Food and wine go together, like Frick and Frack, Abbott and Costello, and Punch and Judy.
Although wine is an ingredient in some of the recipes, the prime focus in each of several new cookbooks is on the preparation of good food, perhaps served with a suggested wine to heighten the experience. I say "perhaps" because book titles can be deceiving.
For example, one might expect wine to flow around the recipes in "Weir Cooking: Recipes From the Wine Country," by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, $27.50), a companion cookbook to her televised cooking show. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. If there is a Weir recipe that calls for wine, I couldn't spot it, and only occasionally does she suggest a wine, and then, only obliquely. Her reference might be to "a full-bodied chardonnay" or "a bottle of wine," which is hardly enough information for wine explorers.
Weir describes her California wine country cooking as "un-fussy New Mediterranean." I am not sure what that is. Perhaps it's because she uses a lot of olives and olive oil, prepares gazpacho and calzone, and serves dishes with goat cheese at the drop of skillet. There are 120 manageable recipes here, but what you won't find in Weir's wine country is wine.
The wine definitely flows in "The Wine Lover's Cookbook," by Sid Goldstein (Chronicle, $22.95 paperback). The author takes considerable time to explore the wedding of food and wine, some of the different kinds of red and white wines, and the foods that don't go well with wine at all. Nasties include asparagus, chiles and eggs.
With every recipe there is a recommended wine to serve with it and an alternative wine. With his Black-Eyed Pea and Tomato Soup With Cabbage, for example, you should consider a sauvignon/fume blanc or a pinot noir, Goldstein says. A riesling is his recommended wine for the Creole-Style Prawns, which does not contain chiles. Herb and Spice Roasted Cornish Game Hens call for a chardonnay.
Some of Goldstein's recipes are extensive and require considerable work to put together: His Veal-Stuffed Manicotti With Roasted Yellow Pepper Pesto is a good example. Consequently, I would not put this book in the hands of a novice.
Wine also comes with the territory in "Recipes From the Vineyards of Northern California: Appetizers; Main Courses; Desserts" (three volumes) by Leslie Mansfield (CelestialArts, $9.95 each, paperback). Sixty wineries, many unfamiliar outside the state, poured out the secrets of their kitchens to Mansfield, who packed the recipes into each of these pocket-size books. They are simple and attractively presented with thumbnail sketches of each winery.
This very simple and popular hors d'oeuvre is from the "Appetizers" volume of "Recipes From the Vineyards of Northern California." It also serves as a nice accompaniment to a red meat entree. The recipe was contributed by the Bartolucci family, owners of the Mont St. John Cellars in California's Napa Valley.
1pound large mushrooms (about 20)
1cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.
Remove stems from mushrooms and place caps into the prepared baking dish. Finely chop the stems and place in a bowl. Add bread crumbs and onion and stir to mix. Stir in butter until mixture is evenly moistened. With a small spoon, fill mushroom caps with breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
Makes 20 hors d'oeuvres.
From "The Wine Lover's Cookbook" comes this delicious dish to serve company. Frankly, I didn't think the hot-sweet mustard added much at all to the taste; a honey mustard will do just fine. Also, white-wine Worcestershire sauce is a rarity. Use the regular Worcestershire instead. Author Sid Goldstein suggests serving the turkey with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and a sauvignon/fume blanc.
TURKEY PICCATA WITH HOT-SWEET MUSTARD-LIME SAUCE
1teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 pounds turkey breast slices
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2tablespoons chopped shallots
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/3 cup white wine
2teaspoons hot-sweet mustard
1/4 teaspoon white-wine Worcestershire sauce
6drops Tabasco or other hot sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
Parsley, chopped, and lime slices for garnish
In a small mixing bowl, combine basil, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and flour and mix thoroughly. Place turkey on waxed paper and sprinkle it evenly on both sides with the herbs.
In a large, non-stick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add shallots and turkey slices and saute for 2 minutes. Turn turkey and add lime juice, wine, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco and capers. Saute for an additional 2 minutes. Remove turkey and keep warm. Simmer the sauce for an additional 1 to 2 minutes to reduce slightly.
Place the turkey slices on plates and top with sauce. Garnish with parsley and lime slices.
Makes 4 servings.