Lamb, potatoes, green beans, Zinfandel

My friends and I have been sous vide crazy this summer. We've even tried to sous vide an artichoke (not that I'd recommend it).

I didn't do much cooking for this dinner, I have childhood friend John to thank for the sous vide lamb. Lamb leg was the next logical candidate for the sous vide machine. Leg of lamb generally has a long, slow cooking time anyway, so it makes sense to use a little science and cooking together. There is no real recipe for sous vide leg of lamb, other than cooking time, which was 9 hours. We finished it on a charcoal fire for some color and additional flavor.

Sous vide lamb leg with roasted peppers

Sous vide lamb leg with roasted peppers

For me, what made the entire meal pop were the green beans. Chinese influenced green beans were the contrast to all the richness in the meal. The salty umami heat in the sauce made me want to have another bite of lamb and another sip of Zinfandel. It was a virtuous circle of eating.

I can't take credit for the green beans, John's wife Falina prepared the dish, in addition to the roasted potatoes, one style with feta the other with proscuitto.

Pan fried green beans with slivered almonds and chili sauce

1 package Fresh green beans (you know, the ones that come in the bag, cleaned)
1 tablespoon Fresh chopped garlic
1/4 cup Shaved almonds
3 tablespoons Soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chili paste
3 tablespoons Canola or Peanut Oil

Blanche your green beans in boiling, salted water for about 30 seconds.

Have a large, hot saute pan ready to combine all the ingredients above for a quick, high heat saute (unless you're lucky enough to have a commercial wok in your house). The saute pan should NOT be overloaded with green beans. It's better for this dish to split the green beans in two or three batches, so that the pan stays screaming hot and the cooking process stays hot, this is wok-style cooking in a non-commercial home kitchen.


Football, Food and Wine

Sitting around on the final Sunday of football season has become a tradition with some close friends.

Winemaker, David Scheidt slicing up BBQ pork ribs

Winemaker, David Scheidt slicing up BBQ pork ribs

Always a pot-luck event, there is no real theme to the day, other than perhaps excess and quality. Guests are welcome to bring anything they'd like. There have been a few coordinated efforts over the years to not cook "one too many tri-tips", which seems to occur at many events in Fresno.


However, 'one too many ribs', 'too much sashimi' and plenty of wine is not a problem. Below are a few pics from the evening.

Hostage Sauvignon Blanc and Mastro Scheidt Cabernet Team Up

Only two wines were featured at an exclusive dinner party of 100 guests; Mastro Scheidt Proprietor's Reserve 2007 and Hostage Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2011.

Personally, I was pleased with being able to recommend the Sauvignon Blanc from Hostage. I only met Jeremiah and Elizabeth about a year ago at a blind wine tasting group in Healdsburg. Jeremiah's no-nonsense style of evaluating the wines he was tasting was similar to mine, up-front and blunt. Elizabeth's evaluation was deeper, less given to whim or her "first sip".

So when I finally tasted their 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, my initial reaction was one of delight. This is really tasty! But it was more than that. This is the style and type of Sauvignon Blanc I remember drinking years ago, before we were inundated with Kiwi Blanc. I'd almost forgotten how good a Sauvignon Blanc from California could taste on a 90 degree day. How complementary it could be with food, rather than just a pre-dinner wine.

The Hostage Sauvignon Blanc was an expression of both the up-front, no-nonsense style from Jeremiah and the complexity from Elizabeth.

It got me thinking about Sauvignon Blanc again and that's why I recommend it.

Here is a little background on the wine. Paraphrasing a bit from their website, Jeremiah and Elizabeth purchased a unique clone of Sauvignon Blanc, called Sauvignon Musqué, from a vineyard in the Russian River Valley Appellation. This particular clone has to be picked at optimal maturity in order to capture its incredible tropical aromas and flavors. On a cold morning, right before a storm rolled in, we harvested the fruit and put it straight into the press. From there, we racked the juice into neutral French oak barrels to ferment. It remained in barrel until bottling last February.

D.Scheidt Backyard Garden 2012

Let's get something clear...I hate yard work.

Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, raking the other neighbor's leaves and pine needles pretty much all sucks. The smell of freshly cut grass does nothing for me because I can't smell it over the lawn mower exhaust to begin with. If I want to smell freshly cut grass, I'll open a bottle of Sav Blanc.

However, I'm willing to put in good labor for fruit. Makes sense, I make wine. So I'm willing to put in whatever effort it takes to have great tomatoes all summer long. I'm reasonably hard-core about NOT buying tomatoes in December or any other month in California other than the summer months. Canned tomatoes are just fine for sauces and stews in the winter anyway.

So planting 18 tomato plants this season, along with 4 basil plants, should allow me to get my fix in for the season. For those that care, I have included a diagram of the plantings as well as a picture of the garden area. The other two trees on the right are Apricot and Orange. The Apricot tree has bloomed and I will take measures to eliminate any bird/critter threats to my plants and trees.