2/3/07 WINE DINNER at Iron Horse Inn

On Saturday, February 3, 2007, Wendy & I joined Gail, Bill, Joanne, Bob, Mike, Greg, Laramie, and Mark at a table at the Iron Horse Inn for their first-Saturday Wine Dinner. While it wasn’t the best wine dinner we’ve ever attended, it was still an enjoyable evening out with good food, friends, and wine. Here’s what was on the menu:

First Course
Parsnip Puree, Vanilla Oil, Blue Crab
Lobster Cove Chardonnay
This was a nice, warming pureed soup to start the meal. Though I am not a fan of Chardonnay in general, this unoaked wine went well with the course.

Second Course
Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jelly Foie Gras
Gold Leaf Merlot
Loyal readers of this site know that I am a big fan of foie gras. However, this dish has to be considered a ‘miss’… First, the peanut butter was overpowering and the white bread didn’t add anything. The foie was good, but it was cold.

Third Course
Southern Fried Arctic Char, Smoked Trout Pasta Salad, Red Pepper Oil, Chive Oil
Four Kings Meritage
I enjoyed the components of this dish, but the combination did not add up. Eaten seperately, the char was very nice, the smoked trout pasta salad was good. Eaten together, I was left scratching my head as to the combination. The Four Kings Meritage was an enjoyable wine.

Fourth Course
Slow Braised Veal Osso Bucco, Roasted Root Vegetable “Cassoulet” Style, Pork Confit
“Handprint” Merlot
I really like Osso Bucco, and it was a perfect dish for the cold weather we’re enduring in Cincinnati right now. I missed the bones (and the marrow!) which for some reason weren’t included on the dish. The wine was a lovely compliment to this dish, and the hand-painted bottles are beautiful.

Chocolate Fig Newton Crème Brulee
Fro-Zin Icewine
The Icewine was really, really tasty — a ‘keeper’ from this menu. The brulee was good, but overly rich.

RECIPE 6: Shrimp Volavent

                      -= Exported from BigOven =-

                           Shrimp Volavent

Recipe By: Doug Johnstone, CEC
Serving Size: 12
Main Ingredient:
Categories: Hors dOeuvres, Appetizers

-= Ingredients =-
2 each sheets Puff Pastry
1 large Egg
2 tablespoon Heavy Cream
36 large Shrimp ; Peeled And Deveined
1/4 pound Butter ; Room Temperature
1 ounce Brandy
2 each Shallot ; Finely Diced
12 ounces Heavy Cream
3 each Avocado ; Each Sliced Into 12 Pieces
1 each Tarragon Sprig
1 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
to taste Black Pepper
4 ounces White Wine

-= Instructions =-
1. Preheat oven — 400 for a convection oven, 425 for a conventional oven.

2. Make a wash with beaten egg and first measure of cream and brush puff pastry sheets. With a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut 24 circles out of the pastry. Place one on top of another to create 12 double-stacked disks. Make a circular indentation 1/2 inside the edge of each top. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees in a convection oven (or 425 in a conventional oven) until golden, about 12 minutes.

3. Mix together the salt, pepper, and paprika. Pat the shrimp dry. Melt 1/4 pound of butter in a skillet and saute the shrimp without allowing them to color; add the finely diced shallots and saute lightly. Pour off excess butter and deglaze the pan with the brandy; allow it to flame. Add wine, remove shrimp from pan, and reduce by half. Add cream and reduce to proper consistency (coats the back of a spoon). Replace shrimp and add avocado slices to warm.

4. Cut tops from pastry shells and fill each with 3 shrimp. Lay avocado slices around, fill shell with sauce and replace lid. Garnish with Tarragon sprig. Serve at once.


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Reading: You Suck

You Suck: A Love Story

Oh, Wendy & I adore Christopher Moore! He’s one funny writer, as nice as he can be in person, and writes enjoyably messed-up stories.

YOU SUCK is a follow-up to BLOODSUCKING FIENDS that Mr. Moore has written at the request of his readers. I’m only 80 pages in and have laughed out loud several times already.

RECIPE 7: Fig, Prosciutto, and Blue Cheese Pizzas

                      -= Exported from BigOven =-

               Fig, Prosciutto, And Blue Cheese Pizzas

From Wednesday September 24 2003 LA TIMES Food Section, page F3. Flatbreads are available at Trader Joe’s and Middle Eastern markets. Try Jungle Jim’s, too.

Recipe By:
Serving Size: 6
Main Ingredient:
Categories: Easy, Snacks, Hors dOeuvres, Appetizers

-= Ingredients =-
1 pound Fresh Black Mission Figs ; about 20 Sm
1/2 cup Port Wine
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3 tablespoon Brown Sugar
2 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary ; Chopped
3 tablespoon Shallot ; Minced
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 ounces Prosciutto ; About 6 Slices
6 ea 1 inch Flatbreads
4 ounces (1 cu Mild Blue Cheese ; Crumbled

-= Instructions =-
1. Preheat oven to 375. Remove the stems from the figs, then cut the figs into quarters. Place in a 9-by-12 inch glass baking dish. Combine the port wine, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, rosemary, shallots, and salt. Pour over figs and roast in a 375 oven for 30 minutes, stirring several times. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Cut the prosciutto horizontally into half-inch strips.

3. Place the flatbreads on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the flatbreads over.

4. Place the fig mixture in a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times to break up the figs. The mixture will resemble a thick marmalade.

5. Spread about one-fourth cup fig mixture on each flatbread to within half an inch of the edge. Sprinke the blue cheese on top of the jam, evenly dividing it between the 6 pizzas, then drape the prosciutto slices on top.

6. Bake until the cheese has melted and the flatbread is crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.
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HAPPY MOUTH — February 2007

This evening, this Valentine’s Day evening, several of us braved the frigid cold and met for our monthly Happy Mouth outing. It was Wendy B’s choice, and she selected Thai Cafe’ in Clifton. Thai Cafe’ offers Asian food at reasonable prices. We had Curry Rolls, Edamame, and Paad Thai in two versions — soft noodles for Wendy, and crispy noodles for me. The food was pretty good, though our proteins (shrimp & chicken) were so overcooked as to be nearly unedible. However, it was a fun outing and a good time was had by all!

Reading: House of Leaves

A couple friends and I are working our way through House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. This is the predecessor of ONLY REVOLUTIONS, which I attempted to read a couple books back and failed to finish. House of Leaves is, itself, a difficult book, but it is an engrossing story very deftly told.


House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition

RECIPE 8: Butter Rum Caramels

                      -= Exported from BigOven =-

                         Butter Rum Caramels

Recipe By: GOURMET magazine, October 2005, page 268
Serving Size: 64
Main Ingredient:
Categories: Candy, Gourmet Magazine, Easy, Desserts

-= Ingredients =-
Vegetable Oil ; For Greasing
2 cups (14 oun Light Brown Sugar ; Packed
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 stick (1/4 c Unsalted Butter
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup + 1 ts Dark Rum
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

-= Instructions =-
1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and oil parchment.

2. Bring brown sugar, cream, butter, salt, and 1/4 cup rum to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until butter is melted, then boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 248 degrees (firm-ball stage), about 15 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and remaining teaspoon rum.

4. Pour into baking pan and cool completely until firm, 1 to 2 hours.

5. Invert caramel onto a cutting board, then discard parchment and turn caramel glossy side up. Cut into 1-inch squares.
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