Monday, December 31, 2012

December 28, 2012 Taos Breakfast - Mabel Dodge Lujan House, Lunch – Graham Grille, Dinner- La Meze

December 28, 2012  Taos   Breakfast -  Mabel Dodge Lujan House, Lunch – Graham Grille, Dinner-  La Meze

We started the day with a breakfast buffet at Mabel Dodge Lujan House, where we had slept in Tony Lujan’s room next to Mabel’s large room.  Breakfast included sausage links, bacon, scrambled eggs, green chili potatoes, strawberry muffins, granola and freshly made yogurt.

After breakfast we said goodbye to Billy, Elaine and Rebecca and talked to Brian Taylor for a few minutes.

Then we went to town.  We first visited the Taos Art Museum to see its impressionism show by Dan Wade.  Then we went to Harwood Museum to buy tickets for the wine tasting on Feb. 1, 2013 and the drove to and parked at Taos Inn and inquired about wine meals with Bob, the manager of Doc Martins.  We do not like heavy reds so we decided to forgo the Calera wine dinner at the Winter Wine Festival on February 1, 2013.  We then walked to Kilborn Pottery and Bauman Fine Art, which is located in what was once Bert Phillips studio and compound, then to Moby Dickens Bookstore, Robert Parsons Gallery,  a new mineral and fossil store and finally to Graham’s Grille at around 12:15 to have a mimosa and a shared a Caesar Salad.  During lunch we had what was the most interesting event of the trip.  We had noticed that the owner was named Cynthia Fay and one of the pages of the wine list described how her father or grandfather was the first person to plant Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the Napa Valley in 1953.  His high quality grapes and wine influenced others to grow and produce Cabernet Sauvignon wines, which led to the starting of Stags Leap Vineyard next door to his property in 1970.  Then in 1976 what is known as “The Judgment of Paris” occurred when California Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays were blind tasted against the best French red Bordeaux and white Burgundies in Paris by the greatest French wine experts and a California red and white came out on top.  The white was a chardonnay from Montelena and the red was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap.   That event, more than any other event in modern wine making history, put California wines on the world stage and was made into a movie.  So there is history here.  Stags Leap later bought some of Fay’s property and one of its best wines is still produced from Fay’s land and vines and is served at Graham’s Grille at $111.00 per bottle.   The Fays owned 400 acres originally, so they must have made a fortune, just on the sale of the land, which is some of the most expensive wine acreage in America.  For more on the Judgment of Paris, see

After lunch we stopped at Parks Gallery to say hello to Stephen Parks and then went back to the room by way of the Ranchero Boot Shop for red polish for Suzette’s boots.

After a making a fire and reading by the fireplace in the Mary Hunter Austin Room at Mabel Dodge Lujan House and taking a nap and a shower, we went to La Meze for dinner at 6:15 p.m.  After waiting a few minutes for an early diner to finish and splitting a glass of Taval rosé, we were seated.  The appetizers looked better than the entrees, so we split a plate of 6 small pieces of battered and fried veal sweetbreads served with a fresh shaved celeriac salad dressed with capers, parsley, vinegar and aioli with which we drank the last of our rosé.  The sweetbreads melted in your mouth and I had never eaten a fresh celeriac salad and was impressed.  It clearly had been made ahead of time and allowed to sit so the vinegar would cook the celeriac.

 We ordered a bottle of 2008 El Coto Crianza Tempranillo from the Rioja and filled new glasses for the next dish which was a Mushroom smothered piece of toasted bread.  The sautéed shitake and cimini mushrooms were sautéed in a rich veal reduction with parsley and garnished with a large dollop of soft Spanish goat cheese.   We cut up the piece of bread and soaked the bread pieces with the sauce and ate them with mushrooms and goat cheese and washed them down with sips of the red tempranillo.  The best dish of the dinner. 

Finally, the waiter brought our entrée, duck confit with preserved lemon in a pasta bowl stacked on a pile of collard greens cooked in bacon and garlic with a side of fried potatoes we had also ordered.  The duck was delicious and we love the vegetables at La Meze, so we loved the collard greens with bacon and lemon peel.  The potatoes were also delicious, but I did not like the horseradish sauce they were served with, so dipped mine in the collard greens’ broth.

The red wine was perfect with the heavy duck and fries and we felt very full and happy as we sipped the last of our wine at the end of the meal around 8:15.

We then went to KTAO performance space for a special Holiday concert given by Michael Hearne and Max Gomez from Taos and Chuck and Laurie Sweet from Florida.  Finally at 11:00 we drove back to the Mabel Dodge Lujan House and made another fire for a bit of writing for me and bed for Suzette.
We decided to eat our wine dinner on February 1 at La Meze because they are serving Drouhin’s Burgundy and Torres Spanish wines and have great food.

Bon Appètit




December 27, 2012 Lunch – Orlando’s Dinner – Picnic in Tony’s Room

December 27, 2012 Lunch – Orlando’s   Dinner – Picnic in Tony’s Room
We arrived in Taos at around 12:30 and were hungry for lunch.  Billy said they were going to Orlando’s in El Prado for lunch and since we had never been that sounded fine to us.  When we arrived we said hello to Billy, Elaine and Rebecca and waited to be called with a group of other diligent diners in the waiting area which was a fire pit in front of the restaurant.  When we were finally seated we saw that the menu was standard New Mexican dishes.  There was a lunch special of clabacita and shrimp stuffed enchiladas that all girls ordered.  I ordered shredded beef blue corn stacked enchiladas and Billy ordered three rolled enchiladas, one with beef, one chicken and one cheese.  All the dishes came with posole and beans.  I noticed that the posole was out of a can and not cooked very much, so rather flavorless and hard.  The pinto beans were better.  The shredded beef enchiladas were great with lots of beef and not too much cheese. 
We stopped at a new Auction house and gallery on the way back to downtown, where Suzette bought four African carved wooden frogs for $5.00 each.  We then stopped at Mission Gallery to say hello to Reva Rozenquist and then went to Mabel Dodge Lujan House and were shown to our room, which was Tony’s room upstairs down the hall from Mabel’s room.  The most interesting thing about Tony’s room was a large outdoor covered patio with a view of the morada.  Unfortunately it was below freezing so we could not enjoy it to its fullest, although I sat and watched the sun set on the morada for about thirty minutes. 
We had eaten so much that we did not want to go out and eat a large dinner, so we suggested to Billy and Elaine that we eat in our room.  We made a fire in the fireplace and put our cooler outside to chill the champagne and beer.  When Billy, Elaine and Rebecca arrived we got out our Lebanon Bologna, French bread and opened the champagne.  Billy and Elaine went to the kitchen to fetch plates and spoons.  They also brought mustard, a loaf of Sage farmhouse bread, brisket, a container of grape tomatoes and a wedge of Danish Tilset dill flavored cheese.  So we had a great picnic in Tony’s room by the warm fire in the fireplace.  We ate Lindt chocolate with cognac for dessert.

A lovely light picnic dinner in a very historic room in a very historic house in a very historic town.    

Bon Appètit


December 24, 2012 Christmas Eve Open House

December 24, 2012 Christmas Eve Open House

It is hard to do justice to the food at our open house.  This year we had seven cooks, so no one had to do more than three or four dishes, so it was a breeze for all the cooks. 

Here is the menu

Billy, made Florence's Texas chili con carne with posole
Baked ham: bob
Salmon: bob
Squash casserole with three types of squash, celeriac and whipped potatoes and topped with chunk of pinon nuts and Pecorino Romano cheese: Suzette
Roasted baby eggplants with tossed with garlic, parsley and capers: Rebecca
Green bean salad with sliced mushrooms: Elaine
Roasted asparagus: bob and Suzetteb

Israeli Couscous salad with red peppers: Rebecca/Elaine
Corn pudding: bill
Cheese plate: bob  The cheeses this year were Leyden, Brie, Huntsman (English with layers of stilton and cheddar), Swiss Gruyere, Irish Cheddar, French Roquefort, and California Goat Cheese.

We also served chunks of Lebanon Bologna sent to us by Suzette’s parents.

Cynthia Elliott made Cranberry Chutney, but could not make the party due to a cold, but Ricardo came and it was great to see him. 

Suzette also made a cranberry sauce, green tomato chutney, and a cranberry and cherry mayonnaise for the ham.

Our neighbors Ed Johnson and Michele Varner, who live in Santiago, Chile and Mississippi respectively but who have a condo in the Park Plaza tower came and cooked.  Michele brought in fresh eggs from their farm in Mississippi and made deviled eggs garnished with a spicy crawfish and Ed made chicken live paté. 

I made my usual gravad lax with a dill and mint flavored tzatziki sauce and the more traditional Swedish salmon sauce with dill.

I also made mulled red wine with herbs and lemon juice and used the mulling herbs to also mull some apple juice for children and non-alcohol drinkers to drink.

We also served some steamed tamales to go with the chili.

For desserts:  Elaine brought white and black decorated cookies with intricate designs and also sliced apples and pears into thin slices

 Suzette made one of her amazing Candied Quince and Pear tart that was the first dessert to be eaten.

 I made my chocolate baked pudding with crème anglaise pouring custard.  Jill Duval brought a wonderful orange cake and Lucy brought chocolate bars.

We also offered red wine and beer to those who did not want the mulled wine and at 10:30 we opened a bottle of Argyle Brut champagne to toast Michele and Ed’s anniversary.

Finally, we went for a walk and when we returned around 11:15 Willy and about fifteen of his friends had arrived and they did a good job of finishing off most of the food.


Bon Noel

December 23, 2012 Dinner – Pork Roast with whipped potatoes and Brussels sprouts

December 23, 2012   Dinner – Pork Roast with whipped potatoes and Brussels sprouts

We shopped and cooked most of the day.  At around 3:30 we put a large pork roast into the oven at 325˚.  As dinner approached Elaine cut Brussels sprouts into halves, which we roasted in a ceramic baking dish in the oven and Suzette boiled and whipped potatoes with cream and butter and I went to the basement and fetched the last bottle of 2001 Guzmán Aldazabal Cosecha (marriage) that we had bought from our host at the bed and breakfast in Navaridas, the next hill south of the walled city of Laguardia in the central Alavesa section of the Rioja region of Spain in April 2011 from the Guzmán’s 50 year old vines.  The label says that the 2001 Cosecha was made from 30,000 kilograms of grapes selected from the Guzmáns’ La Valle, El Espino, and Ribarromeras vineyards, from those grapes they mixed and filled 33,000 bottles.  We drank bottle No. 29,589.  Again it was sedimented but incredibly smooth with no rough edges and with a great fruity flavor.

 Bon Appètit

December 22, 2012 Lunch - French Onion Soup and Dinner – Roast Duck with Orange Sauce and Braised Cabbage and Blanched Carrots and Corton Grand Cru

December 22, 2012  Lunch -  French Onion Soup  and Dinner – Roast Duck with Orange Sauce and Braised Cabbage and Blanched Carrots  and Corton Grand Cru

At around 9:00 a.m. I started making my favorite chocolate dessert for the Christmas Eve Open House.

It is a chocolate baked pudding:

10 egg whites

˚4 egg yolks

1 Tbsp. flour

1/2 cup of sugar

½ lb. butter

1 tsp. Grand Marnier

½ cup of chocolate chips

2 oz. cocoa 

You melt the butter and chocolate.  Then you add the ½ cup sugar to the melted chocolate and butter mixture.  Then in a separate bowl you place the 10 egg whites and 4 yolks and 1 Tbsp. of flour and mix well (I used the Kitchenaid).

Then you fold the chocolate mixture into the egg and flour mixture and pour it into a buttered 2 quart bowl and place that in a heated baine marie and cook in a 350˚ oven for 50 to 60 minutes.

Crème Anglaise - Then I took the 6 egg yolks I had separated to an enameled sauce pan and whisked them with 1/3 cup of sugar while I scalded 1 cup of cream and 1 ½ cup of milk in an enameled sauce pan with ¼ cup of roasted coffee beans and ½ vanilla bean cut in half lengthwise.  The coffee beans and vanilla bean released their flavor into the milk as it heated  to just the point of boiling, at which point I stopped the process and et the scalded milk cool and then poured it as I stirred it slowly into the egg and sugar mixture while I stirred it with a whisk.

Then I put the milk and egg mixture on a low heat and stirred it for about an hour until the liquid coated the spoon a bit rather than running back into the sauce.  I could have turned up the heat and the process would have gone faster, but there is a greater danger of the custard clotting at a higher temp.

The original recipe calls for 5 eggs and 8 oz. of chocolate, so is much easier.  When I am really inspired and separate the egg whites and whip them until stiff which give a more soufflé like feel to the dessert.

Shortly after I started Suzette came into the kitchen and started making her squash casserole, by chopping and blanching the celeriac (celery root and roasting the squashes in the oven after I had cooked my chocolate dessert, but by 10:30 a.m. we has both finished and we decided to try to finish off the PPI French Onion Soup from Thursday (Julia Child’s recipe) I made with the PPI  standing rib roast bones and meat plus two onions and Suzette got out the family’s old brown glazed French soup crocks and we heated the soup and then filled the crocks and laid slices of country style French bread on top and then laid slices of Swiss Gruyere on top of the bread and broiled it in a 500˚ oven until the cheese melted.  We drank ginger tea with the soup, since Suzette has a cold.

After lunch we drove to Los Lunas for the opening of the Camino Real Winery on Tome Hill Rd.  They bottle ten different wines made from about five different grapes (Chambourcin, Vidal Blanc, Riesling, Muscat, and Leon Merlot) raised on 2 ½ acres of land in Tome and Barbera grapes purchased from growers in Corrales.  The Chavez family that owns the vineyard has planted another 2 or 3 acres next to their existing property with the same grape types, so soon they will be making more wine.

After tasting all the 10 wines, we bought three bottles of wine and went home by way of the La Montanita Coop to buy Israeli couscous and another celeriac for Christmas Eve and a red cabbage for dinner.

Shortly after we arrived home, Billy and Elaine and Rebecca arrived. For dinner we had thawed out four duck halves.  We chopped cabbage and then six carrots and started braising the cabbage Hungarian style in olive oil and cumin when Suzette put the duck halves into a 400˚ oven for 10 minutes and then reduced the temp to 350˚ for 20 minutes more.  When the cabbage had softened Suzette added apple cider vinegar and sugar so it would be sweet and sour. 

I suggested a bottle of French Riesling , but Billy wanted red wine so we went to the basement and he selected a bottle of 1996 Corton Premier Cru from Burgundy that was produced by the Doufoulet family with whom we stayed in Nuit St. Georges when we visited France with Mother in 2000.   It was sedimented but incredibly smooth with no rough edges whatsoever, a truly beautiful bottle of wine.

 Bon Appetit


29, 2012 On the Road back from Taos to Albuquerque. Don Quixote Distillery and Winery and Santa Fe Spirits and LuLu’s Chinese Restaurant.

December 29, 2012   On the Road back from Taos to Albuquerque.  Don Quixote Distillery and Winery and Santa Fe Spirits and LuLu’s Chinese Restaurant.

We woke up and breakfasted at the Mabel Dodge Lujan and then hit the road to Santa Fe, where we had a dinner party for Max Aragon’s 60th BD at 6:30 p.m.

We first stopped at Vivac at the Dixon turnoff and sampled their wines.  The new Fire wine made with grapes grown in their own fields was the most interesting to me.  Vivac, like many wineries in the northern part of the state, use Deming fruit to make their wines.   Since I do not like heavy reds the Deming fruit seems to me to have a lack of delicacy that I call a "baked" taste.  The opposite are those grapes raised near the northern edge of their range that seem to be more delicate, such as the pinot Noirs grown in northern California, Oregon east of the Cascades and the Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc raised in the Loire and the chardonnay grapes used for champagne raised in the Champagne.  All of these seem to have an abundance of fruit and crisp minerality, both characteristic I like very much.

So we then drove to the DQ Distillery’s tasting room at the slightly refurbished Line Camp located between the turn off for State Hwy. 503, the back road up the Pojoaque Creek to Chimayo and State Hwy. 502, the road to Los Alamos.  We tasted several distilled spirits and Suzette bought a bottle of rose flavored eau de vie. They had lovely ports.  I particularly liked the Angelica white port made with native muscat grapes.

We met Christie?, who had been doing wine tours of New Mexico wineries and took her card, which I have misplaced temporarily and told her about the recently opened Camino Real Winery tasting room in Tomé. 

We then drove into Santa Fe and walked around the Water Street area and then drove to Peyton Wright where we had a lovely conversation with the owner, John Wright Schaefer, the owner of Peyton Wright Gallery.  John had a great exhibit of contemporary and abstract paintings up, including four by his new favorite, Charles Hinman.  Hinman’s work is characterized by canvases raised into interesting shapes using stretcher bars.  It appears that John has pushed Peyton Wright to the verge of developing a major national reputation, which is very exciting.

We then drove out Airport Road to Santa Fe Spirits and tasted their lovely lightly flavored and incredibly clean tasting distilled Bourbon, Vodka, Gin, and Apple Brandy and eau de vie.  It seems that there are two ways to make brandy.  For Scotch the fermented malted barley juice (beer) is use and for Apple Brandy Santa Fe uses fermented apple juice hard apple cider) and then distills those liquids by heating them until they turn into a gas and passing that gas through six decreasingly smaller gauge filters until almost all foreign matter is removed from the liquid.  For Bourbon and gin Santa Fe uses commercially produced both a high proof alcohol made from distilling grain (usually un malted barley) to it is even cleaner than when it comes to the distillery and then for bourbon it is aged the required two years in charred wood barrels.  Gin does not need to be aged but it needs to be flavored.  Santa Fe flavors their gin with New Mexico osha root, barley, juniper and sage to give it a Southwestern flavor in a separate steel column because the guide said osha will permanently flavor a steel barrel and they do not want that flavor in their main still.

DQ also uses extracts of various kinds such as rose to flavor its vodka or brandy.   But what DQ does that is interesting is it makes wines also and then combines the wines and brandy to make port and sherry.

After a tour of Santa Fe Spirits’ facility and tasting all of their products, I bought a 750 ml. bottle of Apple Brandy and Suzette bought a 200 ml. bottle of gin for Charlie Palmer and we drove to the Lulu’s Restaurant in the 3000 block of Cerrillos Rd. for Max Aragon’s 60th Birthday Party.  By about 6:45 about twenty people had arrived.  We had appetizers and then ordered.   Suzette and I ordered Mu Shu Pork .

When it was served it did not include the shredded scallions or plum sauce.  When I asked LuLu if we could have those, she said sure, but you should have requested that when you ordered.  That was the moment that I realized that even though the restaurant was filled with Chinese diners, there was probably a different dining experience and expectation between Chinese diners and American diners.  It became extremely clear when we opened the tortilla warmer and took out the Mandarin pancakes.  They were dried out and did not have that flexible alive dough texture of fresh made Mandarin pancakes.  We were served plum sauce and scallions, but Suzette would not eat the dried out Mandarin pancakes.   I found that the pancakes softened and became more malleable after I spread the plum sauce on them, but I could not spread that on the entire pancake.  Luckily there was a lot of sauce in the Mu Shu mix and wherever it touched the pancake the pancake became soft and more flexible.

After dinner we were served slices of carrot cake and Gruet Blanc de Noir champagne for dessert and a happy birthday celebration for Max.   We gave him wool socks, which he seemed to like.

We left the restaurant at around 9:00 p.m. and drove home in time for Saturday Night Live.

 Bon Appètit





Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 18, 2012 – PPI Shish kebob filled pita pockets with Tzatziki Sauce and fresh tomatoes and bulgur pilaf

December 18, 2012 – PPI Shish kebob filled pita pockets with Tzatziki Sauce and fresh tomatoes and bulgur pilaf

At around 4:00 p.m. Suzette called from Costco and asked if she should pick up anything.  I mentioned that we could eat the PPI shish kebobs and bulgur pilaf and she suggested that she get some pita bread and we could make pita sandwiches.  I immediately said, “Yes.”

So after she went to Pro’s Ranch Market to pick up a piñata for her Christmas Party at the Center for Ageless Living in Los Lunas, she arrived home at around 5:45 p.m. with a bag of 10 or 12 square chia pockets made with both wheat and barley flour that were indented in the middle so they can be separated easily into two rectangular pockets.

I was hungry and so were Suzette and Willy, so, after a bit of watching the news and drinking a hot buttered rum while Suzette had a scotch, I began heating the PPI bulgur pilaf, shish kebobs and marinated string beans in the microwave oven and took the PPI tzatziki sauce and a couple of Roma tomatoes out of the fridge.

While the food was heating in the microwave, I sliced each of the two tomatoes lengthwise into thin 1/12 slices and began heating the chia pockets on an open gas flame to toast them and see if they would steam inside and several did rise from the trapped internal heat.  After I had toasted four pockets and heated the food in the microwave, Willy ran to the basement to fetch several more beers and I poured out the last of the Menage À Trois which was barely enough to fill a small glass for each of us.  So after a few sips, Suzette went to fetch a bottle of red wine and brought back a bottle of 1995 La Vielle Ferme from Appelation Côtes de Ventoux Controlée from Orange, France.  The wine combined Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Mouvèdre grapes. 

The cork was stuck in the bottle and I had to dig it out and then push the bottom of the cork into the bottle, so I then decanted it through a sieve into a wine pitcher so we could minimize the bits of cork and sediment.  The wine had a syrupy texture and flavor and still somewhat sedimented, but it tasted great; heavy, complex and full of flavor, very much like the complex wines from its neighboring Provencale region, Chateauneuf des Pape.

After dinner we immediately ate several chocolate chip cookies Willy had made the night before and they were delicious with the wine also.

We each took an additional glass of wine.   I sipped mine while finished my Book Club book, The Tennis Partner, while Suzette watched a Christmas movie on T.V.  
I learned something really interesting today from the Drink section of the Dec. 13, 2012 to January 2, 2013 edition of the Local IQ column by Sam Melada (page 10).  That Cabernet Savignon is the child of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc and its most important area of growth is Chinon in the Loire Valley in France.  We missed Chinon and the great Cabernet Francs of France on our trip to France this summer because we were focused on Chenin Blanc grape wines, although we did drink a lot of roses made with chenin blanc and cabernet franc grapes.   Alas, another reason to return to France and the Loire Valley.    
Bon Appètit

December 17, 2012 Oaxacan Green Mole with pork and Mexican Vegetables and rice

December 17, 2012 Oaxacan Green Mole with pork and Mexican Vegetables and rice

We had a simple but exceedingly filling meal of PPI Oaxacan Green Mole with pork and Mexican Vegetables and rice tonight.  I included the recipe for this dish in my last Thursday or Friday blog.
On Sunday I went to Pro’s Ranch Market and obtained their last bunch of Epazote.  When I asked for assistance from a produce worker, he walked over to the cooler where the herbs and specialty items are kept and picked up a bag filled with a beautiful fresh bunch of a long stemmed herb and said, ‘You are the lucky one.” as he handed me the last bag of fresh epazote.
The recipe calls for making a puree with three herbs (parsley, hoja de santo or green fennel tops and epazote or cilantro) and about 1/3 cup of broth from the dish, so on Monday evening I picked three of four sprigs of parsley and Suzette harvested about ½ cup of fresh green tops from the fennel plants in the garden and I chopped those with the bunch of epazote and some cilantro from Pro’s Market (about 1 cup total).  We stirred the pureed herbs into the dish and simmered it for about thirty minutes to cook the squash and the herbs, while we cooked 1 cup of basmati rice.   I also made guacamole with avocados, white onion, garlic, lime juice and cilantro.
Then we spooned rice and then the stew into a pasta bowl and enjoyed it with beers and guacamole and Mexican style (cooked in lard) corn chips.  No corn tortillas available.

The stew was amazingly fresh and healthy tasting, the nopales did not turn to mush but kept their cactus like firm consistency and the tomatillo puree and herb puree gave the dish a citrusy and herby flavor that is hard to describe, perhaps because we did not put in the large quantity of pork broth that would have pushed the flavor toward a more meat like flavor.  I prefer using Mexican Squash to the chayote that the recipe calls for and we did not use any masa to thicken the dish because I wanted the dish to stand on the strength of it vegetable ingredients.  

The looseness of the stewed vegetables was fine with me and since we did not use a lot of pork broth we did not need to add a lot of masa to cream the dish.

Bon Appètit  



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 16, 2012 Christmas Dinner Party - Standing Rib Roast, asparagus and carrots, potatoes Savoyard, Melon with prosciutto

December 16, 2012 Christmas Dinner Party - Standing Rib Roast, asparagus and carrots, potatoes Savoyard, Melon with prosciutto

Suzette had invited Mary and Mike Merrill and Pavlos and Nicky Papagapolis and Bill and Regina Turner for dinner.  We had shopped on Saturday at Albertson’s at Ron Wilder’s suggestion for the rib roast.  At $5.88 per pound for U.S. Choice, it was the best price in town.  Ron adn I share a common affection for rib steaks and Ron always seems to know where the best price is on rib steaks, perhaps because Ron is from Hobbs and raised cattle for a while and I am from Fort Worth, Texas (Cowtown).
Albertsons did have a sale on ribs steaks, but the sale price of $5.88 was for a whole slab of rib steaks, about 14 pounds.  There were several cut and wrapped lovely standing rib roasts of about 6 pounds for $6.48, so we chose two of those.  I had the butcher cut mine into steaks and we wrapped up Suzette’s choice for Sunday dinner.  We then chose two filets of Atlantic Farm raised salmon (3.77 lb.) for $5.99/lb. for gravad lax and a pound of lovely large scallops ($9.99/lb.)

After buying dill weed for our gravad lax and tzatziki yogurt, cucumber and dill sauce for Christmas Open House, we checked out.
On Sunday while I was deeply involved in reading my Book Club selection of "The Tennis Partner", Suzette ran in to discuss cooking strategies, like braising the roast on all sides at high heat to seal in the juices and then roasting it at 300˚ for about three hours or until it reached an internal temperature of 150˚ (Ron’s instructions).  I also cut the carrots into long julienne slices the same length as the asparagus stalks.  Suzette made a simple cranberry sauce with cranberries, 1 1/2 cps of sugar, the zest of one lemon and one orange and the juice of one orange and fetched the homemade apple sauce from friends’ trees in Taos.

The new addition to the array of foods was a simple Epicurean Sauce made with whipped cream, drained horseradish, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce.  Suzette had not made it before, but it turned out great, creamy and laced with horseradish flavor.
Just before 5:30 p.m., when the guests were due, we sliced ½ of a Crenshaw melon from our garden that we had stored in the fridge since October.  It was still fresh and sweet.  Suzette wrapped the slices with slices of prosciutto that we had bought at Costco at least a month ago.

Mary and Mike and Pavlos and Nicky and Bill and Regina soon arrived.  Mary brought a tray of assorted Ferraro foil wrapped chocolates and a beautiful flower arrangement and Mike handed us a bottle of Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon ($50.00 at Costco).  Nicky made a Greek nut and honey and rose water flavored cake and biscotti and Bill and Regina brought us a bottle of Calvados (apple brandy distilled in Normandy, France), one of my favorite brandies.
I opened the 2009 Duckhorn Napa Valley Cab. to let it breath and opened a bottle of 2006 Wellington Vineyards Mohrhardt Ridge Vineyard Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon to breath a bit also.

We immediately sat down at the dinner table and we served the prosciutto wrapped melon with glasses of sparkling Zonin Italian Prosecco.
Suzette then checked the meat and found that its internal temperature had suddenly risen to around 160˚, so she pulled it from the oven.

We laid the roast on a large carving board with its rib side standing up and brought it to the table and we shared serving the potatoes and carrots and asparagus and sauces as I removed the wall of rib bones and carved ½” slabs of meat and laid them on plates (the meat was closer to medium than medium rare, no visible bloody liquid, just pink in the center, but it was the most delicious piece of meat I have tasted in a long time, probably due to the slow cooking method).   Soon we had all been served the dishes and I had poured the Wellington in all the glasses.  After some hearty eating and drinking we poured the Duckhorn and went from the light fruity clean world of Sonoma Ridge to the dark jammy dense world of flavors from the floor of the Napa Valley for which Napa is so famous.
After we had eaten our fill, no seconds, we rested and I made decaffeinated coffee and opened the tray of Ferraro chocolates and we served coffee and Nikki’s desserts with coffee and the last sips of Duckhorn cab.  Although I was duly impressed with the Duckhorn’s assertive character for this special occasion, I think I still prefer the cleaner more feminine flavor of the Wellington.  It is like the difference between being in the flat warmer Napa Valley east of Sonoma Valley with its more constant fog off the bay and being high on the cooler western ridgeline of Sonoma nearer the Pacific with its currents of changing weather. Two different terroirs and climates, two different wines.

By 8:00 p.m., Pavlos and Nikki’s designated time to leave to pick up their three children staying at friends, we were finished with a very satisfying meal and said our warm goodbyes, wishing all a happy holiday season.

Bon Appètit           

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 15, 2012 Vinaigrette Restaurant

December 15, 2012 Vinaigrette Restaurant

A slow day 
The biggest effort went into shopping for beef for Sunday Night’s dinner.  We bought salmon for gravad lax for Christmas Eve and also some rib steaks and scallops on sale at Albertson’s at the corner of Coors and Central.  Fresh Atlantic salmon was $5.99/lb., large scallops were $9.99/lb. and the bone in rib steaks were $6.48/lb. We bought two six pound chunks; one for a standing rib roast for Sunday evening and had the butcher cut the other chunk into five ¾ inch thick steaks. We also bought fresh dill weed for the gravad lax.
At 7:00 p.m. we went to Vinaigrette to meet Debbie and Jeff for dinner.  We all ordered salads and avoided the temptation of dessert.  We shared an order of fried cheese balls of local goat cheese, which were nice but not great.  What was great was the warm freshly baked bread served with the cheese balls and the dinner salads.  Each table had its own bottle of olive oil.  Everyone dipped one or two slices of bread.  Again, everyone, except me, ordered Marble Brewery beer, although I tried and liked the brown porter, but it was too heavy for me to drink an entire glass of at one sitting.   

Near the end of the meal, two young women were seated next to us who ordered a bottle of Spanish white Albarino that looked great.  Perhaps we will try it next time.

Then home to bed.

Bon Appètit  

December 14, 2012 Lamb Shish Kebob with Bulgur Pilaf and Tzatziki Sauce and Salad and Chocolate Cake

December 14, 2012 Lamb Shish Kebob with Bulgur Pilaf and Tzatziki Sauce and Salad and Chocolate Cake
I talked to Susan Palmer this morning about the planned meal for tonight and asked her if she would rather eat Oaxacan Green Mole with pork or lamb shish kebobs.  She chose shish kebobs. 

So at around 5:30 p.m. when I got home from a client’s office and the bank, I searched the internet for a recipe and found a Food Network recipe for Gyro meat and Tzatziki Sauce and started cooking.  I first made the Tzatziki Sauce with 2/3 of a hot house cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped, 16 ounces of plain Pace drained Greek yogurt, 4 cloves of garlic pressed, 1 Tbs. olive oil, 2 tbs. of red wine vinegar (Praeger Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley), 5 or 6 dried mint leaves from our garden.
I asked Willy to make guacamole and to chop some onion which he did.  He left about a cup of red onion after he made the guacamole, so I started the bulgur by placing about ¼ cup of onion and two Tbs. of olive oil in a large enameled casserole and sautéed the onions for a few minutes and then added about 1 cup of bulgur and sautéed that for a few minutes and then added a handful of black raisins and about two ounces of sliced almonds.  While I was sautéing the bulgur mixture, at around 6:10 Suzette appeared from her nap and asked what she could do.  Since I had told Susan to come at 6:30 p.m., I was way behind the curve on the shish kebobs so I showed Suzette the recipe, handed her the pound of lamb and a pound of ground pork, I had thawed and asked her to make the shish Kebobs.  She said Susan had called and said they would not arrive until 6:45, so I felt a little better.  I heated water in the tea kettle and added about two cups of boiling water to the hot bulgur and after it steamed and sizzled and I stirred the bottom of the casserole to loosen any stuck ingredients from the bottom, I covered the pot and reduced the temperature and put the timer on for 30 minutes.

Suzette immediately saw something I had missed because I had not read the entire recipe which is that the gyro recipe called for cooking the gyros like a meatloaf in a water bath for 75 minutes.  Since that was out of the question with about 15 minutes until the Palmers were scheduled to arrive, I said we would make shish kebobs by sautéing the meat in oil, which is what I had wanted to do anyway.
Suzette put the ingredients for the shish kebobs into the Cuisinart.  They were:

1 medium onion, finely chopped, thanks to Willy
1 lb. of ground lamb

1 lb. of ground pork
1 Tbs. of dried ground Marjoram

1 Tbs. of dried ground rosemary (we substituted fresh from the garden)
2 tsp. Kosher salt (she used French Sea Salt)

½ tsp. of black pepper (we deleted this because I do not eat black pepper)
We also put some shish kebob seasoning powder I had in instead of the salt.

Suzette processed all of these ingredients in the Cusinart until they turned into a paste.
I chopped three stalks of fresh parsley from the garden finely and added that to the meat and then rolled out about 10 ¾ inch wide rolls of meat and Suzette sautéed them in olive oil and then put them in the oven to stay warm. 

Thank God the Palmers were fashionably late, arriving around 7:00 p.m. with green salad makings and marinated green beans and a beautiful chocolate cake from Whole Foods, because I was still rolling shish kebobs and Suzette was still frying them.  

We served the guacamole with the Mexican style corn chips that Susan loves (Michael’s from Pro’s Market) and dry roasted almonds (Sprouts $3.99/lb.) as appetizers.

Since I had bought nice Roma tomatoes on Thursday at Pro’s Market, after I finished rolling shish kebobs, while Susan was assembling her salad I asked her if she wanted any tomatoes and she said yes, so I gave her two.  I also like tomato wedges with the shish kebobs and Tzatziki sauce, so I cut two Romas into slices lengthwise by quartering and then slicing the quarters in half.
I then fetched a bottle of 2008 Ménage À Trois red wine (a meritage of merlot, cabernet and zinfandel made by Folie À Deux Winery in St. Helena, Napa Valley, California).  After pouring each person a glass of wine and nibbling a few more appetizers, we were ready to eat.

The larger shish kebobs that were still soft in the middle were best.  Their slightly lamblike flavor with the bulgur and Tzatziki was wonderful; as were the tomato slices dipped in Tzatziki and slices of shish kebob.  The green beans and salad were a refreshing complement to the heavy meat and bulgur part of the meal.      
After dinner, Susan served the yellow cake with a delicious dark chocolate icing while I made decaffeinated coffee.  As it turned out I made the coffee stronger than normal, so it seemed to be like a Turkish roast and consistency, a very nice finish for the meal and as a complement to the dark chocolate icing.

Bon Appètit

December 12, 2012 Dinner – Poached Grouper in clam and tomato broth sugar snap peas over mashed potatoes

December 12, 2012 Dinner – Poached Grouper in clam and tomato broth sugar snap peas over mashed potatoes

Suzette was tired and I worked late, so at 7:00 p.m. we went to the fridge and just grabbed a bunch of things and threw them together in a hurry.  We found a little PPI clam sauce with sugar snap peas from Friday night, the PPI Greek red wine vinegar and tomato fish sauce combined with extra PPI tomatoes, PPI mashed potatoes and the last of the tomato soup.

I heated the tomato soup and sliced the last of the lovely baguette from Bosque Bakery brought to us by Cynthia and Ricardo and I toasted it and heated the tomato soup.   Suzette ripped the threads from the edge of the sugar snap peas and put them into the poaching liquid while I fileted the grouper steak into two boneless filets.  Suzette then put the grouper filets into the poaching medium and I served the tomato soup with pieces of toasted, buttered baguette.

Suzette added some sour cream to the mashed potatoes and I heated them in the microwave and then toasted and buttered the last two pieces of baguette and poured out the last of the Londer 2007 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir while Suzette plated the heated mashed potatoes and laid the poached fish and sauce on the mashed potatoes in a pasta bowl.  The sauce was still pretty thick due to the flour used to make the Greek tomato sauce, so it was a hearty dish although very light because the poaching of the grouper made it tender and flakey.

I saved a small piece of bread so I could eat a piece of brie on it with the last few sips of the lovely Londer pinot noir after finishing my grouper.

This simple three course meal could not have taken more than twenty minutes to make, even with the prep of the fresh fish and sugar snap peas.

Bon Appètit    


December 13, 2012 Oaxacan Green Mole

December 13, 2012 Oaxacan Green Mole
I went to Santa Fe today to argue a Motion for Summary Judgment in the Lower Rio Grande Adjudication case.  Suzette was kind enough to get up at 6:30 a.m. and make pork burritos.  After the hearing at 11:30 a.m. the consensus was to go to Cowgirls, where Bill Turner and I each had the Red pear salad with dry roasted pecans and arugula and greens.  Bill ordered a blue cheese dressing plus the raspberry vinaigrette which added a creamier texture to the salad.  I was sunny and around 55˚ when I got home so after a few calls around 3:30 I decided to ride. 
When I got home and showered Suzette arrived and she had eaten, so I ended up eating a second burrito for dinner.  I awakened around 3:00 a.m. and decided to make the pork mole dish that I had bought nopales and Mexican squash to make at Pro’s last Thursday, so I got the Rick Bayless’ Mexican Kitchen cookbook out and found the Oaxacan Green Mole with Pork, White Beans and Mexican Vegetables (page 290) recipe and saw that it called for green string beans instead of squash, but alas I wanted to do a Northern Mexico variation by substituting squash for green beans.   So I chopped and sautéed one onion and put it in a large enameled casserole and added the nopales to it and started cooking it.  Then I broiled one jalapeno and the 2 lbs. of tomatillos and five or six cloves of garlic about five inches from the burner for about 15 minutes.  I threw the tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic in the food processor with ½ tsp. of ground cumin and 4 or 5 cloves and pureed it into a sauce, which I added to the casserole.  I then diced 1 ½ lb. of the PPI pork tenderloin and put that in the casserole.  According to the recipe, at this point one can stop the recipe and wait until one serves the dish to add an herb puree of 4 sprigs of parsley, 2 sprigs of epazote or cilantro and 2 leaves of Hoja Santo or the green tops of a fennel plant.
At around 5:30 a.m. I went back to bed happy with my new dish.
Bon Appètit

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 9, 2012 Dinner Roasted pork tenderloin with apples and quince and Squash casserole and sugar snap peas and dessert of cheese strudel

December 9, 2012  Dinner  Roasted pork tenderloin with apples and quince and Squash casserole and sugar snap peas  and dessert of cheese strudel
We had a leisurely day at home, but at around 5:30 p.m. Suzette wanted to make dinner, so when she went to the garage fridge to fetch the squash casserole, she saw that we had two pork tenderloins in plastic a cryovac wrapper (Costco $2.99/lb. and grabbed them.  This was the first storm of the Winter, so we were in the mood for a hearty dinner.
We decided we would make our favorite pork tenderloin recipe which is the Spanish tapa recipe for “Roasted pork tenderloin with apples” on page 236 of José Andrés’ Tapas: A taste of Spain in America Cookbook.  

1 pork Tenderloin (1/2 lb.)

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. Spanish olive oil

1 golden delicious apple, peeled, cored and sliced into 8 or more slices

1 white onion peeled and thinly sliced

5 sprigs of fresh oregano

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

2 Tbsp. Spanish brandy

½ cup of chicken stock

Our tenderloin weighed 1 lb. so we decided to double the recipe.  Our neighbors, the Lamms, had given us quinces from their trees that we wanted to use, so I sliced peeled, cored and sliced two quinces into slices while Suzette sliced the onion and small apples from her trees at the Center for Ageless Living in Los Lunas.
Then following the recipe she preheated the oven to 250˚F and then heated the butter and olive oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan over a medium flame on the top of the stove and added the apples and quince and onion and when they softened and took on color, she added 7 or 8 sprigs of fresh oregano from our indoor plant.

She seasoned the pork tenderloin with the salt and a reduced amount of pepper because of my sensitivity to black pepper and cut it into large chunks each about three inches long and placed the meat on top of the apples, quince and onions in the pan and scooped the cooking liquid from the fruit and onions on top of the meat and placed the pan in the preheated oven and placed the squash casserole in the oven also.

She cooked the pork until the internal temperature reached 140˚F, about 25 minutes, turning the tenderloin every 10 minutes.  I then removed the tough threads from the outside of a cup of sugar snap peas and wen the pork was removed from the oven I started steaming the peas until they were tender, about 6 or 7 minutes and let them sit on the stove.    Then she removed the tenderloin from the pan and wrapped it in aluminum foil to keep warm.

Then she placed the pan over a burner with medium heat, added the brandy and cooked the fruits and sauce until reduced by half, about 1 or 2 minutes, then added ½ cup of chicken stock and reduced the sauce until it thickened slightly, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Then I sliced a piece of tenderloin for each of us and plated it.  We then scooped peas and the squash and celeriac casserole onto the plate and garnished the pork with the fruits and sauce from the pan.  I opened a bottle of La Granja 360 (Trader Joe’s $5.99) a Spanish red wine made with 50% Tempranillo and 50% Garnacha (Grenache) from the Cariñena denominación de origen near and bottled in Zaragoza, Spain by  It has a silky smooth fruity flavor.   

After dinner we drank the rest of the La Granja 360 and then I wanted to eat some of the cheese strudel given by Ed last night, so I opened a ½ bottle of Londer 2007 Pinot Noir and enjoyed a glass of it with the cheese strudel.  
What a great meal.

Bon Appètit

December 8, 2012 Bodhi Day Sit and Dinner Party – Lasagna, Salad and Croatian Cheese and Apple Strudels

December 8, 2012 Bodhi Day Sit and Dinner Party – Lasagna, Salad and Croatian Cheese and Apple Strudels

I sat with my small Zen meditation group of three for a half day from 9:00 am to 3:00 p.m. in honor of Bodhi Day or Rohatsu in Japanese, which is usually celebrated on December 8 and is celebrated as the day Buddha figured everything out and reached enlightenment:  how to break the wheel of suffering and life and death, the law of Karma and understanding the four noble truths and reaching a state of Nirvana or complete awakening or understanding for the first time in 589 B.C.E.   
Shortly after reaching enlightenment the Buddha started teaching the path to enlightenment and the four noble truths.
The four Noble Truths are explained in Wikipedia as follows:

The four truths are presented within the Buddha's first discourse, Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dharma (Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra). An English translation is as follows:[web 4]

  1. "This is the noble truth of dukkha: birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, illness is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are dukkha; union with what is displeasing is dukkha; separation from what is pleasing is dukkha; not to get what one wants is dukkha; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are dukkha."
  2. "This is the noble truth of the origin of dukkha: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there, that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination."
  3. "This is the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it."
  4. "This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of dukkha: it is the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration." [13][e][f]
   We sat for three 30 minute periods and then had lunch and then an 1 ½ hour informal sit with walks between of the sits and after lunch and then had tea and cookies and talked; a pretty leisurely sitting schedule. 

Lunch was vegetarian and I brought the squash, potato and celeriac casserole we had made Friday night.  J.B. made curried vegetable soup and Chris brought a lovely, round Sage Bakery farmhouse bread made with mixed whole wheat and white flour and butter and apples and a pear.
When I returned home around 3:30 p.m. I found Willy and Bobbie jack hammering the last hardened area of dirt to dig a trench in order to expose the water line from the meter at the street to the house.

Everything was tidied up by 5:00, so we got dressed and grabbed a bottle of Italian Da Vinci Chianti and drove to Ed and Ben’s house in Tome for their Christmas Party.  Ed works for Suzette as her horticulturalist.  He has had several interesting careers, including being a culinary school trained chef and working in the kitchen at El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon (one of Santa Fe RR’s original Harvey Houses) and then for 19 years being a guide for rafting trips on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, before coming to Albuquerque.
We learned that Ed’s ancestry was Croatian when he offered us lovely cheese and apple strudels made with phylo dough.  He told us the story of making phylo with his grandmother by stretching a piece of dough out until it was unbelievably thin to make the wrapping for the strudel.  I especially liked the cheese strudel made with cottage or ricotta cheese and flavored with sugar and lemon juice.

For dinner Ed had made platters of vegetarian and meat lasagna and a large salad with fresh mushrooms and tomatoes and green onions.  Both lasagnas were great, although I especially liked the vegetarian lasagna with its rich creamy mushroom sauce and layers of mushrooms and spinach.
After sitting beside the fire in their new brazier on the second story deck attached to their house, which is nestled among large cottonwood trees near the edge of the Rio Grande bosque, talking and sipping wine.  We ate a lovely dinner of beautifully prepared food with them and their other guests and played an elaborate game of progressive gift claiming organized by Ben and eating Ed’s delicious meal, we went home around 9:30 p.m.   Ed was kind enough to give us a platter of strudels.

Bon Appètit




December 7, 2012, Something old becomes Something New: Dinner – PPI Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

Last Friday night we made Spaghetti with clam sauce for dinner with fresh manila clams from Costco ($3.49/lb.)  This Friday we were tired and did not want to create a big meal.  So I took the PPI clam sauce and the PPI spaghetti mixed with the spaghetti with Pesto from a previous meal of PPI Lamb and sauteed spahetti in pesto sauce that was combined with the PPI plain spaghetti in a bag. 
Suzette combined the PPI spaghetti with the PPI Clams and Clam Sauce in a large enamel casserole and I stripped the threads off ½ cup of sugar snap peas and added those to the mix and Suzette heated the whole concoction until it became a clam soup with noodles.  The result was wonderful, because the spaghetti softened and absorbed the clam and pesto sauce's flavors.

I opened a bottle of 2011 Laurent Reverdy Sancerre that I recently bought at Trader Joe’s ($12.99) to drink with the clam soup.  Suzette and I both agreed that the Sancerre lacked character and the normal zip of citrus and minerality of Sancerre.  It was like drinking dead wine with no character or interesting flavor. Alas, there are some bad Sancerres.  I guess you must pay to get the good stuff sometimes.  One of my rules about buying wine is that sometimes you can buy a good cheap wine, but the price to be paid for that wonderful experience is that sometimes you have to drink some bad wines.  We use the really bad wine for cooking so it is not a total loss.  The Laurant Reverdy Sancerre is a step above a bad wine.  It is a cleanly made but unexciting wine, so it is a  candidate for something like a kir; the addition of some sweet liquor to an inoffensive wine without character or flavor that adds flavor to the wine and makes it interesting enough to drink.  It will never had character, but it with the addition of some interestng flavoring liquor it will be drinkable. 
After dinner we heated and ate the wedge of pecan pie that Cynthia Elliott and Ricardo Guillermo had brought on Tuesday evening with scoops of chocolate ice cream.

Later in the evening during and after watching “Moneyball” we made another celeriac, Hubbard Squash and potato casserole.  I chopped and boiled two russet potatoes, the last ½ of celery root.  Then Suzette creamed them with cream and butter and added the plain roasted PPI squash flesh and put that mixture in a pyrex baking dish and garnished it with pinion nuts and Pecorino Romano cheese she had pulverized in the Cuisinart.

Bon Appètit