Thursday, May 23, 2013

Where did he go, George, where did he go...

Apparently it's been OVER a year since I last blogged.  Not sure what happened or where the time went.  Guess I've been spending too much time eating and drinking to post about it...hahaha...

Soooooo, I guess I will just make a great big GIANT blog with an assortment of things in it.  However this means I have to pull out both of my wine journals and my cookbook...oh, and lest we forget the plethora of photos on my phone that I naturally had to take of the creation delicacies.  This is going to take some time!!!   Get your doughnut ring ready and get comfy because you're in for a loooong ride...


In the first installment of this blog entry, we will travel back to the 1920's (well, actually it was March 16, 2013) to the rural countryside of England in a large estate, duly named "Downton Abbey".  A party was in the works- full formal table settings, 8 course meal, 8 different wines from around the world to compliment each course, and 4 friends together to share in the experience.  Ok ok, I had a Downton Abbey themed birthday party this year.  Yes it was 8 courses and yes there were 8 different wines.  Let's just say we all had A LOT of fun :)

Course #1: Rasperry Savouries
Wine #1: Muga- Rioja Spain

Ingredients for Raspberry and Blue Cheese Savories

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • Ground black pepper
  • Raspberry preserves (about 1/4 cup)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the flour, butter, and blue cheese along with few grinds of black pepper into a food processor.
3. Process the dough until it comes together and starts to form a ball.
4. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to pull the dough together.
5. Roll out to 1/8 inch thick with a floured rolling pin.
6. Cut rounds out of the dough with a floured 1-inch cutter (we used a 3/4 inch cutter)
and transfer the rounds to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
7. Using the back of a round half-teaspoon, make an indention on top of each dough round.
8. Spoon about 1/8 teaspoon of preserves onto each dough round.
9. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the preserves are bubbling and the pastry is light golden on the bottom.

Let cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.
Makes about 4 dozen with the 1 inch cutter and 6 dozen with the 3/4 inch cutter.

These can be stored for two days in an airtight container, place wax paper between layers.

Wine: was a good solid red wine with the perfect abount of oak and was fruity and lush.  It was not to heavy and easy on the wallet at around $20 a bottle. 

(Side note: this recipe actually came from the actual Downton Abbey menu)

COURSE #2: Hungarian Mushroom Soup
WINE #2: Cercius- Cotes du Rhone, France

...yes, Hungarian soup isn't very English or Downtony...but I'm Hungarian and this soup is to DIE FOR!!!! (NOTE: even better the next day)

  • 12 ounces mushrooms , -sliced
  • 2 cups onions , chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups stock
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice , -fresh
  • 1/4 cup parsley , chopped
  • fresh ground black pepper , -to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  1. Saute onions in 2 Tbsp stock, salt lightly.
  2. A few minutes later, add mushrooms, 1 tsp dill, 1/2 cup stock or water, soy sauce, and paprika.
  3. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Melt butter in large saucepan.
  5. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, a few minutes.
  6. Add milk and cook, stirring frequently, over low heat about 10 minutes - until thick.
  7. Stir in mushroom mixture and remaining stock.
  8. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes.
  9. Just before serving, add salt, pepper, lemon juice, sour cream, and, if desired, extra dill (1 tsp).
  10. Serve garnished with parsley  
WINE: A delicious French red: 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah.  It kind of kicks you in the teeth but is fruity and smooth.  Very aromatic.  Perfect amount of acidity to cut through the soup. 

COURSE #3: Salmon in a mushroom cream sauce over asparagus.
WINE: Sancerre- Loire Valley, France

Salmon with Capers and Cream Ingredients:

  • Two pounds of salmon filets
    • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
    • Five cloves garlic
    • Four tablespoons olive oil
    • Two tablespoons mustard
    • Dash of salt (to taste)
    • Dash of dill weed (to taste)
    • 1/2 cup dry red wine
    • 2-3 tablespoons of capers
    • 2 cups of heavy cream 

  1. Wash and slice mushrooms.
  2. Mince five cloves of garlic. Use more or less garlic according to your taste. With salmon, it is hard to overdo the garlic.
  3. Wash and pat dry two pounds worth of salmon filets. The washing is important because often the water content around and on the filet is beginning to smell much stronger that the filet itself. Patting dry is important because water on the fish will dilute the flavor of the sauce you are about to prepare. This is toooo good to dilute.
  4. Sauté half of the garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep stainless steel skillet that has a fitting lid. Sauté for just a moment or two. The garlic will not be cooked, just warm enough to release flavor into your oil.
  5. Add the sliced mushrooms, tossing well to distribute the oil. Salt lightly. Keep tossing. When the mushrooms begin to release their liquid, remove them to a small bowl.
  6. Add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan and add remaining garlic. Stir it around to spread the minces evenly in the pan.
  7. Position the salmon filets, skin side up, over the garlic and allow them to cook for 5-10 minutes. This cook time varies a great deal from one cookware to another, one stove to another, one altitude to another. What you want is for the garlic to cook down there without turning dark. Dark garlic is bitter.
  8. Turn your filets with a large spatula. Work carefully so that most of the garlic will stick to your salmon and be staring at you after the turn is complete. Now you have the absorbent side of the fish available for flavoring. The garlic is a good start.
  9. Sprinkle with salt, smear with some good mustard, sprinkle with some dill weed, top with the mushrooms that are sitting in their little bowl waiting for this moment.
  10. Pour about a half cup of dry red wine around the sides of the pan, not on top of the fish because you will wash the flavorings off.
  11. If you like capers, sprinkle on 2-3 tablespoons of drained capers.
  12. Cook for 15-20 minutes. This time can vary greatly. The fish is done if it flakes easily with a fork.
  13. If you want to be festive and calories are not a consideration, add 2 cups of heavy cream about 5 minutes before the fish is done. The cream will get bubbly and thick, forming a delectable sauce.
  14. Serve over a bed of roasted aparagus 
This was my favorite of the night.  It was a delicious French Chardonnay, and if you know me, I do NOT drink chardonnay.  This was by far the best I've every had and will buy again. It was sooooo much different than anything I have ever had. Had a light citrus and oak. Not overwhelming.  Was buttery and crisp with a price tag of around $25 for the bottle. 

 COURSE #5: Slowcooker English Pot Roast
WINE #5: Tormasesca- Mepricia: Puglia, Italy

  • 2-3 pound English Roast {aka chuck shoulder}
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 - 2 Tablespoons of Spices {I used salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, & a French spice mix}
  • 1 1/3 cups of red wine
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup balsamic or cider vinegar 

  1. Put the English roast on top and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and spices.
  2. Pour the wine, vinegar, & olive oil into the slow cooker, cover and turn on low.
  3. Cook for 7-8 hours and enjoy!
 The one thing I would have really liked to have done is make a roux and pour some of the sauce from the slow cooker into it along with some heavy cream to make a luscious and rich sauce/gravy to pour over.  Maybe I'll try that next time.

I picked up this little red head because it was made in the "heel" region of Italy.  I've never had wine from there before.  Also, because it has 2 grapes I've never had the privilege of indulging before. This wine is a blend of: 40% Negromaro 30% Primitivo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It's complexity complimented the beef very well. Very fruity and spicy.  Needed to breath a bit more than I allowed though.

That's all I really care to share for my party.  If you want to know more, ask me and I'll tell you :)

Chapter 2: Fun with Figs

I happened upon a recipe one day that sounded intriguing.  I thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about it for a number of days.  Finally I said to myself, "DUDE, JUST FREAKING MAKE IT".  So I did.  It was a rather complex dish to make which was surprising, however I was UP for the challenge, and it gave me a reason to use my new knife set I got for Christmas-

Pork Loin with Fig and Port Sauce



  • 2 1/2 cups port
  • 1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 dried black Mission figs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • R>2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 (4 to 4 1/2-pound) boneless pork loin


For the sauce: In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the first 6 ingredients. Boil over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Discard the herb sprigs and cinnamon sticks (some of the rosemary leaves will remain in the port mixture). Transfer the port mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Blend in the butter. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)  Sauce is very seedy.  If you don't care for hundreds of tiny seeds in your sauce then leave it, otherwise strain through a fine strainer to remove seeds from the sauce.

For the pork:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Stir the oil, rosemary, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper in a small bowl to blend. Place the pork loin in a heavy roasting pan. Spread the oil mixture over the pork to coat completely. Let stand for 20-25 minutes.  Then transfer to a skillet where you will brown all sides to lock in the juices.  Then, move to an oven safe dish, cover in foil and bake for about 40-45 min or until juices run clear..

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Let the pork rest 15 minutes. Pour any juices in with the port sauce if you wish to add more of a savory flavor to the sweetness of the figs. .

Using a large sharp knife, cut the pork crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the pork slices on plates. Drizzle the warm fig sauce around and serve immediately.

No comments:

Post a Comment