Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 28, 2013 Dinner party – Grilled Steak with salad, a turnip/mushroom duxelles, pasta with pesto and Clafoutis

July 28, 2013 Dinner party – Grilled Steak with salad, a turnip/mushroom duxelles, pasta with pesto and Clafoutis

Cynthia and Ricardo came over for dinner tonight.  I had thawed out two rib steaks and we were going to make a turnip duxelles with the white turnips we picked from our garden.
On Saturday we went to the Downtown Farmer’s market and bought a small tub of oyster mushroom hummus and a loaf of Rosemary/Olive bread at Costco.

I pulled a frozen tub of guacamole out of the fridge at 4:00 and let it come to room temperature and then I added lime juice, Cholulu, a minced shallot, and bit of crema con sal to revive it.
At around 5:00 Suzette began chopping the mushrooms and turnips and sautéing them in a large skillet.  It became immediately apparent that the turnips had gone stalky and toughened to the point that they were nearly inedible.  Suzette and I added liquids and honey and wine and other things but nothing forced the turnips to soften; living proof that one had better pick their turnips early in the spring when they are tender.  When they become stalky they become indelibly tough.  Suzette also tossed a bag of PPI Casarecce pasta with about 3 Tbsps. of Suzette’s homemade pesto.  

At 6:00 Cynthia and Ricardo arrived with bag of stuff, like fresh salad greens from their garden and a tub of hummus, a wedge of Mozzarella Salada, a baguette from Bosque Bakery, a bunch of lemon verbena and an avocado for the salad.  
Ricardo also brought a cocktail recipe he made and all the fixings in bottles and jars and bags of ingredients and commenced to make a truly delicious cocktail with 2 oz. mescal, 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. of thyme infused simple syrup and 2 tsp. of St. Germain liquor shaken in a shaker with ice and then strained into a margarita glass and garnished with a twist of lemon peel and a crushed sprig of thyme.  

We started the meal at the table on our patio under the awning because we were still traumatized by the big storm on Friday night and fearful of more rain.   We ate pita chips brought by Cynthia and Ricardo with their hummus and the re-constituted avocado and slices of baguette with Mozzarella salada cheese and sipped Ricardo’s lovely cocktail concoction.  Willy arrived while we were sitting and sipping cocktails and munching appetizers and he joined us for a cocktail and appetizers and dinner.  
 

 
 Cynthia and I then went to the garden to pick some additional greens and then I assembled the salad while Suzette grilled the steaks.  I sliced tomatoes, and a Japanese cucumber and the avocado and  Cynthia dressed the salad with lovely basil vinaigrette she had made.  I fetched a bottle of Wellington Vineyards 2009 Old Vines Noir de Noirs, Sonoma Valley, Alicante Bouschet.  Unfortunately, we opened the wine just before dinner and it really needed to be open for at least an hour before drinking because it had a delicate complexity that only showed after it opened up.  When the steaks were cooked to medium rare, I sliced them and Suzette plated up the dishes with all the salad, steak, duxelles, and pasta.   I poured the wine and we ate under the newly reconstructed gazebo by the pond.   I also brought out a container of béarnaise sauce to smear on the steaks.
After dinner we sat and for a while and then I fetched the clafoutis and the bottle of Champagne Baron-Fuenté Brut “Rosé Dolores, bottled in Charly sur Marne, France, that my brother Billy brought us last weekend and glasses and we ate clafoutis and drank the dark slightly smoky pinot noir flavored champagne, a rather unusual champagne that reminded me of the Marne side of the hill in Champagne where pinot noir grapes and rosé predominates.

Finally at around 9:15 we said goodnight and watched “Endeavor”.
 Bon Appétit

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 27, 2013 Lunch – Sushi Dinner – Oyster and Salmon Chowder

July 27, 2013 Lunch – Sushi   Dinner – Oyster and Salmon Chowder 

At around 8:00 am we went to the Downtown Farmer’s Market and bought a Bosque Bakery baguette, a pint of fingerling potatoes, a small container of oyster mushroom hummus, 2 pints of shishito peppers, three ears of corn to serve with our steak meal on Sunday and to use to make chowder this evening.
 

At around 9:30 a.m. I drove Suzette to the tile shop and then to Costco to fill up her gas tank.  We decided to go in and buy a couple of things.   We started in the wine department and Suzette picked up a bottle of 2012 Whispering Angel French Cote de Provence Rosé, the most elegantly refined of rosés for a reasonable price ($14.99) that is made by Caves d’ Esclans (the 2011 received a 90 rating.  Caves d’ Esclans specializes in rosé wine and also makes a more elegant Chateau D’Esclans that is a bit more expensive.  The important thing to know about rosé is that loses its fruitiness pretty quickly, usually within a year, so my general rule is the fresher the better; rose is usually released in May of the year after it is picked, fermented and bottled, so a 2012 Rosé is the freshest you can find in 2013.

We also bought a bottle of Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc for $7.79, one of the best American Sauvignon Blancs for the price.
Then we saw two new items, 24 oz. tubs Azuma Seaweed Salad and Azuma Calamari Salad for $10.99.  These items cost about $3.99 for 4 or 5 oz. at Ta Lin, so this is a major find.  We bought a tub of each and then looked at each other and decided to eat sashimi for lunch.   So we returned to the seafood area and bought a tuna filet and a salmon filet to use for the chowder and to eat for lunch and we were happy.  We bought Applewood bacon, a loaf of fresh baked rosemary olive oil bread and copy paper and then checked out and drove home.
I cut out the belly meat from the tuna and a thick strip from the salmon and sliced them into slices.  Suzette put a pile of the Calamari salad on the fish plate and individual bowls of seaweed salad.  I opened the small plastic tub of pickled ginger and Suzette sliced up one of our cucumbers from the garden three ways (see picture below) and grabbed the wasabi and beers and we were ready to eat.   

 


 
On Thursday I had bought an 8 oz. bottle of Pacific Northwest oysters at Pro’s Ranch Market, which was only three large oysters, so we decided to use some of the salmon filet, While I worked on a securities offering Suzette picked and chopped some lovage and celery from our garden, cut the kernels off the three ears of corn, sliced the fingerling potatoes into slices and diced ¼ onion.  Then she sautéed the potatoes, onion, salt and pepper, and lovage in a large casserole in butter and then added chicken stock to the casserole and added the oysters and salmon.  When I came to the kitchen, I added about 1 cup of milk, sliced and toasted 3 slices of the Rosemary and olive oil bread and opened the bottle of 2012 Whispering Angel Rosé.  We ladled spoonfuls of the hot chowder into bowls and enjoyed a delicious fresh seafood dinner with the lovely wine.  Willy arrived during dinner and he joined us to eat a bowl of chowder and a glass of wine with a slice of toasted bread.

After dinner we watched movies on the TV and finished the last bit of old Clafoutis with a sip of cognac.
Bon Appétit

Sunday, July 28, 2013


July 21, 2013 Sunday Brunch at Amy’s    Dinner - Salmon in Lavender-Orange Wine Sauce

                My brother, Billy, was arriving at the airport for a three day visit at 9:30 a.m. and Amy had invited us to her house in Eldorado for brunch, so we grabbed a bottle of Argyle Brut champagne and Willy, Suzette and I drove to the airport to pick up Billy and then we drove to Amy’s house and arrived at 11:00 a.m.  When we arrived, the only thing left to cook were the scrambled eggs.  So as we talked and drank glasses of ice tea as Amy cracked a dozen eggs into a bowl and added chopped chives, salt and pepper and cream to the eggs and then we scrambled them into creamy mounds.    As the eggs were cooking we set the table on her enclosed patio for five and set the soufflé dish of garlic grits, a basket of toasted breads, fruit salad, a platter of sautéed pork link sausages and applewood bacon and glasses of water and glasses of champagne on the table.



 
 

We ate a glorious brunch and enjoyed each other’s company talking about mutual friends and old times as only two generation and two interconnected families can.

At lunch we decided to go to the History Museum near the Plaza to see its new cowboy show.   So we all drove in two cars because Billy was spending the night at Amy and Vahl’s and Willy, Suzette and I were returning to Albuq.  There are two large exhibition area upstairs at the History Museum.  One held a newly mounted cowboy show, which was interesting and the other held the permanent history display, which I liked better.   There were lots of vintage photos in the Cowboy exhibit of ranch life at the turn of the century and rural New Mexico, but the permanent history displays had things like Kit Carson’s beaver blanket and photos of the first Rough Rider Reunion in Las Vegas, N.M. in 1899.   I discovered that Teddy Roosevelt recruited a lot of New Mexico cowboys for the Rough Riders for the Cuban invasion in 1898.      
At around 2:30 Suzette and I were finished seeing the Museum and I met her in the gift shop, where she found and bought a lavender cookbook, “Cooking with Lavender” by Suzanne T. Smith.
 

Willy drove us home as I dozed and read about the melting of the glaciers in Greenland in the new issue of Rolling Stone.
When we got home Suzette found a recipe she wanted to try that included ingredients we had growing in the garden, carrots, scallions, and lavender, plus some long beans she had grown in her Los Lunas garden.  She picked all of the remaining carrots and three or four scallions and squeezed a cup of fresh orange juice and infused it with two teaspoons of fresh lavender.  After I julienned about ten small carrots and scallions and about the 3/4 cup of long beans, she sautéed the carrots, scallions, and long beans in peanut oil in a large skillet.
We cut 3 pieces of fish from a salmon filet that I had bought at Costco on Friday. 
In a different skillet Suzette poached the fish in the lavender infused orange juice to which she added 1 cup of Pinot Grigio white wine and when the fish was cooked she removed it and added 2 Tbsp. of Triple Sec and reduced the poaching liquid by half to a light sauce.  We heated PPI rice and then she returned the fish to the sauce to heat it through and when the fish was warmed, served the fish and vegetables on a pile of rice.  We drank glasses of the open bottle of Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio from Costco and it was better with the light fish dish because it had so little character that it did not conflict with the delicate flavors of the lavender and orange juice; sort of stood silently and liquefied the fish and sauce.

After dinner we made gravad lax with the usual 2/3 cup of salt and ½ cup of sugar but no pepper, which was a little more than necessary for the remaining 2 lbs. of fresh salmon (the recipe will make up to 3 lbs. of salmon).  The big change in the recipe was the use of sprigs of fresh tarragon that I cut from our plants in the garden instead of dill.   After weighing down the fish and salt/sugar mixture and tarragon for 12 hours on each side, I washed off the residual sugar and salt and tarragon and wrapped the filets of gravad lax in plastic wrap and stored it in the fridge.   I use the fattiest salmon I can find and most days that is the Atlantic farm raised salmon at Costco ($7.99/lb.).  The taste of gravad lax was decidedly tarragony but not unpleasant.  I like it as well as the dill or fennel weed we usually use and I love the fact that we are using an herb we have in abundance in our garden.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 20, 2013 Chicken Curry and Nob Hill Summer Fest

July 20, 2013 Chicken Curry and Nob Hill Summer Fest

Friday I bought chicken and apples and sweet potatoes to make a Madras Curry.  As soon as I returned home on Friday I boiled and shredded the five chicken leg quarters and saved the chicken stock in the fridge.
Saturday morning Suzette had to work, so I decided to make the chicken curry.  I have developed a recipe for Madras Curry that I like very much because it has a light fruity flavor.

Here is my recipe and a description of the mixed pickle that I like to eat as a condiment with it:

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 and water to keep the stew covered with liquid so it will not thicken unduly or burn, 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.
First, we boiled the chicken. 

After re-heating the curry I first added two Tbsp. of flour to the curry and after I stirred that in, I added about ¼ cup of heavy cream to lighten and smooth out the curry. 
This is the recipe I used.  When the curry was finished cooking after about four hours, I put it in the fridge and we got ready for the Summer Fest.  The City closed off Central from Girard to Washington and so we parked at the Wells Fargo Bank Branch at Richmond and Central and walked to Girard first to see the stage.  We than walked to Scalo at Central and Carlisle and sat on the patio and rank a glass of Borsao Rosé from Spain and waited for Debbie and Jeff to arrive.  Summer Fest featured lots of music this year on three separate stages, each rightly ten blocks apart with booths and activities in between and with most of the retail shops and restaurants open for business.  We said hello to Jay and Paula at Birdland.  When Jeff and Debbie arrived, we walked east to the music stage at Montclaire to hear Max Gomez’ set.  Then we walked back to Girard and danced and listened to “Soul Kitchen” play their set.
Finally, around 8:00 we drove to our house and we cooked 1 ½ cups of rice with a stick of cinnamon and a few cloves.  When Debbie and Jeff arrived around 8:30 p.m. we had gin and tonics and scotch and sodas and ate some pistachio nuts while the rice cooked. 

When the rice finished cooking, we filled pasta bowls with rice and curry and enjoyed them with onion pickle, a mixed pickle, a lime pickle and Major Grey’s Mango Chutney.

South Asian pickles (Hindi: आचार, Urdu: اچار‎) are made from certain individual varieties of vegetables and fruits that are chopped into small pieces and cooked in edible oils like sesame oil or brine with many different Indian spices like asafoetida, red chili powder, turmeric, fenugreek, and plenty of salt. Some regions also specialize in pickling meats and fish. Vegetables can also be combined in pickles to make mixed vegetable pickle. Some varieties of fruits and vegetables [edit] Recipe

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b6/Indian-pickle.jpg/150px-Indian-pickle.jpg

http://bits.wikimedia.org/static-1.21wmf7/skins/common/images/magnify-clip.png

South Asian mixed pickle, containing lotus root, lemon, carrot, green mango, green chilis, and other ingredients

The most common South Asian-style pickles are made from mango and lime. Others include cauliflower, carrot, radish, tomato, onion, pumpkin, palm heart, lotus stem, rose petals, ginger, Indian gooseberry,[1] garlic, green or red chili peppers, kohlrabi, gunda (cordia), kerda, zimikand (purple yam), karonda, karela (bitter melon), jackfruit, mushroom, eggplant, cucumber, and turnip.

At the end of a pleasant evening at around10:00 we said goodnight.   

Bon Appétit

   

 

  

 

 

 

July 19, 2013 Lunch – Tacos at Pro’s Ranch Market Dinner – Grilled Brats

July 19, 2013 Lunch – Tacos at Pro’s Ranch Market  Dinner – Grilled Brats

BJ Bryan came by around noon to work on a legal matter and after we finished I asked him, “Have you ever been to Pro’s Ranch Market for lunch?”

B.J. responded, “I have never been to Pro’s Ranch Market.”

When I asked if he would like to go and have a few tacos for lunch, he enthusiastically said, “Yes.”

So we drove across the bridge to Pro’s and ordered three tacos each and the server gave us a few grilled onions and a grill jalapeño and BJ went to find and buy two Jarritos, one of guaza and one of pina and I got us two cups of ice and we had a great time adding the many different salsas and onions, lime and cilantro to our tacos and eating them.  Pro’s tacos are served in a double layer of small tortillas made fresh in its tortilleria on premises.  We ate three tacos each.  I had buche (grilled and stewed tripe), a carnitas, and a carne asado.  B.J. had a chicken, an carne asado, and a carnitas.    
After lunch we walked round the store to get a lay of the land. When I saw that there was a sale on fresh chicken quarters for $.67/lb. I bought a package of five leg quarters and then went back to the produce section and bought four red delicious apples ($.69/lb.) and four sweet potatoes ($.69/lb.) to make chicken curry.

 
I did not thaw anything for dinner, so when Suzette arrived home I suggested that we thaw and cook the three brats I had bought last week at Sprouts and eat them with the bag of Boarshead Sauerkraut ($2.49/lb.) I had also bought at Sprouts last week.  So while I went to pick up Willy at the Rail Runner, Suzette thawed the brats and started boiling them in dark German beer in a skillet.  After the beer evaporates Suzette adds butter and sautés the brats in butter until their skins turn brown.
When I returned with Willy I cubed one red delicious apple and 1/2 medium onion and ½ red bell pepper.  Suzette sautéed those ingredients in another skillet and added to them the sauerkraut.

Suzette fetched the mayonnaise, horseradish, ketchup, and mustard and put them on the lazy-susan and we got beers and piled the vegetable mixture on plates beside our brats and ate heartily.  
Bon Appétit  

 

July 23, 2013 Lunch – La Salita Dinner – Eggplant Mapo Dofu

July 23, 2013 Lunch – La Salita  Dinner – Eggplant Mapo Dofu

Billy arrived home from the Candy Lady, where he observed an inspection of the premises around noon and I gave him some suggestions for lunch.  He decided on La Salita when I mentioned that it made the best chili rellenos I had ever eaten.  We dropped my bike off at the Bike Coop for an adjustment and stopped at the bank to cash a check, so we arrived at La Salita after 1:00 and it was nearly empty.  I immediately noticed a new item on the menu; “Build your own plate”, which charged $11.45 for any three items with slightly higher surcharges for the naked turkey relleno and the Swiss cheese stuffed relleno.  My favorite is the Swiss cheese stuffed relleno on a bed of turkey meat.  Since Billy does not eat rice and beans, the “Build Your Own” option was perfect.   We ordered three Swiss cheese filled chili rellenos with garnish and chopped onions on the side and chose green chili sauce.  The waitress served the platter with the three chili rellenos and an extra platter that we used to divide the three rellenos between us.  We each took some of the garnish and I took the onions.  Billy asked for extra tomatoes and the waitress brought that also.  It turned out to be a perfect meal for us because we are concerned about too many carbs. I think the total cost was around $13.86.
We then went to Ta Lin to buy a few items for dinner.  I bought Billy a bottle of Santa Fe Olé green chili sauce and a 1 lb. package of shitake mushrooms, a package of shredded wood ear, a 19 oz. tub of medium tofu, and two 7 oz. cans of pimientos.  Then we went home by way of the bike coop.
At 6:00 I started cooking dinner.  Billy and I cubed the large eggplant I had bought at Sprouts ($.99) yesterday, one large onion, and 1 green Anaheim chili pepper and we peeled and chopped up three small heads of garlic (about 2 Tbsps.) and Billy sliced two boneless pork sirloin chops (about 1 lb.) into 1 x 1/4 inch long slices and sliced about 1/3 lb. of shitake mushrooms into thin slices and I thinly sliced and diced about 2 Tbsp. of diced fresh ginger.  I then heated 4 Tbsp. of peanut oil in the large wok and added the meat and garlic and ginger and added 1 large tsp. of garlic chili sauce and stir fried it until it changed color from pink to grey.  I removed the meat and added the large bowl full of diced eggplant, onion and green chili and stir fried that for about twenty minutes until it was soft, while I went to the garden and picked some Chinese Kale and chard leaves.  I stopped de-stemming the leaves and ran to the kitchen when Suzette said she smelled something burning and found that the vegetable mixture had scorched on the bottom of the wok for lack of liquid, so I added the meat back with its oily residue and then added the mushrooms.  I took the bowl which had held the meat and ginger and garlic and filled it with about three cups of hot water and then added Knorr chicken stock to t to make a chicken stock and added about 1 oz. of the dried shredded black wood ear and added that to the wok and covered the wok.  I then diced about 5 oz. of tofu and added that with the de-stemmed kale and chard and 1 Tbsp. of soy and 1 tsp. of sesame oil and 1 Tbsp. of Chines Rice cooking wine and covered the wok to let it cook at a rolling boil for another twenty minutes.  I then uncovered it and let it simmer for another ten minutes.  The liquid was very soupy and although Billy liked the soupiness, I decided to thicken the sauce.  So I mixed until smooth 3 heaping tsps. of cornstarch in a bowl with 1 tsp. of sesame oil, 1 Tbsp. of soy and 1 Tbsp. of Chinese Rice cooking wine and 3 Tbsp. of water. I added that to the wok and cooked it about five minutes, until it colored the sauce a slightly brown color and the sauce seemed to thicken a bit.  Suzette heated the PPI rice from last night’s PPI Curry meal and set the table in the gazebo and we took plates of rice and mapo dofu and glasses of lovely green tea ice tea Willy made to the gazebo in the back yard and enjoyed a pleasant dinner al fresco.  All agreed that the dish was a success but I know the dish was a success because Billy returned for seconds.  It was a very loose stew with lots of liquid.  I put a little salt in but you do not need to because the garlic chili sauce has salt in it, as does the Knorr Chicken stock.

The sauce was delicate and had that characteristic perfumed aroma and taste that I find so agreeable in the Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking Cookbook; probably due to not over using the cooking wine and soy.

Bon Appétit

        

   

July 22, 2013 PPI Chicken Curry

July 22, 2013 PPI Chicken Curry

I had thawed out two pork chops, but when Suzette and I spoke during the days she said we had lots of food and we should eat what we had.  We decided to heat up the chicken curry I made on Saturday for our dinner with Jeff and Debbie.  So I went by Sprouts after a closing and bought a bag of light coconut, some roasted salted peanuts, an eggplant and some red cherries and then picked up Billy from the Rail Runner station at 6:00. 
When I got home a bit after 6:00 Suzette had already heated up the curry and started cooking a pot of rice.  I got out the condiments (Major Grey Chutney, an onion pickle, a mixed pickle and a lime pickle).  I opened the bag of coconut and tasted the finely chopped coconut and discovered that the light meant less sugar added.  We each ladled rice into pasta bowls and scooped ladles full of curry onto the rice and added the condiments we liked.  Most of us drank water but I had a beer.  A very simple and delicious dinner.

 
Bon Appétit

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 18, 2013 Cockles in garlic cream sauce over pasta

July 18, 2013 Cockles in garlic cream sauce over pasta

Suzette and I discussed a number of things that we needed to buy at Costco.  She needed four brooms and we needed to replenish basic provisions such as toilet paper and Dewar’s Scotch. 
Suzette also mentioned that we had basil in the garden that was ready to make into pesto but we needed olive oil and pine nuts and that were out of gravad lax and needed to make more. 

So today after a meeting I went to Costo around 11:30 for shopping and lunch.  I first saw fresh New Zealand cockles so I bought a bag of them.  Remember that in July 16’s blog I mentioned that I wanted to try a light fish in a garlic cream sauce with the Mezzacorona 2011 Pinot Grigio (Costco $8.99?), so here was my chance to make a light garlic Bechamel sauce and try the wine with it.   I bought a 6 pack selection of three different macaroni shapes to make sure we had a good pasta.  The I remembered Suzette’s thought that she wanted to make pesto for Saturday’s meal with Debbie and Jeff, so I bought some olive oil and pine nuts for pesto, and a bottle of Dog Pond Sauvignon Blanc, also from New Zealand, that we had drunk it at Wayne and Elaine Chew’s party on Saturday evening and enjoyed ($14.99) because it would go well with fish and cockles, a red Languedoc, $7.99), a 2 1/2 pound salmon filet to make gravad lax and a few other things, like Delice cheese and pretzels.   After I iced the cockles and salmon, I ate a polish dog and then ran the stuff home and put the cockles into a large pot of water and ice.
 
We make a very standard dish with clams which is a white wine and butter and garlic sauce in which Suzette steams the clams to cook them and then we serve the cooked clams and sauce over boiled pasta.  This time though I wanted to turn the sauce into a Bechamel Sauce by adding a roux of flour and butter.   At 6:00 we began to cook by going to the garden to see what herbs and vegetables we could use in the dish.  We picked two kinds of chard and a handful of Chinese Kale to add to the sauce and oregano and basil and Suzette picked three scallions.
 
When we went back inside, I first removed the skins from six cloves of garlic and chopped the white parts of the three scallions, so Suzette could start making her sauce to steam the clams.  I then de-stemmed and chopped and cleaned the 2 cups of chard and kale.  Then I de-stemmed 2 Tbsps. each of the oregano and basil and chopped it finely and added three tbsps. of the green part of the scallions, chopped finely and took that to the kitchen. 

When I arrived in the kitchen Suzette had steamed most of the cockles open (they need to be done in batches so each is submerged in the liquid of the sauce).  I took out a skillet and put in 3 Tbsps. of butter and melted it and then put the herbs in with another clove of garlic cut into thirds and cooked them for a minute.  Then I added three Tbsps. of flour and sautéed that for a couple of minutes to cook the flour.  Then Suzette began adding her clam cooking sauce from the steaming pot until we had a thickened Bechamel sauce.  Then we transferred the Bechamel sauce back to the clam pot in which the remaining clam steaming liquid was and added the chard and kale cook that.  Unfortunately, the cockles had made the sauce extremely salty, so Suzette decided to add a splash of cream to add creaminess and smoothness and suppress the saltiness of the sauce and I decided to add a dash of white pepper and Spanish paprika to give added dimension to the flavor of the sauce. After the sauce and vegetables cooked and thickened for a couple of minutes Suzette added back the shucked clams and I drained the Casarecce macaroni made in Italy by Garofalo from organic semolina wheat in a colander.   We poured glasses of Pinot Grigio and I shaved slices of pecorino Romano cheese to garnish the dish.  Then Suzette spooned macaroni into pasta bowls and we each ladled the clam and vegetable sauce over the pasta and garnished with cheese slices and went to the newly reconstructed gazebo in the back of the garden to eat.  Suzette brought home a dense loaf of sun dried tomato and herb infused bread that the new baker at the Bistro made and we dipped that into the sauce. Voila.
 
It is hard to describe the absence of taste that fresh ingredients produce.  Garlic and herbs produce a strong herbal presence but there is a lightness in the rest of the ingredients that almost seems like they are not present in the dish and yet they were.  This evanescence of flavor is unique to fresh ingredients and I like it very much.  The light Pinot Grigio did not clash with the lightness but enhanced it.  A lot of work for nothing but a delicious nothing and I am still burping garlic the morning after the meal.  This residual flavor of the ingredients reminds me of eating bouillabaisse on the Riviera, where we were simultaneously overwhelmed by the strong flavors of the herbs and the salty freshness of the fish.    
Bon Appétit

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 16, 2013 Spaghetti with fried fish.

July 16, 2013 Spaghetti with fried fish.

In the afternoon I took a paper wrapped package from Sprouts out of the freezer that I thought contained three brats, but it turned out to contain 1.1 lb. of corvina.  I was working, so Willy and Suzette cooked dinner.  Suzette crushed panko, put it in a freezer bad with salt and pepper and a dash of roasted Spanish paprika and breaded the fish filet.

Then she sautéed the fish filet in a skillet with olive oil and butter while she re-heated the PPI eggplant marinara sauce to which I had added some chopped green olives, and microwaved the PPI spaghetti.  I went to the basement and fetched a magnum bottle of Mezzacorona 2011 Pinot Grigio (Costco $8.99?).  The back label states that “Mezzacorona only vinifies Pinot Grigio grapes of our own production cultivated in vineyards at the foot of the Dolomites.”  I liked that truthfulness.  The wine had a clean, thin taste, which would have been great with a light fish dish, such as fish and shrimp in a cream sauce.  It did not stand up to the heavy flavors of eggplant and tomatoes in the Marinara sauce for those who like wine with heft for such dishes.  I liked it a lot because as I have said before, I do not like a heavy wine that interferes with food’s flavors and this wine stood on the side and let the delicate combination of eggplant and onion and tomato flavors shine on their own.  In some ways I liked it better with the dish than the heavier Chianti that we had drunk with the spaghetti dish on Sunday.   

 
Bon Appétit
 
July 17, 2013 Scrambled Enchiladas with an egg and Cherry Clafoutis

I worked late and then went to meditate without a plan for dinner.  When I arrived home at 8:30 p.m. Suzette suggested that we fix the PPI enchiladas from Willy’s party.  I liked the idea, so I chopped 3 Tbsp. of red onion and put that into the large cast iron skillet that she had put butter into with the enchiladas.  She chopped the enchiladas up and sautéed them to heat them and I fetched eggs and went to the basement for beers.
 
When I returned I started making the clafoutis.  I measured out and sifted 7 Tbsps. of flour and 10 heaping Tbsps. of powdered confectioner’s sugar and ½ tsp. of salt and a dash of vanilla powder.  When Suzette had finished frying the eggs, I opened the beers and we ate.


After dinner I completed constructing the clafoutis by scalding 3 cups of milk and cream mixed 50/50 and stirring three eggs into the flour and sugar mixture with a wooden spoon and added the scalded milk and buttered a ceramic baking dish.  Then I poured the liquid mixture into the ceramic baking dish and added the brandied cherries.
I put the clafoutis into the oven at 350˚ on convection for 45 minutes until it started to brown and then turned off the oven and left it for another five minutes and then removed it.  I enjoyed it but the cherries I had bought at Pro’s had no sweetness s, so the dish lacked its intended flavorfulness.

The Lesson: In a dessert with fresh fruit, you cannot make up for lack of fruit flavor with sugar.
Bon Appétit

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 15, 2013 Grilled Steak with sautéed onions and carrots and salad

            We are full steam ahead with the garden.  Yesterday Suzette picked some of the first plantings of the red skinned carrots.  This afternoon I picked a basket of greens for salad and cleaned and bagged them and put them into the fridge to revive and thawed out a bone in rib steak. 
When Suzette came home we cleaned and chopped the carrots into pieces.  Then I thinly sliced a white onion while Suzette blanched the carrots.  Then Suzette sautéed the onions and carrots in olive oil and butter and seasoned them with salt and about 1 tsp. of fresh dried lavender.  


Suzette grilled the steak while I fetched a bottle of Cold Creek Cabernet Sauvignon ($3.33 at Sprouts Market about one year ago) and fetched the salad dressing, Sauce Béarnaise and salad greens from the fridge.
When the steak was grilled to medium rare, Suzette brought it in and I sliced it and we plated up the salad and dressed it and laid several slices of steak on that to make a steak salad and garnished the steak with Sauce Béarnaise and piled spoonsful of sautéed onion and carrot mixture on the plates.
This was another exceedingly fresh and delicious dinner.  The steak was tender and the overall feel of the meal was of no extra unwanted flavors.  Just melt in your mouth steak, carrots, onions and salad.   The wine had aged a bit and was also mellow and complemented the steak.



A great and simple meal.  Fresh is wonderful.

Bon Appétit   
July 14, 2013 Spaghetti with eggplant marinara.

I had bought a bag of Roma tomatoes at Pro’s Ranch Market on Thursday (3lb. for $.99) and an eggplant at Sprouts on Wednesday for $.99 that I wanted to use, so after Suzette went to work, I started cooking.  I chopped one large onion and 10 cloves of garlic and the eggplant and sautéed them in olive oil and butter.  Then I chopped and added about eight to ten tomatoes and about ¼ cup of basil leaves and ½ lb. of diced pork tenderloin and cooked that for about four hours until Suzette returned home around 6:00 p.m.
Suzette took over and made a pot of spaghetti and cut up about ¼ lb. of fresh mozzarella and put ½ in the bottom of two pasta bowls and piled the hot spaghetti on top of  it and then spooned the spaghetti sauce on top of it and I shaved a bit of parmesan cheese on top.  I opened a bottle of 2006 reserva Chianti from Trader Joe’s and toasted 2 pieces of baguette and we had a light and lovely meal.   
 

 

 
A simple but very fresh and flavorful meal.

Bon Appétit