Suggested Wine Pairing: 2019 Estate Pinot Gris
Growing up with a chef for a father, Thanksgiving was one the holiday in our house. Kevin would get up at 3:30am or 4:00am – yes, in the morning – preparing an elaborate scratch meal. There were turkeys and multiple types of stuffing, bread, green bean casserole and sweet potatoes – everything you could think of. But the highlight of the meal was always the dessert. Kevin always stuck to the traditional flavors – pumpkin, pecan, and apple, with flaky, buttery crusts, but his apple pie was always the showstopper.
Thick apple slices, cinnamon, warm spices and the perfect balance of sweetness make this my ideal dessert. As soon as I tried our Laurel Ridge Estate 2019 Estate Pinot Gris, I knew that it would be a Thanksgiving match made in heaven. With notes of honeysuckle, fresh orchard apple, and a perfect zing of minerality, the acidity of the 2019 Estate Pinot Gris balances the sweetness of the pie, brings out the delicate notes of spice and highlights the delightful flavor of seasonal Granny Smith apples.
We are so excited to share his recipe with you below, including his “secret” ingredients, black pepper, and vanilla bean paste. The black pepper is very important to balance the spice and sweetness of this pie. While I would strongly encourage you to use vanilla bean paste (Trader Joe’s and Fred Meyers have great ones), vanilla bean extract will work as well.
Whether you are able to see your family in person this year, or you’re doing a virtual celebration, it is our hope that this recipe brings a little bit of sparkle and joy to your gathering – from our family, to yours. Crack open a bottle of Pinot Gris, and celebrate!
Bringing any sort of meal to a chef’s house is intimidating – even more so when the chef is your father! My first foray into decorative lattices came when I was 26, the first year I was tasked with providing the family desserts for Thanksgiving. Although I was fairly confident that I could replicate my dad’s recipes, I wanted to do something to make the dessert feel like it was my own. To put my own stamp on the pies, I began crafting unique lattices, and pairing each pie with a recommended wine. It has been such a fun, and creative outlet – and looks incredibly impressive, while being incredibly easy to do (I promise).
It was a hit. Each year, I try to come up with new and different ways to decorate my pies – from braid, to polka dots, to hearts, to herringbone patterns! Read on to find out some of my best tips for a show stopping pie crust, as well our favorite pie and wine pairing combinations!
Make sure your filling is as cool as possible. Obviously, you will start by lining your pie dish with the bottom crust, and then adding your filling – but don’t hesitate to let that yummy apple pie filling (or whichever variety you’re making) cool off a little bit in the pan before adding it to your prepared pie dish. If the filling is too hot, as you are laying your lattice down, it will warm the dough so much that it falls apart, gets gooey, or just won’t come up off of the filling.
Make sure your dough is kneaded well and pliable – but still cold. I’ll admit, this might be the toughest part of the entire pie making process! You want your dough to be warm and kneaded enough that is is pliable, so you can easily roll it out, but not so warm that it begins to break and dry out. The more you touch the dough, the more likely it is that you will damage your crust. A good rule of thumb for this is to make sure your dough is smooth (that’s how you’ll know it’s been probably kneaded) but also just tough enough that you have to apply some pressure when rolling the dough out. You want your dough to be in a rough circle.
Don’t overdo the flour. Flour is integral to rolling out the dough properly – but don’t over do it! A light dusting will get the job done. You should only be dusting the surface of the rolled out dough as you flip it – not adding any flour to the actual kneading process.
Plan your design – and work fast! This is the most labor intensive part. Crafting a pie lattice requires you to move quickly, before the dough becomes too warm, or begins to break. This is especially true if you are working with a filling that is even slightly warm. To find inspiration, I typically look on Instagram, Pinterest…or will even check out weaving diagrams! To get started, focus on the traditional lattice, 3 strand braids, or a herringbone pattern if you’re feeling fancy. To ensure that the strips are roughly the same width, sometimes I will use a ruler to guide me – but sometimes I will just eyeball it! It all depends on your comfort level.
Not feeling up to braiding or weaving? Try Chef Kevin Bechtel’s recommendation of using cookie cutters. Even just dots layered in circles make a run of the mill pie feel a little bit extraordinary!
Cut your dough strips – and then chill them! I can not over-emphasize this. Whether you are preparing to braid, weave, or even just lay down dough that’s been cut with cookie cutters, I strongly recommend laying these strips out on a cookie sheet and chilling them for about 10 minutes before you start assembling your lattice. The extra cold just helps the process go a little quicker. As a general rule of thumb, anytime you experience dough breaking or stretching, you should immediately pop your dough back in the fridge for a 5 minute “time out”.
Laurel Ridge’s Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Guide:
Are you baking pies this holiday season? Feeling intimidated? Don’t worry – here at Laurel Ridge Winery, we have you covered, from the best wine pairings for any pie, to creating the best ever from scratch pie.
One of our culinary consultants, and the chef behind our wine club release parties, Kevin Bechtel, just so happens to be a “pie champion” (literally). He has over 35 years of experience in the food and restaurant industry. An award winning chef, he is a former Board Member, Board President, and Chair of the International Corporate Chefs Association, as well as a Board Member, Board President, and Chair of the Oregon Restaurant Association. His awards include the prestigious Menu Master’s Award in 2011, and the IFMA Culinary Innovation Award in 2012. Over the course of his career, he has been awarded over 60 medals at the National Pie Championships.
Now to me of course, Kevin is better known as my dad. Over the years, a pattern has emerged…every Thanksgiving Eve, Kevin’s phone blows up with every food question imaginable. But the most requested topic of help is always the pie. Because really – is it even Thanksgiving without SOME sort of pie?! From pumpkin pies that just won’t set, to pecan pies that bake too quickly, to burned apple pie crusts…Kevin has heard it all. I asked my dad to share some of his best tips and troubleshooting for pies.
Pick the right dish, and bake accordingly:
Did you know that the color of your pan will affect how your pie bakes? Set yourself up for success by selecting the best pan.
Shiny pans, dark pans, and glass pans all cook differently. When baking a pie in a glass or ceramic pie pan, Kevin recommends baking at 25 degrees under the recommended temperature – so if your recipe calls for baking your pie at 350 degrees, he would recommend 325. Additionally, dark metal pans (or shiny pans) will cook the pie more quickly and produce a browner crust.
And don’t forget – always keep your pie dishes in the refrigerator until the last possible moment!
Creating the perfect pie crust is all about temperature. Why is it so important that everything is cold, you ask? “All of your ingredients should be cold – you can even put the flour in the fridge, as well,” Kevin explains. “The warmer your ingredients are, the stronger the gluten link will be, resulting in a tougher crust.”
Make sure your crust is well ventilated. Aside from being beautiful, Kevin explains that one of the appeals of a lattice crust it releases steam, resulting in a flaky, decadent crust. “If you’re trying to make a double vented pie, you have to make sure your slits are large enough to properly release steam.” Kevin recommends vents that are 2.5 to 3 inches in length. He also says this can be viewed as an opportunity to get creative. “Not everything has to be a complicated lattice. Think of fun decorating ideas like using cookie cutters to make holes, or using cookie cutters to make apples and leaves.” One of the additional benefits of these creative crusts? Better ventilation!
Trust the process – be patient when baking. Kevin says that one of the biggest mistakes novice bakers make is simply a lack of patience.
Remember to tag us on social media so we can see your pies! And if you have any further questions for Kevin, drop us a comment or a message! We’ll reach out to get your question answered!
Now stay tuned…if you want your lattice to look great and confidently know how find the perfect wine pairing for any pie, be sure to watch for my next blog post on decorating and serving the perfect pie!
Recommended Wine Pairing: Laurel Ridge 2017 Chardonnay
Here in Oregon wine country, harvest season is a “round the clock” sort of affair. Fruit is arriving by the ton at all hours of the day and night, from all over the Willamette Valley and sometimes from as far away as Southern Oregon. A full night’s sleep is a luxury, and moment of rest are not guaranteed! When life is this busy, having delicious, filling meals is an absolute must – and let me tell you, “harvest meals” are a real thing here in the wine industry!
Meal prepping – or at least having a plan – is integral to these happy (but chaotic!) times, and is a chance to show our gratitude to our hardworking harvest crew. Our requirements for a Harvest meal is that they should be hearty, warm, seasonal, and absolutely delicious. This warm, cozy pasta has got all the components. It’s the time of dinner that invites you to sit down and relish every bite, whether you have 2 minutes, or 20. Best of all – you don’t have to be harvesting to enjoy it! It’s a great recipe for sharing, or to treat yourself to a little bit of magic on a weeknight.
There are more steps to this recipe than some we’ve posted – we recommend giving yourself a full 30 minutes to prepare this. If you’re feeling intimidated by the diced squash in this recipe, make sure to check out our instructions at the bottom for how to peel and cut a squash (I promise it isn’t nearly as hard as it looks!). Acorn squash is one of those items whose “bark” is far worse than its bite. But we promise – it is surprisingly easy to work with, and your hard work will be handsomely repaid with this delicious meal.
1 acorn squash, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1 cup sage leaves
3 cups fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (we love a sharp Parmesan Reggiano)
8 ounces sliced pancetta, crisped
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 pound rigatoni or penne pasta
1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.Toss cubed acorn squash in olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.
3.Meanwhile, in food processor, combine basil and sage by pulsing. Once roughly chopped, add walnuts to basil and sage and run food processor continuously until well combined, then add garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper. Set pesto mixture aside.
4.Cook your pasta until al dente, according to instruction. While cooking pasta, lightly crisp pancetta in a steel pan over medium-high heat until the edges brown.
5.In bowl, combine pasta with 1/4 cup pasta water, pesto mixture, and stir until well combined.
6.Top with roasted acorn squash, pancetta, and parmesan.
On cutting the acorn squash…
First, cut your squash in half. Using a sharp knife, begin by pushing the tip of your blade down into the middle of the squash one to two inches, and then gently apply downwards pressure – like a lever. This way you can maintain an even cut, and you do not have to worry about any slippage. Once you have cut all the way through, spin the squash and cut from the other side! Now that you’ve halved the squash, scoop out all the pulp, guts, and seeds. Next, microwave the squash (the whole thing!) for 2-3 minutes. This increases the permeability of the skin, so that it can be more easily removed. Once you remove the squash from the microwave, give it a second to cool – then using a sharp blade (always!), gently cut away the skin. From here, you’re golden – dice away!
But as always, there are a couple of options! On nights that I don’t feel like doing a ton of cooking, the pre-cubed squash packages at Trader Joe’s are cost effective, and a total lifesaver.
Suggested wine pairing: Laurel Ridge 2018 Estate Chardonnay, Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Willamette Valley
Few things seem more appropriately autumnal than fresh picked apples. Here in the Willamette Valley, we have an abundance of fruit stands and U-Pick Orchards (including several nationally acclaimed locations) to help us get our fix. But, how many apple pies, apple crisps, and jars of applesauce can you actually make?
Enter our Spicy Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese.
Summer is finally here! Now that the days are long and the sun is here to stay, it’s also officially time for the summer barbeques to commence. As if we needed a reason to crack open a bottle of our signature David’s Tableau Vivant Bordeaux blend! A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, that boasts rich espresso and spice with a hint of black cherry, it the dream to serve when you’re firing up the grill. Now, a tender, juicy, peppered steak is already the perfect playmate for a Bordeaux blend – but when you throw in this chimichurri, it takes this experience to a whole new level.
This chimichurri is a household staple for me. Don’t be fooled by it’s fancy name – this is the type of sauce you can enjoy in all sorts of unusual ways, just like pesto – scrambled eggs, leftover sandwiches, as a pizza sauce? Yep, I can personally attest to all of these options. I always like to let my chimichurri sit and meld for about 20 minutes prior to enjoying so the flavors have time to combine.
Chimichurri is a fresh, uncooked green sauce that is originally Argentinian. It’s the type of zesty, spicy, herbaceous goodness that is delightful served on top of red meat – think your barbecued pork loins, peppercorn crusted steaks, added into fajitas… the possibilities are endless! With a base of olive oil and vinegar, chimichurri’s strong flavor profile enhances meat by adding a bright and balanced layer of complexity to any meat dish. Now, throw in some of our 2016 David’s Tableau Vivant into the mix and you’ve conjured up a real recipe for magic.
If you’re looking to create the perfect steak dinner, we’ve got you covered – make sure to check out our tips on how to get the perfect steak, every time.
Growing up with a professional Chef for a Dad, it probably comes as no surprise that I’ve always been surrounded by food and wine! Among my earliest memories are my dad’s legendary ‘Saturday Night Dinners.’ As a family tradition, these dinners gave my dad a creative outlet to continue his growth as a chef while connecting with close friends and family. Read: it was an excellent excuse to enjoy some truly unique and delicious bottles of wine!
Each Saturday morning, Dad would scour his favorite cookbooks (and later, blogs) to find new or unique recipes he wanted to learn to prepare. We’d spend our mornings visiting small markets in downtown Portland, or local produce stands in the countryside, to get the freshest ingredients. Then we’d return home, and my job as “sous chef” would begin.
These dinners were how I learned how to cook; from my dad. Preparation for these recipes typically took hours, and over the years this is how I learned a variety of techniques from knife work, to basic recipes, to sauce types – everything imaginable! But the most intimidating by far (and dad’s most requested meal for Saturday night) was steak. To me, steak was always a bit of a mystery – how do you marinate it? What does salt do? What role does marbling play? Most importantly…what if I accidentally ruined it?!
But soon as I tried our 2016 David’s Tableau Vivant, I knew I had to overcome my fear – this wine is too good! With subtle notes of espresso and dark cherry and an oh-so-smooth finish, I knew the time to learn to cook the perfect steak had come. So I asked my dad for his best practices and tips for the perfect steak, every time, and he delivered big time! I couldn’t be more excited to share them with you.
Kevin’s ‘Common Denominators of a Great Steak’:
Here are some examples of when to remove your steak from the heat to get the perfect doneness:
|Doneness||Cook Temp Desired Doneness|
|Rare||120 °F 125 °F|
|Medium Rare||125 °F 130 °F|
|Medium||130 °F 135 °F|
|Medium Well||135 °F 145°F|
|Well||145 °F 150 °F|
Now that we’ve got a grip on how to actually cook the steak (whether grilled or pan seared), Dad also uses three basic methods to treat his meat prior to cooking. He explained that each steak, based on its unique composition, will taste a little different, and he considers any of these cooking methods to be equal in quality – it just comes down to your preference!
Salt & Rest – Season liberally with salt and allow to rest for an 40 to 50 minutes. After about 5 minutes the salt (through osmosis) pulls moisture out of the steak. This creates a brine and then, after about 30 minutes, it will begin to reabsorb back into the steak.
Home-Style Dry Aged – Salted on both sides then allowed to rest on a rack overnight in the refrigerator, uncovered. It will look slightly dried out – don’t worry, this is normal. When cooked, the meat will be deeper in color and have a richer flavor.
Marinated – Soy Sauce and Lemon Pepper (salt –free). Pierce the steak a number of times with a fork (evenly distributed), then flip and do the same with the other side of the steak. Generously coat with Soy Sauce (this will create an element of salt) and liberally with Lemon Pepper. Let rest for one hour, then pat dry, sprinkle with Kosher Salt and cook.
Is anyone else’s mouth watering?! Time to get cooking! Dad (always looking for an excuse to open a good wine) prepared the steak above, a New York, using his salted and rested method. And don’t forget, if you need a delicious and unique way to serve your steak, make sure you check out our recipe for Chimichurri, an herbaceous Argentinian sauce with a zing.
Summer is finally here in the Pacific Northwest! With these long, warm days, there are few places we would rather be than on the patio with a chilled glass of wine. It adds a sparkle to any evening. Is there any better way to enjoy the beautiful sunshine than catching up with friends over some great appetizers?
When I think of an easy but delicious recipe that’s great for sharing, our Sweet Pea Pesto Crostinis immediately come to mind – it’s the perfect recipe for summer get togethers! Our Sweet Pea Pesto was initially debuted at one of our wine club releases back in 2019, and I don’t think we’ve ever had a more requested recipe. It was a huge hit.
It’s a snap to put together (all you need is 5 minutes and a food processor, and yes, frozen peas are just as delicious as fresh). Plus, it is so versatile! Lighter than traditional pesto, it’s the perfect snack to enjoy with baby carrots and chips, or you can dress it up by spreading it on a crostini with half of a fresh cherry tomato. Serve this pesto on its own as a dip, or as part of a larger spread of tapas.
We initially paired this pesto with our 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir, which was delicious – the slight sweetness of the pea and the refreshing Rose was beautiful. But I have had these crostinis with our 2018 Estate Pinot Grigio, as well as our 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir, and am happy to report that any of our refreshing white Willamette Valley wines will be just as delicious with this wonderful recipe!
Here’s to happy summer evenings spent on the patio with good friends and good food!
For the pea pesto:
For the crostinis:
For the pea pesto:
For the crostini (optional):
Taking cooled crostini, gently dollop pea pesto on top of each. Spread the pesto with a spoon, garnish with half of a sliced cherry tomato and some of our Jacobsen Black Garlic Pepper Salt, or Coarse Sea Salt. Enjoy!
We know that here in Oregon wine country we can be a bit biased, but we’re absolutely convinced that the Willamette Valley has some of the best family farms and orchards for summer produce. We are swimming in an abundance of u-pick berry farms, roadside fruit stands, and a myriad of farm-to-consumer operations out here that give us access to the best produce around.
A store bought raspberry is a delicious treat – but a freshly grown raspberry bursts with flavor in your mouth and screams, “Send help, I can’t stop eating these.” Each summer, we turn to canning to work through the inevitable surplus of fresh fruit & berries we’ll have. (Side note: this might be making you jealous but don’t forget, it rains here…a lot). Back to the jams; enhancing jam with wine is a real game changer. Let’s just say, your peanut butter and jelly sandwich will never be the same.
This summer, we’re sharing some of our favorite jam recipes that we’ve tested & perfected with a splash of the perfect wine to pair with the fruit. But before we get to the first recipe (Strawberry Jam with Pinot noir!) we want to give a couple notes on the canning process, and how we’ve written our recipes for you.
With that, let’s get to jammin’!
Coming up in this series:
Hi friends! Maija here being sappy as possible, because today is my wedding anniversary!
Many Laurel Ridge regulars know that my husband Jeff and I got married at the winery – which, to me, means I got married on the farm where I grew up. It was such a lovely day filled with warmth, tenderness, joy, and a lot of food & wine. In reminiscing, I couldn’t resist sharing just a few photos of our special day. Now please excuse me while I go grab a box of tissues.
I was not the stereotypical girl portrayed in popular culture who always envisioned her wedding day. In fact, when it came time to planning the wedding, Susan and Kira actually planned and executed a lot of the details. And I have to say it was the best wedding gift I could ever have received.
While I could never choose a favorite part of my wedding (hello! Marrying my husband was obviously the highlight!) I was absolutely obsessed with my cheese spread. The food was actually one of the only components of our wedding that Jeff and I cared about. When it came time to plan our cocktail reception, we knew we wanted guests to arrive and be offered a glass of our delicious Rosé of Pinot noir.
We also couldn’t stop dreaming about an epic cheese board to pair with our happy hour wine selections – Rosé and our Pinot noir Cuvée. We knew both of these wines would be easy, crowd-pleasing selections to offer guests and would definitely pair well with a spread of cheeses, nuts, crackers, bread, fruit and more. It took me about ten minutes to figure out where my bridesmaids had disappeared to once I saw the cheese board had arrived. It was such a treat to enjoy and something we hope our guests loved as much as we did!
Up next – I’ll share some Oregon Wine Country wedding inspiration with our menu and how we paired our Pacific Northwest-inspired wedding menu with our delicious Willamette Valley wines. Stay tuned!
I know many had to delay or cancel their dream wedding plans due to Covid-19. I empathize so much with having to navigate such a stressful, costly endeavor. I share this post with levity, I hope it brings you inspiration and joy. Cheers!