Archive for the ‘Menu’ Category

Surf and turf

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The unusual lentil/mussels soup that I ate at Savore in New York City was on my mind ever since that night. Last night, I decided to do something about it.

I’m one of those nuts who try to deconstruct the ingredients that go into a restaurant dish, especially when the dish sparks my appetite and my interest. Mussels with lentils was such an unusual pairing—at least I’ve never done it before—that it was a natural for me to think about deconstructing…and if that fails, I simply construct my own!

I believe that I have captured much of what was in that bowl at Savore, whether I did it with the proper ingredients is not the issue for me. To my taste, the earthiness of the lentils and the fishy-ness of the mussels (and broth) was truly an interesting version of “surf and turf” dining, and that is all I sought to duplicate.

The other day, my wife and I ate trout for dinner. As we usually do in our home, the bones from the trout did not get thrown out; they rested in the fridge overnight and waited for their appointment in the morning to simmer on the stove in water to make a fish stock. (We seem to have a stock pot simmering almost every day, from fish to chicken to vegetable.)

My aim for the trout stock was to use it as part of the base for my experiment with lentils and mussels soup, which we had at dinner last night, and for lunch as leftovers today. Here’s how I made the soup.

I steamed a bag of mussels until they just popped open their shells, and put the mussels aside; then, I added the water from the mussel-steaming plus the trout stock (total of six cups) into a pot, cleaned and screened one and one half cups of lentils and put them into the pot, added a teaspoon of cumin, three large bay leaves (we have two laurel trees), and a chopped cayenne pepper (we grow and then freeze them), brought everything to a boil and then simmered it for about 20 minutes.

While the lentils simmered, I chopped two large carrots, one large fennel stalk (in place of celery, which to me tastes like kerosene) two garlic cloves, one onion and put them aside.

After they simmered to tender, I took half the lentils out of the pot with a slotted spoon, pureed them, mixed the lentil puree back into the pot and added the chopped vegetables. Everything simmered until the vegetables cooked to tender.

At the last minute, I stirred into the pot the juice of one lemon and two tablespoons of olive oil; then, I added the mussels (in their shells), lowered the flame to below low, covered, and let the mussels get hot in the pot.

The result was close to Savore’s but not exact. It was, however, quite a nice soup—both times that we ate it.

At Savore, I drank Morellino di Scansano with the soup. At home, we tried it with a Heron Hill Cabernet Franc. The wine is clean and crisp, very much in the Chinon style, but it was not the best pairing for the mussels and lentils soup.I’ll have to try it again with another wine–any suggestions?

Some have asked about my prostate cancer situation. I don’t care to go into too much detail, but I am feeling fine. I’ve been given a hormone shot to shrink and make brittle the cancer cells in preparation for radiating them. The shot produces potential side effects; in my case, the side effects have been minimal, almost to undetectable.

According to the doc, my overall good health (and the fact that I take no medications, nor have I ever been a habitual smoker) should benefit me during this process. But I do not fool myself; I know that when radiation begins I will suffer fatigue and who knows what else! Until then, I will exercise daily, eat healthy, drink some wine, and keep on writing.

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
January 2011. All rights reserved.

Lifting a blog entry without the author’s permission (and without recompense) is a copyright infringement–period.

Duck breast with black raspberry sauce.

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

My blogging associate, Vinogirl, likes duck. After a comment about duck that she made on her blog, I promised a duck recipe.

This one is duck breast with black raspberry sauce, for two.


Two duck breasts
1 Shallot chopped
2 Cloves Garlic minced
Cup of Black Raspberries
Cup of Ruby Port
Crushed black pepper
Olive Oil
Two large potatoes cut into small cubes
1 Onion sliced
½ cup Chicken Stock

Pound the duck breast, sprinkle one side with pepper and then flour; do the same for the other side.

I keep some black raspberries from my garden frozen whole through the winter. When I want some, I remove as much as I want, let them warm up and then run them through a sieve to remove as much of the little seeds as possible.

In a skillet with a little olive oil, brown the duck at high heat on both sides and remove.

Deglaze the skillet with ½ cup Port until it cooks down to half; then, bring heat to low, add the shallot, half of the garlic, raspberries, and the rest of the port and let simmer, but don’t let it dry out. If that is about to happen, add wine.

In a pan, add tablespoon oil, onion and cook on medium for a minute; then, the rest of the garlic and cook for another minute; then, add the potatoes, sprinkle as much paprika as you want on them, add stock, mix things up, cover and simmer on low flame until the potatoes are soft—it should take about twenty or so minutes.

Gauge your stovetop and calculate how much time you need to allow the potatoes to cook so that the potatoes and the duck are ready at the same time, based on how rare—or not—you like your duck.

In another pan add a teaspoon olive oil over low heat; then, add the duck breast and cover. Let cook for about three minutes, turn over and let cook for three minutes; then cover for two minutes. Check the duck breast to see if it is as rare as you like it, or not too rare. If you need to cook more, keep watch over the breast so that it doesn’t overcook (I like mine pink to juicy). Always remember that meat cooks a little more after you turn off the flame.

When done, the potatoes should be soft and moist. If they are done slightly before the duck, just turn off the flame and let them sit covered.

When it is done, plate the duck, either pour the sauce over it or beside it, whether you like to cut and dip or sauce and cut.

Before serving the potatoes, sprinkle some pepper over them (salt too if you use it, I never do).

Add your greens of choice or salad.

Which wine would you pair with this meal?

Vinogirl Blog

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
November 2010. All rights reserved.

Lifting a blog entry without the author’s permission (and without recompense) is a copyright infringement–period.

Which wine for Pork chop?

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Wine writers, reviewers, critics, and bloggers are in the business of telling readers what to drink. Let me try something new and have readers tell me what to drink.

I’ll write out a meal, with recipes, and you pair it with wine. Tell me which wine you’d have with the meal and most of all, tell me why that wine.

First meal: thick cut pork chop in Madeira sauce, with roasted potatoes and sweetly infused Brussels sprouts.

The potatoes:

If you can find small new potatoes use them; if not, use the larger ones. The difference will be in how you cut them for the roasting. I like to thinly slice off the top and bottom of a small potato so that it stands flat and it has a plateau surface on which to add the ingredients. If the potatoes are large, I cut each in half and then slice the rounded edges to create the same flattened bottom and plateau on top, but to make the large potatoes small enough for quicker roasting.

While a small toaster oven (or similar unit) heats to 350 degrees F, dribble olive oil over each cut potato then sprinkle winter sage leaves and crushed white pepper over the potatoes so that they stick to the oil. Place in the oven and set for 50 minutes.

After 20 minutes into the potatoes roasting, turn main oven to 350 (I use a convection) and then drop a tablespoon olive oil into a cast iron pan and turn heat to high.

Place pork chop(s) on a meat-cutting surface, sprinkle crushed black pepper on one side and then lightly flour it; turn the chop over and do the same. Then, roll the chop in the rest of the flour that has fallen to the surface.

In the hot iron pan, brown the chop on each side and around its edges and then remove from heat. Immediately deglaze the pan with a ½ cup sweet Madeira and then reduce flame to low.

Place chops into the oven and turn timer to 20 minutes.

Add chopped shallot and garlic clove to the Madeira, plus ½ cup more Madeira and a few dashes of soy sauce. Separately, mix an ounce of Madeira with two teaspoons of flour until it is a thick gooey substance and add to the pan, turn flame to simmer and stir constantly.

Rinse and then cut a cross hatch into each Brussels sprout. Slice a garlic clove and thin carrots. In a sauté pan, over very low heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil, the sprouts, garlic and carrots, plus ¼ cup Madeira and cover to steam.

When the potatoes and chops are done, turn flame up under the Madeira/shallot sauce and stir vigorously until it is less liquid-like and more solid-like.

Check to see that the sprouts and carrots are firm but cooked.

Plate everything and pour the sauce over the chops—garnish with parsley.

Eat with the wine you prefer, but do tell me which one you have chosen.

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
November 2010. All rights reserved.

Lifting a blog entry without the author’s permission (and without recompense) is a copyright infringement–period.