Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Salmon Burgers – First Attempt

With the summer grilling season upon us I am venturing to try as many different burger styles as I can. I plan to wait until the end to try some beef variations, something I have done many times before.

I saw a recipe two weeks ago for Salmon Burgers at the Ardent Epicure / Magic of Spice blog. Because I hadn’t made burgers from fish before I used this recipe as a guide hoping to get the proportions right and a result worth evaluating. I did veer off when it came to flavors and the final preparation, but that is where the fun comes in. The recipe was a handy guide and the complete preparation from the blog would make a great meal.

The recipe I used can be found below. The process was quite straightforward and did not require any special equipment or a lot of time. They cook quickly which is a bonus when you get home late on a weeknight.
Upon eating the burgers I was immediately sure that that the adornment of the burgers with a fresh salsa certainly enhanced the flavors. The burgers as I prepared them were mild in flavor, but had a wonderful texture and a nice crisp coating on the outside. I considered what I would do the next time.

I would add more salt to the mix and swap out the jalapeno cheese for regular cheddar and some habanero pepper sauce. More flavor there. I would also add some ground cumin and chopped cilantro to the mix also for more flavor. Where I am going is typical for me. I don’t add a lot of stuff on top of my burgers, I like the flavor to be in them. I dress them up with cheese, lettuce and tomato and sometimes some mayonnaise, which would work well here too; although I don’t think it would be a big change.

I did not find a good wine match to go with these burgers and I tried two different wines available the night I cooked the burgers. The first was the Miguel Torres Tormenta 2009 Organically Grown Viognier from Chile. The wine was very dry for a Viognier and the burger accentuated the dryness and made the wine taste a bit tart. I then switched to a bottle of a Chilean Pinot Noir we made with some friends and found a better match, but no sparks.

I will be making these burgers again, applying some of the changes I mentioned above and looking for better beverage pairings to create a super summer meal. The next burger adventure is going to be with ground turkey and some spice ideas culled from some of the new shows on the Cooking Channel.

Recipe for Salmon Burgers
(makes 3 large patties)

9oz boneless salmon filet
12 whole wheat crackers
3 tbsp light mayo
1 tbsp country style Dijon mustard
2 tsp chopped fresh drill
3 oz shredded jalapeno cheddar cheese
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp butter
3 small whole wheat pitas, cut open
Sliced tomato and lettuce for garnish
  • Pulse crackers in the food processor to small crumbs, set side
  • Combine mayo, mustard and dill in a small bowl, set aside
  • Shred cheese and set aside
  • Finely chop onion, set aside
  • Remove the skin from the salmon and cut in medium sized chunks
  • Process in the food processor until it has a smooth texture and some pieces still visible
  • Scrape into large bowl, mix in mayo/mustard, crackers, cheese, onion, salt, pepper and lime juice
  • Form into 3 patties
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and melt butter in pan
  • Cook patties about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown and pale pink in the middle
  • Top with cheese after flipping, if desired
  • Use the pitas, tomato and lettuce to make 3 burgers.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Relay For Life – It’s Not About the Food

(Survivors Rule! saving lives and reducing suffering)

My wife and I captain a Relay For Life team every year. This event is unique because teams setup camp sites at our local high school track and walk all night to support the battle against cancer. This event isn’t about food, and because it is family friendly it is alcohol free. We did apply for the Foodbuzz 24x24 event to host a cookie/brownie and soda pairing at our Relay but were not accepted. A loss for Foodbuzz for sure, and here is why. Our team, named Survivors Rule!, is the most successful team in the history of the Relay For Life of Greater Derry & Londonderry, NH. Our hard working team has come in first place (for fundraising) 4 out of the last 5 years, having raised more than $10,000 each year in those same four years. Our total funds raised as a team, supporting multiple charities since 2003, is over $72,000!!!! Back to the real story though.

When you camp out at Relay you commit to no showers, minimal sleep and whatever food you can bring in or happens to be around. Some people bring grills, but our team has learned one thing with Relay, keep it simple. What you bring in on Friday night when you have lots of energy you have to bring out on Saturday at noon when you are wiped out. For us that means we bring snacks, drinks and rely on the Derry Rotary who run the snack bar for more substantial food to keep us going. The food is simple and designed to give you calories to burn off on the track. When most of the team is aiming for marathon distance of 26+ miles, it doesn’t matter what the food is, it just has to be easy and energy producing.

This year there were some culinary standouts though. Beantowne Coffee House from Hampstead, NH setup a full coffee bar at Relay for the second time this year, a much needed staple for the walkers. Beantowne served up lattes, hot and iced coffee and snacks/sandwiches to many people. We enjoyed the iced offering which Margot was told was cold pressed, and technique used to enhance the flavor of the cold coffee. I very much enjoyed this coffee, especially because I was losing steam and needed a boost. I drank it fast during a sock change and then headed back out to march that track as a soldier in the battle against cancer.

Nothing at the Derry Relay tastes as good as a McMoody egg sandwich early Saturday morning. These tasty sandwiches are the hallmark of the morning crew from the Derry Rotary and have their own special announcements when they are ready. They consist of scramlbed egg, Canadian bacon and cheese on a flat top grilled English muffin. They are so good at 6 AM when you still have six hours to go until you are done. I forgot to get a picture, but at 6 AM after being up most of the night my brain wasn't worked well. Enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee and donuts from the local Dunkin Donuts, it almost seems like there isn’t anything better!

(Jen and I showing Cancer who's boss!)

This year our team came in first again and raised over $11,500 in the fight against cancer. I met a recent cancer survivor (Jen) who has several weeks to go in her treatments and is extremely defiant in the face of her own diagnosis. At 11 AM I had one lap to go to reach my 30 mile goal and I chose to run it as a sign to anyone who was watching that cancer can come knocking, but it better not get comfortable. As I motored down the track Jen came up fast alongside me and with the comment “if you can do it, so can I” she kept running ahead of me. I still get goosebumps thinking about how awesome it was to have to chase someone with so much energy at time when her doctors think she should be suffering from low energy and be tired. We finished that lap to cheers from our teammates, something I will cherish forever. As a cancer survivor I have worked hard to give back in support everyone who must battle this disease. While this event doesn't pair well with my food-obsessed lifestyle, it does give me the ability to do something wonderful during my time on this planet.



Friday, June 25, 2010

Eating Where You Live and Work

(who wouldn't want to eat this? rainbow chard anyone?)

Margot and I are fortunate enough to have several farm stands of local farms (Elwood, Macks & Sunnycrest) within a few miles from home in Londonderry, NH. We patronize them weekly, sometimes daily, in the summer and fall months when their produce is available. The combination of it being grown right there with minimal transportation and the ability to inquire about what is about to ripen and when is fantastic. We have picked our own berries, apples and pumpkins almost every year we have lived in Londonderry. I have used produce from all of the farms to make wines, ciders and beers several years running.

When we can, we eat where we live. In 2009 friends of ours offered a half share in a pig, being raised by their neighbor next-door, and we have cheerfully eaten most of our score. I grow kitchen herbs, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and lavender in my own garden and freeze everything I can in the fall to use when it is no longer in season. These choices have ushered in home cooked food with fresh and clean flavors, a reduction of chemicals and processing and a lower impact on our natural world.

I recently began working in Boston again and was very excited when I first saw the Dewey Square Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Bread, fruit, vegetables, cheese, roasted nuts, fresh cut flowers and sandwiches are available almost every day. The vendors vary from one day/week to the next, but their products always look and most certainly taste great! Being able to eat where I work while avoiding fast food and packaged choices is fantastic. The addition of the Clover Food Truck, which I wrote about last week, has attracted even more buzz and more patrons. If you work in Boston in the area of South Station you should follow Clover on Twitter at @cloverdwy. The daily updates on their menu are a fun way to decide where to eat when you didn’t bring from home.

Last week I interviewed a few vendors at the Dewey Square market to understand the benefits of the market to them and their patrons.

Allison Chase from Keown Orchards said that from the market “city residents have access to fresh produce and products they might not otherwise get” and “the farm gets good exposure which often results in visitors to the farm”. When asked about which products are their most popular Allison indicated that their honey is very popular and that in the fall they can bring up to 60 varieties of apples to the market. I can’t wait to try some types of apples I have never had before!

(Keown Orchards at the Dewey Square Farmers Market)

Beth Quinn co-owner of Q’s Sweet Roasted Nuts said that “patrons at the farm markets are more open to experimentation with flavors” and that they sell many more of their more exotic flavors here than at other retail locations. I have personally tried the Key Lime Ginger, Cayenne Mango and Mexican Chocolate flavors, none of which lasted long at all. Beth also feels that the farm market offers a great support network amongst the vendors and she hopes that the Dewey Square market becomes a permanent farm market in the city.

(Beth and a parton talking sweet roasted nuts!)

This year we have joined the Local Harvest CSA (community-supported agriculture project) run out of Concord, NH. We saw an article on the CSA trend in the Hippo Press and sought out what was available nearby. While we already eat healthy, we often return to the same vegetable options week over week, and we though a CSA might give us options that we would have to learn how to use and would definitely come to enjoy. Bingo! This is week two and we have already enjoyed baby pak choi for the first time. We have garlic scapes on deck from this week, something I am looking forward to working with.

The Local Harvest CSA is a cooperative of eight local organic farms with produce offerings of cantaloupe to kale greens, and all of the classics like tomatoes and lettuce as well. A bread share is also available for an additional fee. Margot and I signed up for the single share priced at $29 per week. Some back of the envelope math based on organic (for a fair comparison) produce available at our local markets suggests the price and quantities are competitive. We are sure to be challenged to come up with new recipes to use a wide range of produce we haven’t enjoyed before. We also get to support local farmers, ingest fewer chemicals and live a bit more gently. Mission accomplished.

(members, with Joan's help picking up shares)

This week we received the following items:
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic scapes
  • Chard
  • Mixed field greens
  • Dill
  • Green onions
(is Margot really happy about green onions?)

Yesterday was a special day at the CSA pickup site, with visiting chef Mario Capozzoli (see photo below) of preparing recipes using ingredients’ from this week’s share. We talked with Mario a bit and found his down to earth philosophy on eating and living well to be consistent with our own, and a nice balance between not caring at all and the zealots who claim we shouldn’t eat almost everything. Mario prepared the following items using items we were taking home:
  • Spinach and chickpea pesto style spread with garlic scapes on crusty bread
  • Pea risotto wrapped in lettuce
  • Orzo (maybe) pasta salad made with his own handmade cider vinegar
We talked to Joan O’Connor, the site manager to the Local Harvest CSA. Joan was so enthusiastic to talk with us, even turning us on the idea that earthworms were good food. She quickly explained that they can be dried and ground into a high protein flour that you wouldn’t know came from a worm. I’ll have to reserve another day to check that out and let you all know what kind of adventure that creates…

Joan is also the market manager for the Manchester Farmers Market and an earthworm vendor at the Concord Farmers Market. As a member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association she has a strong commitment to local, organic and sustainable farming and her list of involvements certainly supports those ideas. She indicated that Local Harvest has grown considerably since it began, and while it isn’t without a few glitches here and there, it runs smoothly and members are happy with the variety of items they get. So far we would have to emphatically agree.

I’m not one of the facist foodists that is going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat with hellfire and brimstone awaiting all your “bad” choices. What I can say is that every one of us can benefit from more local and a less packaged junk and overly processed foods. Try to eat where you live and work. Look for fresh, local produce where you live and work and replace other things in your diet with them. Look for local bakeries, livestock cooperatives and producers of food that comes from the shortest distance away. Be adventurous. Look for things you haven’t used before, find good recipes and experiment at home. You’ll never believe what you will find. When you do, all of us will eat and live better.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Dish Made for Sauvignon Blanc

As soon as a I read the recipe for the Frittata with Wild Onion, Potato, Goat Cheese and Thyme from the Foy Update blog I thought Sauvignon Blanc. Asparagus, spring onions, potatoes, mushrooms, creamy goat cheese and thyme wrapped in eggs, definitely! Congrats to Foy for making the Foodbuzz Top 9 today.

I am going to reccomend two different selections of Sauvignon Blanc, both worth a try, with different positions to the food which will be easily noticeable.

The first is the Indaba 2009 South African Sauvignon Blanc. We had this just recently and it definitely presents citrus, cut grass with plenty of crispness. It is very fresh and has a nice long finish. This wine is going to make the onions and thyme pop and help push the goat cheese to its full creamy potential.

The second selection is the Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc from California, specifically Sonoma. I haven't had this in couple of years, but it is a consistent wine so the most recent vintage will do you well. This wine has some oak treatment which will help bring out the earthiness in the mushrooms and pump up the potatoes, all the while using its citrus and fruit notes to pair with the onions and herbs. For the cheese, the wine will add depth that the first selection can't, almost making you think of grilled fruit drizzled with melted goat cheese. What a thought! The finish on this wine is also nice and smooth, and will be clean with a shot of citrus at the end.

Both of these wines will pair very well with the frittata and you might even be glowing (you'll have to read the pos from Foy to see what that means) after a nice quite dinner with both of these wines.



Monday, June 21, 2010

How Foodies Celebrate a Wedding Anniversary

Thirteen years ago Margot and I were married. For the last four years celebrating our anniversary directly coincided with our Relay For Life involvement. This meant it was either on the day of the event or on one of the nights leading up to it where we are turning in our donations or packing up gear. Simply stated, in those years we spent more time preparing for Relay than celebrating our life together on our anniversary. As a cancer survivor who enjoys each day I have in the bonus round this wasn’t horrible, but still kind of a drag. Although, two years ago when our anniversary was the second day of Relay I did bring Margot flowers right after midnight. We both walked the track in the early morning with a smile, and then had deftly prepared egg, ham and cheese sandwiches from the Relay snack bar! When we heard that this year’s Relay was going to be the 25th and 26th of June we were rejoicing. We would get to do something for our anniversary AND get to participate in Relay, and separately. Oh, the joy!

(they have no idea what I plan to do with them...)

Margot remarked about how romantic it was for me to get her up at 7 AM on Saturday so we could go pick 45 of the 80 pounds of strawberries we needed for this year’s award winning (7 medals to date) wine. The picking, cleaning and processing was not romantic, but the fact that the berries will be used to make wine that we both love and have been hugely successful with is a nice romantic vision.

Backing up for a minute I’ll note that Margot loves Indian food and I whipped up some new Indian dishes on Friday night after watching some recent episodes of Indian Food Made Easy on The Cooking Channel. I prepared homemade paneer skewers with pepper and onion and served it alongside a Bengali style Dal and Naan bread. The links to the recipes I used are below. I’ll write more later this week on our ongoing adventures with Indian cuisine.

Panner Skewers
Bengali Style Dal 

For dessert I made the Pomegranate Gelato brought to us by the Merry Gourmet earlier in the week. I think it is fitting that she was using a dormant wedding present to make hers, and I own the same device, which I was using to celebrate my anniversary. AND, we both got married in June of 1997. How is that for coincidence! I’ll be posting a comment on her blog once this goes up so she can see what she inspired. The gelato was creamy in that way it should be, making the difference to ice cream very apparent. It had a wonderful fruit flavor with a healthy dose of citrus. Below is the modified ingrediant list I used based on what I had available in my kitchen. The preparation was otherwise the same as the recipe linked to above.

1 3/4 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sim milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/3 cup organic pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons homemade Limoncello
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

For breakfast on Saturday morning I combined some of the paneer from the night before with a recipe for a caprese style frittata that I saw in the Cookin’ Canuck blog. It was light and fluffy with a nice mix of flavors from the tomato, basil and cheese. Along with some three cheese semolina toast from the grocery store bakery it was a good start to a fun day!

(caprese style frittata)

After the strawberry fest, we went for a nice hike around what used to be Benson’s Animal Farm in Hudson, NH. The town of Hudson and many volunteers have revitalized the defunct park into walking trails and picnic areas that are worth a visit. The ghost park was cool to see. Something about seeing human footprints stuck in time fascinates me. A big thank you to Melissa K for the tip on the trails.

(there are wild animals at Benson's, not just the same ones from days past!)

One thing Margot had planned ahead of time was to have some wine-themed movies around to watch. We did end up seeing Sideways again (the last time was in the theater when it first came out) which was a hoot. I like Merlot, Pinot Noir and California Chardonnays with secondary fermentations and oak. Take that Miles! We also watched Bottle Shock, a more recent film about the California upset at the much written about 1976 French and American wine tasting competition. For a movie based on a true story it was very well done, funny and informative (to a degree) for wine enthusiasts. We couldn’t find A Walk In The Clouds on Net-Flix so we missed out on another viewing of a movie that Margot is still surprised I actually like. It is a about a wine-making family, I don’t need much!

On Saturday night we went out for Chinese food at Super Wok in Londonderry. We hadn’t been there in years and some advance research suggested that new management and a new kitchen philosophy would show up in the food. And so it did. We arrived a little after 7 PM to an empty dining room. We were promptly seated and taken well care of. We ordered a Pu Pu platter, General Gao’s Chicken and Crab Rangoon which recreates our classic menu for these types of restaurants. A bit of nostalgia I guess to celebrate our anniversary. All of the food was very well prepared, hot and tasted as you would hope it would, clean and with a minimum of oil. This turned out to be a real treat for us and is sure to draw us back again soon.

On Sunday we went out for lunch to the Republic Café in Manchester, NH. Margot wrote about the experience yesterday at I will say that the leisurely lunch afforded us the opportunity to talk about some of our recent food adventures and plans for new ones.

Along with and in between the weekend’s activities we did tend to a few of our new batches of wines and cracked open a few bottles of our own to celebrate. I was reminded of one of the wonderful reasons I make my own wine, you have lots of choices for special occasions.

That’s how a couple of foodies from southern New Hampshire celebrate a wedding anniversary.



Sunday, June 20, 2010

Republic Bistro & Cafe - Manchester, NH

We can often take our hometown for granted; we think that we know everything there is to know about it. When Jay and I started our journey into food and wine I would read articles about other towns and locales and lament that we should move there to be able to have access to some of these amazing restaurants and food experiences that I was reading about. Today I learned:
  1. I do not know as much about my home town, Manchester NH, as I thought
  2. I may already be living in one of those up and coming foodie locales that I was reading about
We went to The Republic Café on the recommendation of my friend Will, who has a wonderful blog about Manchester , ,which among other topics features local businesses. The Republic Café describes itself as a place that is welcoming to all that is designed for not only eating but conversation and socializing. Their menu highlights “local, sustainable and organic products whenever possible.” After my experience today I can say that they have succeeded in achieving their goals.

The atmosphere was cozy but open, with obvious attention paid to mix a modern feel while having the exposed beam and brick pay homage to Manchester’s Mill Town roots. We were both happy to see that the kitchen was open allowing us as food dorks to sit and watch the action and, since everything appeared to made to order, there was a lot of action. The staff was fabulous, when they overheard us talking in detail about food and food experiences they were only too happy to converse with us about some of the restaurant’s other dishes. As Jay put it “we found our people”. Our server even gave recommendations on where to find some good local beef and bison for home cooking.

Ok, now on to the food, as I know that is what you are all waiting for, here is what we ordered:

Starter: Hummus Republic Style and a Basket of Fresh Foccacia. To drink Jay had Bonny Doon Vin Gris Cigre, a French style rose while I had a glass of Diana’s White Sangria.

The foccacia came to the table nice and hot with the fresh bread smell that we all love made us both smile. It was toasted so that the crust was crunchy but the inside stayed soft and welcoming. There was a bit of sweet onion on the crust which went very well with my sangria that was light and fruity without being too sweet. Jay mentioned that the slight sweetness of the onion made the tartness of his wine come out. The hummus was terrific, creamy with some texture throughout and a slight hint of heat. We both agreed that we could taste: dill, tomato, red pepper (this is where we think the heat came from), and some type of aged cheese. As we ate the hummus we immediately started coming up with ideas for variations on this recipe that we could make at home. As many of you will agree, often times the sign of a good dining experience is that it immediately sparks your own cooking creativity. This definitely happened at the Republic, numerous times.

Main Meal: Jay order one of the specials of the day, a burger made from NH grass fed beef with Republic Frites. To accompany his meal he had the Agua de Piedia Malbec. Since they were still offering breakfast I opted for the Lamb Marguez Sausage omelet with peppers, onions and feta which was accompanied with homefries and a glass of iced tea.

You could smell Jay’s burger before it got to the table, and the great thing is that what you smelled, and tasted, was beef….not grease. Jay best described the beef by explaining that it tasted “clean”. There was no need for an overdose of salt or seasoning as the meat had such a wonderful flavor and it was allowed to be the star. The arugula on top was a perfect match and Jay said that they just “go together”. The Malbec was a great match too, peppery with an earthy taste and just a hint of wood smoke. The long smooth finished really went well with the freshness and earthy flavor of the beef.

Not to be out done the frites were no mere side dish, they were a standout all their own. What made them so wonderful and surprising is that they were fried and served with fried capers which gave them the saltiness that you look for with fries without having them covered with table salt. The saltiness was almost infused into the fries, similar to what happens when you drizzle them with malt vinegar. This way allowed them to stay crispy. Delicious (and I know this because I stole more than one from Jay’s plate!)

I knew my omelet was going to be good as soon as it was set in front of me as it was not smothered in butter. The eggs where light and fluffy while the lamb sausage added some wonderful texture without adding any grease. The sausage had a range of lovely flavors. I could taste cumin, mint and fennel among them. There was just enough feta to add flavor without throwing everything out of balance or adding to much salt. My homefries where a good pairing with the omelet because they were balanced well and the seasoning used was meant to bring out the flavor of the potatoes, not disguise it.

Though full we needed to try dessert (all in the name of research you know) and settled on the Olive Oil Cake with citrus. The cake was similar to a crumb cake but was moist enough that it would be eaten on its own. Plated with two types of sauces, one a citrus sour cream, the other a honey citrus sauce, the cake was the perfect ending to our meal. Jay commented that a small portion would make a lovely palette cleanser between courses since it wasn’t very sweet.

We left the Republic Café happy and full, but not weighed down which is not an easy task. If asked to explain the food in one word I would say, balanced. With all our dishes this café found a way to let the different food and ingredients shine. Throughout the meal we commented that you could taste each individual ingredient with no one ingredient outweighing the other. In our over-seasoned and over-processed world the Republic Café was a reminder that with good ingredients, care and joy for what you are doing less is more. The joy that they have with what they are doing is evident, they are a food lover’s café, run by food loving people and that is what really made the difference.

So, whether you are looking for a great meal, or want a friendly fun place to have some wine and appetizers the Republic Café would be a good fit. Their menu is specifically designed to allow for a group of friends to socialize over some great drinks and share some wonderful dishes. They have cold and hot antipasti that can be mixed and matched to allow a sampling of everything. Just make sure you order the frites, or, steal some from your husband……

You can find the Republic Café at:

Twitter: @republiccafe
or follow them on Facebook



Friday, June 18, 2010

Clover Food Lab & the Dewey Square Truck

I just started using Twitter this week and serendipity struck. I read about the Clover Food Lab trucks in the Improper Bostonian and the article indicated they use Twitter to get daily updates out about when they are open (at both Kendall Sq/MIT and Dewey Sq) and any new menu options. How cool!

Check them out at The food truck concept is not new, but one with local, fresh cut ingredients and that is plugged in the way they are certainly takes it to a whole new level.

So I set up to follow them (@cloverdwy or @cloverfoodtruck for Kendall) and then paid a visit yesterday. I work adjacent to Dewey Sq which is also great on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the count of the farmers market. More on that next week. I had a breakfast sandwich and drip on demand coffee at 10 AM, and both were excellent. The coffee was bold and strong and only needed a little cream and sugar to be nice and mellow to drink. The sandwich contained a soft-boiled egg, tomato, cheddar cheese and was wrapped in a whole wheat flatbread. Little salt, little pepper and it was gone. Everything tasted fresh and clean, with no grease. And it only cost $5. That just makes sense when you are going to buy some breakfast, which I don’t often do.

At lunch time I went back for the rosemary french fries. They just sounded cool enough to try as soon as possible. Thin cut potatoes fried in oil until golden brown. I saw rosemary get thrown into the fry basket and them was dumped in with the fries when they were seasoned. You could smell the rosemary just standing in front of the truck. The fries were perfectly cooked, lightly seasoned (which was nice) and full of potato and rosemary flavor. I also got a hibiscus drink which was very floral and lightly sweet. It needed a little more sugar for me, but that says nothing about the work they are doing and how wonderful it is.

Go visit, eat and return. Their website suggests there is more coming and I welcome it.

My morning Tweet from them was "Good Morning Boston, Breakfast is ready and today we made Blueberry muffins". I'm not in the city today so no muffin for me.



Thursday, June 17, 2010

Foodie Summer Reading

Margot and I are readers, we buy books in waves and used if we can. I love because you can almost always find the book you are looking for with some good wear at a fantastic price.

I am currently in the middle of Sales & Service for the Wine Professional (Julyan) which is on the recommended reading list for aspiring sommeliers from the Court of Master Sommeliers. From the same list I also have Perfect Pairings (Goldstein), Grossman’s Guide to Wines (Grossman), Beers & Spirits and yet to start and I am using What to Drink with What you Eat (Dorenburg & Page) as a solid reference for pairing ideas.

We have queued up several food-related books for what will most likely be the summer at the pace we read.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan
The Town That Food Saved – Ben Hewitt
In Defense of Food– Michael Pollan
Food Rules– Michael Pollan

We also have a steady stream of food-related magazines that arrive at the house including Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Wine Spectator, WineMaker, Brew Your Own and Imbibe.

Now I just need to work on selecting some wines to pair with my reading list…

If you have suggestions for food-related books you have read that we should take a look at leave us a comment. If you have them laying around and no longer need them we would be interested in swapping for something we are done with.



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wine as an Investment?

I had a conversation with some friends yesterday about wine as an investment. Ever since I became aware of the magnitude of this activity I have been somewhat suspicious as to whether this isn’t just something for people with LOTS of money to burn. Opinions vary and the auction market is chugging along strong, even in a down economy.

The conversation started on the topic of fraud of investment grade wines. Billionaire wine collector William Koch has been waging war on what he believes are fakes that he has purchased from several auction houses. While not a new issue, the industry has taken notice for sure. The December 15, 2009 issue of Wine Spectator had several articles on fakes, include the cover feature on Koch, and a piece about how wineries are taking steps to mitigate the possibility of fakes while providing enhanced methods of verification of authenticity of their wines. This was an interesting read and is scary to consider if you are the type of person who is going to go after the big money wines.

There is much that influences the value of a vintage even before it has been made. Weather, pests and blights/molds all work their magic on vines even as vineyard managers fight back. The winemaking process isn’t foolproof either, although technology has improved the repeatability from one year to the next. Technology has also provided tools to correct issues (some of the above in particular) with the fruit when it arrives for processing. The pedigree of the winery, the critical opinion of the wine by the established wine rating outlets and the broader global economy also all get their turn to influence how investment-worthy a wine ultimately is.

Here are some links from various media outlets that provide additional perspective or delve in deeper to the issue of wine as an investment. (October 2008) (May 2009) (March 2010) (April 2010)

So what does all that mean to you and me? I say you should buy wine to augment your lifestyle. If you cook, pairing with wine will be a fun challenge and with a few successes you should find increased enjoyment of both. Wine makes great gifts; matching wine with people is just as hard as matching it with food. Travelling to wine country opens the possibility of discovering new (new to you) wines that you will want to seek out for the right occasion. Opening a bottle with friends can inspire conversation and enhance your social activities. Those are REAL investment returns to me, and your capital expenses don’t have to be large to achieve them.



Monday, June 14, 2010

Celebrating Basil!

I believe it is fair to say that one of the best things about summer is all the fresh ingredients. Growing up I never really had much access to right off the vine anything. We were primarily a canned or frozen food family. As an adult I have come to look forward each year to going to the Farmers Markets or Farmstands that are plentiful here in New England. As we work through the summer I am sure that I am going to have numerous posts on our fresh fruit and veggie adventures. Especially now that we belong to our local organic vegetable food share that starts on June 16th.

This weekend I kicked of our fresh veggie season with one of my favorite summer treats, basil picked right from our herb garden. In the past Jay and I have used this in various ways. One of our favorite summer-time snacks is crusty bread, basil, tomato and sharp cheddar cheese. Assemble it and place under the broiler to melt the cheese. Simple and delicious! This year we are growing a lot of basil so we decided to finally make our own pesto.

The first thing I needed to do was get over my fear of the food processor. Jay insists that it is irrational, but he is the one that stressed to me over and over how sharp the blade was when we first got it. Gee, I wonder why I was frightened of it? In the end it was not that scary, and kind of fun after a stressful week at work to demolish something like that…even if it was basil, garlic and nothing like the old Bass-o-Matic from SNL.

Here is the recipe for the pesto. We used a recipe from fellow Foodbuzzer “Great Eats With Petes” as a guide. You can check out the recipe and process at We made a few adjustments to customize it to our taste and it came out great!

1/4 cup pine nuts
4 tsp minced garlic
Bunch of basil (2 cups, lightly packed, minimum)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Olive oil to desired consistency
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Chop the nuts & garlic in the food processor. Add basil, salt & pepper and pulse to combine. Add oil and pulse until you have achieved the desired consistency. Add the parm cheese and pulse to combine. Eat it!

Jay is on the trail to become a sommelier and decided he needed to try to make basil infused vodka. He is pretty weird, but this seemed to be an OK idea. It turned out alright, although his first Basil Martini was more basil than anything and not very good. The Basil Vodka Gimlet on the other hand was savory AND sweet in one mouthful, and very drinkable. Here’s to a summer of exploring more flavors of basil!



Sunday, June 13, 2010

NH Live Free & Wine Festival – June 13, 2010

On June 13th, 2010 fifteen of New Hampshire’s commercial wine and cider makers and over two dozen related vendors set up their tables at Flag Hill Winery in Lee, NH. The NH Live Free & Wine Festival was sponsored by the New Hampshire Winery Association a group of local wine, cider and mead makers of which we have been members in the past. With 700+ tickets having sold out in advance I’m sure each proprietor was well aware of how long of a day they were in for.

We arrived at right about noon for the beginning of the event, hoping to avoid a line and potentially not being able to taste popular wines that hadn’t lasted as long as others. The logistics for an event like this can sometimes be an issue, but we found the parking and organization of the event to be flawless. There was live music, a food court and beautiful views of the vines on the Flag Hill property. For your $15 admission you received a souvenir glass and 10 tickets for tastings. Additional tickets could be purchased or $1 each. Margot and I took a quick scan of the room to prioritize how we would sample wines from the new faces and of course from our friends at some of the NH wineries. We took tasting notes on each of the wines we tasted and ended up finding a wonderful wine and cheese pairing that we passed along to the cheesemaker.

(look at Margot's wine fueled grin!)

Sweet Baby Vineyard – Kensington, NH
Marechal Foch – fruit with a little residual sugar and the signature grape leaf aromas.
Blueberry – strong blueberry aroma, semi-sweet and lacked the “weird” flavor I have always tried to figure out in blueberry wines I have had before.

Walpole Mountain View Vineyards – Walpole, NH
LaCrescent - wonderful floral perfume aromas, dry with some light spice on the finish.

The Sandwich Creamery – Sandwich, NH
Incredible smoked cheddar smoked over maple wood. The Caerphilly was slightly tart and went fantastically with the Jewel Towne Rhapsody in Blue Vidal Blanc dessert wine.

(lots of thirsty attendees!)

Flag Hill Winery – Lee, NH
Cayuga – Margot said the aroma was like cutting into a peach, off-dry with some pear flavor
Flag Hill White – a white blend with light oak. The oak was apparent on the nose and the wine was dry with some citrus and Granny Smith apple flavors.

LaBelle Winery – Amherst, NH
Riesling – off-dry, steely & minerally on the nose, excellent flavors of peach and citrus. A truly excellent representation of a Riesling.
Jalapeno – dry and spicy, and very drinkable as a cordial or as part of mixed drink.

(Cesar & Amy entertaining guests)

The action over at LaBelle was catching lots of attention. Everyone who tasted the Jalapeno had to hold a fiesta sign and got their picture taken and Cesar would ring the cowbell. Surviving the Jalapeno wine was the daily sporting event!

Stone Gate Vineyard – Gilford, NH
Stueben – wonderful floral aromas, off-dry with white grape flavors.
Marechal Foch – aromas of grape leaves and cherry, medium-dry with a finish of cherry flavored cigar. It tasted “purple” if you can taste a color.

Haunting Whisper Vineyards – Danbury, NH
Cranberry – smelled of Sweet Tarts, dry with very pronounced cranberry flavors.
Leon Millot – medium dry with, red raspberry flavors and a nice smooth finish.
Blackberry – blackberry & citrus, like eating the ripe fruit and NOT something made with it!

Candia Vineyards – Candia, NH
Classic Cab – leaves/grass and black pepper on the nose and light tannins.
Sauvignon Blanc – fruity nose with citrus flavors and light acidity.

Fulchino Vineyard – Hollis, NH
Barbera – spicy nose and flavors, the empty glass smelled of raisins.
Zinfandel – some residual sugar, fruity nose with lots of berry. Not a typical Zin. Al Fulchino explained that the 2008 Zin had such high sugar numbers and alcohol that he had to let it age longer than expected to let everything integrate.

Jewell Towne Vineyards – South Hampton, NH
Rhapsody in Blue Vidal Blanc Ice Wine – mild nose with flavors of candied pineapple, dried fruits. Plently of sweet with a good balance of acid. We found a good pairing for it in the Sandwich Creamery Caerphilly cheese, some of which came home with us for closer study.

Silver Mountain Ciders – Lempster, NH
Honey Apple Cider – smells of apples of honey, small bubbles, medium dry with rich honey/mead flavors. Margot decided that she doesn’t like sparkling ciders because it makes it hard to taste the flavors. I had decided this years ago when I first started making cider. I only make a style with no carbonation to allow the delicate flavors to come through.

Olde Nutfield Vineyards – Chester, NH
Landot Noir – light in color and body with aromas of berry jam. The burnt rubber aroma and flavor was present and whether this was a flaw or not I am not sure.

Our tastings were fun and listening to other attendees talk about what they had tried and who had what was entertaining for sure. We visited the table where Chris and Nancy Obert, wine friends of ours going back a few years, were signing and selling the book “The Next Harvest” about their adventures touring some of the wineries in New England. Chris and Nancy have invited us to their house on a number of occasions and asked us if we would bring our homemade wines to share with their friends and family. This is something I happily do and the feedback has always been a great honor. At the same time we also met Paulette Eschrich the new wine writer for the Hippo Press. As weekly readers of the Hippo for their local food and wine columns this was exciting. We’ll be sure to send her a link to our review of the NH Live Free & Wine event!

(me, Bob from Candia, Chris & Nancy)

Wandering out of the wine & cheese tent we took a walk up to the area where the band was playing and additional food & craft vendors were setup. We tried some hot sauce with sausage, and stopped in at the table of Grab Your Bag Travel where I met Lynn from the Manchester Area Wine Lovers Club from
Tom Zack from Zorvino Vineryards was playing away on the guitar as part of the Spaceheaters band who were entertaining a considerable line of attendees waiting to be admitted. After a quick conversation with Frank Reinholdof Flag Hill we understood why. He explained that the fire marshal limited them to 250 people in the tent at any one time and running it by the book was smart business. He further mentioned that all the wineries were also under a lot of pressure to run things by the book since there were at least 4-6 liquor commissioners and enforcement officers in attendance at the event. This was the first, and hopefully not the last annual event, and getting a chance to do this again would only be possible if things were done correctly.

(it was worth a wait)

Margot and I struggled to pick wines in different categories to highlight, but if you don’t get the opportunity to try all these wines in a setting like this you might want to know what NOT to miss.

Best Red Wine – Marechal Foch from Stone Gate Vineyard
Best White Wine – Riesling from LaBelle Winery
Best Dessert Wine – we only had one, but the Rhapsody in Blue from Jewell Towne is out of sight!
Most Interesting Wine – Blackberry Wine from Haunting Whisper Vineyards
Surprise of the Day – Blueberry wine from Sweet Baby Vineyard
New Wine from a Familiar Face – Sauvignon Blanc from Candia Vineyards (we actually bought one of these to take home)



World Cup Kick-off

In honor of the World Cup we selected two wines from countries participating in the cup to take with us on our first visit to Margot’s sister Celeste’s new home.

From the host country, South Africa, we selected the Indaba Sauvignon Blanc 2009 and from Spain, the Marques de Caceres Rioja Reserva 2002. My brother-in-law Bob is not as much of a wine drinker as the rest of us so I also put some of the homemade Belgian White and Belgian Trappist on ice for the trip. We didn’t know what was on the menu so I hoped my wine choices would have broad enough food worthiness to work.

Upon arriving Celeste indicated she had used a new recipe and was openly nervous about how it had come out. Unfortunately being so food obsessed makes people think I never have a so-so or bad experiences. I do, and often. With the amount of stuff I try not all of it can possibly succeed the first or ever!

We all sampled the Sauvignon Blanc and the beers with some snacks and tours of the new house. The Sauvignon Blanc was universally liked and clearly demonstrated some citrus and cut grass flavors. It was crisp and acidic, but not overwhelmingly so. I had also brought along some of the 2010 Thomas Hooker Watermelon beer to try. I had been told it was better than the previous year, their first, and that information was correct. Both the flavors and aromas were more pronounced with a bit more of the citrus aftertaste I had expected when I had first had it. It wasn’t a fan favorite, but it was being sampled alongside my Belgian White which has proven to be a strong competitor.

With the secrecy of the menu finally removed we sat down to a wonderful dinner, good wine and hilarious conversation.

Baked Chicken with an Apricot Preserves, Onion Soup Mix & Oregano Glaze
Creamy Red Mashed Potatoes
Sautéed Spinach with Garlic

So the apricot preserves on the skin of the chicken had worked its magic and become crispy and well cooked. Celeste was so hung up on this. The skin peeled off easily and underneath was a flavorful and delicious piece of chicken. We finally had to tell her stop going on about it, and I told the story about Cuban-style pork I made a few weeks back that took tools to find the meat inside the charred exterior!

I spent a few minutes with the Rioja before I ate just to get a feel for the wine. It had nice red fruit flavors, some wood and had a long smooth finish. Later Celeste remarked how much she loved the wine as she killed the bottle. She and I love to hang out and drink wine. It had been too long!

Both the Rioja and the Sauvignon Blanc went well with the chicken and it was a toss up on which one could be deemed a better match for it. The spinach and the Sauvignon Blanc went very well together, although the potatoes made it taste a bit sour, not a surprise at all. The Rioja worked better with the potatoes, but seriously, they were so good on their own I wasn’t struggling for a good pairing.

Dinner with family was spectacular. We never did get the name of the person who made the chocolate and peanut butter cake we ate for dessert. We do know they work at one of the local Shaws Supermarkets though…

We did watch some of the USA vs. England World Cup match earlier in the day and I am hoping to have some more fun pairing wines to the games as the tournament plays out. What a great excuse to try some new wines and yell at the TV for a while.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Discovering New Cocktails

Last year when we were in Runaway Bay, Jamaica I overheard someone ask for a Yellow Bird with a liqueur named Galliano in it. I didn’t pursue the origin or flavors of it then nor did I actually have one of the drinks. Since then I have come across drink recipes and cocktail articles that included Galliano and other new to me ingredients like St. Germain, Fernet-Branca and all sorts of different kinds of bitters. On the sommelier trail now I decided I would seek out some of these items and see what I could do with them.

I found bottles of Galliano and St. Germain at my local state-run liquor stores. We already have a pretty well stocked bar to work from, some fruit juices, club soda and simple syrup around so I stopped there and went home to get to work.

Margot and I have happy hour at home a few Friday’s a month. It is a nice way to wind down from a busy week, spend some quality time together and of course have some drinks. I usually try to have something new planned in advance, which she always loves. Last night was our most recent installment and I think I hit a new high mark with one of the creations.

We started with the Galliano (Wikipedia link). Being so focused on tastes and pairings these days I had to taste the liqueur before I made anything with it to ensure I could recognize its influence in the future. With a strong anise/licorice flavor it certainly isn’t for everyone. The makers of Galliano describe the cordial as being flavored with herbs, roots and spices. A differentiating flavor (from other anise flavored liqueurs like Sambuca) is some vanilla, which I can’t say easily picked up, but it isn’t Sambuca for sure. At 84.6 proof it will give you a kick so be careful!

I recreated the Yellow Bird from Jamaica, which I easily found in my copy of “The Bartenders Bible” in Tropical Drinks section on page 218. We have had Yellow Bird’s on past trips to Jamaica, but those versions did not contain Galliano. If memory serves, I believe apricot liqueur was the interesting ingredient beyond the rum, pineapple and orange juices. We tweaked the recipe slightly, adding some orange juice and simple syrup, both for what ingredients we had and to personal taste.

Yellow Bird
1 ½ ounces Mount Gay gold rum
½ ounce Galliano
½ ounce triple sec
½ ounce orange juice
½ ounce lime juice
2 tsp simple syrup

Combine in shaker with ice, shake and strain into glasses with one ice cube. This drink has a kick and might be a bit strong for casual entertaining. The flavor of the Galliano is there, but much milder than straight up. I can see why this gets requested on hot, humid vacations in Jamaica. I enjoyed the drink, but would mix it up amongst other rum-infused/tropical drinks to experience a range of flavors and levels of strength. Margot enjoyed it, but wouldn’t request it often mainly due to its alcoholic strength and sharp flavors. Fun times!

We moved on to the St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur. I have used elderberries in wine before but I don’t know of ever having an elderflower infused drink. Since I first saw discussions of this and its uses it has been in the back of my mind as a MUST DO!

I went to the cocktail section of the St. Germain web site for some guidance. They have several dozen different drinks listed which is a huge help orienting me to this new ingredient. The spirit by itself is floral and sweet and could easily be drunk without any other influences on the rocks. The fact that this was calling to me makes a lot of sense now. I decided on a modified version of the St-Tropez.

1 part vodka
1 part St. Germain
½ part lemon juice
1 tsp simple syrup
Club soda

Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into glass. Top with club soda and add some ice if desired. This drink is amazing. With a nice blend of citrus and flowers you can’t really tell that there is any alcohol in it, which Margot found out quite easily. With just enough sweetness to prevent any pucker from the lemon it goes down smooth and should be on everyone’s list of a go to cocktail to set a nice mood for warm weather entertaining. We enjoyed our first one with a grilled chicken salad and found that it played nicely with the salad, something needing more consideration.

So once again our Friday happy hours proved to be successful and helped expand our cocktail repertoire, something we enjoying sharing with friend and family when they come calling. I hope this inspires you to try some new things. Post comments with questions about how to craft cocktails or pick drinks for different occasions and people. I am actively looking to enhance my skills and would love to use your challenges to do that.



Friday, June 11, 2010

Food on Television

I met a new foodie friend last night who was talking about the food product his family makes and how the nostalgia around the product should be part of future branding changes. An excellent idea for sure.

Nostalgia is not generally a sentiment I personally project. I typically live for today and tomorrow. This has always been true to some degree, I was always looking and thinking around the next turn and often forgetting the last step I had taken. This has certainly been magnified since my cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2003 but only for the better. That doesn’t mean the past doesn’t influence me, it just means I don’t carry the past close or very consciously.

Back to the story about food on television which does require a trip down memory lane. I’m starting in the mid 90’s, which is arbitrary AND not the beginning, instead it was the tipping point for Margot and I and our food obsessed lifestyle.

From the moment we got the Food Network on cable we were glued to it. We watched Door Knock Dinners (Gordon Elliot), Food 911, East Meets West (Ming Tsai), Grillin’ & Chillin’ (Bobby Flay), Essence of Emeril and many others. This was only a few years after the network launch so these were the NEW shows and ultimately some of the rising stars of the network. Along the way we have been avid watchers of Good Eats (Alton Brown), Iron Chef (original for laughs, new one for content), 30 Minute Meals & $40 a Day with Rachael Ray, Emeril Live!, Boy Meets Grill & Throwdown (Flay), Ace of Cakes (Duff), Alton Brown’s Feasting on Asphalt & Waves, Diners, Drive–ins & Dives (Guy Fieri), Unwrapped, biographies, holiday specials, and the list goes on.

Ming Tsai inspired us to take a course on cooking Dim Sum at the Cambridge Culinary Institute, something we have used several times since. Emeril’s restaurant NOLA was on our itinerary on a trip to New Orleans in 1999. Margot and I have always eaten well with the inspiration we have gotten from these shows, sometimes too well.

Farther back I remember watching re-runs of The French Chef with Julia Child and catching Yan Can Cook with Martin Yan, both on the local PBS channel in Connecticut where I grew up. Reality Food TV was in the kitchen at my home where Mom did a great job getting me interested in food and cooking. If only I had filmed it!!

I believe I can safely say that food related TV is the number one type of TV that has penetrated my eyeballs up to this point in my life. That isn’t likely to change.

Tripping over the Travel Channel (majority owned by the same company that owns Food TV) we also discovered No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. This show was a real eye-opener for us showcasing foods from exotic locations we had never dreamed of. We like him too, because like us he says what he thinks and lives in the moment. We have watched Man vs. Food a bit and some other the Travel Channel’s food related specials. It can get to be too much some weeks!

About two years ago we got the Fine Living Network and discovered the show Three Sheets, a study of beverages and drinking cultures around the world. Thank you Zane for taking one for the whole team, I learned a lot!

The Fine Living Network (owned by the same company that owns the Food Network) recently re-branded itself as the Cooking Channel. Margot and I are once again hooked. Sitting down and flipping on the new network feels like the old days with new shows and new ideas. We still have some core shows we watch on Food TV, but we aren’t much for the reality competition shows. The Cooking Channel with that exact change in format rescues us from that depression. Already I have filled up the DVR with tapings of Drink Up, The Thirsty Traveler, Indian Food Made Easy and Foodography. I even caught the tail end of an episode of The Galloping Gourmet yesterday. I vaguely recall seeing that show before, and what a personality Graham Kerr is! The word is that this channel will have new programs from some of the Food Network elite, like Emeril and Rachael Ray. While that will most likely be a good thing, I am hoping for a healthy mix of new faces and their influences to show up in my living room.

Yesterday afternoon while taking a quick walk on the treadmill I caught the last half of the "Summer Cocktail Party" episode of Boy Meets Grill. In this episode Bobby Flay hosted Ted Allen for some grilling and good times. After the last two days of stuffed steak in collaboration with The Manly Housewife I couldn’t help but think that that was two of us on the screen sharing our love of food and good company with the world. It is truly great to be able to do something you love and share it with other people who are passionate about the same things.

One of the newest Food Network shows we have enjoyed is titled Spice & Easy. In one segment the host, Janet Johnston, made a spiced soda from star anise, pink peppercorns, allspice berries, citrus peel, thyme, sugar and club soda. Pretty cool! We tried it and it is excellent. Check it out at

Are you addicted to food on television? Leave a comment with your favorite show, recipe, chef or memories you have of food on TV. Is there something you don’t like or thought was a terrible idea, share it! Let’s all walk down this exciting path through the food and television memories most of us have!



Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cooking with Ancient Fire Wine

Every adventure has some twists and turns. The Manly Housewife is guest posting today with the conclusion of the Stuffed NY Strip story.

There is a lot to be said about the old adage that things happen for a reason. At the very least, a good argument could be made for this saying from my particular situation. I truly believe it happened for a reason. See, I just started blogging not that long ago, less than a month, actually, and it has been a great experience. Any blogger, as I am sure can tell you, gets very excited when he or she discovers site hits. Having recently re-watched the movie “Julie & Julia,” I now see it through different eyes. I had to laugh at the part when she gets all excited over her first blog comment. While just beginning my blogging adventure, I stumbled upon a site called Foodbuzz (if you’re a food blogger, visiting Foodbuzz is a must). Now that I have successfully launched my blog, it has sent me on an exhilarating rollercoaster ride of interesting visits and intriguing comments. I mention all of this as a preamble to an exciting story that happened all because of Foodbuzz. Three days after launching my new blog on Foodbuzz, I received a comment that one of my dishes had been paired with a wine. To let you know just how excited I was, I called everyone who knew I was doing this blog (and a few that didn’t) to tell them all about it, which really was a lot of people. Not only did this recipe (Smothered Pork Chops) receive great honors by being featured on Foodbuzz’s Top 9, it now had been paired with a great wine. We all have visions of grandeur in the things that matter most to us, and I love to cook. It’s not only fun, but it’s a passion to me. Only a few will understand the elation of having well-respected people pay respect to one of your dishes. After this great honor of pairing my dish with Pinot Noir and, specifically, the Francis Coppola Diamond Collection, I felt my desire of cooking elevate to a whole new level. I immediately contacted Jason at Ancient Fire Wines to thank him for granting me such a great honor, and I told him that I would love to do some additional pairings with him in the future. You see, The Manly Housewife has been an idea of mine for quite awhile, albeit an live-in-motion, ever-evolving idea, but an idea none the less. Each achievement only helps to confirm that this is exactly where I need to be. Jason and I had several conversations back and forth about ideas we could incorporate into our respective blogs to increase traffic, of course, but also to emphasize and complement one other’s talents. We finally decided on choosing a dish and both making our renditions of this dish. Now, before I go into my interpretation of the dish, let me quickly state that I did not fully keep up my end of the bargain, but that’s all explained as you read on below. . . .

Jason and I agreed to do a replica of a dish I had at Chef Pointe Café (an amazing, contradiction of a place, not far from my house). This is the craziest place you might ever eat. It’s been featured on Food Network because of its 5-star quality food, inspired, prepared, and served in, of all places, a gas station. Recently when I was there, I had the stuffed New York Strip Steak and was so intrigued that I was inspired enough to try to re-create it at home. We thought this would be a great dish to try and see what combinations we could each come up with. To fully explain how I didn’t keep up my end of the bargain is this: I did not use a New York Strip; instead I chose a ribeye. I like the ribeye better (and they were on sale). Also, because of a mishap on my part, which you can read about here Mandolin Safety, I omitted the potatoes and did not take as many pictures (it’s hard to snap photographs when your thumb is wrapped in a pressure bandage). And, lastly, after the mishap, I decided on stiffer drinks than what I had initially intended, knowing that Jason would totally rock that part with his recipe, and he did! But the show must go on. So my wife and I invited my parents over to enjoy a quiet evening of good food, good drinks, and good company.

Now that I am done rambling let’s get it on with the recipe. . .

Stuffed Ribeye Steaks
Serves 4

  • 4 20-oz Ribeye Steaks (we’re talking about ¾” to 1” thick Fred-Flinstone-Style Steaks)
  • Smoked Gouda Cheese (I used approximately ¼ -pound block of cheese and divided it between the four steaks)
  • 8 Slices Canadian bacon
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Yellow Squash, cut into ¼ inch rounds (again, careful with the Mandolin slicer)
  • 2 Zucchini, cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • ½ Small Red Onion, cut into wedges and then separated
  • 1 ½ Cups Your Favorite Prepared Italian Dressing
  • ¼ Cup Red Cherry Tomatoes
  • ¼ Cup Yellow Cherry Tomatoes
 Directions (Steak Prep)
  1. Sprinkle both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper.
  2. Cut a slit along the fatty edge of the steak, ¾ length of the steaks.
  3. Into each steak, add a generous slice of cheese and 2 slices of bacon (I would suggest quickly pan searing the bacon 1 minute both sides to help it crisp up).
  4. Secure the stuffing inside the steaks with 3 to 4 toothpicks.
  5. Let steaks sit for covered in the fridge for about and hour (this will allow the steaks to soak up the salt and pepper).
Directions (Vegetable Prep)
  1. Slice Squash and Zucchini into ¼ inch pieces, discarding the stemmed end pieces.
  2. Cut onion into wedges and separate into individual pieces.
  3. Keep tomatoes separate from the rest of the veggies.
  4. In a large bowl combine Squash, Zucchini, onion, and Italian dressing and mix well.
Directions (Cooking the Meal)
  1. Spray grill grate with grilling spray prior to lighting.
  2. Fire up the grill to medium high heat. You want it warm enough that you can only hold your hand for 2 seconds 3 inches from the grate.
  3. Places steaks on the grill and don’t touch (moving them will cause the juices to leak out and make the steaks cook unevenly). Now here is a trick of mine: if the grill is to the correct temperature, you should cook ¾” to 1” steaks 7 minutes on each side for medium-rare steaks. For this recipe, I suggest closer to 8 minute each side to allow the cheese to fully melt and the center to warm up.
  4. In a grill pan, add vegetables, excluding the tomatoes, and sauté’ over the grill.
  5. Cook the vegetables until you begin to see that nice charred look around the edges.
  6. Add tomatoes to the pan and continue to roast.
  7. If done right, you should finish the veggies and the steak right about the same time.
To serve, add a couple of spoonfuls of vegetables to a plate. Remove toothpicks from steaks and serve over the top of the vegetables.

I hope you enjoy this meal. I still have my war wound from the mandolin accident, but the food was fantastic and well worth the pain. My original plan was to pair these steaks with a Grenache wine and a Hefeweizen beer. But, instead, due to my painful injury, my wife and mom enjoy a simple glass of White Zinfandel, while Dad and I jumped straight into the whisky stash. This was truly a fun and exciting co-blog that Jason and I did. He an I would both entertain offers to do this kind of combo blog with any other food bloggers. If you would like to pair up and do a joint blog like this one, please contact Jason at his Ancient Fire Wine Blog, or leave a message here.

Good Food, Good Drinks, Good Friends. . .

The Manly Housewife