My kitchen is always well stocked, both with food and ingredients to cook with and, of course, wine. My house would be empty without wine. We probably have at least about 200 bottles of wine in our basement; nothing particularly fancy, but all good wines that I can enjoy at anytime. No matter how your day is going or what you have going on, wine is always the answer to whatever questions you may have. Being originally from Southern California, of course I am partial to the great wines of California, especially a rich, buttery, oakey, golden chardonnay, but that does not mean that I don’t enjoy great wines from other ares and varietals as well. A rich Malbec from Argentina to go with Steak Chimichurri; or an Italian Proseco with quiche or pasta; a good Australian Shiraz with some grilled sausages and a grilled potato salad is always a good choice as well; or even a well-chilled, fruity sangria shared with friends out on the deck; it doesn’t matter, it’s all good. I enjoy most wines, but on the rare occasions when I find something that is completely unpalatable to drink, I can always find a way to cook with it and no one will ever know how disappointed I was with it in the glass. I also make and bottle my own wines, with the guidance and grapes from our local vintners. I have created my own unique blends as well as made “wine-in-a-kit” as my husband calls it. Some of our own wines and labels are featured in the picture below. No matter what kind of wine I am drinking or what I serve it with though, the best way to enjoy it is when it is shared with good friends and family and those that I love.
With this much wine around, this also means there are a lot of wine corks around. I re-use them as well, in as many creative ways as possible. I hate waste, and try my best to always re-use everything at least once. This is a trivet made from a picture frame and wine corks. Some have even said they want to hang it on the wall as art. Variety is the spice of life, and that’s what make things interesting.
So raise a glass and give yourselves a toast. Salud! A votre sante!
Today’s food tip is going to the dogs – literally. Since my dogs are my children, and their DNA is about 94% the same as ours, they need a good variety of nutritious food too. So I make my own wet food for them, about once a week. This week, Lucie and Vinnie will be dining on chicken cooked with sweet potatoes, spinach, apples and blueberries, sauteed in left over bacon grease. The blueberries are also a left over, since for whatever reason, Larry is blueberry phobic and won’t eat them at all. I love them. I always cook foods for “the kids” that I would eat myself.
Last night’s remoulade became the marinade for tonight’s chicken kebabs. The chicken came out so tender and flavorful. I served it with green beans and “patatas bravas” from “The Mediterranean Table. Tonight’s dinner was a fusion of flavors, but then, they usually are. It was a little Mediterranean mixed with a little Southern/Creole.
potatoes your choice, peeled and cooked until slightly tender
tomatoes, large dice
chipotle chilies with sauce (optional, if you like spicy)
salt & pepper to taste
Saute garlic and shallots in olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, and cook down until sauce is thickened, for about 10 minutes. Set aside. In a separate pan, cook the potatoes in olive oil and a little bit of butter until slightly browned and cooked. Adjust salt & pepper. Add tomato mixture and top with chopped parsley. Manga.
Today’s dinner takes me back to the Southern and Creole roots of both my mother and my Aunt Gloria, both of whom are up in Heaven watching over me. With a little left over rice and some little smoky sausages, red beans and rice was created, accompanied by fried catfish and a zesty remoulade. You will soon learn that unless I am baking, I rarely include actual amounts. Most of the time, I just use a little bit of this and a little bit of that, or sometimes a lot of this or a lot of that. Be creative. That’s what makes it so fun.
RED BEANS & RICE
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 TBSP butter
1/2 each red and green bell pepper, diced
1 can red beans, partially drained
little smoky sausages
salt & pepper to taste
Saute veggies and sausages for about 6 minutes in oil and butter. Add rice, beans and spices and cook for about about minute or two, or until it reaches your desired texture.
The catfish we just fried in the deep fryer until it was golden brown and slightly crispy, for about 5 minutes
One of my many talents is re-creating dishes from left overs. The first recipe was a pistachio cake with a chocolate ganache topping and poached pears. I took the poaching liquid from the pears to re-created the “Twisted curry sauce” for the chicken and vegetables recipe listed below.
Twisted Roasted Curried Chicken and Vegetables
Recipe #1 – Pistachio cake with pears poached in white wine poaching sauce. (wine sauce only)
White Wine Poaching – 2 cups white wine, sweet or dry, 1/2 cup of sugar, dash each of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Poach peeled pears in liquid for about 10 minutes and let cool.
Recipe #2 – using leftover white wine poaching liquid
Chicken, coated with curry, cayenne pepper salt and pepper to taste. Brown the chicken (it does not matter if you use a whole chicken or a breast) on all sides and par-cook the chicken.
Vegetable medley – cauliflower, broccoli, parsnip, carrots, red onion, garlic, salt, pepper, curry and red pepper flakes to taste. Combine all the vegetables and put in a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Place chicken breast over vegetables and pour wine mixture over chicken and vegetables. Roast at 375* uncovered for at least 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165*, basting the chicken and vegetables periodically. I served over a combination of cooked rice and lentils.
*** You can also use shrimp or scallops instead of chicken. Delicious! Spicy /Sweet – we paired it with a Sauvignon Blanc but a Riesling would be great too.