Well Dined

20Jan/151

San Antonio Country Club Chef’s Table

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

While we were in San Antonio for Christmas, my father (from whom I inherited my love of food) set up a special dinner in the kitchen of the San Antonio Country Club with Chef Nelson Millán, a Puerto Rican native who has been working at SACC since 2010.  Chef Millán specializes in Latin flavors, but is versed in a variety of cuisines; so when I told my father that I'm not a huge fan of Latin cuisine in general he was able to put together a menu combining two of my favorite cuisines - Asian and French (or Frasian, they joked).  My parents, my brother and his fiance, my sister, my husband, and I were set up at a big metal table inside the kitchen with a close up view of the action and a very dedicated server who made sure our glasses were never empty.  Let's begin our Frasian adventure!

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

First up was a White Bouillabaisse with Clam, Mussel, Lobster, White Fish (I can't recall what kind), Prawn, Potato Puree, and Roasted Fennel with a Togarashi Rouille.  This was accompanied by a 15 yr Oloroso Sherry.  Beautiful.  Each piece of seafood was perfectly cooked and the broth was packed with flavor.  I liked the modern way the chef incorporated the traditional potato and fennel into the dish, and the togarashi (Japanese condiment with chili, citrus, ginger, seaweed, and sesame) in the rouille (sauce of olive oil, breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron, and chili traditionally served with bouillabaisse) was a fun way to bring in Asian flavors.

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

Here we see Chef Millán arranging the seafood over the potato puree before pouring in the broth.  I should add that we also had all kinds of bread to munch on, my favorites being the sweet potato biscuits and the cornbread drops that I loved as a kid.

5Jan/151

Apple Galette with Salted Bourbon Caramel

Well Dined | Apple Galette with Salted Bourbon Caramel

So, last month I posted about a Cranberry Custard Pie using my favorite dough recipe.  I typically use a deep dish pie plate, but for that recipe I used a shallower one.  So I had a lot of leftover dough to make something else with.  So I grabbed some apples that were on their way to getting old, and made a galette.

Well Dined | Apple Galette with Salted Bourbon Caramel

An apple galette in and of itself is not that exciting, but this caramel sauce - with bourbon and fleur de sel - so luscious.  It really takes a basic tart over the top.

30Dec/140

Top 10 Most Popular Recipes of 2014

We are reaching the end of 2014, so here is a look back at the recipes that you liked that most!  Fun fact: January was my most popular month.  Happy New Year and may your 2015 be full of blessings!

Well Dined | Spring Vegetable and Tortellini Salad

#10 - Spring Vegetable and Tortellini Salad

Well Dined | Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Goat Cheese - Three Ways

#9 - Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Goat Cheese - Three Ways

Well Dined | Chicken Parmesan Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash

#8 - Chicken Parmesan Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash

23Dec/140

Holiday Round-up

If you are starting to panic because Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) is closing in and you don't have a dinner plan yet, fear not - I have you covered!  I have a round-up of all of my holiday recipes, from protein to sides to dessert, and even breakfast!  So please enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Well Dined | Holiday Meal

Perfect Roasted Turkey, Apple Sausage Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Cider Gravy

Well Dined | Brined and Roasted Pork

Brined and Roasted Pork

Well Dined | Slow Cooked Cider Ham

Slow Cooked Cider Ham

Well Dined | Dr Pepper Glazed Ham with Prunes

Dr Pepper Glazed Ham with Prunes

Well Dined | Garlic and Herb Crusted Rib Roast with Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus

Garlic and Herb Crusted Rib Roast with Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus

20Dec/140

Cranberry Custard Pie

Well Dined | Cranberry Custard Pie

Who says cranberries are just for Thanksgiving?  With this combination of bright and tangy cranberry orange compote over sweet and creamy vanilla custard, you will want to eat them all Winter long.  The acidity from the compote is balanced out by the custard - perfect.  The gorgeous bright red color makes it great for the holidays, as well.

Well Dined | Cranberry Custard Pie

You can make the two components of this pie separately, chill them, and assemble when ready to serve.  That makes traveling to a holiday potluck much easier.  For the compote - combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest in a pot and simmer until the cranberries start to burst.  Transfer to a container and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.

Well Dined | Cranberry Custard Pie

For the pie - prebake a pie crust, then fill with a custard made from flour, sugar, milk, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla.  Bake until set, cool completely, then chill for at least a few hours and up to 2 days.  Spread the cranberry mixture over the custard pie just before serving.

18Dec/140

Apple Butter Glazed Pork Loin

Well Dined | Apple Butter Glazed Pork Loin

Looking for yet another side to go with your Bacon Bourbon Sweet Potatoes?  Check out this pork loin glazed with Dijon mustard, apple butter, and cider and roasted over veggies and sage.  It's moist, tender, savory, sweet, and easy to make - plus it's pretty healthy!

I came up with this dish because I needed a protein to go with leftover sweet potatoes, and because I wanted to try out the recipe for the apple butter glaze.  We are members of the Frog's Leap wine club, and they sent us a little jar of apple butter along with our last shipment of wine.  They also included a recipe for a savory glaze using the apple butter, Dijon mustard, apple cider, shallot, and garlic - it sounded great!

Well Dined | Apple Butter Glazed Pork Loin

Start by placing a few carrots and an onion in a roasting pan, top with a few sprigs of sage, then pour in a little bit of apple cider (to keep the meat from drying out).  Season the pork loin with salt and pepper, and set it on the vegetables and roast it on high heat for 15 minutes.

Well Dined | Apple Butter Glazed Pork Loin

Then take it out, spread the glaze over the top, and return it to the oven at a lower temp for 45 minutes.  And that's it!  Rest and slice and you're ready to serve.  This is a great dish for fall with flavors that pair with lots of seasonal side dishes.  Enjoy!

15Dec/140

Maple Bourbon Glazed Chicken

Well Dined | Maple Bourbon Glazed Chicken

Following on the heels of last week's post on whipped sweet potatoes with all the best things (bourbon, bacon, brown butter, sage), I am keeping my promise to share a complimentary chicken recipe.  This sticky glazed chicken with bourbon, maple, and thyme is easy, delicious, and perfect with the sweet potatoes.

Well Dined | Maple Bourbon Glazed Chicken

Simply sear bone-in chicken breasts in a large skillet (I used a dutch oven), then add a mixture of chicken stock, maple syrup, and bourbon along with some thyme sprigs.  Allow to cook down until the mixture is syrupy and the chicken is fully cooked.  That's it - done!  It's really so easy.  The sticky glaze is super yummy and the bones keep the chicken from drying out.  You could easily substitute bone-in pork chops, as well.

Maple Bourbon Glazed Chicken
adapted from Food Network
serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
4 (6-oz) bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp bourbon
4 sprigs thyme

Place a large heavy-bottom or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil.  Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken to the pan breast-side down and sear until deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

While the chicken in searing, in a small dish whisk together the stock, syrup, and bourbon.  Add the bourbon mixture to the skillet along with the thyme sprigs and continue cooking, turning the chicken occasionally, until the meat is cooked through and the sauce has reduced to a thick syrupy consistency, 8 to 10 minutes.  (If the sauce reduces to a syrupy consistency before the chicken has cooked through, add a few splashes of stock to the skillet and continue cooking.)

To serve, remove and discard the thyme sprigs.  Spoon the sticky sauce over the chicken and enjoy warm.

One Year Ago - Smoked Salmon Pizzette
Two Years Ago - Stained Glass Jello
Three Years Ago - Snickerdoodle Surprise Cookies

12Dec/140

Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage

Well Dined | Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage

I know this photo is not great - it gets too dark for photos at 5 now, and I'm not profesh enough to make dinner in the middle of the day or make multiples of a dish for photo purposes, sorry!  But did you read that title description?  DID YOU?  Bourbon. Bacon. Sweet Potatoes. Brown Butter. Sage.  Need I say more to convince you to try this?

I haven't actually cooked with Bourbon a whole lot before, and now I am loving it.  It lends such rich, smoky, and sweet flavors to a dish - which go perfectly with bacon, by the way.  I mean, duh!  And the nutty brown butter and crispy, buttery fried sage?  Just awesome.  And super healthy sweet potatoes make up for all that fat and booze, right? Maybe? Just a little?  Plus - since sweet potatoes are more fibrous than starchy, you can whip them into fluffy perfection without worrying about them becoming gummy like regular potatoes.

Well Dined | Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage

This would make a perfect Thanksgiving side, and if I were a better blogger I would have told you about them BEFORE the holiday.  But they also go really well with pork or chicken, and I have a recipe coming up for each that would be perfect, so I promise to make it up to you.

Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage
adapted from How Sweet Eats
serves 8

4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
15-20 sage leaves
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp bourbon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Add the potato chunks to a large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until they are fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the chopped bacon.  Cook the bacon until it is crispy and all of the fat has been cooked out.

Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain.  To the same skillet, add the butter to the bacon fat and heat it over medium heat.  When it has melted and starts to foam, add the sage leaves.  Cook until crispy - 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.  By this time, the butter should have browned (it will smell nutty) - remove from heat and reserve.

Drain the potatoes thoroughly and add them back to the pot.  Mash them with a fork or potato masher, then use a whisk or electric hand mixer to whip them.  Once whipped, add in the milk, the bourbon, and the brown butter bacon fat mixture.  Whip the potatoes again until everything is combined.  Taste the potatoes and add the salt and pepper, seasoning more or less if desired.

Spread the potatoes into a dish and top them with the crispy bacon.  Crumble the sage on top.

Alternatively (if you are not serving immediately), you can bake them for 25 to 30 minutes at 325 deg F, then remove them from the oven and crumble the sage over top.  If you are doing this method, it is best to only cook the bacon 3/4 of the way and let it finish crisping in the oven.

One Year Ago - Smoked Salmon Pizzette
Two Years Ago - Quinoa Mac and Cheese
Three Years Ago - Snickerdoodle Surprise Cookies

1Dec/140

Thanksgiving 2014

Well Dined | Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

You know, I tried to be good and blog about Thanksgiving stuff before the holiday so that it might actually be useful to somebody.  I even made a few dishes in advance, but I didn't post about them in time.  Oh well!  Prepare for a lot of Thanksgiving type posts!

Anyway, we don't have any family where we live so we normally travel for Thanksgiving.  But this year we decided to switch it up and travel for Christmas, so we were on our own for Turkey Day.  We had originally planned to stay at the Inn at Little Washington (!!!), but Jasper got sick and we had to cancel.  So then I had to figure out what to make at the last minute for 2 people - initiate panic mode.  But I got my menu together on Monday, went to the grocery store on Tuesday (which was surprisingly not that crazy), and prepped on Wednesday.

Well Dined | Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

I tried to cut it down to just the basics - turkey (breast only), stuffing (half recipe), mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce (bought), and rolls (bought).  It was still way too much food for 2 people so there are lots of leftover sandwiches in my future.

Well Dined | Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 Turkey Breast

First up, the star - turkey.  There was no way I was going to roast a whole turkey for 2 people, so I bought a whole breast on the bone.  I definitely could have gone with a half breast, but now we have lots of sandwich meat!  And guys, I don't want to brag or anything, but I am SO GOOD at turkey.  Brined, air dried, stuffed with sage butter, rubbed with avocado oil, and started at a high temp - this baby was PERFECT.  It was juicy and tender with crispy skin and super crazy flavorful.  Love it.  It's also really easy to carve - you just cut along the breast bone until the meat is released, then turn it on its side and slice.

20Nov/140

Atelier Crenn – San Francisco

While we were in San Francisco visiting family, Jasper and I wanted to have a nice date night to ourselves to try one of the many Michelin rated restaurants.  We choose Atelier Crenn, a 2-star restaurant with a seasonal and locally sourced menu written in the form of a poem.  Yes, it is a little bit silly and pretentious to present your menu as a poem, but chef/owner Dominique Crenn seems to have some reasons for doing it.  Crenn hails from Versailles, France, where her father had a painting workshop (called an "atelier").  She considers her restaurant to be her own artist's studio (hence the name), with the plate as a blank canvas, and the ingredients as the paint.  So perhaps we can consider it to be more artsy than pretentious.  And it did provide a fun game to try and figure out what would be in the next course based on the poem.

From the website: "Poetic Culinaria: Atelier Crenn, a painting. An empty white canvas. With tools... a brush, paint and a vision, creativity is given its breath. Here, from this place, the artist can suggest emotion. A lasting moment from childhood... little drawers of heartbeats."

Crenn seems to be inspired by her childhood and her father, whose paintings decorate the restaurant.  Playfulness and nature are the overriding themes of the menu we received, which I have copied below:

Summer has come and is full of sweet surprises
Under the midnight glow, I can taste the sweetness of the sea,
hear mellow serenades of colors licorice and orange
I touch the earth and play
Where the broad ocean leans against the Spanish land,
I remember an oceanic feeling
Here, the earth proffers its juicy, vermilion gifts
and above, the half moon floats, silky and smoky
In its cool, milky light,
the forest still radiant with possibility
Nature rejoice! chasing childhood memories
Feeling the black sand under my toes, I dreamed of
these creatures' languid movements
Walking deep in the woods, as the earth might have something to spare
bird song, see the water rippling from their visit
a token of the summer
Summer has come, the sea beckons
sweetness, bounty, thanks