Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 30, 2014 New Recipe Grilled Teriyaki Marinated Salmon with Rice and Stir Fried String Beans and Gravad Lax (Smoked Salmon)

December 30, 2014 New Recipe Grilled Teriyaki Marinated Salmon with Rice and Stir Fried String Beans and Gravad Lax (Smoked Salmon)

Gravad Lax (Smoked Salmon) Recipe:   

Suzette bought a whole salmon two days ago at Costco ($4.99/lb.) and we had a bunch of PPI fresh dill from Christmas, so at around 4:15 today I cut a piece the length and almost the width of a pyrex baking dish that I judged to not weigh more than 3 lbs. and made gravad lax:

I fileted the piece of salmon into to two filets that fit each other and the size of the marinating dish.   

Then I mixed the first three dry ingredients in a bowl (the following measurements are for a 3 lb. piece of salmon)

2/3 cup salt
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bunches dill   
(the recipe calls for 2 bunches but I had only one bunch but also a piece of salmon of less than 3 lbs., so 1 bunch had to do and did work in this instance.)

Then I lay a bed of about 1/3 of the dill on the bottom of the baking dish and then ladled 1/4 of the dry mixture on the outside of one of the filets and lay that side down on the bed of dill in the baking dish, being careful to let any mixture that does not stick to the fish skin fall into the inside of the baking dish so it will be captured with the rest of the mixture inside the baking dish.

Then I ladled the dry mixture onto the exposed inside of that filet inside the baking dish.

Then I placed about ½ of the dill on the first filet.

Then I ladled ¼ of the dry mixture on the inside side of the other filet and laid that inside side on top of the first filet inside the baking dish, again making sure that any excess mixture fell inside the baking dish. 

Then I ladled the rest of the dry mixture onto the exposed outside skin side of the second filet that now lay inside the baking dish on top of the first filet.

Then I placed the last 1/6 of the fresh dill on top of the fish and mixture inside the baking dish.

Then I covered the dish with saran wrap and placed a brick on top of the fish to weigh down the fish filets.

The gravad process allows the oils in the fish to mix with the dry ingredients and exchange places with some of the salt and sugar, so that the fresh salmon becomes salt and sugar cured or as we in America inaccurately refer to it as “smoked”.

In order to fully saturate the fish one needs to turn the fish periodically.  I have experimented with curing periods of from 12 to 48 hours.  I find that the simplest and best curing period is 24 hours with one flip at the end of the first 12 hours.

So at 4:45 I put the covered dish into the fridge to marinate/cure.

the finished combination of ingredients and weighed with the brick as it goes into the frdge 

the salmon after 12 hours before the flip (see how some of the dry mix has liquified)

Teriyaki Salmon Recipe:

I also made a teriyaki marinade for the back end of the salmon which I fileted after finishing the gravad lax.

I placed the fileted pieces of salmon into a gallon freezer bag and then made the marinade.

I placed in a small sauce pan:

1 Tbsp. sugar
7 Tbsps. of sake
7 Tbsps. of Aji Mirin (Japanese Cooking wine from Talin)
7 Tbsps. of premium dark soy (Talin)

I then heated the marinade to almost boiling stirring it occasionally so that the sugar went into solution.  I then let the marinade cool for a few minutes.

Then I poured the marinade into the freezer bag holding the two salmon filets and put it in the fridge to marinate (the longer the fish marinates the better.  I often marinate teriyaki salmon 2 days, but today it marinated only 2 hours)

Willy went to the gym and so at around 6:30 Suzette and I decided to cook dinner.

We started by cutting two (1” X 6”) cedar planks to fit the length of each salmon filet onto.

Then Suzette soaked the planks in water to moisten them.

Then she heated the propane BBQ grill outside and then placed the fish on the planks onto the grill and grilled them until they were cooked, which today took about 25 minutes due to the extreme cold and wind (one way to know when the fish is getting done is when the edges of the boards begin to burn.)

New Recipe:  Stir Fried String Beans

1 large clove of garlic
1 dime sized piece of fresh ginger
1 tsp. of sesame oil
1 Tbsp. of peanut oil
1 dash of chili oil
½ tsp. of salt
½ tsp. of sugar

While Suzette was grilling the salmon, I sliced the garlic and ginger into flat rounds and placed them in a large skillet with all the other ingredients except the string beans and heated them to release the garlic and ginger flavors.

residue of oil and ginger and garlic slices in skillet

Then I placed about 1 lb. of string beans (Costco 2 lbs. of haricot verts with their stems snipped off for $4.99) into the skillet and tossed the string beans occasionally to cover them with the oil and to cook them evenly.

The fish took a little longer to cook because of the cold weather so I let the beans sit covered for a while and then reheated them when the salmon was cooked and we were ready to eat.

We also heated about 1 cup of PPI basmati rice in the microwave.

I heated a small ceramic pitcher of sake in a small sauce pan of hot water on the stove while we were waiting for the salmon.

Finally, a little after 7:00 we removed the salmon from the grill and heated the string beans and rice and we were ready to eat.  Suzette laid a pile of rice on each plate and cut pieces of salmon and laid them on the rice and then I laid a bunch of string bean spears on each plate and fetched small tea cups for sake and placed the sauce pan of heated water with the small pitcher of sake and cups on the table and we were ready to eat a hot meal in the middle of this winter night.  While the wind blew outside, I thought we could have easily have been eating this same meal in northern Japan.

We watched the first episode of the Marco Polo series on Netflix during and after dinner for the complete oriental experience.

Bon Appétit

P.S. It is now 4:45 a.m. so I am going to flip the gravad lax (salmon) so it will marinate on both sides evenly and will remove it from the pyrex baking dish and wash off the excess sugar and salt at 4:45 to 5:00 this evening (fresh gravad lax for New Year’s Eve).  Voila.

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014 Steamed Little Neck Clams with baguette

December 29, 2014 Steamed Little Neck Clams with baguette

Suzette is driving to Santa Rosa tomorrow so she stopped to shop at Costco tonight on her way home.  

She saw several fresh seafood options and she picked up a whole head off Atlantic farm raised salmon for $4.99/lb. and a bag of little neck clams.  

For some reason little neck clams are starting to regularly show up in our stores at remarkably cheap prices and they are fresh and delicious.  These little necks were smaller than the ones I had earlier bought at Sprouts Farm Market.  We found these to be a perfect eating size; larger than a manila clam and smaller, and more tender, than a cherrystone clam or the larger little neck clams I bought recently at Sprouts Farm Market.  The only clams that are comparable are the Australian cockles and they tend to be more expensive.   

We decided to divide them into two casseroles and steam all of the clams in one step, so we could eat them together.  We filled each of the large Le Creuset casseroles about ¼ full of water (enough water to cover the clams with boiling water) and when the water came to a boil we placed ½ of the clams into each casserole.  After discarding the clams that were dead and had broken shells, all the clams opened except for six in each casserole, which is a rather high rejection rate, but we still had about three dozen clams each.  

I chilled a bottle of 2012 Chateau du Jaunay Muscadet Sévre et Maine Sur Lie (Sur Lie means that the juice is left in contact with the skins after the grapes are crushed, in order to build up a little more flavor because Muscadet grapes tend to produce a lightly flavored wine) from the Loire Valley (Total Wine, $11.99 less 10% discount) which had a mildly buttery and citrus flavor.  This is the first chateau produced French Muscadet wine I have bought in Albuquerque and I found the finish to be a little bitter.  I probably will not buy it again.

Suzette actually drank my glass of wine, because I prefer to drink the broth from the steamed clams with my clams.  When the clams are finished opening i simply ladle spoonfuls of clam juice into a mug and sip it as I eat the clams and dip the bread into the broth and butter sauce.

This is a very simple dish.  You place the clams in boiling water in a large pot until they open.  When the open they release their seafood flavor into the water, creating a lovely clam flavored broth.  We melted a stick of butter in the micro wave with chopped fresh thyme and garlic chives.  When the butter and garlic and thyme solution was heated to nearly a boil, we added a few drops of fresh lemon juice to the butter and serve with the clams.  We plated the clams in bowls and simply removed them from their shells, dipped them into the butter sauce and ate them with bites of warmed French baguette (Fanos' $3.00).  I drank broth with my clams to intensify the clam experience.

A simple and delicious meal, if a bit primordial.  I think I read that clam shells have been found in seaside cave middens dating back over one hundred thousand years in South Africa.  

Bon Appétit    

December 26, 2014 Eggplant in Garlic Sauce with Chicken and steamed string beans

December 26, 2014  Eggplant in Garlic Sauce with Chicken and steamed string beans

We had PPI roasted chicken and an eggplant we wanted to eat, so we decided to make Suzette’s favorite dish, Eggplant in Garlic Sauce from the mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking Cookbook an add the PPI roasted chicken to it.  We also had a 2 lb. bag of string beans that needed to be cooked, so we decided to steam them. 

I made 2 cups of rice with four cups of water and 2 cups of Basmati rice, so we would have rice for several more mole meals.

Here is the recipe for the Eggplant in Garlic Sauce, which we have cooked many times:

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce.

You first make the Sauce
1 Tbsp. double dark soy sauce
2 tsp. Oyster Sauce
1 tsp. white rice wine vinegar
½ tsp. Shaoxing wine
½ tsp. pepper flakes from hot oil (we substituted a dash of chili oil tonight to avoid making the dish too spicy)
½ tsp. of cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp. of chicken stock

Then I minced 2 Tbsps. of fresh garlic

Then I diced about 1 ½ lb. of PPI roasted chicken into ½ inch cubes

Then I sliced the large Chinese Eggplant into two inch by ½ inch strips (about two pounds) while Suzette made the sauce. 

Then Suzette sautéed the eggplant strips until tender in heated peanut oil.  The recipe calls for deep frying the eggplant strips in 4 cups of peanut oil, but we never use that much oil.

After Suzette had stir fried the eggplant, she stir fried the garlic and then added the chicken.  Then she returned the eggplants to the wok and stir fried the eggplant with the meat for a minute and then made a well in the middle of the ingredients and added the sauce and cooked the eggplant mixture for a minute or two. 

We steamed 1 lb. of string beans and served them with the rice and eggplant dish.

We drank Mexican beers with dinner.

The Eggplant in Garlic Sauce was delicious as usual and a nice change from Mexican molé.

Bon Appétit
December 28, 2014 PPI Dinner of Black and Green molés, string beans, black beans and a pumpkin and masa casserole

We had invited Melissa to dinner and we decided to heat up our Christmas Eve dishes.  I wanted to see if masa cooked the same as polenta, so I decided to make a polenta style casserole with PPI masa.
I added about a cup of chicken stock infused with the red chili to 1 1/2 cups of  masa and stirred it into solution.  Then I added 2 cups of pumpkin flavored with parsley and mint and then 1/2 cup of half and half and then 8 oz. of Comte and Manchego cheese.   Each ingredient made the emulsion thinner so we decided to put it into a casserole and baked it for about ½ hour at 375˚.

Melissa arrived at 6:00 with a bottle of 2013 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Valdadige, which we opened immediately.  The pinot grigio was exquisitely smooth.   I loved it.  We sat in the living room and ate olives and spicy pecans and talked and sipped wine. 

The masa/polenta was still runny after baking for 30 minutes, although it had a slightly toughened crust.

We put a puddle of polenta into pasta bowls and then rice and then mole and beans and drank pinot grigio with dinner around our talbe in the TV room.  When the pinot grigio was finished, we opened a bottle of 2010 Leese-Fitch Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County, California and drank it during and after dinner as we sat in the living room and talked.

I found that the clean tasting white wines went well with the mellow flavors of the Oaxacan food.

After one bowl each, we were stuffed on mole and did not want a dessert,  We only ate a few more pecans for dessert as we talked.

At 9:00 we said goodnight to Melissa and went to bed.

Bon Appétit     

December 27, 2014 Dinner at Cynthia and Ricardo’s Baked Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

December 27, 2014 Dinner at Cynthia and Ricardo’s   Baked Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

Willy, Luke, Suzette and I took a bottle of Argyle champagne and a bottle of Acrobat Rosé of Pinot Noir (Jubilation $13.99), both from the Oregon’s Willamette Valley to Cynthia and Ricardo’s at around 1:00 today.

When we arrived there were appetizers in the kitchen of olives, an aged gouda and a stilton with water biscuits and artichoke hearts.  We toasted the holiday season by drinking glasses of Argyle Champagne while the lasagna was baking and Cynthia made a lovely salad.  Then we retired to dining room table for dinner of lasagna and salad and fresh warm Bosque Bakery baguette, which we drank with Acrobat Rosé and Cupcake Merlot.   The lasagna was made with a rich, cheesy alfredo sauce that was delicious.

We had a lovely conversation that essentially lasted 3 hours over appetizers, dinner and dessert of Christmas cookies and handmade local chocolates with ginger tea.

A more happy dinner could not have been had than the one we shared in their dining room drenched in late afternoon sun light.  

I liked both wines and actually was surprised by how good the champagne was.  Perhaps that is why they serve Argyle champagne at the White House.

Bon Appétit

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 25, 2014 Amy and Vahl’s for Christmas Dinner

We took a couple of gifts and some cookies and left for Amy and Vahl’s house in Eldorado at 1:30 and arrived around 2:30 p.m.  The boys took clothing to stay for two nights. 

When we arrived we were greeted by appetizers of Boursin cheese and another creamy cheesy spread with lovely nut and berry bread and blue corn tortilla chips and a bottle of Lemelson Pinot Noir.

Amy apologized that they had delayed starting the ham, due to some problem, but it was cooking now.

a picture of Bob taking a picture of us Dayla and me taking pictures
the two boys with the two moms
This gave us time to go outside and take lots of pictures and for Amy to leisurely prepare all the other parts of the meal, especially her famous

Garlic Grits

She first cooks the grits in water to soften them into a thick mush, like the polenta it is.

Then she mixes into the warm grits, milk, grated cheddar cheese and butter and places the mixture in a deep baking dish and bakes it in the oven until everything is heated through and combined into a cakelike consistency, not unlike the way we usually make enchiladas, where the solid dry ingredients soak up the liquid ingredients and produce a unified creamy and yet somewhat cakelike final result.

Luke, garlic grits, creamed sweet potatoes, string beans and the pear and grape salad 

a new wine

Luke decked out in all his new fabric finery being kissed 
The most interesting dish for me was a salad of pear and two type of grapes, dressed with a poppy seed dressing.  This is a new take on the traditional grapefruit wedge and avocado slices or grape salad we used to get with poppy seed dressing at fancy events in Texas.  I loved it, especially because the pears were ripe and had a luscious slightly soft texture.   The only sharp flavor was the slightly tart vinegary poppy seed dressing.

Besides the ham, Dayan, Vahl’s sister brought whipped sweet potatoes and Amy made steamed string beans, a fabulous green salad with lots of side dishes of ingredients with which to dress the salad, such as eggs, toasted croutons, green and red onions slices, etc.   It was a lovely dinner and we each had a comfortable seat in their living room.  

Besides Amy and Vahl, Dr. Bob Curtis, Dayan’s husband and Dayla, their daughter attended, who is now working for an NGO in Washington after graduating from London School of Economics.   

We gave Luke and Amy and Vahl each a Nepalese yak wool throw that I had bought at Casa Nova at the Railyard in Santa Fe.  Luke and Amy loved the fabric’s softness and Vahl loved the Pendleton print.

Everyone is family so it is always fun to get together for Christmas dinner at Vahl and Amy’s house.  Especially since I can re-acquaint myself with old dishes Amy used to cook when we were married in Texas, such as garlic grits, that greatly elevated poor man’s polenta.

After dinner Amy served chilled Gruet Brut that Bob and Dyane had brought.  Dayla had made lovely chocolate and avocado truffles and hardened pink icing covered balls of soft cake and icing balls that I enjoyed with the champagne.   

After a lovey day with family and dinner we drove home at 6:00, leaving the boys to stay with Amy and Vahl.   

Bon Appétit 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 24, 2014 Christmas Eve Open House

It was a perfect day of cooking and evening of entertaining.  I thought I would be sunk without help but Luke and Willy stepped up and became bulwarks of support for the entire day and evening.  Willy organized and set up and lit luminarias, while Suzette and I cooked with Luke's help all day. 

We chopped onion, tomato, and bell peppers for the octopus salad and Suzette dressed it.  Suzette made the green pork and black chicken molés with Luke’s help.  Last night Willy and Luke bought two bottles of much needed Real Lemon juice for the mulled wine and I made that in the afternoon.

Then Suzette and I picked fresh cilantro and celery from our garden beds.  The celery had formed into a tall column, just as Suzette had read and planned when she wrapped the celery plants with brown paper and twine.  Here is a picture of Suzette and her perfectly formed bundle of celery:

Suzette's celery 

I then chopped up cilantro and dill and mint for Suzette’s sautéed pumpkin dish which we put into the new copper chafing dish and then took a shower and rested for a few minutes around 2:30.

I then filled the sink with about 2 inches of hot water and dipped shrimp mold into the hot water for a minute and it freed itself from the mold cleanly.  We put the shrimp mold on on a large Mexican platter and Suzette decorated the inside of the mold with sprigs of fresh celery and dill. Then I refilled the sink and unmolded the chocolate dessert and put it on a glass plate and decorated it with whipped cream and the PPI grown hazelnuts Suzette had made for her Mexican Wedding Cookies, which we also put out on the dessert buffet. 

Salad Dressing 

While Suzette was finishing the molé's prep, I chopped up the fresh cilantro for the salad dressing and made a very citrusy, Mexican dressing with lime juice, the Santo Tomás Winery Extra Virgin Olive oil we bought in PV, three cloves of our garden grown garlic, large tsp. of Mexican oregano, about 1 tsp. of salt and a dash of black pepper.  I did not have to measure the oil and lime juice because the dressing behaved perfectly, thickening, as if on command, into an opaque cream when the correct amount of when the oil and lime juice came into balance.  I loved the dressing and everyone else seemed to also.  We put it into a 16 oz. Snapple tea bottle, so I could shake it up and cream it again when needed. Then I cut up 3 tomatoes, 1/2 lb. of Queso Oaxaca (string cheese), three cucumbers and 1 red onion and added those to the salad mixture Suzette had washed and we tossed the salad in a larger mixing bowl and then put it back into the teak wood salad bowl. As each dish was finished we put it out on the table.   

I next made 3 cups of vegetarian rice with 3 cups of vegetable stock (Suzette’s squash water), three cups of water, 2 bay leaves, some wakame seaweed and a bit of salt and simmered it on low heat for 30 minutes.  We then steamed 2 lbs. of string beans (Costco $4.99) and Luke plated the cubed fresh papaya and put them on the table.

Next I opened the tin of membrillo (quince) paste and fetched the tortillas and Manchego cheese and the comal and Luke and I made quesadillas with the membrillo and manchego.  Luke then made a few more quesadillas and we put them into the oven to keep warm until the party.  It was now about 5:00, so I started putting out the cheeses, including English Stilton, Irish Cheddar, the kilo round of French Brie, a log of California goat cheese, French Comté, a French Petit Cantral, and the winner by far, a creamy, runny French A.O.P. Lincet.  I then cut up and heated a loaf of Fano French baguette and put the slices pf 1/2 loaf out with the crackers Luke had placed on Suzette’s large pine needle basket.

Shortly after 5:30 Cynthia and Ricardo came with a plate of cookies and a lovely bottle of 2012 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon.  Then J.B. and Cirelda came with a bottle of 2013 Argentinian Alamos Malbec and Carey and Peter with a gift, then Ed, Michel, Lisa and Lynn came.  Lynn had made a lovely Mexican flan and Lisa had made very interesting black bean cookies, which we placed on plates on the buffet (I tried both and they were both authentic and delicious.  Lisa gets the award for the most creative dish of the night.). 

Cynthia and Michel wanted white wine so I went to the basement and fetched a bottle of Wild Haven Willamette Valley Pinot Gris, which they liked very much.  Cirelda, who works at the Albuquerque Museum, asked about the William Clift photo in the dining room and then when I showed her Laura Gilpin’s photo of Georgia O’Keefe, she told my an amazing story about how a friend found a copy of Laura Gilpin’s great photo book, the Enduring Navajo, with an inscription that read, “To my friend Georgia O’Keefe” signed by Laura Gilpin.  I looked for my copy of the “Rio Grande” by Laura Gilpin but could not find it.

Soon lots of people began coming, including Amy and Vahl from Santa Fe, the Petrakises (including Tyrone, Lisa, and Roy and friends), Davida and Josefo, Robert and Marilyn, Bill Turner and Regina, Jim and Jane, Marty and Jill, who just married on Thanksgiving weekend and shared the photos of their wedding, Charlie and Susan Palmer. Jim Stozier with his wife, Janet, son Ben and daughter Amelda, and  several others I cannot immediately remember.  It seemed as if folks wanted to drink red wine, so Vahl and I went to the basement, where I fetched the bottle of 2010 Mount Eden Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir that Aaron had given me and a bottle of 2010 Clos de Val Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley.  I poured Vahl a glass of the 2010 Mount Eden (Vahl prefers pinot noir) and I took a small glass and found the wine to be very smooth, with good complexity and beautifully softened tannins.  Vahl said he had a killer bottle ready to give us tomorrow when we visit their home for Christmas dinner.

I loved the fact that about 25 of our friends made it.  Later, the most poignant event of the evening for me occurred, when Dale Alverson came with his friends Bill and Georgette and Dale informed me that he had just had bladder cancer and had been treated with reconstructive surgery at M.D. Anderson in Houston in which they made him a new bladder.  He was walking and talking and said he did not wish to miss our annual party.  Bill and he and I celebrated Dale’s recovery with Cuba Libres, made with rum, lime and Mexican cokes.  Bill gave me a compliment when he said Georgette had specifically remembered Mother’s Van Cliburn mold and wanted to try the food this year.  “Thanks, Georgette.”  It also made me feel great that folks showed up without a specific invite, just on my prior word that they were on the permanent invitation list.
About 20 or 25 of Luke and Willy’s friends, including the neighbor kids they grew up with, who are now adults, began to arrive, like Anna Watson, Eli Hicks, Emily and Rachel Graf with Jim and Diane, Franco Simbana with his girlfriend, Montana, who is studying set design at Yale, and a few other friends.  

Franco dipping black beans at the food table

The moles and mulled wine

Montana in the kitchen with Luke and friend
A little later Cliff and Nancy came by for a bit and admired the Dairy Queen by Tim Prythero.  At around 10:30, Ricardo and Cynthia returned and we decided to walk the neighborhood.  The neighborhood was lovely, filled with its usual thousands of luminarias and few cars.

Finally after we returned and talking to Cynthia and Ricardo until 12:45 and watching them open their Christmas gift, a modern Dutch pewter tea set, we said good night.

The kids helped us clean up the kitchen and then I fetched my camera and took a picture of the kids’ party that was still in full swing at 1:45.

I was very satisfied with the number of dishes and the array of dishes.  I thought this year’s menu had a balance of food, both vegetarian and meat driven, and the perfect array of beverages supplemented with many good complementary desserts brought by some of the best cooks.

Bon Appétit   

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 12, 2014 Shopping, Cooking and Dinner Roasted Chicken with Sautéed Vegetables

December 12, 2014 Shopping, Cooking and Dinner  Roasted Chicken with Sautéed Vegetables

Today we went to TaIin at around 4:00 to buy octopus, avocado leaves and parsley.  I also saw and bought some lovely fresh green ginger root for Luke to use in making his wonderful chai.  This morning he did a short yoga session with me and I feel much better, especially after soaking in the turgid jet powered water of the hot tub this evening with Suzette.

At 5:00 when we returned home, we started cooking for Christmas Eve and fixed dinner.  We had thawed out two chickens from Costco and decided to roast one for dinner and make chicken stock with the other one.  I sprinkled one 5 lb. roaster with tandoori seasoning and Suzette impaled it on a Spandex cooking rack and we put it in a roasting pan with 1/4 inch of water and first roasted it in a preheated oven at 425˚ for 15 minutes.  Then we turned the temperature down and baked it at 375 for 1 hour 20 minutes until its internal temperature reached about 160˚.  While the chicken was baking we went to the garden and picked two turnips, a hand full of carrots, and two beets.  Suzette cut the tough stems off 1 lb. of Brussels sprouts and halved them.  She then cleaned the carrots, turnips and beets and cut them into bit sized pieces, tossed them with olive oil and the Brussels sprouts and sautéed the mixture in olive oil and later, chicken stock until they softened.

Luke was at home and so we had a family meal.  I fetched a bottle of Le Ferme Vielle rosé because it has a light clean taste that seems to go well with chicken.

After dinner we made the first part of the Green mole (cubing tomatillos and pork tenderloin and boiling the pork to create a stock and then sautéing the tomatillos and rehydrated guajillo chiles and garlic and green onions in lard and then mixing masa and pork broth and adding it to the tomatillo mixture to thicken the molé.  Then we boiled the octopi about five minutes and Suzette cut them into small pieces for the octopus salad and I cut up the papaya for a side dish.
Bon Appétit

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 20, 2014 Cream of Asparagus Soup, Roasted Duck Legs and Spaghetti Squash

December 20, 2014 Cream of Asparagus Soup, Roasted Duck Legs and Spaghetti Squash

At 5:30 after a ten mile ride, we drove to Costco to start our Christmas Eve shopping.
We bought eggs, butter, lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, string beans, Mexican Beer and most importantly, Mexican cokes with real sugar, French crackers for cheese, two more French cheeses (Caval and Linet) and loaves of La Brea whole grain bread.

When we went home I discussed wanting to roast the fresh duck legs I had bought at TaLin yesterday and Suzette said we should also roast several of the spaghetti squashes we grew in our garden.  
After the duck legs were in the oven roasting I found the PPI orange sauce and went to the basement for a bottle of Perrin Reserve.

We heated up the PPI cream of asparagus and cauliflower soup as an appetizer.  Then we ate a simple meal of roasted duck with orange sauce and spaghetti squash with butter and sea salt and drank the southern Rhône wine.  The texture of the duck was tough.  Suzette criticized it and I was charmed by it.  I told her, “It makes me feel like a couple of old French farmers eating the old duck that died.”  She was not amused, but I was.   
The high point of the meal was the wine, which was light and well balanced as one would assume a premium Perrin Family wine would be.  We had ordered this wine at Stephen’s of Santa Fe last year for their restaurant week meal.  It is a good food wine (Trader Joe's $9.99).  I especially like a southern Rhône red with duck. 

After dinner I ate the last of the wedge of brie I had bought at Whole Foods on La Brea Whole Grain (Costco) with a final glass of the Perrin Reserve.

Americans tend to select a bottle of wine for an entire meal, while the French tend to drink a different glass of wine with each dish or course.   So in American it is important when planning a menu to try to match as many dishes as possible to the selected wine.  If we had been in France we probably would have had a heavy white (like a white Rhone) with the cream soup and then the red with the duck and cheese or even switched to a Pinot Noir for the cheese course, which usually includes several different cheese selections.

Bon Appétit 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 19, 2014 Lunch Cafe Lush Dinner Braised Cod with Mushrooms, Bamboos Shoots and Yu Choy

December 19, 2014 Lunch  Cafe Lush  Dinner  Braised Cod with Mushrooms, Bamboos Shoots and Yu Choy

Today was a great day because I spent quality hours with Willy.  We started by going to Consensus Planning to have lunch with Jim Strozier, who could not have been nicer.  He showed around their office. 

After the tour of the office, we walked the long block to Café Lush for lunch.  I was not expecting much at Lush but was surprised that it had an interesting menu that featured lovely salads.  Willy ordered a Mango Chicken Salad that was beautiful and interesting, Mango slices, edamane, scallions, basil leaves, strips of grilled chicken on a bed of organic spinach dressed with a creamy blueberry vinaigrette and garnished with bacon bits.  I had trouble deciding what to order because I wanted something without fresh black pepper.  I finally settled on a Cesar Salad with extra lettuce and after a discussion between the waitress and the kitchen, it was garnished with sliced ham, focaccia croutons, grated Parmesan cheese and amazingly, lemon zest. Jim ordered a burger.  Jim’s burger looked great also. Café Lush is decidedly better than it was when it opened several years ago, which I think is due to an expended more interesting menu and more help in the kitchen.  I really liked the menu and will go back and recommend Café Lush.  Of course, it is now going head to head against Vinaigrette, so it has uped its game.   

Cesar Salad with ham
We passed on dessert and returned to Consensus Planning’s large conference room, where we had an interesting discussion about what Willy was doing and what Jim was doing. Jim though Willy was on an interesting path, looking at the interaction of transportation modalities.  I got a chance to reminisce with Jim about Westland's projects and he filled me in on what is now Barclay’s land.  It appears there is major development going on in the petroglyph area and Jim has just finished or is working on master plans for the rest of what was Westland’s 47,000 acres for Barclay’s.

Jim and Consensus Planning have been involved and are involved in planning many of the major projects in the Albuquerque area.  One of the things I learned is that Consensus specializes in landscape design of parks all over New Mexico. 

Suzette called and said she was on her way to Coronado Mall to look at the suit Willy selected, so after saying our goodbyes to Jim, we drove to Macy’s at Coronado Mall.  Willy tried on the suit and I, as the proud father, bought him his first suit.  He selected a black Calvin Klein slim fit suit that fit him perfectly, no alterations needed.  We bagged it and paid for it and carried it out of the store.  I asked Willy if he would go to TaLin with me to shop for something for dinner and he agreed.

When we arrived a TaLin we saw that TaLin had a pop up Dumpling restaurant on Thursdays and Fridays, so we wandered over to the lunch counter area in what used to be the restaurant.
We ordered four salmon and four pork stuffed dumpling and Willy ordered a chia.  I then went to the fish department and saw that they had fresh cod.  Then I went back to the Café and tasted the salmon and pork dumplings with Willy.  We both liked the pork stuffing best with the traditional dipping sauce.  The dumplings were served with a small bowl of either hot and sour or egg drop soup.  We chose Hot and Sour and the lady who served us was correct, it was authentic.  The pork dumplings are 8 for $8.00 and the salmon are 8 for $10.00.  Try it you will love the fresh made to order dumplings.

I left Willy to finish the dumplings and picked up English mint jelly, Spanish pimientos, Japanese dried Iko Wakame seaweed, medium tofu, and a bottle of Gekkeikan Haiku premium sake ($10.88) on my way back to the seafood area.  When I arrived my favorite fish monger was in the department. 
After serving one other person he turned to me and asked me what I wanted. I selected an Atlantic Cod ($5.35/lb.) that looked particularly fresh and asked him to cut a 1½ lb. piece.  Before cutting the fish, he laid the fish in front of me and using his hands identified the areas in which he would make the two cuts.  He put one hand behind the gill area and front side fin to indicate that he was going to eliminate all the bony areas around the head and then the other hand at the end of the belly; the perfect cut for what I wanted, just meat.  I love this routine and have been going through it with this same fish monger for over 20 years.  It is another of the high points of my shopping experiences at TaLin.  Rather like last year's delivery of fresh large lobsters.

On the way to the freezers, in the meat area of the meat department I saw and had an employee hand me a package of four fresh duck thighs and legs for $10.00.  At the freezers I selected small bags of frozen beef, pork and fish balls for soups.  Willy rejoined me at this point and when we walked to the end of the aisle where the fresh refrigerated items are located, I saw that there were fresh beef and pork balls, so I exchanged the frozen for the fresh balls and also picked up a bag of fresh Vietnamese rice noodles.  I walked the aisles to find the two things I really needed, which was a can of bamboo sliced shoots and a bag of dried Shitake mushrooms.  We then walked to the produce area and selected about a lb. of shallots, a bag of Yu Choy, two sprigs of fresh ginger, and a bag of Rah Ram.  
So we were ready for a great Chinese fish dinner and a real Vietnamese soup for lunch and maybe Duck L’ Orange this weekend.

The pace of cooking is definitely picking up.  We checked out.  The total was $53.03.  I felt like it was a really successful eating and shopping experience and I think Willy did also.

When we arrived home a little after 4:00 we selected a couple of my father’s like new Sulka ties to try with Willy’s new suit, which he will wear to a wedding this weekend and a black belt that is too short to get around my waist.

Suzette came home around 4:45 and we spent a little while together trying to teach Willy how to tie a full Windsor knot.  We finally succeeded by me tying the tie around my neck from memory and then removing it from my head and Willy had two new ties to go with his new suit.

I started on dinner around 5:45 I found a recipe in the Chinese Gourmet Cookbook by William Mark (page 94) for Braised Cod with Bamboo Shoots and Mushrooms.  I saw that the recipe required 6 mushrooms to be soaked in hot water to re-hydrate, so I started a cup of rice and then heated water in the kettle and opened the new bag of dried mushrooms and the can of bamboo shoots.  After measuring 2 cups of water and adding some of the wakame seaweed and a dash of instant dashi to a sauce pan and letting it come to a boil, I added 1 cup of rice.

the dish as shown in the Cookbook
I then used the 2 cup measuring cup to soak the mushrooms.  I opened the mushrooms and put six in the measuring cup and added hot water to cover them and then weighted the mushrooms down so they would be submerged under the water with one of Willy’s half-filled water bottles.  I then cut the cod into ½” by 2½” strips as the recipe indicated and put the marinade ingredients on it and stirred them in with the cod strips to mix them well and put that into the fridge to marinate.
I then minced 1 tsp. each of garlic and fresh ginger for the fish and 1 tsp. of ginger for the Yu Choy.  

At this point I discussed with Suzette, combining the Yu Choy with the cod dish and she agreed to make only the one dish.  So I prepared the Yu Choy by cutting the stems and leaves into 1½” strips.  I opened and drained the bamboo shoots and was ready to cook.  The recipe called for deep frying the fish in 3 cups of peanut oil, but I used only 2 to 3 Tbsp. of peanut oil in my wok (peanut oil is now around $50.00 per gallon, so can not to be wasted deep frying a few strips of fish).  This limited the number of strips of cod I could cook, so I asked Suzette to help me and she immediately added another ¼ cup of peanut oil so the entire amount of fish strips could float in the oil.  We must not have gotten the oil hot enough because the fish strips did not brown as the recipe indicated.  Suzette put a paper towel in a large pot and removed the strips to the pot to drain and I then started finishing the dish by adding the ginger and garlic to the wok.  I then removed the stems from the mushrooms and sliced them into strips and added the mushrooms, Yu Choy, and bamboo shoots to the minced ginger and garlic.  I then added some hot water to the mushrooms water and added some chicken stock to the mushroom water to get it to 1 ½ cups and added the broth and the fish strips and covered the wok as the recipe directed.  The sauce did not seem to be thickening, so Suzette suggested we cook the mixture uncovered to drive off more moisture.  I also turned the mixture to try to integrate the cornstarch on the fish with the liquid.  Finally after about ten minutes things started to coalesce.  I added the oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine and dark soy and stirred the mixture a few more times and it thickened enough to serve. 
Braised Cod dish in Wok before adding last flavorings

I poured the Sake into a small ceramic pitcher and heated the pitcher in a pot of water.

We ladled rice into pasta bowls and then the fish mixture over the rice and took our plated to the TV room table where we filled small teacups with sake and had a lovely meal.  Suzette liked the dish.  It is very similar to the one I made last week with beef.  The Chinese Gourmet Cookbook likes to use cornstarch to marinate meat and then let the cornstarch mix with the other ingredients to make the sauce rather than using a thickening sauce at the end of the prep.

We liked the dry slightly peachy flavor of the Haiku.  Although its label said to drink it chilled we liked it hot.  I guess we are not true sake aficionados yet.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 17, 2014 The Shed Red Chili Enchiladas with Chicken and Mexican Squash and Martha Stewart Spicy Pecans

December 17, 2014  The Shed Red Chili Enchiladas with Chicken and Mexican Squash and Martha Stewart Spicy Pecans

Today I had to go meditate at 7:00, so at 4:30 I started making the red chili sauce for the enchiladas.

Here is the recipe:

The Shed's Red Chili Enchilada Sauce (1972)

1/4 c Canola oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T flour
1/3 - 1/2 cup hot, or extra hot, red chili powder ( I usually use a combination and closer to 1/2 cup)
1 cup tomato juice
2 cups water

1.  Saute garlic in oil
2.  Add flour, cook a few minutes till flour smell is faded.  Remove from heat
3.  Add chili powder and stir w/whisk till smooth - it's very thick at this point
4.  Add tomato juice and water.
5.  Set back on heat and cook till thick - this doesn't take very long.

Bob, I make four times this recipe and freeze whatever I don't use.  

Enjoy.  Janis LaFountain

There are two secrets to making this sauce properly.  One is the base of the sauce is a roux.  The other secret is that it becomes a cream sauce by using mainly tomato juice.
I adjusted the recipe by using only one-half of the amount of oil called for and made 4 recipes of the chili sauce but reduced the water by half, so I would not need to cook it so long.  Like any cream sauce, you can tell when it creamy (not too thick and lumpy or too thin and runny) Voila!  


I had in the fridge from the other day’s cooking the meat of three chicken thighs and 30 oz. of chicken stock, plus 1 lb. of requesón and 1 lb. of shredded mozzarella cheese and three Mexican squashes and 24 corn tortillas.  I sliced three Mexican squashes thinly. 

I made the enchiladas in a large pyrex baking dish.

I heated a combination of the red chili sauce and chicken stock in a small sauce pan large enough to hold one tortilla and poached each tortilla in the sauce until each softened and became pliable.

Suzette came into the kitchen to help me and placed the ingredients on each layer of tortillas that I had poached and laid in the baking dish.

I first laid a layer of six tortillas flat on the bottom of the baking dish.  Then Suzette laid a layer of thinly sliced Mexican Squash on the tortillas and sprinkled some of the shredded mozzarella on the squash.

I then spread red chili sauce on top of each layer after Suzette laid the ingredients on the layer below it.

The layers from bottom to top were:

Mexican Squash and mozzarella
Chicken and requesón
Requesón and mozzarella cheese
Mozzarella cheese

I then filled the baking dish to the top with a mixture of 50% chicken stock and 50% red chili.

We baked the enchiladas for 35 minutes at 375˚ or until the ingredients were thoroughly melted.  

I sliced an avocado and diced about three Tbsp. of yellow onion and fetched sour cream from the fridge and we garnished the enchiladas with fresh minced onion, avocado and sour cream and drank beers with dinner.

I love The Shed’s recipe for red chili and am eternally thankful to Janis LaFountain for this recipe.

At the Shed the enchiladas are served with whole pinto beans and posole.

Bon Appétit

After dinner Suzette found a recipe for Spicy Pecans and made a batch for our Christmas Eve Open House.  Here is Martha Stewart's recipe that Suzette used:

Spicy Pecans
Yield Makes 5 cups
o    1 tablespoon coarse salt
o    2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
o    1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
o    1/2 cup sugar
o    2 large egg whites
o    5 cups (20 ounces) pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, and sugar.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy. Whisk in spice mixture. Stir in pecans. Spread coated pecans in a single layer onto the baking sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. Rotate the sheets in oven, and cook for 10 minutes more.
  3. Immediately spread pecans in a single layer on clean parchment paper; let cool before serving or storing. (Pecans will keep, in an airtight container, up to 1 week at room temperature.)
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