Aiming for a Mexican night, I wound up with a hybrid EuroMex menu with the following:
~Thyme infused tequila cocktail
~Olive tapenade on goats cheese
~Cod and salsa
~Chicken mole w/ rice
~Baked peaches with fresh cream
What to pair with this? A Grigio? Riesling? Gewurztraminer? Zinfandel? Like Indian cooking, pairing is tricky. Went with a VQA~Strewn ~Two Vines (Riesling/Gewurztraminer.) Just enough sweetness to balance the salsa and mole. Enough Riesling to accommodate the tapenade and fish. In fact, if there was any left, the wine could probably have carried through to dessert in a pinch. Prefer at least a Late Harvest at this stage, though.
Thyme for Tequila
Boil 1 CUP water and sugar with zest of 1/2 lemon and 6 sprigs of thyme. Simmer 10 mins.
Strain and cool.
For each serving: 2 oz tequila, 1 oz lemon juice, 1 1/2 oz syrup. Pour over ice, add soda water.
1 CUP black olives (after pitting)
1 clove garlic
juice of one lemon
5 anchovy filets
olive oil to blend
Pit olives; mince garlic; chop in blender; drizzle with olive oil; add anchovies; mince; add lemon juice; sea salt and black pepper to taste. Tres simple.
A word about crackers. Always go with an unseasoned water cracker. Don't insult the toppings.
My choice is Carr's.
Top your cracker with a little goat's cheese and tapenade.
First and last purchase of Bream. Although I shouldn't give up quite so easily. I naively thought the fishmonger had cleaned (ie deboned, beheaded, gutted) the fish. Not so. Gills are tough. After making a rough attempt at filleting the beast, all I was left with was stock base.
Went with cod. Love cod. Don't overcook the fish-any fish. Cod filet is fairly thick and I would give it about 7 minutes a side. Poach or pan fry in a little butter.
Turning to the Gayler, went with a hybrid salsa/salsa verde.
2 serrano chiles
6 tomatillos/or any tomato
1 small onion (red/white/yellow)
2 garlic cloves
2 handfuls cilantro/coriander
pinch ground cumin
Roast peppers and tomatoes in a dry fry pan 'til blistered.
Mince garlic, tomatillos, onion, peppers, ground cumin, olive oil, black pepper
Obtain a mortar and pestle.
At this stage I threw in a cheat. While out in the middle of nowhere recently, I came across a kitchen supply store that always seems to thrive in the middle of nowhere. Spied a mole sauce and picked up a bottle. Fry up chicken, onions and garlic and simmer in sauce. Allow 30 minutes.
I will be following up with my scratch version of mole and here is the recipe for the diehards. Cut yourselves some slack every once in a while-you've shopped, you've prepared the beverage, the tapenade, the salsa, the dessert so it's OK to open a bottle of something occasionally.
2 dried ancho chiles
2 dried pasilla chiles or dried pepper flakes
3 cups chicken stock
2 corn tortillas
1 TBSP lard
1/2 TSP dried oregano
2 garlic cloves-crushed
14 oz can tomatoes
1/2 CUP raisins-soak in warm water to plump
2 1/2 oz dark chocolate-aim for 75-90%
2 TBSP peanut butter
1 TBSP white wine vinegar
1/2 TSP ground cloves
1 TSP coriander seeds
1 TBSP sesame seeds-toast these
pinch of ground anise
pinch of salt
(so the mortar will come in handy, no?)
Fry chiles, soak for 30 mins. Boil 1 CUP of stock, add tortillas. Let stand.
Heat half lard/oil, cook onion, oregano and garlic.
Chop chiles and add to onions.
Add tortilla stock. Boil
Add everything else EXCEPT stock.
Put everything back in the pan and add rest of stock.
Simmer for 20 minutes or so.
Depending on where you are, peaches may be in scarce supply at this point.
I was fortunate to get local. Following up with my poached pears for the Fall but do keep the peach recipe in mind for next season. Tinned fruit will do in a pinch. Reduce cooking time.
50 g ameretti-crushed
1 TBSP caster sugar
1 oz butter
Blend above 'til paste like consistency.
Pit peaches, fill with paste.
Bake 350C for 20 mins.
Serve with mascarpone or 35% cream.
(Visuals don't do the dish justice.)
A word about cream.
Cream does not come from the freezer section.
It does not come out of a red can.
For a South of the border touch, drizzle with Cajeta Sauce.
3 CUP goat or sheep's milk
1/3 CUP sugar
1 CUP whipping cream
1 stick cinnamon
3 TBSP unsalted butter, chopped
Put everything but butter to boil.
Take out cinnamon and simmer for 2 hours.
Take off heat and whisk butter.
Serve warm or cold.