Making Treats for California Wine Month

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We’re smack-dab in the middle of California wine month, and what better way to celebrate vino than with a delicious appetizer and of course, wine.

Paul Robins enjoys warm grape-leaf goat cheese made by Chef Sarah Scott, author of “Wild Table” served with some of California’s finest.

Here’s the recipe:

Fennel-Dusted Goat Cheese Cooked in Fresh Grape Leaves – Chef Sarah Scott

(makes 6)

6 large fresh grape leaves, stem cut off 8-ounce log of fresh goat cheese

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and peper

Zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped

1 ½ teaspoons fennel pollen

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large pot of ice water nearby.

When the water come to a boil, drop in the grape leaves, pushing them down into the water and cook them for 30 seconds.

Using a strainer, remove them from the boiling water and plunge immediately into the ice water.

Remove them to a paper-towel lined baking sheet and pat dry.

Use immediately, or wrap them in damp paper towels and store in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator.

Cut the goat cheese into 6 even rounds. Place them in a shallow dish. Drizzle half the olive oil over them and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle half the lemon zest over the discs, the half the fennel pollen.

Turn the cheese over and repeat.

These can be marinated a day ahead, covered in the refrigerator.

To cook:

Bring the goat cheese out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

Lay the grape leaves on a work surface, vein side up. Brush both sides with olive oil.

Position a goat cheese disc on the center of each grape leaf. Starting at one side, fold the leaves over the cheese disks, enclosing them.

Heat a cast iron skillet or grill to medium high heat. Drizzle in a thin layer of olive oil.

Place the leaf-wrapped cheeses in the pan, folded side down. This will seal the folds. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the leaf is starting to brown. Carefully the cheese and cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is tender and soft.

Open the leaves and serve the warm goat cheese with olive tapenade and crostini.

Variation with Scallops:

Instead of the goat cheese discs, use large scallops. Marinate the same way with the lemon zest and fennel pollen. Enclose as you would for the goat cheese and cook 2-3 minutes per side. Remove them from the pan and let sit for a couple more minutes to continue cooking a little bit. Unwrap the leaves, add a squeeze of lemon juice and fleur de sel and serve as a first course.

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