Recipes of the Month – Winning Recipes

Congratulations to all of the winners and a big thank you to the hosts. Please send your recipes to George Cravens at for possible publication on the OCWS website.

Deborah Webber’s Balsamic Roasted Tomato & Mushroom Tartines took home Chef of the Evening honors at last month’s OCWS mini-tasting. Deborah, a six-year OCWS member along with husband Michael, adapted this recipe from one she found years ago in a magazine.

Balsamic Roasted Tomato &Mushroom Tartines


1 lb. multi-hued tomatoes, halved

6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus

some for brushing

2½ Tbsp. quality balsamic vinegar

1½ tsp. sugar

2 tsp. sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. large mushrooms, halved

Freshly ground black pepper

4 slices sourdough or rustic bread

6 Tbsp. pesto

8 oz. fresh mozzarella

Fresh basil leaves, for garnish


Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

SPread tomatoes out in a single layer on one of the prepared pans. Drizzle tomatoes with 3 Tbsp. olive oil and 1½ Tbsp. balsamic vinegar.

Sprinkle with 1 tsp. sugar, ½ teaspoon sea salt and a generous grind of freshly ground black pepper.

Spread mushroom halves in a single layer on the second prepared

pan. Drizzle mushrooms with 3 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon sea salt and a generous grind of freshly ground black pepper.

Roast tomatoes and mushrooms 60-75 minutes or until most of the liquid has disappeared. Gently stir every 15 minutes during roasting time. Mushrooms will be finished about 10-15 minutes before tomatoes.

Remove from oven when veggies are deep golden and caramelized. Set aside, but leave oven on.

Brush both sides of bread slices lightly with olive oil. Place in a sauté pan and cook over medium heat until golden on both sides. Cook in batches, if needed.

Place bread slices on a sheet pan.

Top each bread slice with 1½ Tbsp. pesto. Spread pesto to edges of bread slices. Slice or tear mozzarella into small pieces. Top pesto layer with torn mozzarella. Add tomatoes and mushrooms, dividing evenly between the tartines.

Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted, about 6-8 minutes. Scatter with fresh basil leaves and serve.


New OCWS member and Chef of the Evening Magda El Zarki dazzled mini-tasting guests recently with her endive salad.

El Zarki says she got the recipe from a French friend, and that it’s her go-to for summer lunches or as an appetizer for an evening meal.

“I love its crunchiness, the slightly bitter taste of endive, with the sourness of Granny Smith apple combined with the salty rich taste of gruyere,” El Zarki says. “Walnuts add some depth. The combo is a favorite of mine, also easy to prepare.”

Endive & Apple Salad


4-5 plump endives

2 green Granny Smith apples

8 oz. aged gruyere

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Vinaigrette salad dressing

(1/3-1/2 cup)


Slice the endive into 1/3” slices, toss into a salad bowl.

Peel, core and chop the apples into bite-size pieces; add to salad bowl.

Cut the gruyere into small 1/3” cubes; add to salad bowl.

Add the chopped walnuts to the salad bowl.

Mix all the ingredients; add vinaigrette dressing and toss

Notable Recipes March 2023

Oven Braised Veal Stew
with Black Pepper &

2 lb. boneless veal stew meat cut
into 2-inch pieces
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
¾ cup boiling water
2 Tbsp. veal demi-glace (try
2 cups fresh or undrained thawed
frozen pitted cherries
2½ Tbsp. honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod
1 dried bay leaf
1 cup dry red wine (Syrah, Barbara,
Pinot Noir) optional
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
½ package of flat butter noodles


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place veal pieces in bowl; sprinkle all over with pepper and 1 tsp. salt. Sprinkle with flour and toss to coat. Melt butter with oil in 5 to 6 qt. Dutch oven over high heat. Working in two batches (if necessary), add veal; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, 6 to 7 minutes per batch. Transfer veal to a bowl using a slotted spoon; set aside. Pour off drippings from the Dutch oven.

Stir together ¾ cup boiling water and demi-glace mixture, cherries, honey, cinnamon, cardamom bay leaf and optional red wine to Dutch oven; bring to a boil over high heat, scraping bottom and sides of oven to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to medium low; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Uncover; nestle veal in the cherry mixture.

Cover and roast in preheated oven until veal is very tender, about 90 minutes. Remove and discard cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf. Stir in remaining 1 tsp. salt. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately over noodles.

Optional Thickening

Deglaze the stew. Pour veal and cherry stew into a bowl through a sieve. Place veal and cherry mixture in a bowl and set aside. Return the sauce to the Dutch oven and add ½ cup heavy cream. Heat over medium heat until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes. Return veal, cherry mixture to the sauce and reheat over medium heat 10 minutes.

Make Ahead

Stew can be made up to three days ahead; let cool then cover and refrigerate. Reheat gently over medium.

Oven Braised Veal Stew with Black Pepper & Cherries recipe courtesy Barb White. Got something delicious to share? Please send your recipes to George Cravens at for possible publication on the OCWS

Notable Recipes

OCWS member Elee Phillips made the popular Cranberry, Brie and Pancetta Bites for the Winemakers Goup’s Christmas Party in December. By all accounts, it was a real hit.

“Baked brie is one of my—and many of my friends’—favorite appetizers,” Elee says. “But I wanted something different and easier to serve to a crowd. That’s when I came across the recipe on the Well Plated by Erin website.

The original recipe called for roasted pecans and rosemary sprigs and since Elee is allergic to nuts and “can’t stand biting into little leaves of rosemary,” she came up with an alternative—pancetta!

Cranberry, Brie and Pancetta Bites


1 sheet puff pastry

1 small round brie cheese

8 oz. cranberry orange sauce (I used this recipe: but you can use any jam

2 slices pancetta (approx. 1/8” thick)



PREHEAT oven to 375°; spray mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

ROLL OUT and cut sheet of puff pastry into 24 2” squares.

PRESS one square into each muffin cup.

CUT brie in half horizontally and dice the one half into about ½” cubes.

PLACE one cube in each cup.

DICE pancetta into small (approx. 1/8”) cubes.

SAUTEE small cubes in 1 tsp. of oil until crisp; drain on paper towel and wait until cool.

SCOOP 1 tsp. cranberry sauce into each cup (I use a small melon baller).

SPRINKLE pancetta over each cup.

BAKE for 18-20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Got something delicious to share? Please send your recipes to George Cravens at for possible publication on the OCWS website.

“Best of” Recipe & Wine Pairings—March 2021

The four weeks prior to writing this column just seemed to get away from me and, to be honest, I didn’t prepare as well as I should have. So, in my haste to write this article, it dawned on me that I have a simple “best of” recipe that is often requested when I attend a gathering. I have made this salad on an exceptionally large scale for up to 200 people at OCWS events with the Cooks Caucus including a few barbecues, the Home Wine Competition and a home wine competition wrap up event, and I have made it as small as a half recipe when dining with just a few friends. It can be easily tailored to serve any number of people. I have shared the recipe with anyone who has asked for it over the years and it is so simple, that if it wasn’t so good, I’d almost be embarrassed to share it with you.

Those of you that know me well know that I am not known for my culinary talents. Although I can cook and bake well from recipes, I do not have that innate sense of what flavors go with what that true chefs have. Although I have a good palate and genuinely appreciate the creations of others, I am merely a cook and, much in the style of Sandra Lee from the original Cooking Network, I create semi-homemade dishes.

This particular salad came from my frugal upbringing in that I just could not allow myself  to continue to expend the money on the exorbitant cost of the original salad from a local restaurant (shhhh…..Stonefire Grill) for the quantities that I wanted to serve, so I recreated what I thought was their recipe and, low and behold, it has been a winner ever since. I keep the canned and bottled ingredients on hand at all times and, becoming lazy in my later years, now buy the fresh ingredients already shred, if available.

I hope this finds its way onto your easy, to do list and that you enjoy it with whatever wine sounds good to you at the time. 


Shredded lettuce –  As much as you like, just pack the lettuce into the bowl as the base

Place equal lines on top of the lettuce in your desired amounts of:

Shredded Red Cabbage

Black Beans (canned, rinsed and drained well)

Corn (canned, rinsed and drained well)

Shredded Carrots

Scallions and Cilantro (diced and mixed together)

Shredded Cheese

Tortilla Chips (crumbled to use as topping)

*BBQ Sauce

*Ranch Dressing

(*Use good name brands, as it does make a difference, serve separately and drizzle equally on the salad on individual portions)

Additional Hints (from years of trial and error):

· A protein such as chicken or thinly sliced beef can be added to serve as a main course

· Serve the crumbled tortilla chip topping on the side, so they don’t get soggy on top of the salad

· Put squeeze containers of dressing and sauce on the table and allow guests to dress the salad to suit their tastes, also the salad doesn’t get soggy by serving on the side

· Play with ingredients to suit your taste (suggest not deleting cilantro/scallions)

· It’s easiest to dig down and serve the salad with tongs

– Fran Gitsham, Contributing Writer