Tag: recipe

May The Fourth and Cinco de Mayo

May The Fourth and Cinco de Mayo

When we got married on May 4th twenty years ago we had no idea that our anniversary date would be hijacked by Stars Wars, “May The Fourth Be With You”. Likewise, May 5th was just an ordinary day; not the Cinco de Mayo holiday that’s so popular today. As much as I love tequila and Mexican food, Cinco de Mayo will have to wait until after our two-day anniversary celebration.

A local steakhouse, Rails, serves uniquely delicious appetizers, premium steaks cooked to perfection, wonderful sides, and sinful desserts. Quality food, nice atmosphere, and professional service come with a fairly hefty price tag so we save our visits to Rails for special occasions like our anniversary. From my longtime practice in the art of the Boozy Lifestyle, I’ve become pretty familiar with retail wine pricing. This knowledge makes it difficult to order wine with a 400% markup so we put the wine list aside in favor of their creative craft cocktail list. The bourbon-based drinks we order are refreshingly full of fresh herbs and muddled fruits.

Here’s a sampling of Rails’ wine list. The Library Reserve Selections has some of the giants of Napa; Caymus, Silver Oak, and Far Niente. If you’re willing to spend big, the Nickel & Nickel Tench Vineyard is about the best deal on the wine list since it sells in local liquor stores for about $100.

Rails Wine List

With day one of our anniversary celebration complete, day two is set for uncorking Baldacci’s Four Sons Fraternity 2012 to pair with our steak doggy bags. Fraternity is a red blend from Stag’s Leap District in Napa Valley, California. I couldn’t locate documentation of the varietals in the 2012 blend, but my guess is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

I open the wine for an hour of decanting and notice that the freshly popped cork is full of sediment. We purchased this bottle about eight months ago and it has been stored on its side ever since. It’s a good idea to stand a bottle upright the day before opening it, and maybe I’ll remember next time. I pour the wine into the decanter through a small strainer to remove the remaining grit.

The nose is full of ripe cherry fruit, oak, and vanilla with floral and tobacco notes. The fruit is dominant but not overpowering. I don’t detect much in the way of earthy or vegetal aromas. Acidity and alcohol seem a little harsh on the back of the throat at first sip, but disappear over time. The palate is full of juicy plum, cherry, and blackberry. Dark chocolate and coffee flavors add a trace of bitterness, along with subtle notes of graphite that become more noticeable after swallowing.  The finish is long and leathery. Overall, Baldacci Fraternity offers a balanced structure from start to finish.

Mexican food and margaritas may just as easily be enjoyed on Seis and Siete de Mayo.

Premium Margarita

  • 1 oz. Don Julio Anejo
  • 1 oz. Patron Citronge
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice and simple syrup (half and half)

Shake over ice, strain into a margarita glass, and say Salud!

Panini Style Black Bean and Chicken Burrito

Ingredients

  • 1 red pepper, minced
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic
  • ¼ Teaspoon cumin
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 oz. chicken breast (1 large or 2 small), cut into small cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon taco seasoning
  • ½ cup of grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Pinch of pepper or crushed red pepper for more heat
  • 2 large flour tortillas

Directions

  1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a pot and cook the garlic and cumin for 1 minute. Add the minced red pepper and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. (If I don’t have a red pepper, I use a small onion or a stalk of celery.) Add the rinsed black beans. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the chicken.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a plastic bag. Add taco seasoning and pepper to the bag and shake until chicken is coated. Brown the chicken in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add ¼ cup of water and continue cooking until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  3. Pre-heat the Griddler (panini press) to Grill/Panini between High and Sear.
  4. Brush olive oil on the outside of the wraps. Flip them over and fill with cheese, chicken, and the bean mixture. Fold them up and cook in the Griddler for a few minutes until the outside shows some nice grill marks.

Top with sour cream, taco sauce, and cheese.

Wine and Wings

bad-dream-af

The phone alarm chimes and I awake with memories of my most recent dream. Unlike my usual two a.m. nightmares that force me into consciousness sweaty and heart-pounding, this morning’s dream is a pleasant one featuring chicken wings. Have you ever dreamt about something and woken up with an acute craving for it?

Chicken wings may have been on my mind following a recent visit to the Buffalo Wild Wings franchise that opened near us in recent months. We reasoned that a restaurant with “wings” in the name ought to make great wings. In reality, this wasn’t the case. But while the wing meat was slightly disappointing, I have to give BWW credit for their selection of over 20 sauces. The Parmesan Garlic was particularly good!

With a Costco-sized bag of chicken tenders taking up space in our freezer, we’ll use them in place of wings and try out a copycat Parmesan Garlic sauce recipe to go with them. (We could have bought the sauce in a bottle but where’s the fun in that?)  There are two styles of recipes online; one involving melted butter and a second based in mayonnaise. We opt for the mayo-based sauce. Meanwhile, we open the wine.

petite-petit

A few months ago, Lori at Dracaena Wines wrote about Petite Petit from Michael David Winery in Lodi, California. I knew right away that this was one for us to try, given that we are fans of Petite Sirah, as well as other fruit-forward varietals from Lodi such as its Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. And who could resist the circus-themed labeling?

Sipping the first glass and gazing at the wine-drinking elephants on the label, it occurs to me that this wine with two “petites” in its name is anything but small. Like the elephants on the label, this wine has heft and weight. There are so many thoughtful details in this label that I wouldn’t lump it into the classification of gimmicky. Although you may need a magnifier to see it, I especially enjoyed the nod to Michael David’s popular Zinfandel, Seven Deadly Zins.

This 2014 Petite Petit is a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot. In the glass, it’s an inky, teeth-staining purple. The nose is filled with aromatic, lush fruit. A full-bodied palate reveals plum and blackberry fruit, wood notes, smoky oak, anise, and tobacco. Flavors of prune and currant follow. A fairly long finish has nicely structured tannins.

Back to cooking, we prep the chicken tenderloins with a flour, egg, and breadcrumb/Panko coating and fry them in ¼ inch of vegetable oil until the outside is crispy-brown and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. With the sauce at about room temperature, we roll the hot chicken pieces in it to coat. While the franchise wing joints tend to skimp on the celery and carrots, we’ve loaded up on our veggies.

parmesangarlicsauce

Parmesan Garlic Sauce

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 5 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle of oregano, basil, thyme, and crushed red pepper

If one of the chicken tenders in my photo looks kind of green, don’t adjust your monitor. I experimented with a curry sauce that didn’t quite work with this meal. I ate it anyway, since no unspoiled food goes to waste around here. I’d like to elaborate on the food and wine pairing except that, as usual, almost all of the wine was gone by the time the chicken was done.

Simple Black Beans – Less Is More

BlackBeans-Ribs (2)

When I took a rack of baby back ribs out of the freezer to defrost two days ago, black beans weren’t even on the menu. I had planned to go to a nearby farm stand for fresh local corn and my other weekly veggies but drenching rains and flooding alerts scrapped the idea. Not to worry, I’m happy to rise to the challenge of a last minute menu.

With my supply of produce mostly depleted, I turn to the pantry to peruse the dry goods. Packages of stuffing, sauce-included pasta sides, dry pastas, jars of olives, roasted peppers, tomato sauce, cans of beans, tuna, and soups. I’ve just about succumbed to stocked pantry overload when an idea hits me. While Bush’s baked beans would be an obvious choice to accompany pork, black beans will give the meal some flair!

We use black beans so often that I buy them by the case. In burritos, salads, or as a side dish, they are tasty and versatile. My side dish recipes have had various combinations of garlic, onion, red pepper, green pepper, and tomato. My last experiment included a couple of spoonfuls of salsa, but my husband and I agreed that the spicy tomato flavor took over. Given that my produce is reduced to garlic and onion, this iteration of black beans is simplified by necessity. In this case, less is more, and it’s my best version yet.

During the making of Simple Black Beans, I tasted the beans with the garlic, onion, and seasonings and felt that something was missing. No tang. Sherry was the answer. If you don’t have any sherry on hand, I think a little vinegar would work as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of Goya black beans, rinsed in a strainer
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or vinegar
  • Sour cream, cilantro, and diced roasted red pepper or tomato for serving

Directions

  1. Cook the garlic and onion in olive oil for a few minutes until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the beans, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and sherry and cook on medium low heat for about 5 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a spoonful of diced roasted red pepper, and a sprinkle of cilantro.