Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.
















Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pear, Ham & Swiss Panini


Sometimes it really is true; the most simple of recipes really are the best tasting recipes. And when these simple recipes include the best flavors complemented by each other the work is done for you in creating the best treat. 



So if you haven't paired pears, ham and Swiss cheese together then you don't yet know what you are missing. But we encourage you to give it a try. It's a step above your basic grilled cheese, which we also love!



Super simple: take some good rustic bread, smear the bread with some good Dijon mustard, layer with ripe sliced pears, a slice or two of some ham and a slice or two of Swiss cheese and then lightly spread some butter on the outside pieces of bread and cook  in a panini press until melted. If you don't have a panini press...cooking them the old fashioned way on the stovetop in a skillet works just great too.



So good, so easy, so perfect for a lazy, rainy weekend afternoon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Chopped Theme Supper Club


Almost ten years into our Supper Club now thinking of fresh themes when hosting can be a little more difficult than it was when we all first started.




Being the huge Food Network fans that G & I are we thought we might want to do a take on a Chopped theme. We played around with some of the options of how we might do it. Given our smaller kitchen space we decided the couples would need to know what their ingredients were ahead of time and mostly prepare them at home. 

We decided everyone would have the same 4 ingredients to prepare with; Pear and Hazelnut to go with the season. And then chocolate and cayenne pepper to add to the challenge. The task was to use at least two ingredients in your dish. A prize for using 3 or more ingredients in your recipe. Everyone stepped up to using three, most used 4 ingredients. 




I always love an excuse to create a seasonal table and supper club is always the perfect excuse. Also it seems like if we didn't host events like these we might never so thoroughly clean our house. Thank goodness we do. 





Kris & Jeff were assigned appetizer and stepped up with this beautiful Pear, Roquefort & Caramelized Onion Galette from My Recipes. They made some tweaks such as switching hazelnuts for the pecans and adding some cayenne. It was wonderful but anything with both pears and caramelized onions will hit the spot with me. Our Chopped meal was off to roaring start.



Next course was assigned to Jenni & Arnie who had salad. Definitely challenging to get all 4 ingredients into this one. But they met the challenge beyond well, making Roquefort Pear Salad W/Grapes &  Chocolate Spiced Hazelnuts adapted from a Junior League recipe linked on Food.com . This salad was the best salad I've had in a long time. Of course the photo doesn't quite do it justice (still haven't learned how to get great food photos on the fly at these events. Especially when hosting.)

For our main dish we turned to Rick Bayless. We admit to being fully predictable loyal in choosing a Bayless inspired recipe. We found a contemporary red mole recipe in his Mexico One Plate at a Time cookbook that just sounded like the perfect canvas to weave our ingredients into. We made Roasted Cornish Hens with Pear-Hazelnut Mole. (more about this recipe to come.)

We served the hens with some Roasted Squash with a Honey-Cayenne Glaze. 



Lastly, Lisa & Derek served an AMAZING dessert. Pear Clafoutis with Phyllo Crisps -Cider Sauce and Chocolate Sorbet. Oh yes, it was just as decadent and wonderfully over the top as the title sounds. And they plated with true Chopped food styling skill. Our entire group was impressed with the beauty.



We had such a great meal and a great time together. 


As we usually do.


We all enjoyed the Chopped theme idea and were excited how well the flavors all complemented each other. 

Looking forward to our November gathering.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Spicy Chicken Posole with Lime & Avocado



Posole is one of those soups we crave when it gets to be soup season. Its warm, spicy and wonderful and made with hominy. Hominy is one of those weird vegetables you just never really see or use. Hulled and dried corn that is then reconstituted.

We typically make a version of posole that we found several years ago from Cooking Light that we make with pureed roasted tomatillos. It's superb because it the perfect comfort food soup and it's so easy to make on a work night.



We recently found this spicy red version in Sunset Magazine made with poblanos and new Mexico chile powder.



It was easy too, made with chicken thighs instead of the breasts that we usually use.



We'll be making this version of posole again I'm sure. It was delish. And we especially loved the chicken thighs. Thighs are just so much more flavorful and they gave a new depth of flavor that we both really enjoyed.




RECIPE:










Recipe from Sunset Magazine (linked)
3 large poblano chiles (1 lb. total
6 garlic cloves
1 large onion 
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) white hominy
1 1/2 pounds boned, skinned chicken thighs 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano*, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 
3 tablespoons ground red New Mexico chiles*
Garnishes: sliced avocado, lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, and sour cream

Preparation
  1. Preheat broiler. When hot, broil poblanos on a baking sheet until blackened, turning as needed, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, whirl garlic to mince. Cut onion in chunks and pulse with garlic until chopped; set aside. Drain hominy; set aside.
  3. Cut chicken into 1- to 1 1/2-in. chunks and sprinkle with salt and 1 tsp. oregano. Heat oil in a 5- to 6-qt. pan over high heat. Brown half the chicken lightly, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add onion mixture and remaining 1 tsp. oregano to pan and sauté until onion is softened, 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave broth until steaming, about 3 minutes. Add ground chiles to pan and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add broth, hominy, and chicken to pan. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer to blend flavors, 10 minutes.
  6. Remove stems, skins, and seeds from poblanos and discard; chop poblanos.
  7. Stir poblanos into posole and cook 1 minute. Ladle into bowls; top with garnishes.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Shrimp Curry



I'm starting to actually think that maybe we are really an all season kind of couple after all. I mean for me I often feel like life doesn't really begin until the sun comes out and around here it sometimes feels like that day will never come. And for G, he spends from September 'til whenever it finally snows in the mountains literally praying for snow to come. 

But what we both do love is fall. Finally the early darkness allows us to feel not like we have to be out doing something, somewhere. But rather that home is the place to be and good food is the thing to do. When fall finally rolls around we start really thinking about the food we want to make this season. 

And often it is recipes like this one that come to us during this season. Curry is one of those flavors I can never get enough of and the idea of mixing it with pumpkin and shrimp just seemed to sound quite wonderful to us. 



What I always find interesting about many of the pumpkin recipes I've read and tried is that often the instead of pumpkin it calls for a different squash or a combo of both pumpkin and squash. This recipe is a combo of both canned pumpkin and roasted butternut squash.


We found some beautiful large Mexican Prawns that we used for this recipe.


The curry sauce smelled fantastic simmering on the stove.



This was a fantastic dish that didn't disappoint.  I love a Thai coconut curry sauce and this was simple and good. We did add 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar to the sauce to help balance the flavors. A trick G always uses when he makes Thai curry sauces.



Recipe:

Pumpkin Shrimp Curry adapted from Epicurious
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 chopped plum tomato
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash, roasted and diced
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • Steamed Jasmine rice
  • Cilantro
  • Lime zest
  • Fried shallots

  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and ginger; sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in plum tomato and pumpkin purée; cook, stirring frequently, until pumpkin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and cayenne pepper; simmer for 20 minutes. Add butternut squash, shrimp, and lime juice. Simmer until shrimp are cooked and squash is warm. Serve with steamed rice. Top with cilantro, lime zest, and fried shallots


  • Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pumpkin-Shrimp-Curry-368281#ixzz29R0L7oPx

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Parmesan Crusted Halibut


    Halibut is the perfect fish. Dense but flaky, light but full of fresh flavor. The other perfect thing about halibut is how incredibly versatile it is. We have tons of favorite ways to prepare it. Most of the time our favorite way though is just grilled with some fresh fruit salsa.

    But for fall I was craving something new and different maybe even crunchy. So I decided preparing it with a Parmesan crust over some fresh tomato sauce that I had prepared for the Eggplant Parmesan that we were going to serve it with was the route we were going to go with this recipe.


    I created the crust by using some panko and adding grated Parmesan and some chopped fresh parsley and basil. I seasoned the halibut with salt & pepper. The lightly brushed the halibut with olive oil and then dipped the halibut in the panko and Parmesan.

    I then seared the halibut in a pan with some olive oil until golden brown. I served the halibut over the fresh tomato sauce. It was fantastic. 



    The halibut paired very well with the Walla Walla ABEJA Chardonnay we served with it. 



    The halibut was fantastic served along with the Eggplant Parmesan. It was our first real fall meal of the year and it was wonderful. It has whetted our palate for the many wonderful fall meals that we'll have in the upcoming weeks to come.

    RECIPE:








    Parmesan Crusted Halibut
    1 # Fresh Alaskan Halibut, cut into 2 portions
    Salt & Pepper
    1/2 Cup Panko crumbs
    1/2 Cup shredded parmesano-reggiano
    3 Tablespoons chopped parsley & basil
    3 Tablespoons olive oil
    1 Cup Fresh tomato sauce (recipe linked)

    Pour panko into a shallow wide bowl. Add shredded parmesan and chopped herbs. Season halibut with salt & pepper. Lightly brush halibut with olive oil. Dredge halibut into panko parmesan mixture until coated on all sides. Sear halibut in pan with olive oil. Cook until halibut is golden brown and firm to the touch.

    Serve halibut over 1/2 cup tomato sauce on plate. Garnish with chopped basil and parsley sprigs. 

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Simple Fresh Eggplant Parmesan


    I love the fall version of our local Farmer's Market. Last weekend we came home with a plethera of beautiful fall offerings.

    You have to admit the colors of fall fruits and vegetables are pretty dramatic. We came  home with a small variety of tasty fresh finds. But what inspired us most was this beautiful eggplant.
    And these lovely heirloom tomatoes.
    Oh yes, eggplant parmesan was a must make recipe that made both of our mouths water in anticipation.
    I love eggplant parmesan. The ooozey cheese and savory tomato sauce are beyond comfort food pleasures for me. But it's also one of those dishes that when I order it in the restaurant I just feel so guilty for indulging in, like a heart attack on a plate kind of reaction. And that's because most versions include a heavy breading that is also deep fried. Now don't get me wrong. It's delicious that way without a doubt.
    But I was really hoping to find a way to make it :
    1) Simple = I didn't want 1,000 steps of breading, frying, etc....
    2) Fresh = I wanted to make a simple fresh tomato sauce and leave out breading & frying all together.
    3) Delicious=even without the usual preparation I still was craving a comforting dish.
    So I first started my tomato sauce. I blanched , peeled &  chopped my tomatoes.
    Then put them in dutch over low heat with garlic and chopped basil, oregano and parsley from our patio herb garden.
    While the sauce simmered I then sliced the beautiful eggplant, sprinkled them with salt and baked them in the oven about 20 minutes until they were soft.




    I then layered eggplant starting with eggplant, then a spoonful of tomato sauce followed by a slice of fresh mozzarella repeating until I had two layers and topped with eggplant. I then sprinkled the top layer with grated parmesan cheese. Really very simple. Then I put them back in the oven until the cheese was melted and browned on top.




    On the bottom of each plated I spooned a scoop of the tomato sauce and placed a stack of eggplant. We garnished the eggplant with some chopped basil.




    We served the eggplant we some my favorite Walla Walla Syrah by L'Ecole. 

    Recipe:

    Simple Fresh Eggplant Parmesan
    Tomato Sauce:
    6-8 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped
    1/2 Cup water
    3 Cloves Garlic, minced
    3 Tablespoons fresh herbs chopped (basil, parsley, oregano)
    1 Tablespoon sugar
    Salt & Pepper

    Eggplant
    14-16 slices of eggplant 1/2" thick
    Salt
    8 slices fresh mozzarella (we used buffalo mozzarella)
    1/4 Cup shredded parmesan-reggiano
    Chopped Basil

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring tomatoes to boil in a large dutch oven until skin start to pucker. Remove tomatoes and place into an ice bath until cool. Peel tomatoes and roughly chop. Put tomatoes back into dutch oven with water, garlic, herbs, sugar and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer until thick and bubbly.

    Slice eggplant. Place eggplant slices on sheet paper liberally seasoned with salt on both sides. Bake in oven 10-12 minutes until soft. In an oven safe dish start to assemble eggplant stacks. Start with 2-3 eggplant slices, depending on size, per stack. Spoon a bit of tomato sauce over eggplant. Layer with 1 slice mozzarella. Repeat layering for 4 layers topping with eggplant on top. Spread shredded parmesan over each stack. Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned on top.
    
    

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Seared Yellowfin Tuna Pepper Steaks with Mushroom Sauce



    One of the greatest surprises of 2012 in the Pacific Northwest has been the most beautiful Indian Summers that I can remember. Warm temperatures and clear, crisp blue skies. It's been an absolute dream kind of season. 


    We love yellowfin tuna on the grill in weather like this, it's one favorite we both truly crave. But although it's warm and blue skies outside it's still fall and we are also starting to get a hankering for some fall flavors too. We were looking for a new way to prepare it and this recipe started off inspired by a Epicurious recipe that we jazzed up a bit.

    It started with a lovely piece of tuna. Awe...there's nothing so lovely as yellowfin tuna.


    The tuna is simply brushed with a light coating of olive oil and some salt & pepper.





    Then grilled until slightly seared and cooked medium rare.



    Sliced and then placed over polenta was a new base for tuna for us.



    Some great Asian base favors provided a tasty sauce. Additionally we added some mushrooms to add a bit more depth to the sauce. 


    We sautéed some mushrooms them and added them to the sauce. 



    Topped with toasted sesame seeds and chopped chives garnished the dish perfectly.



    We served it with a special bottle of Grenache blend by Maison Bleue out of Prosser, Washington that was a great pairing with the tuna.









    Recipe:

    Seared Yellowfin Tuna Pepper Steaks with Mushroom Sauce adapted from Epicurious Seared Tuna Pepper Steaks

    • 2 1/4 teaspoons coarsely cracked black pepper
    • 2 1 1/4-inch-thick tuna steaks
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil

    1 cup prepared polenta

    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
    • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
    • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 3/4 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
    • 1/2 cup Sherry
    • 3/4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
    • Chopped chives

    Press 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper onto each side of each tuna steak and sprinkle lightly with salt. Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add tuna to skillet and sear until cooked to desired doneness, about 3 1/2 minutes per side for medium. Transfer tuna to plates; tent with foil to keep warm.

    Add butter and shallots to same skillet. Sauté over medium heat until shallots soften, add mushrooms about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Add sesame oil, soy sauce and broth, then sherry. Place skillet over high heat and boil until sauce is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

    Slice tuna and place over prepared polenta.Spoon sauce over tuna. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and chopped chives.