Wine pairings

Belated B-day Dinner: Pescatarian (& Bacon)

March 30, 2008

On a budget of $120 for four people, a good friend and “astro-twin” who claims herself as a vegetarian but eats seafood and strangely, bacon, asked me to make a belated birthday dinner for her friend (my acquaintance). Because of the graces the bay area allows us in grocery shopping, and with many thanks to cheap, beautiful produce at Tokyo Fish Market in Albany, CA (plus some gorgeous seafood), and the amazingness that is Masse’s Pastries here in my neighborhood, we made a lovely dinner materialize complete with wine right here in the kitchen.

Monster Fresh Bay Scallop on Vanilla-Orange Risotto with Mint (Failed to take a picture of this, but we ate it up with Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine from Northern California, very reasonable ~ $14)

Start the risotto with half a medium shallot, diced, olive oil, and the pulp of one vanilla bean. Add the vanilla bean shell to your vegetable or fish stock–in this case I used a watered down vegetable stock so that the risotto did not take on too strong a flavor to avoid overpowering the scallop. Once the shallot begins to gain color, add the risotto rice, and a touch of salt & pepper. Once the rice is toasted, begin adding liquid, keeping the quantity such that the rice does not boil, and does not fry. This will take 25-40 minutes depending on the quantity of rice, in order to cook through. In the final minutes of cooking, when the rice is near tender, add the zest of one orange. Once tender, keep cooking until liquid has reduced a bit more, turn off heat. Add 1.5 T of butter, and one mineola segmented & cut in cubes. Add julienned mint at the end.

The scallop should sit in milk for about 1 hour before cooking. Heat a skillet to very high heat with olive oil, and sear the scallop, turning once golden or brown on the edges and achieving the same on the other side, keeping the inside rare. Serve on top of the risotto.

Sesame Seared Maguro on Yuzu Mixed Greens

This dish depends completely on the quality of the fish. Blocked tuna works best, in this case I used tuna from two different parts of the fish–thus the difference in color between each slice. Simply pat the fish dry and roll it in sesame seeds. In a hot skillet add olive oil and while holding the fish with your hands or tongs sear it on each side about 20 seconds, let it rest off the heat for 30 seconds and then slice and serve. The greens were dressed with a mixture of yuzu juice, olive oil, shallot, salt & pepper.

Spinach Salad with Bacon, Fried Chevre, Grapefruit

Ahead of time, slice the chevre into medallions, coat in egg and then bread crumbs and set back in refrigerator to firm (makes them fry more easily). I like to use Capricho Di Cabra goat cheese from Spain, but any fresh chevre will work, the moister the texture the better.

Cut 7 or so slices of bacon into smaller pieces and add to a hot, dry skillet, let fry until crispy, drain on paper towels and add 1-2 T of bacon fat to a bowl to make salad dressing.

For the greens, add to the bacon fat 1-2 T of olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt, pepper, and a small amount of minced shallot or garlic. Dress the spinach and portion the salad out.

Segment one grapefruit by cutting the top and bottom off, then using a large knife remove the pith and skin from around, then follow the interior membranes to segment the grapefruit, leaving the membrane as waste.

In a hot non-stick skillet, add olive oil to high heat. Be careful not to pass the smoking point, as olive oil burns very close to its frying heat. Add the cold, breaded cheve medallions to the oil, letting them color on each side, serving hot on top of the spinach along with some of the bacon and several segments of grapefruit.

We ate the 2nd & 3rd courses with a Rhone red and a lighter Rioja, both in the $10-15 range.

We had some Australian port with the miniature cakes ($4/each–an incredible bargain saiting 2 people per cake) from Masse’s pastries–we had chocolate-rapsberry, bloodorange-chocolate, and mango. They were out of the amazing caramel mousse with poached pear! :( Even still, delicious.

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