weekday wines – a south african rosé

Our weekend started off on a great note at our local wine shop, the Wine and Cheese Gallery, celebrating their 37th birthday with a fantastic wine dinner. There were some great items on the menu, but my favorite was an asparagus bisque with pancetta and a seared scallop. The two top wines of the night were a Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon and a Turley Zinfandel.

But, I’m not going to tell you about those wines. I’m going to tell you about the $11 bottle we picked up on the way out.

I’ve been trying to learn a bit more about rosé wines, so when we left the dinner Friday night, I asked our friend Wade to recommend something. Wade also happens to be one of the owners of the Wine and Cheese Gallery, so with his at 37+ years of experience, I trust his recommendations. He handed me the 2009 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé. And for $11, I really had nothing to lose.

I had intended the rosé to be opened one weeknight, but the weekend got a bit crazy after we got home Friday night. My daughter, Madeline, busted her little brother’s lip with a toy – a minor trauma with a lot of blood that nearly sent us all over the edge. Then, an unexpectedly severe thunderstorm cropped up and our house – or somewhere very nearby – was hit by lightning. A powersurge fried our refrigerator, my husband’s desktop computer, and our phone and internet. We spent the weekend dealing with the thawing mess in our fridge and freezer and waiting on cable repair people.

Needless to say, the wine was opened Saturday. I waited until around 6pm, but we were tempted to open it up around 11am that day.

And the wine was really very good. It’s not complicated, this rosé, but that’s what makes it a great wine for drinking before dinner – or with dinner, or after dinner. It was dry with a nice minerality to it, beautiful strawberry pink color, and I tasted berries (strawberry, maybe, or cherry?). For the price, it’s definitely a rosé worth keeping in the fridge. Once the fridge is repaired, that is.

rosemary cream drop biscuits

I have great memories of my dad’s cooking over the years. On weekends, he would make breakfast for my mom, my brother, and me. The usual specialty – or maybe just the breakfast that I most looked forward to – was French toast. I also remember other things, though, like pancakes, eggs with either bacon or sausage, eggs-in-a-hole, and biscuits with sausage gravy. I remember having Bisquick drop biscuits, and I loved them. Those biscuits were so simple, yet so filling and comforting, especially when topped with butter and grape jelly.

When I was searching for a recipe from Gourmet magazine to make for May’s Gourmet Unbound post, I found a recipe for cream drop biscuits from May 2001. And those biscuits called to me.

I made two batches of these biscuits. For the first batch, I made the recipe exactly as it is written. The biscuits were so rich and tasty, even when eaten plain. I topped a warm biscuit with apricot preserves, had a cup of coffee with it, and I felt like I was on vacation somewhere amazing. It was luxurious. Until the kids started bickering again.

For the second batch, I made some adjustments to make the biscuits more savory. I left out the sugar and added some chopped fresh rosemary. The biscuit tasted rich and wonderful, and the rosemary flavor was fantastic. A great idea for these biscuits would be to make tiny versions of them, slice them in half, and serve them like sandwiches with a slice of country ham or even some prosciutto nestled inside. Now, that would be my kind of appetizer.

The best part of these biscuits is that they are SO easy to make. It only took me about ten minutes to make up the dough and get it on the sheet pan, and another 20 minutes to bake. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go throw away that old box of Bisquick in my pantry.

Yield: 12 biscuits

Rosemary Cream Drop Biscuits


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 cups chilled heavy cream


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and chopped fresh rosemary in a large bowl. Add cream, then stir just until a dough forms.

Drop heaping 1/4 cups of batter about 1 inch apart on an ungreased large baking sheet. Place in the middle of oven until tops are pale golden and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.

Adapted from Cream Drop Biscuits, Gourmet, May 2001.

sun-dried tomato stuffed mushrooms

I have a friend who doesn’t eat mushrooms.  When she was growing up, her father told her that mushrooms got up and walked around at night while she was sleeping. My husband doesn’t eat mushrooms, either, but he doesn’t have a traumatic experience like my friend’s to fall back on as an excuse. I guess there is something a bit off-putting for a lot of people about eating a fungus.

sun-dried tomato stuffed mushrooms | the merry gourmet

I happen to love mushrooms. I can think of some amazing meals I’ve had that incorporated mushrooms as a main ingredient. The one that stands out — and the one I intend to try to recreate at some time — is the creamy polenta with fricassee of truffled mushrooms that I ate at Scarpetta during our trip to New York last fall.

But, since I’m the only one in my house who will eat mushrooms, I rarely cook with them. I need some excuse to make them – like a cocktail party. That’s exactly why I made these stuffed mushrooms. I was inspired to make them when, after browsing my favorite food blogs and recipe sites, I ran across this post by Deb of Smitten Kitchen. The recipe uses sun dried tomatoes, an ingredient I love to eat but rarely cook with.

sun-dried tomato stuffed mushrooms | the merry gourmet

My husband cringed a little when he saw what I was making. Not only does he not like mushrooms, but he doesn’t like tomatoes, either. He didn’t say anything, though. But he certainly didn’t eat any either. That’s okay. It just means I got to eat more of them.

sun-dried tomato stuffed mushrooms | the merry gourmet

I followed Deb’s recipe exactly. Instead of dried tomatoes not packed in oil, I used the ones in a jar which are packed in oil. It was just easier. I had planned to make my own breadcrumbs, but because of time constraints (and lack of any decent bread), I used some that I had in the pantry. The breadcrumbs happened to be Italian-style, but I think the flavor worked out just fine.

sun-dried tomato stuffed mushrooms | the merry gourmet

Yield: 18 items.

Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms


1/2 ounce dried tomatoes (about 5, not packed in oil)
2 tablespoons olive oil
18 white mushrooms, stems pulled out and chopped fine and caps reserved
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 large egg yolk, beaten lightly
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, washed well, spun dry, and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, soak tomatoes in hot water to cover 5 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon soaking liquid. Drain the tomatoes well and chop fine.

Lay mushroom caps, stems removed, face down on baking sheet either lightly sprayed with cooking spray or on parchment paper. Bake approximately 10 minutes, or until their liquid puddles underneath. Remove from oven and carefully pour off the liquid that has gathered in the pan. Carefully turn the mushroom caps over so that they are ready to be filled.

In a small skillet, heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Cook chopped mushroom stems, shallots, and garlic, stirring until shallots are softened.

In a bowl, stir together the mushroom mixture, bread crumbs, tomatoes, reserved soaking liquid, yolk, parsley, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mound stuffing in reserved mushroom caps and arranged caps in a lightly greased shallow baking dish. Sprinkle mushrooms with Parmesan and bake in the middle of oven for 15 minutes.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Gourmet.