Mashed Potatoes

This is a side dish recipe. However, in my “Recipe Book” everything is in alphabetical order and grouped together only in the index by categories. Here it is just a post in the “Recipes Section” like I promised.

I used Yukon Gold Potatoes and added the roasted garlic because I had some on hand. What’s that? You want a how to roast garlic recipe? Sure let me go type that right up. First, I’m going to go have beer and wait while my editor takes at look this post. Then he has to look at the Pot Roast post that goes with the mashed potatoes!


5 lbs. of Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes

1 stick of Butter

½ cup half and half

¼ cup whole milk


White pepper

5 Cloves of roasted garlic (optional)


Peel and cut the potatoes into 2 inch pieces. Cook the potatoes in boiling water about 20 minutes. Test the potatoes with fork for doneness. Drain the potatoes (in colander) and then return them to the pot. Add the butter in tablespoon size pieces; add cream, milk, salt, and pepper. Add cream and milk slowly as not to cool off the potatoes to fast or have it slash out while mixing. Using an electric mixer set to low, beat the potatoes until there are no lumps. If you do not own an electric mixer you can buy a hand “potato masher”. Some people actually prefer using one of these as they like the “lumps”.

NOTES: My mother never used half and half just whole milk.   I find the ½ & ½ gives it a nice extra richness. I don’t make mashed potatoes every month so I can splurge on the extra butter and cream.

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

Pot Roast a-la insta-pot

May 3, 2021

Last night was the all American Favorite “Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes” or as I once had in a dinner located down in South Carolina, “The Blue Plate Special”. Man was it good too!

So our first main entree’ recipe is as follows:


Instant- Pot (6-quart or larger)

Large serving fork or tongs

Wooden Spoon

Chef’s Knife

Cutting Board


Chuck Eye Roast (4 pounds)

2 Pounds of Carrots (I really like these carrots when done)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 to 3 stalks celery

2 cups water

2 medium onions – peeled and sliced in half

3 cloves of whole peeled garlic

1-2 tbsp. Olive Oil

2 tsp. beef bouillon or one bouillon cube

Garlic powder, Salt & Pepper to taste


Prepare the chuck roast by sprinkling it with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides of the meat. The beef I used this time looked like a 3-inch steak (buy two). Sometimes it’s a whole 4 pound roast that is oblong. What ever the shape, season it all around. Add the oil to the bottom of the Insta-pot and turn on to Sauté. Brown the meat on both sides. Remember that your beef should be dry before you try to brown it. If your beef is wet then it may steam and turn grayish looking instead of browning. Why do you want it a little brown on two to four sides? TASTE! The browning effect is the cartelization of the sugars and it makes your dish taste richer. Trust me there is a reason for EVERYTHING! I had two steaks so that four sides for me. A roast would be the something. Brown four sides of a whole roast. After your meat has browned, remove it to a plate on the side.

Pour in the water to the insta-pot. Add the onions, celery and beef bouillon. Stir with a wooden spoon to loosen the little brown bits on the bottom. This technique is called deglazing. Many times, you might be using wine to deglaze with instead of water. Mmm wine. Add the meat back in and cook one hour and 15 minutes. Yes, leave out the carrots for now. Cover with the lid and cook by pressing the meat button for one hour. Cool for 10 minutes and open according the manufactures directions for letting the steam escape. CAUTION!!! Steam burns hurt and can be a serious injury. Follow the directions! I use a kitchen towel to cover the vent and oven mitt to open the steam valve!

Once the steam has escaped completely and the little pressure gizmo has fallen down carefully open the lid. I cannot reiterate this enough: Be carful of the steam!

Now add the carrots to the top and make sure they’re in the sauce/juice.

Close her back up and cook one more hour.

Cool and repeat the opening process from before. You can let the meat rest and cool off in the pot while you make the mashed potato recipe found on another page!

 If you want, gravy here is a quick recipe for that:


3 cups of dripping’s (Dripping are the Juices and fats that the meat cook in)

¼ cup water

3 tbsp. flour (one tbsp. per cup of drippings)

Remove the meat and then the vegetables from drippings by pouring through strainer or colander. Cover everything with foil to keep it warm. Return the drippings and the pan to stove over medium. 

In a measuring cup whisk together ¼ cup of water and flour.  Slowly add flour water to meat drippings while continually stirring and heat until thickened.

Serve immediately.

You can also make a flour and butter roué and the meat drippings to that but it’s harder. Maybe next time try that and see what you like better!

Try it and let me know if you have any issues that I need to fix before I print out my first addition of the Recipe Book!

I will post the Mashed Potato Recipe next!

I don’t know how pretty it looks but It tastes better then it photographs.

May 3, 2021

The Drunken Chef

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

The One – Sushi Restaurant Review

My mother loved to read the newspaper every day while drinking her tea in the morning. She drank coffee once in a blue moon. She loved the Sunday paper, because inside was the restaurant review section. We did not eat out at restaurants much as kids or even as adults when we all lived at home. A restaurant was left to only enjoy on special occasions like your birthday. It wasn’t until we were all older and working when we stated to take her out on Mother’s Day. Other than that she cooked for us every day. Sometimes she even made separate meals between my sister, brother or I getting home at different times. My sister was not a big fan of spaggetti either. Sherry (my sister) certainly didn’t like it as much as my brother and I did. So my sister sometimes ate something like a meatball hero parmigiana or piece of the pork cooked in the sauce on garlic bread. I think it’s my mother who gave me my love for food and going to nice restaurants so I would like to dedicate this section to her. Since she had grand children that she loved, and so let’s call it “Grams’ Restaurant Review (short for grandma), in her honor.

As to the first selection of a restaurant it was just bad timing that we choose a restaurant that I’m sure my mother is turning over in her grave at. I’m using as the first  restaurant a sushi joint. I know exactly what she would say too. “Couldn’t you have chosen a nice sea food place?” My mother was never one to say a bad thing about anyone or anything unless it really got her upset. “Sushi? Really? You should find a nice place that has lobster tails. Preferably the big 16 ounce size or king crab legs.”

Nope, it was Friday night and everyone wanted sushi and wine. Mmm wine.  I think, it was Jennifer that chose the actual restaurant as it was closer then one of our usual sushi places in Merrick. Closer, in this case, does mean better. When your stuffed and drunk, a long ride just puts your to sleep afterwards. This was the restaurant that was chosen: The One Sushi & Asian Bistro, Located at 330 Merrick Road, Amityville, NY 11701. My good friend Scott made the reservations for the six of us at 6pm. Six at Six!

Driving up we were very lucky. Not only to find one spot open but two in a very tiny parking lot right out front. There is parking in the back, but it can just feel like such a long walk on my old and tired legs. Closer, in this situation as well, is better.

In attendance was Sam, Alyssa, Scott, Allison, Jennifer and myself. The place inside was clean and it was certainly not over-crowded with people, which was nice. We had a lovely young woman waiting on us who was very polite and friendly. Scott, who has excellent taste, ordered our first bottle of wine.  The waitress came back to the table with 5 frosty chilled glasses and a wonderful blue bottle. Yes, it was a white wine, specifically a Riesling from Germany, called Blufeld. Our server poured a glass for everyone but Jennifer who was one of the designated drivers and Alyssa who only had half a glass to taste it because she was also driving. The rest of the icy cold bottle was ours to enjoy. I thought we would each get two glasses but alas you do not get many serving from one tiny bottle of wine. I wonder if they make this stuff in magnums? I then tasted the wine and it was delicious all on its own.

Next, we placed our sushi order. Scott, who loves to pair food with wine, asked if we wanted him to order for us. Now when it comes to food or wine Scott has never let us down in choosing the things we feast upon. When it comes to the perfect pairing of food and wine we are never disappointed. Both Jennifer and I truly appreciate Scott’s recommendations as neither of us can make up our own minds in regard to what we both want off a menu. In the past we always ordered two different meals, or several appetizers and shared them. There’s so many choices and so little time or room in our stomachs. That’s why we minimize portion, to maximize flavor.

I think over the years of going out with Scott, Alison, and Alyssa, to eat everywhere from New York to Florida (I love Disney restaurants) we have eaten some of the best meals in our lives. Scott has a wealth of knowledge about wine as well and pairs it all up perfectly with the food. I guess that why he is a member of the Sommelier Guild.

So if the food was going to be suck-ish at least I knew the company was going to be amazing. We started with three orders of rock shrimp (Rock Shrimp is a delectable tempura battered shrimp, coated in a spicy and creamy egg-based sauce). Oh yeah, do you have any idea how annoying it is when one of your friends decides to do a restaurant review that night and now has to take pictures of everything? They were all amazing about it and even offered to help me. So thanks to them we have these great pictures of the plates of food. Despite the fact that I could see a vein popping out of my son’s neck when I stood up in the nice restaurant to achieve photographic mediocrity, he was a champ and took a few photos for me.

Frist was the rock shrimp, like I said. This was one of the best rock shrimp dishes I’ve ever had and Allison thinks it was the best rock shrimp we have had so far. It had a bit of a kick of spiciness to it that paired perfectly with the semi-sweet Riesling. Thanks to Scotts recommendation!

It was time for our second bottle of icy cold wine. It was the same as the first.

Next was the Lover Roll – I love this roll and have eaten it in a few restaurants before. I think back on the first time I tried this roll it was the best Love Roll I have ever eaten but doesn’t always seem to be that way with everything. The first time you always seem to remember as the best but it probably really wasn’t!

Next was the Loster Lover roll (No kidding! That’s exactly how it appears on the menu!) (LOL who influenced that Lobster choice I wonder?) It had lobster in it so what could be bad about that. Nothing, as it turned out, it was quite good. Plus, it had black caviar on top!

The Angry Dragon roll – This too was delicious. Like many of H.P. Lovecraft’s monster’s it was too insane for words. in the words of my son, “Simply divine”.

Lastly was a roll with two kinds of tuna. Spicy tuna and tuna right on top and rolled with purple rice! I didn’t think it looked great because it was so purple but it too was delicious.

Then we ordered one more botte of wine for our last three dishes. However maybe we should have changed it up because it came out room temperature. I don’t remember the waitress saying anything either like “I have no more cold Blufeld wine. Perhaps you would like something different.” Maybe she just thought we were all to drunk to notice, but we did.  We certainly would have let it sit in the ice bucket before drinking it!

Scott ordered our next three dishes. Tuna sashimi, a salmon ceviche topped with tomato and jalapeno and a tuna round with a beautiful salad on top. I’m guessing Jennifer and Alison ate the salad because I know I didn’t. Not with all that sushi I was worried about eating it all but we managed to finish every piece! They were all fantastic too! Where did they lose ½ a star? The warm wine of course! It was only half too because the first two bottles were perfectly chilled and the frosted glasses were a nice touch!

All in all it was a good time and good time was had by all. Especially since, it was all topped off with ice cream Sundays that were purchased at the Carvel in West Islip. Paul always does an amazing job and this was no exception. I’m sure you will be hearing more about Paul in this blog and his ice cream all throughout the year to come. Thank you Paul and the Scouts thank you too!

So go if you have the chance, be adventurous and eat sushi and/or sashimi and enjoy yourselves! I think of all sushi as just the vehicle to enjoy soy sauce and wasabi!

Stay healthy, be happy and enjoy everything you eat and drink!

The Drunken Chef

Chilled Glasses
The Perfect Wine
Rock Shrimp – the first course. Then more wine.
Second course with more wine
Still Second course
Third course – third bottle of wine
Last dish

Lesson one: Breakfast – Pancakes

This is the Scouting Cooking merit badge. Given to scouts starting at the age of 11 years old who can master cooking for a small group their own age. Surly, if a young man or woman at the age of 11 can conquer this task in the adverse conditions in the great doors using only charcoal and a camp stove, you can do it in the comfort of your own house in a nice warm kitchen with pots pans with hot and cold running water.

            This book will explain the basics and is the companion book to “The Recipe Book” as well as future videos from “Teaching a human to cook” series. Explaining anything to a man is never easy. We have the attention span of a GNAT and if I can do it while drinking you can do it easy. Cooking doesn’t take much thinking; you just have to be paying a little bit of attention so things don’t burn. Here you will be shown the skills need to cook. Then it is up to you to take your time, practice, drink and enjoy cooking. I usually drink while I cook and cook to relax or is it drink to relax and cook to eat. Either way this should be fun. The exception of course would be if ANY scouts were involved. Then drinking anything but water or coffee is strictly prohibited. So lets begin.

            Lesson one: Pancakes. This is as simple as it gets. Start by preheating your largest non-stick pan or grill. I own a Coleman heavy duty cast aluminum nonstick camping gill. It covers two burners on my stovetop and is made to last.  I can make up to eight pancakes at once on this baby. Next comes preparing the batter. TODAY – you can buy pancake mix that is already “complete”. Just add water and there it’s done. Well I lied, there is a little cooking involved. So you will need a pan or grill, a spatula, and a spoon or ladle. You want to start off easy don’t you and work your way up. Then BOOM….here you go. Yeah, I know, its “bam!” but that belongs to someone else. Just follow the directions on the box. Step one: Add a cup of water. “Crap now we need a coffee cup”? NO! You don’t use a coffee cup to measure liquids in the twenty first century. You use a measuring cup. “Didn’t you watch the video”? Anyhow, measure the liquid (in this case water) carefully and add it to dry mix in a LARGE bowl or extra large measuring cup and stir it in. Yes, with a fork.

            During and up the early 1800’s cooking was an art that took a lifetime to learn and all day to prepare. One of the things that made cooking so hard was there were NO measuring cups or measuring spoons! Could you imagine getting a recipe and have to guess the size of the cup or that everyone’s teaspoons were a different sizes as well as their cups! It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century when the Cooking School of Boston and Fanny Farmer wrote out recipes the included even measurements. This was the first time in American cooking that graduated measuring cups and spoons were used to make using a recipe the same for anyone who could get the equipment. Remember too she was cooking with wood and coal. 

            Ok, back to our recipe and cooking in the twenty first century. Can you tell me what’s happening? “Yes, yes (eye roll) your cooking very funny”. What’s happening in the bowl? The water is being absorbed by the flour and there is also a leavening agent in there to make the pancakes light and fluffy called baking powder. That’s why those little bubbles are forming. It is actually double acting baking powder. That means it bubbles once because of the chemical reaction with the acid of buttermilk or cream of tartar and the base of baking soda. Then the second reaction occurs when you add heat or pour the batter onto the pan. “POOF” – it forms even more bubbles and rises on the grill.

            {Trivia note} Cream of tartar has been around for centuries as it is formed naturally on wine casks and wine corks.   Cream of tartar also known as Potassium bitartrate, also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, with formula KC4H5O6, is a byproduct of winemaking.  

            WAIT. Let the batter sit on the grill and as much as you want to touch it… it, now as the edges just begin to harden and see bubbles in the center- Flip it. “YES! with a Spatula or as we called it in my house growing up a Pan Cake Turner! It should be anywhere from golden brown to deep a rich brown. See, remember this is where the paying attention part comes in. I hope you have not had too many Mimosas or Bloody Mary’s yet. 

            So, how do they look? Too fat you say? You can add a few tablespoon more water and thin out the batter or are they too thin? Add more mix…..SLOWLY! Cooking is half science and half well a crap shoot!!

You just cooked you first meal! BREAKFAST IS SERVED!!! Don’t forget the butter, the maple syrup and your mimosa (Or my wife’s preferred Bellini).

            Next we can get fancy and add eggs, sausage, bacon and fresh squeezed OJ. Nah I’ll just stick with the Mimosa. You can also try the pancakes from scratch recipe or many variations and practice your new cooking skills.

            How about waffles next! It is basically the same concept but now you need a specialized piece of equipment called a waffle iron. NO, it won’t work on your clothes.  It’s not likely you cant make these on your next camping trip either.  This process is just a little bit more messier and harder to clean up so of course I don’t make them often, mainly I keep waffles for snow days or really lazy Sundays.   For this you need to buy the ORIGNAL pancake mix and mix up the waffle version is on the back or try using my favorite, Bisquick.

2 cups Bisquick

1 1/3 c milk

1 tablespoon oil

1 egg

Now your cooking! Why is there no baking soda or baking powder? Because its in the Bisquick already!

            Preheat the waffle Iron. Mix together the batter. Grease the waffle iron with vegetable oil or shorting. I use the spray stuff.

This is just the beginning, The more you learn about leavening agents, flour and water, sugar and fat and hot they interact. What happens when you apply heat. What effects yeast have on dough you become more and more a BAKER! Whoa slow down we are not ready yet for homemade bread but it’s coming along with pizza dough, cakes, pies, rolls pastries and COOKIES!

We have to learn to walk before we can run…..right now at least where moving….crawling but on our way. Pancakes, file it under your first real recipe.

Keep cooking pancakes until our next lesson… Will it be breakfast, then dessert or lunch? Maybe Mimosas… hmmm.


I know what your thinking. This is not much of a recipe but hey if you have never made them it takes practice to make then right and if you have made them do you remember how hard it was to flip them that first time? This is all abut learning how to control your heat and timing. If you really want to learn how to make pancakes for the first time. Visit the “How To Cook” page for the fully detailed article that accompanies this recipe.

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Any Brand of Complete Pancake Mix


Chocolate chips (optional)

Banana (optional)

Whip cream (optional)


Preheat Grill (I have a heavy duty Coleman grill that I use on my gas stove that works perfect).

Mix the batter according to the package directions. I use a 4 cup glass or pyrex measuring cup to mix the batter in. This makes pouring the batter much easier. (My mother had a very old 4-cup plastic measuring cup she used for pancakes and waffles. She would pour the batter from a mixing bowl into the measuring cup). I add about an 1/8 of a cup of milk to the batter to make it a little thinner. Heat grill while letting batter sit. When the grill is hot, stir batter one more time and pour onto the grill. I never use oil or butter because this is a non-stick grill.

Once the pancakes are on the grill then sprinkle the chocolate chips into the pancakes if desired. Flip when edges begin to cook and bottom in golden brown.

Add whip cream and Slices Banana or serve with maple syrup.

I never make them from scratch anymore. I use the pancake mix from a box and the “complete mix” so all you need is water and boom breakfast.  I do however use a little milk with this mix. I also like mine with eggs over easy and bacon or sausage.

NOTES My mother only made these on vacation days, snow days or holidays. This was also the first recipe I ever learned to make (so I could eat them more often).  The only breakfast we liked better than this was my mother’s waffles (made with an old GE waffle iron) and they were even harder to get her to make because they were more work. The waffle iron was always the hardest thing to clean.