Saturday, July 31, 2010

'07, Napa Valley, Avalon Cabernet

Today's appetizers included three different cheeses, salame and water crackers.  While we snacked, the charcoal grille was heating up and getting ready for the portabella mushroom caps and boneless ribeyes.  Earlier, I put a light coat of EVOO on the ribeyes and then added a little cracked, fresh, black pepper and ground sea salt.  We put that aside and let it sit for about 3 or 4 hours at room temp.  While that was resting, I prep'd the mushroom caps by brushing a light coat of EVOO on both sides and sprinkling a little cracked black pepper and sea salt each side.  Afterwards, I put 8 oz of fresh spinach in a skillet with about 2 TBSP of EVOO, 1 TBSP of Balsamic Vinegar, 1 TBSP of fresh Goat Cheese and 1 TSP of Garlic Powder.  I reduced that down in the skillet and set it aside.  All the while, we had some new potatoes cooking in the oven (diced w/ greek seasonings) for about 45 mins @ 350 degrees.  The charcoal grille was at 450 degrees and I put the ribeyes on for about 6 to 7 mins on each side (over direct heat) and placed the portabella mushroom caps with the spinach & goat cheese mixture on the "indirect" heat side of the grille.  After the ribeyes and mushrooms were done, we grilled a few pieces of French Bread (coated w/ EVOO, cracked black pepper & dried rosemary) for about 3 or 4 minutes.

Today's wine selection was an '07, Napa Valley, Avalon Cabernet.  It's actually a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Petite Syrah.  I opened it 24 hours before cooking and let it stand in a decanter.  It had dark fruit (blackberry, black cherry) on the nose, a little toasty oak and vanilla on the mid-palate (aged in American Oak) and a nice finish.  It was very nice after sitting in the decanter for 24+ hours @ 55 degrees.  This wine is $15 USD or less and it's very nice.  The tannin in the wine paired very well with the ribeye and its marbling as well as the mushroom cap with spinach & goat cheese reduction.  A fine meal indeed.  Cheers to all...

Raphe's Whole Beef Tenderloin

This is a great recipe, especially if you're cooking for 8 to 10 people.  Each end of the tenderloin will be closer to medium doneness and the center will be an awesome med-rare.  It's ridiculously good !!

Whole Beef Tenderloin:  5 lb to 6 lb  (Cooked in the oven.)
Have the butcher trim the whole tenderloin for you.  Get the trimmings ground into ground beef for burgers, chili, etc.

Lightly coat the entire loin w/ Olive Oil (EVOO)

1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 Tsp Onion Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Fine Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Ground Red Pepper
1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin (a key ingredient)
1/2 Tsp Ground Nutmeg

This will cover a 5lb to 6lb tenderloin well.  Generously covering but not too heavy.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl then spread evenly over the entire tenderloin.  Wrap and chill overnight, if possible.  If not, 4 hours minimum.   Bring back to room temp before cooking, minimum 2 hours at room temp.

I cook this on a rack in a baking pan (9x13 or the like).  Don't lay it directly on the pan.  Use the rack !!

I start the cooking process with the oven on 450 degrees and let the loin cook for 15 minutes.  Then I reduce the heat to 350 degrees for an additional 30 - 40 minutes.  I do use a small meat thermometer and when the internal meat temp reaches 125 degrees in the thickest part of the loin, I'll take it out of the oven.  Or when your thermometer reads Med-Rare, take it out of the oven unless you prefer the beef more done.  Depends on how your oven cooks, somewhere between 50 min and 1 hr total.  The smaller end will be done earlier so you can cut it off if you want so that it doesn't over cook.  And, it's a good snack for everyone to try...  The ends will be more toward med and the center will be a nice med rare.

Monday, July 19, 2010

'06 Summit Lake Zinfandel, Howell Mountain AVA

06 Summit Lake Zinfandel (Howell Mountain AVA), $19 here in Middle Tennessee.
Big dark fruit on the nose. I definitely got the blackberry & black cherry. The mid palate was a smoky oak and leather, to me. The finish was nice with a hint of pepper. Upon first opening the wine, it was a little tight. After 30 minutes in my decanter, it became more balanced and I thought it had good structure. I paired this wine with our handmade pizza that had sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, mozzarella and red sauce. The wine was great with the pizza. Personally, I prefer a Red Zin with a hint of that peppery finish. I've been trying more Red Zins lately as they seem to pair well with many different foods. It's a wine that you can bring out on, say, Thanksgiving Day and it pairs well with all the different flavors of that season. I will drink this wine again and share it with my friends. Cheers to all...

Turn Up The Heat

Wine pairing and grilling contest for ST.FRANCIS Winery & Vineyards. I have a 2lb French-Boned Cowboy Ribeye for Two, Caramelized Onions, Fried Corn and grilled French Bread. I paired that meal with ST. FRANCIS'S '05, Sonoma County, Merlot. Check out the video. Cheers to all...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Raphe's Remarkable Ribeye

French-Boned Cowboy Ribeye for 2: Pan Seared & grilled ribeye, caramelized vidalia onions and fried corn w/ green chilies & sun-dried tomatoes for a little kick. I paired that meal with an '05 ST.FRANCIS Merlot. The Merlot was $19 @ Stones River Total Beverages, here in the Boro. The wine was dark fruit on the nose and tannic at first (like cheeks sticking to your gums tannic) but within a hour, the wine became much less tannic and more balanced. It had a smoky-oak smell as well and the finish was nice. If you're a Merlot fan, give it a try. Cheers to all...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

White Burgundy & Kabobs

Pan Seared Scallops & Chicken, Vidalia Onion and Nectarine on skewers. And, we had a White Burgundy wine with that. The wine was a 100% Chardonnay from Burgundy ($16). '07 Louis Latour, Grand Ardeche from Brinkmann's Wine & Spirits in Franklin, TN. The wine was a lite green to wheat straw in color, floral on the nose, a little minerality on the palate with nice balance and a good finish. This wine is neither oaky nor buttery, which I prefer. I don't drink a lot of white wine but I thought this was good w/ the scallops and chicken skewers. If you're a Chardonnay fan, give it a try. Cheers to all...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Coffee Encrusted Beef Fillet

Coffee Encrusted Beef Fillet, Fried Eggplant, Grilled French Bread and Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Seghesio Zinfandel. The Seghesio, at $19, is a great bottle of wine and pairs well with many different foods. It's dark fruit like blackberry and black cherry on the nose, a hint of chocolate on the mid palate and a nice finish. If you remember the smell of your mother's or grandmother's kitchen when she was making grape jelly, then you can imagine what this wine smells like. As for this pan seared fillet, this old skillet holds lot of memories of my mother cooking in our old farm house in rural West TN. It's still producing great food to this day. Cheers to all...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sunday evening with Sangiovese

This evening I prepared grilled chicken thighs (special dry rub), grilled French bread and fried corn that was cut fresh from the cob. My wife has a great white BBQ sauce that she makes for the chicken that's seriously good. The wine choice for this evening was an '08 Sangiovese from Venge Vineyards. The Penny Lane had some cherry and a little dark fruit on the nose, a solid structure in the mouth and nice finish. To me, it's drinks like a Pinot Noir. I've been receiving wine from Venge since '06 and I truly enjoy every bottle they send me. Kirk Venge and team continue to create some great vino. Visit them @ and try a bottle or two. Cheers to all...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

PoolSide Sangria

PoolSide Sangria: Ed Hardy Red Sangria (Brinkmann's Wine & Spirits) <$10; Cut up oranges, strawberries and black grapes, pour Sangria in pitcher and add the cut fruit, let it sit in the fridge overnight if possible. Put blackberries, blueberries and black grapes in freezer overnight and then add them to the glass before you pour the Sangria for drinking. Cheers to all...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dinner with the Monastrell grape...

Tonight, the entire dinner was prepared on the grille. Flat Iron Steak (not be confused with flank or skirt steak), Hearts of Romaine, French Bread and Yellow skin potatoes.

I was introduced to a new Spanish wine & grape last evening, Monastrell. Unbeknownst to me, Monastrell is grown in several parts of Spain and France. The origin us unknown, for sure, but it originally took on the name Mourvedre. Today, Monastrell is the 5th most popular varietal in Spain, as it relates to acreage.
The bottle we tasted last evening was fairly young, very tannic and astringent upon first tasting. After it had been decanted for a hour, it became much more balanced and less tannic with a mild finish. This wine would be well suited for roasted beef or beef stew. Cheers to all...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pinot Wars

We've had World Wars but Wednesday evening it was Pinot Wars... Chile vs Oregon
I tasted both the Chilean Apaltagua ($13) and the Belle Vallee ($23) from Oregon. Two very different wines but both very nice for the price point. The Chilean was much more floral and earthy, old world, on the nose as compared to the Belle Vallee's mostly red fruit (raspberry, cherry) and a hint of dark fruit like blueberry. They both had a nice structure and good balance. The mid-palate was different as the Chilean was more like forest floor and the Belle Vallee more minerality. The finish was very nice on both, maybe just the slightest hint of white pepper, but that's just me. If you're a lover of the Pinot Noir, I think you'll be pleased with both of these. Cheers to all...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Carneros, CA: Pinot Noir

2006 Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir Carneros: Carneros is south of Napa and Sonoma, like the tip of an upside down triangle between them, so to speak. ~$30. Aromatic, red fruit on the nose and similar to a cherry jolly-rancher in the mouth. Good balance and maybe, just barely, a hint of white pepper on the finish. A solid choice at that price...

Red White & Blue Ribs


1/2 cbrown sugar
1/4 cpaprika
1 Tbspblack pepper, fine
1 Tbspkosher salt
1 Tbspchili powder
3/4 Tbspgarlic powder
3/4 Tbsponion powder
1/4 tspcayenne pepper

 I start out with the ribs (2 full racks) on a cookie sheet, or the like, and keep them wet with Apple Cider Vinegar for about 4 or 5 hours. I use an inexpensive spray bottle and just keep spraying them intermittently during this time.
 During the time you're keeping them wet with the vinegar, go ahead and mix the rub ingredients in a mixing bowl.
 Afterwards, I'll lightly coat both sides of the ribs with pulp free orange juice.
 Next, I apply basic Yellow Mustard, lightly, to both sides of the slab/s.
 Lastly, I apply the "rib rub" (see ingredients) evenly to both sides of the slab, the extra on the meat side.
 Now, it's time to wrap them in aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. I keep them in the fridge for 12 - 18 hours.
 Cooking day:
Take the ribs out of the fridge at least two full hours before you plan to put them on the cooker/smoker. They need to be at room temperature before placing in/on the cooker/smoker.
I like to smoke the ribs at a temp no higher than 220 degrees F. "Low & Slow"
 I'll cook the ribs for about 90 mins, not turning nor opening the cooker. You can spray the ribs with the Apple Cider Vinegar while they cook, if you wish, to help keep them moist.
 Then, I'll take them out and wrap them in aluminum foil for the next 90 mins.
 At the 3 hour mark, I'll remove the foil and cook the remaining time. Based on your temp, it'll take another 3 - 4 hours. When you start to see the rib bone exposed from the meat about 1/4 to 1/2 inch, you're getting close. I insert a toothpick between the meat and the bone. When the toothpick will push, easily, the full length of the toothpick down into the meat, you're very close to done.
 Note: If I'm cooking a rack wet, then I'll start to apply the sauce during the last hour or so of cooking. I don't mind if the sugar in the sauces blackens just a smidge.....