Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not All Green Soups are Pea Soups!

Potage a la Florentine

This is a great cream of spinach soup! Here's most of the ingredients. Can you tell what is missing?

Let's start and see what it is.

First, take the onion (it's there) and slice up a 1/2 cup of it.

Then cook that up in about 2 Tablespoons of butter in the stock pot. Hmm, the butter is there as well! This should be over medium to medium-high heat and take about 8 to 10 minutes. The onion should be tender but not browned!

Now while the onion is cooking, take that almost 2 pounds (30 or so ounces) of spinach that has been washed and roughly chop that up.

Here's a bowl full of chopped spinach!

That is a lot of spinach! It will cook down. 

Stir that spinach into the onion, 
cover, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring on occasion to prevent scorching of the spinach.

Now, pour in 5 cups of chicken broth and stir that up. (chicken broth was in the picture!)

Add a pinch or so of nutmeg. And this:

Is it hailing?

Nope - that is 1/2 cup of white rice. (That is what was not in the picture!)

Cover and let it simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the rice is soft. Should look like:

While that is happening, take 2 egg yolks in a bowl and stir them up.

 To the eggs, blend in 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

Now, take that cooked spinach and put it in a blender. This will take 2 to 3 different blendings. It will not work by trying to cram all of that into the blender at one time!

Dribble some, perhaps a cup or so, into the egg/cream mixture while whipping it. Then pour everything into the stock pot. 

You can stop right here and cool everything down to be heated up within a day or two. If this is done, bring to a simmer before serving.

Right before serving, blend in about 4 Tablespoons of soft butter, or, 1/2 cup of heavy cream. (Enriching agents!)

I like to have some shaved Parmesan cheese or an 'island' of cheese in the bowl that the soup is poured over.

Sever with a Sauvignon Blanc from Llano or another Texas winery.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stuffed Apricots

Boy, are these tasty! And, easy to make!

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Have the rack in the upper third of the oven.

Butter a pie dish.

Take dried apricots and stuff them with a dab of blue cheese and a roasted almond.

I like to open up the apricot like a clam shell and make an indentation on both sides, sorta hollow it out a wee bit.

How is an almond roasted? In a frying pan. Place raw almonds in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Shake the heck out of them for 4 to 5 minutes. This is to start the release of the oils without burning the almond. That is all that needs to be done.

Place all of these apricots on the buttered pie dish. Stick ‘em with toothpicks. Into the oven for a dozen minutes or so. Want to heat them, melt the cheese, start breaking down the sugars in the apricot, but do not burn them!

Out they come. On to the serving tray, and watch them disappear!

Enjoy with the Alamosa Cherokee Rose.

Braised Scallops with Raspberry

Scallops make a wonderful fish course. They are super easy to cook and do not take much time. Here's what I start with:

Upper left is fennel that has been sliced into sticks. That forms the bed for the scallop.

Middle upper is the coriander seed that gets pulverized.

Upper right is the mashed avocado that has some lemon juice added to it so it does not discolor.

Lower right are the raspberries.

Lower left is some vermouth with lemon zest.

And, of course, the lower middle are the sea scallops. Always, always, always find that muscle bit on the scallop that connects it to the shell and remove this bit if the fish monger has not already done so.

Not shown is butter and coconut oil.

So, take the butter and coconut oil, and plop it in the frying pan and get the butter oil hot. The scallops should sizzle right away when they hit the pan. Should be on medium-high heat.

Dry the scallops! You want to sear them, not steam them!

Plop the scallops into the hot pan. Sear them for 3 minutes, no more, no less, to get a good crust on the one side.

While the first side is searing, pulverize the coriander seed and add it to the vermouth/zest. Also mash up one raspberry and add it to the vermouth/zest. Also, get the plates ready with the fennel beds.

Check the scallops to be sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

After the initial 3 minutes, flip them over and sear the other side for 3 minutes. One minute into this three minutes, pour on the vermouth/zest/coriander/raspberry mixture. It should go 'POOOSSSHHHH'. Tilt the frying pan and using a good size spoon, baste the scallops as they continue to sear. During these last 2 minutes this should form a nice sauce for the scallops.

Once the three minutes are up, the sauce should have been reduced to a nice coating on the scallops and the scallops can be placed on the bed.

Then, top with the mashed avocado and a raspberry.

Here is how one looks on a bed of salad. Notice the nice, brown crust on the scallop. That is the ideal.

Enjoy with a perhaps a Blanc du Blois wine from Haak, or a Sauvignon Blanc from Llano or Fall Creek.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


During Lent, every Sunday is a mini-Easter. There are 40 days in Lent - Sundays are not included. So, this pass Sunday was a great day to celebrate. Our church (Lord of Life - LOL - isn't that a great acronym for a church! - Lutheran Church in The Woodlands, TX, see: runs a Bible in 90 Days or B90D program wherein you meet once a week to see a video, have some discussions and support one another to read the entire Bible in 90 days - read it like a novel. I travel too much to volunteer to be a facilitator. So, I like to raise these facilitators up and give thank them for their calling by hosting a seven course food and wine pairing. So, this pass Sunday was the day.

Here are the wines:

Yep, every one from Texas. This was, by far, the best start-to-finish meal that I have ever put together.

Here's the menu:
Alamosa Cherokee Rose

Mixed Salad
Becker Moscato
Llano Sauvignon Blanc

Fall Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

Boiled potatoes
Glazed carrots
Becker Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Assorted Cheese, Fruits, Nuts
Flat Creek Estate Super Texan

Sister Creek Muscat Canelli

Coffee and Tea

The recipes you can see on the blog elsewhere. Links are provided.

I was overall pleased with the wines. In the future I would probably try a Blanc du Bois from Haak instead of the Sauvignon Blanc with the scallops.