Friday, February 5, 2010

Food Entrepreneurs: Académie: Quality Wines for Cooking

I love cooking with wine. It adds such great flavor for dishes and gives me an excuse to drink wine with dinner (but who needs an excuse, really?) Usually when Mr. AT and I are cooking with wine, we just use a bit of what we plan to drink that night. But what about when the recipe calls for something you don't plan to serve or for so much of a bottle that you hate to waste your good wine?

Académie has the answer. Based out of Concordia, CA, they produce wine made specifically with cooking in mind, but unlike the swill that passes for cooking wine, this wine is good enough to drink. An FYI in case you didn't know, cooking wine is usually loaded with salt, making it undrinkable. Why would you ever cook with something not good enough to drink?

According to their website Académie 's mission is to remove the barriers that prevent people from cooking with quality wine. We aim to produce a fun, innovative, cost effective, and conveniently sized brand of wines to your supermarket shelf.

Blend #1: Red Sauces & Meat Dishes, 375ml (Red Wine) - $7.99
This dry red wine blend will add depth and complexity to your red sauce or meat dish. Expect hints of black olive, truffle, ripe cherry and French Oak.

Blend #2: Seafood, Poultry & Pork, 375ml (White Wine) - $7.99
This dry white wine blend will add a citrusy brightness to your white meat or seafood dishes. Expect hints of white pineapple, lemon, and grapefruit.

Blend #3: Beef & Poultry Marinades, 375ml (Red Wine) - $7.99
This dry red wine blend will enhance the savory and spice components of your beef and poultry marinades. Expect hints of strawberry, raspberry, redcurrant, and spice.

Blend #4: Game Bird, Fish & Lamb, 375ml (White Wine) - $7.99
This dry white wine blend will add a refined sweetness and soft fruit character to your white meat and fish dishes. Expect hints of white peach and candied pear. This wine goes great in desserts as well!

You can buy it on their website or if you're in their neck of the woods at select retailers. Their site is also loaded with recipes that use their wines. I'm currently on the lookout for a good, hearty and simply pasta dish I can serve up on my birthday, so the one below caught my eye. I don't think this is what I'll be making but it's nice to see what you can do with their products.


We've all heard that there's no such thing as a free lunch, but there IS a delicious and easy pasta dish that can be improvised with whatever you happen to have on hand! This example, below, was put together in just 10 minutes -- the time that it takes to boil the pasta -- on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's a hearty weekend lunch for two that's wonderful served with olives and fresh mozzarella on the side. Add a green salad if you're feeling extra ambitious!


2 chicken (or other) sausages, sliced into rounds (or the shape of your choice)

5-6 small to medium mushrooms, sliced

1/4 - 1/2 small onion, sliced

4-5 small roma or other flavorful tomatoes, sliced or quartered

A healthy splash of ACADÉMIE Blend #1

3-4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

A small handful of parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

A hard cheese such as Pecorino to grate over the top

Olive oil to drizzle over the top

Red pepper flakes, optional

Enough pasta for 2 (use whatever is in your cupboard; I had farfalle)

Buy the wine for this recipe by clicking here


Put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta. After that's on, heat up a sautee pan (cast iron is always a good choice) and put in a pat of butter or a splash of olive oil. Sautee the sausage with mushrooms and onions until browned. Check the pasta water -- if boiling, put your pasta in the pot -- it will need to cook about 7-10 minutes, depending on the pasta. Toss the tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper, and a big splash of Blend #1 into the sautee pan with your sausage and cook on medium for another minute or two. Turn off the heat and check your pasta. When it's al dente, drain and put into a serving dish, then top with the sausage, mushroom, onion melange. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, grated cheese and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

20 minutes

Serves 2

ACADÉMIE Kitchen Creations



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