Friday, June 29, 2012

June 28, 2012 Dinner – Sushi

I went by Ta Lin and picked up a 1 lb. piece of salmon for sushi, plus two octopus tentacles and about 2/3 lb. of ahi tuna and a fresh white daikon radish.   I also bought a 19 ounce tub of  medium firm tofu, a small tub of white miso, Japanese eggplants, beautiful shallots, a bottle of saki, baby dill and a 4 ½ lb. chunk of Atlantic farm raised King Salmon for gravid lax.

When Suzette got home, we cut up the octopus, the 1 lb. slice of salmon and the tuna and got out our tube of wasabi in paste form, pickled ginger and tamari soy sauce.  Suzette sliced an avocado and then sliced thin pieces of honeydew melon with a cheese slicer, while I peeled and sliced about 1 lb. of the over 1 inch thick daikon into thin half round slices.

We feasted on the sushi and other fresh ingredients and drank cold nigori saki (cloudy white) and watched all the exciting news surrounding the Supreme Court’s decision that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional.  

Later, we ate bowls with the last of the clafoutis, topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream and sipped cognac.

As you can tell from the last two days reviews, in the summer we simplify our recipes and select recipes that cut down on the time spent over a hot stove.  Lighter, fresher food is preferred.  With the new garden that will increase in time

For example, I am thinking about serving the gravid lax in a salad with an orange/chili dressing instead of the traditional Swedish method of with bread and butter and boiled new potatoes. 

Bon Appétit

June 27, 2012 Lunch – Vietnam 2000; Dinner – Creamed beef and Mushrooms on Pasta

I took Luke to the Airport at 11:00 so was close to Vietnam 2000 and in the mood for my favorite summer dish, Bun Cha Gio, which is a bowl filled with strips of fresh cool julienned cucumber, shredded lettuce, mung bean sprouts, basil and cilantro covered with a bed of room warm boiled rice vermicelli and topped with hot meat or vegetarian ingredients of your choice.  My other son, Willy, and my favorite topping is a combination of fried pork egg rolls and grilled pork (No. 21, $7.25).  I also usually order extra basil and cilantro because I like the fresh herbs.  Today, I was interested in an extra lift, so I ordered an iced coffee with condensed milk; a lovely summertime drink.

After lunch when I arrived home I called Suzette and we decided to thaw out a steak for dinner.

Upon Suzette’s arrival at she was hungry so we decided to cook a quick one dish dinner. 

Creamed Beef with Mushrooms on Penna

1 lb. rib eye steak, sliced into ½ inch wide slices
1 cup Penna pasta (dry)
5 large white mushrooms
3 Tbsp. yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
30 ounces of stock (guinea fowl)
30 ounces of water
buerre marie (2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp of flour, blended into a paste)
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Suzette thawed the steak in the microwave and I sliced the steak and chopped the onion and cut about 1 lb. of broccoli flowerets off of their stalk, while she sliced about five large white mushrooms.

We poured the 30 ounces of stock into a large pot and added an equal amount of water and boiled the pasta until soft (about fifteen minutes).  While the pasta was boiling, Suzette sautéed the onion and mashed the garlic in a garlic press in a skillet and sautéed them at medium heat until softened and then added the meat and mushrooms.  While the meat and pasta was cooking Suzette made a buerre marie (2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp of flour, blended into a paste) and I steamed the broccoli flowerets.

After the meat and pasta was cooked, Suzette added the buerre marie to the skillet and cooked it for a minute or two. Then we gradually added about two cups of the stock from the pasta pot and made a cream sauce.  There was about 30 ounces of stock/pasta water left in the pasta pot, so I put it back into the container and refrigerated it for another meal.

We put a pile of the cooked penna in a pasta bowl and ladled the thickened creamed beef and mushroom mixture over it and put five or six flowerets of the steamed broccoli on the side of that pile in the bowl for a very attractive and delicious pasta dinner.

We opened a bottle of 2009 Round Pond Estate bottled Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford, CA.

I ate three chocolate truffles later with a glass of cognac and read about the chateaus of the Loire Valley in France.

Bon Appétit

June 26, 2012 Luke’s Dinner Party – Grilled Salmon and Spelt Salad

June 26, 2012 Luke’s Dinner Party – Grilled Salmon and Spelt Salad

Luke invited four friends for dinner (two Sarah Lawrence friends, Sarah and Marjorie, and two old Albuquerque friends).  We spoke in the afternoon and I went by Costco and picked up a filet of Steelhead salmon ($6.99/lb) and 2 lb. box of cherry tomatoes.

When I arrived home Suzette had not yet arrived so I got to cook the Salmon.  We did not have a cedar board, so I brushed the Salmon with oil and drizzled lemon on it.  Luke had boiled spelt and made a salad by adding chopped cucumbers and crumbed ricotta salata cheese and some basil.  He had bought a head of red leaf lettuce at La Montanita Coop.  I sliced a handful of the cherry tomatoes in half and we piled the spelt salad on leaves of lettuce and garnished the salad with tomatoes and laid a slice of cooked salmon on each plate.  We ate in the garden and had a lively conversation while we drank a New Zealand and a Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc.

For dessert, we ate Clafoutis (Cherry custard) with small glasses of Spanish Paxaran (infused juniper berry liquor).

Bon Appétit.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 23, 2012 Lunch – Taj Mahal, Dinner – Pork Fried Rice with Cucumber, Onion, Tomato, Avocado and Mango Salad

June 23, 2012 Lunch – Taj Mahal,  Dinner – Pork Fried Rice with Cucumber, Onion, Tomato, Avocado and Mango Salad

I met my son, Luke, at Taj Mahal for lunch.  It was great as always.  I was hungry so I ate a slice of  Nan (wheat bread baked in a clay oven), with some rice and a yellow squash and potato curry, Saag Paneer (Greens cooked with spices and Indian cheese), and tandoori chicken (chicken marinated over night in yogurt and tandoori spices) and then baked in the clay oven) garnished with fresh onions and cold riata (a yogurt sauce flavored with spices and cucumber and potato).

To my taste, Taj Mahal has the best Saag Paneer in Albuquerque.  It does not have intense spiciness, but it seems very authentic with lots of well cooked greens and garlic and cilantro and little chili.     

I called Suzette in the afternoon to tell her that I did not have any food ideas for dinner, but we decided to thaw out a couple of chops from the freezer.  I thawed out two pork chops.  When Suzette got home I was still in a conversation with a client and still not very hungry for dinner but Suzette was so she went to the fridge and got out some cooked rice on which I had poured the rest of the teriyaki sauce from the teriyaki salmon dinner last week.  Then she made an egg pancake in the wok and then made fried rice by sautéing the teriyaki rice with the egg, while she sautéed the pork chops.  We served the pork chop with the fried rice and some Cucumber, Tomato and Onion Salad with balsamic and olive oil from last night’s meal to which we added a chopped avocado and a chopped mango.  The salad/salsa mixture turned out to be quite interesting with the pork and sweet teriyaki rice. 

We drank a California Pinot Grigio.  I like California Pinot Grigio because it has a little more earthiness than many Italian ones.

Bon Appétit

June 22, 2012 Breakfast – Ham and mushroom and green onion and cheddar cheese Omelet Dinner – Sausages and corn and cucumber, tomato and onion salad

June 22, 2012  Breakfast – Ham and mushroom and green onion and cheddar cheese Omelet  Dinner – Sausages and corn and cucumber, tomato and onion salad

I made a three egg omelet with the above ingredients plus a clove of fresh garlic, two scallions chopped finely and a handful of fresh kale from the garden.  We ate it in the garden with a glass of dry Proseco.  Lovely.

During the day I made a salad with

2 fresh roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 clove of fresh garlic, minced
4 Tbsp. of onion, minced
1 Tbsp of Balsamic Vinegar and
2 Tbsp of olive oil

Also, I boiled two artichokes (Sunflower Market $1.25 each) for about two hours, which made their flesh extremely tender.  I have usually cooked artichokes for about 1 hour and I can tell you that they improve with more cooking, if you do not like al dente artichoke.  I made a simple

Artichoke dipping sauce:

½ cup Kraft Mayonnaise
juice of ½ lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. of dried dill
Optional: dash of Worstershire Sauce

This is my simple standard artichoke dipping sauce.

For dinner we had no strong direction and were hungry so we ate one of the artichokes and then

I boiled 2 ears of white corn and two Hot Italian Pork Sausages, in a pot filled with water deep enough to allow the corn and sausages to float, that I had bought at Sunflower Market on Thursday.  After boiling the sausages, I sautéed them in olive oil for about ten minutes to brown them and fully cook them,  We served the sausages on a plate with the a bed of fresh romaine lettuce from the garden garnished with a couple of scoops of  the cucumber, tomato and onion salad and drank a beer.  Very simple and light and I slept all night.

Bon Appétit


June 23, 2012 Food to Field Food event at Center for Ageless Living

June 23, 2012 Food to Field Food event at Center for Ageless Living

I had to pour wine so I arrived at and set up the wine pouring table.  There was also a tented area for serving food and a tented area for eating.  I started pouring immediately because people has already arrived even though the official start time was 7:00 p.m.  About 100 people showed up.  The meal is always all local, all fresh, ingredients and products meaning that everything must be raised or produced within 100 miles of the center.  This year's theme was "Escape the Ordinary" and featured garlic and garlic scapes (the bloom that is produced early in the spring).

The wines included Milagro Winery’s 2009 Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.  Casa Rodeño’s Meritage, Cabernet Franc, Viogenier and a lovely Spanish style blend with Tempranillo.   There was also Gruet Brut champagne and Chenin Blanc.     

I missed the appetizers because I was pouring but everyone liked the beef sliders and three kinds of roasted garlic cloves;  some of which were served with champagne in the new ¾ acre certified organic garden. 

As dinner was served, I left Betty to the pouring and got in line with Amy Jackson, my ex-wife, for dinner.  The best dish in my opinion was the vegetarian lasagna made with fresh mozzarella from Old Windmill Dairies.  The lasagna was actually a recipe Suzette and her friend, Debbie, and I first encountered in Intra, Italy on Lake Maggiore, which was made with spinach and some form of tallegio and baked in an olive oil bathed cassarole.  Since then we have experimented with the dish and the most successful form has been the one we make with fresh kale from our garden layered with sliced baby portabella mushrooms and whatever else we have, like artichoke hearts and ricotta and mozzarella cheese and topped with parmesan cheese.  The Bistro staff added roasted red bell peppers and garlic scapes.  The trick is to put lots of liquid in the lasagna so it will not dry out when it bakes, because it will absorb lots of liquid.  I think the Bistro recipe was made with a liquid we have used a lot, a vegetable broth made with mushrooms and a mirapoix.  Everyone loved the lasagna.

There was also lamb stew with fresh carrots we had purchased at the Farmers’ Market in Albuquerque Saturday morning.  In addition, there was garlic roasted chicken and two salads, one of garden greens (some of which were bought at the Farmers’ Market that morning) and fresh peas topped with goat’s milk chevré that was wonderful and the other, a caprese style salad fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basis, onions and more gat milk chevré from Old Windmill Dairy.  For dessert, Marie Paul made her wonderful Belgium waffles as she has been doing since the Brussels World Fair in 1958.

Suzette and the garlic people spoke about the Center and garlic.  The garlic people are in our Slow Food group and cultivate over 330 types of garlic.  They described themselves as preserving as many strains of garlic as possible and they have one of the largest collections of growing garlic in the U.S.

I drank Gruet Chenin Blanc most of the night.  I started doing research for our trip to France on Sunday and was pleased to learn that my favorite wine region in France, Savenniers, greatest wines are all Chenin Blanc.   I can hardly wait to drink the real thing with the real food in France.

Bon Appétit

June 21 and 22 Vintage Albuquerque.

June 21 and 22  Vintage Albuquerque.

Thursday evening was a “To the Trade” wine tasting.  These were not the best wines but wines that were of exceptional quality for the price.  I tasted lots of really good $7 to $8.00 wines.  Some were better like Anne Amie Oregon Willamette Vaelley Yamhill District Pinot Noir, but the emphasis was on price.  Many importers were discounting their wines.

As I walked around the ball room at the Hilton (now Crown Royale) Hotel, I had a déjà vu image of being approached in the market in Marrakesh by a drug dealer saying, “I have good shit, Do you want to try some?” Everyone was super friendly and trying to get us to try their wine.

June 22,

We went to the Grand Tasting on Friday evening with the intent to pick up bottles for Suzette’s walkway at the new organic garden, but we had to try some of the wine and food first.  My favorite dish was the last one I tried from Nob Hill Diner.  It was a duck confit taco served with fresh cilantro and a jalapeno and habanero infused orange juice sauce.  There was elk tenderloin garnished with sautéed Jerusalem artichokes and a lovely shrimp smothered in a kale and greens sautéed in vinaigrette sauce.   There were over 100 wines, so I lost track of the best ones.  My favorite again was the Anne Amie Oregon Pinot Noir.

Bon Appétit     

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 21, 2012 Dinner – Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Sautéed Mushrooms and Baked Potato and Asparagus

Sautéed Mushrooms

6 large mushrooms, sliced

1 Tbsp. Butter

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. fresh thyme

¼ cup Amontillado Sherry

1 large shallot, chopped

 This meal is a good example of how I shop.  On Sunday when we went to Costco we purchased rib eye steaks for $6.99/lb.

Then on Thursday I knew I wanted a steak dinner, so I stopped at Lowes on Lomas on my way home from the Courthouse and purchased a 5 lb. bag of Russet potatoes for $.99 and a bunch of green onions.

When I arrived at home around 3:30 p.m. I put three potatoes into the oven and roasted them for one hour at 400˚F.

When Suzette got home she put some olive oil and salt on the potatoes.  She then grilled the steak and I steamed the asparagus and sautéed the mushrooms, shallot and thyme in 1 Tbsp. of butter and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.  There was not enough oil to cook the mushrooms quickly, so after they cooked for a few minutes, I added about ¼ cup of amontillado sherry and stewed them a bit.

When the mushrooms and steak were cooked we plated up the dinner by slicing the steak into ¾ inch thick slices and garnished the slices with sautéed mushrooms.  We put butter and sour cream on the potatoes and garnished them with sliced chives.  This is my favorite way to eat steak.  We drank a bottle of Gott 8 Cabernet Sauvignon with the meal.  The wine was smooth and very food friendly.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 19, 2012 Teriyaki Grilled Salmon with Rice and Broccoli

June 19, 2012 Teriyaki Grilled Salmon with Rice and Broccoli


1 lb. fresh salmon filet
1 1 x 6 inch cedar board cut to the length of the salmon filet
1 cup of teriyaki sauce
            7 Tbsp. mirin
            7 Tbsp. tamari soy sauce
            7 Tbsp saki
            1 Tsp. sugar
            dash of salt

1 ½ cups of Basmati rice
3 cups of water

1 lb. of broccoli

            I made Teriyaki Sauce during the day on Monday and around put it into a 1 gallon freezer bag with a 1 lb. piece of salmon filet ($6.99 at Costco) and put that into the meat compartment of the fridge to marinate.

            Tuesday afternoon Luke came into town for a long weekend and said he would eat salmon, so we decided to make rice and broccoli to go with the salmon.

            Suzette cut a cedar board to the length of the salmon and heated the BBQ grill.

            Luke cooked basmati rice with flakes of wakame seaweed.

            I then removed the flowerets from a 1 lb. head of broccoli and steamed them in the steamer for 8 minutes.

            We served dinner in the garden.  The dinner was soft.  Moist teriyaki salmon cooked to rare with the rice and steamed broccoli.  We drank cold Nigori sake with the meal. 

            We ate fruit salad (diced mango, papaya, orange wedges, kiwi fruit, apple and pineapple from Pro’s Market) for dessert.             

June 18, 2012 Sautéed Salmon with a Clam and Vegetable Sauce and Asparagus with Bulgur Wheat Pilaf

June 18, 2012 Sautéed Salmon with a Clam and Vegetable Sauce and Asparagus with Bulgur Wheat Pilaf

1 lb. salmon filet
2 Tbsp. rice flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cup of clam sauce

12 stalks of asparagus, snapped and steamed

1 cup of Bulgur wheat pilaf (with raisins, slivered almonds and mint and kale)

We went to Costco in the morning and bought a 2 lb. fresh salmon filet.  When we got home I cut the filet into two pieces that would each fit into a 1 gallon freezer bag and put the 2 bags into the fridge.

Suzette and I decided to poach one of the pieces of filet for dinner and serve it with the PPI clam sauce from Friday evening’s meal.  But when Suzette got into the kitchen she decided to dust the salmon filet in a plastic bag with rice flour and salt and pepper and sauté it.  So while she sautéed the salmon for about ten minutes, I snapped the ends off 12 stalks of asparagus and steamed them in the steamer for about 8 minutes and heated the PPI Bulgar wheat that we had made for the lamb chops Thursday evening and the clam sauce we had made Friday night in the microwave until hot.

We poured the clam sauce over the salmon and plated the salmon with the asparagus and bulgur.  The combination of the three was terrific.  The granular bulgur coated with the clam sauce and pieces of salmon were delicious.  The asparagus added a hearty vegetable flavor to the meal.  This exquisite combination of ingredients is really only possible from a time perspective (because it takes about thirty minutes to make each PPI), if you are using PPI’s.   This meal took less than fifteen minutes to make and was one of the most delicious we have prepared in weeks.

We drank a Sauvignon Blanc that I had bought on close out five or six years ago hat had darkened to a golden yellow that had developed a nutty sherry like flavor.

Clafoutis and a little cognac for dessert.

Bon Appétit  

June 15, 2012 Spaghetti with Clams and Fresh Vegetables

June 15, 2012 Spaghetti with Clams and Fresh Vegetables

            On Friday I went to Costco and there was a Seafood Fiesta, so I bought 4.6 lb.s of clams.  Suzette drove in from Santa Rosa and said she was too tired to cook, so I had to cook dinner.  We discussed what might work and we decided to make a one dish meal with pasta and the clams.  I looked for a new recipe that would use our ingredients and not use the ¼ lb. of butter that Suzette usually uses and found a good recipe on page 261 in Pol Martin’s Supreme Cuisine Cook Book that called for no butter.

Here it is:

32 fresh clams (I cooked all the 90 or so clams)
1 cup water (I increased the water to 2 – 2 ½ cups) 
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I substituted ½ cup of sofrito sauce)
1 Tbsp. tarragon
4 portions of linguine (I substituted 1/2 lb. of spaghetti)
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Put the lemon juice in the water with the clams (it took three cycles to cook all the 4.6 lb.s or approximately 90 clams) and heat the water to a boil and stir once or twice and boil the clams until they open. Discard any unopened shells.  We shucked most of the clams from their shells, except six used to garnish the dish.

Then I heated the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat and added the shallots, garlic and green onions and sauteed for 4 minutes over low heat.  Then add the green pepper and tomatoes and cook 12 minutes over medium heat.  I had no tomatoes, so I added the sofrito (sofrito is a Spanish cooking sauce principally made with tomatoes that is typically used in paella) near the end of the twelve minutes.  Because the slofrito was already a sauce and I had to add some clam juice to emulsify the sauce to a loose consistency.  Then I added the clams and cooked them in the sauce for several minutes over low heat to heat them.   I really like the addition of the sofrito and clam juice to make a sauce.

When the pasta was cooked we plated up the pasta and spooned sauce over it.  We drank Spanish Albarino wine with the dish. 

I loved the fact that there is very little or no butter in this recipe.  It is a low fat dish with lots of fresh vegetables, perfect for summer.

Bon appétit

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18, 2012 Dinner - Grilled lamb chops with bulgur wheat cooked with mint, raisins, slivered almonds, and kale and steamed asparagus with a bottle of Chalone Pinot Noir.

June 17, 2012 Dinner - Grilled lamb chops with bulgur wheat cooked with mint, raisins, slivered almonds, and kale and steamed asparagus with a bottle of Chalone Pinot Noir.

1 cup #4 Bulgur wheat
1 Tbsp. of olive oil
1 Tbsp of butter
¼ raisins
1/8 cup slivered almonds
1/8 cup kale
three sprigs of mint

Our kale is going to seed and so I picked some.  I also picked some mint that was invading the kale, so I decided to cook #4 Bulgur with the kale and mint and some raisins and slivered almonds.  I sautéed two garlic scapes and 1 shallot in 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter and then added the bulgur and then the almonds and after a few minutes the raisins and then the kale and mint and sautéed all ingredients together for a few minutes.  We then threw that mixture into a pot with two cups of hot guinea fowl stock and simmered over low heat covered for thirty-five minutes. 

I had bought a package of lamb chops on Friday.  We tried grilling them in the manner that Mike Verhagen recommended, which is grill them for about half the total time with the flat spine bone down on the grill and then a shorter time on each meat side.  We over cooked some of them a bit, but by and large this was a superior method of cooking because it kept the meat more uniformly rare throughout.   We also steamed six asparagus each and opened a bottle of Chalone Central Coast Pinot Noir 2008 (Whole Food $7.87).  The Pinot was heavier that the Anderson Valley pinot we have been drinking lately, but still pleasant with the lamb and bulgur.  I garnished the plates with a sprig of mint and a garlic scape.  I ate my bites of lamb with leaves of fresh mint.  It gave the lamb a fresh minty flavor.      

After dinner we tried the American Blue cheese from Costco with the last of the pinot ($4.99/lb) and did not like it very much.   It is dense, like a muenster or monterrey jack with veins of blue cheese in it, instead of crumbly with more blue cheese flavor, like many other blue cheeses Cabrales or Danish.  I do not recommend it unless you want to slice it for some reason.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June 12, 2012 Dinner – A Group of First Tastes Guinea Fowl, Kumatos, Georgia O’Keefe’s Vanilla Ice Cream and Stewed Rhubarb Recipes and a Cuisine Minceur Meal

June 12, 2012 Dinner – A Group of First Tastes  Guinea Fowl, Kumatos, Georgia O’Keefe’s Vanilla Ice Cream and Stewed Rhubarb Recipes and a Cuisine Minceur Meal

Last week we had talked to Susan and Charlie Palmer about getting together for a meal on Tuesday, so on Saturday we purchased a 4 ½ lb. Guinea Fowl from Pollo Real Farms in Soccorro at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market.  On Tuesday morning I received a “We are back, e mail message from Cynthia Elliott, so we coordinated a dinner plan for Tuesday evening at

I woke up in a panic Tuesday morning because I had never cooked a guinea fowl, so I began looking at cookbooks.  I finally found an interesting recipe for Roasted Guinea Fowl in Michel Guérard’s Cuisine Minceur Cookbook (William Morrow and Co. 1976).  Michel Guérard is famous because he created “The Cuisine of Slimness” which takes the fat and calories out of Classical French Grande Cuisine.  When we last traveled to France, we ate dinner at his Michelin Three Star Restaurant in Eugénie-les-Bains and stayed at his spa for a night.  So I tried to build a menu around the Minceur idea.  The Guinea Fowl recipe 115 on page 217 was very simple.  It used a Guérard creation of fromage blanc (literally yogurt blended with ricotta cheese).

1 Tbsp. of yogurt blended with ricotta cheese (fromage blanc by Guérard),  
5 Tbsp. of parsley,
1 Tbsp. of minced chives,
2 tsp. of minced tarragon,
2 minced shallots
2 medium mushrooms, stems trimmed, rinsed, and finely minced
plus salt and pepper to taste

per 2 ½ lb. guinea fowl (or chicken or pheasant) salted and peppered and brushed with
1 tsp. of salad oil

I had a 4 ½ lb. bird, so I doubled the recipe.

I had all the fresh ingredients, except the fresh yogurt so I substituted milk and cream for the yogurt to emulsify the above parsley Garniture mixture.  I started gathering herbs and chopping and blending them with the blended ricotta cheese and milk and cream fromage blanc mixture at around   By I had separated the skin from the flesh of the bird from the neck cavity back to behind the legs and smeared the creamy herb mixture evenly around the bird and then threw the remaining Garniture into the neck and tail cavities and trussed them closed.  We had a skillet with red chili oil left over from last night’s trout dinner on the stove, so I brushed the bird with the red chili flavored oil.

The cooking instructions were 425° for 20 minutes and then 350° for 40 minutes.  I preheated the oven at 425° and placed the fowl breast side up in the middle of the oven on the top rack of a covered roasting pan filled with about ½ inch of water.  Suzette called at around and we discussed the cooking time and the weight of the fowl and decided to use convection cooking and to extend the time of cooking, so I turned on the convection and extended the time by five minutes at 425° and then reduced the temperature to 350° and set the timer for 40 minutes. A bit after when Suzette walked in we looked at the bird. The exposed breast side was golden brown but the thigh bottom side was still white and uncooked looking, so we flipped the bird to expose the bottom and Suzette basted it with more red chili oil and we put it back into the oven until Cynthia and Ricardo arrived at around 6:30 p.m. bearing a PPI of Pilon, a Puerto Rican dish made with boiled plantains and a meat and vegetable mixture for us to try. 

We turned off the oven and opened a bottle of Handley Brut Rosé of Pinot Noir, which was the best rose champagne we tasted in May at the Pinot Noir Festival in Anderson Valley, California (which is saying something when your neighbor is Roederer Estates), and walked out to the back yard to let Cynthia inspect the garden area that she had designed for us (Cynthia is a landscape architect).  At around Suzette covered the fowl with aluminum foil and we went over to Susan and Charlie Palmer’s house for dinner. 

Sauce for Guinea fowl

The recipe says to cover the roasted fowl with aluminum and let it rest while you make a sauce using:

¾ cup of chicken stock
1 Tbsp of parsley, minced
1 clove of garlic, crushed  

I picked and chopped 1 Tbsp. of parsley and picked scapes and two bulbs of garlic from the garden and cleaned and crushed about ½ Tbsp. of small cloves of garlic and a couple of scapes finely chopped.  We then poured the cooking medium in the bottom of the roasting dish into a four cup pyrex measuring cup.  The fat immediately separated from the water and cooking juices sank to the bottom.  Suzette skimmed the fat off with a small ladle.  This left just the cooking juices in about 1 cup of water, so we threw the herb mixture into a plastic refrigerator container and poured in the cooking juices liquid and capped it and put it in a bag to take to the Palmers.

Since Cynthia and Ricardo had never seen the Palmer’s house and garden, after we said our hellos, Charlie took us on a tour of the garden and his wood working shop. The Palmer’s garden had been on a garden tour a couple of weeks before so it was in beautiful condition.  I have never seen it so beautiful, with its waterfall and rivulet lined with large flagstones of sandstone and its flagstone and crusher fine pathway across the fountain area surrounded by Japanese style bent pine trees.

After the garden tour and a tour of the shop and Charlie’s new harpsichord project, while Charlie was showing Ricardo his newly constructed Chinese Cabinet joined without any nails, Cynthia made a salad dressing for her green salad with Kumatos.  Susan plated up steamed green beans (haricot vert) and asparagus and roasted turnips and sweet potatoes.  And Suzette and I heated the sauce and carved the bird off the bone and cut the thighs and breasts in halves so there would be enough portions for 6 persons and plated and sauced the guinea fowl. 

At around we finally served dinner.  It was glorious.  I had never tasted Kumatos and I loved them.  Kumatos are a hybrid variety of tomato developed in Spain (“Olmeca” in Spain) and distributed through a tightly controlled international production organization.  It has a dark brown velvety color and tastes sweeter than an average tomato.  Susan steamed the asparagus in her vertical steamer that does such a great job of steaming asparagus.  The guinea fowl was tender and the cooking juices of the bird had combined with the ricotta and herbs and the sauce into a spongy, moist, soft textured cake of herbs (“truffée au persil” is the phrase used by Guérard) that was heavenly with the rich gamey fowl.  I liken the flavor of the free ranged guinea fowl to that of a wild turkey; a little darker and gamier than a wild pheasant. 

We drank and ate and talked with great spirits.

About fifteen minutes after everyone had finished their plates of food I went back home to fetch the Vanilla Ice Cream and Rhubarb and Strawberry Stew Suzette had made the night before using recipes from A Painter’s Kitchen by Margaret Wood (Red Crane Books, Santa Fe, New Mexico).  Margaret was Georgia O’Keefe’s cook and companion from 1977 to 1982 and now lives in Santa Fe.  Also, Margaret is attending a book signing and luncheon at the Center for Ageless Living on July 20, 2012. 

Margaret and Georgia’s Vanilla ice cream recipe is:
 1/2 cup local honey
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 pints whipped heavy cream

Margaret and Georgia’s Stewed Rhubarb recipe is:  
1 lb. rhubarb
1 cup strawberries
1 cup Mexican blond granulated sugar
1 cup water

We had bought fresh rhubarb at the Farmer’s Market in Santa Fe last Saturday that Suzette cooked with fresh strawberries using the above recipe into a thick stew. 

Susan cut up a platter of freshly made chocolate brownies.  We each made dessert plates with scoops of the vanilla ice cream, rhubarb/strawberry stew and brownies and drank the Zonin Proseco for a lovely light dessert.  We finally gathered up our respective bowls and said goodnight to each other around  I would say that the dinner was decidedly light.  No one felt full, although we had eaten lots of food.  I discovered that this light, fresh ingredient cuisine is the joy of Cuisine Minceur.

Bon Appétit 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 11, 2012 Dinner – Red Chili Dusted Fried Trout with Calabacitas and fried calamari and tartar sauce

June 11, 2012 Dinner – Red Chili Dusted Fried Trout with Calabacitas and fried calamari and tartar sauce 

We wanted to try the trout recipe for the new menu at the Bistro again this evening. So Suzette went to the fridge and got the bag of heirloom Chimayo red chili that is orange rather than red and costs $20.00 for a half pound instead of $5.00.

She soaked the trout in milk and then dusted the trout in a bag of chili and rice flour.  I had julienned three small zucchini and ¼ medium onion and ¼ green Anaheim chili and three cloves of fresh garlic from our garden.  When that was prepared, Suzette sautéed the vegetables in a large skillet with butter and olive oil, and the trout in a skillet with canola cooking oil.

Then Suzette soaked the calamari in the milk and then dusted them in the red chili and rice flour batter.  Again the result was like lat night’s very pleasant crispy skin on the trout and a rather greasy texture to the calamari.  We loved the more intense chili flavor of the trout dusting and we added red chili to the tartar sauce this evening and it made for a more picante flavor that we thought folks in Los Lunas will like.

The calabacitas was tender, almost too soft, but delicious.

We drank a bottle of Spanish Pazo Serantellos 2010 Albariño (about $16.00 at Whole Foods, I think) which tasted delicious with the delicate texture of the trout flesh.  The albariño was a much better fit with the delicate white meat of the trout than the heavier Viura on Sunday night.

I thought the tartar sauce had a bit too much chili but it was balanced between sweet and picante and not as sweet as I usually like it, but it expressed an interesting juxtaposition of both sweet and hot flavors.

Bon Appétit     

June 10, 2012 Fried Trout with Tartar Sauce and Asparagus

June 10, 2012 Fried Trout with Tartar Sauce and Asparagus

Suzette is starting to work on her next menu for the Bistro.  Ann Sesler, the Bistro's Executive Chef, had decided to put a fish dish on the menu and Suzette suggested that I look at the menu and make suggestions.  Ann had suggested a red chili battered tilapia filet and I much prefer trout so when I went to Pro’s market at around to shop to get the early bird specials, I checked the fish department.  There were no trout out in the display area, so I asked the attendant if they had trout and he went to the refrigerator and brought out a hand full of fresh trout.  I bought the four nicest ones ($2.99/lb.) and about 1 lb. of calamari to see if we could replicate yesterday's Ristra recipe.  There was no potato flour, so I bought a box of rice flour along with some of my usual ingredients such as ham and onions and Anaheim green chilis and tomatoes.

At dinner time I suggested that we try the red chili dusted fried fish recipe, so Suzette tossed some medium Chimayo red chili in a bag with some of the rice flour and we coated the trout and then after I cleaned the squid and chopped them into ringlets, some of the squid with the rice flour chili batter.  Suzette then fried them and I opened a bottle of Spanish La Montanana Viura and we made a tartar sauce with mayonnaise and sweet pickle relish and the juice of about ¼ lemon.

The trout’s meat was tender and delicately white and the skin was crisp.  So that was a success.  We did not think the dish had a sufficiently picante chili flavor though.  The calamari were not as crisp as at Ristra and other restaurants, so they must be deep frying them at the restaurants at high heat.  We could only sauté them in oil in a skillet and they did not float and absorbed more grease, so were greasy, but they were still delicious.

The asparagus were a little over the hill so they turned out to be a bit soggy also.

Some nights, dinner is an experimentation and reason to get rid of old ingredients.

Bon Appétit

June 9, 2012 Lunch - Ristra; Dinner- Salmon, cucumber and dill sauce

June 9, 2012 Lunch - Ristra; Dinner- Salmon, cucumber and dill sauce

            We went to Santa Fe for the day and we wanted to try something a little different for lunch. So we decided to go to Ristra Restaurant which is one of our favorite French restaurants.   Suzette ordered fried calamari and I ordered the Duck confit salad with French lentils ($13.75).  My salad was the best duck confit salad I have had in the U.S. for the price.  It was served in a large pasta bowl in three piles: lentils in one, salad in the second and a leg and thigh quarter of duck was the third component in the bowl.  The salad was slightly wilted as if lightly seared in a skillet, the duck was crisp as if roasted and then deep fried to sizzling and the lentils were delicious.  I asked the waiter about the manner of cooking the lentils and he went to the kitchen and returned and said they were simply boiled in a miripoux (finely carrots, onions and celery) with bacon.

Suzette’s dish was equally interesting, a large platter of white, lightly coated pieces of calamari.  The batter was light and flavorful and we asked the waiter how they were prepared. He said they were coated in potato flour.  Suzette drank a glass of Gruet Blanc de Noir champagne with her calamari and I drank a glass of Côte de Rhone with my duck. 

We were invited to Amy and Vhal’s house for dinner and to discuss and share pictures of Willy’s graduation.  They had purchased a filet of fresh Copper River King salmon at Costco that they grilled to rare and served with a lovely cucumber and dill sauce.

We opened a bottle of 2011 Toulouse Rosé of Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, California.  When we went to the Pinot Noir Festival in Anderson Valley in May, we tried all the roses in the tent and decided that Toulouse’s was the best, so we then went to the winery and ordered a case of it.  It met all expectations.  It was super fruity and had that lovely pinot noir grape flavor. The closest I can come to a description is wine Kool Aid; sweet, pleasantly fruity and with that special pinot noir flavor. After dinner Vhal and I watched the hockey game and the NBA game 7 between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics and sipped an Argentinian red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

Bon Appétit       

June 8, 2012 “From the Hoof” at the Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery

June 8, 2012 “From the Hoof” at the Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery

I went down for a treatment at at the Garden Gate Day Spa and at walked over to the Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery to wait for Suzette for dinner.  After sitting for a few minutes Chef Eric brought me a plate with a lovely small plastic container filled with a fresh carrot and turnip bisque made from the fresh carrots and turnips from the Greenhouse Bistro’s gardens.  The Greenhouse Bistro sits on a six acre site that is part of the Center for Ageless Living that is owned by Suzette Lindemuth, who is my life partner or companera de vida as the Mexicans say and is the visionary who has created the Center for Ageless Living in Los Lunas, New Mexico. 

Shortly after being served the soup, Ann Sesler, the Executive Chef and Director of Cuisine for the Center brought a plate of fresh baked soda bread and a cruet of a fresh tomato and herb coulis, which was a tasty addition to the soup.

After waiting a bit longer I began getting hungry, as I watched others eating their dinners, so I ordered a bowl of the Seafood Stew that was the prix fix meal of the day and a glass of Raymond Sauvignon Blanc Reserve.  Suzette arrived as the soup was being served.  

The soup was served in a dark brown French crock filled with a lovely light broth (caldo) and lots of bay scallops, mussels, shrimp and ringlets of squid.  Suzette and I shared it and I really enjoyed it as the soup and fish course of the dinner with sips of the Sauvignon Blanc white wine.  

I then ordered one of the dishes from the regular menu, a 6 oz. filet mignon served on a round of fried eggplant and garnished with Sauce Béarnaise plated with a pile of wonderfully delicious garlic mashed potatoes and a pile of sautéed green picked fresh from the Center’s garden that day.  The greens included snow peas, arugula, mizutaki, Swiss chard, and other greens.  I especially liked the snow pea peas.  It is the end of the season for snow peas and some of them have grown large peas inside their shells and those peas have a sweeter, less dense flavor that an English pea when sautéed.

The meat was cooked to medium rare and was delicious.  The Béarnaise Sauce was thick and creamy yet had that sharp bite of vinegar and fresh tarragon that makes it so appealing with beef.  The round of eggplant was coated with panko and fried in oil, like in eggplant parmesan.  On top of the steak was a sautéed mushroom cap filled with crab meat and the whole piled up stack of eggplant, steak and crab filled mushroom was drizzled with the Sauce Bearnaise.  This is my favorite way to eat steak and I loved the presentation and all of the elements of the dish.  A small filet mignon ha been my favorite steak since I was a small child growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, which was one of the greatest places to find a good steak in the world in the 50’s, since it was one of the main rail heads and packing plants for cattle in the U.S.  I remember many great evenings of eating petit filet mignon at the Farmer Daughter and the Cattlemen’s Restaurants.

Suzette ordered her favorite dish from the Northern California Special Menu, Crab Cakes served on a bed of green pea puree with a cucumber and coriander slaw.  She also asked for the sautéed fresh vegetables.  I handed her my glass of Sauvignon Blanc and took a glass of Parducci Pinot Noir.  Parducci is located in Ukiah, California in Mendocino County in Northern California, which is my favorite area for pinot noir.   We had just been to the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, which is only about 20 miles from Ukiah, where Parducci is located and from which it probably gets some of the fruit for its pinot noir wine (See May 19, 2012 review for more on the Pinot Noir Festival).

After we finished our large platters of food, Ann asked if we wanted dessert and I asked what they had that was special and she said, “Armando (the chief baker) made a lemon chiffon cheese cake that we are serving with a cherry coulis made from fresh cherries from the trees in the garden.”  Although I was full and could not eat another bite, I asked Ann to          

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 3, 2012 Grilled Lamb Chops with Tabouli and sautéed Sweet Potatos with aramath and Clafoutis

June 3, 2012 Grilled Lamb Chops with Tabouli and sautéed Sweet Potatos with aramath and Clafoutis

I love tabouli in the spring when tomatoes, parsley and mint are fresh.  It is also the best time for lamb.  So for dinner on Sunday evening I took the 6 lamb chops purchased at Costco ($7.99/lb.) with Mike Verhagen after our Friday lunch.

Suzette wanted to make a vegetable medley with the amarath (bought at the Farmer’s Market from Amayo Farms $3.00) and some sweet potatoes and I wanted to make tabouli.

Suzette rough diced and boiled two sweet potatoes and did the same to the aramath separating the stalks from the leaves. Then she sautéed the sweet potatoes with the aramath and some chopped garlic scapes.

While Suzette cooked her vegetable dish and grilled the lamb chops I finished the tabouli.

I started the tabouli earlier in the day by soaking about 1 cup of #2 Bulgur wheat (Istanbul Market) covered with water for about an hour or two.  After an hour or two of soaking I drained the excess water and added lemon and olive oil and gathered about three Tbsp. of parsley and about ½ cup of mint from the garden and chopped it finely and put it into the bowl with the bulgur.  Then I chopped up three green onions, and two roma tomatoes and peeled and diced two cucumbers and threw them into the bowl.  

When I finished chopping and mixing the tabouli, we plated two chops and some tabouli and some of the sautéed aramath and sweet potatoes and I opened a bottle of 2005 Estate grown Wellington Zinfandel, which was extremely smooth and flavorful and stood up well to the lamb chops.  Eating the tabouli with the lamb was like serving a mint flavored salad with the lamb.  The mint and parsley really enhanced the flavor of the lamb, without being sweet like mint jelly or bitter and sour like the mint sauces based on vinegar.

For dessert we had clafoutis.

Bon Appétit    

June 2, 2012 Dinner- Gazpacho, Shrimp with Angel Hair pasta in a cream sauce and Clafoutis

June 2, 2012 Dinner- Gazpacho, Shrimp with Angel Hair pasta in a cream sauce and Clafoutis

A full day of activity.  We started at around by going to the Downtown Farmer’s Market, which continues to grow in size and variety.  Since it is early in the season, there were not many growers, but lots of new food and merchandise purveyors.  We handed out cards advertising the Center for Ageless Living’s Field to Food dinner on June 23, 2012 and spoke to the growers and food purveyors whose names were listed on the card.   We had not had breakfast, so we split a delicious pork tamale ($5.00) and bought a ½ baguette from the Le Quiche bakery. 

Suzette wanted to make gazpacho, so she bought cucumbers from Skarsgaard Farms, who used to be at Los Poblanos Farms.  Then when we saw that one grower who grows mainly garlic was selling scapes, we talked for a long time to him (Eli) about growing and harvesting garlic and scapes and buying garlic from him for the June 23rd event.  An added benefit of stopping at the garlic grower’s booth was reacquainting with Marjorie Sweet, our son Luke’s friend from Sarah Lawrence, who was working for the grower.  It was lovely to say hello to her and hear her praises of Luke.

At Amayo’s booth, we bought a large bunch of Amarath.  Amayo is one of the strongest supporters of Suzette’s Field to Food event, because its growing facility is actually located in Bosque Farms, near Suzette’s facility.  Since the landscaping crew was scheduled to come on Saturday to start finishing our new gardens in the back yard, we bought small plants of cucumber, butternut squash, and tomatoes to plant.

Then we returned home and, inspired by our new knowledge of growing and harvesting garlic, we immediately went to our garden and spent about an hour cutting the scapes off all of our garlic and leek plants.  Then while Suzette went to the store to buy celery for her gazpacho, I made some guacamole with lime juice, avocados, red onion, two pressed cloves of garlic, a few finely chopped garlic scapes and a dash of Cholula red chili Sauce and a dash of salt for that evening’s meal.

When Suzette returned home I finished pitting the 2 lbs. of red cherries I had bought at Pro’s Market on Thursday ($1.49/lb.) for clafoutis and we were hungry so Suzette made a quesadilla with Mexican Bafar ham, some of the fresh guacamole and Irish cheddar cheese, while I cut the cherries into halves and put them in a plastic bowl with about 2 Tbsp. of cognac and 1 Tbsp of orange liquor to soak.

After our lunch Suzette made her gazpacho using the Cuisinart.  She boiled Roma tomatoes in water to loosen the skins and cook them slightly and then processed the tomatoes with celery, cucumbers, bell pepper, onion and radishes and sautéed some of the fresh garlic scapes and garlic in the delicious Chilean olive oil and added that to the soup.  Since the soup was a little thick, we added Clamato juice to it to thin it a bit. Suzette then made croutons by dicing old French bread and shaking them in a plastic bag with garlic and olive oil and then baking them in the oven at 400° until brown. 

After Suzette put the gazpacho in a container and into the fridge, I started the clafoutis, following the recipe for “Clafoutis aux Cerises du Limousin” on page 592 in the Gourmet Cookbook Volume 1.  I scalded three cups of milk and then let that cool.  I then sifted into a mixing bowl, five or six Tbsp. of white all purpose flour and ten Tbsp. of powdered sugar and about ½ tsp. of salt.  When sifted, the flour and sugar into a mound with a hole in the middle.  Suzette had finished her croutons by now and asked me if I wish for her to pre-heat the oven, since it was still warm and I said, “Yes, to 350°, please.”

I then stirred three eggs in a small cup with a whisp and added that to hole in the middle of the bowl and then stirred the egg into solution with the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.  After the mixture became smooth and thickened, I removed the crust of milk solids from the top of the scalded milk and added the milk to the bowl of ingredients and stirred that with the wooden spoon until smooth and well mixed.  I then coated a 1 ½ inch deep ceramic baking dish with butter and then dusted it with powdered sugar.  I added the cherries to the mixing bowl of ingredients and then stirred them in with the wooden spoon and then poured all of the ingredients into the ceramic baking dish.  The volume of ingredients filled the baking dish about 3/4 full.  It is important to leave some room, because the clafoutis will rise some.  I then put the clafoutis into the pre-heated 350° oven and set the timer for 50 minutes.  When the alarm rang, I checked the Clafoutis by shaking the rack and it was still loose in the middle, so I turned off the heat and left the clafoutis in the oven to continue to cook as the heat reduced.  In about another ten minutes, I removed the clafoutis from the oven.  The Clafoutis had risen to fill the entire volume of the ceramic baking dish and had even overflowed a little bit.  As it cooled, it sank a bit below the top of the ceramic dish.

Max Aragon and his assistant, Luis and Luis’ three children came around to make final measurements for the patio addition.  At Max and I went to Home Depot to buy wood for the patio addition, which took over two hours.  When we got back home after , I took a shower while Max drank and beer and discussed the patio addition with Suzette.  Finally at around I grabbed a Gruet Chardonnay and we loaded up the car and headed up the hill to Sandia Heights to Suzette’s best friend, Debbie’s house. 

Thankfully, when we arrived, Jeff, Debbie’s husband was watching the Stanley Cup finals between the L.A. Kings and the N.J. Devils.  I have not been following the Stanley Cup playoffs as closely this year as in years past, so it was great to see game two.  Debbie put the guacamole and chips into bowls and during intermission, we ate and talked about our trips and took a tour of the renovations they are making to their house.  Then during the next intermission, Suzette and Debbie served gazpacho, garnished with cubes of avocado and the croutons, on the house’s east side patio with its incredible view of Sandia Peak and the tram.  Debbie then put together her main dish of shrimp with angel hair pasta with a white wine/cream sauce, which was delicious with the French baguette (Le Quiche Bakery).  The hockey game went to overtime, so we heated the clafoutis and ate clafoutis while watching L.A. win the game in overtime.  After dinner we sat on that day’s newly installed patio on the west side of the house and watched the afterglow as the sun set in the west and the city lights after a great meal.
I must say that I got a slight upset stomach, which I attribute to the clash of the citrus in the guacamole and gazpacho with the cream in the sauce on the pasta dish and the milk in the clafoutis.  They did not mix well in my stomach.  So the menu may not have been so perfect.  

 Bon Appétit                    

Saturday, June 2, 2012

June 1, 2012 Lunch – La Salita; Dinner – MaPo Dofu

June 1, 2012  Lunch – La Salita; Dinner – MaPo Dofu

I went with Mike Verhagen to La Salita for my favorite new New Mexican dish, Chile Relleno stuffed with Swiss cheese.  I loved it as usual, especially after being deprived of good New Mexican food for over ten days in the Pacific Northwest.

Then we went to Costco and I bought whole grain bread, asparagus, lamb chops, and a bottle of Whispering Angel 2011 Rosé.

At around   I began chopping up three medium sized eggplants, a medium sized onion, an Anaheim green chili, 2-3 Tbsp. of fresh ginger root, about four cloves of garlic, two pork sirloin steaks.  When Suzette arrived at around , we went to Mariposa Gallery for Arts Crawl and when we returned home we got out the big wok and Suzette started cooking the dish.  She put about 2 Tbsp. of peanut oil in the wok and seared the meat and some of the ginger and garlic and added 1 tsp. of sesame oil.  Then I added 1 tsp. of garlic chili sauce and the rest of the ingredients. 

While the ingredients were cooking I heated water in another wok and added strips of black fungus/wood ear and sliced shitake mushrooms and some Knorr dehydrated chicken stock and started a cup of basmati rice cooking.  After sautéing/stir frying the vegetables for about twenty minutes or until soft I added the wood ear and mushrooms and enough stock to cover the mixture of ingredients and added 10 ounces of firm tofu and about 1 Tbsp. of rice cooking wine and let the entire mixture simmer for an additional thirty minutes.  Then I added a thickening solution of 1/3 cup broth to which I added 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch, 2 Tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp. of sesame oil and 2 tsp. of Rice Cooking Wine and cooked the mixture for an additional ten minutes.  At this point the sauce will turn slightly brown and thicken. 

Finally at around after watching the Stephen Colbert show, we served the dish.  It was delicious, not too spicy, with a rich balanced flavor of pork and eggplant with zippy touches of ginger.  We drank beers with the meal.

This is my favorite Chinese dish.  I have been cooking it for forty years and love it.  I tend to not make it spicy.  Most Chinese restaurants served only pork and tofu and they thicken the sauce more because that is quicker.  I usually stew the ingredients for about 30 to 45 minutes, which I think imparts a more soup or stew like flavor. The traditional Szechwan recipe for Mapo Dofu uses less meat, more chili and no eggplant.  But there are Szechwan recipes for spicy eggplant that combine pork and eggplant into stews, so I combined the two recipes and adjusted the seasoning and ingredients to what’s available.    

 Bon Appétit

Friday, June 1, 2012

May 30, 2012 Dinner- Spanish Tapa of Artichoke hearts, green peas, pork, pimiento, and saffron

May 30, 2012 Dinner- Spanish Tapa of Artichoke hearts, green peas, pork, pimiento, and saffron

We went to a party after work given by IQ and stopped at Lowe’s at Lomas and 11th and purchased some pork sirloin steaks on the way home.

So we did not get home until around , and were hungry.

We wanted something easy and quick to cook.  Suzette suggested that we make the Spanish tapa we had discovered at a small restaurant in Pasia, Spain last May.  Pasia is the sister city connected to San Sebastian and a deep water port we hiked to from San Sebastian. We took a ferry to the old part of the city nestled on a rocky promontory on the north side of the bay across from the port area, where there were a number of restaurants.  At one, we ate a wonderful appetizer made of all PPI as part of a cheap Comida del Dia for 10.50 Euros.

The secret ingredient in the dish is the fabulous olive oil of Spain that does not impart a flavor or have an oily taste, so lets the ingredients shine through.  The dish is simple; canned or bottled artichoke hearts packed in water, Spanish ham, cubed and fried into lardettes, green peas, that can be canned or frozen and thawed, pimientos, that can be canned, and a dash of saffron.  If you want Spanish pimiento, it is sold at Ta Lin.

We did not have any Spanish ham, so I removed the meat from one of the pork steaks, we had just purchased, into ½ inch cubes and Suzette fried them in the best olive oil we have, which is Chilean.  We opened a bottle of artichoke hearts bought at Costco that were packed in water, and we took a package of frozen red bell peppers we had previously roasted and a package of frozen green peas from the freezer.  Suzette defrosted the peas and bell peppers with warm water (about 1 cup each of peas and artichoke hearts and 1/2 cup each of red bell pepper and ham).

I quartered the artichoke hearts and removed as much water as I could by pressing them with a paper towel.

When Suzette finished frying the pork into lardettes, she lowered the heat and added the peas and sautéed them with the ham and then added the red pepper and finally added the artichoke hearts and a dash of Spanish saffron, we had bought in Spain last year, to the skillet in which the pork lardettes were sautéed.  

When all the other ingredients were combined and mixed and heated in the skillet with the olive oil fried ham lardettes, we served the tapa in a bowl.  We each had about a 1 ½ cup portion of tapa that was sufficient for a dinner portion.  I drank a glass of the De Ponte rosé and Suzette had a scotch and we had a lovely light and quick meal.  Prep and cooking time was about twenty minutes.

Bon Appétit