I was recently invited to participate in Kosta Browne Winery’s annual retreat at the beautiful Mayacama Club nestled up in the hills of Sonoma County.  Kosta Browne is a small Sonoma County winery with a big following for their acclaimed pinot noir wines.

At the retreat, my assignment was to create a couple of simple dishes that attendees could make at home and that matched to the earthiness and complexity of Kosta Browne’s amazing Pinot Noirs.  Below are the recipes.  I hope you’ll enjoy!


Makes enough to fill a 3-cup mold or dish

The simplicity of this recipe belies its great taste.  Serve with crisp little croutes, toasts or crackers of your choice and, as the French do, with some little cornichons and grainy mustard on the side.

1 ounce dried wild mushrooms such as porcini
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots or green onions (white part only)
1-1/4 pounds thickly sliced fresh wild or exotic cultivated mushrooms*
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons curry powder or to your taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup toasted, preferably unsalted cashews
2 tablespoons toasted nut oil such as walnut or olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, chives and/or basil
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Rinse the dried mushrooms quickly and let soak in warm water to cover for 15 minutes.  Drain, squeeze dry and chop.

Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over moderately high heat.  Add the shallots, all mushrooms, garlic, curry and cumin and sauté and stir until mixture is just beginning to brown and all liquid has evaporated.

While mushrooms are cooking add the cashews to a food processor and process till finely chopped.  Add oil and continue to process to make a paste or butter.  Add the mushroom mixture and process till almost smooth.  Stir in the herbs and zest and season with salt and pepper to your taste and place in a 3-cup pate mold or other ceramic dish.  Can be stored covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Allow to return to room temperature to serve.

*A caution here – – only use wild mushrooms that you are certain are edible.  If you are not a hunter you can certainly substitute wild or cultivated mushrooms found in the market such as chanterelle, shiitake, cremini, portabella, oyster, etc.


Serves 4 – 6 as a main course

This recipe uses a kind of cous cous known as moughrabiye or Israeli cous cous.  It is made from the same toasted semolina as the regular granular Moroccan cous cous with which we are most familiar.  Israeli cous cous is larger in size and round- about the size of whole peppercorns.  There are even larger ones made known as Lebanese cous cous which can also be used in this dish.  They are about the size of petite peas and take longer to cook.  This also makes a nice side dish or base for simply cooked meats, fish and poultry.  The great thing about cous cous is that you can make a risotto in half the time of a rice-based version.  Additionally, cous cous is a little more “forgiving” in that it doesn’t completely mush out as it sits!

1/2 cup chopped shallots or green onions (white part only)
1 tablespoon slivered garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups large Israeli type cous cous
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups rich chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted olives such as Cerignola
2 cups or so baby wild arugula
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup (or more) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Garnish: Fried basil sprigs and drops of truffle or smoked olive oil, if desired.

Sauté the shallots and garlic in olive oil until lightly colored.  Add the cous cous and sauté for a minute or two longer.  Add the wine and 1/2 cup of the stock and stir occasionally until liquid is nearly absorbed.  Add remaining stock in half-cup increments and continue to cook and stir until stock is nearly absorbed.   Continue in this manner until the cous cous is tender but still has some texture (about 10 minutes total).  Stir the olives, arugula, tomatoes, zest, chives and cheese into the risotto. Serve immediately in warm bowls topped with the basil sprigs and the truffle oil.