Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tapas & Grilled Rack of Lamb

Clothbound Cabot & Robiola Due Latte cheeses w/ Peach Chutney & Honeycomb

Wine:  Prosecco & J Vineyards Pinot Noir

Prosciutto wrapped Asparagus with Blood-Orange Balsamic

Asparagus with Grapefruit & Creme Fraiche

Grilled Rack of, New Zealand, Lamb
Pick-up your Lamb @ Whole Foods, Franklin, TN

Marinade - garlic infused EVOO, chopped, fresh, rosemary, fresh roasted garlic, shaved sea salt & cracked black pepper.  24 hrs in a zip-loc bag.

Grilled lamb to 135 degrees internal for a very nice med-rare.

Grilled pears for salad with Strawberry-Basil Vinaigrette.

Wine:  ST.Francis Reserve Cabernet

Cast Iron Skillet Apple Pie

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Venge Pinot & Grilled Heart of Romaine with Flat Iron Steak and Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

unWine'd with a pour...

This Pinot has nice bright red fruit, cherry - raspberry, on the nose with a hint of dark fruit on the mid-palate, maybe even a hint of vanilla - to me.  I like the mild tannins, complexity and the lingering finish of this Pinot.  Great job Venge.  Cheers to all at Venge and bon appetit...

Seasoning the Flat Iron Steak:
Put a light coat of EVOO all over the steak.  Add a couple pinches of Kosher Salt to each side as well as some Cracked Black Pepper.  Next, finely chop 1/2 Tbsp of fresh Rosemary and sprinkle over both sides of the steak.  Lastly, I add a pinch of Smoked Paprika & Ground Cumin to each side.  Now, let that sit a room temp for about one hour prior to grilling.

Grilling the Flat Iron Steak:
I use high heat, 450-500 grill temp which is about 400 - 425 grill surface temp, in my grill.  I brush some EVOO on the grill grates and then place the steak on the grill.  I like my steak Rare+ to Med-Rare so I grill this cut for 4 minutes on each side.  Afterwards, I'll let it sit for about 5 - 7 minutes before I slice the steak, thinly.  Don't over cook this cut of beef.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

'07 PlumpJack Cabernet & Dry Aged Rib-eyes

Dry Aged Rib-eyes:  I've been planning to grill these for some time but they're not easily found, where I live anyway, and I thought I might have to buy a whole rib-eye, enough for several steaks.  So, I finally found Dry Aged beef at Whole Foods in Franklin, TN (I-65 & McEwen) where I could purchase individual steaks.  These steaks are about 1 1/2" thick and 1.25 lbs total.  They're a little pricy but definitely worth it.
Get your Dry Aged Rib-eyes @ Whole Foods, Franklin, TN.

So what exactly does Dry Aged mean?
(Source-Internet)  Dry-aged beef is beef that has been hung to dry for several weeks. After the animal is slaughtered and cleaned, either an entire half will be hung, or prime cuts (large distinct sections) will be placed in a cooler, also known as a "hot box". This process involves considerable expense, as the beef must be stored near freezing temperatures. Also, only the higher grades of meat can be dry aged, as the process requires meat with a large, evenly distributed fat content. For these reasons one seldom sees dry-aged beef outside of steak restaurants and upscale butcher shops. The key effect of dry aging is the concentration and saturation of the natural flavor.

The process changes beef by two means. First, moisture is evaporated from the muscle. This creates a greater concentration of beef flavor and taste. Second, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender beef.

Dry aging of beef is rare in super-markets in the United States today, due to the significant loss of weight in the aging process. It is found in steakhouses and certain restaurants.

The process of dry-aging usually also promotes growth of certain fungal (mold) species on the external surface of the meat. This doesn't cause spoilage, but actually forms an external "crust" on the meat's surface, which is trimmed off when the meat is prepared for cooking. These fungal species complement the natural enzymes in the beef by helping to tenderize and increase the flavor of the meat. The genus Thamnidia, in particular, is known to produce collagenolytic enzymes which greatly contribute to the tenderness and flavor of dry-aged meat.
Preparation & cooking:
I wanted to experience the flavor of this aging process so I didn't do anything but add a few pinches of shaved sea salt and black pepper to both sides.  I let that sit for about 30 - 45 minutes before placing them on the grill.  The flavor of these rib-eyes are beyond anything you'll get at a butcher, Publix or other.  The flavor and marbling made for a fabulous tasting steak.
I cooked these to an internal temp of 130 - 135 (a nice med-rare), removed from the grill and tented them with aluminum foil in the house for another 5 - 7 minutes to rest. If you prefer your steak medium, cook it to 140 - 145 internal temp. If you want it "ruined," cook it beyond 145... :-)
Now, more importantly, the vino.
'07 PlumpJack Cabernet
unWine'd with a pour...
PlumpJack - enough said!!! A close friend of mine got this for me in Oct 2010 @ the winery. I saved it for a special meal and it didn't disappoint with the Dry Aged Rib-eyes. This wine has dark fruit on the nose, great complexity and balance, maybe some cocoa on the mid-palate leading to an ethereal finish. Pick up a bottle for your next special occasion. 
Cheers to all at PlumpJack...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cedar Wrapped Salmon Fillets

Salmon prep: 
Light coat of EVOO on the fish. I mixed 1 Tbsp of Honey, 1 Tbsp of Spicy Mustard and the juice of a half a lemon. Mix thoroughly and brush on the fillets.

Two lemon slices and a little parsley and dill. Wrap the cedar and tie...

Ready for the grill...

Cooking quite nicely, but more importantly it'll pair nicely with the '09 Meiomi Pinot Noir, a Magnum if you please.......  Cheers.

'09 Rasteau, Cotes du Rhone

unWine'd with a pour...

<$30, This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah & 10% Mourvedre (aka GSM). It's from the Rhone Valley, Southeastern France, East of Bordeaux. This region is primarily Grenache and blended with other varietals. This wine has earthiness and dark fruit on the nose with some spiciness, from the Syrah, on the mid-palate as well as a nice lingering finish.

This wine pairs with everything from Caprese Salad to Beef Stew. Or, just shared amongst friends. Cheers...

Granny Smith Tapas

Thinly sliced Granny Smith apple, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with Blood Orange Balsamic.  Easy and healthy.  Pour some Schramsberg Sparkling Wine alongside.  Cheers...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Blanched Asparagus & Meiomi Pinot Noir

unWine'd with a pour...

If you're a Pinot fan, this is one you'll want to add to your list.  $19.  It has a bright, deep garnet color. Aromas blackberries on the nose and cola on the mid-palate, maybe a little vanilla as well.  Abundant flavor, texture and structure.  Supple tannins leads to a lingering, succulent finish.  You may be thinking only white wine with Scallops but Meiomi pairs well, not overpowering, but very complimentary.  The Scallops are seasoned with White Pepper and it works well together.  Nostrovia...
Wagner Family Wine:  Meiomi, Belle Glos, Caymus, Caymus Special Select and others.  These are all opulent, in my opinion.  Cheers to all at Wagner Family...

Getting started with the Scallops and Asparagus: 
Cut the Asparagus into 6" pieces.  Afterwards, peel it from the tip down.  Next, put the Asparagus in boiling water, with 1 tsp of salt added, for 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove from boiling water and place the Asparagus in ice water, for 1 - 2 minutes, to stop the cooking process.  Sit aside while you cook the Scallops.

Cooking the Scallops:  I used a few pinches of salt and white pepper (the key) on both sides of the Scallops, don't over do it - less is more.  Next, I pre-cook the bacon for approximately 3 minutes in the microwave.  Now, wrap the bacon around the Scallops and pin with a toothpick.

While the bacon is cooking in the microwave, pour 1 Tbsp of EVOO in a med skillet on med-high.  You want to see just a little smoke coming up from the skillet before you put the Scallops in the skillet.  Ready-Set-Go, place your Scallops in the skillet and cook for "3" minutes on each side, turning only once.  As you can see in the photo, these are large Scallops.  If you're cooking smaller Scallops, reduce the time.

Dressing the Asparagus:  
I use 1 Tbsp or less of Garlic Infused EVOO and a little salt and pepper or Nature's Seasonings instead of salt & pepper, your call.  Toss that in a bowl and you're ready.  This recipe is relatively quick and very healthy.  bon app├ętit...