The PA Wine Land Post is teaming up with some amazing Pennsylvania chefs, designing menus to encourage you to eat well and entertain at home — and while you’re at the grocery store, don’t forget to grab a bottle (or four) of PA wine.
First up, it’s time to plan a cozy Sunday brunch with Elizabeth Long-Furia, chef and co-owner of Elizabeth’s in the Susquehanna Valley.
“The menu at our restaurant is focused on regional and ethnic food, with special love given to great local produce,” she says of the 21-year-old Lewisburg bistro. “We’re also a really seasonal restaurant — right now we try to use things like squash and Brussels sprouts that we can find locally.”
When she’s not working in the restaurant, Long-Furia still loves to cook at home, especially on Sundays. After all, it was her family’s food-filled home life that inspired her to follow this path.
“At a very young age, I remember sitting on a countertop watching my mother cook,” she recalls. “I was mesmerized. My mother learned to cook from her Alsatian grandmother and my grandfather was a baker. My father had a large garden, and we would pick local berries, peaches, and apples in season.”
“My cooking at home tends to be more rustic and casual,” she continues. “I look for quality ingredients that are partially prepared so I can spend more time with family and friends. It’s in my personality to be organized. Before I shop, I think of what I’d like the menu to be. If something is in season and from around here, that’s what I’d go towards. Just buy quality ingredients and you don’t need to fuss with them a lot.”
Winter Sunshine Salad paired with Fero Vineyards Dry Sparkling Rose
“I love to start any kind of gathering with a sip of sparkling wine to get the taste buds energized,” she says. “I normally think of Sunday brunch as later in the morning, like 11 a.m. or noon. You might exercise or do your thing in the morning, then enjoy brunch and be comfortable the rest of the day— watch a movie, relax, read a good book, or sit by the fireplace.”
The coldest days of winter inspired her first course, which showcases winter citrus, shaved fennel, toasted almonds, and roasted grapes, tossed with a white balsamic and fresh grape juice vinaigrette.
“Oranges are just great at the grocery store right now,” says Long-Furia. “With the grapefruit and the blood orange, it makes for a pretty salad and also gets everyone going in the right direction.”
She pairs the colorful salad with Fero Vineyards Dry Sparkling Rosé — it’s also what she’d offer when guests when they first arrive and wander into the kitchen to watch her cook.
Roasted Artichoke Hearts with Breadcrumbs, Lump Crab, and Hollandaise Sauce paired with Fero Vineyards Grüner Veltliner
The second course demonstrates one of Long-Furia’s tips for easy entertaining: Do as much as you can in advance. These savory gems can be prepared the day before, and then heated in the oven to serve.
“At grocery stores, there’s so much that’s already prepared,” she says. “I use those products because it just makes it easier.”
This means you can feel free to pick up frozen artichoke hearts, sparing yourself the task of cleaning the spiny buds. Another option is to riff off these central flavors — artichokes, crab, lemony creaminess — and transform the dish into a simple dip that you can have out when your guests arrive. Accentuate the rich, sweet, vegetal dish with a glass of Grüner Veltliner, a German grape that produces crisp, aromatic, versatile whites.
“Unstuffed” French Toast Topped with Poached Egg, Lemon-Zest Ricotta, Prosciutto and Maple Syrup Drizzle paired with Fero Vineyards Bison Roots Blue
When you’re making an egg-centric dish, Long-Furia recommends splurging a bit on a high-quality product.
“Look for good eggs,” she explains. “I know that a lot of the grocery stores are selling more organic and free-roaming eggs. They’re just better. For baking, you don’t need to worry so much about it.”
“Stuffed” French toast has become a buzzy item on brunch menus, but Long-Furia recommends simplifying and slimming down the dish by simply topping the battered bread with your zippy toppings. This version has a sophisticated blend of sweet and salty, and couldn’t be easier to prepare.
“A lot of people these days are trying to stay away from so many carbs, so one piece of French toast is a better option,” she says. “Instead of the syrup, you could also go with a nice blackberry or raspberry reduction — that would really capture the essence of this Pinot Noir.”
The wine pairing is another selection from Fero, the winery “right around the corner” from the restaurant. This particular wine won Best Red at the 2018 PA Sommelier Judgment.
“Fero does great wines,” says Long-Furia. “They’re doing more European-style wines, and they work really well with food.”
Warm Apple Küchen or Apple Crostata paired with: Shade Mountain Winery Late Harvest Riesling
For the last course, Long-Furia recommends baking a simple apple dessert — especially because you can often find local apples in the grocery store throughout the winter. For the pairing, she offers up a sweet dessert wine from Shade Mountain, another of the region’s wineries.
Of course, dessert is optional. The great thing about this menu is the ability to mix and match — serve just an entree and dessert, or a salad and the stuffed artichokes. All that matters is making the effort to bring people together, and not letting the process intimidate you.
“I think that cooking at home and entertaining is one of the nicest things that you can do,” says Long-Furia. “People love it. I love being invited over to people’s houses when they’re cooking. Guests really enjoy the camaraderie of coming into the kitchen, having a glass of champagne or a lighter white wine. Make it simple. Make it comfortable.”