Jennifer Schell admits one of the most challenging elements of putting together her latest book was narrowing down the list of winemakers and winery families that are featured within its pages.
The B.C. Wine Lover’s Cookbook: Recipes & Stories from Wineries Across British Columbia
Jennifer Schell | Appetite by Random House
$35 | 288 pp
Jennifer Schell admits the most challenging element of putting together her latest book was narrowing down the list of winemakers and winery families that are featured within its pages.
“It was extremely difficult as there are so many families to celebrate in our industry,” Schell says. “I handpicked a variety of wine families from across the province, some original pioneering families and some brand new.
Together, she says, they paint a “unique portrait” of the business, reading like a love letter to the B.C. wine world, with 53 wineries from around the province — including the Okanagan, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island — sharing a favourite family recipe and wine matche for readers to enjoy.
“Over the past few years, the B.C. wine industry has taken its rightful place on the world stage. I wanted to create a book to celebrate both the history and the future of the families that make up this beautiful industry,” Schell explains of the final curation. “The recipes in the book are family favourites and really represent the individual culture of each winery and how they choose to celebrate with their wines around the table.”
She summarizes the book as “a celebration of the passionate community of people, their stories, cultures, family recipes and traditions that are the essence of the B.C. wine industry.”
No stranger to the ins and outs of the province’s wine world — Schell’s family has a wine label called Schell Wines and she’s the co-producer of the Garagiste North Small Producers Wine Festival in Kelowna — the author has long been a “passionate supporter” of the industry and its creators.
“I love the people and the constant vibe of excitement here,” she says. “It is thrilling to taste the extraordinary evolution of B.C. wine.”
From large, established producers, to small startups, Schell says B.C.’s “dynamic wine scene” is one that leaves her feeling “constantly amazed” by its growth and new achievements. That’s why, when presented with the idea of putting some of their stories on the page, she was determined to offer a diverse variety of stories and backgrounds that many people may not have discovered before.
“I am always delighted and surprised when writing about people’s unique stories,” Schell says. “Where they came from, what inspired them and, in this book, the tenderness that resulted from sharing a family recipe and the story of its creator.
“Many recipes, because of their cultural diversity, surprised me and excited me with a new ingredient or cooking method that I had not tried before.”
And it’s this diversity that she hopes will surprise readers who pick up the book, as well.
“Our B.C. wine community has come from all corners of the world to practice their craft here — from France, Holland, Spain, India, China — we are a dynamic multicultural celebration of winemaking that, together, has formed its own culture,” she says. “It is also a reflection of the true spirit of Canada and our immigrant roots.”
As for a favourite recipe in the book, Schell pointed to the Silk Scarf’s Upside-Down Grape Leaf Rice Cake, which she says “was a revelation and super exciting to make.”
“While recipe testing, I was convinced that it was not going to turn out, but it was perfect,” she says.
From the delectable dishes to the local wine pairings handpicked by the people who made them, Schell says her greatest ambition for the book is that it gives readers a true sense of just how special the B.C. wine industry truly is.
“A warm sense of community and camaraderie that our B.C. wine world is made from,” she says of the ultimate takeaway. “My wish is also to recreate the magical sense of place through the recipes and stories, and to share the excitement and pride to be a part of this extraordinary B.C. food and wine love story.”
Grandma Bud’s Raisin Cookies
Suggested wine pairing: Wynnwood “Rosebud” Merlot
1 cup (250 mL) raisins
2 cups (500 mL) flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground cloves
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) allspice
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, room temperature 2 small eggs, beaten
3/4 cup (180 mL) sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Add the raisins and cook until they plump up, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all the spices, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed for one minute. Turn the speed to low and add the eggs and sugar. Slowly add the flour combination, mixing until well combined. Stir in the raisins and walnuts.
Using two spoons or a small ice-cream scoop, drop balls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Press down on each cookie with a fork to make them a uniform size. Bake until just turning golden brown, about 10–12 minutes. Move to a cooling rack.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Pan-Roasted Fraser Valley Duck Breast with Spiced Bacchus Gastrique
Suggested wine pairing: Chaberton Reserve Merlot
1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine vinegar
1 cup (250 mL) Chaberton Estate Grown Bacchus wine
1 tbsp (15 mL) sliced ginger
1 Thai chili pepper, sliced
1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) vegetable oil
1 (9 oz) Fraser Valley duck breast Salt and pepper
3 tbsp (45 mL) chicken stock
3 heads baby Shanghai bok choy Vegetable oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) toasted sesame seeds
Method for Gastrique
Place the sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-high. Continue boiling until the syrup turns a light blond colour, about 10 minutes.
Add the vinegar and lower the heat to medium. Be careful, as the caramel is very hot and the vinegar will immediately come to a violent boil. Don’t panic! Just lower the heat again and gently boil until all the caramel is dissolved.
Reduce by half, then add the Bacchus wine and reduce by half again.
Add the ginger and chilies and turn the heat to low. Allow to steep for 10 minutes, then strain through a fine strainer and discard the solids. Reserve the syrup while you prepare tshe duck breast.
Method for duck
Preheat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over high heat and add the vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Season the duck with salt and pepper, then gently place it skin side down in the pan and lower the heat to medium. For a medium-rare duck breast, cook for 3–4 minutes, then lower the heat and cook for another 3–4 minutes.
Carefully flip the breast and continue to cook over low heat for another 7 minutes.
When the desired doneness is achieved, remove the breast from the pan and set aside to rest and keep warm.
Pour out the fat from the pan and deglaze with the chicken stock. Return the pan to high heat and add 5 tbsp gastrique. Reduce by about half, or until a light syrupy consistency is achieved. Set aside for serving.
Method for Bok Choy
Sauté the baby Shanghai bok choy in a little vegetable oil (or some of the rendered duck fat from the breast) until fork-tender but still slightly crisp. Toss in the sesame seeds at the end and remove from heat.
To serve, divide the bok choy between the serving plates. Slice the duck breast thinly on a slight angle, then place on top of the bok choy. Spoon the remaining gastrique over the duck, carefully coating the breast. yum!
Excerpted from The BC Wine Lover’s Cookbook by Jennifer Schell. Copyright © 2020 Jennifer Schell. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.