Here’s one reason Maria stays with a scrufty old sailor man like me:
- Honey-smoked Virginia ham slices slathered with southern-style Cardinal Mendoza cognac-raisin-butter sweet sauce
- Sazon-seasoned snow peas sauteed in EVOO with red and orange sweet pepper slices
- Creamed Idaho baking potatoes steamed with fresh garlic cloves and Florida sweet onion and mashed with butter, cream, salt, pepper
- A delicate dry white vintage wine of choice.
Dinner for Two
- Wine preparation– decant and set the decanter in ice to make it very cold. Refrigerate the wine glasses.
- Sauce preparation – put 1/3 cup raisins in a mug or small sauce pan with 2 oz Cardinal Mendoza cognac mixed with 1 TBSP water and 2 TBSP corn syrup or granulated sugar to soak. Shake in a pinch of salt. Melt 2 TBSP butter and stir in 1/2 tsp cornstarch till no clumps remain.
- Potatoes preparation – peel a whole medium Vidalia or Florida sweet onion and two Idaho baking potatoes. Chop the tip off of 3 or 4 fat cloves of fresh garlic. Chop the onion into small pieces 1/4″ square and the potato into 1/2″ cubes. Put these in a steamer and steam over water boiling a medium to medium-high heat for 20 minutes. Use only enough water to last about 30 minutes – you should have half a cup left in the bottom of the pan. Start with about 2 cups. You will use this water for the mashed potatoes.
- Snow Peas. Sautee 1/3 to 1/2 pound snow peas and 2 small sweet peppers, sliced, in 1 tbsp each of extra virgin olive oil and butter, salt and pepper to taste, over low to medium heat. Do not overcook and do not brown these. Shake Complete Sazon seasoning to taste on the peas during cooking. Add 2 tbsp dry white wine for additional flavor during last few minutes, and let it boil to reduction. Toss the pan contents several times during cooking so as to cook all peas and peppers al dente or to desired crunch.
- Sauce – set the sauce pan on medium-low heat to cook the raisins and reduce the alcohol. It will boil quickly because of alcohol content. Briskly stir in the butter/cornstarch mix. Remove from heat
- Potatoes – squish garlic cloves into potatoes, and pour the steamer contents into the bottom pan with heat turned off. You will have some water in it. Add half teaspoon salt and black pepper, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup cream, plus 2 to 4 tbsp butter to the pan, and mash by hand, stirring to thoroughly mix the contents. Remove from burner as necessary to keep the mix from scorching.
- Ham – heat 4 large slices of smoked honey-cured Virginia ham in the peas sautee pan at low heat, and flip at least once to get the ham hot. Add a TBSP of water if needed to prevent drying.
- Plating – Gob several spoonfuls of mashed potatoes on the plate and garnish with parsley, a dash of paprika, and a dollop of butter if desired. Spoon on some of the snow pea mix. Put one ham slice, and slather it with the sauce then do the same with the second slice on top of the first, offset a bit. Make sure to get raisins on both slices. Serve immediately with half a glass of very cold white wine. If necessary, reheat the cooked items to keep them sufficiently hot for an enjoyable meal after plating. Any excess sauce will make bread pudding or oatmeal even more delicious.