Friday, February 27, 2015

February 27, 2015 Lunch Lan’s Dinner Roasted Chicken, Steamed broccoli and Couscous

February 27, 2015 Lunch  Lan’s    Dinner Roasted Chicken, Steamed broccoli and Couscous

I had to go to Santa Fe today in a winter storm for a deposition.  We went to Lan’s for lunch.  We each ordered a bowl of Won ton soup with shrimp, slices of pineapple, baby bok choy, Lan’s special seasoning, bean sprouts, slivers of ginger and sprigs of fresh cilantro.  We also each ordered a glass filled with hot drip coffee with evaporated milk to help us make it through the afternoon. I think Lan's is the best Vietnamese Restaurant in New Mexico.  Every dish I have ever eaten at Lan's has been delicious and interesting in composition and flavor. 

I drove home in a snow storm from 5:30 to 7:30.

Thankfully when I arrived Suzette had prepared and was ready to cook a hot dinner of roasted chicken from the Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery, steamed broccoli flowerets and couscous cooked in diced garlic, onion, tomato and red bell pepper.

I went to the basement and found a bottle of 2002 Lurton Torrontes from Mendoza Valley in Chile.  It had a firm slightly aged taste, with an absence of almost all sweetness and fruitiness.  We loved the wine and the dinner was very pleasant for an easy, quick dinner, not requiring any elaborate prep.

After dinner we ate the last of the PPI Italian Cloud Cake Suzette made last week with the PPI custard sauce (crème anglais) for an elegant finish to dinner.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February 24, 2015 Dinner with Rosemary French Onion Soup, (New Recipe) Herb and Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Cellentani Pasta cooked with anchovy butter and Kale and Fennel

February 24, 2015  Dinner with Rosemary  French Onion Soup, (New Recipe) Herb and Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Cellentani Pasta cooked with anchovy butter and Kale and Fennel  

At 4:00 I received an email from Rosemary, a client, about getting together to discuss her case.

Rosemary is a wonderful cook and was the owner of Rose’s Table before it closed a year or two ago.  

I called her and we discussed meeting and when I told her my kitchen sink was still blocked and the kitchen a mess, she told me she had just made French Onion Soup and invited me over at 5:00 for dinner and to discuss the case.

So I grabbed a bottle of 2011 Cinq Cavas “Old Vines”Morgan (a French Beaujolais [100% gamay grapes] produced in Morgan, France that I bought at Costco in November 2013 for $10.99).  I thought an older vine raised Gamay that had rested in the cellar for over a year would go well with the pork tenderloin.

When I arrived Rosemary first prepared bowls of French Onion Soup which she had made with thin slices of onion, chicken stock, and Concha y Toro’s Chilean CabernetSauvignon/Merlot blend named Explorateur.  She lay three slices of fresh French baguette on top of each hot soup filled bowl and then lay a handful of grated Gouda cheese on top of the bread slices and baked them in the oven for a few minutes until the soup heated and the cheese melted.  On the table was a bowl of sliced radishes and cucumbers sprinkled with lime juice as a light salad a la Mexico. Rosemary's family is originally from Spain via the Canary Islandsvia the northern Yucatan Peninsula and finally L.A. and she seems to express all those cultural roots in her cooking. 

I opened and poured us glasses of Morgan, which was surprisingly smooth and complemented the soup’s smooth flavor.  It seemed that the soup had been cooking for a while, perhaps even all day, because of the softness of the onion threads and integration of their flavor with that of the broth.  We can rarely get this effect because we rarely have the time to cook a soup all day.

After a bowl of soup and a glass of wine, Rosemary brought a bowl of pasta baked in kale and fennel to the table and then a baking dish with a bacon and herb wrapped Italian Tenderloin roasted with halved heads of garlic and plated our dishes with slices of pork and a head each of garlic.  I served us the pasta, which I think Rosemary said was named Cellentani and that Smith’s was the only store in town where she has found it.  She also said that in Italy the dish is usually made with Rapini, but since she did not find any rapini, she used a combination of kale, spinach, and fennel.

Then she explained that the pork tenderloin was also an Italian recipe and it is usually wrapped in pork fat and cured in the fridge for up to 12 days.  In this case she wrapped the tenderloin with thyme and rosemary and fresh garlic cloves held together with slices of thick cut bacon.  Also, she had roasted this tenderloin after two days of marinating and dabbing away any excess liquid from the tenderloin as it salt cured.  The first bite of the bacon wrapped tenderloin was decidedly salty but that soon went away as I ate it with the pasta and vegetables and sips of Morgan.

Rosemary's Herb and Bacon wrapped Pork Tendrloin

Here is a recipe by Bobby Flay that seems to be close to the pork tenderloin dish.

Bacon-Herb Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
46 Reviews
Recipe courtesy ofBobby Flay
Total Time:
1 hr 50 min
20 min
20 min
1 hr 10 min

4 to 6 servings
  • 1 head garlic, top sliced off
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1 to 1 1/2 pound each) trimmed of excess fat
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 12 (1/4-inch thick) slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Place garlic in a small ramekin, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and wrap in foil. Bake until soft, about 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic flesh from head into a small bowl.
Arrange tenderloins on work surface. Rub the top each tenderloin with 1/2 of the roasted garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the herbs and scatter half of the mix over the garlic on each tenderloin. Wrap 6 strips of bacon around each tenderloin and tie bacon in place with kitchen twine.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat oil in a medium, skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the tenderloins until golden brown on all sides. Transfer seared tenderloins to medium roasting pan; place in the oven and cook to medium doneness about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer tenderloins to cutting board and let stand 10 minutes. Remove twine before carving.
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay, 2001

The pasta was also very special because Rosemary had made her own compounded butter with flat anchovies and butter and baked the fennel, kale, spinach and pasta in the anchovy butter. 

the baked Cellentani and vegetables 

Rosemary plated our plates with slices of tenderloin and a head of roasted garlic and a bit of the marinade/cooking juices from the pork and I added a scoop of the pasta dish and re-filled our wine glasses with Morgan and we enjoyed a delicious dinner.

To say the least this was one of the best surprise dinners I have ever had.

After dinner Rosemary opened a bottle of Mexican Licor de Herbos y Miel that I have never had but tastes a lot like the liquor made in San Sebastian with European juniper berries and herbs and flowers.  They both have a slightly licorice taste, although the Mexican licor was a little sweeter due to the addition of honey.  I am guessing that the Mexican licor is a knock off of the Spanish liquor, but that is just a guess. Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the wine and licor bottles.

My final take on this is that Rosemary is a wonderful cook and her orientation to cooking is much different than Suzette and mine.  Rosemary tends to cook dishes that take a long time to develop their flavors, while we tend toward recipes that take less time to cook.  An exception was the Boeuf Bourguignon Suzette made for Valentine’s Day which took three days to cook.

Clients like Rosemary enrich the experience of practicing law immensely.  If someone was really clever they would hire Rosemary as their private chef, because Rosemary seems to love nothing better than to spend time in the kitchen prepping and cooking delicious dishes.

When I returned home, I found myself feeling lucky to have had a stopped up sink.

Bon Appétit

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 23, 2015 Dinner 5 Star Burger

February 23, 2015  Dinner  (new restaurant) 5 Star Burger

The sink in the kitchen is still stopped up so we decided to go out to eat.  We arrived at 5 Star Burger at 5:50 and found out they had a happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m.
Drafts were $2.50 off at $2.50, Onion rings were $1.00 off at $2.50 and sweet potato fries were ½ price at $1.50.  So we each ordered a draft and a burger and we ordered onion rings and sweet potato fries 

My burger was a Brunch Burger with Hollandaise sauce, bacon, and a sunny side up fried egg served with a side of tomato and caramelized onion coulis.

Suzette ordered a Taos Burger with BBQ sauce and a fried breaded green chili.

I guess my take on 5 Star Burger is that it is at the cutting edge of a new category of gourmet food called fine casual dining.  The best example of the new trend in dining is  Danny Meyers’ Shake Shack, that has recently gone public. 

So it looks like 5 Star Burger is in the center of the new Fine Casual movement along with Fork and Fig that I reviewed a few days ago.  Both serve a menu populated with gourmet sandwiches, salads and burgers made with gourmet ingredients utilizing creative recipes and combinations of ingredients in a beer pub environment.

This new trend in dining will provide real competition for the last dining out trend of gourmet salad and sandwiches in a wine bar format such as Vinaigrette.

Bon Appétit

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 20, 2015 Dinner Pork Tapa with asparagus

February 20, 2015   Dinner  Pork Tapa with asparagus

We went to the art opening at the UNM Art Museum tonight after about an hour of seeing the new Raymond Jonson exhibit, the Jonathan and Fay Abrams collection, which they gave to the Museum and the graduate student show, we decided to go home and cook dinner, because I had bought a pork tenderloin and apples and we love the Spanish Tapa recipe for roasted Pork Tenderloin with apples and onions in José Andrés’ Tapas: a taste of Spain in America cookbook.

Please refer to the January 28, 2015 blog for the recipe.

Instead of a light red, I opened the bottle of Griffone Italian Rosado ($4.99 at Trader Joe’s) I recently bought and we enjoyed the Italian Rosado’s more red wine oriented flavor than a usually lighter Grenache driven French or Spanish rosé with the pork.

We steamed some of the fresh spring crop of asparagus ($.88/lb. at Sprouts Farm Market) and ate them with the meal.  I watched them tonight and they were cooked but not too crisp or too soggy.  I love the combined fact that the best asparagus each year are the first ones that arrive in the spring and that they are the cheapest.

We also heated the last of the PPI mashed potatoes from Valentine's Day and lay the pork tapa on top of a pile of mashed potatoes; what good eating.

We had PPIs from this meal and did not use all of the pork so it is a PPI also.

Bon Appétit 
February 22, 2015 Brunch   Pecan and Blueberry Waffles   Snack  Cheese and Salami and Tomato and fresh Mozzarella Brushetta   Dinner Potage

We had a lazy, food filled day.

At around 11:00 Suzette fixed pecan and blueberry waffles with the new Stonewall pancake and waffle mix we were give n for Christmas, which we ate with maple syrup and mango yogurt and tea.

We then went shopping at Goodwill, Suzette found a small desk for the restaurant and I found khaki shorts.

Then we went to Costco where food tasting was in full swing, with lots of Chinese items offered for Chinese New Year, such as General Tsu’s chicken and fried rice.  After eating those and other filling items like hummus on naan we decided to go home and eat snacks instead of eating a hot dog at Costco.  We bought items to make the new Italian Cloud Cake recipe we had gotten from Joseph Wrede on Wednesday evening and replenished our larder with items such as spaghetti, eggs, cream, a 10 lb. bag of Texas Sweet onions, half and half, salad, lettuce, fresh mozzarella and French brie cheese, scotch and mushrooms.  

When we returned home around 2:00 the weather was rapidly turning from sunny to stormy and we were hungry.  I fetched some cheeses and salami from the fridge while Suzette made brushetta by toasting rounds of French baguette and then smearing the rounds with pesto and then laying a slice of tomato and a slice of fresh mozzarella on each round and toasting them in the oven until the cheese melted. I opened a bottle of 2010 Chianti Superiore Monastero and we had a lovely afternoon snack.

Tomato and fresh mozzarella brushetta

the salami and cheeses
Although our sink is stopped up and we cannot wash dishes, we both felt like cooking. Suzette wanted to make the Cloud cake and I wanted to make potage.  I followed the Julia Child recipe, which is really simple.

Potato and Leek Soup

3-4 cups of potatoes sliced thinly
2 to 3 cups of leeks or 1 to 2 cups of onion
1 Tbsp. salt
2 quarts water
4 to 6 Tbsp. of cream or 2 to 3 Tbsp. of butter
2 to 4 Tbsp. of parsley or chives

I sliced the potatoes and leeks and put them into a large casserole and then added ½ of the new sweet onions to make the onion and leek component equal 3 cups.

I then added 2 quarts (8 cups) of water and 4 Tbsp. (this was a mistake.  I should have only added 1 Tbsp. of salt and this made the soup too salty) of salt to the pot and simmered the soup covered for 1 hour.

Suzette made her Italian Cloud cake, which is essentially a meringue cake, with the recipe Joseph had given us.  He also gave us two tips, to collar the pan to a height of five or six inches and to bake the cake for 20 minutes and then turn off the heat and let keep cooking and set up the meringue as it cools in the oven. 

Here is the finished cake, which shows that the recipe and instructions from Joseph worked.

We had originally planned to make Pork and Garlic Eggplant, but we decided to change our dinner to Potage and Italian Cloud cake.  The soup was too salty to enjoy but we ate it anyway.  

Suzette suggested fixing the potage by boiling more potatoes and onion in water without any extra salt and then adding the new mixture to the old soup to dilute the excess salt by the addition of unsalted broth and ingredients.

Suzette tried to make a caramel sauce but it failed.  The custard sauce worked fine and we ate the Cloud cake with custard sauce for dessert and loved it.
We watched the Oscars and the English Baking show and Downtown Abbey.

Bon Appétit

February 21, 2015 Lunch East Ocean Dinner Grilled Teriyaki Salmon with vegetable fried rice

February 21, 2015  Lunch  East Ocean   Dinner  Grilled Teriyaki Salmon with vegetable fried rice

At 11:00 I went to Albertson’s and bought pork steaks (about $2.75/lb.), 1.25 lb. of large shrimp at $7.99/lb.), and 1 ½ lb. of fresh Atlantic farm raised salmon for $4.99/lb.  Albertson’s has become my go to place for meat and ice cream. 

After depositing my purchases in the fridge at home I drove to Shahin’s office to complete my billing and then we went to East Ocean for lunch.  He got his usual No. 24 Chicken Lo Mein with thin wheat vermicelli noodles stir fried with chicken and fried rice and an egg roll on the side.  I ordered my usual No. 8 with the substitution of scallops for shrimp and sweet and sour chicken instead of the usual egg roll ($5.95).  I love this dish, an emulsion of egg clouds and chopped pork in a chicken stock sauce with scallops thrown in and served with fried rice.  The surcharge is $1.55 for the substitution of scallops for shrimp for a total cost of $7.50.  I don’t know of any restaurant in Albuquerque that serves a better scallop dish for less.  East Ocean has been my favorite seafood and Chinese restaurant for years.  During the Chinese New Year they are serving a special menu for dinner that would be worth trying.

When I got home I helped Suzette make a teriyaki sauce to marinate the salmon I bought in the morning and then took a nap.

Teriyaki Sauce

7 Tbsps. each of sake, Aji Mirin and Premium (dark) soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. of sugar heated to melt the sugar.  Then we put the Teriyaki sauce into a freezer bag with the salmon to marinate in the fridge.

At around 6:30 Suzette was ready to cook dinner.  She cut a 1 x 6 inch cedar board to the length of the salmon and soaked it in water to moisten it.  Then she put the teriyaki marinated salmon on the board and grilled it for about fifteen minutes or until it was tender and cooked from red to pink.

I decided to make fried rice with some of the vegetable PPIs in the fridge.  I fetched the last remaining baby bok choy, the last ¼ lb. of string beans, a shallot, ant three shitake mushrooms and sliced them up, separating the white portion of the bok choy from the green leaves.  I then sliced into thin strips, three cloves of garlic and about a dime sized piece of fresh ginger root.  

I heated 1 ½ Tbsp. of peanut oil and added about 1 tsp. of sesame oil to it and fried the garlic and ginger for a minute and then added the white portion of the bok choy and the shallot and stir fried it for a minute.  Then I added the rice and stirred it in and then the mushrooms, the string beans and the green portion of the bok choy and added about 1 ½ Tbsp. of Chinese cooking wine and 2 tsp. of sweet soy and stirred the mixture and then covered it with a wok cover to steam it for several minutes. 

We ate the stir fried rice and salmon with glasses of Dan Amor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut Apple cider from Brittany, France that we bought at Trader Joes for $4.99 for a 750 ml bottle, which won a silver medal at the Paris in 2014 (not too sweet and not too dry, just right), and watched “Annie Hall” with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton.  It is hard to believe that it was made in 1977.  It still retains as clever and fresh for me after 38 years and makes me recall the trials and tribulations and joys of dating in the 70’s with fondness.

Bon Appétit

Friday, February 20, 2015

February 19, 2015 Lunch Azuma Dinner Slate Street’s Café at the Albuquerque Museum

February 19, 2015   Lunch  Azuma    Dinner  Slate Street’s Café at the Albuquerque Museum  

We drove to Stephens this morning. Suzette was looking for a coat stand, but did not see one.  We both noticed a new arrival, a holographic piece made by Agam that was priced at $635.00.  I waivered but then decided to get it for $600.00.  After I bought it and we had loaded it into the little truck Suzette said, “I really like it and would have bought it if you had not bought it.  I like contemporary art more than you do.”  I reminded her that the last time we saw a number of Agam pieces was at the museum in the castle in Annecy, France twelve years ago.
When we got home Suzette ran to a 1:00 meeting in Los Lunas and I drove to Azuma to meet Robert Mueller for sushi.  He orders the same thing I order, which is always Chirashi Donburi, 12 pieces of sashimi on a bed of sushi rice in a small faux enamel (plastic) box plus sliced diakon pickles, threads of fresh daikon two pieces of faux crab meat and today, instead of pieces of omelet, octopus salad.
Our boxes were assembled by a new member of the sushi cutting team and his inspired slight alterations were wonderful.  We loved the fresh fish and his thinly sliced pieces of diakon pickle layered between the slices of sashimi and the addition of octopus salad and both agreed that this was one of the best Chirashi Donburis ever.

As we drove back from Santa Fe Suzette had checked Albuquerque events on her phone and told me there was an event at the Art Museum this evening, a cocktail party and music played by Soul Kitchen with free admission. 

We decided to go to the museum, but first we had to bring in the chair we bought from Amy and hang the new Agam art piece.   Here are three views of the new Agam piece that show its different kinetic effects as you move past the piece and your perspective changes, which is what Agam is famous for (sorry, the first two are a little out of focus  They were taken in the dark with a flash at night to avoid any glare).  

 We drove to the museum at 6:00 and Soul kitchen was setting up.  I bought us Negra Modelos and a bowl of a salty mix and we sat an unoccupied table, but Suzette soon said she was hungry for some real food and walked over to Slate Street’s Café in the Museum and ordered a plate with two sliders.  

The sliders were soon served to our table.  They were small sandwiches made with sliced baguette filled with what seemed to be slices of warm roast beef sprinkled with fried onions and salad and slices of Roma tomato and more salad greens on the side.   We enjoyed them with sips of Negra Modelo as we listened to Soul Kitchen play blues standards in a melodic style, almost easy listening blues, if that is possible.   

At 7:30 we drove home, had a bowl of mocha almond fudge ice cream with a dash of Kahlua and went to bed.

Bon Appétit               

February 18, 2015 Dinner Joseph’s of Santa Fe

We drove to Santa Fe around 4:00 and arrived at Joseph’s of Santa Fe at 5:15.  I said hello to Joseph, who was seated working on paper work at a small desk at the end of the bar and asked him for a copy of the Italian Cloud cake recipe.  He was kind enough to fetch the recipe and make a copy of it for me and tell me that it was important to leave the cake in the oven to let it cure for 45 minutes after the twenty minute baking time and to collar the spring-form pan with parchment or waxed paper.  

I was not very hungry because I had eaten a large lunch of last night's PPI salmon cooked in the PPI cream sauce with the PPI penne pasta heated with chopped up four or five stalks of asparagus from last night for lunch, but Suzette was hungry and she is the rabbit fan and the reason for going to Joseph's and Santa Fe, since we were celebrating her winnig two free tickets to tonight's Lucinda Williams concert at the Lensic Theater for being the ninth caller on Santa Fe  radio station 94.1 FM.

We had selected Joseph’s for dinner after seeing an ad in the last issue of Local Flavor that indicated that the current menu featured Rabbit Lasagna as an entrée, so when we were shown to our table at 5:30, had already tentatively selected the rabbit lasagna.  Then I saw an interesting appetizer, a Triple layered Trifle of lobster panna cotta, a mango liquid gel and foie gras Ganache with thyme lemon foam for $24.00 and a warm salad with a date and bacon dressing ($10.00), so, we decided to split one each of the trifle, the salad, the rabbit lasagna and a dessert and instructed our waiter to serve the courses in that order.  

I apologize for any lack of detail in this article.  I can not find the menus for the meal and dessert that I made my notes on and Joseph’s website does not have the menu we were served from, so I am piecing this review together from memory.

After making our food selections we studied the wine menu decided and a special wine list for that evening brought to us by our waiter.  We discussed the wine with the waiter and finally decided upon a 2013 Rosso Dei Dardi Italian red from the special wine list that was being offered that evening, that he recommended,  a bottle of Italian red wine that was made with 90% Nebbiola and 10% Barbera grapes from the Piedmont region.  When we tasted it its flavor was surprisingly like Pinot Noir; light and clean tasting, probably because the small amount of Barbera grape rounded out the Nebbiola grape's usually weak tasting back end ($51.00).  

Soon after we wine was poured, we were each brought teaspoons and instructed by our waiter to dig straight down to our spoon to capture all three ingredients and a bit of foam on the spoon to taste all the three ingredients and the foam together.  Then in another few minutes of anticipation and the serving of some of the best tasting warm small dinner rolls and compounded butter I have tasted in a long time, a waiter brought a small oblong salad sized dish contained a 12 ounce glass filled with layers from bottom to top of the three elements, a creamy foie gras mousse on the bottom, a mango and lemon gel and perhaps grapefruit juice gelatin in the middle and a lobster panna cotta topped with a bit of airy thyme and lemon foam and had a mound of thyme and lemon foam beside the glass.


This appetizer is the closest one I have found in New Mexico to a dish involving the new technological cooking techniques that are becoming more accessible in fine dining restaurants these days.  The foam had a distinct flavor of lemon with a residual thyme flavor, so it was right on.  When a spoonful of the appetizer was taken together as instructed, one tasted the four texture all as once, creamy ganache of foie gras, a slippery texture of the gelatin with a strong tropical citrus and mango flavor, the slightly stiffer panna cotta texture with the lobster flavor and the squishy melt in your mouth texture of the foam, but with a distinctly lemony/thyme flavor; a real food treat for a foodie. 

There must have been lots of foodies around us because we saw several more of the triple trifle being served while we ate our dinner.  I tried spreading the triffle on pieces of warm roll spread with the compound butter and without bread and both ways produced unforgettable mixtures of textures and flavors.  

The salad was served next.  Suzette was unimpressed with it because it used the current mixed organic greens we buy at Costco for $3.99/lb., which at this time of the year contains a large amount of radicchio of which she is not fond of.  I suspect the decision was made in the kitchen to serve the salad warm. Like a wilted bacon salad, due to the large amount of radicchio spinach in the current mix.  I liked the sautéed radicchio, but must admit that the rest of the salad mix was a bit wilted from sautéing, especially the light fresh spring arugula in the mix.  I was really impressed with the date and bacon dressing.  Our waiter described the preparation of the dish.

notice the wilted arugula 

First, the bacon was pureed and mixed with chopped dates and then sautéed in a sauce pan with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Then some feta cheese is added and finally the greens, simple fast and to my taste very delicious; a great strategy for preparing tough winter salad ingredients.  
Unfortunately, we at that transition point between winter and spring and this technique tended to wilt the tender young spring greens, like arugula, a bit more than I would have liked, although that is inevitable when using such a mix.

Actually one of the best parts of the meal were the lovely warm rolls served with the herb compound butter.  We really enjoyed them and asked for several refills of our bread basket as the meal progressed and we enjoyed them the first three courses.  One of the indicators that a restaurant if really good are the small things that are usually thrown in like bread and butter.  In this meal the fresh baked warm rolls with the creamy herb filled butter could not have been better and made the meal a success for me. 

After the wine glasses were filled, the rabbit lasagna with wild mushrooms entrée arrived in a plate with a deep well area in the middle.  We were brought large soup spoons and as we ladled spoons full of lasagna onto our plates, we immediately realized that it did not have any discernible layers of lasagna.  In fact we did not see any large pieces of the house made lasagna our waiter told us was in the dish.  As Suzette, our resident rabbit expert, so aptly observed, “It is really more like a rabbit ragout.”  Our water admitted that the wait staff has suggested that the lasagna be made thicker and there were bits of lasagna floating around in the mostly vegetable and rabbit stew. The least appealing part of the dish to me was the overly acidic flavor.  It tasted to me like fresh tomatoes had been sautéed in balsamic vinegar and added to the ragout, which overwhelmed the other ingredients and flavors except for the bits of carrot, that I liked very much, but I did not like the fact that every time I took a bite I got a rather harsh acidic flavor.  Also the wild mushrooms seemed to be mostly fresh lobster mushrooms from Ta Lin, which is not a wild or exotic mushroom in my world.  So we both judged the rabbit lasagna to be less than wonderful.

Rabbit Lasagna 

the inside of the rabbit lasagna after ladling it apart 

After dinner our waiter brought a dessert menu.  There were lots of interesting choices, perhaps too many.  We passed on the Italian Cloud Cake since we now had the recipe and Joseph’s baking instructions in hand.  Suzette was attracted to the Butterscotch Pudding with caramel sauce and sea salt, which the waiter recommended as his favorite, while admitting that he was a butterscotch fan.  I wanted to try something with chocolate and the waiter recommended Wrede’s German Chocolate cake with Caramel Tamari Duck fat ice cream.  I did not want something with a lot of cake, but I forgot to ask that question and ordered the Warm Bittersweet Bistro Cake with Chantilly Cream.  

Unfortunately, the Bistro Cake was a rich bittersweet chocolate cake infused with warm chocolate sauce and topped with a dollop of enriched whipped cream.  It was delicious, but not a show stopper.  I asked to try a small Caramel Tamari Duck fat ice cream and the waiter graciously brought a small ramekin with a scoop of the ice cream with the check.  It had a rather strong tamari flavor with a lovely caramel kick at the end followed by a duck fat after taste.  We were not sure we liked it and were happy we had not ordered the German chocolate cake with that as the ice cream accompaniment. 

We finished dinner around 7:15 and drove to the Lensic for the Lucinda Williams concert, which was excellent.  He band of a lead guitarist, bass guitarist and percussionist was rally superb. We enjoyed a wonderful musical experience.   

Lucinda playing with her band
Finally at 11:30 we drove to Amy’s to have a cup of tea and spend the night.

Bon Appétit


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February 17, 2015 Lunch (New Restaurant) Fork and Fig Dinner Poached Salmon with (New Recipe) Leek Béchamel Sauce, steamed string beans on penne pasta

February 17, 2015  Lunch  (New Restaurant) Fork and Fig   Dinner  Poached Salmon with (New Recipe) Leek Béchamel Sauce, steamed string beans on penne pasta

I called Carey to see if she was available for lunch and she was so I asked, “Are there any new places we should try?

She answered, “Fork and Fig”.  

She told me where it was and we agreed to meet there at 12:30.

When I arrived I immediately noticed that the restaurant was located in a new real estate development on Menaul near the corner of Louisiana and it was crowded.

Everything feels modern at Fork and Fig; the concrete and glass commercial space, the menu, the kitchen with its concrete counter, the big city vibe.

Carey sitting at the counter at Fork and Fig

the kitchen and granite counter top

the turkey and pear sandwich and cherry tomatoes

the Israeli couscous, arugula, feta, pancetta and red onion  salad with a bit of my turkey sandwich

Carey chose the Israeli Couscous and Arugula Salad with diced tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and a wheel of crisp fried pancetta.  It was a lovely fresh salad ($9).

I ordered the Turkey Pear sandwich; sliced turkey and Swiss cheese on marbled rye with one slice of bread coated with pears poached in balsamic vinegar and the other slice of bread smeared with a fig and Dijon mustard preserve ($10).  My sandwich came with a Side.  I chose cherry tomato salad; halved grape cherry tomatoes in slightly watered down balsamic. Peachy!  

The flavor of both dishes was excellent and the dishes were creative.  The menu is pretty simple: sandwiches, burgers, salads and wraps.  It is a fancy sandwich shop serving traditional dishes with updated ingredients.  Carey told me the owner went to CIA in Phoenix.  Judging from the location (Louisiana at Menaul), the crowd, the menu (simple but creative with modern ingredients) and the prices (most are in the $10 to $12 range), he seems to have a winning formula.  So the buzz is real in this case.

Carey is really going to move to the Azores.  I helped her settle her Mom’s estate and look forward to visiting her in the Azores.   So the conversation was wide ranging.

On the way home I stopped at Sprouts Farm Market to get some meat for dinner.  The fresh salmon had gone up to $8.99/lb. but I bought a lb. anyway.  Then I saw that there were fresh pork tenderloins for $3.99/lb. and I bought one of them also.  The only other items I bought were three Braeburn apples ($.99/lb.) and ½ lb. bag of string beans (I usually play a game with myself to see if I can find all of the haricots vert in a pile of string beans and today was no exception.  Why eat the tough big beans when you can eat the tender small beans?) ($.99/lb.).

Suzette arrived home late.  We decided to poach the salmon and serve it on penne pasta.  I started a pot of water boiling for the pasta when she drove into the driveway.  Suzette was hungry so she immediately put penne pasta into the boiling pot of water and made a poaching medium in a medium sized skillet with chicken stock, PPI white (Vermejo grapes from the relatively new Rueda region of Spain, one of my new favorites) wine and butter and several cloves of crushed garlic and a bit of thyme.  I chopped about ½ cup of leek and then de-stemmed the last ½ cup of sugar snap peas and about the same amount of string beans and put them into a ceramic bowl with a bit of water and microwaved them for 3 minutes. 

After the leeks and garlic were sautéed a bit and the liquids added, Suzette cut the thin edge off the salmon and added the filets to the skillet and covered the fish with a lid so it would poach.

While the salmon was poaching I decided to make a Béchamel sauce with the poaching liquid so when the salmon was cooked we put the 2 ½ lb. filets into oven at 200˚ to stay warm and we made a roux by first melting 2 Tbsp. of butter and then adding 2 ½ Tbsps. of flour and cooking that for a minute or two and then began adding ladlesful of the poaching liquid an a pinch of white pepper. 

When the poaching medium had been added and the sauce was still a bit thick, we added a bit of milk to the sauce until it became took on a more creamy texture.

Here is a picture of the sauce.  

You can use both broth and milk to make a Béchamel (white, cream) sauce.  This one had the lovely cooked strips of leek and bits of garlic and thyme in it, so it was a wonderful accompaniment to the rich and tender poached salmon.

Before we began cooking, I fetched a bottle of 2010 Leese - Fitch Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma Valley in California, which we usually drink with salmon. Leese – Fitch makes excellent and moderately priced wines and is always a good choice.  I saw on line that their 2012 Merlot that sells for around $10.00 a bottle was given a 91 rating.  The richness of the salmon and sauce obscured its slightly tart fruity taste, but that was okay.  I was enchanted by the leek Béchamel Sauce.  We turned an ordinary dinner into a great dining experience with the creation of a lovely sauce by simply using the same liquid used for poaching.  What made the dinner sublime to me was how amazingly easy dinner was to make; boil pasta, steam string beans, poach salmon and make sauce using the poaching liquid, and how wonderful it tasted.  I added more sauce to mine and dipped everything into the sauce and even scooped up the last bits of the sauce and salmon with my knife.  It was that good.  

A few chocolate covered raisins, almonds, and cherries after dinner and then to bed.  

Thursday night will probably be Spanish pork tapa night.  Tomorrow we go to Santa Fe to eat at Joseph’s and see Lucinda Williams.

Bon Appétit

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 16, 2015 Lunch Cesar Salad Dinner Grilled Lamb Chops, Steamed Broccoli, Sautéed Potatoes and Tzatziki Sauce

February 16, 2015 Lunch  Cesar Salad   Dinner  Grilled Lamb Chops, Steamed Broccoli, Sautéed Potatoes and Onion and Tzatziki Sauce

I had a craving for a good Cesar Salad for lunch, probably because I had bought a good head of Romaine lettuce at Sprouts Farm Market last Friday, along with several clusters of vine ripened tomatoes ($.99/lb.), broccoli heads ($.99/lb.), an eggplant ($.99 each), and green onions ($.69/bunch).

At noon I tore six or seven leaves of Romaine into a bowl, sliced a tomato and a green onion and added slices of Pecorino Romano cheese and warmed croutons and doused the top with my new Cesar Salad dressing and Viola, a Cesar Salad.

After lunch I thawed out four lamb chops from the freezer.

Around 3:00 I rode to Montano and back in 50 minutes, which is 10 minutes faster than usual and it tired me so I was ready for some protein at dinner and was happy we had lamb chops.

When Suzette came home we decided to cook at 6:00 even though Gilbert and Marvin were still cleaning out the clogged kitchen sink trap.  Suzette salted and peppered and grilled the four lamb chops to perfection and steamed 1 and ½ heads of broccoli.  We had a small bag of red potato cubes that I had cut up last week that we had thought we might make into potato salad but decided had to be cooked, so I sliced ½ of an onion into thin slices and Suzette sautéed the onion with a chopped clove of garlic and the 2 cups of potato cubes in a skillet with butter and olive oil.

I then remembered the fresh Boblos Greek yogurt I had bought at Istanbul Market last Thursday was in the fridge in the garage, so I made a Tzatziki Sauce for the lamb.  I used the following recipe but cut the ingredients by 2/3’s because I had only 1/3 of a cucumber, 1 tsp. of mint (from the plants in our dining room) and 1 tsp. of dill from the garden.  The only additional item I added to the sauce was 1 Tsp. of olive oil to give it a smoother, saucier texture.     

Tzatziki Sauce

Yields 3 1/2 Cups Units US
  • 3 cups Greek yogurt (also called Yogurt Cheese, see below for alternative)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (or juice of one lemon)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large English cucumber, diced (the long, skinny ones)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (for salting cucumbers)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill (or both, depending on preference) or 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped (or both, depending on preference)
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
We finished an open bottle of Concha y Toro Cabernet/Merlot blend ($7.99 for a 1.5 liter bottle at Costco) and were happy campers as we watched the Antiques Roadshow.
Suzette cooked the lamb chops to perfection.  She had cooked them to rare and then covered them with a sheet of aluminum foil for about fifteen minutes while Gilbert and Marvin cleaned up under the kitchen sink and I made the Tzatziki sauce.  The chops turned out to be a medium rare pink through the entire chop.  This method of covering a cooked meat chop with aluminum to let it cook slowly off the heat is something Suzette has taught me and it is a major revelation to me.  We will do it more often in the future.

Also, when the other dishes were ready and we uncovered the chops, a bit of cooking juices had accumulated around the chops that I poured onto my plate and combined with the tzatziki sauce to make a more flavorful sauce for the meat.

The sliced garlic clove I put into the potatoes and the 1/2 clove of fresh garlic I put into the tzatziki must have been a bit too much, because four hours later I am still burping garlic.  I hope that is a sign that it is cleansing my insides. 

Since I not able to sleep due to effects of too much garlic I will tell you my most memorable garlic burping experience.  It is related to the first and only time I ever dropped mescalin.  I was staying at my uncle and aunt's house in Fort Lee, New Jersey and was on my way to Denmark for the summer of 1968.  I was picked up by friends from Austin who lived in New Jersey and we went to New York City for the evening.

They were minor drug dealers and they gave me my first tab of mescalin.  I remember vividly meeting Bob "the Bear" Hite of Canned Heat (that did "Goin' Up to the Country" and "On the Road Again" at Woodstock), who was hanging out at Washington Square and then walking down a street just south of Washington Square where we were taunted by transvestites from across the street.  We decided to stop for a piece of pizza at a restaurant that sold slices of pizza from an open window.

There were shaker bottles full of condiments on a counter by the restaurant's open window and I remember shaking a generous quantity of what I thought was grated Parmesan cheese onto the top of my piece of pizza but in my rather disoriented mental condition it turned out to be dehydrated garlic.  
I burped garlic for three days.  

Bon Appétit