablespoon kosher salt
    1/2     teaspoon freshly
        ground black pepper
    2     tablespoons canola or
        vegetable oil
    1     4 to 5-pound roasting
    1/2     medium orange
    1/2     cup pomegranate
    1/2     cup Mirassou
        California Pinot Noir
    1/2     cup orange juice
    3     tablespoons honey
    3     garlic cloves, smashed
    2     teaspoons freshly
        ground black pepper
    2     cloves
    2     tablespoons Dijon

Heat oven to 425°F and arrange rack in middle. Mix together salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Pat chicken dry and rub all over (under skin, too) with oil and season with salt and pepper. Stuff cavity with orange half, and let sit at room tempera­ture while oven heats up, about 20 to 30 minutes. Place, breast side up, on a roasting rack; roast until skin is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine pomegranate juice, wine, orange juice, honey, garlic, black pepper and cloves in a large pan and boil, stirring frequently, over high heat until syrupy (you should have about 3/4 cup), about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, discard garlic and cloves, whisk in mustard, and reserve half of the glaze for serving.

Continue roasting chicken, brushing with glaze every 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermom­eter inserted in the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding bone, registers 165°F, about 30 to 45 minutes more. Let rest 10 minutes; carve and serve with reserved glaze passed on side.

Creamy corn soup
with bacon toasts
Pair with Mirassou California Chardonnay
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Inactive Cook Time: 15 minutes
For the soup:
    6     ears fresh corn
    2     tablespoons (1/4 stick)
        unsalted butter
    1     medium sweet onion,
        finely chopped
    4     medium garlic cloves,
    1     cup Mirassou
    4     cups vegetable or
        chicken broth
    1 1/2     cups water
    1     cup half-and-half
    1     vanilla bean, split in
For the garnish:
    1/2     cup fromage blanc or
        ricotta cheese
    2     tablespoons minced
    12     1/2-inch-thick slices
        french bread, toasted
    4     slices cooked bacon,

Prepare corn by cutting kernels from cob; reserve cobs. You should have approximately 5 cups of corn kernels from 6 cobs of corn. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it foams, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about five to seven minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add half of the corn kernels and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about three minutes. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits on bottom of pan. Cook until alcohol smell is gone, about three minutes.

Add broth, water, reserved corn cobs, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. When soup is boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. Remove soup mixture from heat, discard cobs and set aside. Place half of soup mixture in a blender and puree until very smooth, about two to tbree minutes.

Repeat with remaining soup mixture. Return mixture to saucepan, add remaining corn kernels, half-and-half, and vanilla bean and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Meanwhile, prepare garnish. Mix cheese and chives and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Divide cheese mixture evenly among toasts. To serve, remove vanilla bean from soup and ladle soup into bowls.

Garnish soup with bacon and float one to two cheese toasts in each bowl.

Spiced hanger steak
with basil chimichurri
Pair with Mirassou California Cabernet Sauvignon
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Cook Time: 15 minutes
For the basil chimichurri:
    1     packed cup fresh
        basil leaves,
        trimmed of thick
    3     medium garlic cloves
    3     tablespoons red wine
    1     teaspoon red pepper
    1/4     cup olive oil

Finely chop basil and garlic (or process in a food processor several pulses). Place in a small bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Let sit at least 15 minutes before using. (Serve or refrigerate until ready to use. If chilled, return to room temperature before serving. Can keep up to 2 days.)
For the steak:
    1 1/2     teaspoons ground
    1     teaspoon ground
    3/4     teaspoon freshly
        ground black pepper
    1/2     teaspoon ground
    2     teaspoons kosher salt
    2     tablespoons canola or
        vegetable oil
    1     1 1/4 to 1 1/2-pound
        beef hanger steak or
        skirt steak, sliced
        crosswise into 4 pieces

Combine spices and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

Lay steaks on baking sheet, driz­zle all over with one tablespoon oil.

Sprinkle on spice mixture, and rub it in until moistened.

Repeat, coating steaks as evenly as you can.

Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes before cooking.

When ready to cook, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add remaining one tablespoon oil.

When oil begins to smoke, place steaks in pan and cook, undisturbed, until crust has formed and blood appears on surface, about three to five minutes, flip and repeat on second side.

Remove steaks to a carving board, cover loosely with foil, let rest for 10 minutes. To serve, slice against the grain and serve driz­zled with basil chimichurri.



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