Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 30, 2013 Dumpling Soup – Lunch and Dinner - Mexican Squash and Sugar Snap Peas in Garlic Sauce

October 30, 2013 Dumpling Soup – Lunch and Dinner - Mexican Squash and Sugar Snap Peas in Garlic Sauce and World Series

After yesterday’s noodle stew, I had a hankering for Wonton Soup today, so at noon I took the bag of frozen Ling Ling pot stickers out of the freezer to see if they could be prepared as boiled dumplings and the package said that boiling them in water was the traditional method of preparation, rather than the microwave.  The instructions said to bring a pot of water to a boil, then to add the pot stickers to the boiling water and to cook them until the water returned to a boil. 
Easy enough, so I filled to ¾ full a 2 quart sauce pan with water and started heating it.  I added 1 Tbsp. dehydrated Knorr chicken stock, 2-3 Tbsps. chopped yellow onion, 1 carrot, and I diced Mexican Squash to make a chicken and vegetable broth.  I then went to the garden and picked five or six stalks of garlic greens, 1 Japanese chili, and about ten leaves of Kale and chopped them up and put the garlic greens and chili in and put the kale aside for later addition.  I forgot to put in sausage, but I added 1 Tbsp. each of Chinese Rice wine and sweet soy, a few drops of sesame oil and a dash of hot chili oil.  I also removed a bag with about 1 lb. of pork meat from the fridge to thaw for dinner.   

When the water and ingredients began to boil, which took about fifteen minutes, I added eight frozen pot stickers and the chopped kale and set the timer for 10 minutes and went to read.  When the timer went off the pot stickers had almost come to a boil, so I cooked the soup for an additional five minutes to let the pot stickers and the vegetables really cook and served up about 1/3 of the soup with three pot stickers in a bowl.  The soup broth was full of flavor and the dough surrounding the filling of the pot stickers fully cooked.  I cut the pork pots tickers in half to help mix their meat flavor with the broth and to soften the dough. 

This turned out to be a surprisingly hearty meal and a welcome addition to my noodle lunches.   The only negative was that the pork filling in the dumplings had a lot of black pepper in it that interfered with the delicate flavor of the vegetable and chicken broth.  Next time I may add mushrooms and miso and seaweed to make a more Japanese style super broth.

At 5:00 I rode a few miles but my tire went flat from a slow leak, so I returned home at 5:40 to find that Suzette had arrived home and made a guacamole dip with avocado and sour cream and was dipping corn chips.  For some reason I was exceedingly hungry, perhaps from the lack of breakfast, so I took the two remaining PPI boiled artichokes and the dipping sauce I had made a few days ago with mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic greens and tarragon out of the fridge and freshen it up with a bit more mayonnaise and olive oil and sat down with Suzette and we shared our two snacks as we watched news shows and the beginning of Game 6 of the World Series. 
When we were in Boston on September 3, 2013, we attended the Boston Red Sox v. the New York Yankees game, which Boston won 1 to 0.  The pitching and defensive play in that game made us believe that Boston had a terrific team and a chance to win the World Series and we have been Boston fans ever since, for at least this year.   So we were excited and when Suzette and I discussed what to make for dinner and she mentioned the thawed pork meat as an ingredient, I suggested using the Mexican squash and onions and making a stir fry.  Suzette said she would cook dinner while I meditated and have it ready for me when I returned home.

When I returned home around 8:30 I was greeted by a covered wok of steaming pork, squash and sugar snap peas in garlic sauce on the stove and Game Six in the Sixth Inning and Boston was up 6-0 on the TV.
We became more excited when we realized that this could be the game with which Boston won the World Series.  The other exciting thing was that Suzette had made one of our favorite Chinese stir fry dishes Pork and Eggplant in Garlic Sauce, except she had substituted Mexican Squash and Sugar Snap Peas for the eggplant.   Here is the original recipe for the dish:

The Eggplant and Garlic Sauce recipe (page 169) is in the new Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking Cookbook Suzette bought me for Christmas last year.  The author, Eileen Yin Fei Lo, cooks with a style that adds fragrance to the food by adding small amounts of rice cooking wine to many recipes, rather than overpowering them with lots of flavoring. 
Eggplant with Garlic Sauce.

You first make the Sauce (This is the recipe from the book but we doubled this recipe because we had two pounds of eggplant and some other ingredients we were adding to the dish.)
1 Tbsp. double dark soy sauce

2 tsp. Oyster Sauce
1 tsp. white rice wine vinegar

½ tsp. Shaoxing wine
½ tsp. pepper flakes from hot oil (we reduce this to avoid making the dish too spicy)

½ tsp. of cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp. of chicken stock
Then I sliced the large Chinese Eggplant into three inch by ½ inch strips (about two pounds) and 1/3 of a medium onion and about ¼ cup of red bell pepper and Suzette sautéed those until tender in 1/4 cup peanut oil as needed.  Suzette stir fried three batches of eggplant strips (the recipe calls for deep frying the eggplant strips in 4 cups of peanut oil, but we never use that much oil), but she used ¼ per batch for a total of ¾ cup for all the eggplant, onion and red bell pepper.

After Suzette had cooked the eggplant, onion and bell pepper, she stir fried the garlic and then added the 1 lb. of cooked fish with one chopped up one baby bok choy.  Then she returned the eggplant mixture to the wok and stir fried it with the meat mixture for a minute and then made a well in the middle of the ingredients and added the sauce and cooked the eggplant mixture for a minute or two while I was stir frying the vegetable dish.
 Suzette told me that the Mexican squash did not absorb as much oil as eggplant and thus tonight’s dish was not as oily.  Suzette heated some PPI boiled rice from the fridge and she ladled the stir fry garlic sauce dish over the rice and we ate and watched as Boston struggled with its pitching in the seventh or eighth inning and allowed St. Louis to score one run and begin to mount a tepid rally that faltered as Boston re-asserted its defensive game and won the World Series to the exuberant cheers from the huge crown that filled Fenway Park and all of New England.  

After a good game and meal we were ready to go to bed after the Colbert Report and Jon Stewart show, although I made myself a vanilla ice cream Sunday with poached pears and chocolate sauce for dessert to celebrate Boston’s victory.
As I read the new New Yorker at lunch today I saw an ad for Alice Water's new cookbook, "The Art of Simple Food" and it made me think that that is what our diet has turned into, cooking simply what is available fresh. And that made me think about dinner and how we had substituted fresh available ingredients for a traditional ingredient within the framework of a Chinese cooking method to make a delicious although not identical dish to the classical formulation of the dish.  That reinforced my belief that using available fresh ingredients is not only at the core of Alice Waters' redefinition of Modern American Cuisine, but at the core of every great cuisine in the world.  Also, I would consider the two dishes above to be simple food; dishes prepared without a lot of elaborate prep and presentation, where the ingredients form the core of the dish.  The two dishes above seem to provide evidence to me of that approach.  I guess I will need to investigate what Alice Waters considers simple food.  I would like to think we are defining "simple" in a similar manner. 

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 29, 2013 Banana Leaf Asian Grill and El Charritos Mexican Restaurant

October 29, 2013 Banana Leaf Asian Grill and El Charritos Mexican Restaurant

Rosemary and I went to Rio Rancho for court today and Rosemary took me to lunch at Banana Leaf Asian Grill because she said it was the best restaurant in Rio Rancho.  I had never been before and like so many places in Rio Rancho was a bit put off by the piles of blown dust in the parking lot.  But once inside I was impressed with the modern decor, steel and glass tables and modern blown glass and chrome halogen light fixtures.  I saw a special that looked interesting, Taiwanese beef and noodle stew for $9.99, so I ordered that.  We wanted one other dish so Rosemary ordered sizzling stir fried Udon noodles with chicken and an egg.    The waitress asked if we wanted her to serve the stew first and we said, “Yes”.

The Taiwanese stew was a clear dark beef consommé rich in meat flavor with pieces of beef stew meat, square cut Chinese wheat noodles and baby bock choy in it. We both loved it.

As we were finishing our stew, the Sizzling Udon came and it was really sizzling on a heated metal platter covered with a heavy metal lid.  When the waitress removed the lid, we saw a pile stir fried softened Udon noodles, thinly sliced onions, broccoli flowerets, sliced chicken, snow peas, mushrooms and a fried egg on the side that clearly had been placed on the side after the sizzling mass had been placed on the sizzling platter and had cooked inside the covered sizzling platter.  The sauce coating the ingredients was a sweetened soy sauce rich slightly thickened brown sauce seasoned with lots of black pepper.  It was pleasant tasting, but since I do not like black pepper, I found it to be excessive.  I find that there is a tendency to use black pepper as a cheap flavoring ingredient and the dish was not better for it.  I do think the concept of balancing the spiciness of the black pepper with the sweetness of the brown sauce on the Udon dish was interesting, but I would have used chili peppers.  But, we dug our way through the entire dish though, pepper and all.  

So I guess I would say that I found the food at Banana Leaf to be interesting and I would go back to try more dishes.  I am guessing that their Wonton soup would be killer.  I see that Banana Leaf is highly rated at from 4.2 to 4.5 stars, so others’ dining experiences have been positive also.
Banana Leaf

355 New Mexico 528, Rio Rancho, NM
(505) 892-6119 ·
4.217 reviews · $$
house fried rice · drunken chicken · won ton soup · curry udon · yellow curry
"Good food. Nice and fresh. My husband takes me here quite often and I love it!" -
After Court we stopped at Total Wine, we both bought Eguren rosé and Rosemary bought a bottle of Vouvray.   
When I arrived home at around 6:30 Suzette did not want to cook and wanted New Mexican food, so I suggested that we try the newly opened El Charritos Restaurant on Central in the old Village Inn restaurant location next to the Botanic Gardens.  I am not sure if the old location at 4703 Central is closed or not, but ½ of the new restaurant was pretty full when we arrived around 7:00.  We took a booth and almost immediately a waiter came by to take our drink order.  Soon our waitress came by to take our order.   I ordered my usual Mexican restaurant testing item, an enchilada plate with ground beef and double beans ($7.50).  Suzette was much more creative.  She ordered one carne adovado enchilada ($1.85) and one beef taco ($1.85).
We enjoyed our food and I think the enchilada plate was very attractively presented with three rolled enchiladas laid askew and diagonally across the platter.   The red chili sauce was pretty hot and very flavorful, so a big plus there.  The tortillas use in the enchiladas were softened, so a big plus there.  I enjoyed my meal and would return, especially for the daily specials at $5.99 each, which included cheese enchiladas, tamales and chili rellenos depending on the day of the week.
I liked El Charritos in its new digs with its Formica tables and bright hanging lights over each table better than the darker and more crowed old restaurant and others seemed to also.  By 7:45  though,  when we left, the restaurant was almost empty.  I guess the New Mexico New Mexican food crowd consists of mostly early eaters.    

Bon Appétit

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 28, 2013 Grilled Rib Steak with Cottage Fries, steamed Asparagus and sautéed Mushrooms

October 28, 2013 Grilled Rib Steak with Cottage Fries, steamed Asparagus and sautéed Mushrooms

Breakfast was muesli with fresh red grapes and European yogurt from Trader Joe’s
Lunch was the PPI PPI dish of creamed clams, salmon and chicken in pasta from last night’s dinner.

As I walked out the door  for a ride to Paseo at 4:00 I thawed out a steak.

When I returned at 5:30 Suzette was home and watching TV and having her cocktail, so I made what we affectionately describe as a $10.00 Gin and Tonic.  We bought a bottle of Back River Gin at the distillery in Maine this August.  It is considered one of the top 50 gins in the world according to the literature provided at the distillery.  I first made my drink with some Gordon’s and a bottle of Fever Tree Tonic and the drink had a very pleasant tonic taste. But not much gin taste.  Then when I added a little Back River Gin, the drink took on a whole different flavor.  I could taste the complex flavors of the ingredients Back River added during the distillation.  I see why Suzette calls it a $10.00 gin and tonic.   It is not only because the ingredients are top notch, but because the tonic and gin have a very different flavor than its more insipid relative one usually finds at bars.  

When I returned the steak was not thawed, so Suzette ran water on it and then put it in the microwave to thaw.  We discussed dinner and I said I would like to have cottage fries with my steak and we needed to eat the lovely asparagus I bought Sprouts last week ($1.77/lb.).  Suzette asked, “Do you want to sauté some mushrooms?  To which I said, “Yes.” So we swung into action.

I chopped about 1/3 cup of onion and sliced five or six mushrooms and snapped about fifteen stalks of asparagus. Suzette ran a couple of potatoes through the Cuisinart slicing fixture and put them in a pan with butter and olive oil to sauté and prepared the steak for grilling and began soaking a few of the dehydrated Porcini mushrooms we bought in Taos several weeks ago.  I put the asparagus into the steamer and added water to it and put it on the stove.  Then I went to the garden and picked four or five stalks of garlic greens and a sprig of tarragon for the mushrooms and turned on the propane grill.  When I returned I chopped the garlic greens and stripped the leaves from the tarragon stem, put butter and olive oil into a skillet and added the mushrooms, onions, garlic greens and tarragon and porcinis to the skillet and cooked them for about ten minutes, while Suzette was grilling the steak and the potatoes were taking on a deep golden brown color.  When Suzette turned the steak on the grill, I added a dash of Amontillado sherry to the mushrooms and we reduced the heat and started the asparagus steaming.

In another 7 or 8 minutes Suzette brought the steak in and sliced it into 1 inch wide strips on a cutting board.  It was perfectly cooked again to medium rare.  The thin asparagus were cooked and so were the potatoes.  Suzette said, “We need a wine.  I asked her what she wanted to drink and she said a Cabernet Sauvignon, so I went to the basement and picked a 2008 Wellington Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon that had recently arrived with our Wine Club membership shipment.  By the time I got back upstairs Suzette had set the table with sliver, napkins and wine glasses.  I opened the bottle of wine and we filled our plates with a pile of potatoes, a pile of meat garnished with sautéed mushrooms and a seven or eight asparagus and I poured the glasses half full of wine.  Everything was fresh and delicious. 

The 2008 Wellington was really terrific with the steak.  It had a smooth, yet fruity flavor.  We love Wellington’s wines.  Wellington is located near the northern end of Sonoma Valley just south of Glen Ellen and makes really good wines.  We especially like its Mohrhardt Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon. We also like Wellington’s Rhone style whites, such as its Marsanne Sonoma Valley Estate and Roussanne Sonoma County, made with minimal oak in the French style.     You can check out their wines at


We had cognac and chocolates for dessert as we simultaneously watched Boston beat St. Louis in game five of the World Series and Antiques Roadshow.

Another great dinner.  Since I was raised in Texas, steak is the ultimate comfort food for me or if you want to be trendy, as Luke says, we ate Paleo tonight.

Bon Appétit

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 26, 2013 Restaurante Equipales and Low Spirits

October 26, 2013 Restaurante Los Equipales and Low Spirits

We made BLT sandwiches for breakfast and I boiled the four medium artichokes I had bought at Trader Joes’ for $2.29 on Thursday.  Then we went to Goodwill, where I found a great Armani Exchange (“AX”) shirt for $4.50, but Suzette did not find any Thanksgiving decorations.  We then drove to the Apple Store for Suzette troubleshooting session and I went to Total Wine and bought a six pack of Manger’s Irish Apple Hard Cider and I found a new item, 2012 a Tempranillo Eguren Rosé for $6.99.
Then I picked Suzette up at the Apple store and we drove to the Salvation Army thrift store.  But Suzette never found any Thanksgiving decorations.  As we exited the Salvation Parking Lot I saw Los Equipales across the street and suggested we try it.  We were the only customers and so we sat on the patio and drank Mexican beers ($4.75 each) and ordered ceviche ($7.00) and queso fundido ($8.00).  It was very tipico and we could imagine ourselves sitting among the flowers on the Malacón in PV in Mexico as we bathed in the warm sun.

We planned to go to Low Spirits to see Twin Forks at 8:00 so we decided to not cook dinner.  Instead we made a mayonnaise, lemon, avocado, garlic greens and tarragon dipping sauce with a touch of olive oil and we ate one artichoke each with a piece of bread and some marinated asparagus with glasses of the 2012 Eguren Rosé, which turned out to be very good.  It had lots of character and a predominance of red tempranillo flavor.  Suzette loves the heavier more red oriented rosés, while I like the lighter fruitier more French style rosés.  Eguren is definitely is in the heavier more red category.
We enjoyed the music and drank glasses of, what else, Campo Viejo Reserva Tempranillo ($7.00).  We enjoyed the music an actually stayed until almost 12:00 midnight.  

Bon Appétit

October 25, 2013 New Zealand Cockles with pasta

October 25, 2013 New Zealand Cockles with pasta

This morning a made a simple and delicious breakfast.  I heated a scoop of PPI Moussaka made at the Bistro and added two egg whites to it for lovely scrambled eggs.

Later I stopped at Costco and bought a five pound bag of live New Zealand cockles ($3.49/lb.). When I arrived home, I put them into a large bowl with ice and water.
When Suzette came home she did not wish to cook, so I said I would.  I wanted to try a little different recipe, so I chopped a carrot, about 1/3 cup of onion and a couple of stalks of celery and the celery tops and sautéed that in a large enameled casserole with 8 oz.  of butter to make a mirepoix.  Then I added about 1 ½ cup of PPI chardonnay and a couple of sprigs of marjoram and thyme from the garden and brought the stock to a boil. When the stock was boiling I added a layer of clams so they were covered by the boiling broth and allowed a little extra room so they could pop open.  It took about five rounds of clams to finish all of them opening.  While this process was proceeding I brought a pot of water to a boil and then we added a lb. of spaghetti to the pot and let if come to a boil and boil until soft.  We chucked the cockles and held the clam meats in a separate bowl until all the clam had opened.  Then when the pasta was ready, Suzette jumped in and returned the clams to the broth pot and added about 2 cups of pasta to it toss with the clams.  Then we filled bowls with the clam and pasta and broth mixture, garnished the bowls with slices of Pecorino Roman cheese and served it with pieces of toasted baguette and glasses of a new 2011 Portico Da Ria Albarino I bought at Trader Joe’s on close out for $5.99/bottle.



Actually the 2011 Portico Da Ria Albarino is the least interesting Albarino I have ever tasted.  It is sweet and lacks any tartness, crispness or character.  So I will return the five other bottles I bought.
Also the cockles have a slightly muddy flavor.  I realize that mollusks are best in the “R” months because that is the fall in the Northern Temperate Zone.  But it is Springtime in New Zealand, a good time for lamb but not a good time for mollusks.

Bon Appétit   


October 27, 2013 PPI clams, salmon, and chicken over pasta in cream sauce

October 27, 2013 PPI clams, salmon, and chicken over pasta in cream sauce

This is one of my favorite PPI dishes.  Suzette sautés fresh mushrooms and shallots and then adds those sautéed ingredients to the casserole of PPI clams with their broth, salmon, chicken and pasta with a PPI cream sauce and then adds dehydrated  porcini mushrooms and powdered chanterelles and heats the whole affair.   It is quick, easy and tastes great.
We drank glasses of Trader Joe’s 2012 Organic Sauvignon Blanc Reserve ($5.99).  The wine lacked character and grassiness and minerality, but was clearly a solid Sauvignon Blanc.  I do not think I will buy it again. 
One of the things I find interesting is that many folks think that because we know a little bit about wine that we are drinking all the time that we drink great wine all the time.  Just the opposite is the case.  I am always trying to find good inexpensive wines and that means we drink a lot mediocre wines, as you can see from today's selection.
Sadly, I see where another cultural hero, Lou Reed, died.  Saw him in his glory days at Max’s Kansas City in 1968, when Maureen was his drummer.   I guess there was too much heroin and I don’t mean musically.

After dinner we peeled, sliced and cooked two quinces in a simple syrup made with one part sugar and two parts water for about 1 hour and then Suzette laid the slices in a pyrex baking dish and baked them for about 30 minutes to further caramelize the slices.

I peeled three pears and cooked them in some PPI Moscato and the zest of one lemon and a Tbsp. of the syrup from an earlier pear dish and 1/2 of a three inch long piece of cinnamon bark and about six or seven cloves.

We are on our way to making either a candied quince and apple and pear pie and just glazed fruits.

I also ate a bowl of yogurt and poached pears.
Suzette had poached pears and ice cream.

Bon Appétit 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 19, 2013 Tom Udall Fund Raiser Ravioli with sautéed zucchini squash

October 19, 2013 Tom Udall Fund Raiser Ravioli with sautéed zucchini squash

Suzette and I dressed up and went to the Sandia Casino and Resort for a dinner and Fund Raiser for Tom Udall.  We had our picture taken with Tom and Sherrod Brown who was the guest speaker and talked to Jill a few minutes and met a few folks we knew.  It turned out to be much more fun that I thought it would be.  We sat beside a doctor couple, Steve Kanig and his wife,      Aberry?, who is president of the AMA in New Mexico who, it turned out, own a condo in Puerto Vallarta, so we compared notes on PV and started feeling like we needed to go to Sayulita again.  

The dinner choices were a chicken breast sprinkled with red chili or a vegetarian choice, which turned out to be eight ricotta filled ravioli laid in a circle around a plate with the center filled with sautéed zucchini tossed with a light pesto sauce.  I tasted the chicken and rejected it immediately.  The waitress kindly brought me the vegetarian choice.  I loved it.  The raviolis had been heated in water or in a bag in the microwave (I can only guess how these food service secrets operate) so they were soft pillows of dough and cheese.  The squash was lovely, blanched but not over cooked and lightly tossed with pesto.  

We were also served a fresh salad as an appetizer and a slice of spice cake drizzled and spread with a cream cheese icing.  There were bottles of wine on the table and we both chose the Mondavi CV or CK cabernet sauvignon; obviously a restaurant grade wine, which was fine. 

All in all it was a great evening.

It was fun meeting Tom.  I asked him how he planned to fix the filibuster rules in the Senate and he told me that he wanted to see there be a live speaking filibuster period and then a vote by majority vote on bills to end the 60 vote hurdle and silent filibuster that now exists that allows one senator to require a super majority o every bill without disclosing his identity.   I got the feeling that Tom was still willing to work for this rule change.  He said that the reason the Democrats did not push for it this year was because the Republicans agreed to not oppose the confirmation of the Democrats’ nominees for public office.  In other words to not use the filibuster to stop them, and Harry Reid, did not want to rub the Republicans’ noses in it by forcing a rule change because the Republicans had consented to confirmation of the Democrats’ nominees .

Also Tom said he would try to get Obama to sign my Chuck Close portrait of Obama, which is how I was invited to the dinner.  Apparently Tom saw that I had donated $2,500.00 to the Democratic Party last year and called me to invite me last week to this fund raiser.  I told him I had donated to get a picture of Obama, but said I would make a donation to his re-election campaign.

Last year, I saw an article in the New Yorker describing a fund raising mechanism called “Artists for Obama” which included a series of 200 original signed lithographs by Chuck Close being offered for a $5,000 donation for each to raise a $1,000,000 and I donated $5,000 for one.

Bon Appétit

October 18, 2013 Monte Vista Fire Station and Mushroom Soup

October 18, 2013 Monte Vista Fire Station and Mushroom Soup

We met Jim, Bacchus Wine and Spirits’ wine specialist at Monte Vista Fire Station at 5:00 to discuss a new wine list for the Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery.  Almost as soon as we sat down Cary, one of the owners, came over and said hello.  I have not seen Cary for over ten years and it was great to see him and know that he was managing the restaurant again.  I will definitely need to try Monte Vista soon.  Cary’s group bought the old Fire Station and remodeled it and then leased it to the Gruet Group for a few years and apparently, has retaken possession of the restaurant.

We each ordered a glass of red and Jim ordered a guacamole appetizer and I ordered a plate of truffle fried potatoes.  So we nibbled and talked and put together a wine list of Portuguese wines for the Bistro’s next wine tasting and menu.   The wine tasting will be on November 7, 2013 and I am looking forward to it.  This is the first time we have not had the wines to taste, but that is okay because we tasted them at the Chile and Wine to the trade tasting last month in Santa Fe.    The fried potatoes were not very trufflely, but they were hot and had a slightly greasy trufflely flavor.  I found the guacamole to be very traditional with chunks of fresh jalapeno pepper in the creamy green guacamole, which I removed.  It made my mouth sting in a good way. 

After all the appetizers when we arrived home, we were not very hungry and Suzette decided to make a mushroom soup because we had PPI steak and sautéed portabella mushrooms from our steak dinner.  We also had the jars of powdered chanterelles and porcinis and the dried porcinis she had bought at the Taos Farmers’ Market last Saturday, October 12.
While I worked on a docketing statement for the Court of Appeals, Suzette made a broth with fresh carrots from the garden and onion and the PPI steak and then strained out the onion and carrots and steak meat and then pureed some of the strained ingredients with the broth in a food processor.  She then added to the soup the tree kinds of mushrooms four ways.  Then she added some cream and Marsala and salt and pepper to make a very rich and delicious cream of mushroom soup.  While the soup was cooking Suzette cut up a piece of old Fano French baguette into croutons and tossed them with olive oil and baked them until firm.  When the soup was ready she garnished the soup with croutons and we were ready to eat. 

I opened a bottle of La Granja Rioja (50% Grenache and 50% Tempranillo, $4.99 at Trader Joe’s) which is our everyday house wine now.
I loved the woody flavor of the wild mushrooms.  The large slices of Porcini (King Boletus) had fully re-hydrated and were very tender and delicious, a lovely light meal.

Bon Appétit



October 21, 2013 Fricasseed Chicken Thighs with Honey Glazed Carrots and baked potatoes and Bananas Foster

October 21, 2013 Fricasseed Chicken Thighs with Honey Glazed Carrots and baked potatoes and Bananas Foster

I filed my Docketing Statement at the Court of Appeals at 4:45 p.m. and then went to Sprouts to shop because they offered asparagus for $1.77/lb.   Besides about two lbs. of asparagus, I also bought  a one lb. piece of fresh salmon ($6.99/lb.), three pork English banger style sausages,  one lb. of Brussels sprouts, and about 2 lb. of red seedless grapes.
Suzette arrived home shortly after me at around 5:45 p.m. from Santa Rosa.  I had made to a snack of two tasted pieces of whole grain bread from Costco spread with creamy Delice cheese and garnished with several slices of the new gravad lax keka salmon which I washed down with a Shiner Oktoberfest beer and a shot of Jubilæeum’s  Akvavit  from Denmark (Aalborg Jubilæums Akvavit) .  Aalborg makes many different flavors of akvavit (flavored vodka) but my favorite if Jubilæums which is flavored with dill and coriander. The one you usually see is Taffel, which is flavored only with cumin.   

Suzette had out a package of four chicken thighs (Costco $2.29/lb.) in the morning to thaw, so they were ready to cook by 6:00 p.m.  
Suzette sautéed the thighs in a large skillet with butter and oil while I went to the garden to pick garlic greens, three Japanese sweet peppers and a sprig of tarragon.

When I returned to the house I shopped the peppers and garlic greens and threw them onto the chicken to cook.  Then I sliced about a lb. of carrots Suzette had picked in our garden and she blanched them in water and then added honey and tarragon to them to glaze them.
When the chicken was cooked, Suzette added 2 Tbsps. of the concentrated cream sauce that we had made last week and some of the Vouvray and a cup of heated milk to thin it out and cooked the sauce and chicken some more.

When we started dinner I had fetched a bottle of the new Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc we had bought at Costco yesterday for $9.99 and put it in the freezer to chill.

When the chicken was cooked and the sauce thickened a bit I heated the two potatoes I had baked a few days ago in the microwave oven. 

I sliced the potatoes in half and we plated them with the chicken and sauce and chicken in cream sauce and drank the Sauvignon Blanc.  The wine tasted full bodied and had that California fruity finish that went well with the chicken.

Bananas Foster - After Dinner Suzette said she had a case of bananas in her car.  I offered to make Bananas Foster, so she brought in a bunch.  I sliced two in half heated about 2 Tbsp. of butter in a skillet and then added about ½ cup of light brown sugar and emulsified that into a sauce and then added the bananas.  While the bananas cooked Suzette ladled the last of a carton of vanilla ice cream into two bowls and when that was done, I poured about ¼ cup of rum into the skillet and heated it and when Suzette had the camera ready, I lighted the pan of rum sauce.  It burst into flame and made quite a picture.  When the fire subsided, we spooned the bananas and rum sauce over the ice cream for a wonderful dessert.

Bon Appétit


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 12, 2013 Lisa Richard’s Memorial Service and fresh Gravad Lax

October 12, 2013 Lisa Richard’s Memorial Service and fresh Gravad Lax

We had spent the night at the Kachina Lodge in Taos.  The room includes a buffet breakfast.  I took pancakes, scrambled eggs, link sausages and a small container of yogurt.  We sat at the counter in the Kiva Coffee Shop which is one of my favorite dining rooms in New Mexico with its round countertop, round outer wall, radiating viga roof beams and a totem pole in the center of the café.   We were served tea and coffee.  Then at 9:30 we drove to the Farmers’ Market and bought dried chanterelle and porcini mushrooms and fresh made goat milk chevre and a little over 1 lb. of a very heavily seeded rye bread that sold for $6.00 a pound.

We then went to the Millicent Rodgers Museum for a very informative talk by Robert Parsons about collecting.  It was great to hear that insurance is a problem for every collector and suggestions of how to deal with that problem.

At around noon we drove to Lisa Richard’s house on the Llano for a memorial service for her.  There were lots of people present, with about half Taosenos and half Albuquerque, with a few Santa Fe.  Lisa’s daughter Maia was present as was Lisa’s brother. Carl.  After a lovely Buddhist oriented life celebration with lots of people speaking about how Lisa impacted their lives, a catered buffet was served with poached salmon, antipasto, quinoa salad and lots of Anton Berg liquor filled chocolate bottles.   We brought a bottle of 2005 Brunello de Montalcino that I think Lisa may have given us.  Anyway, it was delicious; clean fruity with that chalkiness that gives good red wine a little toothsomeness which I call character (you can feel the wine on your teeth as you bite into it).

There were lots of other wines and apparently Maia had bought a case of really good Chevalier French Brut champagne.

At around 3:30 we left for home and arrived at around 6:15 p.m.  I had left the gravad lax in the fridge for the night we were away, so it had marinated for two days in tarragon and my usual ½ cup of sugar and 2/3 cup of salt and 1 tsp. of ground black pepper.  I increased the recipe by 50% to 1 cup of salt and ¾ cup of salt.  I had used a Keta Salmon which is not as fatty as an Atlantic Farm raised salmon.  I think the lack of fat created a greater concentration of salt in the flesh of the fish, but the saltiness could have been caused by the longer marinating.  I washed off the marinade and dried the fish filets and cut slices and made a plate with the slices of the grainy rye bread, salmon, capers, crema and tomato slices.  We drank a beer with the salmon and that cut the saltiness a bit.  I had the momentary way back thought that I was in Scandinavia 1000 years ago.

Bon Appétit   
October 15, 2013 Fricasseed Chicken with Couscous and Asparagus with a cream sauce

I thawed out four chicken thighs we had bought at Costco a week ago ($2.29/lb).
When Suzette got home we decided to sauté the chicken in butter and oil and I decided to make a cream sauce with Japanese sweet peppers, tarragon, purselane, and garlic greens from the garden.  We discussed what we would cook with the dish and decided upon couscous with the PPI carrots and mint.

I wanted to try a bottle of Chenin Blanc we bought in Vouvray last summer so I fetched a bottle of 2011 Domaine des Aubuisières “Les Plan de Jean” that we bought at the Processing plant in Vouvray last summer directly from the wine maker Bernard Fouquet.   We had been guided to Domaine des Aubuisières by Karen MacNeil’s selection of it as one of the two best vineyards in Vouvray in her great book, The Wine Bible.   Mssr. Fouquet was kind enough to delay a luncheon appointment to allow us to taste and purchase four bottles of his wine.   I don’t know how to describe the wine.  I has a honey like consistency with the flavor of apricots.  It tastes like a mouth full of fruit flavors hitting your palate all at once.  It is a little sweet but the sweetness is balanced with extreme fruitiness.  It went really well with the slightly spicy sauce we made for the chicken.  I discovered tonight that bottle of wine sold in France do not have the label describing the wine and its importer on the back of the bottle.  Here is the wine label.
Suzette cooked the chicken for about thirty minutes until the skin turned crisp, but it was still cold in the center, so she suggested that we remove the chicken from the skillet and add use the cooking oil and butter plus chicken drippings to make a roux and add the ingredients to the sauce and when the sauce was made to return the chicken to the skillet and convection bake it in the oven.   We added flour to the oil and then milk and then some PPI Chardonnay to make a sauce and when it became smooth pan gravy we returned the chicken to the pan and baked it in the oven for another thirty minutes. 

Suzette snapped the stalks off asparagus and steamed them and I cooked the couscous in the PPI carrots and mint with 1 ½ cups of water and 1 cup of couscous. 
While the chicken was cooked the sauce had thickened in the pan and we needed to loosen it up .
Suzette added crema but that did not loosen it up very much.  The sauce stuck to the plate and chicken and gave the sauce and dish a very unattractive heaviness. 
 This meal is a good example of the axiom that both the wine and the food need to be well prepared to make a great meal.  This meal had really great wine but one element of the food preparation, the sauce, was not up to that quality.  We would have had a better meal if we had not put the sauce on the chicken and couscous, even though I loved the sauce's pleasant tarragon, garlic chive, sweet pepper and purselane flavor.

We have a half bottle of wine left so we may yet find a fit for its luxurious flavors.
Bon Appétit   


October 14, 2013 Grilled Rack of lamb with fresh mint and honey glazed carrots and PPI Pasta

October 14, 2013 Grilled Rack of lamb with fresh mint and honey glazed carrots and PPI Pasta

We thawed out the rack of lamb and when it was dinner time, we decided to cook it with some fresh carrots from our garden.  Suzette pulled some carrots and I cleaned and sliced them into half round wedges.  Suzette put mint jelly on the lamb and grilled for a few minutes on a bed of rosemary we had soaked overnight, until it became apparent that we were out of propane.  So she brought the rack inside and finished roasting the rack for about fifteen more minutes in a convection oven at 350˚.  While the lamb was roasting in the oven Suzette heated the PPI pasta with asparagus in a delicata squash sauce in a large skillet and when it was heated I sliced a fresh tomato Suzette had picked in our garden and then s crumbled fresh goat chevre we purchased at the Taos Farmers' Market on Saturday morning. 

We decided to drink the two PPI open bottles of red wine.  One was the la Granja (50% Grenache and 50% tempranillo ) from Rioja (Trader Joe’s $4.99, my favorite red for under $5.00) and the Estancia Pinot Noir ($8.99 from Costco).  The Spanish wine had been opened the night before and was still very tasty and slightly fruity; the Pinot Noir was a few weeks old and a little oxidized, but sill quite drinkable.
The carrots were sweet and minty with a somewhat caramelized sauce.  The lamb was cooked perfectly, red throughout and tender from end to end.   I loved it.  The pasta was fine but a little tired tasting, because we had sautéed it the night before also.  We called it twice fried pasta.  Fresh would have been better, but we held true to our rule of using up our PPI’s , so long as they are edible.

After dinner we ate vanilla ice cream with poached pears with pieces of lovely Chinese date bread made by the new baker at the Bistro that had been baked for the Fall festival at the Gutierrez- Hubbell house.
Bon Appétit

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 11, 2013 Love Apple, Taos, N.M.

October 11, 2013 Love Apple, Taos, N.M.
We made reservations at the Love Apple for dinner at 8:15 p.m.

We left Albuquerque around 2:30 and after a stop in Santa Fe's Magistrate Court and Restore It, we arrived at the Kachina Lodge in Taos at around 6:15.  We rested for a few minutes and then walked to the Taos Ale House located just south of the Kachina Lodge, that Luke had gone to last weekend and recommended.  We split a pint of Taos pilsner, which was the best pilsner I have drunk in years; very refreshing and light.  
Then at around 8:00 we drove north on Camino del Pueblo to Love Apple. 

Love Apple ($$$)
803 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte
Taos, NM 87571
(575) 751-0050 (Phone)
Love Apple is an old adobe church that has been converted into a restaurant.  It emphasizes locally grown organic produce and meats.  You enter through the dry storage and walk past the kitchen to get to the dining room.  Our table for four was located beside a window.  All the windows and nichos are filled with bottles of wine and lit candles.

The wine list is pretty extensive.  Our waitress was quite knowledgeable about the wines.  She first brought us a taste of the 2012 Domaine Amido Tavel rosé.  It was a little syrupy and had a strong taste of syrah although the menu said it had only 10% syrah.  When Ricardo and Cynthia arrived we started looking at the menu.  It was Ricardo and Cynthia’s first time to eat at Love Apple.  Cynthia quickly decided upon a chicken breast for her entrée and Ricardo took my suggestion to try the pink trout cook in corn husks.  Suzette ordered the Antelope special and I ordered the boar tenderloin special.   

Cynthia and Ricardo each ordered seasonal salads that were lovely, with a wedge of grilled local goat chevre on the top of lots of different organic lettuces and greens garnished with local pecans and slices of fresh apple.  The salad was drizzled with great local honey, and dressed with lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.  It was one of the best parts of the meal.  As it turns out most of the fresh produce is unavailable due to an early frost.   So the entrees emphasized grains and beans.  My boar tenderloin was sliced and served on a plate of bolita beans (similar to pintos)
, Suzette’ antelope was served with a gratin napoleon of potatoes layered with gruyere cheese and a lovely green parsley-lemon gremolata, Cynthia’s chicken was served on a bed of quinoa.  Ricardo’s trout was the best dish and had the best side, a pink trout wrapped in corn husks with lime compound butter and topped with chipotle crema and served with a quinoa-pinon fritter garnished with a cilantro-lime relish.






I thought my boar was just so-so and the cooked bolita beans boring, but everyone else like their entrees.

We decided to order a bottle of white and a bottle of red.  We quickly decided upon a 2011 Reverdy, Sancerre, which I had bought a Kokoman and found to be a lovely bottle of wine; crisp fruity with slight minerality; although a little pricey at $47.00 we all felt it was worth the extra cost.  
 I saw a bottle of red I had not had before; a 2011 Frédéric and Daniel Brunier, 80% Grenache, Vin de Pays du Vaucluse, France for $36.00 and asked our waitress about it.  She was very helpful and said that the vintners were famous Chateauneuf du Pape growers and well thought of.
Here is some information on them from Wine Spectator.

Daniel Brunier, 46, is vigneron and owner of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe and La Roquète in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, along with his brother, Frédéric. He also co-owns Domaine Les Pallières in Gigondas with U.S.-based wine importer Kermit Lynch.

Vieux Télégraphe was established in 1898 by Hypolithe Brunier on the highest terrace of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, called Plateau de la Crau. Today, the domaine extends over 170 acres and is one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape's leading wineries year in and year out.

 I thought their Vaucluse wine lacked the intense character that one finds in abundance in Vieux Télégraphe, but it was well made and very smooth and washed down the beans admirably and much less money than Vieux Télégraphe, so on balance a good choice and a great introduction to a new wine I had never tasted before.
I was interested in trying dessert and the others went along with my idea, so I ordered a chocolate pot au crème and an apple crisp.  The apple crisp was made with fresh apples and caramel and whipped cream.  The chocolate pot au crème was a little more predictable (it clearly used French or Belgium dark chocolate), but Cynthia thought that hers was better and I thought it was not as good as my French baked chocolate pudding, so kind of a hit and a miss on dessert.   The others only ate one bite of each and I realized that I was reaching for something to make the meal memorable after missing on my ordering, but I liked both desserts and found them flavorful and the apple crisp first rate.   We all loved the heart lemon flavored shaped cookies served on each dessert.

Love Apple accepts only cash and checks and so we paid in cash and messed up the tip calculation and counting of the money but our waitress was waiting by the door to correct our error and we finally worked out the money part.  We got home around 10:15 after a delightful meal.
Bon Appétit

Friday, October 11, 2013

October 10, 2013 Poached Salmon in Frothy Cauliflower Sauce with Lovage - New Recipe

October 10, 2013   Poached Salmon in Frothy Cauliflower Sauce with Lovage - New Recipe

This is a recipe that has a bit of history behind it.  Several years ago PBS featured a wonderful cooking show about New Scandinavian Cooking called Kitchen of Light.  The companion book for the show authored by Andreas Viestad was beautiful and full of great recipes and pictures of Norway.  Suzette was kind enough to buy me the book and we have enjoyed cooking several of the recipes over the last few years. 


Last week Suzette was looking at the Kitchen of Light to get ideas for a Winter Solstice/Christmas menu for the Greenhouse Bistro.  Also last week I bought a cauliflower at Sprouts and yesterday I went to Albertson’s and bought a 4.4 lb. piece of fresh keka salmon ($3.99/lb.) in anticipation of gravading it (salt and sugar curing it).  I also bought two 3-4 oz. lobster tails from Canada for $3.99 each and four bone-in rib steaks graded choice for $5.99/lb.  Tonight when we opened the salmon and cut the salmon to fit a glass baking dish, we had a small piece left.  So we decided to poach the salon and when I mentioned the cauliflower, Suzette said, “There is a recipe I saw in the Kitchen of Light Cookbook, I would like to make called Frothy Cauliflower Soup, but we can reduce the amounts of liquid to make a sauce.”  So we launched into dinner and gravad lax.  On Sunday we had gone to Costco and bought a 2.25 lb. bag of asparagus ($5.99), so Suzette decided to garnish the dish with steamed asparagus. 

We had no dill in the garden but we decided to use tarragon instead for the gravad lax.  Suzette went to the old garden to get tarragon, which was partially dead from an early frost last night, but there was still more than enough fresh green sprigs to make the gravad lax. 
The gravad lax recipe is very simple.

She mixed 1 cup of salt and ¾ cup of sugar in a metal bowl and added about 1 tsp. of ground black pepper.  We then laid a layer of fresh tarragon sprigs on the bottom of a 2 inch deep baking glass baking dish and pour some of the salt and sugar mixture on the skin side of the salmon and the laid the skin side down on the tarragon sprigs.  Then Suzette covered the inside of that filet with more mixture and we lay tarragon sprigs on it and then poured the mixture on the inside of the other filet and lay it on top of the first filet and then poured the rest of the mixture on top of the top filet and then put more tarragon sprigs on top of it and covered it with saran wrap.  I then weighted down the whole affair with two bricks.  

The Frothy Cauliflower recipe called for chervil, which we did not have but I then went to the new raised bed gardens and cut several stems of lovage, trying to find the greenest leaves possible.  When I returned to the kitchen, Suzette had measured out three cups of water and added about 1 tsp. of Knorr dehydrated chicken Stock to make a chicken stock.  We did not have cream and our Half and Half was curdled, so we were left with 2% milk.  I opened a bottle of 2006 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand that I had bought at Albertson’s on an earlier trip when it was offered for a $2.00 discount from $12.00.  It was a little too yellow and had a slightly tawny flavor, which worked well in and with the soup.  The secret to the making the cauliflower soup frothy is the cooking of the cauliflower in the chicken stock, milk and wine.  I deflowered the cauliflower and Suzette cooked the cauliflower in ½ cup of milk, ¼ cup of wine and 3 cups of chicken stock and a dash of white pepper and salt.  After fifteen minutes of cooking Suzette added the additional cup of milk and the 2-3 Tbsp. of butter to the soup stock.  I had removed the leaves from the lovage and she blended the cauliflower mixture in a blender with 2 Tbsp. of lovage leaves and pureed the mixture into a thick but sauce-like consistency, which meant that she had excess broth remaining, which she added to the pan with the fish and poaching medium. 

While the cauliflower was cooking for fifteen to twenty minutes or until it softened, Suzette poached the approximately 2/3 lb. salmon chunk in white wine, about ¾ cup of water, butter and tarragon.
I snapped fourteen stalks of asparagus and Suzette steamed them in the steamer.

The cauliflower sauce required several batches of blending, so Suzette put the batches of blended sauce into the four cup measuring cup she had used for the chicken stock.   When the sauce was blended and while we were waiting for the asparagus to steam, Suzette thinly sliced 1 lb. of fresh strawberries I had bought yesterday at Pro’s Ranch Market ($.99) and dossed the strawberries with some raspberry infused brandy I had made.
When the asparagus were finished steaming, Suzette ladled the Cauliflower sauce into large pasta bowls and then delicately separated the poached salmon from its skin and put chunks of salmon on the sauce and then added the asparagus.  I poured glasses of the Sauvignon Blanc and we were ready to enjoy perhaps the last meal from our garden as we approached winter.

After our delicious dinner, we talked to Luke who had returned from dinner with Ellie.  When Luke went to pack to leave for N.Y. we decided to eat dessert.  I scooped vanilla ice cream into bowls and we spooned brandied fresh sliced strawberries on top of the ice cream and added a drizzle of Hershey’s chocolate sauce.    I ate my dessert with a cup of green tea and Suzette had a glass of cognac.
What a great way to welcome Winter weather and say good bye to Summer weather; with a mix of Scandinavian and Mediterranean foods!
Bon Appétit