Sunday, Mother’s Day…it was kinda sucky. I woke up a touch sad that I can’t even get a hug from my son, (his college is too far away) and thinking of my own Mother who sadly passed away, (very shocking and far too young) nine years ago. I tried to wear a happy face for my hubby who does holidays where the focus is ME, very well. He kind of waits on me hand and foot, lets me pick whatever I want to eat and doesn’t even squawk at whatever I am watching on television….really not all that different than any other day really, but he just seems happier to do in on birthdays and Mother’s Day.
I had offered to work but owners, Randy and Dale would not have it, I am the only mommy on staff and they wanted to honor me, very sweet really, plus the Lakers were on and they knew I wanted to watch so they ended up working Sunday for me…so nice to have bosses that care dontcha think?
I woke up, got my coffee and flipped on MSNBC, nothing all that important going on…you know aside from the scandal of a beauty queen and her intolerance of others on account of her strong religious values and morality, you know, the same religious morality she popped up on a shelf to pose for half naked photos. Never being a fan of any “job” where a woman is told all her value is in her face and body, I have never really followed the beauty queen crap….this scandal has not changed that in the least. She had every right to say how she feels and we have every right to call her a bigot and a hypocrite…so that little news bit sucked up about 5 seconds of my time.
I popped on the interwebs and started checking the blogs that I read, went to Fermentation and read a piece that Tom Wark wrote about his Mother, “Memories of Broken Glass and Mothers” I was crying….hard, by the second paragraph, a beautifully written and heart wrenching piece but it did little to shake me already less than chipper mood. I glanced at the beautiful flowers the hubby got from my favorite florist, Devynn’s in Sunset Beach, even when you are in a funky mood it’s nice to feel all loved and junk.
And then put all my energy into sending my Mother’s Day mojo to the Lakers…well, watching your favorite team take in the rear in a playoff game, it does nothing to cheer one up…the Lakers having 47 points in the third quarter….beyond a bummer.
When the bloodletting of a basketball game was over we headed to my In Laws to eat take-out and look at their pictures from a recent trip to China…fun. I love my In Laws, they are very sweet people, although I am pretty sure my brother in law finds me annoying in that, “fancy pants” kind of way. He makes plenty of less than clever digs about wine and food, makes comments like, “Well, soorryy I’m not as cultured as you are” when we talk about…well, my life and what I have been up to. Drives me nuts, this is what I do dude, not trying to make you feel less than…sheesh. I knew he would be there, so I had to load up on the fake chipper. The night was pretty easy, the in laws were adorable when they showed their photos so all in all it was a painless and pleasant end to a less than fun day.
“Sexy Bitch is out of town, why don’t you and Call-o come over and we can all cook dinner together. I’ll get some Halibut and grill it and you can make the sides” the email from Amy read Monday morning. I was off and have yet to have a bad time at The Vortex, so I spent Monday morning flipping through cookbooks and magazines looking for something new to accompany Amy’s grilled fish. I could not choose between 3 things so I decided to do all of them; stuffed rice balls, baby greens salad with roasted pears and blue cheese and roasted potatoes with mushrooms and onions. Went shopping, prepped my rice, gathered my other ingredients, yanked my Mother’s Day Champagne, (was not in the mood for it Sunday) from the fridge along with another bottle and headed over to Amy’s for a relaxed evening of cooking, wine and conversation.
Amy greeted us with a glass of Rose from a bottle she had already been “working” on, when she saw which Champagne I brought she went to her cellar and brought up a special bottle to have with dinner…awesome! We got right to work getting the food going, first up were the rice balls. I don’t follow recipes well, I’m a glance and improvise kinda gal so there was a slight problem with my rice mixture, I didn’t have as much Arborio rice as the recipe called for, but knowing it was only a snack before dinner I figured it was fine as we didn’t need a bunch of those little suckers…yeah, problem was I still added 2 eggs to the cooked rice mixture so it was too soupy to form into balls. Not to worry Amy to the rescue, she grabbed some breadcrumbs, sprinkled them in and it tightened the mixture, (cooked rice, eggs and Pecorino) perfectly. We rolled the rice into just slightly over golf ball size balls, poked a hole in the center and carefully stuffed each with a small mound of cooked sausage and some mozzarella cheese. Popped the balls in the fridge to set and moved on to the potatoes.
Amy diced the salt pork while I thinly sliced the onions, we got both into a pan with garlic, butter and olive oil, letting them get nice and brown while I sliced the potatoes into 1/8 inch slices. Tossed the raw potatoes with the browned onions and rendered pork goodness, dumped them in a pyrex dish and popped them in a 350 degree oven. I added a nice glug of white wine after 30 minutes, then stock and sliced mushrooms after 15 more. Left the whole thing bubbling away in the oven to cook through, taking the time to baste now and then…on to the pears for the salad.
I sliced and peeled the pears before popping them in a sauté pan with butter and thyme to get all soft and brown. Diced one shallot and thinly sliced another, (diced for the dressing, sliced for the salad) and rough chopped some smoked almonds to top the salad. When the pears were soft I removed half to cool and took the other half, smashed them to a paste and added Sherry vinegar, diced shallot, olive oil, salt and pepper…viola, dressing!
Amy got a pan started for the rice balls and began dredging them in egg then rolled them in breadcrumbs…dunk, roll and dropped into the sizzling hot oil until brown an crispy…um…yeah, time for the Champagne. “Pop” went the cork on a bottle of Camille Saves Rose, a bite of crispy fried rice that gave way to a gooey cheese and sausage stuffed center, all washed down with deeply red fruited Camille Saves Rose….it was so good I almost felt guilty! The Champagne was in a perfect place, powerful red fruit, roasted flavors and a deep, sexy as hell black cherry core…the bubbles lifted the weight from the rice balls right off our palates, leaving us longing for “just one more”. Amy had pickled some fresh veggies the day before that were also perfect for the fried starter…pickled fennel, radishes and green beans…delicious!
I tossed the greens with the dressing and sliced shallots, plated and placed the roasted pears, chopped smoked almonds and chunks of uber creamy St Agur blue cheese on the top…the pears offset the savory flavors in the most beautiful way. I have never been too hot for that candied walnut and blue cheese salad..too sweet for my palate but the mild sweetness of the pears that had been roasted in butter and thyme, with the tender greens, sharp tang from the sliced shallots and that insanely creamy blue cheese, “Um Vortex…we have a winner” I will be making this salad again. We all just sat there moaning and groaning while drinking bubbles and Rose…could have been done there but wait…there’s more!
Amy grilled the fish that she had smeared with mayonnaise, salt and pepper along with a few lemons, just after turning the fish she basted them with lemon butter…done in no time and I pulled the now soft potatoes from the oven and sprinkled them with some diced green onion. We loaded up our plates and headed to the table while Amy opened her offering for the evenings wine consumption, a 2005 Dagueneau Silex…dude.
I sat there, a plate of simple but delicious food and three glasses of wine, Camille Saves Rose Champagne, 2008 Canorgue Cotes du Luberon Rose and 2005 Dagueneau Silex thinking, “Yeah, just another Monday night!”. The Silex was screaming with the fish, with time the wine had taken on a weight, massive in the mouth with grapefruit and serious minerals. “It drinks more like a white Burgundy” Amy commented and I had to agree, anyone that thinks Sauvignon Blanc is not serious or age worthy, is not only high but has never known the pleasure of Dagueneau.
We munched on the fish and were blown away by the potatoes, they were rich and deeply flavored but without butter or cream they were still very light…spectacular. After cleanup we made our way to the living room, worked our way through the remaining wine and talked late into the night. Great food, amazing wines and spending the evening laughing with those you love….really puts things in perspective huh?