Category Archives: Recipe

Pasta, Pink Sauce and Garlic Bread

May 12, 2021

            The dishes are done. Lunch is made (for Jennifer) and the coffee is percolating, so it won’t be long until I feel more awake.

            I cooked last night. I know, I can’t believe it either but I did. Well, I sort of cooked. The sauce was leftover homemade meat sauce that I froze a month or so ago. The pasta I choose was De Cecco Shells. I had purchased them on sale after a coworker had recommended De Cecco pasta. Thanks Pete, they were delicious and I will be buying more De Cecco pasta the next time I see it on sale!

            I put up a big pot of water to boil. I added salt and a bit of olive oil. My mom always added oil to the pot of water. She said it kept the pasta from sticking. I don’t know about that but its tradition.  My wife would not want her haunting us just because I didn’t put oil in the pasta water, I’m sure.  Personally, I wouldn’t mind a visit once every blue moon.

            I defrosted the sauce in the microwave. Yes, I own one! Sheesh, I don’t make everything from scratch. Jennifer uses it to reheat pizza in, although not for breakfast. For breakfast, my wife will just eat the pizza cold. Ew! I still have to heat the pizza stone up for that, but I digress.

            I added the quart of now defrosted sauce (see how fast that microwave is) to a medium size pot. Next, I heated it up on medium high and stirred it so I didn’t burn the bottom.

            By the time the sauce was warm and at a simmer the pasta water was boiling. I did the next logical step, and added the pasta to the WATER and gave it a stir. Then I set the timer. Please don’t overcook your pasta. It gets mushy. Usually the manufacture recommends a three-minute range. I boil it to where it’s right in the middle of that range unless I’m making Ziti but that’s a different recipe.

Let’s get back to that sauce. When it started to bubble, I turned the heat down to low and added the butter. I used 5 tablespoons of butter and as soon as it was melted, I turned off the heat. I grated ½ cup of some fresh parmesan cheese using a cheese grater with medium size holes.

I moved to the garlic bread. I sliced open the loaf using a bread knife cutting the bread long ways and buttered it. The bread was frozen and recently defrosted from French night. (You read about French night, right? It was fun. You should check out that article and let me know what you think.) For speed and efficiency and because the pasta was almost done and I was hungry and I wanted to eat soon so I sprinkled garlic powder onto the buttered French bread. This is my way of quickly and easily making garlic bread. This was not how I was taught to make garlic bread in school but I will do that recipe another time. Remind me, if I forget.  The buttered and garlicky bread then went under the broiler. Keep your eye on it. I have burnt a few loaves of bread in my day. Smoke alarms go off, there are people waving towels in the air. Doors get opened and people are screaming. It’s not pretty.

I look up at the pasta timer. Crap! The pasta is almost done! Quick, back to the sauce, I added the parmesan cheese and stirred. Lastly, I added just enough heavy cream (again left from French night) to make it pinkish as I stirred.

No sooner than I finished stirring, did the timer going off, saying, “Breads done!” I remove it without burning it or myself. Now the pasta timers going off! Luckily, somewhere in there I put my favorite collider in the sink and drained the pasta. I give it a few shakes to get the water out of all the shells and begin to plate it all up. Whew! Dinner is served! If you want, try sprinkling the pasta with some crushed red pepper and topping with more parmesan cheese its yummy. Serve this dish with a nice red wine (specifically a Chianti) or cold Peroni beer. I had neither, as last night was a Scout meeting. See I don’t drink every night.

Normally, I would say “That’s all for today and I’m off to work”, but I took the day off. I need to put together my brand new barbeque grill! I received it as a gift for my birthday/anniversary/father’s day. I’m excited to start grilling and barbequing and mansplaining the difference with a beer in one hand and maybe a cigar in the other!

See you tomorrow and until then: Be safe, be happy and EAT WELL!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

May 12, 2021

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

Black Beans and Chicken Burritos

May 11, 2021

            It’s early in the morning and I only have a few minutes to myself so I folded the laundry. Then I made Jennifer lunch (just a boring sandwich) and now the coffee is finally ready. Last night was boring too, in terms of gourmet meals. I was not feeling very inspired for a Monday night.

            I decided on chicken burritos and black beans. Normally I would even have some kind of rice with this dish but lately Jennifer is tired of rice. So I eighty sixed the rice idea.

            I stared by cubing the chicken and sautéing it but I won’t go into all the details this morning as this is a short article written before I leave for work. I pretty sure, I have made chicken Burritos before for this Drunken Chef cookbook project and don’t need to repeat things.  This post is a simple one, I really to have to going and get to work! Long Island traffic can be… a bit troublesome.

This post is about last night’s side dish of black beans that both Sam and Jennifer love.

BLACK BEANS recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

1 can of black beans

½ yellow onion diced

1 glove garlic minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Rinse and drain the black beans under cold water. I use a medium sized strainer for this step. While the beans are draining (balancing the strainer on the empty can). Chop one onion and mince your garlic using a chefs knife and cutting board. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a small pot with a lid. Don’t put the lid on yet! Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Simmer one minute or until translucent then add the garlic and stir. Please do not let the garlic burn. The beans will then taste gross. Gross; in this case is a technical term meaning disgusting and it is not to be confused with the numerical value of 144. Now add your beans to the pot with onion and garlic then stir. Cover and turn down the heat down to low.

By the time your chicken is cooked, the beans will be ready. Do you remember I started cooking the chicken at the beginning of all this or is your brain as fuzzy as mind at 6:00am?

Now you can add the beans to the burritos just like I did or serve them on the side with Spanish style rice (recipe to come when I have more time). No vegetables again yikes! Unless you count the beans but black beans are really like another protein aren’t they?!

Well yay me as I’m off to sit in traffic on my way to work.

Until next time. Stay healthy, be happy and eat well!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

May 11, 2021

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

Eggs – Soft Boiled

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 7 minutes | Clean up: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

6 Large eggs

2 quarts of water

DIRECTIONS:

Bring water to a rolling boil. Add eggs to boiling water with a slotted spoon. Return to a boil and cook for for 4 to 7 minutes for large eggs (I recommend 7 minutes for a soft cooked large egg directly from the refrigerator). Cook longer for Jumbo size eggs. I also recommend Jumbo eggs. Remove the eggs to a shot glass. Crack the upper half of the shell with the back of a teaspoon and peel it off. Slice off top with a knife. Salt and eat. Serve with buttered toast strips.

Toast strips: Butter warm toast and cut into one inch strip for dunking into the eggs yoke.

NOTES:

This was something I ate as light meal for when I had an upset stomach or when recovering from the stomach flu. 

Eggs – Hard Boiled

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Clean up: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

6 Large eggs

2 quarts tap water

1 quart Ice Water

DIRECTIONS:

Bring water to a full boil in a large pot. Add eggs to boiling water slowly one at a time with a slotted spoon. Return to a boil and cook for 12 to 15 minutes gently boiling. For larger eggs a longer cooking time is required, (15 to 18 minutes) for Jumbo size eggs. Remove the eggs to a bowl filed with ice water and place in refrigerator (for best results overnight). 

KITCHEN TIP: Peeling Hard-Cooked Eggs

To ensure that the shell of a hard-cooked egg peels off without leaving chips or gouges, use this technique. Before cooking, prick a tiny air hole in the wider end of each egg with a tack or push pin. Remove the eggs from the hot water with a slotted spoon and plunge them into ice water. When chilled thoroughly, the shells should peel right off.

Green Yolks The occasional green-gray discoloration on the surface of hard-cooked yolk is a harmless compound of iron and sulfur. High temperatures and prolonged cooking time produce more of a discoloration. Yolk greening can be minimized by using fresh eggs, by cooking them as briefly as possible, and by cooling them rapidly after cooking. The green also looks bad if you use them to make Deviled Eggs (recipe to be posted in the future).

NOTES:

When making the entire dozen eggs, let eggs stand out and come to room temperature before cooking for best results.

This was my mother’s favorite item to have when we went out on my brothers boat. A hardboiled egg along with her beer. Yum.

Electric egg cookers use steam and that is the best method of making hard boiled eggs if you need to own another small appliance this is a good one. Especially if you like to make deviled eggs!

 

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!

INGREDIENTS

5 lbs. of Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes

1 stick of Butter

½ cup half and half

¼ cup whole milk

Salt

White pepper

5 Cloves of roasted garlic (optional)

DIRECTIONS

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:

COOKING UTENSILS NEEDED

Instant- Pot (6-quart or larger)

Large serving fork or tongs

Wooden Spoon

Chef’s Knife

Cutting Board

INGREDIENTS:

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

DIRECTIONS:

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:

Gravy

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

Pancakes

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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INGREDIENTS:

Any Brand of Complete Pancake Mix

Water

Chocolate chips (optional)

Banana (optional)

Whip cream (optional)

DIRECTIONS

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.