For those rare nights that aren't kid-themed, grown-up food is a welcome respite. Whether you're creating an intimate dinner for two or throwing together a special evening for your closest friends, chardonnay is not only a crisp, white wine appropriate for sipping, it's also for cooking.
While chicken is an affordable choice, it can veer toward predictable unless you find a way to make it fancy. Add chardonnay to an easy butter-cream-shallot sauce that is ladled over a seared, boneless chicken breast, and your meal goes from hometown to uptown with one quick sauce. If you're expecting a crowd, mix chardonnay with jarred artichoke hearts, minced onion, and your favorite spices or seasoning mix. Pour the mixture over chicken breasts and bake. As the dinner cooks, take the time to freshen up, set your table, and put the finishing touches on a green salad with a creamy dressing and garlic bread.
A little advance preparation makes a special dinner possible, particularly if your special dinner follows a busy day. Prepare a ham earlier in the week, but no more than about three to four days prior so the ham remains edible. Slice a steak-sized piece of ham that is reheated in the microwave and topped with freshly prepared asparagus spears or broccoli, which is then topped with a Swiss cheese sauce infused with chardonnay. As you cook, indulge yourself a little and take three to four sips of wine to relax before the evening begins.
For a grillfest, soak peeled, deveined shrimp in a chardonnay mixture for several hours before threading them onto skewers and grilling them to perfection. Bay scallops sautéed in a bath of chardonnay and butter disappear almost as quickly as they are plated.
Although you don't normally think of white wine as the perfect accompaniment to red meat, cubes of steak marinated in a blend of chardonnay, grated asiago cheese and herbs, or a creamy herbed Parmesan dressing enhanced with chardonnay, add a flourish to the meat once it's cooked as kabobs. Serve kabobs on a bed of wild rice and finish the plate with vegetables grilled alongside the kabobs.
If you are known for your culinary prowess, but time has become as precious as your monthly grocery bill, make a spiced bundt cake the night before your dinner, but twist the recipe by adding sour cream and chardonnay before baking. If you are pressed for time, pour a small amount of chardonnay in a champagne flute and add two small scoops of raspberry or strawberry sorbet. Although there's no cooking involved, you'll still impress.
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- "The New York Times Cookbook"; Craig Claiborne; 1990
- Sonoma Cutrer: Recipes
Kristie Brown is a publisher, writer and editor. She has contributed to magazines, textbooks and online publications. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.
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