Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Muir Glen Aria Dinner

Summer is long gone and memories of those perfect heirloom tomatoes that filled the farmer's markets are quickly waning, so what's a tomato lover to do? As the mercury drops, I rely on canned tomatoes, and Muir Glen is my personal favorite brand. Organic with a variety of different styles (fire roasted makes for the best chili in my experience...), what's not to love?

Lucky for me, then that Muir Glen was back at Aria once again to showcase their reserve tomatoes. I was surprised as anyone to find out at last year's event that there is such a thing as reserve tomatoes, but it turns out that every year the folks at Muir Glen are canning up something special. This year's reserve tomatoes are called Harvest Sunset™, which according to their press materials offer a blend of red and yellow tomatoes chosen for sweetness, texture and unique flavor.

So Muir Glen teamed up with Aria's Chef Gary Kalaska to create a Muir Glen tomato menu for a media dinner:

Hors d'Ouevre

Ruby Red Tomato & Sapelo Island Clam Chowder

Fire Roasted Tomato, White Bean, Red Chard, & Fennel Sausage Soup

Spicy Angus Beef Grillades on Buttermilk Biscuit

Southern Fried Chicken with Creamy Ruby Red Tomato Gravy on Buttermilk Biscuit

Grilled Cheese, Bacon & Tomato Keasters Grilled

Oak Grilled Ciabatta Bruschetta with Red & Yellow Tomatoes and Basil


Fried Green Tomatoes with Deviled Egg Salad, Ruby Red Tomato & Dill Pickle Dressing

Pan Roasted Jumbo Prawn with Herbed Lobster Ruby Red Tomato Broth

Spicy Braised Angus Beef with Fired Roasted Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Gold Potatoes and Cilantro

Upside Down Tomato Cake with Black Pepper Tomato Ice Cream

Fried green tomatoes with ruby red tomato and dill pickle dressing
In my mind, nothing beats a perfect fresh slice of tomato and some mozzarella. But when that's not available, some top notch canned tomatoes and various and sundry other yummy ingredients will do the trick. 

Pan roasted jumbo prawn with herbed lobster ruby red tomato broth
There was plenty to enjoy at dinner, but my favorites of the night were arguable the simplest and the most unusual. On the simple side, a grilled cheese with bacon and tomato is my perfect comfort food. And on the more unusual end of the spectrum, tomatoes make for excellent desserts. The candied tomatoes on the upside down cake were heavenly!
Upside down tomato cake with black pepper tomato ice cream
Aria is where the Mr. and I went the night we got engaged, so it always has a special place in my heart - all the better if I'm being wined and dine! Alas these dishes aren't on Aria's regular menu, but lucky for you, Kalaska has shared one of his recipes for you to try at home.

Chef Gary Kalaska's
Spicy Braised Angus Beef
with Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Gold Potatoes and Cilantro

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Start to Finish: 2 Hours

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
5 tomatillos, paper skin removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (2 teaspoons)
2 lb boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes, fat trimmed
1 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cans (14.5 oz ea) Muir Glen® Harvest Sunset™ organic fire roasted diced red and yellow tomatoes, undrained
1 carton (32 oz) beef stock
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oven to 275°F. In 5-quart ovenproof Dutch oven, cook olive oil and onion over medium heat 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
2. Add tomatillos, jalapeño chile and garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beef, salt and pepper; cook 4 minutes or until beef is browned. Add tomatoes; cook 3 minutes. Add stock and potatoes; heat to simmering.
3. Cover; bake about 1 hour or until no longer pink. Remove from oven; let stand 20 minutes before serving. Stir in cilantro, and serve in warmed bowls.

8 servings (1 1/2 cups each)

Muir Glen was kind enough to send me away with a gift basket of their reserve tomatoes, so we'll be enjoying some home cooked tomato-y goodness soon enough! Get your own reserve tomatoes here.

*Full disclosure: Although my meal was comped, I always endeavor to offer my unbiased opinion about my experience.



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