' Narrow Gate Vineyards - Recipe Blog

Food, Wine and Life

April 25, 2022

                                                 Teena’s Wild Mushroom Risotto

Nature's course leads to Morel Mushroom Risotto. I first had morel mushrooms on my honeymoon in Bermuda in 1984. The veal chop I ordered one night there, with a luxurious morel cream sauce and a hint of tarragon, was, and still is, one of the most memorable dishes I’ve ever tasted. What many people don’t know is that fresh morel mushrooms are considered somewhat “sacred” in that they are not easy to come by. In fact, the last time I saw them grow naturally was 21 years ago after a timber harvest we had on our land produced giant burn piles from which the morels emerged the following spring. However, the morels that recently popped up were in the Caldor Fire scarred burn area a few miles north of us. They, too, are of a certain species that only appear briefly on burned soils during spring after a wildfire. When our vineyard assistant Kass recently gifted me a large bag of these precious gems, all covered in pine needles, ash and dirt, and then offered to take me foraging for more, I was certain I had died and gone to heaven. After making this recipe about five times in the past two weeks I couldn’t keep it to myself and thought I’d better share.

I hope you enjoy...bon appétit!



Wild Mushroom Risotto

12 ounces fresh Morel Mushrooms, cleaned and cut into 1/3” pieces (or 2.25 ounces dried Morels rehydrated in warm water for 30 minutes, drained and rinsed of sediment)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup finely chopped red, white or yellow onion
2 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed
12 ounces (3/4 cup) Arborio rice
½ cup white wine or light red wine
6 cups Chicken stock
Kosher salt and ground black pepper (optional)
1 cup fresh grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, divided
optional garnish:  2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme or winter savory

In a 3-quart saucepan heat chicken stock and hold at a low simmer. In a deep 6-quart heavy pot, set on medium heat, add olive oil and 1 Tablespoon of the butter. When butter is melted add onion and cook until soft but not browned, about 10 minutes.  Add pressed garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.   Toss in Arborio rice and stir for about 2 more minutes until coated. Add wine, stirring until absorbed.  Ladle in 1 cup of hot stock and stir until all liquid is absorbed before adding another cup of stock (i.e. when you drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and it leaves a noticeably clean trail it’s time to ladle in another cup of stock.) Continue adding stock until you are down to the last 2 cups of stock.  Taste the risotto for al dente doneness (tender yet still firm to the bite and moist) and to add salt and pepper if needed.  If not serving right away turn off heat and leave uncovered.   Just before serving turn on medium heat and add the last cups of chicken stock, stir until almost absorbed but still very loose and moist. Stir in remaining tablespoon of butter and half the grated cheese.  Serve as a side dish or a separate course in warmed bowls with remaining cheese and, if desired, fresh herb garnish. 

Wine Suggestions:
This Risotto is both rustic yet elegant, full of rich flavors and appropriate for any season.  This is one of our favorite and most versatile wine pairing dishes for a small group as it works with white, red and even sparkling wines.  We love it best with fruity Rhone varietals or blends: Grenache, Syrah and/or Mourvedre – the new 2017 Dunamis, Estate was made for this dish and turns out to be an incredibly perfect pairing.  If you are a white wine-lover try non-malolactic style white wines such as our Viognier, Roussanne or Chardonnay.  The non-malolactic character compliments the dense, palate coating texture of the risotto. Delicious!

* If fresh wild mushrooms are not available you can substitute fresh brown or white mushrooms.  You can also hydrate dried wild mushrooms such as porcini or morels and use them solely in the Risotto or in addition to the fresh cultivated mushrooms to enhance the flavor. I like to purchase the Certified Organic dried wild mushroom mixed “bits and pieces” and whole Porcini’s online.


May 12, 2020

a lovely spritzSip a bouquet in a glass. Mix our botanically infused Dry Vermouth with our sparkling “Pet Nat” and a splash of bubbly orange water for a refreshing spritz. We love to forage for the garnish and happened to hit it just right last weekend with Cecil Bruner pink rose buds, rose petals, lavender buds, Santa Barbara daisies, and violas.


April 14, 2018

We’re always looking for gluten-free appetizer options that everyone will enjoy and that pair easily with both white and red wines. Panelle are a Sicilian street food made from a base of chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, water and salt. The sky’s the limit on what you can put in them or on them. Here, thyme, parsley, scallions and goat cheese are baked into the batter and then the panelle are lightly fried until slightly crispy and topped with a colorful and flavorful salsa. They paired fabulously with the new 2013 Dunamis, Estate Rhone blend.


January 30, 2018

Panna Cotta is a traditional Italian silky custard dessert made with cream and gelatin. This easy to make-ahead lemon version is delicious and refreshing after a winter meal and would be a perfect ending to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. Make it in ramekins or in little glass jars and serve it, alongside a glass of port, with a pinch of bright yellow lemon zest and a mint sprig on the side.


August 14, 2017

This is a family favorite. We’ve been making this simply delicious shrimp pasta for years and it’s even better made with the bounty of end of summer tomatoes and basil from the garden. By request I usually double the garlic and pepper flakes and throw in more fresh herbs since my garden is in full production by then. Garnish with sliced lemon to add a fresh burst of citrus before digging in.


June 6, 2017
Exotic Spice and Orange Zest Marinated Goat Cheese photograph

We served this impressive, yet simple, wine-friendly appetizer paired with Narrow Gate Vineyards 2012 Dunamis, Estate (GSM) as part of a tasting plate at this past weekend’s Sunday in the Country event. It was such a hit I wanted to share with you here the original recipe for Marinated Goat Cheese with Herbs and Spices, bon appetit May 2017. Below is my individual serving adaptation with increased olive oil and more ground spices (so no one misses out on all the exotic flavors). We served these along with Alice Medrich’s rustic, wheat-free, Seeded Crackers that I baked from her fantastic book, Flavor Flours.


May 2, 2017
Baked Eggs on Hearty Greens with yogurt and chile photograph

The cure for what ails you: Baked Eggs on Hearty Greens with yogurt and chile

Enjoy this adaptation of a Turkish baked egg and Chili recipe my friend Connie shared with me recently. Here’s my version that I made in individual crocks and works for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. This healthy, high protein, “lower fat” version (I cut the butter in half) pairs well with our Melange Rouge (mourvedre, syrah, grenache) and is also perfect after a good workout or yoga.