Thousands of wines at your fingertips

Search database of wine reviews
Read about wines BEFORE they hit the stores
Match wines with foods



A gift for the literate wine-lover in your life – who may be you. Tony's murder mystery novels, set in the world of wine, are now available at a discount – autographed.

Find out more...

Listen to Tony

Listen to Tony talk about wine on 680 NEWS radio on Fridays at 10:48 am, on Saturdays at 2:48 am and 9:48 am, and on Sundays at 12:48 am and 1:48 pm.
Tony Aspler
Wine Reviews
Food & Wine Match
Personal Wine Cellar
Pocket Wine Cellar
Gourmet Recipes
Wine Primer
More Tony Aspler
Tony's Books Tony's Books
Ontario Wine Awards
About Us About Us

E-mail Address or
Forget Password?


All about sparkling wine Port wine 101 Pairing food and wine Pairing wine and cheese What wine to serve with chocolate Why we like to visit wine country A wine tour of Italy Germany and German wines Wine touring France: Cognac and Bordeaux Wine touring France: Burgundy A tour of California wine country











More Gourmet Recipes  

Ladies, Please (May 31, 2016)

Roasted Red Pepper, Almond, and Feta Salad
Fig Toasts with Buttered Honey
Grilled Watermelon with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto
The Diva of Grilled Cheese
Alsatian Choucroute
Roasted Winter Strawberries with Ice Cream

And here they come! Let's start with the iconic Ruth Reichl, former L.A. and New York Times restaurant reviewer, Gourmet magazine editor, and best-selling author of three cookbooks and one novel, and as (the equally iconic) Alice Waters says, "Ruth is one of our greatest storytellers. No one writes as warmly and engagingly about the all-important intersection of food, life, love and loss." With the publication of Reichl's latest, My Kitchen Year: Recipes that Saved My Life, Waters goes on to say, "This book is a lyrical and deeply intimate journey told through recipes, as only Ruth can do."

Reichl was the obvious selection when Gourmet magazine needed a new editor, and she put her heart and soul into updating the magazine while steadily steering it through the monumental changes in publishing. She was devastated when, after ten years, the magazine was abruptly closed, and she found (as always) great comfort in her life's passion for food. My Kitchen Year, part cookbook, part personal narrative, part paean to the household gods, follows the change of seasons and her own life changes. It's a beautiful, page-turning diary with great recipes and photographs.

We love Joan Nathan! Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France is a cookbook, and also a story of the survival of traditions, recipes and rituals passed down through generations. Acclaims from everyone from Alice Waters and Lynne Rosetta Kasper to Patricia Wells and Daniel Boulud say basically that while Joan Nathan takes us on a culinary tour through Jewish cooking in France, this is also a cultural history, opening what you might call a secret cuisine of France, and stories never told before. Waters comments, "She is a writer, a historian, an anthropologist, and an extraordinary cook, but above all she is a tireless custodian of a wonderfully rich culture."

We add it's got great recipes, each with a charming story.

Kimberly Schlapman is one of the founding members of the Grammy Award-winning country music band, Little Big Town, which has sold millions of albums worldwide. She is also the host of the popular cooking show Kimberly's Simply Southern and lives in Nashville with her husband and seven year old daughter, Daisy Pearl. She's talented, gorgeous and real southern and her new cookbook Oh Gussie! reflects all of this perfectly! And, it's a just plain, down-home sweet book and a good read; we loved it!

The award-winning blog Seven Spoons, started in 2005, is written by Tara O'Brady, and her numerous fans and followers are thrilled that at last, O'Brady has published an eponymous cookbook, Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day. These recipes may be home cooking, but the photographs tell us they are works of art as well. O'Brady was born in India, moved to Montreal, then Ontario. At every stop she absorbed the food and flavors.

On today's menu:

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (445 kB)



Roasted Red Pepper, Almond, and Feta Salad

Roasted Red Pepper, Almond, and Feta Salad

O'Brady describes this recipe in Seven Spoons as a composed, rather than tossed, salad – and a perfect partner to moussaka! The feta and parsley topping is a briny, sprightly combination that balances the richness of that casserole; the lemon juice kicks everything into high gear and the tender, sweet peppers balance the spice. She adds that this salad stands quite nicely beside other roasted and grilled meats or does quite well on its own. Pass the warm baguette, Tara, this is delicious!

Serves 4 to 6

  • 12 ounces Greek feta cheese, preferably goat's milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups jarred whole roasted peppers, preferably piquillo
  • 4 ounces blanched almonds (Marcanas are nice)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Crumble the feta into a small bowl, then stir in the chopped parsley. Tear the roasted peppers into wide strips and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle the almonds over the peppers, followed by the herb-flecked feta. Squeeze the lemon juice over the peppers, and drizzle on some really nice olive oil. Serve immediately.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Sauvignon Blanc, Alsace Pinot Blanc



Fig Toasts with Buttered Honey

Fig Toasts with Buttered Honey

Another so utterly simple and so completely delicious from Seven Spoons we just had to include it. When those fresh figs you got a few days ago are on the edge of over-ripeness, this sexy dish saves the day... and the figs! Cooking this way preserves their elusive musk, and drizzled with warmed herbed honey they make a sensuous end to a meal, especially with a slice of cheese and a sip of port wine.

Serves 4

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 sprigs thyme, or 1 sprig rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • Flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 to 8 slices of sturdy, grainy bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • 4 to 6 fresh figs
  • Stilton, to serve (optional)

In a small saucepan over Thanks. low heat, melt the butter with the thyme. Once the butter is fluid, pour in the honey. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook, swirling the pot often, until combined and bubbling thickly, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.

While the honey and butter are simmering, grill or toast the bread, with a few drops of olive oil brushed on each side. Slice the figs thickly and arrange in mosaics upon the toasts. Use an offset spatula or the side of a blunt knife to squish the figs into the toast, so that the flesh spreads and softens.

Pluck the herbs from the honey and discard. Drip the syrup onto the figs from a height, twirling and circling the spoon so that the honey falls in sweeping arabesques. Season the toasts with more salt and pepper and a few fresh herb leaves. Serve right away, alone or met with a wedge of Stilton at the table.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Tawny Port, Banyuls



Grilled Watermelon with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

Grilled Watermelon with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

Well, who knew? Watermelons are not just for scarfing down on hot summer days while the juice runs down your arms and you spit seeds at your sister... they've moved over to the grill, where Kimberly Schlapman has indeed dressed them up to fancy and very tasty as a side dish with your steak! From Oh, Gussie!

Makes 4 servings

  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 seedless mini-watermelon, rind removed, sliced into 1-inch–thick half moons
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • Vanilla sea salt (see Southern simple below)
  • 4 cups torn butter (Bibb) lettuce
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
  1. Preheat the grill to medium
  2. Combine the blueberries and vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat until thick and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Brush each side of the watermelon slices with olive oil and season with vanilla sea salt. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  4. Place a bed of lettuce on a plate. Top with slices of prosciutto and watermelon. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar mixture. Season with more vanilla sea salt.

Southern Simple: Vanilla sea salt is available from Williams Sonoma. You can make your own by placing 1 vanilla bean in a canister of salt and letting it sit for 2 days. The salt will suck up an unbelievable amount of vanilla flavor.

Tony's wine recommendation:
New Zealand or Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Orvieto



The Diva of Grilled Cheese

The Diva of Grilled Cheese

In the hands of a master, simple ingredients such as bread, butter and cheese can be turned into a memorable feast. Ruth Reichl is that master, and her version of this, the ultimate comfort food, is magnificent. Rich, crisp and chewy, a great grilled cheese requires no more than a few minutes, and will immediately have the spirits soaring! From My Kitchen Year: Recipes that Saved My Life

Makes 1 sandwich

Shopping list:

  • Leeks
  • Scallions
  • 1/4 pound cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices sturdy sourdough bread


  • Shallots
  • 1 onion (any color)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • Butter
  • Mayonnaise

Gather a group of shallots, leeks, scallions, and an onion, red, yellow or white – as many members of the allium family as you have on hand – and chop them into a small heap. Add a minced clove of garlic. Grate a few generous handfuls of the best cheddar you can afford, set a little aside, and gently combine the rest with the onion mixture.

Butter one side of thickly sliced bread and heap as much of the mixture as possible between the slices. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the outside of the bread (this will keep it from scorching on the griddle). Press the reserved grated cheese to the outside of the bread, where it will create a wonderful crisp and shaggy crust, giving your sandwich an entirely new dimension.

Fry on a heated griddle or in a skillet about 4 minutes a side, until the cheese is softly melted.

Moan gently...

Tony's wine recommendation:
Chardonnay, white Burgundy



Alsatian Choucroute

Alsatian Choucroute

Not what we'd expected in a Jewish recipe collection, but Joan Nathan in Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France says Choucroute is a perfect Sabbath meal, as it can be made on Friday and reheated for Saturday lunch. It's also eaten at Purim and has particular significance. The sausage "hangs" in Alsatian butcher shops as a reminder of how the evil Haman, who wanted to kill all the Jews, was hanged! Sometimes Alsatians call the fat hunk of corned or smoked beef "the Haman."

Whatever we call this, it's a perfect hearty dish for cooler days! Enjoy this Jewish cousin of cassoulet – it's vunderlekh!

Serves 8 to 10

  • 2 pounds sauerkraut
  • 2 Tbsp duck fat or vegetable oil
  • 5 whole duck legs, cut into thighs and drumsticks
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped (about 2½ cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into large rounds
  • 10 juniper berries, or 1/2 cup gin
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth, plus more if necessary
  • 12 small Red Bliss or Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 5 garlic-chicken sausages, beef sausages or hot dogs
  • One 3- to 4-pound corned beef
  • Mustard or mustard sauce as garnish (recipe follows)
  • Horseradish as garnish

Wash the sauerkraut in cold water, and drain. Wash and drain again, squeezing it to eliminate as much water as possible.

Preheat the oven to 325°F and heat the duck fat or oil in a large ovenproof casserole.

Season the duck lets with salt and freshly ground pepper, and brown them on both sides. Remove the duck legs to a plate, leaving the duck fat that has accumulated in the pan. Add the onions, the garlic, and the carrots, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Scatter the sauerkraut over the vegetables, and stir to incorporate. Tuck the duck legs into the sauerkraut, then add the juniper berries or gin, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Pour in the white wine and enough chicken broth almost to cover the sauerkraut. Bring to a boil on top of the stove, cover and remove to the oven tp cook for 2 hours, or until the liquid is absorbed by the sauerkraut.

Mustard Sauce

This typical Alsatian mustard sauce is served with pickled or smoked tongue or pickle-fleisch. It has been eaten with fresh and salted meat or fresh and dried fish for centuries by the northern Jewish communities in France.

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 Tbsp strong French Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 scant cup peanut or safflower oil
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 French cornichon or Russian gherkin, diced (optional)

Put the mustard and the vinegar in a small bowl and stir together. Season with salt and freshly round pepper and slowly whisk in the oil.

Just before serving, stir in the shallots, chives, parsley and if you like, the pickle.

While the sauerkraut is cooking, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water, and then peel. Sauté the sausages or hot dogs in a hot pan, or boil then for about 5 minutes.

Take the sauerkraut out of the oven and taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary. Add the potatoes, sausages or hot dogs, and corned beef to the casserole, and return to the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Remove the corned beef and slice against the grain. Serve on a large platter with piles of sauerkraut, duck legs, sausages, corned beef slices and potatoes, and with a variety of mustards or mustard sauce and horseradish alongside.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Alsace Riesling, Pinot Blanc or dry Gewurztraminer



Roasted Winter Strawberries with Ice Cream

Roasted Winter Strawberries with Ice Cream

Ruth Reichl turned tasteless, watery winter strawberries into succulent, flavourful fruit by roasting them, which concentrated the flavor; the addition of butter and balsamic vinegar made this a gorgeous topping for vanilla ice cream. Again, simple ingredients cleverly prepared can produce a small masterpiece; My Kitchen Year: Recipes that Saved My Life is full of such "ah, ha!" ideas and recipes! They should have kept Gourmet magazine going...

Shopping list:

  • 1 pint large strawberries
  • Mint
  • Vanilla ice cream


  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • White sugar

Buy a pint of the largest strawberries you can find, remove the stems, and set them, stem side down, in a baking dish. Brush them with melted butter. Mix the balsamic vinegar with an equal amount of water and put it in the bottom of the baking dish. Dust the berries with sugar and roast them in a hot (400°F) oven until they slump into softness, about 8 minutes. Garnish with fresh mint and serve warm, with ice cream.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Cabernet Franc Icewine, Banyuls, Ruby Port



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

Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Limited for:

  • My Kitchen Year: Recipes that Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl. © 2015 Ruth Reichl. Photographs by Mikkel Vang.
  • Seven Spoons by Tara O'Brady. Copyright © 2015 Tara O'Brady.


Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random, House Inc, New York, and Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto, for Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan. © 2010 Joan Nathan


HarperCollins Publishers, New York and Toronto, for Oh Gussie! By Kimberly Schlapman. © 2015 Coming Up Daisies, Inc., f/s/o Kimberly Schlapman. Photographs by beall + thomas photography.


Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (445 kB)

Find more recipes with the recipe indexes by title and type

Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

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




More Gourmet Recipes