A few weeks ago I had friends over for a great party at my house. My tomatoes had just started ripening and the melons at the markets had too. I did sort of a Northwest theme with the food and paired it with Northwest wines. It was a great hit, so I’d like to share some of the recipes and wines with you.
First, I started with a chilled melon soup I’ve been making for years. You make it in the blender and I use the most appropriate fresh fruit in it along with the melons. Here’s how you do it:
*Chilled Honeydew Soup*
* ½ ripe honeydew melon peeled and cubed
* One medium cantaloupe peeled and cubed
* About six fresh, ripe apricots, pitted (later in the season I’ll use peaches)
* Simple syrup, about 2 cups — you can use the juice off of any canned fruit
* Heavy cream to taste
* Blue food color — several drops to restore honeydew color
* Grand Marnier, three to four tablespoons
* Two T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Blend ingredients together until ultra smooth. Add the fruit syrup to desired thickness. Don’t let the soup be too runny or too sweet. Top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of lavender which can be swirled into the soup.
House-Smoked Fresh Salmon
For the next course, I served a beautiful fresh salmon (pictured above), which was kind of smoked on an outdoor grill. I bought some hickory wood chips, which are available at a lot of stores, and I soaked about three cups of the chips in water overnight. I scattered the chips around the edges of my propane grill and placed the salmon on a double thickness of aluminum foil. I drizzled the salmon with a homemade teriyaki sauce – but you could use a commercial one – and cooked it on a low setting until it was done through. This was so easy to do and it had that great smoky taste. I served it still warm with some really nice dark bread and some herbed cheese spread — Boursin would be a great choice.
For this dish I roasted four to five ears of corn on the outdoor grill. Later I cut the kernels off the cob and sautéed the corn in a skillet with butter, salt, pepper and Italian pepper flakes—you can use as much as you want! I also put in some fresh green beans and red bell peppers. This dish was so delicious it could almost be made into a meal by itself. I used freshly snapped green beans from my garden, which I blanched for several minutes in boiling water and then cooled before sautéeing with the beans. Please make this. It’s easy and wonderful.
For the main course, I cheated and made a stew ahead in the crock pot. I love doing this because when you’re busy, you can really cut down your anxiety by setting this up in the morning, and it just takes a few minutes to finish before serving. I bought red and yellow “fingerling” potatoes and boiled them a little while before dinner. I arranged them in a circle around the platter, ladled the stew in the center and topped it with chopped parsley. Here’s the recipe:
*White Pork Savory Stew with Fingerling Potatoes*
Mark a 2-lb. pork loin roast on an outdoor grill, let cool and cut into 1½ inch cubes. Place the cubed pork in a crock pot, with already heated chicken, beef or pork broth in it. Add one cup diced celery, onion and carrot. Add a pinch of thyme and bay leaf and several leaves of fresh sage. Add several buttons of garlic, coarsely chopped. Cook in the broth until very tender. Finish the sauce by adding roux or cornstarch and season as desired. Add cream at the last, as much as you want. You’ll want to make this dish again and again.
*Aunt Ruth’s Graham Cake*
1¾ c. whole wheat flour, or graham flour if you can find it. I used a Golden Wheat, finely milled product from Montana.
2 heaping tbsp. cornstarch
5 eggs, separated
½ c. water, almost boiling
1¾ c. sugar
½ c. oil
½ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. vanilla
Sift flour and cornstarch six times. Add hot water to egg yolks and beat until stiff. Add sugar gradually while beating. Add oil, flavoring and salt, beating gently until oil is all taken up. Fold the flour in gently. Add stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake in an ungreased angel food cake pan at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, then at 350 degrees for the last 30 minutes. Serve with fruit and whipped cream on top.
With the salmon and the melon soup I paired both a Ste Michelle Dry Riesling (which we loved with both dishes) and a crisp, yet full-bodied Eyrie Pinot Blane. This last wine was delicious by itself and handsomely made — in fact, it was the first time I really loved a Pinot Blanc — but the pairing was not as good as the dry Riesling. With the stew, I first served a Willamette Valley, whole cluster Pinot Noir—delicious, full, cherry-raspberry. It was delicious, and it would be with almost anything. Then, even though the stew has a nearly white gravy, I paired it with a simply gorgeous Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet. For around $16 a bottle it’s ridiculously good! With the graham cake, I made a “hard sauce” with Utah’s own High West Whisky to pour over the cake. Then I garnished with berries, and I served a shot glass of the Whisky on the side.
Please try some of these recipes on your families and guests.