This is one of those old timey’ recipes that I remember from my childhood. My mother used to make this once a year in the summer. I grew up in a suburb of New York where we were very close to Queens. The plots of land were small 45 by 75 feet. We had very little room in our back yard for a garden but we did grow fresh string beans and tomatoes every year. A small backyard was nice as a teenager because there was not a lot of grass to mow. One of the first things my brother did when we all got older was hire a lawn service. Thank you for that!

Since we didn’t grow are own cucumbers in our tiny backyard I suspect my mother purchased them at the local farm stand. Back then there were still a few small family owned farms on Long Island that existed close to the city. There you could get the BEST corn on the cob and fresh cucumbers. They are all gone now and if you want that kind of fresh produce you have to travel much farther east on Long Island then I am. It really is a shame. Mega-store produce is just not as tasty as the farm fresh stuff.

So that brings me to todays recipe. A coworkers of mine does have garden and he grows his own cucumbers. Wednesday he brought with him four cucumber to share. I asked if he minded if I made cucumber salad with two of them for our entire office. He sounded enthusiastic at the idea. So I brought in some ingredients from home to make cucumber salad.


2 of Rich’s cucumbers

3 or 4 thin slices of Spanish or Vidalia onion cut in half and sliced thin

1 cup vinegar

1 cup filtered water

2 tablespoons sugar

1½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

¼ teaspoon dill (optional)


At home I poured all the liquid ingredients into a plastic Tupperware bowl. Then I added all the spices list above and brought that with me to work. I left out the dill because I was out of it. I will pick up more today at the market by my office. Once at work I began by peeling the cucumbers. Turns out, I had a crappy peeler in my knife bag and it took forever. I need to replace that. Then using a chefs knife and plastic cutting board I sliced the cucumber into pretty thin circles. I may bring in my mandolin next time to make the slicing easier. Then I peeled and sliced an onion into half moon shapes. I added both of these items to my brine like substance I made at home. I put on the lid and stuck it in the refrigerator to marinate over night.

I will be serving it today with lunch and let you all know how it turns out. The next batch I will make any corrections I need to my ingredient list and add the dill. There are two more cucumbers after all.

That’s all for today. I will see you all on Monday unless the urge strikes me to Barbeque this weekend and post it live in INSTAGRAM. Hmmm Maybe my famous drunken chicken? We will have to see.

Until then be well. Be happy, enjoy life and if you cant be good be careful!


Last night was chicken enchilada night with rice and black beans. I stopped at the local market on the way home for some fresh ingredients. Obviously, I needed chicken cutlets. I purchased large flour tortilla wrappers as well. Don’t even try and give me any shit about not making my own. I needed rice too, so one box of Goya Spanish style rice with seasoning, yum. Lastly, I added one can of Goya Black beans to the cart. I had onion, garlic, and OH wait I almost forgot, the sauce. Instead of my usual red enchilada sauce, I opted for the green chili sauce.

At home, I gathered all my cooking utensils and implements of destruction.

Here you can see, in a previous version on my enchilada in red sauce, my individual serving dishes.


Individual Baking dishes/pans


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 – 2 cans enchilada sauce

½ lb. cheddar cheese (grated)

½ lb. Monterey Jack Cheese (grated)

2 tablespoons Salsa

2 tablespoons of olive oil



Onion powder

Chili powder

Garlic powder

Salt and Pepper


Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan and warm it up. Cut the chicken into large bite size pieces as the chicken will shrink as it cooks. Add seasoning to the chicken. You can also use Taco seasoning. Fry on med-low. I find if you cook the chicken on high it gets tough. Cook the chicken until is is no longer pink. In the meantime, make yourself some black beans and Spanish rice.

Once the chicken is done, break out the tortillas. Lay the tortilla flat. Place some cheese in the center like shown.

Then add chicken. You could at this point add rice and black beans, but I chose to serve those on the side. The choice is yours.

Now, let’s roll this Burrito bad boy. Fold over the right and left sides so they are just covering the chicken. Then fold up the bottom so it completely covers the chicken. Now roll the rest of the way. Place in your individual baking dish that you have added enchilada sauce too. This time, I used green chili sauce. Many times in the past I have used the red. Then cover with grated cheddar cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, Cholula sauce, and lots of cold beers!

Enjoy this. Enjoy life and be well!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

#personalchef #thekitchen


Happy hump day! It is time for a visit to wine country. Today, I am going recommend the wine we had with dinner at the Basil Café. We had a Pinot Grigio white wine. Ken and Bebe had brought this same wine with them on Saturday to dinner. I have had this particular wine MANY moons ago at their home.

Try this wine. I don’t think you will regret it, if you like Pinot Grigio

As with any of the white wines I drink, I like my Pinot Grigio ice cold. A friend suggested I use an ice bucket of half water and half ice. This seems to work very nicely. I find too many places try to use all ice and then can never get the bottle all the way back in the bucket.

This particular Pinot Grigio tastes nicely on its own but I rarely find myself drinking just wine without eating anything. Since white wines are usually enjoyed at the beginning of the meal, appetizers would be best to pair with it.

I have several ideas in mind for summer appetizers and wine. The first that comes to mind is my Caprese salad recipe. Then, there is a fresh asparagus wrap in Prosciutto, since I have prosciutto left from last night. I also like Hormel Genoa Salami wrapped around some nice mozzarella cheese or Bruschetta on garlic crostini. If you want posh, try making Oysters on the half shell with cocktail sauce or fried oysters with a remoulade dipping sauce. Then there is more casual Avocado….well with anything.

I’m getting hungry. I need company and to get to cooking. Let me know what you make, or if you’re living vicariously through me, I want the oysters, clams, or shrimp! I think this will be a seafood weekend. I will see food and eat it!

Until tomorrow, be well, eat well, and cook fresh!


Yesterday was not what I would call a fun day. I raced home from work to find Jennifer in excruciating pain. Luckily, she had an appointment with the pain management doctor already scheduled. Let me tell you, it is not easy to watch someone in so much pain when all you can do is rub their back not knowing if it will ever get better. She did get yet another shot in her spinal cord. I can only hope these start to help. The last one reduced the pain by half but not all the way, and returned a few days later. Right after her doctor visit, we came home and I needed to make something for dinner. Sam offered to run out to the store so I gave him a list of ingredients for Penne Ala Vodka to pick up.

Surprisingly or not so strikingly depending how you look at it, I had Vodka on hand, so I only needed him to pick up a few ingredients: Pancetta, heavy cream, tomato sauce, and of course Penne Pasta. I have butter, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese on hand.

Sam returned with a bag full of groceries. There was the pasta, it was Ronzoni which is what I grew up on. Then there was the heavy cream. He also got apples for himself. In the freezer, he put Heath flavored Klondike ice cream bars as a surprise for Jennifer. Then I reached into the bag and when I pulled out the pancetta, it was not pancetta at all. Sam said I had asked for Prosciutto instead of Pancetta. Anything is possible I guess. Now is when you have to ask yourself. DO I go BACK to the store and get what I want or do I make do with what I have? Besides what’s the difference between Prosciutto and Pancetta besides the enormous cost? Well for one they come from opposite ends of the hog. Second, Prosciutto is cured and meant to be eaten raw. Pancetta is not cured and must be cooked before its eaten. The taste however, well, the difference is debatable. The real question is will Jennifer, Sam, or my mother in-law care? Certainly not my mother in-law.

Needless to say I said “what the fuckin hell” (to myself) and decided to use said expensive cured meat in my Ala Vodka Sauce and opened a beer.

Here is a brief synopsis of how I made dinner last night. I also live streamed it on INSTAGRAM if you were watching.

Once the water was at a rapid boil, I added the pasta to it and set the timer ticking. A few minutes before the pasta was al dente, I added the heavy cream and parmesan cheese to the sauce.

I drained the pastas and poured it into the sauce and coated it the pasta evenly. I served it with a small salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

HERE is the Official recipe below.


1 pkg penne or ziti rigati or rigatoni

4 tablespoons butter

½ pound pancetta bacon

2/3 cup vodka

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 28 oz. can tomato sauce

1 28 oz. can crushed

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic minced

½ small onion minced

1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

1 tbsp. Fresh parsley (chopped fine)


Boil a large pot of water with salt added for the pasta.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in ½ pound pancetta bacon and cook while continue to stir occasionally until brown. Add garlic and onion continue to cook until onion is translucent being careful not to brown the garlic (fried brown garlic is bitter unlike roasted garlic). 

Add vodka and stir until it is reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.

Remove the sauce from heat and stir in the cheese, parsley and crushed red pepper. Toss sauce with pasta to coat evenly and serve.

NOTES: serve with garlic bread. Double recipe and serve in buffet tray for comany.

So that was my day. At least penne must have been good everyone went back for seconds and there were no leftovers. HUH, no leftovers, its been a long time since that had happened. Jennifer is resting this morning and I’m am off to the old grist mill. I wonder if that’s where they get “back to the old grind” from?

Have fun today and stay healthy!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)


I was wined and dined at the Basil Cafe in Saint James, New York yesterday by our good friends Ken, Bebe, and Will. This is a Persian and Mediterranean Restaurant. The restaurant is owned by a husband and wife.

From the the small exterior, you would never expect such capacious space for seating with their newly built outdoor patio just behind the restaurant.

This is a BYOB restaurant, so if you want wine, bring it; they even encourage it here. Jennifer, Sam, and I met Bebe, Ken, and Will here after Bebe had been raving about this place for well over a year or more. They were very excited to have us join them and share in their favorite North Shore restaurant.

The three of them were already seated and had not one but two bottles of Menage a Trois wine chilling in a ice bucket next to them. It is a terrific wine at about $10 a bottle. This is a Pinot Grigio that is very nice to drink on its own. I nonetheless was hungry and looking forward to dinner here.

I had this wine for the first time last night and it is very good.

Before we even ordered, the dish below was brought to our table.

This flat bread dish was a pesto, cheese and tomatoes combination that was delicious.

I don’t even think anyone even looked at the menus when the waitress was there asking if we wanted an appetizer. Having listened to Ken and Bebe’s tales of their culinary adventures here, we all knew, aside from Jennifer, what we were having to eat last night. Bebe’s favorite appetizer is the Hummus served with a lightly seasoned flat bread, carrot sticks, and celery, so we started with that. As usual, everyone loved it but me. I found that there was a bit too much Tahini in it for my taste, as I do not like the extra peanuttyness (my own word) that everyone else did. They however liked it so much I would recommend trying it. It did go excellent with the wine. We were so busy talking we didn’t even finish it, so Bebe had it wrapped up for us to take home.

,This is the hummus appetizer. Sorry, I didn’t notice Ken’s fingers before, as he reached for his wine glass.

Before the appetizer pictured above was gone, our waitress had returned; she was a lovely and affable woman, and came to take our dinner order. Bebe, Sam, and Will all ordered the Rack of Lamb and Basmati rice (non Jeweled). Ken and I both ordered the Lamb shank. They don’t always have this, so it is a true treat when they do. This also comes with a large portion of saffron rice, and we also did not get it “jeweled”. If I remember correctly, and I probably don’t, jeweled rice is where the chef adds sautéed onions and peppers to the top. I will try this next time. For now, I wanted to taste it the way Ken and Bebe enjoy it. Jen ordered the strip steak.

When our meals came to the table, they looked beautiful.

These dishes were ALL as good as they looked. I do not get to eat lamb as often as I would like, and this lived up to everything Ken had boasted about in previous conversations. It is probably no surprise I am constantly talking about food with family and friends, or to complete strangers for that matter. I had also tasted Sam’s rack of lamb and would certainly not have been disappointed if I had gone with that as an alternative. Jennifer offered me a piece of her steak but I declined, as I had enough on my plate already (pun intended).

Ken did not finish his lamb shank and carefully added it on top of his remaining rice with the perfectly cooked roasted broccoli on top. We both even ordered that same side dish. I could not help my gluttonous self and managed to finish the entire lamb shank but could not fit in all the rice and broccoli, as Bebe was insisting I must try the dessert.

The waitress wrapped up Jennifer’s half steak and Ken’s Lamb shank. Sam, Will, and Bebe all finished their rack of lamb entrées. Once the table was cleared, the waitress she took our dessert orders. Bebe ordered rice pudding, even though it was not on the menu. What was on the menu was a Poached Pear on rice pudding with a Chambord Liqueur reduction drizzled over the top. Sam ordered the bread pudding.

This was the most decadent and delicious thing I have eaten in months. It was not only exquisite to look at, but it tasted superb. If this is one of the chef’s family recipes, I am surprised he is aa svelte as he is. It must be all the hard work and long hours he puts in at this fine dining establishment keeping him so thin. I will certainly be going back with everything being this good. I will also have to try all new dishes next time. I may go with one of those fish specials as that is something I don’t get a chance to cook at home either. I can’t wait to try more of his cooking, and THAT’S a sign of a really really good restaurant. So don’t go there, otherwise I may not get a table. At lease don’t go there when I’m planning on being there, but do please help support this local and wonderfully owned little family operated restaurant. They truly do a magnificent job at making you an old fashioned yet sophisticated family meal you will remember!

When we finally got home, Sam promptly finished the hummus, carrots, and bread before going to bed.

Until next week. Eat well, stay healthy, and OH enjoy life!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)


This is a pizza place review of a place called Mulberry Street in Bayshore.

Last night was New York style pizza night. This meant no cooking for me. I did not even make the toppings this time. We let the pizza place do it all.

I went over Scott and Ally’s for pizza. Scott ordered the pizza from a place called Mulberry Street in Bayshore, NY. There are a lot of “Mulberry Streets” here on Long Island, and they are not all the same. This one makes some fancy pizzas. The first one we had last night was a Lasagna pizza.

There is a piece missing so you can see the nice pizza crust. This is a thick crust pizza.

Above, you can see the lasagna pizza. It is a Sicilian style pizza with ricotta cheese, ground beef, mozzarella cheese, and sauce. Everyone loved this pizza. Sam ate two slices of this where I could only eat one. Jennifer had a slice of the traditional round plain New York Style pizza. Some people call this a Margherita Pizza. The third and final pizza was the meat lovers. This was Scott’s favorite slice. Ally enjoyed it too but she liked the Lasagna pizza better.

I liked the lasagna slice of pizza I ate, but I’m a cheese guy and for me there just was not enough mozzarella cheese. There was plenty of ricotta cheese but I like mozzarella cheese. To me, the reason to eat pizza is for the mozzarella cheese. I mean, salad pizza, really? Give me side salad and a nice slice of Italian bread, but don’t put salad on my pizza. I am a mozzarella cheese guy all the way. If I had my way, and I don’t usually get my way, I would order a plain pie with EXTRA cheese. This is how we ordered all our pizzas when I was a kid. When I got older, I cut down on the cheese and added different toppings.

My favorite pizza is what I call the garbage pie. Sam calls it a supreme style pizza. It is a Margarita Pizza with a traditional super thin crust, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, Italian sweet sausage, meatballs, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and black olives. I can usually only eat one slice of this overly indulgent work of artistry, even when it is done correctly.

That was dinner last night. I hope to be cooking something good tonight. Until next time, I hope all your pizzas are good ones and they arrive on time, unscathed and fresh from the oven!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)



Guacamole is a staple at my house. We use so much of it I often buy it premade. There are rare occasions when I have ripe avocados that I need to use up, so I use them in this recipe.


2 avocados

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon dry or fresh Cilantro

1 to 2 tablespoons Salsa

1 clove garlic Minced

1/2 a small Onion, minced fine

1 tablespoon Recaito (optional)

A few drops of Cholula (optional for heat)

Avocado freed from its encasement and pit

Cut the avocado in half. Twist apart. Scoop out meat from its shell using a tablespoon. Remove the pit from the other half, scoop out second half. Place avocado in bowl or mortar and pestle. Add all your ingredients that you want on top of the avocado, and mash using a knife and fork at first, and then the back spoon, unless your crazy like me and own a food grade mortar and pestle.

Serve with chips or just about anything else!


The Drunken Chef (Russ)



Last night before I left work, I received an alert from the local electric company informing me of a thunderstorm warning with high winds expected. They also said their crews would be standing by. This meant I would not be out at the grill barbequing dinner. I needed something new, something I have not cooked in a while, but also blog worthy. BEEF EMPANADAS sounded like the perfect solution. I stopped at the local grocery store and picked up what I needed.

My shopping list and ingredients included: 2 eggs beaten (I had eggs at home), 1 pound of chop meat, 1 cup beef broth (I had Better than Bullion on hand too), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons Cholula sauce, 2 onions (diced fine), 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (I own a tube of this), 4 cloves of garlic (I always have garlic), 1/2 teaspoon oregano (yup), 2 teaspoons cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cloves (I had to buy this and this shit is expensive), 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons sugar, and shredded Monterey Jack Cheese. Lastly, in the frozen food aisle was Goya Empanada premade circles of puffed pastry. See below.

These come frozen and I let them sit in room temp water to defrost

Now, you could always make your own dough.


3 3/4 cups (18 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour 

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and frozen for 10 minutes

1 1/4 cups ice water

To make the dough: Add the flour, sugar, and salt to your food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. It’s not dough yet. Dump the contents of the food processor into a large bowl. Gradually add ice water (about 1/4 cup at a time up to one cup), and use a wooden spoon to work it into the dry. Continue until the dough comes together. You may not need all of the water, or, you may need slightly more. It depends on the flour and weather that day, more specifically the humidity. Turn the dough onto your work surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. The flour needs time for its gluten to do its thing.

Preheat oven to 425 F .

Yes that’s 7:00PM and I am still cooking and HUNGRY

NOW for the filling. To make the filling: Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Give it a stir occasionally, until the onion softens in about 3 minutes. Now, I added the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves and cayenne pepper. Then, heat that all up, stirring just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the ground beef, using a wooden spoon to break it up. Brown the meat—this will take about 5 minutes. Add the beef broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Add the beef broth and simmer. I used water and Better then Bouillon. I love that shit!

Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue simmering until most of the liquid has cooked off. The meat should be moist but not wet, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat under the pan and mix in the sugar, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the filling to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cool.

Moist Beef. Let cool. I put mine in a glass Pyrex bowl and popped it in the FREEZER. I was in a rush to eat.

To assemble the empanadas: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If working with fresh dough, work with one ball of the dough at a time, place it on a lightly floured work surface and roll into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out as many circles of dough as you can. Place them to the side on the baking sheet with parchment paper. Repeat with the second ball of dough, placing those circles on a second baking sheet.

I used the premade ones, which saved me an enormous amount of time.

Assemble: Use a spoon and dip it in a small bowl egg wash (two eggs beaten until pale yellow) and moisten the edges of the dough. Place 1 large rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle of dough. Sprinkle with cheese. Now fold the dough over into a half-moon shape so the edges meet. Press them together with your fingers to seal, then use a fork to crimp them shut tight. (TIP: dip the fork in egg wash if it’s sticking to the dough). Transfer stuffed empanada back to the parchment-lined baking sheet. I used a butter knife to carefully scrape the empanada off the counter. You could also use an icing spatula the same way. Continue this process until you’ve filled and sealed all your disks.

Now let’s bake them immediately. In a preheated oven to 425 F with racks in the upper and lower third, brush the empanadas with the egg wash, then bake for about 20 minutes (rotating the baking sheets halfway through), or until the empanadas are golden brown.

While those were cooking, I made a salad and some guacamole.

Serve with this. Although I forgot to get Modelo Beer. That would have been BETTER still.

Enjoy this recipe now, or save it for May 5th. More importantly, enjoy your family, friends, and LIFE.

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

CC’s cafe— manhattan, lower east side review

Last week, I had an adventure of my own in the city, also to see the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit at Pier 36. It was fantastic. I highly recommend going if you haven’t already. The exhibit was organized and beautifully put together. 

Once we were ready to leave, we began exploring lunch options. I initially had found a diner nearby, but once we walked all the way there, there was a sign saying they were closed due to a small fire that occurred last week. Very disappointing, especially on such a hot day when walking 5 minutes is enough to be exhausting. Thankfully, we found CC’s café close by and were able to eat there. 

The cafe was tiny, but decorated tastefully with art on the wall, unique ambient lighting fixtures, and some plants scattered around. We sat down right away, and were promptly given water and menus by the waiter. He gave us a few minutes to look at the menu, and then we were ready to order. I ordered a make-your-own-salad with spinach, cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, chickpeas, goat cheese, grilled chicken, and honey mustard. My dad ordered a tuna sandwich with potato salad, and my cousin ordered quesadillas. Everyone enjoyed their meal, and it was portioned well enough so that we didn’t have leftovers. The café was affordably priced too.

Each table was only able to fit two to four people, but there was one slightly bigger table that could seat about six people. The tables were spaced nicely, and there was counter and window seating too. It was evident that this café was a fixture in the community. There were a few other people there, talking to the owner or working on their computer, but it was overall a quiet environment, with the hum of the television on in the background, the city sounds, people chatting, and a boiling coffee pot. This is a great place to pop into if you’re in the Chinatown area and looking for a quick meal or just a snack. You can check out CC’s Café here.


Good morning. As always, I have the coffee perking. I’m also typing with an ace bandage around my wrist. I don’t know what I did, but it’s killing me this morning. Sharp pain like I fractured one of those tiny little bones in there. I hope it is just a sprain of some kind. Jen did not sleep well either. She was up in the middle of the night as her back is always keeping her up. To make matters worse, the doctors office canceled her appointment yesterday and can’t see her until Monday now. This is not fun. Its been over 8 months now that she has been in severe pain. Enough about our problems. Let talk food.

Last night I made baked ravioli. This was one of my favorite dishes growing up as a kid. My mother always made her sauce from scratch and once in a while she would venture over to the Italian Pasta Store Pastosa and buy fresh ravioli. I did not go there myself this time, but in hind sight I should have. I still can’t believe after all these years they are still in business.

You know how to make sauce. You know how to make garlic bread and now I hope you enjoyed this little picture demo and know how to make Baked ravioli. If you need a vegetable, try a salad of zucchini.

Enjoy cooking…Enjoy Life and be well!