The Sassy Kitchen

Passionistas and The Sassy Kitchen

Posted on

There is nothing like getting together with wonderful friends. This video displays the fantastic evening with wonderful friends, great food, and awesome wines. Passaggio Wines loves these small intimate gatherings…I think we will do more of them 😉

Dungeness Crab Bisque with Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay

Posted on

We had so much fun during the Passaggio Passionista Wine, Food, and Friends Get Together, we are planning another!!! Take a look at what The Sassy Kitchen might be cooking for us… “YUM” – and what a great recipe for Valentine’s Day!!! Enjoy!

Here in the bay area, it is Dungeness Crab Season.  This makes me very happy.  🙂

A few days ago I had the pleasure of attending one of my best friends 50th birthday party.  The part was a surprise and we were all asked to bring something yummy.  I had an hour drive so I needed something that would transport well, reheat in a crock pot and still be delicious.

For me, there was an easy answer. Dungeness Crab Bisque!!!

I had never made it so I searched recipes, read reviews and chose one.  Of course then I changed it.

This soup can be prepared in a couple of hours if you are using live crab and in under an hour if using shelled crab meat.

Are you ready?

You will need

2 Dungeness Crab (approx 2 pounds each)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Carrot, Chopped
1 Stalk Celery, Chopped
1 Medium to Large Tomato, Chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
3 Medium Shallots, Chopped
2 Springs Fresh Tarragon Leaves, Chopped
2 to 3 Tbsp Cognac (Brandy)
1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
5 Cups Crab Boiling Water (you can use stock or water )
1/2 Dried Bay Leaf (or 1 small – you want a subtle flavor)
Fresh Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
2 Sprigs Thyme Leaves
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Butter
Parsley or Chives (optional)
Long Matches – I’m adding this because it’s important for lighting the Cognac

My recipe is based on one made by Wolfgang Puck. I loved it but it was too thin for me  so I made it a little thicker. I also precooked the crab in my recipe.  I have no problem putting live crabs into boiling water, I can’t bring myself to cut them in half while they are still trying to pinch me. It’s just one of those weird things.  (I’m the same with lobster.  Ok killing it one way but not another – weird but true)  The original recipe was also doubled.  It makes a lot and for Valentine’s day, this could be the perfect “Dinner for Two”.
Start by filling a large stock pot with water and bringing to a boil.  Add crab ( I had to do them one at a time).  Bring back to a boil, cover and turn off burner.  Leave the crab in the pot for 10 minutes.  They will not be fully cooked.  Move them to a sink or large bowl full of cold or ice water to stop the cooking.
Reserve the boiling water.  I only have one stock pot that large so I poured the water into a large bowl.

When the crab is cool enough to handle, pull of the claws and legs and cut the body in half.  Pull off the top shell and toss it.  (You can keep and freeze it for stock)  Clean out the gills.  You really don’t want those getting mixed up in your soup.

Add the Olive Oil to stock pot over medium heat.  Add the crab legs and bodies.  Saute for about 10 minutes.  This is bringing the flavor to what will be your soup base.  (and it will finish the cooking of the crab)  Remove the legs in about 5 minutes, keep stirring and turning over the bodies and claws.  Pull out of the pot and set aside.

Add the tomato, carrot, celery, shallot, garlic, tarragon to the pot.  Cook for 15 minutes.

Add the cognac and light it using a long “fireplace” match.

Once the flames die out, sprinkle the vegetable mixture with the flour and stir until well coated.

THEN add that delicious Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay (that you’re probably already sipping)
Add slowly while using it to de-glaze the pan and loosen the floured vegetable mix.

Now add the tomato paste, crab boil water, the bay leaf, thyme, a little salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne.

NOW add the crab bodies again.  Not the legs or claws, just the body pieces.

Bring up to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Pull out the crab and set aside.

With either an immersion blender or a standard blender, blend the soup.

Reduce heat to low.  Keep the soup warm but do not boil. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and cayenne as desired.

In a small sauce pan add the cream and butter.  Reduce by about 1/2 (less is fine, it still works well)

SLOWLY add the cream to the soup.  DO NOT BOIL.

Still well to blend.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Now it’s time to get back to that crab.  Crack and clean the crab.  (I did the claws and legs while the soup was simmering and then the bodies as soon as they were cool enough to handle)

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and add the crab meat. Top with chives or parsley if desired.

Serve with Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay.
The Sassy Kitchen Crab
The Sassy Kitchen

Passaggio “Passionista” Cornish Hens

Posted on

I was graced with dinner from The Sassy Kitchen the other evening. She stopped by the winery to drop it off. When I got home all I had to do was warm it up…how cool is that? I love the Passaggio Chardonnay Cornish Hens. You are gonna love this recipe…I think I could even make it 😉

Straight from The Sassy Kitchen

“Passionista” Cornish Hens

2 Cornish Hens
1 1/2 Cup Passaggio Chardonnay
Salt and Pepper (or Seasoning blend of choice)
1 Tbsp Butter
Kitchen Twine
Meat Injector
Basting Brush

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare the birds by drying them as much as possible. I wrap them in paper towels and pat dry then remove the towels and place on more towels while I finish the prep. A little tip I learned a few years ago is that a dry bird gives you crisper skin.

Truss the birds with kitchen twine. There are several great videos online on how to do this if you’re not sure. (Click here for one on YouTube)

Pour the Passaggio Chardonnay into a cup or small bowl.
Using a meat injector (relatively inexpensive and so handy to have in the kitchen) fill the syringe with some of the wine in the cup. Pouring the wine in a cup or container will keep you from cross contamination issues. Inject 1 to 2 syringes of Passaggio Chardonnay into each breast half. I recommend going in at different angles from the same injection spot. You will see the breasts “plump”. You can also inject the thighs and legs.  Just follow the same steps.

Season dry birds liberally with your preferred seasonings.

Remove paper towels from under the birds. Be careful to not squeeze the birds.  You don’t want to squeeze out the wine. 🙂

Place hens in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and continue to cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes.  Check at 30 minute point and cover tips of wings with foil if they are browning too much.  About 5 minutes before you pull them out of the oven, brush the birds with a little melted butter.  (makes them “shine” a bit)

Remove from oven and carefully cut the twine.  Check the leg/thigh area for “doneness”.  Depending on the size of your hens, it may take a little longer in the oven.

Let the birds rest for about 10 minutes, plate whole or slice and enjoy.

Passionista Cornish Hens

**Want to try a little “twist”?  Add fresh thyme leaves to the injection wine.  Be sure they are finely diced.  They will clog the injector’s needle if too large (or if you add too many)


Passaggio Pinot Noir Braised Lamb Shanks

Posted on Updated on

Cooking with The Sassy Kitchen – Passaggio Pinot Noir Braised Lamb Shanks

This evening with The Sassy Kitchen was so much fun, and a lot of people are waiting for this recipe!! So here we go…straight from The Sassy Kitchen.


4 Lamb Hind Shanks. 4 to 5 pounds total weight. *
3 Large Carrots
2 Large Stalks Celery
1 Small Yellow Onion
1 Small White Onion
5 Cloves Garlic
12 Oz Tomato Paste
4 Cups Water
2 Cups Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp Chopped Fresh Rosemary
8 to 10 Sprigs Fresh Thyme**
4 Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper
Heavy, well sealing Dutch Oven.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Give the carrots, celery and onions a rough chop and smash the garlic cloves. Put them in the food processor.  Chop until you have a chunky “paste”.  Set aside.

Put flour in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper.

Coat Dutch Oven liberally with olive oil and place on the stove over medium high heat.  You want a HOT pan.

Dry Lamb Shanks with paper towels then coat them with flour.   When the pan is hot, work in batches. Be sure not to crowd the meat and steam it – not brown it.  Brown the meat well.  Take the time to get it browned well on all sides.  Set aside to rest and cool just slightly.

Drain the fat from the pan.  You really don’t want all that extra meat fat in this dish.  Add a little more olive oil to the pan and then add the vegetable mixture and salt and pepper to taste. This should be sort of searing as well.  Cook while stirring for 15 to 20 minutes.  You’ll want them brown but not burned.  Move it to one side of the pan and add the tomato paste.  Let this “brown” too.  You will see it go to a richer deeper red.  Stir both the vegetables and the tomato paste, separately for about 5 minutes and then blend them together.

Reduce heat to medium, add the Passaggio Pinor Noir and stir well.  Let the wine reduce for a few minutes.  Add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and water.  Stir until well blended.

Place the lamb shanks in the pot.  They should be almost totally covered.  Place the lid on the Dutch Oven and put it in the oven.  Total cook time is about 3 hours.  Check and turn the lamb shanks in an hour and a half.  If the liquid has reduced too much, add some water. (Skim fat if needed)

Recipe steps for Lamb ShanksRemove from the oven and carefully remove the lamb shanks to either a family style serving dish or individual plates.  Spoon some of the braising liquid over the plated lamb shanks and enjoy!***

I served the lamb shanks over roasted garlic and olive oil mashed potatoes. I got the recipe from watching Lidia’s Italy. Click here for the link to Lidia’s garlic and olive oil mashed potatoes.

For the plating I also added some Chardonnay carrots.  (recipe coming soon)

Lamb Shanks
*Choose good quality meat. I buy mine from D’Artagnan.  I trust the quality and they have some great sales.  Watch for them and stock up!

** For the Thyme, either tie with kitchen twine so you can easily pull the stems out OR remove the leaves from the stems and toss them in.

***I was serving the next day so I transferred them to a smaller, cool pot and refrigerated them overnight.  They reheated well the next day.  About 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven and they were up to temperature and ready.


The Sassy Kitchen

Cooking With The Sassy Kitchen

Posted on Updated on

How to Make a “Sassy” Gumbo – written by The Sassy Kitchen

About three years ago I ordered crawfish and had them shipped from Louisiana to California.  My plan was to have a little crawfish boil and make a nice pot of seafood gumbo.  As it turns out, one of my guests had a shellfish allergy.  Naturally I panicked a bit.  Then I decided to research chicken and sausage gumbo.  I had never made it before but as with everything I have ever cooked, at one time or another; I had never made it before.

I found a few recipes I liked and I took pieces of each of those that I liked and created my own.  I decided to add more meat and incorporate more than just plain chicken and sausage, change-up some seasonings, etc.

This gumbo was such a hit that I now have “Gumbo Parties” a couple of times a year.  Depending on what I can get my hands on, the meats always change a bit but my basic recipe remains the same.

My basic recipe changed a bit last week when my friend Cynthia Cosco, who happens to be a winemaker, asked if I would try out some of her wines with some of my recipes. Now, for those that don’t know me, this was such an honor and I probably did actually squeal out loud a bit when she asked if I’d be interested in doing this.  A few weeks later I met Cynthia at her tasting room and after trying several wines that she will be bottling soon, I left the tasting room with 4 bottles.  In my handy wine tote, I had one bottle of each of these wonderful wines:

2012 Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio
2011 Passaggio New Generation Unoaked Chardonnay
2011 Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven Napa Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

gumbo!I began by opening the Pinot Grigio and the Chardonnay. I opened the bottles, poured myself a little of each and without food, I sipped them both.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Stopping, thinking, sipping, stopping… This went on for a while.

I had enjoyed Cynthia’s wines with my gumbo but hadn’t ever incorporated them into my recipe.  Honestly, this still wasn’t the plan but in the flash with a glass in my hand, it changed.   I must say, it was a tiny flash of brilliance.  We’ve all had them.  That flash where you’re drinking and cooking and think to yourself “I wonder what will happen if….” and while you’re still really in mid-thought, you pour your glass of wine into the pot. That’s exactly how it happened and it was a good thing!

Now it’s time to MAKE THE GUMBO!  READY?


2 Pounds Smoked Sausage. Sliced about 1/4 inch thick. I mix it up.  This time I used 1/2 pound Andouille, 1/2 Pound Pork Smoked Sausage and 1 Pound Turkey, Beef and Pork Smoked Sausage.   I prefer the pork sausages and have also used pork and alligator sausage in the past.
4 Pounds Chicken Thighs.  On the bone, skin and excess fat removed.
1 Pound Alligator Nuggets.  You can add more chicken if you’d prefer.  I had it so I used it. I have also used Alligator Legs.
1 1/4 Cups Chopped White Onion
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Yellow Onion
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Bell Pepper
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Celery
10 to 12 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Flour (a bit more just in case)
3/4  Cup Vegetable Oil.
1/2 Cup Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Filé powder
4 to 6 Bay Leaves.  Personal preference to your liking
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cajun Seasoning Blend – I use Emeril’s Essence.  It’s ALL IN THERE! BAM!!!
1 Cup Chopped Green Onion
1/3 Cup Chopped Parsley
4 Cups Cooked White Rice.  Cook as desired.  I keep this simple and cook the rice in water or chicken stock with a touch of butter and 1 bay leaf per cup of uncooked rice.
Hot Sauce

I HIGHLY recommend having everything prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.  Once you start, it needs to be a smooth progression so that you don’t lose your flavors by having to stop and start, etc. The green onion, parsley and rice can wait a bit.   You’ll have a few hours of idle time to do this.

Season chicken thighs liberally on both sides with your chosen Cajun seasoning blend and set aside for now.

Add 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil to a large stock pot and bring up temperature over medium to medium high heat. Working in batches, brown the sausage.  Some will be crispy looking and some just a little cooked.  Set on paper towel lined plate to drain.

Once you have browned all the sausage, once again working in batches, brown the chicken thighs on both sides.  You’re not trying to cook it, just sear it. Set it aside to cool a bit then put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready for it.

Next, reduce heat to medium and de-glaze that stock pot with the Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio and then slowly add about half of the flour.  Cook while stirring for a few minutes and then add 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil, stir and slowly add the remaining flour and another 1/4 cup oil (alternating) until you have a thick reddish-brown roux.  Keep stirring for about 20 minutes. When you’re not using the wine, the roux goes from white to a chocolate-brown.  When using the wine, it starts out a bit reddish-brown so it’s harder to tell what is happening.  You still want to be sure that you are cooking the roux to coax out those incredible flavors that only a homemade roux will give you.

When the roux is ready, add the celery, peppers and onions.  Stir well and get them all coated and gooey with the roux. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Toss in the cayenne, salt and pepper and then slowly add stock.  Add the stock a little at a time while stirring.  Adding it slowly keeps your roux from clumping like bad gravy.  Once its loose and liquid, you can add the stock a bit faster and toss in the bay leaf.  Add 10 cups and up to 12 depending on the size of your pot and the consistency you want.  You can add 10 now and the remaining 2 later if you’d like.

Add sausage and simmer for 1 hour.

Add Chicken and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add Alligator and simmer for 1 more hour.

Using slotted spoon, remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool slightly.  Remove chicken from the bone and chop or shred then return to pot and stir.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Be careful. The flavors will continue to develop and it’s always easy to add salt and pepper later but removing it…. not so much.

Add the parsley, and about a Tbsp of Filé powder.   Stir again.

Scoop desired amount of rice into a bowl, pour hot gumbo over the rice and top with chopped green onion.   Serve with hot sauce and Filé powder on the table.  Sometimes a couple shakes of each add a nice touch.  **

Serve with a well chilled glass of Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio.


**I make my gumbo one to two days in advance.  It keeps well and the “sitting” time really let’s those flavors “Do Their Thing”.


The Sassy Kitchen