Dinner at the Confluence

Dinner at the Confluence of Winter and Spring

s-winter-spring

the winter mountain, the spring blooming broom

And what a better setting than our house in Reno. And in a flick of time, the snow will be gone from the mountains, and the bloom will be gone from the broom.

And it is a good time to grill scallops in the now-lengthened evening. Big scallops, as fresh as can be, from Sierra Gold, the Reno seafood supplier for restaurants and resorts (er… casinos) and now selling to folks like us from their retail shop in Sparks.

scallop-prep-

Those scallops are marinating in mirin, lime juice, and soy sauce… there is pepper bacon which goes so well with scallops, asparagus and some red onion slices because anytime I light the grill, I put on some onion slices to use whenever.

scallop-on-1Here we are, cooking on the Big Green Egg at the first turn. As it turns out, these ingredients take “three minutes a side,” how convenient. Oh, the tomato… just because I have one. (I ate it for breakfast with cottage cheese.)

scallop-plate

So this is the dinner plate. Carol made a pasta salad which made a swell starch component to dinner. I gotta say, everything was perfect. YUM.

The wine, a 2013 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc.

Le Cigare Blanc

Chapter 1

NEW
Following the Giants’ East Coast Swing

There is a bunch of new stuff here at eatsforone.

  • New Server
  • New Look
  • New Format
  • and finally, a New Story.

Son Eric, who got me started on *eats* in December 2005, has always handled the background, server part, while I did the fun writing part. He informed me recently that it would be beneficial to change servers. That change necessitated a format change, but allowed the very cool “Category Cloud” and Archives list on the front page. This will make it easier for those of you with curiosity to explore our 10 year history at will. Some curious and entertaining stuff has been written over the years.

My first post for the new version of eatsforone, while maintaining an “eats” focus, will follow us on the SF baseball Giants’ *East Coast Swing* w through Boston and New York City. It all started when the Giants offered such a trip package, and became real when Son Eric offered his complete tour-guide services — the Giants package left us on-our-own for all except the games and intercity travel — for nightlife, meals and getting around. We settled for the advantages and personal service of Eric instead of the Giants; and at some cost savings. [Son Brian’s job took him to Europe for six months.]

So this will be a story of that trip, focusing on the food, of course.

Since it was a ten day trip, it will take some time to write and illustrate, so it will be offered in installments. You can’t enjoy it as much as we did, but here’s a sense of it.

M O N D A Y
A neighbor dropped us at Reno Tahoe International Airport and the place was nearly deserted at 9:30pm, so check-in was quick and EZ. RNO is not particularly big — big enough to offer non-stop service to and from JFK in New York — but it is L O N G.

Reno-Tahoe-International-Airport

The walk thru the Terminal.was not so bad because everybody is so nice — the TSA folks included — and I knew a nice cold Sam Adams Seasonal would be waiting for me in the bar at the very end.

eats_1-RNO

Grilling and Dancing in the Rain

As summer is with us, I grill very often and its always for pleasure… grilling isn’t a hurry-up kind of cooking.

So here I am, Mahi Mahi on the counter, coming to room temperature and the skies start to darken. I’ve been down this road once before, it only takes a few drops of rain to sizzle out a burgeoning fire.

BUT WAIT!! I have an umbrella. It was bought to shield the sun while lounging in a chair, but it ought to work for the rain — I’ve seen people with umbrellas in the rain.

So, I rolled the umbrella over to the Big Green Egg and hoisted it. And none too soon, sprinkles started right away.

rain_im-not-wet

I’m not wet.

rain_first

Here is where I started…

The charcoal bucket is in the dry and I’m ready to light the wax briquette that in turn starts the Natural hardwood charcoal.

rain_2nd

The fire is lighted, but it will be a while before it’s ready to cook.

I relaxed the umbrella a bit… it gives plenty of protection and doesn’t splatter as it does when it’s taut.

rain_food-ready

The cool thing about grilling is there is plenty of time while the fire gets itself ready, to do the food prep (and have a drink if you’re so inclined)

What we have here is a red bell pepper, some spring onions and sliced sweet onions, Mahi Mahi fillet and blanched asparagus.

rain_food-at-egg

So I took all that stuff out to the EGG.

The silver container now is the grill tools, gloves, etc. Rain or no, it’s way easier to grill at this time of year than in the winter. In the winter, you have to keep the food in the warm indoors until you put it on the fire.

rain_grill-done

WooHoo… looks great. Nearly ready to come off, waiting for the fish to come up to temps… it’s pretty thick.

rain_all-off

Everything is ready.

rain_served

We are served.

rain_grill-now4later

AND… we allowed for future meals.

A final comment, which I want to make public… or as public as eatsforone gets… I was particularly eager to grill today — rain or no — because a couple of days ago we received this letter:

briquette-letter

<editorial>
If the lily livered briquette zealot coward had asked — and Downwind knows my address — I would have explained that I use organic 100% natural oak and hickory hardwood lump charcoal for my grilling. It’s more expensive, but well worth it. And as for the threats, the HOA requires “covered grills.” That’s it. The rest of Downwind’s diatribe is — how do you say — bull hockey, and I wouldn’t want that on my grill. And Downwind didn’t mention that in the only park in Sierra Canyon, there are two uncovered charcoal grills, and they are used at least weekly for parties in the good weather… I wish the zealot were downwind of THAT.
</ editorial>

The meal was great, and now we’ll be grilling more often.

First Farmers Market

…of the Season here in Reno  One of the best days of the year.

Marcus, Eric, Brian and families have a swell app for our smart phones called *What’s App?* It allows us to text and send pictures to one another internationally. Of course it’s free.

In the middle of the night last night, Carol’s and my phones dinged. The next morning we read and C responded while I had a walk….

BRIAN, FRANCE
Know what I love even more than my iPhone? My rotisserie oven. Tonight it’s got a guinea hen in it.
CAROL RENO
Look out Sparks… here comes another part for the grill.
CAROL RENO
Off to the first Farmers Mkt
ERIC
Let me know what stuff they have. In ME there’s not much more than salad greens & the very beginning of asparagus.
CAROL
Since local means 100 miles, we get lots from central CA, hope for corn, green beans and artichokes.
ERIC
Love 2 kno wht’s from eNVy

JunFM_rotisserie

Brian sent a picture of his rotisserie oven and the unfortunate Guinea hen

JunFM_at-end

Carol at the last booth in the row. Is that Bernie???

JunFM_Dwelley-Brentwood1

Inside, we got 4 variaities of green beans: yellow, green, Romano and haricot vert. We passed on the Brentwood corn

JunFM_Lattin-Farm2

Lattin Farm, Fernley NV

JunFM_WixReno

Wix Farm, Reno. Don’t remember this one before.

JunFM_our-haul

Our haul. Pretty slim pickin’s, but each week we’ll see more and more and more.

Dinner Last Night

din_cover

Canyon Vista Magazine is new to our community and striving to gain a strong foothold for their advertisers. To this end, about 20 folks from Sierra Canyon were invited to the Napa Sonoma Grocery — their third event at a featured local restaurant — for a meal and introduction to selected advertisers.

We had visited Napa Sonoma the summer of our first year in Reno, looking for an excellent cheese shop; what we found at the time was a specialty grocer with wine, jams, olive oil, sauces, and the like and lots of baskets including gift baskets. They still have the groceries and baskets, but have evolved into a full service restaurant and substantial wine shop.

We entered the wine shop part of the operation, with a wall of wine, a marble bar spread with an antipasti buffet, and enough tables and chairs for our group. We found only two unoccupied tables — we got there exactly at five o’clock, the appointed hour — both were high tables for four… we selected one and were joined by Jane, from London and her husband Ike, the serviceman who swept her away to America.

My serving of antipasti, a few cheeses, prosciutto, watermelon, cucumber and artichokes, accompanied by Pomegranate Martinis. Yum.

A wine list for the evening with the bottle price, lay on the small round table. Though the wines were complimentary along with all of the food, this gave us an idea of the wine store prices — very reasonable. Dinner menus were also available for our perusal.

[NOTE: with the smallish table and high chairs I wasn’t able to step or scoot back a bit to take pictures, so we have rather cramped close-ups.}
While enjoying the antipasti, we were introduced to some community businessmen and women (advertisers), a dentist, an oriental rug washer (we talked with him and got his card, our rug is long overdue for a cleaning), an investment advisor — Bob, brother of Steve, with whom we consulted about our retirement plans at MC2.

 

The first course was avocado stuffed with a salad of tiny shrimp, paired with Albarino, perfectly chilled and refreshing.

din_spinach-salad

Spinach salad with roasted pear slices and candied walnuts followed, paired with Chardonnay.

 

The next course was chili, made from prime rib scraps, oh my, and perfectly spiced to go with a Sangiovese.

We thought that would probably be followed by dessert… but nooooo… out came a beef short rib, tender enough to cut with a fork, rich and deserving a fine Merlot.

What a great evening. Plenty of good food and wine, and we found some local businesses of interest who are supporting our free community magazine. It was nice to meet these folks in person.

1367 Bean Vegetable Soup TTT

another weather event, sorry to bore you, but I can’t get over how pretty it is

The above photo was a few days ago, a fluffy bunch of stuff in two nights: 4″ then 5″ on top of that.  As you can see, the sun is out and predicted to be so for the near future, so we decided to wait and let nature take its course. In the meantime, it seemed fitting to make a batch of my favorite soup.

pretty nice stuff, all available all winter

The name is derived from 1367 Union, where I spent days and months in that kitchen adjusting Ferry Plaza Farmers Market ingredients until this soup was just right. [Written AS MEASURED AND COOKED SEPT 2012]
Cook your beans in a clay pot or by another method, with a miripoix.
Store in the refrigerator in their liquor until you’re ready to use them.

On soup day:
PREP
Peel and cube 3 medium potatoes [300g] and reserve in cold water to cover.
Chop two slices of bacon in about 1/2 inch pieces. [I use thick pepper bacon from the meatcase at my supermarket.]
COOK
Start the bacon in a bit of olive oil in the Green Le Creuset pot until it has rendered most of its fat. [At the same time, brown two fresh Italian sausages, if you’re using them.] Add a rough chopped onion and sauté until crisp tender. Add a two-2-finger-pinch salt/pepper mix. Add garlic to taste and cook until fragrant.
Add about an inch of celery [100g] chopped from the top of your head, 3 medium carrots [100g], sliced, potatoes and their soaking potato water to your pot. Add a two-2-finger-pinch salt/pepper mix and stir.
Add broth — if needed — to barely cover. Add a bit of dried thyme and oregano.
Cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Add half of a medium cabbage, chopped or sliced. Add cooked meat (ham, sausage if using) here, if you want.
Add 2 cups beans and their liquor.
Add enough stock to make it soupy.
Bring to a simmer and turn off the heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

this soup is brothy with the vegetables in chunks to allow each to show off its taste and texture… and there are no whimpy little vegetables such as corn or peas to get in the way

The deal is, when you use fresh ingredients in suitable proportion and cook with care, the result can’t be bad.

COOKS NOTES

Cooked 2.16 — RG Alubia Blanca, young, tiny, tight red cabbage, two links of LO grilled Merguez sausage.
Cooked 1.16 — Iacopi Italian Butter Beans. Browned 2 links Basque Chorizo sausage with the bacon, cut in thirds, removed and then “sauteed “ the onions in that liquid. Lends a bitchin’ richness to the soup. Used home made *enhanced* turkey stock. Red cabbage. Did not use bean liquor ‘cause C is afraid of beans. Most Yummy.
Cooked 11.14 — RG Yellow Eye beans 2C+, 3C homemade beef broth, pinch of oregano, t of thyme. YUM
Cooked 6.14 — Cassolet beans RG, LO cooked beet greens: shredded [‘cause I had no cabbage], redskin potatoes, chicken broth… no meat except the bacon used to cook the LO greens and used to cook this dish. Good anyway.
Cooked 11.12 — Inspired by “Crispy Potatoes” brought home from CAMPO. Otherwise, did the regular recipe, but didn’t have any cabbage, pity. Not bad, but better with fresh potatoes and cabbage.
Cooked 10.12 — Had about 1 1/2 cups LO Italian Butter beans that weren’t cooked to creamy softness. Started with 2 slices of bacon in a bit of olive oil, cooked and removed bacon. Added 1/2 chopped onion, some garlic, 1 1/2 sliced slender carrot, sliced stalks of a fennel bulb, three whacks of celery, one potato cut into matchsticks, the beans and their juice and some chicken stock. Cooked 12 minutes. Pureed with immersion blender. Pretty good, beans still a little grainy.
Cooked 9.12 — Checked quantities and method and re-wrote recipe — see original on page 3
Cooked 7.12 — about 3 cups Bobs Bountiful Black Beans… about 1/2 pound slab bacon very thick sliced… DIS is good, still.
Cooked 4.19.12 — With shaved Fatted Calf Picnic ham + plus some of Brian’s Polish sausage… Dexter beef stock. C took 2nds
Cooked 3.28.12 —
Cooked 9.10 – Iacopi Italian Butter Beans, spring onions, with cabbage… added 1C raw CP raw tomato sauce at end… otherwise as written. Cooked in Joyce Chen Wok. Still good. C scarfed and took LO for tomorrow lunch.
Cooked 5.10 – Iacopi Italian Butter Beans, spring onions, green garlic, with cabbage… otherwise as written. Cooked in Wendell Wok. Still good.
Cooked 3.10 – regular way. Iacopi Italian Butter Beans, about 1 1/2C, 1 potato, 2 slender carrots, about 1/3 head small savoy cabbage. In calphalon Windsor pan. YUM This just got better and better as I ate it over days in two-cup portions. YUM YUM

Cooked 2.10 w LO Super Bowl vegetables: carrots, romanesco, fennel, green beans, baby zucchini, red and yellow bell pepper, Brussels sprouts, celery, Tokyo turnips. Bacon, spring onions and garlic as directed. No cabbage. Yes potatoes. About 3 cups water, 3 cups chicken stock, 1-cup turkey stock. Cooked in Joyce Chen clay pot.
Cooked 1.10 – In Wendell wok with spring onions and the other stuff, plus cabbage… eye of goat beans that had been cooked with a ham hock.

NOTE: This is very similar to simply recipes.com Minestrone except that Minestrone has zucchini, parsley and tomatoes. Other minestrone has green beans and spinach, as well. So its really not very similar at all.

Snow EGG

the snow egg

Yesterday morning, I sent pictures to my sons and sibs of the Big Green Egg covered with snow.

well begun is half done…

ready to rock and roll…

“Still, chances are we’ll be grilling by dinnertime…”

Eric challenged that big time. Perhaps he’s jealous… this year we got snow before they did in Maine.

In any case, we went shopping in the afternoon — sunny and high 30’s by then — and got a piece of swordfish for the grill. I wanted something simple and easy. So about 4pm, while still light, I readied and cleaned the Big Green Egg — I was afraid that the lid would freeze shut or the cast iron grate would freeze to its support. No and no. Everything’s cool, in a manner of speaking.

loaded while still daylight

I wouldn’t cook until six, or so, but I wanted to be prepared since it will be plenty dark by then. I got out my recipes for grilling fish steak. I have recipes for Grouper and Salmon, Swordfish will be much the same.

EZ to light, cold but no wind

fish done on one side, just turned

Swordfish
My steak, about an inch thick or less on December 11, under 30° outside and snow swept aside. EGG don’t care, but its uncomfortable for my own hands. Luckily, with swordfish, it’s a timing thing. The grill is only a step outside my kitchen door so I can step inside for most of the cooking time. A nice 350° fire, porcelain grate, seven minutes on the first side, check temps at about 4 minutes of the second side, not yet… temps at 6 minutes, perfect., coming past 140° Close down everything, get your warm platter from inside, plate the fish and take it in. Yum.

served with glazed carrots and a swell salad of endive, avocado and pear

I have other stuff stocked up to grill, but I think I’ll do it with twmps at least above 40.

the peavines

The next morning was lovely… albeit 20°. We’re looking at the Peavine mountain range to the north of us.