Fine Home Dining in July: Napa Valley Cabernet Burgers and Cinnamon Crunch Peach Sundaes

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July ’round here means it’s time to make two recipes which reside in my July cookbook: Napa Valley Cabernet Burgers and Cinnamon Crunch Peach Sundaes. Due to the complexity of these recipes, they are best made in small stages throughout the course of a day or two. I started in the morning to have everything easily done for dinner at night.  Follow along while I make both specialties.

Napa Valley Cabernet Burgers comes from a July 2003 issue of Bon Appetit and is James McNair’s recipe.  I usually double this recipe, but the following is for 4 servings.  You can easily make twice the amount by 2x all the ingredients.

Ingredients

1 750 ml bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon

1/4 c. minced shallots

9 T. unsalted butter at room temperature

2 t. golden brown sugar

T. minced fresh rosemary

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (15% fat – I have used lean in the past however)

1 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

1 c. packed grated extra-sharp white cheddar cheese

4 4-1/2 inch squares focaccia, cut horizontally in half

8 large tomato slices

2 c. arugula

Boil wine and shallots in medium saucepan until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 20 minutes. Add 1 T. butter and brown sugar, whisk until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Mix remaining 8 T. butter and rosemary in small bowl. Set aside.

Prepare barbeque (medium-high heat).  Mix beef, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup wine-shallot mixture in bowl. Form meat into 4 5-inch squares or rounds. Brush grill rack with oil. Grill burgers until brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn burgers and brush with wine-shallot mixture. Continue grilling burgers until cooked to desired doneness, turning and brushing occasionally with wine-shallot mixture, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare. Sprinkle with cheese after last turn and grill until cheese melts.

Spread cut sides of bread with rosemary butter. Grill, cut side down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Arrange bread, grilled side up, on plates. Top bottom halves with burgers, then tomatoes and arugula. Cover with top halves of bread.

Now here is the recipe, step-by-step with my personal photos and commentary.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Boil wine and shallots in medium saucepan until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 20 minutes.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography

20 minutes is up. I know from experience that this takes a lot longer than 20 minutes, but I am measuring it so you can see how much over 3/4 c. it still is.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

15 minutes later, let’s check it again.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Hmmm, closer, but still over the limit.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

This is better, still over the 3/4 c. mark, but good enough for me.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Add 1 T. butter and brown sugar, whisk until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Mix remaining 8 T. butter and rosemary in a small bowl. (I use a little less butter, as 2 T. per bun seems a bit much.) Set aside.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

I like to get my focaccia at Trader Joe’s because the price is right. This stuff can get pretty spendy.  If you need 3 packages of it and it’s 5 or 6 bucks a package, well you get the idea.  But Trader Joe’s didn’t have it.  I have a minimalist Trader Joe’s by me, they are always out-of-stock on stuff. Anyways, I went to the local grocery store and settled on this because it was $1.99 a package. They are pretty small. I know I’m going to need 2 packages for sure.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

This bread needs to be trimmed to make the edges even.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

IMG_5718

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Spread cut sides of bread with rosemary butter.  Grill, cut side down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Arrange bread, grilled side up, on plates.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

This is a good time to get the arugula ready as well as the cheese and tomatoes. The best price on arugula is again at Trader Joe’s. This bag was $1.99. It will cost double that or more at a regular grocery store.  This is a very bitter lettuce but it is a nice counter-balance for the sharpness of the cheese and the sweetness of the burgers.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Prepare barbeque (medium-high heat).  Mix beef, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup wine-shallot mixture in bowl. (Do not mix this until the last minute. If you mix it ahead of time, it will separate in the bowl or on the plate and there will be wine running everywhere.) Form meat into 4 5-inch squares or rounds. Brush grill rack with oil. Grill burgers until brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn burgers and brush with wine-shallot mixture.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Anyone counting? You are correct, I used extra beef and made this into 6 burgers instead of 4. Some are also a little smaller for people or kids who want a smaller burger.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Continue grilling burgers until cooked to desired doneness, turning and brushing occasionally with wine-shallot mixture, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare. Sprinkle with cheese after last turn and

IMG_5734

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

grill until cheese melts.

IMG_5735

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Top bottom halves with burgers, then tomatoes and arugula. Cover with top halves of bread.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Cinnamon Crunch Peach Sundaes is from an issue of Bon Appetit, not sure of the date. I think this is Barbara Frenzl’s recipe.

Ingredients

1 c. plus 6 1/2 T. sugar

3/4 c. water

6 T. dark corn syrup

3 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

6 whole cinnamon graham crackers, crushed to coarse crumbs

4 1/2 T. unsalted butter, melted

6 medium peaches, pitted, sliced into wedges

1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice

3/4 t. ground cinnamon French vanilla ice cream (or I used vanilla frozen yogurt, just as good IMHO)

6 cinnamon sticks (optional)

Stir 1 C. plus 2 T. sugar, 3/4 c. water, corn syrup and halved cinnamon sticks in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer until syrup is reduced to 1 1/2 c., about 20 minutes.  Cool, remove cinnamon sticks. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine cracker crumbs, butter and 1 1/2 T. sugar in small bowl; toss to coat evenly. Spread mixture out on small baking sheet. Bake until golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cool.

Mix peaches, 3 T. sugar, lemon juice and ground cinnamon in medium bowl.  Let stand until juices form, at least 15 minutes and up to 1hour.

Place 2 scoops of ice cream in each of 6 bowls.  Spoon peaches and juices over ice cream. Drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with crunch topping. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, if desired, and serve.

Again, here is the recipe broken down into steps, with my photos and comments.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Stir 1 C. plus 2 T. sugar, 3/4 c. water, corn syrup and halved cinnamon sticks in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves;

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer until syrup is reduced to 1 1/2 c., about 20 minutes.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Cool,

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

remove cinnamon sticks. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; refrigerate.)

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

The cinnamon syrup is done. Now let’s move on to the cinnamon crunch.  Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine cracker crumbs, butter and 1 1/2 T. sugar in small bowl;

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Why am I adding cinnamon? Because I only had regular graham crackers, so I’m turning them into cinnamon graham crackers. Toss to coat evenly.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Spread mixture out on small baking sheet. Bake until golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cool. Did I mention that you’ll want to double this part of the recipe?  Why? Because it’s so good you or your kids will be snacking on it and then there won’t be enough for the sundaes later.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

The cinnamon crunch is done. Now for the peach part of the recipe. Mix peaches, 3 T. sugar, lemon juice and ground cinnamon in medium bowl.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Let stand until juices form, at least 15 minutes and up to 1hour.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Place 2 scoops of ice cream in each of 6 bowls.  Spoon peaches and juices over ice cream. Drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with crunch topping. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, if desired, and serve.

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

And here is the grand finale. As always, thank you for stopping by and I hope you are enjoying a fabulous summer!

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

©2015 Lisa Bond Photography, All Rights Reserved

Record Store Day (RSD) 2015

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I started attending Record Store Day a few years ago on account of trying to make lemonade out of some lemons.  About 7 years ago, at the end of several back-to-back moves, and after the dust had settled, I realized one of those helpful moving guys who we generously tipped had stolen my entire box of albums.  This was my second record collection, one I started after college when I lived near the old record store, Oarfolkjokeopus, now known as Treehouse Records.

My first (high school) record collection was sold during a weak moment in college one Friday afternoon when I needed money to go out.  I don’t recall getting more than $2 for any record at that time, but I was more interested in raising cash than preserving memories and collections.  So post college, I ended up slowly rebuilding, albeit an entirely and completely different record collection than the one I had in high school.

Twenty years later, feeling the sting of robbery and with no recourse because too much time had passed and there were multiple moving companies involved, I decided the only remedy was to start over again, for a third time.  Here I go, working on it for the 3rd or 4th year in a row.

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It’s Our Turn to Salute, AC/DC

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Perennial rockers AC/DC released a new album this year on the heels of some less than fortunate news for the band.  These guys have been lighting up the charts and hearts of serious heavy metal rockers since their debut in 1975.  With the exception of Bon Scott’s untimely demise in 1980, the band has remained largely unscathed over the years and kept a relatively low-profile as far as the press goes.  That is until last year, when headlines broke that Angus Young’s older brother Malcolm was succumbing to dementia.  It was hard news to believe for this generation of fans, many of whom are just crossing the bridge into their 50s.  Before their audience could hardly grasp that update, next came the unthinkable report concerning drummer Phil Rudd who apparently found himself facing conspiracy charges for an alleged murder plot.  The details were sketchy and dropped due to lack of sufficient evidence to press charges.  Still, it left the fan base wondering whether the band could possibly recover and carry-on and Phil facing more court dates for possession of methamphetamine and cannabis which were discovered when his residence got raided for the dirty-deeds-done-dirt-cheap-hire.

Rolling Stone ran an article dated 12/22/2014 entitled “AC/DC’s Phil Rudd: I Want My Job Back” with an equally humorous quote:

Everyone listens to the wrong people.  They should listen to me.  I’m a good guy and a pretty good drummer, by the way.  Ask Angus, he’ll tell you.

Of course everyone wanted to hear Angus’ two cents both before and after that statement, and as such, he made a number of comments in response to the alleged incident, mostly implying that this won’t stop the band from carrying on.  Angus summed it up nicely and professionally:

He’s not the Phil we’ve known in the past.

In the midst of all this drama, the band released their 17th album, “Rock Or Bust”.  The compilation is true to AC/DC’s typical partying vibe, sticking to it’s tried-and-true theme of women, drinking, money, cars and rock-n-roll.  The amazing part is how good they still sound and how they can manage to breathe new life into a song base that is as mysteriously infinite as the numbers in Pi.   If the last time you bought an AC/DC album was “Back In Black”, it is time to update your collection with some substantial rocking tune-age.  “Stiff Upper Lip” released in 2000 and “Black Ice” released in 2008 are the two latest preceding albums.  They are as solid as the current release and feature plenty of great material including the hits “Black Ice”, “Rock N Roll Train”, “Safe In NYC”, and “Stiff Upper Lip” not to mention B-side notables like “Meltdown”, “House of Jazz” “Hold Me Back” “Can’t Stand Still”, “Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll”, “Satellite Blues”, “Damned”, “Come and Get It”, and “Give It Up”, “Skies on Fire”, “Big Jack”, “Money Made”.  Let’s put it this way, there isn’t a bad song on either album.

The same can really be said for their latest production.  The eponymous (thank you, Jack White) song “Rock or Bust” starts off the album track and is currently the first song to get the most radio play.  The second number “Play Ball” is also getting plenty of air time and has a similar steady and familiar AC/DC beat to it.   “Dogs of War” is probably going to get picked up as a movie sound track, it has that feel to it.  “Rock The Blues Away”, “Miss Adventure”, “Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder” and “Hard Times” are decent too but “Baptism by Fire” towers over some other pieces on this production.  Finally, my personal favorite is “Rock this House”.  This is the stand-out single, it has the classic AC/DC sound, and the lyrics are on point.  “Sweet Candy” features some nice Brian Johnson vocals and “Emission Control” really rounds out this piece of work.  Visually, the CD cover is presented with a 3D effect, it’s done well and it looks good.  I might have to seek out the vinyl version of this to see if it is as impressive as the CD cover.  Their website has a nice attempt at a 3D visual as well.

So, you’ll need to click through to YouTube to watch the videos of the top two current radio songs, but this link will take you directly to the videos.

I should refrain, but the crowd was bit cheesy for me.  I’m not entirely sure these are real AC/DC fans.

If it’s true that there is no such thing as bad publicity, then the timing worked out ok for them.  With upcoming tour dates spanning 2015 into 2016, word is that Steve Young (uncle in the Young family) will fill in for Malcolm and Chris Slade will sit in for Phil. It’s likely the band will continue to fill arenas as older fans introduce their kids to the band’s live performances and rock catalog. They also nabbed the prestigious spot of headlining Coachella Festival which is rather remarkable and a fine salute to the old boys, and will definitely gain them some new followers as well.

There is little doubt that this is a big year for the band, in addition to everything else, they got to open up at the Grammy’s.  I was going to put a YouTube up of it, but there might be some copyright business going on with that.  Check it out on YouTube if you missed the performance or want to watch it again.

Came across this looking for some material to post here. This is just plain fun to watch.

If you haven’t caught a live performance of their’s for a long time, I highly suggest NOT MISSING the “Rock or Bust” tour if it comes to your town.  The band is down 2 and there’s only 3 original guys left so things are getting kinda sparse on originals here.  Should you find yourself going and haven’t seen them recently: If you think twice about the light up devil horns, they will sell out before the end of the show, so pick them up early.  Additionally, plan on ringing in your ears for 2-3 days afterwards.  These guys put on the LOUDEST show I’ve ever heard. Ever.  There’s always earplugs for those so inclined.

Here is a rather remarkable video of a personal favorite song, “Let There Be Rock”.  If you’ve never experienced AC/DC live, this will provide a very good idea of what a concert is like.  A big nod to Mal, the guy who stood in the shadows of Brian and Angus all these years.  We’ll all miss seeing you out there but we won’t forget you.  It’s sad to think he probably won’t be back again, but the guy who misses him out there the most has got to be his little bro.  And here’s hoping Phil can get it back together and that we see him around again next time.


As they say, the biggest guys are the most humble, and these guys fit that bill.  This is my personal 21 gun salute!

AC/DC’s tour kicks off May 5, 2015 in Holland.

The Distracted Brain

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The article on AC/DC is almost done, but it needs a little more polishing. In the meantime, this seems like news worth sharing. This will be required reading for spring break teenagers at my house with a quiz to follow. Hopefully someone out there will find this as fascinating as yours truly.

http://www.nsc.org/DistractedDrivingDocuments/Cognitive-Distraction-White-Paper.pdf

Hope you are enjoying the beginning of Spring!