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Archive for the ‘Poor Man’s Chef’ Category

Poor Man’s Chef: The Machinist

Ivan:  Oh, no. You look like you seen a ghost.
Trevor Reznik:  Funny you should say that.  The guys at work don’t think you exist.
Ivan:  That’s why I can’t get a raise.

I know it’s been a while since the last post, so I will answer some of the questions I’ve been asked:

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth.
Yes, I’m still drinking wine.
Yes, I still write a blog.

And just in case you’re wondering…no, this isn’t a movie review of The Machinist.

There have been a number of new things going on in the WineLife365 household that have served to cause quite a distraction.  Mostly good stuff, though!  Most recently, we’re finishing up a bathroom remodel.  Now I won’t lie to you:  I’m not doing the work, but it did make me think about my cooking skills.  You see, I’ve built (or repaired) all types of dinner specials,” and I’ve become quite the Journeyman at manufacturing some highly delicious salads.  Like this one…

Like a good machinist, I start by laying out all of my variable parts:

  • Baby Romaine Lettuce
  • Red Onion
  • Portabella Mushrooms
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • Leftover grilled London Broil
  • Briannas Chipotle Cheddar Dressing

Next, I grab a sharp knife and make all the necessary precision cuts for easy consumption.  Finally, I use all my “milling around in the wine closet knowledge” to come up with what I hope will be a highly acceptable application to my Cowboy Salad.

My die to put the stamp on this creation?

The 2008 Anka (Sample, MSRP: $20 US) from Chile!  Made from organically grown grapes, it’s a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 7% Carmenere, 4% Syrah and 1% Petit Verdot.  Whoa…that’s quite a list, but it added up to 100% delicious!

3 Stars out of 4 for the 2008 Anka.  With its humongous smoky black cherry, green bell pepper, black currant, black pepper and roasted almond flavor, it was the perfect choice to complete this meal.  

Poor Man’s Chef: Pod People

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Ambulance Driver: We had to dig him out from under the most peculiar things I ever saw.
Dr. Hill: What things?
Ambulance Driver: Well, I don’t know what they are, I never saw them before. They looked like great big seed pods.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956

It’s official – I have a serious problem:  it’s called edamame obsession. 

My first experiences with these beautiful green pods were by way of visits to local Japanese Fusion restaurants.  Now, I make regular trips to Trader Joe’s to keep an endless supply in my freezer!  Since my indoctrination into the pod people cult, I’ve been popping these cheap, salty little buggers in my mouth every chance I get.  However, there are two problems with this:

  1. ADDICTION (duh!)
  2. They produce hallucinogenic images in my mind of what is supposed to come next…an amazing assortment of sushi!! 

Well, I’m screwed there – take note:  Poor Man’s Chef, not Sushi Chef.  Miso soup?  Umm, nope.  Bento box filled with beef and chicken teriyaki?  No dice there, either.  On most days I usually have some beef or chicken lying around just waiting to be lacquered with coats of teriyaki, but not tonight – our little minka had zilch.

So what did we have?

Much like every other weeknight, I rummaged through the fridge and freezer, searched through cabinets and spice racks to find something good enough to satisfy the craving.   I was in dire need of finding something that would fulfill the fantastical images that were floating around in my head of what should come next after sipping on a well-deserved gin and tonic and devouring a 20-inch high pile of steaming hot edamame covered in garlic salt and black pepper.  

In my search, I discovered:

  • 1pkg. of frozen grilling chorizo sausage
  • 1 yellow onion
  • ¼ bag of mixed frozen peppers
  • 2 handfuls of fresh snow peas
  • 1 handful of sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 ready cooked Jimmy Dean turkey sausage links
  • 3 slices of deli-sliced sweet honey ham
  • Dry cilantro, fresh black and white pepper, and salt from the spice rack

Wine?  Hell yeah!!  I always have some of that sitting around.

Ok, so not exactly sushi delight, but you‘ll definitely find this three-step dinner to be pretty tasty:

  1. Grill chorizo sausage.
  2. Char all the other ingredients on the list in a hot pan coated with olive oil.
  3. Lay a couple of pieces of grilled chorizo sausage down on a plate and top with the charred ingredients from step 2.

Hoping that it would hit the mark, like the 2007 Calcu Red Blend, I paired my Spanish-inspired dish with the 2008 Calcu Carmenere Reserva (Sample, MSRP: $15 US).   Made from 100% Carmenere grapes grown in Chile’s central Colchagua Valley, this tight red needed a shot of coldness to loosen up its smoky grip.  So I decided to take it with me on the deck while I was grilling the sausage, and fed it a cool autumn breeze for about 20 minutes.

After giving it a little jolt, the 2008 Calcu Carmenere Reserva expressed penetrating flavors of blackberry, raspberry, and black currants, along with gripping tannins.

3 Stars out of 4 for the 2008 Calcu Carmenere Reserva.

Cheers!  I’m off for my next edamame score! :)

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!!

“‘Cause you set my expectations so high!” Tales from the Poor Man’s Chef

Personally, I could grab a box of crackers out of the cabinet and top it with some cheddar cheese and bacon, then wash it all down with some good swill and call it dinner.  However, because I’ve set my wife’s expectations so high with my creative cooking, she’s come to expect great things to emerge from our little kitchen with only a few ingredients lying around.

I confess:  I’m not a big fan of the grocery store and I don’t know shit about technical cooking.  I’m just a simpleton who hates to waste food and is armed with a bit of imagination.

I digress:  the other night things were so bare in our fridge and cabinets that I resorted to ‘borrowing’ two ingredients that our friend brought over for a dinner that she was planning to make for us in two days.  I thought to myself, what the hell!!  It’s not like she needs these two things tomorrow, so why not use them tonight – so I did!!

Here’s what I ‘stole’:

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 pkg of Chorizo (Spanish pork sausage)

 My stuff:

  • 1 medium Yellow Onion
  • 1 can Green Giant “Mexicorn”
  • 1 jar Fire Roasted Red Peppers
  • 1 – 4.5 oz. can of Old El Paso chopped green chiles
  • 1 – 2.25oz can of Black Pearls sliced ripe black olives
  • A generous helping of my beloved Stubb’s Chile-Lime Spice Rub
  • 1 cup of red wine – funny how we never run out of that!  :)

Here’s my one pot method:  chop up your onion and sauté a bit in your pot with olive oil.  Dice up the Chorizo and toss it into the pot.  While this is cooking, poke some holes with a knife into your spaghetti squash.  Place spaghetti squash in microwave for 10 -11 minutes. 

Turning your attention back to your pot, start tossing in the rest of your ingredients:  fire roasted red peppers, Old El Paso chopped green chiles, Black Pearls sliced ripe black olives.

Now the fun part:  go to town sprinkling your little creation with Stubb’s Chile-Lime Spice Rub and add 1 cup of red wine. 

In this case, I used a really tasty 2009 Apaltagua Estate Grown Carmenère (Sample, MSRP:  $11).  It’s a great little number beaming in spicy, smoky black cherry, plum, tea, green pepper, with a minty herbal note.  Very well balanced and nicely put together.  3 Stars out of 4! 

Back to dinner.

After bringing everything in your pot to a boil, bring it down to a mellow simmer to allow all of the great flavors to mingle.  Then take your spaghetti squash, split it in half and scoop out the seeds.  Finally, make a nice presentation by putting it on a nice plate like this…

…sprinkle the  spaghetti squash with a little salt and pepper (maybe some butter) and you’re all set!

Oh, and don’t forget the Carmenère to wash it all down!

“Oh man, that’s good!” Mrs. WineLife365

Until the next time we run out of food…Enjoy!!

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