"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cheesy Broccoli and Potato Soup; Fig and Blue Cheese Stuffed Red Snapper

While I was on the BART train coming home from work last week, I was reading Parents Magazine.  In their Healthy Eating section was a very simple recipe for a broccoli and cheddar soup.  It sounded pretty simple to make, and best of all it is loaded with great vitamins and nutrients, and it's a creative way to get our kids to eat vegetables (hey: Kids love anything sprinkled with cheese, right?).  I made the soup last week as an appetizer, and it was pretty tasty.  My 7-year-old actually liked it.  You can actually double this recipe and make a meal out of it by serving it with a nice salad.  I have posted the recipe below in case you want to try it.

 That night, I also had some fresh Red Snapper fillets (boneless/skinless) from Ver Brugge (our local butcher).  I decided to do something different and interesting with the fish.  I stuffed each fillet with chopped dried fig and goat cheese, sauteed the fish in a sauce pan for a few minutes to brown the sides, and baked the fish in the oven.  I made a quick white wine and cream sauce to serve on top of the fillets.

As side dishes, I made some potato au gratin (see the recipe below) and steamed green and yellow beans.

Given the slightly sweet and naturally buttery taste of the fish, we decided to try a glass of another Riesling (Columbia Crest Grand Estate 2007).  This wine is medium-sweet, but well balanced.  It has refreshing and inviting aromas (it just smells like a nice tropical fruit salad).  It offers tastes of fresh, ripe fruits such as juicy peaches, apples, and honey-suckle.  Normally, it is $10, but BevMo has it as part of its $.05 sale: Buy one for $10.99, and get another for $.05).

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cups of broccoli, chopped
3 cups low-salt vegetable stock (I used chicken stock as this was what I had in my pantry)
1 cup reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (I used regular white cheddar cheese)

Cooking Instructions
In a large stockpot, heat oil and saute the onion for 5 to 7 miutes over low to medium heat.  Add potatoes, broccoli, and stock. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until broccoli and potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove the mixture from the stove top; allow to cool a bit.  Pour mixture and cheese into a blender, puree. (Alternatively, you can use a handheld blender to do it right into the stockpot, which is what we did).I also sprinkled some cheese on top of each bowl.

Fig and Goat Cheese Stuffed Red Snapper
3 Snapper Fillets (about 1/2 pound each)
1 cup of finely chopped dried fig
1/2 cup of crumbled goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
some twine or string to tie the fish so the stuffing doesn't come out

Cooking instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse the fish, and pat dry.  Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides.  Lay the fish down on a flat even surface.  Divide the chopped fig evenly down the middle of the fish.  Then, devide the goat cheese evenly on top of the fig.  Roll the fish with the stuffing from one end to the other.  Tie the twine or string across (lengthwise) so the stuffing stays nice and tight inside the fish.

Heat the olive oil in an oven-proof non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Sautee the stuffed fish on all sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).  When lightly browned, place the whole skillet in the oven.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes (depending on how big your fillets are).  Make sure the thickest part of the inside of the fish is white (no pink) and the fish is flaky.

When done, remove from skillet and set aside in a plate (cover it with some aluminum foil).  Put the skillet on a burner on the stove top.  Turn the heat on to medium-low.  Add the wine, and scrap all the bits from the pan.  Season with some salt and pepper (if needed).  Add the cream and stir for a minute until heated through.  Serve the sauce on top of the fish.

Potato Au Gratin
1 pound of mixed Yukon gold and red potatoes with skin (can use russet potatoes if that's what you have, but I would discard the skin).
1/4 cup of finely chopped onions
1 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese (or white cheddar cheese, or whatever hard cheese you like)
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of butter

Cooking Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom of a baking dish with the butter, and set aside.  Boil the potatoes in a pot of water so they are slightly soft, but not mushy (they will cook in the oven, so don't over boil them).  When they are softened up a bit, remove them from the heat, rinse them under cold water, and slice them diagonally into 1/4-inch pieces.  Arrange the potatoes on the baking dish, one layer at a time.  On top of each layer, season the potatoes with salt and pepper, sprinkle some onions and the cheese on top, then add some of the whipping cream.  Make sure that you've split the ingredients evenly among the layers.  Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes appear soft when you insert a fork in them (the time may be shorter or longer depending on how thick your slices are and how cooked the potatoes are).  When done, remove from heat, let cool for  5 minutes or so, and then serve.

Green and Yellow Beans
I just blanched a small bag of green/yellow beans from Trader Joe's in a medium pot of boiling water for about 3-4 minutes. I drained the water out.  Then, I added about 1/2 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, seasoned the beans with some salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Voil√†!  It's done. 

I hope you try one of the above recipes, or the wine.  If you do, please be sure to write me a note in the Comments section, and let me know what you think.

Until next time . . . Cheers!


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