Pa’s Muleshine Cocktail

Gigi Bartender Mike Rosario with Pa's Muleshine CocktailGigi Head Bartender Mike Rosario put a lot of thought and care into this week’s featured cocktail. It’s our refreshing salute to the many hard-working Hudson Valley Father’s that maintain their yards, gardens, and properties on top of tending to their demanding professional schedules. PA’S MULESHINE is the perfect libation for any day, but it’s a particular ‘cin cin’ to dear ol’ Dad.

Pa’s Muleshine!

Makes 1 serving

  • 2 oz Moonshine
  • 1 oz fresh ginger beer
  • ¾ oz fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Lime slices for garnish
  • In a shake filled three quarters with ice, combine the Moonshine, ginger beer, lime juice and simple syrup. Shake vigorously. Strain into an ice filled mason jar with 3 to 4 lime slices.

Pa's Muleshine Cocktail at Gigi Trattoria

 

The Belmont Breeze

Belmont Breeze, by Gigi Trattoria’s Bar Maestro – Mike Rosario:

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 ½ oz Millbrook Bourbon
  • ½ oz sherry
  • Splash fresh lemon and orange juice
  • Topped off with a splash of club soda
  • Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled three quarters with ice. Shake vigorously then strain into ice filled Collins glass. Top with soda and enjoy!
The stakes are triple! Tonight enjoy Gigi Bar Maestro Mike Rosario’s BELMONT BREEZE  ½ oz sherry Splash fresh lemon and orange juice Topped off with splash club soda Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled three quarters with ice. Shake vigorously then strain into ice filled Collins glass. Top with soda and enjoy!

Belmont Breeze at Gigi Trattoria

Staff Spotlight – Mike Rosario

Michael ‘Mike’ Rosario – Head Bartender, Gigi Trattoria

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Michael moved to New York’s Hudson Valley in 2011. He began his career as a food professional more than 20 years ago and has since held just about every ‘front of house’ position. Michael worked with noted restaurateurs like Drew Nieporent and Charles Palmer, proudly assisting with the opening of Palmer’s American bistro Alva’s. His transition to Upstate New York was driven by the farm-to-table movement he saw going on in the City and strong desire to get closer to it.

Mike RosarioMichael’s migration from Brooklyn to the area first took him to a 7-acre property in Saugerties, NY where he enjoyed his first foray in gardening beyond the patio. More recently, Michael transitioned to a 22-acre property where he hopes to continue fruit and vegetable cultivation but also hopes to raise poultry and perhaps even try his hand at beekeeping. When asked if he misses the metro New York restaurant and food scene, he emphatically says “No way! What’s going on up here is so real and so close to the farms. I had been hearing about Gigi Trattoria and what they’re all about since 2003. I knew I wanted to work for this company because they really live it – I see the farmers and producers come in and out of the doors all day long.”

After a year of leading the Gigi Trattoria service team, Michael recently stepped into the role of head bartender. Not only does he continue a tradition of innovative seasonal cocktails that use the purees and infusions from local harvest as well as locally distilled spirits, but he also oversees the ever-vital ‘perch’ from the bar greeting incoming guests and assisting and mentoring our treasured service team. Whether dining at ‘the counter’ is your preferred experience or simply enjoying a drink (with or without alcohol) made with great care, come in and enjoy Mike’s full service approach. We look forward to sharing his imprints and style in the selections of our Mediterranean-inspired wine list and hand-crafted cocktails throughout the seasons.

A Cocktail for the Season… Gigi Trattoria’s Autumnal Moon

Autumnal MoonExcited by the flavors of fall, Gigi Trattoria Bartender Extrodinaire Lisa Butenhoff put together the Autumnal Moon. She first prepares a ginger-Crown Maple simple syrup that has a sweet and spice harmony. Dutch Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine provides that ‘kick’ that balances all.

2 oz Dutch’s Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine
1 oz House made Crown Maple Ginger Syrup*
1 tablespoon rum soaked cranberries

*To prepare Crown Maple Ginger Syrup, combine equal parts of brown sugar (1/2 cup), water (1/2 cup) and Crown Maple Syrup (1/4 cup) with 2 ounces of sliced ginger root. Bring to a low boil, then turn off heat and let steep for 1 hour. Strain and cool. Makes about 1 cup (16 oz).

Combine cranberries and syrup in a shaker and muddle. Add the ice and Dutch Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine. Shake vigorously. Layer bottom of rocks glass with cranberries topped with ice and strain. Enjoy immediately.

Gigi’s Autumnal Moon was recently highlighted in the Dutch Spirits newsletter! Read about it, here!

Grilled Chicken with Blueberry-Maple BBQ Sauce Recipe

Gigi Grilled Chicken with Blueberry-Maple BBQ Sauce

Gigi Grilled Chicken with Blueberry-Maple BBQ Sauce.

Chef’s note: This blueberry maple version of Gigi Market’s barbecue sauce has a smoky, spicy kick to contrast the sweetness. We’re serving it on our specials with grilled chicken, pork and lamb at Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck and providing it retail at Gigi Market and Café in Red Hook throughout blueberry season.

Blueberry-Maple BBQ sauce – Makes 3 cups

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Large Shallots, Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • ½ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Pints Fresh Blueberries
  • 1/3 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 Cup Ketchup
  • 1/3 Cup Rice Wine or Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a medium saucepan, cook the shallots over medium heat, stirring, until softened, two to three minutes. Add the spices and cook another 30 seconds. Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir in the blueberries. Partially cover to prevent splattering when the berries burst and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until they soften. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until sauce is velvety and slightly thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in butter and remove from heat.

 

Grilled Chicken

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) Broiler Fryer Chicken, Cut Into Quarters or Eighths
  • Olive Oil to Drizzle
  • Salt and Freshly-Ground Pepper
  • Note: If using a charcoal grill, evenly distribute the hot charcoal to one side of the grill. If using a gas grill, turn one side to medium-high setting.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Lightly coat the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side down on the grill grate. Turn the chicken pieces a quarter turn every two to three minutes. Adjust the heat, if necessary, to prevent charring. Once the chicken is nicely grill-marked, move it to the cool side of the grill. The chicken, at this point, should roast in the high heat and not have direct contact with flame or hottest portion of grill. After about 20 minutes total cook time, check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer inserted in the deepest part of each piece. The pieces should reach 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now slather the chicken with the Blueberry-Maple BBQ Sauce and return to the heated portion of the grill to crisp. Do not leave over flame for too long, the sugar from the blueberries and syrup will caramelize quickly and could burn. Serve immediately with a side of extra sauce for slathering.

 

Gluten-Free at Gigi Hudson Valley

Gluten-Free Gnochetti at Gigi Trattoria, Rhinebeck

Our Gluten-Free Gnochetti at Gigi Trattoria, Rhinebeck.

Providing delicious options is what we do at Gigi Hudson Valley! While we’ve always offered flexibility and numerous vegetarian and vegan options in our menus, in 2007 we developed a gluten-free version of our popular Skizzas™.  Our guests have responded resoundingly! Just recently, Chef Wilson Costa ‘tweaked’ our gluten-free gnochetti, enjoyed by President Bill Clinton during his visit to Gigi Trattoria, so that they are as light and fluffy as any gnocchi anywhere!  Both are available with any of our toppings and/or sauces.

How do we do it? We take great care in training our culinary and service staff so that they not only understand how to present our farm-fresh fare, but also food intolerances and allergies. Part of our training program instructs our staff exactly how to communicate information to our guests and to each other (dining room to kitchen). With every seasonal menu change, our menu manuals, too, are updated – these revisions include phonetics of our menu items, ingredient lists of every offering, and especially important, designations that indicate whether the item is vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

National Celiac Awareness MonthNational support: We are now into our 3rd week of participation in “Chef to Plate”, a gluten-free restaurant awareness campaign (part of National Celiac Awareness Month). Our staff at Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck and Gigi Market in Red Hook have been trained by the Gluten Intolerance Group and our management team to provide safe options for our gluten free community.

Gluten-Free Skizza at Gigi Trattoria, Rhinebeck

Our Gluten-Free Skizza™, available at Gigi Trattoria and Gigi Market. Designated by green checkered underliner. Peroni not GF!

Some offerings on our gluten-free menus:  In addition to our crispy Skizzas™ (available at Gigi Trattoria, Gigi Market and kits for home), and sumptuous gnochetti; other items are available throughout our menus. Sautéed items that are typically flour dusted can be made without, and most of our sauces are natural reductions rather than flour-thickened. Our management team and your server are trained to guide you.

Gigi Flourless Chocolate Cake

Gigi Flourless Chocolate Cake

 

If sweets are on your mind, Gigi Pastry Chef Danielle Gill prepares an incredible flourless chocolate cake and cheesecakes without gluten-containing crusts. At Gigi Market some of our gluten-free products include moist and flavorful brownies from Rhinebeck’s own Sweet Girl, biscotti and rugelach from The Gluten-Free Bakery: Chatham, and Food for All kaiser rolls and loaves for our burgers and sandwiches.

Offering delicious Hudson Valley Mediterranean flavors is a joy to me and the whole Gigi Team. Doing it responsibly and safely is sacred. As a registered dietitian, I have long been involved with working with people, so that eating healthfully and safely is a delight, not a chore. Buon Appetito!

Laura

For more information on gluten intolerance, please visit http://gluten.net.

After a recent visit to Rhinebeck earlier this month, Maria wrote us this wonderful “Thank photo-mg2You” letter:

Dear Trattoria Gigi Team,

I was at your restaurant last Saturday. I was traveling with a person with celiac disease. We arrived from New York City to spend the weekend in your beautiful area.

Traveling with my friend is not easy. She has a very high intolerance to gluten. We did lots of research and saw that your restaurant was trained by the Gluten Intolerance Group (https://www.gluten.net/resturants/find-a-restaurant). This reassured her. It is always nerve wracking to trust some strangers when you know that can get badly sick after eating.

Your staff was very welcoming and knowledgeable. They made her feel at ease. It was my birthday, but we did not mentioned it. We had very nice food and great time. We had a salad and a skizza for dinner. The next day we wanted to visit your marketplace in Red Hook, but the hotel messed up with the wake up call. It means that we definitely need to go back to Rhineback.

Thank you so much for the lovely experience. You cannot imagine how something so simple and easy such as eating out can turn into a nightmare for somebody with celiac disease. You helped to make my day even more special. Keep up the good work!

Best,

Maria

 

Summer’s Rosé

Spring is here and so is the newest addition to the Gigi Wine List: La Grand Piece Rosé!  We are delighted to have this delicious rosé from Provence to offer to our valued customers by the glass and by the bottle.  It is the perfect wine for the warm weather that is finally touching the Hudson Valley.

La Grand Piece Rosé produced by Chateau La Coste a picturesque winery just north of Aix-en-Provence.  This 250 acre vineyard adheres to biodynamic principles, striving to preserve terroir, protect fertility and safeguard the essence of the soil.  At Chateau La Coste, they believe that this newest technology brings life to the old wine making traditions while ensuring the quality of the wine.  The result is a truly exceptional rosé. chateau la coste 2

No hard work goes without recognition and just sipping a glass of the La Grand Piece Rosé will show the effort and detail put into this wine making process.  This 2012 rosé is a blend of 75% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 5% Cinsault.  The nose is full of red berries and with a bit of floral notes.  La Grand Piece has an unquestionable crispness that makes it wonderfully refreshing.  Hints of strawberries and citrus leave your palate rejuvenated.  Drink this rosé with grilled vegetables, cheeses and light fish dishes.  We recommend enjoying a glass of this rosé with our Salmone with hearts of palm and fennel. rose photo 2

Not only are we excited to be basking in the warmth of spring at Gigi Trattoria but we thrilled it is rosé season again!  And what better way to celebrate spring then with Wine Wednesday at Gigi Trattoria.  La Grand Piece Rosé and all bottled wines are 30% off!  But at only $10 a glass and $30 a bottle, this rosé is a steal any day.  Come join us on the Gigi Patio and sip a little bit of Provence.

To learn more about this Rose click here or here.

Wine Wednesday – Zizzolo

What can be more festive than a ruby red wine?  From a 10 year old vineyard near the foothills of Castagneto Carducci in the region of Tuscany comes one of our new favorite reds on the Gigi Wine List.  Zizzolo from Bolgheri Wine Road is a beautiful blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Acquiring this outstanding Tuscan red has added some cheer to our holiday season and we are truly excited to present it to you.

What is so surprising about Zizzolo is that despite its DOC regulation, like many Bolgheri reds, it is considered nothing more than a table wine.  Bolgheri was barely on the wine map until 1974 when a six year old Sassiacia defeated an assortment of Bordeaux wines in a competition.  In 1983 the DOC was established here for whites and rosés.  Not until 1994 did Bolheri reds get recognized as DOCs.  And boy did they deserve the recognition!

Zizzolo falls under the DOC Bolgheri Rosso because it is made of 60% Merlot and 30% Cabernet.  The grapes macerate for 12 days using only natural yeast.  It is aged in barriques, or barrels and then again in the bottle for 12 months.  The result is an exquisite ruby-red color.  Zizzolo has round tannins and notes of fresh fruit especially darker berries.  And what may be the best feature of Zizzolo is that it pairs well with just about anything.  From our Pork Scalloppine to the Bigoli Col’Anitra with braised Hudson Valley duck & Wiltbank Farm oyster and shitake mushrooms, this wine can be enjoyed with many of our Trattoria specialties.  It is even wonderful on its own.

What makes Zizzolo so special is that there are only about 1,800 cases produced a year!  Here at Gigi Trattoria, we are grateful to have such an amazing wine at such an affordable price.  For only $45 Zizzolo is our holiday gift to you.  And if you come on Wine Wednesday, all of our wines are 30% off!  Happy Holidays from our bottle to your glass!

Want to learn more about Zizzolo, click here. To learn more about Bolgheri click here or here.

Wine Wednesday – Müller Thurgau

With the holidays right around the corner, Gigi Trattoria has a real gift for you. One of our best white wines is now on our glass list! The Müller Thurgau from Muri Gries is really a stellar wine. From Trentino Alto-Adige right near the Austrian border, this light to medium bodied wine is cultivated 500 meters above sea level. The vines are planted on calcareous till facing east-south and some are up to 30 years old. But the grape itself is much older.

Müller Thurgau is a variety of white grape created by Herman Müller in 1882. It is a cross between a Riesling with Madeleine Royale and is used to produce wines in many countries including Germany, Austria, the United States and of course, Northern Italy. It is considered one of the most widely planted grapes of the “new breed” variety.

The Muri Gries Müller Thurgau definitely makes the top of the list of wines produced with the Müller Thurgau grape. It has a delightful minerality with hints of flowers and citrus fruit. It has a young freshness that makes it beautiful as an aperitif or paired well with appetizers, fish and even lighter meat dishes. We recommend it with our mussels. Our mussels are from Prince Edward Island and most often served steamed in a broth of wine, garlic, red onions and tomato with just a hint of spice. The crispness and earthiness of the Müller Thurgau compliment the mussels while also refreshing the palate.

No matter what it is paired with, the Müller Thurgau from Muri Gries is a wine you cannot miss. It will only be on our glass list for a short period of time so hurry in to sample it. We will bet that you will be buying it by the bottle by your next visit.  If you come on a Wednesday, the Müller Thurgau and all of our bottle wines are 30% off.  And since it is the holidays and we are in a giving mood, a bottle is just $37 and a glass is $12.  Cheers!

Learn more about Müller Thurgau here and here.

Kohlrabi Remoulade

About Kohlrabi…
Mentioning Kohlrabi typically doesn’t often light up people’s faces, but this highly underated vegetable is enjoyed in dishes around globe. It also grows exceptionally well here in the Hudson Valley.  The literal translation means “cabbage turnip” in Germany and “ugly root” in Africa. It’s flavor is anything but “ugly” offering a blend of all the wonderful flavor profiles of its cruciferous vegetable family ( broccoli, turnip, cabbage, brussels sprouts, rutagaba), and it has all of the protective phytochemicals and antioxidants they share.

So what to do with this “alien” root?

Immediately get to the tender and delicous flesh under that tough protective exterior. There is a chewy fiberours layer under the hard outer skin, so be sure to peel thoroughly down to the crisp and moist flesh. Use a paring knife to trim ends, and then work down the hard outer body to delious edible portion using a vegetable peeler.

1) Raw: Using a madoline, sharp knife, or cheese grater, slice it very thinly or shred it and eat it raw. Enjoy it on a crudite plate with a dip or use it as you would cabbage by preparing a slaw.

2) Puree: Chop, boil and and puree it then enjoy with some olive oil or butter and seasoning. Pureed kohlrabi also blends with mashed potatoes, mashed root vegetables (kohlrabi and carrots is a personal favorite).

3) Roast: Chop or slice into “fries”, toss with a bit of olive oil, season with salt and peper, and then oven roast until caramelized and tender.

4) Add to soups, stews and braises:  Kohlrabi adds flavor and nutrients to any/all cold weather cooking. Chop it and add it to your favorite bubbling winter meal. Its flavor holds up well to intense seasoning, and it’s particulary good in curries or other full flavored dishes.

5) Gratins and “pies”and quiches: Slice thinly and layer into gratins or grate then saute (with or without other vegetables) to fill pies and quiches.

Here’s one of my favorite preparations, a rift on the classic celeriac remoulade, which is a perfect winter salad:

Kohlrabi Remoulade

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 medium, kohlrabi (about 1 ½ pounds)
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to season
3 tablespoons of good quality mayonnaise*
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt preserved capers, rinsed
Pinch cayenne pepper
Finely shredded parsley to garnish

Directions

Working quickly, trim the ends from the kohlrabi and peel. Cut into halves and finely grate using a cheese grater or a food processor fitted with the shredding blade. Transfer to a medium bowl and immediately toss with lemon juice to prevent browning. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, and garlic; season with salt and cayenne. Fold the mixture into the bowl with the kohlrabi. Serve immediately or allow to sit, refrigerated, in a nonreactive airtight container, for 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Variations:

Add: shredded apples and/or cornichons

 

Turkey Tetrazzini with Fontina, Mushrooms & Radicchio

This delicious casserole makes good use of Thanksgiving’s lingering bounty.  Enjoy it immediately or prepare in advance and re-heat at 350 for 30 minutes before serving. It’s just as good, if not better, the day after.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons butter, plus 2 teaspoons to grease casserole dish
3/4 cup coarse dry breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan (preferably Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano)
1 pound Wiltbank Farm shitake and oyster mushrooms*, cleaned and sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
¼ cup dry white wine
1 radicchio head, halved, cored and cut into thin ribbons
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 medium shallots, diced
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 cups low-fat milk
1 ½ cups (4 ounces) diced Fontina cheese**
8 ounces egg pappardelle pasta
3 cups shredded or diced roast turkey

*Substitute any fresh mushroom of your choice if not available.
**Substitute grated cheddar or Gruyere if desired.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Butter a 3-quart casserole.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and Parmesan. Set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, and cook, tossing or stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Pour in the white wine and reduce completely. Add the radicchio and sage and cook just long enough to wilt the radicchio, 1 or 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until they soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the the flour and whisk constantly until fully blended into the butter. Gradually whisk in enough of the milk to form a thick, smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk in a steady stream. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Turn off the heat and stir in the Fontina. Taste, then and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Set aside.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Gently stir in the turkey, mushroom and radicchio mixture. Pour in the sauce and mix until just combined. Transfer to the buttered casserole, shaking the pan gently to evenly distribute pasta.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. Let rest slightly 10 to 20 minutes. The casserole will firm up slightly and will the perfect temperature to serve.

 

Fregola Stuffing with Dried Fruit and Sage

This version of Thanksgiving stuffing uses the native Sardinian “pasta” called Fregola. This toasty larger grain cousin of couscous offers a pleasing blend of flavors, textures and colors, and, when combined with traditional stuffing seasonings, it has flavor to match but much less fat and more nutrients than traditional bread stuffing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 1/2 cups *Fregola
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or canned, low-sodium broth (vegetable stock or broth may be substituted)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced or thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced thinly
1/3 cup mixed dried fruit (any combination of apricots, seedless raisins, currants, cranberries or prunes cut into small pieces)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
Salt and freshly grated pepper to season.

In a large pot, bring the stock or broth to a boil.  Add the salt and the fregola, stir and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the cooked fregola into a colander.

While the fregola cooks, in a large non-stick skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the dried fruit, sage, coriander, and cumin; cook, stirring, another 1 to 2 minutes, then add the white wine, simmering until fully reduced. Now add  the fregola, stirring or tossing to combine. Add the reserved cooking broth, which will quickly come to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the Parmesan, and stir to combine.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Enjoy hot or let cool to stuff your turkey, Cornish hen or favorite “roulade”.

*Fergola is a semolina grain (resembling large couscous) that is a good source of protein and fiber.  It can be found in gourmet and Italian specialty markets.  In Italy, Fregola is used like barley is here, in soups and stews.  It is also served on its own, sauced like pasta.

Makes six servings.

Root Vegetable Gratin

I started preparing this dish for guests about ten years ago, and now I cannot entertain in the fall or winter without a request for it. I’m happy to comply. Root Vegetable Gratin is now a selection on our ‘Thanksgiving Made Easy’ order form.

Classic Béchamel
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
6 cups whole (or 2 percent) milk, hot
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter, softened
1½ quarts (6 cups) béchamel *See recipe below
2 small smoked chili peppers (I use anchos or dried smoked jalapenos)
3 medium russet potatoes (about 3 pounds),  peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1½ cups fresh or canned roasted red peppers, cut into strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 medium sweet potato (8 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 small or ½ large rutabaga (about 12 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds

Prepare Béchamel: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste bubbles; don’t let it brown. After 2 or 3 minutes, whisk in the hot milk. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring or whisking constantly until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and cook, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat.

Prepare Gratin: Preheat the oven to 350F°F and grease a 12- to 14-inch round baking dish or a 9 x 13-inch rectangular baking dish with the butter.

Simmer the béchamel over low heat, add the whole dried chili, and steep for about 10 minutes. Remove the chili and discard.

Peel vegetables and slice them very thinly on a mandoline to 1/8-inch thickness. Place half of the russet potato slices in a single layer on the bottom of the dish. Top with a third of the red pepper strips. Season with salt and pepper. Evenly spread 1½ cups of the béchamel on top,covering the potatoes and red pepper strips. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheddar. Arrange the sweet potato slices over top,slightly overlapping in a spiral pattern. Season with salt and pepper and top with another ⅓ of the red pepper strips. Again top with 1½ cups bechamel followed by 1 cup of cheddar. Add the slices of rutabaga, slightly overlapping in a spiral pattern,and strew with the remaining red peppers strips. Again, add 1½ cups bechamel followed by 1 cup of cheddar. For the final layer,arrange the remaining slices of russet potato on top,slightly overlapping in a spiral pattern. Season with salt and pepper. Put the remaining 1½ cups béchamel and 1 cup cheddar on top.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top of the gratin is bubbly and nicely browned, about 20 minutes. A knife inserted in the center of the gratin won’t meet any resistance, but should pierce easily into the fully cooked and soft root vegetables.

Serving suggestion: This is great to eat piping hot right out of the oven, but it’s also good reheated the next day.

Variations:

* To lighten this dish, you can make a cornstarch/water slurry, stir it into chicken broth,and thicken simmering until it achieves a béchamel-like consistency.
* Omit the chili pepper and/or roasted red pepper.
* Substitute turnips for the rutabaga.

Nutrition: Roasted red pepper strips add flavor, color between the layers, and lots of vitamin C.

Economy: $$$

Note: This recipe has been adapted from the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

Wine Weekly – Ribolla Gialla

As the weather gets cooler, many people seek warmth in a glass of red wine.  But for those of you that may not be fans of red or are open to variety, we have a cool weather white for you, Ribolla Gialla from Tenuta La Ponca.

Many may not know that the Ribolla grape from Italy actually originated in Greece and made its way to the Fruili region of Italy by way of Slovenia.  This grape almost did not survive the phylloxera epidemic in the 19th century because many farmers decided to plant French grapes after much of their Ribolla crop was destroyed.  But the Ribolla survived and by the 1990’s most of the white wines produced in Fruili were at least 1% Ribolla.

Not only is the long journey of the Ribolla what makes it a stand-up wine for November, but the crisp acidity, apple and pear aromas, and dry finish make it perfect to drink with food.  At Tenuta La Ponca, the Ribolla grapes are picked the last week of September.  They are then pressed and settle for 24 to 36 hours before they are fermented in stainless steel and then refined for 8 months on nobile dregs.  The result being a light to medium bodied white wine with a beautiful straw yellow color. Try the Ribolla Gialla with an appetizer such as the Verdure platter or enjoy it with the complex Pasta Intregale.  The fruit characteristics bring out the sweetness of the vegetables while the acidity refreshes the palate.  The Ribolla Gialla would even be a great wine to drink with turkey!

The Riboilla Gialla from Tenuta La Ponca has survived quite a journey in order to make it to the Gigi Trattoria wine list.  Now we challenge the Ribolla to survive the cold weather of the Hudson Valley and warm our wine-loving customers. For $42 a bottle, you cannot pass up trying this delicious wine.  Come by on Wednesday and the Ribolla Gialla and all bottles are 30% off!  That deal alone can warm the chill out of anyone.

Wine Weekly – Barbaresco, Beni di Batasiolo

Considered one of the greatest wines of Italy’s Northwestern region, Barbaresco made from Nebbiolo grapes is held with very high regard.  That is why Gigi Trattoria carries one of the best.  Barbaresco, Beni di Batasiolo is aged for 10 days in stainless steel to allow the skins to ferment and then continues its aging for one year in oak casks and another in the bottle.  This process makes for a full-bodied wine with spicy oak, chewy tannins and hints of cherry and blackberry.  There is even a bit of cinnamon on the palate, making it a perfect wine for a brisk autumn night!

From a small village overlooking the Tanaro River, Batasiolo winery creates this 100% Nebbiolo wine.  The Nebbiolo grape, in case you are unfamiliar with it, is a black-skinned red wine grape that is the star of both Barbareso and Barolo.  These are two of Italy’s most acclaimed red wines.  Originally, Barbaresco was Barolo or Nebbiolo with Moscatello and Passeretta grapes added to it for a touch of effervescence and hint of sweetness.  It was not until the 19th century that Barbaresco was vinified for a dry style.  The result being a competitor or brother for Barolo.  Like any good set of siblings, there are many differences between Barolo and Barbaresco.  Barbaresco has a slightly warmer, dryer and milder climate, which causes the grapes to ripen quicker and makes for a less tannic wine.  Still the age and acidity of Barbaresco will please any avid red wine drinker but will be slightly more approachable.

Not that there is a specific season for drinking red wine, but if there were, having a glass of Barbaresco, Beni di Batasiolo on a cold fall night with the smell of spices in the air and the warmth of company, sounds pretty perfect.  That is why we want to offer that comfort to you!  Come into Gigi Trattoria to experience a once in a lifetime chance to have our Barbaresco by the glass for only $15!  A bottle goes for $95 but if you come on Wine Wednesday, this delicious wine and all bottles are 30% off.  Hurry, before the wine runs out!

Learn more about Barbaresco wine here and here.