Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March 2, 2015 Lunch Lan’s Dinner Sautéed PPI Cassarecce Pasta, Chicken, Green Peas, Asparagus and Mushrooms in a Cream sauce and March 3, 2015 Lunch Yin Yang Chinese Buffet and Dinner Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce with Italian Sausage and mushrooms

March 2, 2015  Lunch   Lan’s   Dinner   Sautéed PPI Cassarecce Pasta, Chicken, Green Peas, Asparagus and Mushrooms in a Cream sauce     and

March 3, 2015  Lunch Yin Yang Chinese Buffet and   Dinner   Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce with Italian Sausage and mushrooms

I realized how obsessed I am with food today.  I have been in all day depositions the last 3 days and it has been a period in which, submerged in legal facts and documents, I thought of food less than at almost any time in my life.  

Thankfully others’ commitment to food filled the gap.  On Monday we went to Lan’s for lunch.  Scott ordered the Won Ton Soup; large bowl filled large shrimp, peeled to their tails, handmade Won tons, sliced baby bok choy, pineapple, spinach, and all of the family style ingredients Lan makes, that are so unique ($12.00). I had a favorite, Coconut Milk Soup with seafood, a large bowl filled with shrimp, mussels, rings of calamari, with vermicelli, tomatoes, bean sprouts, spinach, pineapple slices, bits of ginger and lots of the Lan’s mix of herbs and sprinkled with black pepper.  While we were eating Lan visited our table and we visited a few minutes.  She told us that she was working too hard. That she has to come into work on Sunday to prep the ingredients and at 49, it was getting to be tiring and she is thinking of retiring in a year or two.  I guess that is inevitable, when one puts one’s heart and soul into the making the food express character and excellent quality like Lan does.  I told her the only thing I could, that I hoped she could find someone who had her cooking skill and drive to help her or take over the restaurant, while I suspected, deep inside, the bittersweet truth that Lan’s unique combination of home style cooking skills, drive, willingness to open a restaurant in a foreign country and devotion to a highly unique style of food probably cannot be duplicated.

Lan's Won ton Soup
 Scott and I drove back to Albuquerque at 5:30 after the deposition.  On the road Suzette called and asked me if it was okay to open the bottle of Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc for the pasts dish and I said that sounded great.  When we arrived home at around 6:30 Suzette had dinner ready and when Bill Turner arrived, we had a lovely dinner.   Suzette had sautéed PPI Cassarecce pasta with shredded PPI chicken breast (roasted chicken from Suzette’s Greenhouse Bistro and bakery in Los Lunas), fresh sliced mushrooms, asparagus and frozen green peas and added cream and white wine to make a light cream sauce.  I invited Bill Turner to dinner and we ate Suzette’s creative dish and Suzette and I enjoyed the Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc while bill and Scott drank an Old Belgium Brewing Company Winter Ale.

Then Suzette retired to the bed room while Bill, Scott and I discussed the case.  

On March 3, Scott mentioned going to a Chinese buffet for lunch , so I asked a lovely Chinese woman who worked at the Santa Fe Community Foundation for a recommendation of a Chinese buffet in the neighborhood and she mentioned several, but the one that I thought Scott would like the best was Yin Yang at the Design Center.  It advertises itself as serving healthy Chinese Cuisine, but that must be at dinner.  The buffet contained many of the standard dishes that one would find on the menu at a Panda Express with a few noticeable differences.  The soups included a miso soup, egg drop soup and a hot and a sour soup. I mixed the miso soup with a dab of hot and sour soup, but the hot chili flavors in the hot and sour soup still overpowered the miso soup. Then I went to the hot table and found several items that were delicious, including Moo Gai Pan, with only a few fresh Snow peas, a wonderful cloud like Mandarin chicken and mostly celery and zucchini thinly sliced along the ribs, and stir fried green beans that were a little overcooked or old.  The best item on the table was braised deep fried tofu squares in a light brown sauce with fresh broccoli flowerets; I loved it.

Later we went back for seconds and found BBQ pork ribs coated with a dark soy sauce coating fresh from the oven.  The Sesame Chicken was excellent, made with large pieces of chicken and a light batter and a not too sweet sauce.  For $8.95, I thought Yin Yang’s buffet was interesting and pleasant.  Scott, thought the Panda Restaurant’s buffet in Las Cruces was a little better and I agreed, based upon its greater skill in preparing its fresh vegetable dishes.
When I arrived home at 6:45, Suzette had prepared dinner again.  Tonight she had boiled a lb. of spaghetti and made a healthy spaghetti sauce with a prepared Prego Heart Smart spaghetti sauce we bought at Costco last week with the addition of fresh sliced mushrooms and Italian sausage.  She had also gone to the basement and found a bottle of 1998 Cantina Tollo "Villa Diana" Monetepulciano D Abruzzo.  We enjoyed our simple meal of spaghetti topped with the heart healthy tomato sauce freshened up with fresh mushrooms and Italian Sausage and glasses of excellent red wine.

the sauce and the spaghetti

sometimes simple is wonderful

I can not describe how delightful the wine was.  Aging it in the cellar for over fifteen years definitely helped give it a smooth texture, yet it still had a fresh ripened fruit flavor, perhaps due to the fact that there was no sediment in the bottle; a very clean tasting, well made wine with no rough edges.

I ate a little Blue Bunny Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream with a dash of Kahlua and Hershey’s chocolate syrup for dessert.  Then we soaked in the hot tub for a few minutes and retired to bed and fell fast asleep.

I often awaken in the middle of the night as my stomach tackles digestion of my dinner and tonight, with a large portion of tomato sauce, was no exception.  But tonight I particularly enjoyed a cup of red lotus root tea that we bought in China at the Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai in my new porcelain tea cup.  

slightly larger than actual size 

Bon Appétit

Friday, February 27, 2015

February 27, 2015 Lunch Lan’s Dinner Roasted Chicken, Steamed broccoli and Couscous

February 27, 2015 Lunch  Lan’s    Dinner Roasted Chicken, Steamed broccoli and Couscous

I had to go to Santa Fe today in a winter storm for a deposition.  We went to Lan’s for lunch.  We each ordered a bowl of Won ton soup with shrimp, slices of pineapple, baby bok choy, Lan’s special seasoning, bean sprouts, slivers of ginger and sprigs of fresh cilantro.  We also each ordered a glass filled with hot drip coffee with evaporated milk to help us make it through the afternoon. I think Lan's is the best Vietnamese Restaurant in New Mexico.  Every dish I have ever eaten at Lan's has been delicious and interesting in composition and flavor. 

I drove home in a snow storm from 5:30 to 7:30.

Thankfully when I arrived Suzette had prepared and was ready to cook a hot dinner of roasted chicken from the Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery, steamed broccoli flowerets and couscous cooked in diced garlic, onion, tomato and red bell pepper.

I went to the basement and found a bottle of 2002 Lurton Torrontes from Mendoza Valley in Chile.  It had a firm slightly aged taste, with an absence of almost all sweetness and fruitiness.  We loved the wine and the dinner was very pleasant for an easy, quick dinner, not requiring any elaborate prep.

After dinner we ate the last of the PPI Italian Cloud Cake Suzette made last week with the PPI custard sauce (crème anglais) for an elegant finish to dinner.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February 24, 2015 Dinner with Rosemary French Onion Soup, (New Recipe) Herb and Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Cellentani Pasta cooked with anchovy butter and Kale and Fennel

February 24, 2015  Dinner with Rosemary  French Onion Soup, (New Recipe) Herb and Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Cellentani Pasta cooked with anchovy butter and Kale and Fennel  

At 4:00 I received an email from Rosemary, a client, about getting together to discuss her case.

Rosemary is a wonderful cook and was the owner of Rose’s Table before it closed a year or two ago.  

I called her and we discussed meeting and when I told her my kitchen sink was still blocked and the kitchen a mess, she told me she had just made French Onion Soup and invited me over at 5:00 for dinner and to discuss the case.

So I grabbed a bottle of 2011 Cinq Cavas “Old Vines”Morgan (a French Beaujolais [100% gamay grapes] produced in Morgan, France that I bought at Costco in November 2013 for $10.99).  I thought an older vine raised Gamay that had rested in the cellar for over a year would go well with the pork tenderloin.

When I arrived Rosemary first prepared bowls of French Onion Soup which she had made with thin slices of onion, chicken stock, and Concha y Toro’s Chilean CabernetSauvignon/Merlot blend named Explorateur.  She lay three slices of fresh French baguette on top of each hot soup filled bowl and then lay a handful of grated Gouda cheese on top of the bread slices and baked them in the oven for a few minutes until the soup heated and the cheese melted.  On the table was a bowl of sliced radishes and cucumbers sprinkled with lime juice as a light salad a la Mexico. Rosemary's family is originally from Spain via the Canary Islandsvia the northern Yucatan Peninsula and finally L.A. and she seems to express all those cultural roots in her cooking. 

I opened and poured us glasses of Morgan, which was surprisingly smooth and complemented the soup’s smooth flavor.  It seemed that the soup had been cooking for a while, perhaps even all day, because of the softness of the onion threads and integration of their flavor with that of the broth.  We can rarely get this effect because we rarely have the time to cook a soup all day.

After a bowl of soup and a glass of wine, Rosemary brought a bowl of pasta baked in kale and fennel to the table and then a baking dish with a bacon and herb wrapped Italian Tenderloin roasted with halved heads of garlic and plated our dishes with slices of pork and a head each of garlic.  I served us the pasta, which I think Rosemary said was named Cellentani and that Smith’s was the only store in town where she has found it.  She also said that in Italy the dish is usually made with Rapini, but since she did not find any rapini, she used a combination of kale, spinach, and fennel.

Then she explained that the pork tenderloin was also an Italian recipe and it is usually wrapped in pork fat and cured in the fridge for up to 12 days.  In this case she wrapped the tenderloin with thyme and rosemary and fresh garlic cloves held together with slices of thick cut bacon.  Also, she had roasted this tenderloin after two days of marinating and dabbing away any excess liquid from the tenderloin as it salt cured.  The first bite of the bacon wrapped tenderloin was decidedly salty but that soon went away as I ate it with the pasta and vegetables and sips of Morgan.

Rosemary's Herb and Bacon wrapped Pork Tendrloin

Here is a recipe by Bobby Flay that seems to be close to the pork tenderloin dish.

Bacon-Herb Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
46 Reviews
Recipe courtesy ofBobby Flay
Total Time:
1 hr 50 min
20 min
20 min
1 hr 10 min

4 to 6 servings
  • 1 head garlic, top sliced off
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1 to 1 1/2 pound each) trimmed of excess fat
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 12 (1/4-inch thick) slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Place garlic in a small ramekin, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and wrap in foil. Bake until soft, about 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic flesh from head into a small bowl.
Arrange tenderloins on work surface. Rub the top each tenderloin with 1/2 of the roasted garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the herbs and scatter half of the mix over the garlic on each tenderloin. Wrap 6 strips of bacon around each tenderloin and tie bacon in place with kitchen twine.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat oil in a medium, skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the tenderloins until golden brown on all sides. Transfer seared tenderloins to medium roasting pan; place in the oven and cook to medium doneness about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer tenderloins to cutting board and let stand 10 minutes. Remove twine before carving.
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay, 2001

The pasta was also very special because Rosemary had made her own compounded butter with flat anchovies and butter and baked the fennel, kale, spinach and pasta in the anchovy butter. 

the baked Cellentani and vegetables 

Rosemary plated our plates with slices of tenderloin and a head of roasted garlic and a bit of the marinade/cooking juices from the pork and I added a scoop of the pasta dish and re-filled our wine glasses with Morgan and we enjoyed a delicious dinner.

To say the least this was one of the best surprise dinners I have ever had.

After dinner Rosemary opened a bottle of Mexican Licor de Herbos y Miel that I have never had but tastes a lot like the liquor made in San Sebastian with European juniper berries and herbs and flowers.  They both have a slightly licorice taste, although the Mexican licor was a little sweeter due to the addition of honey.  I am guessing that the Mexican licor is a knock off of the Spanish liquor, but that is just a guess. Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the wine and licor bottles.

My final take on this is that Rosemary is a wonderful cook and her orientation to cooking is much different than Suzette and mine.  Rosemary tends to cook dishes that take a long time to develop their flavors, while we tend toward recipes that take less time to cook.  An exception was the Boeuf Bourguignon Suzette made for Valentine’s Day which took three days to cook.

Clients like Rosemary enrich the experience of practicing law immensely.  If someone was really clever they would hire Rosemary as their private chef, because Rosemary seems to love nothing better than to spend time in the kitchen prepping and cooking delicious dishes.

When I returned home, I found myself feeling lucky to have had a stopped up sink.

Bon Appétit

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 23, 2015 Dinner 5 Star Burger

February 23, 2015  Dinner  (new restaurant) 5 Star Burger

The sink in the kitchen is still stopped up so we decided to go out to eat.  We arrived at 5 Star Burger at 5:50 and found out they had a happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m.
Drafts were $2.50 off at $2.50, Onion rings were $1.00 off at $2.50 and sweet potato fries were ½ price at $1.50.  So we each ordered a draft and a burger and we ordered onion rings and sweet potato fries 

My burger was a Brunch Burger with Hollandaise sauce, bacon, and a sunny side up fried egg served with a side of tomato and caramelized onion coulis.

Suzette ordered a Taos Burger with BBQ sauce and a fried breaded green chili.

I guess my take on 5 Star Burger is that it is at the cutting edge of a new category of gourmet food called fine casual dining.  The best example of the new trend in dining is  Danny Meyers’ Shake Shack, that has recently gone public. 

So it looks like 5 Star Burger is in the center of the new Fine Casual movement along with Fork and Fig that I reviewed a few days ago.  Both serve a menu populated with gourmet sandwiches, salads and burgers made with gourmet ingredients utilizing creative recipes and combinations of ingredients in a beer pub environment.

This new trend in dining will provide real competition for the last dining out trend of gourmet salad and sandwiches in a wine bar format such as Vinaigrette.

Bon Appétit

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 20, 2015 Dinner Pork Tapa with asparagus

February 20, 2015   Dinner  Pork Tapa with asparagus

We went to the art opening at the UNM Art Museum tonight after about an hour of seeing the new Raymond Jonson exhibit, the Jonathan and Fay Abrams collection, which they gave to the Museum and the graduate student show, we decided to go home and cook dinner, because I had bought a pork tenderloin and apples and we love the Spanish Tapa recipe for roasted Pork Tenderloin with apples and onions in José Andrés’ Tapas: a taste of Spain in America cookbook.

Please refer to the January 28, 2015 blog for the recipe.

Instead of a light red, I opened the bottle of Griffone Italian Rosado ($4.99 at Trader Joe’s) I recently bought and we enjoyed the Italian Rosado’s more red wine oriented flavor than a usually lighter Grenache driven French or Spanish rosé with the pork.

We steamed some of the fresh spring crop of asparagus ($.88/lb. at Sprouts Farm Market) and ate them with the meal.  I watched them tonight and they were cooked but not too crisp or too soggy.  I love the combined fact that the best asparagus each year are the first ones that arrive in the spring and that they are the cheapest.

We also heated the last of the PPI mashed potatoes from Valentine's Day and lay the pork tapa on top of a pile of mashed potatoes; what good eating.

We had PPIs from this meal and did not use all of the pork so it is a PPI also.

Bon Appétit 
February 22, 2015 Brunch   Pecan and Blueberry Waffles   Snack  Cheese and Salami and Tomato and fresh Mozzarella Brushetta   Dinner Potage

We had a lazy, food filled day.

At around 11:00 Suzette fixed pecan and blueberry waffles with the new Stonewall pancake and waffle mix we were give n for Christmas, which we ate with maple syrup and mango yogurt and tea.

We then went shopping at Goodwill, Suzette found a small desk for the restaurant and I found khaki shorts.

Then we went to Costco where food tasting was in full swing, with lots of Chinese items offered for Chinese New Year, such as General Tsu’s chicken and fried rice.  After eating those and other filling items like hummus on naan we decided to go home and eat snacks instead of eating a hot dog at Costco.  We bought items to make the new Italian Cloud Cake recipe we had gotten from Joseph Wrede on Wednesday evening and replenished our larder with items such as spaghetti, eggs, cream, a 10 lb. bag of Texas Sweet onions, half and half, salad, lettuce, fresh mozzarella and French brie cheese, scotch and mushrooms.  

When we returned home around 2:00 the weather was rapidly turning from sunny to stormy and we were hungry.  I fetched some cheeses and salami from the fridge while Suzette made brushetta by toasting rounds of French baguette and then smearing the rounds with pesto and then laying a slice of tomato and a slice of fresh mozzarella on each round and toasting them in the oven until the cheese melted. I opened a bottle of 2010 Chianti Superiore Monastero and we had a lovely afternoon snack.

Tomato and fresh mozzarella brushetta

the salami and cheeses
Although our sink is stopped up and we cannot wash dishes, we both felt like cooking. Suzette wanted to make the Cloud cake and I wanted to make potage.  I followed the Julia Child recipe, which is really simple.

Potato and Leek Soup

3-4 cups of potatoes sliced thinly
2 to 3 cups of leeks or 1 to 2 cups of onion
1 Tbsp. salt
2 quarts water
4 to 6 Tbsp. of cream or 2 to 3 Tbsp. of butter
2 to 4 Tbsp. of parsley or chives

I sliced the potatoes and leeks and put them into a large casserole and then added ½ of the new sweet onions to make the onion and leek component equal 3 cups.

I then added 2 quarts (8 cups) of water and 4 Tbsp. (this was a mistake.  I should have only added 1 Tbsp. of salt and this made the soup too salty) of salt to the pot and simmered the soup covered for 1 hour.

Suzette made her Italian Cloud cake, which is essentially a meringue cake, with the recipe Joseph had given us.  He also gave us two tips, to collar the pan to a height of five or six inches and to bake the cake for 20 minutes and then turn off the heat and let keep cooking and set up the meringue as it cools in the oven. 

Here is the finished cake, which shows that the recipe and instructions from Joseph worked.

We had originally planned to make Pork and Garlic Eggplant, but we decided to change our dinner to Potage and Italian Cloud cake.  The soup was too salty to enjoy but we ate it anyway.  

Suzette suggested fixing the potage by boiling more potatoes and onion in water without any extra salt and then adding the new mixture to the old soup to dilute the excess salt by the addition of unsalted broth and ingredients.

Suzette tried to make a caramel sauce but it failed.  The custard sauce worked fine and we ate the Cloud cake with custard sauce for dessert and loved it.
We watched the Oscars and the English Baking show and Downtown Abbey.

Bon Appétit

February 21, 2015 Lunch East Ocean Dinner Grilled Teriyaki Salmon with vegetable fried rice

February 21, 2015  Lunch  East Ocean   Dinner  Grilled Teriyaki Salmon with vegetable fried rice

At 11:00 I went to Albertson’s and bought pork steaks (about $2.75/lb.), 1.25 lb. of large shrimp at $7.99/lb.), and 1 ½ lb. of fresh Atlantic farm raised salmon for $4.99/lb.  Albertson’s has become my go to place for meat and ice cream. 

After depositing my purchases in the fridge at home I drove to Shahin’s office to complete my billing and then we went to East Ocean for lunch.  He got his usual No. 24 Chicken Lo Mein with thin wheat vermicelli noodles stir fried with chicken and fried rice and an egg roll on the side.  I ordered my usual No. 8 with the substitution of scallops for shrimp and sweet and sour chicken instead of the usual egg roll ($5.95).  I love this dish, an emulsion of egg clouds and chopped pork in a chicken stock sauce with scallops thrown in and served with fried rice.  The surcharge is $1.55 for the substitution of scallops for shrimp for a total cost of $7.50.  I don’t know of any restaurant in Albuquerque that serves a better scallop dish for less.  East Ocean has been my favorite seafood and Chinese restaurant for years.  During the Chinese New Year they are serving a special menu for dinner that would be worth trying.

When I got home I helped Suzette make a teriyaki sauce to marinate the salmon I bought in the morning and then took a nap.

Teriyaki Sauce

7 Tbsps. each of sake, Aji Mirin and Premium (dark) soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. of sugar heated to melt the sugar.  Then we put the Teriyaki sauce into a freezer bag with the salmon to marinate in the fridge.

At around 6:30 Suzette was ready to cook dinner.  She cut a 1 x 6 inch cedar board to the length of the salmon and soaked it in water to moisten it.  Then she put the teriyaki marinated salmon on the board and grilled it for about fifteen minutes or until it was tender and cooked from red to pink.

I decided to make fried rice with some of the vegetable PPIs in the fridge.  I fetched the last remaining baby bok choy, the last ¼ lb. of string beans, a shallot, ant three shitake mushrooms and sliced them up, separating the white portion of the bok choy from the green leaves.  I then sliced into thin strips, three cloves of garlic and about a dime sized piece of fresh ginger root.  

I heated 1 ½ Tbsp. of peanut oil and added about 1 tsp. of sesame oil to it and fried the garlic and ginger for a minute and then added the white portion of the bok choy and the shallot and stir fried it for a minute.  Then I added the rice and stirred it in and then the mushrooms, the string beans and the green portion of the bok choy and added about 1 ½ Tbsp. of Chinese cooking wine and 2 tsp. of sweet soy and stirred the mixture and then covered it with a wok cover to steam it for several minutes. 

We ate the stir fried rice and salmon with glasses of Dan Amor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut Apple cider from Brittany, France that we bought at Trader Joes for $4.99 for a 750 ml bottle, which won a silver medal at the Paris in 2014 (not too sweet and not too dry, just right), and watched “Annie Hall” with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton.  It is hard to believe that it was made in 1977.  It still retains as clever and fresh for me after 38 years and makes me recall the trials and tribulations and joys of dating in the 70’s with fondness.

Bon Appétit