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Summer Time, Party Time! (July 23, 2010)

Summer time is party time, and how better to enjoy it all than with good friends, a cool garden and a barbecue? Entertaining is a breeze with this collection of recipes – they're do-aheads or done on the spot in minutes! Hey... last one into the pool has to serve the appetizers!

Stonewall Kitchens is one of our favourites! Jonathan King and Jim Stott began in a small way at a farmers' market in 1991; today Stonewall Kitchen in York, Maine, sells their delicious jams, sauces and baking mixes world wide, all the while running 9 retail stores plus a restaurant and cooking school. Whew.

Last year they gave us winter celebrations full of wonderful seasonal recipes, and this spring have produced Stonewall Kitchen Appetizers. Who better to give us ideas for the best summer party going? 

Mushrooms are wonderful in almost any form, and we were so pleased when Mushrooms Canada sent us a terrific information kit with dozens of great food and recipe ideas. We learned all about them, from crimini to shiitake with other varieties such as king oyster and enoki in between. We knew they taste wonderful any way you fix them, but had no idea that mushrooms have umami, can help lower your blood pressure and can keep you heart healthy. Wow. Magic Mushrooms indeed. For more delicious recipe ideas and some very fascinating information, visit Mushrooms Canada at

Foodland Ontario always has wonderful, fresh recipes and ideas promoting the best from Ontario farms. The seasonal dishes are quick and delicious, and always interesting; the latest group has ideas that are so good we simply had to share with you! For more information, go to

You've met Maryana Vollstedt in our columns, and she's back with her latest, The Big Book of Potluck. It's full of good food – and lots of it – for parties, gatherings and all occasions. It's a homey collection of more than 275 recipes that span the seasons. Event coming up? Prolific cookbook author and food writer Maryana has the answer. 

On today's menu:

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (115 KB)

Roasted Garlic Bruschetta with Steak Tips

Oh, it's too hot to serve a steak, but really... everyone does want one. This elegant dish not only fills that desire, but also cuts down on the work, as it can be made ahead. Stonewall Kitchen Appetizers gives us a bite-sized steak sandwich that will satisfy the most avid carnivore. Oh Jim, Jonathan... another one, please?

Serves 3 to 4, but can easily be doubled or tripled to serve a crowd!

  • 1 head of garlic, 1/4 inch cut off the top to just expose the cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Eight 1/2-inch slices crusty ciabatta, French bread or Italian bread
  • 12 ounces steak tips or flatiron steak, cut into 1½-inch strips
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
  2. Place the garlic in a small ovenproof skillet or gratin dish and pour 1 Tbsp of the oil over the top of the garlic onto the exposed cloves. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast the garlic for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when you squeeze them or test them with a small, sharp knife. Remove the garlic from the oven and let it cool for just a few minutes.
  3. Once the garlic is cool enough to handle without burning yourself, squeeze the cloves from the skins into a bowl (discard the skins). Sprinkle lightly with salt and, using a regular kitchen fork, mash the garlic into a thick paste. Add 2 Tbsp of the remaining oil to the puree and season with pepper. The garlic puree can be made 1 hour ahead of time. Cover and keep in a cool, dark spot; it need not be refrigerated.
  4. Preheat the broiler. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet. Broil them for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until the bread begins to turn a golden brown. Do not let it burn. Remove from the oven and flip the bread over. Divide the garlic puree between the toasts and spread it evenly on each slice. Broil for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the toasts just begin to brown. Remove from the oven. The toasts can be made several hours ahead of time; cover loosely and keep in a cool, dark spot; they need not be refrigerated.
  5. Just before serving, heat a large skillet over high heat with the remaining 1 Tbsp oil. Add the steak tips, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, undisturbed for 4 minutes. Carefully flip the meat over, season again, and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the meat is well browned and medium-rare inside. Alternatively, you can cook the beef on a hot gas or charcoal grill on a grill tray for 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and let the meat sit for 1 minute. Thinly slice the meat on the diagonal. Place 2 to 3 thin slices of beef on top of each piece of garlic bread and sprinkle lightly with parsley.

Stonewall Kitchens suggests variations that can be added as toppings:

  • Thinly sliced jarred sweet piquillo peppers
  • Crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese
  • Thin strips of roasted red bell peppers
  • Dab of chile paste
  • Thin slices of sun-dried tomatoes drained of their oil
  • Juilenne strips of fresh basil

Tony's wine recommendation:
medium-bodied red with good acidity: Chianti, Valpolicella Ripasso, Carmenère

Marinated Portabella Burgers

Some of our friends are happily vegetarian, and that's OK, as a delicious option is a meaty, grilled portabella mushroom which can sit side by side with other items on the BBQ. This one really delivers, so you'd better have a lot ready; all those steak eaters are going to want one of these juicy treats! From Mushroom Canada.

Makes 4 Servings

  • 4 large fresh portabella Mushroom caps (about 4 oz/125 g each)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) red dry wine or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each dried thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) honey Dijon mustard
  • 4 whole wheat or multigrain hamburger or Kaiser buns
  • 2 medium roasted red sweet peppers,* halved
  • 4 small lettuce leaves

Place mushrooms in resealable plastic bag; in a measuring cup or small bowl mix wine, garlic oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Pour over mushrooms and seal the bag. Marinate at room temperature for 1- 2 hours, turning occasionally. Remove from marinade and broil or cook on hot barbecue for 3-5 minutes on each side or until warmed through and softened. Halve the buns and toast or warm on grill; spread cut side of buns with mustard; place lettuce on bottom half of buns, top with grilled mushrooms, roasted red pepper halves and top half of bun.

*Roasted red peppers are available in jars or in some deli sections of supermarket OR Grill, peel and freeze when peppers are in abundance.

Variation: Top each cooked mushroom cap with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) chevre (soft goat cheese) and return to grill to warm cheese before placing on the bun.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Oregon or New Zealand Pinot Noir, Red Burgundy, Moulin-à-Vent

Shrimp and Fruit Salad with Lime Dressing

From the Big Book of Potluck, Maryana Vollstedt says, "Shrimp and exotic fruit complement each other in this main course salad drizzled with a sprightly lime dressing. Papayas are grown in semitropical regions; they are pear-shaped with golden skin and a sweet-tart taste, and good news for most of us, they are available in good markets most of the year!"

Serves 6 to 8

  • Green leaf lettuce leaves for lining platter
  • 1 pound large shrimp (about 24) peeled, deveined and cooked
  • 1 cantaloupe, cut into wedges, seeded, rind removed and wedges cut into spears
  • 1 papaya, peeled, seeded and sliced
  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes

Lime Dressing

Makes about ¾ cup

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

In a bowl, mix together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

On a large plate or platter lined with lettuce leaves, arrange shrimp, cantaloupe, papaya and pineapple slices. Scatter grapes on top. Serve the dressing on the side.

Tony's wine recommendation:
off-dry Riesling, Riesling Kabinett, Alsace Pinot Gris

Grilled Asparagus with South American Pepper Sauce

Asparagus is still in the market, and it's plump and perfect right now. We love this very different serving idea from Foodland Ontario... Chilean Pebre sauce is low on fat, easy to make and adds just the right zip. Best idea: you can serve it hot or at room temperature. It's a terrific sauce that snuggles up to grilled meats or fish as well. From Foodland Ontario.

Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) minced Ontario Greenhouse Sweet Red Pepper
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) minced onion
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) minced fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) each water and white vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) hot red pepper flakes or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper
  • 1 lb (500 g) Ontario Asparagus, trimmed

In small bowl or measuring cup, mix red pepper, onion, cilantro, 2 Tbsp (25 mL) of the olive oil, water, vinegar, garlic, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) of the oregano, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper; cover and let stand at least 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.

Mix remaining oil and oregano; brush on asparagus to coat well. Place asparagus in grill basket or directly on grill over medium-high heat. Close cover and grill, turning with tongs, for 3 to 5 minutes each side, or until just tender. Place in shallow serving dish; top with sauce. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Tony's wine recommendation:
New Zealand or California Sauvignon Blanc

Mediterranean Orzo Corn Salad

A do-ahead dish that is pretty, fresh and, what's best, good for you – and it makes a perfect side dish or even a light summer luncheon salad. Best part: if you use lovely fresh Ontario corn for this colourful summer salad, there is no need to cook it. We like to serve the salad on a platter surrounded with sliced tomatoes. Oh, Ron, may I have another serving please? From Foodland Ontario.

Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 cups (500 mL) orzo pasta (12 oz/375 g)
  • 1½ cups (375 mL) small Ontario Broccoli Florets
  • 2 cups (500 mL) fresh Ontario Corn kernels (about 3 ears)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) each diced Ontario Sweet Red and Orange Peppers
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) pitted black olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) shredded fresh Ontario Basil
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh Ontario Parsley
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL) white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove Ontario Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) hot pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

In large pot of boiling salted water, cook orzo, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes. Add broccoli and cook until broccoli is tender and pasta is al dente, about 1 minute. Drain well and refresh under cold running water; drain again. Return to pot or large bowl. Gently stir in corn, red and orange peppers, olives, onion, basil and parsley.

In measuring cup, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, hot pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over salad and toss gently. (Salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours. Bring out to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)

Tony's wine recommendation:
unoaked Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Gris

Instant Fruit Sorbet

Uh oh... Alice forgot to bring dessert. But never mind! We went to a pick-your-own farm last week and froze the bounty. Get out the blender, and voila!, instant dessert that will dazzle everyone, and make a perfect, summer-fresh finish to the party. From Foodland Ontario.

Don't have fresh fruit in this combo? Not to worry – any summer fruits will do beautifully. From Foodland Ontario

Serves 4

  • 3 Ontario peaches, ripe but firm, peeled, pitted and sliced (about 2 cups/500 mL)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Ontario raspberries
    Simple Syrup:
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) water
  • 1 strip lemon rind

Freeze peach slices and raspberries in single layer for at least 2 hours or until solid. Store in freezer bags or air-tight containers.

Simple Syrup: In small saucepan, bring sugar, water and lemon rind to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 1 minute. Cool completely and remove rind.

In food processor, process frozen fruit, pouring in syrup slowly, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately or store in freezer.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Select Late Harvest Vidal, off-dry Sparkling wine


For permission to publish material and photographs, we wish to thank:

Mushrooms Canada and Foodland Ontario.
For more delicious recipe ideas and some very fascinating information, visit Mushrooms Canada at and Foodland Ontario at

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, and Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, for Stonewall Kitchen Appetizers, by Jonathan King, Jim Stott and Kathy Gunst. Text © 2010 by Jonathan King, Jim Stott and Kathy Gunst. Photographs © 2010 by Jim Stott.

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, and Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, for The Big Book of Potluck by Maryana Vollstedt. Text © 2003 by Maryana Vollstedt.


Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (115 KB)




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