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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fish Tacos and Grilled Corn on the Cob with Springhouse Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

This is a great summer dinner, fun for the weekend yet easy enough for a weekday. I had not eaten a lot of Fish Tacos until we moved to San Diego. They are served almost everywhere, and I soon began craving them on a regular basis. I finally found a marinade that I really liked and starting making these tacos at home. For the fish, I prefer a firmer white fish like halibut, swordfish or shark. Red snapper also works quite well. Tonight I went with halibut. A yummy sauce can be thrown together in minutes (recipe below). However, when I am really lazy I use ranch dressing which is funny because I don’t like ranch dressing on anything but these tacos.

WINE: 2009 Springhouse Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Gorge

Mike and I discovered this wine on our recent trip to the Columbia Gorge ( It’s a nice crisp and fruity Sauvignon Blanc. There is more grass on the nose than the palate which is dominated with melon and a little pair. A touch of lime adds to the finish. This was a great pairing with these tacos. I also think a Pinot Grigio or Rose would pair nicely too.

RECIPE: Halibut Fish Tacos
Servings: 2

• ¾ - 1 lb halibut (or swordfish, shark, etc)
• ¼ cup lime juice (or juice from 2 limes)
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• ¼ cup fresh cilantro
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp cumin
• 1 tbsp chili powder
• ½ tbsp oregano
• ½ tsp pepper
• 6 corn tortillas or 4 flour tortillas
• Shredded cabbage, for garnish
• Fish taco sauce (recipe below)
• Pico de gallo, garnish (recipe below)

1. Mix lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and pepper together in Ziploc bag or shallow dish.
2. Add fish. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
3. Grease grill. Turn on grill and heat grill to medium heat.
4. Grill fish until easily flakes with a fork. I had a .85 halibut fillet. It took about 6 minutes per side on the grill to finish.
5. I have found that the fish often cools very quickly as soon as it is off the grill. I heat my small cast iron skillet in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes then serve fish on that.

RECIPE: Grilled Corn on the Cob

• Corn on the Cob
• Garlic salt, to taste
• Butter, to taste

1. Peel off a few of the outer layers of the corn on cob.
2. Soak corn in the cob in cold water for 15 minutes. I put corn in a large bowl and fill to brim. Then a put the lid on to keep the corn all the way in the water.
3. Heat grill to medium heat.
4. Pull the remaining husks back, but do not take off. Remove the silk from the corn.
5. Sprinkle garlic salt on cobs.
6. Wrap husks back around cobs.
7. Grill for 15 – 20 minutes rotating frequently. Corn is done when husks are nice and brown and corn is firm but easily punctured with a fork.
8. Remove husks and serve with butter if desired.


• ¼ cup sour cream
• ¼ cup mayonnaise
• 1 tbsp lime juice (or juice from half a lime)
• 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
• ½ tsp chipotle chili powder
• ½ tsp garlic salt
1. Mix sour cream, mayonnaise and lime juice until well combined.
2. Mix in remaining ingredients.
3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

RECIPE: Pico de Gallo

• 1 tomato, diced
• 1 small onion, diced
• 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
• 2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
• ¼ tsp salt
• Juice of 1 lime

1. In a small bowl, mix together tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro and salt.
2. Squeeze lime juice over everything and then stir.
3. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate if letting sit longer.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Calamari Steak and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Talbott Chardonnay

I never even knew that calamari steak existed until I moved to Monterey. Now it has become one of those things I do not know if I could live without having every once in a while. I grew up with a lot of chicken fried steak, and I have to say that I like this a whole lot better.

This recipe is super easy to make and it is a shame I waited so long to cook this myself. In addition, calamari is low in calories and fat. This recipe does have a fair amount of oil and butter, but at least you are beginning with something that by itself is very healthy

Since a lot of calamari is caught in Monterey, calamari steak is very easy to find here. I have no idea if this is
 something other Whole Food locations or fish markets carry. I would love to know as we are moving in six months and I will still want to make this. This is what they look like:

WINE: 2007 Talbott Chardonnay, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands (Monterey)

Talbott Vineyards only make Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And they do it very well. The Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay boasts pineapple with a little honey and vanilla on nose. Very silky, subtle lemon notes mingle with tropical fruit and butterscotch on the palate. This Chardonnay is awesome, but one with more buttery notes would fair even better with this dish.

RECIPE: Calamari Steak
Servings: 2

• 2 calamari steaks, pounded thin if not so already
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 1/3 cup flour
• 1 egg, beaten
• ½ cup Italian bread crumbs
• ~4 tbsp olive oil, divided
• 1 shallot bulb, thinly sliced
• 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
• ¼ cup white wine
• 1 tbsp butter
• 1 tbsp capers
• ½ tbsp lemon juice

1. Heat a small pan over medium heat for sauce. Add 1 ½ tbsp olive oil.
2. Heat a large pan (cast iron works well) over medium high heat for calamari steaks. Coat bottom of pan with olive oil. Amount depends on size of pan.
3. Begin cooking shallots for 2-3 minutes in small pan.
4. Add garlic to shallots. Cook for another minute or two.
5. Set up a station with flour on one plate or in shallow dish, egg in another plate or shallow dish, and breadcrumbs on a third plate or shallow dish.

6. Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of calamari.
7. Dip both sides of calamari in flour.
8. Dip both sides of calamari in egg.
9. Dip both sides of calamari in breadcrumbs.
10. Add calamari to large pan. Flip after 1 ½ minutes when bottom is browned. Repeat on other side. These will cook quickly. Remove from pan when finished.
11. Add white wine to shallots and garlic. Turn up heat for one minute.
12. Reduce heat. Add butter, capers and lemon juice. Stir. When butter is melted, sauce is finished. Spoon sauce over calamari steak.

RECIPE: Roasted Garlic Red Potatoes
Servings: 3

• 12-15 cloves of roasted mashed garlic, see below
• 1 lb. small red potatoes
• 1/3 cup half-n-half
• 2 tbsp butter
• ½ tsp salt, or more to taste
• ¼ tsp pepper, or more to taste.

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
2. Quarter potatoes and add to pot.
3. Boil for ~15 minutes or until a fork slides easily in and out.
4. Drain.
5. In a large bowl, use a mixer and mix together potatoes with garlic, half-n-half, butter, salt and pepper.

Techniques for Roasting Garlic.

You can roast whole heads of garlic or garlic that is already peeled. I tend to buy already peeled garlic, so roast it more that way. Roasted garlic is much more mellow, so you want to use more than you would if it was unroasted. You can do this ahead of time and use in a variety of things!

Roasting Peeled Garlic
1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Place peeled garlic in center of aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil on top.
3. Wrap foil around garlic in a tight package.
4. Bake for 30-45 minutes until garlic is easily mashed with a fork.

Roasting a Whole Head of Garlic
1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Chop off the top ~1/2 inch of the garlic head. This helps you to remove the garlic once roasted.
3. Place garlic in a shallow pan.
4. Drizzle with olive oil.
5. Seal pan with aluminum foil.
6. Bake for ~45 minutes until garlic is soft enough to be easily mashed with a fork.
7. Squeeze head to remove garlic.

Monday, July 11, 2011

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies with Equinox Champagne

My husband jokes that he married me for these cookies. I like to think that there are other reasons, but I’m glad that a little baking can make him happy. While developing this recipe, I learned some great tips on making perfect cookies:

1. My grandpa made awesome cookies and swore by salted butter.
2. Sift the flour to create an airy cookie.
3. Most important: ALWAYS undercook. If the cookies look done in the oven they are overcooked. Pull them out early when edges just begin to brown and allow to finish cooking out of the oven on the pan.


I decided a bubbly would be a nice pairing with these cookies. Mike and I had purchased a bottle of the Equinox Champagne from the wine maker himself. We liked how this bubbly was a nice balance between sweet and dry. It also has subtle almond notes without any addition of almond extract. I think a sparkling wine that was a little sweeter like a nice extra dry Prosecco would have been a better match. Regardless it was fun to drink some bubbly and eat cookies with good friends!

Labels on Sparking Wine are quite confusing. A brut has less sugar than an extra dry. In order of least sugar to most sugar, sparkling wines may be labeled…

1. Brut Nature or Extra Brut (these are the only kind that will have no sugar, but may have a tiny amount)
2. Brut
3. Extra Dry, Extra Sec or Extra Seco
4. Dry, Sec or Seco
5. Semi-Sweet, Demi-Sec or Semi-Seco
6. Sweet, Doux or Dulce

Serving: Makes ~24 cookies

• 1/3 cup shortening
• 1/3 cup salted butter, softened (not melted—this will result in a flat cookie)
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 ½ cup flour
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp salt
• 2 oz macadamia nuts
• 6 oz. white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cream together shortening, butter, sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl.
3. Add egg and vanilla, blending well.
4. Sift flour, salt and baking soda into bowl. Mix well.
5. Fold macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips in dough.
6. I use a rounded tablespoon to spoon dough onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 9- 10 minutes. Remove cookies when the edges begin to brown. Cookies will not look done. Leave on cookie sheet for ~5 minutes as they finish cooking.