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Monday, November 29, 2010

Random Appetizers

We had the pleasure to make a few appetizers we haven't done in a while.  First up, a decidedly non-winter app that a client insisted we make... sometimes I am so glad we do things we would not normally do.  She said she wanted some goat cheese and sauteed vegetables with crostinis.  So we found these little green zuchinni and sliced them into thin rounds and just super quick sauteed them in olive oil.  Then we hard sauteed some red peppers and piquillo peppers and added really large thinly sliced garlic.  For the goat cheese we pureed some basil with lemon and salt, and then whipped up a batch of goat cheese mousse.  A new favorite for anytime of the year.  Thanks for the inspiration Julie!

A twice baked red potato, filled with yukon gold pureed potatoes, with cheddar and pepperjack cheese, bacon, and chives, topped with paprika.  So yummy all Brian and I could do was think of breakfast.  So we popped an egg yolk in the hollowed out and roasted potato, topped it with some bacon and chives, and baked it in the oven for a few minutes... until the yolk was barely set... and it gushes all over the plate when cut into.  Yeah, it was one of those kitchen moments of bliss.

Who doesn't love a good Thai spring roll?  Here is the ingredient list for our spring rolls.  Rice paper wrapper, somen noodles, rice wine vinegar, mixed greens, finely shredded carrots, mung beans, clover sprouts, cilantro, basil, and mint.  Packed with flavor they are super tasty.  Although pretty much everyone in our kitchen hates making them, they are time consuming beyond belief with that many ingredients.  We serve them with sweet chili dipping sauce and/or our homemade peanut sauce (you know that gloppy kind that reminds you of wallpaper paste but coats your mouth with peanut butter and hoisin flavor... not that kind.)  Our peanut sauce is a puree of sauteed red torpedo peppers and garlic and cilantro stems, peanut butter, lime, salt, and coconut milk.  Its fantastic.

A dim and bad photo of our fall dessert tartletts.  Pumpkin pie and chocolate pecan pie.


Saturday, November 27, 2010


We have had the pleasure of working for and with Reininger Winery for a long time now.  Their annual Holiday Barrell Tasting Party was one of our very first big winery jobs.  Appetizers for 150 people for a two hour party.  I was scared silly at the time.  These days 150 person appetizer parties are kind of run of the mill.

For this year's Fall Release Weekend we were happy to do a first ever for Reininger, a tasting and pairing of small plates for a group of 33 guests.  Here is how the evening broke down.  Guests had a couple of small passed apps as Chuck Reininger gave them a tour of the facility.  Then the show began.  First course was a heirloom squash soup with sage cream, prosciutto di parma, and a mini butternut squash panini with roasted garlic and fried sage - paired with a reserve chardonnay. (here is the dish right before the panini went down for service.)

Second course was a herb de provence crusted pork tenderloin with butter braised brussel sprouts, bacon, and roasted fingerling potatoes - paired with the SoRo Helix. (not pictured)  Third course was a crispy polenta cake/cup filled with Thundering Hooves red wine braised beef ragu, wilted chard and garlic, and parmesan grana (shakily pictured below) - paired with Helix Sangiovese.

The fourth course was a minimalist cassoulet.  Calypso beans from Welcome Table Farm (close to the best beans I have ever had)  The beans are cooked in chicken stock, wine, lamb braising liquid, and thickened with a duck fat roux.  We then incorporated the lamb neck meat, crisp duck confit, and seared cubed saucisson, then topped the whole thing with duck fat mini croutons.  (picture of the lamb braise as it heads to the oven, sorry no pic of finished dish)

The last course was as unlike anything we have ever done.  We poached dried mission figs in helix merlot, then reduced the liquid to a yummy syrup.  Made some marshmallows, and broke off cubes of Girardelli Chocolate.  The whole thing reminded me of a smore, so we added a skewer, and let guests toast up the mallows at their tables over the tea lights.  It was pretty darn good, and pretty fun to do. 

For this years Holiday Barrell Weekend Reininger is switching gears and not doing the appetizer party.  They are planning something much better.  A vertical tasting of Cima (their super tuscan themed red) led by Chuck, followed by a really simple buffet meal of our red wine beef ragu, creamy polenta, and roasted fall vegetables with sage brown butter. 


Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving x 3

We served Thanksgiving three times over the last two and a half weeks.  First we served 90 staff at the Walla Walla Clinic.  Seven days later we served 170 Corps of Engineers staff and family.  And six days later we served 130 Con Agra employees (a new mexico version, chipolte stuffing, and jalepeno and red torpedo pepper cornpone (cornpone you ask? it's a midwest corn casserole I tweaked from my grandmother and mother's holiday table)).  That makes 490 Thanksgiving dinners served.  Brian and I both do not want to see another turkey until November 2011. 
And we do it right too.  Gravy is made from turkey stock.  Stuffing from leftover sourdough and italian bread from the sandwich shop.  Potatoes from scratch... etc etc.  Turkeys are salted and herbed for three days prior.  And the best part is the leftovers turn into sandwich shop specials... that are truly fantastic.
Thanksgiving soup.  Turkey gravy, thinned with stock, leftover turkey scraps, sauteed celery and carrots, fresh thyme.  Its like a full thanksgiving meal in a cup.
 And the special sandwich... like a thanksgiving meal between bread.
And the two combined... comatose heaven.  (And can you believe it.  490 meals served... and not a single picture of the roasted bird.  I am an idiot.)