Seeking the perfect dish to bring to your annual Friendsgiving? A new, seasonal wine country cookbook called “Season: A Year of Wine Country Food, Farming, Family & Friends” has you covered for that, and any other occasion too.
The nearly 300-page book from Jackson Family Wines features 80 recipes with vivid, large-format photos divided throughout the four seasons. It’s a total collaboration between Jackson Family Wines executive chef Justin Wangler, chef and cheese specialist Tracey Shepos Cenami, master culinary gardener Tucker Taylor, and pastry chef Robert “Buttercup” Nieto.
“We get people from all over the world that come and visit us, and it’s really a special experience, especially the food and wine pairing and garden tour [at Kendall-Jackson Vineyard Estates]. People came here and they leave feeling so inspired and jazzed about what we we’re doing, and we want to encourage them that you can’t only eat that way on vacation or when you’re visiting Wine Country,” said Cenami.
At the beginning of each season’s section, readers learn how to recreate real-life wine country experiences from Jackson Family Wines properties at home, like a summer picnic in the lavender gardens at Matanzas Creek Winery, or a bubbly, holiday soiree at La Crema Estate. To simplify the planning, the chefs provide a sample menu of wines and dishes.
Recipe types run the gamut. To start, you’ll find snacks and hors d’oeuvres, like Undeviled Eggs with Herbs and Horseradish, plus soups (Dungeness Crab & Cauliflower) and salads (Purple Potato with Peas, Dill and Tarragon). Main dishes include Tri-Tip Sandwiches with Cabernet Cabbage and Blue Cheese Dressing, and there are plenty of sides too, like Caramelized Baby Carrots with Carrot Top-Hazelnut Pesto, perfect for that upcoming Friendsgiving dinner.
Buttercup provided tons of desserts, like a Meyer Lemon Meringue Tart, and there’s even a cocktail: Pinot Noir Summer Sangria. Some dishes feature seriously inventive combinations, like pumpkin grits or beet pasta.
Each recipe is accompanied by tips and tricks from the chefs and Taylor, such as how to make rosé ice cubes to keep your wine cold without diluting it, or the best tool for shaving truffles (a Japanese mandoline). There’s a spread dedicated to Cheese Tray 101, Cenami’s specialty, and another to edible flowers.
The first step in developing any recipe was to visit Taylor in the Jackson Family Wines gardens at the Kendall-Jackson Estate to draw inspiration. Almost all of the vegetables featured in Season came directly from the gardens and as proof, readers will find colorful garden snapshots from Taylor’s personal Instagram. Just as the Kendall-Jackson gardens seek to educate visitors on farming, the book includes plenty of suggestions on growing one’s own vegetables — did you know you can plant sprouting garlic cloves in a pot to grow green garlic?—or finding ingredients at local farmers markets (there are apps for that).
“There would be no cookbook without Tucker and the garden,” said Cenami.
Master Sommelier Michael Jordan, who works with Jackson Family Wines as the Director of Global Key Accounts, selected a wine pairing for every recipe, down to a Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Chardonnay paired with Janet’s Mom’s Dill Pickle Dip. The wines are all from the Jackson Family Wines portfolio, which encompasses more than 40 wine brands from the United States, South Africa, France, Italy, Australia and Chile.
It took a couple of years to complete the book, largely due to extensive recipe testing, they said. Most recipes were tested at least a dozen times as it was important to make them home kitchen-friendly. This meant working with regular cooking equipment, not commercial grade.
“We really geared it towards the home cook,” said Wangler. “There are some aspirational recipes in there, but when we first started testing recipes, I went home, and some of the recipes took like two hours and I had a ton of dishes. So we took a step back and simplified a lot of recipes. We really wanted to create recipes people could cook, that they would actually make.”
The official release date for Season is Sept. 20, but you can buy a copy ($50) a day early at the Williams-Sonoma (Sonoma) store on Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 6-8 p.m.. The chefs will be there to sign books and will prepare and serve a selection of recipes from the book with wine pairings.