Archive of Trevor Eliason
on November 29, 2012
I thought I would use this blog as an opportunity to explain what a winery chef does. Not that I want to burst anyone’s bubble, but we don’t have a restaurant at the winery–though I wish we did. My job as Executive Chef is to pair food to the wonderful single-vineyard wines we produce. I take extensive notes while tasting through different wines and vintages with the winemaker, and I use that knowledge to construct locally focused, seasonal dishes that highlight particular flavors and aromas in each wine.
Every year, we add dishes to our master cookbook and then share a few of these with you throughout the year in our newsletter and on our website. Who, you ask, gets to enjoy this wonderful harmony of food and wine? All of the food for the wine club events is prepared by our in-house culinary team. Food and wine pairings, or lunch, can be arranged for private parties instead of the traditional tastings. We also support the winery with charities, promotions and sales.
I look forward to seeing you at of our wine club events (stay tuned for our 2013 event calendar), and I wish you happy holidays.
A behind-the-scenes snapshot of a video shoot I participated in this week. Look for the video–and a recipe and wine pairing–in our December newsletter!
on November 12, 2012
This creamy, autumn soup warms you from head to toe. At the winery, we roast our butternut squash in the wood-fired oven nearly to the point of burning the outside of the squash, which imparts a delectable, caramelized characteristic that pairs beautifully with Nickel & Nickel Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay. This soup makes a charming “shooter” appetizer or is perfect for a first course.
Pair with 2010 Nickel & Nickel Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay, Carneros, Napa Valley
Click here for a pdf version of this recipe.
Butternut Squash with Cinnamon Crème Fraîche
1 medium butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 quarts chicken stock
2-3 tablespoons kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons Chinese five spice
1 bay leaf
2 cups heavy cream
apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup crème fraîche, with
additional for garnish
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375˚F and cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise.
Scoop out seeds with a large spoon. Rub the squash with olive oil and
place flesh side down in a baking dish. Cover with foil and cook for 45
minutes or until very soft. Remove from oven and let cool.
Scoop out the flesh into a large soup pot. Cover with 2 quarts
of chicken stock. Add salt, pepper, ginger, Chinese five spice and
bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
Add 2 cups of heavy cream and allow the mixture to return to a simmer
for 1 minute. Shut off heat.
Puree soup in a blender, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Fill the blender
only half way and start it on low then slowly bring it up to high speed.
Use caution as the hot mixture will expand in the blender. Once the
first batch is blended, empty the blender and blend the next batch.
Continue this process until all the soup is pureed, then pass it through
a fine-meshed sieve. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt or vinegar.
For the cinnamon crème fraîche, add a third of a cup crème fraîche
to a small bowl.
Add cinnamon and whisk until well mixed. For an appetizer portion,
pour the hot soup into a small pitcher. Line up shot glasses, then pour
soup into glasses. Top with a tiny amount of the crème fraîche and
serve. For a first course, pour soup into bowls and top with a dollop
of crème fraîche.
Serves 20 appetizer portions or 10 first course portions
Click here for a pdf version of this recipe.
on July 9, 2012
A perfectly seared piece of tuna is as appealing to the eye as it is to the palate. The fish melts in your mouth, while also giving the flavor of the seared, robust outer edge. Combined with the creamy avocado mousse, the interplay between flavor and texture makes a perfect foil to the 2010 Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay.
For a printable version of this recipe, click here.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha (Thai hot sauce)
1 inch of ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 pounds Ahi tuna, sushi grade, cut into rectangular blocks 2 inches in width
2 avocados, diced
2 teaspoons yuzu juice (Japanese citrus found in specialty stores)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 bunch red radishes
1 cup vegetable oil
1 package wonton skins, cut diagonally into 12 – 15 pieces
3 tablespoons rice or grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, ginger, garlic and sugar. Whisk until the sugar dissolves, about two minutes. Place the tuna in a deep baking dish and cover with the soy liquid. Cover the dish and marinate in the refrigerator for two hours.
While tuna marinates, make the avocado mousse. Set up a food processor and add the flesh of the avocados, yuzu juice, salt and pepper. Purée until smooth and place into a piping bag. Refrigerate until needed.
Slice radishes as thinly as possible. Place into cold water until needed.
Place a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add one cup of oil and heat until hot. Add the triangular wonton skins one at a time to the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden in color, adjusting the heat as you go. Remove from oil with tongs or a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with paper towels. Continue this process until all wontons are fried.
Remove tuna from marinade and pat dry with cloth. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Place a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add rice or grape seed oil. When oil appears to be almost smoking, add the fish to the pan. It is very important not to overcook the fish, but the pan should be very hot to achieve a beautiful sear. Sear each side for 30 seconds to a minute, using tongs to turn the fish. Remove from pan when all four sides are seared, leaving the interior of the fish raw. Chill the fish until cool to the touch, five to ten minutes, and slice very thin.
To assemble, lay fried wontons on a plate, top with a slice of tuna, then pipe a teaspoon of avocado mousse onto the tuna and garnish with a slice of radish.
Makes 12 – 15 hors d’oeuvre portions
For a printable version of this recipe, click here.
on March 1, 2012
What little winter we had here in Napa Valley is quickly slipping away from us, and spring is nipping at our heels. Tulips and daffodils peak through the earth after their long slumber displaying springs vibrant colors all around Nickel & Nickel.
This year we have decided to dedicate the entire garden at Nickel & Nickel to fresh herbs of every kind. Wonderful sweet herbs like tarragon, cilantro, chervil, parsley and chives, which pair so well with Chardonnay and are a great additions to any dish. Hearty, robust herbs like thyme, rosemary and oregano will make the garden an aromatic experience and are wonderful for marinating meats and fish. With our estate beehives awake and the bees hungry, our garden will soon be propagated and we will have delicious honey. Everyone wins!
Time to break out the barbecue that has been hibernating, open some Syrah or Zinfandel and grill up some nicely marinated meats and vegetables. We will be spending many hours with our hands in the dirt over the next few weeks getting everything planted, but the bounty we receive is so rewarding, it hardly seems like work.
on December 15, 2011
One of my favorite seasonal bounties is finally here: Dungeness crab is hitting the docks, and the quality is superb.
I grew up along the Humboldt Bay, and the annual Dungeness season was an exciting time. Not only did we get to enjoy all the great crab, but it also supported a large piece of the community. Having a good crab season meant having a good Christmas for many families.
Our family would get together for a crab boil every year. We would boil about 15 crabs outside in my grandmother’s giant pot. Just a piece of advice for any of you that may try this: cooking crab outside is the way to go. If you cook inside, the smell will linger in your house for days.
We would cover a large table with layers of newspaper, no plates or platters and limited silverware. Alongside the whole crabs, we always had roasted red potatoes, grilled artichokes, hard boiled eggs, corn on the cob, heads of roasted garlic, drawn butter, aioli, lemons and lots of napkins. Everything was spread out on the table for everyone to enjoy. This type of feast is perfect for some cold Nickel & Nickel or Far Niente Chardonnay of your choice and lots of it. We all sat around the table talking, cracking crab and eating with our hands.
There are two types of crab eaters: The Pickers and The Pilers. The Pickers eat the crab as they crack it, a little at a time. The latter focuses on cracking and building a pile of crab in front of them until they cannot resist any longer and dive in. If you’re a Piler, don’t get up from the table with crab in front of you or it will disappear by the time you return!
After the meal, when the table is always in an apocalyptic state and you feel like you need to be hosed off in the front yard, all we had to do is roll up the newspaper and drop it into the bin.
I still carry on this tradition every year, and I always like to invite a friend that has not partaken in such a feast. It takes a moment to embrace the idea, but the end result is always total bliss.
As I sit in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on this blog, the sweet aroma of just-baked cookies (Russian tea cookies, short dough, ginger bread, snicker doodles, chocolate chip, peanut butter crunch and brandied cherry pecan fudgy brownies) lingers in the air. I must say the kitchen smells pretty amazing right now. I think I’ve eaten a pound of cookie dough today.
Enjoy your holidays!