Living life between the barrel staves in Bourbon Country

A Mid Winter Repast

In the end, I think it came down to the simple fact that we were all just so damn tired of the cold.  And the snow.  And the ice.  We needed a night of good company somewhere warm.  So it was inevitable I suppose that we ended up spending most it in the kitchen.  While we have a deserved reputation for the improvised “shop in the morning, cook in the evening” dinners, this time the conversation started several days in advance.

“Fish sounds good”, was Charlotte’s reply on the phone Thursday night when I asked if we were going to cook this weekend.  Without little instruction or opinion besides that, we each set about determining what our contribution to the meal would be.  The division of labor for dinner is less about who prepares what dish than about utilizing the combined resources of our kitchens, along with the requisite dividing and conquering of a shopping list.  Sometime after our initial conversation, dinner for 2 plus 2 (2 adults and 2 kids) on Friday became dinner for 4 adults and 3 kids on Saturday and the whole affair was relocated to Carlie’s farm.  “I have plenty of wine” Carlie volunteered, having just celebrated her birthday the week before and receiving from her friends a more than adequate restock of her wine cellar.  So it was on Saturday afternoon with the wine shop crossed off the “to-do” list that we made final preparations for dinner on the farm.

All three of us love to cook, and all of our kids are – to varying degrees – becoming food conscious.  In the case of my eight year old son you might even call it food obsessed.  I think he was the only one under the age of 30 who was excited about having calamari as he would get to cross yet another sea creature off his list.  At the appointed hour we all showed up on a small farm outside of Lexington, toting sacks full of seafood and produce for what would become a very memorable dinner.  And like so often happens the less said about it the better.  The food, after all, does all the talking.

Beautiful colors as the calamari, bacon and scallions cook together.

Spicy Calamari with Bacon and Scallions

  • 1 1/2 pounds cleaned medium squid
  • 1/4 pound bacon (about 5 slices), cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes

Rinse squid under cold water, then pat dry between paper towels. Halve large tentacles lengthwise and cut bodies (including flaps, if attached) crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide rings.

Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Toss squid with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Heat fat remaining in skillet over high heat until very hot, then sauté squid with scallions and red-pepper flakes until just cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Serve squid immediately, sprinkled with bacon.

Recipe from Gourmet Magazine (November 2007)

Course #1: Calamari with Bacon, Scallions and Lemon Scented Quinoa

Lemon Scented Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.

    Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve over same pot above 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam over simmering water until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.

    Transfer quinoa to a bowl and stir in oil, zest, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

    Recipe from Gourmet Magazine (November 2007)

    Course #2: Tom Yum Gai with Chicken

    Tom Yum Gai with Chicken

    • 8 oz chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
    • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves
    • 2-3 pieces galangal, slices
    • 1 1/2 cup staw mushroom, halved
    • 4 Tablespoons Thai fish sauce
    • 3 cups water
    • 1 stalk lemon grass, cut into 2″ long pieces
    • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
    • 1 Tablespoon Thai chili pepper, chopped
    • 2 to 3 T chopped cilantro

    Bring water to boil in a medium-sized pot over high heat. Add kaffir lime leaves, galangal and lemon grass. Cook for 2 minutes.  Add straw mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes more. Add chicken. Do not stir. Cook for 5 minutes or less until the chicken is cooked through – do not overcook.  Remove from heat. Season to taste with fish sauce, lime juice and chili peppers.  Stir in chopped cilantro and serve.


    Course #3: Mahi Mahi in Red Curry Sauce with Thai Lemon Shrimp, Asian Green Beans and Jasmine Rice

    Mahi Mahi with Red Curry Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 14 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 mahi mahi, filets (8 ounces each)
  • olive oil, for grilling
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Prepare the grill. Measure all the ingredients and have them ready by the stove. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, and add the curry powder, curry paste, paprika, and cumin. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.  Raise the heat back to medium, and add the soy sauce, tomato puree, brown sugar, and coconut milk, whisking well after each addition. When small bubbles form around the edge of the saucepan, simmer very gently for 10 minutes, whisking frequently. Do not allow it to boil.  Brush the mahimahi with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill until cooked through. Serve immediately with the sauce.

    Recipe from Melinda & Robert Blanchard’s At Blanchard’s Table: A Trip To The Beach Cookbook (2003)

    Thai Lemon Shrimp

    • 1 lbs shrimp (26-30 count)
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
    • 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 tablepoon fresh ginger, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1 teaspoon chile pepper flakes
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 2 bay leaves

    Whisk all ingredients together and pour over shrimp.  Allow shrimp to marinate for at least 1 hour but no more than 3.  When ready to cook, heat a saute pan to medium high.  Cook shrimp two to three minutes until done.

    Asian Green Beans

    • 1/2 lb fresh green beans
    • 3 tablespoons chile oil
    • Salt and black pepper to taste

    Blanch green beans in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes under they have started to cook through.  Strain beans and place in ice water to shock the beans and stop the cooking process.  When ready to finish the dish, heat the chile oil in a large saute pan to medium high.  Strain and dry beans then pour into pan.  Cook 2 to 3 minutes then remove from heat.  Season with salt and black pepper and serve immediately.

    Jasmine Rice

    • 2 1/2 cups Thai jasmine rice
    • 3 cups water

    Place rice in a small saucepan (approx. 2-1/2 qt). Rinse rice by running cold water over two or three times to cover and pouring the water out. This rids the rice of excess starch powder and broken rice which makes the cooked rice mushy and sticky. Add just enough water to cover the top of the rice by 1/2-inch (approximately 3 cups).  Cover the pot with the lid. Place over medium to medium high heat. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, another 10 minutes, until the water has completely evaporated.  Turn off the burner and allow rice to sit, covered, for at least another 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.



    One response

    1. Definitely sounds like a great dinner gathering to me!

      March 15, 2011 at 11:45 am

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