Monthly Archives: March 2016

Wine – Dinner – and Ghosts!!

My husband and I are members of the Malibu Wine Club. We have been proud members for the last couple of years. The winery is located the Malibu area of the Santa Monica Mountains. They produce some very excellent, award-winning wines. Although I prefer Reds I did enjoy their Sauvignon Blanc (lightly chilled… mind you). Chris favors the more full-bodied wines. Malibu winery has a very nice area located in the Santa Monica Mountains with tasting bars, a nice picnic area and a stage for live music. Over the past year it has become a very chic place to hang out for an afternoon. It is extremely busy on the weekends. They do, however, have several tasting rooms located around the Los Angeles area. As an active producing winery they look for ways to promote their wines and membership into their wine club. Queen MaryThey sponsor many wine theme events. We recently participated in one by spending a delightful weekend on the Queen Mary.

For those whom may not know this is the grand ole’ lady, HMS Queen Mary, the epitome of luxury ocean travel through the ’30 – ’50’s. She has found a permanent home in Long Beach, California where she has become a world-class tourist attraction, museum, and five-star hotel with on board dining.

This particular wine club event was wine tasting of the latest vintages followed by a  ship wide scavenger hunt. As an incentive, the Queen Mary offered an excellent overnight room rate. So hubby and I decided to take a “Staycruise” for the sole purpose of trying out the restaurants and having a run of the ship …. Oh! and of course trying some new wines.

We started our Staycruise with checking into the hotel. We had one of the first class staterooms ($132 including fees and taxes) that had been restored to their opulent beauty. The rooms are elegant with dark wood paneling, armoire for clothing, tubular air vent that provided fresh sea air or warmed air from the engine room, clips on the floor to lock your steamer trunks in place and a shower that gave you the choice of bathing in fresh water or salt water. Salt water considered to therapeutic at that time. We found the accommodations charming and comfortable. The ship amenities included three onboard restaurants; The Promenade Cafe, Chelsea Chowder House and Bar and the five-star, Sir Winton Churchill.

Our dinner reservations were for Chelsea’s Chowder House and Bar. Chelsea BarWe were expecting a nice seafood faire unfortunately that’s not what we found. While there were couple of noteworthy sea food dishes (excluding a standard fish and chips) it was more or less a of a family restaurant theme with burgers, Mac and cheese and salads and a few higher end non-seafood choices.

For dinner I had the Cedar Plank Salmon ($26) consisting of Salmon broiled on the cedar plank served on a bed of brussel sprouts, bacon and acorn squash.

Fish

Hubby had the Pan Roasted Chicken ($24). A half roasted chicken, served with roasted pee wee potatoes, ratatouille with a lemon herb pan jus.

chicken

Both meals were good but nothing to really write home about (so I blog it – go figure!). The salmon was prepared well, but the brussels sprouts were a little bitter and overpowering. There was lots of bacon but just laid on top in an unceremonious fashion. Chris’ roasted chicken was a little dry but the ratatouille with the lemon pan jus was quite tasty. Clam chowderChris also had a bowl of Clam Chowder (after all it is Chelsea’s Chowder House). The chowder was probably the best dish of the meal. Nice chunks of clams in a creamy silky soup. With drinks, wine and a split Caesar salad the meal came to about $109.00 including tax and tip.

Now, I don’t know why hubby wanted to do this but after dinner we went ghost hunting (ugh!). It is said that there are many spirits on board. So off we go with our loaded Proton Packs (who you gonna call?) but found none. My dumb-**** husband challenged them to come out. Literally going down the hallway daring them manifest. None did, thankfully, but we did find his bottle of mouthwash turned upside down in the sink in our room.

Disappearing Hallway
Disappearing Hallway

One of the fascinating things on board is that the ship is bowed or curved from bow to stern. You can stand down at one end of the long hallway and watch some one disappear from the hallway at the far other end.

After ghost hunting we decided to grab a night cap in the 1st class lounge. The lounge is a perfect example of the Art Deco period.Bar We spent a lovely hour tossing down gin and tonic’s and Screwdrivers ($35) and listening to a Jazz Band. It was a good thing we only had to walk back to the room as my husband was listing – he blamed it on the ship.

Next blog – Breakfast on the Queen Mary and the scavenger hunt that took us over the entire ship.

THE STUFF THAT BELL PEPPERS ARE MADE OF…

My family is definitely meat lovers. Now that is not to say that they don’t get their vegetables and fruit. On occasions I have been known to serve a no meat dinner. We never call it vegetarian, just “no meat.” When I do the meaty dinners you can bet that I slip in those vegetables. My meatloaf is always loaded with vegetables. Another great meal to serve that get those all-important vitamins and grains hidden in all that meat is STUFFED BELL PEPPERS.

The stuff you need:

  • 1 Sauté Pan 12”-18”
  • 1 4-6 qtr. Pot of water heated to a boil
  • 1 large bowl of ice water
  • 1 – 9X 12 baking pan (casserole)
  • Aluminum foil

The Filing:

  • 2 tbsp. Trader Joes Garlic Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Mire Poix (yup – this stuff is great)
  • 1 to 1-1/2lb of ground beef or ground turkey
  • 2 tsp dried herbs
  • Diced bell pepper pieces form the pepper tops
  • 1 cup of leftover rice, lentils, Joe’s Multigrain blend with vegetables or whatever you have
  • 1 cup spaghetti sauce or even ketchup will work. ½ cup for the filling and ½ cup for the topping)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (more if you like)
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce or Braggs Aminos
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I really like Lawry’s Season Salt)
  • Approximately 2 ½ cup of shredded cheese (your choice)

Pour oil into pan at medium- high heat. Allow to heat and add the Mire poix, dried herbs and diced peppers and sauté until veggies are still slightly firm. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Now add your ground meat and cook until no longer pink. Next add your rice, lentils, or whatever you have. Stir together and add spaghetti sauce, Worcestershire, soy sauce or Braggs. Adjust seasonings. Remove from heat. Now add half of your cheese and mix together.

The Peppers

6 medium sized bell peppers combination of red, yellow and orange. I don’t particularly care for the green ones.

Cut tops off of the peppers and remove seeds and fibrous membrane. Rinse. Take the pepper tops and pull off the stems and cut into small dice and reserve. We are going to add them to our filling.

With tongs, submerge 2 peppers in the prepared pot of hot water at a time. Leave for about 2 minutes. Remove and turn upside down to drain and submerge again in your bowl of iced water. Remove from water, drain and place on the baking pan and continue the same method with the remaining peppers. Lightly salt the interior of the peppers.

Fill with prepared stuffing. Top with spaghetti sauce, ketchup or even BBQ sauce.

Place in oven preheated to 375 degrees. Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes Remove foil, top with your favorite cheese and pop back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove, let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Stuffed Bell Pepper w/ Salad
Stuffed Bell Pepper w/ Salad

FOODISTORY

If you have been following my blog you will have noticed I use a lot of the Trader Joe’s Mirepoix, the mixture or melody of vegetables incorporated into a dish, like my stuffed Bell Peppers. It’s a great way to hide those essential vegetables loaded with all those more important vitamins and get them into your persnickety kids.

These combined diced vegetables are a cooking technique that is probably older than time itself. I can imagine a Homo sapiens or Cro-magnum Man crouching down over his stone cutting board using his sabretooth tusk knife cutting up the food he found lying around to put into his Simple Gourmet dish. The term mirepoix dates back to a 18th century Frenchman by the cuisine chef by the name of Charles-Pierre-Gaston Francois de Levis, duc de Levis-Mirepoix (1699-1757). He as a field marshal and ambassador and a member of the noble family of Levis, lords of Mirepoix (kind of getting where the name came from?) in Languedoc. According to Pierre Larousse (Oxford Companion to Food) the duke of Mirepoix as “an incompetent and mediocre individual who owed his vast fortune to the affections of Louis XV”. His only claim to fame is, you guessed it, gave his name to a sauce made of all kinds of meat and a variety of seasonings.

The term is not encountered regularly in French culinary texts until the 19th century, so it is difficult to know what a dish à la mirepoix was like in 18th-century France. Beauvilliers for instance, in 1814, gives a short recipe for a Sauce à la Mirepoix which is a buttery, wine-laced stock garnished with an aromatic mixture of carrots, onions, and a bouquet garni. Careme in the 1830s, gives a similar recipe, calling it simply Mire-poix; and, by the mid-19th century, Gouffe refers to a mirepoix as “a term in use for such a long time that I do not hesitate to use it here”. His mirepoix is listed among essences and, indeed, is a meaty concoction, which, like all other essences, was used to enrich many a classic sauce. By the end of the 19th century, the mirepoix had taken on its modern meaning and Joseph Favre in his Dictionnaire universel de cuisine (c. 1895, reprinted 1978) uses the term to describe a mixture of ham, carrots, onions, and herbs used as an aromatic condiment when making sauces or braising meat.

According to the 1938 Larousse Gastronomique, a mirepoix may be prepared “au gras” (with meat) or “au maigre” (“lean”).[7] Mirepoix au maigre is sometimes called a brunoise. A mirepoix au gras contains diced ham or pork belly as an additional ingredient. Similar combinations, both in and out of the French culinary repertoire, may include leeks, parsnips, garlic, tomatoes, shallots, mushrooms, bell peppers, chilies, and ginger, according to the requirements of the regional cuisine or the instructions of the particular chef or recipe.

I find it interesting, because of my past blog on Jambalaya that in Cajun and Creole cuisine, a mirepoix is called “holy trinity” and is a combination of onions, celery and bell peppers.

Traditionally, the weight ratio for mirepoix is 2:1:1 of onions, celery, and carrots;[1] the ratio for bones to mirepoix for stock is 10:1. When making a white stock, or fond blanc, parsnips are used instead of carrots to maintain the pale color.

Once again I thank Wikipedia.

Coming soon, our StayCruise adventure.

As always……

Live Well – Eat Well