Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Roasted Monkfish Over Mole Negro


I am having waaaay too much fun pairing wines from Nicole Walsh and her Santa Cruz-based Ser Winery! In this case, I was matching a locally-made Cabernet Pfeffer that I'll be featuring in next month's #WinePW event when we highlight women in wine.

This mole takes a lot of time and needs to rest for, at least, 24 hours before using it. So, do this ahead of time.

Ingredients

Monkfish serves 4

  • 4 monkfish fillets, approximately 1/2 to 3/4 pound each
  • freshly ground salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • ground cinnamon for garnish


Mole makes 5 to 6 C of mole so you'll have lots and lots of leftovers for other dishes
  • 6 to 8 T lard (preferably home-rendered)
  • 2 to 4 C homemade chicken stock
  • 4 oz dried ancho chiles 
  • 4 oz dried  pasilla chiles
  • 2 T pecans
  • 2 T peanuts
  • 2 T almonds
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1/8 C dried apricots
  • 1/8 C dried prunes
  • 1/8 C raisins
  • sherry (enough to cover the dried fruits)
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 4 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 large ripe tomato
  • 8 oz tomatillos, with husks
  • 1 plantain
  • 1" cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 t black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 18 g chocolate (1/2 of an Abuelita chocolate tablet or other)
  • salt to taste
Procedure

Mole
Bring your chicken stock to a boil, then hold it at a simmer. Slice your dried peppers lengthwise. Open them up and take out the seeds and the veins. Set the seeds aside. You can discard the stems and veins. 

Cut the apricots and plums to the size of the raisins and place them in a medium bowl. Pour sherry over the top of them until they are submerged, approximately 1/2 C. Set aside.


With tongs, hold peppers over an open flame until they blister and turn a lighter shade of brown. Place them in a large bowl and pour hot stock over the top. Every 10 to 15 minutes, turn the peppers or press them down so that they are submerged.


Melt 1 T lard in a skillet and toast the nuts. I started with the almonds, added the pecans, then added the peanuts. When they are all golden brown, approximately 5 to 7 minutes, place them in the bowl with the peppers. Toast the sesame seeds until they begin to pop. Place those in the bowl with the peppers, too.

Melt 1 T large in the skillet and toast the spices. I started with the cinnamon sticks and clove and ended with the oregano. Once toasted, place them in the bowl with the peppers, nuts, and seeds.


Melt 1 T lard in the same skillet and char the seeds from the peppers. You want these really, really burnt. Place the seeds in a large mason jar filled with ice water. Let stand for 30 minutes. Change the water and ice and let stand for another 30 minutes. 


Melt 1 T large in the same skillet and fry thick slices of plantain until crisped and golden. Place those in the bowl with the peppers.


Cut onion, tomato, and tomatillo into large chunks, Crush and mince the garlic. Melt 2 T lard in your skillet and cook onion, garlic, tomato, and tomatillo until everything is softened and the onion turning translucent. Place the chocolate in the mixture and cook until the chocolate is melted. Stir well to combine.

Combine all of the ingredients into one large bowl - the peppers, the sherry-soaked fruit, the chocolate-tomato mixture, and the charred pepper seeds. Now you are ready to combine all of the elements and purée all the ingredients, using either a blender and food processor combination or a blender by itself. In batches, purée everything until smooth.


In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the remaining lard over high heat until rippling. Add the purée, all at once, taking care to avoid splatters. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, for at least 30 minutes until the taste of the chiles has mellowed. Season to taste with salt. Set aside. The flavors will deepen and develop the longer you let the mole sit. I left mine to age overnight - in the fridge - before using.

Monkfish
Salt the monkfish, then preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat olive oil in a flat skillet. Pat the fish dry and sear it for 3 to 4 minutes, turning it a few times to make sure that all sides are browned.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 10 to 12 minutes - just until the fish is cooked through but still moist and juicy in the middle. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest for five minutes.

To Serve
Warm the mole sauce and spoon a pool into individual serving dishes. Place a roasted monkfish fillet on the top. Dust with a scant sprinkle of ground cinnamon for garnish.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Wilted Spinach #KitchenMatrixCookingProject


Today on week four of our year-long project that I'm calling the Kitchen Matrix Project, after Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix cookbook. You can read about it: here. I'm very excited about the dishes and the bloggers who are joining me.

This week, I picked 'Wilted Spinach + 3 Ways' for the group which means we could make wilted spinach with with skirt steak, with bacon, or with chicken...along with any variations or adaptations that we needed or wanted.




Ingredients
  • 2 bunches organic spinach, destemmed and rinsed
  • 5 thick slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 C sliced mushroom (I used crimini)

 Procedure

 Place bacon in a large skillet and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy.


Add in the thyme sprig and stir in the mushrooms. Cook until they are softened.


Remove the thyme and toss in the spinach. Cook in the rendered fat until just wilted. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

This was a hit! I can't wait to try Bittman's other variations on wilted spinach.

Pan-Seared Black Cod with Lime-Ginger Beurre Blanc


This was one of those dishes that I created to match a wine. Actually, I think I go that direction quite a lot. Instead of buying a wine to match a dish, I'm usually looking for flavors in a dish to match a wine I already have. 


In any case, I was matching a locally-made Chardonnay that I'll be featuring in next month's #WinePW event when we highlight women in wine. Very excited about highlighting Nicole Walsh and her Santa Cruz-based Ser Winery!

When What to Drink with What You Eat (read my post about that wonderful reference here) suggested ginger and fish, I decided to make a lime-ginger beurre blanc to serve with the fresh black cod I had just picked up at the market. 


Ingredients serves 4
Fish
  • 1 pound black cod, skin on (I usually serve a 1/2 pound piece per person) 
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 t olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Beurre Blanc
  • 1-1/2 C unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1⁄4 C dry white wine (I used some leftover Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1⁄4 C freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1⁄4 t salt

Procedure
Beurre Blanc
Bring wine and lime juice to a boil in a saucepan; add ginger and salt. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. 

Remove pan from heat; whisk 2 pieces of butter into the reduction. Place pan over low heat and continue whisking butter into the sauce - one chunk at a time. Allow each piece to melt and incorporate into sauce before adding more.

When all the butter is incorporated, remove sauce from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed. You can strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, if you wish. I left the minced ginger in mine. 

Fish
Melt butter in olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Season fish generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the fish skin-side down for 4 to 5 minutes until crsiped and golden brown. Gently flip fish and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes on the other side. Set fish aside to rest.

To serve, place fish on a plate - crispy skin side up - and spoon beurre blanc along the side. Serve immediately.

Argentinian Choripán, By Request


As we were hiking down a hill in the Fort Ord National Monument, back to our car, D asked, "Will you take a request for lunch?" 

Sure. What do you have in mind?

R piped up, "How about Choripán?" 

Chori - what?!?

D agreed, "Yes! Good idea, R - ."


As we walked, they debated on which cooking show they had seen it. Then, decided it didn't matter. Choripán is Argentina's national sandwich and it's easy: grilled chorizo, sweet rolls, red sauce, and green sauce.

D: The red sauce was a pico de gallo. The green sauce was chimichurri.

That I can do!! This was the perfect post-hike lunch.

 Ingredients serves 4 
with 2 choripán per person

  • 4 chorizo links (we did a mixture of spicy and not spicy), sliced in half and butterflied open
  • 8 pan de leche rolls

Pico de Gallo
  • 1 T vinegar (I used a white vinegar)
  • juice from 2 limes
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 banana peppers, deseeded and diced
  • 1 hatch chile, deseeded and diced
  • 1 C fresh tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes, but use what you have)
  • 1/4 C organic cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 T hot sauce
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Chimichurri
  • 1/4 C parsley
  • 3 T vinegar (I prefer sherry vinegar)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 2 T oregano leaves
  • 1 t thyme leaves
  • 2 t crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • freshly ground salt, to taste


Procedure
Pico de Gallo
Place all of the ingredients - except for the salt and pepper - in a small mixing bowl. Blend gently and let stand for 15 minutes to blend flavors. To make this more spicy, add hotter peppers such as a habanero or jalapeno or use more hot sauce. Serve at room temperature. This salsa stays fresh for up to 3 hours. If you refrigerate it, use quickly because it will begin to ferment.

Chimichurri
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth, drizzling in the oil until desired texture; season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and let stand for, at least 30 minutes. If you are making this ahead of time, place in a lidded jar and keep in the refrigerator.

Choripán
Slice the rolls in half lengthwise and toast in the oven. Place the chorizo and grill until nicely charred on the sliced slide. To serve, place chorizo on the rolls and let everyone add as much or as little pico de gallo and chimichurri as they wish.

What to Drink with What You Eat #FoodieReads


A few months ago I went to visit a friend at one of my favorite local tasting rooms, I. Brand & Family. I was picking Erin's brain about what wines to pair with our Moroccan Thanksgiving feast. And she introduced me to this book: What to Drink with What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg  and Karen Page.* Well, she introduced me to the app on her phone. But, since I don't have a smart phone, she told me about the book which I immediately went home and ordered.


This is a resource I've been dreaming about for years. I just didn't know it existed.


I've only had this book for about two months, but I grab it off the shelf with alarming regularity. You can look up by foods. See above when I looked up "Spinach", it lists possible pairings that include a red (Beaujolais), whites (no oak Chardonnay), and even a non-alcoholic option (lemonade, sparkling water with lemon).


You can also look up by grape varietals to get suggestions. Now I know that wine pairings aren't hard and fast rules...at least I don't think there are hard and fast rules. This book gives you a range of ideas from which you can read what might work well. And of the dozen or so pairings I've tried, each have been a homerun.

I ended up pairing some wilted spinach with an unoaked Chardonnay from a local winemaker. I'll tell you more about that later. But I can't rave about this book enough. If you ever pair wine with food, you need this book! I am so glad Erin told me about it!!


*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in January 2018: here.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Conquering Cassoulet Alongside the 2014 Minervois le Chateau d’Albas #Winophiles #languedocwines #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with the January #Winophiles event.
Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links

As I was writing this post, I came across a note that Languedoc-Roussillon is a former region of France and that, since January 2016, it is part of the new region Occitanie. Well, color me confused because I still see it referred to as 'Languedoc', so, I'm going with 'Languedoc' and hoping to learn more about this name change through the other writers taking part.

In any case, Jill of L'Occasion is hosting this month's French Winophiles event. Read her invitation here. We are heading, virtually, back to Languedoc for a deeper dive into their wines. Jill also arranged for participating bloggers to receive wine samples for pairing. The Benson Marketing Group sent a curated shipment of Languedoc reds. I received the 2014 Château Saint Jacques d'Albas "Le Chateau d'Albas" Minervois and the 2015 Clos de l'Anhel "Les Terrassettes" Corbières.

The appellations of Minervois and Corbières are two of the major players in the region. Though whites and reds both come from there, Minervois and Corbières are most renowned for their red wines. Languedoc reds are typically blends of  Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Carignan; however those from Minervois tend to lean more on Syrah while those from Corbières tend to highlight Carignan grapes.

The Winophiles' Languedoc Offerings



Baby Steps + Les Terrassettes Corbières
Before I jumped all in to make a cassoulet with a whole duck, I tried a version that used duck legs and pre-cooked beans. That evening I paired my test-run cassoulet with the 2015 Clos de l'Anhel "Les Terrassettes" Corbières.


The wine was deep, dark, and expressive with heavy fruit notes. I read that vigneron Sophie Guiraudon's vineyards are in one of the higher altitude areas of Corbières in a silty clay soil. From what I can tell, she's s one-woman show, farming, performing all of the organic treatments to the vines, hand-harvesting, and making the wines all by herself. "Les Terrassettes" is a blend of 65% Carignan, 25% Syrah, 6% Grenache, and 4% Mourvèdre.


All In with the 2014 Minervois le Chateau d’Albas
After dipping my toe in the cassoulet pool, I decided to go all in. For that dinner, I opened up the 2014 Château Saint Jacques d'Albas "Le Chateau d'Albas" Minervois. This wine was simultaneously restrained and robust. Leather, flowers, and red fruit mingle with fragrant notes of garrigue to create an explosion on the tongue that fades to an elegant mouthfeel.


Conquering Cassoulet
You can read the recipe I made: here. As I mentioned, I dove headfirst into making an authentic cassoulet that starts with a whole duck. I still can't believe how time-consuming it was to soak the beans, break down the duck, confit the legs and breast, make a homemade duck stock, braise the lamb, and on and on. 


I was so intimidated by all the steps. Really.


But, it was so worth the effort!


This was a pot of pure, hearty deliciousness!


Success!



Find the Sponsor..


On the web, on Facebook, on Twitter

*Disclosure: I received sample wines for recipe development, pairing, and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Abalone: Out of the Shell and Into the Pan #FishFridayFoodies


It's time for Fish Friday Foodies' first 2018 event. This is our two-year group anniversary! We are a group of seafood-loving bloggers, rallied by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm, to share fish and seafood recipes on the third Friday of the month. This is, easily, my favorite recipe sharing event of the month. I always come away with a list of recipes that I just have to try! 


This month, I am hosting. I wrote: "Create and share a recipe with any kind of shellfish. Think soups, breaded and fried, sautéed, steamed, or even raw. If it has a shell, it's fair game!"

The Rest of the Shelled Goodness


Monterey Abalone
I decided to write about one of my favorite shellfish: abalone! This shellfish took a circuitous route from native currency (yep...it was used as money) to culinary delicacy (do you know how much restaurants charge for abalone these days??). And in between it was exported to markets in China and Japan because there was no American market for its meat.

That was until “Pop” Ernest Doelter taught Americans how to prepare it. He pounded the steaks for his restaurant on the wharf in Monterey wharf and served them at the 1915 World's Fair in San Francisco. Finally in the spotlight, abalone’s popularity soared, bringing the edible gastropod to the brink of extinction.


Back in 2012, I was lucky enough to attend a cooking class at Aubergine taught by executive chef Justin Cogley. I did have to invoke some serious superhero skills for the assignment, juggling a camera, a notepad, and a pen, all while wielding a knife, a mallet, and a variety of other utensils. What a fun experience!

 He guided a dozen or so of us through how to get the abalone out of the shell, into the pan, and onto a plate! Here's how it goes...


Step One: Shuck
Cogley demonstrated, in one deft motion, how to separate the mollusk from its shell. Our efforts weren’t quite as graceful, but we did it.


Step Two: Clean and Pound
Also, we didn’t actually clean the abalone, Julian did that for us, but he demonstrated how to pound them and we eagerly gave that a try after Cogley made the distinction between the ‘presentation side’ and the ‘other side.’ We pounded the other side with the spiked side of the mallet. Almost fifty strikes was what one of my classmates counted during the demonstration. Then we flipped the abalone over, covered it with a towel, and pounded it again with the smooth side.


Step Three: Sous Vide
At that point, our abalone were vacuum-sealed for us to take home and we cooked abalone that Cogley and his crew had already prepped. When I write ‘prepped for final cooking’, I mean they were cooked sous vide (French for 'under vacuum') ahead of time. Sous vide is a method of cooking in vacuum-sealed plastic pouches at precisely controlled temperatures. For this preparation, the abalone were sous vide’d at 140° F for 30 minutes prior to the final cooking. 

While the results were amazing, I am torn when I look at a sous vide machine. Love the results. Hate that it's cooked in plastic and really wonder about what that's releasing into the food cooked inside. So, I have a sous vide that's never been opened because I'm trying to figure out other cooking vessels besides the plastic pouches. Would love to hear if you have any alternates.

Step Four: Pan-Fry and Plate
We heated unsalted butter in a pan and quickly pan-fried our abalone to give them a nice golden color. It took barely a minute per side. Then we spooned a bed of braised corn and Tiger’s Eye beans onto the plate, placed our abalone on top, and garnished it with some sea lettuce, sea grass, oyster leaves and a sprinkling of salt. 


Other Abalone Dishes
I am fortunate to belong to a CSF (community-support fishery) here in Monterey. And we get abalone throughout the season. Thankfully, they prep it for us. No more pounding! I've made Abalone-Topped Pasta all'Amatriciana, Meunière-Style Monterey Bay Abalone, and more.

Do you get abalone? How do you prepare it??

Share Buttons