Sunday, April 27, 2008

What is on Chase's mind?

Editorial Note: Today's post is by the "star" of Paws and Pours, the always affectionate golden aka Chase.

Humans are an interesting lot. They seem to be fairly intelligent, yet they can't figure out the simplest things, like what am I thinking. Just to make sure there is no room for error, I had spell out exactly what is on my mind. And of course, since I have to learn English but we can't trouble the humans to learn "dog" language, I even had to take a picture of my note to get my point across. Without much further ado...

So there you have it. The regular poster (aka Mom) is stuck on something called a "business trip". But I'm a little confused as I get to go on trips sometimes (Yuma Sand Dunes were fun, and the snow in Payson was even better!), apparently I'm not good enough for this one. Or maybe it was too long of a drive. Who knows -- no one asked me, I just get to go where they allow me to go...

While that guy in the house is fun to play with, feeds me some good food, takes me for extra runs, and lets me ride in the car (hey guys -- what took you so long to discover that the bank gives out doggie treats), he is no substitute for a little belly rub from mom....hopefully she's be home (and back to posting) soon.

I better get rid of this evidence quick. It sure is fun to shred paper and leave more things for the humans to pick up. Until next time, Ciao!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mango Salsa

As much as I try to keep to the "eat local" concept, there are times when an ingredient looks too good to pass up, even if it is from half way around the world. Such was the case the other day when my local market had mangos (product of Mexico of course) at the great deal of 2 for $1.

I find mangos are sometimes finicky -- just when you think they are almost ripe, you cut into them and discover that you waited a day too long. Time to re-purpose the mangos then -- rather than topping a tropical themed salad for lunch, the mangos get to be the star in mango salsa.

Mango-Citrus Salsa

1 whole mango, peeled and diced
1 naval orange, sectioned and diced
1 Tbsp. red bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup white onion, finely chopped (or red onion)
½ cup cilantro, chopped
½ lime juiced
Combine all and add approx. ½ tsp. Kosher salt (to taste)
Allow to chill at least 2 hours – flavors will meld.

Perfect to pair with orange roughy fillets...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Toy Review by Chase

Sometimes this blog, aptly named "Paws & Pours" focuses a bit too much on the human elements of wine and food. Accordingly, we asked our non-human contributor to step up to the plate with a posting of his own. Chase decided this would be a great opportunity to review a few of his favorite toys.

Yellow Cigar-like Tennis ball thing
Reminiscent of a tennis ball (hello cotton mouth), the aero-dog combines a few of my favorite elements: easy to chew, can be thrown across the room for me to chase (hey, that's my name), and it has the nice squeaker to annoy my parents. I give the aero-dog high ratings for fun and entertainment, but knock it down a few for not having a rope to swing it around with. Rating: 88 points.

Red ball
A new twist on an old classic, with not one but two new elements: a squeaker (if only they made those removable) and some nice grip elements to make it more difficult for other dogs (and dad) to steal it from me. i give the red ball low ratings for originality, but sometimes a classic is still a classic. And hey, i'm a red dog, so why wouldn't I like a red ball? Rating: 87 points.

Stay tuned until next time.
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Friday, April 11, 2008

Sushi Rolls


If you were to ask me my favorite food, ethnic or not, I would have to say sushi. I could eat it everyday! In fact, a couple of years ago I went to visit a girlfriend in Orlando, and we did eat. it. everyday!

Being the foodie, I had to try my hand at making some sushi rolls at home. So, off to the Asian Market, and ready with some instructions, I set about to try my hand at being an Irish sushi chef! The neat thing about making sushi at home, is being creative with the fillings you want in your rolls. Well, that and enjoying a glass of Evolution 9 (hello lover!) while waiting for your rice to cook.

The first time I made them with some leftover cooked salmon, and some sashimi grade ahi tuna. In the photo above, I didn't have a chance to get some fresh fish, so I used a mixture of leftover salmon and tofu. In my opinion, other than fresh fish and/or veggies, the real secret ingredient to a great sushi experience, is good WAS-SAAA-BI!

You will also need: nori (toasted seaweed sheets)
sushi rice (Calrose)
rice vinegar and sugar for mixing into the rice
pickled ginger
And of course, your fish and/or veggies to fill your rolls.

Well, as you can see, I won't be quitting my day job. (Lesson one - make sure your knife is super sharp, and dip in water, to cut through the nori.) Sushi is fun to make when you have time, but it is time consuming, and somewhat of a test of patience. I also made some inside out rolls, but they were a little less photogenic and asked not to be shown on the blog. (Still tasted great.) I think a sushi making party might be the next theme for a get-together with friends.
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Monday, April 7, 2008

Sunday Hike and Cedar Planked Salmon

This morning we got up and took a 7.5 mile hike up Thompson Peak. (One of the highest peaks in the Phoenix metro area.) Along the way we gazed at some lovely wildflowers and marveled at the cactus that are in full bloom. My friend Dana, spotted a horny toad. And yes, it is a real desert creature - get your minds out of the gutter! We did take a picture, but you really can't see him, camoflauged with the desert landscape background. After our long hike we were pooped, but nothing that an hour or two lounging by the pool didn't fix.

As you might guess, we worked up a big appetite. So, after a nice long shower, we were ready to take on dinner. We have been talking about cedar-planked salmon all week, and decided that it would be a great evening to fire up the BBQ. If you haven't tried grilling with cedar planks (or any other wooded plank - alder, oak, etc) you are missing a wonderful way to add a new depth of flavor. Simply soak your plank for at least 30 minutes. Fire up the grill and preheat. When the grill is hot and ready to go, throw your plank(s) on and let blacken for approximately 5 minutes. Flip the plank over and put your food on the blackened plank. Close the grill and continue - keeping an eye out for flares. Don't forget to sit out with a glass of wine, or cocktail of your choice, while the food is cooking, and enjoy the "campfire" smell in your backyard.

I chose to do the salmon with a very simple preparation to really let the smokey wood flavor come through. A basic grainy mustard/mayo combo spread thinly over the top, and a few sprigs of fresh dill and thyme, straight from the garden. The result was the most flavorful and moist peice of salmon I've had in sometime. To complete the meal, I served this with a quinoa pilaf and a mixed greens with strawberries and goat cheese. A-Mazing.


I was hoping to write a fantastic review of the wine pairing, but it wasn't my favorite. I had higher hopes for the 2006 La Crema Pinot Noir. It was a bit to light and overflowing with cherry for my tastes. I think with the heaviness of the salmon, we could have done a merlot or even a shiraz.
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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Chase wants some "air time"

Chase mentioned that he feels their hasn't been a lot of "Paws" in the Paws and Pours blog lately. He is feeling a bit left out and depressed - as evidence in this picture of him with his Nasonex bee.

I apologize my dear dog for the lack of attention on Paws and Pours.

Here is Chase in "hunt mode." What is he hunting so seriously in a Scottsdale backyard? Lizards and geckos. They hide out in the bushes and then scurry up the wall. Chase always stalks them, but so far hasn't. caught. one!

Finally, here he is chillin' while mom and dad are chillin' with a glass of wine - of course!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another Blog Copycat

Lately, I've seen so many enticing dishes on some of my favorite food blogs. I recently recreated Christine's salmon. I also made a fennel salad from Little Bits, and there are several others that I have in my "to try" pile. But, a few days ago, I had fresh scallops and asparagus, and what do you know, Kirsten posted this recipe. It was meant to be!

The scallops were perfect, and the only thing I did different, was to deglaze the pan with a little white wine to make a pan sauce to pour over the scallops and cauliflower. Simple and impressive, we will make this one again!

We paired this light spring meal with the '06 Miner Sauvignon Blanc. This accented the meal perfectly. Sauvignon blanc is one of the few wines that holds up well to asparagus.

Speaking of asparagus, it has been cheap around here, so here is another way we prepared it recently. This would be a great "company" dish, simply wrap a few spears of asparagus with a strip of prociutto, spray or drizzle with EVOO, and a sprinkle of Kosher salt. We grilled it on the BBQ about 8-10 minutes.



Cheers to yummy spring foods!