André Tchelistcheff is Alive and Well!

It is quite rare that we are offered the opportunity to taste a wine from our birth year. Tonight I had that privilege, and what an honor it was!

The 1968 Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) Estate Bottled ‘Beaumont’ Pinot Noir from Napa Valley.
For those of you who are new to wine or new to tasting older vintages, wines are truly like people…The great ones really do get better with age!

First of all, this wine is a very rare bottle of BV Pinot Noir from the time when the Latour family still owned the winery and the great André Tchelistcheff still had his hand in the wine-making process; a man whom Robert Mondavi referred to as…”a fascinating man, brilliant, stimulating, creative – a catalyst for the world of wine.”…“I know of no one who has been more helpful to the industry.  His teachings and consultations internationally, without doubt, improved the quality of winemaking in our country. 

When we first opened the wine, I thought…”it’s dead…it’s done…past peak…what a shame”. But we decided to leave it in the glass to see what would happen. Well…she opened up and began to express herself in all her glory!

A truly elegant wine with notes of truffles, dark cherries and licorice. The sweet nose was addictive and the fruit showed surprisingly well for a wine this old. It had all the qualities that you would find in a great Barolo but without the tannic grip.

We enjoyed it with herb-roasted chicken, which always pairs well with older red wines.



Champagne Lallier Premier Cru Rosé Brut NV
Spicy Grilled Shrimp, White Beans & Smoked Bacon
Involtini of Eggplant, Ricotta & Pomodoro
Baked Clams

2004 Bouchard, Meursault Perriers
Fresh Linguine with Seafood, Garlic, Wine & Butter
Seafood Risotto

1968 Beaulieu Vineyard, ‘Beaumont’ Pinot Noir
1999 Luigi Einaudi, ‘Nei Cannubi’ Barolo

1998 Clinet, Pomerol
Herb Roasted Chicken, Rosemary Yukon Gold Potatoes


Pan Fried Dumpling / Gyoza 餃子 / Pot Sticker 鍋

From Beijing to Bali my pantry is always stocked with Asian items, so there’s a good chance that whatever I feel like cooking will often have a Far East twist.

The past week found me filling wontons, pan-frying pork gyoza, boiling lobster dumplings, simmering miso soup and using edamame in several ways; I even blended tofu with strawberries and sugar for a refreshing dessert.


Today…it’s all about the Dumpling!



Here’s the shopping list:

Ground Pork or Chicken or Chopped Shrimp
Bok Choy or Cabbage (chopped)
Ginger, Garlic, Scallions, Onions (chopped)
Dumpling Wrappers
Soy Sauce
Chicken Stock
Egg Wash
Vegetable oil


What kind of wrapper should i use? Square or round??
Buy them both and notice the difference.
Traditionally, the round wrappers are made from just flour and water. They are a little thicker and are best used with heavier meat fillings.
The square wrappers are also called wonton skins; they have egg added making them thinner and more delicate. They are best suited for fried wontons, chicken dumplings or shu-mei. I often use them to make lobster or shrimp ravioli…they melt in your mouth!

There are over 50 wrappers in a package so you will get plenty of practice making dumplings.  If there are any wrappers left over you can just wrap them in plastic and store them in the freezer.


Making the Filling & Filling the Wrapper

  1. Cook the onions, ginger, garlic & bok choy in a pan until the onions begin to soften.
  2. Add some chopped scallions and soy sauce and reduce soy sauce to half. Set aside mixture to cool.  
  3. Add mixture to your ground meat of choice and mix well.  
  4. Lay out the wonton wrappers and place a small spoonfull in the center.
  5. Brush the edge of the wrapper with the egg wash, fold them over, pinch and seal.
Your dumplings are now ready for cooking.

You can boil them, steam them or pan fry them.

Pan Frying Technique:
Heat some oil in a wide, heavy frying pan over medium heat. Place 8 to 12 pot stickers in the pan and cook until the bottoms are brown. Pour in 1/3 cup of chicken stock or water and cover pan. Reduce heat to low and cook until all liquid is absorbed.

I like to add sesame seeds and chopped scallions right at the end. Transfer to plates and enjoy. For dipping you can use a classic mixture of soy, rice vinegar and chile. I added a little Sriracha to the dumplings at top of page.

As for all those extra dumplings you filled but never cooked…
Lay them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and put them in the freezer. After they are frozen, transfer them to sealable containers and keep frozen until your next Asian craving!

Golden Tomato Gazpacho

One of my favorite ways to say goodbye to summer is to make a refreshingly sweet and tart Golden Tomato Gazpacho. With very little effort you can dazzle your friends by letting the seasons final bounty strut its stuff.


  • 8 large yellow tomatoes
  • 2 large yellow peppers
  • 1 small yellow watermelon
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 3 cups sherry vinegar
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cut all the vegetables and melon into a medium dice and toss with salt, pepper, sugar, lime juice and sherry vinegar.
  2. Refrigerate and let marinate for 2 – 4 hours.
  3. Puree the mixture using a blender or hand-held burr mixer.
  4. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve in chilled bowls.


As you can see in the photo, I served the Gazpacho in shot glasses and topped it with a piece of jumbo lump crab meat, micro arugula and finished it with extra virgin olive oil.


© Giovanni Cucullo 2010

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

It’s only Monday, and I have eaten at least a six Vietnamese Spring Rolls or Summer Rolls as I like to call them. Fresh, healthy and easy to make…what else could you ask for? Well, maybe summer-like weather.

Your shopping list items are in bold.

Here’s the deal…

  1. Cut your veggies into thin strips or large matchsticks and marinate them for about an hour in a blend of rice vinegar, sugar and salt. You want the marinade on the sweet side. Your vegetable choices include: carrots, cucumbers, radish and daikon, but always feel free to experiment. These are the same veggies they use in the Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich; I just may eat 6 of those next week.
  2. Put a bundle of beanthread (cellophane) noodles in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let them soak for about 15 minutes, then drain and keep in cold water until ready.
  3. Cook your protein! I’ve used shrimp for this recipe so I simply boil the shrimp in their shells, remove them as soon they start to curl and chill them in an ice bath. You can peel them as soon as you can handle them.
  4. I also set aside four small bowls on my counter, one with cilantro leaves, one with mint leaves one with shredded Boston lettuce leaves and one with strips of scallions.


Now we’re ready to make the summer rolls.

Lay a clean damp kitchen towel down on your cutting board or counter.
Dip one Vietnamese rice paper wrapper into hot water for 10 seconds, lift out of the water and lay it on the kitchen towel. You now have your canvas for all those goodies in front of you. This will take a bit of practice; just be gentle when handling the rice paper.

On the side of the wrapper closest to you, put a few shreds of lettuce, noodles, shrimp, some veggies, herbs and few pieces of scallions. Now roll it up like a cigar. You can leave the ends open with some of the healthy goodness popping out or you can close the ends as you would for a burrito. Repeat with all the ingredients.
To serve, cut them in half and serve them with either the Nuoc Cham dipping sauce or the Hoisin-Peanut dipping sauce.


The summer rolls can be made hours ahead, making them perfect for parties. Cover with a clean damp kitchen towel, wrap in plastic and refrigerate. Spray them with a little water just before serving.


Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed
½ hot red chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
juice from 1 wedge of lime
2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 ½ tablespoons of water

Grind the garlic, chile and sugar to a paste in a mortar and pestle. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and water. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash hot pepper sauce or Sriracha

Combine first three ingredients until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Transfer to a serving bowl.

NB: Rice paper wrappers are sold in packages of 50 or 100. I use the brand with the red rose on the package. Seal leftovers in the same package wrapped in plastic.


Dinner with The Murphy’s: Salmon & Wisdom


Whole Roasted Salmon takes the stage once a year at Chez Murphy.       

Fennel-Citrus Salad



Wood-fired in an oven built by the man-of-the-house himself, this wild Salmonidae is roasted perfectly in a mere 30 minutes and receives roaring praise from everyone at the table.       



I’m certain my Irish hosts would toast to this bit of information:
The salmon is an important creature in several strands of Celtic mythology and poetry, which often associated them with wisdom and venerability. In Irish mythology, a creature called the Salmon of Wisdom (or the Salmon of Knowledge) plays key role in the tale known as The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn. The Salmon will grant powers of knowledge to whoever eats it, and has been sought by the poet Finn Eces for seven years. Finally Finn Eces catches the fish and gives it to his young pupil, Fionn mac Cumhaill, to prepare it for him. However, Fionn burns his thumb on the salmon’s juices, and he instinctively puts it in his mouth. As such, he inadvertently gains the Salmon’s wisdom.       

Roasted Garden Tomatoes




A bit of grog helps lubricate the process.       



I am always filled with a little more wisdom every time I leave a Murphy gathering, though I’m not certain I owe it to the salmon.