No-Pasta Personal Lasagna

No-Pasta Personal Lasagnas
Pairing with CAST’s Merlot, Windsor Oaks, Chalk Hill, 2019
Love lasagna, but trying to eat healthier? Me too….When tasting this newly-released Merlot, with its  lush and rich palate, its liveliness, great acidity  and balance of tannins, fruit and earth tones – comfort food came to mind. Particularly we were thinking about casseroles. We were also in the mood for a good in-house date night meal, and these personal lasagnas using roasted zucchini instead of pasta was a great way to enjoy healthier eating, a beautiful wine and lovely company.
Raise a glass, and enjoy! Cheers…Chef Joe.

No-Pasta Personal Lasagna

Ingredients (makes 2)

For the zucchini

  • 2 pounds firm, unblemished zucchini  (6 small or 4 medium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ½  teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For assembling the lasagna

  • 2 tablespoon soften butter for baking pan
  • ½ cup bread crumbs, preferably sourdough
  • 3.5 cups tomato sauce (your favorite jared or home made)
  • 2 cups grated parmigiano–reggiano or grana padano
  • ½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2  cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Rinse and dry the zucchini, slice-off the stem and trim the blossom end. With a sharp long bladed knife (or a mandolin if you have one) cut very thin lengthwise slices, about an 1/8-inch thick. Put them in a large bowl, sprinkle over the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the 2 tablespoons of oil and toss to coat the slices with the seasonings. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the slices of zucchini on baking sheets and  roast for 10-12 minutes or until the side touching the pan is browning.

Assembling the Lasagnas:

For the personal size servings it is best to use a 4”x 6” baking /serving dish. Spread 2 TBSP  of the tomato sauce in a thin layer in the bottom of the pan.

Cover the bottom with pinches of the bread crumbs. Trim the slices of zucchini and cut them in pieces so they fit close together and lie flat (but you don’t have to fill every small crack or hole).

Spoon  a good size dollop of ricotta onto the layer of zucchini and spread it around a bit. Sprinkle some parmesan.

On top of that another 2 TBSP of sauce , more bread crumbs on top of that.

Make a layer of zucchini , using three of the slices. You can lay them crosswise or lengthwise in the pan, whichever way fits best. Overlap the slices as necessary to make an even layer that completely covers the sauce. Press down gently to condense the lasagna and make more room in the pan. Now repeat the layering (there may only be about three layers.) Arrange another layer of  sauce followed by bread crumbs and trimmed pieces.

Cover the bread crumbs with 2 more spoons full of sauce, spread evenly. Lay out the rest of the zucchini slices in an overlapping layer. Spread the remaining tomato sauce in a thin layer. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese in a generous layer over the top of the lasagna.

Baking the Lasagna:

Bake the lasagna uncovered for about10 plus minutes, giving the cheese time to brown a bit on top and the lasagna time to heat through. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully Let the casserole settle for a few minutes before serving (it will stay hot for some time).

Easy Gruyére Cheese Puffs


With Holiday gatherings making a comeback (hopefully), it means sparkling wines. They are always a fun way to greet friends and family.

Our new estate grown Blanc de Noirs  will undoubtedly be at the top of your list–we have had a chance to enjoy it and know you will as well. These Easy Gruyere Cheese Puffs and are a great pairing with without breaking the bank, using hard to find ingredients, or require you to be a food network chef, though you will feel like one.

As for optional cheeses we recommend a black truffle pecorino, and Estero Gold from the Valley Ford Creamery were excellent companion for these wines. Enjoy making the recipe below and Happy Holidays!
Chef Joe.


Easy  Gruyère Cheese Puffs


Puff Pastry dough-Easy to use and purchase like Trader Joe’s or

other store-16 servings per box.

½ lb grated gruyere cheese per 16 puffs

1 jar of cranberry sauce or jamb like apricot, berry, orange etc.

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Fresh ground black Pepper

Sea salt



1. Once the pastry is thawed (according to the instructions on

the package), break it into four equal portions. Preheat your

oven to 400 degrees.


2. Take a separated portion and cut it into four more equal

parts. Some of the brands are already sectioned for ease of



3. Lightly spray the cups in a muffin pan and begin to place the

smaller sections into the cups. Repeat step two and three

until the muffin pan is full.



4. Sprinkle a pinch of salt, pepper, and rosemary onto each of

the sections in the cups


5. Sprinkle tbsp. gruyere cheese into each cup in the middle of

the pastry section

6. Use ½ tsp of cranberry sauce (or other jam) on top of the

cheese and fold the four corners of the pastry into the middle

and pinch the top


7. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the pastry is

puffed and golden brown.


Plate warm, or at room temperature.

Autumn Cooking : Braised Beef with Porcini Mushrooms

With the cooler temperatures, perhaps some rain, comes the best part of all…..Fall comfort food, and of course (perhaps more importantly) the wines that go with it. Couple that with a meal that includes friends or family and you have all the makings of not just a great meal, but memories, and perhaps some new traditions. When we were trying some of our 2019 Syrah, we couldn’t help but picture braised beef with porcini mushrooms over creamy polenta. This meal may sound complicated, but it’s not! Grab some Cast 2019 Syrah, a glass, and you can create this hearty meal. We wanted to share this recipe with you so that you can enjoy a great meal with great wine!

Braised Beef with Porcini Mushrooms
serves 4

2 ½ pound chuck roast
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
2 to 3 cups dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 bunch fresh thyme and a sprig of rosemary, tied with kitchen string
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms

1. Cut the roast into equal size pieces and season generously with salt and pepper.
Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with olive
oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well,
about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Boil water for mushrooms-Once water is boiled, place dry mushrooms in a bowl
and cover with boiling water and let sit for 20-30 minutes.

4. While the pieces of roast are browning, puree half of the vegetables and garlic in
the food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the meat pieces are very
brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of
the same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed and cut vegetables. Season the
vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a have become caramelized
on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the
caramelized bits and let it reform. Scrape the caramelized vegetables
again and add the tomato paste.

Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom
of the pan. If you’d like, you can add a splash of the 2019 Syrah here as well.
Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half.

5. Return the meat to the pan and add 2 beef broth or until it has just about
covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Roughly chop the
rehydrated mushrooms and add to the pan. Cover the pan and place in the
preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and
add more water, if needed. Turn the meat over halfway through the cooking time.

Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and
brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender
but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.


Creamy Parmesan Polenta

4 cups chicken stock,
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter


Place the chicken stock in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over
medium-high heat until the stock comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and
very slowly whisk in the cornmeal, whisking constantly to make sure there are no lumps.
Switch to a wooden spoon, add the salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring almost
constantly, for 10 minutes, until thick. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan
thoroughly while you’re stirring. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, and butter.
Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Plate polenta in bowls, top with braised beef and garnish with fresh parsley.





We really enjoyed making and eating this meal! We hope you do as well. Thank you Joe Opal for this amazing recipe and photography.

Sometimes “LATE” is Just In Time.

“LATE” is our popular Brandy-infused, Port-styled varietal of our Watson Old Vine Zinfandel. Harvested late. Fortified late. Conceived late. Bottled late. Released late. Best enjoyed…late.

LATE is a delicious,  at the end of the meal with a selection of  bold fine cheeses, dried fruits and walnuts, dark chocolates. Or, pair with your favorite dessert such as Crème Brûlée. Also, It can be served slightly chilled as a delicious aperitif.

Notes: On the nose, enjoy hints of hibiscus, deep red plum and bay leaf. On the palate, dried raspberries, baked plum, dark cherries and toasted pralines.


The palette of LATE lends itself to can making your cocktails more fragrant and complex. Use LATE instead of typically sweeter flavors like Vermouth. Below are a few of the ideas we tried and loved. Let us know what you come up with.


LATE Night Negroni
1 ounce Gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce CAST “LATE”

Add ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice, and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a rocks glass filled with large ice cubes. Add an optional garnish of orange peel.


Ruby Sangria

3 oz CAST “LATE”
3 oz Rum
3 oz fresh lemon juice
6 oz fresh orange juice
1 1/2 oz simple syrup

Mix and serve over ice.



LATE Manhattan

2 oz Bourbon
1 oz CAST 
3 generous dashes of Angostura bitters
Lemon peel

Add ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice, and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled glass and add an optional garnish of lemon peel.


You can purchase “LATE” by clicking here. The beautiful bottle and delightful deliciousness wine make it a great gift.


Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders & Savory Pumpkin Sage Waffles with Brown Butter Maple Syrup

Recommended Pairing: Cast Wines N/V Blanc de Noirs



Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders & Savory Pumpkin Sage Waffles with Brown Butter Maple Syrup



For the waffles:

2 cups all purpose flour

2.5 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 eggs

1.5 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

For the fried chicken:

1.5-2 lbs chicken breast tenders

1.5 cups buttermilk

1.5 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the brown butter maple syrup:

1 stick butter (salted or unsalted, your preference)

1 cup real maple syrup

pinch of nutmeg

pinch of salt


1. Sift together all dry ingredients for the waffles and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, buttermilk and pumpkin puree until smooth and completely incorporated. Whisk all of the dry ingredients into wet ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time until completely smooth. Set aside to rest while waffle iron heats. About 15 minutes.

2. Scoop 1/4-1/3 cup of batter into the center of your waffle iron and cook about 1.5-2 minutes until golden. Waffle irons vary, so gauge your time accordingly. As waffles finish, place them on a rimmed baking sheet in a 200F oven to keep warm and continue to crisp slightly.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pot, melt butter over medium-low heat until milk solids begin to brown and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Carefully add maple syrup and whisk well to completely incorporate. Add salt and nutmeg. Remove from heat until ready to serve.

4. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot with about 3” of canola oil (use any oil you prefer to fry with). While oil heats, mix flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Create a dredging station with chicken in one dish, flour mixture in another dish, and finally the buttermilk in a third dish.

5. Place each chicken tender (only a few at a time) into dry ingredients and coat completely. Shake off excess flour, dip into buttermilk, allow excess liquid to drip off, place chicken back into dry ingredients to coat completely (this is adequate for a light crispy coating. If you like extra crunch, repeat the process one more time).

6. Fry chicken tenders in batches of no more than 6 to keep the oil hot. Fry for 6 minutes, flipping half way through, until completely crisp and golden. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease. Place fried chicken tenders into oven with waffles until all chicken is cooked and you are ready to serve.

7. Warm the syrup before pouring over the chicken & waffles. Enjoy!

Piggy Pasta

Recommended Pairing: Cast Wines 2017 Grey Palm Zinfandel





Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: six servings


1 package of bucatini pasta (linguine is a close 2nd)

1-lb bulk spicy italian sausage (use sweet italian if you are sensitive to heat)

1/2-lb cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

1 shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1-cup dry white wine

1-cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)

fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish


1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rapid boil.

2. Heat a heavy-bottomed 12”-skillet (use the largest straight-sided skillet you own). Add Italian sausage and cook over medium-low heat until sausage is cooked and fat is well rendered.

3. Add shallot and quartered mushrooms to pan with sausage and cook in rendered fat, until mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes.

4. Add pasta to boiling water. Be aware of directed cooking time on package, as you will want to remove pasta 2 minutes shy of package instructions.

5. While pasta cooks, add garlic to sausage & mushrooms and sauté just until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pan. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes.

6. Reserve 1-cup of the starchy pasta water just before draining pasta. Once drained (do not rinse!), add pasta to the pan with the sausage and mushrooms. Add 1/2 of the reserved pasta water, toss to combine and continue to cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.

7. Add cheese and stir thoroughly. Add salt + pepper to taste. **If your pasta seems very dry (which should not be the case) add a little more of the starchy pasta water until it has reached your desired moisture level.

8. Garnish with parsley, more cheese and optional red chili flakes.

9. Enjoy!

Calabrian Clams

Recommended Pairing: Cast Wines 2019 Barrel-Aged Sauvignon Blanc




Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes

Servings: two generous appetizer servings


2 lbs littleneck clams (1 lb per person)

5 oz diced pancetta

2 cloves garlic, grated

1-2 tablespoons calabrian chili paste (depending on heat preference)

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) peas

1 lemon, halved


1. Place clams in a bowl and submerge completely with cool water. Let sit for 20-minutes (1-hour max) to allow clams to filter out any sand. This process is called “purging” and you’ll thank yourself later for not skipping this step. Remove from water, drain and rinse well just before cooking.

2. **Important: Examine your clams and discard any that are open and won’t close with a few taps to the shell.

3. Heat a 6-8 quart heavy-bottomed pot and add pancetta. Cook pancetta over medium-low heat until fat is well rendered and meat has crisped nicely.

4. Add grated garlic and Calabrian chili paste. Stir to quickly cook, just until garlic becomes fragrant. Add white wine, stir well, and let simmer for 3-4 minutes to allow the alcohol to cook off.

5. Add peas and clams to pot, stir once and cover tightly with lid. Let cook for 4-5 minutes, then uncover and stir clams again.

6. As the clams begin to open, use long tongs to remove open clams and place in serving bowl. This process will go quickly. If you have a few stragglers, give them a few more minutes and stirs. If a clam does not open after 10-minutes of cooking, discard it.

7. Pour broth over clams and squeeze one half of the lemon over top.

8. Garnish with remaining lemon cut into wedges and some (optional) flat leaf parsley for more color.

9. Serve clams on their own or with some crusty bread to soak up the broth. Enjoy!

French Cassoulet

Recommended Pairing: Cast Wines 2016 Estate Petite Sirah





duck confit – 6 legs (if you plan to make your own, see previous recipe for duck confit, “cassoulet: part one”)

For the beans:

1.5 lbs dried cassoulet beans, such as Tarbais or cannellini – Locals: Rancho Gordo Heirloom Tarbais Cassoulet Beans were excellent!

1/2 lb slab pancetta (ask your local Italian deli!)

2 slices thick cut bacon

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1 cup crushed tomatoes, canned=OK

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 onion, halved

4 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

6 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley

4 sprigs thyme

1 head garlic, halved

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Pork Ragout:

1.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1“ cubes

3 tablespoons rendered duck fat or olive oil

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2” chunks

1 onion, quartered

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 bay leaf


1.5 lbs Toulouse sausage (garlic, white wine, pepper, nutmeg, allspice) – Locals: Avi de Seghesio from Journeyman was the perfect sausage here!

1 lb cooked garlic sausage (we used Evergood)

1 clove garlic, cut in half

2.5 cups breadcrumbs

1/4 cup rendered duck fat or butter

reserved ragout and bean cooking liquid

duck skins, removed from confit right after cooking


Two days ahead:

1. Cure duck, if making your own duck confit (see Duck Confit recipe in previous post)

2. Soak beans overnight

3. Rinse beans in colander, careful to remove any pebbles or debris (unlikely, but possible). Place in a large bowl and cover with water by 2”. Refrigerate overnight.

The Day before:

Beans + Duck

1. If making your own duck confit, begin the cooking process (see recipe here).

2. Drain soaked beans and transfer to a large pot. Cover with water by 2” and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, drain and rinse beans. (This process helps to eliminate foamy scum that can be a byproduct of the cooking process).

3. Return beans to pot and add chicken stock, water, tomato, vinegar, garlic, onion, cloves (pierced into onion), salt, pepper, nutmeg, and bouquet garni (parsley, thyme + bay leaves tied into a bundle). Stir and cook over medium heat for 1.5 hours, periodically scraping any gray scum off of the top.

4. Remove beans from heat and let cool completely, 2 hours. Discard bouquet garni, onion and garlic. Remove any obvious chunks of pancetta and bacon fat, leaving the meaty bits in with the beans.

5. Meanwhile, heat another large, heavy-bottomed pot with 3 tablespoons of duck fat or olive oil. Season cubed pork shoulder with salt and pepper and brown in batches until golden. Add onion, garlic cloves and carrots to pot and sear in fat with pork, 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, water, tomato and bay leaf. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 3 hours, until pork is tender and liquid is reduced.

6. Meanwhile, if making your own duck confit, carefully remove skin from duck legs and lay on a plate in a single layer. Refrigerate overnight. Pick duck meat off of the bones leaving nice, bite-sized pieces.

7. Remove cubed pork shoulder from cooking liquid. Place duck and pork on top of beans, cover and refrigerate overnight.

8. Strain pork cooking liquid and save in refrigerator for baking cassoulet the following day.

The big day:

1. Remove pot of beans and meat from refrigerator and let come to room temperature, 1-2 hours.

2. Heat oven to 375F.

3. Meanwhile, lay reserved chilled duck skin into a cold 9” cast iron or non-stick skillet, and slowly warm over low-medium heat to gently render fat. Gently cook skin, flipping occasionally until completely crisp, about 12-15 minutes. Remove skin to drain on a paper towel. Set aside.

4. In the same pan, add your Toulouse-style sausage (prick the skin prior to cooking to keep them from bursting). Cook over medium-low heat until golden, about 12 minutes. Remove to cutting board to cool.

5. Meanwhile, add the final 1/4 cup of duck fat or butter to same pan used for sausage and duck fat. Add breadcrumbs and cook over low heat, stirring frequently until toasted and golden, 6-8 minutes. Remove breadcrumbs and set aside.

6. Gather your cooking vessel (I used a large, heavy bottomed soup pot). Rub the entire interior surface of cooking vessel with a halved clove of garlic.

7. Slice pre-cooked garlic sausages into 1/4” coins and layer on the bottom of the cooking vessel. Slice Toulouse-style sausages into 1” chunks and add to pot atop garlic sausage. Using your hands, gather the meat from the top of the bean pot and evenly scatter duck and pork shoulder over sausages. Scoop beans on top of meat in an even layer. Moisten with reserved ragout broth until liquid reaches the top of the beans.

8. Place 1/2 cup of toasted breadcrumbs into small food processor. Add crispy duck skin, broken into smaller pieces. Pulse until a uniform, sand-like mixture is achieved, about 6 pulses. Cover beans with a smooth, even layer of plain toasted breadcrumbs and finish with the final layer of duck fat breadcrumbs.

**Processing duck skin is optional. You can also crumble duck fat on top of cassoulet when you are finished cooking it.

9. Cook cassoulet, uncovered for 30 minutes until a golden crust forms. Remove pot and gently scrape breadcrumbs up with a spoon. Press them back down into a smooth layer, allowing them to absorb a little liquid. Bake until another crust forms, 25-30 minutes and repeat the process. Repeat 2 more times, for a total of 4 crust scrapings. **If at any point the cassoulet seems dry, add more liquid, even if you have to use plain chicken stock.

10. Remove from oven, let stand 20 minutes. Serve + Enjoy!

Gougères with Meyer Lemon + Tarragon Chèvre

Recommended Pairing: Cast Wines 2018 Quail Hill Chardonnay



Estero Gold ‘Gougères’

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes (per batch) yield: 36 Gougères


For the Gougères:

1 cup water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs – room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

pinch of ground nutmeg

3-oz (1 generous cup) finely shredded Estero Gold Reserve* (can substitute gruyere or a quality aged parmesan)


For the Gougères:

1. Heat oven to 425F. Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium non-stick saucepan, bring water, butter, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper to a gentle boil. Add flour and stir to quickly combine (mixture will form a pasty ball very quickly). Continue cooking mixture over medium heat, stirring rapidly and working the mixture against the sides of the pan, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to food processor.

3. Process for about 30-seconds to allow the mixture to cool slightly. Continue processing and add eggs, one at a time, until each is fully incorporated.

4. Add grated cheese and pulse 5-6 times until fully incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to scrape sides and bottom of bowl if necessary.

5. Transfer mixture to a piping bag or a large zip-top bag with 3/4″ cut off of one bottom corner. Pipe 1-tablespoon sized balls, 2-inches apart (12/sheet). Using a wet finger, gently push down any peaks in pastry so that balls are nicely rounded.

6. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325F and bake an additional 12 minutes, until golden. Remove and let cool on a wire rack. If you do not have three baking sheets, reuse the parchment and same baking sheet, allowing it to cool off slightly while the oven comes back up to 425F for the next sheet of gougères to bake.



5-oz chèvre, or soft goat’s milk cheese

4-oz mascarpone or cream cheese

2 teaspoons meyer lemon zest

3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon

salt + pepper, to taste 

1 teaspoon meyer lemon juice

2 tablespoons heavy cream or half+half


1. Place chèvre/goat cheese, mascarpone, heavy cream, meyer lemon zest, lemon juice and chopped tarragon into a medium bowl. Mix well. Season to taste with salt + pepper.

2. If you plan to use a piping bag to fill the gougères, you will want to allow the cheese mixture to come to room temperature so it can be piped with ease. Otherwise, use a serrated knife to carefully slice the puffs in half crosswise and spoon 3-4 teaspoons of cheese mix into each, depending on preference. You do not want to over fill the gougères, but you do not want to skimp either… or else your friends won’t come over anymore.

Applewood Smoked Bacon + Date Jam

Recommended Pairing: Cast Wines 2017 Watson Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel





10-12 slices thick-cut bacon

1 cup chopped shallot – onion works as well

1 large clove garlic, grated

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted dates

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 + 1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme + 3 thyme sprigs

pepper to taste


1. Slice bacon crosswise into 1/4″ lardon and cook over low heat in a large skillet. Cook until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered, 10-15 minutes. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of bacon fat. Add shallots and thyme sprigs. Cook over medium heat until shallots begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add dates and stir to incorporate with the shallots. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

3. Add vinegar and deglaze any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let simmer about 1 minute. Add water, soy sauce and freshly ground pepper to taste. Let cook over medium-low heat until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the mixture begins to gently sizzle.

4. Remove from heat and stir in remaining chopped fresh thyme. Let mixture cool for 20 minutes. (If you plan to serve on homemade crostini, now is a good time to pop those baddies in the oven!)

5. Transfer mixture to food processor and process until it forms a nice, spreadable paste, about 20 pulses.

6. Let meld at least 2 hours, or overnight for optimum deliciousness.

7. Enjoy!


Happy 2022!Take advantage of this rare deal andrestock your cellar.

As a thank you for your support, and to celebrate a new year, 
we want to offer everyone 15% off ANY WINE purchase and $1 dollar ground shipping on 6+ bottles now through January 31st. Members enjoy 25% off ALL WINES and $1 ground shipping on 6+ bottles now until January 31st! Not a member?
Please reach out to our
 Member Concierge to assist you selecting the perfect CAST Membership for you.


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