Friday, December 12, 2014

December 7, 2014 Tapas at Cynthia and Ricardo’s house and Dinner with T.R. and Linda at Jinja in Santa Fe

December 7, 2014 Tapas at Cynthia and Ricardo’s house and Dinner with T.R. and Linda at Jinja in Santa Fe

At 2:00 we grabbed a bottle of large green olives and a bottle of 2007 Eguia Rioja Tempranillo Reserva and went to Cynthia and Ricardo’s house.  When we arrived we discovered that Dick and Nora were visiting on their way to California to visit their son. We also discovered that the appointed time for tapas was 3:00 and we had arrived an hour early.  But Dick and Cynthia started cooking and Ricardo started making drinks.  Ricardo first made a Moscow Mule with Ginger beer and a couple of other ingredients, which I did not taste because we were still drinking the Eguia red wine.  He then made a Mexcal drink with St. Germain liquor and lime juice that Suzette and I enjoyed.

Around 2:30 peopled started arriving, first Lew who had made chicken breast with a soy dipping sauce, then Cynthia put out her dishes, a tray of asparagus garnished with sauted garlic cloves and an olive oil dressing, a BBQ chicken wings with a lovely gorgonzola and sour cream dipping sauce, her lovely tuna salad with capers and fresh chopped parsley.  Finally around 2:45 Cynthia started cooking a tortilla Espanola with 5 whipped eggs, artichoke hearts, potatoes, and two kinds of cheese (light white cheese and grated Parmesan).  For me the hit of the meal was Cynthia’s Tortilla Espanola.  It was lusciously soft in texture, with good flavor.

Dick's shrimp and Cynthia's asparagus

egg cooking for tortilla

potatoes and artichoke hearts for tortilla

cheese for tortilla 
the tortilla after being baked in the oven and garnished with parsley
the tapas table

Before we left Cynthia was kind enough to serve me a dessert of her lovely panna cotta with berries mulled in honey and a bit of liquor.

Panna Cotta with fresh berries
It was delicious and she told me the recipe which sounded really close to the following recipe, except that Cynthia seems to use water to melt and heat the gelatin instead of milk:

Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups assorted fresh berries
Place the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Pour milk mixture into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, honey, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour into 6 wine glasses so that they are 1/2 full. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours.
Spoon the berries atop the panna cotta and serve.
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

My second favorite dish was Dick’s anchovy stuffed olives.  Dick also made a sautéed shrimp in olive oil and red peppers that was tasty.

We left early at 4:00 to try to find some Noche Buena for T.R. and Linda, but could not find any, so we drove on to Santa Fe and arrived at the appointed time of 5:30 at their house.  We talked and drank beers and had some appetizers and then drove to Jinja for dinner at 7:15.

We each ordered something different.  T.R. order sautéed chicken breast with an inverted ramekin stack of flaky white rice.  Linda ordered chicken stuffed lettuce wraps, Suzette ordered the coconut soup and I ordered Pad Thai.

T.R's Grilled chicken with rice
lettuce wraps
Coconut milk soup with toasted noodles
Pad Thai with chicken and shrimp

I thought the food was presented nicely and tasted fine.  Neither Suzette nor I finished our dishes, probably because we had eaten so much at the tapas party.

We loved spending time with T.R. and Linda.  They are funny and have had great experiences and been successful in their chosen endeavors, so have lots of interesting history to talk about.  T.R. is a trader, mostly specializing in Moroccan goods.  He and Linda used to own Nomads of Santa Fe and they continue to deal in imported goods.  We stayed in their apartment in Marrakesh in April, which they now rent and have stayed in their house near Sayulita Mexico named Baliville. 

My Pad Thai actually tasted pretty close to the real deal, especially when I added fresh lime juice to it.  I should have asked for prik nam (Thai hot sauce), which would have juiced it up another notch of flavor.  Suzette's coconut soup was also pretty good but i did not like the use of pasta in it and it was a bit sweet to my taste.  It would have been better with some lime juice in it also.

At 9:48 we said our good byes and got home by 11:00.

Bon Appétit 

December 6, 2014 Dinner Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Bulgur Wheat with cranberry raisins and sliced almonds and a tomato, cucumber and yogurt salad

December 6, 2014   Dinner  Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Bulgur Wheat with cranberry raisins and sliced almonds and a tomato, cucumber and yogurt salad

I had done a day sit for the Buddha’s Enlightenment Day in Placitas.  On my way home at 3:00 I stopped at Whole Food Market to see what root vegetables they had and I did not find any that I did not already have at home.  So I went to the cheese department and found two cheeses that I like and bought.  One was a raw milk tallegio ($19.99) that I had not seen before and the other was a lower cost triple cream brie ($8.99).  I tasted the tallegio and melted in my mouth, so I am hopeful that we can make either a lasagna with it or a creamy polenta.

I then went to the Alpine Sausage Kitchen and bought a pound of smooth Liverwurst ($4.99/lb.) and 1/3 lb. of Gelbwurst (veal bologna) for $2.31 and told the owners about our adventure in San Francisco Beach in Mexico. They love Sayulita and San Francisco and told me they are going in January.

I then went home.  Suzette had stayed home all day but instead of resting to try to get over a cold, she worked and cleaned the basement and set up some of the Mexican items we have stored to decorate for the Christmas Eve Open House.  This year the theme will be “Holy Mole” and the food will include a Oaxacan black mole with either turkey or chicken, green mole (perhaps with pork), sautéed pumpkin, black beans with flavored with hoja santa and avocado leaves, and rice.
Cornish Game Hens

We decided to roast the Cornish Game Hens and make bulgur. I cut the hens out of their cryovac and washed them out and dried them and Suzette found the two Spandex cooking racks and we stood the hens up on the column of steel and salted and squeezed lemon juice on them and dusted them with Herbs Provence and put them into a 350˚oven for one hour.

Bulgur Wheat

I then turned my attention to the bulgur wheat.  I minced 3 Tbsp. of onion and added about 1 ½ Tbsp. of butter and about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to a large skillet and added the onion and began sauteeing the onion.  I then added about ¼ cup of cranberry raisins, 1/8 cup of sliced almonds and 1 cup of No. 4 Bulgur Wheat to the skillet and sautéed the bulgur until it and the almonds began to take on a golden color.  While the bulgur mixture was sautéing I added a dash of a cumin based Middle Eastern herb combination and a pinch of sumac.  I also heated 2 ¼ cup of water in a sauce pan and when the bulgur was sautéed to golden, I poured it into the boiling water, reduced the heat, covered the sauce pan and lowered the heat to a low simmer and cooked the bulgur for 45 minutes instead of the usual 30 minutes.  The bulgur was a little wet, so it will be better in a subsequent meal.  I should have used only 2 cups of water and watched it and timed it more closely. 


Suzette and I discussed the vegetable.  We did not want asparagus again and when Suzette suggested Riata with the Greek yogurt, we decided to make a modified Tzatziki with tomatoes, cucumber, green onion and yogurt.  I cubed a Roma tomato, ½ of one of those long thin English cucumbers ($1.00 at Sprouts Farm Store), 2 green onions and added about 8 -10 ozs. of Greek yogurt, a ½ Tbsp. of olive oil, juice of 1/3 lemon and dried mint (Ta Lin). This tzatziki was the star of the dinner.  Although beautifully roasted, the Cornish Game hens lacked flavor, for some reason.

Roasted Game Hen on Spandex frame

I wanted a different white wine than Sauvignon Blanc, so I went to the basement and saw a bottle of 2012 Chateau L’ Ermitage from Costiéres de Nîmes that contained 60% Roussane, 20% Grenache and 20% Viognier (Total Wine $11.99 and $10.79 after the 6 bottle discount) in the fridge. The wine was slightly acidic as if it had oxidized, probably due to the metal cap with a lousy plastic inner cap.  I will not buy this wine again.  This wine made me think that one is taking a chance when one buys a bottle of wine with a metal cap, although this is the first such cap failure out of hundreds of bottles.  

The other thing it made me think was that I might try to avail myself of the often espoused offer to return any bottle that was not good, stated by the personnel at Total Wine. 

So two meals in a row with great food and lousy wine.

I broke down and ate chocolate covered raisins and several 70% cocoa butter truffles with some of Suzette’s liquor she made with the European juniper berries we brought home from Spain two years ago.

Bon Appétit       

December 8, 2014 Brussels sprouts casserole and Creamy Polenta and Rib eye steak

December 8, 2014  Brussels sprouts casserole and Creamy Polenta and Rib eye steak

I wanted to make a dish utilizing the newly purchased raw milk tallegio (Whole Foods, $19.99/lb.)

I checked the internet and found that it can be used in polenta and so I found a creamy polenta recipe using chicken stock and heavy cream that I liked.  Here is a similar one by 2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?,

Creamy Polenta
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
Place the chicken stock in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over medium-high heat until the stock comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and very slowly whisk in the cornmeal, whisking constantly to make sure there are no lumps. Switch to a wooden spoon, add the salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring almost constantly, for 10 minutes, until thick. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly while you're stirring. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, creme fraiche, and butter. Taste for seasonings and serve hot with extra Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.
We omitted the garlic because we were using Suzette’s preserved roasted garlic in olive oil to sauté the steak and used heavy cream instead of crème fraiche and used about ½ cup of tallegio instead of the 1 cup of parmesan.

I was meeting with a person at 5:00 and could not help Suzette, so Suzette cut up carrots and halved the Brussels Sprouts and oiled a ceramic baking dish with olive oil and roasted the casserole in a 350˚ oven for 45 minutes.

When I finally arrived in the kitchen around 6:00 we started on the polenta.  Suzette decided to use the PPI clam stock and added water to it to make the 4 cups of liquid.  We added the 1 cup of polenta and started stirring.  I took about 20 minutes before the polenta lost its hard crunchy texture and seemed to become creamy.  Then we added the tallegio and Suzette added the heavy cream and butter.  The polenta lost its stiffness and became creamy almost runny.  We then sliced the approximately ½ lb. of PPI rib eye steak into ¼ inch thin slices and sautéed it briefly in the heated skillet with 2 Tbsp. of Suzette’s roasted garlic and olive oil (that she keeps in a bottle in the fridge).

I went to the basement and fetched a bottle of Wellington 2008 Zinfandel.  We opened it and let it sit while we made the polenta.  When we tasted it, it was luscious, full bodied and yet soft, none of that harsh zinfandel peppery harshness, just a big fruity wine and a perfect complement to the creamy polenta and roasted vegetables.

We plated up and had one of the best meals in a long time, mainly because we had a meal in which both the wine and the food components were in balance and of highest quality, unlike the steak dinner last Friday night that was ruined by an inferior wine, even though we ate the same delicious heavy beef.

Bon  Appétit

December 9, 2014 Green Cornish Hen Enchiladas, Guacamole and octopus salad

December 9, 2014 Green Cornish Hen Enchiladas, Guacamole and octopus salad

First, I apologize to those who regularly follow this column.  When I am on deadline for a court filing, as I was this week, things can get strung out a bit.

Second, Cornish Game Hen Enchiladas is a slight misnomer.  The original intent was to make vegetarian enchiladas with Mexican squash and mushrooms and requesón because Willy, who returned from Ireland today, had invited his friend Eli Hicks for dinner and Eli is a vegetarian.  Instead what happened was Eli did not come for dinner but one of Willy’s other friends, Will Phipps came instead, who is not a vegetarian.

At around 5:30 after a ride, I went to Pro’s Market with Willy and we bought 4 Mexican squash, mushrooms ($3.49/lb.), 1 lb. of shredded mozzarella cheese ($3.99/lb.), 1 lb. of requesón (Mexican cottage cheese at $2.29), 40 fresh made white tortillas ($1.99), two octopus ($2.99/lb.), a small papaya ($1.29/lb.), a bunch of cilantro ($.50), LaLa Mango yogurt ($2.50/32 oz.), 4 small avocados ($.99), a few limes ($1.29/lb.).

Green Chili Enchiladas

When I arrived home, Suzette was ready to cook.  She and Willy de-boned the PPI Cornish Game Hen and chopped the meat in small cubes yielding about 1 lb. of meat.

We had a 24 oz. can of Mexican green enchilada sauce and a 16 oz. bottle of Garduno’s green enchilada sauce that she combined.  She first heated a small skillet and put some of the green chili sauce in a skillet and soaked the tortilla in the chili sauce to cook it slightly.  Then she laid the soaked tortilla into a 9 X 15 glass pyrex baking dish and repeated the process until she had filled the entire bottom of the dish with soaked tortillas.

Then I sliced four Mexican squash lengthwise into long thin slices and I sliced four or five white mushrooms into slices.

Suzette added a layer of Mexican Squash mixed with sliced mushrooms to the layer of soaked tortillas and then a layer of shredded Mozzarella, another layer of tortillas and then a layer of Cornish game hen and another layer of tortillas and more cheese.

Then Suzette poured the remaining green enchilada sauce and cheese on top of the enchiladas and allowed it to sink into the crevices in and around the layers of tortillas until it filled the dish to its rim.

Then Suzette put the dish of enchiladas into a 350˚ oven for about 45 minutes until the cheese melted and everything was cooked thoroughly.

While the enchiladas were baking, I made a guacamole with 4 avocados, 3 Tbsp. of onion, juice of one lime, 2 Tbsp. of fresh chopped cilantro.  Willy and Will added Cholula sauce and squeezed a clove of garlic into the guacamole and gathered some chips and started eating while Suzette made the octopus salad.

Octopus Salad

This is the recipe that Mavi Graf taught us in PV last Friday.

Suzette cooking octopus

Cooked octopus

Bob Chopping upoctopus
Suzette added the ingredients to the boiling medium.  The secret to this dish is to add the skin of a papaya, whose enzymes soften the octopus.  Suzette dipped the ends of the tentacles into the boiling water to make them curl and then dropped the entire octopus in and simmered the octopuses for 20 minutes, which turned out to be about 5 minutes too long, because the octopus became a little tough, but not too tough to eat.  I chopped the two boiled octopuses into cubes, while Suzette made the salad with chopped celery, tomatoes and a green onion and lime juice.

When the octopus salad was ready, we plated hot wedges of cooked enchiladas.  Each person garnished their enchiladas with Mexican crema, guacamole and ladled spoonsful of octopus salad onto their plates.

We ate a lovely meal with Will and Willy and drank beer and discussing their latest experiences.  Will is director of Friday Fun Nights at the UNM Student Union and thinks up, organizes and markets interesting events for students at UNM’s Student Union, which sounded very interesting.

The lighter, more delicate flavor of the PPI Cornish game hen actually came through a bit more than I would have expected when we ate them the first night they were roasted. I now need to find a recipe that uses requesón.

Bon Appétit               

December 11, 2014 Stir Fried Beef, with Black Mushrooms, Broccoli and Bamboo shoots (Sheung Dong Ngau Lau)

December 11, 2014 Stir Fried Beef, with Black Mushrooms, Broccoli and Bamboo shoots (Sheung Dong Ngau Lau)

Last night Suzette attended a girl’s night birthday party.  Although I thawed a rib eye steak to make Fried Rice for Willy, Willy and I decided to eat PPI Green Chili Enchiladas with some PPI Roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots, instead.

So, today there was a thawed rib eye steak in the meat drawer of the fridge, so I looked up several recipes for beef and found a recipe for Stir Fried Beef with Bamboo Shoots and Black Mushrooms on page 164-165 of The Chinese Gourmet Cookbook that looked interesting and for which we had all the ingredients except the green onions.  I discussed the lack of green onions with Suzette and she suggested using garlic scallions from the garden, so I went to the garden and pulled a small handful of garlic scallion stalks, instead of going to the store.

I then sliced and marinated the steak in the salt, sugar, corn starch and water.

Then I filled a 16 oz. plastic container with hot water and soaked the black mushrooms in water instead of steaming them over boiling water and then cooked them for a few minutes in the microwave.

I then chopped up a head of broccoli (about 1 1/2 cup) into flowerets and halved them (so they would lay flat on one side), 1 tsp. of fresh garlic, 1 tsp. of fresh ginger and ½ small onion and opened an 8 oz. can of sliced bamboo shoots and chopped the garlic chives into about ½ inch long strips.

Then I de-stemmed the mushrooms and sectioned them into fourths or sixths, depending upon their size.

I then heated the wok and added peanut oil and stir fried the bamboo shoots, onion and broccoli and then removed that mixture from the wok.

I then added a bit more oil and stir fried the beef until it just changed color from red to grey and removed it.

Then I added more oil and stir fried the chopped ginger, garlic and garlic chives for a minute and then added the vegetables and beef and stir fried the entire mixture for a minute to mix its ingredients with the garlic and ginger and then added the thickening sauce made with soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch, Chinese Cooking wine and sesame oil.  I turned up the heat a bit and pretty soon the sauce thickened and glistened.

before the thickening sauce is added

finished dish after the thickening sauce is added and cooked

We heated PPI rice in the microwave and Suzette fetched beers from the garage and we were ready to eat.

We loved the dish. The tender texture of the beef and mushrooms complemented the firm texture of the broccoli and bamboo shoots and the entire mixed infused with the light brown sauce was delicious.  Suzette took a second helping and I was not hungry for a dessert, which are ultimate compliments.

Bon Appétit             

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014 Breakfast Smoked Tuna omelet and black beans Dinner PPI Rellenos Nogadas with mole sauce, rice and green beans

December 1, 2014  Breakfast  Smoked Tuna omelet and black beans  Dinner  PPI Rellenos Nogadas with mole sauce, rice and green beans

We first took a walk on the beach and found two coffee beans and a Robertsi cowrie, plus several miters and one interesting small black volute shell.

After our walk, we started using up the stuff we bought and so we made a really great smoked tuna omelet with tuna, onions, red pepper, Manchego cheese, garnished with slices of avocado, cucumber, and chopped cilantro.  The best part of the meal was the PPI black beans that Suzette re-heated and served with the omelet.  They were really good.  Suzette had cooked them with chorizo, onions, avocado leaves and hoja santa leaves.  The hoja santa went into solution and although the avocado leaves did not go into solution both flavored the beans with a wonderful warm vegetable flavor that went well with the cheesy fish flavor of the omelet.

omelet and beans un-garnished 

We drank PPI fresh orange juice with the omelet and beans. This breakfast, with it wonderful omelet and fabulous beans, was the best meal of our trip.

After breakfast we spent the day on the veranda resting and reading and sipping mojitos.
I lay in the shade and Suzette in the sun. 

Here is what the beach looked like today:

Around 5:00 we went to the kitchen for our big final dinner.  We snapped the last of the green beans and blanched them in water.  We heated the PPI Rellenos Nogadas we made in our cooking class with Mavi Graf in the toasted oven for about twenty minutes at 350˚ and we re-heated the PPI chicken mole sauce and the PPI rice.

When everything was heated we filled our plates to overflowing with the Rellenos Nogadas, rice, green beans and mole and took our plates to the palapa and drank our last two Noche Buenas on the veranda and watched the swimmers, walkers, surfers, and sunset.  There appeared to be a wedding celebration at the trailer park next door to our condos that was in full swing, so there was lots of beach activity.

We watched the sun set, but it fizzled into darkness without any of the exuberant streaks of red like the first night we were here.  The beach, palm trees and sun setting into the ocean has its own charm, regardless of how undramatic it is in a visual sense.

Devon brought us six chocolate truffles, so after dinner we wrote to Willy to see how his dissertation went and sipped tea and brandy and ate chocolate truffles for a while.

We are rested and ready to return to Albuquerque.

Bon Appetit

Bon Appétit

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30, 2014 Lunch La Perla at San Pancho (San Francisco Beach) Dinner Fish Stew

November 30, 2014  Lunch  La Perla at San Pancho (San Francisco Beach)  Dinner Fish Stew

I ate fresh pineapple and banana with yogurt for breakfast.  I walked to the juice lady at the bridge and bought two fresh squeezed orange juices for 25 pesos each and brought them home, Suzette make a banana, pineapple and orange juice smoothie.

Then we walked to town to the Sunday Arts and Craft sale.  We selected two Oaxacan tablecloths, one round 50%cotton/50% Dacron one for the TV room for 260 pesos and a larger 80 inch by 100 inch all cotton tablecloth for 750  pesos, but Suzette negotiated a total price of 750 pesos.  After we purchased our tablecloths, I asked the lady who owned the stand about her vanilla and she showed me the prices.  When I said I had lots of vanilla, she said she had vanilla beans for sale and she had her companion pull out a bag of vanilla beans from under the table.  There were ten vanilla beans and she sold them to me for 100 pesos.  She then thought better of that and said she thought they should sell for more, but then when I handed her a 100 peso bill she took it and agreed on that price because she could not recall what she had paid for them.

We had decided to eat the fish soup for dinner so we then we walked up hill through the Flea Market to the Le Gourmet and bought a fresh baguette for 25 pesos.  We wanted to decorate the house with holiday flags like the Mexicans do so we then walked to the paper shop and bought two six meter lengths of banners for 55 pesos each.   
It was about noon. So we walked back to the condo and deposited our purchases and drove the car to San Francisco beach by way of Las Lomas where we bought a 3 kilo bag of salt for 30 pesos.  Mavi Graf had told us that the best oysters I the area could be found at San Pancho.  When we got to the end of the main street at the beach we went into the restaurant named La Perla and asked the chef if there were fresh oysters and he said yes.  We first took a table in the patio just outside the restaurant but then the chef said the restaurant owned al the tables all the way to water’s edge, so we moved out to at table at the end of the covered palapa on the beach.  We ordered fried oysters and asked for a bucket with ice, which the waiter brought.  Suzette would not drink the Austrian wine, which was bitter, perhaps because it was capped and not corked and ordered a margarita.  I kept drinking the Austrian wine to my later regret, as it was not good and it gave me a light headedness.

We loved the oysters and asked for crema and catsup and made a lighter sauce than the red sauce they were served with.  Suzette particularly like taking the oysters out of their batter shell and eating them with the sauce on the toasted bread they were served with.  I ordered a side order of beans, or which I was not charged.  In Mexico all prices for each meat item om a menu are usually inclusive of all the side items such as crema, rice, beans and tomatoes, etc. that usually accompany them main dish.

After lunch we walked around San Pancho and were unimpressed with the town.  For whatever reason, it has not achieved the commercial success of Sayulita.  I think it is because it has a steep beach with a strong undertow and is not suitable for swimming and water sports like Sayulita, but Suzette disagrees.  At least it has wonderful seafood restaurants.

After lunch we drove back to Sayulita and took a nap.

Around 6:00 we started making dinner.  We heated the fish stock and then I micro cubed about 2 Tbsp. of smoked tuna, the remaining seven or eight shrimp and other red snapper filet that had frozen.  I then minced the two remaining potatoes, and the three squashes and two carrots and Suzette cooked them in the fish stock.  Devon Chapman, who is Terry’s partner and arrived last night, came by to chat and we invited her and Terry for dinner. So when everything was heated, we toasted about 2/3 of the baguette in the toaster oven and made a cup of rice and opened the bottle of Sancerre and called out to Devon and Terry who live next to our unit that we were ready for dinner and to bring soup bowls.  When they arrived, Suzette filled the bowls with rice and then the fish stew and I poured wine and cut up the baguette and we carried our bowls to the palapa on the veranda near the beach and had a quiet dinner with pleasant conversation getting to know them as we ate and drank wine.

Bon Appetit

Bon Appétit