Spring salmon with pasta and beef fillet

February 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Peter Mondavi Jr. shares some favorite recipes along with great advice on wine and port pairings.

Make your sweetheart an easy and delicious dinner, while pairing it with the perfect wine!

Fillet of Beef with Balsamic and Blue
Makes 2 servings

  • 2 5-oz. fillets of beef, 1" thick
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. berry jelly (raspberry, black currant, blackberry, etc.)
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 average-sized slices French bread cut 3/4" thick (or 2 if loaf is round or otherwise very large)
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar mixed with 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • crumbled blue cheese
  • additional olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet or the bottom of a broiling pan with aluminum foil.

If beef fillets are thicker than 1", pound them lightly with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet to flatten them to a 1" thickness. Cover them with plastic wrap when you do this. In a medium bowl, stir together soy sauce, jelly, Dijon mustard and pepper with a fork until well blended. About an hour before serving, coat steaks on both sides with the marinade then let stand 1 hour. After 30 minutes or so, turn the steaks in the marinade, which should be almost absorbed.

Meanwhile, brush both sides of French bread slices very generously with olive oil, then lightly salt and pepper them. Place on the lined cookie sheet and toast in the preheated oven till light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Survey them so they don't get too brown. Set aside.

Wipe the cookie sheet clean. Place the oven rack 2" from heat source and turn oven on 'broil.'

Ten minutes before serving, blot the steaks lightly with paper towels then brush them generously on both sides with balsamic vinegar-olive oil mixture. Place steaks on the foil-lined cookie sheet and broil them 2" from broiler element for 2 minutes. Turn steaks over and broil 2 minutes more for medium rare (or about 2-1/2 minutes per side for medium). Remove steaks from oven and let stand on the pan 5 minutes in a warm place before serving.

Quickly assemble two warmed plates with side dishes, adding two slices of toasted bread. Drizzle bread with any juices that have accumulated in the pan the meat was cooked in. Immediately top bread with steak; sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and a drizzle of olive oil if desired. Serve with Charles Krug-Peter Mondavi Family Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon.

Alternatively, this recipe can be prepared as an appetizer for a party, making about 12 servings.

Prepare as described above, using one baguette sliced in 3/8" slices in place of the French bread. Brush only one side of each slice generously with olive oil. Salt and pepper and toast as directed.

Once meat has cooked and rested, slice meat on a diagonal 1/4" thick or thinner. Drizzle baguette slices with accumulated juices, top with a slice of beef, then add a drop or two of olive oil and a little blue cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature with Charles Krug-Peter Mondavi Family Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon.

Katie Mondavi's Spring Salmon and Pasta
Makes 4 servings

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 - 2 lemons, sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch of green garlic, washed, trimmed and sliced into 1" lengths (or 1 small onion, sliced thinly)
  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds salmon filet, cut into four equal portions
  • 1 cup Charles Krug-Peter Mondavi Family Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay
  • 8-10 ounces pasta of your choice
  • 1/3 cup green or black olives, or a mixture, pitted and quartered
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375ºF and bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

Drizzle half the olive oil into a baking dish just large enough to hold the salmon, but not too big. Set aside four lemon slices for garnish. Layer half the remaining lemon slices and half the green garlic (or onion) in the bottom of the dish. Add the salmon atop the lemon and green garlic, then layer the remaining lemon and green garlic over the salmon. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.

Add chardonnay so that it comes about halfway up the salmon. Cover with foil and bake at 375 F for 35-40 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente, drain and keep warm.

Remove salmon pieces to a warm plate and quickly strain poaching liquid, reserving the green garlic. Reduce the liquid in a large skillet over high heat until it is reduced by half. Gently toss the liquid with the cooked pasta, olives, reserved green garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide onto four plates, top with salmon and serve garnished with lemon slices. Serve with Charles Krug Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay.

Prager's Golden Butternut Squash Bisque with Aria White Port
Serves 4-6

  • 2 pounds butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 golden delicious apple, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 tablespoons Prager Aria White Port (divided)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Crème fraîche or sour cream, whisked until creamy
  • 8-12 Prager Handmade Caramelized Walnut halves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush cut side of squash with olive oil. Place cut side down on rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Spoon squash out into a bowl; you should have about 3 cups.

In Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion and apples; sauté until tender (about 5 minutes). Stir in curry and nutmeg. Add chicken broth, bay leaf, squash and 3 tablespoons Aria White Port. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Remove bay leaf. In two batches, puree bisque in blender until smooth.

Return soup to pot; add honey, 2 tablespoons Aria White Port, and heavy cream. Re-warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally. If bisque is too thick, add more chicken broth, ¼ cup at a time.

For garnish, drizzle with Crème fraîche or sour cream and float 2 Prager Handmade Caramelized Walnut halves* on top of each serving. Enjoy with Prager Aria White Port.

*Prager Handmade Caramelized Walnuts are available in St. Helena at Prager Port Works, Sunshine Market, and Dean & DeLuca.

Wine pairings:

2007 Chardonnay Carneros, $20.00
Appellation: Carneros
Our Peter Mondavi Family Chardonnay yields aromas of peach, apple, and a surprising hint of citrus. With little time in oak, the freshness of this wine can be enjoyed by itself or paired with your favorite fare.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville-Napa Valley, $27
Appellation: Yountville - Napa Valley
Our Peter Mondavi Family Cabernet Sauvignon meshes flavors of black cherry, currant and roasted coffee with clove and licorice aromas. This fruit filled wine finishes with supple tannins and lingering enjoyment.

2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, $18
Our signature style Sauvignon Blanc preserves the vibrant flavors found in the fruit from the night it was harvested through the time this bottle is opened. Through delicate fruit handling and the use of stainless steel tanks, the aromas and flavors of guava, grapefruit and melon shine through.

2005 Estate Bottled Generations, $50
Our Peter Mondavi Family Generations wine is a tribute to family tradition and commitment to quality.

Port Pairings:

Prager's Royal Escort (Red Petite Sirah), $72
The port won "Best of Show Dessert Wine" at the Orange County Fair, one of the country's most important wine competitions. Made from Petite Sirah grapes, Royal Escort is reminiscent of spiced cherries, boysenberries, cedar and plums.

The Aria (Chardonnay) Port, $48

Prager's signature chocolate truffles:
At their family winery, the Pragers have produced ports and welcomed visitors since 1979. Stepping onto their tidy property tucked into the vineyards just outside St. Helena is like stepping back into Napa Valley history. The Prager family also produces Noble Companion Tawny port made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, as well as a Petite Sirah table wine. Their dessert wines, Madeline and Sweet Claire, are named after Prager grandchildren.

Prager Winery & Port Works
1281 Lewelling Lane
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-7078

About Charles Krug-Peter Mondavi Family Winery:
Charles Krug is the Napa Valley's very first winery, founded in 1861, and is also the original Mondavi winery. The third generation of the Valley's "first family of wine" is at the helm. Peter Jr. and Marc Mondavi have recently made a huge investment in order to improve and insure the quality of the vineyards and the wine for at least another 100 years: they've replanted extensively, and 2/3 of their 850-acres are already being farmed organically, with more to come. Why now? They've recently put around $8 million into restoring two historic buildings on the property, the 1872 Redwood Cellar, and the 1881 Carriage House. The Redwood Cellar is Napa Valley's very first commercial winery building, and it and the Carriage House both are California and federal historic landmark buildings. The buildings have just reopened.

Charles Krug
2800 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574

About Peter Mondavi, Jr.:
Peter Mondavi, Jr.'s education began as a boy growing up on the Charles Krug estate in St. Helena, CA, where he and older brother Marc sanded fermenting tanks, unpacked glasses, worked in the winery's laboratory, and drove tractors through the vineyard. Peter inherited his love of food from his grandmother Rosa, who taught him the fine points of food and wine pairing. While Charles Krug wines reflect their origins in the most prestigious Napa Valley appellations, they resemble his grandmother's beloved Italian wine in one way: they are well balanced and structured to accompany food. Demonstrating a commitment to the land that only a family-owned and operated business can make, the third generation of Mondavis has invested $21.6 million in replanting the 850-acre estate, renewing the winery's focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varietals and converting to sustainable and organic farming methods. Another $8.5 million is being invested in the historic renovation of the original 1800's stone structures. Under Pete Mondavi Jr.'s leadership, seven vineyard parcels have already received 100% organic certification from the CCOF, a non-profit organic certification organization, with others to follow. Peter's leadership and environmental stewardship was recognized in Vanity Fair's 2007 "Green Issue," and he was invited to pour Charles Krug wines at the premiere of Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental documentary film, "The 11th Hour," in August, 2007.

As international wine conglomerates take root elsewhere in the Valley, the Mondavis are resolute in their intention to remain independent and family owned. Peter Mondavi, Jr., may have started his education at the winery, but he completed it at Stanford, where he earned a BS in mechanical engineering, an MS in engineering management and an MBA. He is a prolific fundraiser for various charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, among others. Peter was named the 2008 California Wine Ambassador by the Portland Classic Wines Auction, chosen from the most respected wineries producing premium wines representative of their regions. In addition to his winery activities he sits on the boards of the Stanford Business School Alumni Association, Yountville Appellation Association and the Bottlenotes Advisory Board. Peter is a former board member of both the Napa Valley Vintners Association and Family Winemakers of California. He is also an active member of numerous wine-related organizations, including the Wine and Food Society of San Francisco. He lives in Napa Valley with his wife Katie Williams-Mondavi and their two children.

About Peter Prager:
Peter is the first to agree that enjoying a glass of port in front of a fire is one of the highlights of wintertime. But at Prager, port is equally as much about family and friends around the table, sharing good food and wonderful wine. Peter is one of five of the seven Prager siblings who eventually joined parents Jim and Imogene in the family business when they founded Prager Port Works and Winery in St. Helena in 1979.In the beginning, Peter and his siblings helped out in every phase of wine and port making-scrubbing tanks, shoveling grapes into the crusher, and more. In the years that followed, Peter continued to help out at the Port Works while he honed his skills in the tasting rooms at Sutter Home Winery, Chateau Montelena, and Rodney Strong. After completing his enology degree at Fresno State in 1992, he went to work full-time for his father, taking over winemaking in 1995.

Besides making port, one of Peter's favorite pastimes is to find a port to pair with every food, and he has created many tasty matches.

Peter's wife, Karen, also pitches in weekly at the Port Works, helping Prager matriarch Imogene produce her delectable candied walnuts--perfect with Prager port. The couple has five children-two girls and three boys-ranging in age from four to 15. The Prager kids are not content simply waiting in the wings: the oldest, Thomas, has a Prager port named after him, and several are already experts in "tasting room support" - at washing glassware, that is. Prager Winery and Port Works is proud to be a family operation!