Pizza Night!

APRIL 30, 2021

                The coffee is on in the Drunken Chef household and life is good. Last night I was lazy and did not cook. I made one of those self-rising pizza’s I purchased in a weird store called Lidl that is located just over in the next town. It’s a weird store because they don’t just sell groceries it has things like hardware in it too and almost everything they carry is the Lidl brand. Some of it I have to admit is very good and very cheap, but again very little is name brand stuff. I just keep in mind you get what you pay for when I shop there. I usually get milk, eggs, and bread. Essentials that during the pandemic were sometimes hard to come by. Now I buy them there because of price and convenience. I go in I buy 12 things and I get out.

The Pizza was good even if I didn’t make it from scratch. Who in their right mind does that?! And why? It’s Pizza! It supposed to be simple. It’s just like three ingredients, most times. Plus, I live in New York. This is one of the Pizza capitals of the world and if my Italian neighbors or local pizza places smell pizza cooking and emanated from my residence they will be knocking on my door asking for protection money (just kidding, I hope).

Why would I spend ALL day making dough that I cannot even get the right flour for? Its 00 FLOUR by the way and it has less gluten in it then the flour you buy at the “stupor” market. THAT’S why you can’t make the same dough at home. You could always go TO the pizza place and buy THEIR dough but then what’s the point? So you can try and toss it in the air and try to get a thin crust like a pro….or is it the romance you want and imagine you and your significant other all cozy in the kitchen making pizza and feeding each other the toppings as you cook. Just like in some mushy Hallmark movie (which I do watch, all the time, by the way). Nope if I buy the dough at my favorite pizza place the its to make a homemade Stromboli and that’s a recipe for another time. Oh Crap! I so see this “How to Cook” book spiraling out of my control soon! Well let’s take it one day at time until I crash and burn or it takes off and you guys turn out to like it.

                That’s not what I came here to tell you about. Not that or the pizza. Like I said, throwing a frozen pizza in an oven is not cooking for me. If I don’t even add the toppings or extra cheese and I didn’t, to me its’s not cooking. Nope today, I am writing to tell you I made breakfast for myself (and lunch for Jennifer). Jennifer’s lunch was just a ham sandwich. No big Whup. I however, I decided to use up one of the last stale Croissants I purchased at Trader Joes. No, Joe did not sell them to me stale but I bought them on Sunday and well, this croissant is not as fresh as it could be. Even with all that butter in them! Fat is a preservative that helps keep bread fresh (again getting ahead of myself).

                So for breakfast I fried ham (the last two slices) in butter, along with two eggs and then put cheese on top of that. Oh, that reminds me, I’m going to visit my cardiologist soon. Wish me luck or my menus might suddenly change quickly. NAH!

So what will be my first recipe item tomorrow? Hmmm can anyone guess? I have mentioned this recipe item before. Maybe, even in my very first post? Hint: It is usually eaten at breakfast but not always. I a firm believer in breakfast for dinner!

Lastly, I’m going out to eat tonight so no cooking for me! That does mean however, that Sunday will be my first restaurant review post! I hope it turns into a nice feature or article subject for this new project/hobby of mine (writing).

                In closing, I would like to end today by thanking my editor-in-chief Sam for helping me to correct all my horrible grammar and spelling mistakes as I write all this stuff. I would NEVER consider doing this and without his amazing proofreading and writing skills. I hope he writes his own articles and posts them here soon too! I started this adventure by posting my stuff write away and he would correct it later but I found out that what winds up in your e-mail is loaded with grammatical and spelling errors from the first posting and not the later edited and finish pieces. So I have to wait now until he can look it over and correct it before we can post it. That just makes the posts so late. I will need to get into a new writing routine so you have new posts in the am after he fixes them at night. Hey, it’s all a learning process for me!

© Russ Ahrens and The Magic of a Perfect Pairing,2021

Cooking Utensils (Gadgets)

No good cookbook would be complete without this list.

So far this is a short list of things we will be using to cook with in the “How to Cook” section of this website. You may want to keep this list handy like taped to the fridge or even print it out and casually leave it laying about for holiday season and birthday gift ideas for your yourself. Heck just come right out tell your life long partner and all your friends about the list too. This way you can be surprised with presents for a change, instead of flowers or a neck tie for your birthday (not that I don’t love BOTH those things)! The list will be getting longer as I add all kinds stuff to it as we use them to make the recipes I post. I could go on about all the gadgets I have collected in the 30 plus years that I have been cooking but that would take all the fun of it and writing this post would take ALL day. So lets explore all the gadgetry there is out there as we learn to cook with each item together!

Below are just a few items I have used already since starting this project and testing the waters on whether I could write about every meal I make in my kitchen or someone else’s kitchen. The items in green are some of recipes that I will be posting as the year goes on (maybe if I’m tech savvy enough I can turn them into links to the recipe). It will also be pretty magical to see if I can keep this posting stuff up or will I crash and burn and never finish my life long dream of writing my cookbook that everyone can use and understand but only time will tell.

The following is a recommended list of items that I have “collected” and have used thus far:

Charcoal Chimney Starter sold at Amazon, Loews and ACE Hardware’s stores

Thermometer

Digital Instant Read Thermometer

Vegetable peelers

I use this item for peeling the skin off vegetables such as potatoes for Latkes, or Apples for Sherry’s Apple Pie, Apple Cake

Vegetable Chopper

Zyliss Classic chopper. The 18/10 stainless steel blade operates like 5 knives in one. It rotates automatically for smooth, even chopping from coarse to very fine. Sharp enough to chop onions and vegetables. Strong enough to chop nuts and ice. Its easy to clean – just rinse it like I do, then place in the dishwasher. This is Great Gift/present (hint hint).   I use it use it for chopping onions as in Meatloaf or Baked Beans mmm beans.

Vegetable Steamer

Used when cooking steamed vegetables like the fresh artichokes I made for Jennifer.

Crinkle is Cut Serrator

Have I made home made French fry’s yet? Nope I guess not but I will do it soon. They are the perfect accompaniment to a grilled steak that is made over charcoal! My crinkle cut serrator features a stainless steel blade, brass rivets and a smooth easy to grip wood handle. Its the ideal tool for cutting vegetables, like potatoes for home made French fries or anything else that needs a crinkle cut to look fancy.

Pots and Pans

Cast Iron – These old classics come in many sizes today. I only still use one, a very large and very deep pan. This pan is perfect for deep fried chicken. Because of its heavy weight it holds the heat well keeping the oil hot. But because it’s heavy I also tend to use it less often but it has many other uses. For example it’s perfect for home fries, eggs and bacon. When new this pan may need to be “SEASONED”. Cover entire with vegetable oil and place in a 350° oven for 30 minutes. To clean this giant just use warm water as soap will remove the protective oil. Someone told me the best seasoning to use is bacon grease. This pan improves cooking flavor over time. Used for frying chicken or in recipes like Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. I also have a cast iron pot that is used on camping trips.

I even heard somewhere that you get the extra benefit of of the much needed mineral of iron just from cooking in it. It also seems that since people stopped using them to cook in regularly we might have to take a pill sometimes or eat spinach to get that in our system! Huh, its just what I heard and I don’t really know how true that is but I found it “interesting”.

Porcelain – Porcelain covered pots come in many beautiful colors now and can be very attractive hanging up in the kitchen. These pots are also nice to cook in.  I found one of mine at a garage sale and even received one as a gift! HAHAHA! Fit this in your suitcase to take home! Well yes I did! I love it now but cursed as I carried it through the airport in my carry on!

Dutch oven – This is a large Porcelain coved pot. Just like the aforementioned airport verity. It is 7 to 9 quart cast iron (heavy) pot that is ceramic covered and with a lid (for extra heaviness).

Teflon – This Dupont non-stick classic cookware always looses it non-stick effectiveness. The best way to make your non-stick cookware lasts it’s longest is with a few simple tips. First never use metal cooking utensils such as metal spatulas or folks. Many, if not all-cooking utensils come in Teflon friendly products. I own plastic spatulas, wooden spoon and tong are just a few items that should be used to cook in these type of pots and pans. Also putting Teflon pots and pans in the dishwasher shorten their life. Clean all Teflon items by hand using a sponge or brush with mild dish soap such as Dawn (product plug only because I like that commercial where they help clean off those cute little oil covered ducklings with Dawn).

Teflon pots and pans come in MANY brands and qualities.  I have owned several different styles over the years. I still have one large pan left that I use for omelets. They have to be replaced regularly because they ALL seem to loose there non-stick surface after a while.  I keep a couple different sizes and I buy deferent qualities pans depending on their eventual purpose.  The small pans I buy the least inexpensive.  I always try to keep three good ones on hand. One is large (12 to 14 inches is huge for an Irishman). This one is in great condition (the pan, not me) and used to make eggs and other things that stick to other pans. So I don’t use this pan for grill cheese, or burgers, Steaks, etc.  The other pans are smaller and less expensive. These I replace more often, and I use these for eggs for one person when new and eggs begin to stick to it I replace it.

Lately I have purchased the new Gotham Steel copper color ceramic nonstick frying pans. I like the 9.5 for making eggs. These seem to last longer then their Teflon cousins but I never really made note of it for sure. So I don’t want all those DuPont people coming after me hold their pans like torches so it resembles a scene from the movie Young Frankenstein!!

In the category of Teflon pots, I also own one. This is stickily for things like cheese sauce and that pot even has a pouring lip on it.   I have had this small “Calphalon Sauce Pan” for 20 years! They still make it and its even found on Amazon.

Stainless steel Pots and Pans – These Pots and Pans are almost indestructible. There is no non-stick surface to worry about and thats why they can last generations. Unlike the cast iron pans, dish detergent and scouring pad or cleaners including comet can be used to keep these pans looking like new. I use a scouring pad and cleanser on the bottom of these pans to remove heavy burn on food.

My favorite band of stainless steel pots and pans is All-Clad These pots and pans are VERY expensive so I only own two but they will last generations.  My first All-clad pan was brought at a close out store (Marshals) and was purchased with a cover at a great price maybe 15 years ago! I never saw another one the same size and at the same price again there. I do look still. 

My Second favorite, if you can believe this, is Ikea 365 – The pots I purchased at Ikea are 18/10 stainless steel and seem very durable. They are also much less expensive then the All-Clad brand. They come in a verity of sizes. The first pot size is the small saucepot. The second is the medium 2-quart saucepot and I also own the large 5-quart pot. They all came with lids!

I own one Pasta Pot – this stainless steel pot comes with a strainer insert perfect for making large amounts of pasta for a big tray of Baked Ziti or Lasagna for entertaining.

Stockpot – This huge pot can be purchased anywhere. I bought mine in an old-fashioned hardware store that carried kitchen supplies.  It holds 10 quarts. Its perfect for Chicken Soup or Corn beef and cabbage.

Tea pots – Can be purchased anywhere and can even be covered with colored porcelain like the old fifties style pots. I like my stainless steel teapot because it’s easy to clean and whistles when the water boils. I am considering getting an electric one (gift hint). So many electric appliances so little time.

Measuring cups

Pyrex –this brand is glass measuring cups that come in various sizes.  I recommend having on hand the one cup (16 ounce), one cup (32 ounce) and one 4 cup (64 ounces) Sizes.  These are perfect for measuring liquids.  I use the four cup size to make pancakes. They are dishwasher safe. Used for liquid measurements in such recipes as Baked Beans.

Stainless steel stacking – 18/10 stainless steel cups designed to balance without tipping. Cup sets should include 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 1-cup measures and be dishwasher safe.

Plastic stacking dry measuring – These are only a necessity if you are planning on making the friendship bread recipe that requires them. I also like then because they are light weight. So of course I own more then one set!

Plastic Liquid measuring – I own these too and use them MOST often because they are light weight. Mine have lasted years and always wind up in the dishwasher. They are made by OXO.

Measuring spoons

Stainless steel liquid measuring cup– I have one that is 4 cups. Because its metal with a plastic covered grip I sometimes use this to serve gravy in on non formal occasions. I really need one of those insulated gravy servers. Just sayin.

Knives – I have two knife blocks on my counter. Plus I own a chef’s knife roll. I received that as a Christmas gift that was purchased for me at a chefs supply store but you can find many types on Amazon too.  My knife carrier is filled with the knifes I have collected from estate and garage sales. Knives is one of those things you should try many different kinds of to find the ones you like the best. Some of the best knives are made by Dexter Russell USA. Good knives make great gifts too. The really good ones can be really expensive but the sharper the knife the LESS likely you will be to cut yourself. Picking out good knives is a whole video lesson unto itself….Here are a few essential ones to own”

Butter knife/place knife – we often referred to this knife as a butter knife growing up. The most common use being to put butter on your bread, vegetables or when cooking with butter in recipes such as Apple Cake. It is a relatively dull knife with a rounded tip.  It comes standard in most flatware sets.

The following is usually in the standard knife block: Serrated bread Knife – This is the best style/type knife for slicing fresh bread, rolls or  for slicing cake in recipes like Ice Box Cake. Pairing knife – Carving Knife – Boning knife – Steak knives –

Specialty Knives – Filet Knife

Filet knife

Spoons

Teaspoons – flatware set Tablespoons – flatware set Wooden spoon – avoid getting hit by them, they hurt. Plastic serving spoons – Metal serving spoons – For HOT food Metal slotted spoon – for Hot Food

Pancake Turner or spatula

They come in MANY shapes and sizes. The ones pictured below are just two of my all time favorites. I have at least 10 spatulas that I have gathered over the years. Some I just use at the BBQ grill for burgers and others were plastic and for use with the Teflon pans that I no longer own.

Whisks

I only have two sizes. One is a large balloon whisk and the other is smaller and I use that one MOST often for sauces or sometimes even eggs and should get a second one of that one. Most times I use mix with a fork however.

Bakeware

Pie Pans – I prefer Pyrex glass pie pans for their even heat, dishwasher safe and classic look. Dark metal pans are ok. Tin pie pans tend to burn the bottom of the pie more easily.

Cake Pans – Williams-Sonoma has heavy nonstick cake pans that promote even baking and browning, feature a straight side and ensure that cakes are released easily. The uncoated Cake Pans from Chicago Metallic’s Commercial line performs wonderfully, and has the added benefit of being dishwasher- safe. Cake pans should be purchased in many sizes and shapes. I recommend two 9-inch-round baking pans for making a layer cake.

Square cake pan are not only used for cakes but brownies, and crumb cakes.  Sizes range from 13x9x2 for crumb cake, 9x9x2 for brownies.

Bundt and tube pans –

Bundt and tube pans allow a hurried cook to make a beautiful, tall cake without the worry of layers. The secret is the funnel, which cooks the cake from the inside out. Bundt pans usually have some sort of cut-crystal design molded into the pan and have tall sides with a hollow tube in the center.

A tube pan, or angel food cake pan, has a funnel in the center, too, but the sides of this pan are smooth, which allows the batter to climb up the walls of the pan as it bakes. Tube pans often have feet, which are little metal nubs that stick out above the rim of the pan, allowing the pan to be flipped over while it cools without smashing the cake inside. If your tube pan doesn’t have feet, chances are the tube center is higher than the sides of the pan, which will give you the same clearance that feet would. Angel food cakes need to cook this way so that they don’t collapse in the pan.

Loaf Pans

Loaf pans come in two standard sizes: 9 x 5 x 3 inches and 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches. You can find loaf pans made of glass, shiny metal, and nonstick aluminum. Glass pans and dark, nonstick pans have a tendency to brown your breads a bit faster than shiny metal, so lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees if you use these pans.

Sifter/Sifting – You can sift flour by purchasing this Kaiser metal sifter. You can also use a strainer and tap the side against the palm of your hand. Used in recipes like Banana Cake.

8” frosting spatula – this great spatula is great for spreading frosting on cake. It can purchase these on-line or at most good kitchen supply stores. This is used in recipes like the Ice Box Cake.

apple peeler/corerThis Peels apples as well as cores them. The apples are all evenly sliced but I think they are too thin for the apple pie or apple cake.

Tongs

The first pairs I would recommend is getting ones that are 12 inch long like the ones below (I have two pair of those). The next pair should be 16 inches and I use those when frying things like chicken cutlets. My next pair is 18 inches. I like to use them when I am at the BBQ grill. I also have a couple of small pairs that, that I received as a Christmas gift, I use for serving at parties. They are only 7 inches long.

304 Stainless Steel Kitchen Cooking Tongs, 9" and 12" Set of 2 Sturdy Grilling Barbeque Brushed Locking Food Tongs with Er...

That’s it for now. Check back often for updates and I will be referring to this list in my “how to cook posts” as we go. I hope the pictures help and of course if you have any questions just ask. You can post a comment here or send an email to me if you don’t want your questions seen by everyone.

Beef Bolognese

April 28, 2021

                Good morning from New York. The weather today is actually supposed to warm up! Yea! I’m not much of a winner person. I guess because I like to BBQ and grill so much. I could use more sleep but cant sleep any later even if I were off and now I wait for my morning ambrosia. That wonderful cup of coffee that I’m waiting for to perk.

                Last night was a simple one. Only because over a month ago I made a Beef Bolognese sauce and froze two quarts of the stuff. Something I usually never do but I thing by then we were sick of eating pasta way too often. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true.

                I first put on a big pot to boil with salt and a little olive oil. Then I defrosted the sauce in the microwave. I put the sauce in a medium size pot and heated it up on low. Water in my house takes FOREVER to boil. That why I have a Sunbeam “Hotshot” hot water dispenser when I want tea or hot chocolate. That’s a good item to include for my appliance must haves.

                Once the water boiled ka-pow I added the pasta to it. While that cooked, I make some very good Italian string beans I purchased in the frozen food section at my local Stop and Shop (at least I made a vegetable that wasn’t salad!). I heated them up in some drawn butter (I’m try to cut down on fat hahahaha).

                It was good, quick and easy. Then I needed a nap but didn’t. We just went to bed early.

                Good morning from New York. The weather today is actually supposed to warm up! Yea! I’m not much of a winner person. I guess because I like to BBQ and grill so much. I could use more sleep but cant sleep any later even if I were off and now I wait for my morning ambrosia. That wonderful cup of coffee that I’m waiting for to perk.

                Last night was a simple one. Only because over a month ago I made a Beef Bolognese sauce and froze two quarts of the stuff. Something I usually never do but I thing by then we were sick of eating pasta way too often. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true.

                I first put on a big pot to boil with salt and a little olive oil. Then I defrosted the sauce in the microwave. I put the sauce in a medium size pot and heated it up on low. Water in my house takes FOREVER to boil. That why I have a Sunbeam “Hotshot” hot water dispenser when I want tea or hot chocolate. That’s a good item to include for my appliance must haves.

                Once the water boiled ka-pow I added the pasta to it. While that cooked, I make some very good Italian string beans I purchased in the frozen food section at my local Stop and Shop (at least I made a vegetable that wasn’t salad!). I heated them up in some drawn butter (I’m try to cut down on fat hahahaha).

                It was good, quick and easy. Then I needed a nap but didn’t. We just went to bed early.

April 28, 2021

© Russ Ahrens and The Magic of a Perfect Pairing,2021

Pierogi and salad

                I came home exhausted from work. I didn’t feel much like cooking but I did. My refrigerator and freezer are full yet I can’t seem to find anything to make for dinner. It’s either some kind of fish that I bought for lent but Jennifer won’t eat or some frozen meat that will take forever to thaw and cook.  What I did have was frozen Pierogi that we had just purchased on sale at the local Shop Rite grocery store. This particular Shop Rite seems to be cleaner than most of them that I have been to so we make it a regular stop now. The prices are usually good and it’s not too far from the house.

                Back to the Pierogi, I have never had Pierogi as a kid. I don’t think I started eating them until a coworker told me he made them. If you have never tried Pierogi, I do recommend them. They are easy to cook and very tasty. Although, I do not think they are meant to be served as a main dish. The ones in my freezer were four cheese potato pierogi.

 I began cooking them by heating up my largest All-Clad Pan over medium heat with a heaping tablespoon or two of olive oil. I did not measure it thus causing dirty a measuring spoon and risking more dirty dishes. I just poured some in the pan and eyeballed it as it spread across the pan. I have one of those olive oil bottles with the liquor spout on top. It reminds me of what you would find on a bottle of Jameson’s behind a bar for pouring shots.  It makes pouring the oil out easy and the bottle itself is tall and thin. This makes it fit nicely into my overstuffed spices cabinet that is next to the stove. I don’t have one of those huge gourmet kitchens like you might think or see on TV but its big enough for one person to cook comfortably in and has a large counter to cook and roll out dough on when it’s not filled with all kinds of different stuff.

As the pierogi cook, they can stick to the pan so every few minutes I move them around with a pair of tongs (are tongs on my gadgets list? If not, I’ll have to add them). When they just started to turn brown on one side, I flip them over to the other side. When that side starts to brown then I add some butter. 1 to 2 tablespoons of salted butter and continue to flip them so the lighter side is always facing the hot pan. I do this until they turn tan or a nice light brown. Like the color of a piece of old varnished maple wood or Douglas-fir like our hard wood floors.

In between flipping and stirring or shaking the pan to make sure the pierogi don’t stick I made two salads. The salads were made up of a head of romaine that I cut up, one of those baby cucumbers that I diced, a few whole black pitted olives, two artichoke hearts that I cut in half, a small tomato I cut into segments, a sliver of raw onion and lastly just a bit of arugula on top. I almost forgot about the arugula in the fridge. I left the onion and tomatoes off Jennifer’s salad. That’s because she is allergic to all night shades. Plus, she does not even like tomatoes. Next, I poured on some Olive Garden salad dressing on them. I love the stuff but I should really start making it myself. I was just too tired last night to even try but salad dressing is easy to make and so much cheaper and better tasting then any bottled stuff.

So there you have it. One lazy man’s dinner. It was pretty good too actually. I guess I wasn’t even that hungry because I don’t even think I finished all of my salad. I was sooo tired I didn’t even have one beer last night! I guess I don’t drink every night, huh. Well as usual, it’s time for me to get to work. So until tomorrow. Stay heathy, be happy, and eat well!

Russ – The Drunken Chef

                I came home exhausted from work. I didn’t feel much like cooking but I did. My refrigerator and freezer are full yet I can’t seem to find anything to make for dinner. It’s either some kind of fish that I bought for lent but Jennifer won’t eat or frozen meat that will take forever to thaw and cook.  What I did have was frozen Pierogi that we had just purchased on sale at the local Shop Rite grocery store. This particular Shop Rite seems to be cleaner than most of them that I have been to so we make it a regular stop now. The prices are usually good and it not too far from the house.

                Back to the Pierogi, I have never had Pierogi as a kid. I don’t think I started eating them until a coworker told me he made them. If you have never tried Pierogi, I do recommend them. They are easy to cook and very tasty. Although, I do not think they are meant to be served as a main dish. The ones in my freezer were four cheese potato pierogi.

 I began cooking them by heating up my largest All-Clad Pan over medium heat with a heaping tablespoon or two of olive oil. I did not measure it thus causing dirty a measuring spoon and risking more dirty dishes. I just poured some in the pan and eyeballed it as it spread across the pan. I have one of those olive oil bottles with the liquor spout on top. It reminds me of what you would find on a bottle of Jameson’s behind a bar for pouring shots.  It makes pouring the oil out easy and the bottle itself is tall and thin. This makes it fit nicely into my overstuffed spices cabinet that is next to the stove. I don’t have one of those huge gourmet kitchens like you might think or see on TV but its big enough for one person to cook comfortably in and has a large counter to cook and roll out dough on when it’s not filled with all kinds of different stuff.

As the pierogi cook, they can stick to the pan so every few minutes I move them around with a pair of tongs (are tongs on my gadgets list? If not, I’ll have to add them). When they just started to turn brown on one side, I flip them over to the other side. When that side starts to brown then I add some butter. 1 to 2 tablespoons of salted butter and continue to flip them so the lighter side is always facing the hot pan. I do this until they turn tan or a nice light brown. Like the color of a piece of old varnished maple wood or Douglas-fir like our hard wood floors.

In between flipping and stirring or shaking the pan to make sure the pierogi don’t stick I made two salads. The salads were made up of a head of romaine that I cut up, one of those baby cucumbers that I diced, a few whole black pitted olives, two artichoke hearts that I cut in half, a small tomato I cut into segments, a sliver of raw onion and lastly just a bit of arugula on top. I almost forgot about the arugula in the fridge. I left the onion and tomatoes off Jennifer’s salad. That’s because she is allergic to all night shades. Plus, she does not even like tomatoes. Next, I poured on some Olive Garden salad dressing on them. I love the stuff but I should really start making it myself. I was just too tired last night to even try but salad dressing is easy to make and so much cheaper and better tasting then any bottled stuff.

So there you have it. One lazy man’s dinner. It was pretty good too actually. I guess I wasn’t even that hungry because I don’t even think I finished all of my salad. I was sooo tired I didn’t even have one beer last night! I guess I don’t drink every night, huh. Well as usual, it’s time for me to get to work. So until tomorrow. Stay heathy, be happy, and eat well!

Russ – The Drunken Chef

Sterilite BRAND cake HOLDER

I love this EXTRA LARGE Cake Carrier/Storage container. It holds up to a 12 inch, 3-layer cake. The one I own is a Christmas theme of red and green but has a translucent dome lid so you can just make out that something is inside. Its absolutely perfect to transport the cake I made Sunday to work, after Jennifer and I try a piece tonight.

I like how it seems to seal in the freshness and keep out humidity in summer or keep the cake from drying out overnight in the dry air of winer!

The handle on top makes carry the cake in to the office as well as it being able to be cut right on the bottom tray. That reminds me I have t bring my plastic cake server. I have plats knives and forks at work.

I hope some people will feel okay about eating something I have brought in to the office from home. Its been a while since we have had any home baked goods in the office! YUM!

Ice Cream Sunday

April 25, 2021

                So yesterday, I was gardening for the first time in what felt like a year. We put a whole bunch of flowering plants in the ground. If they live, Ill post pictures later in the year. Jennifer could not do much because of her back but at least she could work on planting some pots at a table and keep me company.

                By the time I was done, I was way too tired to even think about cooking so I called and ordered Chinese food. However, I did make us ice cream Sundays for dessert. I will leave it to you then, is the making of the ice cream Sundays on a Saturday cooking? Even if used caned whip cream, premade ice cream, Maraschino Cherries from a jar and chocolate syrup from a plastic bottle? I did crush the nuts myself in a zip top bag and using my meat tenderizer and put the whole thing together.

                So yesterday, I was gardening for the first time in what felt like a year. We put a whole bunch of flowering plants in the ground. If they live, Ill post pictures later in the year. Jennifer could not do much because of her back but at least she could work on planting some pots at a table and keep me company.

                By the time I was done, I was way too tired to even think about cooking so I called and ordered Chinese food. However, I did make us ice cream Sundays for dessert. I will leave it to you then, is the making of the ice cream Sundays on a Saturday cooking? Even if used caned whip cream, premade ice cream, Maraschino Cherries from a jar and chocolate syrup from a plastic bottle? I did crush the nuts myself in a zip top bag and using my meat tenderizer and put the whole thing together.

April 25, 2021

© Russ Ahrens and The Magic of a Perfect Pairing, 2021

Boneless Buffalo Wings

April 24, 2021

                It’s the weekend… Yea!  The beginning of my weekend is my favorite part because I have weekends off, except for cooking. (Unless we go out to eat.) That’s okay though, because I love cooking.

                Last night I suggested boneless Buffalo wings and Jennifer quickly agreed. I asked her to text our friend Alyssa to see if she would like to join us but my lovely wife was already texting away. I know Alyssa likes my boneless wings, so we didn’t want her to miss out. Alyssa confirmed with Jennifer, saying she would be here about 7-ish.

                Perfect! I thought. After the timing was confirmed and opened a beer and started cooking. I know what you must be thinking about my cooking and beer related activity, but I do not always drink beer while I cook. Sometimes its wine if my wine drinking friends are over. Sometimes its lemonade and vodka if its a particularly hot summer day. Look, it’s a blog by the Drunken Chef what do you expect? Mr. Rogers? No just me, no servants, no sous chefs. No dishwashers. Well I do have a dishwasher but no one rising the dishes or washing the pots. I am usually just the one to wash the dishes and rinse the pots, I am really quite multifaceted, being dishwasher, sous-chef and head chef all in one! This is, of course, a very wordy way to say that whatever mess I make, I have to clean-up.

                Completely off-topic: I get a few questions about how did I get this nickname? The Drunken Chef. Well, I think it was a co-worker that started calling me The  Drunken Chef after one of my many summertime BBQ adventures where I had the entire department attending in my back yard. After all the stories that they heard, they were there to see and taste my culinary skills in person.

                Back to last night: I preheated the oven to keep the wings warm once they were done. After-all, what goes better with beer than bar food – particularly wings? Most of the important people in my life prefer their wings to be boneless, but I adapted this style especially for Jennifer. I start with chicken cutlets that I cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch strips. Those strips get tossed into some beaten eggs followed by a wonderful flour mixture with some spices that I added breadcrumbs too. Sometimes (when I not so lazy) I flour them and then dip the back into the egg and then the breadcrumbs. I find it gives the chicken that extra crunch, which just elevates them to a whole new level.

                Next, as the oil heated, I cut celery and carrots into strips or sticks 1/2 inch wide. You have to have vegetables with dinner!

                When frying anything it is important to watch the temperature of your oil and how fast it’s cooking. Too hot and to fast, it burns, too slow and it tastes like oil. By learning to make potato pancakes that all come out the same golden brown, on both sides, (not hiding the burnt ones face down) is an excellent way to learn how to control the temperature and cooking time on your stove. Figuring out how to cook bacon will have a similar effect. Who doesn’t love bacon? Many times, I make it in the microwave, but when I want the bacon grease for something else like a spinach salad, I make it in a pan on the stove. That takes time and patience not to burn it. If you like crispy bacon that is. Those kinds of skills are best taught in a video if anyone is interested recording me in my kitchen and editing and so on and so on. There is a free meal in for you…just sayin.

                Well the wings came out good. I also made my famous buffalo wing sauce, and no it’s not just butter and Frank’s Red Hot but those are just two of the ingredients. Patients people…. The recipes are coming. Sure, even this one, with my famous sauce included.

                ENJOY your Saturday! THE DRUNKEN CHEF

April 24, 2021

© Russ Ahrens and The Magic of a Perfect Pairing,2021

Pan Seared Sirloin

April 23, 2021

Happy Friday. I made it through Thursday at work unscathed however, the car fire on my way home extended my stress level for an extra thirty minutes. S what did I do first thing when I got home? Yes, I opened a beer, turned on some music and started cooking. I did this all just before Jennifer walked through the door chatting on her phone to our wonderful friend Nancy. Now I know most people would read that very sarcastically but the truth is Nancy is indeed a very sweet woman. The kind of friend who bakes Hamentashen for Purim and leaves them on your doorstep. This while being in stuck in isolation because of COVID-19. Now if you don’t know what Hamentashen is don’t be surprised, neither did I at first. In the simplest of terms it a yummy cookie eaten during Purim. I will get us the recipe… Shhhh.

So last night was Pan Seared Sirloin. I began by marinating it and putting two potatoes in the oven to bake. As I waited and cooked the other dishes, the steak soaked up the flavors of the teriyaki. I kept busy by slicing up three onions and frying them up in the pan, as I was going to make the steak. It dawned on me that I had mushrooms I had forgotten to make this weekend when our friends came over.  I cooked the onions separate from the mushrooms (Jennifer is not a big fan of mushrooms), but I imagine that if you were to cook the mushrooms and the onions together there would be a fantastic amalgamation of flavor. Here is the recipe for Peppers, Mushrooms and Onions. Although Jennifer does not eat them she makes a great stuffed mushroom on Thanksgiving. Go figure?

As the mushrooms cooked and I tossed them in a bit of butter. I trimmed the ends off some fresh string beans. These too were also left uncooked form the weekend. We might as well have a vegetable tonight, right? They went right into a small pot I had with boiling water, in a process called blanching.

Time to cook the steak! I dried it off, because as we all know a wet steak won’t turn brown even when added to a hot pan with oil. It steams on the juices then. It does not look as pretty when does. I never thought I would ever be calling a steak pretty. Hmmm, maybe appetizing word be a better word here.

I seared the steak on both sides and placed it under the broiler on the oven to finched. It came out medium rare. I gave Jennifer the end cut as she like her meat a little bit more well done.

When the steak reached a temperature of 135 degrees, I moved it from the pan to a plate. I let it rest a bit on a plate before I sliced it up. I served it with some of the teriyaki marinated I used to deglaze the pan with alongside the potato with butter, string beans, onions and mushrooms. Jennifer did like the string beans although I have to admit they needed to cook one more minute. They tasted a little too “green” to me.

Another successful meal behind me and one day closer to cooking things from my recipe book. I have to be honest I’m not quite sure how I’m going to handle that yet. It’s just a lot of recipes and they are just organized in a large five hundred page word document alphabetically. My second book is more of a cookbook but I only just started writing that (only two recipes in). Somehow, I have to find a way to combine the tow of them here and present them to you all.

That’s the real challenge isn’t it? It will be the daily showing of a brand new cookbook as its written in 365 days. Can it be done by an amateur like myself?

© Russ Ahrens and The Magic of a Perfect Pairing,2021

Fried Chicken Cutlets

I woke up at my usual 5:30am and the first thing I made coffee was coffee. Yes, I make coffee. I have tried those “pods” and have not found one that I like. They remind me of an old sci-fi movie. “The pods are coming! The pods are coming!” I digress. It’s early and I have not had my coffee yet. We will have to cover the making of “Real” coffee later on this year in a breakfast blog.

Last night was a chicken entre’. Fried chicken cutlets to be more specific. I started by getting home and opening a bottle of beer.  Jennifer came home shortly after that. I put on some music while she watched TV.  I began with the chicken. It came from Trader Joes grocery store, which I love but this particular chicken is frozen by them and is individual culets in a zip top bag. I find this very convenient after working all day. This meant however thawing out the chicken carefully in the microwave. If you’re not careful how you thaw it out you get microwaved chicken and there is nothing worse than microwaved chicken. Well I suppose there is but I can’t think of it right now.

While the chicken was defrosting, I preheated the oven. After the chicken was defrosted if any of the edges get a little cooked, I trim them off and throw it away. Next, I beat two eggs in a shallow bowl and get out the flavored breadcrumbs. I trim off the little bit of fat that might remain on the cutlets and filet them in half or even thirds so they are thin. If I had more energy I would have even pounded them thinner with a meat mallet but it was Wednesday so that meant easy and quick.  

I dredged the chicken in the egg and then the breadcrumbs making sure to cover them completely so no wet egg was showing. Then as the vegetable oil was heating up in my favorite large All-Clad pan, the chicken rested. Helping to adhere its soon to be crunchy goodness to the chicken.

I fried them over medium high heat or medium heat. It’s critical that you don’t fry at too high a temp or you will burn the bread crumbs BEFORE the chicken has a chance to cook. Once they are a deep golden brown I move them onto a baking dish on paper towels and place them in the oven. This keeps them warm and they can finish cooking all the way through slowly.

While the chicken was in the oven, I was a good husband this time and made not one but two vegetables. The first was a large green squash or Zucchini. That I cut up into coins about a quarter inch wide. Make sure you cut things evenly. We will discuss that more much later on too I am sure. I cooked these in a second pan with a bit of the hot oil from the chicken. I seasoned them with garlic power, onion powder, salt and black pepper. Hey! Don’t judge, it’s a weekday day and I’m cooking! The second vegetable was baby spinach that Jennifer just did not not want in her salads anymore so I was cooking it in butter and added a clove of roasted garlic to it that I had left over from the weekend.

Jen said it all turned out yummy, particularly the vegetables. I was just happy she liked it. Neither of us like our vegetable cooked to within an inch of their life so after having my second beer with dinner and watching Jeopardy it was a good night.

© Russ Ahrens and The Magic of a Perfect Pairing, 2021