Friday, February 18, 2011

Stuffed Dates and....well, we're still looking for the perfect pairing

Recently we had some gorgonzola stuffed bacon wrapped dates. These appetizers are amazing, by the way- sweet, salty, wonderful! (take dates, remove pit, stuff with crumbled gorgonzola, wrap in bacon, bake in 375-400 degree oven for 15 minutes.)
However, because of the many flavors involved, its a little hard to pair with wine. We went for a Sauvignon Blanc- specifically the Provenance Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. It has a bit of Semillion and is aged for 5 months in oak, so its no surprise I like it. (for those of you who don't know, I'm not a huge fan of Sauvignon Blanc - most, especially those from New Zealand, are a bit too acidic and grassy for me, so typically if I like it is has a)some oak aging b) a bit of Semillion or c) both.)
We hoped the slight acidity would cut through the bacon, but we didn't want too acidic or tart, because the dates themselves are a bit sweet. Well, it wasn't a home run pairing, I'll tell you that. It wasn't horrible or offensive; the wine is good, the dates were good, they just didn't really show each other off. We think the acidity was right, but the flavor pairing was off - perhaps it was too citrus for the dates?? We think next time we will try a dry bubbly with it? We'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fun with technology

Last weekend while helping Mr. Lush research "web 2.0" technologies for the classroom, I discovered a fun site called Wordle. You can type/paste a collection of words, a link to a del.ic.ious account, or in my case, a link to my blog, and it will pull together a word collage:

You can modify the size, to some degree, the color, and the direction of the words. Also, it lets you remove a word you think maybe doesn't fit, and re-fresh to grab new words. A bit dorky, but fun!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lush Valentine's Day Dinner at home

Mr. Lush and I avoid restaurants on Valentine's Day weekend, and enjoy making a nice meal at home instead. We celebrated last night since our meal required a little bit of prep. It was really good, and a couple tweaks here and there, it could've been fabulous, so I thought I'd share our menu (including recommended modifications), which was Filet mignon with brandy peppercorn cream sauce, grilled lobster tails, and smokey mayo encrusted asparagus. For dessert we had grilled peaches and poundcake with ice cream. Of course, most recipies are geared towards 4+ portions, so they require a bit of modification, so here's our menu for two (with prep steps at the bottom), along with pairing recommendations.

Filet Mignon with Brandy Peppercorn Cream Sauce
  • Rub 2 4oz filets with coursely cracked pepper an hour before hand.
  • Finely mince 1 clove shallot and add 1 tsp cracked peppercorns
  • 1/2 c low sodium beef stock/broth
  • Combine and reduce by half (about 10-15 minutes)
  • Strain sauce if desired
  • Mix in 2 tbs brandy
  • 1 tbs peppercorns
  • 1/4 c cream
  • Reduce on medium heat to desired thickness (about 10-15 minutes)
Top filet with sauce or serve on the side for dipping. Pair with a big red wine - we had the 2002 Beringer's Private Reserve Cabernet, which was really good, but not as big as we needed, it kinda got lost with the peppercorn. I'd recommend something a bit younger, maybe 3-5 years old, aged in American Oak.

Grilled Lobster Tails:
  • Thaw 2 6-7oz Lobster Tails (weight in shell)
  • Using kitchen scissors, cut off bottom of lobster, cut in half and skewer each half
  • Mix in food processor:
  • 1/8c butter
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove shallot
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • dash cayenne pepper
Brush mixture on tails about 30 minutes before grilling, reserving 2 tbs for grilling. On medium high heat, grill tails shell down for 4 minutes, brush remaining mixture on lobster, turn, grill for 2-3 minutes. Serve with clarified butter and lemon wedges, if desired. Pair with buttery chardonnay - we had the Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve.

Smokey Mayo Crusted Aparagus
  • 1/4 c mayonnaise
  • 1/8 c olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked sea salt
  • 1 tbs paprika
(note, you can also use regular salt and smoked paprika)
Mix together ingredients, toss 1 bunch asparagus, and let sit for 30 minutes in fridge. Prior to putting on grill, put in freezer for 5 minutes. Grill until desired doneness.

Grilled Peaches and Poundcake:
This doesn't really even call for a recipie - cut 1 large peach into 6 wedges, cut 4 1+ inch thick slices of poundcake. Grill until slightly charred. Top with ice cream - we had both creme brulee ice cream (my favorite pairing) and caramel ice cream (Mr. Lush's favorite). Pair with a late harvest riesling - we had the Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select Riesling.

Now, I'm not gonna lie, this meal requires some prep. Here's the order in which we prepped things:
  • Rub filets with peppercorns.
  • Mix sauce for asaparagus, set aside.
  • Mix sauce for lobster, set aside.
  • Start the Brandy peppercorn sauce (to reducing by half). Mix remaining sauce ingredients, set aside.
  • Cut peaches and poundcake, set aside.
  • Prep lobster tails on skewers.
  • Take a kissing break! Have a glass of wine, some apps, relax. 
  • Brush lobster tails with sauce, set aside.
  • Toss asaparagus in sauce, set aside.
  • Light grill.
  • 10-15 minutes before your food is done, re-start the Brandy Peppercorn sauce.
Enjoy your dinner, and don't forget to laugh with each other, Cheers!

PS-for dinners that need multiple wines for pairing, use a wine saver like vacu-vin or use half bottles - a good website for half bottles is Half Wit Wines.