Saturday, August 28, 2010

Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells

Today was my 44th birthday.  My awesome wife made my favorite "Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells."  There are several ingredients in the shells and they are most excellent.  She also prepared a side salad with homemade blue cheese dressing and French bread w/ EVOO, fresh rosemary and garlic.
Our boys seriously surprised me with a bottle of Caymus Special Select.  If you're not familiar with it, well, it's not your everyday wine.  Well, it may be yours but it's not my everyday.  I've had it before and it's definitely in my Top 5 of go-to Cabernets.  It's dark fruit, complex, opulent and oaky with a hint of chocolate on the mid-palate.  And a nice lingering finish.  It's just great!!!
After diner we moved on to the desserts:  Caramel cake, Strawberry cake, Red Velvet cake and Chocolate Chess Squares (my personal favorite).  And, since the Caymus had been consumed, we moved on to the "Left Bank Bordeaux."  Val bought me a bottle of '05 Chateau de Cruzeau.  It's a blend of Cabernet, Merlot & Cab Franc.  This wine is very different from the Caymus.  It's earthy on the nose, maybe a little floral.  And, it's more tannic and an oaky, coffee like mid-palate with a nice long finish.  Love the Bordeaux style as well.  It's very nice.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fresh Guacamole & Vinho Verde

Avocado, Roma Tomatoes, Vidalia Onion, Minced Garlic, Kosher Salt, Cayenne Pepper & Cumin

$7 Vinho Verde (Portugal):  crisp, acidic, refreshing, maybe a little floral and grapefruit

Sidecar Martini:  Pear Vodka, St. Germain and a splash of $21 Nino Franco, Prosecco

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Prosciutto Wrapped Bread-sticks

Prosciutto, Onion & Chive Cream Cheese & Bread-sticks.

1 box breadsticks
1/4 lb, thinly sliced prosciutto
1 container, onion & chive cream cheese

Place two slices of the prosciutto on a cutting board (or countertop) and spread a light to generous coat of cream cheese.  Wrap the "prosciut" around two breadsticks.

Enjoy these with some Vouvray Chenin Blanc.  Crisp & acidic and spot-on for summertime.


unWine'd and relax with Raphe

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pork Loin & Apple Chutney with '05 Amarone

This evening's cooking consisted of a French-boned pork loin with a dry rub, apple-ginger chutney, baked potato and an '05 Amarone della Valpolicella, Bolla ($39).  The pork loin was purchased from Tag'z 5Star Meats in Murfreesboro, TN.   I used a light coat of EVOO and then applied the dry rub which consisted of:  black pepper, kosher salt, minced garlic, cumin, coriander & thyme.  Not a heavy coat of the dry rub but just enough to season and not overpower the taste of the pork.  Normally I'd cook the loin on the grill but it was raining here most of the day so I cooked this one in the oven.  I cooked it @ 450 degrees for 20 minutes and then turned the oven down to 350 degrees and cooked the loin until the internal temp was 140 degrees.  You don't want to over cook the loin as it'll continue to cook after removing it from the oven.
The Apple Ginger Chutney was very nice with the pork.  This was my first attempt at chutney.  Granny Smith apples, fresh ginger, spanish onion, EVOO, minced garlic, brown sugar, honey, and a couple other ingredients...  Cooked slow in a sauce pan on the cooktop.  I thought this was very good and it tasted great with each bite of the bone-in chop.
The '05 Amarone della Valpolicella, Bolla paired very well with the meal.  It has a bing cherry and earthiness nose with some acidity.  I decanted it about one hour before we ate dinner and as it opened up,  it became more balanced.  It had a nice clean fruit finish.  If you're a Pinot Noir fan, you'll probably enjoy this as well.  Cheers to all...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

FOX17 WZTV - Segment on grilling & tailgating

FOX 17 in Nashville has a show each weekday morning, for a couple of hours, named Tennessee Mornings.  Being that I've been part of "Just A Pinch" on-line recipe club in Franklin, TN since Nov 2009 and that my wife is the Controller there, I was asked to host tomorrow's 4 minute segment to discuss grilling & tailgating with the Tennessee Titans.  They asked me what we'd normally prepare for tailgating and Boston Butt (aka Pork Shoulder) came to mind.  I usually put this on the night before the game and let it cook all night.  It usually takes, on average, about 90 minutes per pound so I can just back into Sunday's departure time and let it cook all night.  We wrap it in foil and make our 40 minute trek to the stadium parking lot.  Afterward, it's ready to pull and make sandwiches, etc.  Hopefully this 5 lb piece will be enjoyed by all @ FOX 17 tomorrow morning.  Football is upon us once again and that Fall weather will be here soon.  Cheers to all...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ribeye a' deux

     This evening's cooking, being done inside because I'm tired of this relentless heat, is the second of two French-boned Cowboy Ribeyes that I purchased from The Butcher Shop in Franklin, Tn.  I decided to create a little rub, without measuring, and see how it works.  I started with shaved sea salt, cracked black pepper and then added a few pinches of cumin, onion powder and garlic powder.  The ribeye had been coated with a light coat of EVOO prior to applying the rub.  The cooking process today will be to sear the ribeye in the oven @ 450 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce oven heat to 325 degrees and cook ribeye to an internal temp of 115-120 degrees for a "nice" med-rare.  After cooking, it'll rest for about 15 minutes and the temp will continue to rise a few degrees.  It'll be magnificent.  The side dishes will be squash / zucchini casserole and roasted new, yellow, potatoes.
     We also prepared an appetizer to enjoy while the ribeye cooks.  We roasted some fresh garlic that we spread on a french baguette (with a light coat of EVOO as well) and then topped that with fresh mozzarella slices.  Into the oven that goes for about 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.  If you've not tried this, give it a try. Easy to prepare and it's great tasting.
    Today's wine choice is the '06 ST.FRANCIS Cabernet.  It has a dark fruit nose with a hint of plum.  And, since it's aged in French & American Oak, the mid-palate is toasty-oak (maybe even like a piece of toast to me) and it has a nice fruit finish, fairly complex.  It was a bit tannic and tight as I poured the first couple of small pours, to taste, but after being decanted for 45 minutes to a hour, it became much more balanced.  It's $24 and it will pair very well with the marbling in the ribeye and the side dishes.  Bon Appetit and Cheers to all...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

J Vineyards

If you're a fan of Jordan Wine, as I am, you'll want to check out J Vineyards.  Judy Jordan, daughter of Tom Jordan, Jordan Wine, is making wine in the Russian River Valley.

Click link below to read the  article on J Vineyards:
J Vineyards Article

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lily Pinot & Rotisserie Chicken

So many cooking, today I chose to use my grille's rotisserie, which had not been used in a couple years if memory serves me correctly.  I picked up a whole chicken @ Tag'z 5Star Meats, here in Murfreesboro, and decided to use a simple dry rub so we could enjoy the juicy taste of the chicken.  I started with a light coat of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), a light coat of fine ground black pepper as well as kosher salt.  After about 4 hours of resting with the rub, it was time to put the "chick" on the rotisserie.  The grill temp was about ~300 degrees and it cooked for approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to an internal temp of 170-175 degrees.  As the chicken was cooking, I brushed on some EVOO about every 30 minutes.  In the end, I ended up with a nice golden brown, crispy outside and juicy inside.  I did notice that the dark meat was much more juicy than the white but it was all very tasty.

Today's vegetable was fresh eggplant from the local Farmer's Market.  I actually got up early enough to get there and get some fresh veges.  I should do this more often...

Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Ricotta & Grilled Tomato-Basil Relish
 8 ounces fresh sheep's milk ricotta
1/8 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Stir together the ricotta and parsley in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.
2. Place the grilled eggplant on a large platter and top each slice with a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta and a heaping      

tablespoon of the tomato-basil relish.
3.  Eggplant slices were grilled for approx 5 to 6 minutes on each side with the grill on high.  Nice grill marks, you're done.

Grilled Tomato-Basil Relish

2  ripe plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 small red onion, finely diced
1 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup finely chopped fresh basil

1. Heat your grill to high.
2. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place tomatoes on the grill and grill until charred on all sides, and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the grill and coarsely chop. Put the chopped tomatoes in a bowl, add the remaining 1 tablespoons of oil, onion, garlic, vinegar and basil and gently mix until combined. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Can be made 4 hours in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Flat Iron & The Show

Flat Iron Steak, Grilled Hearts of Romain & French Bread paired with "The Show" Cabernet from "Three Thieves Winery," located in St. Helena, CA (lil North of Napa). The steak, which has some marbling, goes well with the Cabernet. This Cab is full bodied but not overpowering with tannin nor alcohol. It has some dark fruit on the nose, blueberry most prevalent, a smoky-oak mid palate and a nice fruit finish. $16

Grilling Hearts of Romain (cut in half) and French Bread. Lightly coat the lettuce w/ EVOO before grilling. Grille 3 to 4 minutes, just long enough for leaves to start wilting. And, 3 - 5 minutes on the bread. Bread has EVOO, lil Kosher salt and cracked black pepper & a "smidge" of dried Rosemary but "no parsley - sage - thyme." (Remember the song?) :-)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

7 Deadly Zins, Lodi, CA

This afternoon was a quick grille between rain storms...  However, rain that was seriously needed.  Yesterday, it was 105 degrees before calculating the heat index, just too HOT.  After the rain today it was 88 and it felt like Fall was one sleep away.  Nevertheless, back to reality, it's not quite Fall yet.  So, more importantly, back to the vino.  This afternoon I just grilled up some burgers and cooked a few potatoes to go with the 7 Deadly Zins, Zinfandel from Lodi, CA.  Lodi is South of Sacramento and inland Northeast of San Fran.  This is one of Val's, the wife, favorite Zins and Zin pairs well with so many different things.  We cork'd it and poured a couple ounces in each glass and then gave it see-swirl-sniff-sip...  I got mostly dark fruit on the nose, maybe the blue of a blueberry muffin stood out the most.  It was a little tight at first, like your cheeks sticking to your gums, so to speak, but after about 30 minutes it opened up nicely.  The second sniff-sip led me to a smoky-pepper mid palate but not overpowering pepper.  The finish was nice fruit, not too peppery.  At this price, <$20 USD, it's a bottle you can open on Wednesday or Saturday or any other day, even Thanksgiving Day for that matter.  If you're a Zin fan, give it a try.  Cheers to all...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

4 Options from Burgundy

"Article sourced from Cork'd:"  @corkd on twitter; 4 Regions that offer GREAT value.

There is some value to be had from less buzzed about vineyard sites along the Côte d’Or. If you’re looking to dip your toe in Burgundy without emptying your bank account, here are three areas to look for on the label:

Marsannay, located at the very top of the Cote d’Or, can present some serious value. This most northern growing area is just south of Dijon, France. With average prices under $40 (even in good vintages, like 2005), these 100% Pinot Noir wines can eximplify true Burgundian characteristics – a balance of red fruits, earth and character – without breaking the bank.

On deck we have Fixin. Fixin is sandwiched between Marsannay and the highly prestigious Gevery-Chambertin AOC. The Burgundy Report has provided an amazingly in depth description of what to expect from Fixin, explaining that its “premier crus can certainly compete with the average premier cru labeled Gevrey”. The best part of all? These bottles are often a third the price of Gevrey-Chambertin.

Continuing our journey southward, St. Aubin presents a third option. This lesser known area, which we’ve previously highlighted, falls within the Cote de Beaune region, tucked between the world’s most heralded Chardonnay vineyards of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. St. Aubin is a source of value for both great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as it’s located very close to Pommard, a well-respected Pinot Noir-focused area. Its diverse soil types and many southerly exposed vineyards provide enough sunlight to make Paris Hilton happy. And because it doesn’t get nearly the press of Hilton’s sun soaked curves, you’re sure to find lots of value.

Batting cleanup for team “Value Burgundy” is Nuits St. George. The southern most appellation of the Cote d’Or Nuits, Nuits St. George annually produces around 1.7 million bottles. The region’s vineyards are dominated by Pinot Noir, and make very little white wine from the Chardonnay variety. The wines from this AOC are more revered and slightly more expensive than those previously mentioned but brings loads of red berries, truffles, ample tannins and true terroir that you can expect from many upper-tier Burgundies. You may want to look to reserve these wines for birthday dinners or an anniversary.