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Culinary Corner, week of July 31 to August 5

"She wore Scarlet Begonias tucked into her curls

and I knew right away she was not like other girls"

-The Grateful Dead

Hello! We are almost out of the Dog Days of summer. Did you know that the Dog Days refers to the period when Sirius (the "Dog Star") rises and sets with the Sun? The ancient Romans believed that the star-- the brightest in the sky-- contributed to the sun's warmth and made the period from July 4 to August 11 particularly hot and sticky. Seeing temperature records occurring worldwide this month I'm inclined to agree with the Romans.

Hey, I want to introduce you to some of last summer's bounty in the form of Mead. Mead is like wine made from honey, and is probably the earliest form of fermented beverage stretching back to well before the Neolithic Revolution. Mead can be very sweet or very dry depending on how it is made. This mead is made with Hibiscus and Cherries, which creates a really nice balance between sweet and tart. The color is beautiful, and I am really happy with the flavor. The harshest critic in my life-- my wife, Blair, declared it delicious so I feel comfortable introducing it to you. The Name is "Scarlet Begonias" which is a reference to a Grateful Dead song that was going through my head as I was bottling it back in November. Try it at the Bar beginning Monday, it's on the house.

The Soup this week is Tuscan Barley and Chicken. A broth-based soup with pulled chicken, tomatoes, garlic, leeks, and barley.

Cotijas and fresh Tortillas

The Cheese is one of my favorites this week. We are serving Cotijas Cheese with a house-made Tortilla, Pico de Gallo and Avocado Spread. This is served warm, sort of like a small quesadilla. If you haven't had this you really owe it to yourself to try it.

The appetizer this week is a simple Pork Eggroll with pineapple-sweet chili sauce.

At dinner, look for the Grilled Swordfish, which is drizzled with a honey and lemon vinaigrette and topped with fresh shaved Vidalia onions, served over roasted broccoli and grilled ciabatta bread. This dish is a great one for warm summer nights, I heartily recommend it with any white wine, particularly Gewurztraminer or Grüner Veltliner.

Don't miss the Grilled Tri Tip steak, topped with truffle butter and served with sautéed wild mushrooms, and Brie cheese-mashed potatoes. Now Tri Tip is a truly great cut of meat. Technically it is part of the Sirloin, but that muscle ends in a sort of triangle shape which doesn't make for good meat cutting nor display. For years butchers would simply cut of the triangle shaped end and grind that part for hamburger or more likely their own dinner. Sometime around the mid eighties, word got out about this full flavored and underpriced cut of meat, and before long it wasn't underpriced anymore. This dish absolutely screams for a good California Zinfandel.

We have a new one this week: Crispy Prosciutto and Manchego-Stuffed Pork Loin. Think of this as a kissing cousin to Chicken Cordon Bleu, only with Pork, with better ham and better cheese. This Spanish-inspired dish is served with piquillo pepper sauce, and bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts. Piquillos are particularly sweet peppers grown mostly in Spain, with no heat and a milder flavor than bell peppers. This one would be good with any white-- the Riesling in particular but if you're feeling adventurous try it with a good house-made mead.

As a vegetarian option, we are serving Roasted Japanese Eggplant, topped with a sauce made from Greek yogurt and molasses. This is served over whole-grain brown rice and topped with crispy rice noodles.

For pasta, we have Cheese Tortellini served in our own house-made tomato sauce, and topped with a scoop of ricotta and fresh garden basil.

Farmer's market

Speaking of Garden herbs, have you seen the garden lately? It is absolutely gorgeous with two kinds of oregano in bloom, purple flowers on the thyme, bee balm, lemon balm, and intermixed with marigolds. Our bees are running riot in the herb garden and seem very happy to me. Speaking of bees, we will be harvesting honey soon, to be presented at the Farmer's Market on August 18th. I am also working on some house-brewed vinegars, flavored with herbs from our garden. Of course there will be Olathe corn, Palisade peaches, Rocky Ford melons, cheeses, jellies, jams etc. It's a lot of fun so I hope you all attend.

Anyway, for dinner specials, Check out the New York Strip with Chimichurri, the Korean Fried Chicken, Pan-Seared Trout, Pot Roast with Gravy, and of course Beef Lasagna.

At lunch, try the Leg of Lamb with Blackberry sauce, Lobster Tail, Meatloaf, Pork Green Chili, or poached Salmon.

I will be speaking at the Town Hall on Wednesday about some of the changes that are coming to dining, but hopefully you have all checked out the blog entry last week which helps answer some questions. Here is a link if you would like to check it out.

I hope to see you all on Monday at the Culinary Corner, 10 am in the Dad Clark Bar

Thank You!

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