Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31, 2014 Breakfast Lax sandwich, Wine shopping, and Dinner Roasted tarragon chicken, coleslaw and steamed asparagus with Béarnaise sauce

May 31, 2014 Breakfast   Lax sandwich, Wine shopping, and  Dinner   Roasted tarragon chicken, coleslaw and steamed asparagus with Béarnaise sauce 

I rode 13 miles and then I made us each a lax sandwich.  I first toasted a piece of 9 grain bread and spread cream cheese on it and then sprinkled capers on the cream cheese and sliced a vine ripe tomato (Sprouts $.98/lb.) and then thinly sliced lax and then thinly sliced red onion.  We ate in the garden and enjoyed the blooming water lilies.

I then went out for a series of errands that included voting and going to Trader Joes, where I bought a Josefina Rosé of Syrah ($5.99), two bottles of Le Ferme Julien rosé, two bottles of Tuella red from the Douro Valley of Portugal ($6.99) and a bottle of French Brut Rosé for $7.99.

Then I drove to Total Wine and bought 9 more bottles of wine (if you buy six of more bottles you get a 10% discount, so these prices reflect that discount: two Eguren Tierra Castillo tempranillo rosés for $6.29 each, a 2013 Marques de Riscal Rueda for $9.89, a Domaine Fontanyl Rosé de Provence, a 2013 D’Autrefois Rosé of Pinot Noir for $10.79, a Bougreier Famille Vouvray Chenin Blanc for $11.69, a Principessa Gavi di Gavi for $10.79, A Val Do Sosego Albarino for $13.49 and an Eguren Tierra Castilla Viura for $6.29 and a six pack of Mangers Irish Apple Cider ($7.49).

As you can see Total Wine’s selection of wines is more extensive and more interesting and the wines are generally more expensive.  The only concern i have about shopping at Total Wine is that they have a lot of proprietary brands and when they help you pick a wine, they will try to lead you to their proprietary brands. Sometimes that is a good thing, because they have people who go out and find some great selections, but sometimes it is not.  It is like learning to play poker by playing with pros; you will learn to play the game well but it will cost you a lot of money.  In other words, you must learn to evaluate your specific tastes and learn how to make your own selections.  It will make you a more knowledgeable wine drinker, but you will need to try a lot more wines.  But, like learning a game like poker, that is how you learn anyway, so it should not be considered a negative.  Just think about all the great and not so great wine you have drunk for the amount of money you devote to the endeavor.  The only shortcut I can suggest is to find a type of wine you like, "Do you like reds or whites better?  Then find a grape variety you like.  Hopefully it will be a less popular grape.  In our case, a couple of years ago we discovered the white grape, Chinen Blanc when Gruet produced a chinen blanc.  I did some research and discovered that another bottle of French wine we had had at a fancy restaurant in Laguna Nigel was produced in Savennières, France and that the Savennières region along the Loire River was considered to produce some of the finest chenin blanc wines in the world along with Vouvray.  So we took a trip to the Loire and drank our way up and down the Loire River Valley and found out that we liked the sparkling white Chenin Blancs with about a 2 to 4% residual sugar content the best.  There are also some powerful still chenin blancs, that go great with food, but they are not as much fun to drink. In fact we discovered that we did not like the usual Loire sparkling roses, because in the Loire they usually mix cabernet franc instead of pinot noir to make their sparkling roses.  And we found we are used to and preferred champagne made by mixing in pinot noir, our favorite red grape variety, to make rose.        

So when I asked one of total Wine's wine counselors if they had any sparkling Chenin Blancs and we found out they did not, but she volunteered to inspect my selections, I think I got the seal of approval on my selections when she said, when she looked at my cart of wines, “You are ready for the Summer!”  

Let me make a suggestion based upon my years of searching for the best rose wines.  If you like rosé wine you should always try to find the freshest vintages, because they are fruitier and fresher tasting.  They are made by bleeding off about 20% of the red wine juice after about 12 to 24 hours on the skins and are fermented separately in metal tanks, so, because they are usually not aged on oak, they are generally released with the whites from the middle to the end of May, so early June is a good time to look for them.  The 2013’s are coming into the stores now and I found three or four of them today.  Rosé is my favorite summer wine and it must appeal to many others because I am seeing more stores with rosé displays with lots of choices.

Before Suzette left for work we discussed dinner and decided that she would bring home a roasted chicken from the Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery.  We also said we would fix a simple meal with the PPI pineapple and corn coleslaw and steam some asparagus. 

When I returned from Total Wine, I chilled the Eguren Viura in the fridge.  I really like Spanish Viura with roasted chicken because it has a complexity and dryness that complements chicken. 

Around 7:00 we steamed ten stalks of asparagus and took the coleslaw and PPI Béarnaise Sauce out of the fridge and removed and heated up the two leg quarters of the chicken and in about ten minutes we dabbed a Tbsp. of Beranaise on the asparagus when we removed them from the steamer and were ready to eat.  I have no objection to buying prepared foods when they are as good as we can make or better because that makes preparing a meal easier and quicker.  Using one of the Greenhouse Bistro's roasted chickens was an easy choice because the large five to six pound chickens roasted at the Greenhouse Bistro ($9.99) are delicious and an exceptional value.   

We had another great meal by the pool in the garden and then did a little gardening.

Bon Appétit

May 30, 2014 New Recipe   Corn and Pineapple coleslaw with Aji Tuna Tacos

I thawed out a piece of frozen meat and discovered when Suzette came home, about three hours later, that it was Aji Tuna.

Suzette suggested fish tacos, so I took the half head of cabbage out of the fridge and thinly sliced ¼ of the head of cabbage and about ¼ lb. of pineapple slices and two ears of previously boiled white corn and about ¼ cup of fresh cilantro and Suzette mixed those ingredients in a bowl with mayonnaise and a little horseradish and lime juice to make a coleslaw.

I then chopped up one tomato and the last avocado for a garnish, while Suzette heated six corn tortillas wrapped in a wet tea towel in the microwave to steam and heat them and chopped and sautéed the tuna pieces.  I fetched two Modelo Especiales from the fridge in the garage and we were ready to eat.  We each took three tortillas and laid coleslaw, tomatoes and avocado and sautéed fish.

In about twenty minutes we had fixed a lovely meal and were eating and sitting in the garden watching the garden and the puffy clouds in the sky turn from white to pink to grey.

As the sky darkened we decided to drink the last of our PPI bottle of Wellington White Port we bought about ten years ago at the winery.  It was still delicious and tasted tawny with the age on it. 

Bon Appétit 

Friday, May 30, 2014

May 29, 2014 Lunch Ruby Tuesday’s in Las Cruces and Book Club snack

May 29, 2014 Lunch  Ruby Tuesday’s in Las Cruces and Book Club snacks

After a successful morning spent in Court, my client Sammie Singh said he wanted to eat lightly and invited Scott and me to lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s in Las Cruces, so we could get a salad.

Scott said Ruby Tuesday’s was his favorite restaurant because the food is good and the waitresses are pretty, so, on the basis of those two compelling reasons, we all agreed to go there.

When we arrived I saw what they meant.  It had one of the largest and nicest salad bars I have seen and many of the waitresses were lovely.  What a good formula for success in the food industry, good food and pleasant attractive waitresses!

Sammie said that Ruby Tuesday's served a great grilled salmon and so we all ordered that and Scott said they had the best rice preparation of any restaurant in Las Cruces, so we all ordered that and the salad bar as our two side orders with the salmon.

After we ordered we went to the salad bar and each of us filled a plate with lovely greens and ingredients.  I chose organic greens. sliced red tomatoes, soy beans, sunflower seeds, red onion slices, julienned carrot sticks and a few other ingredients.  As we were eating our salads, the salmon arrived.  The waitress brought us wedges of lemon and I drizzled lemon juice on my approximately 6 oz. piece of salmon.   I was amazed that the salmon was cooked exactly the way I like it, firm on the outside and slightly under cooked or pink in the center.

The rice was also good.  It was soft, almost as if it had been sautéed in butter and herbs before it was boiled (risotto).

Salad from large salad bar

Grilled Salmon covered with BBQ sauce and green rice

I loved lunch and then got on the road back to Albuquerque.  I got home in about 3 ½ hours, so I was able to have a cocktail with Suzette in the garden and still made it to my 7:00 book club meeting without rushing. 
Ken Gillen served lovely wines:  a Chateau St. Michelle Pinot Gris, a Cambria Pinot Noir, a Necchio Sangiovese and a Concha y Toro reserve Cabernet Sauvignon plus lots of snacks, such as guacamole and cheddar and brie cheese, chips and a lovely dark chocolate covered fruits and nuts selection from Costco. 

The dessert after the meeting was particularly lovely, a mousse cake, also from Costco.

I ate and drank to excess, just like the American prisoners at the end of the war when they were liberated from the Japanese POW camps that we read about in this month’s book selection “Unbroken”.

Dick Arms, who is one of our book club members and a stock market analyst and writer, was kind enough to give each of us an autographed copy of his new book, Arms Candlevolume, which I am looking forward to reading.

Bon Appétit

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27, 2014 Lunch Café Adieux Dinner sautéed pork sirloin steak with scapes, pasta and asparagus

May 27, 2014 Lunch  Café Adieux  Dinner sautéed pork sirloin steak with scapes, pasta and asparagus

Aaron took me to Café Adieux at 420 Central SW for lunch.  I was blown away.  The the atmosphere was very fresh and clean and the menu was so clever and the food was so beautifully presented that I loved it immediately.   Here is its interesting menu:
Hummus choice of 2| garlic, roasted red pepper, butternut squash, green chile, or chipotle with pita bread, and veggies $8
cheese four chef selected cheeses with crackers and an apricot fig chutney $9
billy goat cheese, roasted garlic, roasted red pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, with baguette $9
anti artichoke hearts, olives, peperoni, prosciutto, beats, brie, garlic hummus, balsamic, olive oil with toasted baguette $9
add tofu $3 chicken $5
medi tomato, cucumber, red onions, chickpeas, feta, mixed greens tossed in champagne vinaigrette $8
quinoa quinoa, shallots, garlic chips, pickled beets, parmesan, parsley, arugula, tossed in thyme red wine vinaigrette $9
gemmi roasted brussels sprouts, bacon, portabella, dried cranberries, arugula tossed with sweet and spicy dressing $11
caprese fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, avocado, balsamic reduction, olive oil $9
Happy Hours 4pm to 7pm
quesadilla flour tortillas, monetary jack, chefs daily protein, pickled onions, pico de gallo, queso fresco $5
wings baked wings with your choice of honey sriracha, horseradish cream, or buffalo sauce $5
guac guacamole, served with chips $5
tacos 2 for $5
chicken dos xx braised green chile chicken, pickled onions, queso fresco, serrrano crema, cabbage.
beef nergo modelo red chile shredded beef, pico de gallo, queso fresco, lime.
carnitas dos xx chili lime pork, black bean puree, cilantro, pickled onions, queso fresco
nachos chips, black bean puree, cheese, pico de gallo, serrano crema with your choice of chicken, beef, or carnitas. $7
with chips
burkey turkey, bacon, cheddar, green chile aioli, honey mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, and red onions in a whole-wheat tortilla $9
guido pepperoni, capicola, salami, provolone, pesto aioli, lettuce, tomato, and onion, in a sundried tomato tortilla $9
beefy roast beef, fontina, avocado, roasted red pepper aioli, and sprouts, in a whole-wheat tortilla $9
grazer portabella, artichoke tapenade, stone ground mustard, and lettuce, in a sun dried tomato tortilla. $9
cali turkey, cream cheese, cucumber, avocado, and lettuce, in a sun dried tomato tortilla $9
with chips
chic chicken, brie, bacon, raspberry vinaigrette, and lettuce, on ciabatta $9
a.b.l.t avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo, on honey wheat $8
gobbler turkey, green chile, pepper jack, chipotle aioli, lettuce, and tomato, on honey wheat $8
beast roast beef, fontina, horseradish, stone ground mustard, lettuce, and onion, on sour dough $9
caprese fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, pesto aioli, and salt and pepper, on ciabatta $9
Open Faced Sandwiches
w/ salad or chips
rusty agave roasted figs, prosciutto, arugula, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shaved parmesan, on top rustic italian $10
cuban roasted pork loin, aged swiss, capicola, bacon, chipotle aioli, pickle relish, on top a pressed baguette $11
gnoff roast beef, portabella mushroom, horse radish cream, fontina on sour dough $10
biggs capicola, turkey, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, green chile, provolone, sriracha aioli on ciabatta $12
w/ salad or chips
ruben corned beef, sauerkraut, aged swiss, russian dressing on rye $10
scooter chicken, prosciutto, fontina, pesto on ciabatta $10
dipper roast beef, caramelized onion, gruyere, horseradish, on hoagie brushed with sage butter with a mushroom au jus $11
melty portabella, fontina, pepper jack, stone ground mustard on sour dough brushed with garlic butter $10
curry butternut squash hummus, curried aioli, purple cabbage, red onions, cucumber, spinach, avocado on baguette $9
appley brie, granny smith apples, honey mustard, on baguette $10

Aaron ordered the Reuben Sandwich and I ordered the Cuban with slices of roasted pork loin, aged swiss, capicola, bacon, garnished with chipotle aioli and pickle relish on a pressed baguette $11 and really enjoyed it.  I thought the food was very clean and that is saying a lot when referring to a Cuban sandwich with all its layers of ingredients and sauce.  

The Reuben

The Cuban 

For dinner I wanted to eat PPI’s from the freezer so I thawed a pork steak and some casarecce pasta with a meat sauce. I coated the pork steak with some Moroccan spices and sauteed it in Moroccan olive oil with some garlic scapes. While it was cooking I microwaved five stalks of asparagus with a bit of water covered in a plate and the pasta.

When everything was ready I poured and drank a glass of 2009 Wellington Marsanne with dinner for a lovely meal.  The pork had taken on a golden brown color and was cooked to white in the middle but still retained moisture in the middle and the asparagus and pasta were heated thoroughly; a very successful dinner of thawed ingredients.  I dabbed a couple of dollops of Bearnaise Sauce on the asparagus and watched a great Stanley Cup Playoff game between the N.Y. Rangers and the Montreal Canadians, with both teams getting leads and then losing them and lots of scoring with a hat trick by Montreal’s Borque and a final 7 to 4 victory by Montreal to avoid the end of their quest for a Stanley Cup and send the series to a game six.    

Finally at 9:00 I made a parfait with a shortcake cup soaked with cognac and filed with chocolate fudge ice cream, brandied strawberries and chocolate sauce and garnished with maraschino cherries and a dollop of whipped cream.  As Suzette said as she walked in from a long day of work, “Pretty decadent”.)

Bon Appétit   

May 26, 2014 Dinner party at Tom and Janis’ house Grilled chicken wings with Hawaiian BBQ Sauce, Corn and avocado salad, tossed salad and Clafoutis

May 26, 2014 Dinner party at Tom and Janis’ house Grilled chicken wings with Hawaiian BBQ Sauce, Corn and avocado salad, tossed salad and Clafoutis

I received a call from Janis around noon inviting us to their home for dinner at 5:00.  Suzette made it home by 5:00 but I was late due to a meeting that went past 5:00.  So we discussed what we wanted to take, the clafoutis, a bottle of 2010 Toulouse Rosé of Pinot Noir.  I picked her up at the curb and we drove the 1 ½ blocks to Janis and Tom’s house, after stopping at Lowe’s to buy an aerosol can of whipped cream.

Herb and Diane Denish were already there when we arrived and we were ushered into the covered seating area on the large patio in back of their house.  We talked and nibbled appetizers of mushroom mousse and tomato brushettas made by Janis, lovely deviled eggs made by Diane with olives and almonds and sipped rosé wine from Wolffer Vineyard on Long Island.  I enjoyed the opportunity to ask Diane and Herb about the Democratic candidates for governor.  I had last seen Diane and Herb at the post-election Democratic celebration in 2010.

Suzette and Tom grilled the scapes while we talked.  After about 45 minutes when the scapes were grilled to the point that they begin to change color toward charred, we removed them from the grill and plated them.  Then we moved to a large dining table, also on the patio and Diane tossed her salad in a large ceramic salad bowl and Tom and Janis brought out bottles of Eguia Reserva Rioja and we all helped bring out the platter of grilled chicken wings, a smaller platter with the scapes, the large bowl of salad and the corn and avocado salad and BBQ sauce.

It was a simple but elegant meal.  I liked the complement of the charbroiled chicken with the sweet BBQ sauce and the spicy corn and avocado salad and fresh greens, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes of Diane’s salad.  Everything was delicious.

We discovered that Janis and Diane are lifelong friends who grew up together in Hobbs and have known each other since they were ten years old and that Herb is one of those rarities, a person who grew up in and has lived in Albuquerque all his life. Pretty soon all three girls, Diane, Janis and Suzette, were gabbing together to the exclusion of us guys. 

A few minutes after dinner was finished, Janis and I served the clafoutis and decorated it with whipped cream and glasses of the 2010 Toulouse Rosé.

We enjoyed the evening’s wonderful food and conversation, but by 9:45 we all started yawning and it was time to say goodnight.

Bon Appétit   

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 25, 2014 Dinner party at Debbie and Jeff’s House Gravad Lax Salad, Grilled Scapes, etc.

May 25, 2014 Dinner party at Debbie and Jeff’s House  Gravad Lax Salad, Grilled Scapes, etc.

Debbie and Jeff invited us to join Ruth and Melissa Sammons, Harry and Annie Weil and them for dinner this evening.  We were to make the appetizer.  We decided to make the Gravad lax appetizer we had made before.  This was a recipe we found at Spagia in Chicago years ago; a bed of greens layered with poached fennel, gravad lax and dressed with an orange mayonnaise.

Suzette cut several stalks of fennel in the garden yesterday so we could use the fronds to cure the salmon for gravad lax.  Today I cleaned the bases of the fennel leaves and sliced them into thin slices and Suzette then poached them.   At around 4:00 p.m. I took the gavad lax out of its glass baking dish in which it had been curing and washed the two filets off and dried them and sliced about 18 slices of salmon from one filet.  The fish tasted great, thanks to using the farm raised Atlantic Salmon from Costco ($7.99/lb.), which seems to have more fat and thus makes a softer and fattier cured fish.

Suzette made the orange mayonnaise by adding orange juice and some honey to about ½ cup of mayonnaise.  I tasted the sauce and it was still a bit bitter from the manufactured mayonnaise, so I added about 2 tsps. of Grande Marnier and a few more drops of orange juice. 

I then segmented two oranges and finally Suzette ran to the garden in the rain and picked a bag of lettuce, Mbuna and Red Giant Radish greens.  I grabbed a bottle of Sbragia Family 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Dry Creek area in Sonoma Valley and a Costco rib eye steak we had thawed.

Suzette had made bouquets of herbs for everyone and we packed the car with all the ingredients for the salad and drove to Debbie’s and picked up Harry and Annie at the base of the hill.
When we arrived Melissa and Ruth were already at Debbie and Jeff’s house.  We sat and stood around the bar and drank and talked.  Harry and Annie brought a bottle of Marietta Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruth and Melissa brought an Italian Toscano (65% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and Jeff had a Petit Verdot open.  We opened the Sbragia to let it air out.

Here is the info on the Sbragia Cab.
2010 Andolsen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Sweet red fruit and anise aromas with bright acidity, plush flavors of black fruit and sweet spice.
$40.00 Quantity:
Please call for availability
Rated 92
Antonio Galloni, WINE ADVOCATE
June 2013
“...utterly impeccable from start to finish. Firm mountain tannins provide the backdrop as this expressive, powerful wine gradually reveals its personality. Iron, tobacco and licorice notes dominate, while the fruit takes a little longer to become evident. With time in the glass, the wine gets better and better, as sweet floral notes and an attractive upper register opens up. Still, this remains a fairly bold, muscular Cabernet Sauvignon that could use another handful of years in the cellar.”
Rated 90
June 2013
Made in Sbragia’s muscular style, a ripe, flashy wine, with briary blackberry, currant, mocha and oak flavors. The tannins are strong but soft, and the overall impression is complex. Fine now with steak, barbecue, but should gain bottle complexity over the next 5–6 years.
I buy these grapes from Dr. Andolsen, our long-time friend (over 20 years) and family doctor. His vineyard is on the west side of Dry Creek in the rolling hills of the coastal range in Sonoma County, and he always allows me to select grapes from my favorite blocks. It’s a great piece of land and the wine it makes offers an elegant, yet ripe, rich cherry characteristic that I always associate with this appellation.
Rainfall returned after three dry years, pushing bud break, flowering and fruit-set back by at least two weeks at the front end of the growing season. Fortunately the cloud cover meant there was no frost damage in 2010. The summer brought cooler than normal temperatures, and this coupled with unexpected heat spikes in late summer resulted in a late and shortened harvest with lower yields. Cooler than average temperatures returned again in early September but gave way to a warm and consistent Indian summer that was just the ticket, bringing good flavor and color development to grapes across the board.
I believe in taking a minimalist approach to this wine in order to preserve the rustic qualities that I love about Dry Creek Cabernet. The 2010 Andolsen Cabernet Sauvignon was aged for 18 months in 100% French oak barrels, imparting cedar and brown spice aromas and flavors and supple tannins. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation which softened the tannins and contributed to a rich, lengthy finish. Adam and I blended in a small amount of Cabernet Franc to add structure and subtle complementary herbal characteristics.
Winemaker Comments
Dry Creek Cabernets have a distinctive profile that I have always loved and this Cabernet showcases the best of those characteristics. Sweet red fruit and anise aromas are followed by bright acidity, plush flavors of black fruit and sweet spice. The tannins are complemented by a supple mouth feel and an elegant finish.
Technical Information
October 27th 2010
95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc
6.57 gm/L

After a bit Suzette and I constructed the salads in a tall pile, first with a small pile of greens, then a few slices of poached fennel and orange, then the slices of salmon and finally a drizzle of the orange mayonnaise.  Everyone seemed to like the Gravad Lax salads.

Debbie had made a lovely corn kernel dish with slices of baby red and yellow bell pepper and red onions and a salad of organic greens, chopped tomatoes, sliced almonds and fresh watermelon.  I love Debbie’s salads, because she usually includes a nut and a fruit with the greens and other lettuce and vegetable ingredients.  Jeff and I grilled the steaks and salmon filets.  I had also brought a bag with some of the garlic scapes I had plucked in the last two days, which I tossed in a bag with olive oil and salt and then placed on Jeff’s vegetable tray on the grill in the cooler portion of the grill.  Although the scapes were in direct fire the fire was low and it took about fifteen minutes of turning every minute or two to charcoal grill them.  Some were still green while others were blackened, but all were touched by the fire of the grill.  Last year I tried to pickle and stir fry garlic scapes and neither worked particularly well.  The owner of the Chispas Garlic Farm had told us last year that he liked grilling them the best.  When I brought the scapes in they looked rather blackened and over cooked but Suzette sauced them with more olive oil and salt and they tasted remarkably good.  Annie even went back for seconds of the scapes.
We had a wonderful dinner with the grilled rib eye steak from Costco, the corn and salad and scapes and Spragia Family Cabernet Sauvignon.  We forgot the Béarnaise Sauce, but the scapes made an interesting garnish.  Sort of like that old favorite garnish for steaks of fried or sautéed thinly sliced onions.   

For dessert, Melissa and Ruth brought a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing and Annie made a lovely cobbler with fresh peaches and brought ice cream.   

Ruth is one of the best conversationalists I have ever met because she is so engaged in the conversation and is so quick and clever.  Melissa is also a joy to talk with because we share such similar interests and she offers us access to the TV world of New York through her soap opera writing position and screenwriters union activities.  I really enjoyed talking to everyone.  They are among our oldest and dearest friends and it was wonderful to look out over the foggy rainy valley while sharing and evening in the warmth and glow of old friends and good food and wine.

Bon Appétit

May 24, 2014 New Recipe Poached Salmon, Asparagus and Gnocchi

May 24, 2014 New Recipe   Poached Salmon, Asparagus and Gnocchi and making Gravad Lax

We are invited to Debbie and Jeff’s house for dinner tomorrow night and we decided to make Gravad Lax salads with poached fennel and orange slices.  So, today we went to Costco and bought an approximately 4.2 lb. Atlantic farm raised salmon filet (7.99/lb.) and a bag of asparagus, plus sugar and few other items.

Gravad lax (Sugar and Salt Cured Salmon) 

When we returned home around 4:00, I plucked one good handful of fresh dill stems and Suzette cut a few stems from our fennel bush in the garden.  We decided to put fennel on the outside and dill in the inside of the gravad lax.  We cut the salmon so that the salmon filets tightly fit into a glass baking dish, which looked to be about 2 ½ lbs. to 3 lbs. of salmon.  We put the remainder of the salmon in the fridge for dinner.  Then I mixed ½ cup of sugar and 2/3 cup of salt and crushed 1 tsp. of black peppercorns and mixed them in a bowl (these are the quantities of ingredients for curing 3 lbs. of salmon).  Then we put a layer of fennel stems on the bottom of the baking dish and then poured the sugar/salt/pepper mixture on the outside of one of the two filets to coat it.  Then I lay the coted side face down on the fennel stems.  Suzette then coated the exposed inside of the salmon filet with the mixture and we laid the dill stems on it and then coated the inside of the other filet with the mixture and lay it on the first filet.  Suzette poured the remainder of the mixture over the outside of the second filet and then we covered it with more fennel stems.   I then paid saran wrap over the two filets and weighted them with two bricks and put the baking dish into the fridge.

I usually turn the salmon filets once at around 12 hours, so the total time to gravad the salmon is 24 hours.
That is the whole recipe of how to make gravad lax or smoked salmon.  Gravad is the Swedish word for this method of salt and sugar curing fish.  Lax is the Swedish word for Salmon. 

We decided to make a simple dinner of poached fresh salmon, asparagus and gnocchi.  There was a frozen package of gnocchi in the freezer that Suzette wanted to serve with the poached salmon.

New Recipe  Poached Dinner

Suzette made a unique one put dinner tonight and created a new and very easy recipe for cooking an entire poached dinner. 

Suzette first went to the garden and plucked a small handful of lovage and a few stalks of chives and chopped them up and placed them in a large skillet with 2 Tbsps. of butter and ½ cup of chicken stock and ½ cup of white wine and heated that until it simmered.  Then she added the asparagus and poached the asparagus in the poaching medium until cooked.  Then she removed the asparagus and then added the salmon to the poaching medium, cooked it until it was cooked and then removed it.  She then added the gnocchi and cooked the gnocchi until it was heated through.  I tossed the gnocchi a few times to try to strip off some of its potato to thicken the sauce, but not much came off.  We decided that rather than add half and half to the sauce we would place a dollop of Béarnaise Sauce on top of the asparagus and let the buttery, egg tarragon sauce mix its flavor with the poaching medium.  So Suzette filled two pasta/soup bowls with gnocchi and then laid the fish filets on them and then laid the asparagus on them and I dabbed the Béarnaise sauce on the asparagus.  I then went to the basement and found a bottle of 2009 Wellington Marsanne and opened it and poured us glasses of it.  We ate in the garden under our newly covered gazebo and enjoyed a cool evening beside the pond listening to bird calls.

At around 9:00 we decided to make bananas foster.  Suzette sliced two bananas that were darken and slightly over ripe.  I then put three Tbsps. of butter in a skillet and added about ¼ cup of dark brown sugar and sautéed that until the sugar went into solution.  I the added banana slices and sautéed them.  Then I added a few slices of fresh pineapple.  After another couple of minutes of sautéing to make sure the bananas were well heated and covered with the sugar and butter solution, we added about ¼ cup of rum to the sauce and stirred until the rum went into solution and the sauce became a caramel sauce.  Suzette then scooped vanilla ice cream into bowls and I scooped the bananas, pineapples and sauce into the two bowls and we had a delicious hot dessert.

Bon Appétit  

May 23, 2014 Two New Recipes Sesame seed coated scallops served with couscous with Japanese greens and a wasabi guacamole sauce.

May 23, 2014 Two New Recipes   Sesame seed coated scallops served with couscous with Japanese greens and a wasabi guacamole sauce.

I loved the sauce that Noda, that great Japanese Restaurant that use to be in Rio Rancho, had made from avocados and wasabi.  I also remember the coconut coated shrimp we once ate at a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta with Connie.  Suzette was returning from spending several days in Santa Fe on Thursday evening, so during the day I went to Sprouts and I bought ½ lb. of bay scallops ($9.99/lb.).  I also drove to Pro’ Ranch Market and bought a bag of 4 fresh avocados for $1.00 and few other things.  We had old avocados so when I got home, so I decided to make guacamole with them. 

On Friday I decided to use the old guacamole to make the sauce that Noda made by adding wasabi.  I also wanted to try coating the scallops with sesame seeds and sautéing them.  Suzette was home and therefore doing the cooking.  I suggested coating the scallops with egg white to help the sesame seeds adhere, but she rejected that thought. We decided to make couscous with Japanese greens from our garden to go with the sautéed scallops.

Suzette picked a colander full of Mbuna and Red giant radish leaves (two Japanese greens).  I heated 1 ¼ cup of water and added 3 Tbsps. of butter to it and brought it to a boil.  Then I added ¾ cup of couscous and let it boil for a minute or two, while I rough cut the greens.  Then I added them and stirred them into the couscous to cook the greens.  I then turned down the heat and in another minute of two I turned off the heat and let the couscous cook and absorb the heat.

New Recipe: Wasabi flavored guacamole sauce

I added some wasabi to some guacamole and it tasted old and very spicy.  Suzette said to add a new avocado and I did and that helped freshen and brighten the sauce but it was still really a paste, so I added about 2 tsps. of Aji Mirin to sweeten and smooth out the sauce.  Then Suzette smeared a spoonful of the sauce onto each plate, like they do in the fancy restaurants.

New Recipe Sesame coated sautéed scallops

Suzette wanted to toast the sesame seeds so we put 2 or 3 Tbsps. of them into a dry skillet and toasted them.  Then Suzette rolled the scallops in the sesame seeds to coat the scallops.  She then heated a skillet with peanut and sesame oil and sautéed the scallops for a minute of two.  The scallops were actually bay scallops and smaller, so it did not take long to cook them.

Not all of the sesame seeds stayed adhered to the scallops, so there were extra toasted sesame seeds and oil in the skillet.  We decided to add the sesame seeds and oil to the couscous.  I heated the couscous again to steam off the last of the water and heat it.  I opened a bottle and poured glasses of MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris.

We plated the couscous and scallops and we were ready to eat.

The guacamole sauce was spicy and also creamy, so very different.  The real surprise of the meal was how well the sesame seeds tasted with and in the couscous.

Also, the slightly sweet Pinot Gris was a perfect complement for the spiciness of the wasabi flavored guacamole and the slightly bitter greens in the couscous.

All in all, a very successful meal with a couple of interesting new dishes. 
Bon Appétit    


Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 22, 2014 Dinner Grilled Swordfish Cesar Salad and Clafoutis

May 22, 2014 Dinner   Grilled Swordfish Cesar Salad and Clafoutis

                Today Suzette was coming home, so I wanted to get some fresh ingredients.  After a 10:00 appointment I went to Sprouts.  I bought two approximately ½ lb. each previously frozen swordfish filets that looked great ($7.99/lb.), ½ lb. of sea scallops ($9.99/lb.), an eggplant ($1.49), 1 lb. of 85% cacao dark Columbian chocolate wafers, a hot house cucumber for $.99 and a cluster of tomatoes ($.98/lb.).  Then I drove to Fano Bakery and bought a loaf of 9 grain bread ($4.00) and a baguette ($3.00).  Fano currently makes my favorite baguette in Albuquerque and the proprietor went to the back near the ovens to fetch me a freshly baked baguette (heaven.)
I then went to Pro’s Market since it is vegetable and fruit day.  Unfortunately the new ownership is in the process of changing all the prices and they are all going up.  I was able to buy a bag of four small avocados for $1.00, ten whole wheat flour tortillas for $1.99, a container of LaLa mango yogurt for $2.50, an approximately 1 ½ lb. bag of cherries ($1.50/lb.) and took a rain check for 1 lb. bags of carrots at $.25.

When Suzette came home, she wanted a Cesar salad with grilled Swordfish.   Suzette went to the garden and picked a basket full of romaine lettuce leaves and tore them into bite sized pieces and spun them to clean them and put them into salad bowls.  I cut up 1/3 of the baguette and tossed it with herbs Provence and salt and olive oil and toasted them in a 350˚ oven for about fifteen minutes (which baked them to golden brown), shaved some cheese slices off a wedge of Pecorino Romano and chopped the slices of cheese into small pieces and put them on the salad.  Suzette grilled the swordfish, while I freshened up the Cesar salad dressing with additions of the juice of ½ lemon and few Tbsps. of olive oil and a dash of salt.  I dressed the salad, Suzette placed the grilled swordfish filet on the salad and I poured glasses of white wine and we were ready to eat.  We had almost an entire bottle of 2009 Grillo di Sicilia, so we each had a glass of white wine with dinner at our table under the newly covered gazebo in the garden.   I must say that I am really enjoying salads from our prodigious volunteer lettuce crop this year.  In fact, I ate a Cesar Salad with tomatoes and radishes and sliced cucumber for lunch.

Clafoutis Recipe

I always look forward to the first cherries of the season because I love clafoutis and the season’s first cherries are usually wonderfully fresh, sweet and cheap.  After dinner I pitted the 1 ½ lb. of cherries and doused them with cognac and put them into the fridge to soak.  I then put 1 cup of half and half and 1 ½ cups of 2% milk into a sauce pan and scalded the milk and then turned off the heat to allow it to cool. 

I then buttered the inside of a ceramic baking dish and coated the butter with granulated sugar on surfaces of the ceramic baking dish to keep the clafoutis from sticking and set the oven at 350˚.

Then I put 10 Tbsps. of confectioner’s sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients with 6 Tbsps. of all-purpose flour and made a depression in the center of it.  Then I stirred 3 eggs and stirred the eggs into the flour and sugar mixture with a wooden spoon until the ingredients reached a creamy consistency without any lumps.  Then I added the milk and stirred it in and gently poured the milk, egg, flour, and sugar mixture into the baking dish.

Then I added the cherries and cognac to the baking\dish and placed it in the middle of the 350˚ oven and set the timer for 50 minutes.  

I then offered Suzette a cordial glass of Wellington white port and we watched Colbert Report and John Stewart while the clafoutis baked.  

When the timer's  bell on the stove rang in 50 minutes I checked the Clafoutis and found that it was baked to firmness.  A very successful Clafoutis preparation.  Clafoutis is traditionally a French peasant dish from the Limousine region famous for its dairy cows and wonderful rich milk.  One of the secrets in making a good clafoutis is to use rich milk.  That is why I add half and half to whole or reduced fat milk, to increase its richness. 

Suzette likes her Clafoutis cold with cream, but I like mine, as I do all puddings and custards, hot from the stove or oven.  After about ten minutes when the custard stopped boiling, I dipped a spoon into the Clafoutis and it was wonderful; a firm custard, yet giving, with a soft crust of cognac soaked flour on the bottom of the dish and custard with fresh baked cherries on the top.  

Another simple meal made with the best and freshest seasonal ingredients.  Oh, the joys of Spring!
If we could always eat like peasants.

Bon Appétit