Will you have wine with that?

BOOKMARK

August 06, 2008|By Jill Rosen | Jill Rosen,Sun reporter

Williams-Sonoma Wine & Food A New Look at Flavor By Joshua Wesson Free Press / May 2008 / $29.95

Matching food with wine can be a baffling, if not intimidating, experience. Just as toothpaste residue will sour the morning orange juice, the wrong wine can undermine an otherwise great entree.

Joshua Wesson, who founded a chain of wine stores organized by style, organizes his book the same way - to the benefit of anyone looking to demystify wine pairing.

He explains not only why chardonnay is a rich white, but why it works alongside a fresh corn soup with shiitake mushrooms.

To complement his Nicoise Salad With Seared Tuna, with its fresh and salty elements, he smartly recommends pouring a French rose with herbal aromas and fruit flavors.

Though the book includes only 50 recipes, it's worth the money for a chart at the beginning that can guide someone cooking say, shrimp, through possible wine matches and then, depending on the recipe, to a bottle that's a near-sure thing.

Wine Country Cooking By Joanne Weir Ten Speed Press / August 2008 / $22.50

If Joshua Wesson's book tilts more toward wine tutorial, Joanne Weir's has the foodie's interests at heart.

She leaps into more than 200 pages of recipes, dishes inspired by California's lush wine country.

Though Weir thoughtfully recommends drinking a chablis with her lemon-and-shrimp risotto, or a cotes du Rhone with the veal chops, the plate itself is clearly what thrills her.

She's interested in seasonal cooking and incorporating into recipes the tomatoes, lemons, nuts and herbs thriving near vineyards.

Her Feta-and-Olive Crostini lent an earthy, fresh start to a light, summer dinner. She suggests sipping a prosecco alongside, a refreshing choice.

Wine Bar Food Mediterranean Flavors to Crave With Wines to Match By Cathy and Tony Mantuano Clarkson Potter / April 2008 / $27.50

Cathy and Tony Mantuano want to take readers on a tipsy barhop through Europe, stopping for snacks in Milan, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; Athens, Greece; and Lisbon, Portugal.

The concept of pairing is an afterthought here. The authors just want readers to taste wine-bar menus from city to city.

With this book, readers could arrange an Italian, Spanish or Greek cocktail party, but they probably would walk away unsure if they should serve Rioja with the Mantuanos' Catalonian Pizza. That said, I successfully rolled the dice and drank prosecco with Whipped Feta and Roasted Red-Pepper Spread.

jill.rosen@baltsun.com

Nicoise Salad With Seared Tuna

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed (divided use)

1/4 cup red-wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped shallot

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound small red or white boiling potatoes

1/2 pound haricots verts or other small green beans, trimmed

8 to 12 olive-oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)

1/4 cup milk (optional)

1 piece sashimi-grade tuna fillet, about 3/4 pound and 1-inch thick

6 to 8 cups torn romaine or butter lettuce leaves

4 small tomatoes, chopped

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup kalamata olives

In a food processor, combine the 1/2 cup olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot, tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper and process until almost smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Set the dressing aside.

In a saucepan, combine the potatoes with salted water to cover, bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. About 7 minutes before the potatoes are done, add the haricots verts or other beans. When the potatoes and beans are tender, drain them and immerse in a bowl of cold water to halt the cooking. Drain and then peel the potatoes and cut them into slices 1/4 -inch thick.

When the vegetables are cooking, in a small bowl, combine the anchovies, if using, and milk and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, discarding the milk. Pat the anchovies dry with paper towels and chop coarsely.

Preheat a cast-iron or other heavy frying pan over high heat until very hot. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the tuna and cook until seared on the first side, about 2 minutes. Turn the tuna over and sear on the second side, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and cut across the grain into slices 1/4 -inch thick.

In a bowl, add the lettuce and about 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Toss well and divide among chilled plates. Add the potato slices and beans to the bowl, drizzle with more dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss and divide among the plates. Arrange the anchovies, tomatoes, egg slices and olives on top of the salad, dividing evenly. Top each serving with 1/4 of the tuna, and drizzle evenly with the remaining dressing.

From "Williams-Sonoma Wine & Food"

Per serving: 577 calories, 29 grams protein, 41 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 138 milligrams cholesterol, 878 milligrams sodium

Online

Find recipes for Whipped Feta and Roasted Red-Pepper Spread and Feta-and-Olive Crostini at baltimoresun.com/taste

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