Chill the wine, light the grill and let the party begin. However you like to entertain, summer gatherings should be seasoned with style. Coaxing great flavors from fresh foods is the secret to summer menus.
Borrow a professional chef's secret by using kosher salt for everyday cooking. Top chefs favor Diamond Crystal kosher salt for its unique texture and shape that delivers a bold taste and unmatched burst of flavor you can count on every time.
--The unique pyramid-like shape crystals add a clean and natural flavor in a form that dissolves easily and distributes flavors evenly.
--An exceptional, naturally coarse texture makes kosher salt ideal for seasoning and bringing out the true flavor of good food.
--The crystal structure makes it blend beautifully with other spices and herbs for bursts of flavor that delight the palate.
Summer's perfect wines are affordable, and infused with vibrant flavors. Marinate foods for the grill with the same quality wine you enjoy at the table. Please everyone, including the cook, with the wines from Rioja, a region in north-central Spain known for its great food, lifestyle and wine.
--The Rioja wine family includes reds, rosés and whites; the reds and rosés are made with Tempranillo, one of the world's most food-friendly grapes. With wines available from $8 to $30, there's one for every summer occasion.
--Rosés offer astonishing value for summer: Full of ripe fruit, these rosy-hued wines have a refreshing zing and enough structure to marry with summer menus.
--These wines are ready to drink tonight, due to being perfectly aged before they reach your wine store.
"Rioja wine is the Casanova of summer barbecues," said Adrian Murcia, assistant sommelier at Chanterelle in New York. "Meat, poultry or fish--all grilled foods have great chemistry with these wines."
Entertain deliciously this summer. Visit www.VibrantRioja.com and call Diamond Crystal kosher salt at 800-428-4244 for more information.
Wine-Kissed Chocolate Fondue
3/4 cup whipping cream
Combine whipping cream, chocolate and dash of kosher salt in small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently until chocolate can be stirred smooth. Stir in wine. Pour into fondue pot; place over flame. Dip fruit into fondue. Recipe can be doubled, if desired. Serves 4 to 6 (makes about 1 cup).
Grilled Salt- and Herb-Crusted Steak
3/4 cup red Rioja wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Marinade: Combine marinade ingredients in small bowl; whisk to dissolve kosher salt and sugar. Place steaks and marinade in large, sealable food storage bag. Press to remove excess air and seal bag. Toss lightly to coat evenly. Refrigerate and marinate at least 6 hours to overnight, turning occasionally.
Rub: Strip thyme leaves from thick stems and coarsely chop or rub between fingers to separate leaves from stems. Combine thyme, remaining 2 teaspoons kosher salt, sugar and pepper in small bowl; mix well. (To evenly distribute thyme throughout kosher salt, rub between fingers to mix.)
Heat grill to medium-high direct heat. Remove steaks from marinade; discard marinade. Pat steaks gently with paper towel. Spread kosher salt mixture evenly on steaks to coat; press lightly. Place steaks on grill. Grill steaks, covered, 9 to 11 minutes or until desired doneness, turning once. *The hanger steak is a thick strip of meat from the underside of the cow. It hangs (hence the name) between the rib and the loin. It is part of the diaphragm and is full of flavor but can dry out and get tough when exposed to dry heat. When grilling or broiling, use a marinade to keep it moist. Serves 4.
Grilled Fennel, Corn and Red Pepper Salad
1 medium red bell pepper
Heat grill to medium direct heat. Remove stem and seeds from pepper; cut pepper and fennel lengthwise into halves. Blend 2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme, kosher salt, pepper and dry mustard in small bowl. Brush pepper, fennel, garlic and corn lightly with olive oil mixture. Place vegetables on grill. (If garlic is small enough to fall through grill, place on small piece of foil on grill. Remove garlic when soft.) Grill 7 to 9 minutes or until tender-crisp, turning once and brushing with remaining oil mixture. Remove from grill. Coarsely chop pepper and fennel; place in medium bowl. Finely chop or mash garlic; cut kernels from corn cobs. Combine garlic, corn, pepper, fennel and pasta; toss to mix. Drizzle with vinegar and remaining olive oil. Pair with a red Rioja crianza. Serves 4 to 6.