Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 26, 2012 Dinner – PPI Lamb Chops and Brussels sprouts and Polenta

November 26, 2012 Dinner – PPI Lamb Chops and Brussels sprouts and Polenta

We had the PPI lamb chops and Brussels Sprouts, but I wanted to make an Italian style meal, so decided to prepare polenta, since we bought a new quantity of it on Saturday at La Montanita Coop.

So I followed the directions of 4 cups of water to 1 cup of polenta and added 2 tsp. of Knorr Dehydrated chicken stock and let the mass of polenta cook while I went to the garden to pick parsley and sage.  I cut up 6 or 7 leaves of sage and two sprigs of parsley and added that to the polenta.  Later I added about 1/4 cup more water as the polenta thickened.
I then went to the basement wine cellar and picked a 2010 La Loggia Barbera d’ Alba DOC produced by Albeisa that I think I bought at Trader Joe’s for around $8.00
After about 30 minutes of stirring with a whisk Suzette came in and tasted the polenta and ssid that we needed to add cream, so we did and it made the polenta wonderful and creamy.  A big improvement.  

So we heated the lamb chops and Brussels Sprouts and plated them up with a pile of polenta and drank the Barbera and had a great simple meal.  The wine was clean and light and terrific with the meal.

I also wanted to eat the lamb because I had purchased a bottle of Crosse and Blackwell mint apple jelly at Lowe’s ($3.99) and I love a touch of mint jelly with lamb chops.  

Bon Appètit

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 22, 24 and 25, 2012 Sunday: Lunch – Caesar Salad; Dinner – Pork Comfit with sauerkraut and Mashed Potatoes

We tried the gravad lax on bagels with goat cheese for breakfast.

For lunch I wanted to have a warm duck Caesar salad.  I used the fresh greens we had bought at La Montanita Coop, a Roma tomato, a stick of heart of palm, heated green beans and on-half of a duck breast, one green onion, several slices of Pecorino Romano cheese and the freshly made croutons from the stale French bread rolls with a bit of PPI ceasar dressing from the fridge.

For dinner, Suzette combined ½ lb. of sauerkraut from Alpine Sausage Kitchen with the PPI pork confit and made mashed potatoes.   We drank the lovely Tiefenbrunner 2009 Pinot Grigio that Aaron Lohmann had brought us on Wednesday.  It was a Leonard Lucascio selection and very clean and dry and light; the best bottle of Pinot Grigio I have had in years.  The sauerkraut was not overly strong or vinegary, but winey, and mixed well with the pork and potatoes.

On Thursday, November 22nd, we drove to the Spence Hot Springs in the Jemez Mountains and packed turkey sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of Chateau Serene rosé and bathed in the approximately 100˚ water and chatted with a couple from Stillwater, Oklahoma.  

On Saturday we were called by Nancy Lamm, who said we might like seeing the movie, “Step up to the Plate”.  So Saturday evening we went to the Guild Theatre and bought tickets at 6:20 for the 6:45 p.m. showing of the movie and went next door to El Vicino and each of us drank a 10 oz. glass of beer and watched the three chefs working on the line for twenty minutes.  I particularly enjoyed watching the guy who cooked the food in the pizza oven.   The movie was about the Michelin three star restaurant Michel Bras in rural Southwestern France in the Midi Pyrennes region at Laguiole.  It has had three stars since 1999 and is rated the 7th best restaurant in the world.

The intensity of attention that Michel and his son, Sebastian, devote to every detail in the restaurant and food is impressive and inspiring; from  going to food markets before sunrise, to experimenting in the kitchen when it is closed, to harvesting the beautiful fresh vegetables and edible flowers from the restaurant’s garden, and to training the wait staff how to describe and taste the unique characteristics of the exquisite food.
When we returned home at 8:30 p.m., I ate a gravad lax salad to test the salmon and it was delicious.

During the day on Sunday, November 25, 2012, Suzette made another apple tart for Lisa Richard, who is convalescing after surgery, with the apple sauce made with apples from her trees in Taos.  We had gone to Lowe’s on Saturday and bought a new bottle of apricot preserves, so for this tart, Suzette reduced the amount of apple sauce filling and made the recommended apricot glaze and also made the crust with wine as she had done before.   The result was a less sweet tart with a lighter crust.  Suzette made fresh whipped cream with powdered sugar.  The result was terrific.  I loved the dessert the best of all the things I ate today with a glass of cognac flavored with the quince syrup Suzette made a month ago.       
Bon Appetit

November 23, 2012 Dinner – Salmon fish sticks, fried white sweet potatoes, and steamed green beans

November 23, 2012 Dinner – Salmon fish sticks, fried white sweet potatoes, and steamed green beans

I had bought two 2 lb. salmon filets on Wednesday at Sprouts ($4.99/lb.) and small two packages of dill weed ($1.88 each), so on Friday at around 4:00 p.m. I decided to make “Gravad Lax” (sugar and salt cured salmon). 

Suzette asked me to cut off several pieces to fry with sticks of sweet potato.  I had purchased some green beans at Sprouts also ($1.49/lb.) on Wednesday.

So I cut off strips of salmon on the front head side and back of each filet and Suzette dusted them with rice flour and fried them in about ¼ inch of heated canola oil. We sauteed the potato sticks in a separate pan in butter.  When they were ready and the beans steamed, we ate a wonderful new creative meal of salmon fish sticks with fried potatoes and string beans with PPI white wine; French Domaine Langlois Chenin Blanc for Suzette and Concannon Sauvignon Blanc for me.

A fun, light meal.

Bon Appètit      

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 21, 2012 Thanksgiving Dinner, One Day Early

November 21, 2012 Thanksgiving Dinner, One Day Early

We had decided to go to the Hot Springs on Thanksgiving Day and Suzette wanted to cook the turkey we had bought last weekend at Costco ($.99/lb.), so we could celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a turkey sandwich.  So we discussed what we wanted for dinner and decided to cook a Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday evening. 

On Wednesday morning I had listened to a discussion on NPR about Julia Child’s Thanksgiving meal cooking show and heard her say that she liked Brussels sprouts with turkey.  When I mentioned that to Suzette, Suzette said, “So do I.” So we put Brussels sprouts on the menu.”  The other thing I mentioned was that Julia Child liked a simple apple tart made with apple sauce and apricot preserves.  The apple tart description invoked the funniest line in the radio interview of the cooking personality when the interviewer asked the question, “Do you think it is possible to make the tart with canned apple sauce?”  After a long second of silence, the personality answered, “What do you think?”  I knew we had stewed a large pot of apples, so I looked in the Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipe index and found Julia Child’s apple tart recipe (Vol. 1, page 635) and decided we had everything we needed to prepare the tart.  Suzette said she would bring the food mill home from work so she could remove the skins from the apples and turn the stewed apples into apple sauce.       

Wednesday morning at 7:45 a.m. we heated the last of the shrimp enchiladas with tomatillo sauce and black beans and garnished it with a fried egg and discussed the menu and made a list of ingredients.

So at noon, I started shopping.  First, I went to Pastian’s to see if they had cheap white bread for the dressing.  I was worried that they would be cleaned out but was pleasantly surprised to see that they had Italian sub rolls, French Hard rolls and Italian bread sticks in the $.50 rack and bought all three packages of them.  Then I saw dozens of pies on the counter waiting for their customers and as I walked out of the store I saw one damages pecan pie in the refrigerated display case.  I asked how much it was and the attendant said $3.07.  I then asked how much were the pies in the boxes and she said $9.25.  So I bought the pecan pie with a bit of its crust missing.   And put that in the truck.

I then drove to Costco.  The parking lot was full at 12:30 but I found a space after gassing up.  I had my list and in short order I had purchased Brussels sprouts, eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, cranberries and Xerox paper. 

After eating a hot dog for lunch, I drove to Sprouts grocery store at the corner of Academy and San Mateo and found the rest of the items that we had put on our list: string beans, tomatoes, white organic sweet potatoes, and oysters.  So by 2:00 p.m., I was through shopping and felt good about getting dinner ready within a reasonable period of time.  I was calling Suzette and telling her about my progress after each stop and at 2:00 she said she had one more stop and would be home by 3:00 and to start shopping the celery and onions for the oyster dressing.

I chopped all the celery and onions while watching European Champions League soccer matches with Willy and had started cleaning and cutting the Brussels sprouts into halves when Suzette arrived around 3:00 p.m. 

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner seems to be in Suzette’s DNA.  The minute she walked in she said, “We need to get the turkey (20 lbs.) into the oven.” So she got out eggs and Willy started cutting nine of the Italian bread sticks into 1 inch chunks and Suzette started sautéing the onions and celery and placed the giblets into a pan with water and started it simmering to make stock.  I asked if she wanted any herbs for the dressing and we decided upon thyme and sage, so I went to the garden and picked two sprigs of sage and about 1 tsp. of thyme and chopped them and threw them into the sauté pan.  Suzette then mixed the bread, oysters, pinon nuts and sautéed vegetables in a large bowl and we stuffed the dressing into the neck and tail cavities and trussed the openings closed with a skewer and a bit of thread, threw about 1 Tbsp. of flour into an oven bag and put the turkey into the bag and put the bag into a large roasting pan uncovered breast side down into a 350˚ oven to cook. 

I asked Suzette what wine she wanted to drink with dinner and she said she didn’t care and that I should pick, so I went to the basement and put three bottles of wine into the fridge to chill. We ended up drinking a 2008 Sonoma County Roussanne from Wellington Vineyards with its strong minerality (it is one the main grapes used to make Rhône wines liked Chateauneuf de Pape) and a white 2011 Domaine Langlois-Chateau we bought in Saumur this summer (100% chenin blanc

Then we turned our attention to dessert.  Suzette then milled all the apples and ended up with enough apple sauce to make two apple tarts, while I cored, peeled and sliced five apples into 1/8 inch thick slices and dossed them with lemon juice which was one of the ingredients of the tart (either cinnamon or lemon or orange juice is added to the apple sauce to flavor it). I turned out that we had twice as many apple slices as we needed so we have enough for another tart.  When Suzette put the apple sauce into a pot so we could cook it down into a guppy consistency so it sticks to a spoon (Julia’s words, not mine) I zested the peel of two oranges and one lemon into the apple sauce and Suzette added a bit of cinnamon and we started cooking and stirring the apples sauce for about 1 hour until it thickened and became guppy. 

After the apple sauce began to cook, Suzette started the cranberry sauce and Willy peeled the white sweet potatoes.   Suzette was on autopilot by now, she put about 1 ¼ lb. of cranberries into an enameled medium sized sauce pan and then measured about ¾ cup of sugar into the pan. When I noticed that the cranberries had no liquid in them and they were starting to pop and I became afraid they would scorch, I squeezed that juice of the two oranges I had zested into a glass and Suzette put it into the cranberries.  Then she cut the potatoes lengthwise and boiled them to soften them.  Then she got out a large skillet and put butter and olive oil into it and put the sweet potatoes in so they would be ready to sauté.  She then heated a pot of water and while the Brussels sprouts were blanching, Suzette went to the fridge in the garage and found a bag of pecans and chopped ½ cup of them and I shredded 1 cup of the fresh Pecorino Romano cheese.  When the Brussels sprouts had softened, Willy tossed them with the cheese and pecans.    Suzette said to shred ½ cup and next time I will shred only ½ cup, because the cheese overpowered the flavor of the pecans and the Brussels sprouts a bit.

So by about 5:30 p.m. we had finished all of the prep for the meal except for the pastry for the tart, which Suzette made and then we just had to wait for the food to cook.  So we watched the news until about 7:00 p.m. because Suzette had figured that the turkey needed to cook until about 7:30 p.m.  At 7:00 we went back into the kitchen and Suzette constructed the tart, so that it could go into the heated oven when the turkey came out.  We stuck Willy’s fancy electronic food thermometer into the turkey at 7:30 and the internal temp read 185˚, so we removed the turkey from the oven and placed the tart into the oven.  I called our invited guest, my client and friend, Aaron Lohmann, and he said he would arrive in ½ hour.

So Willy, who worked as a cook in a big fancy restaurant in Vancouver this summer took two large forks and lifted the turkey while I removed the cooking bag and then we removed the turkey from the roasting pan and placed the turkey on a cutting board.   We then removed the dressing from the two cavities to a bowl and Suzette removed as much fat as she could from the cooking liquids in the bottom of the roasting pan and made gravy by stirring some hot turkey stock with flour and adding the turkey stock/flour mixture to the pan drippings and adjusting with stock and thickening it with some milk until it reached a smooth consistency.  

We put the cranberry sauce in a bowl and turned on the heat on the sweet potatoes.  Then Suzette placed the apple tart into the oven at 375˚ and set the timer for thirty minutes.  

At a few minutes before 8:00, we placed two TV tables beside the round table in front of the fire place and placing the food on them, I uncorked the Roussanne and we poured a small amount into our glasses and sat and talked until Aaron arrived.  Then we poured more Roussane and ate at our fabulous Thanksgiving dinner.  After we drank the Roussane, we opened the Saumur and the moment I tasted the wine I was instantly taken back to the warm days of summer and the tasting room at Langlois-Chateau where we had eaten a picnic lunch on the Chateau’s patio with one of their lovely wines. ).  The combination of fruitiness, slight sweetness, and minerality of the chenin blanc is so wonderful that I am amazed how few people know about it.   It was the second bottle and we drank it with the apple tart and its fruitiness was great with the fresh fruit tart.

Willy and Suzette were kind enough to clean up the kitchen while Aaron and I talked after the meal.  Finally when Suzette announced that she was going to bed we checked the time and saw that it was 11:00 p.m. and we decided to end our wonderful Thanksgiving evening.

Bon Appétit               


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ember 20, 2012 Dinner –Grilled Lamb Chops with Rice and Stir Fried Bok Choy and Mushrooms

November 20, 2012 Dinner –Grilled Lamb Chops with Rice and Stir fried Bok Choy and Mushrooms

Breakfast – Fruit salad and Granola

Lunch – Duck Breast Salad, sliced duck breast, avocado, onions, and palm heart on a bed of organic greens

Dinner – In the morning I brought in a package of eight lamb chops (Costco $6.99/lb.) and marinated them in a freezer bag with 1 cup of PPI red wine, five sprigs of rosemary and 2 Tbsp. of Minar Ginger and Garlic Paste.  The Garlic and Ginger Paste (emulsified ginger, garlic, water, salt and vinegar) was purchased many years ago at an Afghan food store in San Diego and sits in the back of my fridge because the jar holds 26 oz. and it only takes about 2 oz. to flavor a marinade once every year or two.
At around 6:00 p.m., we decided to start cooking.  The only green vegetable we had was baby bok choy, so I de-stemmed the leaves and cut them into bite sized pieces, separating  the leaves  from the heavy stalks.  Then I cleaned ½ of a 150 g.  package of White Beech mushrooms (Ta Lin) and then cut about 1 oz. of fresh ginger root into slices and then strips, sliced and diced 2 oz. of yellow onion and two cloves of garlic.  I then heated 1 ½ Tbsp. of peanut oil in  the wok and threw in all the ingredients.  The wonderful thing about Beech mushrooms is that they look like big enoki mushrooms, but they will retain their shape as long as the heavier pieces of bok choy do, so you can stir fry them together. 

Suzette heated the PPI wild and basmati rice mixture in the microwave and tended the fire on the grill outside with the lamb chops.
When she said that the lamb chops were about 6 minutes from being done, I ran to the basement and fetched a bottle of Cutler Creek Cabernet Sauvignon and opened it and then I added a thickening sauce to the vegetables in the wok made from 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch, about 3 Tbsp. of water, 1 Tbsp. of soy sauce, 1 tsp. of sesame oil and 1 ½ Tbsp. of rice cooking wine.  For some reason I am over thickening my stir fry dishes.  I had to add additional water tonight also to bring the stir fry sauce to a reasonable consistency.

When Suzette brought the lamb chops in from the grill, she covered them with aluminum foil to let them sit for a few minutes while we adjusted the proportion of water in the vegetable sauce.  Then we were ready to eat.  We each scooped rice onto a plate and grabbed a lamb chop or two and then scooped stir fried bok choy and mushrooms onto the rice.
The Cutler Creek is an exceedingly light and clean wine with a mild character so it was a perfect complement to the subtle flavors of the bok choy and marinated lamb.  Suzette cooked the lamb chops to medium rare, which allowed much of the marinade to stay inside the meat and flavor the lamb with a red wine, garlic and ginger flavor.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about the meal was that the garlic and ginger flavors in the food did not clash but complemented each other so that an Afghani lamb dish and a Chinese stir fry dish worked together.  Sort of a Central Asian dinner.

Bon appètit


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 18, 2012 Roast Duck, Glace Pears and a rice, spaghetti squash, and asparagus medley

November 18, 2012 Roast Duck, Glace Pears and a rice, spaghetti squash, and asparagus medley

Suzette was back in the kitchen today and we dealt with uncooked and uneaten food most of the day.  We started in the morning by coring a bucket of apples we had picked in Taos in September.  After they were on the stove and cooking, I peeled and sliced three bosc pears that were going bad and we put them in a pan with a container of PPI quince and pear syrup and left them on the stove until dinner.

At around 5:00 I returned from a ten mile ride and Suzette and I discussed dinner.  I fetched the cryovac package of duck halves and the wild and basmati rice medley from the fridge. I suggested steaming asparagus, but Suzette said we needed to cook the roasted spaghetti squash.  I said that sounded fine except squash and rice did not sound like a likely match, but that I did not care because I was going to take a shower and she could cook whatever she wanted. 

When I returned around 5:45 p.m. Suzette had combined diced asparagus and squash with the rice into a mélange in a skillet and the pears were heating on the stove and the duck was roasting in the oven.

Suzette said that the dinner was ready and to go get a wine.  So I went to the basement.  I wanted to drink something different, so I selected a bottle of Handley Vineyard’s Farmhouse Red, which is a combination of several reds grown in Anderson Valley, CA because I thought that might taste like my favorite wine with duck, Rhône, which oftern combines up to 10 types of red wine grapes.  When I opened the bottle there was a ring of sediment around the neck below where the cork rested and I did not have time to decant the wine and let the sediment settle, so I put our new 5 in 1 spout into the neck of the bottle because it had a filter in it that would stop the sediment, I hoped. 
It seemed to work.  The duck and vegetables were delicious.  Suzette had chopped the squash into short strings, which went well with the small pieces of rice and asparagus.   The duck had roasted to perfection in about thirty minutes at 350 degrees F. and the pears were terrific cooked in the quince glaze. 

A pretty good meal for a forty-five minute effort.
We liked the wine so much that I decided to slice into my newly purchased fruitcake (Costco $14.99) and it was great with the heavy red wine also.

Bon Appètit     

November 19, 2012 Stir fried eggplant and pork with fresh wood ear and shitake mushrooms

November 19, 2012 Stir fried eggplant and pork with fresh wood ear and shitake mushrooms

Last Saturday when we went to Ta Lin, we bought fresh wood ears, which I have never bought fresh before and fresh shitake mushrooms, which are two of the ingredients in Szechwan stir fried pork and eggplant We also bought a Japanese eggplant, with the hope that we could use the eggplants from our garden in the dish.

At 11 a.m. on Monday, I went to our garden and picked one good and one badly frost bitten eggplant and fetched one boneless sirloin pork steak from the freezer.  

Then at 5:45 p.m., after an 18 mile ride and a shower, I started peeling and dicing eggplant.  The combination of garden and Japanese eggplant made about four cups.  I then diced chopped ½ medium onion, 1 Mexican squash and ½ of a poblano chili pepper and added them to the by now rather large bowl of ingredients. 

I then put five or six diced fresh shitake mushrooms and chopped about 1/3 cup of fresh wood ear into a smaller bowl.  Finally, I diced up a quarter sized round piece of fresh ginger root (about 1 Tbsp.) and about 1 ½ Tbsp. of fresh garlic from our garden and the pork steak. 

Then I heated the wok with about 3 Tbsp. of peanut oil and threw in the pork, garlic and ginger and stir fried the meat until it took on a grey color.  Then I scooped the meat out of the wok and added the eggplant and other vegetables, but not the mushrooms.  After the vegetables cooked for about fifteen minutes and softened and took on color, I added the mushrooms and wood ear and stir fried that for about five minutes.  Then I added about 1 ½ cup of chicken stock and the meat back and stir fried that with the addition of 2 Tbsp. of rice cooking wine, 1 Tbsp. of soy sauce and 1 tsp. of sesame oil for an additional ten minutes.

While the mixture was cooking, I put 1 ½ Tbsp. of cornstarch into a bowl and added about 3 or 4 Tbsp. of water and 1 Tbsp. of rice cooking wine, 1 ½ Tbsp. of soy and 1 tsp. of sesame oil.  After another five or ten minutes of cooking, I announced the proximity of the dish being finished and heated some water for tea.  I then added the thickening mixture to the wok.  The hot food thickened immediately, so we had to add additional water until the sauce of the dish returned to a thick gravy like consistency (in this case it seemed like 2 to three cups of water).   This was done by adding water until it liquefied the dish and then turning the food into the sauce until the right consistency of sauce spread uniformly throughout the wok and held its consistency while cooking.  Then Suzette spooned the heated rice into pasta bowls and we each spooned stir fried eggplant over the rice.

The dish was delicious.  Suzette had seconds and when Willy arrived shortly after we began eating he had some and he liked it also.   I drank green tea. 

I loved my first Chinese stir fried dish made with fresh wood ear and the last of our eggplants from the garden.

Bon Appètit   

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November 16, 2012 Two New Restaurants in One Day - Rose’s Table Café and Vinaigrette

November 16, 2012 Two New Restaurants in One Day - Rose’s Table Café and Vinaigrette

I went with Mike Verhagen to Rose’s Table Café for lunch.  Rose is originally from Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula, so she knows Yucatán cuisine.  The café is located on the first floor of the shiny new three story glass and steel building located at the southern end of University Blvd. across from the Albuquerque Sound Studio in Mesa del Sol, three miles south of the Rio Bravo exit on I-25.  The menu is simple, but interesting; lots of black beans and slow roasted meats in banana leaves.  I tried the fish tacos and Mike tried the pork tacos (cochinilla pibil).  Mike’s tacos were served with a large round cylinder of rice covered with black beans shaped by inverting a timbale.  The fish tacos were excellent.  According to Richard, the Chef, they are Swai filets thawed and battered in a flour and corn meal and baking soda and Modelo ale mixture.  The batter was crisp and toothy and the fish flesh soft and white and flakey.  The taco was a warm corn tortilla and the pieces of fish were garnished with both pickled red onions and cabbage in a mayonnaise sauce.  Lovely.  Each taco plate was also accompanied by a thick red salsa for dipping and sprinkling on the meat.  Mike’s pork tacos were shredded pork with a subtle pibil flavor.  We each chose Mexican cokes to drink and enjoyed their assertive cane sugar sweetness.  For dessert Rose served us fresh baked pumpkin cookies; large mounds of soft pumpkin flavored cookie dough coated with a thick soft white icing.  Pretty wonderful.  www. rosestablecafe.com/

 We and two couples in the neighborhood (the Colliers and the Souder/Grafs) with whom we have been friends for over twenty years as our children grew up and played together, made reservations at the newly opened Vinaigrette restaurant (www.vinaigretteonline.com).  When we arrived the newly remodeled building at 1828 Central Ave. SW we found ourselves in a large well lit dining room with reclaimed pine floors from Dixon and high efficiency LED track lights.  The atmosphere was clean, yet cozy and comfortable and a bit noisy if you do not like the bistro-like intimacy of a large room with lots of tables of people eating and drinking and talking merrily.   The menu appears to be the same as the one in Santa Fe with garden fresh ingredients served in a wide variety of soups, salads, sandwiches and large and small side dishes.  We tried a variety of dishes including beautiful salads, such as the gorgeous Nutty Pear-fessor with its Grilled Bosc pears, bacon crumbles, toasted pecans, and Maytag blue cheese  served on a bed of greens and dressed with a ruby port vinaigrette, shown on right ($11.95), a warm Reuben sandwich ($10.45), a grilled Cuban Torta (Sandwich), shown below ($10.45). 

Suzette tried the stuffed cabbage roll with cumin and garlic flavored beef rolled in a tomato stewed cabbage leaf with a chive and sour cream sauce and some marinara sauce also, shown to the right  ($7.50) (Suzette thought the meat had too much cumin and the marinara sauce rather bland).  The sandwiches are filled with generous portions of meat and each has its own unique dressing.  You can add meat to the salads for $4.00 to $7.00 extra.  I ordered my favorite salad the French Frisée with extra lardons ($9.95 plus $1.00) (lardons are diced pieces of fried bacon).   The standard portion of lardons is generous and the extra lardons are overkill unless you love bacon, which I do.   The salad is a plate of frisée topped with a poached egg and dressed with a warm shallot dressing.  I cut up the egg and let the liquid of the yolk mix with the warm shallot dressing to coat the frisee and lardons.  Heaven.  Bread and olive oil is served upon request and it is a delicious soft Italian loaf, worth ordering.  My overall impression is that the Albuquerque restaurant is as good, or better than the Santa Fe restaurant.  The other thing I noticed is how much care and creativity goes into the sauces and dressings on the sandwiches, sides and salads.  Viniagrette's has a wonderful sous chef.  
I am so glad that Vinaigrette is in my neighborhood.  Now I do not need to go to Santa Fe for my favorite salad.  We all ordered Marble Brewery beers because we had had appetizers and wine at the Collier’s house before dinner and the wine list did not look exceptionally interesting, although I did see a Ramón Bilbao “Valiñas” 2011 Albarino for $6.75 that loved interesting and would be great with fish or diver scallops, but not tonight's fried lardons.   Vinaigrette’s menu is stuffed full of interesting dishes, so I look forward to several more trips to one of Albuquerque’s best new restaurants.   Open MONDAY through SATURDAY, 11 am to 9 pm, tel. 505.820.9205 or info@vinaigretteonline.com     

Bon Appètit

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 15, 2012 Dinner – Pork Confit with sautéed Black Beans and Rice Medley

November 15, 2012 Dinner – Pork Confit with sautéed Black Beans and Rice Medley

I talked to Suzette last night and she said she wanted to eat the pork confit that we had made on Monday to see if it was still good because we had used a piece of pork that sat in its cryovac bag in the fridge for two weeks.  Lucky us. 

I had the idea of making a Spanish/Caribbean adaptation of the Italian dish that is served at the Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery.  At the Greenhouse Bistro the pork is served on white cannellini beans.  My idea was to serve the pork with black beans and rice, sort of a fancier Spanish adaptation of the Cajun red beans and rice.

Here is the recipe for the pork confit (from my September 2, 2012 blog):

On Monday morning I started the Pork Confit by crushing in a mortar 2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt, 1 Tbsp. Black pepper, two leaves of bay laurel, and five sprigs of fresh thyme.  I then put the spice mixture in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag and added three pounds of boneless pork cubed in 1 ½ inch cubes and tossed the pork with the herbs and let it sit in the fridge for 6 to 7 hours.

Then Suzette and I transferred the pork and spice combination  to two covered enamel casseroles and added enough olive oil to the casserole to cover the meat, about 1 ½ cups to 2 cups per casserole and one half head of peeled cloves of garlic into each.  Then we brought the casseroles to a boil and then put them into a 225˚ oven and cooked them for 2 ½ hours.   Then we removed the casseroles from the oven and allowed them to cool and then combined the two into one and put it in the fridge overnight.  


 So at around 5:00 p.m. when Suzette called and said she was on her way home, I asked how she wanted the beans prepared and she said with celery and onions and a pimiento.  So I minced one stalk of celery, 2 Tbsp. parsley, with one medium pimiento and one large shallot we had bought at the last Farmer’s Market. 

Then I started 4 ½ cups of water and added a large bay leaf and 1 tsp. of dehydrated chicken stock and brought the water to a boil.  When the water was at a boil, I added 1 cup of wild rice to the water and lowered the heat to a simmer.  After 45 minutes I added a cup of basmati rice to the water and simmered for an additional 30 minutes. 

Suzette arrived at 5:45 p.m. and after a drink, at around 6:00 p.m. she took out two large skillets, one for the beans and the other for the pork.  She put a bit of olive oil in the bean skillet and sautéed the minced vegetables for a few minutes and then added the beans.  After a few more minutes I added 2 Tbsp. of Amontillado sherry to the beans to give the beans a little more Spanish flavor.  Suzette then put some of the pork in the other skillet with its olive oil and spice mixture and sautéed it over low heat to heat it.  After about ten more minutes when the rice was ready, dinner was ready.  I ran to the basement for a bottle of Benton Hill 2010 Rosé and Suzette served dinner by putting a pile of pork on one side of the plate and rice on the other side of the plate with a scoop of beans on the rice.   The arrangement of foods was lovely and delicious, see picture.  

The wine was dark and cool and not sweet at all.  More somber and dark, like the cool wet Dundee Hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, just north of Corvallis.  Not at all like the fruitier complexity of rosés grown in California’s Sonoma and Anderson Valleys.  But the Benton Hill was a very good complement to the assertive flavors of the pork and black beans and rice because it unified their flavors with a texture of smoky red wine flavor.  Everyone liked the dish.  Simple and elegant at the same time.

We liked the rosé so well that I decided to go to the fridge in the garage and fetch the last pumpkin parfait made for us by Rose of Rose’s Table Cafe in Mesa Del Sol, with its pumpkin allspice cookies, submerged in layers of pumpkin mousse and whipped cream to try with the rosé.

After dinner I made chocolate chip cookies with Willy, so a lot of wild food and I am up at 2:30 a.m. to prove it. But the pork confit was not spoiled and that is the trick with pork confit.  Although I do not understand all the chemistry, the cooking at low temperature covered with spices and olive oil seems to preserve the meat and prevent spoilage.   The confit method cooking seems to me to be an older version of and amazingly similar to the new wildly popular sous bise method of cooking ingredients to temperature sealed in a plastic bag in a water bath boiling.  

Bon Appètit  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November 13, 2012 Dinner - Luke’s Vegetarian stir fry.

November 13, 2012 Dinner - Luke’s Vegetarian stir fry.

Luke invited a group of friends for dinner and a breath work session.  He made a pot of quinoa and guacamole and we put out the pickled cucumber, daikon and shallot salad (pickled in Japanese rice wine and mirin) and he stir fried medium tofu, refried black bean, broccoli, diced asparagus and chicken stock in a wok. 

We discussed the dish and Luke said he was trying to re-create a dish he had eaten in N.Y. that used whole black beans.  Instead, the use of refried black bean created a more homogenous mass because the refried beans soaked up the liquid into a gooey thick mass dominated by the thick refried beans.  The flavor was delicious but the appearance was decidedly murky and mushy.  It was a shame because I had bought whole black beans at Costco the night before, so he could have made the dish as he intended but he grabbed the refried beans instead of the whole beans.

 The bottom line was that the dinner was delicious. The food was light and did not weigh us down because it was a pleasing combination of fresh vegetables and tofu and quinoa. 

We then went to Luke’s room for a great twenty to thirty minute session of lying on the blankets on the floor and breathing, which elevated all of our spirits both physically and spiritually as we breathed to open up any constrictions in our body with the energy of our breath and send the energy we liberated up through our heart and other chackras and out through the top of our head to enliven our spiritual body. 

We probably should have evenings like this more often, where we balance body and breath work with a light delicious meal.

Suzette and I agreed that Luke is a great teacher, because he is sensitive to the needs of his students and takes a light hearted and fun approach to teaching.

Bon Appètit

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 12, 2012 – Instant PPI Dinner Sautèed Cajun Pasta, Asparagus and Salad

November 12, 2012 – Instant PPI Dinner Sautèed Cajun Pasta, Asparagus and Salad

I wanted to make a salad like I used to eat in the 50’s in Fort Worth Texas.  It is ¼ of a head of iceburg lettuce dressed with a sweet dressing made with mayonnaise, catsup and pickle relish. 

So I took the iceburg lettuce from the fridge and I sliced it into wedges and I made the above dressing and Suzette sautéed the PPI Cajun pasta in boudin sauce in a little olive oil and we snapped and steamed a handful of asparagus stalks and in about ten minutes we had a great old fashion dinner.  We drank water.

What a throw back to the dinners of my youth.  The best salad of the kind described above in Fort Worth used to be served at the El Chico restaurant and the best bottled dressing of the type described above was Brockles.  Suzette says there is a new fancier name for this type of salad but we can’t recall it.

Bon Appètit   

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 11, 2012 Dinner - Shrimp Enchiladas with a Tomatilla Sauce and Lance Armstrong

November 11, 2012 Dinner - Shrimp Enchiladas with a Tomatilla Sauce

Luke and Willy were here for breakfast, which was eggs and bacon and fruit salad I made during the morning news programs from the PPI half of the Crenshaw melon from our garden and papaya bought last week at Pro’s Ranch Market and a pineapple ($.99/lb.) and three kiwi fruits (5 for $1.00 at Pro’s) Suzette and I purchased yesterday at Pro’s and the juice of one large lime ($.33/lb. at Pro’s).

After breakfast Suzette and I rearranged and hung pictures to get everything off the floor and then we went to Costco to buy black beans and a few things for Suzette’s business. 

We arrived home at around 3:30 p.m. and we peeled shrimp for the enchiladas and I rode abut five miles in a high cold wind and came home to watch the last quarter of the Dallas v. Philadelphia game while Suzette constructed a platter of enchiladas with the shrimp and the tomatilla sauce she made last night.

Last weekend we picked the tomatillas from our garden.  Although they were not fully developed due to late planting in July, we still had a basket full of them.  On Saturday Suzette chopped them up and cooked them with onion, garlic, chicken stock and dried oregano into a thick sauce.  They are slightly gelatinous when cooked. 

Then Suzette constructed the enchiladas by sautéing the shrimp with chopped onion, garlic, red bell pepper and oregano and then filling corn tortillas heated in the microwave with cheese and the sautéed shrimp mixture and laying the enchiladas in a large pyrex baking dish and covering them with the tomatilla sauce.

unfortunately, Suzette forgot to spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the dish before laying the filled tortillas in the dish so the enchilada's bottoms were tough.  Also the problem was compounded, because the shredded asadero cheese we chose was not a good melting cheese ($2.99/lb. at Pro’s Ranch Market).  So Suzette blended the sauce and cheese together to emulsify the cheese into the sauce and covered the enchiladas with the blended cheese and tomatilla sauce and then sprinkled cojita cheese on top and baked it in a 350° oven for about 45 minutes until the enchiladas bubbled.  The final result was wonderful; a pastry like tortilla coated with a thick sauce that was like something between a cake and a stew, but neither.  Not the gooey mess one finds at restaurants that use good melting cheeses.

Suzette heated the black beans in a skillet with about 1 Tbsp each of few chopped onion and red bell pepper and I chopped up about 2 Tbsp. of fresh cilantro ($.33/bunch at Pro’s on Saturday and sliced up one half of a small avocado (4 for $1.00 at Pro’s).  Suzette served  a wedge of enchiladas and we each served ourselves a large scoop of black beans and garnished the top of the enchiladas and beans with chopped cilantro, slices of avocado and dollops of crema con sal (Pro’s Ranch Market $1.69/lb.).

We drank Kirtland beer with the dinner and watched the doping case against Lance Armstrong for a rather somber dinner time. 

A bit of history.  Luke, Suzette, Luke's friend Angele and I took a trip to France in 2005 and were on the mountain finish of the 15th stage of the Tour de France in the French Pyrennes south of Lourdes (Luz de Ardins?) on what was perhaps the greatest day of bike racing in Lance's career where Lance caught the strap of a child's mossette along the side of the road about 300 yards above us and fell and Tyler Hamilton made the other leaders wait for Lance to get up and remount his bike, which had a bent frame and stuck brake pad and commence to race with a vengance that took him well past the group of lead riders in the GC and past a young rider who had ridden on a breakaway ahead of the pack to convincingly win the stage.  There can be no greater evidence to me of Lance's ability and determination. We had parked in the town town at the base of the mountain and walked up about two miles of the 9 degree 7 mile ascent of the mountain and stopped at an outdoor cafe constructed at a campground beside the road to eat and drink and wait for the riders to pass, because we could not or would not walk any further.   As Lewis Black said on the Jon Stewart show, he had to take drugs just to watch the Tour on T.V.  I think we should acknowledge that it requires drugs to compete successfully in a grand tour like the Tour de France and let everyone dope and see who is the best rider under the same daunting conditions of a grand tour.  I suspect that Lance would have won under any evenly matched race over the same terrain and weather conditions, as he did seven times in a row and a third finish since.  He proved to me that day that he is one of the greatest atheletes of all time.  

The enchiladas were incredibly delicious and filling.  I had not desire to eat anything else other than a few extra bites of enchilada and beans.  I guess a fair assessment of the meal was that it was a wonderful success with a few small issues that were obvious and could be fixed easily.  We have never made tomatilla sauce with our own home grown tomatillas before, so this was a very exciting meal and incredibly fresh tasting.   

Bon Appètit     

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 8, 2012, Dinner – Cajun Shrimp Pasta

November 8, 2012, Dinner – Cajun Shrimp Pasta

I had thawed out a package of three Pork Boudin sausages (Ta Lin $7.99) a couple of days ago and Suzette decided to make a Cajun pasta dish with the sausage and some of the PPI pasta. 

So we thawed and peeled about 1 cup of shrimp.  Suzette then removed the boudin sausage stuffing from two of the casings (ground pork, rice and vegetables) and sautéed it with butter, onion and garlic and a Paul Prudhomme seasoning mixture of white pepper, salt, cayenne, thyme and oregano.

She then added the shrimp and added pieces of three or four diced stalks of asparagus and added cream at the end to make a cream sauce.

I went to the garden and picked about one cup of kale leaves.  After removing the stems from the leaves of kale and we put them into the sauce pan and when the kale wilted into the sauce we tossed it with the pasta and served it.

The sauce was very spicy, like so many of Prudhomme’s Cajun recipes but we enjoyed its warm spicy creamy texture in front of the fire on a cold early winter night and washed it down with beer. 

Later, later I had trouble sleeping due to the spicy rich creamy food and regretted not drinking more beer with dinner to wash it down better.

Bon Appètit    

November 9, 2012 Dinner – Sautèed Pork Cutlets with Apples and Cabbage and blanched green beans.

November 9, 2012 Dinner – Sautèed Pork Cutlets with Apples and Cabbage and blanched green beans.

Suzette worked late so it was up to me to cook dinner.  I took out three of the 4 smoked pork cutlets I had bought at Pro’s Market and sliced up the remaining ½ head of green cabbage and one granny smith apple and ½ of a Jonathan apple and put those ingredients, with 1 Tbsp. each of butter and olive oil, in a large non-stick skillet and sprinkled the ingredients with about 1 tsp. of cumin and 1/2 tsp. of salt and sautéed them and then covered them with a wok cover to steam for about 30 minutes.

I then plucked the ends off about 1 cup of string beans and put them into boiling water to cook. 

When Suzette arrived at home she put the three cutlets into a large iron skillet with a bit of olive oil and sautéed them until they took on a bit of color and then Suzette drained the green beans and sautéed them in the skillet we had used for the pork cutlets to reduce their wetness and take on a bit of pork flavor (a very nice trick).  I wanted some sauce for the pork and I fetched the PPI peach and basil sauce Suzette had made from the fridge.

I poured glasses of Concannon Sauvignon Blanc and we enjoyed a fun and easily prepared dinner, with bites of apple and pork, bites of pork and peach sauce and bites of green bean and cumin flavored cabbage.     

November 10, 2011 Sushi and Quince and Pear Tart.

November 10, 2011 Sushi and Quince and Pear Tart.

We woke up and decided to turn the remaining pears and quinces at home into a pear and quince tart. So while watching a soccer match we peeled fruit and Suzette made a new pie crust recipe using wine and butter. Then Suzette made simple syrup using 2 cups of sugar with two cups of water and after the sugar went into solution we added the approximately 8 cups of fruit and started simmering it for about three hours. 

At around 11:00 a.m. we went shopping.  First we went to Pro Market where we bought eggs, milk, shrimp, avocados, and cojita cheeses and shredded Asadero cheese for a shrimp enchilada recipe Suzette wants to try.  We then stopped at several thrift stores, including St. John’s Thrift Store on Central at 12th where we purchased a lovely sushi set with four tea bowls, dipping bowls and chop stick rests for $2.00.

Suzette, then wanted to go to RestoreIt and I wanted to go to Ta Lin to buy ingredients for sushi, so we could try our new sushi set.  At RestoreIt, Suzette bought a four drawer metal file cabinet for $25.00 and at Ta Lin we bought fresh shitaki and Miataki mushrooms, a Japanese eggplant, some shallots, canned pimientos for our favorite Spanish tapa, Swedish pearled sugar crystals for baking, medium firm tofu, packages of filets of salmon, red aji tuna and an octopus tentacle and seaweed salad, a fresh diakon and ginger root. 

When we arrived home at 1:00 p.m. we were hungry and Suzette suggested that we eat sushi.  So I fetched our prepared wasabi horseradish packed in a plastic tube and pickled slices of ginger in a plastic bottle and the bag of pickled cucumber strips I made the other day from the fridge.  I then thinly sliced one half of the fresh daikon and put those slices into the bag of pickled cucumbers, while I sliced the fish and octopus into thin slices and put them on a large plate, which they filled.  I then heated saki and sprinkled sushi flavoring over about 1 ½ cups of PPI rice and heated it made green tea and we put all of that on the table and ate sushi for about an hour while we watched the post-election Maher show and talked to Willy.  Luke is camping at White Sands.

After lunch I thinly sliced the remaining daikon and one cucumber and threw them in a bag with the pickling liquid from the PPI pickled cucumbers while watching Texas A&M play Alabama, which may turn out to be the best college football game of the year.

At around 6:00 p.m. we discussed dinner.  We were not hungry enough to eat Suzette’s proposed shrimp enchiladas, but decided upon Suzette’s suggestion that we bake the quince and pear tarts and eat that for dinner.  So Suzette took the pie crust from the fridge and rolled it into one large and two small circles and pinched the edges, so they would stand up to hold the liquid from the fruit and then filled and baked them in the oven until the crust turned golden brown.  After the Kansas State-TCU game I went to Lowe’s and purchased a carton of Kemp’s vanilla ice cream ($3.50) made with real vanilla bean and put scoops of vanilla ice cream on the warm quince and pear tart and ate a belated but lovely dessert for our large sushi lunch.
Bon Appètit

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 4, 2012 Grilled Teriyaki Salmon, steamed sugar snap peas and rice

We watched the morning new shows and then Suzette made the teriyaki marinade from our Japanese cookbook:
7 Tbsp. dark soy

7 Tbsp. Saki
7 Tbsp. Aji Mirin

1 Tbsp sugar.

Heat the ingredients until the sugar goes into solution.

Then Suzette cut off about 1/3 of the 2 ½ lb. salmon filet I had bought at Costco on Friday evening and we put the rest into a freezer bag with the marinade and put it in the fridge.  The cut off third was also put in a freezer bag in the fridge for fish tacos. 

I worked all day on my brief, but stopped around 4:00 to ride ten miles and then when Suzette came home from work she cut a length of 1X6 inch cedar board long enough to hold the salmon and Luke went to Walgreen’s to fetch a refill bottle of propane so we could grill the salmon.  Then while I showered Suzette fired up the grill and grilled the salmon and stripped the threads from about 1 cup of sugar snap peas and steamed them and put the last of the wild and basmati rice medley into a pyrex baking dish.  When I returned to the kitchen, I covered the pyrex dish and heated the rice.  Suzette removed the salmon to a plate from the cedar board and brought the salmon in from the grill.  It was a darkened to an almost black color from several bastings with the teriyaki sauce.  

Willy and Suzette and I plated up plates with peas, rice and salmon.  The salmon was fabulous, tender moist and with a rich, savory teriyaki flavor with that saucy flavor penetrating deeply into its flesh.  One of the best Teriyaki Salmons I have ever eaten.  The use of the cedar board is the secret to keeping the teriyaki flavor entact and preventing the salmon from the teriyaki sauce burning and the salmon drying out.
The rice was moist but still very sticky and crumbly and the sugar snap peas were soft and tender. We all used chop sticks to mix fish and peas and rice into bite sized clumps and drank Concannon Sauvignon Blanc white wine with the meal. 
For dessert we heated bowls with a slice of lovely apple cake that Luke had baked and then topped it with a mound of fresh whipped cream and garnished the whipped cream with fresh raspberries from Costco and a drizzle of Trimbach Framboise liquour.  A wonderful dinner.   

 Bon Appètit  

November 3, 2012 A PPI dinner with lots of help from Luke

November 3, 2012 A PPI dinner with lots of help from Luke

I worked all day on a brief and then took a ride.  Suzette worked all day at a conference for health professionals at Sandia Resort.  So we were both too tired to cook, but very hungry, so as soon as Suzette got home, she fetched cheese and a beer from the fridge and we started eating cheese and drinking a beer.  I then got some Leyden and Five Grain Kavli from the fridge and spread butter on the Kavli slices and then slices of Leyden and ate some of those.  I then spread the last of the coarse Braunschweiger on buttered slices of Kavli until my hunger had abated.     

Luke and I had gone to the Farmers’ Market in the morning and he had bought turnips and beets and felt like cooking.  So Luke sliced up turnips and beets and sautéed them in skillet with olive oil and some garlic and then added their greens and he heated his PPI Vegetable soup.  When the soup was heated, we scooped Luke’s sautéed beets and turnips into hot bowls of soup and had a pleasant and fresh, hot dish.  Luke ate the rest of the sautéed vegetable on some heated PPI wild and basmati rice.

Bon Appètit  

November 2, 2012 Pizza and Vegetable soup

November 2, 2012 Pizza and Vegetable soup

I shopped at Costco after my seminar ended on Friday evening and bought a salmon filet and a fresh ready to bake large pepperoni pizza on sale for $5.99.  When I returned home, we decided to heat the pizza.  She sliced portabella mushrooms and I sliced some red onion thinly and we laid them on top of the pepperoni and she baked the pizza on a large gel filled baking sheet.
 I fetched a bottle of La Granja red Rioja wine (Trader Joe’s $5.99) from the basement. 
Luke had cooked a vegetable soup with sweet and russet potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips and several other vegetables that he then creamed in the blender after trying unsuccessfully to cream it in the Cuisinart, thanks to Suzette’s suggestion.  

So we each had a bowl of Luke’s rich turmeric colored vegetable soup and Willy and Suzette and I ate several pieces of pizza. Luke ate several bowls of soup.

Bon Appètit  

November 5, 2012 Pasta in Pesto and sautéed beets, red onions, zucchini and pork

November 5, 2012 Pasta in Pesto and sautéed beets, red onions, zucchini and pork
Suzette had a dinner meeting this evening and I road at 4:30 p.m.  When I went to the kitchen at 6:00 p.m. after showering, Luke had begun to cook dinner.  He was boiling a pot of Italian organic Gemilli pasta (Costco) and slicing fresh beets he had bought at the Farmers’ Market last Saturday and had begun to sauté them in a skillet with a diced clove of fresh garlic from o garden and some olive oil.  I asked if I could add some shallot to his beet sauté and he said, “Yes.”, so I took one of the shallots I had bought at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday ($6.00 per lb.) and minced 1/2 of the shallot and put it in Luke’s beet sauté. 
I saw that Luke had laid the three Mexican squashes on the kitchen table and so, like coming in with a jazz solo in the middle of a song, I fetched the PPI Pork steak from last Monday’s meal and a half of a red onion (Pro’s Market $.79/lb.) and sliced one of the Mexican squashes (Pro’s Market $.50/lb.) lengthwise into four 3/8 inch thick slices and sliced rounds of onion about ¼ inch thick and minced the rest of the shallot.  Then I heated some grape seed oil in a large skillet on medium high heat and, when heated, laid the slices of red onion and squash and shallot in the skillet to brown.  I then sliced the pork into ½ inch thick slices.  The pork was still reddish pink in the middle, so needed a little more cooking time to dispel the redness and to warm, so I laid the pork slices on top of the red onion slices and, after I turned the sautéed squash slices, moved the pork slices to the top of the squash so they would not have contact with the hot skillet and overcook and toughen.   After about fifteen minutes and several tests of the pasta for doneness, we decided that the pasta was soft enough to eat and Luke stirred a healthy scoop of Suzette’s homemade pesto and the 1 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese I had grated into the pasta.  By this time the pork had lost it pinkness and the onions and squash had caramelized and taken on bits of brown color, so I turned off the heat.
Willy was at home so we called him to dinner and Luke put the pasta in a bowl on the table in the T.V. room and we watched “It is always Sunny in Philadelphia” and ate a lovely dinner.  I poured out the last of the Toad Hollow Rosé and enjoyed dinner immensely.   The wine had mellowed in the last three or four days of chilling in the fridge.  I liked it better a little oxidized and less bubbly and zippy, as it was when we opened it .  

I love seeing Luke put together dinner menus that make sense and his generosity of allowing me to improvise a side dish to my liking.  Luke even ate some of the caramelized squash slices and red onion, which made a lovely garnish for his pasta dish.  Could there be an “Eating with Suzette and Luke and Bob” in the future?

Bon Appètit

Friday, November 2, 2012

November 1, 2012 Day of the Dead Dinner – Crabapple/Mint glazed Roasted Duck, Roasted Vegetable Medley, sautéed Greens and turnips and beets and Wild and Basmati Rice Medley

November 1, 2012 Day of the Dead Dinner – Crabapple/Mint glazed Roasted Duck, Roasted Vegetable Medley, sautéed Greens and turnips and beets and Wild and Basmati Rice Medley
We set a date for tonight to meet with Luke and Willy to discuss our estates and each of our estate plans.

Suzette drove to Santa Rosa and did not get back until around 6:00 p.m. and I worked until about 6:00, but I had decided to roast a duck because the package of two duck halves that is sold by Costco is easy to prepare and serves four easily because it comprises four sections that practically fall apart when roasted on a roasting pan: two thigh and leg sections and two wind and breast sections ($13.99).
Luke arrived at around 3:00 p.m. and when we initially discussed dinner plans he asked if we had fresh kale in the garden and I said, “Yes”.  I took a double cryovac package of duck out of the freezer and left it in the sink to thaw at about 4:30 p.m.

At 6:00 p.m. I asked Luke if he wanted to gather some vegetables from the garden and I grabbed a basket and we went to the garden.  Suzette soon followed and we picked five or six each lovely small turnips and beets and a small basket full of kale leaves.
Then Luke and I cleaned and chopped the turnips and beets and kale leaves and I started a pot with 4 cups of water to boil on the stove.  When the water came to a boil I poured 2/3 cup of wild rice into the boiling water and let it cook for thirty minutes, while Suzette completed the thawing of the duck and the placing it on the roasting pan in the oven.  Luke then went to the basement to fetch the PPI roasted vegetable medley from Monday night’s dinner and put the vegetables in a small skillet on the stove with a cover and a bit of water to heat.

After thirty minutes I poured an additional 1 cup of basmati rice into the simmering rice pot and let it cook for about 25 minutes more, when Suzette removed it because it was fully cooked.   
Luke then took a large deep sided skillet and added olive oil and salt and sautéed the sliced turnips and beets and then added their leaves and the kale and covered them with a wok lid to allow them to steam a bit.  We were all shooting for dinner at 7:00 p.m. when Willy said he would return from Soccer practice.

The only thing left to decide was what sauce to use for the duck.  I offered to make orange sauce but no one wanted that.  Suzette suggested using the crabapple/mint sauce she had made to glaze the duck and we all agreed to that.  After the duck was glazed Suzette suggested pulled a plastic container of candied quinces from the fridge and let Luke and Willy, who had returned at around 6:45 taste them.  They both liked them, so we decided to use them instead of a sauce for the duck. 
I wanted the evening’s meal to be special, so I went to the basement and fetched a bottle of 2006 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, “La Crau”, Chateauneuf du Pape, one of the great Rhone Valley wines.     We opened it at 7:00 p.m. so it did not have very long to breath.  Suzette tasted it and said it needed an hour to open up, so she topped it with our new five way stopper that has a built in filter and aerator and took the duck from the oven an laid it on a wooden cutting board.  The sections were so tender that they did separate without cutting and we each took a quarter of duck and a scoop of the rice medley and some PPI heated roasted vegetables and some of Luke’s lovely kale and fresh turnip and beet sauté and I poured glasses of wine and we sat down to a feast and family dinner and discussion of each of our estates and a family game plan for the future. 

The only problem with the meal was the wine had a large quantity of finely granulated sediment that clouded and detracted from the clarity of the wine and believe me when I say that the Vieux Telegraphe had great clarity.  Perhaps that is why I was able to buy it for a good price at Costco.

The candied quince was lovely with the duck and the fresh and roasted vegetables were great.  The rice was actually a little dry but very edible, more like eating a thoroughly cooked grain than a sticky mass of porridge.

After dinner we shared a small box of hand made chocolates from Todos Santos ($18.00) that I bought for and gave to Suzette that contained a red devil's head truffle, an orange pumpkin with a green stem fashioned from marzipan and filled with pumpkin flavored chocolate, a molded witch's finger of chocolate with a gold tipped finger nail  and a white drapped ghost molded in white chocolate and decorated with black eyes.
So, all in all, we cooked and enjoyed a very successful fall meal, which made our discussion of death and business, much more pleasant.

Bon Appétit