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Archive for July, 2011

Please Pass the Gumbo

Can you remember some of the things your Dad taught you as a child?  My Dad wasn’t much in the kitchen, but he did show me a few things like:  making snow cones out of freshly-laid snow (“stay away from the yellow stuff, son”) and how to properly season a vine-ripened watermelon with salt.  But my all-time favorite Dad concoction was – whipped peanut butter and syrup…scooping it up with Ritz crackers.

Over the years, I’ve tried my best to come up with some interesting creations of my own, in hopes that one day my sons would be interested in trying new foods and enjoy cooking.  I’m proud to say that I’ve officially passed down a dish that my youngest son made for the very first time yesterday. 

I first made this recipe several months ago, thinking that my sons wouldn’t have any interest in tasting it.  To my surprise, our youngest son, who is 7, came in the kitchen and said, “that smells sooo good!”  So I gave him a little taste of my chicken and sausage gumbo creation; and it was love at first bite.  He devoured a bowl of it and made me promise him that one day I would teach him how to make Chicken and Sausage Gumbo so that he could “teach his kids, and they would teach their kids, and their kids would teach their kids” and so on…

So here it is – the very first heirloom recipe passed on to and made by my 7 year-old son.

List of Ingredients:

  • 1 package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 can of Progresso Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Soup
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion
  • 1 can Mexican Style Corn (with red and green peppers)
  • A generous helping of my beloved Stubb’s Chile-Lime Spice Rub
  • Some sort of sausage.  We used Jimmy Dean’s fully cooked turkey sausage (4 links is plenty)
  • 1 yellow or white onion
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sprinkle of black pepper, garlic powder and Chipotle Chili Pepper (to taste)
  • Olive oil

All you need is one large pot.  Heat up some olive oil. Place chicken thighs in the pot at medium heat.  As the chicken is cooking, chop up the onion and put it into the pot.  Now add your dry spices.  Toss this around a bit to fully cook the chicken. Next, chop up your sausage and toss it into the pot.  Now for the really easy parts.  Add the can of diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion.  Give it a good stir in the pot.  Now add a can of Mexican Style Corn and do the same.  After you’ve stirred this around a bit, add the can of Progresso Chicken and Gumbo Soup.  You want to let this simmer for about 15 -20 minutes before serving.  Top with fresh cilantro.

For a wine, I suggest a high acidity white wine like the 2010 Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc from Chile (Sample, MSRP: $10.99).  The 2009 version blew us away, and the 2010 is wickedly-good too!

As for a red, my wife and I were equally knocked out by the 2009 Ricardo Santos Malbec from Argentina (Sample, MSRP: $19.00).  This wine comes from the single vineyard La Madras, on the slopes of the Andes Mountains in Argentina.  When tasting this Malbec, I detected a massive earthy, herbaceous component (it’s crazy delicious!), joined by an equally weighty burst of sweet, dark fruit that produced a long, elegant finish.  My son really enjoyed this wine as well.  I kid, I kid!  :)

Cheers to family traditions!!

Add Your Own Summer Scenery

Summer Dream:  relaxing on the beach under an umbrella, while listening to the pounding waves with a cold drink in my hand.

Produced and bottled by Vavasour Wines, in Marlborough, New Zealand, the 2010 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from two different locations within the renowned Marlborough region.  This 100% Sauvignon Blanc (61% Awatere Valley, 39% Wairau Valley) explodes with a blend of tropical fruits and a mouthwatering racy acidity.  In your glass you’ll taste a massive avalanche of grapefruit, lemon, lime, and pineapple flavors.  It’s even better than that fruity, frozen concoction that you might otherwise be sipping on under your umbrella!

4 Stars out 4 for the 2010 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re looking for summer in a glass, look no further!

(Sample, MSRP: $10.99)


It all started around 9 o’clock, while kicking back on the couch, listening to Cuban music and enjoying a gin and tonic with my resident hottie.  My wife and I were home all alone, enjoying our stay-cation this past 4th of July weekend, while our sons were away having fun at the beach with their grandparents.  So there we were, kid-free, having a lovely evening when all of the sudden, like a deranged Arthur Spooner, I shouted:  I WANT SOFT-SHELL CRABS!

For the record, I haven’t a clue why I yelled out like a mental patient, frothing from the mouth, wanting soft shell crabs.  To be honest with you, I can’t even remember the last time I even had them.  Whatever it was, the thought of succulent soft shell crabs was securely cemented in my screwy head.

I sprang from the couch and called every seafood joint that I could find within a 15 mile radius. Unfortunately, neither fisherman, market, nor restaurant could be found at this hour (and this far inland) to come to my emotional food rescue.

Out of this burning, yearning feeling, deep down inside of me came Plan B:  this poached egg concoction made on-the-fly, two different ways.

Here’s the stuff you’ll need:

  • Soft shell tortillas
  • Red onion
  • Capers
  • Fully cooked bacon (Oscar Mayer, Hormel etc…)
  • Manchego Cheese
  • Small package of smoked salmon
  • Eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

To assemble:  Our soft tortilla shells were larger than we wanted, so my wife pulled out a small funnel from the cabinet and cut out cute little circles – just large enough to rest a poached egg on top.

  The next steps, you’ll really have to time accordingly:

  • Boil a pot of water for your eggs.  Don’t put your eggs in just yet!!
  • While your water is starting to boil, dice up some red onions, slice some small pieces of Manchego cheese and smoked salmon.  Tear up some small pieces of the fully cooked bacon and have the capers out and ready.
  • Turning your attention back to your naked shells, drizzle or pat olive oil on the top only.  Sprinkle tops with garlic salt and black pepper.  Add a small slice of the Manchego cheese, a little bit of chopped red onions, capers and some bacon.  Place in toaster oven until melted.
  • While this is in the toaster oven, it’s time to poach the eggs.  Don’t worry if you’ve never poached an egg before, here’s an easy way.

To finish:  Either place the poached egg right on top, or lay down a slice of smoked salmon and then top with the poached egg.  Both ways are delicious!

As for the wine pairing, you can go in several interesting directions with this creation – depending on what you’re feeling.  How about a bubbly from Bordeaux?  Say what??  Yup, Crémant de Bordeaux.  The Chateau de Lisennes Brut, Crémant de Bordeaux (Sample, MSRP $17) is a blend of 80 percent Semillon, 10 percent Muscadelle and 10 percent Sauvignon.  It’s brewing in tiny bubbles and charms with its crisp lemon and orange-zesty flavors.


For a white pick, you can’t go wrong with the 2009 Foppiano Vineyards Estate Bottled Chardonnay (Sample, MSRP $22).  Winemaker, Natalie West, demonstrates that you can achieve a creamy, full-bodied Cali Chard that doesn’t beat your chops with a 2×4 (BTW – she also makes a killer Petite Sirah, too!). 

Finally, if you’re in the red zone, consider this bangin’ red from Chile – 2009 Apaltagua Envero Gran Reserva Carménère (Sample, MSRP $15).  Made from vines that are over 50 years old, this estate grown Carménère (93%), with a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon (7%), is like a deep pool of dark fruit, with oak and spice flavors floating throughout – the flavors seems as if they will linger all summer long.

And to think, this all started with a hankering for a little soft-shell crab…


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