Friends of mine invited us (my wife and I) over for lobster bisque and wine. Being the good friends they are they opened the Estate Bottled Schweiger Vineyards Chardonnay pictured above to go with our meal.
We started with a simple salad of greens, cucumber and Italian salad dressing. I do like a good salad and this was perfect. After eating almost all of my salad, I took a sip of the Chardonnay. It was cold and delicious, a delight on my tongue. I am one of those people who believe that food does taste better when paired with the right wine. If this were not true, all the kings and queens of Europe would have never gone to such lengths to acquire so much wine. Then they would go on to eat and drink so much they would develop gout. I also believe wine tastes better when paired with the right food so how could they help themselves?!
The next course was the lobster bisque (pictured above). The bisque was wonderfully rich and creamy with lots of lobster meat and the taste of butter throughout. Truly an exceptional job of preparation. It was paired masterfully with the very same Chardonnay as the earlier salad course, as I’m sure was my hosts intent. It was this course with ever few spoonful’s, I would enjoy a nice sip of perfectly chilled wine. The wine and the bisque were both silky and enchanting. The wine had just enough acidity to cut through the rich buttery creaminess of the bisque so it would not be lost on the palate. If I just had this course alone I’d have been a very happy camper. Yet, there was more to come.
The last course was a shrimp dish over creamy brown rice. Once again, we stuck with the Schweiger Vineyards Chardonnay and I for one was so grateful for such an excellent wine. I do not like Chardonnay’s that hit you over the head with taste of oak, like a two by four across the puss as if in in a bad action adventure movie. This wine has only the slightest hint of toasted oak flavor that pairs well with delicate foods thanks to its succulent fruity notes. I also particularly love that is has just the right amount of acid for a clean crisp taste that would go great with just about any seafood from baked clams to lobster tails with drawn butter. If you have the opportunity to purchase this wine, I highly suggest getting a few bottles to have on hand to share with family and friends!
Thank you Andrew Schweiger for producing such a magnificent wine to share with my wonderful family and friends, as well as, everlasting memories of a delightful dinner! Of course unless I kill that brain cell with more alcohol.
Now that you have your French onion soup recipe. Let’s use some of that for THIS recipe! I call it the French dip burger and it’s the perfect meal for watching a football game! For a large crowd watching the big game, check out my cheeseburger sliders recipe too!
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
French Dip Burger
Serves 3 to 4
Grill or Cast Iron Pan or frying pan
2 pounds of 80% lean ground beef
4 Brioche Bun’s (I found mine at COSCO)
2 Spanish Onions (sliced thin)
8 slices of provolone
4 tablespoon of butter
2 tables spoons of olive oil.
Ketchup to taste
Preheat your cast iron skillet or whatever frying pan you are using.
Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and a tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is sizzling, add you sliced Spanish onions. Cook until they just start turn brown.
In the meantime, while you onions are cooking, start forming the hamburger patties. I love using a hamburger press for this. You can find these on Amazon for under $15. Mine cost $9.99.
I lay a piece of plastic wrap inside the bottom half of the press. Add a large “meatball” and warp it LOOSELY in the plastic. I “Press” with the top piece of the Press to from a perfect hamburger. You looking to make your hamburgers all relatively the same size and weight so they cook evenly. After the burgers are made, it’s now easy to wrap them up tight and store the extras in the refrigerator or freezer because the plastic is already there!
Stir you onion and push them to the edge of your pan. With you pan on medium high heat. Butter your buns.
Then toast your buns like a slice of grilled cheese in the center of that pan.
Once you buns are all nice and toasty place one or two burgers into the center of your pan. Fry for about 5 minutes and flip. Stir you onions. Place 2 slices of provolone on top of the burgers and cook for 4 minutes.
Cover and cook one more minute or just until cheese is melted. Your burger should be medium rare depending on it’s thickness. Adjust your cooking time to desired doneness.
Move the cooked burgers from the pan to the bottom half of the bun, place onion on top. Serve open for guests to add condiments like salt, pepper or ketchup.
Sever with hot French Onion Soup in a 10 once ramekin or small Pyrex bowl to dip the burgers into.
The salt, pepper and Ketchup can be served on the side. (this burger does NOT require mustard, just sayin.)
French Onion Soup is a classic. When I was much younger, I frequented a restaurant that had a terrific French Onion Soup. I even remember going to this restaurant on a first date. I remember using the French Onion Soup almost as an excuse to ask her out.
“Do you like French Onion Soup?”
“Yes. I suppose.”
“Well, let me take you to this restaurant I know that makes an amazing French Onion Soup.”
“I don’t know. I don’t date guys I meet in bars.”
“I’m not asking you to marry me or anything. It just French Onion Soup.”
She agreed to go and try the soup and the rest they say is history. I married her 15 years later but that’s a story for another time.
I was talking originally about soup. A French Onion Soup that I just made recently…although I took a few short cuts…Shhhh. See the recipe below.
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
French Onion Soup
Serves 3 to 4
4 Spanish Onions (cut in half and sliced thin)
8 cups water (or no salt beef stock)
3 tbls. Olive oil
4 tbls. Butter
1 package of Lipton onion soup mix (no salt beef stock)
4 bouillon cubes (instead of salt)
½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce (I use Lee and Perrins)
½ tsp Soy Sauce (I use low Sodium)
½ tsp Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet
4 slices of French bread
½ cup Gruyere cheese grated
½ cup Mozzarella
Over medium heat brown onions in olive oil and butter. Add water or beef stock. If you do not have beef stock on hand, add the onion soup mix. Add 4 bouillon cubes instead of salt. Add ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp soy sauce and about ½ to 1 tsp of gravy master for a deep rich color. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
Toast French bread slices under broiler.
Add bread to bowls as shown below. Add soup. Mix the two chcese together in a bowl then top off with ½ cup of mixed cheese. Place under broiler until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
Serve hot with a red Bordeaux blend from Napa Valley.
Unlike most of my recipes I do not remember where it was I first had a hot steamy bowl of Italian Wedding Soup. Perhaps is was at a restaurant or maybe even at a catering hall during a wedding, nah, too corny. Wherever it was, I liked it. I do remember one place in particular that had a very good recipe. This place was deli/caterer with a few table. They made great sandwiches and had wonderful soups. They used to make Italian Wedding very often. They unfortunately, are no longer around so now I have to make it myself.
Because of the cold weather that we have been having here in New York, I have been making a quite few soups and stews. I thought I should share some of them with you. Unfortunately, for my coworkers I have been reluctant to bring any “extra” soup to work and share it. I have been trying to follow the best practices for social distancing. A chef NEVER wants people getting sick from standing around pot ladling out soup. Perhaps as things start improving I can bring them all in a large pot of this soup or maybe the stuffed cabbage. Wouldn’t that be a gas! (Scrunchy face)
Well that’s all the time I have for bad puns this morning. I hope you at lease enjoy the soup even if the jokes aren’t any good.
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
Italian Wedding Soup
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons minced onion
2 ½ to 3 quarts chicken broth
2 cups baby spinach – rinsed
1 cups baby Bok-Choy
1 cups escarole – rinsed and cut
1 cup seashell pasta or large white Couscous
3/4 cup diced carrots
3 chicken bouillon cubes
In a medium bowl, combine the beef, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, basil and onion. Shape mixture into 3/4-inch balls and set aside.
In a large stockpot heat chicken broth to boiling and add meatballs and carrot. Return to boil a cook for 10 minutes until meatballs are no longer pink inside. Add the spinach, escarole, pasta. Return to boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, at a slow boil for at least 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente.
Extra chicken broth is sometimes need to reheat leftovers when the pasta has absorbed all that yummy stock.
I always prefer homemade soup to anything I can get in a can or even a “Bread Place”. I just doubled this recipe just recently to make it for a small lunch crowd. I served it with a thick crusty bread and butter. Too bad it was a warm day, but everyone still seemed to enjoy it. I don’t know how well it reheats. There is usually nothing left.
The only thing I was missing at lunch was a half of a roast beef sandwich, or a Cuban panni! Next time!
4 cups fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 cups milk
2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of celery soup
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water (or Belgian wheat Beer)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
In a large soup pot, cook broccoli in broth until tender, about 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together milk and condensed celery soup. Blend cornstarch with cold water, then stir into soup mixture. Pour into the pot with the broccoli. Cook over medium heat, stirring steadily until thick and bubbly. Stir in cheese, and simmer, stirring until hot. Do not boil.
NOTES: This is one of those once a year recipes I must make.
I made this during the week. It was so good I had to share.
7 cups chicken broth (no salt)
One ham bone and 5 oz of diced smoked ham
1 large carrot
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
Salt and pepper
Start by cutting off the ham bone from that spiral ham or smoked ham you made last night. I usually make at least one spiral ham a year. If i do now have a spiral ham you can cheat and use a good quality ham steak.
Dice the ham and set aside. Dice 1 small to medium size onion. add to a large pot with the oil and begin to simmer cook. Dice the carrot and add to onion. cook both until the onion is translucent. Add the ham and fry the ham in the oil with the onion and carrot for a few minutes. Now add 1 large clove of chopped garlic. cook on low one more minutes. Breath in the yummy aroma. Now add 5 cups of chicken stock. When I do not have homemade chicken stock I use 5 cups of cold water and 1 tablespoon of better then bullion. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook until the chicken stock begin to reduce by 1/2 to 1 cup (leaving for cups of broth. add 1 pound of split peas. cook until the split peas are soft and fall apart when the soup is stirred. About one hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Good morning, Happy Wednesday. It is Wednesday, right? Last night I made Lentil soup for lunch today. If you follow me on Instagram, I posted pictures there.
I don’t know if you remember me telling you, but the first time I had this amazing soup was at my friends Frank’s house when I was in elementary school. His mother made it and offered me some as we ate lunch. I had never had lentil soup before (which she could not believe) but I am always willing to try new stuff, even way back then. Frank did not like this soup evidently and tried to get me not to eat it. Well long story short I have been eating it ever since. Thank you Mrs. Carola.
Below is my recipe, I’m afraid I never did get Mrs. Carola’s. This recipe is a beef lentil soup where you can omit the beef if it seems too redundant. I will also be making (in the very near future) a vegetable lentil soup for Jennifer’s class. She has at least four other adults in her classroom as she works with children with special needs. So today is beef for everyone in my office and tonight, I will be making vegetable lentil soup for Jennifer to take to work. I will post that recipe as soon as I have a picture of it (Thursday).
Thursday’s lunch (for my office) will be Italian sausage, peppers and onions over rice so that will be made tonight as well.
Also coming soon – Red Lentil Soup
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
LENTIL SOUP (beef)
Serves 6 – 8
1 pound stew meat cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
¼ cup finely carrots
¼ cup finely chopped celery
4 cups beef broth (I use I box of Swanson’s beef broth)
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup tomato sauce (or one heaping tablespoon of tomato paste)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Black Pepper to taste
Salt or 1 to 4 beef bouillon cubes (depending on taste)
1 tsp. Gravy Master (if you have it)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (if you have it)
In a large stockpot over medium heat, combine the oil and onions and meat. Sauté until the meat is browed and onions are tender. Next add garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer. Add the broth, carrots, celery and bring mixture to a boil. Add the lentils, sauce and seasoning. Add Gravy Master and/or the Worcestershire sauce only if you have it. Return to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. I use beef bouillon cubes instead of salt for a richer flavor. Again The Gravy Master and Worcestershire sauce just make the soup taste richer.
NOTES This is Yummy (double or triple the recipe if you want leftovers and leave the amount of beef the same as I did to feed a big crowd)
As promised, I made Cuban Black Bean Soup for the first time ever.
Everyone at work loved it! Therefore, I am posting the recipe not having to make any changes in what we ate and what you can now enjoy. I hope you do get to enjoy this rich tasting treat maybe with a Cuban sandwich.
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
Cuban Black Bean Soup
Serves 6 – 8
Food Processor or blender
3 large green peppers
2 large red peppers
1 small yellow onion
1 large Spanish onion
1 head of garlic (10 cloves)
2 plum tomatoes (Diced)
16 ounces of black beans,
1 can of black beans
1 smoked ham hock
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon Better then Bouillon
¼ cup olive oil
4 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 jalapeño, stemmed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 bunch fresh Cilantro
1/ 2 bunch Italian parsley
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1. Slice and dice the thick cut bacon. Fry in the bottom of a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot. Cook, on medium as not to burn any of it, stirring occasionally. Cook just until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
2. While the bacon slowly renders make a sofrito. Cut red and green peppers into 1 inch pieces. Dice one small yellow onion. Peel and chop all but 6 cloves of the garlic. Dice 1 jalapeño pepper (seeds removed). Dice the two tomatoes. You only have to chop the ingredients small enough sizes to fit into a food processor or blender. You don’t have to dice them finely, as you will be processing them. Focus more on removing the seeds from the peppers and any stems from the parsley and cilantro that might become grit in the finished sofrito. Place the chopped ingredients into a food processor or blender. You can process in this batches if your food processor isn’t big enough to accommodate everything at once. Pulse food processor until to resembles a thick pesto. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
3. Once the bacon is brown and the safrito in made add olive oil to your pot. Add the remaining diced green and red pepper and Spanish onion. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Pour in the vinegar and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.
4. Smash and peel the remaining 4 cloves of the garlic cloves. Put the rest of green pepper and garlic into a large pot with the beans, ham hock, bay leaves and 1-tablespoon salt. Add 2 quarts of chicken stock (or water and Better the Bouillon)and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer until the beans are tender, an hour or more.
When the beans are cooked, discard both bay leafs. Remove and set aside the ham hock and let it cool. open can of black beans, mash 1/2 of them into a paste and return all of then to the pot. Add the sofrito, then the sugar. Pull the meat from the ham hock, leaving behind any white sinew or gristle. Chop the ham into ½-inch or smaller pieces and return it to the bean pot (I just took mine out and discarded it).
4. Stir the beans well and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so, skimming any foam from the top. Taste for salt and serve with white rice.
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning (marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano, and basil
2 – 4 tsp Chicken Bouillon instead of salt (depending on taste)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup seashell pasta or Ditalini (the little round tubes)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté garlic for 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add celery and carrots, sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add chicken broth, water and tomato sauce, bring to boil, stirring frequently. If desired add red wine at this point. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, Italian Spice mix, chicken bouillon and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. For best results refrigerate overnight then reheat the portions needed.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside.
Once pasta is cooked and soup is at a simmer (reheated if the next day) place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Drizzle on olive oil and serve with bread.
NOTES: Don’t forget the Salad and/or Saltine Crackers