In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fifty-seventh Post ~ Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms with Stilton Cream Sauce

Yes - it's as you suspected. I've got all this stilton left over from yesterday's Blueberry Chambourcin Port Fest and I'm just itching to cook with it. That and I want to have a meal worthy of the final glass of port!

Here's what you'll need to make tonight's 10-minute meal:

~ Chicken tenderloin
~ Mushrooms
~ Garlic (jarred or fresh)
~ Balsamic vinegar
~ Sea salt
~ Olive oil
~ Pasta of your choice
~ Stilton (or similar blue)
~ Cream
~ Fresh (or dried) thyme

Start a pot of water boiling. Slice up some mushrooms and start them sautéing with some garlic, salt and olive oil. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar. At this point your water should be boiling, so add your pasta and start watching the clock.

Cut the tenderloins into bite-sized pieces. Your mushrooms should be moving right along at this point, so add the chicken, another dash of salt, olive oil and balsamic. As soon as the chicken and mushrooms are cooked through, set them to the side in a prep bowl.

In the same pan (d0n't worry about rinsing) add about a tablespoon of stilton and some cream. You don't need too much of this sauce. What I made for my meal was enough to just coat the bottom of my stick-free skillet. So not much.

Once the sauce is nicely melded and your pasta is done, drain the pasta and put it on a plate. Top with the chicken and mushrooms from the prep bowl. Top that with a bit of fresh thyme.

The food paired beautifully with the blueberry chambourcin port and the meal itself came together nicely, too. The flavors held their own - the chicken and mushrooms were flavorful in their own right, but also were accented by the bit of stilton. The thyme added a nice fresh note to it, and it has become my all-time (all-thyme?) favorite herb to keep on hand!

Yours in the love of good food and wine,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fifty-sixth Post ~ Wine Feature: Blueberry Chambourcin Port Dinner

I arrived home on Sunday travel-weary (yet brimming with memories!) from our 16-day Alaskan adventure. Marked on my calendar, where it had been firmly planted for three months, were the words "PORT FEST".

I had gotten my hands on a unique vintage - a bottle of blueberry chambourcin port - from Vetter Vineyards about a year ago. Fellow foodie and wine connoisseur Meg and I decided that if we were going to do justice to a bottle (or even part of a bottle!) of port, we'd have to plan this right. So plan we did. Here's the menu:

~ Blueberry Chambourcin Port
~ Ice water

~ Hickory-smoked almonds (Wegmans - way cheaper than Blue Diamond, and just as yummy!)
~ Imported French chocolate (via Japan and my friend Nozomi!)
~ Stilton (a classic, right?)

~ Pork medallions ladened with blueberry chutney (home-made by Meg's awesome mom!)
~ Steamed broccoli florets (what, we can't be healthy about this?)

~ Meg's outstanding blueberry cobbler

Here's how to pull it all together so that you can enjoy many hours of dining, dishing and drinking!

Make sure the port has had at least 24 hours out of the wine rack standing upright to allow sediments to, well, settle. Chill for about 15 minutes before pouring.

Have the cheese, almonds, chocolate and water ready on the table.

Know your limitations: Meg handled the baking. Period. Although she did assure me that this was a user-friendly recipe, I gladly stepped aside and readied the entrée while she handled getting dessert in the oven:

Put either stick-free foil on the pan or a little olive oil. Slice pork into inch-thick medallions. We had two each. Spoon some blueberry chutney (or another fruit chutney or even jam) over the pork. Pop in a 350-degree oven/toaster oven for about fifteen minutes.

This chutney was sweet and had a little zip, either from cardamom or chili powder, or possibly both. Meg's mom - care to weigh in? In any case, this chutney stood alone without any need for additional spices. If you're using jam, consider grating a little nutmeg over the top or adding a spring of a fresh herb like rosemary or thyme and a hint of black pepper.

While the pork is cooking and the cobbler is baking, sit and enjoy the appetizer and your first tasting of port. Vetter's port went wonderfully with the appetizer - the chocolate brought out the velvety texture of the wine, and the stilton and smoked almonds highlighted its intense berry tones. The wine is intense without being too heady - the bouquet is as delicious as the flavor, and it warms you at the first sip without that dizzying effect one can experience with too bold a drink. At 18%, it's also slightly lighter than most other ports I've encountered, which, in my opinion, makes it a more enjoyable beverage. A fine start!

During the last few minutes your pork is in, steam the broccoli in the microwave for three minutes or until desired doneness. The easiest method is to put the broccoli in a bowl with a tablespoon of water and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Try very hard not to burn yourself on the escaping steam when it's done.

Serve the pork with lightly buttered and salted broccoli. The port complemented the pork beautifully! Even though port is typically reserved as an after-dinner drink, this ruby port was fruity and approachable with bright characteristics. This made it a wonderful mirror to the entrée.

Enjoy some photos, some girl talk, nibble on some more chocolate, and then enjoy the cobbler. Here is a link to this recipe that Meg found (and masterfully executed, I might add)! The blueberry-stained copy she gave me will reside in my cookbook forever! The cobbler's sweetness gave the port a bit of a refreshing snap to it - but it wasn't at all clashing. It was a perfect dessert for this (typically) dessert wine!

A fine meal, fine wine, and the best ingredient of all, fine companionship!
Yours in the love of good food, wine and camaraderie,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.