This week I had the opportunity to experience a line of unique new food products that really speak to my heart. Not only are they naturally gluten-free, but they also utilize the normally discarded leftovers from the winemaking process, expanding the sustainability of the industry. And if this wasn’t enough, the company donates a portion of the proceeds to charity. This is a win-win-win business!
The folks behind Kendall-Jackson Family Wines and Chalk Hill Vineyards decided that they wanted to help the fine wine industry reduce its environmental footprint by creating new uses for normally discarded grape skins and seeds (known as pomace) once the wine has been made. Utilizing these vineyard byproducts creates a more sustainable business model. They founded WholeVine Products http://wholevine.com/ and hired a team of experts to create the new flours and oils.
They have created 16 varietal flours (eight each from the skins and seeds) and eight culinary grapeseed oils including Syrah, Merlot, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The products made from white wine grapes are naturally lighter in color and are probably best suited for pie crusts and other creamy colored baked products. Those made from the red wine grape products are beautifully suited to anything with chocolate or pumpernickel breads, for example, lending them a deep purple color. If you are looking for a dramatic purple, use the syrah flours.
The seeds are pressed to extract the oils, and then, along with the grape skins, are dried and milled into flours. These flours have all the flavor profiles of the wine varietals they come from, producing an unmistakable nuanced quality that is hard to describe, but delicious and earthy. When you open the bag, it smells a lot like the inside of a winery with the wine-soaked wood barrels, one of my favorite scents in the world.
The WholeVine grapeseed oils are truly remarkable. I would categorize them as finishing oils as opposed to everyday cooking oils. They are full bodied and rich, with distinctive flavors reminiscent of the wines they originate from. In the same way that wines carry the flavor profiles of the soils the vines are grown in, the oils will vary depending on where the grapes were grown and harvested. The same concept of terrior that is discussed in wine tasting, applies to the oils as well.
And unlike most grapeseed oils on the market, these are not bland and boring. They are dynamic and exciting, invoking culinary creativity. I found myself dreaming of all the dishes each would enhance most and I cannot wait to try them out in my own kitchen.
The event was held at Ketchum Public Relations’ award winning, beautifully appointed Culinary Center in San Francisco. We were welcomed with glasses of Kendall-Jackson chardonnay wine and sat down to learn about how these new flours and oils are made. It was exciting to hear about the high levels of anti-oxidants, fiber, amino acids, and protein that the flours naturally have, knowing that adding even small amounts will boost the health-quotient of my baked goods.
Another side effect of the chemical makeup is the absorption of liquid in recipes. They behave similarly to coconut flour, which anyone who bakes with gluten-free flours has probably experimented with. This extends their freshly baked flavors for days and weeks longer than other flours. I bit into one of the chocolate cake squares the chefs had prepared and I would have sworn it was baked that afternoon. Instead, it was about 48 hours old – I never would have guessed. One of the biggest challenges in gluten-free baking is that there is almost zero shelf life of baked goods, so these products may revolutionize the entire GF industry!
Like using whole-wheat and other specialty flours, these are best when used in conjunction with regular all-purpose flours. In fact, Craig Ponsford, one of this country’s premier artisan bakers suggested that only three to eight percent of the total amount of flour should be WholeVine flours. The grape seed/skin flours may seem expensive, but when you realize that you use very small amounts in your cooking, they are actually quite reasonably priced.
Right now WholeVine products are sold primarily in Marin and Sonoma county stores, but are rapidly expanding throughout the Bay Area and are also available online. If you are looking for the next great product and want to play with something totally new and exhilarating, I urge you to get your hands on some of these flours and oils. I know you will thank me when you taste them!
The talented chefs of Kendall-Jackson Family Wines graciously made a wide variety of appetizers and baked goods for us to sample. We got to try Gluten-Free Blini and California Caviar, Gluten-Free Tempura Mushrooms and Grilled Riesling Grapeskin Flatbread as well as Syrah Grapeskin Flour BBQ Pork Buns, Gluten-Free Syrah Chocolate Cake and Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookies. You never would have guessed that any of their offerings were gluten-free, had extra nutrients and were healthier than normal party fare. I am still dreaming of the pork buns and chocolate cake and will have to beg Executive Chef Wangler for the recipes!
And now, without further ado, here are some of the recipes (from the WholeVine website) that we sampled this week. I hope you have a chance to try them and discover a whole new way of looking at food and wine pairing!
- 4 tbsp WholeVine Chardonnay Grapeseed Oil
- 1/2 cup popping corn
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- In a large pot over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons Chardonnay grapeseed oil.Heat for 30 seconds and add popcorn. Stir to coat and cook for 3 minutes. Once it starts to pop, place a lid on the pot and cook for 1 minute. Turn off heat and allow the popcorn to finish popping. Place popped corn in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons Chardonnay grapeseed oil and salt. Toss well and serve warm.
- Yield: 8 cups popped popcorn
- 2 cups plus 3 tbsp (17.5 oz) warm water
- 4-7/8 cups (24 oz) bread flour, plus extra for dusting the work surface
- 3 tbsp (1 oz) WholeVine Grapeskin flour (red or white varietals)
- 1 scant tbsp (7 gr) dry active yeast
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp (14 gr) kosher salt
- 1 tbsp Chardonnay grapeseed oil
- Non-stick cooking spray
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add water and top with flour and yeast. Turn mixer to second speed and mix for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add salt and mix for 1 additional minute. Dust work surface with flour and turn out dough with plastic spatula. Knead by hand for 1 minute. Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Remove dough from the bowl and place it on the floured work surface. Fold the dough into thirds as you would a business letter and return it to the bowl for an additional 30 minutes.
- Dust work surface with flour and turn out dough again. Divide the dough into four equal portions for baguettes or two equal portions for large round boules. Roughly shape into a rectangle for baguettes or round for boules. Lightly cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- Spray a sheet tray with non-stick cooking spray. Roll dough into desired shape and place onto sheet tray and again lightly drape with plastic wrap. Allow bread to proof in a draft-free, warm area for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Lightly score the bread as desired (depth of ¼ to ½-inch) with a single-edged razor blade or a serrated knife, mist with water and bake in preheated oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes for baguettes or 25 to 30 minutes for large boules. After baking, remove bread from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Yield: 4 baguettes or 2 round loaves
- 12 oz semisweet chocolate, (not chocolate chips) chopped and melted over a double boiler or in the microwave on very low power
- 2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed (15 oz)
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (9-1/2 oz)
- 2 tbsp Syrah skin flour (1/2 oz)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling
- By hand or in a mixing bowl combine the brown sugar and oil and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, just to incorporate.Add the melted chocolate and vanilla stirring until incorporated.Sift together the dry ingredients and stir them into the chocolate mixture.
- Chill the dough for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Roll some dough pieces and put them into a bowl of granulated sugar. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are slightly puffed, crackled and just set. Do not over-bake or the cookie will be dry instead of moist and chewy.
- Yield: about 4 dozen
- 2-1/2 cups almond meal
- 1/4 cup WholeVine Chardonnay grapeseed flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup WholeVine Chardonnay grapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup agave syrup
- 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.In a separate bowl, blend wet ingredients together and then add them to the dry.
- Roll into balls and flatten on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until edges turn golden brown.
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