A Celebration of the Fall Bounty

wine and fall leavesThe Fall harvest is nearly done. While the grapes ferment, it is a great time to try out some new recipes. Susan Ward Tarner, host of a featured cooking show on Helena Civic Television called Cooking with Susan, Slow Food, Montana Style, has paired the October 2011 Villa del Monte Wine Club selections with some of her favorite Fall recipes. 

Honey and Pepper Dip
Enjoy with Villa del Monte Pinot Noir

Golden Corn Pudding Cake with Tomato Coulis
Delicious with Villa del Monte Syrah

Croque Monsieur Villa del Monte Style
Try this recipe with Villa del Monte Chardonnay

Classic Maple Apple Tart
Pair with Villa del Monte Merlot Reserve

Harvest Grape and Pine Nut Pizza
Enjoy with Villa del Monte Syrah

Honey and Pepper Dip
½ cup of the finest Santa Cruz Mountains honey
2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon of chili powder

Mix honey, pepper flakes, and chili powder together and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to blend.

Serve with a fine Parmigiano, pecorino or Kerrygold Dubliner cheese sliced thinly and served on wheat crackers or a favorite cracker of your choice.

Golden Corn Pudding Cake with Tomato Coulis
2 cups of water
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon olive oil
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper

Bring 1 cup of water and 2 cups of chicken stock to a boil. Mix 1 cup water,  1 cup corn meal, and salt in a bowl; stir well.   Slowly mix corn meal mixture into boiling water and stock, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened over medium to low heat. Cover and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Pour mixture into a well-buttered casserole or pie pan. Let cool or refrigerate until ready to serve. Corn pudding will set up and you can slice into squares or cut shapes with a biscuit cutter. Warm corn pudding in an ovenproof dish at 350 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes or pan sauté on cook top until lightly browned on both sides.

In a skillet, add olive oil, garlic, onion and green bell pepper. Cook until lightly caramelized over medium heat. Add in chopped fresh tomatoes. Heat through. Watch carefully so that this does not burn.  Place in small food processor or blender and process with one or two pulses, keeping the mixture somewhat chunky. Serve hot over warmed corn pudding. Delicious as an appetizer or as a side dish.

Croque Monsieur Villa del Monte Style
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of ground fresh nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Splash of Villa del Monte Chardonnay

4 slices firm white sandwich bread
4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham
4 ounces sliced Gruyère cheese
4 ounces of melted butter
1  cup grated Gruyère cheese

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Add freshly ground nutmeg.  Increase heat to medium-high and boil until sauce thickens, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup grated cheese to sauce and mix. Add a splash of Chardonnay. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler to low. Place 4 bread slices on work surface. Brush each slice of bread on both sides with melted butter.  Lightly broil and brown both sides of bread. Take bread out of broiler and top each slice with ham and Gruyère. Transfer open face sandwiches to baking sheet. Spoon cheese sauce over the top of each sandwich and then sprinkle tops with the remaining grated cheese.  Broil on low until cheese begins to brown and bubbles, about 2 minutes.  Slice each sandwich crosswise into triangles or horizontally into four spears.  Serve as an appetizer or brunch entree.

Classic Maple Apple Tart
1 cup sugar (place in a blender and pulverize until powder)
½ cup butter or margarine
6 to 8 medium apples, pared, cored, and sliced into rings (Braeburn, Fuji, Pink Lady or Jonathan apples)
1 package of puff pastry, thawed
Whipped cream
½ cup real maple syrup
½ cup candied pecans if desired

Place pulverized sugar into a heavy ovenproof 10” skillet.  Cook over medium heat until the sugar melts and becomes a light brown syrup, being careful that it does not burn. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring until melted. Add  ¼ of a cup of the maple syrup and stir.

Arrange apple rings in a layer around the skillet in the sugar mixture until you have worked the apples in circles around the skillet to the middle. Make a second layer with the apples filling in any open spaces with apple slices.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Prepare puff pastry (thawed at room temperature). Roll out on a lightly floured surface making sure it will cover the top of the skillet. Cut the pastry to fit the 10 inch circle, placing the pastry over the layers of apples. Press pastry dough around the edge of the skillet to seal.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and puffs up. Watch carefully that it does not get too brown. Remove skillet from the oven and invert onto a shallow serving plate. Serve warm or cold. Serve wedge of tart with whipped cream; lightly drizzle the top with remaining maple syrup and candied pecans if desired.

Harvest Grape and Pine Nut Pizza
Makes 4 medium sized pizzas:

2 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons fresh yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Per pizza:
10 grapes- red seedless grapes or champagne grapes
¼ cup pine nuts
½ teaspoon Garam Masala or Cardamom
¼ cup sugar

Place warm water in a bowl. Add the yeast, a little at a time, to the water. Let the yeast fully dissolve in the warm water and let stand for 2 minutes.

Add the flour to a large bowl. Slowly add the yeast-water mixture, olive oil, and salt.  Mix until well incorporated. Knead the dough until the mixture becomes a smooth consistency. Lightly oil the bowl; place dough in bowl and let it rest and rise at room temperature until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions to make individual pizzas. Place on a lightly-floured pan or pizza stone and cover with a cloth.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice grapes and lightly crush each grape slice with your fingers to release the juice; place cut-side down on the dough. Add the pine nuts and Garam Masala or Cardamom, and then sprinkle with sugar to taste. Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into slices.


While growing up in Georgia, Susan Ward Tarner learned to cook from an expert, her “mama.” She now lives in Montana with her husband and teenage daughter where she enjoys combining food history and culture with locally grown and produced ingredients. Susan hopes to inspire everyone to challenge their cooking abilities and palates.

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