Friday, February 25, 2011

Last Minute After Work Dinner with Friends Menu

2005 Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blanc

Spring Greens Salad with Dressing from
Honey-Roasted Lamb with Arugula and Pine Nut Salad

Braised Chicken Legs with White Wine, Bacon, Onions and Mushrooms

Lemon Crunch Cake with Fresh Berries

Guests: Cynthia, Lillian and Dave, Bruce and Ellen

Braised Chicken Legs with White Wine, Bacon, Cipolline Onions & Mushrooms

8 small cipolline onions (or 4 large cipolline, halved)
4 bone-in, skin-on medium chicken thighs (1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pounds)
4 chicken drumsticks (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 medium cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved
3 ounces bacon (3 strips), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
1 cup dry white wine
3 large thyme sprigs
1 cup homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Bring a 2-quart saucepan of water to a boil. Drop in the onions and blanch them for 1 minute. Drain in a colander, then shower with cold water to stop the cooking. Peel the onions, leaving enough of the root end intact that they will remain whole while cooking.
3. Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. In a straight-sided 10- or 11-inch ovenproof saute pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side down in the pan (it'll be crowded), cover with a splatter screen, if you have one, and cook until deeply browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook until the other sides are deeply browned, 3 to 5 minutes more.
4. Transfer to a plate. Pour out and discard all the fat from the pan.
5. Put the pan over medium heat. Add the peeled onions, mushrooms, bacon, and carrot to the pan and cook until the bacon is crisp and the vegetables are browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Boil until the wine has reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
6. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, along with any accumulated juices, and cover. Transfer to the oven and braise until the chicken is fork-tender and the drumstick meat starts to come away from the bone, 45 to 50 minutes.
7. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, onions, bacon, carrots, and mushrooms to a serving dish and keep warm by covering the dish loosely with foil. Discard the thyme sprigs. Tilt the saute pan and skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil over mediumhigh heat, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, skimming off any skin that forms on top, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with pepper (the sauce should be nicely salted at this point). Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with the thyme leaves, and serve.
Serving Suggestions:
Serve with mashed potatoes.
Drink Suggestions:
Pair this braise with a crisp, minerally white from northern Italy, such as the Gini Soave Classico.

Braised Chicken Legs with White Wine, Bacon, Cipolline Onions & Mushrooms

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Reunion Dinner Party Menu

“Losers Dinner Party” reunion dinner party.

Guests: Kim, Paul, Rodney, Don, Lisa and John

The Menu

Goat Cheese Croquettes with Raspberry Flower Honey

Spicy Gravlax with Mango Chutney

2006 Meeker Zinfandel “Winemaker’s Reserve”

Asian BBQ Marinated Hanger Steak with Shiitake Mushroom Cream Sauce
(Source: Fusion Food Cookbook, Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison)

Wild Rice and Currant Salad
Source: Fusion Food Cookbook, Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison

2007 Dutch Henry Zinfandel

Chocolate and Banana Cream Tart
Source: Fusion Food Cookbook, Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison

2006 Sapphire Hill Zinfandel Very Late Harvest (VLH)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Recipe: Mango Salsa

Prepare the Mango Salsa the day you plan to serve the Spicy Gravlax

Flesh of 2 small mangoes, chopped
2 Whole green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon Asian chile sauce

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the salsa.

Source: Fusion Food Cookbook, Hugh Carpenter & Teri Sandison

Spicy Gravlax with Mango Salsa

Serves: 8 to 10 as an appetizer

1/2 pound salmon filet, skin on
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup finely minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
Grated zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup Vodka
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons Thai chile sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 ounces cream cheese
30 water crackers

Mango Salsa

Advance Preparation (3 days before serving)

Remove all bones from the salmon. Combine the mint, basil, ginger, garlic, lime zest, vodka, fish sauce, chile sauce, sugar, and salt. Place the salmon and marinade in a small plastic food bag. Seal airtight and place on a tray. Fill an 8-quart pot with cold water and place the pot on top of the salmon. Refrigerate for 3 days, turning salmon over each day. The ready-to-eat gravlax can be stored, uncut, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Up to 4 hours prior to serving the appetizer, scape most of the marinade off the salmon. Very thinly slice the salmon, keeping the blade wet so the fish does not tear and angling the knife so that no skin is included in each slice. Wrap the slices in airtight plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Last Minute Preparation

Spread a very thin layer of cream cheese across each water cracker. Top each water cracker with a slice of gravlax, then top with a little Mango Salsa. Serve within 30 minutes.

Source: Fusion Food Cookbook, Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison

Honey-Roasted Lamb with Arugula and Pine Nut Salad

yield: Makes 4 first-course or 2 main-course servings

Here, lamb chops are presented atop a salad that was inspired by the flavors of Sardinia. A perfect first course or a light main course.


  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 1 1/2-pound rack of lamb, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 6 cups arugula (about 4 ounces)


Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine honey, 1 tablespoon oil, and thyme in heavy small saucepan. Stir over low heat until just warm. Remove from heat. Pour 2/3 of honey mixture into small bowl. Place lamb on rack set in roasting pan; brush with half of honey mixture from bowl. Roast lamb 12 minutes; brush with remaining honey mixture from bowl. Continue to roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 125°F for medium-rare, about 10 minutes. Transfer lamb to cutting board.

Meanwhile, add vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil to honey mixture in saucepan. Stir over low heat until just warm. Mix in nuts; discard thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut lamb between ribs into chops. Divide arugula among plates. Top each serving with lamb chops. Drizzle warm dressing over and serve warm.

Read More

Crispy Roast Pork

This luscious, Caribbean-inspired preparation for garlicky roast pork works especially well with the cut known as picnic shoulder, which gives you crisper skin than the more popular boston butt. Some cooks like to remove the skin and cook it separately, but we like the mix of textures that you get when you roast the pork with the skin on. (Besides, the fat layer under the skin continually bastes the meat as it roasts.)

Source: Saveur

2 tbsp. cumin seeds
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1⁄4 tsp. cayenne
12 cloves garlic
Kosher salt, to taste
1 bone-in skin-on pork picnic shoulder (about
8 lbs.)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1⁄2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. olive oil

1. Toast cumin and peppercorns in a skillet over medium heat, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a small food processor along with oregano, cayenne, garlic, and 1 tbsp. salt; process to a paste. Cut about twenty-five 1 1⁄2"-wide slits in the pork about 1" deep. Rub garlic paste all over pork, pressing it into slits. Transfer pork to a roasting pan. Whisk together orange juice, lime juice, oil, and 2 tbsp. salt in a bowl; pour over pork. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 18–24 hours.

2. Remove pork from refrigerator 2 hours before you are ready to roast, to allow it to come to room temperature. Heat oven to 325°. Roast, basting every 30 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of pork registers 160°, about 3 hours total. (Add 1 cup water to pan when liquid evaporates; cover loosely with foil if skin gets too dark.) Let rest for 15 minutes, then carve (see Carving Pork Shoulder) and serve.


This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #107

Tomato Jam Recipe at

yield: Makes 2 1/4 cups


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup (scant) finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic; cook until onion is soft and translucent, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add diced tomatoes with juice, sugar, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until almost all liquid evaporates and mixture is reduced to about 2 1/4 cups, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool.

Read More

Twice-Fried Green Plantains with Garlic Dipping Sauce -


You can flatten the tostones between two pieces of plantain skin, but the bottom of a small pan or a flat pot lid will work, too.

3–4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
3–6 cilantro sprigs, leaves chopped
2–3 culantro leaves, trimmed and
chopped (optional)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 green plantains
Vegetable oil

1. For the mojo: Put garlic and a generous pinch of salt into a mortar. Crush to a rough paste with the pestle, then add cilantro and culantro (if using) and crush until bruised and fragrant. Add oil while grinding in a circular motion. Adjust seasoning. Set aside.

2. For the tostones: To remove tough green skin from plantains, trim off both ends with a sharp knife, then make a few slits through skin the length of each plantain. Push your thumb between skin and flesh; pry skin away from flesh. It will come off in pieces, like bark from a tree. Trim off any woody fiber stuck to plantains. Cut plantains into 1"-thick rounds.

3. Pour oil into a large heavy skillet to a depth of 1", then heat to 325° on a candy thermometer over medium heat. Fry plantains in two batches until lightly golden and hollow-sounding when tapped, about 3 minutes. Transfer plantains with a slotted spatula to paper towels to drain. Working quickly, press warm tostones with the clean bottom of a small pan or a flat pot lid, flattening them to about half their original thickness.

4. Return flattened tostones to oil and fry in batches until crisp around edges and deeply golden, about 2 minutes more. Transfer tostones to paper towels to drain and season to taste with salt while still hot. Serve tostones hot with mojo as a dipping sauce.

Twice-Fried Green Plantains with Garlic Dipping Sauce -

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Date Night Dinner

John is responsible for tonight’s menu

2007 Lambert Bridge Cabernet Franc

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