Jim Haughwout's Odyssey
Dinner Tonight. Tuscan rib eye. Roasted tomatoes. Grilled asparagus. And an amazing 1994 Barolo

Dinner Tonight. Tuscan rib eye. Roasted tomatoes. Grilled asparagus. And an amazing 1994 Barolo

My “Drinking Alone” Evening – Seared Tuna With Lavender and Pistachio Paired with a 2004 Vosne-Romanée Pinot
Note: If you do not get the reference, listen to, “I Drink Alone,” by George Thorogood. Of course, the style is completely different in this post. This is a re-post from March 2009.I rolled out a whole new architecture and product line today (including an a lá Obama Government 2.0 social networking community launch). It tied up  about four weeks of working 90-hours per week so I figured I would  celebrate. Given that I live by myself in Naples – and many of my  friends either had in-laws visiting or were sick – I turned to “drinking  alone.” Although, my style is a little different from George  Thorogoods’s…
My first stop was picking up a good bottle of wine. Since my most  recent trip to France (last July), I was curious about  Vosgne-Romanée pinots. I picked up a 2004 Frédéric Magnien Vosne-Romanée  (Au Dessus de la Rivière). This shaped the rest of my evening.
I went home and decanted the wine before heading off to Whole Foods.  From there I picked up the following:
2 oz of Brillat-Savarin cheese (perfect with Pinots)
1 roasted Red Pepper and 2 Tbsp of Capers from the appetizer bar
1 small Mesclun Green salad (with walnuts and dried cherries)
8 oz of (NOT Previously-Frozen) sushi-grade, dark red Tuna (from Trinidad)
4 oz of roasted, salted pistachios
1 package of fresh Lavender (Green Lavender preferred)
1 (small) cappuccino chocolate cup (dessert for once)
1 package of (plain) Whole Foods Crostini
Appetizer Course
I put together a plate of some crostini, the roasted red pepper, the  capers, and the Brillat-Savarin (paired with a glass of the wine) for a  great appetizer. I learned last year that this cheese is perfect with a  great pinot. It is still true ; )
Main Course
I decided to eat Old World style and have my salad after my main course.  Here is what I did for the main course:
Mise en Place
Pulse four crostini in a food mill to bread crumb consistency
Add a half sprig of lavender, ¼ tsp of Kosher Salt, 6 turns of the  pepper mill and 2 oz. of pistachios to the food mill an pulse to a bread  crumb consistency
Lightly salt the tuna with Fleur de Sel and dredge it through the  dried mixture. Set aside for 15 minutes to come to near room temperature
Add the last 2 oz of pistachios, 2 sprigs of lavender, ½ tsp of  Kosher salt, and 6 turns of the pepper mill to the food mill. Pulse to a  dry pesto consistency. Add 2 tsp of Tuscan EVOO (another plug for  Pasolivo) and let sit
Put a black iron skilled on Medium High (475F) and let pre-heat for 6-8 minutes
Cooking
Put 1 tsp of (normal) olive oil in the pan, wait 15 seconds, and put  the tuna in the pan. Wait 60 seconds (do not touch), then flip and  repeat
If you want, flip the tuna up on its sides and cook each for 15 seconds (no more!).  Note: Tongs help.
Put the tuna on a plate and cover with foil to rest.
While Resting
Add 1 tsp of Tuscan EVOO to the pesto and pulse to mix.  Taste, add Fleur del Sel and pepper to taste (pulsing to mix).
Wait 1-2 min then take of the foil and put the peston on the tuna
Now eat—with another glass of wine.
Salad Course
No credit to me here.  I simply put half the salad dressing on the salad and ate, pairing with ½ a glass of wine.
Dessert
Again, no credit to me. I did remember to put the dessert out to warm  up a bit (for a stronger chocolate fragrance). Your choice of coffee,  wine, port, or herb tea (I did the tea).
I guess I am off to the gym tomorrow to work this off. However, it was not bad for a burned-out, spur-of-the-moment concoction.

My “Drinking Alone” Evening – Seared Tuna With Lavender and Pistachio Paired with a 2004 Vosne-Romanée Pinot

Note: If you do not get the reference, listen to, “I Drink Alone,” by George Thorogood. Of course, the style is completely different in this post. This is a re-post from March 2009.

I rolled out a whole new architecture and product line today (including an a lá Obama Government 2.0 social networking community launch). It tied up about four weeks of working 90-hours per week so I figured I would celebrate. Given that I live by myself in Naples – and many of my friends either had in-laws visiting or were sick – I turned to “drinking alone.” Although, my style is a little different from George Thorogoods’s…

My first stop was picking up a good bottle of wine. Since my most recent trip to France (last July), I was curious about Vosgne-Romanée pinots. I picked up a 2004 Frédéric Magnien Vosne-Romanée (Au Dessus de la Rivière). This shaped the rest of my evening.

I went home and decanted the wine before heading off to Whole Foods. From there I picked up the following:

  • 2 oz of Brillat-Savarin cheese (perfect with Pinots)
  • 1 roasted Red Pepper and 2 Tbsp of Capers from the appetizer bar
  • 1 small Mesclun Green salad (with walnuts and dried cherries)
  • 8 oz of (NOT Previously-Frozen) sushi-grade, dark red Tuna (from Trinidad)
  • 4 oz of roasted, salted pistachios
  • 1 package of fresh Lavender (Green Lavender preferred)
  • 1 (small) cappuccino chocolate cup (dessert for once)
  • 1 package of (plain) Whole Foods Crostini

Appetizer Course

I put together a plate of some crostini, the roasted red pepper, the capers, and the Brillat-Savarin (paired with a glass of the wine) for a great appetizer. I learned last year that this cheese is perfect with a great pinot. It is still true ; )

Main Course

I decided to eat Old World style and have my salad after my main course. Here is what I did for the main course:

Mise en Place

  1. Pulse four crostini in a food mill to bread crumb consistency
  2. Add a half sprig of lavender, ¼ tsp of Kosher Salt, 6 turns of the pepper mill and 2 oz. of pistachios to the food mill an pulse to a bread crumb consistency
  3. Lightly salt the tuna with Fleur de Sel and dredge it through the dried mixture. Set aside for 15 minutes to come to near room temperature
  4. Add the last 2 oz of pistachios, 2 sprigs of lavender, ½ tsp of Kosher salt, and 6 turns of the pepper mill to the food mill. Pulse to a dry pesto consistency. Add 2 tsp of Tuscan EVOO (another plug for Pasolivo) and let sit
  5. Put a black iron skilled on Medium High (475F) and let pre-heat for 6-8 minutes

Cooking

  1. Put 1 tsp of (normal) olive oil in the pan, wait 15 seconds, and put the tuna in the pan. Wait 60 seconds (do not touch), then flip and repeat
  2. If you want, flip the tuna up on its sides and cook each for 15 seconds (no more!). Note: Tongs help.
  3. Put the tuna on a plate and cover with foil to rest.

While Resting

  1. Add 1 tsp of Tuscan EVOO to the pesto and pulse to mix. Taste, add Fleur del Sel and pepper to taste (pulsing to mix).
  2. Wait 1-2 min then take of the foil and put the peston on the tuna

Now eat—with another glass of wine.

Salad Course

No credit to me here. I simply put half the salad dressing on the salad and ate, pairing with ½ a glass of wine.

Dessert

Again, no credit to me. I did remember to put the dessert out to warm up a bit (for a stronger chocolate fragrance). Your choice of coffee, wine, port, or herb tea (I did the tea).

I guess I am off to the gym tomorrow to work this off. However, it was not bad for a burned-out, spur-of-the-moment concoction.

Recipe: Sicilian Pistachio Pesto with Salmon

I posted this as an easy recipe that a friend could use to impress her in-laws.

It is actually really easy to make (I promise). You will likely memorize it after the second try. The mint-pistachio combo is both a classic and a uncommon standout.

The Salmon prep is from Napa Valley (I forget the restaurant). The Pesto is adapted from Frankies Spuntino in NYC.

Makes four servings.

Ingredients

For the fish

  • 4 6-ounce Salmon filets (wild, not farmed and never “previously frozen”, the redder the better)
  • 4 Tbsp of Ghee at room temperature (Clarified Butter, regular butter will do but will smoke more so I hope you have an exhaust fan)
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

That’s it for the fish…

For the Pesto

  • 1/2 cup of shelled, roasted and salted Pistachios*
  • 1 very large garlic clove, chopped is coarse pieces
  • 4 Tbps of fresh mint leaves (smoosh them into the measuring spoon so you have enough–BTW “smoosh” is a very technical cooking term)
  • 1/3 cup of very extra virgin olive oil (preferably made with Tuscan or Sicilian olives only (here is another commercial for Pasolivo, check out http://delicious.com/haughwout/PasoRobles)
  • 1/4 cup of shredded (not grated) Pecorino cheese (Parmesan will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 Tsp of Kosher Salt (plus additional to taste)
  • 1/3 Tsp of coarsely-ground Black Pepper (plus additional to taste)

*The Sicilian variation on the pesto is to replace the Pine Nuts with Pistachios. This rules out the Basil. Mint is a refreshing pairing that goes well with the Pistachio. If you cannot get roasted Pistachios, then do it yourself (heat a non-stick skillet over medium, toss the pistachios in and agitate every 10 seconds until you smell them roast. Put aside to cool.)

For the Garnish

  • Two scallions, cut very thin cross-wise

Tools

  • Food mill or food processor (I do not recommend a blender)
  • Two black iron skillets (1 for every two servings)
  • Meat thermometer (we ARE dealing with fish)
  • Mario Batali makes a great set of synthetic pot mittens that have saved my hands a few times with something this hot

Mis en Place

  1. Put out the Salmon and dry off with a paper towel. Lightly season with Kosher Salt and Pepper. Remember to Season the Skin Side with Kosher Salt. This will help prevent sticking to the pan.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 425F
  3. Put the Pistachios in the food processor, pulse until they are coarsely chopped
  4. Put the black iron skillets on burners and heat at rather high (not the ultra top of the burner, kill organic matter setting but something around 425-475). Wait seven minutes for the pans to fully hear (iron is dense and has low conductivity)

Preparation

  1. While waiting for the pans to heat, add the Mint, Salt (texture will help here) and Pepper to the food processer. Pulse until blended at a nice pesto-like texture (actually more like a Gremolata texture as you do not have oil in it yet)
  2. When the skillet heat, add 2 Tbsp of Ghee to each, let it fully melt and heat to a shimmer.
  3. Drop the Salmon into the skillet flesh side done (two fillets per skillet). The high density of the skillet will prevent it from cooling
  4. Turn off the stove and put the skillets in the oven, set a timer to 3-4 min (depending on how “done” you like your Salmon and how thick it is)
  5. While you are waiting, pour the EVO into the food processor and add the garlic and pulse until blended.
  6. When the timer goes off, remove the skillets from the oven, flip the salmon and return them for 2-3 minutes
  7. Run back to the pesto and add the Pecorino, pulse to mix (be gentle). Taste it with a spoon. Add salt or pepper and pulse again to taste.
  8. At 2 min, check the Salmon temperature. Remove it when it hits 130F in the very center.
  9. Plate the Salmon, put 1/4 of the pesto on each, then garnish with the scallions. The fish will cook to 135F while you are garnishing. (Try not to lick out the rest of the pesto from the food processor in front of the in-laws.)

Now you are done…

I recommend the following accompaniments

  • Salad of Arugula, Pecorino with Lemon and EVO dressing
  • Pair with a strong, non-buttery white (the acid will balance the pesto): Cloudy Bay Chardonnay, Lynmar Quail Hill Chardonnay or Tenuta Rapitala
  • Remember to hyrdate with San Pelligrino

Follow with cardio the next day (lots of calories here ; )

RECIPE: Cinnamon- and Ancho Chile-Rubbed Venison Medallions

I made this recipe up “on the fly” so the ratios may not be perfect. I have scaled it up to four servings. I encourage you to vary the ratios of spices and taste (before rubbing on the steaks) to suit your preference.

I got the inspiration when I went to Whole Foods and saw all the pumpkins outside and suddenly missed Autumn (we have permanent summer here in Naples, FL). It draws inspiration from multiple sources: the seasoning approach is from Grace Parisi; the seasoning combination from Bobby Flay; the cooking approach is one third Alton Brown, two-thirds Tom Colicchio.

Here it goes…

Ingredients

  • 4 venison medallions, 6 oz each, 1.25” – 1.5” thick (if you cannot get medallions, try venison sirloin with all the visible fat trimmed off; if you cannot get venison, substitute bison as you want more “gaminess” than offered by beef)
  • 6 Tablespoons of coarse-grained ancho chile poweder (you can make yourself by buying dried chiles, removing the seeds, processing in a spice mill and drying out for 8 hours)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of ground cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon of dehydrated garlic flakes (not garlic powder, you want texture)
  • Peanut Oil (offers higher smoke point and blends well with ancho chile flavor)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black Pepper (whole corns in a pepper mile set to coarse ground)
  • Fleur de sel (also coarse, preferably from Brittany – my friend Pascal Riaud can tell you why)
  • 2 Ounces of earthy Red Wine (I used a 2005 Turkey Flats Butcher Block – 41% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 19% Mourvedre)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Butter (preferably Ghee)

Mise en Place

  1. Trim the medallions of visible fat and shape as necessary
  2. Combine the following marinade in a non-reactive bowl: 3 ounces of peanut oil, the red wine, 1 Tsp of garlic, eight turns of the pepper mill, 1 Tsp of Kosher Salt.
  3. Pour into a one-gallon zip lock bag. Place the medallions in the bag and zip carefully, removing all air. Squish the mead around to coat full and place the bag in the fridge (in a non-reactive bowl to prevent dripping) for 2-3 hours. (If you have time, take it out and squish around every 30 min to coat evenly)
  4. After marinating is complete, remove the medallions and scrape off all the marinade. Pat completely dry with a paper towel and set aside for 20 minutes on a plate (to come to near room temperature)
  5. Take our the butter and let it come to room temperature
  6. Mix the dry ingredients: cinnamon, ancho chile powder. Taste the check balance of sweet and spicy, adjusting ratio as necessary. When you are happy, add the remaining garlic. Set aside
  7. After the 20-minute wait, season the steaks on all sides with kosher salt (you can begin to see Colicchio’s influence here). Coat the medallions on all sides with the dry rub and set aside for 10 more minutes (will pull amino acids to the surface for nice caramelization)

Cooking

I prefer to pan sear and roast my meats. I recommend a really good non-stick skillet (instead of a black iron skillet) as it gives you more control over raising and lowering the temperature (and lets you cook slower)

  1. Heat the skillet on a burner at medium-high (to just below the peanut oil smoke point). When the skillet is heated, put 1 – 1 ½ Tbsp of Peanut oil into the pan and allow to heat (it will shimmer)
  2. Place the medallions in the pan. Do not crowd as the pan will get cold. Swirl the pan the allow the oil to distrubute but DO NOT touch the meat while it cooks (Alton Brown here). Heat for 2 minutes. Turn the temperature down a little after 1 minute (when you see the oil start to smoke)
  3. After two minutes, lift the meat, swirl the plan, and place the other side down to cook, swirling again to distribute the oil. Turn the heat back up a notch for one minute, turn it back down then cook on minute more. I recommend tongs instead of a spatula as you will be rotating the meat much
  4. Immediately turn the burner down to low and stand the meat up on its uncooked sides. Put the butter into the pan to melt. When the butter has melted, flip the meat back down (on the original side) and flip every 15 seconds (top, bottom, and each side) This will let the meat baste and moisturize and cook slowly.
  5. Continue to rotate until the meat reaches desired doneness (this will vary based on your stove). I usually baste for a total of 90 seconds to bring the interior to 95F (my father likes me to stop at 90F, many people like to stop at 100F). Remember that venison and bison do not like overcooking)
  6. Put the steak on each plate and cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for three minutes
  7. After resting you have two options: either sprinkle with Fleur de sel or (if you like Mario Batali, carve into ¼” inch thick pieces, fan out, then spinkle on the salt). Add fresh cracked pepper if you like

I recommend the following accompaniments:

  • Starter: Butternut squash soup – Pacific Natural foods is okay if you do not have time to make your own
  • Side: Mixed Green salad with craisins, pumpkin seeds, and bleu cheese crumbles (with olive oil and balsamic dressing and touched up with fleur de sel and cracked pepper)
  • Finish the bottle of wine to drink (of course) – remember to hydrate with San Pelegrino
  • Jonah Gold Apple with local honey makes a good dessert