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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Wines Under $20

Today Show: Spooky Beers and Wines

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Had a great time on Today yesterday with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, talking about spooky beers and wines for Halloween parties. The clip is here if you're interested, but I also thought it would be worthwhile to run through the wines in Tasting Room, and add a few extra for fun. Halloween's still a few days away, so there's time left to shop.

2008 Spellbound Chardonnay ($16) Rob Mondavi, Jr. (of those Mondavis) makes this juicy, eminently drinkable Chardonnay with fruit primarily from the Lodi region. (find this wine)

2007 Bogle Phantom ($20) This is a juicy, dark-fruited blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre. Plus, it's got an eerie label that looks like a haunted forest at night, though I suspect it's actually gnarled old Zin vines. (find this wine

2006 Flora Springs Ghost Winery Cabernet Franc ($40) Flora Springs will be doing a "ghost winery" release every year on Halloween (or just before, so it can be shipped in time to arrive for Halloween). This year's is an appealingly aromatic Cab Franc with good tannic bones. So to speak. (find this wine)

2008 Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly ($18) Gamay, the grape of Beaujolais, vinified by the talented winemaker Steve Edmunds: it's a great combination, resulting in a wine that is much more full of life (and lively red fruit) than the skeletons on the label might suggest. (find this wine)

2009 Owen Roe Sinister Hand ($24) Why not pour a wine on Halloween whose label happens to have a blood-dripping severed hand on it? Especially why not, when the wine is a peppery, berry-bright, Washington State Grenache blend like this one. (find this wine)

Recipes

Halloween at Food & Wine’s Office

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© Alessandra Bulow
From left: Rory Tischler, Jon (Smooth) Varriano & Seton Rossini man the bar at The Old F&W Art Saloon

Halloween is two days away but the art department staff of Food & Wine’s marketing team is kicking off the festivities today by transforming their office space into The Old F&W Art Saloon. In addition to dressing up in awesome 19th-century Western costumes, they’re serving beef chili with beans, buttery corn bread and fantastic homemade black pepper beef jerky.

(Last year they dressed as the Simmons Family including Top Chef judge and F&W’s own Gail Simmons, Gene Simmons and Richard Simmons—no relation.)

Scrounging for a last-minute Halloween costume or party idea? Get inspiration from F&W's Dress Like a Chef and Halloween Party slideshows.

Cooking

Matzo 10 Ways

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© Quentin Bacon

Since it's Passover, I'm eating (and eating and eating) matzo, the flour-and-water cracker. Here's how:

Matzo balls My favorite way. This is a rosemary-accented version (pictured).

Matzo Brei Since this is fried (that's what brei means), it 's a very close second to matzo balls. I like it as a sweet, once-a-year treat.

Matzo meal It makes for a spectacularly crunchy coating, like on this matzo meal–crusted trout.

Matzo with lox and cream cheese Old habits die hard.

Matzo, butter and jam Don’t overthink it.

Matzo with chopped liver A legend in the field. Just swap out the crostini for matzo in this recipe.

Matzo pizza Add sauce and cheese, and broil.

Matzo flatbreads Extraordinarily simple. Here's how to make them.

Matzo (broken) lasagna Using this recipe, replace the lasagna noodles with pieces of matzo that have been lightly soaked in warm water until just pliable.

Chocolate-covered matzo Obviously.

Baking

Terrific Passover Desserts

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© Quentin Bacon

I've always viewed Passover desserts as a bit like magic tricks, since no flour or leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda are allowed. But there are still plenty of fantastic desserts, from chocolate cakes to macaroons (one of the secrets to amazing unleavened desserts is in the wrist action involved in making snowy whipped egg whites). Here, five desserts for the five nights of Passover still left, like strawberry-red-wine sorbet with crushed meringue, flourless chocolate almond cakes and Mexican chocolate pots de crème (pictured).

Recipes

Goodbye, Gelfite Fish

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© Tina Rupp

While gefilte fish has no symbolic reason for being invited to the Passover table, one cannot underestimate the power of nostalgia. And that’s gefilte fish’s main virtue. (The dish was originally prized for its economy: It stretched a bit of boneless white fish with fillers such as matzo meal, carrots and sweetened fish stock that turned to jelly.) I’ve concluded that the best way to get people to love gefilte fish is not to serve it at all. For the six remaining nights of Passover, here are six delicious alternatives: herb-broiled fish with lemon aioli (pictured), grilled halibut with tomato butter, and tilapia with tomato and artichoke sauce.

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