Posts Categorized: Recipes

Our Winemaker at Home: JP Caldcleugh

Our Winemaker at home

For the uninitiated, JP Caldcleugh is the Director of Winemaking here at Union. What that means, basically, is that although it is a huge team effort preparing, perfecting and producing our wines, if you have recently enjoyed a can or bottle of Union, you at least in some way have JP to thank for it.

JP is the best sort of amalgam, making him a perfect fit for the Union family: a totally laid back dude (he was born and raised in New Orleans so that kind of comes with the territory) while imbued with just enough wine-geekiness to make sure he takes his job and responsibilities extremely seriously so as to create the product that we have all come to love over the past few years.

Having honed his skills working with winemakers in California, Australia and New Zealand, we were lucky enough to join JP at the top of his game. Aside from the impressive bio, we wanted to share the real JP—the man behind the man, if you will, and of course that story wouldn’t be complete without including the woman behind the man as well: his wife and traveling companion, Mandy. The two originally met at LSU (Mandy being a native of the Lafayette area) and have been together ever since. Mandy is not personally involved in the winemaking process, but she does spend several days a week out at the Amity Vineyards, cultivating an amazingly verdant and diverse garden of flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs, which she shares with all the Union employees.

Amity Vineyards

Amity Vineyards

For our interview, we asked JP to make a traditional dish, so he chose a chicken and andouille gumbo. We will get to that all in good time, but first, we wanted to learn a little more about JP’s interests when he isn’t busy at the winery. JP, like most people, is working a little less these days (though not very much less) so he has had a little more time to devote to his personal interests.

Our Winemaker at Home

So JP, what are you listening to these days?

JP: We’ve always got something going on the turntable when we are at home. These days we have been listening to The Comet is Coming, Quantic, J.J. Cale, and of course Miles Davis. Always Miles Davis.

How about Podcasts. Any standouts?

JP: Well, this one is an old tried and true podcast, but for us, you can never go wrong with Josh and Chuck from Stuff You Should Know. One of the most recent episodes, all about hummingbirds, was pretty great. (You can check that out right here.)

Our Winemaker at Home

I couldn’t help notice the guitar in the corner, a classical strung with steel strings…very bold. Learning any new songs presently?

JP: Actually, I have been working on Queen Bee by Taj Mahal.

Our winemaker at home

How ’bout literature? Reading any good books?

JP: I am currently reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker and also very slowly making my way through The Tailor of Panama by John Le Carré.

Sounds like you have many irons in many fires. Gotta say that’s not surprising at all. But now I think it’s time we got to that Gumbo. Wanna give us a general ingredient list and then a simple How To?

Our winemaker at home

JP: Absolutely. There are lots of substitutions that can take place in a dish like this but here is how I prefer it:

JP’s Chicken & Andouille Gumbo

2 lbs bone-in chicken thighs
1 lb smoked andouille or other cajun sausage
3 stalks celery, diced
1 white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
7 C chicken broth
1 1/2 C white rice
1 C butter or other high heat fat (such as avocado oil)
1 C all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Cayenne
Garlic Powder
3 stalks green onion, diced, for garnish

*Cook rice and set aside
*Heavily sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder. Sear on both sides and continue to turn in the pan on medium heat until chicken is cooked through. Set aside until ready to shred.

Our winemaker at home

*Remove the chicken and heat the remaining butter in the same cast iron until just bubbling. Add the flour, lower the heat, and stir continuously, whisking until the roux becomes a deep chocolatey brown.

Our winemaker at home

Our winemaker at home

*Add the diced vegetables and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes.

Our winemaker at home

*Meanwhile, bring your stock to a boil. Slowly add the roux/vegetable mix and simmer for 45 minutes.

Our winemaker at home

*De-bone and shred the chicken. Add chicken meat and sausage to the gumbo. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
*Put a heaping pile of rice in a shallow bowl, ladle gumbo over the rice and garnish with the green onions.
*Enjoy with a Riesling or White Burgundy.

Our winemaker at home

Speaking of wine pairings, I feel we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about what you like to drink on your evenings off.

JP: I obviously drink and enjoy all sorts of different wines, but the bottle we are having tonight is one of my favorite styles. I absolutely love the chardonnay grapes grown in Burgundy. For my money, it’s the best Chardonnay in the world. How do I put this…there is just a tension of flavor that you don’t get anywhere else. Today we are drinking this specific Puligny-Montrachet. It’s definitely one of my favorites.

Our winemaker at home

Well, speaking for JP, Mandy, and the whole Union Family, we hope you are staying safe out there, practicing your social distancing, and washing those hands!

Our winemaker at home

’Til next time, stay safe, Bon Appétit and keep those #pinkiesdown.

Photography & Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)
Recipe by JP Caldcleugh (@jcaldc1)

Reinventing Rosé: Pink and Polka Dot Rosé Ice Pops

Underwood Rosé Popsicles

Here at Union, we obviously love to drink our wine, but we are also always looking for new and interesting ways to enjoy them. Today we bring you a delicious and incredibly simple recipe for fruity, blueberry polka dotted Frozé Ice Pops. With just a little patience and a few simple ingredients, you will be the hit of the party this summer.

There are lots of great silicone ice pop molds on the market but for this recipe we used the Stephenie brand mold. They make 10 pops measuring about 2.5 oz per pop. (You may need to adjust the amounts in the recipe if using a different mold.) Also, you have to buy the popsicle sticks separately.

Underwood Rosé Popsicles

Rosé Ice Pops

Here’s what you will need to get started.

Pink and Polka Dot Popsicles

12 oz Underwood Rosé
6 oz pink grapefruit juice
4 oz fresh lime juice
4 oz cranberry juice cocktail
2 oz simple syrup
1 container fresh blueberries

STEP ONE

Combine all of the ingredients except the blueberries in a large mason jar. Stir well and put this in the refrigerator until very cold.

***

STEP TWO

To ensure even placement of blueberries, you will need to build the ice pops in three stages. The reason for this is that blueberries float and if you were to put the blueberries and liquid into the molds all at once, by the time the pops froze, all the blueberries would be bunched up at the bottom of the popsicle.

Place 2 or 3 blueberries in the bottom of each mold and pour just enough of the cold liquid to cover them. Place the mold in the freezer until liquid is completely frozen—not just slushy. Also, do not add the sticks at this stage.

***

STEP THREE

Add 3 or 4 blueberries to each mold and again add enough liquid to cover. At this point place the top on the mold and insert sticks into each one. Return to the freezer and leave until completely frozen

***

STEP FOUR

Very very very carefully remove the top of the mold, making sure to hold each stick in place as you do. (Since the molds are not completely full, the sticks will want to move around.) Now, add 2 or 3 more blueberries to each mold and cover with liquid—leaving about a 1/4 inch of space at the top of each one. Put back in the freezer and leave until fully set. No need to replace the top at this point, as the sticks should be frozen in place already. When ready too remove the pops, run a little warm water over the bottom of the molds to loosen each pop.

If done with love and care, you should have ten pops that look roughly like this:

Underwood Rosé Ice Pops

Underwood Rosé Popsicles

Once out of the freezer, make sure to pass around the pops quickly. Since there is wine in them, they will freeze solid, but will start to melt more quickly than if they were made of only juice. If there are going to be kids around, you can always follow this same recipe, omitting the Rosé, so that they can enjoy the popsicles as well as the grown-ups.

Feel free to try different variations of the fruits. You can use raspberries, slices of strawberry, a combination of all of them, or even leave the fruit out completely. If you choose the latter route, you will not have to do the popsicles in three stages, but can fill each one and place the stick in all at once.

These popsicles don’t only look fun, they are a delicious sweet surprise to the end of any summer inspired get-together.

Bon Appétit and keep those #pinkies down!

Underwood Rosé Popsicles

Photography, Text, and Recipes by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)

BBQ How To: Radler Brined Spareribs with Citrus Slaw

Underwood Riesling Radler Spareribs

Who doesn’t love ribs?  They’re the greatest picnic accouterment: they can be enjoyed warm, room temperature or cold and you can have one or five or ten and nobody is gonna look at you sideways. For the uninitiated, making homemade ribs is easier than you think, once you learn a few basic rules. Now that the weather is finally turning and grills are being pulled out and dusted off, we figured we would give you a solid tutorial so that you can add ribs to your growing “Social Distancing Lexicon” of recipes and techniques.

We decided to create a brine that uses a can of our Riesling Radler for sweetness instead of sugar to add even more flavor and complexity to the meat. We also figured we would provide a recipe for a Citrus Slaw that really compliments the tang of the BBQ sauce and the bubbly tartness of the Radler.

So let’s take this step by step.

STEP ONE:

The first thing you want to do is remove the membrane from the bottom of the rack of ribs. Many butchers (such as the fine gentlemen at Sheridan Fruit Co. will do this for you) but in case your rack still has the membrane, it is as simple as getting a thin knife under the membrane on the small side of the rack and then just gently pulling with your hand.

Union Wine Co Spareribs

STEP TWO:

At this point, you could simply season the meat with salt and pepper and bake it, but what fun would that be?  There are myriad ways to tenderize the meat and give the ribs a more complex flavor. Some people prefer a dry rub, but we have always found that if you are going to use BBQ sauce—which we are—that a dry rub can be very intense and often times fight with the flavors of the sauce.

That is why we prefer brine. A cursory google search will provide you with many different techniques, but here is ours.

SPARERIB BRINE

3-4 T large flake sea salt
1/4 C cider vinegar
1 can of Underwood Riesling Radler

 We first double up a clean non-scented garbage bag as we find this is the best way to evenly soak the meat.  (We double bag it just in case there are any rips or tears.)

We then rub the meat down generously with the large flake sea salt, such as that made locally by Jacobsen Salt Company. Standard Kosher salt can be used as well. We then place the rack into the bags and add the cider vinegar and a full can of Riesling Radler. Securely tie off the bags and let sit in the fridge for 2-4 hours. We don’t recommend letting the rack sit overnight in the brine, as we have found long exposure to the salt and vinegar can often make the meat mushy, but we suggest trying different amounts of time to see what suits your taste best. Often sugar or honey is used in brine to balance the salt, but we felt the Radler did a perfect job.

Underwood Riesling Radler

STEP THREE:

Remove the rack from the brine, pat dry with a paper towel and then bake the rack for 3 hours at 275 degrees. This is a crucial step, as you cannot just throw the rack onto the grill, so make sure to factor in the appropriate time for this. When the meat is knife tender, let the rack cool. It can then be tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge for a day or two until ready to grill.

Union Wine Co Spareribs

There are many great recipes for making your own BBQ sauce, ranging from the quite simple to the very involved, and we encourage you to try any and all of these. But for our money, we absolutely love the locally made Podnahs’s Sauce. This can be found in just about any local market- and what better time to help support a local restaurant? All of the Podnah’s sauces are delicious, but we felt the thick tang of their standard sauce would work best with the Radler and the Coleslaw.

Union Wine Co Spareribs

Now it’s time to fire up the grill. But before you get too excited about slathering your rack with sauce, we recommend you lightly grill each side pre-sauce. This helps give the meat a little extra texture before the sauce starts to dry and caramelize.

Union Wine Co Spareribs

Now you can take a pastry brush or firm spatula, and coat the rack with sauce. We recommend getting the grill quite hot and using some spray oil so your ribs don’t stick. Go light with the sauce at first, you can always add more as you go.

Keep turning the ribs frequently so they get a nice color without burning.

Union Wine Co Spareribs

Once the ribs are fully cooked, set them aside to make your coleslaw.

Union Wine Co Spareribs

CITRUS SLAW

1 1/2 C mayonnaise
2 T cider vinegar
1/2 t salt
1 T simple syrup
Zest of half a lime, half a lemon, & half a blood orange
Juice of half a lime, half a lemon, & one full blood orange
3 Qts of shredded green and purple cabbage and carrot
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Union Wine Co Spareribs
Union Wine Co Spareribs

STEP ONE:

Combine the top 6 ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until combined and set aside. This may make extra dressing, but that’s never a bad thing.

STEP TWO:

With a mandolin or sharp knife, shred the green cabbage, purple cabbage, and the carrot. Slice the red onion and mix together. Adding a 1/4 C at a time, pour the sauce over the cabbage mixture and mix well, making sure not to overdress so it doesn’t get too wet and mushy. Adjust for seasoning with extra salt and pepper if necessary.

Underwood Riesling Radler Spareribs

Finally, when ready to serve, warm the ribs in the oven and add a fresh layer of sauce. Crack a few ice-cold cans of the Riesling Radler and you and your family are ready to roll. We will often serve this with baked beans and/or cornbread on the side as well. Just an option.

Bon Appétit and keep those #pinkiesdown.

Union Wine Co Spareribs

Photography, Recipes & Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)

Classic Kitchen Lessons: French Onion Soup

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

Being stuck inside all the time isn’t ideal, but it does have a few benefits, one of which is that many people are becoming much more daring with their culinary projects. There are tons of simple yet impressive recipes that are easier than you ever imagined. And right now is a great time to try them so that when we can all hang out together again you will have confidence in your techniques.

One such recipe is French Onion Soup. Introduced to America in the 1960s by Julia Child, this amazingly unique soup has fallen out of fashion lately, which is a real shame because it is as simple as it is delicious. When I first began my cooking career, I was introduced to a set of three books that Saveur Magazine published: one a collection of classic American food, one of classic Italian food, and one of classic French food. All three are great, but I recently repurchased the French one. This will not only provide simple and accessible classic French recipes, but being from Saveur, there are lots of great anecdotes about the people, regions, and histories associated with the dishes.

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

I took my inspiration for this recipe from that book but made a few changes and additions which I have picked up over the years. It also helps if you have a set of incredibly cool small ceramic handled crockpots to cook your soup in, but this is by no means necessary. The handles do come in awfully, well, handy, when serving the dish. I’m quite proud of my set…

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

There are two parts to French Onion Soup: making the soup itself and then assembling it for serving. Let’s start with the basics and then move into the technique.

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

For French Onion Soup:

About 3 lbs of yellow onions
64 oz. beef stock (preferably unsalted)
A small bunch of fresh thyme
2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 C King’s Ridge Pinot Gris (plus more for drinking!)
3 oz Unsalted Butter
Salt & Pepper

To Finish and Serve:

Baguette or other firm French Bread
1 Tbs Butter
1 lb Shredded Gruyere Cheese (for 4 soup bowls)

*****

Making the Soup:

STEP ONE:

Peel and slice your onions. You will want to slice them “North to South” as illustrated in the picture. This will ensure that while cooking, the onions will caramelize well.

(Editors note: Cutting onions is brutal. You will cry. Everyone cries. In 15 years of professional cooking, I have heard every wives tale as to how to avoid this, and I can say none has ever worked for me. But maybe you know something I don’t.)

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

STEP TWO:

Take 4-6 good sized sprigs of fresh thyme and tie them together with butchers twine. This will allow you to impart a fresh thyme flavor into the broth without worrying about any sprigs being left behind in the soup.

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

STEP THREE:

Melt the 3 oz of butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Just as it starts to bubble, add all your sliced onions and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and making sure they don’t burn until onions begin to caramelize and turn light brown, about 20 minutes.

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

STEP FOUR:

Deglaze with the wine and cook until all the wine has evaporated. Continue to cook onions until they are a deep rich brown. Many people will tell you to add sugar at this point, but I feel the natural sugars in the wine do the trick just as well.

Union Wine Company Kings Ridge Pinot Gris

STEP FIVE:

Add the beef broth, Worcestershire Sauce and thyme, and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool in the pot. Once cooled, remove the thyme and adjust seasoning if necessary with more salt and pepper.

Putting it all Together:

STEP ONE:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. I recommend putting your ceramic crocks on a sheet pan and placing them in the cold oven, allowing them to heat up gradually as the oven heats. Return your soup to the stove and bring to a light simmer. Grate your gruyere cheese and set aside.

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

STEP TWO:

Into each hot crockpot, ladle in the hot soup. You will want to make sure you have a little extra broth as the bread will soak up a good amount.

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

STEP THREE:

Slice your bread into 1/4 inch thick slices and lightly toast in a pan with the butter. Gently place on top of the soup.

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

STEP FOUR:

Cover each top with the shredded gruyere cheese. Return to the oven and melt cheese for 5-10 minutes. Then switch the oven to broil and keep a close eye on the soup so that the cheese colors but doesn’t burn. Carefully remove and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

Pull the King’s Ridge Pinot Gris out of the fridge, pour a few glasses and you are good to go. I like to serve this soup with a simple arugula salad, dressed with lemon juice, salt, and a little extra virgin olive oil.

Bon Appétit!

Union Wine Company French Onion Soup

Photography, Recipe and Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)

Shelter in Place Projects: Amazing Homemade Dog Treats

Dog Treats
Meet Oliver, my bestest buddy and definitely my savior during these safe, but oh-so-boring, times. Let’s face it, most of us have already binged Tiger King and McMillions (spoiler alert—neither one lives up to the hype.) We’ve been reading, doing puzzles, cooking and finding a myriad of ways to stay safe but also stay busy.
Dog
One of my escapes from the house (while still maintaining social distancing) is to take Oliver to the dog park. We both get some fresh air and also get to stretch our legs. These dog park trips have really been keeping me sane, so I felt it was only fair to do something nice in return for his companionship. (Not to mention, a lot of the local pet stores are running low on essentials and getting dog treats is becoming more difficult.)
So I figured, why not do a little research and come up with a simple but healthy homemade dog treat that we can both feel good about. The recipe has only 5 ingredients, is incredibly easy to make, and I swear your dog will go absolutely bonkers for them.
Dog Treats
How cool do those look??!
Here’s all you will need:
Dog Treats
Delicious Dog Treats
 
2 eggs
1/2 C canned pumpkin puree
1/4 C healthy peanut butter
1 cube of beef bouillon 
1/2 C water
2-3 C whole wheat flour (as usual, we recommend Bob’s Red Mill)
 
A few notes before we begin:
Let’s just be honest here…everyone has a can of pumpkin puree in their pantry leftover from thanksgiving. This is a great way to use it up.
Beef bouillon cubes are usually dissolved in 1 C of water. I only use half a cup to concentrate the flavor. You can leave this ingredient out entirely, but I promise your dog will love you if you keep it in the recipe.
As I will further explain, the flour will vary as per how wet the other ingredients are.
Most people will have whole wheat flour that they had to buy for some random recipe and never used again—so check the back of your baking shelf before going to buy more.
Dog Treats

 
STEP ONE
 
Crack a can of Underwood Pinot Noir. (This is solely for consumption, not the recipe.) Then, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve one bouillon cube in 1/2 C of water and set aside to cool.
STEP TWO
 
Once bouillon liquid is cool, put eggs, pumpkin puree, peanut butter, and bullion liquid into a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment and blend well.
STEP THREE
 
While running mixer, slowly add flour, 1/2 C at a time until the dough comes together and is no longer sticky.  When I did it, it took about 2 1/4 C of flour but this may vary. Remove the dough, place on a large work surface dusted with flour and kneed for 2-3 minutes.

 

Dog Treats
Puppy Interlude….
Here is an unnecessary but ridiculously cute picture of Oliver (and his sister Pretty Penny) just to keep you entertained.
 
Dog Treats
 
Dog Treats
STEP FOUR
 
Roll out the dough to your desired thickness (I went with a 1/4” because they tend to puff up in cooking.) Use a cookie cutter or just cut small squares—I promise your dog won’t know the difference—and place on a baking sheet with either a silpat pan liner or parchment paper. Bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating the sheet pans every 7-8 minutes for even baking.
The extra dough can be reshaped and used for a second and third batch.
Dog Treats
Let the treats cool and keep in a dry place for up to a month.
Dog Treats
Believe me, you will have one happy puppy, not to mention an incredibly productive afternoon!
Enjoy and remember to keep those #pinkiesdown.
Dog Treats
Dog Treats
Photography, Recipe and Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)