Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 28, 2013 Sautéed Sea Bass with Mango, Avocado and Onion on Fried Rice

June 28, 2013 Sautéed Sea Bass with Mango, Avocado and Onion on Fried Rice

I spent much of the day organizing an effort with one of my clients who specializes in swamp cooler repair 's workman, Mike Rodgers, to replace the motor and pads in my larger swamp cooler.  I am not sure that it is much cooler but it surely will last longer now that I have replaced my old damaged motor and heavily calcified pads.
Suzette came home at around 5:15 and started reading the Venue, which we now receive with the increased subscription rate for the Journal and saw that Grammy winning guitarist Earl Klugh was scheduled to appear at a Zoo concert this evening.

Earl Klugh. Photo courtesy of Tanner Photography and Earl Klugh.

About Earl Klugh

GRAMMY®-winning guitar virtuoso Earl KlughLeaving, click for disclaimer has recorded over 30 albums in his multi-million-selling career including 23 Top 10 charting records – five of them No. 1 - on Billboard’s Jazz Album chart. As a composer and recording artist, he is counted among the lynchpin figures of a new contemporary jazz, and rightly credited for the extension of his instrument’s artistic scope. Additionally, Klugh’s credit appears on recordings by Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Al Jarreau, Mary J. Blige, Jamie Foxx and many others. He has been invited to play as a guest artist by such diverse peers and admirers as Jimmy Buffett, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Michael Jackson and Brenda Russell, and has recorded legendary collaborative albums with George Benson and Bob James.

"...A guitarist with impeccable technique." -The New York Times

I said, “We have the fresh Corvina that we should cook.”  After a fair amount of discussion we decided to make a quick dinner and then go to the concert by 7:30 p.m. Suzette decided to make deconstructed tacos by sautéing the corvina in a kind of mango salsa (onion, mango, avocado, and garlic; we considered but left out Serrano chili) in some oil and butter.  Suzette then asked if we had any rice and I said yes and fetched a pot of PPI rice that also contained some PPI Fried Rice from a few nights ago that contained mushrooms, shallot and kale.  Suzette sautéed that in another skillet in some oil and butter to warm it.  

As Suzette started sautéing I minced about ½ medium yellow onion and cubed two mangos and 1 ½ avocados, while she chopped up some fresh garlic.  She then fetched some beers and sautéed the two skillets full of fish and rice , while I wet a tea towel and heated a small handful of corn tortillas in the microwave.  I n about twenty minutes we had created a menu, prepped and cooked it and were sitting on the patio eating a delicious meal.  The fish was still exceedingly fresh and the combination of tropical flavors with it was divine.  I can not say enough good things about our spontaneous meals that fly together in a flash of creativity.  Of course, as Suzette so generously said, ‘Good shopping helps.”  Talking about shopping for a moment, we have really been enjoying the fresh corvina that Sprouts offers on sale occasionally.
As soon as we finished dinner, we loaded a Mexican shopping basket with a cotton blanket, a bottle of water, a bottle with some cognac, and a bag of dark chocolate covered fruit and nuts that I had bought at Sprouts on Wednesday on sale for $3.99/lb., when I bought the corvina for $8.99/lb. and ran to the concert, which was terrific.  Wonderful straight ahead progressive jazz of the Al Jarreau and George Benson variety.  The entire area around the band shell was filled with about 4,000 persons enjoying the slightly cooler and more humid weather and music in the twilight.
Bon Appétit





Friday, June 28, 2013

June 27, 2013 East Ocean and Book Club - Ploughman’s Lunch

June 27, 2013 East Ocean and Book Club - Ploughman’s Lunch

At noon I went to get my teeth cleaned and in talking to my dental hygienist of several years, My Lan, that her family owns Cafe Trang. I discovered that Trang is a member of the family that owns the Ta Lin complex and still owns the bakery and sandwich shop next door.  What a wonderful foodie discovery!  As we discussed oriental restaurants in Albuquerque My Lan mentioned a restaurant she liked on Menaul named Ko Ko Ro, after finishing my cleaning that I drove to it, but it was closed; so I drove the short distance to East Ocean for my favorite inexpensive Chinese Lunch.  It is No. 8 on the Lunch menu, “Shrimp in Lobster Sauce” with an eggroll and Fried Rice, except I substitute scallops for the shrimp and sweet and sour chicken for the eggroll.  With hot tea the total cost is $6.50.  I never stop wondering how they suspend the egg clouds in the thickened chicken stock sauce.  It is pure magic as far as I am concerned.  The scallops are cooked in the sauce so they impart to the sauce their briny scallop flavor.

At 6:30 p.m. Charlie Palmer and I drove to tonight’s Last Thursday Book Club meeting.  The book for discussion was Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim.  Our host, Tom Genomi, had set a table full of English foods with a sign that read “Pub Lunch” on a small chalk board.  The table included a large platter with cheeses and meats, Double Gloucester,
(Double Gloucester is a traditional, full fat, hard cheese made from pasteurized or unpasteurized cows’ milk. The cheese, made from the milk of once nearly extinct Old Gloucester cows, traces its origins to 1498 in the City of Gloucester.

Gloucester comes in both single and double varieties. While Single Gloucester is made from skimmed milk, Double Gloucester uses full fat milk. In addition, Double Gloucester is twice the height of Single Gloucester and more flavorful. It is also said that Double Gloucester uses the whole milk taken from two milking or a mixture of milk and cream.)

Stilton and English Cheddar, all from Trader Joe’s, surrounded by rolled up slices of turkey breast and roast beef.  There was a plate with wedges of soda bread and smaller bowls filled with dill pickles, bread and butter pickles and pickled mushrooms.  The drinks included bottles of Shiraz and a Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and Reed’s Jamaican Style Ginger Beer, Original Cola, Sierra Nevada Ale, a few other types of beer and pink lemonade. 

The eight members who attended enjoyed a light pleasant dinner before starting the discussion of the book.  After about two hours of exchanging thoughts about the book and its characters and our life experiences that tied to the book’s subject of academia and the characters developed in the book, at 9:30 we were offered dessert that Tom’s wife had made; a lemon ice cream pie, with layers of whipped cream, a lemon flavored ice cream, and perhaps a thin layer of lemon custard or curd filling in a pastry shell that was then all frozen.  Its sweet lemony flavor and frozen ice cream texture was a real treat on one of the hottest evenings of the year.  My car’s outside temperature showed 94˚ when I arrived at my house at 10:00, which is as hot as the worse old hot days in Texas that encouraged me to leave Texas.  I fear global warming is upon us.  Also, the motor on one of my larger swamp coolers is failing and needs to be replaced.  This excessive heat is the event that will finally propel me into action.

Bon Appétit

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 26, 2013 Vietnamese Omelet, Mexican pasta, Fish Quesadilla

June 26, 2013  Vietnamese Omelet, Mexican pasta, Fish Quesadilla

I heated the PPI Vietnamese Omelet I had made last night for breakfast.  I enjoyed it with its fried rice flavor much more pronounced than last night when lost in the sea of flavors.
For lunch I wanted something simple with pasta, so I made a dish I had in Mexico on that same fateful 1968 trip I described a couple of days ago about the mummy filled catacombs in Querétaro and the serrano guacamole.  Val and I stayed with a family in Mexico City and one evening la Señora made spaghetti in guacamole sauce that I will never forget because it was so delicious and unusual.   So for lunch today I took a handful of the PPI spaghetti and chopped it into bite sized lengths.
I placed a large scoop of the PPI Calabacitas into the wok and heated it with some olive oil and then added a large scoop of guacamole to it and diced a Roma tomato and cooked that into the mixture for a few minutes to make a pretty fair approximation of the Mexico City spaghetti sauce.  Then I added the chopped pasta and heated the whole mixture until it warmed.  The ozidized discolored guacamole made the sauce look ugly but it tasted amazing, very similar to the recipe I had eaten in Mexico City.
I went to Sprouts at after a 4:00 appointment and bought  peaches for $.49/lb. to make peach and blueberry cobbler, ¾ lb. of fresh Sea Bass (Mexican corvina, $8.99/lb.), two fresh Brats ($2.99/lb.), some lovely white mushrooms ($2.99/lb.), some asparagus ($2.49/lb.), some chocolate covered fruit and nuts ($3.99/lb.).
Tomorrow I will go to Pro’s and buy mangos and perhaps we will make a mango, peach and blueberry cobbler. 
When I returned home at 8:30 after meditation, we were excited to watch all the news shows regarding the Supreme Court DOMA and Prop 8 decisions and Wendy Davis’ filibuster in the Texas Senate against the Republican majority’s anti-abortion clinic legislation, so we did not want to cook much.  I could not come up with an idea, but Suzette asked, "Shall we make a fish quesadilla or tacos?"  After she explained again that we had PPI fish stew, I said, “Yes, I would love a fish quesadilla.”
So Suzette, as the official quesadilla maker, took over in the kitchen.  She took two large burrito sized flour tortillas and the container of PPI fish stew out of the fridge and heated the fish stew in a skillet to reduce some of its sauciness.  Then she heated the two tortillas in a large iron skillet to toast them a bit, while I shredded some Pecorino Romano cheese.  She flipped the tortillas’ toasted sides up and ladled the fish mixture onto one of the toasted tortillas and added the cheese and then laid the other tortilla toasted side down on top of the fish and cheese mixture and toasted the outsides of the tortillas and heated and melted the cheese into the fish mixture.  I fetched two beers from the fridge.  Suzette likes crema and avocado on her quesadilla and we did not have any crema, so she mixed some mango yogurt with the guacamole to make a thick mango guacamole cream sauce and we were ready to eat.
She cut the Quesadilla in half and then each half into thirds and put three slices on each plate and we each scooped the mango guacamole sauce onto our plates and made lovely plates of fish quesadilla with mango guacamole cream sauce. 

We watched the Colbert Report and Jon Stewart Show (I enjoy John Oliver's wonderful, amazed Brit outsider take on U.S. news) coverage of the events of the day starting at 9:00 p.m. and then went to bed happy and full.   I do think that the DOMA decision that found that the U.S. (DOMA legislation) could treat same sex couples whose marriages were sanctioned in their state of residence, could not be treated differently from other married persons is a historically significant decision.  It reinforces America’s commitment to the equality of all persons under the law.

Bon Appétit


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 25, 2013 Grilled Lamb Chops, Squash and Eggplant with Vietnamese Fried Rice

June 25, 2013 Grilled Lamb Chops, Squash and Eggplant with Vietnamese Fried Rice

We sat around and ate pistachios for until 7:00 p.m.  When I mentioned that we had lamb chops we could grill and an eggplant.  Suzette said, “I will start the grill.”
After I sliced the eggplant into ½ inch slices and the last lonely Mexican Squash and brushed them with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing I had made.  We discussed making couscous with the kale we had bagged in the fridge.  I went to the fridge and remembered that I had bought 1/2 of mung bean sprouts at Pro’s Ranch Market last week that needed to be cooked and saw a container of PPI rice and decided to make fried rice instead.   
I rinsed the mung beans and put olive oil in the wok and heated it and threw in three small cloves of garlic from our garden.  Then I threw in the rice and then the kale and then a handful of turnip greens I had saved from the processing of the turnips Suzette picked from the garden this morning.   After a couple of minutes of turning the rice over onto the vegetables to cook the vegetables, I turned around and saw the rinsed bean sprouts and threw them in and then continued the process of cooking and turning and added about 1 Tbsp. of Chinese rice cooking wine and a ½ tsp. of sugar and a pinch of Chinese sea salt.   Then I thought about the lovely Vietnamese omelets with bean sprouts and fetched two eggs and stirred them into the rice and vegetable mixture and cooked the mixture for another five minutes turning 1/3 of the mixture at a time which was the amount that fit on my large wok paddle, until the egg firmed and started to brown and the dish was ready.

When Suzette brought in the grilled lamb chops, while the eggplant was still cooking, we discussed a wine for the meal.  I suggested another Côtes du Rhône, like last night’s wine, and she said she liked the wine last night.  So I went to the cellar and found a bottle of 2010 Ortas Côtes du Rhône Les Viguiers (Red Rhone Wine).  I am pretty sure I bought this bottle at Total Wine for around $10.00.  Ortas is a wine brand of Cave de Rasteau (, which is the largest wine producer in the northern Vaucluse region of France in Provence.  Rasteau is a lovely old hill town located north east of Orange, Chateauneuf du Pape and Avignon  The wine label says Les Viguiers is made from old vines with 70% Grenache, 20% Carignan and 10% Cinsault.  I found the wine to be lovely and light.  I liked it better than the Kirtland Côtes du Rhône last night.  The combination of grapes gave it that Rhône complexity and the extra Grenache gave it fruitiness. 

Suzette said it was important to grill the eggplant until it became creamy, which is when it turns to an opaque creamy color from its white, color.  She achieved that perfectly.

Bon Appétit

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 24, 2013 Grilled Hamburger steaks with Calabacitas and guacamole

June 24, 2013 Grilled Hamburger steaks with Calabacitas and guacamole

I bought 18 avocados last Thursday at Pro’s Ranch market because they were 6 for $.99, so on Friday I made guacamole and that was our dinner with corn chips.
½ onion minced

9 small avocados, peeled, cut and smashed until smooth/lumpy
1 large serrano pepper minced finely ( I usually use Cholulu Hot Sauce, but the serranos were lovely this week at Pro’s Ranch Market and only $.99/lb.)

2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

Juice of 4 limes.
3 cloves of garlic minced and chopped finely

I must mention my most memorable serrano chili flavored guacamole experience. When I was 21, I drove from Austin down the Pan American Highway to Mexico City for Easter/Spring Break with my then girlfriend, Val.  We took a side trip to Querétaro and to the Cemetery at San Juan de Santiago to see the mummies, which is a big deal during Holy Week.  The story we were told was that you could be buried in a niche inside the courtyard of the cemetery for twenty years but if your family could not pay for the burial, they removed your body and stacked it in the basement.  The dry climate in San Juan de Santiago allowed for bodies to become perfectly preserved.  So in 1968, during Holy Week lots of visitors could walk through the catacombs where the mummified bodies were stacked against the walls; a weird and surreal place.  I remember seeing a woman with a child cradled in her arms, who  probably both died in child birth.  What is even weirder is that I understand that they have had to block access the catacombs where the mummies are stacked because folks were stealing body parts from the mummies.  The cemetery ceased to be use actively in 1866, so is now Mexico's Museum of the Dead and I understand in disrepair.  
As I recall, Querétaro is an old Colonial city built on several hills and valleys connected by tunnels through the hills which made for some really exciting bus rides, sort of like a ride at Disneyland as the buses charged through the twisting tunnels at high speed.  We found a lovely restaurant in the old part of town overlooking a small square that looked nice, where we ordered lunch before going to San Juan to see the mummies.  I ordered guacamole and chicken molé; two of my favorite dishes.  When the guacamole was served, at least ½ of its volume was chopped Serrano peppers.  I ate one bite and was overwhelmed with an intensely picante chili flavor, so I pushed the guacamole aside, judging it the hottest guacamole I had ever tasted.  My hope for a reprieve from the mole was ill founded.  When it arrived it also turned out to be the hottest molé I have ever tasted.  My recollections of the slightly sweet mole I used to eat at Mac’s House in Fort Worth were immediately dispelled by this plate of fiery chicken molé.  I was able to surgically remove the sauce from the chicken in order to obtain a few bites of edible food with the help of several beers, but I count that day as one of the weirdest of my life between the surreal mummy museum and the surreal guacamole and molé.
Suzette called at around 6:00 p.m. as she usually does when she is entering the canyon on her way back from Santa Rosa to tell me she is about twenty minutes from home and to discuss dinner plans.
I mentioned that I bought 2 lbs. of ground beef (Pro’s Ranch Market $.99/lb.) that I wanted to use for dinner.  I suggested making beef stroganoff with the PPI Spaghetti, to which Suzette replied, “I had beef stroganoff for lunch.  What about grilling hamburgers?”  I diplomatically said, “OK”.  I took the PPI guacamole out of the fridge to let if warm to room temperature and began chopping onion and mushrooms to make a garnish/sauce for the hamburgers.
I was almost through slicing baby portabella and white mushrooms and a medium yellow onion and three small cloves of garlic from our garden, when Suzette.  Before I could suggest using the eggplant, Suzette said, “We have PPI Calabacitas we need to use”.  I said, “Do you want anything else?” Suzette said, “No.”  So the dinner menu was set.
I went to Costco today and bought several newly arrived wines, including a bottle of 2011 Kirtland Côtes du Rhône Villages ($6.99).  While the food was cooking, I opened it and let if breath for a few minutes.
Suzette made two large ½ lb. hamburgers and put them on the grill and fetched the calabacitas from the garage fridge and heated it, while I sautéed the onions, then the garlic and then the mushrooms in a skillet with some PPI bacon residue, olive oil and butter for about ten to fifteen minutes until they softened .  I asked Suzette what herb she wanted in the mushrooms and she replied, “Oregano.”  So I picked about four stalks of oregano from our flower pot in the house and stripped the leaves into the mushrooms and cut three stalks of chives in small pieces in also.  Then I added 2-3 Tbsps. of amontillado sherry to the mushroom/onion mixture and let it cook for another five minutes. 
Suzette went to the garden and picked several radishes and cleaned and sliced them into wedges. When the hamburgers were ready (they actually were burned on one side), Suzette placed a hamburger on each plate; then we each spooned the mushroom/onion sauce onto the hamburger and ladled spoonsful of calabacitas and a spoonful of guacamole onto each plate and garnished them with radish slices.
I poured glasses of wine and we ate a hardy and delicious dinner.  I tore apart the hamburger to reduce the concentration of the burned parts and combined them with the mushroom and onion sauce to make a kind of loose stew that was delicious.  Suzette liked the wine; I suspect because it was very clean tasting.  I think the wine lacked any semblance of character, but was clean and pleasant with the strong flavors of the meal. 

I wanted to try the wine with a strong cheese, so I fetched the package of Delice (French Triple cream brie style cheese made with a rather acidic rennet bought at Costco $10.99/lb.), that we like a lot and we toasted several pieces of bread (Paris Bakery Baguette, $3.99 at La Montanita coop for a double baguette) and spread the cheese on the bread and enjoyed it with the wine even more than with the hamburgers.
I ate a piece of the chocolate dessert from last Saturday’s dinner with a glass of Calvados and tea for an overly consumptive finish to a dinner that seemed to get better as it went along.
I am still burping along at around 5:30 a.m., jacked up on a food high from all the heavy food I ate last evening, as I write this menu description.  
Bon Appétit

June 23, 2013 Spaghetti with fish and kale and tomatoes

June 23, 2013 Spaghetti with fish and kale and tomatoes with asparagus

If there is a methodology to our menu design, this meal illustrates it perfectly.
Based upon my shopping and work cycles, we tend to cycle from creating new dishes and old favorites using whatever PPIs we have, to cooking more conventional dinners with new ingredients.
This dinner was an example of the former.  We discussed using the PPI grilled salmon teriyaki and halibut in the fridge.  I was working on my Lower Rio Grande Adjudication, but I suggested spaghetti with a fish and vegetable garnish and Suzette agreed to cook.
She boiled spaghetti and chopped an onion, some garlic, a tomato and some of the kale from our garden and sautéed them in a skillet and then added the flaked fishes and a few cut up shrimp and cooked that mixture with some white wine and thyme and salt and pepper.   When the pasta was cooked Suzette finished the dish with about 1/3 cup of cream to make a cream sauce.
While the sauce and pasta was cooking Suzette steamed several stalks of fresh asparagus. 
She then constructed attractive plates by putting pasta into pasta bowls and then ladling the fish and vegetable mixture over the pasta with spoonsful of the light cream sauce and then garnishing the whole affair with stalks of asparagus and slices of Pecorino Romano cheese.

We drank 2011 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc ($7.79 at Costco).
This dinner exemplifies what is, in my opinion, one of my favorite and most creative menu approaches; a simple, flavorful one dish meal with lots of greens, in which each forkful of the dish combines the blended flavors of PPI and fresh ingredients; in this case, fish, shrimp slightly bitter greens, luscious tomatoes and slightly sweet onions that combine their individual flavors while cooking with the white wine and cream to make a complex sauce.

 Bon Appétit

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 22, 2013 Field to Food Dinner at Center for Ageless Living, Los Lunas, N.M.

June 22, 2013 Field to Food Dinner at Center for Ageless Living, Los Lunas, N.M.
The center was lovely this evening with the large tent set up in the park.  About 100 showed up for the annual Field to Food event.  The Food to Field event is just that; a gourmet five course meal prepared almost exclusively with locally grown produce, meats and wines.  The vegetables are grown and cattle are raised locally.  The lamb and beef are slaughtered and butchered especially for the event, so everything is very fresh. This year’s theme was carrots. 
Guests signed in and received a glass of champagne at the Garden Gate Day Spa.  Then they could wander the grounds and the gardens on the Center’s six acre campus.     At 7:00 p.m. we started pouring wine and the appetizer courses were put out.  I am hard pressed to pick a favorite, but the appetizers were fabulous, stewed quince preserves, homemade ricotta cheese and fresh Goat Cheese made by Old Windmill Dairy in the Estancia Valley with fresh baked crackers and squares of thin dense Danish style rye bread on which one could spread the cheeses and preserves.  I was pouring wine at the next table so I was able to get several tastes of the appetizers.  The wines were great this year also, Southern Wine and Spirits donated a case of Gruet Champagne.   Also; Camino Real, the closest winery to the center, located about one mile south donated a mixed case of their wines, mainly their sweet whites, Onate Gold and Reisling and their dry reds, Zinfandel, Barbera and a sweet late harvest Mirlot, which everyone enjoyed.  Also, Suzette bought a case of Casa Abril’s locally produced Tempranillo, Tempranillo Rosé (my favorite), Zinfandel and Malbec wines that Casa Abril grows and makes at Budaghers, north of Algodones. 

There was a period of time between when the appetizers were served and when the main course and salad course were served when most folks drank a couple of glasses of wine and I thought we would run out so we pulled about another 1 ½ cases of wine out of the Greenhouse Bistro’s wine cellar.  After the food was served, folks started eating and the flow of wine reduced dramatically, so we were able to satisfy all wine drinkers with the available wines.  

The cold courses included fresh salad from the garden and a lovely chilled cream of turnip and carrot soup.  The quantity of hot dishes was sufficient to feed everyone seconds this year and that was good because they were delicious: beef stew with lots of carrots and turnips, a fabulous vegetarian lasagna made with Suzette’s fresh carrot infused pasta layered between fresh kale and beets from the garden and held together with a light alfredo cheese sauce, and a wonderful Madras Lamb curry combining lamb, apples, carrots, raisins and onions (my recipe)

Madras Curry

4-8 ounces of butter

3-4 Tbsp. curry powder

6-8 lbs. meat cooked and diced

8 apples peeled and diced

4 onions diced

1 head of garlic

4 medium sweet potatoes peeled and diced

1 cup raisins

Stock to cover and cook (about 2 quarts)

1-2 Tbsp. salt.

2 Tbsp. flour

¼ cup cream

This is a stew of vegetables and meat.  

Braise, in a large pot, in enough butter to prevent scorching the meat, onions, then the sweet potato and garlic and finally the apples (add butter as necessary and sprinkle curry powder on the meat and vegetables as they are braising to add the curry flavor to them).  Then cover the sautéed ingredients with stock and add the raisins and more curry powder and salt if needed.

Cook covered for several hours.  Occasionally, check the stew and its flavor and add salt and curry powder to season, if necessary.

The stew is cooked when the vegetables and meat begin to fall apart.

Then add flour to thicken (cook flour for at least five minutes to thicken sauce)

Then add the cream to smooth the sauce.

Serve with coconut flakes and roasted crushed peanuts and mango chutney and South Asian pickles.

The three hot dishes were served with pickled beets, couscous, rice, fresh baked rolls and flavored butter churned at the Center for this meal. 

The desserts were different this year: a creamy flourless chocolate torte decorated with real gold leaf and a plum tart made with a Damson plum filling made with plums grown at the Center last year and frozen over the winter layered between a two layers of flakey pastry and served with a dollop of whipped cream.

I never cease to be amazed by Suzette and the Bistro’s ability to orchestrate such a huge undertaking; the months of planning and growing of vegetables and herbs in its gardens in those of local growers, so they are at their peak maturity at the time for this meal and the raising of the lamb and cow for the meats, etc. etc.

The only things that are not local are the salt and pepper, curry powder, sugar and the flour (There is no longer a processing facility for flour within 100 miles of the Center).  Everything else is local.

I believe that local, fresh food has a distinctive flavor, or absence of flavor.  It is like eating fresh fish or oysters or vegetables.  They do not leave your system laden with the preservatives and other things added to extend their shelf life and they are not picked green and immature, so they convey their maximum nutrients and that smaller portion will satisfy your desire for flavorful food.  And because they taste great and are fresh and ripe, they do not leave you feeling stuffed, unless you intentionally overeat.

I love the Field to Food event.  And it is one of the great food values in our area; $45.00 for one and $80.00 for two for all the food and wine you want.  It is always on the Summer Solstice weekend.  Saturday evening was illuminated by a super moon that was larger and 30% brighter due to its close proximity to Earth this year, so the evening was beautiful and not noticeably hot.   

Bon Appétit

  P.S. here is a link to a gallery of photos taken at the event.




Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 21, 2013 Lunch- Le Café Miche, Albuquerque’s new Danish Restaurant

June 21, 2013 Lunch- Le Café Miche, Albuquerque’s new Danish Restaurant

There is big news in Albuquerque’s fine dining world.  Claus Hjortkjaer, who owned and ran the highly acclaimed Café Miche on Wyoming in the Northeast Heights until five years ago, has re-opened Le Café Miche downtown at 228 Gold SW.  Some of the accolades that Klaus and Le Café Miche have garnered, include:
  • Chef of the Year 2004 by the NM Restaurant Association
  • Created wine lists that won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence eight years in a row
  • Rated best French restaurant in New Mexico by Zagat Survey of Southwestern Restaurants 10 years running
  • Won Alibi  CHOICE awards for "Best French Restaurant", "Best Wine List", "Best Restaurant To Impress Your Dinner Companion” and more
  • Earned a four-star rating by the Albuquerque Journal
  • Favorable reviews by Local Flavor, Albuquerque the Magazine, Local IQ, ABQ the Bite and other local media.
     Claus was born and raised in Odense on the small island of Funen in Denmark, which is one of the oldest towns in Denmark, over 1000 years old  To give you an idea of its age, the town’s name in Old Norse means “Odin’s Shrine” (yes, it was a shrine to the Norse God, Odin).   Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, is a fairy tale town set in a fairy tale country.   Denmark, besides being a lovely part of the world, has a long and rich gastronomic tradition.  At Le Café Miche, I am happy to report that Claus is carrying on those uniquely Danish food traditions.  As Claus says it, “I guarantee you will not find food like this anywhere else in New Mexico.”
Examples of the unique Danish traditional foods Claus is referring to were found on the lunch menu when I visited Le Café Miche.  He started us out with “House made Rygeost cheese served on rugbrod with sliced leeks and radish”.  
.  He started us out with “House made Rygeost cheese served on rugbrod with sliced leeks and radish”.   Rygeost is a farmer’s cheese made with buttermilk, rennet from Denmark and cow’s milk.  The ingredients are combined and allowed to stand at room temperature for 24 hours.  Then the curds are drained and placed in a cheeses cloth and solidified by swinging the bag of curds until the cheese becomes firm.  The cheese is topped with caraway seeds and plated with slices of small spring onions, watermelon radishes (white on the outside and red on the inside) and slices of rugbrod (dark dense Danish flat rye bread) smeared with Claus’ homemade special spread of duck fat and fried onions (animal fat is one of the oldest foods eaten in Scandinavia dating back to Viking days when animal fat was used like butter, especially in the winter).  Claus told us he uses a special trick to finish making the Rygeost that a Danish friend taught him, which is to smoke the cheese for three minutes over burning hay to give it a slightly hay-like, smoky flavor.  The cheese on the fat smeared rugbrod produced a very flavorful and balanced taste.  Spreading the Rygeost on the fresh white dinner rolls brought out its smoky aftertaste.  I liked it both ways.

Wayne Chew and Lisa Abeyta joined me for lunch, so I had the opportunity to taste several dishes. Wayne ordered the house made pate sandwich, which was served Danish style; a slab of pate served open faced on a slab of white bread garnished with an amazing sweet pickled gherkin just like the kind I ate in Denmark.
Wayne started lunch with a bowl of cream of mushroom soup, creamy with lots of slices of mushroom and infused with mushroom flavor; very French. 

 Lisa ordered the crab cakes salad.  Her crab cakes were small but almost entirely crab meat without much bread filling. We discussed crab cakes and agreed that the best ones we had eaten were in Baltimore.  Mine at a private tennis club my cousins took me to once and Wayne’s at Faidley Seafood at Lexington Market.  The recipe is almost the same, back fin lump crabmeat, a few bread crumbs for body and egg to bind it all together.  Claus’ were almost that good.

Wayne’s pate was somewhere between a Danish and a French style, more of a rillettes (Rillettes is a rustic pâté made from meat that's been poached in its own fat, then shredded and stored in some of that fat.) or a rustic style with some chopped meat and spices combined with the duck liver topped with a fried piece of bacon and fresh sunflower sprouts and sliced sautéed mushrooms and served with Danish Gherkins.  I have not eaten Danish sweet pickled gherkins since I lived in Denmark in 1968.  Claus’ are so unmistakably Danish. They triggered an immediate Déjà vu recollection of sitting at lunch in Copenhagen eating them on top of open faced sandwiches of liver paste.
The other Danish item that must be tried at lunch is the “Two kinds of house made herring served with potato salad and rugbrød”.  Claus makes his own herring.  He orders salted herring from Denmark and soaks it in milk for three days, then he soaks the herring in water for several says to leach the salt out of them and pickles the herring in seasonings and vinegar and sugar.  He had sold out of herring when we were at the restaurant, so I shall return.
Claus is a classically trained chef; a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Denmark with honors.  He knows and his menus reflect the years spent proving his competence as a chef of all cuisines, especially French Cuisine.  I remember planning a birthday party for my son twenty years ago at Claus’ chef’s table at Le Café Miche.  He and I discussed and organized a gourmet meal in a matter of minutes that was superb classical French Cuisine; featuring a Beef Wellington for ten as the main course and the same Duck Confit Salad that I ate for lunch today.  Thank goodness some things never change.   The duck confit salad features a braised leg quarter of duck confit laid on a salad of spinach greens.  I should mention that the salad dressing that was served on the salads was flavored with horseradish and if you do not like horseradish, you should ask for a substitute.
I must also mention that the top ranked restaurant in the world this year is Noma, located in Copenhagen and known for its field foraged foods.  Those two facts seem to have impressed and liberated Claus to embrace the simple but elegant foods of his native Denmark in his new incarnation of Le Café Miche.   
Foodies rejoice and enjoy Albuquerque’s newest fine dining restaurant, the return of one of Albuquerque’s great chefs and an opportunity to taste the wonderful food of Denmark.
Bon Appétit


Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 19, 2013 Lunch-Anatolia, Dinner-Bratwurst with PPI Grilled Asparagus, Kabocha Squash and Cucumber and Tomato Salad

June 19, 2013 Lunch-Anatolia, Dinner-Bratwurst with PPI Grilled Asparagus, Kabocha Squash and Cucumber and Tomato Salad

I called Sally earlier in the day and went by Bill’s at 12:30 and we walked over to Anatolia for lunch.  It was crowded, perhaps because one of today’s specials was a Beef Doner Kabob plate lunch for $6.49, instead of its regular $8.50.  Sally introduced me to Anatolia and I follow her lead and order whatever the daily special is.  Recently I discovered that there is a rather regular pattern to the specials and Wednesdays it is usually Beef Doner Kabob, which consists of pieces of thinly sliced beef marinated and then rubbed with seasonings and grilled.  I like it a lot and am probably going to become a Wednesday regular.  Today Sally told me that she actually prefers Chicken Tawah?, which, if I recall correctly, is a chicken and green chili stew that Sally says is served on either Thursdays or Fridays.  All plates are served with one half plate of rice, on which the meat entrée is piled and the other ½ of the plate is covered with a Greek (Turkish) salad garnished with pickled onions. Usually, there is a small dessert, such as a square of baklava served after the meal, as there was today.
The Beef Doner Kabob Plate met all my expectations today.  It was spicy and cooked to perfection; tender and flavorful.  I love Anatolia and after lunch the owner and chef told me that they were negotiating for a larger restaurant in downtown Albuquerque.   It is wonderful to see a good restaurant succeed.

I spoke to Susan Palmer and we decided to get together for dinner on Thursday evening.  I offered to bring a rack of lamb riblets and the PPI Calabacitas we made on Sunday evening.

Meditation was cancelled, so I thawed out a package of two bratwursts from Sprouts for a light meal that we could eat while we watched the fourth game of the Stanley Cup Finals.

When Suzette came home and saw the brats, we discussed what stuff to eat with the brats and we decided to save the Calabacitas for Thursday and she went to the fridge and soon found the ½ PPI Baked Kabocha squash and when I suggested salad, she said she wanted to make a one skillet dinner with the brats and the PPI grilled asparagus from last night’s meal.  I offered and she agreed to add sautéed onion to the dish, so I minced one medium yellow onion.  

Suzette started by boiling the brats in beer until they cooked and then she added the onion to the brats and unfortunately or fortunately, she returned to her work on the computer and the onions and brats scorched a bit, so I added more beer and then Suzette added the asparagus and a bit of brown sugar and cooked the whole affair with more beer into a rather savory, somewhat charred stew-like combination that imparted a charbroiled and slightly sweet flavor to the caramelized onions.

 We did a similar thing with the squash half.  Suzette halved the squash and I minced ½ of a granny smith apple and we stuffed the squash quarters with a bit of butter and brown sugar and the minced apple pieces and baked them in the microwave until hot and the apples had softened.

I still wanted some salad, so I decided to dice the remaining ½ cucumber and a tomato and add that to the PPI tomato and cucumber salad Suzette had made for Sunday or Monday’s dinner and we dressed the revived salad with more of the PPI basil orange juice and mayonnaise dressing Suzette had made for Saturday evening’s meal.

So pretty soon we had made a beautiful meal without much effort.  I went to the basement and fetched some beers and then put opened bottles of mayonnaise, mustard and horseradish on our recently purchased lazy-susan and we played with it as we combined those ingredients into a dipping sauce for our brats.

We enjoyed our fun meal while watching the well played, high intensity game between Boston and Chicago that went into overtime.

After dinner Suzette suggested we heat up the last of the mango, nectarine and blueberry cobbler and so we enjoyed a bowl of it with vanilla ice cream.

It seemed to me to be a perfect meal for the occasion; sort of a combination of picnicking and eating really good concession food at a fancy sports event, without all the bugs and loud crowds of people.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19, 2013 Lunch Chirashi Donburi Dinner Grilled Halibut and Asparagus with Fried Rice with

June 19, 2013 Lunch Chirashi Donburi  Dinner Grilled Halibut and Asparagus with Fried Rice with Kales

I went to Azuma and had my usual, excellent Chirashi Donburi with all my favorite fish, Yellowtail, Red (maguro) Tuna, Super White Tuna, Salmon, and Octopus.
Then I went to Sprouts and found that they were featuring fresh halibut for $10.99/lb., so I bought a bit over a pound.  I also bought white mushrooms, an eggplant, asparagus ($2.49/lb.), tomatoes ($.88/lb.), salted pistachios ($4.99/lb.), and decaffeinated Columbian Coffee ($6.99/lb.).

When Suzette arrived she asked if we were going to grill the lamb ribs and I said, “Only if you do not want fresh halibut.”  So while I worked she started the grill and fetched a bag of scapes from the garage fridge and placed a bed of scapes under the halibut on a vegetable grilling pan to keep it from sticking to the grill and to impart a bit of flavor to the fish and to grill the scapes, as the garlic man suggested. 
Then she cut and oiled the stalks of asparagus we had bought at Costco and I went to the garden and picked and de-stemmed three kinds of kale and minced a shallot and two white mushrooms, and a stalk of spring garlic and stir fried them with some PPI white rice in a wok with peanut oil, and sesame oil and 2 Tbsp. of Chinese rice cooking wine and a bit of soy sauce and then added the kale and combined the kale with the rice.
Suzette went to the basement and fetched a bottle of 2012 Geyser Peak Winery Sauvignon Blanc from Geyserville, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California that I bought at Costco for $7.79 on June 11, 2013.  I did not realize it until I read the back label, but Geyser Peak Winery was founded in 1880, which makes it one of the oldest in California.   Geyser Peak’s Sauvignon Blanc has a huge lemony, grapefruit citrus flavor and also is very fruity; quite nice with the fresh halibut and grilled asparagus.   If you want a strongly citrus flavored Sauvignon Blanc, the 2012 Geyser Peak is your best choice for the money.   Its strong citrus flavor is a bit over the top for me, but it is different and wonderful in its own way.

Suzette prepared the asparagus the way they were prepared for us in Segovia 2 years ago; rolled in olive oil and grilled over an open flame, so they have a charbroiled and hot olive oil taste.

I loved the three kinds of kale in the rice and am particularly fond of the tender leaves of the baby Chinese kale.
Just another lovely fresh dinner on the patio looking at our garden grow.
Bon Appétit

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 17, 2013 Dinner Calabacitas and Pork Cutlet

June 17, 2013 Dinner  Calabacitas and Pork Cutlet

I had a hot dog at Costco for lunch and bought a bottle of Grand Marnier, two more bottles of 2007 Eguia Reserva, some salami, and a rack of lamb.
I worked until 5:30 p.m. and then cut up a head of garlic from the garden, eight Mexican squashes (Pro’s Ranch Market $.50/lb.), 2 yellow onions, and four tomatoes (Pro’s Ranch Market $.69/lb.).  I sautéed the onion and garlic.   Suzette had cooked and cut the kernals off five ears of corn (Pro’s Ranch Market 5 ears for $.99) yesterday and had about 32 ounces of kernals that she added to the pot and we then added the squash and then the tomatoes and a handful of fresh oregano and lovage from the garden and cooked the ingredients in a large pot for about 45 minutes.   We then sautéed two smoked pork chops (Pro’s Ranch Market $3.99/lb.).

When the Antiques Roadshow came on at 7:00 p.m. we were ready to eat.  Suzette had a beer with her dinner and I drank a Magner’s Irish Hard Apple Cider (Total Wine $7.49/six pack).

We heated some PPI nectarine, blueberry and mango cobbler and ate it with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Bon Appétit




June 16, 2013 Grilled Steak with sautéed mushrooms and cucumber and tomato salad and Kabocha Squash.

June 16, 2013 Grilled Steak with sautéed mushrooms and cucumber and tomato salad and Kabocha Squash.

After a lunch of bacon, fried eggs and a salad we drove to Casa Abril Vineyards and Winery located near the west frontage road south of the Budaghers exit on I-25 where we spent over two hours tasting the wines and talking with the owner, Raymond Vigil.   Raymond is or was the president of the Wine Growers Association of New Mexico, so he is very knowledgeable.  We met his family and watched them finishing a bottling of a portion of the 2012 crop.  His daughter, the wine maker, who lives in Colorado, was in attendance, as was her two children and husband.  Raymond takes care of the growing facility and vineyards.   Here is a picture of him in the vineyard.

We liked all his wines, but his pride and joy is the 2012 Malbec.  Four wines are made from grapes grown in the vineyard, a Zinfandel, a tempranillo, a tempranillo rosé, and the Malbec.   They are the only wines to carry a Middle Rio Grande Valley Appellation.  Suzette bought a case of them all for her June 22nd Field to Food dinner that features ingredients and wines grown and made within 100 miles of her Center for Ageless Living in Los Lunas.        
I had bought six bone-in rib eyes on Saturday (Smith’s $7.99/lb.), so on Sunday evening we decided to grill a steak and make a light meal.

We started by baking a 1 lb. Kabocha squash I had bought at Pro’s on Thursday for an hour in the oven at 375˚.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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For the fermented tea drink, see kombucha.
Kabocha (Japanese カボチャ, 南瓜), Danhobak (Korean 단호박), or Cambodia abóbora: is an Asian variety of winter squash. The word kabocha has come to mean a general type of winter squash to many English-speaking growers and buyers. In some cultures it is revered as an aphrodisiac.[1]

Kabocha is commonly called Japanese pumpkin, especially in Australia and New Zealand. In Thailand, it is called Fak Thong (Thai: ฟักทอง or golden squash) and is also called kabocha squash in North America. In Japan, the word kabocha may refer to either this squash or to the Western-style pumpkin.

I minced two cloves of garlic and a shallot and sliced about seven or eight baby portabella mushrooms and sautéed them in a skillet with olive oil and butter and the flowers from a sprig of lavender and slices of about five leaves of sage from our garden.  After the mushrooms began to take on color, I added about 2 Tbsp. of Amontillado Sherry and covered the mushrooms to steam until the steak was ready.

I cut up ½ cucumber and Suzette cut up a tomato and added some of the PPI basil orange mayonnaise dressing she had made for Saturday’s salad and I fetched and sliced into thin slices five or six basil eaves from the garden and Suzette combined all the salad ingredients.
When the steak came off the grill, Suzette took the squash from the oven and cut it in half and then quartered it and put ¼ on each plate and then a spoonful of salad and I sliced the steak and we each plated up the steak and mushrooms.

We had enjoyed Casa Abril’s Malbec, but it was very young, so I went to the basement and found a bottle of 2009 Château Labrande Malbec from the Cahors Appellation in France (90% Malbec and 10% Merlot) that I recently bought at Costco for $9.99 and opened it and let it sit for about 1 hour to let it open up.
The wine was still rather tight, even after an hour.  Malbec grapes make big wines.  Also the French wine seemed to be heavier tasting than the Malbec from Casa Abril.  I do not know if that is because of the addition of the 10% merlot or the sulfites added to preserve the wine, but it did not have that light clean taste that Casa Abril’s Malbec had.   A pleasant day and dinner.


Bon Appétit