Toasting Spring -Spring 2008

Maria Sinskey’s Menu for a Luscious Repast from “The Vineyard Kitchen”

by: M.R. Stanton

It is no secret that wine is best appreciated with food. No one knows that better than a chef. When that chef is also the head of a vineyard kitchen, you can expect remarkable pairings of food and wine.

Maria Sinskey epitomizes that connection, as chef at Sinskey Vineyards in Napa Valley which she runs with her husband, Rob. Her classic cookbook, “A Vineyard Kitchen,” is a treasure trove of menus and wine pairings for the seasons. The book came out five years ago, shortly after the Sinskeys first appeared at the Nantucket Wine Festival, and all things Sinskey have been a hit ever since.

Two years ago we featured Sinskey Vineyards in the spring issue of Nantucket Today after spending several days at the guesthouse of their vineyard farmhouse. 
I had the privilege of cooking in the very kitchen where Maria tests all her recipes and it was a thrill indeed. Just down the hill from their farmhouse, and surrounded by vineyards, it is where she goes to nail down the recipes that will appear in her next cookbook.

MENU - Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto and a Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Herb-Marinated Rack of Lamb with Roasted Garlic & Fingerling Potatoes

Strawberry Ice Cream Profiteroles with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce


Grilled Asparagus 
with Prosciutto and 
Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Asparagus are notoriously difficult to pair with wine, but by grilling the spears, the flames caramelize the naturally-occurring sugars in the stalk. Adding thin slices of prosciutto and the Meyer lemon vinaigrette also helps. Maria suggests using jumbo asparagus spears for their sweetness and meatiness. They are also less likely to fall through the grates of the grill!

Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette 
(recipe follows)
3 pounds jumbo green asparagus
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly-ground black pepper
16 slices thinly-sliced prosciutto, 
or more if your like

1. Prepare the Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette according to the recipe below.
2. Preheat the grill.
3. Snap off ends of the asparagus by holding the spear at both ends and bending gently. The asparagus will naturally snap just where the spear becomes tender. For a neater look, 
you may also trim the end with a sharp knife. Toss the asparagus with extra virgin olive oil just enough to lightly coat, then season with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Grill over medium heat until spears are caramelized and tender, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the grill and cool until they are warm.
4. Toss spears with a little of the vinaigrette 
in a bowl and arrange on a platter, drizzling extra vinaigrette over the top. Place ruffles of prosciutto across the center of the asparagus like a belt. The dish can also
be plated in single servings using the 
same method.

Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
This is a simple nonemulsified vinaigrette that should be stored in the refrigerator in between uses as lemon juice has a tendency to ferment when left at room temperature for more than a few hours.

1 medium shallot, peeled, trimmed and minced
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
Freshly-ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. In a small bowl, combine the minced shallots and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and let mixture rest for 10 minutes.
2. Drizzle the olive oil into the lemon juice while whisking constantly. Reserve at room temperature until ready to use.

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