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I'd probably avoid strong flavored cheeses like sharp cheddars or bleu. Perhaps some brie or camembert? Other milder cream style cheeses. Bella is right on the salmon, although smoked salmon can sometimes be a little much for my tastes. Duck, mushrooms and mild beef/pork/lamb dishes are all flavors I've found work well with Pinot Noir.

OK, this is not an appetizer, but a recipe that uses Pinot Noir. It is originally for seasoned foie gras garnished with cacao nibs. I don't do foie gras, and WTF are "cacao nibs"? I substituted Cornish hens and sliced almonds, dusted with cacao powder. It also calls for veal stock, which I replaced with beef stock.

Sauteed Cornish Hens with Ginger Poached Pears and Pinot Noir Jus

Cornish hens:
de-boned breasts and thighs from 2 Cornish hens
2 tblsps peanut oil
salt and pepper
6 slices toasted gingerbread (I found some at a Pepperidge Farm outlet.)
Ginger Poached Pears, recipe follows
Pinot Noir Jus, recipe follows
small package of sliced almonds, lightly dusted w/ cacao powder

Season hen meat with salt and pepper. In a large, hot saute pan, saute the hen meat, in oil until golden brown on both sides, about 6 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Place the gingerbread on a plate and top with the pears and hen meat. Sauce the plate with Pinot Noir jus and garnish the hen meat with the almonds.

Ginger Poached Pears:
3 1/4 cups water (1 1/4 cups)
1 1/4 cup sugar (turbinado)
1/2 cup Chandon Blanc de Noir (2 1/2 cups)
(I found a bottle of Dom Ste.Michelle for $6 on sale.)
1/3 cup lemon juice (plus the grated rind from the 3 lemons I used for the juice.)
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (I used the whole bean.)
3 French butter pears, peeled and cored (I used 1 each, red Bartlett, red Anjou and a Bosc.)
4 star anise
3/4 ounce ginger, peeled and sliced (I used a big piece, the size of a pregnant plastic sparkling cork.)

Place all ingredients in a small pot and cover with a clean towel. Bring to a slow simmer. Cook until a knife will easily go into the pears. Remove pears form the heat and cool to room temperature in the liquid. Slice and fan the pears. Heat the pears in the poaching liquid before serving.
Yield: 6 servings

Pinot Noir Jus:
1 onion, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 leek, cleaned and cut in half lengthwise
1 head garlic, rough cut and smashed
2 ounces pure olive oil, plus 2 ounces
1/2 (750 milliliter) bottle Pinot Noir, plus 6 tablespoons Pinot Noir (I used the Argyle that everyone hammered.)
2 cups beef stock
2 cups brown chicken stock
bones from the 2 Cornish hens, cut into small pieces
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Cut the onion, carrot and leek into medium dice. In a medium saucepot, add the garlic and sweat the vegetables in 2 ounces of the olive oil until translucent and soft. Add the half bottle of Pinot Noir and reduce by half. Add the beef and brown chicken stocks and bring to a simmer, skimming scum off the surface often.

Heat a pan and add the remaining 2 ounces olive oil and the Cornish hen bones. When the bones start to color, place the pan in the oven and roast the bones until golden brown. Add the bones to the sauce and deglaze the pan with 3 tablespoons Pinot Noir and add the deglazed fond to the sauce. Reduce the sauce by half, strain and discard the bones and vegetables. Continue to reduce to desired consistency and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of wine. Season with salt and pepper and pass through a sieve (I don't have a "chinois").


I've got another good recipe w/ PN, in anyone wants it.

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