Christmas Dinner

Last night we enjoyed quite a nice dinner of surf and turf, and of course some of great sides.  The menu included salt-cake rib roast, salt-cake snapper, grilled Brussels Sprouts, popovers and Pinot Noir.

For the rib roast, cooking time was a few hours so that was planned well in advance.  The ‘cake’ surrounds the roast and then it sits on the grill to cook to perfection.  When done, you get to crack, break, peel it off.

IMG_2508The fish was one I’ve made several times the past couple months and that shared the oven with the popovers.  We think it might have affected the popping of the popovers because they were pretty much just mounds of bread-like things.

For the Brussels Sprouts, we used an Alton Brown recipe.  You microwave the sprouts for about 3 minutes then toss them in dry mustard, paprika, garlic, salt and olive oil.

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You skewer them then put them on the grill for 10 minutes, turning once.

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IMG_2515Final product of everything —

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We enjoyed Pinots from Chile and (Sonoma County) CA with dinner, as well.  The Chilean wine was Apaltagua and the CA one was Banshee.  Both very nice pairings to match the surf and turf.

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Christmas Eve Posole

This year I am celebrating Christmas with my family in a new location and we did something new for Christmas Eve dinner.  We went to their neighbor’s house for a laid-back, several-family gathering.  The main dish was a seafood bisque and I offered to bring a non-dairy dish because of my lactose intolerance.  I hadn’t had posole for awhile, it just sounded good, it’s quick and easy and with the wind howling around here in CO my mind was set.

I have relied on Cooking Light’s recipe for quite awhile and just had to quickly pull it up.

Ingredients:

1 pound tomatillos — I always just use a big jar of green salsa
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups chopped onion
3 pounds chicken breast halves, skinned
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and quartered (I’m a wimp for heat, use 1)
1 (30-ounce) can white hominy, drained
1 teaspoon salt

(These are toppings)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream $
8 lime wedges

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The hardest part of this at the start is chopping the onions (just makes me cry…).

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After they’re chopped, you just throw them, the chicken stock, chicken breasts, garlic, jalapeno, hominy and salt into a pot and bring it to a boil then let it simmer for 30+ minutes until the chicken is cooked.

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Then, you take the chicken out and shred it.  And while you’re shredding it, you’ve added the tomatillos (or salsa) to the pot.

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After the chicken is shredded, throw it back in there, heat everything through.

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Then serve with cilantro, chips and sour cream, if you’d like.  Great addition to dinner!!  There was not much left at all.

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Somm

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While on a flight today I had the chance to check out a movie I hadn’t heard of, on a topic I love – wine! The name — Somm.

It’s about four sommeliers who attempt to pass the (prestigious) Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. The movie’s about 90 minutes and goes through their lives while they study for the test and highlights other somms (that’s what they are, don’t use that multi-syllabic word, it’s old-school in their world).

After taking the WSET course it was so fun/interesting to watch this and understand a tiny bit what they were going through. Apparently some people take this test many times and don’t pass. There are very few Master Sommeliers in the world.

Totally check out this movie of you have 90 minutes to spare.

Cheers to the MS and happy holidays!

Stove-Top Smoked Salmon

Last night I got to enjoy a wonderful dinner of smoked salmon…done on the stove via stove-top smoker.  It was amazing.  All I had to do was provide wine.  Easy!

For the main dish, you just need put some smoking chips in the bottom of the smoker then cover them with foil.

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Season the fish with spices of choice (tarragon, S&P were used), then close the smoker.

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You cook/smoke the salmon for about 25 minutes (this was 1/2lb+) — you start it at medium-high heat to get the chips smoking, leaving the back end of the smoker open, then keep it going at medium heat until cooked through.

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Carefully remove the lid (hot pads!) and heaven has arrived!

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We also prepared some pan-seared asparagus seasoned with rosemary and garlic salt.

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The final product was the fish, asparagus, dolmas, olives, marinated mushrooms and wonderful Penner-Ash Pinot Noir.  Not a bad dinner at all.

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Holiday Lunch

Today called for a holiday lunch, which also meant I got to check out a new (to me) location in DC.  Had a nice 3-course meal at Decanter at St. Regis with some colleagues.

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We started with delicious focaccia and a mesclun salad.  Under all the lettuce was an amazing tapenade.  Heaven for olive lovers!

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For the main course I opted for the scallops.  Pan seared with both a chickpea puree (can we say hummus?) and chickpeas, along with great seasoning.  Very nice portion size, too!

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Though white would have paired a bit better with the scallops, I went for some Malbec.  The waiter said this stuff was great and I couldn’t turn it down.  The rest of the table was drinking beer or white so I had to take one for the (red) team.  I enjoyed some Siete Fincas from Argentina.  Medium body, smooth, fruity.

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The other food options were a steak or pasta.  They were both inhaled/enjoyed quite a bit.

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The meal closed with a nice dessert of 3 sorbets — lemon, raspberry, lime, with a little meringue on top.  Perfect ending.

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I would be interested in checking this place out for dinner, as well.  Delicious food, excellent service, nice atmosphere.  Might just add it to my list.

 

 

 

 

Annual Champagne Expo

Last year I accidentally found out about an annual champagne event that takes place at a wine/liquor store in DC when I was just walking by the store.  It’s Magruder’s Annual Champagne Expo that features 15-20 bubblies for you to sample/taste/enjoy/leave with or without.  People call in advance to find out when this event takes place, bring their own glasses, and have quite the afternoon.

This year there were five table and a total of 18 champagnes.  When you walk in, you get your tasting card for the vendors to mark and you’re off!

Table 1

Trouillard Brut — creamy

Roland Champion Aramis — ‘chunkier,’ earthy, mineral, (ugh)

Roland Champion Grand Cru Brut — softer

Roland Champion Grand Cru Rose — unique, nice

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Table 2

Perrier-Jouet Brut — apple, citrus, light, crisp (on sale for $32.99 — I know this because I left with a bottle).  The box is great!  White case.

Mumm Cordon Rouge — less fun

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Nicolas Feuillatte Brut — marginal

Domaine Carneros Brut — NICE (on sale for $22.99 — yes, proud owner)

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Table 3

Laurent-Perrier Brut — smooth yet sharp, bottled 3 years

Delamotte Brut — chardonnay, good, but not great

Schramsbert Blanc de Blanc — sweet, Napa

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Table 4

Andre Clouet Brut Rose — NO!

Voirin Jumel Blanc de Blanc Cramant — unique, nice, 100% Chardonnay

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Andre Clouet Grand Reserve Brut — GREAT!  #1

Chapuy Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc — 100% Chardonnay, ugh (keep in mind these are my own tastes)

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Table 5

Ruinart Blanc de Blanc — ok

Ruinart Rose — smooth, perfect, if only it wasn’t (on sale for) $79

Pommery Brut — high carbonation, true champagne

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So come the end, the taste buds were happy and overwhelmed, I left with two amazing bottles and learned more about many bubblies.  Until next year.

HOP Part II

And in the food world, a common thought when it comes to HOP is just plain old hops and beer.  Bring me that IPA.  And on the history of IPA, Wikipedia is once again that great place for just random info you never realized you were going to look up.  If you want it, here’s your easy link.

There was a beer tasting yesterday of the wonderful Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.  This phenomenal brewery comes to us from Chico, CA and has (biased opinion) one of the best pale ales.  They were also sampling two other brews.

The Celebration Seasonal has a ‘medium-high’ hop level.  They brew this with fresh hops (vs wet hops) and these are the “freshest dried hops to come from the fields, typically within seven days of harvest.”  I could taste some tree in this beer, pine-y, in a good, seasonal way.

The other beer they had out was the Torpedo Extra IPA.  This is definitely way up there in hoppiness (or you could translate that to happiness?) but the balance of flavors in it make it a very unique brew.  Trees, citrus and just dang good beer!

Thanks Sierra Nevada for the hops, IPA and great brew.

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Then, wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy one of those beers in the Sierra Nevada?  The view there is amazing!!!

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HOP Part I

There are acronyms for far too many things in this world and I will take any chance to make a play on them.  So, for this blog, HOP stands for Hearts of Palm.  Ever wonder what they really are?  That’s what Wikipedia is for!!  Check it out.

I love the things (or swamp cabbage as Wikipedia just taught me).  I buy them at Costco where you can get two huge jars for about $8.  Anyway, I was having a gathering at my place this afternoon and threw together this great Heart of Palm Salad (HOPS) that somebody gave me the recipe for years ago.  It is beyond basic and great for light fare.

Ingredients:

1 lb hearts of palm
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice (lime is better)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
S&P
3 tbsp olive oil
2 or 3 heads of endive
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All you have to do is drain and rinse the HOP then cut them into small pieces.  Throw them in a bowl.  Then, in another bowl mix together the lemon or lime juice, mustard, S&P.  Whisk in the oil until the mixture’s thick and blended.  Pour the dressing over the HOP and toss to mix.  Divide the endive leaves and fill each one with a bite-size scoop of the salad.  Done!  Great for parties because they require no silverware for eating (finger-food), are safe at room-temp for awhile, are dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian, and heck, fairly healthy.  So, all around, can please many palates.

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DC Brunch Spot

Last Sunday the weather was bad but that was no reason to avoid heading out for brunch.  It had been planned and was going to happen.  There is a great restaurant called El Centro on 14th Street with a (food and drink) bottomless weekend brunch on Saturday and Sundays from 10:30-3 for $35.

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It’s a great Mexican fare and you order, essentially, small plates.  So, you can have a little bite of everything.  The drink menu contains everything from Mimosas to Bloody Marias to seasonal mixes.  What’s ironic?  You HAVE to pay for coffee, tea and juice.  Dang!

As soon you get there they bring you great chips and salsa and come on, guac is a requirement!

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I tried some of the ceviche, chicken tacos, beans and eggs.  Others at the table had beef tongue, jicama, chile relleno and more.  Didn’t get pictures of everything.  It was delicious.  Definitely worth checking out.  It was very slow, though.  Sort of ironic with things like ceviche that don’t really cook and the restaurant wasn’t that busy.  But, there was no rush since it was an ugly weather day out there.

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Rasp-beer-y

The snow ‘storm’ in DC brought a government shutdown.  This was the first time I’ve ever been able to actually have a paid snow day!  So, come 1pm, the snow was gone, the sun was out.  What did that mean? Time to go (Christmas) shopping.  I only had the intention of finishing off getting gifts for those on my list but when I went to the mecca of grocery, kitchen gadget, wine and beer store, things changed.  After some discussion with the beer man and other shoppers of the current offerings, New Belgium’s (new) Frambozen came up.  Nobody had actually had it for several years.  The name itself screams raspberry then the description lures you into a brown ale.  You can’t leave that poor thing sitting on the shelf!  Had some a bit later.  Very nice, smooth, nice hint of the fruit, but not overwhelming.  Pick some up for a friend, yourself, or to take to a party to celebrate the season.  Happy Holidays!

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