Crab Cakes & Chardonnay

Succulent, sweet lump crab meat paired with a rich, full-bodied Chardonnay is simply a match made in heaven. The bright lemon notes in the wine bring out the sweetness in the crabmeat and the luxurious mouth-coating quality of an oaked, slightly buttery Chardonnay makes this an outstanding pairing with crab cakes. Drizzle a little butter on the crab cakes before baking and really bring out the creamy, buttery characteristics in the wine. The buttery flavors in the wine come from a winemaking process known as malolactic fermentation, this produces the diacetyl compound which gives the wine a creamy, dairy, buttery quality. Grab your favorite Chardonnay or try one of my favorite producers from California. These producers are known for making a more Old World Style of Chardonnay, in an effort to retain the bright, vibrant fruit notes and also maintaining a higher level of acidity.

Recommended Producers

Recipe: Gluten Free Crab Cakes (Serves 4) 


3 tbsp. olive oil
16 oz crab meat
1 egg
1 lemon (juice & zest)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 celery stalk (fine dice)
1/2 small onion (fine dice)
1/2 red bell pepper (fine dice)
1 bag of Cape Cod Chips (finely ground in food processor)


Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan, add minced veggies and sauté for 5-7 minutes until tender. Transfer to medium bowl. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, zest, parsley, worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper and mix all ingredients. Fold in crab. Make 4 crab cakes of equal proportion and dredge both sides of all crab cakes in flour. Transfer to plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Since we are not using breadcrumbs in this recipe, this is an important step to make sure the crab cakes stay intact when cooking.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix 1 tbsp. olive oil & 1 tsp. of Old Bay Seasoning. Place crab cakes on sheet pan and drizzle with Old Bay oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve over a bed of greens with lemon vinaigrette.

Sweet Potato Soup & Cabernet Franc

The sweet potato soup garnished with bacon and sage paired with the 2011 Barboursville Cabernet Franc Reserve from Orange County, Virginia is a delightful pairing. I really love the way the rich berry notes and caramelized fig flavors in the wine bring out the sweetness in the potato. The slight herbaceous notes in the wine bring the sage to life. The bacon add just a touch of texture and richness to the dish!

Recipe: Sweet Potato Soup 


4 large sweet potatoes (peeled & cut into equal size large dice)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 cup chicken stock (add more if you like your soup a little thinner)
1/4 cup chopped sage (garnish)
crumbled bacon or pancetta (garnish)


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Put sweet potatoes on sheet tray and toss with olive oil, salt & pepper.  Roast for 45 minutes to an hour until fork tender.
Remove from oven and transfer to food processor. Add chicken stock and pulse until well combined. Transfer sweet potatoes to medium saucepan and add nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste.  Warm through and serve. Add sage and bacon for garnish. Serves 4. Enjoy!


Paleo Pairing: Short Ribs & Syrah

A snow day calls for a hearty meal of braised short ribs paired with a big meaty Syrah. I gave my delicious short rib sliders a Paleo friendly make-over.

My Paleo Pairing for day 29 features Short Ribs & Syrah! The Cakebread Cellars Syrah is outstanding with this dish. A great bold, jammy & spicy Zinfandel would also do the trick. Check out some of my go to Zins here.


8 short ribs (trimmed of excess fat)
Salt  & Pepper
2 tbls. olive oil

4 carrots
4 stalks of celery
1 large yellow onion
1/2 medium fennel bulb
4 sprigs rosemary & thyme
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 bottle dry red wine (Bordeaux, Cotes du Rhone, Chianti)
1 qt. low-sodium, gluten-free chicken stock
1 tbsp. juniper berries
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce


Pre-heat oven to 350°

In a large dutch oven, drizzle a thin layer of oil over medium heat. Pat dry meat with paper towels in order to get a better sear. Generously coat short ribs with salt and pepper.   Once the oil has a slight shimmer place the short ribs in pan and let brown on all sides – about 4-5 minutes per side. Patience is key here. This is where all the flavor develops.

While the beef is caramelizing, place carrots, celery, onion, garlic and ½ the fennel bulb in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Once beef is browned on all sides, remove from pan.  Add chopped veggies to the beef rendering and caramelize for 10-12 minutes.  Once veggies are caramelized, add tomato paste and let cook 2 minutes.  Add red wine and deglaze pan. Let reduce for 10 minutes.  Add 1 quart low sodium chicken or beef stock, rosemary & thyme bundle, juniper berries and bay leaf and stir.  Gently place short ribs in dutch oven. Make sure there’s enough liquid covering all the ribs. You can add extra stock if needed.

Cover dutch oven and place in oven at 350° for 4 hours. Check halfway through the cooking process and turn the meat and ensure it’s fully covered.  Serve short ribs over smashed sweet potatoes.


Paleo Pairing: Barbera & Chicken Marinara

It looks like mother nature has an interesting sense of humor. We are expecting  a foot of snow in coastal Virginia.  Since I will be snowed in for the next few days, I will need to get creative with my Paleo Pairings this week. Tonight, my meal was inspired by a nice bottle of Barbera.

My Paleo Pairing for day 28 features Chicken Marinara & Barbera.  Barbera is a grape from the Piedmont region of Northwest Italy. It is one of my go to pizza wines. It is the 3rd most planted grape in Italy.  Barbera is high in acidity and low in tannins making it a versatile food friendly wine. Barbera also offers great value.  The Wall Street Journal recently posted a great piece on Barbera wines. You will normally see Barbera d’Asti or Barbera d’Alba on wine labels. That simply means the Barbera grape from the Asti or Alba region. Pio Cesare and Vietti are excellent producers.


4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil

Easy Marinara Sauce

1 can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano)
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 onion (small dice)
1/4 cup dry red wine (Barbera)
1 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. sugar


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

For the easy marinara sauce, heat olive over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Add minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds to release aromatics. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer over low heat.

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Dredge in almond flour, making sure chicken is well coated. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan (oven proof). Sear chicken for about 5-7 minutes, until golden brown. Turn chicken and place pan in oven for 25 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes. Top with marinara sauce and serve.


Chicken Satay & Gewürztraminer

Chicken satay is a great low-carb choice for those us of watching the scale. This is a great meal, but the perfect pairing can take it to a whole new level. While a Riesling is a go-to match, a Gewürztraminer works just as well.  Gewürztraminer is an aromatic white grape that grows best in cooler climates. Some of the world’s best Gewürztraminer’s come from Alsace, France.  This varietal tends to boast tropical, stone and candied citrus fruit notes followed by fragrant floral notes, sweet spice of ginger and a touch of residual sugar.  I really like the way the sweet spice creates the perfect complement to the spicy satay sauce. The Trimbach is one of my go to Gewürztraminer’s. The Finger Lakes region of New York is also producing some excellent aromatic white wines.

Recommended Producer:

Recipe: Chicken Satay


Chicken Skewers

4 chicken breasts or thighs  (cut into strips)
2 limes (juice & zest)
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper

Satay Sauce 

1/2 cup almond or cashew butter
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 lime (juice)
2 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 scallions (chopped for garnish)


Thread chicken strips on skewers. Set aside. Brush a thin coat of grapeseed or olive oil on grill pan and heat until very hot. Add chicken to grill pan and let cook for about 4-5 minutes per side.

While the chicken is cooking, take a small sauce pan and add coconut milk and almond butter and simmer over low heat until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients and remove from heat. Put sauce in serving dish and top with scallions. Serve warm with chicken skewers.



Paleo Pairing: Beef Tenderloin & Napa Cab

The last Sunday of our Paleo Pairing challenge calls for a succulent beef tenderloin and a Napa Cab!

My Paleo Pairing for day 26 features a 2008 “Eileen” Cabernet Sauvignon from Chiarello Vineyards with Beef Tenderloin & Bordeaux Reduction.  This wine is full-bodied and complex with bold dark fruit of blackberry and cassis, a hint of mocha, velvety tannins and a long elegant finish. This wine is  a real powerhouse and the perfect match for beef tenderloin.  We had our first bottle of this for our anniversary last year at Michael Chiarello’s restaurant Bottega in Yountville, California. I have become a big fan of the Chiarello Family Vineyards.  We ordered this wine from their website.  It’s a little bit of slurge, but worth every penny!





3lb beef tenderloin
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper

Bordeaux Reduction

1 package of baby portobellos
2 shallots
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. Worcestershire
1 bottle Bordeaux (under $15)
4 thyme sprigs
4 rosemary sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. peppercorns


Heat olive oil in large pot, add shallots and mushrooms and cook for about 15 minutes until slightly caramelized. Add sugar and stir. Let cook for another 5 minutes to get a really deep caramelized color. Add worcestershire sauce and stir. Add wine and bring to a boil. Leave the sauce on a low boil for about 20-25 minutes until the wine reduces by about half.  Add chicken or beef stock and the rest of the seasoning and bring to a boil. Once the sauce comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 45 minutes.  Makes approximately cups of reduction. Sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance.

The meat will sear better if you remove the beef from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you plan on cooking it. Pat the beef tenderloin with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Add salt & pepper on all side of the tenderloin.  In a dutch oven of oven proof pan, sear tenderloin on all sides – about 5-7 minutes total.  Transfer to oven and cook for 22-24 minutes for medium rare. Remove from oven and transfer to platter and cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.  Serve with reduction sauce and a side of roasted asparagus.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps & Vinho Verde

Chicken Lettuce Wraps paired with a bright, effervescent Vinho Verde is an excellent pairing on a warm day.  Vinho Verde comes from the Minho provence along the coast of northern  Portugal. Vinho Verde is not a grape varietal, but rather a region. The term Vinho Verde means “green wine.” There are more than two dozen permitted white grapes including Alvarinho in Vinho Verde.  These wines are simple and refreshing with bright citrus notes, a hint of salinity due to the proximity of the Atlantic ocean and vibrant acidity. You will also find a light effervescence to this wine because many winemakers add a touch of carbon dioxide before bottling.  It’s a great summer sipper. It’s also excellent with mexican food and seafood. Drink young. The best part, these wines are incredible affordable starting at about $9 for a decent bottle.  Check out the Gazela. I like the way the lime notes bring out the cilantro in the lettuce wraps. Of course, there are some wonderfully complex Vinho Verdes that come with a higher price tag. Looking for a little splurge, check out the Monte Cascas (SRP: under $20).  This wine boasts aromas of freshly squeezed key lime juice, honeydew melon & agave nectar tantalizing your senses. This a light, dry & crisp summer wine with piercing acidity. It’s the perfect accompaniment to an array of fresh Mexican dishes especially Guacamole with lime infused tortilla chips. If you are going to add some spice to your lettuce wraps, reach for bottle of off-dry Riesling. The touch of residual sugar is the perfect pairing for spicy fare.

Recipe: Chicken Lettuce Wraps 


8 lettuce leaves (Bibb)
1 avocado
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lime (juice)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup salsa
2 scallions (thinly sliced)


In a small bowl, mash avocado with salt, pepper, cumin & garlic powder. Set aside. In a separate bowl toss shredded chicken, lime juice and cilantro.  Separate and wash lettuce leaves and pat dry with paper towel. Divide avocado spread among the 8 lettuce leaves. Top with shredded chicken mixture. Add salsa & scallions. Serve immediately.

Paleo Pairing: Vino Nobile & Swordfish

When it comes to food, there’s nothing better than a hearty Italian meal shared with family & friends. I have such a passion for Italian cooking and believe it or not there’s so much more than bread and cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore cheese, but we all know it’s not Paleo friendly. So tonight I am making a dish you would typically find in northern Italy. A flavorful roasted swordfish with eggplant, capers and tomatoes paired with an awesome Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Most people tend to reach for a white wine with swordfish, but keep in mind it depends on the type of fish and the sauce also plays a huge role in determining the right wine pairing. Swordfish is a rich, meaty fish and can definitely stand up to a red wine.  For this dish, I mirrored the acidity of the sauce with my wine selection.  The eggplant, tomatoes and rosemary are a great flavor profile to pair with the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. If you were doing a lemon sauce, I would stick with a dry white wine like a Pinot Bianco or Falanghina.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano comes from Tuscany and is one of three Sangiovese DOCG zones in the region.  Vino Nobile is  made from the Sangiovese Prugnolo grape whereas Brunello di Montalcino is made from Sangiovese Grosso and Chianti is made from the Sangiovese Piccolo grape.  They are all different mutations of Sangiovese. Vino Nobile is also the smallest zone. This area produces exceptional wines that are typically medium-bodied with vibrant red fruit of raspberry and cherry, hints of anise and tea, velvety tannins and vibrant acidity.  If you love Brunello, but don’t love the price tag, grab a bottle of this.

For tonight’s meal, I opened up a 2009 Corte alla Flora. I picked this up at Sirena’s in Norfolk for under $30. They offer 40% off the menu price for to-go wines. They have an awesome selection of Italian wines.


4 swordfish steaks
4 tbsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves minced
2 tbsp. capers
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 tbsp. pepper
1 red onion (medium dice)
1 eggplant (medium dice)
1-28oz can whole tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup dry red wine (Vino Nobile, Pinot, Chianti, Barbera)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine onions and eggplant and place on a sheet tray with 2 tbsp olive oil, a pinch of salt & pepper and roast for 45 minutes. Set aside.

Once veggies are roasted, heat olive oil in ovenproof dutch oven or large skillet over low-medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds to release aromatics. Add  wine and let reduce for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and break up with fork. Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, roasted veggies, rosemary sprigs & capers.  Stir until well combined.

Pat dry swordfish with paper towels. Season with salt & pepper. Arrange swordfish steaks on top of tomato mixture and bake for 12 minutes until cooked through.  Toss in parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4.



Five-Spice Chicken Soup & Riesling

Asian five-spice is a staple in my pantry, it adds so much flavor to so many dishes. This five-star soup recipe takes chicken soup to a whole new dimension.  The great thing about this soup is that you can pretty much add as many veggies as you like. I like my soup with an extra kick, so I added some jalapeno in addition to the five-spice which is typically a blend of (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, sichuan pepper & fennel).

I am opting for an off-dry Riesling to accentuate the five-spice powder in the soup.  Remember,  you want to pay attention to the spices and sauces when pairing wines.  I really like the way a Riesling cools the palate with a touch of residual sweetness and also  makes the flavors pop with its vibrant acidity. The best Rieslings in the world come from Germany, particularly from the regions of Mosel and Rheingau. The steep slate slopes add a minerality that can’t be found anywhere else. Riesling is also known for its piercing acidity that make it an incredible partner with an array of dishes.

For an affordable weeknight pairing under $15, here are a few recommended producers that are widely available for purchase.

Recommended Producers 

High-Def Riesling, Mosel, Germany (SRP: $12)
Dr. Loosen”Dr. L” Riesling, Mosel, Germany (SRP: $13)
Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (SRP: $14)

Recipe: Five-Spice Chicken Soup


2 tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil
1 leek (thinly sliced)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 jalapeño (seeded)
2 tbsp. five-spice (if you like a milder version, only add 1 tbsp and omit the jalapeno)
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 head bok choy (chopped)
1 red pepper (julienned)
1 cup broccoli (chopped)
1 zucchini (sliced)
2 cups shredded chicken
32 oz homemade chicken stock or organic
1 cup coconut milk
scallions (optional for garnish)


In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and add leeks. Let cook for about 5-7 minutes until translucent, add garlic and jalapeno and cook for about 30 seconds to release aromatics. Add 5 spice, salt & pepper and stir with veggies to release the oils in the spice. Add the rest of the veggies, chicken stock & coconut milk and let cook for about 30 minutes until all flavors are well combined. Add additional stock or water if needed to make sure veggies are covered. Add 2 cups of cooked shredded chicken and warm through. Serve immediately. Add chopped scallions for garnish.

When I don’t have time to make a roast chicken, I usually poach alot of chicken on Sundays and shred it while it’s warm. This way I have plenty of chicken on hand to add to weeknight recipes.  To poach chicken, take a large stock pot and add enough water or chicken stock to cover chicken breasts.  Add 1 tbsp. peppercorns, 1 tbsp. sea salt, 1 bay leaf, 1 tbsp. garlic powder and 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning to flavor the chicken.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat right away to low and cook another 15-20  minutes. Drain and let cool. Shred or slice chicken.

Hummus w/Crudités & Sauvignon Blanc

In general, veggies can be quite challenging to pair with wine. However; the crisp, clean and refreshing nature of a Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most reliable pairings with an array of raw and cooked vegetables.  Although, there are some variations on the flavor profile of the varietal depending on where it comes from, stylistically speaking. Sauvignon Blancs have abundant citrus notes of grapefruit with lemon and lime, lots of fresh cut grassy aromas and vibrant acidity that make it a perfect companion with green salads, mild guacamole and hummus with crudités.  The New Zealand and Chilean style are going to be a little more assertive with the citrus fruit. Sancerre’s are a little more restrained with lots of minerality and more acidity and many Napa Sauvignon Blancs boast a little more tropical fruit aromas in addition to the citrus fruit as a result of the warmer microclimate.

Here are a few of the Sauvignon Blanc producers at varying price points that I recommend. Chile is producing some of the best values today.

Not a Sauvignon Blanc fan? Check out an Albarino, Pinot Grigio or Vinho Verde as an alternative pairing. Store bought hummus is an easy way to go, but if you are looking for a paleo friendly option, try this delicious zucchini hummus recipe.

Recipe: Zucchini Hummus 


3/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 large zucchini (peeled & chopped)
1 meyer lemon (zest & juice)
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (plus more for garnish)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
paprika (garnish)


In a food processor add tahini, lemon zest & juice and garlic. Pulse for about 30 seconds until well combined. Add zucchini, pulse for another 30 seconds. Add pine nuts, salt, pepper & olive oil and pulse until well combines.  Makes 2 cups.  Transfer to serving bowl, add toasted pine nuts, drizzle of olive oil and paprika for garnish. Serve with fresh veggies.

Paleo Pairing: Beef Tacos & Zinfandel

Since tacos are a staple in so many households I thought it would be fun to create a Paleo version.  I substituted lettuce wraps for tortillas and used mashed avocados in place of sour cream.  The result was a healthy tasty taco that I will definitely make again.

My Paleo Pairing for day 19 features beef tacos in lettuce wraps paired with a Zinfandel.  You can also opt for a Riesling if you like your tacos on the super spicy side. Other wine pairings would include a Barbera or Beaujolais for a milder version.

Refer to my chili wine pairing for a detailed analysis of spicy food pairings and recommendations on some great Zinfandels.


1 lb lean ground beef (93%)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small jalapeno (seeded and diced)
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

8 lettuce leaves (Boston lettuce)
2 avocados (mashed)
diced tomatoes (garnish)
scallions (garnish)


Heat olive oil in medium skillet, add beef and let brown.  Add jalapeno and the rest of the seasoning and combine. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes to combine all the flavors.

Rinse lettuce leaves and pat dry with paper towels. Take a spoonful of smashed avocados, add beef, diced tomatoes and scallions. Serve immediately. Serves 2-4.

Paleo Pairing: Lemon-Caper Flounder & Bordeaux Blanc

My 31 day Paleo challenge continues with my day 18 recipe of pan seared flounder with lemon & capers and a refreshing Bordeaux Blanc.  When most people think of Bordeaux, they tend to think of the world renowned rustic reds, but there are some phenomenal white wines from Bordeaux that are incredibly food friendly. I like to refer to them as the “other” Bordeaux. The white varietals are blended, just like the reds. The main white varietals are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion and Muscadelle.  These are extremely approachable in their youth. The world famous dessert wine Sauternes is also made from Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

When seeking out a Bordeaux Blanc look for labels that say Graves, Pessac-Léognan, or Entre-Deux-Mers.

For a splurge, I love the Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc Pessac. This particular wine retails for about $45, however there are some really great ones under $15 a bottle. Keep your eyes open for the following producers Chateau de Bonhoste and Chateau Reynon Blanc.


2  flounder fillets (skinless)
2 tbsp. olive oil or grapeseed oil
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. capers
1 small shallot (fine dice)
1 meyer lemon (zest & juice)
1/4 cup dry white wine (Bordeaux Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio)


Pat fish dry and sprinkle with salt & pepper and dredge in almond flour. Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat until hot.  Add flounder and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove from pan and cover with aluminum foil.  Add shallots and let cook for about 30 seconds. Add wine and deglaze pan.  Add lemon juice, zest and capers and let cook for about 5 minutes to reduce the pan sauce and cook out the alcohol in the wine. Pour pan sauce over fish and serve immediately. Serve with broccolini and mashed parsnips. Serves 2.


5 Spice Stir Fry & Evolution

I was inspired once again by my spice cabinet tonight.  I reached for my 5 spice (star anise, cinnamon, clove, fennel, sichuan pepper), chicken and a bunch of veggies and whipped up a great stir fry and paired it with Evolution.

Evolution is a blend of 9 grapes (Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, Gewurtzraminer, Muller-Thurgau, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner & Chardonnay).  Evolution by Sokol Blosser features aromas of lemon curd, tropical fruit and nectarine.  The wine has a beautiful crisp finish with vibrant fruit. It makes for a phenomenal pairing with stir-fry, sushi and Thai food.  It’s  also a great picnic wine or summer sipper. I picked this up at Whole Foods for under $15.

Recipe: 5 Spice Stir Fry


4 6-oz chicken breasts (thinly sliced)
1 tbsp. olive oil or grapeseed oil
1/4 cup homemade chicken stock
1 tbsp. 5 spice powder
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. fresh minced garlic
2 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
1 leek (thinly sliced)
1 red bell pepper (julienned)
2 cups broccoli
1 head baby bok choy (chopped)


Thinly slice chicken breasts, put in plastic bag or bowl and toss with sesame oil, 5 spice powder and sea salt.  Let marinate for about 30 minutes.

In a wok or large saute pan, heat olive or grapeseed oil over medium-high heat.  Sear chicken in batches. About 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside in a bowl. Reduce heat to medium-low and add leeks, garlic and ginger. Saute for about 1 minute to release aromatics. Add pepper, broccoli,  bok choy & chicken stock.. Let cook for about 5-7 minutes. Add chicken back in until heated through. Serves 4-6.


Paleo Pairing: Roast Chicken & Ramey Chardonnay

I am revamping my favorite roast chicken recipe and making it Paleo friendly for today’s Paleo Pairing by substituting an olive oil rub for my herb butter and I am also nixing the mashed potatoes.

16 days of a dairy-free, grain-free diet hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be. It does however require a lot of planning and prep in the kitchen. I will definitely incorporate parts of the Paleo philosophy as part of my diet beyond my January challenge, but I am looking forward to having an occasional treat and reintroducing butter and cheese.

My Paleo Pairing for day 16 of my month-long Paleo challenge features Roast Chicken & Ramey Chardonnay.  Check out my other favorite California Chardonnay producers here.


4-5lb chicken
1 lemon (quartered)
1 head of garlic (cut in half)
1/2 spanish onion
handful thyme & rosemary sprigs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbs Herbs de Provence (mix with olive oil)
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil for drizzle


Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove giblets from chicken cavity and generously salt & pepper cavity.  Stuff the bird with lemon, onion, garlic, thyme & rosemary sprigs. Place chicken in small roasting pan with a rack and truss the legs.  Gently separate the skin from the chicken breast and smear the herbs de provence mixture underneath the skin. This is a great trick that keeps the chicken super juicy! Drizzle a little more olive oil on top of the skin and season with salt & pepper.  Roast chicken for about 1 hr and 15 min or until juices run clear and meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.   A good rule of thumb is about 15 minutes per pound at 425 degrees. If the chicken is getting too brown on the outside, cover with aluminum foil half way through roasting and remove at the end to ensure you have nice crispy skin.

Beef Bourguignon & Burgundy

Julia Child started inspiring amateur cooks and housewives across America when she first brought us her famous Boeuf Bourguignon recipe on The French ChefThis recipe takes about 30 minutes to pull together and another 2 plus hours for cooking, but it’s so worth it! Plus, you’ll have lots of leftovers.

The classic pairing for beef bourguignon is none other than an elegant Burgundy.  For those that don’t know, red Burgundy is made from 100% Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region of France. Until recently, French wine laws did not allow producers to put the varietal on the label.  A change in wine laws now permits this to help European wine makers compete on a more global scale. However, many producers in France are very traditional and have not implemented these changes. When you are shopping in a wine store and see Burgundy on the label and no mention of Pinot Noir, rest assured it’s made from the Pinot grape. There is one exception to this – Beaujolais. Beaujolais is an appellation within Burgundy that’s known for a red wine made from the Gamay grape. While Grand Cru Burgundies are among the most sought after collectible wines in the world, there are some great values out there.  Your best values are going to come from the Côte Chalonnaise in southern Burgundy. Look for the following region on the bottles (Rully, Mercurey and Givrey). With that said, your favorite Pinot Noir will work just fine with this dish. I am going to stay true to the French tradition and reach for a bottle of Burgundy! Here are a few great choices for some inspiration if you want to explore a Burgundy.

Recipe: Beef Bourguignon (Note: This is my paleo-friendly version)


3 lbs pot roast (stew meat)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 & 1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. Herbs de Provence
4 thyme & rosemary sprigs (tie with kitchen string)
1/2 bottle of Pinot Noir or Burgundy
1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 medium yellow onion (medium dice)
2 small sweet potatoes (medium dice)
4 carrots (cut on angle – 1/2 inch pieces)
2 parsnips (cut on angle – 1/2 inch pieces)
1 cup portobello mushrooms (sliced)
1 bag of pearl onions
1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Pat beef dry with paper towels. Season with salt, pepper & garlic powder on all sides. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.
Sear beef in batches. About 3-4 minutes per side should give you a nice sear. Don’t crowd the pan! Transfer beef to a bowl. Set aside. Add diced onion to pan and cook for about 5-10 minutes in beef fat to get another layer of flavor. Add carrots, sweet potatoes, & parsnips. Mix with onions to get all your veggies covered with all that beefy goodness. Add tomato paste and integrate with veggies.  Add wine a little at a time and deglaze the pan.  Add stew meat back to pan, mushrooms, Herbs de Provence, rosemary & thyme sprigs and chicken or beef stock. Make sure all the meat and veggies are covered. Cook for at least 2 hours in the oven. I usually let mine cook for about 3 hours. The longer you cook it, the more tender the beef is. If you choose to thicken the sauce, mix 1 tbsp. almond flour and 1 tbsp. grape seed or olive oil in a small ramekin until well combined and add to stew.  Add parsley and serve. Serves 8.