Category Archives: cooking for two

Rack of Lamb for Two

Menu

Rack of Lamb with Mustard Thyme-Crust
Mashed Potatoes
Green French Cut Beans

Wine Choice
Beringer, Knights Valley
2006 Cabernet Sauvigon

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This is great for an intimate pre New Year’s Eve dinner for two..

Ingredients:
1 1/4 Lb. Rack of Lamb (trimmed)
1 Tablespoon Garlic minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme (chopped)
1-cup Plain Bread Crumbs
1/3 cup Grey Poupon Mustard

Rack of Lamb:
Prep time 45 minutes Plus roasting

Whisk mustard, garlic and chopped thyme in small bowl and blend.  Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.  

Place lamb on baking sheet, rounded side up.  Spread mustard evenly over lamb both sides of lamb. (Lamb can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead. Refrigerate uncovered.)
Preheat oven to 425′ F.
 Roast lamb until thermometer inserted into center registers 125′ F for rare, about 25 minutes.  Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired, and serve. Stir bread crumbs and oil in medium skillet over medium heat until crumbs begin to crisp, about  5 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Press crumbs onto mustard coating lamb.  Place on roasting rack in a roasting pan.  

  Roast lamb until thermometer inserted into center registers 125′ F for rare, about 25 minutes.  Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired, and serve.

French Cut Green Beans
While rack is in the oven, trim the green beans, place in skillet and cover with water. Bring to simmer using high heat.  Turn to low and simmer for no more than 5 minutes.  Turn off and let set on the stove until ready to drain and serve.  Beans should be crisp and not over cooked.

This meal is best staged before serving… enjoy!

rack_of_lamb_11w_mf2s

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Chicken Saltimbocca

Saltimbocca

(Italian: jumps in the mouth)
in this case Chicken Saltimbocca… is a popular recipe in not only satlimbocca_w-24Italy, but also Switzerland, Greece and Spain.

It was in Florence that we experienced our first Saltimbocca which can also be made from veal or pork.

Our first Saltimbocca was at this table in Florence!cruise_2003_112

 

The espresso and desert were also wonderful!

 

 

Continue for recipe

Chicken Marsala

chicken_marsala-10w_r6s4Chicken marsala is an Italian-American dish made from chicken breasts, mushrooms, and Marsala wine. The dish dates back to the 19th century, when it most likely originated with English families who lived in western Sicily, where Marsala wine is produced.[1] The chicken is coated in flour, briefly sautéed, and then removed from the pan, which is then used to make a Marsala reduction sauce. The sauce is made by reducing the wine to nearly the consistency of a syrup while adding onions orshallots, as well as mushrooms.  Continue for recipe

Bistecca Forentina

ribeye-steak-300x200Bistecca Forentina, fancy sounding title for an Italian steak -over the coals BBQ, can be a quite delicious meal. This can be cooked on the campfire as a favorite cook out or on you home charcoal BBQ or grill. We like to grill. The Italian version cooks the steak roughly 4 inches over the coals. The best Bistecca Forentina is made from the best Italian beef – Chianina beef. This beef comes from huge white oxen raised, near Arezzo in the Val di Chiana. Due to their size a steak from these monoliths can weigh as much as six pounds! This beef has exceptional flavor and unlike so much of European beef is really tender. Here in the states Angus combines excellent taste with tenderness, you would choose the Porterhouse steak.

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Valentine’s Day is Coming…Start with a Card Table??

Have fun setting your Valentine Dinner table!
Have fun setting your Valentine Dinner table!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  So, let’s have some fun!  Has it been awhile since you’ve had a “date night” or a fun evening out?  Over the next few weeks we will be providing ideas to spark up this fun holiday.  Perhaps going out is your favorite alternative… We will be posting menus and pricing for Valentine Day Dinner restaurant locations for the Greater Sacramento “local” area as well as the Napa Valley and Placer County Wine Country areas.  But, for now… let’s explore the fun and anticipation of preparing a romantic Valentine dinner for two at home.

Start with a card table or folding table:

  • Small table (what it looks like won’t matter it will be covered up!
  • Location is next… You will want it to be different from your normal dining area.  Move some furniture if necessary… Tucking the table in front of a fire place is my favorite… but lacking such a window or corner of your living room would work as well…
  • Plan on a small fire for the evening (not in the kitchen!) but in the fireplace or candles tall pillars on the floor ??
  • Take a drive to JoAnne’s fabric store.. or any fabric store and have fun selecting fabric in a valentine theme to delight your creative and romantic desires…  If you have sewing skills, great… if not.. just cut to size… it won’t ultimately matter.
  • Perhaps you’ll want to pick up some wide ribbon to be used as napkin rings…
  • World Markets or The Linnen Outlet both have lots of cloth napkin choices…  red works well at Christmas, too! – Why not get 4 or 6?
  • Find some red or gold chargers… I’ve seen them at the Dollar Tree to add a dimension of elegance.  Check around at craft stores for additional touches.

Click on here for photos of examples or ideas…   Click here for  a great menu and prep instructions

Winter or Summer Grilled Pork Tenderlion is great with Pinot Noir Fig Sauce

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pinot Noir Fig Sauce
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pinot Noir Fig Sauce

Pork tenderloin is a cut of pork that is delicate and tender suitable for your every day dinner table, dinner with guest or for that “date” night dinner for two.  For this “date night” meal we are grilling on an indoor grill on the Viking.  The wine chosen for this meal is  Craggy Ranch Winery – New Zealand.  This 2009 Pinot Noir has fragrant aromatics of plum, red fruits and spicy earth.  The palate is pure and very finely textured.  This wine finishes with length and poise.  A Wine Spectator rated 90 pts. and selling between  $39.99 – $45,00 a bottle was a gift from friends who recommended it highly. – We were not disappointed.  Thank you Rachel and Paul, a great choice it married beautifully with the tenderloin and figs.

Grilled Pork Tenderloins:

2 each tenderloin (fat removed)

1/2 cup oyster sauce(flavored sauce found in the Asian food section of your grocery store)

Sprig Fresh Rosemary Rough chopped

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 Tablespoon Oil

1.Marinate tenderloins for at least 1 hour in the oyster sauce, rosemary and pepper. (Do not add any salt, the oyster sauce has plenty)

2. Heat your grill with a very hot fire

3. Sear tenderloin directly on grill, brushing tenderloin with oil prior will help prevent sticking.

4. Once the outside is seared, turn down the flames and cook for another 8 – 10 minutes.  (Check internal temperature to be a minimum or 165 degrees.)

5. Remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes.

Pinot Fig Sauce:

2 cups figs – trimmed and split  (dry figs can be substituted… add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup wine)

1 cup Pinot Noir

1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 cup water

Salt and Pepper

1. In sauce pan, combine figs Pion Noir. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

2. Simmer until liquid is almost gone, then add balsamic vinegar and reduce liquid by 1/2

3. Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth adding water.  Season with salt & pepper.

Slice tenderloin into thin rounds and drizzle sauce over top.  Serve with tender cooked carrots and mashed potatoes.

Honkers Blanc with Scampi

Recently on our expedition to Costco we met a wine maker and bought a couple of bottles of the wine he and his wife were showing . What a delightful  surprise!  For under $8.00 dollars this wine was a perfect match for the Scampi dinner we had planned.  Sea food lovers that we are… scampi is a delicious and simple meal to prepare.  When a really good and fruity Sauvignon Blanc (California of course) is paired … it’s a WOW! Some nice wild rice/ mix  Rice~a~Roni makes the “side” easy… some steamed asparagus and the meal is complete!  It’s a whole new take for “movie night”.  It makes Netflix – special… the dinner romantic… and well combine it with wine and even folks in their sunset years … come ALIVE!The wine – Honkers Blanc from Napa Valley is truly worth every dollar, retailing around $13.95. But, a steal when purchased from Costco for under $8.00.  I’m looking forward to our upcoming winery and barrel tasting visit to share stories with the vintners.
Recipe and instructions can be found here .  Enjoy!

Rainy Days Call for Comfort Food

The Weather Outside is Frightful..But the Fire & Coq au Vin are Delightful!
Start by assembling the ingredients

Everyday chicken can turn into a marvelous meal when a few extra steps are taken.  On these blustery rainy week-end days, when the wind blows and the rain or drizzle keeps us indoors then why not spend a little extra time in the kitchen?  Hmmmm it smells so good… On this rainy week-end one of our favorites Coq au Vin is a flavorful and hearty dish which easily stands on its own with a baguette, tossed salad side dish.  This meal can be dressed “up” or “down” and tastes yummy at the kitchen table or in front of the fireplace as a cozy dinner for two.  The prep time is a bit longer than some of our recipes, but in addition to the resulting delightful meal the wonderful cooking aromas that will float through your house  make it all worth the effor, besides… what else do you do on a rainy day?? 

Costs for this luscious meal is  under $20.00 which  includes a good French Rhone – if you keep some normal cooking staples at home.  If you have to shop for the brandy or cognac which the recipe calls for … your costs bump up a bit.  Those of you that have been following us for a while know that Rick and I have made cost-effective dining… or elegant dining  on a “shoe string” the focus of our website Winetrivia.net We also highlight everyday family dishes that are great for weekends when we all have a bit more time to gather around the table.

Ready for the kitchen table... and a hungry crowd.
Ready for the kitchen table... and a hungry crowd.

 

Ingredients:

4 slices bacon    2 chicken breasts  2 thighs 2 legs    (we prefer to use all thighs)
1/2 cup flour
Salt & pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups pearl onions peeled (we use 12 pearl onions)
2 cups mushrooms (8 buttons quartered)
2 carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup brandy or Cognac (we use brandy)
1 bottle Burgundy wine (French Burgundy is also known  as  CA Pinot Noir. 

 (Our variance 2 cups of either Pinot Noir or Zinfandel wine. Both provide rich flavor to the dish.)
2 cups chicken broth
5 sprigs fresh Thyme
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence (savory, fennel,basil,lavender flowers)
3 bay leaves

Fresh Parsley, chopped for garnish

Coat chicken pieces in flour, salt & pepper. The easy way is to put everything together in a paper or plastic bag – and shake & set aside.
In a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. 

Browning chicken

 

Brown chicken in hot bacon fat on both sides. Pull chicken from pan and set aside.

Saute vegetables

 

 
Add garlic, onions, mushrooms and carrots.  Saute 2 minutes to soften.
Pour brandy into small glass or measuring cup. 
Remove pan from heat (turn off flame) add brandy or cognac put back on heat. 
Next step Flambé..
Light the fumes within the pan by using a long match or long lighter and holding just above the pan. 
The Brandy will catch fire and the flames will burn out within one minute.  When the flames die down, add the chicken stock and then gradually stir in the wine. 

Add the wine...
      

 When the wine is well blended add  the herbs; 5 sprigs fresh Thyme
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence (savory, fennel,basil,lavender flowers)
3 bay leaves cover and simmer for one hour. Then remove cover and simmer an additional 15 minutes to reduce the sauce.  To aid in the thickening process you might add t tablespoon tomato paste and stir in during the final simmering stage… Enjoy!

 

 
                                      
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Lobster Anyone???

N_I_C_E... 16 oz of fresh delight!

Who says that $25.00 cannot buy a fabulous dinner for two? All it takes is a little skill in the kitchen. Lobster is actually one of the easiest meals to prepare. Costco must have had our anniversary in mind by bringing their lobster prices in line with the actual wholesale seafood prices. Now that the holiday season has passed, folks must be less willing to part with their money for over priced sea food.

To our delight when shopping for this special dinner, the star of our initial menu – rack of lamb had price competition from the sea– lobster! It has been sometime since we have put those yummy tails on our plates. Here was our opportunity. Two 8 ounce beauties for $20.00. Wow! Baking potatoes we already had, now for some asparagus, wine from our cellar …. ready to go! In total not counting the wine… we spent under $25.00.

For this special occasion, Rick chose a 2003 Le Reve from Domaine Carneros by Taittinger. This California sparkling wine has a wonderfully crisp flavor consisting of luscious yet complete apple, citrus and spicy yeast rolls. This bubbly proved to be an excellent choice for the butter dipped lobster. What a treat! For cooking instructions click here ….

Delicious! and...not difficult... to do...

Honkers Sauvignon Blanc and Scampi

Recently on our expedition to Costco we met a wine maker and bought a couple of bottles of the wine he and his wife were showing . What a delightful surprise! For under $9.00 dollars this wine was a perfect match for the Scampi dinner we had planned. Sea food lovers that we are… scampi is a delicious and simple meal to prepare. When a really good and fruity Sauvignon Blanc (California of course) is paired … it’s a WOW!

Some nice wild rice/ mix Rice~a~Roni makes the “side” easy… some steamed asparagus and the meal is complete! It’s a whole new take for “movie night”. It makes Netflix – special… the dinner romantic… and well combine it with the wine and even folks in the sunset years of their life… come ALIVE!

The wine – Honkers Blanc from Napa Valley is truly worth every dollar, retailing around $13.95. But, a steal when purchased at Costco for under $9.00. I’m looking forward to our upcoming winery and barrel tasting visit to share stories with the vintners.
Recipe and instructions can be found here . Enjoy!

Scampi and Honkers Blanc - Great Combination