Ever since I was a child, having houseguests meant so many good things. There was laughter, conversation, great food, wine, and most of all the building of authentic friendships that carry you through a lifetime. In arabic when you open the front door to welcome someone into your home, you say ahlan, which directly translates into the word family. It’s the way we say hello. That’s exactly what happens when you walk through my door as a guest. You become family. This week we were blessed to have Lauren and Fritz be our houseguests and our first wine pairing dinner tasters. Thanks to Brian Chamis from The Vine Post at http://thevinepost.com, who impeccably paired each menu item with a delicious wine and then hand delivered it, we had a memorable evening. We started our culinary journey with my own recipe for Caprese salad, followed by a lobster lemon risotto, a succulent Osso Bucco, and finally my twist on my late grandmother’s Lokmet El Ady (Loukoumades in Greek).
This four course meal was a fusion of east meets west and a tribute to some of my childhood experiences. The crispy/breaded cheese in the Caprese salad is reminiscent of my younger days when my mother used to make me melted cheese on pita. It has the same warm creamy flavors. I chose risotto because rice is very much part of middle eastern cuisine. I also learned that rice was introduced to Italy and Spain by the arabs in the middle ages. The Osso Bucco is a dish my mother made at big parties and for special occasions, and finally Lokmet El Ady was one of my favorite desserts made by my later grandmother Josephine. I took the dishes, added my own version of Americana to them and voila. You don’t have to make these together, but if you are doing a wine pairing be sure to let the sommelier know exactly what ingredients you are using. It makes a difference!
Below pictures of dinner before & after. It was worth every bit of effort. We had so much fun!
Caprese Salad with Panko Crusted Mozzarella … Paired with Morris Farms, Vermentino 2013
A refreshing spicy taste that went very well with panko crumbs and sherry vinegar.
(Recipe yields approximately 4 Caprese salads)
- 1 red tomato
- 1 yellow tomato
- 1 package of fresh cow’s milk mozzarella
- 1/2 fresh basil
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of panko crumbs
- Whip egg in a small bowl with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- In another bowl pour panko crumbs.
- Dip slices of mozzarella first in egg mixture and then in panko.
- Fry mozzarella slices in oil until panko golden and cheese unmelted. (approximately 30 seconds per side)
- Remove promptly and set aside.
- Prepare dressing by mixing dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Arrange slices of yellow and red tomatoes, inserting basil in each layer and alternating the mozzarella slices.
Mozzarella breaded and ready to go below:
Lobster Lemon Risotto … Sean Minors, 4 Bears, Chardonnay 2013
(Recipe yields risotto for 6 + leftovers)
A balanced mix of tropical notes and buttery flavors that complimented the lobster risotto with each sip.
- 1 shallot
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- lemon juice from 1 lemon + lemon rind
- 1/2 cup chopped baby bella mushrooms
- 3 cups of white cooking wine (not too sweet)
- 8 cups of chicken stock (could need more to be prepared with extra)
- 1 cup of arborio rice
- 1/4 of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- meat from three lobster tails (depending on how much lobster meat you want on top of each glass or plate)
- 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese.
- In large skillet bring butter and olive oil to a sizzle, add garlic, shallots, and mushrooms until shallots golden and mushrooms have begun to release moisture.
- Add rice and allow rice, stirring slowly until the rice is golden.
- Deglaze the pan with white wine.
- In a saucepan bring chicken stock to a boil and begin adding slowly to the rice mixture, making sure to wet the rice and then add more when the rice dries. Continue this process until the rice is soft and creamy.
- Add juice from one lemon and lemon rind from half lemon.
- Add parmesan cheese when the rice is cooked and the mixture is creamy. You may add more chicken stock or wine to taste.
- In a separate skillet cook lobster tail in butter, garlic, and salt. Remove promptly and chop lobster meat to desired size.
- Serve in bowls or glasses, topping off with lump of lobster meat and parsley for garnish.
Risotto & Lobster in process below:
This is after chopping up lobster half cooked and finishing it off. Lobster cooks quickly so this should only take about 5 minutes.
Osso Bucco … Sottimano, Bric del Salto, Dolcetto d’alba, Italy 2013
(Recipe yields risotto for 4 + leftovers)
This was a rich and dark with berry flavors and a complex finish. It complimented the veal and the Mirepoix (mixture of carrots, onions, celery) in the recipe.
Pre-reicipe note: If you don’t want to use veal you make this recipe with lamb. I went to Publix Greenwise for the veal shanks and Drew, (a great guy) helped me out. He wrapped each shank with cooking string and gave me great advice on braising. I highly recommend getting the meats from there. For this recipe I used Giada De Laurentis recipe with some minor modifications. You can find the original recipe here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/osso-buco-recipe.html. I served it with my own recipe of scalloped gorgonzola potatoes.The only thing I did differently in the Osso Bucco is that I put the herbs twigs directly into the stew, not in a cheese cloth. After trying this recipe, though, I realized that my mom’s modified version of it is much better, so stay tuned for Mama’s Osso Bucco in the upcoming posts.
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 dry bay leaf
- 2 whole cloves
- Kitchen twine, for tying the veal shanks (or Drew at Greenwise on PGA will do that for you).
- 4 whole veal shanks (about 1 pound per shank), trimmed
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- All purpose flour, for dredging
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 small carrot, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 stalk celery, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Heavy Cream
- Gorgonzola Cheese
Steps for Osso Bucco
- For the veal shanks, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Secure the meat to the bone with the kitchen twine. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour, shaking off excess.
- In a large Dutch oven pot or skilled (I don’t have a dutch oven) heat vegetable oil until smoking. Add tied veal shanks to the hot pan and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove browned shanks and reserve.
- In the same pot, add the onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt. Saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well.
- Return browned shanks to the pan and add the white wine and reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add the herb twigs directly into the mixture along with 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. Check every 15 minutes, turning shanks and adding more chicken stock as necessary. The level of cooking liquid should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank.
- Carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place in decorative serving platter. Cut off the kitchen twine and discard.
- Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest.
Steps for Scalloped Potatoes
- Slice potatoes and arrange in baking dish
- Cover potatoes in heavy cream
- Drizzle 1/2 cup of gorgonzola cheese
- Bake for 30 minutes uncovered or until soft. If the dish gets too dry before it is fully cooked you can add for cream or some chicken stock.
Lokmet El Ady With Orange Cream Sauce and White Chocolate … Adelsheim Deglace, Pinot Noir, 2012
(Recipe yields approximately 20)
Sweet plum notes, complimenting the white chocolate and rosewater in the syrup.
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 packages dry active yeast
- 4cups flour (or enough until a thick, pancake-like batter consistency is reached)
- 1tablespoon sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- oil (for frying)
- 2 cups of granulated sugar for syrup
- White chocolate chips
- orange zest
- rose water
- heavy cream
- Cinnamon powder
Steps for Lokmet El Ady batter
- Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Look for the bubbling effect of the yeast.
- Put it along with the remaining dough ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix well until a smooth batter is obtained.
- Cover and let the batter rise in a warm place until it is approximately three times its previous bulk, (1-2 hours).
- Heat the oil for frying in a saucepan or pot
- Dip a teaspoon into oil to coat and spoon out some dough into the hot oil.
- Repeat until there are enough fritters to comfortably fill the surface area of the saucepan, without overcrowding.
- Dip the spoon in oil, every time the dough starts to stick on it.
- Fry Lokment El Ady in very hot oil until golden brown, pushing them into the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving dish lined with kitchen paper for them to drain.
- When done, put them on a large platter and pour syrup over them and lightly dust with cinnamon.
- Serve immediately. You can make up to two hours ahead but don’t put the syrup on top of the the Loket El Ady until ready to serve. However, I recommend serving immediately if possible.
Batter & Frying
Steps for syrup
- To make syrup put 2 cups of granulated sugar and cover with water, just until the water reached the top of the sugar.
- Dissolve and let the mixture boil for at least 10 minutes. Then add a few droplet of lemon juice.
- Add one capful of rose water to the mixture.
- Remove from heat and set to cool. You can cool the syrup in an ice bath.
Trick: To know if the syrup is done, put a drip in a plate and tilt the plate if the syrup does not drip down the plate and sticks to one spot like maple syrup it is done. You can also test for stickiness between fingers.
Steps for orange cream sauce:
- bring one cup of heavy cream to boil, carful not to burn.
- dissolve white chocolate chips in hot cream (about 1/4 cup)
- Add about tablespoon of orange zest to mixture
- Stir until thick
- Set aside to cool
Note: for a deep orange color you can add food coloring. I used a drop of food coloring to bring the orange out against the white plate for aesthetics.
Steps for white chocolate decor
- Melt white chocolate with double boiler or in microwave.
- Drizzle hot chocolate on wax paper in desired design.
- Let cool, remove from wax paper into a plastic container and freeze until ready to serve.
- Put 2 to 3 Lokmet El Adys in one side of the plate.
- Drizzle with syrup
- Dust with cinnamon
- Decorate plate with orange cream sauce
- Add white chocolate for garnish