Friday, July 30, 2010

Holy Moly Poly Aioli - Chile Me Baby!

After some contemplation or shall we say exhaustion in setting up our new restaurant - I return to you refreshed, replenished with new culinary vision and creativity. As many remain fearful of cooking with chile ridden Latin American food for it’s propensity to overtake the bouquet of a polished Oregon Pinot . . I wish to show you that the plethora of customary hispanic spices (and mild chilies) can indeed enhance the wine & food pairings or in any case . . save not so good Lodi Zinfandel

We begin with Canela. What is that you ask? Cinnamon, in a more pure less peppery form and whence added to a superstar seasoning blend of star anise, garlic, pinch of cumin, orange juice, pasilla chile powder & fresh bunch of cilantro . . you’ve got some epicurean ecstasy to play with that will pair up with that bold syrah you’ve been holding on to. Corn masa is a great manner to diffuse the heat especially when paired up with some variation of cream sauce or the forever American favored guacamole. A tomatillo (not actually of the tomato family) will inspire any dish with a burst of fresh sour in balance sweetness meanwhile the nopale (cactus leaf) will sedate any dish. Getting any ideas yet?

Your more common “mild” dry chilies are going to be: New Mexico, Guajillo, Ancho & Pasilla and it is my humble recommendation that you descend upon a near by Hispanic market for these items as you will save money and ensure freshness (with Mexico less than 15 minutes away there is no need to patronize Albertsons). When it comes to that heat you must understand the dimensions of a working with a fresh chile.

Numero Uno in heat is the seed, then comes the membrane (the white lining inside), outer skin and finally the flesh. You can easily roast your own chilies if you have a gas stove by charring the outside black on all sides. Remove from the flame, toss in a bowl and quickly seran wrap – this will steam off the majority of the skin. After five minutes, you remove the chilies and wash off the skins under cold water, then split and remove the seeds & membrane . . now you have nothing but the mild meat of the fresh chile.

Now for my gift – the recipe for Mole Poblano! If you have a blender, infatuation with chocolate & pleasant heat, addictive vino palette and a curiosity for cooking . . . grab a stiff cab and “work it out” with a wooden spoon. With that I wish you blessings from the spice Gods till next week (I promise I’ll be here)

Mole Poblano
• 1/4 pound sesame seeds
• Olive oil, for cooking
• 1/4 pound roasted almonds
• 1/4 pound walnuts
• 3 bananas or ripe plantains
• 1 pound raisins
• 1/4 pound tomatoes
• 1 pound fire roasted poblano chiles, rehydrated in water
• 1 teaspoon each: anise seeds, star anise, allspice
• 1 tablespoon each: canela, fennel seed, thyme, black pepper
• 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
• 1 ounce coffee/fine grind
• Salt to taste

In a medium saute pan, toast sesame seeds and place in food processor. In same saute pan add oil and fry almonds. Remove almonds, place in food processor, and fry walnuts. Remove peanuts, place in food processor, and fry plantains. Remove plantains, place in food processor, and fry raisins. Remove raisins and place in food processor. Remove all but one tablespoon oil and fry tomatoes.
In a food processor grind together sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, plantains, raisins, tomatoes, poblanos, aniseeds, and cinnamon; this is the mole. Thin with left over chile water. In large saucepan, heat oil. Add mole and cook in oil to bring out flavors. Add chocolate & coffee

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dim Sum & Holiday Wine Cellars Wine Picks

The Word of Chi

Dim Sum & Organic Blanco

In discussing foods it is at best a palette of persuasion that determines the overall enjoyment of any given cuisine. Regardless of our diet of choice . . raw, gluten-free, carnivore . . . the components and integrity of where our foods come from impact our health, vitality and overall sense of balance. I’d be lying if I stated I am balanced – by far . . the life of a chef is hardly balanced but I do continually make an attempt, both personally and professionally, to utilize the local produce that grows in our Southern California soils. This weeks recipe revolves around my recent cooking class on Dim Sum (literally “Hearts Delight”) and invites you to stock up on your own personalized appetizers. The best part yet – is that you can use anything in your kitchen or seasonally fresh produce to bulk the ingredients up (check your local farmers market).

Now for the vino blanco . . I have certainly focused on the food in our past essays but I think it is appropriate that we dabble occasionally with the trying out some new wines (all of which are available at Holiday Wine Cellars in Escondido). These three wines all embrace the same philosophy of organic farming practices and each produce an incredible bouquet unique to the varietals and regions from which they are grown. Give’em a try with your little customized Shu-mai dumplings and as always – eat well and happy.

With Culinary Blessings,

Chef Scotty

Vino Blanco

Weingut Michlits, Austria 2008 Burgenland White (50% Gruner Veltliner, 40% Riesling, 10% Pinot Blanc) – Demeter certified biodynamic organic winegrowing and winemaking on a working farm that raises cattle and grows vegetables and herbs for an environmentally holistic ecosystem.

Bodega Hinojoso, Argentina 2009 “Barrica” Torront├Ęs – from the Uco Valley just outside of Mendoza, this white varietal is organically grown at 4000 feet above sea level, so there is almost no competition with insects or bacteria. Vegan.

Girasole Vineyards, Mendoncino California 2008 Pinot Noir – Family owned and operated vineyards date back to the 1950’s, CCOF certified. This wine was named “Editor’s Choice” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 2009. Vegan. (ok – so this one is white but it’s damn delicious and definitely noteworthy!)

Recipe: Caribbean Shu-mai

The name might sound daunting – shu-mai but it is one of the most common Chinese dumplings you will encounter when dining dim-sum! Honestly – these are delicious and easy to make – just make your filling with any choice of your favorite food’s, spoon a tablespoon into the middle of a won-ton wrapper and scrunch the entire morsel together forming an open faced sort of basket. You can even freeze these little buggers for an impromptu hor d’ oeuvre which is always nice to have on hand. Note: Chinese 5-spice blend will work as a substitute for garam masala (although you will fall in love with this Indian spice blend so stock your pantry).

1/2 pound chopped shrimp, scallops, ground pork, lobster . . you name it!
1/2 cup finely chopped mango
3 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
1 tablespoon finely minced serrano
1 tablespoon ponzu or soy sauce
1 tablespoon molasses sauce (if you have it)
1 tablespoon garam masala (Indian spice blend)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Bowl of water, plus additional water for steamer
35 to 40 small wonton wrappers
Non-stick vegetable spray, for the steamer
In a large mixing bowl, add protein (meat/seafood etc), mango, red pepper, scallions, ginger, cilantro, mint, serrano, soy sauce, molasses, garam masala, sesame oil, egg, salt, and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.
To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water (or eggwhite/water mixture). Place 1 teaspoon of the mixture in the center of the wrapper. Shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth (or freeze one tray at a time before bagging). Repeat procedure until all of the filling is gone.
Using a steaming apparatus of your choice (preferably bamboo), bring 1/4 to 1/2-inch of water to a simmer over medium heat. Spray the steamer's surface lightly with the non-stick vegetable spray to prevent sticking. Place as many dumplings as will fit into a steamer, without touching each other. Cover and steam for 10 to 12 minutes over medium heat. Remove the dumplings from the steamer to a heatproof platter and serve to your guests delight!