Friday, July 13, 2012

Roasted Arctic Char and Oregonian A to Z Chardonnay

herbed butter:
1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
the grated zest of one lemon
handful of chopped basil
handful of chopped mint
handfull of copped chives
a couple of pinches of coarse salt
-stir together until blended

Spread the butter inside the fish, and coat the outside with olive oil salt and pepper to grill.
 Place the fish on the grill and let it sit for 6-8 minutes, or until you can see in the belly that it's cooked (because cooking time depends on the size of the fish really).  Turn it over, rotating belly side up so all the herbs don't slide out onto the grill, and cook the other side the same way.  We also roasted sliced zucchini, portabellos, baby green onions (or baby leeks of garlic or whatever is fresh at the market), and a few little potatoes.  Cook all the extras to your liking.  Put the fish on a platter to rest for a few minutes, topping the skin with extra herb butter.  Voila!
 When serving, the fish lifts right off the bone if it's cooked properly.  It's the easiest thing to serve and it looks so very impressive.  Put a spatula in the fish along the spine and lift the flesh off to find the bones.  Make sure you lift the fish leaving the bone on the platter.  When you've lifted all the flesh off the first side, the bones lift off in one piece leaving the second side on the platter to serve.

We chose to open a bottle of Oregonian A to Z ('zee' in American speak) 2010 Chardonnay, the 2009 currently on the LCBO shelves in LCBO: Vintages (their Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are actually both available at LCBO:Vintages for $19.95...)  This clean & fruity unoaked Chardonnay paired exceptionally with BBQ fish and vegetables, the winemaker describing it is as 'bright tangy and intense."
Oregon has been challenging Burgundy with their fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for years now. Lots of the best wines are expensive and most of the cheap wines are sub-par, which makes it really hard the consumer to get into Oregon wines.  However, A to Z Wineworks makes some of the best value Oregon wines, there slogan is "Aristocratic Wines at Democratic Prices". The winemaker Cheryl Francis will be in Ontario next week for the IC4 , International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration in Niagara. It's gonna be awesome with winemakers around the world descending on Niagara to talk and drink Chardonnay., July 20-22nd.   Check out the website for details if you want to join in on the fun.
bon appetit.
dinner is served.

Monday, July 9, 2012

a trip to the market for Heirloom tomatoes, with a wonderful Chardonnay

We had a litre of goats milk in the fridge begging to be turned into fresh ricotta.  So with that in mind, we picked up a few things at the market that begged for ricotta.
Heirloom tomatoes are in season!  My favourite.  We're making a tomato tart for dinner, with ricotta and goats cheese.
We made the crust from scratch because we had the time this afternoon, but you can use a ready made shell to save a bunch of time.  To be honest, the crust was very fast and pretty easy, and tastes way better, so weigh the benefits carefully.  I found this tart and dough recipe on David Lebovitz's website, a career baker turned writer living the life in Paris.

To make the dough:
1 and 1/4 cups of flour
1 egg
2-3 tablespoons of cold water
125 g of chilled unsalted butter, cut into small squares
teaspoon of salt

Put the salt and flour in a bowl, and add the pieces of butter.  Using your hands, mix the butter with the flour breaking it down until the mixture resembles cornmeal.  Dig a well in the middle of the flour mixture.  In a small bowl beat the egg with 2 tablespoons of water.  Add the egg into the hole in the flour and knead the mixture until the dough holds together.  Roll it out until its big enough the cover the pie pan.  You can lift it into the pie pan by rolling the dough onto the rolling pin and lifting it there.  Squeeze the dough into the edges and sides.  You can also roll it flat and place it on a baking sheet if you prefer.

Dijon mustard
Enough sliced tomatoes to cover the pie pan (2 or 3 sliced big ones should do, but I used cherry)
2 generous tablespoons of chopped herbs of your liking (I used basil chives and rosemary)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
sliced goats cheese for the top, 8 ounces should be good
enough ricotta to place across the bottom

Spread dijon mustard across the bottom of the pan to cover the dough.  Let this rest for a bit to dry out.  Crumbled ricotta on the bottom, and then fresh herbs, and then sliced tomatoes, and then sliced rounds of goats cheese.  Drizzle with olive oil, and place in the oven at 475 degrees for 30 minutes.

2010 Maison Roche de Bellene Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes, AOC Bourgogne $19.95 (coming to LCBO: Vintages this winter).
Here we found ourselves with the perfect occasion to drink a nice, fresh, and relatively unoaked Chardonnay. You can find many options around the world, (especially VQA Ontario), but nobody does it quite like Burgundy and/or Chablis. You want a chard that is fairly lean and racy, not buttery and round.  This one is from producer; Maison Roche de Bellene. Nicolas Potel is a winemaking legend from Beaune that continues to produce the most exciting Burgundy wines in all price point and crus, vintage after vintage at Domaine de Bellene.
This wine has beautiful aromas of fresh apple, peach, apricot, citrus with honey on toast. It has also got a little spiced cream thing going on in the nose. The palate is medium bodied with a nice satin texture, showing minerals and almost hazelnuts on the finish. This is a text book example of a great quality Burgundy Chardonnay. For under $20, this is a steal. Stock up this winter, unfortunately its released after tomato season.  We were too excited about it and had to share it with you today.  Tease.

If you're looking for something to drink right now, our friend Christopher McDonald brought over a great LCBO Vintages Substitution the weekend, it was released on Saturday, the JEAN-PIERRE ET MICHEL AUVIGUE SOLUTRÉ POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2010  VINTAGES 278960 | 750 mL bottle $23.95.  Give it a try.  

bon appetit.
dinner is served.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mexican Chicken in Endives and Haut Grelot

 This recipe came back with my parents after a trip to a cooking school, Hugh Carpenter's Camp in San Miguel, Mexico.  They went to the camp in early March, and since then we must have eaten this dish ten times.  It's that good.
1/2 pound of finely diced chicken thigh meat
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of minced ginger
1 serrano chili, minced, seeds included
1/2 cup of dried apricots chopped
1 whole green onion chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of sat
4 tablespoons of soy sauce

1/4 cup of orange juice (freshly squeezed)
1/4 cup of chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
2 tablespoons of cooking oil (anything flavourless)
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
1/2 a lime cut into wedges
3 heads of white endives

Preparation:  Combine chicken, garlic, ginger, chiles, chopped apricots, green onion, cumin, salt and soy sauce.  Mix evenly until blended.  Let the chicken become room temperature before cooking.
In a small bowl combine orange juice, mint and cornstarch.
Cooking:  Heat a wok or large frying pan to very hot over a very high heat.  Add the oil to the pan, and when it begins to smoke, add the chicken.  Stir and toss the chicken in the pan until the chicken looses all of it's raw outside colour.
Stir the orange juice mixture and pour into the meat in the pan.  Add the toasted pine nuts and cook for 20 more seconds.  Done!
Put the chicken on a platter, arranging the endive wedges around the meat, squeeze the lime wedges and serve.

The pairing wine of choice today is the 2011 Chateau Haut-Grelot Tradition Blanc, AOC Blaye-Cotes de Bordeaux, $15.95 (Available through private import, contact This is a typical Bordeaux white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes.  Haut Grelot is small property on the Bordeaux right bank, north of St. Emilion and Libourne. It has been owned by the Bonneau family for many generations. The amazing Julien Bonneau is the winemaker and Director of, basically everything.  We studied together in Bordeaux back in the day and have been great friends ever since.  This is one of my favourite summer whites and I import about 250 cases of this wine every year to be poured and paired at some of the top restaurants throughout Ontario (Langdon Hall, George, Canoe, Ritz Carlton, Delux, Ortalon, Black Hoof, Beckta, Auberge du Pommier, to name just a few).
This is basically the missing link in Sauvignon that combines the tropical fruit profiles of New Zealand and the herbaceous profiles of the original great French Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire.  This Sauvignon is highly aromatic with grapefruit, gooseberry, melon and chervil. It is medium in weight with pure fruit cocktail fruit flavours and refreshing acidity. It is very versatile with food, and of course  great by-itself, well chilled.    

bon appetit.
dinner is served.