This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Cuda Ridge Wines, one of the #MerlotMe event sponsors.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own.
The month of Merlot begins now! When #MerlotME rolls around, I always have a nice selection of bottles to pair. And since I have always loved pairing mushrooms with Merlot - and because my mushroom-averse child is off at college and unable to ruin my mushroom dishes with his eye-rolling and complaining - I decided to put mushrooms on the tables as often as I'd like. Here continues my parade of Merlot + Mushroom pairings for #MerlotME 2022! I have already shared my Three Mushroom Pâté + J. Lohr 2020 Los Osos Merlot.
2018 Cuda Ridge Merlot
This year I received a bottle of Merlot from new-to-me Cuda Ridge Wines. And I was delighted to try a wine from Livermore Valley. Though it's not that far from where I am in California I rarely have wines from that area for some reason. I will have to fix that soon.
Cuda Ridge Wines was founded by Larry and Margie Dino. They produce Bordeaux-style wines. In addition to Merlot they also produce Semillion, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. All are small batch lots of less than 500 cases.
This wine pours an inky purple with a red rim. On the nose, there are layers of black fruit and chocolate, with a tinge of walnut. On the palate, those aromas are mirrored with a meatiness and mouthfeel from being barrel-aged in French oak. In 2021, this Merlot was honored with a Double Gold Medal in the UNCORKED Wine Competition and the Silver Medal in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. What a wine!
I recently watched an Instagram live with Larry Dino. And I was tickled to hear the background of their winery name and label! So, 'Cuda' refers to his muscle car!! He owns a 1970 Barracuda that is plum crazy purple. I don't still have my bottle...and my close-up of the label doesn't show this. But there is a very abstract car hood and wheel behind the name. How cool is that??
Again with the mushrooms and Merlot, you ask?! Yes. I homemade pizza with smoked mozzarella, black trumpet mushrooms, fresh oregano, a scant drizzle of truffle oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Black Trumpet Flatbread
My favorite pizza crust is Mark Bittman's "No Work Mostly Whole Wheat Pizza Dough." This is the easiest pizza dough I have ever made! But it does require lots of lead time. The recipe suggests letting the dough ferment for six to twelve hours and that the longer you let it ferment, the more complex the flavor.
Ingredients makes two 12" thin crust pizzas
Basic Dough makes 2 pizzas, depending on size
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 cups warm water
Sauce (you have enough for four pizzas)
- 1 large can San Marzano tomatoes, whole (I used an 800g can)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1 teaspoon crushed oregano leaves
- freshly ground salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- smoked mozzarella, thickly sliced
- black trumpet mushrooms (mine were dried...reconstituted according to package)
- fresh oregano
- truffle oil for drizzling
- sea salt for sprinkling
Mix all of the dough ingredients together in a large bowl. The texture will be a wet, sticky dough. Cover and let ferment for as long as you can - between six and twelve hours. At the end of that, use the dough as you would use any pizza dough.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide the dough into two or three pieces, depending on how large or small you want the pizzas. Roll the dough into an oval shape on your silicone mat or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Or, if you have someone more adventurous, you can toss them. Here's how that conversation went...
J: Are you going to throw the dough in the air?
J: Are you going to throw the dough?
C: How many years have I been making pizza for us? Have I ever thrown the pizza dough?
J: Let me try!
Place all of the ingredients - except for the olive oil - in a large skillet. And bring to a boil. Use a wooden spoon or potato masher to smash the tomatoes into a sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the sauce it thickened. Stir in olive oil and remove from heat.
Once the dough is rolled, or tossed, to your desired thickness, spoon some of the sauce onto the crust and spread to within 1/2" of the edge. Place slices of smoked mozzarella and black trumpet mushrooms over the top. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the pizzas from the oven and sprinkle with fresh oregano and sea salt. Drizzle with truffle oil. Serve immediately.
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