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Friday, April 30, 2010

Chicken Picatta

Yes, if you are a regular reader I posted Chicken Picatta once before...way back on one of those cold days in February. As I said in one of my first blogs I hardly ever make something the same way twice...maybe it is fdd...foodie deficient disorder! So which one looks better? We enjoyed the one in February but this recent one was absolutely delicious.

For this Picatta I made a richer sauce and more of it, adding chicken demi glace, chicken broth, more lemon juice and shallots to white wine and herbs. And used twice as many capers. It was scrumptious!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Risotto with Asparagus and Sun-dried Tomato

Back from a great family and fun weekend in the city of brotherly love. A beautiful baptism of a beautiful granddaughter in a magnificent old cathedral.

We really enjoy the many BYOB restaurants in Philly. On this trip we chose a small Italian place with a limited Italian menu. I opted for the first course special of the evening as my entree - a Risotto with asparagus and artichokes. I asked the server to please ask the chef for lots of Parmesan and garlic...the chef visited my table. He does not use garlic in "his artichoke risotto.." so I deferred to him. But he then offered to put roasted garlic cloves on the top to make us "both happy." It was good, but I do like my basic risotto which always includes garlic and Parmesan. I have not found that the garlic and Parmesan "over power" any additional ingredients.

Entree: Risotto with Asparagus and Sun-dried Tomato. Using the basic recipe which includes chicken broth, thinly sliced garlic and Parmesan cheese I add the slightly cooked asparagus and sun dried tomato before serving.

Wine: J Pinot Noir


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bistro Chicken and Next Day Salad

Originally this was a week when I was going to be creative with leftovers which I had frozen, so I had not given much thought to meals. However that monstrous volcano in Iceland prevented my spouse from traveling to England on a business trip. Volcanologists certainly were in the news. Makes you wonder how many other "ologists" there are that one never hears about!

Since the freezer portion of leftovers would not serve two I had to think quick to start the week, so I relied on a dish I had made in the past, (pre-blog)...Bistro Chicken. I made enough that I could use the next day and came up with the salad below. The wonderful smell of the Bistro Chicken must have made us quite hungry because we did not pause to take a picture. So you will need to imagine this juicy, garlicky, rich tasting chicken dish.

Day 1 Entree: Bistro Chicken.This recipe is adapted from the Sonoma Diet Cookbook. The chicken and whole cloves of garlic (not peeled) are sauteed in an oven proof skillet for 3 or 4 minutes. The chicken is then sprinkled with dried and or fresh herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary) and baked covered for about 15 mins. Remove chicken and garlic. White wine and the squeezed garlic are added to the skillet and reduced until the sauce thickens. The chicken is plated and topped with the sauce. I have also added shitake mushrooms to this dish.

Side: Medley of Veggies. Zucchini, carrots, broccoli and scallions are sauteed with herbs and a splash of chicken broth.

Wine: pro-mis-Q-ous, a red blend

Day 2 Entree: Next Day Salad. Lettuce (romaine) is cut and placed on a platter and topped with a layer of tomatoes, followed by miniature purple onions (boiled and squeezed earlier), mini cucumbers, and roasted red tomatoes. The leftover bistro chicken is sliced and placed on top. The dressing is a basic pesto base mixed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Parmesan is shredded on the top of the salad.

Served with crusty bread and bottled water.

I am off on a business trip and then for a family gathering. One of life's precious moments... a baptism. I will catch up when I return. Until then,


Monday, April 19, 2010

So So Tuna

The Tuna was not suppose to be so so, but it did not turn out as anticipated. I purchased this beautiful 3 inch thick piece of sushi grade tuna...

First Course: Small Greek Salad. It was the usual combination of feta, tomato, onion, olive combination but the cucumbers were different. I found tiny seedless cucumbers, which are very crisp and fresh tasting.

Entree: Panko Wasabi Crusted Tuna. Panko crumbs, wasabi paste and olive oil were mixed and pressed into the tuna on both sides. The tuna was seared on a very hot grill skillet for two minutes on each side and then finished in the oven for four minutes. As it was sliced the tuna looked perfect, slightly done on the top and bottom and rare inside....but the center slices were cold. Yep, it was still frozen in the very center. I threw some of the slices back on the hot skillet for about a minute and although the tuna was still somewhat moist and tasty it was overcooked!
A small spoon serving of cantaloupe and strawberries were plated with the tuna.

Side: Snow Peas with Pepper Medley. The snow peas and roasted peppers were sauteed in olive oil with a splash of white wine and herbs.

Wine: Donum Pinot Noir

Enjoy, (but make sure the tuna is thawed or you have a hotter skillet)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beet Salad, Talapia with Onions and Zucs

This is one of my "not much thought" meals. Once again I had all the ingredients on hand.

Salad: Beets with Pecan Coated Goat Cheese Rounds. The goat cheese rounds are coated with ground pecans and arranged on a small plate with beets (from a jar this time) a top a few lettuce leaves. The dressing is olive oil, white wine vinegar and fresh ground back pepper.

Entree: Talapia with Roasted Zucchini and Purple Onion. The onions and zucchini were roasted in olive oil until tender. The talapia was added and with the veggies on top put back in the oven for about 12 minutes.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tortellini in Pesto

Often when dining we choose the wine first and then order an entree to go with the wine! It is the same with a fresh batch of basil pesto.. It is made now you need to decide what entree to is all about priorities! I had torts in the pantry along with the last of the very thin asparagus so created this dish. It is similar to a dish that we enjoy in a local restaurant but that dish "Tuscan Ravioli" uses cheese ravioli and for this dinner I used tortellini.

In an earlier blog I listed the usual ingredients in my pesto but to repeat: fresh basil, pine nuts, Parmesan and olive oil (I use Lucini). I blend this in a small food processor.

The entree: Torts in Pesto. While the tortellini is cooking, chopped scallions (because I had them leftover) sun dried tomatoes and the already cooked asparagus were quickly sauteed (a minute and then kept warm) The mixture was tossed with the tortellini and another splash of olive oil and topped with grated Parmesan. I topped my husband's portion with walnuts pieces(as does the restaurant version)

Lesson from today...always check the expiration date on packages. When I opened the sun dried tomatoes purchased that day I noticed they were browner and more dry than the package I had just chopped. The label on the back of the new bag indicated an expiration date of more than 12 days ago. I took them back to the store (a large grocery chain just around the corner) to be replaced. All 10 packages on the shelf had the same outdated expiration date! The produce manager "seemed surprised" and offered me a jar of oil packed sun dried tomatoes. I made due.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Smoked Salmon Layered Salad

I adapted this from a Chopped Salmon Salad in the Sonoma Diet Cookbook. When I went to the grocer in the morning to purchase some of the ingredients I found very thin asparagus so I added them to this dish.

Entree: Smoked Salmon Layered Salad. The lettuce is cut into strips and mixed with the thinly cut scallions and the prepared asparagus. The asparagus was dropped into boiling water for less then a minute.

This mix was arranged on the dish and then layered with thinly sliced (using the mandolin) red onion, and cucumber. The smoked salmon was layered on the top. The black and green olives, diced red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes and capers were mixed with olive oil and white wine vinegar. The vinegar was seasoned with fresh ground pepper. The dressing mixture was poured over the layered salad.

The salad was served with crusty bread. No wine with this one, just good bottled water with lemons.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Dinner Party continued

The dinner party went well..lots of laughs, wine, stories, and the food was good. The only glitch in the evening was that the oven gave out, but fortunately I could use the stove top. I think a new stove is in my future, just have to find the right one.

First Course Appetizers: On my last blog I posted the appetizers, Broiled Feta with Olives and Peppers, and Cucumber Rounds with Salsa. The guests enjoyed them and kept the "chef" company while I tended to my alternative plan on the entree.

Entree:Large Scampi and Jumbo Shrimp on a bed of Zucchini and Leeks. The mandolin was used to cut the zucchini into thin ribbons and the leeks were cut to a similar size. The plan was to toss them with olive oil and a little broth and then roast them in the oven. But after broiling the feta for the appetizer the oven would not kick back on. I ended up sauteing the zucs and leeks in batches on the stove top. I kept them warm while preparing the scampi and shrimp.

Shallots and garlic were sauteed in olive oil and a pat of butter. White wine, chicken broth and seafood demi glace were added. The scampi was added and stirred for several minutes before adding the jumbo shrimp. The zucs and leeks were placed in each dish and topped with two scampi and two shrimp for each guest.

Each guest had a bread plate with reduced balsamic vinegar,olive oil and basil leaf for dipping the crusty bread.

Dessert/last course: Poached Pears and Cheese Platter. The pears were peeled, halved, cored and poached in Marsala. The cheese platter included brie, blue, aged gouda and swiss, as well as grapes. The crackers were a new discovery at the West point Market and were absolutely wonderful. They were Raincoast Crisps, with rosemary, raisin and pecan. Fantastic! One guest had enjoyed another Raincoast Crisp with cranberry. I now have a new favorite "cracker" to serve with the cheese course.

Wine: As mentioned earlier the offerings for the evening were Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc, pro-mis-Q-us and a third was added with the entree - Simi Sauvignon Blanc.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Dinner Party Starters

Tonight I am hosting a dinner party for six. I enjoy the appetizers and the last course the best and spend much of my planning time on these courses. The dish on the upper left comes from The New York Times. I have served it as an appetizer, a first course or once as a meal(with bread and wine of course) on a rainy cold Sunday evening in front of the fire.

I do not have the date of the article but the recipe is credited to Michael Psilakis, one of Food and Wine's Best New Chef's in 2008. He called it Broiled Feta with Roasted Peppers and Olive Salad.
The first step is to make a Garlic Confit made with 2 heads of garlic cloves unpeeled. Bake covered along with olive oil, black peppercorns and bay leaf. When done the olive oil is strained and the cloves of garlic are peeled and placed in the oil.

Roasted bell peppers, thinly sliced onion (I have also used the tiny purple onions), capers, black and green olives, and the garlic Confit are mixed with a little more olive oil, fresh lemon juice and herbs. His recipe called for dill, parsley and or chives, but I use oregano. His recipe also called for anchovies (which you may recall I do not like) so I use a squeeze of anchovy paste.

Small slices of crusty bread or pita wedges are served with it. It goes well with a full bodied red wine.

The second dish is one I out together because the ingredients were handy. I will call it Cucumbers with Salsa. The cucumbers are thinly sliced using a mandolin and topped with Salsa Fresca from West Point Market. The West Point Market Cookbook carries the recipe, but I cannot seem to duplicate what I get at the Market.

The cucumber and salsa give the guests a choice if they prefer a lighter appetizer.

There will be both white and red wines available. The white will be a Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc (recommended by the wine person at the WP Market) and pro-mis-Q-ous, a blend of zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Sirah.

When having guests I always prepare a menu card which is set out for them to read. My thought is that if they don't like the main course they can fill up on appetizers and look forward to the last course, or if they start salivating over the entree they can go light on the appetizers!

Tomorrow I will post the entree and the last course.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Baked Creamy Halibut

This is the third and last in the series "Tis the Season...Halibut."
I adapted this dish from the West Point Market Cookbook.

First course: Fresh beets and goat cheese layered with a balsamic dressing. The beets and goat cheese were cut into rounds and alternated in a stack.

Entree: Creamy Baked Halibut. I added leeks to the recipes ingredients of chopped scallions, sour cream and fresh ground pepper. The mixture is spread on top of the Halibut and than baked (recipe calls for 25 minutes for the 2 pounds of fish). It is then sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and broiled until brown.

Wine: Sterling Savignon Blanc


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Halibut Wrapped in Proscuitto

This is a dish that I prepared last year. I wrote it down because it was very tasty but I failed to note the source of my "inspiration." I quickly scanned my 2009 issues of Food and Wine and Gourmet magazines but did not find it... If I would have known that months later I would have time to start a food blog I would have made more detailed notes...

Speaking of detailed notes, let me dad who was a "scratch golfer" for many years died at a young age. He left most of his children with the love of the game but not his talent. What he did leave was pages and pages of charts on each golf game he played, noting the date, weather, who he played with, the course, his score and how much he won (or occasionally lost). My mom discovered these when she cleaned out materials from his work office. So I am thinking when I pass my family may just want to know that on February 13 2010 I served, at home using the best china, a dinner of mushroom toasts, lobster/shrimp bisque, salmon and fruit and cheese...accompanied with champagne for the appetizer and Donum Pinot Noir for the entree and dessert, it was wintry outside and I played (oops excuse me) dined with my husband. And although no money was exchanged the dinner was considered a winner.

Okay now for the entree.
Entree: Halibut Wrapped in Proscuitto. Season the fish with fresh ground pepper and saute in a skillet and then finish in the oven. Serve it a top a mixture of cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, black and green olives and thinly sliced onions.

Sauce/Dressing: Saute garlic and shallots. Add capers and mix with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh ground black pepper. Drizzle over the halibut and veggies.


Next: Creamy Baked Halibut

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tis the Season...Halibut

Halibut in Bisque and Roasted Asparagus

This week I will feature three halibut dishes (sorry to my friend and follower JP, who does not do seafood)

Entree: Halibut in Bisque. From a previous dinner I had frozen the left-over lobster and shrimp bisque. After thawing, the pieces of lobster and shrimp were chopped fine in a small food processor, thickening the bisque further. The bisque simmered while the halibut was prepared. The halibut was coated with a mixture of dried and fresh herbs, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary and fresh ground pepper. It was seared on both sides and then placed in the oven to finish. The a splash of sherry was added to each dish, the bisque was ladled in and then the halibut was placed in.

Side: Roasted Asparagus. The asparagus is tossed with olive oil and roasted.

Bread: A hard crusty bread is served with reduced balsamic vinegar (previously done and preserved in a jar) and olive oil dip.

Wine: HK generations Pinot Noir from Sonoma Winery Hop Kiln



Next Halibut Entry: Halibut wrapped in Proscuitto