Dreaming of a white and red (wine) Christmas

(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)

With all of the jubilee and celebration of the holiday season, the intimate moments are often the most wonderful.
Of the many happy events of the season, I will most cherish two nights in December: a family pasta dinner eaten from plates on our laps as we watch “Elf,” and an at-home steak dinner date with my husband.
I’m sharing my recipes for these simple evenings at home and adding tips on the ideal wine pairings to ensure that you have both a white and red wine holiday season.


• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 cans chopped clams (I like Bar Harbor brand 6.5-ounce cans), drained, liquid of one can retained
• 3/4 cup dry white wine
• Pinch red pepper flakes, crushed
• Zest and juice of one lemon
• 1 pound linguine
• 2 tablespoons butter
• Fresh Italian parsley, chopped
• Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish
• Kosher salt
Fill large pot with well-salted water and bring to boil. Add pasta and follow package directions, cooking until al dente.
Heat large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook approximately 30 seconds. Add lemon zest and juice, clams with juice, wine and salt to taste.
Simmer sauce 5 minutes. Drain pasta and pour directly into saucepan. Toss pasta and pour into large serving bowl.
Finish with parsley, cheese and additional olive oil if desired.
Serve with crusty bread and a simple salad.
Wine pairing: A bottle of 2015 Georgos Santorini ($18) is the ideal match. This white wine, made by Nu GREEK of Sonoma, is perfectly crisp and refreshing with the clams and pasta.


• Vegetable oil
• 1-2 russet potatoes, peeled
• 2 10-ounce filet mignon steaks, at room temperature
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• Sea salt
• Pepper, freshly cracked
• Fresh parsley, chopped
Let steaks rest a few moments before you serve, which will allow time to cook fries after you’ve finished the steaks.
Using knife or mandolin, slice potato into thin, matchstick slices (1/8-inch think). Soak matchsticks in cold water 15 minutes, drain and dry very well using dish towel.
While potatoes soak, brush steaks with melted butter and season generously with salt and pepper.
Heat oven to 400 F. Heat a large cast iron or fry pan to very hot, then add tablespoon of vegetable oil. When oil is shimmering, add steaks and sear on both sides for approximately 2 minutes per side (you want a nice crust on the steaks).
Place skillet in oven and cook to desired doneness (120 F for rare, 125 F for medium-rare on an instant-read thermometer). When steaks reach desired temperature, remove from pan and place on serving platter to rest. Foil tightly and let sit 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.
In large saucepan, heat 1 inch of oil to 350 F. Drop potatoes in batches into hot oil and cook approximately 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove potatoes with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Season with salt and place in oven to keep warm while you finish cooking batches of fries.
Wine pairing: Make the at-home date steak night special with a bottle of 2013 Franciscan Estate Magnificat ($40). The red blend is a true holiday treat. The deep garnet color and complex aroma of the wine are a beautiful tribute to the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc grapes used in the expertly made Meritage blend. The delicious black currant and tobacco flavors make the wine the ideal pairing with the steak.


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