Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 28, 2014 Lunch - Anatolia Doner Kebab and Dinner- Halibut Roulade with Roasted Vegetables and Steamed Asparagus.

March 28, 2014 Lunch - Anatolia Doner Kebab and Dinner- Halibut Roulade with Roasted Vegetables and Steamed Asparagus.

At 1:30 p.m.  I went with Bill Turner to lunch at the newly opened Anatolia Doner Kebab at 313-B Central N.W.  Everything about Anatolia is the same except the space is bigger.  This was its first day to be open in its new location.   There is still no art on the walls, leaving large swatches of white and blue on all sides.
I had a Daily Special which is now $6.99.  Today’s special was a seasoned chicken on rice with salad and a piece of baklava for dessert.

Bill had a salad with homemade dolmas (grape leaves rolled around a stuffing of rice and pine nuts and herbs or whatever you choose, such as ground lamb) and black olives and his lunch was about $12.00, because he had picked a combination of things that had their own separate prices. 
We talked to the owner and when we asked him about Kibbeh, he said, “It will take a while for us to get things straightened out and organize the kitchen so that you can order whatever you want.”  Since I usually order the Daily Special, I am happy with whatever they chose to serve, especially since it seems to change daily.

When Suzette came home around 3:30 we took a nap and then at 5:00 we rode the bike for about 40 minutes to I-40 and back and then discussed dinner.  When we got home, Suzette asked if the halibut was a thick steak and I said, “No.”   I suggested cooking the halibut rolled into a roulade and adding sautéed slices of tomato, like the California Cuisine dish we have fixed in the past.  I also suggested couscous.  Suzette said, “What about tomato couscous?”  I said, “Great.”
We got out the halibut and looked at it.  It was about 12 inches long, about ½ inch thick and about six inches wide.  Suzette cut the filet down the middle length-ways to make two three inch by 12 inch long filets.  I went to get the wine.  We agreed upon a Sauvignon Blanc and I selected a Joel Gott (Costco $9.49), which is a pleasant drinking wine without a lot of citrus or tannin.

When I returned upstairs, Suzette had rolled each 3 by 12 inch long halibut filet around a thick slice of lemon and used a 5 inch long bamboo skewer to hold the rolls firmly and had run the PPI canola oil from last week’s fish frying through a strainer to remove all the food particles into a large skillet and was sautéing the fish rolls and had stemmed the asparagus and had it steaming in the steamer. 
In another skillet were the roasted vegetables we had thawed out from the freezer.  Suzette said she had decided to sauté the roasted vegetables instead of making couscous.   Suzette asked me to make some tartar sauce and I got the mayonnaise from the fridge. And then went looking deeper in the fridge for the pickle relish and horseradish.  When I returned from the fridge Suzette had ladled a large spoonful of mayo into a bowl and squeezed lemon on it, so I added the relish and horseradish and mixed everything together and we were ready to eat.  

We loved the halibut cooked in this manner.   The edges were crisp and the center was tender.  Only about 1 square inch on each roulade was undercooked, which is remarkable.  The rest of the fish was tender and flaky except at the edges, which were crispy.

The roasted vegetables were soft and tender, also; but the asparagus was crisp and not over cooked, so the asparagus was delicious and along with the edges of the fish rolls, the crispest textures of the meal.
This was a wonderful meal.  Suzette said she liked the way we sautéed the fish better than poaching which make it soft and tender but without any crisp texture and better than fried fish which tends to soak the fish full of oil. This method keeps the flesh of the fish fresh without any undue moisture from the poaching medium or exceedingly oily from the submersion in frying oil, except for the edge of the roll which is crisp and golden browned part that is a pleasant and little different in texture anyway. 

After dinner I had a bowl of spumoni ice cream with lemon curd and chocolate sauce and a dash of cognac with a cup of tea and a glass of Calvados.  This was too many flavors.  I should have limited dessert to the spumoni with the dash of cognac.

I woke up during the night and watched all of “Seven Years in Tibet” for the first time, which I found to be unbelievably moving.   It is a true story about an Austrian soldier who is a world class mountain climber who escapes with a friend from a British P.O.W. camp in India in 1943 and climbed into Tibet.  They eventually make it to Lhasa and were befriended by Tibetans and he befriended the Dali Lama.  He returned to Austria in 1950 when the Chinese invaded Tibet and the Dali Lama left in 1959; a very lovely and moving story.

Bon Appétit

Friday, March 28, 2014

March 27, 2014 Grilled Lamb Chops, Eggplant and Mexican Squash

March 27, 2014 Grilled Lamb Chops, Eggplant and Mexican Squash

I had to attend Book Club this evening, so I stopped at Sprouts after my 9:00 meeting and purchased 2 large artichokes ($.98/each), 2 lamb shoulder chops ($4.47/lb.), 1 lb. of fresh halibut ($7.99/lb.?), a red onion and 2 limes ($.50 each). 

Suzette arrived home shortly after 5:00, as I was simmering the two artichokes, and said she was too tired to cook and made a gin and tonic with one of the new limes.  I asked her if she wanted fish or lamb and she said lamb.

I got the lamb, an eggplant bought yesterday at Pro’s Ranch Market ($99/lb.), and four Mexican squashes (Pro’s $.33/lb.) out of the fridge and Suzette supervised as I cut up the eggplant and squash to make sure I cut them thick enough so they would not burn or collapse on the grill (about ½ inch thick seemed to be the best thickness for the eggplant and I sliced the small Mexican squashes in half).  Then she peppered and salted the lamb chops and started the grill.

We poured olive oil into a bowl and added salt and pepper and some Herbs Provence and Suzette got a brush and brushed the eggplants and squash slices with the seasoned oil.

I asked Suzette what she wanted to drink with the lamb and she said, “Pinot Noir, of course!”   I guess our Southern Rhone days are behind us for a while.

While Suzette grilled the lamb and vegetables, I fetched a bottle of 2011 Carmel Road Certified Sustainable Pinot Noir grown in the Arroyo Seco appellation in the Santa Lucia Mountain foothills in Monterey County, California.  The wine tasted silky smooth but did not have much character at first.  It tasted better with the food and opened up a bit as we ate, but it never got to breathtaking, more like a sustained blaah.  It lacked the fruitiness and delicacy of the pinots grown in northern California and Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  It had a musty, spicy, organic taste.  The great pinots of Burgundy are often grown sustain-ably and they have great power, clarity and character, so sustainable growing alone is not the difference in flavor.

I then peeled, seeded and sliced one-half of a large cucumber and dossed it with Spanish sweet paprika, salt, olive oil and a liberal amount of goat cheese (at Suzette’s suggestion), to make it into a sort of Greek salad.  It was delicious, especially with the lamb and eggplant.  We did not have any Greek yogurt, so could not make tzatziki.   We were ready to eat by 6:00 as Suzette arranged the slices of grilled eggplant and Mexican squash attractively on a plate with the lamb chop.

The lamb shoulder was cooked to medium rare and had a good flavor but was a rather tough and bony cut of meat (we both agreed we preferred the T-bone chops and racks of lamb at Costco better, even though they cost more).  The grilled eggplant was delicious and so was the grilled Mexican Squash.  This is my favorite way to eat Mexican squash. 
After a quick but wonderful dinner, at 6:30 I left Suzette for book club with a half of a bottle of wine still undrunk.  As I said goodbye Suzette said, “I will let you know if it opens up.” 
It must have opened up because it was gone when I returned home at 10:30.

I saw a rather odd movie named “Paradise Road” later in the night; a true account about a large international
group of women interned in a prisoner of war camp by the Japanese in Sumatra in WWII.  The cast included many famous stars, like Cate Blanchett and Glen Close.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26, 2014 Sloppy Joe’s and PPI Cauliflower Soup and PPI Brussels Sprouts

March 26, 2014 Sloppy Joe’s and PPI Cauliflower Soup and PPI Brussels Sprouts

Just as I suggested yesterday, we made Sloppy Joe’s tonight.  At around 6:00 I shredded last nights’ pork roast and put it in an enameled sauce pan and added about ½ cup of BBQ sauce to it and then Suzette added about ½ cup of water to liquefy the sauce and meat.  After about 20 minutes of stirring and pulling apart the meat it went into solution (I added water as needed to emulsify the meat and sauce combination.).
I cut slices of fresh baguette I bought at Fano’s yesterday and toasted it and then spread spoonsful of the meat and sauce mixture on the bread.  The sauce immediately sank into the bread to make a delicious open faced sandwich.  I heated the PPI Brussels sprouts and ate a spoonful of them with the Sloppy Joe open faced sandwiches.  We drank beers with the sandwiches for a quick easy meal.

Suzette ate a bowl of Cream of Cauliflower soup with some of the warm Brussels sprouts on it as a garnish, while I ate a bowl of soup after my sandwich as a second course.
I was tired and went to bed at 7:30 p.m. after a day of struggling to get my printer to work properly and ending up having to buy a new printer.

Bon Appétit

March 25, 2014 Roasted Pork with Fruits and Roasted Brussels sprouts with onion, cranberries and pecans

March 25, 2014 Roasted Pork with Fruits and Roasted Brussels sprouts with onion, cranberries and pecans

You would think that after so many years of cooking that I would never have failures, but I had a near miss tonight and I realize it is the same mistake I made at Christmas with baking hams.  I failed to cover the meat with aluminum foil or a cover sufficient to prevent the meat from drying out while baking.  I will never make that mistake again.

Yesterday I took out a three or four pound boneless sirloin pork roast (Costo $2.29/lb.) and thawed it out.  

Finally today it was thawed.  I called Suzette and she said to braise it and then to roast it in a 325˚ oven.  So I butterflied the meat and preheated the oven at around 1:30 and started braising the meat in a skillet at pretty high heat on the stove top.   After about fifteen minutes of braising, I put the meat onto an oil sprayed roasting rack filled with water to a depth of about ¼“ and roasted it uncovered for about 45 minutes while I soaked dried apricots, prunes and cherries in port.  When I looked at it, the meat appeared to be done, so I called Suzette and she said to cover the meat with aluminum foil. 

So I filled the cavity with the marinated fruits and brushed the meat with the port and turned the heat down to 300˚ and let it cook until Suzette arrived at 5:45.  The meat had dried out quite a bit but had not completely lost its juices, so I would call this dish a near failure.

At 6:00 I went to the garden and picked sage and garlic greens and chopped about 1/3 cup of each and put them in a ceramic baking dish.  I then cleaned and cut the ends off of about 1½ lb. of Brussels Sprouts and cut them in halves and put them into the baking dish with the herbs.  I then cut ½ of a yellow onion in half and diced it into small pieces and put it and a handful of dried cranberries and a handful of pecan halves (thanks to my client Sammie Singh, Jr., who is a pecan farmer south of Las Cruces) into the baking dish with a dash of salt and tossed all of the ingredients in the dish with enough olive oil to coat each item with a bit of oil.
When Suzette arrived from Santa Rosa at around 6:15, we inspected the pork, which fell apart upon touch, so I had made pulled pork.

I finished making the vegetable casserole around 6:30 and we put it into the oven and raised the temperature to 350˚ and baked the vegetables for 45 minutes until they were tender, turning them once at twenty minutes to re-coat all the ingredients with olive oil.

I bought wine today on my way home from my 8:30 a.m. appointment, including twelve bottles of Leese-Fitch 2010 Sauvignon Blanc at Jubilation ($90.00 with the 15% case discount because I had discovered at Trader Joe’s that the South African Zafara Sauvignon Blanc had gone out of the store system in 2010.  This is consistent with what Jubilation’s owner told me; that no one was buying South African wines anymore and that South African wines were a craze that died about five years ago.  He recalled that the dry Chenin Blanc was the only really popular wine from South Africa, but he did not have any for sale in the store and neither did Trader Joe’s.  So I settled on Leese-Fitch on sale for $7.99/bottle.

While I was shopping for prunes at Trader Joe’s, I did buy two new bottles of sparkling wine.  One was a Spanish Albero Cava for $5.99 and the other an interesting looking bottle of very red sparkling wine labelled Vickery Park Pinot Noir Brut Rosé for $5.99 made using the Méthode Traditionnelle,which is the term used in France for sparkling wine made in the traditional champagne method elsewhere than within the Appellation Controlee Champagne.  On the back label it stated that it was “Produced in France”.  When I got home I chilled the champagnes in the fridge.  With about fifteen minutes of cooking time remaining on the vegetables (about 7:20 p.m.), Suzette said she wanted some wine so I opened the Vickery Park and poured us small glasses of it.  It tasted fine, a little sweet for a brut but very fruity and lots of bubbles and that distinctly pinot noir flavor that we like.  I went to the Vickery Park website and found out lots of information about the history of the Company and its wines.  Here is the link:

According to Vickery Park, the wine is 100% Pinot Noir, so that explains the dark red color and the grapes are grown all over France.  We liked it a lot and at $5.99, I don’t know of any sparkling wine I can recommend that is better for the money, especially if you like pinot noir Rosé.  It is sold exclusively by Trader Joe’s in the U.S.   Suzette recommended buying a case of it for summer evening meals in the garden.  Amen, brother, Amen.  Perhaps two cases and we can have some parties.

So when we were ready to eat dinner, we plated up slices of pork and spoonfuls of vegetables and drank them with lots of rosé sparkling wine.

I confirmed another theory from this meal.  That including fruit in the meal satisfies one’s craving for a sweet dessert.  We went to bed happy and satisfied and Suzette mentioned using the pork to make pulled pork in BBQ sauce, so that dish is coming soon to this blog, I will bet.

I have been taking vitamins for the last four days and am beginning to feel much more energized.  I rode to Montano and back at 5:00 in a pretty strong head wind and did not suffer any tiredness or weakness.  Perhaps also because I had gone to Azuma for Chirashi Donburi ($13.95) for lunch at 11:00 a.m. after my wine buying excursion.  The sashimi seafood was wonderfully fresh today.  The yellowtail melted in my mouth, but the tuna (maguro) was a little stringy.

I saw a segment in 60 Minutes on Sunday about the blue fin tuna trade in Tokyo’s main fish market.  What was amazing was that most of the big tuna from around the world are brought in frozen and they demand high prices.  I tried to ask the sushi cutters today about that and the best I could get as an answer, due to my lack of Japanese, and their poor English, was that that they liked fresh tuna better.  But I still ask myself, “What is fresh?”   When I mentioned that the tuna seemed stringy they said, “We just received it this morning;” meaning, I think, that it had not had time to coalesce its flavor and texture.   The tuna did seem to be a little pulpy and not as smooth and uniform in its texture as it usually is.
Bon Appétit   

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March 24, 2014 New Recipe - Mahi Mahi poached in Cauliflower Soup with steamed asparagus v.2

March 24, 2014 New Recipe - Mahi Mahi poached in Cauliflower Soup and steamed asparagus v.2

Since we still had some thawed PPI Mahi Mahi, we decided to make the same recipe that we made last night and for me to watch its prep this time, so I could determine the amounts of ingredients and cooking method.

Refer to last night’s recipe also, because I fixed it, but here goes.
herbs, butter and wine sauteing

fish, herbs, after soup added, ready to poach

poaching fish, soup and herbs covered
Recipe for Mahi Mahi in Cream of Cauliflower soup:

We had about 2/3 lb. of mahi mahi filets left from yesterday’s meal.

Suzette started by melting 3 Tbsp. of butter in the large skillet. Then she added all of the remaining chopped garlic greens and the herbs: chives, parsley and thyme (about ¼ cup) and sautéed them for a minute or two. 

Then she added another Tbsp. of butter because there were so many herbs and then the mahi mahi filets and sautéed the fish for about two minutes on each side until the flesh turned from pink to white.

Then Suzette added about ¼ cup of white wine to the skillet and then 2 large ladles (about 3/4 to 1 cup) of Cream of Cauliflower soup.   Suzette then covered the skillet with a wok cover to allow the fish to poach for about ten more minutes or until the fish was fully cooked.  Voila it was ready.  Easy.

Asparagus has been so inexpensive lately ($.98/lb.) and delicious that I have bought several bunches every time I go to the store and we had some that were beginning to soften and get funky, so I had washed them and snapped the hard end of the stems off a bunch and put them into the steamer with water before Suzette started cooking.  We steamed them while she cooked the fish, so they would be hot when the fish was finished.

Suzette constructed each plate this evening by laying a piece of poached fish in a pasta bowl and then covering it with half of the poaching medium and then with a small bundle of steamed asparagus (about six or seven stalks).
You could also use pasta with this dish and put the pasta down first and then the fish and then the sauce to coat the pasta and then the asparagus to make a stack of food.

We drank a bottle of the 2010 Leese-Fitch Sauvignon Blanc that I bought last week at Jubilation on sale for $7.99.  This wine was a little less fruity and less minerality than the bottle of 2008 Zafára we drank last night, but still had a lot of good citrus flavor and actually an interesting buttery flavor, perhaps due to the California terroir.  We liked it with the fish and may get more of it.  Suzette’s comment was, “Perhaps the difference is due to the greater age of the Zafára.”  Quien sabes.
Leese-Fitch is a Sonoma Valley wine.  Its label advertises the fact that the winery is located on the north side of the square in Sonoma in the old adobe building built in 1836 by Leese and Fitch, who were brothers-in-law to General Mariano Vallejo, who founded the town of Sonoma.   The building was used as a winery beginning in the 1860’s although it has had several different uses over the years.  I have always liked it and at $7.99, it is a good buy for a good drinking wine with food or alone.

After dinner we ate bowls of Blue Bell Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream for dessert.

Later I finished the day-old glass of Calvados Berneroy VSOP and found that leaving it out to air out for a day improved its flavor by rounding out the flavor and suppressing some of the biting harshness, although it lost some fruitiness also.  I liked it better the second day.  ($19.95 at Total Wine)

Bon Appétit

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 23, 2014 New Recipe - Mahi Mahi Cooked two ways with Catalan Style Kale

March 23, 2014 New Recipe - Mahi Mahi Cooked two ways with Catalan Style Kale
Breakfast-Ham and potato omelet 

Suzette had brought home several heads of cauliflower last week that we needed to use.   We had processed it by removing the flowerets from the stalks and had about a three lb. bag of cauliflower in the garage fridge.

For brunch, I made a fruit salad with 1/2 of a papaya, one pineapple, a handful of grapes cut in half, two oranges peeled and sectioned, three mangoes and a squeeze of lime.  I often let the papaya and pineapple sit in the fridge for a week or two and the mangoes for a day or two to ripen.

Then I chopped about ½ lb. of the PPI smoked glazed ham and ½ shallot and ½ potato into small cubes because Suzette said she wanted to sauté them until crisp like bacon.  I then sliced about three Tbsp. of manchego cheese into slices and chopped up a clove of garlic and threw it into the potato and ham and shallot mixture.  Then Suzette brought in a stalk of lovage from the garden and I sliced it into strips.  Suzette stirred several eggs and salted them and then heated butter in a large skillet and sautéed the ham, potato, some chopped garlic greens, garlic and the shallot until they were slightly crisp about ten to fifteen minutes. Then she poured in the stirred eggs and cooked the ingredient mixture and eggs in the large skillet for a few minutes more until the egg began to stiffen.  Then she laid the slices of manchego on one side of the egg mixture and garnished them with the slices of lovage.  After a few more minutes she laid one side of the egg mixture onto the other side of the egg mixture.  The crust of the egg mixture had turned a golden brown and a bit crispy.  After a few more minutes of cooking the cheese melted and the egg in the center stiffened. 

Suzette cut the omelet in half and placed ½ on each plate and I garnished each half with more strips of fresh lovage. 

 I toasted a piece of French baguette and made a cup of tea.  Suzette made a Bloody Mary.   With a bit of peach preserves spread on the toasted bread we enjoyed a lovely brunch.

Suzette said she wanted to make the cauliflower into a Cream of Cauliflower soup for dinner.  After brunch I thawed out a bag with two filets of Mahi Mahi from the freezer.  We spent a quiet afternoon. We took the garden plants we had brought into the house for winter back to the garden and I took a nap and then we rode our bike to Rio Bravo. 

At around 5:15 I went to the garden and plucked one garlic plant and some garlic greens, a basket full of kale, about five small sprigs of thyme, about six stalks of chives and a couple of stalks of parsley.

I cleaned and chopped the garlic greens into one bowl, the herbs into a tea cup and started to de-stem and chop the kale into a third bowl, but a 5:40 Suzette took over the kale de-stemming, so I could take a shower.
I returned from my shower at 6:00 and asked if there was anything I needed to do and Suzette said, “Nothing, I am trying a new recipe.”  She then said, “I need a bottle of white wine, is there a cold bottle of wine for the fish in the basement.”  I said, Yes,” and she fetched a bottle of South African 2008 Zaráfa Sauvignon Blanc, which I think I bought at Trader Joe’s several years ago for around $4.00.

As I watched “60 Minutes”, Suzette was cooking away in the kitchen. By then she had made a bucket full of cream of cauliflower soup by first cooking the cauliflower in chicken broth and then pureeing it and then returning the pureed soup to the pot and adding herbs, salt and pepper and milk and half and half.  At around 6:30 Suzette set the table and shortly thereafter announced that dinner was ready.  I went to the kitchen and saw a very interesting sight.  Suzette had divided the fish filets into four about equal sized pieces and had poached two pieces of Mahi Mahi by first sauteeing half of the fish filets in butter and some of the herbs and a bit of garlic greens and when the fish filets turned white and lost their color, she added about 1/4 cup of white wine and about 2/3 cup of the cream of cauliflower soup to the pan and covered the skillet and poached the fish in the poaching medium she had made from combining the butter, wine and soup.  In another pan she sautéed the two other pieces of mahi mahi that she had coated with grated Parmesan cheese and crushed panko in canola oil (the Spanish use Spanish olive oil).

fish poached in cauliflower soup sauce

Kale Catalan style

Suzette also made the kale into the tapa recipe for Catalan Style Spinach from José Andrés Tapas Cookbook

Recipe for Catalan Spinach

2 Tbsp. of the good Sleman’s Chilean or other good olive oil, I diced Gala apple, ¼ cup of pine nuts, ¼ cup of seedless dark raisins and 1 tsp. of salt. 

At pretty high heat Suzette cooked the apple cubes first for 1 minute, then added the pinion nuts and browned them for about twenty seconds and then added and then added the raisins and salt and kept the skillet moving and then added the approx. 10 oz. of kale and mixed it in with the ingredients and sautéed it until it started to wilt but did not collapse.

Suzette constructed the dish very attractively.  She used pasta bowls and laid a ladle full of the cauliflower sauce poaching medium on one side of the pasta bowl with a poached filet of mahi mahi, then she stacked the sautéed panko and parmesan coated other filet of Mahi Mahi on top of the poached filet and then  ladled a scoop of Catalan Kale onto the other side of the bowl.

We poured glasses of Zaráfa Sauvignon Blanc and found it to go very well with the fish and creamy cauliflower sauce and enjoyed a great new recipe.   I loved the fish cooked two different ways and loved the Catalan Kale much better than the collapsed Catalan Spinach at Más last night.

In fact Más was the inspiration for tonight’s meal and the new recipe.  See the review from last night of the Mariscos Soup and overcooked Catalan spinach.  Suzette was inspired to poach fish in a vegetable sauce like last night’s Marisco soup broth made with green herbs and spinach and was inspired to replicate the Catalan Spinach tapa with our favorite recipe for Catalan Spinach from José Andrés’ Tapa Cookbook.  The idea being that she could create a more interesting and pleasant set of tapas than we had had at the restaurant and she achieved that by a couple of miles tonight. 

The use of the cream of cauliflower soup to poach the fish was a magnificent idea, which I loved and adding the fried fish filet, which is also a Spanish tapa recipe to create a fish two ways recipe was genius.
Then combining the fish two ways with sautéed fresh kale or spinach with pine nuts, raisins and apple was a lovely combination of flavors and textures.  Suzette said that mixing interesting textures was her goal.
I loved the meal and we both agreed that it was far better than the $75.00 meal we ate at Más was last night, except for the complimentary tapa that Chef Caruso made for us.

Also, the 2008 Zaráfa Sauvignon Blanc was a really pleasant surprise.  It had an intense minerality and taste of plums that went well with the fruits in the spinach dish and complimented the poached fish in cream sauce.  I am definitely going to buy more of it.   It may become our house Sauvignon Blanc.

Suzette said she was going to start serving Tapas on Thursdays at the Greenhouse Bistro in May, after we return form Europe and Morocco, and she said that these two recipes would probably be on the menu; the spinach as a tapa and the fish two ways as an entrée.

For dessert Suzette heated the PPI pears poached in glögg from last Sunday evening’s dinner and served a large warm spoonful of them over a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, like last week except this time the ratio of fruit and sauce to ice cream was better, more ice cream and less fruit and sauce.

What a perfect dinner, which is more than I can say for our meal last night at Más.   This goes to show you that one dish can destroy the wonderfulness of an entire meal and a wonderful dish among other well executed dishes can make a memorable dinner, like tonight’s, especially when you realize you are eating a new recipe for the first time.  Like the folks who saw Picasso’s radically different and new cubist paintings in 1907 for the first time.  Radically new and exciting is a good thing in food, just as it is in art.   It is what moves culture forward.

Bon Appétit

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 22, 2014 Mas Tapas y Vino

March 22, 2014 Mas Tapas y Vino

When we were at Susan and Charlie Palmer’s for drinks on Thursday evening they suggested we go to the Baroque Music Concert tonight.  Suzette and I were working today so we decided to go to Mas Tapas for tapas before the concert.

Mas is Chef/owner James Campbell Caruso, who also owns La Boca and La Taberna and used to be chef at El Farol in Santa Fe has taken over the culinary responsibilities in the Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque. The Hotel Andaluz has gone through many incarnations as a hotel since it was the first Hilton Hotel built in New Mexico in 1939 by Conrad Hilton.  I love it with its great wood beamed lobby, internal wrought iron railed balustrade and historic murals on the entry way walls.  The restaurant has been remodeled and now very Euro chic.  The menu is somewhat limited but there were enough selections to satisfy us. 

We said hello to Chef Caruso, who we were pleased to see cooking in the restaurant.   In fact, after we ordered three tapas and a Marisco soup, he made us a complimentary tapa of loma de puerco, thin slices cured pork drizzled with olive oil and pimiento surrounded by three small piles of: roasted and marinated garlic cloves, pickled cornichons and small green olives.

bread and olive oil and vinegar
We ordered the Catalan Spinach, the eggplant with lavender honey, and the fried Shrimp tapas and a glass of red sangria each.

The soup was amazing ($14.00): fresh shrimp, clams and calamari cooked in a green vegetable and herb broth with two fried slices of olive oil coated bread.

Here are some pictures.   

Roasted Eggplant with manchego and lavender honey
Spinach Catalan style
I did not like the spinach because it had a rather bland flavor, sort of like the cooked spinach I used to get at Luby's cafeteria when I was young, although filled with lots of interesting ingredients such as pinion nuts and roasted red bell peppers. But the shrimp were great, crisp, hot and served with a fiery red chili sauce.  The eggplant was also amazing from a creative and textural standpoint, thinly sliced and brushed with olive oil and garnished with grated manchego cheese and then grilled and surrounded on the small plate by lavender honey, it expressed the characteristic of tapas, small elegant designed plates of beautifully prepared fresh ingredients.  The menu also included entrees of more mundane ingredients, such as grilled meats and seafood.    
Mariscos Soup with herb broth
The mariscos soup was my favorite for all its wonderful fresh seafood and with its somewhat bland but delicious herbaceous green broth.  Total bill $64.00.  
I read in Local Flavor that Mas has introduced tapa happy hours like La Boca in Santa Fe, when prices drop to $5.00 for tapas and wine and beer on Monday through Fridays from 4:00 to 6:00, which will bring us back to try some more tapas and wine.  

We are happy to so many new restaurants in the neighborhood.  For example on our way to the restaurant we stopped at the corner of 13th and Tijeras to see the progress of Charles’ new restaurant and Charles came out and we talked to him for a few minutes.   He said his restaurant will serve fresh seasonal cuisine, including both his Moroccan and French Cuisine and feature prix fixe meals and he is only waiting for the beer and wine liquor license before he opens.  We are looking forward to a small bistro in the neighborhood.

After tapas we drove to the Baroque Concert at the Fellowship Church on Indian School Rd. just east of Washington and enjoyed it very much.  Although sitting on church seats was a little uncomfortable the baroque music of the 17th century was very pleasant and the musicianship extremely impressive,  I am not sure I am completely hooked on baroque music.

Charlie was really excited because he and Susan and Lisa are going to Philadelphia tomorrow to see the art museums, including the new Barnes Foundation.  Lucky devil; to be confronted by the prospect of super saturation with great art. 

Bon Appétit

March 21, 2014 Firenze Pizzeria

March 21, 2014 Firenze Pizzeria 

Tonight we decided to see ”Tim’s Vermeer” at 7:40 p.m. and eat pizza at the new pizza restaurant in the neighborhood first.

At 5:30 we went down the street to Firenze Pizzeria and had one of their incredibly thin crust pizzas with mushrooms and pepperoni.  The mushrooms were delicious but the pepperoni, not so much.  We ate a box of salad, which is the way they serve it ($.29). The container of vinaigrette was overly vinegary.  Next time I will order extra olive oil.  The decor is minimal at best but the wood fire oven is beautiful.  For $9.95 per pizza, we will go back and try other pizzas; especially ones with mushrooms, as Suzette suggested.

No wine but Suzette enjoyed the lavender lemonade.

The movie was interesting.  It is impossible to explain but let me say simply that Tim may have discovered the secret of Vermeer’s and man y other Renaissance painter’s realistic rendering of objects with perspective that created such a break with Medieval paintings’ flattened field of vision and images.   It is to use a system of mirrors that allows one to project an image you wish to paint onto a canvas that you then paint.  When you have achieved the correct color and tonality of paint the projected image merges with the painted image and you have a perfect copy with the same tonality and hue and shape.   Although, that does not seem to work for faces, at least for Tim.  You have to be a real painter like David Hockney, who is also featured in the film, because he has also explored this secret of Renaissance paintings, to render facial expressions.

Bon Appétit  

Friday, March 21, 2014

March 19, 2014 Grilled Steak, Stir fried Pasta and Mushrooms and Steamed sugar snap peas

March 19, 2014 Grilled Steak, Stir fried Pasta and Mushrooms and Steamed sugar snap peas

I ate my favorite inexpensive lunch at Costco, a Polish Dog ($1.60).  I make it into an open faced sandwich by pulling the bun away from the hot dog and adding liberal amounts of pickle relish, catsup, mustard and onions. 

Here is a side view of one half of the final construct plus a bit of the remaining one-half on the right side of the picture. 

We were busy this evening and had to eat on the run.  I called Suzette during the day and we decided to grill a steak.  I thawed out one of the rib eye steaks bought at Albertson’s last week ($8.99/lb.).  When I returned home from my meeting at around 8:00 p.m. Suzette had put the PPI penne pasta, salmon and sweet potato dish into the wok with sliced of fresh shitake mushroom and was ready to stir fry it.  The steak was seasoned and ready for the grill and Suzette had snapped the ends off of a handful of sugar snap peas I had bought at Talin two weeks ago.

I had opened a bottle of 2007 Pio Cesare Dolcetto d’Alba we bought at Kokoman in Pojoaque in November 2011 for $18.49 when I left for the meeting at 6:00 so it had had about 2 hours to open up.
Neither of us liked the wine.  It seems to have no character and not a lot of fruit and lots of tannins. Suzette thought it tasted okay with the steak and greasy stir fried penne because it cut through the fat and grease, but it was not particularly good alone and it made us question why we had paid $18.49 for it.
The steak was perfectly grilled to rare, which is the way Suzette likes it or, as she said. “To make up for overcooking the last steak I grilled.”, which was also about 1 inch thick but a bone-in rib eye that got over cooked to beyond medium.

The browned, stir fried shitake mushrooms were delicious with bites of steak.

After dinner I ate a bowl of vanilla ice cream with some of the PPI Glögg poached pears.

Bon Appétit 

March 20, 2014 Chicken Fried Rice

March 20, 2014 Chicken Fried Rice

I was thinking about a simple stir fried dinner because Suzette was busy at work and I had a busy day also, so I thawed out a package of two or three chicken breasts. And a bag of root vegetables I found in the freezer after lunch.

Suzette called and said she was going to have a late meeting at work at 6:00, so when I got home around 6:00 I took three bottles of Fever Tree tonic water over to the Palmers and interrupted them in their shop where Charlie was finishing a part on his new model airplane ans Susan was sewing a new quilt.

We had gin and tonics and Susan set a lovely table of appetizers for us that included smoked lax, capers and slices of lemon, sourdough baguette slices, potato chips, a family recipe cream cheese dip, cream cheese, Boursin herbed cheese and slices of fresh carrot and cauliflower.

After about two hours of conversation and noshing and gin and tonics, including Susan and Charlie’s extremely high recommendation of the new movie, “Tim’s Vermeer” we walked home.
We were stuffed and tired when we came home but Suzette wanted a hot meal, so she cut up the chicken and two or three green onions and stirred and fried two eggs into a pancake that she then sliced into pieces in the wok and put aside.

I got a can of sliced water chestnuts out and chopped up the last two baby bok choy and Suzette chopped up a quarter sized piece of ginger and fetched the PPI rice from the fridge.

She then stir fried the chicken and ginger until the chicken changed from pink to white.  Then Suzette added the rice and water chestnuts and stir fried the mixture for a minute or two.  Then we added the white portions of the bok choy and some sesame oil and Szechwan pepper oil and stir fried all that for a minute and then added the green portion of the bok choy and some Chinese rice Cooking wine and stir fried that by turning the mixture until the green leaves were submerged under the other ingredients and cooked into the mixture.   Suzette then added the pieces of egg back to the mixture and we stirred the egg in and we were ready to eat.  I fetched a couple of bears from the garage.
In a matter of minutes we had assembled a passably decent hot, one dish meal including vegetables, meat and rice.

After we finished eating we still had a half wok full of fried rice for another meal that I put up and we fell into bed for a good night’s sleep. 

Bon Appétit 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 17, 2014 New Recipe: Stir Fired Pork with Bamboo Shoots, Shitake Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy

March 17, 2014 New Recipe: Stir Fired Pork with Bamboo Shoots, Shitake Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy

Yesterday I noticed a bag of baby bok choy and a package of snow peas that I had forgotten I had purchased at Talin about two weeks ago when I purchased the shitake mushrooms and a small can of bamboo shoots languishing in the fridge in the garage.  So today I decided to make a simple Chinese dish with the bok choy and some pork and the small can of bamboos shoots and shitake mushrooms I had bought at Talin.  At lunch I took a ½ lb. boneless pork sirloin chop out of the freezer to thaw.

After going to the Tax Assessor for the old records on the Candy Lady building, I dressed to ride my bike but when I walked outside found that the wind was gusting up to about thirty miles per hour, so instead I took a nap from 4:45 to 6:00 when Suzette came home.  Suzette was hungry, so I went into action. 

I first made rice with 2 cups of water and a dash of Knorr dried Chicken stock for flavor and added the rice and set the heat to a low simmer for 30 minutes when the water came to a boil and the 1 cup of rice was added.

Then I gathered three bowls and all the ingredients and a knife and a cutting board.  In the first bowl I put one chopped shallot and 1 Tbsp. of red onion and 2 Tbsp. of chopped fresh green ginger root and 1Tbsp. of garlic (the hard ingredients), while Suzette went to the garden and pulled two garlic plants and chopped the white portion of the plants and added those and began stir frying those ingredients in heated peanut oil.  Then I dissected the white bottom portions of four baby bok choy bulbs from the green top portions and chopped each and put the tops in one bowl (the medium soft ingredients that are added next) and the bottom white portions in another bowl (the softest ingredients that need little cooking time).   I handed the white bottom parts to Suzette who put them into the wok with a dash of Chinese Cooking wine.

Then I sliced four fresh shitake mushrooms and put those with the green tops in the third bowl and took them to the kitchen and fetched 5 oz. the can of bamboo shoots threads and opened it and drained the packing liquid from it and put the bamboo threads into the wok.  

We then added about two Tbsp. of Oyster Sauce and 1 ½ Tbsp. of double dark fermented soy and then the mushrooms and green tops of the bok choy leaves and covered the wok and let the mushrooms and leaves steam  bit.  We looked at the timer and there were 2.15 minutes cooking time left on the rice.  So I heated tea water for green tea and Suzette poured out the last of the 2012 Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc.

When the rice timer bell range we were ready to eat.  The stir fired pork dish and rice had taken just over 30 minutes to make.  The dish combined that wonderful balance of fresh and canned oriental vegetables and condiments.  We ladled clumps of warm rice onto our plates and spoonfuls of the pork and vegetable dish on top of it and then scooped a spoonful of the un-thickened sauce over the vegetables and rice.  There was a good deal of sauce made from the simple combination of oyster sauce, dark soy and vegetable liquids to pour over the warm rice to loosen it.  The lack of thickening gave the dish an added degree of freshness, while the use of oyster sauce that is thick, probably due to use of some cornstarch in it, and the heavier double dark soy sauce created its own slightly thickened sauce.

We liked the dish and enjoyed it while we watched Tim Burton’s 2003 directorial masterpiece, “Big Fish”, starring Helena Bonham Carter, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup,  and Jessica Lange.

What an enjoyable evening of a fresh and exciting dinner and a movie!

I did a bit of research and found that Helena Bonham Carter is Tim Burton's domestic partner and has an illustrious family tree; perhaps even more impressive than Julia Louis-Dreyfus'.

Louis-Dreyfus was born in New York City. Her mother, Judith (née LeFever), was a writer and special needs tutor,[1] and her father, the billionaire Gérard Louis-Dreyfus, chaired Louis Dreyfus Energy Services. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Léopold Louis-Dreyfus, who in 1851 founded the Louis Dreyfus Group, a French commodities and shipping conglomerate, which members of the family control to this day.[2] Her paternal grandfather, Pierre Louis-Dreyfus (1908-2011), was president of the Louis Dreyfus Group;[3] he remained in France during World War II, fighting as a cavalry officer and later in the French Resistance.[4] During this time, her father fled to America from France.[5][6] Her paternal grandmother, Dolores (Neubauer), and her mother, were American. Her paternal grandfather was from an Alsatian Jewish family,[7] while Julia's other ancestry is German, Mexican, English, French, Scottish, and Scots-Irish.[8][better source needed] In 1962, one year after Louis-Dreyfus's birth, her parents divorced. After relocating to Washington, D.C. when Julia was eight,[9] her mother married L. Thompson Bowles, Dean of the George Washington University Medical School.[1][10] During her childhood, her mother occasionally took her to Unitarian church services.[11]

Louis-Dreyfus spent her childhood in several states and countries, in connection with her stepfather's work with Project HOPE, including Sri Lanka, Colombia and Tunisia.[12] She graduated from the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland in 1979, and attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. There, she was a member of the Delta Gamma sorority, and studied theatre for several years, before dropping out due to a professional acting job offer.[13] 

Helena Bonham Carter Family background[edit]


Bonham Carter's paternal grandparents were British Liberal politician Sir Maurice Bonham Carter and renowned politician and orator Violet Bonham Carter. Helena's paternal great-grandfather was H. H. Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Prime Minister of Britain 1908–1916. She is the grand-niece of Asquith's son, Anthony Asquith, legendary English director of such classics as Carrington V.C. and The Importance of Being Earnest.
Bonham Carter is a distant cousin of fellow actor Crispin Bonham-Carter, who played Mr. Bingley in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, and politician Jane Bonham Carter. Other prominent distant relatives include Lothian Bonham Carter, who played first-class cricket for Hampshire, his son, Vice Admiral Stuart Bonham Carter, who served in the Royal Navy in both world wars, and pioneering English nurse Florence Nightingale.[56]


Her maternal grandfather, Spanish diplomat Eduardo Propper de Callejón, saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust during World War II, for which he was recognised as Righteous Among the Nations (his own father was a Bohemian Jew).[57][58] He later served as Minister-Counselor at the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C.[59]
Her maternal grandmother, Hélène Fould-Springer, was from an upper class Jewish family; she was the daughter of Baron Eugène Fould-Springer (a French banker, who was descended from the Ephrussi family and the Fould dynasty) and Marie Cecile von Springer (whose father was Austrian-born industrialist Baron Gustav von Springer, and whose mother was from the de Koenigswarter family).[5][60][61] Hélène Fould-Springer converted to Catholicism after World War II.[62][63] Hélène's sister was the French philanthropist Liliane de Rothschild (1916–2003), the wife of Baron Élie de Rothschild, of the prominent Rothschild family (who had also married within the von Springer family in the 19th century);[64] her other sister, Therese Fould-Springer, was the mother of British writer David Pryce-Jones.[60]

God bless the internet and Wikipedia.  

Bon appétit.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 15, 2014 Wine Shopping and Fish Tacos and Glögg recipe

March 15, 2014 Wine Shopping  and Fish Tacos and Glögg recipe

Suzette drove to Santa Rosa where she and Dan run an assisted living facility today, so I spent the morning drafting a Docketing Statement for an appeal in my water case
When I finished the draft around 1:30, I went for bike ride but the weather had turned nasty with strong gusts of wind out of the north.  I struggled north to just past I-40 on the bike trail and when I turned around I enjoyed an exhilarating ride home.  I took a shower and dressed and decided that I needed to replenish our wine cellar, so I went to Jubilation and looked for the close-out of Londer Kent Ritchie Chardonnay I had seen last year, but it was gone.  Instead I found bottles of Leaf Fitch Sauvignon Blanc on closeout for $7.99 and bought two bottles.

I then went to Trader Joe’s and bought three bottles of Le Ferme Julien rosé ($5.99), a bottle of Valreas Côtes du Rhône ($5.99), a bottle of Chevalier cognac ($19.99), two bottles of Josefina Rose of Syrah ($5.99), a bottle of Mogrado port ($5.99), a bottle of Barbera de Alba ($5.99), a bottle of Perrin Family Côtes du Rhône Reserve ($10.99) and couple of other things.  When I was at Trader Joe’s I helped a lady with her wine selection and when she said she was having trouble finding something she liked for paella, I suggested she go to Total Wine.  She answered, “Oh, No. Total Wine is like Costco for hard core winos.”  So I suggested that she try the Perrin family Reserve Côtes du Rhône because I had checked with the staff in the wine department and they looked up the wine on the internet and told me the Perrin contained  60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 30% Mouvédre, so it should be a smooth, yet full bodied wine, which is what she said she wanted.  We had drunk that bottle at Joseph’s in Santa Fe a few weekends ago and we enjoyed it.
After Trader Joe’s I drove to Total Wine and perused their stock.  Since I no longer needed any wine I looked at their calvados and bought a Berneroy VSOP ($19.99).  I was amazed to find that the XO that I usually buy and which is priced at $29.99 was given a 92 rating by Wine Spectator, while Berneroy’s VSOP was given a 93 rating by Wine Spectator, Total Wine also sells Berneroy’s Fine calvados for $16.99.
 was also highly rated.
Here is the info from Berneroy on the requirements for aging and labeling calvados:

The crystal-clear spirit which flows from the still is then patiently aged in French oak barrels for several years under the Berneroy Master Blender’s watchful eye. By law, this eau-de-vie must spend a minimum of 2 years in oak casks before it can be sold as Calvados. Similar to other famous oak-aged spirits from France, calvados is defined by the following quality ranges:
  • Fine – minimum of 2 years oak ageing
  • VSOP – minimum of 4 years oak ageing
  • XO – minimum of 6 years oak ageing
Calvados Berneroy is aged exclusively in older, ‘seasoned’ barrels to preserve its genuine aromatic intensity and to avoid it becoming over-oaked. Over time, its distinctive aroma of fresh apples evolves to develop more complex aromas of butter, vanilla, baked apples and liquorice.
I guess the higher rating is achieved from Berneroy’s use of a single distillation instead of multiple pass distillation.  As Berneroy says,
In accordance with tradition and the AOC Calvados rules and regulations, Calvados Berneroy products are single distilled.
The freshly made, highly aromatic dry cider is distilled using an antique copper column still to concentrate and enhance its lively apple character.
Single distillation is what makes Calvados Berneroy fruitier, distinctively aromatic and charmingly rustic compared to calvados from the nearby AOC Calvados Pays d’Auge and AOC Calvados Domfrontais regions.

So much for the world of Calvados. 

I drove home and rested until Suzette arrived from Santa Rosa at around 6:30.

She wanted to eat so after we watched a bit of T.V. we started to cook fish tacos with the PPI ½ lb. of salmon bought at Albertson’s on Tuesday for $5.99/lb.  I had stopped at Lowe’s last night and bought ½ head of green cabbage for $.27/lb. and 2 limes ($.25 each).  Limes have become very expensive.  I passed on buying limes for $2.89/lb. at Pro’s Ranch Market the day before.  In fact the large Persian limes were $1.39 each at Lowe’s which took my breath away.  Are we beginning to see the effects of Global Warming in our food supply?

While Suzette tackled frying the salmon by chopping it into bite sized cubes, tossing it with panko she had put into a large freezer bag and rolled with a rolling pin to reduce in size so it formed a smoother coating and then frying the fish in about ¼ inch of canola oil in a large cast iron skillet at pretty high heat, I sliced ½ lb. which was ¼ of the head of cabbage into thin slices and then mixed those with approx.. ¼ cup mayonnaise, a dash of lemon juice, a bit of salad dressing. 1.4 tsp. of green tomato chutney, 1 tsp. of  papaya/chili jelly and 1 tsp. of lemon curd to make a cole slaw.  Suzette steamed a handful of corn tortillas in a dampened tea towel in the microwave, while I diced about three Tbsps. of red onion and ½ of a tomato and about ten stalks of cilantro.  I forgot to slice an avocado that I had bought at Pro’s last week (2 for $.99).

We decided to drink beer with the meal, so Suzette went to the garage to fetch 2 Kirtland beers.

I fetched the bottle of sweet chili sauce which I have become quite fond of from the pantry and we were ready to eat.  We ate two tacos each and then the extra fish and then made vegetarian tacos with the remaining cole slaw, onions and cilantro. 

We enjoyed our hot fresh fish tacos and cole slaw. 

Just before I left for my bike ride Cynthia and Ricardo came by to see if we were still alive and we decided to go to their house for dinner on Sunday night and we should bring the dessert.  I suggested poached bosc pears with vanilla ice cream, which they were enthusiastic for, so after dinner I took the pears out of the fridge and went to the cellar looking for something sweet to cook them in.  The things I found that I thought would work the best were a bottle of port or a ½ bottle of prepared Glögg.  Here is more than you ever wanted to know about Glögg or just enough to addict you to it also:

Saintly Swedish Glögg Recipe (hot spiced wine)

making glogg
Samuel Johnson, author of the first English dictionary, wrote "Claret is the drink for boys, port for men, but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy." By that definition, Scandinavian glögg will make us saintly.
Glögg, pronounced more or less like glooog, and means roughly "glow", is a sweet, high-octane, mulled wine, which is to say it is made with a potpourri of spices and all three of the above: Claret (red wine), port, and brandy. Because it is served warm it is especially popular around Christmas. It is the perfect cold-weather drink, warming the body and soul from the inside out.
How does it work? The warm liquid raises the temperature of the mouth and stomach slightly, and because alcohol is a vasodilator, it forces blood to the skin, making us feel warm and blushing on the outside.
The Greeks and Romans were known to "mull" wine by adding spices to enhance its flavor and because it was thought to have health benefits. Probably because it was thought to be healthful, in a stroke of early marketing genius, English wine merchants in the 1500s named a spiced wine Hippocras after Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician who lived about 400 years BCE and is often referred to "the father of medicine."
According to the Spirits Museum in Stockholm, King Gustav I Vasa of Sweden was fond of a drink made from German wine, sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. It was later named "glödgad vin" in 1609, which meant "glowing-hot wine." The word "glögg" is a shortened form that first appeared in print in 1870.
Its popularity spread throughout the European nations and in the 1890s it became a Christmas tradition. It was often used as a health potion, and I prescribe it often for a wide variety of ailments, especially muscle strains induced by shoveling snow.
Originally glögg was a bit less hearty, but a recipe from 1898 shows it was made with sediment from port wine barrels, full bodied red wine, Cognac, sherry, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, almond, raisins, and vanilla pods, not dissimilar from today's recipes.
There are as many recipes for this old traditional winter beverage as there are for martinis. Instead of brandy, most Swedish recipes calls for aquavit, a distilled spirit frequently flavored with caraway seeds. Finnish gluggi often has vodka. Outside of Scandinavia, the Germans make a variation called glühwein (glow wine), often with a white wine base, and in Ireland it is made with (what else?) Irish whisky. In the US, I've tasted it made with bourbon. But I prefer the taste of glögg made with brandy.
The spices and flavorings change just as freely, with most recipes calling for cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, raisins, almonds, and sugar. Some people use dried cherries. Some swear by dried orange peel, others use fresh. Sugar content can be varied according to taste, and I have tasted it made with honey and maple syrup. Some brew it and drink it on the spot, and others age it. I usually do both. My wife and I like to make some for after dinner on Thanksgiving, and then we age some for Christmas and the rest of the winter. We have been making glögg since 1974 and refining the recipe since then. In 1979 I published my recipe in my column in the Chicago Tribune and that triggered many letters with new recipes, some aspects of which I have incorporated into the recipe below.
The aroma of mulling glögg is heavenly, and when it is served steaming hot in a mug after a hard day of skiing or shoveling the sidewalk, the body offers thanks. Glögg also makes a good marinade for beef or venison. Here is my tried and true recipe.


glogg label
My wife and I have been making this recipe since 1974. We bottle it with the label above and if you are someone special to us, you might find a bottle under your tree. Click here if you'd like to download this label and put your name on it instead of ours. It fits on Epson A4 Photo Quality Self-Adhesive Sheets, two per sheet.

Wine trader’s glögg

Here is a recipe from 1898 taken from the blending manual of an unidentified wine merchant.
181 liters wine blend mixed from full-bodied red wine, fortified wine and port wine cask sediment.
188 liters Cognac
64 liters sherry
90 kilos sugar
425 grams cinnamon
260 grams cardamom
250 grams bitter almond
6 kilos raisins
100 pods vanilla
Yield. Makes about five 750 ml bottles
Preparation time. About 90 minutes
1.5 liter bottle inexpensive dry red wine
1.5 liter bottle inexpensive American port
750 ml bottle inexpensive brandy
10 inches total of cinnamon sticks
15 cardamom seed pods or 1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
2 dozen whole cloves
1 orange peel, whole and washed
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 cup blanched almonds
2 cups sugar
Garnish with the peel of another orange
About the wine, port, and brandy. There is no need to invest in expensive wine, port, or brandy because the spices are going to pre-empt any innate complexity of a fine wine, but don't use anything cheap. Remember, the sum will be no better than its parts. If you want to play, instead of brandy try using Swedish aquavit, a caraway flavored vodka popular in Scandinavia.
About the raisins. Golden raisins will work, but dark raisins are better.
About the cardamom. Cardamom comes in three forms: Pods, seeds, and powder. The pods look like orange seeds. Cardamom seed pods may be hard to find, so you may need to order them from a spice specialist like, but don't leave out the cardamom. Cardamom is the secret ingredient. The seeds within the pods are either black or tan, about 1/3 the size of peppercorns. If you can't find pods and can only find seeds, use about 1 teaspoon of them. Do not use powder.
About the almonds. It is important to get naked cream-colored almonds that have had the shells and brown skins removed. The skins are bitter and full of brown coloring that can give the glögg a dusty texture. Do not use salted or smoked almonds. If you can only find almonds with skins, you can remove them by blanching them. Here's how: Boil a pot of water, dump in the almonds, wait for the water to boil again, let them boil for about a minute, pour off the water, and rinse with cold water, and drain. The skins will slip right off if you pinch them.
About the cloves. Do not use powdered cloves.
Warning. I had a reader once complain that the recipe was way too sweet. This is a sweet drink to begin with, but upon further investigation I learned that he let is steep in a slow cooker for 12 hours. Water and alcohol can evaporate from a slow cooker (notice the grooves under the lid). This is to help keep the top of the meat cool during braising, a subject for another discussion.
1) Crack the cardamom seed pods open by placing a pod on the counter and laying a butter knife on top of it. With the palm of your hand, press on the knife. It will crack it open so the flavors of the seeds can escape. You can leave the seeds in the pods once they are cracked.
2) Pour the red wine and port into a stainless-steel or porcelain kettle. Do not use an aluminum or copper pot since these metals interact with the wine and brandy to impart a metallic taste. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange peel, raisins, and almonds. Cover and simmer.
caramelizing sugar
3) Put the sugar in a pan and soak it with half the brandy. Warm over a medium-low flame and stir occasionally until it becomes a clear, golden syrup and all the sugar is dissolved (at right). Let it simmer for about 15 minutes until the tiny bubbles become large burbles. This starts caramelizing of the sugar and adds a layer of flavor.
4) Add the sugar syrup to the spiced wine mix. Cover and let it simmer over a low heat for an hour.
5) Taste. If you wish, add more sugar or brandy. If you do, go easy, 1/4 cup at the most. As my barber says, "I can always cut more off but I can't put it back on". You can always add more brandy, but if you go over the top, you can't get back under.
6) Strain to remove the spices, almonds, and raisins. You can serve your glögg immediately or bottle it in clean used wine or whiskey bottles. A month or two of aging really enhances the flavors and marries them beautifully. A year is even better. If you are going to age glögg for more than a month or two, fill the bottles as high as possible and seal them tight. You don't have to lie them down to age, and if you use used corks, they might leak where the corkscrew entered if you lie them down. A good glögg will throw a thick purple sediment as it ages, but that doesn't become a problem for months. It's just normal settling of particulate matter held in suspension as well as compounds in the wine coming out of solution as they combine with oxygen in the aging process. Just pour gently and don't shake the bottle and discard the sediment when you get to the bottom of the bottle. Tastes like mud.
7) Fringe benefits. Do not discard the raisins and almonds when you are done, they are impregnated with flavor! I put the raisins in a jar in the refrigerator, and my wife bakes them into panettone, an Italian raisin bread (after I snack down a few handsful). I roast the almonds in a 225°F oven for about 90 minutes and munch them as snacks during a football game.
8) Serving. To serve glögg, warm it gently in a saucepan over a low flame or, better still, in a slow cooker. Serve it in a mug and, don't skip this, garnish it with a strip of fresh orange peel, twisted over the mug to release the oils. Drink while seated and give your car keys to a friend.

So I guess I am ready to make my Glögg poached pears.

Bon Appétit