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Part Two Feast of the Seven Fishes with DaVinci Wine

Italian Sausage and Shrimp Stew for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a delicious Italian tradition where seven delectable fish dishes are served for Christmas Eve dinner.

This year DaVinci Wine asked me to create seven festive and delightful fish dishes for their Feast of the Seven Fishes. This is the part of my job I absolutely love – especially when it involves fish and DaVinci wine.

The first five dishes we paired with DaVinci Pinot Grigio. You’ll find them HERE along with the first Feast of the Seven Fishes post HERE.

In this second post, I’m highlighting the last two fish recipes that we’ve paired with DaVinci Chianti. As well as one of the seven fish dishes that I believe pairs beautifully with both the DaVinci Pinot Grigio and DaVinci Chianti.

When I visited Italy with DaVinci Wine in 2013, I dined on the most decadent food but also the most decadent seafood dishes. One particular starter that struck me as simple but so lovely in flavor was a crostini with homemade ricotta topped with a single anchovy. I call it Bruno’s Crostini – named after our gracious lunch host and DaVinci grower, Bruno Rossetti.

Smoked Salmon Crostini with Herbed Ricotta for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

Although I prepare this starter often, I love using smoked salmon with ricotta cheese. Going a step further, I added fresh chopped herbs to the ricotta for a little more “bite” to the recipe. Salmon pairs extremely well with DaVinci Pinot Grigio, so I included this lovely starter in the first post.

However, I adore pairing both salmon and smoked salmon with DaVinci Chianti as well. Because DaVinci Chianti is well balanced with jammy flavors of ripe plums, cherries and red fruit, it beautifully compliments the smoked salmon and herbed ricotta crostini – making it another lovely wine pairing for this gorgeous starter.

Italian Sausage and Shrimp Stew for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

Another recipe from our Feast of the Seven Fishes is an impressive dish everyone will enjoy. An Italian Sausage and Shrimp stew that warms the soul and delights the taste buds. This is an intensely flavored dish, filled with aromatics, fresh herbs that bring earthiness to the recipe, tangy tomatoes and spicy Italian sausage combined with fresh shrimp and clams.   Sounds like a winning combination to me! Although I use the DaVinci Pinot Grigio in the stew, I think this stew is best served with DaVinci Chianti.

The last fish dish in this series, is the gorgeous Spaghetti alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce). Just the name of this dish sounds enticing.

Spaghetti Vongole for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

The Vongole sauce is distinctive and lush, prepared with fresh ingredients and a cup of DaVinci Chianti to round out flavors. It’s a hearty sauce that beautifully envelops the pasta and compliments the steamed clams – garnished with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh Italian parsley.

Creating a festive and exquisite Christmas Eve celebration is as simple as these seven fish dishes. Feast of the Seven Fishes paired with DaVinci Wine will delight your guests and bring delicious merry making to your holiday celebration.

Wishing you warm and Delicious Holidays!

Loads of Love,




Appetizers DaVinci Wine Recipes Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Risotto Seafood

Feast of the Seven Fishes with DaVinci Wine

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

A holiday table set with seven fish dishes is a glorious sight to behold. Especially if you’re a lover of seafood but also enjoy the Italian holiday tradition, Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Why seven fish dishes? The Italian tradition began as a religious observance when fish was served for Christmas Eve dinner. Some say the seven fish dishes were served to represent the seven sacraments or the seven virtues. Over the years however, Feast of the Seven Fishes has become a holiday celebration enjoyed by many here in the U.S., including my family.

I read about Feast of the Seven Fishes years ago when studying culinary history and cultural food traditions. I found it so fascinating that I decided to implement something similar for my family’s celebrations of the holiday season.

I started out strong the first year. I put my heart and soul into that event – although I can’t quite remember all the dishes I prepared. I just remember how fun and delicious the evening had been. Each year since, I’ve continued the tradition of fish on Christmas Eve. Some years I go all out with an impressive spread of seafood dishes and other years it’s as simple as a Lobster alla Arribiata with braised Chard and homemade Focaccia or a large pot of seafood stew.

This year I was asked by the amazing team at DaVinci Wine to create a Feast of the Seven Fishes to pair with the DaVinci Chianti and the DaVinci Pinot Grigio. Two of my favorite Italian wines.

I have to admit, I was thrilled. Not only was I going to have the opportunity to play with food (which is a favorite part of my job) and create gorgeous, mouth-watering recipes, but because I have a giant heartfelt adoration and deep attachment to everyone involved in creating this approachable yet lush wine. I feel like part of the DaVinci family.

To begin, I created two sumptuous starters to set the festive mood and tantalize the palate.

The first appetizer is a simple crab stuffed mushrooms recipe filled with a fluffy and flavorful mixture of cream cheese, crab, fresh herbs, garlic, lemon and Parmesan cheese. Then topped with breadcrumbs for a slightly crisp finish.

The second seafood dish is another lovely nibble prepared with smoked salmon lox and an herb and lemon ricotta on garlic crostini.   The creamy herb ricotta creates a gorgeous backdrop for the smoked salmon and of course pairs beautifully with the crisp, clean flavors of DaVinci Pinot Grigio.

Smoked Salmon Crostini with Herbed Ricotta for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

For the next course, I created a gorgeous Insalata Frutti de Mare (an Italian seafood salad) filled with marinated and poached baby octopus along with additional treasures from the sea and paired with the fresh and distinct flavors of fennel and orange – two of my favorite combinations to pair with seafood.

This lovely seafood salad reaches absolute perfection when served with DaVinci Pinot Grigio.

Insalata Frutti di Mare for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

The last two dishes we paired with the crisp, clean flavors of the DaVinci Pinot Grigio is the Seafood Risotto and Pesce all’ Acqua Pazza (Fish in Crazy Water).

Seafood Risotto for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

The Fish in Crazy Water is not only tantalizing in flavor but a gorgeous and impressive dish to serve your guests.

A whole fish, pan seared and then poached in flavorful aromatics, creating a lush entrée for your holiday celebration.

Fish in Crazy Water for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

These four fish recipes served with DaVinci Pinot Grigio will captivate your guests and create a memorable holiday celebration.

You will find these little lovelies HERE on the DaVinci Wine Facebook page. I’ll be posting soon about the next three fish recipes that I’ve paired with the lush DaVinci Chianti.

Wishing you and your family a most joyous and delicious holiday season!

Loads of Love,


Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad vegetarian

Summer Garden Panzanella

Summer Garden Panzanella with Herb and Garlic  Croutons // Karista's Kitchen

The scent of summer is laced in the warm evening breeze that’s floating through my open kitchen window.  A familiar seasonal scent that conjures visions of lush salads, grilled stone fruit, cherry pie and fresh made sangria.   Weekend evenings are spent shuffling between the garden and the kitchen, washing my fresh produce in preparation for dinner, while Spotify is playing softly in the background some of our new favorite summer music mixes.  Oh how I love these barefoot, slightly warm and breezy evenings.

For pre-dinner festivities, I set out a little tray of Bruno’s Crostini and Chianti wine for sipping while Ranger Craig and I are mingling in the kitchen chatting, laughing, and making dinner.

This evenings meal is simple and fresh.  A Summer Garden Panzanella Salad.  I call it a Summer Garden Panzanella because it’s not quite traditional in that it includes whatever is in season in my garden, along with the usual suspects of cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella.

On occasion I’ll slow roast the tomatoes and peppers for a richer, sweeter flavor and sometimes I simply slice it up fresh and toss it all together; using any additional fresh herbs I might have on hand.  I think Panzanella is best when served fresh, however, I always toast my bread cubes so the leftovers hold well one more day in the fridge (If by chance we have leftovers).

I’ve listed my basic recipe but you can certainly customize to your tastes.  Panzanella recipes can be found with all sorts of vinaigrettes, but I like it best with the traditional balsamic vinegar and olive oil with a splash of lemon.

Cheers to walking around barefoot, chilled sangria, warm breezes, summer sunshine and all things delicious from the garden!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Summer Garden Panzanella

Serving Size: 4-6

Summer Garden Panzanella


  • 1 loaf ciabatta, focaccia, or your favorite loaf, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sliced fresh red, yellow or orange peppers (optional)
  • 1 cup baby asparagus tips (optional)
  • 1 cup sliced cucumber (optional)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red or sweet onion (optional, for a little zing)
  • 1 container of small mozzarella balls (Bocconcini)
  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil, chiffonade or chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon
  • Good quality aged balsamic vinegar
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Grated parmesan for garnish


  • Heat the oven to 350F.
  • In a small saucepan gently heat the olive oil. When the oil is warm but not too hot, add the garlic and salute for one minute.
  • Toss the garlic oil over the bread cubes and then spread the bread cubes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for just about 5-10 minutes, until toasty but not too hard.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and sprinkle the cubes with a bit of salt. Your kitchen will smell so good by now!
  • While you are letting the bread cubes cool, assemble the salad.
  • Gently toss the fresh veggies with the basil and mozzarella and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and splash of lemon. Then toss in the bread cubes and drizzle the salad with vinegar and oil, tossing to combine. Serve with fresh grated parmesan.
  • You can serve the salad immediately or let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Because the bread is toasted, this salad holds well.
  • Notes

    Serve this salad as a lunch or light dinner or pair it with your favorite grilled fish, chicken, pork or beef.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts

    Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts // Karista's Kitchen

    There are moments, much to my children’s dismay, random musings come flying out of my mouth and I realize at that exact moment, most likely my young ladies etiquette training didn’t quite stick.  What would my Grandmother say?

    Yes, I had my very own GrandMama.  My paternal Grandmother was a proper lady and a stickler for manners. When I was very young, I would spend hours at her little pink house learning the fine art of a tea party, listening to fascinating stories about her ancestry, learning how to be a gracious hostess and how to sing opera.  We always had tea and toast (Grandmother’s substitute for English biscuits) and my sister, Grandmother and I would all take turns singing Grandmother’s favorite song, Que Sera Sera.  

    I was young when my Grandmother passed but she often pops into my thoughts, especially when I do something she wouldn’t approve; which sort of makes me giggle because I can just hear her “Tsk Tsk!”.  I always think of her when I watch Downton Abbey or when my daughters use the wrong cutlery at the table.  I’m not sure she would have cared for the world we live in today… but I think that’s why she charms me.  A character bigger than life, although she stood a scant 5 feet tall.  Living in times past, always regaling me with stories and tall tales that never ceased to amuse me.

    Little Lace Box

    I thought of Grandmother again this week when my Little Lace Box arrived.  Oh how she would have loved this box! The January Little Lace Box was curated around a theme they call “The Dining Car”.  The theme is to commemorate the beginning of the fifth season of Downton Abbey on PBS.  The box was curated on the notion of “practical vintage”.  The perfect mix of vintage, beauty and practicality.  I can honestly tell you it is the perfect mix of products for me.  Little Lace Box brings the designer to you in an online boutique and curated monthly box full of fabulous finds created by up-and-coming designers.  I love that this company highlights the work of new designers, artists, food artisans and many more.  This is what we all need when we’re starting the  long walk down our entrepreneurial path! A company that will believe in our work, our art and share it with the world.

    Little Lace Box

    I realize this is a recipe website but I adore Little Lace Box so much I wanted to share it with you – along with a recipe of course.  A recipe that would have been approved by my Grandmother. She would have loved this salad.  So fresh, so lovely and on the prettiest little plate.

    One of the most fantastic things about working in my field is all the beautiful people I have the pleasure of meeting.   So many wonderful people who make a lasting impression on me and my work.  The lovely Carolina was our tour guide and historian for my DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience in 2103.  Yep, I’m still talking about that trip because it was so completely heavenly.  Carolina is not only beautiful on the outside, she is every bit as beautiful on the inside. I enjoyed every moment we shared, chatting about life, love, history, art, culture and of course food.  She shared with me this delectable salad that she often makes in her home.  I adapted it a tiny bit, adding the cheese, but it is just as lush and fresh and delicious with or without the cheese.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts

    Serving Size: 2-3

    Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts


    • 1 cup assorted citrus wedges (grapefruit,mandarin oranges, blood oranges,etc)
    • 2-3 cups baby arugula leaves, packed
    • 1/3 cup feta cheese (or sub with goats cheese)
    • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
    • Drizzle good quality aged balsamic vinegar
    • Drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large bowl, toss the arugula with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  • Divide among 2 or 3 plates and then top with citrus and dust with feta cheese and toasted pine nuts.
  • Serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork Salad Sassy Side dishes

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue

    DaVinci Chianti at Home for the Holidays // Karista's Kitchen Southern Style Barbecue

    There are a few things I’m terribly traditional about.  A birthday dinner of choice on one’s actual birthday, ghost shaped pancakes on Halloween morning, pan seared beef tenderloin medallions with a Madeira wine sauce on Valentine’s Day and a Southern style barbecue around the holidays.

    Barbecue might seem a little out of place during the holidays, but at my house it’s a yearly tradition.  Mostly because my family loves barbecue and could dine on it year round.  The cooler holiday months also seem like the perfect time to capture a bit of summer whimsy within these festive dishes.

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    Succulent and bursting with flavor, I pair a Southern style pulled pork with my DaVinci Chianti BBQ Sauce.  A slightly sweet and tangy sauce laced with my favorite Chianti wine.  With aromas of ripe plum and cherry accented by peppery notes, DaVinci Chianti is a medium bodied and well balanced wine; blending beautifully into a most lush and silky sauce.  It’s so delicious, my family will wrangle for the last drop of sauce.  You just might be tempted to lick your plate!

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    Although I like a traditional coleslaw, for this meal I serve an elevated slaw of Apple, Fennel and Napa Cabbage, which is lightly tossed in a sweet dressing.  Along with the Southern style pulled pork, lush Chianti barbecue sauce and Apple Fennel Slaw, I also serve a delicious dish of homemade Baked Beans to round out the meal. After all, it’s not a barbecue without the beans.

    To celebrate our holiday barbecue, the table is set with holiday china while the music of the season fills the room. Our guests are seated, the Chianti is poured and our Southern style barbecue is served.

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    It’s a festive occasion that feels special, and yet, warm and inviting with the enticing scent of earthy and rich flavors filling the house.  I love to hear the clink of glasses filled with the deep ruby colored DaVinci Chianti which pairs so perfectly with this holiday meal.

    When the dishes are empty and the last of the Chianti has been poured, it’s almost difficult to leave the table, lingering over conversation and a celebration of all that is most precious to us.

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    This is a festive meal to serve for any holiday celebration. The recipes can be doubled to accommodate a large crowd and are fairly fuss free to prepare.  The baked beans can be prepped a day or two in advance and slider rolls or large barbecue buns can be served with the pulled pork, making for a lovely casual dining atmosphere or a sit down dinner.

    Cheers! to a most delicious and happy holiday season.

    Bon Appetito!


    Southern Style Pulled Pork with Chianti Barbecue Sauce

    Serves 6-8


    4-5lbs boneless pork shoulder, halved


    ¼ cup dark brown sugar

    1 teaspoon onion powder

    ½ teaspoon garlic powder

    ½  teaspoon black pepper

    1 teaspoon ground allspice

    ½ cup apple cider vinegar

    Slow cooker


    Pre-heat a slow cooker on high.

    Mix together the brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and allspice.

    Season the two pork shoulder pieces with salt and then brown on all sides.  Transfer the pork pieces to the slow cooker and season with the brown sugar mixture. Making sure to cover both pieces of pork.  Pour the apple cider vinegar over the pork pieces, cover with the lid and turn the heat to low.  Cook on low for about 7-8 hours or until the pork pieces are fork tender.

    Tip: When using a slow cooker to prepare a pork shoulder or beef chuck, it isn’t necessary to have a lot of liquid as the slow cooker allows these cuts of meat to cook in their own juices.

    Once the pork shoulder is done, shred with two forks and keep moist with juices from the slow cooker.

    Option: If you’d like, add a ¼ – ½ cup of the Chianti BBQ sauce to the pulled pork and serve with additional sauce on the side.

    Serve with barbecue buns or slider buns, Apple Fennel Slaw and Homemade Baked Beans. And don’t forget the Chianti!


    Chianti Barbecue Sauce

    Serves 6


    2 cups organic ketchup

    1 cup DaVinci Chianti wine

    3 teaspoons dry English mustard

    ¼ cup dark brown sugar

    ¼ cup unsulphured molasses

    3 tablespoons Worcestershire

    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


    In a medium sauce pan over medium low heat stir together the ketchup, wine, mustard, brown sugar, molasses and Worcestershire. Bring it to a simmer, turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes.  Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

    Because I like to use this sauce in my Homemade Baked Beans recipe, I usually double the recipe. It’s a travesty when I run out of sauce!   However, feel free to use a barbecue sauce of your choice in the Homemade Baked Beans recipe.

    Serve the Chianti Barbecue Sauce with Southern Style Pulled Pork, Apple Fennel Slaw and Homemade Baked Beans. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. 


    Apple Fennel Slaw

    Serves 6 -8


    One medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced or shredded and fronds saved

    1 head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded

    2 cups shredded apples, or thinly sliced apples and spritzed with a little lemon juice

    1 cup mayonnaise

    ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

    ¼ cup sugar

    Dash of hot sauce, optional

    Salt and pepper to taste


    Whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and sugar until well combined.  Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Set aside until ready to serve.

    Gently toss together the fennel, cabbage and apples.  Chop the fennel fronds and toss them on top of the slaw.

    Dress the slaw with half the dressing, using more if needed, just before serving.

    Serve with Southern style pulled pork and baked beans. 


    Homemade Baked Beans

    Serves 6-8


    4 ounces bacon, diced

    1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    3 15ounce cans navy beans, drained

    1/2 cup Chianti Barbecue Sauce, or a barbecue sauce of your choice

    1 small onion, finely diced

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    1 tablespoon Worcestershire

    ¼ cup molasses

    ¼ cup brown sugar

    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

    Medium to large baking dish


    Heat the oven to 350F.

    Heat a large skillet and cook the diced bacon.  Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a dish and set aside.  Add a little olive oil if needed and sauté the onion.  When the onion is golden and soft, add the garlic and sauté another minute longer.  Add the bacon back into the skillet and stir in the beans.

    Stir in the one cup of barbecue sauce, Worcestershire, molasses, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.

    Pour the beans into a baking dish and bake for about 30-45 minutes or until the beans are hot and bubbly.

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Pollo Giacomo (Balsamic Chicken)

    Pollo Giacomo (Balsamic Chicken) A Tuscan Braised Chicken Recipe How did two Prescott College Graduates become Willamette Valley Chicken Farmers?

    That was the first question I asked Laura and Robin of Red Bird Acres after meeting them for the second time at this year’s Corvallis Farmers Market.

    I met Laura and Robin the first time at the 2014 Oregon Small Farms Conference at OSU in Corvallis. I was attending the conference with a friend from Washington state who is the Founder of Barn2Door, a new ready-to-use web store for farmers and easy to find farm food for buyers .  I remember how fascinated I became while listening to Laura and Robin speak passionately about their chicken farm.  Both intelligent individuals who exude a passion for sustainable farming and the future of our food supply.

    Laura and Robin of Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley, Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

    Laura and Robin are both graduates of Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. Receiving degrees in Wilderness Leadership and Adventure Education. While working as Outdoor Education Guides they discovered there was a huge disconnect between educating the public about protecting our environment and our less than perfect food supply.

    After a visit to Oregon, Laura and Robin decided to switch careers and put their knowledge and passion into helping change our food supply by pursuing agriculture. Robin completed a yearlong internship with Afton Field Farm in early 2014. Not long after, Red Bird Acres was founded.

    I saw Laura and Robin every Saturday at the farmer’s market and I always stopped at Red Bird Acres stand to pick up a broiler. One Saturday I couldn’t help but ask if I could visit them at their chicken farm and possibly photograph some of their birds. They smiled and were kind enough to oblige my need to visit with their chickens.

    Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley, Oregon

    We set a date, I cooked food to say thank you and one lovely Autumn evening I drove out to Red Bird Acres for a visit.

    A beautiful hillside location just outside of Philomath, Oregon, Red Bird Acres is home to several flocks of Freedom Rangers. Some refer to the chickens as French Rangers or Poulet Rouge and they are hatched by the Freedom Ranger Hatchery in Pennsylvania. The Freedom Ranger breeding stock is imported from Burgundy and Brittany, France.  According to the Label Rouge Poultry Program, this breed was derived from an American and European heritage breed that was developed in early 1960 to meet the high standards of the French Label Rouge Free Range program.

    A Freedom Ranger chicken at Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley, Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

    Laura and Robin raise their Freedom Rangers on pasture from the time they are three weeks old; large enough to have grown adult feathers to survive well outside the brooder. The birds roam free range and have access to shelter where they can roost and are protected from the elements as needed.  Portable electric net fencing is set up to separate the different age groups. During the height of the season, Red Bird Acres will raise four flocks of 100 birds on the field.

    Each flock’s shelter is moved within each paddock twice a day and the entire paddock is moved every four to five days as the birds graze down the pasture. Laura says “the benefits of this system is that the birds are truly able to express all of their natural behaviors. They can choose to be in their shelter, or they can run in the paddock seeking forage, so it is the most natural, healthy and humane way to allow chickens to live when you are raising them for human consumption”.

    Robin of Red Bird Acres holding one of his Freedom Ranger Chickens // Willamette Valley Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

    Laura and Robin feed their birds a high quality, non-GMO feed milled locally by Union Point Custom Feeds in Brownsville, OR. Laura says “our broilers do a great job of supplementing that feed with what they forage on the pasture. The pasture is definitely not wasted on these birds. That is evident in the flavor of our chickens and the beautiful yellow color of their fat”.

    While I was roaming the paddock with the chickens, I noticed the hearty bone structure of the birds – thicker legs and feet that seem to thrive in this free range setting. Friendly, calm and somewhat animated, the chickens were as curious about me as I was about them.  Several of the birds decided I should be greeted and that maybe my shoes required a little taste.

    I’ve raised chickens in the past and I have never seen such a happy and playful group of chickens. It was obvious they had grown attached to Laura and Robin; following them all over the paddock.

    I asked Laura and Robin about their philosophy on raising chickens in this method and why they felt it was important: “Our biggest values as producers of meat is that we are raising the animals with the utmost care and attention to humane techniques. This goes from breed selection, feed selection, providing the most natural and stress free life on pasture and gentle handling when it comes time to slaughter (which they do themselves). We are trying to raise meat with attention to the impact on the land and acknowledging that eating meat (as opposed to a vegetarian diet) has a bigger footprint, so what we encourage is that our customers eat less meat. But when they do, they should eat better meat.  Better meat usually comes with a higher price. It takes a huge amount of labor to raise chicken in this method but also the feed costs are higher with quality feed. The benefit is a chicken that lives a healthy life and in turn provides delicious and tremendously nourishing food”.

    Freedom Ranger chickens at Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

    I can tell you from personal experience, the broilers I’ve purchased from Red Bird Acres are premium in every way.   Because this particular breed has a lovely distribution of fat, the taste is much more flavorful than that of a conventional chicken, which also makes the texture more moist and tender.  As well, the birds are not outrageously priced. Red Bird Acres sells their chicken for 4.99lb which is less than some of the organic brand names in the market.

    Red Bird Acres will continue to vend at the Corvallis Saturday Farmer’s Market until the end of the season. Eventually, they would like to include pastured heritage turkeys, as well as raise hogs and lambs. Their largest goal is to grow into a multi-species pastured livestock operation, but finding land is the biggest roadblock. They are currently looking for new land to lease to expand their farm.

    Laura of Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

    I spent the most delightful evening at Red Bird Acres. We talked, I took photographs and played with chickens until the sun had almost set. It was difficult to leave the beautiful location. Walking back to my truck we stopped by their little garden and Robin gave me a bucket full of the most gorgeous cherry tomatoes. I think I ate half the bucket before I arrived home.

    Laura and Robin of Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

    I know many of you do not live in the Willamette Valley. I wish you could taste a Red Bird Acres roasted chicken and I wish you could all meet Laura and Robin.   However,  you can support your local chicken farms. I encourage you to find local farms that humanly raise poultry, pork and beef.  Your body and your taste buds will thank you. Purchasing local supports our farmers and encourages a prosperous and healthy community.

    For more information about Red Bird Acres click on their website at

    As well follow them on Facebook and Instagram:

    I couldn’t end this post without a recipe. This is a recipe a new friend so graciously gave me while we were dining in Tuscany last year.  Giacomo Alari is the DaVinci Wine Ambassador and as we were chatting at dinner one evening, I asked Giacomo what traditional dish he remembered from childhood.  This braised chicken dish is one that his Mother would often prepare.  Simple, with fresh chicken, onion, garlic and balsamic vinegar. His mother would serve it over mashed or roasted potatoes.

    I have now prepared this dish at least twice a month for the last year and adapted it a bit to suit my family. I can tell you it’s just as delicious with just the onion, garlic and balsamic vinegar as it is with all the fresh herbs.  So however you prepare it, you will relish in the flavor and the simplicity.

    Grazi! Giacomo Alari for sharing your family recipe.

    Pollo Giacomo (Balsamic Chicken)

    Serving Size: 4

    Pollo Giacomo (Balsamic Chicken)


    • 8 bone in, skin removed, Chicken thighs or 4 chicken leg quarters, or ONE whole chicken broken down into 6 or 8 pieces
    • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 onion, halved and sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 handful of fresh herbs, sprig of rosemary, Italian parsley, sprig of oregano, sprigs of thyme, sage is nice too. (no need to chop just toss in with stems)Sometimes I just throw in some thyme and it’s still fabulous.
    • 1 cup high quality aged balsamic vinegar (or as Giacomo’s mother would say “one wine glass of balsamic vinegar”)
    • Serve with mashed potatoes or creamy polenta


  • In a Dutch oven heat the oil over medium high heat and then season the chicken with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot brown the chicken on both sides.
  • Turn down the heat to medium (so the onion doesn’t burn) and add the onion and sauté until soft, then add the herbs and garlic and sauté another minute.
  • Place the chicken back into the Dutch oven and pour the balsamic vinegar over the chicken. Cover and turn the heat to low or medium low and simmer for about 30- 45 minutes or until the chicken is done. Chicken should reach 165F when done.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and then remove the chicken to a platter. Strain the remaining sauce and pour it over the chicken. Serve over creamy polenta or mashed potatoes.
  • **OPTION - I haven't tried this recipe in a slow cooker but I think using a slow cooker would be a good option. Brown the chicken, add it to the slow cooker, top with onion, garlic, fresh herbs and balsamic vinegar. Cook on low for about 5-6 hours or until the internal temperature has reached 165F. Remove the chicken to a platter, strain the sauce and pour over the chicken. Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes or creamy polenta.
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    DaVinci Wine Recipes Halibut Karista's Kitchen Seafood

    White Fish Florentine with DaVinci Pinot Grigio

    Halibut Florentine from Karista's Kitchen


    This White Fish Florentine is a lush and flavorful dish inspired by my visit to Tuscany with DaVinci Wine a few years ago.  

    Spinach is used in all sorts of Tuscan dishes and it’s also prevalent in many coastal seafood recipes like my Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole.  I love the simple list of ingredients combined with fresh white fish, which is typically easy to find year round.   This gorgeous recipe makes for a fuss free weeknight meal or an elegant meal for entertaining.

    Living here in the Pacific Northwest, I use several different types of white fish for this recipe, depending on the season.  I adore this dish when halibut is in season or when I can snag a gorgeous piece of black or ling cod.

    I like to enjoy the fresh and enticing flavors of this White Fish Florentine paired with a bottle of DaVinci Pinot Grigio. Perfection!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    White Fish Florentine with DaVinci Pinot Grigio

    Serving Size: 4

    White Fish Florentine with DaVinci Pinot Grigio

    A great way to use all that fishing trip fish stocked in the freezer or the spinach you froze from summer. Substitute with fresh winter greens instead of spinach and spike with your favorite spices rather than the Dijon.


    • 1lb fresh spinach (or 1 large pkg frozen organic chopped spinach)
    • Olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream (for a saucier dish add ½ cup cream)
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest and a few squeezes of lemon
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 ½ – 2 lbs fresh fish (Cod, Ling Cod, Halibut, Snapper, Sole, if using snapper try to remove the bones prior to cooking)
    • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
    • Serve with fresh lemon wedges


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
  • In a sauté pan over medium heat, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and add the fresh spinach, in batches if you need. Sauté just until the spinach is wilted and transfer to a dish. Continue until all the spinach has been sautéed. Let the spinach cool a bit and then squeeze all the excess liquid from the spinach. Coarsely chop the sautéed spinach and set aside.
  • Or, if using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out all the excess liquid.
  • In the same sauté pan over medium heat, add another tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the shallots and garlic for one minute or until fragrant. Next, stir in the heavy cream, Dijon mustard and lemon zest. Take the pan off the heat and fold in the chopped spinach until combined with the sauce. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Drizzle a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, just enough so the fish won’t stick. Season each piece of fish with salt and pepper and place the fish in the baking dish in a single layer.
  • Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the fish. Then squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the spinach and fish. Mix together the bread crumbs and grated parmesan and then sprinkle on top of the spinach.
  • Place the fish into the oven and roast for about 10-15 minutes or until the fish is flaky and done. Typically you can cook fish about 10 minutes for every inch of thickness, however, because we’ve layered with spinach and breadcrumbs cooking time may be longer.
  • When the fish is done, remove from the oven and serve with fresh lemon wedges.
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    This dish is inspired by my visit to Tuscany with the 2013 DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience and adapted from many versions of Fish Florentine.  I dined on something similar and I was so impressed with the simple but flavorful meal I had to re-create it for this website. Enjoy! 

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen

    Bruno’s Crostini

    Bruno's Crostini of Herbed Ricotta and an Anchovy

    By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.

    I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since my visit to Tuscany.  Strolling through acres of brilliantly colored vineyards with deep purple Sangiovese grapes, chocolate brown stems and bright green leaves.  The soil rich with various shades of red and brown, telling visitors the fruit will be lush with gorgeous intense flavor.

    Bruno's Crostini of Herbed Ricotta and an Anchovy

    I can still remember strolling through the fragrant vineyards (I should say, eating my way through the vineyards) in awe of the sweet, juicy Sangiovese grapes.  The flavors so ripe and so sweet with a texture of velvet.  I kept pinching myself while thinking…   I’m in Tuscany, visiting the Cantine Leonardo da Vinci and the growers as a 2013 DaVinci Wine StorytellerAn enchanting week I will always remember.

    Visiting one of the DaVinci Wine Growers Vineyard and Home

    Visiting Bruno Rossetti’s Vineyard and Home

    I felt so welcome. Such lovely hospitality with the most gracious of hosts and hostesses.  And of course, some of the most delicious food that has ever passed my lips.

    While dining at the table of one of the growers, Bruno Rossetti and his lovely wife, I asked Bruno “what is your favorite crostini?”.  He replied “simply ricotta on crostini with an anchovy”, and then he gave me a million dollar smile.  Which of course melted my heart.  I smiled back and told him how brilliant and delicious his favorite crostini sounded.

    I started making Bruno’s crostini the minute I returned home.  I’ve adapted them a bit, depending on what I have in my kitchen.  Most often adding a tablespoon of fresh chopped oregano and Italian parsley to the ricotta cheese.   Spreading the ricotta, sometimes homemade, onto the garlic laced crostini and then topping with an anchovy or two.  The perfect before or after dinner nibble paired with a glass DaVinci Chianti.

    Voting for your favorite four 2014 DaVinci Wine Storytellers is nearing the end.  Twelve finalists have been chosen and they are depending on all of us to vote for our favorite four Storytellers.  Be sure to click HERE, and go vote!  You can vote once per day until voting ends.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Bruno’s Crostini


    1 cup of whole milk ricotta that has been drained

    Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

    Pinch of dried basil or dried mixed Italian herbs // during the summer I use 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano and Italian Parsley

    2 cans of anchovies

    Olive oil

    Crostini (baguette slices that have been toasted and rubbed with half a garlic clove)


    Whisk together the ricotta, crushed red pepper flakes and dried or fresh herbs.  This tastes best if it sits for about 30 minutes so the red pepper and herbs can infuse the ricotta.

    Spread the ricotta on each Crostini and top with an anchovy.  Arrange on a platter and drizzle with good quality olive oil.  Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley if desired.

    Serve your Holiday Antipasti Platters with DaVinci Chianti, DaVinci Chianti Reserve, DaVinci Pinot Grigio and if you’re lucky enough to score a bottle, the DaVinci Brunello.  Although I’d probably keep that for myself.

    Buon Appetito!



    Duck Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze and Chianti at Home

    Allspiced Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze over Coconut Rice

    By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.

    The mornings are felt with a slightly cool breeze from the west, drifting from the ocean that lies just beyond the small range of mountains.  As I sit on my back porch with my morning coffee in hand, I hear the sound of a train in the distance and my choir of bull frogs are beginning the morning hush after an evening of choir practice.

    My songbirds are chiming though, making it known the competition is on.  Their melodies much sweeter to the human ears.  I won’t tell my bull frog choir however.  They seem to delight in their nightly choir practice.

    Where the songbirds sing in my backyard // Karista's Kitchen

    And so now, as I sit on my back porch watching the warm sun rise from the east, sipping my coffee that I actually took the time to make via my French press (the one I so joyfully discovered at the bottom of a box yesterday).. this is home.

    They say, home is where you hang your hat.  Or at least that’s what I’ve always heard.  At the moment however, no hats have been hung in my house.  Most likely because we can’t find the box of hats.

    Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Asian Cherry Glaze // Karista's Kitchen

    We have however,  found the dishes, the cutlery, the pots and pans along with all the essentials for a well stocked kitchen.  Including our wine glasses. Definitely essential items for a well stocked kitchen.

    Along with our stash of kitchen items, I found the box filled with my very carefully wrapped selection of wine; including my favorite Chianti.

    Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze and Coconut Rice

    Although I pair DaVinci Chianti at home with our hearty winter dishes of pasta and slow cooked meats, I also adore DaVinci Chianti served with spring and summer dishes of grilled chicken, salmon and Ahi Tuna Tacos.

    Recently, I served our favorite chianti with an Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin topped with an Asian Cherry Glaze.  Simple to prepare, yet it feels slightly indulgent with the subtle flavors of Asian cuisine.


    Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze and Coconut Rice

    DaVinci Chianti pairs easily with the sweet, warm, earthy flavors of the Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin.  Typically used in desserts, the allspice, which is a single spice, has subtle notes of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg and is often used in Jamaican savory cuisine.

    I’ve paired the Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze which also uses one cup of DaVinci Chianti.  I love how easy it is to roll this tenderloin in the fragrant Allspice and either grill it outdoors during the summer months or roast it in the oven on a busy weeknight.  The glaze is easily assembled and prepared, and when served with the grilled or roasted tenderloin and coconut rice, it makes a delicious and beautiful meal for the weeknight or weekend dinner guests.

    For those who like wild game or want to prepare this dish for a special occasion, I’ve also included a version of this recipe using pan seared duck.  It makes a lovely presentation and the rich flavor of the duck is beautifully complimented by the rich fruit flavors and medium body of the Chianti.

    Pan Seared Duck Breast with an Asian Cherry Glaze and Coconut Rice // Karista's Kitchen

    Chianti at Home describes special moments in a day. Moments that bring family and friends, delicious food and great wine together.  Moments that remind me of my glorious visit to Tuscany, getting to know the beautiful people behind this gorgeous wine.

    The loveliest of individuals who take great pride in creating this enchanting Chianti.  I think of them as I sip, as I savor the lush flavors that dance on the tongue.  Flavors that mingle and play ever so nice together

    2013 DaVinci Wine Storytellers

    Almost a year has passed since traveling to Italy as a DaVinci Wine Storyteller.   It’s now time to pass the baton.  Twelve new finalists for the 2014 DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience have now been revealed.  I’m riddled with anticipation and excitement for these fantastic twelve, talented individuals. Who will be the final four 2014 Storytellers?

    You can help select the final four Storytellers by voting for your favorite in each category: Photography, Travel, West Coast Foodie and East Coast Foodie.  Click HERE, be sure to “like” the DaVinci Wine Facebook page and then browse the list and categories and vote.

    2014 DaVinci Wine Storyteller Finalists

    2014 DaVinci Wine Storyteller Finalists

    Chianti at Home … a wine for every season, every occasion.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    All-Spice Rubbed  Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze

    The tenderloin can be grilled or roasted as listed in the Directions

    Serves 4-6


    For the rub:

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

    1 teaspoon ground all-spice

    1 large pork tenderloin or 2 small; this can also be prepared with Duck Breast. Recipe Follows.

    Olive oil

    Coconut Rice (recipe follows)

    Green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

    For the sauce:

    1 cup sour cherries

    2 tablespoons honey

    1 cup DaVinci Chianti

    ½ teaspoon cinnamon

    3 tablespoons soy sauce

    2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

    ½ teaspoon corn starch (optional)


    Mix together the salt, pepper and ground all-spice.  Rub the tenderloin with oil and then season with the salt, pepper, all-spice mixture.  Let the tenderloin sit for a few minutes while starting the glaze.

    Combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low or medium low, and simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced.  The sauce should thicken as it cools, however, if you’d like to thicken it while it’s warm, add two tablespoons of warm glaze to a small bowl and then whisk in the ½ teaspoon of corn starch.  Once this mixture (called a slurry) is smooth, whisk it into the glaze and bring the glaze back to a boil for about one minute.  This will thicken the sauce.

    Preheat the oven or grill to 400F.   To roast the tenderloin, place it in a baking dish and then place the baking dish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the center of the tenderloin reaches 145F.

    To grill the tenderloin, place it on the pre-heated grill, cover and cook, turning every 2-3 minutes for about 10-15 minutes, depending on size.  The tenderloin is done when the internal temperature reaches 145F.

    Let the pork tenderloin rest for few minutes before slicing.  This will allow juices to redistribute and keep the tenderloin moist and juicy.

    Place the coconut rice on a platter and then slice the tenderloin.  Place the tenderloin slices on top of the coconut rice and drizzle with the Asian Cherry Glaze.  Garnish with thinly sliced green onions.

    Serve with DaVinci Chianti!

    Pan Seared Duck Breast with Asian Cherry Glaze

    Serves 2-3


    For the rub:

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

    1 teaspoon ground all-spice

    2 Duck Breasts, thawed if previously frozen (Often I find them in the freezer section of my meat market)

    Olive oil

    Coconut Rice (recipe follows)

    Green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

    For the sauce:

    1 cup sour cherries

    2 tablespoons honey

    1 cup DaVinci Chianti

    ½ teaspoon cinnamon

    3 tablespoons soy sauce

    2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

    ½ teaspoon corn starch (optional)


    Mix together the salt, pepper and ground all-spice.  Rub the Duck Breasts with the seasoning. On a cutting board lined with parchment or plastic wrap, place the duck breast one at a time on top of the parchment or plastic and then place another piece of parchment or plastic on the duck breast.  Pound the duck breast with a meat mallet or a rolling pin until it’s a bit thinner and will cook a bit faster.  If you like, score the duck breast skin in a crisscross pattern.  Do not remove the skin.  The skin has delicious flavor and gets crispy when pan seared.

    Combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low or medium low, and simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced.  The sauce should thicken as it cools, however, if you’d like to thicken it while it’s warm, add two tablespoons of warm glaze to a small bowl and then whisk in the ½ teaspoon of corn starch.  Once this mixture (called a slurry) is smooth, whisk it into the glaze and bring the glaze back to a boil for about one minute.  This will thicken the sauce.

    To prepare the duck pre-heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add a dash of olive oil.  Once the skillet is hot, place the duck breasts skin side down and brown, about 5 minutes.  Once the skin is nice and deep golden brown, flip the duck breasts to the other side and cook another 5 minutes.  I like my duck breasts medium rare, a little pink in the center.  Cook another 2-3 minutes if you prefer it cooked through.

    Once the duck is done, transfer it to a carving board and let it rest for a few minutes.  Place the coconut rice on a platter and then slice the duck.  Place the duck breast slices on top of the coconut rice and drizzle with the Asian Cherry Glaze.  Garnish with thinly sliced green onions.

    Serve with DaVinci Chianti!

    Coconut Rice

    This recipe is easily doubled


    1 cup coconut milk

    ½ cup water

    ¾ cup basmati rice

    ¼ t salt


    Combine coconut milk, rice, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once, then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender.  Fluff with a fork, cover, and keep warm.


    Recipe by Chef Karista Bennett



    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Seafood

    Thai Green Curry Steamed Mussels

    Thai Green Curry Steamed Mussels // Karista's Kitchen

    I can’t think of any dish that feels more comforting to me than a big ‘ole bowl of steamers.  Whether it be clams or mussels, my enjoyment level that comes from a big bowl of steamers placed in front of me at the table is mountainous.  Living on both coasts of the U.S. has made a seafood lover out of me.  And with that seafood love comes my deep affection for these lovely shellfish.

    I remember my first encounter with mussels.  Living on the East coast years ago, we frequented a little seafood restaurant in Newport, Rhode Island called The Black Pearl.  There, I dined on the most succulent of mussels bathed in white wine, garlic and fresh herbs.  From that moment, I became a huge fan of steamed shellfish whether they be bathed in wine, beer, broth, with chorizo or homemade sausage, fresh herbs, onions and garlic… no matter, I’ll eat them.

    Thai Green Curry Steamed Mussels // Karista's Kitchen

    To mix it up a bit I thought why not steam these little lovelies in curry?  And just as I was toying with the thought, Ranger Craig and I dined at a fabulous restaurant in Bend, Oregon which served Steamed Mussels in Thai Curry.  This absolutely proves the point – if it’s a good idea, someone, somewhere, has already thought of it.

    So now I’m passing along this dish to you.  Whether it be spring, summer, fall or winter, this dish seems to compliment any season.  Be sure to serve with a bowl of rice to add to the curry when you’ve polished off the mussels.  Or crusty garlic crostini to dip into the curry is also quite divine.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Thai Green Curry Steamed Mussels

    Just a quick note.  When I purchase fresh mussels at my market or fish market they are bagged and tied.  When you get home, untie the bag, place the open bag of mussels in a bowl and set the bowl in your refrigerator.  It’s best to use the mussels the same day they are purchased, however, they are fine if used the very next day.

    Serves 2 for an entrée or 4 for a starter


    2lbs fresh mussels, scrubbed and rinsed in cold water and little “beards”s pinched off.  Don’t add any mussels that are open or broken.  If you squeeze the mussel shut and it opens again, it’s not any good.  It’s rare I can find the smaller mussels, but if you find them, snag them.  They are sweeter and less briny than the larger mussels.

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    2 tablespoons green curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste)

    1 can organic coconut milk (don’t use the “light” coconut milk)

    2-3 lime leaves (now easily found in the fresh herb section of most markets)

    1 stalk lemongrass, split lengthwise (also found in the herb section of most markets)

    1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce

    1-2 cloves garlic, smashed

    1 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced

    1/2 small red hot pepper or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (if you don’t like spicy food omit the pepper)

    Squeeze of fresh lime

    Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or sliced green onions


    In a large pasta or soup pot (you can also use a large skillet but I prefer a large pot), heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the green curry paste.  Let the paste warm and mix with the oil for about 30 seconds or so.

    Then add the coconut milk, lime leaves, lemongrass, Asian fish sauce, smashed garlic, fresh ginger slices and red pepper if using.  Stir to combine and simmer on medium to medium low for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The coconut milk will thicken a bit.

    Turn the heat up to medium high and add the mussels.  Cover with a tight lid and let them cook for a few minutes, or until all the mussels are open and opaque.

    Give them a toss in the curry and then pour into a large serving bowl.  Garnish with lots of fresh chopped cilantro or green onion.

    Serve with rice to eat with the curry when all the mussels are gone.  Or some toasty garlic bread for dipping.

    Recipe inspired by my Thai Green Curry Steamers in Bend, Oregon



    Karista's Kitchen Salad Seafood

    Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with DaVinci Chianti

    Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with Radish and Cucmber Salad and DaVinci Chianti

    By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.

    “DaVinci wine is created in a magical place.  Tuscany; a treat for the eyes as well as the palate.  The air smells of sweet, sun ripened grapes and fresh herbs –  all muddled with the earthy scent of mineral rich soil”.

    These were the first words I wrote the day I arrived at the Casale Leonardo da Vinci Villa in Vinci, Italy last fall.

    Never have I been so enamored with a landscape; and enchanted by the people who inhabit it.

    Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with Radish and Cucumber Salad and DaVinci Chianti

    On a warm summer day last August, 2013, my daughter and I had loaded the last of our belongings into the car.  I walked back down the little gravel path and stood in the entry doorway, giving my home once last glance – then closing and locking it one last time.  We were moving to Oregon.  Bittersweet.  Trying to hold back the tears as we looked back at the house we had called home for 12 years.  My daughter, being a brave soul, reassured her Mom that it would be ok. “We aren’t moving that far away” she said.  I smiled.

    Then I said, “this is the beginning of a new adventure”.

    And it was.

    Just as we crossed the Washington Oregon border my phone rang.  Thankfully, my teenage daughter was driving so I answered the call.   A lovely lady announced to me that I had been selected the 2013 Culinary Arts DaVinci Wine Storyteller.  I remember asking the lovely lady to repeat what she had said.  The only words that would escape my lips was “really?” “I never win anything!” And then of course, thanking her profusely for delivering the most fantastic news.

    This time I really was in tears.  So excited, so honored to have been selected to represent the culinary arts for DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience 2013.

    DaVinci Chianti with Radish Cucumber Salad 4

    Radish Cucumber Greens with Spicy Crema and DaVinci Chianti

    It was a grand adventure.  Looking back and reading my second journal entry I recall the swells of emotion. “The beauty of Tuscany mirrors the beauty of its people and its food”. “A culture rich with history and laced with passion. A passion that transcends all boundaries and flows effortlessly onto the family table”.

    The 2014 Storyteller Experience is under way and DaVinci Wine is once again looking for the best storytellers in culinary arts, photography, writing, fine arts and more.  Bloggers and creative storytellers of all kinds can now apply.   Grab a pen, warm up the typing fingers, “Like” the DaVinci Facebook page and go fill out the application.  The deadline is May 31, 2014.   Twelve finalists will be chosen and then voted on by DaVinci Wine Facebook fans to ultimately select the final four winners.

    I’m excited just thinking about it! If you’d like to apply, click HERE.  Be sure to check out the winners from years past by clicking HERE!

    The lovely folks from DaVinci Wine, who I adore, have asked me to share my Storyteller Experience and how I now create a little “Chianti at Home”.  Over the next few months, I will be pairing the DaVinci Chianti, Chianti Reserva and Pinot Grigio with recipes I serve at my family table.  Lush, enticing and mouthwatering recipes that pair perfectly with DaVinci Chianti here at Home.

    Chianti at Home with Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos and DaVinci Chianti

    The first of the “Chianti at Home” recipes is this flavorful and festive Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos.  Simply prepared and laced with fresh and spicy flavors of the season.  Although this is  technically a “seafood” taco, the delicate but firm and meaty texture of the Ahi tuna pairs beautifully with the DaVinci Chianti.

    The subtle fruit notes and smooth texture of the Chianti compliments the fresh and spicy flavors of the radish and cucumber greens and crema, as well as the firm and meaty texture of the seared Ahi tuna.  If you’re looking for a complimentary white wine to pair with the tacos, the DaVinci Wine Pinot Grigio also beautifully compliments this lovely dish..  Flavors that balance, entice the palate and compliment DaVinci Wines.

    Celebrate the Spring and Summer seasons by bringing a little Chianti to your Home!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    *This is a sponsored post by the lovely folks at DaVinci Wine


    Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with Radish Cucumber Greens and Spicy Crema

    Serves 4 (can easily be doubled for guests)


    1 ½ lbs Ahi tuna fillets, sushi grade (remove the tuna from the frig 15 minutes prior to cooking. This will allow the skillet to stay hot and quickly sear the tuna)

    Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

    ½ teaspoon dried oregano

    ½ teaspoon ground cumin

    ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

    2 tablespoons ghee/clarified butter (or another high heat oil)

    For the Greens and Spicy Crema

    2 medium radishes, thinly sliced

    1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced

    2 cups (or more if you’d like an extra side salad) mixed seasonal greens

    ½ crumbled Cotija cheese

    ¼ cup cilantro leaves (optional)

    ½ cup good quality mayonnaise

    2 tablespoons lime juice

    1 teaspoon sugar or any other natural alternative (not honey however, as honey is more of a flavoring rather than a sweetener)

    Dash of chipotle powder or Sriracha (both are delicious, however the chipotle powder gives a smoky flavor)

    2 limes, quartered

    Corn tortillas


    In a small bowl mix together the dried oregano, ground cumin and paprika.  Season the tuna with salt and pepper and then rub the herb/spice mixture on both sides of the tuna fillets.

    Next, heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat.  (A cast iron skillet works well for this recipe)  Add a few tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) or any other high heat oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, place one tuna fillet in the skillet and let it brown.  About two minutes on each side.  You want both sides golden brown with a pink center.

    Remove the tuna fillet and set it on a cutting board.  Repeat the process with the remaining tuna fillets.

    Once the tuna is done, slice against the grain so the tuna doesn’t fall apart.  Set aside and prepare the greens.

    Toss together the radishes, cucumber, mixed greens and cilantro leaves.  Season with a little salt and pepper and squeeze of lime juice.

    Whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar and chipotle powder or Sriracha.

    Warm the tortillas in a steamer or wrap them in foil and warm them in the oven making sure they don’t dry out.  If you have a microwave, corn tortillas warm nicely in about 10 seconds in a microwave.

    To assemble:

    Place the radish and cucumber greens in the bottom of a tortilla and then top with a slice or two of Ahi tuna.  Drizzle with the spicy crema and garnish with cotija cheese.  Repeat the process and place the tacos on a large platter with the quartered limes to serve.

    Serve with your favorite homemade salsa, guacamole, tortilla chips – and DaVinci Chianti.









    Halibut Karista's Kitchen Seafood

    Halibut Montalcino

    halibut with fennel, orange and green olives

    By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.

    It’s officially halibut season here in the Pacific Northwest.  One of my favorite spring milestones – when the halibut is fresh and sweet and beautifully abundant at the fish markets.   The texture is firm but flaky and moist when cooked; and the meat is sweet and mild.

    Last year I developed this lovely little recipe for DaVinci Wine after my glorious visit to Tuscany.  It pairs perfectly with the DaVinci Pinot Grigio.

    This is a fish dish that can be prepared quickly for a weeknight meal.  Just have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go and the dish will be done in less than 30 minutes.

    It’s also a dish that is easily adjusted to preference.  Maybe you prefer more fennel and less olives? Or maybe you prefer more orange zest and an added squeeze of orange juice.  However you prepare this dish, it will be fresh and flavorful and delight the palate.

    Halibut Montalcino

    Serves 2 (can be easily doubled)


    ¾ -1lb Halibut (thinner filet’s if you can find them as they are easier to pan sear), or your favorite firm white fish, cut into two pieces or 4 smaller pieces for ease of cooking.

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    1 tablespoon clarified butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil

    1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter

    1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

    1 orange, zested

    1 medium clove garlic, finely minced

    Handful of sliced green olives

    2 tablespoons of mixed chopped Italian parsley and fresh thyme

    ¼ cup dry white wine (I used the DaVinci Pinot Grigio)


    Season the halibut filet’s with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

    Heat a large non-stick or fish friendly skillet over medium high heat and add the butter and oil, combining the two as the butter melts.

    When the butter/oil is hot but not smoking, add the halibut filets flesh side down.  Let the filets cook in the pan for about 5 minutes or until the flesh side down has formed a nice golden brown crust and comes off the pan easily.

    Flip the fish to skin side down and finish cooking, turning the heat down to medium if needed.  Fish typically cooks 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.  This is true for most medium to thick fleshed fish such as halibut, salmon, swordfish, etc.

    When the fish is done, transfer to a platter and keep warm.

    Over medium to medium high heat, add the unsalted butter to the fish pan and let it melt.  Add the sliced fennel bulb and allow it to caramelize a bit, turning golden brown.  Just before the fennel is done, add the garlic and cook for one minute longer.

    Stir in the ¼ cup of white wine and chopped fresh herbs.  Let the wine reduce by half and then add the orange zest and green olives.

    Hold the skillet over the heat just until the mixture is warmed through, season the mixture with additional salt and pepper to taste and add one more pat of butter.  Let the butter melt and then divide the fennel mixture onto two plates.

    Top the fennel mixture with a piece of halibut and garnish with additional chopped Italian parsley and orange zest.

    Serve with a side of fresh pasta tossed in olive oil, crushed red pepper, garlic and parmesan and a glass of DaVinci Pinot Grigio.