Citrus-Dusted Tuna *What wine would you serve?

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6 6-OZ tuna steaks 1 cup fresh orange juice 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup fresh lime juice 3 TBSP sugar 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 TBSP fresh ground pepper 1 TSP salt

Heat grill on medium-high.  In a medium bowl, combine OJ, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and garlic.  Bring to boil, cook until reduced to 1/2 cup.  Remove from heat. Season tuna steaks with salt and pepper.  Spray grill with cooking grill spray like PAM, grill fish for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Brush fish with OJ glaze, grill for 1 minute, turn fish and glaze other size with OJ glaze.  Cook 1 minute for medium-rare tuna steaks.

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Greek Mahi Mahi

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INGREDIENTS

1-1/4 LB mahi mahi fillets 1/3 cup olive oil Juice from a lemon 3 TBSP fresh oregano, chopped 4 TBSP fresh mint, chopped 2 garlic clove, minced 1 TSP lemon zest 1/4 salt

Rinse mahi mahi and pat dry.  Cut fish into bite-sized pieces.  In a small bowl stir together olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, mint, lemon zest and salt.  Marinate fish in mixture for at least 1 hour. Pour marinade in a separate bowl.  Prehat grill to medium heat.  Spray grill with grill spray and grill fish for about 5-6 minutes each side.  Brush with marinade while grilling.  Serve with diced tomato and mixed vegetables.

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Wine Pairing -

Picture the ingredients and how they'll register on your palate.  Start to imagine how they'll be perceived by your sweet, sour, bitter and salt combined with umami receptors.  The lemon will provide some sour while the garlic will lend some of the bitterness.  Umami will be perceived by the cut of fish, try to get the mahi mahi as fresh as possible by going to a market other than a massive chain grocery store.

There's not much sweetness going on here.  You can either match flavors by getting a wine that compliments the lemon flavor like a Sauvignon Blanc or you could contrast that and go for something that isn't lemon, and is sweeter like a Riesling.  Personal preference.

Personally, I'd go with a wine that's more closely aligned with the region the dish originated from.  Since this is a dish that comes from the Greek/Mediterranean part of the world, I'd seek out a wine that is also from that region.  Greek producer, Boutari produces a white wine called Moschofilero that would pair beautifully with this dish.  The wine comes from the Mantinia regoin of Peloponnese from 2100 feet above sea level.  That provides a climate for a fresh, crisp wine with the acidity to stand up to the sauciness.  Look for honey, citrus and melon notes that will intermingle with the Oregeno and Mint on your tongue.  Enjoy!

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Birthday Wine+Food Extravaganza

When Mrs. B's birthday was approaching, I asked her what she wanted to have for dinner.  My offer was to make anything and open any bottle of wine, because that's how we roll in Chéz Bakas. She just said she wanted some sort of cream based pasta and that's it.  I ended up making 2 courses because it was a school night, and she didn't get home until almost 8pm.  So here's what we had:

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Créme D'asperges Soup

paired with P Gimmonet Brut Champagne

2 lbs asparagus 1 large yellow onion, chopped 1 potato (wrap in a towel and microwave for 5 minutes, cut into cubes) 6 cups chicken broth 3 TBSP butter 4 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 TSP fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup créme fraîche or heavy cream 3/4 TSP sea salt 1 TBSP fresh ground pepper

Cut tips from a dozen asparagus

Cut asparagus into 1/2" pieces (not the base of each stalk - flavor is bitter). Cook onion, potato and garlic in 2 TBSP butter in large pot over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until onions are soft. Add 6 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil, then simmer covered until asparagus is soft - about 20 minutes.

Purée soup in small batches (seriously! small batches.  I burned the @#$* out of my hand when the top of the blender popped off).  Tranfer small batches into a large bowl.  Once all soup has been puréed into a smooth texture, pour back into the pot and add créme fraîche.  Add more broth to thin if needed.  Bring just to a boil and whisk in 1 TBSP of butter.

Add lemon juice, then serve garnished with reserved tips.

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Linguine with Lemon Orange Cream and Crab Cake

paired with 2007 Hahn SLH Pinot Gris

2 TBSP butter 3 shallots, minced 1 cup chicken stock (or broth) 2 TSP grated lemon peel 1 TSP grated orange peel 1/2 TSP cayenne pepper 1 cup frozen peas (thawed) 1 cup heavy cream 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice 12 oz Linguine (cooked) 3 TBSP fresh mint leaves, sliced thin salt and pepper fresh grated Parmesan cheese

For the crab cake I saved some time and picked one up from Whole Foods. My crab cake recipe of choice is here.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Sauté shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken stock and simmer over medium-high heat until it's reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Add cream, lemon and orange peel and cayenne pepper.  Simmer until sauce thickens—4 minutes.

Stir in peas, then simmer another 2 minutes.  Add in half the mint leaves and lemon juice.  Stir in cooked pasta until coated, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a large bowl or plate with crab cake on top, garnished with remaining mint leaves.  Add fresh grated Parmesan to taste.

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Dungeness Crab Cake Salad with Watercress, Fennel and Orange

watercress INGREDIENTS for CRAB CAKES 1 egg, beaten 1 LB fresh Dungeness crab 3/4 cup bread crumbs 1/3 cup grated pecorino cheese 1/4 cup mayonaisse 3 shallots, finely chopped 2 TBSP dijon mustard juice from one lemon 1/4 cup green bell peppers, minced 1/4 cup red bell peppers, minced 1 TBSP green onions 2 TBSP parsley, finely chopped 1 TBSP butter 1/4 TSP cayenne pepper

INGREDIENTS for SALAD 4 cups watercress, rinsed 4 oranges, peeled and separated juice from one lemon 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 1 fennel bulb, cleaned and sliced thinly Salt and Pepper to taste . . To prepare the crab cakes, heat butter in a sauté pan over medium low heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together shallots, grated cheese, lemon juice, mayo, egg, mustard, bread crumbs, bell pepper, salt and cayenne.  After mixing, add in crab meat, then divide into 8-10 balls.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To prepare salad, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl, toss watercress, orange segments, fennel and onion together.

Remove crab balls from refrigerator and flatten into one inch thick cakes.  Heat 2-3 TBSP oil or butter in a skillet and cook for 4 minutes on each side over medium heat.  Distribute salad mix on chilled plates, top with dressing and crab cakes then serve.

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Wine pairings for this dish are pretty easy.  It's a flexible dish suitable for many Chardonnay's or rich whites.  The crab cakes are pretty hearty, so make sure to serve with a white wine that can hang.  I've tried oaked Chardonnay's and unoaked Chardonnays.  The both worked.  Pinot Grigio, Semillion, Viognier and other whites also work.  If I had to pick one wine as the most ideal pairing, it would be the Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay from Livermore.

I'm more of an unoaked Chardonnay kinda guy, but once in a while, you just want that buttery butter ball that even Mrs. Butterworth thinks is buttery.  The Riva Ranch Chardonnay isn't obnoxious — still refined and a great expression of the vineyard.  Many people don't realize the Wente's were one of the first wine family's in California going back to the 1850's.  They've quietly gone about producing consistent well-priced estate wines.

The Riva Ranch has a creamy "dusty" texture with mineral highlights that can best be described as a combination of wet rocks and smoke.

detail_bottle_riva_ranch

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Grilled Tuna w/ Lemon & Caper Sauce

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Griddled tuna steak
Image via Wikipedia

INGREDIENTS

3 tuna steaks cut in into 1-1/4 inch thick (about a pound each) 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 2 TBSP capers, drained 1 lemon, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices 2 TBSP parsley, finely chopped 4 TBSP butter Seas Salt & fresh ground pepper

Preheat grill (or broiler) to medium high. Brush both sides of tuna with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter is light brown. Cut lemon slices into quarters. Add them, along with their juice, along with capers to saucepan. Reduce heat and cook stirring frequently. Grill, or broil tuna turning once until charred outside and slightly pink inside (about 3-4 minutes per side). Transfer tuna to large platter and cut into thick strips. Pour lemon and caper sauce over fish and serve garnished with parsley.

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Roasted Chicken with Rosemary-Lemon Butter

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1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces 4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup chicken stock 1/4 cup white wine 3 garlic cloves, minced 6 rosemary sprigs 1 lemon 3/4 stick butter 3 TSP capers, drained Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Wash and pat dry chicken, separating skin from body. In a small bowl, melt butter, then mix in garlic, salt, pepper, juice from half of lemon and 3 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped. Rub mixture under skin of chicken, making sure to rub some on outside of chicken as well. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, pour in olive oil. Saute the chicken on all sides, about 12 minutes total. Place chicken in oven either in skillet or in glass baking dish for 10-12 minutes. While chicken is cooking, in a medium saucepan pour wine, chicken stock and remaining lemon juice. Bring to boil, then simmer until sauce is reduced to 1/3. Remove chicken from oven, pour sauce over chicken then garnish with rosemary sprigs and capers.

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