Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28, 2015 Lunch - Que Huong Restaurant, Dinner – Calabacitas with Black Beans and smoked Pork cutlet

April 28, 2015  Lunch -  Que Huong Restaurant   Dinner – Calabacitas with Black Beans and smoked Pork cutlet
                James Turk called last week and we discussed going to lunch today.  I asked him if he liked Vietnamese food and he said he loved it.  I recommended a restaurant and he said, “There is a better restaurant. Que Huong is near there and it is the best Vietnamese Restaurant in town.”

I did not know I did not know the best Vietnamese restaurant in town, so I quickly said I would meet him today for lunch.  I was at Que Huong at the designated time but James did not show up so I ordered my favorite dish, Bun Thit Cha Gio (grilled pork and fried egg rolls laid on a bed of cooked rice vermicelli noodles with salad and bean sprouts underneath and garnished with chopped peanuts and pickled diakon and a dab of shiracha on top. I immediately liked the fish sauce and liked the added pile of pickled daikon salad, so would say it was the best I have had in Albuquerque ($8.00).  

Que Huong’s website offers a 10% discount coupon for seniors, so I well need to try it again.   I am especially interested in the Pho, which James said was really good.  
I rode this afternoon from 3:45 to 4:45 and had no plan for dinner when Suzette came home around 5:00.  She looked in the fridge and came up with a plan.  She would mix the PPI Pork shank and smoked cutlet with the PPI refried black beans and we would make calabacitas with the corn and yellow crook neck squash I had bought. 


I finely diced ½ pasilla chili I had bought several weeks ago at Ranch Market.

Then I diced 1 onion and a sliced clove of garlic

Then 2 yellow crook neck squash

I sautéed the onion and chili and after a couple of minutes added the squash in 1 ½ Tbsp. of olive oil and 2 Tbsp. of butter.

While I was doing this Suzette cleaned 5 ears of white corn I had bought at Sprouts several weeks ago and boiled them until cooked I a large pot of boiling water.

I then cut the kernels off the cob with a knife and put the kernels into the calabacitas with about 1 Tbsp. of Mexican crushed oregano and Suzette salted and peppered the calabacitas an covered the calabacitas to let it steam.

While the calabacitas was steaming Suzette diced and sautéed the pork cutlet and put the PPI pork shank into another skillet and added the PPI refried beans and heated the beans with the pork.

I fetched Coors beers from the fridge in the garage and we were ready to eat by about 6:30.  

I was amazed how delicious the combination of a bit of refried black beans with smoked pork was when mixed with the freshly prepared calabacitas.   The combination of flavors (creamy black beans, sauteed fresh corn, onion, and chili) was greater than the its parts eaten separately. I do not recall ever tasting this sensational combination of flavors before. 

Suzette quickly reminded me that it has been a favorite food combination of the people of Meso-America for at least the last several thousand years.  Who knew?  I have always heard about beans and rice, but not beans and corn.  It is one of my new favorite dishes, and simple to prepare, with the right ingredients and inexpensive (corn was 4 ears for $.99 at Sprouts, the pasilla was 5 for $.99 at Ranch Market, the onions were 7 lb.s for $.99 at Ranch Market, the Hormel's smoked pork cutlet was $3.89/lb.. and the pork shank was $1.27/lb. at Ranch Market. And, the refried black beans were $.99 per 29 oz. (La Costena) can at Ranch Market.

Unfortunately, the dish tasted best with the first succulent tender corn of Spring.

I ate a bowl of chocolate ice cream in celebration of a good day’s food for dessert and went to bed happy

Bon Appétit   

I went to bed around 8:00 and woke around 10:30 and wrote this article and then watched the end of Monk with Camera about Nikki Vreeland, the first American Abbot of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. when that finished Netflix offers suggested titles and one was a documentary on Diana Vreeland, Nikki's Grandmother and Editor of Paris Vogue for many years and arguably the force behind much of American fashion and culture in the 50's and 60's.  It is hard to not be inspired to be exceptional when one watches folks like this.  This proves to me that one's family can give you or not give you that all important personality characteristic of being a leader.  These are two people on the opposite ends of the cultural spectrum, one an editor of a successful international magazine, the other a simple Buddhist monk.  Both because both are from the same family and were raised together, Nikki, the grandson of Diana Vreeland was selected by the Dalai Lama to be the first American to head a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in India. I think the common factor here is what both of them had superb leadership skills.  Nikki is surely not the most learned Buddhist or most deeply acclimated to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  Diana was surely not the most beautiful or richest woman or most knowledgeable of fashion.    



Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, 2015 Dinner – Poached Corvina in Mousseline Cream Sauce with sautéed yellow squash with onions and chard.

April 27, 2015  Dinner – Poached Corvina in Mousseline Cream Sauce with sautéed yellow squash with onions and chard.

I bought a filet of fresh Corvina filet at Sprouts on Saturday ($7.99.lb.).  Here is the Wikipedia description for Corvina:
Cilus gilberti
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Cilus gilberti
Delfin, 1900
C. gilberti
Cilus gilberti
(C. C. Abbott, 1899)
Fried Corvina served with patacones
The corvina, also known as the corvina drum (Cilus gilberti), is a saltwater fish of the Sciaenidae family (commonly called croakers or drums). It inhabits mostly tropical to temperate coastal waters of the southeastern Pacific along Central and South America.[citation needed] The corvina is highly prized in South America as a food fish.[1]
The corvina is similar in appearance to its relatives the weakfish and spotted seatrout. Its body is blue-grey on top, silvery overall with small scales, and is elongated and somewhat compressed in shape. It has a large mouth and a dorsal fin that is deeply notched between spiny and soft parts. It reaches 75 cm (30 in) in length.[citation needed]
Range and habitat[edit]
The corvina is found along the South American Pacific coastline from Chile to Panama, and also in the Galapagos. It inhabits soft bottoms at a depth of 5 to 50 m (16 to 164 ft).[citation needed]
Culinary Uses[edit]
The corvine has a texture that is white and flakey. It has a mild sweet taste. Cooking methods include grilled, baked, fried, sushi, and is a popular choice in ceviche.
It is often used in a seafood chowder called "chupe a la limeña" (Chupe in the style of Lima, Peru). The Chupe ingredients include fish, shrimp, potatoes, tomatoes, cheese, and eggs.

I decided to make a mousseline sauce, which is a béchamel sauce with shrimp or other seafood.

I went to the garden and picked fresh chard, thyme sage and oregano.  I then sliced two yellow crook neck squash into half round slices and then 2/3 of an onion and then de-stemmed and removed the stem from the leaves of chard.  Suzette sautéed the shrimp and then poached the corvina in a wine infused medium. When the corvina was poached, I heated 3 Tbsps. of butter and added 2 heaping Tbsp. of flour and cooked that for a couple of minutes to make a roux. Then I poured the poaching medium stock into the roux and Suzette stirred it until it was smooth and creamy. Then we stirred more and added some milk, about 1 tsp. of fresh thyme leaves and some Amontillado sherry and then increased the heat to drive off some of the liquid and thicken the sauce.  We then added the shrimp and heated them.

In a different skillet Suzette sautéed the onions and then the squash with some of her roasted garlic from last year’s crop and I added about 1 Tbsp. of fresh oregano leaves to the squash sauté and then she added the chard and covered the skillet so the vegetables would steam and soften.

I fetched a bottle of the newly acquired Mendoza Station Sauvignon Blanc ($4.49 at Total Wine after the 10% discount) and we chilled it.  After it was chilled the wine tasted great with a distinctly lemony, citrus flavor, which we like.  The wine went well with the delicately tender fish and cream sauce.  The only negative was that the shrimp were a little tough.  Perhaps they had been frozen too long.  

This was a delicious and pretty simple meal.

Bon Appétit

April 26, 2015 Dinner - Baked Lebanese Kibbe with Tzatziki and Greek Salad

April 26, 2015 Dinner - Baked Lebanese Kibbe with Tzatziki and Greek Salad

When I went to Sprouts this Saturday, I mentioned to the fellow I recognized in the butcher shop that last week they had sold me whole lamb shoulders for $2.29.  I asked him if there were any more of those available. 

He said, “They forced an extra 100 pounds of lamb shoulders on us last week and we dropped the price to push them out.  But I have just ground up the last of them and I can offer you two pounds of ground lamb for $2.29/lb., which is normally $7.99.” 

I said, “Great.” as he handed me two 1 lb. packages of ground lamb. 

I guess I am becoming friends with the butcher, which seems very French to me,   It also reminds me that my mother always got several extra smoked salmon fins that the delicatessen butcher used to keep for her (Smoked salmon came in whole filets in those days).  My mother liked to chew on things  and believed that it made your teeth stronger.  For example, she preferred sirloin to filet mignon because you had to chew it more (I ate a lot of sirloin in my youth).  She would chew on the salmon fins to extract that bit of meat from the tendons for the same reason.  I guess it related to her childhood on the Lower East Side.

The other half of the quixotic equation of how I chose kibbe as the entrée for this meal is that Rosemary made beef kibbe sliders for us a couple of weeks ago with pickled red onions.  Rosemary formed them into small hamburger slider shaped rounds and baked them or sautéed them. 

With my ground lamb in hand, today I decided to try to make kibbe for the first time.
I looked up recipes on the internet and decided on one by David Tanis from the NYT that looked interesting.

Here it is:

I called Ricardo and invited him and Cynthia for dinner.  He mentioned that their kitchen was still not completed, so I felt good about the spontaneous invitation.  I mentioned their bringing some form of fruit ice cream.  Cynthia called later and we discussed salad with the kibbe, so when they arrived at 6:00 they were carrying some romaine lettuce, a bottle of Apothic red wine.

I followed the kibbe recipe except I added a diced red bell pepper to the sautéed vegetables to give the dish some color. 

I also made tzatziki with 2 cups of yogurt, a pressed clove of garlic, juice of a lemon, and some chopped dill and fresh mint

At 5:00 we went to the garden and picked a basket full of fresh greens, mostly bibb lettuce, for the salad.

I opened my first bottle of 2013 Benton Lane pinot noir rosé as an appetizer wine for the artichokes.  Then with the entrée course I poured a bottle of the new Pierre Henri Morel 2012 Signargues Côtes du Rhône Villages that I bought for $12.74 at Total Wine.  Everyone liked the slightly sweet and fruity Rosé, but I liked the Morel red better; silky smooth and yet with that Côtes du Rhône complexity.  I guess my palate and pocket book has moved me past my former limit of $10.00 per bottle, or I am still on my exploration of all the new choices opened up by the opening of the Total Wine stores in Albuquerque.  The Uptown Total Wine store's Wine Manager, Josh, told me that Pierre Henri Morel is a superstar in French wine making. That prompted me to buy a $40.00 bottle of his Chateauneuf du Pape, so I guess I will get to decide some day how great his wine making is. In the stratosphere of great Cotes du Rhone, $40.00 is a bargain when Chateau Beaucastel runs $100.00 per bottle.   

I simmered the two large artichokes I bought at Trader Joe’s yesterday for $.99 each, for about an hour in a pot of water until the leaves were soft to the tooth.  We used the artichokes as our appetizer course, which we ate warm with tzatziki.  We dipped the artichoke leaves into tzatziki for a delicious sauce that was not as greasy as a sauce made with mayonnaise.

Then I served the Kibbe (that I had baked for about an hour with the salad dressed with a slightly creamy Greek dressing made with feta cheese crumbles, olive oil, lemon juice, and a touch to white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and a tsp. of crushed oregano leaves.  Cynthia liked it.

The baked Kibbe and Tzatziki were a success.  We all loved it, and Suzette thought it was a great dish because it had so much good fiber (the bulgur) baked into it, so to speak.

The baked bibbe

the onion, red pepper, pinion nut and kibbe garnish
I had made fruit salad yesterday, so for dessert I served glasses of port in our new cordial glasses I bought in Santa Fe two weeks ago with bowls of fruit salad and scoops of the Hagen Daz pineapple and coconut ice cream Cynthia and Ricardo brought.

As Suzette said, “A delicious low fat meal.”

Bon Appétit 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 25, 2015 Shopping and a Night on the Town.

April 25, 2015  Shopping and a Night on the Town.

I left home at 10ish and went first to Total Wine, which was having its French wine sale.  I bought 9 bottles of Côtes de Rhône, plus 2 Tavel roses, two bottles of Chabanneau VSOP Cognac (on sale for $27.95 a bottle), a 30 pack of Coors Gold beer, a six pack of Magners’ Irish Pear Cider and 15 bottles of Mendoza Santiago Station Sauvignon Blanc and Cab Sauvignon.  We are ready for summer dining.

Then I drove to Trader Joe’s and bought fresh artichokes and chocolate truffles.

I then drove to Ta Lin and bought peanut oil, lots of different types of noodles, BBQ filled buns. fresh shitake mushrooms, shallots, taka choy, sake, and leeks.

I then drove to Sprouts and bought 2 lb. of ground lamb, a corvina filet, 1½ lb. of large 20 count shrimp, milk, yellow crook neck squash, and brie cheese.

Since it was after 12:00, I decided to go home and cook lunch.  I was hungry when I arrived at home so I heated a BBQ Bun in the microwave and ate it.  Then I made noodle soup with some of the fresh rice vermicelli noodles I had bought plus a chopped up stalk of the taka choy, 5 shrimps and a slice of ham that I had bought at Ranch Market on Thursday.  I also added a shallot, a green onion, a heaping Tbsp. of white miso, PPI broccoli, and dashi flavoring.

After lunch I took a nap and Suzette arrived around 3:15 when I was sleeping and we rested until around 5:00 when we went out to the garden and planted cucumbers, squashes and eggplants for about an hour.  Nat and Amy arrived a little after 6:00 and we started dinner.  

The dinner concept was simple, to use the PPI roasted pork shanks to make tacos.  I braised red cabbage and pineapple like the dish I had at La Boca on Friday and added cumin, oregano, and a little sweet chili crab sauce. I heated up a can of refried black beans with the PPI black beans from Thursday. Suzette also mixed two avocados with crema, while I sliced up the other half of a cucumber I had sliced on Thursday, several more radishes and a tomato to make a plate of fresh ingredients.  Amy made a salad and we fetched several Coors beers and the candelabra and ate a fun meal of black beans, sautéed red cabbage with pineapple, guacamole crema, re-heated roast pork on steam heated tortillas garnished with salad in the garden.

After dinner, Nate and I went out for a few beers.  We started at Marble Brewery where a California rock band named the Witts was playing.  I drank an Imperial Red and Nate drank a pilsner.  

Then we went to Tractor Brewing on Fourth Street where I drank their hard apple cider and Nate drank an ale.  When we were at Tractor two interesting things happened.  There was a Kimo’s Hawaiian BBQ food truck parked in the parking lot and the owner gave us a warm spam sushi roll with a spicy habanero BBQ sauce that was delicious.  Then, as we were leaving a peddle driven contraption arrived with about ten people peddling it.   They jumped off the contraption and went inside for a drink.  

We then drove to Central Station near our house, where I ordered an Oatmeal stout from Chama Brewing Co. and Nate had a pilsner named Golden Elevator, I think.

Finally around 11:30 we drove the last two blocks back home after a fun night on the town.

Bon Appétit

Friday, April 24, 2015

April 24, 2015 Lunch - La Boca Dinner – Lamb Couscous

April 24, 2015 Lunch - La Boca    Dinner – Lamb Couscous

Bill drove us to Santa Fe to a mediation today.  When it ended around 1:30 Bill and Sally were kind enough to drive me to Owings Gallery to pick up my newly purchased and framed Doel Reed print.  When we drove up Marcy toward the gallery, as we passed Washington Bill noticed the Taberna sign and mentioned it.  We parked in Owings parking lot and walked back to Taberna but it was closed, so we walked to La Boca, which had a few open tables.

Sally and I started looking at the menu and we soon found lots of choices.  We settled on three tapas and a Mediterranean salad.   We picked the Tapas Trio ($12.00) the Deep fried Brussels Sprouts ($9.00), and the pork pincho made with pork belly.  The waiter first brought the salad which was dressed with fantastic dressing.  Chef/owner James Campbell Caruso was in the restaurant, so I waved at him and he came to the table.  I complimented him on the dressing and asked him for his ingredients. 

He said, Sherry, sherry vinegar, honey, olive oil and sugar.” 

I told him, “I really like it.”

Chef Caruso quickly replied, “So do I!” and smiled as he turned and walked back to the spot he seemed to prefer near the bar where he could watch all the tables and also each dish as it came out of the kitchen.”

The Mediterranean salad was made with beautiful large fresh leaves of greens plus rehydrated dried mission figs and apricots and garnished with feta crumbs.  A simple but delicious salad.

the black things are the mssion figs 

Soon our tapas were served.  We shared bites, although Bill and Sally let me eat most of the pork belly, which was just okay but the membrillo sauce garnishing it was superb;, slightly sweet , slightly tart, just right.  The tapa was served with a pineapple and red cabbage cole slaw that was a little neither sweet or tart also. Balanced seems to be an important aspect of dishes at La Boca. 

I am rather used to the deep fried Brussel Sprouts but never tire of the wonderful red pepper and almond (Romesco) sauce served with them.  Romesco is also one of the three tapas on the tapas trio along with an edamame hummus flavored with mint and a beet and walnut puree served with house made yogurt flatbread wedges. 

We loved our meal and ate extra hard rolls with butter and olive oil.

I rode from 6:00 until seven and Suzette had arrived when I returned.  I asked her what she wanted for dinner and we quickly agreed to not cook but heat up PPI lamb stew and serve it over PPI chard and couscous, so poured the lamb stew into the couscous and a bit of water to loosen up the couscous. 

I chopped two green onions and when the stew was hot, added the white portion.
When the stew was heated thoroughly, I spooned ladles full of stew into pasta dishes and garnished the top with rings of green onion.

I put a bit too much harissa on mine so I had to add more stew to dilute the heat of the harissa, but I finally got the mixture to a heat level I could stand.

We loved the quick and delicious dish.  We drank water with it.

Suzette was very tired from remodeling the kitchen and spa at the Center for Ageless Living all day and then organizing and attending a Girls Night Out event, so cooking duties now fall on my shoulders.  Since I finished my brief for the 10th Cir. this week, I have more time to shop and cook, so stay tuned for some interesting food menus.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April 22, 2015 Lunch - Enchiladas with Chard couscous Dinner - Yanni’s

April 22, 2015  Lunch -  Enchiladas with Chard couscous  Dinner - Yanni’s

I made enchiladas yesterday while working on a brief.  PPI Shed Red Chili Sauce, some PPI over salted aged beef, slices of Manchego cheese, sour cream, five tortillas, 1 cup of roasted vegetables.  I diluted the red chili with water and Knorr’s dehydrated chicken stock and soaked each tortilla until it softened, then lay them in layers in a large pasta bowl and added meat, cheese, and vegetables in two layers with cheese slices on top to cover the tortillas.  I then poured the rest of the sauce into the enchilada bowl until it came to the top of the enchiladas and I baked the enchilada filled bowl in a 400˚ oven until the sauce began to bubble (perhaps 20 minutes).    I diced a tomato and about 3 Tbsps. of onion and garnished the top of the enchiladas with sour cream and onion and tomato.  It made a lovely lunch and I could only each half of it so I heated the PPI enchiladas with PPI chard and couscous today and had a great lunch.  

Today is not only Earth Day but it is also filing day for my brief in the 10th Circuit Ct of Appeals.  Luckily I spent 20 hours on organizing and finishing it yesterday so today was a relaxing day, as Carolyn and Scott did the final prep. 

Melissa is in town and she and Suzette made plans to go to dinner at Yanni’s in Nob Hill tonight.  My work was done yesterday on the brief so I was able to join Mellissa and Suzette for dinner.  I got my usual, lamb shank, Suzette got a dish called baked pineapple which was a lot like a seafood sweet and sour dish at a Chinese restaurant, if you added a little beef stock to the sweet and sour sauce.  She did not like the sweetness and I though it a bit much for an entrée.  Melisa tried the Vegetable Relleño with grilled scallops.  The vegetable stuffed pasilla chili had very little flavor.  My dish is very predictable.  I get is every time.  A lamb shank cooked in a tomato sauce and served with steamed julienned vegetables and a pile of rice risotto.  We ordered a new bottle of wine, a Spanish Navarra that was a blend of Grenache, Merlot, cabernet and syrah.  We did not like it very much because of the darker merlot character, but we had a taste of Famille Perrin’s Côte du Rhône Reserve Rosé that was wonderfully dry and yet fruity.  I liked it the better than anything else in the meal.

Still need to file the brief with the 10th Cir., so need to go.

Bon Appétit   

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 19, 2015 Breakfast Smoked Salmon, Red Onion and Goat cheese omelet Dinner- Grilled Rack of lamb and Eggplant with Chard and Couscous

April 19, 2015 Breakfast - Smoked Salmon, Red Onion and Goat cheese omelet  
                        Dinner- Grilled Rack of lamb and Eggplant with Chard and Couscous

Both Suzette and I are very busy; she with remodeling her Spa and Restaurant and me with writing a brief, so the time we share is limited and very dear and usually revolves around food.

She had about an hour this morning to fix breakfast and we decided to use some of the new gravad lax to make one of those deli favorites, a smoked salmon, red onion and cream cheese omelet but with the substitution of cranberry goat cheese instead of the cream cheese and the addition of capers,

the cranberry goat cheese
After the omelet was made we garnished it with slices of avocado some sweet mustard sauce I had made last week with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and honey.

Suzette came home at 4:00 and helped Mario install the gate to the new area of the garden today and planted celeriac and a couple of herbs she bought yesterday.

I bought a 2+ lb. piece of lamb shoulder because it was cheap at $2.29/lb. and a parsnip last Saturday at Sprouts.  This Saturday night we opened the lamb shoulder package and discovered four or five ribs on one side of it, so Suzette butchered the ½ of the shoulder with the riblets away from the shoulder bone ½ and repacked and put the riblet 1/2 into the fridge.  I looked okay to me but a bit fatty, so I did not think it would be very tasty.  

Suzette cubed the remaining meat from the bone and I chopped carrots, potatoes, half of the celeriac, onions, and the parsnip and some garlic cloves and Suzette tossed the chopped vegetables in olive oil and she roasted about ½ of them in a 350˚ oven for 45 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered and put the lamb bone and cubed lamb into a pot with ½ of the vegetables and some oregano and chopped fresh sage and made a lamb stew that we ate with glasses of Perrin Family 2011 Côtes du Rhône Reserve, which is my new favorite red wine, since I discovered that Total wine sells it for $7.99.  

The Lamb Stew
I usually go every two to three weeks to buy wine and this time there was a 15% off coupon available so the final price was $6.79 per bottle (I used to buy the dame bottle at Trader Joe’s for $9.99).  It is a smooth, yet complex blend of southern Rhône grapes, but mostly syrah and Grenache with perhaps a bit of Mouvedre.  Perrin owns and makes Chateau Beaucastel, with the same types of grapes, which is one of the great wines of the world.  

There are lots of other wines made by Perrin.  The 2010 Chateau Beaucastel was rated 96 by Wine spectator and is one of their top 100 wines in the world.  The Reserve is the 4th or 5th rung down the ladder from the Chateau but at $7.00 versus $100 for Chateau Beaucastel, a great value.

I picked chard in the garden and some chives and a garlic plant and cleaned and chopped them up.  I also sliced the eggplant.  Suzette coated the eggplant with olive oil and grilled the eggplant slices with the lamb, while I made couscous with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and 1 ½ Tbsp. of butter and then sautéed 1 cup of couscous for a minute and then added 1 ½ cups of water and the greens.  I cooked the couscous for a bout two minutes to develop steam and then turned the heat off.  I tasted the couscous and found that some had not gone into solution because it got stuck on top of the chard, so I stirred the couscous and moved the top down to the bottom and turned on the heat for a minute more. 

Suzette brought in the grilled slices of eggplant and ww sprinkled them with feta cheese and then covered them to keep them warm.  In another two or three minutes she brought in the lamb riblet and covered that with aluminum also, while I finished cooking and then letting the couscous cook without heat.

We poured glasses of the PPI Perrin Reserve and had a fabulous meal.  The lamb was layers of fat and meat but not stringy, like beef.  We simply cut the fat away from the meat and ate bites of eggplant, lamb and mint jelly and then bites of couscous and chard.

This was a wonderful meal for me because I discovered that one of our favorite cuts of meat, rack of lamb could be bought for $2.29/lb.  Also, I love the Perrin wines and will try others, although I may be permanently stuck on their Reserve for $7.00/bottle.

Bon Appétit

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14, 2015 Lunch - Thai Orchid Dinner - Meat Sous vide four ways, sautéed spinach and mushrooms, and Gratin Savoyard

April 14, 2015  Lunch -Thai Orchid   Dinner - Meat Sous vide four ways, sautéed spinach and mushrooms, and Gratin Savoyard

I ate lunch with Nizar and Rahim at Thai Orchid.  They ordered the sautéed vegetables with tofu and brown rice.  They ae going to live forever.  I ordered Lo Mein noodles with chicken off the lunch menu ($6.95).  It was wonderful; Lo mein noodles stir fried with chicken, green onions, carrots, and bean sprouts.  Nizar and Rahim let me poach pieces of zucchini, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, onion, and water chestnut from the large platter of vegetables, so I had a lovely lunch.

I called Charlie around 4:00 and found out Susan was driving to Salt Lake City for her brother’s memorial service.  Charlie suggested that he bring four sous vide meat dishes over for us to try.

I had thawed a steak and Suzette and I had decided to eat steak and the PPI Gratin Savoyard (potatoes a gratin baked with beef stock instead of milk).  

I wanted a green vegetable, so I drove to Lowes and found a lovely bunch of fresh baby Spinach leaves for $1.49 and bought mixers that were on sale for $.79 for two liters.
I washed and spun the spinach and Suzette sliced five mushrooms and we sautéed them in the wok with olive oil and sherry.

Charlie had requested a good red for his dinner and Suzette said that meant cabernet sauvignon, so at about 6:30 p.m. I went to the cellar and found a bottle of Beaulieu Vineyards Signet Collection Central Coast 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and opened it.  Charlie arrived around 7:00 with four plates of meat fresh off the grill, each contained three slices of meat:  one of brisket cooked with BBQ sauce, one with brisket cooked for three days with liquid smoke, one with some of the Rib eye steak we bought at Albertsons and the final one with some of the Rib eye steak we bought at Albertsons that had been aged by Suzette’s kitchen staff at the Greenhouse Bistro and bakery for 24 days.  Charlie had sous vided all the meat.

We each took a piece of each of the meats to try plus a healthy scoop of potatoes and Suzette and I took a scoop of the sautéed spinach and mushrooms.  Charlie eats very few vegetables.

This was a dinner that a Texan would love; beef four ways.  Suzette said it reminded her of Tucano’s Brazilian steak house.  We all agreed that the BBQ’d brisket was tender and delicious and that the Smoke flavored brisket was tough and had a strange chemical flavor.  As to for the rib eyes, we both preferred the one that was not aged because it was cooked to medium rare and was the more tender of the two.

Even though they were off the same slab of steaks at Albertsons, Charlie had prepared the one that was not aged.  When we gave Charlie the aged steak, he applied the same recipe to the one that was aged.  It seems  that the Greenhouse Bistro had put what appeared to be a salt and pepper rub on the steak before aging it that intensified the saltiness and pepper flavor to an unpleasant level for me.  Also, Charlie said that the grill flame had flared up on the aged beef and overcooked it to a greater degree of doneness/toughness.

All the meat had been cooked with the sous vide method.  The clear winner in my mind was the non-aged rib eye and the BBQ’d brisket was second.  What this teaches me is a very simple axiom, it is important to control all the aspects of preparation beginning with the original cut of meat until the final serving.  If others do things to the ingredients that you are not familiar with, their actions can alter the flavor in a way that you cannot predict and accommodate and the final result can go off the tracks and fail.  This was evident when the best piece of meat, an aged steak, cooked in an identical sous vide method as an un-aged steak from the same cow failed our taste test.

We all liked the wine, it was super smooth from spending 8 years in our cellar.  It did not express a lot of character, perhaps because it had been smoothed out over the years, but it also did not have any harshness or rough edges.  Suzette and I judged it the perfect wine for a dinner devoted to tasting the nuances of flavor differences in meats cooked in the same manner.  

The potatoes were stellar for the second night in a row, due in large measure to the use of Abondance Fermier cheese, instead of Raclette or Swiss.

Bon Appétit
April 13, 2015  Lunch  Spaghetti with Meat Sauce    Dinner  Bobby Flay Chicken with Gratin Savoyard and Steamed Broccoli

I ate the PPI Spaghetti and Meat Sauce we made last week for lunch.  I added about ¼ cup of water to the overly thick sauce to make a lovely thin sauce that coated the spaghetti nicely.

Yesterday Suzette said, “We need to use the cheese we bought in Santa Fe on Saturday.”

The cheese in question is Abondance that I bought with the specific purpose of using to make Gratin Savoyard.  It cost about $28.00 per lb. at Cheese Monger’s in  Santa Fe, which is 50% to 100% more than Raclette at Whole Foods, when they have it, which is the cheese I usually use.  But this new cheese is a A.O.C. cheese and I do not think the Raclette Whole Foods sells is an A.O.C. 

Here is some biographical information:
Tomme d'Abondance or Abondance is a medium-sized mountain cheese from the Haute Savoie region of France in the Rhone-Alps. For centuries, this deep golden cheese has been made in mountain chalets, near the border between France and Switzerland. It is made exclusively from unpasteurised milk produced by the Abondance breed of cattle. Since 1990, the cheese has been enjoying the prestigious AOC designation. The handcrafted, wheel shaped cheese, is made using traditional methods only in the geographical area specified by AOC/PDO label.
It has a strong smell and an intensely fruity, buttery and hazelnut flavour, with balance of acidity and sweetness, followed by a lingering aftertaste. Unearth an aroma of nutty vegetation as you slice the cheese. However, remember the crust including the gray layer beneath, should be removed before eating. Firm but supple and slightly grainy, the texture of the ivory-yellow pâté is creamy and velvety. Its rind is smooth with an amber colour showing canvas marks. The affinage takes at least 100 days, so all the subtle aromas are realized.
Abondance can be eaten straight off, or added to salads or melted in Berthoud. A very special cheese, it pairs well with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.
·         Made from unpasteurized cow's milk
·         Country of origin: France
·         Region: Haute-Savoie, Abondance
·         Family: Tomme
·         Type: semi-hard, artisan
·         Fat content: 48%
·         Texture: creamy, open and supple
·         Rind: natural
·         Colour: pale yellow
·         Flavour: acidic, buttery, fruity, sweet
·         Aroma: nutty
·         Vegetarian: no
·         Alternative spellings: Tomme d'Abondance

Here is some information on Raclette cheese:
Raclette /rəˈklɛt/ is both a semi-firm cow's milk cheese that is usually fashioned into a wheel of about 6 kg (13 lb). It is most commonly used for melting. It is also a Swiss dish based on heating the cheese and scraping off (racler) the melted part.
Raclette was mentioned in medieval writings, in texts from Swiss-German convents dating from as far as 1291,[1] as a particularly nutritious meal consumed by peasants in mountainous Switzerland and France (Savoy region). It was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or "roasted cheese." Traditionally, the Swiss cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evenings around the campfire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had reached the perfect softness, scrape it on top of bread.
In the Swiss canton of Valais, raclette is typically served with tea or other warm beverages. Another popular option is to serve raclette with white wine, such as the traditional Savoy wine or Fendant, but Riesling and Pinot gris are also common. Local tradition cautions that other drinks – water for example – will cause the cheese to harden in the stomach, leading to indigestion

As you can see both cheeses are made in the Haute Savoie region of France and both are semi-firm and melt well, but the Abondance has a slightly nuttier and more fragrant flavor.

I had intended to make Gratin Savoyard but also had bought a lamb shoulder at Sprouts on Saturday, so this afternoon I called her and mentioned lamb stew with root vegetables and she said, “I am tired of lamb.”

I suggested other meats and we both agreed on chicken, so I took a package of chicken thighs from the fridge and went for a bike ride to Montano and back.

When I returned at 6:00 I started making the

Gratin Savoyard,

peel and slice 2 to 3 lb. of potatoes
cut a garlic clove in half and rub the inside of a ceramic baking dish with fresh garlic
slice the garlic clove into thin rounds.
Slice 3 Tbsp. of onion
Grate 1 cup of cheese (about 1/2 lb.)
1 tsp. of salt
1/8 pepper

I made 1 ½ cups of beef stock with 1 beef cube and boiling water; the recipe calls for 1 cup
I layered the garlic rubbed and buttered baking dish with one half of the potatoes and then sprinkled ½ of the salt and a couple of grinds of pepper on the potatoes and then laid ½ of the grated cheese on and four pads of butter (about 3 oz.).  I then repeated the first step but with 4 oz. of butter this time.  Then I poured the beef stock into the baking dish.  Suzette had arrived in the middle of my prep.  We decided not to heat the ceramic baking dish on the gas burner of the stove to heat the liquid.  Instead we cooked the dish in an oven preheated to 400˚and then reduced the heat to 350˚ and baked the Gratin for about an hour.  This produced a perfect dish; the butter was bubbling and the cheese had melted into the cooked potatoes.

Here are the Julia Child recipes:

Bobby Flay Chicken

We then turned our attention to the chicken.  Suzette said you simply rub the chicken with paprika, so I fetched the new bottle of paprika I bought at Sprouts while Suzette washed and dried the chicken thighs.  We then dusted the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. And Suzette sautéed in an iron skillet in about 1/4 inch of heated canola oil for 8 to 10 minutes with a pan of hot water to weigh the chicken pieces down.  Then the skillet with the chicken is put into a 350˚ heated oven for 30 minutes.  I call this method of cooking chicken the Bobby Flay method because it is a method he used in one of his recipes.

I then de-flowered a head of broccoli and we steamed the flowerets when we thought the Gratin was about 8 minutes from being ready.

After the chicken was sautéing I went to the basement and fetched a bottle of Domaine Roger Luquet 2013 Clos de Condemine Mâcon-villages.  This is a new wine for me that I bought on the suggestion of a wine person at Total Wine on Friday for $11.89 after the 15% discount.  It is a monople, which means it is a combination of grapes from different properties so the use of the words Clos de Condemine is confusing because a clos typically is a stone wall around a vineyard.

This confusion was clarified when I went to the Roger Luquet website.  Here is the explanation:
» MÂCON-VILLAGES "Clos de Condemine"
The Clos de Condemine is located in the commune of Charnay-lés-Mâcon, roughly 3 kilometres from Mâcon. This splendid, gently sloping nine-hectare site lies between the old borough of Charnay and the TGV Station at Mâcon-Loché. Half of the area is allocated to Chardonnay vines. Cultivation here combines modernism, by using modern methods of vine work, and tradition, by manual harvesting.
Luquet's Clos de Condemine is a recent development. In fact, many years ago, Clos de Condemine was an entire estate with its own vineyards and its own wine. After the spread of the Phylloxera virus, the vines were attacked,
and then uprooted, giving place to other crops.
When taken on by Domaine Roger Luquet in January 1984, Clos de Condemine consisted of only 3200 sq. metres of vines. Planting began in March 1984 and continued until March 1987 to produce an area of 4.30 hectares. With three years of hard work and determination, we have been successful in recreating this vineyard.
It is on this siliceous (silica-rich) soil, very slightly undulating and exposed to the South-West, that the Chardonnay vineyard extends and gives you the Mâcon-Villages you know so well.
Today, some 35,000 bottles are produced every year and bottled at Domaine Roger Luquet.
Mâcon-Villages "Clos de Condemine", generously fruity and light, will accompany all your entrées. This is a wine that drinks well young, or you can keep it for 3 years.
So I understood the unusual naming and description on the label of this wine.  It is produced in an area that once was a clos, but then abandoned and now has been replanted inside and outside the area of the old clos.  So now it is a combination (monople) of grapes grown within what was the old clos and outside the old clos.  We both liked the wine.  It was a slightly oaky which gave it a more lively taste, yet had the smoothness and richness of a good white Burgundy chardonnay.  According to the salesperson it is exclusive to Total Wine and I noticed that is a Alfio Moriconi Selection, which may be an indication of exclusivity to total Wine.  If you want a really representative bottle of white Burgundy, you might want to try this one.

I had a few last sips of the Wellington Roussanne as dinner was roasting in the oven.  Then we poured the Mâcon-Villages and plated dinner.  The Gratin Savoyard potatoes were wonderful, buttery, creamy and slightly tangy.  The potatoes’ creamy tangy flavor complemented the slightly fruity tangy flavor of the wine.  We felt like we were dining in France.      

This meal is a reminder of how easy it is to make a couple of adjustments to one’s meal prep at a little greater expense (about $5.00 for the wine and $5.00 for the cheese) that make a huge difference in the outcome and raise the meal to fine dining status.

Bon Appétit