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More Gourmet Recipes  

It's Peanuts! (April 9, 2015)

Spinach and Peanut Dip
Senegalese Peanut Soup
Beef and Lettuce Roll-Ups
Lamb Chops, Cucumber, Peanut Faraal
Peanut Butter Cups

We love peanuts, and wanted to know more...

The peanut or groundnut is a species in the legume or bean family; and surprisingly to us was probably first domesticated and cultivated in the valleys of Paraguay. Who knew?

Because, in botanical terms, "nut" specifically refers to indehiscent fruit (look it up:, the peanut is not technically a nut, but rather a legume. Peanuts are often served in a similar manner to true nuts in many western cuisines, and are often referred to as a nut in common English. More than we wanted to know, frankly, but it is interesting! Now pour yourself another glass of wine. There's more...

Much more fun to eat, though, and all cultures love peanuts either as a garnish, or ingredient or simply the main, rich buttery flavour!

Today we don't think of peanuts as much more than a delicious snack or addition to recipes, and you may not think of George Washington Carver much, if at all. However, this brilliant African-American is worth a mention here. Born into slavery in Missouri, probably in 1864, Carver went on to become one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of his time, as well as a teacher at the Tuskegee Institute.

Carver's reputation is based on his research into and promotion of alternative crops to cotton, such as peanuts, soybeans, and sweet potatoes as a source of their own food and other products to improve their quality of life of poor farmers, but he is best known for the many uses he devised for the peanut. His most popular agriculture bulletin contained 105 food recipes using peanuts; he also developed and promoted about 100 products made from peanuts, including cosmetics, dyes, paints, plastics, gasoline, and nitroglycerin. Carver received numerous honors for his work and was internationally recognized for his many achievements and talents. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed Carver a "Black Leonardo" He died in 1943. Raise that glass to a remarkable man, George Washington Carver!

Now, enough of the lesson, we're hungry, let's eat!

On today's menu:

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (165 KB)



Spinach and Peanut Dip

Spinach and Peanut Dip

This delicious recipe is from New Thai Cuisine by Nathan Hyam, and it's such a yum dip, especially served with sliced raw vegetables such as cucumber, carrots and celery. It also makes a great vegetable side dish, especially with grilled meat or poultry. We like to toss with soba noodles, topped with chopped scallions and a handful of coriander! While it's easy with frozen spinach, you can use fresh; the equivalent is one package of frozen to 4 bunches of fresh, washed trimmed, chopped and blanched.

Makes about 4 cups

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp Red Curry Paste
  • 1× 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 6 Tbsp palm or brown sugar
  • 2 cups chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2× 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach

Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. When it's hot, add the onions and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the curry paste and sauté for 1 more minute.

Add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, sugar and peanuts. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 10 minutes.

Add the spinach and stir until warm.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Oaked Chardonnay – white Burgundy, Australian or Californian Chardonnay



Senegalese Peanut Soup

Senegalese Peanut Soup

We couldn't do a column on peanuts without including an African peanut soup! This delicious version is from Senegal, which is to West Africa what the State of Georgia is to the USA: peanuts. It's loaded with protein from the peanuts and goodness from the tomatoes, and couldn't be simpler to make. It makes for a great dinner with a simple crunchy green salad. From the excellent website, Cook for your Life: We teach healthy cooking to people touched by cancer. Take a look at

  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon organic unsweetened, unflavored peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or grape seed oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro stems and roots (reserve the leaves for garnish)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4–1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 3 cups water
  • 1× 28­ounce can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup coconut milk, or to taste (see Ann's Tip)
  • Yogurt for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges for garnish (optional)
  1. Whisk the peanut butter and ¼ to ½ cup of the water together until smooth. Set aside.
  2. On medium high, heat the coconut oil in a large Dutch oven and sauté the onion, garlic, and cilantro stems with a generous pinch of salt until they have begun to soften. Stir in the cayenne and curry powder, mix well and cook 1 minute. Do not let them burn.
  3. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a slow boil and cook until they start to turn an orangey red. Add the water and the blended peanut butter mixture. Bring to a boil again, turn the heat down to low and simmer covered until thickened about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk, taste for salt and heat through, uncovered. Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro, a dollop of yogurt and a squeeze of lime.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Off-dry Riesling, German Kabinett or Spätlese quality



Beef and Lettuce Roll-Ups

Beef and Lettuce Roll-Ups

Naomi Duguid, in Hot, Sour, Salty, and Sweet says this savory snack makes a great appetizer. All the ingredients are set out on a platter, ready to be rolled up into lettuce leaf packets. Guests take a leaf of lettuce, spoon a little beef onto it, and add a pinch or so of each of the other fillings, to taste. Then they spoon on a drizzle of the hot-sour-sweet sauce, roll up the leaf to make a packet, and eat with pleasure!

Duguid and her husband, Jeffrey Alford, are cooks, writers, photographers and great travellers; their cookbooks routinely win major awards! You need to get to know them; take a look at

Serves 6 as an appetizer

    Filling ingredients
  • 1/2 pound boneless lean beef (such as tenderloin or sirloin), cut into 1/2–inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup canned or fresh coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Dry-Roasted Peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp peeled and cubed ginger, preferably young ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 lime, cut into tiny wedges or cubes (including peel)
  • 1 cup chopped mint or celery leaves
  • 2 Tbsp minced bird or Serrano chilies
  • 2 medium heads tender leaf lettuce or Bibb lettuce, washed, dried and separated into leaves
  • 1 bird or Serrano chile, minced (or use 2 for heat)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour orange juice, or substitute 1/4 cup regular orange juice mixed with 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp Dry-Roasted Peanuts, very finely chopped

Place the beef in a heavy pot with the coconut milk and salt. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat and then simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Transfer to a shallow bowl, and set out on the table with a small service spoon. Arrange the remaining filling ingredients in piles on a platter. Put the lettuce leaves on the platter or in a shallow bowl to one side.

To prepare the sauce, place the chile in a mortar with the salt and pound to a paste, then transfer to a blow and stir in the sugar and juice. Or finely mince the chile, place in a bowl, and stir in the salt, sugar and juice. Just before serving, stir the peanuts into the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasonings if you wish. Transfer to one or more condiment bowls and set out on the table with several small spoons so guests can drizzle sauce onto their roll-ups.

Show your guest how to assemble a roll-up, then invite them to try.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Alsace Gewurztraminer or Dry Muscat

Dry-Roasted Peanuts
Start with whole skinless peanuts from an Asian grocery. They're white and fat. Sometimes they've been boiled, sometimes they're raw. If you can find only peanuts with the skins on, you'll need to rub the skins off after dry roasting.

Place a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 cup peanuts and use a wooden spoon to move them around the pan frequently to prevent sticking and burned spots as they roast. They will start to develop golden patches and become aromatic; if you notice any black patches on the nuts before they have turned light brown, remove the pan from the heat for a moment and lower the heat, then return the pan to the heat and continue. Once the peanuts are golden brown in large patches all over, transfer them to a large cutting board and coarsely chop. Or let them cool, then transfer to a food processor and pulse briefly to coarsely chop. Be careful to not overprocess – you do not want a paste.

Store, once completely cooled, in a well-seasoned container in a cool place. In Vietnam and Cambodia, chopped dry-roasted peanuts are often mixed with sugar to make a sweetened topping for desserts or sticky rice.



Lamb Chops, Cucumber, Peanut Faraal

Lamb Chops, Cucumber, Peanut Faraal

The Guardian newspaper in the UK has wonderful food pages, and we loved this recipe from India which includes peanuts.

The word faraal comes from phalahar or fruit eating, which defines a certain type of fasting. Foods allowed are only those that were picked or gathered, not cultivated, like cereal crops. The practice goes back to the hunter-gatherer ancestors in the great forests of India before they became farmers and cut the trees for fields of grain. Whatever, this combination of peanuts, fresh cucumber and sticky lamb chops makes a wonderful dish, fasting aside!

Serves 4

  • 1 cucumber
  • 200 g peanuts
  • 250 g yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 12 lamb chops
  1. Roughly slice your cucumber diagonally – leave the pith in the middle, as it will add a little moisture later on.
  2. To make the faraal, preheat the oven to 170°C/335°F/gas mark 3½, then roast the peanuts for 8 minutes.
  3. Roughly blitz the peanuts in a blender then add the yogurt, honey, lemon and chilli.
  4. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, then sear the lamb chops in batches, being careful not to overcrowd them. Load them on to a big baking tray and roast in the oven at the same temperature for 7–10 minutes, or until they are done to your liking.
  5. Toss the cucumber slices in some of the faraal, then arrange them on a plate alongside the chops. Serve with more faraal for dipping.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Viognier or off-dry Riesling (red wine doesn't work with peanuts)



Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut Butter Cups

Oh moan... your favourite candy, homemade. This recipe is from Cook with Kindness by Chantal Coolen, which is an excellent vegan and gluten-free book, but not to worry; this recipe loses none of its impact!

Makes 12

  • 1¼ cups gluten-free vegan chocolate chips (or whichever good quality ones you want)
  • 3/4 cup natural peanut butter (or your fave)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Line 12 muffin cups with paper muffin liners

Pour about a teaspoon of melted chocolate into the bottom of each muffin liner and tap the tins on the counter a couple of times to smooth out. Make sure the chocolate is touching all sides of the liner or your filling will leak out the bottom. Pop the tins in the freezer to set while you prepare the filling.

In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, maple syrup and nutritional yeast if using. Once the chocolate on the bottom is set, remove the tins from the freezer and divine the peanut butter mixture evenly between the 12 cups, smoothing the peanut butter out so it touches all sides of the liner. It doesn't have to be perfect, the rest of the chocolate will fill in the gaps.

Divide the remaining melted chocolate evenly between the 112 cups, tapping one the counter again to smooth out the chocolate. Place in the freezer until set. Once set, remove the muffin liners and store in the refrigerator.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Icewine or Tawny port


We wish to thank the following for permission to publish material and photographs:

Whitecap Books Ltd. for permission to publish recipes and photographs from New Thai Cuisine, by Nathan Hyam. © 2001 Nathan Hyam. Photographs by Greg Athans.

The web site Cook for your Life: We teach healthy cooking to people touched by cancer,

Able Sense Publishing limited, Halifax, Nova Scotia, for Cook with Kindness by Chantal Coolen. © 2013 Chantal Coolen. Photography by Jeff Harper. Website:

Artisan, a Division of Workman Publishing, Inc. New York, for Hot Sour Salty Sweet, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. © 2000 Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Studio photographs © Richard Jung.

The Guardian Newspaper, UK, for the story on Lamb chops, cucumber, peanut faraal, © Guardian News and Media Limited 2014. All Rights reserved.


Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (165 KB)

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Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Helen Hatton and Ron Morris at Le Caveau des Gourmets in Gigondas




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