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

-Dario Zucconi

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pan-Seared Steak with Roasted Corn, Tomatoes, and Arugula Salad

Today's post is about Love, Family, and the Hope for Good Health. I often get the following question: "Why are you so tense?" in various settings: At the spa - while getting a massage. At the pool during swimming lessons - which I have started taking recently.  And during doctor's visits.  My answer: "I don't know."  My doctor recently asked me the question in a different way: "What helps you relax?" I said: "Well, lots of things: Running. Taking Zumba lessons. Exploring new places and learning about new things. Spending quality time with the kids and Patrick.  Cooking, especially cooking with the kids.  Just cooking generally helps me forget about everything that bothers me." She said: "Your homework for the next visit is for you to do as many of the things that relaxes you and gives you joy, and I would love to hear about them."

A dear and loving friend recently reminded me to focus on the many positive blessings in my life, and to let go of the things and people that create negative energy. Lately, I have been focusing on those things that fill me with the most joy and calm.  We recently spent a few days hanging out at the beach and the pool with the kids. They absolutely loved it. And, I was so happy to watch them just enjoy being children and having a great time.  Patrick and I also recently had a fun "dinner and a movie" date night. We went to see The Amazing Spiderman, and it was great talking with him afterwards about the movie. He used to read the comics books, and growing up in Haiti, I knew nothing about Spiderman. So, it was something different to talk about and something for me to learn about. The weather has been very nice lately around the Bay.  With nice weather, especially on the weekends, the kids like it when we have dinner outside.  As is the case most weekends, I don't usually think of the dinner menu until I go to the grocery store.  This menu is all about enjoying the summer and the outdoors.

For starters, I made this amazingly refreshing and delicious appetizer that consisted of smoked salmon, goat cheese, fresh cilantro, and fresh ground black pepper, stuffed inside fresh cucumber tubes.  I can't tell you how easy it was to make, and how incredibly tasty it was.

For the actual entree, we had some steaks pan seared in a cast-iron skillet topped with blue cheese. For sides, I made two of my favorites: Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Corn, Tomatoes, and Arugula Salad.

For the sweet potatoes, I simply peeled the sweet potatoes, cut them into cubes, stirred some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes (or until soft, but not mushy).

For the corn salad, here's the rough recipe (I make this often, so I don't really follow exact measurements):


 4 fresh ears of corn (with husks on)
1/2 each red, yellow, and orange bell peppers diced (or whatever color you have in your Fridge)
1 cup of Cherry Tomatoes (cut in half)
Extra virgin olive oil (about 2 Tablespoons)
Italian Seasonings
1/2 cup of crumbled Feta Cheese
1/2 avocado (diced)
1/4 chopped fresh basil
1 Cup of fresh Arugula (or baby spinach if you have them)
1/2 lemon juice
Salt and pepper (to taste)


Remove the husks and hairs off the corns.  [My boys love to shuck the corns for me (taking the husks and the hairs off). This is one of the most fun times we have cooking together. So, I always give them that job to do.]

Then, using a knife, remove the kernels off the cob (by placing the corn in a bowl and slicing down to remove the kernels).  Place the kernels in a large bowl, and discard the ears.  Then, add the diced bell peppers.  Add about 1 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, and about 1/2 teaspoon of Italian Seasonings. Place the corn in a cookie sheet and roast the corn at 375 for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, place the tomatoes in a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the remaining 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, and a pinch of Italian Seasoning. Place the tomatoes in the oven and roast for about 10 minutes (make sure they are not too soft).

When corns and tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven.  Turn the broiler on and broil the corn for about 3 minutes (make sure you watch them so they don't burn).  Transfer the corn to a large bowl.  Then, add the roasted cherry tomatoes, the basil, and the arugula. Stir lightly to combine.  Then, add the lemon juice and the Feta.  Stir gently. Then, add the avocado and stir gently. Add salt and pepper, to taste (if necessary). Enjoy!

To accompany the meal, Patrick and I enjoyed a glass of a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon by J Lohr J Lohr is known for its Cabs. And, Cabs are great for steaks. But, this Cab is not just a regular Cab. It has an amazing story behind it that I wanted to highlight it on my blog.  It is J Lohr's 2008 Carol's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, CA).  Patrick and I recently visited the Central Coast (Paso Robles area). During our visit, we decided to stop by J Lohr Winery.  We had a amazing time tasting the different wines that J Lohr makes. Our host, Ann, was wonderful and very knowledgeable about J Lohr, the winery, and the wines.  They were all incredible. We bought a couple of bottles of wines, including the Carol's Vineyard Cab.  This Cab is named after the winemaker's wife, Carol, who died of breast cancer. Cabernet Sauvignon was one of her favorite varietals.  These grapes are planted in Napa, and this wine is made in her honor to celebrate her love of life and family. J Lohr donates part of the proceeds from every bottle of wine sold to the American Cancer Society.  What a wonderful way to remember and honor Carol!

I decided to pair this wine with this meal not only because it is an awesome Cab.  It is a complex but well-balanced wine.  It has notes of blackberries, dark cherries, oak, and pepper, with a hint of vanilla. It has a long lasting finish on the palate. It's delicious!  But, the wine also has a story that touches my heart.  It was a blessing to be able to visit the winery, enjoy some wonderful wines, and be reminded about what's important: Love, Family, and Good Health!

For dessert, we had fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries marinated in simple syrup and lime zest.  I served that with a slice of pound cake and topped with fresh whipped cream. The kids just loved this because they got to cut the pound care into different fun shapes of their own choosing.  And, they got to build up their own dessert like a taco bar.  All three of them were so happy with dinner. My 4-year-old said "Mom, you're the best 'food maker' ever. I love you!"  So, as you can probably guess, this was a very enjoyable and relaxing evening for me. I am grateful for life and for my family. Here is a toast to good health. And, here's to Carol's family and their memories of her!
I hope you and your family had a wonderful weekend and are enjoying the summer.  Remember that the key ingredients to life are: love, family, and good health.

Until next time . . . Cheers!


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