Category Archives: Wines

Steak and Lobster Tails or Surf and Turf)

This has been a long and delightful weekend, for the most part. The down side is Jennifer is still in pain. We did have company come over on Saturday night.  I proceeded to make a repeat of the Valentines dinner I made back in February. At Jenifer’s suggestion, we purchased lobster tails to go with the steak I was already planning on preparing. After I cooked the tails, I was disappointed in their size at $30.00 a pound. They were tiny after they were cooked. Maybe two bites. Next time I will go somewhere other than Costco to buy them. In February, they was much bigger and a better deal. Live and learn.

The main meal was of course the steak. They were sirloin steaks and 2 inches thick. Because my mother in-law does not like seasoning on her steak I purchased her a separate small porterhouse steak. It was about an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half thick. The vegetable I served was creamed spinach. I cheated as it was not from scratch but frozen. The starch was small red and white potatoes. The plan was to microwave them for a bit and then throw them on the grill to finish cooking them and brown them a bit.

I started by washing and precooking the potatoes in the microwave. To accomplish this I placed the potatoes in a microwave safe glass bowl with a ½ inch of water at the bottom. I covered the bowl with plastic wrap so they wound steam and cut a ½ inch slit into the plastic so some of steam could escape. I microwaved them for about ten minutes, just until they got soft. I checked on them every 5 minutes to see how done they were. I then let them sit coved in the bowl while I barbequed the steaks. The potatoes would continue to soften in the still covered bowl.

I seasoned the sirloin steaks with onion powder, garlic powder, coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper. Then placed them on a hot grill. My mother in-laws likes her steak rare, so hers waited in the wings as it would cook faster then the ticker sirloin. I wanted ours to be medium rare and was a bit thicker so I started with the sirloin first. When it was ¾ of the way done I put on my mother in-laws. Mmmm yumm meat on the barbeque. I was so ready to eat. I ran into the house to get the potatoes. When I returned to the steaks the barbeque gas tank would run out of gas just as I opened the lid. No worries I thought. I have one more filled tank handy. I attached the second tank of gas and turned on the knob. Immediately I heard gas seeping out around the connector. I checked the connection and tried again. This time many curse words flew from my mouth. Thinking quickly I ran the potatoes back into the house and threw a cast-iron pan onto the stove and heated up. Lucky for me the sirloin steaks was almost done. I left them in the grill to keep warm and rest and threw my mother in-laws half-cooked steak into the now hot frying pan.

I switched gears now back to the potatoes. I put them back into the microwave but first added butter and seasoning before recovering them up. I microwave them only five more minutes so they were now done. Next, I began heating up the creamed spinach. I retrieved the sirloin from the grill and it was ready to slice having rested nicely in the less then warm grill. I plated my mother in-laws rare steak right from the pan to her plate. By the time the steaks all hit the table the spinach was ready and I served it right alongside the potatoes. The sirloin steak was served sliced and perfectly medium rare.

Scott of course bought two bottles of wine with them. The first bottle of wine was a white wine and he served that as I bought out the steamed lobster tails to the table. The white wine was a Chardonnay and was fabulous. I had made some drawn butter that I put in small bowls to go with the lobster tails. It was an excessive amount of butter for these tiny tails. The lobster was good tasting despite their small size and the wine was perfect. I guess size isn’t everything.

I called my mother in-law over to join us at the table when the steaks were served (she does not eat lobster). We all kept the extra butter from the tails in front of us and used it for the steak. That is when Scott opened the second bottle of wine. It was a red wine from Brian Arden, a Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley. I really need to go to California with them next year. It sounds like they have so much fun touring the wineries. The wine went perfectly with the steak. Even the potatoes turned out to be good but I was disappointed I could not grill them. They just look more appetizing with the little grill marks on them and it gives them a bigger depth of flavor. No matter, I will have to do it again. WHY? Because the lobber tails were not big enough sheeeesh….

I made a simple salad and had some terrific fresh tomatoes. There is nothing like a good steak and tomatoes. Except steak, tomatoes and red wine. The salad was just a bonus for the blue cheese dressing.

For dessert, we had cream filled lobster tails from one of my favorite local bakeries. There were leftover potatoes….hence why I had to do brunch…and make the home fries the next morning!

May the rest of your grilling season be a good one!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

WEEKEND WINE FOOD AND FUN

Monday, Monday. I am for the three day weekend. The weekend was good but too short. My weekend started at BCH (Babylon Carriage House and then it continued on to Saturday with grilling steaks over charcoal and ended with heading over to see my sister for a couple of hours of pizza and old pictures.

Lets start with Friday night. Scott and Alison had returned from their Florida trip on Monday, and we were looking forward to seeing them and hearing all about their adventures. It helps that the Carriage House has some excellent food. Lets see if I can remember it all… We started with a cold bottle of Gabriella and macaroni and cheese with lobster meat (pictured below). There was also one of our staples, truffle mac and cheese. The truffle mac and cheese was as good as always. For starters they had a chopped tuna and avocado appetizer. We love this and don’t always see it so…. that was the first thing on our menu. The lobster mac and cheese was also a surprise on the specials menu. So we needed to order that. It was delicious from the first bite with just a hint of lobster on the palette. We were ALL lucky enough to get a least one nice big bite of lobster meat each and that out of a single serving. Considering there were five of us, including Alysa it was terrific! Next was the chopped baked clams. Three of us split one order of those. Having one clam each. I always love their baked clams and once again they did not disappoint me. Then there was the Cesar salad. I skipped the salad saving room for the main entre.

Scott had brought with him a red wine from BV. At the very beginning of our dinner, even before the first appetizers came, Scott had the waiter open the red wine and pour it for three of us to let it open up. By the time we were ready to order our main course the wine was ready. We decided to order the steak and rack of lamb. Now when I say “we decided” that means Jennifer and I let Scott suggest what pairs well with the wine. Even though Jennifer doesn’t drink she always loves his choices in food selection. I enjoy not really having to make a decision. So we are both very thankful for the fact Scott does this for us and does it so well. The lamb was a special this Friday and since most of don’t eat lamb often that made it an easy choice.

I started with the steak and the red wine. OMG. The steak was cooked perfectly! It was heavenly with he wine. Seasoned perfectly! Even though I love salt, it didn’t need any. I sipped the red wine before and after eating each bite. It was a slice of heaven. I took a break from the steak to try two of the lamb chops. To me, they were also cooked perfect. On the other hand Scott liked his lamb a little less well done, more rare. It did come out exactly how we ordered it, I thought. The lamb to was seasoned nicely just like the steak. Not the same seasoning of course. The lamb was season with garlic. It had more of a lamb taste for a chop then I’m am used to but if you like lamb then that’s what you want. It was nice with the wine but not a perfect match like the steak. Scott said: “The BV wine was a classic Bordeaux blend and perfect for the steak. The lamb would have been better served with a French Southern Rhône wine like a  Grenache, Syrah or Mourvèdre.” I decided to end the meal by going back to that steak and a second glass of the wine BV “Bordeaux blend”.

This wine went great with the steak

Thats all for today. More happened this weekend but Im tired and need rest tonight so I will leave off here for now.

See you Tuesday. Enjoy and be well.

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

WEDNESDAY WINE OF THE WEEK

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!

THE WEEKEND

Tuesday, welcome back to the grind. The coffee is perking and the A/C is on. It is going to get hot today. This weekend started out as a washout. Saturday rained and I ordered a pizza and ate anti pasta salad.

Sunday, the weather was more cooperative. We went over our friends house for a barbeque and to keep their wonderful dogs company while the fireworks exploded around us in large numbers. They cooked way too much food as always, but I’m guilty of that myself. I think it’s better to have too much food for guests then not enough. They smoked seven full racks of ribs, a dozen sausages, and two whole chickens. I ate some ribs and a sausage and was full. No matter how bad I wanted the chicken, I had no room. What made it so good was the BBQ sauce Scott made for the ribs and chicken. He uses a whole bottle of St. Francis wine in the sauce and reduces it down with the pan drippings ,from the ribs or chicken. Plus what ever else he puts in it, yum.

Monday was shaping up to be even a nicer day and they invited us over again for the traditional burgers and dawgs. Plus, Scott made steak! I however brought with us one dozen oysters, a dozen clams and two pounds of jumbo cocktail shrimp. I also made large batch of cocktail sauce. Upon my arrival with said seafood, I proceeded to open the oysters for raw oysters on the half shell. Allison watched me open one and said: “Oh god! That’s too much work! I will just throw them on the grill for a minute until they are open.” I looked at her begrudgingly and she added: “Don’t worry, they will still be raw.” I agreed and she left me just two more oysters to open on my own.

Everything was amazing. The grilled oysters just needed to sit on ice a little longer to get cold but they were as good as raw oysters. Sam and I ate the three raw oysters I opened. They were paired with the Fume’ Blanc wine Allison opened from the Robert Mondavi Winery. Next, Scott served an amazing piece of hanger steak that was cooked to perfection. He marinated the shit out of so it melted in your mouth and was season perfectly. He need to put that in his regular BBQ rotation it was so good. The Steak was paired with a St. Francis Pinto Noir. Dessert consisted of two very tasty cakes Sam had purchased and a local farm stand and ice cream we picked up on the way there from Baskin Robbins. All in all, a great weekend.

The coffee is done and it’s time for work. I already posted my Anti Pasta recipe if you want to try it, you can find it in the recipe section. You already have the cocktail sauce and shrimp recipes too, so go cook and enjoy life! Maybe even have a little wine from Robert Mondavi. The 2018 Fume’ Blanc I had was very good!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

THE WEDNESDAY WINE OF THE WEEK W(R)ECOMENDATION

I did not cook last night. I had Buffalo Wild Wings. It was OK. It was ready late…I guess they were busy and I guess they FORGOT to put the onion rings in the bag along with the knives and forks I asked for but no matter. Even though this is not a review of Buffalo Wild Wings, the wings on bones were soggy…eww. When the chicken skin is like rubber, I say yuck. The boneless wings were just okay. There were also French fries and Mozzarella sticks that lacked taste. Then, there was something called cheese curds that my friends and Jennifer seemed to enjoy. I just didn’t have enough room for all this food, but that’s not what I’ve come here today to talk about today. I came to discuss the wine of the week.

The “Wine of the Week” is a new feature I am testing out for The Perfect Pairing Magazine. I will be attempting to write an article about one of my favorite wines and what it pairs with it well. Let’s see how it goes.

My first selection of course should be the wine we had last night. You say: “BUT you had Buffalo Wings last night. Please. Chef. Tell me you had beer with those!” Then I reply “Sorry. No. Although, a nice cold frosty beer would have complimented those wings nicely. Instead, Scott chose a sparkling wine to pair with the wings. “Sparkling wine” is Champagne but since the wine did not come from Champagne, France, the wine industry will not call it “Champagne”. So, Sparkling wine it is, or was.

One of my favorite sparkling wines is the one below from Sparkling Point Winery here on Long Island, New York. Now, although it says that it is a brute to me, it does not taste very dry. It went very well with my mild style buffalo wings made of rubber on the outside. I needed SOMETHING to wash those puppies down, and this fit the bill perfectly last night.

A Local Long Island Sparkling

I have also had this wine for BREAKFAST too, well BRUNCH (brunch link here and there) BRUNCH II. Yes, as Mimosas and Bellini’s (add drink links). This wine and the one below pair nicely with appetizers too, such as: Shrimp Cocktail, Grilled Sausage, Deviled Eggs, Oysters or Clams on the half shell, and of course, Caviar daaaarlinggg. Caviar, when it’s served as an appetizer with all the trimmings is amazing, especially if you like that it takes you an hour to eat nothingness fun stuff. I like it, but have only had once at a restaurant on the north fork of Long Island and then of course once at Scott and Ally’s house for her birthday.

This is a great Sparkling with just the slightest hint of a pink blush

Thanks to Sparkling’s wonderful properties of going so well at breakfast and with appetizers or spicy foods like wings, I would start with a sparkling wine at your next dinner party. I do hope to have dinner party’s again myself soon! Until next time, be well, be happy and enjoy life!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

The Lobster Boil

It’s an early Monday morning on Long Island and the coffee is perking on my stove. I did not sleep well last night. I overate and over drank on Sunday at our good friend Scott and Ally’s house. It was however, well worth it. We were celebrating our wedding anniversary at their house on Sunday, and Scott, always the gracious host, offered to do a lobster boil for us.

            This was going to be the second lobster boil we have been to at Scott’s house in as many years. Therefore, I knew I was in for a treat. I still have pictures of the last lobster boil and it was quite memorable!

            We were greeted immediately at the door with a glass of wine and were led outside to the cooking area. The first glass of wine was Gabriella Pinot Grigio delle Venezie from Italy, and one of my favorite bottles of wine. This was perfect to watch as Scott began to cook up a storm.

            Scott had purchased a new pot and burner that fit onto a twenty-pound liquid propane cylinder, so the cooking was going to be done OUTSIDE. This was no ordinary size pot either. I stepped outside and I was drawn to this thing like a moth to a flame with a glass of wine in my hand. The pot was an industrial size one along with the burner that fit under it. The pot could hold enough food to feed an entire platoon of hungry Marines. Whenever I cooked way too much, my mother always asked me “are you cooking for an army?” Clearly, Scott thought we would arrive hungry and I was hungry now for sure!

            By the time we had arrived at Scott’s house, he had the water at a rolling boil on his porch in his backyard. He had even added various amounts seasoning to the water. The first was some old bay seasoning. Old Bay Seasoning was originally created in Baltimore, MD by a man named Gustav Brum, and then sold to McCormick & Company in 1990 after Brum passed away in 1985. It contains seasonings such as celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika, cardamom, etc. Old Bay is a standard ingredient here in the North East for seafood (said as if I am from the state of Maine). Next, he added a sliced lemon, whole garlic cloves, a bay leaf or two, and he might have even put in an onion. When I opened the lid, it smelt heavenly. Yet, it only gets better. Potatoes and cheddar Bratwurst were next! The bratwurst TOTALLY added a lovely flavor to every cooked in the pot with them!

            The small new potatoes and brats simmered for only a few minutes and he started putting the live lobsters in. By the looks of them, they were about 2 to 2½ pounds each. The shellfish included two dozen little neck clams. These are small and tender clams perfect for a fast cooked meal. He also had a bag of mussels that were cleaned and de-bearded by the local fish market. I do like mussels. However, we soon discovered not all the mussels were alive; about half of them were open. If a mussel is not closed up tight before you cook it, then it should be thrown away since it might be bad and could make you sick. We all cried a little for those mussels, but there were plenty left and more food to go into the pot. The last bit of seafood was the extra large shrimp. It was already peeled and deveined, so there was not any work involved in eating them after they were cooked. Last but not least, was six ears of corn that were shucked and cut in half.

            The whole thing boiled for only a few minutes. It was probably less than five minutes later when Scott said it was already done. I was in disbelief that the corn did not need a few minutes more, but I was soon proven wrong. I helped lift out the HUGE strainer basket that was inside the industrial cast aluminum pot. Along with it came the perfectly cooked seafood as it emerged and the hot water drained back into the pot. Scott began by separating out the lobsters first into a bowl, and then even dividing up the rest of the seafood into three more bowls. On the table were empty bowls for the shells and a freshly opened bottle of wine. Scott paired this delightful seafood meal with a St. Francis Chardonnay from Sonoma County. Have I mentioned how much I love these St. Francis wines? If not, I am saying now that I do love them. The wine went perfectly with all the drawn butter and hot seafood.

            I myself started with the clams, mussels, and shrimp. Then, I moved on to tackling the lobster. I began by helping Jennifer with hers and giving her the claw meat once I had extracted it using a nutcracker. We both wound up splitting one of the huge beasties between the two of us. Then, did I mention the king crab legs? NO! I forgot as they went into the pot FIRST with the potatoes. They were frozen, so Scott wanted to start with them in the water first and made sure it all came back up to a rolling boil before adding the lobster. OMG, they were so good. I like them even better than the LOBSTER!

            We all ate and drank and then ate more until there was only one lonely lobster left, a few small pieces of king crab leg, a few mussels, and a few clams. We all helped clean up. I worked on the lobster and king crab legs, putting the meat in a Ziplock bag for a cold crab meat/lobster salad they could enjoy the next day.

            Once dinner was all cleaned up, I sat down and enjoyed one more glass of chardonnay before Alison announced it was time for desert. They had picked up my favorite cakes for desert as it was Jennifer and I’s wedding anniversary. Twenty something years we were celebrating. That’s about how long I have been writing down recipes in a word document that you will all be reading over the next year. The cake was delicious and I was stuffed beyond belief. We retired to the couch and I enjoyed their company while their fun and energetic German Shepard puppies kept us entertained. I love those dogges (as Jennifer calls them)!

            Thank you guys for such a wonderful and fun filled anniversary celebration!!

            The Drunken Chef (Russ)  

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

French Friday

As I sit at my kitchen table on a early Saturday morning, (my basement office is still unfinished) and write this article, I am still surrounded by just over two dozen empty and partially filled wine glasses. My dining room looks as if Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart did one of their TV shows here about Julia Child’s cooking and left me the mess to clean up! I even did a weak impression of Julia last night just as the wine was opened. *In a Julia Child voice* “And finally, the drinking can begin. Bon Appetit!” At lease the coffee is done and sitting next to me as well as TWO loads if dishes and there is still more to go. If all the prep work involved in French cooking does not scare you away, all the damn dishes should! Thank god for my Whirlpool Dishwasher!

 I will stick with American cooking for a while after this. Maybe, even recipes without cream and butter. Well, maybe just a bit of butter… Let me state also that today’s Sunday posting has none of the recipes from either of my two books. Nope, not one, but it was a marvelous evening of food, friends and wine that enhanced it all.

Sam and I worked on the menu. It was mostly Sam’s suggestions that went into the final menu. I only really wanted to make one dish for last night and that was Beef Wellington. I found out far too late that Beef Wellington is English and decidedly not French. Who knew?! I will return to that issue later.

Our friends showed up right on time, as we were just finishing any last minute prep work. Scott brought with him all the wine for a long evening of drunken debauchery. He was carrying what looked like a very large brown leather suitcase that one would bring to an airport for a long trip.

I said, “Quick, honey, turn off all the lights and be quiet it looks like they are moving in.” I thought I was being funny but no one laughed.

The suitcase, which Scott was carrying, contained serval bottles of wine. Holy cow that was a lot of wine! It was like watching Marry Poppins with her carpetbag as he pulled bottles out of his suitcase and placed it on my counter.

There were five white wines, two reds and one desert wine. That was more wine then there were courses we prepared to serve.

The first course was Julia’s a Fromage e Atelier Fondue that Sam made using a Pinot Grigio by Clos du Bios. Scott paired it with an Italian white wine, Gabriella Pinot Grigio, and a French Pinot Grit. It was the first time using Sam’s new Fondue pot. I set up the pot, grated the cheese, and Sam put it all together. The recipes he “adopted” form Julia’s book. He just left out the seafood, otherwise he kept the cheese, spices and wine consistent. Next was a canapés that Sam’s very talented classically trained French chef cousin, Josie, designed. Who, by the way, should come visit us! She tends to cook Fusion dishes and they are delicious! The canapés were incredible. Scott paired these with a Viognier from Rhone and the Crozes-Hermitage. We now had four half glasses or wine in front of us.

Following the canapés, we had Cornish hens that again came from Julia’s cookbook. The hens were stuffed with a plethora herbs. As they cooked we began basting them with heavy cream. To serve, they were cut in half and Sam coated them with an herb cream sauce that included a bit of lemon juice. They were spectacular (I had never had cornish hens before), especially when paired with one more white wine. Next, was a salad and not just any old salad but some kind of French greens concoction that had eschellets (marinated shallots) on top and it was scrumptious. The salad consisted of mustard greens, romaine lettuce, flat leaf parsley, tarragon, and chives. We even tried one of the red wines with it all while going BACK to the white wines and trying them too. So overall we had six glasses of wine now in front of us. No time to rest on our Loral’s. My beef course was next the beef wellington and peeled asparagus with hollandaise sauce.

I had never made beef wellington and Sam had never made any of the previous dishes. I made two big mistakes: The first was with the dough I purchased at my very local the grocery store. It was phyllo dough and that was a mistake. I should have known better too having worked with it before. As soon as I opened it and saw what it was I said oh $#@&! It was supposed to be a puff pastry. That’s more like a pie crust then phyllo dough. The phyllo dough was too flaky.  The second I didn’t think this dish went at all with the other previous dishes but everyone ate it all saying it was delicious. I was disappointed in myself for not realizing that beef wellington was an English dish. It just did not go with the meal I thought. Another course meant another French red wine. The wine that Scott picked out for the beef dish was perfect of course. Truth be told, after eating the beef I could have used more of the asparagus as it was extraordinary with the wine or perhaps my body is just craving more vegetables!

We did rest on the couch for a bit after the beef but not very long. We all needed to digest and make room for desert. We sat, we talked and we sipped one of our favorite wines from the eight now on the table as we waited for Alysa to return from buying Girl Scout cookies from someone.

 Crème Brule was for the first dessert. This is where Sam’s got to use the brand new kitchen torch we got him for Christmas. Additionally he prepared a Chocolate mousse he just whipped up and the last minutes out of the rest of the heavy cream and some semisweet chocolate morsels. Two deserts… I looked around to make sure I was not on some kind of cruise ship. I usually never eat dessert much less have two in front of me. I came to the realization that I was still in my own dinning room and there would be no waiter or staff either to take care of the dishes. Of course, Scoot had brought a desert wine to go with it! I think it this was my favorite wine of the night. I’m not sure if it was because it was the last wine or just because it was just so damn good. The history lesson on the wine from Scott was pretty cool too. The desert wine was a Clos du Bois, Sonoma Reserve, Knights Valley, FLEUR. It was a late harvest Semillion. Apparently, Semillion wines date back to the time when Napoleon ruled France and he classified the original four vineyards as “First Growth” wines.

After diner, it was late, and time for our friends to return home with a small amount of the leftover beef for their wonderful and huge German shepherds. Jennifer and I both love how good and playful they both are with us whenever we are there.

In the end I think even Snoop Dogg and Martha would have loved it. It was certainly well worth all the dirty dishes I had to run through the dishwasher then put away. At least until next time, in some not too distant future, when we will use them all again for another fabulous meal with friends!

Well that is all I have to say this for week. See you again next week and until then. Stay healthy, be happy and eat well.

The Drunken Chef