New Year’s resolution number one: go back to eating healthy, the party’s over! I’m always looking for interesting fish ideas and this recipe in the January issue of Food & Wine Magazine just jumped off the page. Jonathan Waxman is known for mastering the perfect roasted chicken … and I’d say he’s also mastered this delicious Asian influenced red snapper recipe. Red Snapper in a snap!
Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish. I had to make a number of changes in this recipe. I couldn’t find fermented black beans (or black bean sauce) so I skipped that ingredient. Even though it’s not a substitute, I added a dash of fish sauce. The store had no small bok choy so I just bought the large. Finally, I had no rosé wine, so I used a dry but creamy chardonnay. Even with all these changes, the meal was so good it’s now on my list of “go to” fish dishes. Sue. My husband and I love red snapper so, I’ll definitely be trying out this recipe. I’m pretty impressed with Mimi’s substitutions … she’s usually “by the book” so this was pretty daring for her!
I realized that I let the summer slip away without hosting a big blow out celebration. So, last-minute, I invited some of our favorite people over for bouillabaisse. Here’s a peek at our evening.
decorating the table…
…my favorite activity!
We always say: search your home for treasures to use in decorating. The flowers are in pails from used citronella candles. I cleaned them up and antiqued them with a little gold paint. The flowers? Wegmans! Can you beat $20 for 2 dozen long stems?
I love anticipating …
… the guests arrival…
…and admiring my handiwork!
The lights evoke childhood memories of catching fire flies in mason jars at dusk.
Champagne Jean-Noël Haton Brut Blanc de Balnc Millésime 2005
The Grand Aioli
2014 Underwood Rosé
Caves des Grands Crus Blancs Pouilly-Fuissé 2014
Croutons with red pepper rouille
Clarendelle Blanc 2012
Le Sot de L’Ange La Boutanche Rosé
Cheese Plate: Coulommiers, Comté and Stilton
Peller Estates Ice Wine Riesling 2013
Chocolate Pots de Creme
Here are the recipes for gougères and easy aioli. I relied on a recipe from Tyler Florence as a start for my bouillabaisse. Here it is: bouillabaisse. Believe me I didn’t follow his recipe step by step — too complicated. The chocolate pots de creme recipe is Martha Stewart’s — you will never go wrong with her! Here is her recipe: pots de creme.
gougères and champagne — perfect together
The grand aioli…
…presented to the table.
Cod, mussels, shrimp, clams, broth … dival-licious
Pots de creme — a chocolate explosion.
The Divas “Dish” on Mimi’s Dishes. Don’t be intimidated by gougères. Once you master the dough it’s a snap! I’ve always wanted to do an authentic “grand aioli” which is an informal meal that includes poached fish. I thought a version of it would be fun … sitting around the table with wine before the main event. I don’t make my fish stock for bouillibaisse, I use seafood stock — just as good, a lot less work. I use triple the amount of vegetables that the recipe calls for and I have a heavy hand with fresh fennel, fennel seeds and Pernod. I like a very strong expression of the vegetables and aromatics in the broth. I purée half of the vegetables and stir them into the strained broth. Experiment! Have fun! It’s just food, not brain surgery … years later I’m still tweaking it. The red pepper rouille was easy and delicious with the meal. No picture of the cheese plate — sorry. Coulommiers is French brie — creamy, nutty, wonderful with wine. Comté is a nice mild French hard cheese and Stilton isn’t French but my husband loves it, so I serve it. First attempt at pots de creme — they tasted better than that picture looks (thank goodness!)
Sue. I was so sorry to miss Mimi’s party — it’s been a busy busy summer with family and friends of the family visiting almost every weekend!! Anyway, I love Mimi’s bouillabaisse and have had it many times. It’s the best I’ve ever tasted. Good thing she makes it — too many complicated steps for me to tackle. I don’t have the patience. And boy those gougéres look good — with champagne! My husband says if he could drink nothing but champagne, he would.
Before we went on a mini-vacation this summer, I didn’t feel like cooking and wanted a new, interesting and easy twist on chicken. Here’s what I found in Food & Wine Magazine: chicken thigh kebabs with chile-yogurt sauce. Click here for the recipe: kebabs.
The Divas “Dish” on Mimi’s dish. This was as I expected, easy and good. The sauce is what makes the dish and Sue would probably not enjoy it because she doesn’t like spicy food. I’d make this with chicken breast tenders the next time rather than thighs. Sue: I don’t mind a hint of heat but, Mimi’s right, I don’t like very spicy food. Chicken thighs are my favorite cut of meat because they are the most tender cut of the chicken.
My dinners were getting a little “ho-hum” so, I scoured months of Bon Appétit and Food & Wine magazines to introduce a little variety. I found this salad in Bon Appétit July 2014 — a nice refreshing summer blend. (Go here for the recipe: Summer Salad)
Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish. If you checked out the recipe in Bon Appétit you will notice mine looks absolutely nothing like theirs. I couldn’t find fava beans. We love Great Northern White Beans and I substituted them. Pea shoots are impossible to find within 100 miles of Buck Hill Falls! Finally, surprising to me, Wegmans had not a single head of Bibb lettuce. Still a great salad!!! Sue: Snow peas or blanched sugar snap peas would also work great in this dish. I love them because they taste great cold and have nice crunch. I would probably substitute cannellini beans because I always have them in my pantry. Wegmans didn’t have Bibb lettuce? That’s insane, I can’t believe it.
I rarely make scallops; I don’t really like them. In an adventurous mood, I decided to give this dish a try. Click here for the recipe in Food & Wine Magazine: Cilantro Scallops.
Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish. When you marinate the scallops, don’t leave them in the marinade more than 15 minutes — it’s not a ceviche, you grill these! We probably could have used a hotter flame to develop a nice golden brown crust on them. I thought it would be good to serve the scallops on tortillas that were “crisped up” under the broiler. After squeezing the lime juice on the scallops, just pile 1/2 of a scallop and some avocado on a wedge of the tortilla and create one delectable bite! Sue: I only like scallops pan seared. It’s hard to get them just right on the grill … unless, of course, you have a barbecue addiction like Bobby Flay!
My daughter-in-law was bringing the baby, who is a year and a half old, over for a trip to the park. So, I turned it into a family pasta night. She, two of my four sons, my husband and I had a true Italian feast. I found the pasta recipe in Food & Wine Magazine. Just click here to try it yourself mixed pepper pasta.
In the summer vine ripe tomatoes are so sweet, this salad is a go to dish for my family.
The Divas “dish” on Sue’s dish. I didn’t follow the pasta recipe to the letter. I used additional olive oil and a pint of cherry tomatoes which I cooked 1/2 of with the peppers. I like to slice the peppers lengthwise because it’s prettier. Also, who needs cooking water when you’ve got 3-4 tbsp. of butter to melt with your pasta? And Parmigiano Reggiano cheese makes everything better! I also used a dark balsamic vinaigrette on the salad rather than my usual lemon vinaigrette. Mimi: All I can say, is you would not believe the size of the kitchen Sue creates such magnificent meals out of in NYC! Of course, I want to eat all of this food right now!!!
The Diva is taking a break!!! The recipes for this meal are in Food & Wine Magazine, September 2014.
The weekend after my stepson’s wedding in Colorado, we went to Connecticut for the wedding of my husband’s nephew, Dan. (He is the “guest Diva” who made his own ravioli press — impressive!) The day after Dan got married his family hosted a pig roast and Dan’s father roasted a 122 lb pig. It really was a blast. After having all that fun, we were ready to stay home and relax on my birthday!!!
My favorite evenings … candle light…
…blues playing in the background and dinner on the porch.
Skirt Steak with Roasted Tomato Chimichurri and Potatoes
Frank Family Vineyards 2007 WInston Hill Red Rutherford
Meat, potatoes …
…and wine. What’s not to love?
I love skirt steak but won’t buy it — london broil is cheaper. Sue told me “What are you kidding me? Filet mignon is expensive, not skirt steak”. Chimichurri is one of my favorites so when I saw this I had to make it — it’s kind of like really fancy ketchup. The whole meal was a snap — more time to enjoy that wine and relax. Sue said: “Of course, it’s your birthday after all.”
About that wine … on one of our vacations in Napa we were having so much fun at the tasting we bought it without asking how much it cost. (Maybe we were a little “loopy” from the tasting!) I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face on the plane as we flew home and he was checking out his credit card receipts. Let’s just say, the few bottles we purchased are waiting for special occasions.