Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 30, 2012 Braised pork steaks with apples, pear, Calvados and Cognac and a roasted vegetable medley

Suzette was out with the girls and I was working on a legal project and did not have a lot of time to cook, but I had thawed out two pork steaks.  So while watching the news, I peeled two carrots and a potato and diced them into bite sized pieces and trimmed and added 1 cup of Brussels sprouts and diced an onion and a small handful of chopped garlic greens and sage and put them into a ceramic baking dish and tossed them with olive oil and laid slices of butter on top and covered them with aluminum foil and put them in a 350˚ oven for an hour.  The aluminum cover helped cook and steam and release the juices of the vegetables, so that their juices accumulated in the bottom of the dish rather than gas off.

I also peeled, cored and sliced one apple and one pear.  After about 40 minutes, I added butter to a skillet and raised the heat and braised the two boneless pork sirloin steaks on both sides without letting the butter brown and then reduced the heat a bit and added the apple and pear slices. I cooked the pork and fruit for abut twenty minute or until the juices started running clear from the meat.  I then added a splash of calvados and a few drops of cognac.  The pork was slightly pink when I cut into it and very juicy.

I drank a glass of Toad Hollow Rosé of Pinot Noir from Toad Hollow Vineyards of Sonoma, CA.  The chilled dry fruity pinot noir wine complemented the hot buttery flavor of the meat perfectly.

A simple and great meal.     

Bon Appètit

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 29, 2012 Dinner – Polenta and pork in tomato sauce and grilled pork sausages and sautéed pimiento peppers, cippollini onions and portabella mushrooms.
I ate too much today.  We started around 8:30 with fresh fruit salad (pineapple, papaya, and Crenshaw melon) with Lala Mango yogurt.
Then as 10:00 I ate two men on a boat (a slice of French sourdough bread toasted in a skillet with butter and with an egg on top).

Then at 1:00 p.m. I went to lunch at Taj Mahal with Mike for saag and tandoori chicken and dhal.

After a bike ride at 6:00 p.m. I came home and Suzette was sautéing thawed  pork Italian sausages halved and split down the middle in one pan and whole cippolini onions with shredded pimiento peppers we had purchased at the Farmers’ Market last Saturday and portabella mushrooms (Costco) in another pan.  Then she heated the PPI polenta mixed with cream and pecorino cheese in the microwave and then heated the PPI ground pork with Brussels sprouts and mushroom in tomato sauce.  
After everything was heated and cooked, Suzette plated the sausages, and then beside them the polenta and the tomato pork sauce on top of that and then beside that laid the sautèed cippolini onions, pimientos and mushrooms.  We drank Hafner Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner.

Later in the evening we ate lovely pumpkin parfaits brought to us yesterday by Rosemary and Richard (large plastic cups filled with whipped cream, a pumpkin mousse and granulated crystalized ginger and dark spice cookies).  The parfaits are wonderful and definitely make me want to go to Rose’s Rose’s Café at Mesa del Sol (
Bon Appètit   

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 28, 2012 Dinner - Dinner Party at Cynthia and Ricardo’s house

October 28, 2012 Dinner - Dinner Party at Cynthia and Ricardo’s house

I got up early and peeled and cored and sliced baking pears and simmered them in the PPI syrup from our last batch of candied quinces, a sweet wine and a splash of la Chiripada Late Harvest Riesling.  So, when Suzette awakened she decided to make a pear tart for the party.  She found a recipe for tart crust on the internet and while I went to the law Library she made the tart and glazed it with some of the reduced cooking syrup.  The consistency was quite caramelized.

While the pears were simmering, Suzette roasted one of the long pimply yellow French heirloom squashes today and made a cream of squash soup for the party made with cream, chicken stock and nutmeg.

When we arrived at Cynthia and Ricardo’s a bit after 6:00 p.m. we found a platter of cheeses and crackers.  We served Suzette’s squash soup with a dollop of Cacique crema and garnished with minced chives.  Then Cynthia served her main course of pot roast, which was chuck roast cooked with garlic, oregano, basil, tomatoes and mushrooms with baked potatoes and fresh salad.  We drank a lovely Brunello Mike brought and I opened a bottle of 1974 Montevina Amador County Zinfandel and a bottle of 2006 Wellington Noir de Noir.  

Dessert was Suzette’s pear tart with glasses of the La Chiripada Late Harvest Riesling and scoops of vanilla ice cream and then glasses of Korbel champagne.

A lovely dinner with wonderful friends who like to cook.

Bon Appètit

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24, 2012 Dinner – Chicken and Dumpling Soup and fried Squash Blossoms stuffed with Goat cheese

October 24, 2012 Dinner – Chicken and Dumpling Soup and fried Squash Blossoms stuffed with Goat cheese

Suzette she was not going to cook tonight, so I suggested that I prepare the dumplings and make Chicken and Dumpling soup  Unfortunately, Suzette brought home a bag of beautiful squash blossoms, some of which were three inches long and she admitted that they should be cooked this evening.

So she helped me kneed and roll out the PPI potato and Guatemalan Blue Squash dough into rolls and let them rest.  I then fetched the PPI chicken soup from the basement and heated it and went to the garden and picked fresh kale and parsley and chopped up kale and minced parsley.   

While I was doing this Suzette mixed pecorino cheese, goat cheese, a little crema and some pesto in the Cuisinart.  When it was mixed we washed the squash blossoms and let them dry while we filled a plastic freezer bag with the cheese mixture and sealed it and cut a hole in one corner to make it into a pasty bag.  Then I filled the blossoms with the cheese mixture while Suzette beat egg white and added flour and the egg yolks to make a coating for the squash.  Measurements were not kept tonight but after the blossoms were dipped into the batter, Suzette heated a large skillet with canola oil to a depth of ½ inch and started frying the blossoms.  While she did that I turned up the heat on the chicken soup so it would start boiling and threw in the chopped kale.  When the chicken soup began to boil,  I put in the dumplings and in a few minutes when they floated to the top of the soup we turned off the soup and served the blossoms and soup with a bottle of Cutler Creek Pinot Grigio.

The squash blossoms had fried to a golden brown and were delicious, but the soup was even better with its delicately cooked chicken and the fluffy dumplings.   I dusted the top of each bowl of soup with about ½ Tbsp. of fresh parsley. 

For not cooking, this was a wonderful dinner.

Bon Appètit     

October 23, 2012 Grilled Steak with Pesto coated dumplings and grilled asparagus.

October 23, 2012 Grilled Steak with Pesto coated dumplings and grilled asparagus.
Tonight Suzette wanted grilled steak and we needed to use some slightly up old portabella mushrooms and asparagus stalks.   So I went to the garden and picked a couple of sprigs of parsley, thyme and tarragon and sliced up about a pound of mushrooms and minced the herbs.  Then we stemmed the asparagus stalks and Suzette brushed the boneless rib eye steak and asparagus with olive oil and dusted the steak with salt and pepper put the asparagus and steak on the grill while I sautéed the mushroom and herbs in butter and olive oil.   After a few minutes I added about 1 ½ Tbsp of Amontillado sherry to the mushrooms and let them cook for a few more minutes.

When the steak and asparagus were cooked, I sliced up the steak and we dished up and drank PPI Round Pond Cabernet Sauvignon and had a lively conversation with Willy.   

The asparagus were particularly lovely with a combination of olive oil and cooking juices sloshing around them.

Bon Appètit

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 22, 2012 Dinner – Veal stew with German Potato and Guatemalan Blue Squash Dumplings

October 22, 2012 Dinner – Veal stew with German Potato and Guatemalan Blue Squash Dumplings

I finished work around 6:00 p.m.  I suggested veal stew and Suzette said she wanted to make German potato dumplings to go with the stew using some of the squash we had.  She had started organizing dinner by gathering the Guatemalan Blue squash when I drove to Pro’s Ranch Market to buy milk, carrots and onions.  When I arrived at Pro’s Market I saw that the prices were really good so I bought onions (4 lb./$1.00), carrots (2 lb./$1.00), milk, papaya (2 lb./$1.00), pineapple (2 lb./$1.00), and limes (3 lb./$1.00), chips ($1.25 per 12 oz. bag) and some sliced ham.

When I returned there were two long 1 inch thick rolls of dumpling dough lying on the table and two fist sized balls of dough in the fridge.

I cut up the one pound bag of veal stew meat I had bought on Thursday at Alpine Sausage Kitchen by removing the silver skin and reducing the size of pieces to ½ inch where they were larger.  We then separated the pile of cubed meat into two equal piles and we bagged ½ and froze it for a future meal.

Suzette peeled and chopped two carrots and ½ of an onion into cubes and a few cloves of garlic and began sautéing them in olive oil and butter and cut the rolls of dough into 1 inch sections.  I asked if Suzette wanted any turnips from the garden and she said that would be fine, but no beets, so I picked five small turnips from the garden and clean them and quartered them into about 1/3 inch pieces and threw them into the skillet.  After the onions, turnips, garlic and carrots had cooked for a few minutes, we added the veal and about two Tbsp. of sage leaves that I had sliced into strips.

Suzette then asked if we had a good German wine we could drink with this good German meal and I said that we had a Riesling in the fridge in the basement, so Suzette went to the basement and fetched a chilled bottle of Loredonna 2007 Monterey Riesling from Loredonna Wine Cellars, Manteca, CA.

When the water in the large pan came to a boil we put the dumplings into the pot and there was a cloud of steam and flour as they sank to the bottom as Suzette stirred the water in the pan.  After a few minutes dumplings started to float to the top of the simmering water in the pan and Suzette said they were almost cooked, so she added some of the flour water from the dumpling pot to the skillet to make a light sauce and after draining the dumplings, I opened the Riesling and Suzette grabbed a piece of sourdough bread and we filled two pasta bowls with the dumplings and then spooned the veal stew meat over them.  The butter and oil separated from the sauce but the combination of dumplings and veal stew was delicious.  The flavor of fresh sage permeated the dish and the dumplings were tender,  not doughy and had a more neutral flavor than if they had been made entirely with potatoes.

We loved the California Riesling wine.  It was fruity and a little buttery and citrusy and not too sweet. A real surprise.

Bon Appètit          

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 21, 2012 Dinner – Spanish Tapas
I worked all day but took a break in the morning to pick some fresh lettuce from our garden and join Suzette for our traditional Sunday morning Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich in the garden. 

I suggested that we needed to use our last remaining smoked pork cutlet and the lovely pimiento pepper we had harvested from our garden and that meant that we were thinking about the Spanish tapa we had enjoyed in San Sebastian, Spain that combined green peas, Serrano ham, saffron, artichoke hearts and pimiento pepper.  After brunch we checked the open bottle of artichoke hearts in the fridge and we both agreed that the artichokes were old and smelled moldy, so Suzette said she would stop at Trader Joe’s and get a can of artichoke hearts. 
We had eaten our B, L, T sandwich at around 10:30 a.m. and I had nibbled on PPI dishes from last night’s party that Luke heated up at 1:00 p.m. when he made us Chai and we ate a piece of his birthday cake.
 I took Luke to the Rail Runner train at 1:30 p.m. and Willy went to play soccer in the evening before Suzette returned with six 14 oz. cans of artichoke hearts.
We were not hungry until around 7:30 p.m. at which time I chopped the beautiful red pimiento we had grown in our new raised bed garden and fetched the frozen green peas and pork cutlet and saffron and Suzette started chopping and frying the chopped cutlet with chopped onion and pimiento in a large skillet and then added the green peas and artichoke hearts and finally the saffron.  Whammo, we had dinner so I ran to the basement and fetched a bottle of Spanish Montebuena Rioja red wine from Alfaro, near Tuleda, and we toasted slices of sourdough bread and grabbed the butter and retired to the table to shed our workaday world and enjoy a Spanish dinner and watch a Hallmark made for TV movie.  We quickly were lost in Spanish tapas and wine and buttered bread.  The bread tasted great and I wanted something else to eat, so I toasted another slice of bread and melted slices of the fresh Leyden cheese on it I had bought at the Coop last week and had a warm open face cheese sandwich.  Later we ate several more on the slices of Leyden o buttered Kavli hard bread I had bought at the Coop with sips of the lovely red wine.
After another piece of birthday cake, I finally had finished the bottle of red wine and dinner.

This was a dinner driven by a desire to use ingredients but measured by the amount of wine.

Bon Appètit   

October 20, 2012 Luke’s Birthday Party Dinner
Luke and Amy arrived from Santa Fe at around 4:00 in the afternoon and we began to cook.  Amy brought a large pot of pinto beans in a cumin and chili rich broth that we all agreed should be simmered slowly on the stove to reduce the level of liquid.

I decided that I would like polenta with the beans because I like the combination of corn and beans and we decided to start cooking around 6:00 p.m. for the expected dinner at 7:30 to 8:00 p.m.  We also decided to make a squash and Brussels Sprout medley, so we took the Guatemala Blue squash we had bought from Amayo Farms at the Farmer’s market and one of our large squashes from our garden at around 5:30 p.m. and Amy and I cubed and skinned about one-half of each which was enough squash cubes to 2/3 fill a baking dish. Then we chopped two brown onions into cubes and Amy crisscross cut and peeled about 2 cups of Brussels sprouts and Suzette threw in about ¼ cup of peeled garlic cloves tossed the medley with olive oil and we started roasting the medley at around 6:30 p.m. at around 350˚F for about one hour.
We then turned our attention to the polenta.  Luke was the last person to make polenta and he quickly found a recipe on his smart phone that said to start by pouring polenta in a 4 to one ratio of water to polenta into boiling water and stir frequently.  We had a bit more than 2 cups of polenta so I heated 12 cups of water in the microwave and sliced three portabella mushrooms and sautéed them in about 2 Tbsp. of butter in a large enameled casserole for a few minutes.   Then I poured in the hot water and lidded the casserole until the water came to a rolling boil and added the polenta and we started stirring.  The recipe said it would take about 30 minutes but we must have stirred for an hour during which time Suzette and I decided to add about 1/3 cup of heavy cream and about ¼ cup of white wine and finally we all decided to add some grated pecorino cheese for flavor, all the time adding salt and a bit of white pepper until we could taste that flavor and the polenta had thickened into a smooth heavy paste and I could stop tasting the gritty uncooked bits of corn.

While Suzette, Luke and I were messing with the polenta, Amy made a lovely caprese salad by cutting slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, some cumato tomatoes she bought at Whole Foods, some fresh tomatoes Suzette brought from her organic garden in Los Lunas and some fresh basil leaves we had picked in our garden this afternoon when Suzette and I harvested the basil and tarragon.  Suzette made a light balsamic and olive oil dressing for the salad and by 7:30 p.m. it was ready, so they dressed the salad.
At 5:30 p.m. we had also put into the oven a large French yellow pimply skinned squash and two spaghetti squashes to bake.  Then we toasted 1 cup of pinon nuts and Suzette made a fresh batch of pesto with the fresh basil w had just picked.  While I continued to stir the polenta, Suzette scooped the stringy flesh out of the baked spaghetti squash and mixed into it with large scoop of pesto, while saving the seeds.  Then she and Amy cut the large French yellow squash lengthwise and saved its seeds.  The French squash must be baked until the flesh gets very soft in order to soften the thick skin on the squash, so it yields a very soft, mushy flesh.  We have found that the best way to cook that squash’s flesh is to emulsify it in some way.   Our preferred method of cooking it is to make squash soup, but this evening Suzette put it in the mixing bowl of the Kitchenaid mixer and made creamed squash with milk and butter, like mashed potatoes.  

I had earlier selected a bottle of Concha y Toro 2004 Xplorador Cabernet Sauvignon from the Central Valley of Chile, a bottle of La Montanana Spanish Viura (Trader Joes $4.49) and a newly acquired bottle of Trimbach 2000 Pinot Gris Hommage À Jeanne ($37.50 bought at a Trimbach wine tasting).    At  7:30 p.m. we were through cooking and Willy had come home and suggested that we open gifts, so I opened the Trimbach Pinot Gris and we sat in the living room and sipped while Luke opened his cards and gifts.  Luke had expressed an interest in jewelry, so earlier in the afternoon around 5:00 p.m. before we started cooking I went to one of the drawers off the kitchen and fetched an old silver bangle incised with evil eye and sunrise symbols and polished it until the images became clear but did not lose their patina at Amy’s instructions and got my reading glass and we were able to see the marks, which said Sterling .925 and Taxco Mexico.  Luke loved the bracelet which fit him and which he pushed half way up his forearm where it stayed easily.   Willy gave Luke a gift card and a card.  I had bought a picture card at the Coop where I stopped to buy organic ice cream of a Morada in Mora bathed in yellow light of late afternoon summer sunlight with a stormy dark gray sky behind it.  We all agreed that the pinot gris was very special, not too sweet, not to metallic, not to tannic, nicely balanced with a bit of each.  Soon several of Luke’s friends arrived and we poured them glasses of the Trimbach Pinot Gris which made a lovely aperitif and we started plating our dishes from the simmering pots of food in the kitchen and began eating in the dining room.  We started at 7 persons and ended up with 10 persons sitting around the dining room table.
I thought the Chilean Xplorador was pleasantly complex and yet fruity for a cabernet sauvignon, but I preferred to drink the Spanish viura with its fruity slightly citrus edge to it.  Most others drank the red wine so I went and got another bottle of Australian red.

I loved the combination of polenta covered with Amy’s pinto bean stew and then garnished with Suzette’s creamed French squash.  With the Roasted squash and Brussels Sprout medley, one plate of food satisfied me and everyone else.  I did not see anyone go to the kitchen for seconds.  Also, no one seemed to want ice cream and cake.  Perhaps that was because I opened a bottle of Trimbach Mirabelle Brandy, a clear plum brandy and we all tasted it.  Most found it too harsh and Suzette added a squeeze of orange juice to hers and others also thought the orange juice improved it.  Amy lay down and Luke left with two friends for a concert of David Bowie music and Rachel and Chase came and when I served Rachel and Chase some of the Mirabelle brandy, Rachel started asking about other types of spirits such as cognac, so I poured those at the table a V.S. cognac and then a sip of XO Otard cognac and then Rachel asked, “What is grappa, so I poured a grappa and explained that it is the second crushing of grapes and then their fermentation and then their distillation, while cognac is the first crushing of grapes and then fermentation and then distillation.  Then we talked about Rachel’s sweater she was wearing that she had bought in Gothenburg, Sweden and she mentioned that she had had acquavit in Sweden.  When others asked about acquavit, I poured those who wished a small glass of Jubelium’s Acquavit and then I asked those who wished to try apple brandy and poured small glasses of Calvados. At that point everyone was finished with tasting and the party broke up around 1:45 after a watching a bit of Saturday Night Live, Suzette and I went to bed, while Willy stayed in the kitchen smoking his hookah with his friend Will.

Bon Appètit

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 18, 2012 Dinner – Sautèed Herbed Scallops and Squash on a bed of couscous and Baked Quince and Pears

October 18, 2012 Dinner – Sautèed Herbed Scallops and Squash on a bed of couscous and Baked Quince and Pears
I ate sashimi at Azuma yesterday for lunch so I must be on a fresh fish jag and so when I had an idea for a meal of sautéed scallops in the morning, I took a 1 lb. package of scallops out of the freezer.  I knew we had a piece of PPI roasted large French squash with a bright orange flesh in the fridge that needed to be used.  I had a bottle of Merry Edwards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc that my client Aaron Lohmann had given me that I wanted to try so I put a bottle in the fridge to chill around noon and then went to La Salita with Mike Verhagen for lunch.  I tried La Salita's posole and liked it very much with a rich broth flavored with a generous amount of cumin.  On the way home I stopped and picked up some Genoa salami for Willy and a 1 lb. package of veal stew meat at Alpine Sausage Kitchen on Indian School Rd.      

It was a sunny warm day so I rode ten miles at 4:30 p.m. and then showered.  Max Argon came over around 6:00 p.m. and after we fetched beers from the basement, we toured the garden and I filled a basket with three or four sprigs each of lovage, thyme and garlic greens and about 1 lb. of kale leaves.

We then went inside and talked while I minced the herbs and put them in a bowl .  Then I stripped the stems from the kale and sectioned it into bite sized pieces.  I then took the 2 lb. piece of roasted squash from the fridge and cut the rind off of it and diced it into ½ to 1 inch pieces and minced about 1 Tbsp. more garlic greens and tossed them onto the diced squash.   Finally, I diced about ½ cup of brown onion.

Suzette arrived at around 6:30 p.m. and had a drink and watched T.V. for a few minutes and then we talked about dinner.  When I showed her the ingredients she suggested that sauté everything and make a one dish dinner and use the PPI couscous and kale from last night also.  This sounded great and fast and Willy had come home from soccer practice and was hungry.  So Suzette put two large skillets on the stove and put 2 ½ Tbsp. of butter in one of them and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in the other and fetched the container of PPI couscous, cherry tomato and kale from the fridge.

When the butter and olive oil were heated, Suzette added the minced onion to the olive oil and cooked it for about a minute then added the cubed squash and then the kale to one large skillet and covered them with a wok lid to cook and steam.  In the other skillet with the hot butter she then added the scallops and their salty juices and sautéed them for several minutes and then added 1/3 cup of white wine and the minced herbs and a generous squeeze of lemon juice, while I heated the PPI couscous in the microwave.

In about ten minutes all of the dishes were ready and Suzette plated up four plates with the heated couscous on the bottom, then a layer of the sautéed squash and kale and finally a generous spoonful of 4 or five herbed scallops while I opened the bottle of Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc and Willy a lemon into four wedges and I garnished each plate with a small yellow cherry tomato and a lemon wedge.  We turned off the TV and ate a lovely light dinner with a fabulous glass of wine.   My recollection is that the 2010 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc was selected as the best new wine of the year several years ago by Wine Spectator.   It was around $11.00 two years ago and now it is around $33.00 at Costco in Albuquerque.  I guess what I would say is that if you want the most balanced bottle of Sauvignon Blanc you have ever tasted, you should try it.  It has a balanced combination of lemony flavor with a slight oakiness and a lot of fruit flavor on the front.  I think it is rated as the best American Sauvignon Blanc, so well worth a try.

After dinner Suzette went back into the kitchen and filled parfait glasses with a large spoonful of the candied quince and pears we made Tuesday evening and a dollop of Alto crema sin sal (Pro’s Ranch Market).  We ate and crumbled a few Swedish Anna's Almond cookies (Lowe's $2.19) into the parfait glasses, that improved the flavor of the dessert and reduced the sweetness of the fruit. 

Suzette then turned the conversation to eating healthy and said that to maintain good health it is suggested that we eat at least 6 portions of fruits and vegetables each day and that a portion is really quite small; probably no more than two ounces.  We discussed this concept and agreed that the dinner contained at least 6 portions of fruits and vegetables.  I thought the dinner was incredibly light and delicious; fresh seafood, organic vegetables and herbs from the garden and a great glass of wine.  What could be better or easier or quicker to make?
I awoke at 4:30 a.m. not because my stomach was churning but because Suzette got up for a minute.  I feel great.  As Suzette says, "Good food puts you in a good mood!" 

Bon Appètit             

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 16, 2012 Dinner – Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce and pork and Candied Apple and Quince Pie

October 16, 2012 Dinner – Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce and pork  and Candied Apple and Quince Pie

We had picked the last two eggplants from our garden and were given one by the Bean/Alversons on Saturday.  Suzette wanted to make her favorite Chines dish from our new Chinese Recipe Eggplant with Garlic Sauce from “Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking” by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo (page 169).


1 Tbsp. double dark soy sauce

2 tsp. oyster sauce

1 tsp. white rice vinegar

½ tsp. pepper flakes from hot chili oil

2 tsp. sugar 

½ tsp. cornstarch


4 cups peanut oil

1 lb. eggplants peeled and sliced lengthwise into ½ wide strips

2 tsp. minced garlic

Suzette made the sauce in a bowl in the kitchen, while I sliced three one Italian rosa eggplants into strips and diced 1 boneless pork steak (about ½ lb.).

The skin on the eggplants was tough at the end of the season and I should have skinned the eggplant skin and didn’t.  In the alternative, leaving the skin on the eggplant prevented the flesh from turning into mush.  Suzette deep fried the eggplant strips and then drained them.  Then she put the sauce into the wok and cooked the garlic and pork in it for a moment and then returned the cooked eggplant to the wok and stirred it for a few more minutes to mix the sauce with the eggplant and pork and cooked if for a few minutes while I heated PPI basmati rice.

We drank beer with the spicy eggplant dish and loved it.

Before dinner I had peeled 4 quinces and 4 cooking pears and stewed them in a simple syrup made with 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar flavored with about 8 cloves and one stick of cinnamon and a bouquet garni of cardamom.  

After dinner when the quince and pear mixture had simmered for about 1 ½ hours we drained most of the syrup off the fruit and placed them in a roasting dish and cooked them for an additional hour at 250˚F.

This is the recipe that Suzette used to the make the candied quince and apple pie last Sunday, except she cooked her fruit for a total of three hours. 


Quinces and granny apple smith from Five Leaf Community Garden, Center for Ageless Living
Red Delicious Apples – Friend’s tree in Taos
Quince Candied Apple Pie


Caramelized Quince

1-2 lbs of Quince, peeled and sliced thinly

Cover with 2 C simple syrup (1 C sugar/1 C water dissolved)

1tsp of powdered cardamom or a sachet of whole/crushed cardamom seeds

Simmer for one hour at low temperature in a heavy bottomed pan, thick syrup stage

Remove excess flavored simple syrup and reserve for apple filling

Spread quinces on deep roasting pan and roast at 225 degrees for another hour (color will darken and quinces will become more caramelized – do not over roast as they must finish caramelizing in the pie)

Cool filling


Apple Filling

2-3 lbs of apples  ( I use two types to create texture and flavor granny apple smith and red delicious)  peel and thinly slice

Add the remaining quince syrup to cover apples – add additional simple syrup if needed

1 tsp of cinnamon

1/8 tsp of nutmeg

Juice of one large lemon (2-3 T)

Simmer at low heat till apples are tender but not overcooked

Cool filling


Pie Crust (Mother Palmer)

1 ½ C sifted all purpose flour

½ Tsp

½ C shortening (lard preferred)

4-5 T pf cold water

Pre cook crust 10 minutes prior to construction


Pie Construction 

Optional:  sprinkle sea salt on bottom of crust

Layer apple filling, dot with small amount of butter

Layer quince filling

Bake 30-45min unit crust is brown and pie is set

Serve warm with crème fraise or vanilla ice cream

Submitted  by:  Suzette Lindemuth
Phone:   505-249-1682



October 17, 2012 An Instant Dinner - PPI pesto braised lamb with kale and tomato couscous and roasted delicata squash

October 17, 2012 An Instant Dinner - PPI pesto braised lamb with kale and tomato couscous and roasted delicata squash  

Tonight’s meal was inspired by our garden. I did not shop, so we wanted to use PPI and I suggested lamb couscous.  So after Suzette arrived home from work we walked out to inspect the garden and found fresh yellow and red cherry tomatoes and lots of kale.  We have bought spinach flavored and tomato flavored couscous before, so we decided to make our own fresh kale and tomato couscous. 

I stripped the central stem from the leaves of each leaf of kale and cut the large leave half in half to make them bite sized.  Then I got the homemade pesto out of the fridge and found a package with three halves of delicate squash roasted with pinion nuts and onions.  Suzette made a fresh pot of cous cous with 2 cups of water, 1 1/3 cup of water and 2 Tbsp. of butter. When the water came to a boil, she added the couscous and butter and the tomatoes and kale and covered it to simmer.

I sliced the approximately 1 lb. of lamb and Suzette sautéed it in the pesto while I microwaved the squash and went to the basement to find a wine.  I like merlot with lamb and found a Kenwood Merlot and a Swanson Merlot from Napa Valley.  Willy toasted a slice of French sourdough bread and we sat down in about ten minutes to a lovely dinner made almost entirely of PPI, except for the freshly made Kale and tomato couscous.

Bon Appètit

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A prize winning day. October 14, 2012 Dinner - Grilled Halibut, Butternut squash puff pastries and sugar snap peas.

October 14, 2012 Dinner - Grilled Halibut, Butternut squash puff pastries and sugar snap peas.

A prize winning day.
In the morning Suzette got up and baked a candied quince and apple pie made from quince and apples from Suzete's trees at the Center for Ageless Living.  I took her and the pie to the Gutierrez Hubbell House on South Isleta Blvd. for a South Valley Harvest Festival at 10:00 am.  At 4:00 when I picked her up I discovered that her pie ad won first place in the pie contest. Actually, just before I left to pick her up, Rose and Richard came by to pick sage and brought us a box of five slices of lovely puff pastry coated with thin slices of butternut squash.  Rose owns Rose’s Restaurant at Mesa del Sol.     

After picking up Suzette, we dropped off a pyrex baking dish filled with apples and pears from Los Lunas and Taos to the Bean/Alversons and they gave us  a spaghetti squash and eggplant they had just picked from their garden.
Suzette had to shop for Santa Rosa, where she is going tomorrow, so at 5:00 p.m. we drove out to Costco and shopped for a while and then at 6:00 p.m. we went home after buying sugar snap peas, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. 

When we got home we wanted a simple diner and decided to use Rose's puff pastry with squash as a bread and carbo course and steam some sugar snap peas and grill the Halibut (Costco, Seafood Fiesta $9.99/lb.) in the manner that Suzette’s like, which is on slices of lemon coated with butter and lemon juice.
We had received a 2010 Roussanne (a white grape used extensively in Rhône white  wines) in our order of Wellington Winery wines that arrived yesterday that I had chilled.  Roussanne has a slight heft to it that I thought would go well with the thick halibut steaks, with their  rich, lovely long flakes of white flesh.

I took about twenty minutes to grill the thick slices of fish, in which time I de-stemmed and  steamed the sugar snap peas and Suzette put the puff pastry slices on a cookie sheet and toasted them in the oven on convection at around 250˚F until warmed.

The wine and meal were lovely.  Every part of it was superb.  The puff pastry was soft and delicately fluffy.  The fish was cooked to perfection so that it was still moist in the middle but cooked through and the sugar snap peas were steamed to soft but not soggy and relatively sweet for so late in the growing season.  I served each plate with a wedge of lemon to squeeze onto the peas and fish.
For dessert we enjoyed fresh baked almond cookies and apple empanadas made by Armando, the head baker, at the Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery for the Harvest Festival that were unsold with the last of the bottle of Roussanne.  The cookies were the best almond cookies I have ever tasted, probably because they were made with the fresh almonds form the trees at Suzette's Center for Ageless Living. 

Bon Appètit 


Saturday, October 13, 2012

October 11, 2012 A Sauteed Meal Smoked Pork chops and Squash

October 11, 2012 A Sauteed Meal  Smoked Pork chops and Squash

I worked until about 7:00 p.m. with Josefo Martinez and Davida Simon on a case and then we all wanted to watch the Vice Presidential debate, so we wanted to have a simple meal.

While we were working Suzette was baking a large about a ten to fifteen pound squash that had a pale beige brown skin and a bright orange flesh and peeled and cut up three of four apples we had picked in Taos last weekend and stewed them in a pan with some of the PPI crabapple/mint compote and syrup to create a lovely apple/crab apple compote.  While the debate was going I cubed the squash and got out the three pork cutlets and opened a bottle of La Granja Spanish tempranillo and Granacha blend. 

As soon as about three or four cups of the squash was cubed, Suzette started sautéing the squash in a large skillet with nutmeg, and brown sugar and salt and pepper.  After a few minutes, we tasted it and it did not have much flavor so we added ½ cup of kale leaves and three sprigs of parsley.   After a few more minutes I added three slices of fresh green ginger root to give it a bit more zip.

I sautéed the pork cutlets until most of the moisture in them evaporated in about ten minutes then Suzette added some Spanish olive oil and turned up the heat to make them take on a bit of color and crunchiness.  

After the debate we served the sautèed pork cutlets and squash sautèe garnished with a pile of the stewed apples and we sipped Spanish red wine.  A very comfortable meal for a cool Fall evening.

Bon Appètit


Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 10, 2012 Dinner - Lamb Quesadilla

October 10, 2012 Dinner - Lamb Quesadilla

I meditated at 7:00 and then stopped at Lowe’s for a gallon of 2% milk and to peruse it new liquor and wine section, so did not get home until almost 8:30 p.m.

Suzette said it was too late to eat, which I took to mean that it was too late to cook, so I made a few suggestions.  Finally when I suggested making a chicken quesadilla, her eyes lit up and she said, “Let’s make a lamb and feta quesadilla.”  Since Suzette usually makes the quesadilla, I got out the lamb, flour tortillas and container of French Presidente crumbled feta and started slicing the lamb while she stated toasting the flour tortillas in a pan.  Suzette checked the Greek yogurt but it had gone bad and was thrown.

What she did next surprised me.   Suzette took the homemade pesto from the fridge and put a healthy Tbsp. of it into the large cast iron skillet that had been used to sauté the cipollini onions the night before, and after softening the pesto into a sauce, lightly sautéed the lamb slices in the pesto and onion sauce until their lamb color turned from bright red (we had undercooked the lamb) into a light greyish brown and it had absorbed a lot of the pesto sauce.  Suzette then sliced a large yellow tomato that she had brought home from her organic garden at the Center for Ageless Living.  After she toasted one side of each of two tortillas and turned them she piled some feta cheese onto of inside of one of the toasted tortillas and then placed slices of tomato and after a few minutes of cooking the lamb placed the pesto sauce drenched lamb slices on the feta and tomato.  When the second side of the quesadilla was toasted e we then sliced the quesadilla in half and plated the dish. 

We each drank a glass of PPI red wine.  The combination of lamb and pesto and cipollini onion flavor was fabulous.  The under cooked lamb had yielded some of its two day marinade of wine, olive oil, garlic and rosemary into the pesto/onion sauce to create a rich savory creamy sauce with the melted feta cheese and cooked tomato.   I thought the lamb, when combined with these flavors, tasted better that last night’s grilled lamb dinner with crab apple mint sauce.

I am sorry we did not have a Greek yogurt sauce with fresh mint but for a quick dinner one could not complain.  The creamy feta melted into a pesto/onion sauce actually tasted better than andd took the place of the yogurt sauce in my opinion.

We often leave our skillets that we have used to cook dishes in on the stove, such as the cipollini onion skillet and use the PPI cooking mediums/sauces in them for subsequent dishes.   For example, we left the pesto/onion sauce in the skillet from tonight’s meal.  Perhaps it will be a lovely combination in which to cook scrambled eggs or a smoked pork chop, etc.

 This is just one example of a successful PPI utilization of left over cooking mediums.

Bon Appètit

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October 9, 2012 Dinner – Chicken and pasta with pesto, asparagus, and sautéed cipollini onions

October 9, 2012 Dinner – Chicken and pasta with pesto, asparagus, and sautéed cipollini onions  

We knew we wanted to use up our PPI roasted chicken, so Suzette suggested that we make a chicken and pasta dish.  We put on a large pan of water to boil and when it boiled added a mixture of about 1 cup of penna and casaccette pasta.  I de-boned and diced up the chicken.  Suzette picked some cherry tomatoes and I chopped up some onion and Suzette chopped up several stalks of asparagus and ½ of a roasted red pepper and heated some butter and oil and put the ingredients into the heated oil and butter and sautéed them until heated throughout.  After about ten minutes Suzette added the chicken and tomatoes and heated them. 

In a different pan she sautéed about 10 to 12 cipollini onions in butter and olive oil.

When the pasta was cooked to soft, beyond al dente, Suzette and I discussed a wine.  Suzette suggested a light red, so I went to the cellar and selected a bottle of 2006 Protocolo red from the Castilla region of Spain (bottled by Dominio de Erguren) ($8.00 at Kokoman in Sept. 2008).   It had a complexity and mature flavor, not the thinness of a young wine.   It helped that it had been stored in the cellar for four years.

After the pasta was drained Suzette tossed it with three or four Tbsp. of pesto and then poured the chicken mixture over it.  We served the sautéed cipollini onions in a separate plate.

Willy came home and we had a great comfort food dinner with a comfort wine that had character and complexity.

Bon Appètit

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 8, 2012 Dinner - Grilled Leg of Lamb, Roasted Delicata Squash and steamed Baby Yellow Squashes and Broccoli

I had purchased a boneless leg of Australian Lamb at Costco last Saturday ($4.99) and put it in a plastic freezer bag with about ½ cup of red wine and ¼ cup of olive oil and a handful of rosemary and about six smashed cloves of garlic and put into the fridge to marinate. 

Monday Suzette spent the day at home and we decided to grill the lamb and roast the two delicata squashes we had purchased at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday and steam the broccoli I bought at Pro’s Market on Saturday with the six or seven baby yellow squashes we had also purchased at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday.

So we split in half lengthwise the two delicate squashes and I chopped up 1/2 of an apple and about ½ of an onion and Suzette removed the seeds in the center of the squashes yielding a deep depression that she stuffed with the apples, onions, pinon nuts and about 1 Tbsp. of butter in each in a pyrex baking dish with some water in the bottom to let it steam a bit and not dry out.

After the squashes were roasting in the oven, Suzette put the lamb onto the grill and glazed it with the cranberry/mint syrup/glaze we made last week while I cut the flowerets off the broccoli and cut the stems and ends off the baby yellow squashes and started them steaming in the steamer to steam for about 10 or 12 minutes.   After the lamb had cooked for about thirty minutes and the delicatas had roasted for about 45 minutes, we were ready to eat.  We sliced the lamb and it was still red in the center, so we microwaved some of it, which was a mistake because that forced the liquid in the meat out of it and it turned relatively tough, not too tough to eat but it lost its lovely moist texture.  We should have put the lamb back on the grill for a few more minutes but we were hungry and thought we could short circuit the process and we had a lot of lamb that was cooked to rare so we had enough lamb that was cooked properly that we could eat.  So we each filled our plates with slices of lamb, a stuffed delicate, and several baby squashes and broccoli flowerets.

I opened a bottle of Spanish Tempranillo that I had also purchased on Saturday at Costco ($9.99); Vina Eguía from Bodegas Equía in Elciego, Spain, which is the small village on the Erbo River in the Rioja region (Denominación de Origen Calificada) we visited last year where the world famous Riscal Winery with its Frank Gehrey designed hotel and spa and conference center is located.  This bottle of Eguía Reserva 2007 was aged in oak for 24 months and then in the bottle, which meets the requirements for reserva.  It did have a pleasant complexity and smoothness.  I do not think it was as great as Riscal Reserva but according to the sign at Costco it had garnered a 92 rating and was half the price of Riscal Reserva.  It was lovely with the lamb and we ate a chocolate or two after dinner with sips of it and they were great also.

I love tempranillo and a good reserva has both the earthiness of tempranillo and the finish and complexity of a great wine, so for $9.99 it was a good bargain.   The five years of age were sufficient to show its finish, but I guess it could benefit from a year of two more.  I might buy several more bottles just to see.

Bon Appètit   

Saturday, October 6, 2012

October 5, 2012 Breakfast – Crenshaw melon, blueberries, granola, and Mango yogurt, Lunch – Dinner Chirashi at Japanese Kitchen “The Best”, Dinner – Roasted Chicken and kale and tomato Couscous

October 5, 2012 Breakfast – Crenshaw melon, blueberries, granola, and Mango yogurt, Lunch – Dinner Chirashi at Japanese Kitchen “The Best”, Dinner – Roasted Chicken and kale and tomato Couscous

 Food consumption can be so quixotic. Today Breakfast and Lunch were better than dinner and dinner was met my usual high standard.

For breakfast I sliced about a two inch wide slice of fresh Crenshaw melon from our garden and scooped out the seeds to make a shallow bowl into which I placed fresh blueberries and a small pile of granola.  I then poured a healthy dollop of LaLa mango yogurt over the pile and squeezed a bit of fresh lemon juice over the whole affair.  This made a messy chaotic but delicious breakfast dish.

I called Bob Mueller, a fellow lawyer who loves sushi more than I do and who is a real expert on the subject, about a case and he suggested lunch at his favorite sushi restaurant, The Japanese Kitchen, located at 6521 Americas Parkway in Albuquerque’s Uptown area.  The Sushi Bar is located in a separate space from the steakhouse with its teppan grills that is serenely quiet in contrast to the excitement and noise of the steakhouse.  Bob suggested that we sit at the counter and walked us over to sit in front of the main sushi chef, an older Japanese man.  I ordered the lunch chirashi that was priced at $18.00 and Bob looked at me and said, “I always order the dinner chirashi.  So I said, “Then I will have the dinner chirashi also.”

After about fifteen or twenty minutes we were each handed two round about 7 or 8 inch wide chirashi bowls stacked on top of each other.  When I took mine apart I saw that one was covered with vinegared sushi rice on which were two small dollops of sea urchin roe (uni), a slice of sauced BBQ’d eel (unagi), a small pile of umeboshi Japanese plum pickles, a surf clam and a small pile of orange salmon roe. 

The other box contained an inverted teacup surrounded by ice cubes and covered with a thick layer of shredded daikon. On top of the daikon were multiple layers of thick slices of raw fish and seafood (sashimi): 3 tuna (maguro), 4 salmon, 4 yellow tail, 2 mackeral, 1 conch, 1 white tuna, 2 slices of octopus, a slice of squid rolled around a dollop of flying fish roe and a bit of Japanese mint leave into a small cylinder, 2 large slices of egg omelet cooked with sweet soy, 1 slice of abalone, 1 flavored shrimp, 1 slice of giant sea clam perhaps, 1 slice of fresh conch that had been crisscross sliced to relieve some of its fibrous tension, a  Japanese mint leave (shiso) and several other fish and seafood items I did not notice but ate heartily. In other words, an extravagant assortment of fresh seafood.  Bob drank saki and we both drank hot green tea.  It took me over 1 ½ hours to eat all of the food and I did not leave a morsel in either bowl.  One of Bob’s comments was that for whatever reason we see very little sea urchin roe from Japan any more.  It mostly comes from California.  Bob said that when it used to come from Japan he would ask for complete silence when he ate the dollops of sea urchin roe so he could completely savor its salty creamy flavor.  I can say without reservation that Japanese Kitchen on this day was the best sushi in Albuquerque. 

One proviso, this is the first day of the International Balloon Fiesta and that means that there are more tourists from all around the world in Albuquerque than at any other time of the year and if you were catering to sophisticated tourists from all over the world you would want all their favorite delicacies.  Another point worth mentioning is the Japanese Kitchen is probably the oldest and most famous Japanese Restaurant in Albuquerque, having been in business for about 20 years. 

I was beginning to feel like being a foreign tourist eating my way through France or New York City with gourmet food at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Suzette arrived home at around 5:30 with a large warm Herbs de Valencia whole roasted chicken.  At 6:00 p.m. I ran to the garden and cut about a pound of leaves of kale and about twenty small red and yellow cherry tomatoes.  While watching the PBS “News Hour”, I sliced the stems out of the kale leaves and chopped them into bite sized pieces and halved the cherry tomatoes while Suzette started a large 3 or 4 quart aluminum pan with 1 ½ cups of water boiling.  I threw in about 1 ½ Tbsp. of butter and when the water came to a boil Suzette threw in 1 heaping cup of couscous.  Then we immediately threw in the pile of kale and tomatoes.  When we checked the pot after about 5 minutes there appeared to be too little water, so I added about 2Tbsp. more water, so the couscous would beg soft and the kale steam and reduced the heat to keep it from sticking on the bottom of the pan.

I then cut the thigh and leg quarters off the chicken and heat them in the microwave oven uncovered.

When the chicken was heated, Suzette fluffed the couscous and kale and the kale wilted a bit into the couscous.  I ran to the basement and fetched a bottle of Concannon Sauvignon Blanc and we served ourselves the chicken and couscous.  The chicken and couscous was hot and delicious and the steamed kale was particularly pleasant layered among the tomatoes and fluffy couscous.  Unfortunately, the wine had gone bad due to oxidation and it was undrinkable and it ruined the dinner.  The lesson here is to not allow a spoiled wine ruin your dinner.  We were not so concerned.  Suzette and I stopped drinking wine after the first glass, but we had had a mojito cocktail during the news and we were well liquefied, and did not feel the need to get another bottle even though it greatly affected the effect of the food.

Bon Appétit