Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Winning Recipe - Chile

I have been asked by a number of people to publish my prize winning chili recipe.
It's pretty simple and it only takes a few items to kick it up a notch.
Although the recipe did have a lot of ingredients.
Of course, I like to cook my chile slow and over a low burner.

2 pkgs. of ground turkey (approx. 2lbs. total )
2 cans of rinsed kidney beans
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 cans of corn (drained)
2 cans of  rinsed garbanzo beans
3 diced carrots
1 diced onion
2 diced green peppers
1 can of beer
2 pkgs. of chile seasoning mix
2 tbsp. of  minced garlic
4 tbsp. of diced green chiles
4 tbsp. of adobo sauce (normally chipotle chiles in adobo )
just use the sauce only
4 tbsp of canola oil
4 tbsp of garlic olive oil
2 cans of tomato paste
4 cups of water
salt and pepper

First I place the canola oil in a large skillet and heat it over medium heat.
Brown the turkey. Do not drain the grease. Turkey is dryer than ground beef. It needs moisture.
Let cool.
In a separate large skillet, place the garlic olive oil. If you prefer you can use olive oil without the garlic
flavor. Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat.
Place the carrots, onions and green peppers in the pan. All the vegetables should be uniform in size.
(Meaning cut in the same size.) They cook more evenly.
Cook until the vegetables are sauteed and become translucent (think shiny or glazed.)
The look I get when I have 2+ glasses of wine.
Let vegetables cool.
In a large pot start assembling all the ingredients.
First add the turkey with the grease.
Stir in the chili packets with the water.
Start cooking over low heat.
Add vegetables ( carrots, green peppers, and onions.)
Add the minced garlic.
Stir in 2 cans of tomato paste.
I used Hunts.
Add rinsed kidney beans and rinsed garbanzo beans.
I used my favorite SW Premium beans for both garbanzo and kidney.
Add  2 cans of drained corn. Do not add the liquid.
I prefer Del Monte whole kernel corn.
Add 2 cans of diced tomatoes. Liquid and all.
I used SW diced tomatoes.
Add diced green chiles.
I used Ortega diced green chiles.
Add the adobo sauce. If you want more (+) heat dice up some of the chipotle
chiles and add to the pot.
But these suckers are hot (Caliente !!!!!)
The adobo sauce adds a smokey flavor and packs a little punch (heat.)
I used Embasa which is a Mexican brand distributed by Hormel Foods.
The chiles and the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are readily available at Mexican grocers
or at your local grocery in the ethnic aisles.
Add beer. You could use a cup of red wine but I wanted a lower calorie
beverage and less of the tannic taste that comes from red wines.
I used 1 12 oz can of Busch Light Beer.
Stir all the ingredients together.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
I like a lot of pepper in mine.
Cook uncovered over low heat for 2- 3 hours.

Now of course, if I wasn't in a rush, which I was because I had to make corn bread with the chili and prepare for the cookoff;
I would have grilled fresh onions, peppers, chiles and corn.
That would have brought out even more (+) flavor and sweetness of the vegetables.
And I could have used ground beef instead of the ground turkey.
But, I was in a rush. Try cooking every night and making lunches every morning
for your wife and 6 year old demanding daughter.
Also I wanted a lower calorie meat to serve in the chile.

So there is the recipe that beat out 11 other contestants and fed (in tiny cups ) about 100
fellow enthusiastic onlookers.

As always it was a joy cooking with you!
Lots of love and good food...


Couple of New Reds - Wines

Checked out a couple of new reds this week - or should I popped open a couple of bottles to sample.
I love wine with dinner or just relaxing with my wife in the backyard.
Red table wines are usually cheaper in price.
They are not as heavy a red as some zins or  some barberas.
 I should start collecting the bottles.
The label art is nice and it reminds of the days of
collecting albums for their artwork even if they sucked musically.
I really find it amazing to watch people stare for minutes on end trying to find a wine.
Maybe there should be more reviews at stores. How about wine samples?

2010 Decoy Napa Valley Red Table Wine.

Absolutely delightful.
 Rich in fruit but not to heavy in tannins.
Bright cherry berry flavor.
Loved this one.Very Good !

I think my wife and I bought this one for around $15.
Kathleen bought this one at Costco, Decoy Winery sells a 3 pack for $75.

Here is another:

2009 Oberon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Right around $20  per bottle.
Another great value. Cabs seem to hold their flavor and value.
I like to drink them immediately, but you can aerate / decanter them and wait a half hour to breathe.
Aerating wines allows oxygen to filter into the wine. Let it breathe.

 3rd pick:

2010 Kirkland Signature Series Rutherford Napa Valley Meritage Red Wine.
I find it rather unique that Kirkland bottles wine from other wineries under their name.
Don't get me wrong, most of the wines under the Kirkland label, sold through Costco
are really good.
Try the reserves.
Here is the link for the Costco Connection newsletter on wines:

I recently saw a 2006 bottle of this same vintage.
That one would have to be one to serve right away. 2006 would not last after the end of 2012.

Here is bottle #4:

2010 Avalon "California" Cabernet Sauvignon.
I had my taste tester KRW check this one out. She said:
"It would be a good 2nd bottle to drink."
It kills me to know she is always right.

Surprising to me is that it was good.
It's normally a $25 bottle but I bought it for $7.99 at Luck's Supermarket.
 I should have pilfered the other cases they had in stock.
Nice to know they had a $2 coupon off the bottle and it had a 91 rating. 2 other bottles,
the pinot noir and the merlot had 92,and 93 ratings.
I wish they had their website up and running so I could check out the wine maker's
message and their brands.

Bottle 5: Judal Family 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Love the label.
Instead of labeling the percentage or breakdown similar to ie:
cab / merlot / zin / verdot the bottle is labeled as 50% Sonoma County and 50% Napa County.
 A drinkable red wine.
Boy, were they spot on saying you can taste a hint of tea, truffle and dark fruit.
I tasted all of the above and more...

Finally, #6 it this one rocks the Casbah !
2008 Sterling Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
When you want to taste a wine with full grape flavor, this is the one for you.
I could have eaten the grape seed, stem, and skin on this one.

This is a Napa apellation wine and it Rocks !
I need to try their other wines.

Well, there you go 6 wines that you have to try.
Remember, ask your wine broker to look for these.
And stock them.
You may find them at Costco, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Safeway, or Lucky's Supermarkets.

The pleasure was all mine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chili Cookoff Winner

I just WON the SLOT ( St. Lawrence O'Toole ) Chili Cookoff!

12 contestants, 3 judges, nearly 100+ people in attendance.
 Good food, drinks, family and friends.
What more could you ask for on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after church service?

Chili cookoff winner gets bragging rights around St. Lawrence O'Toole school and church.
1000 family members attend either the church or school.

Never thought I would win, but I had great support from my lovely wife, ( she could have won this if she entered, P.S. she is a fabulous cook, ) my daughter Kierann, and friends.

Along with the bragging rights, you get to keep the original apron with the picture of the church,

the winning white apron with the blue 1st place ribbon,

 and a great 19 piece barbecue set.

Not every day that you win something.
I am fortunate to have family, friends, faith, and happiness.
It seems to all come together like A BIG POT OF CHILI.

Thanks again to my wife - Kathleen, daughter - Kierann, family, friends, church and Kierann's school for all in attendance and the love and support.

Also, to Kitchen On Fire and the staff to boost my culinary skills!
The staff: Chef Olivier, Chef Mike, and Chef Gilad.

Now for my next venture..
Wait until they see what I am cooking up for the St. Lawrence O'Toole International Dinner Night!

If you want the recipe for the winning chili, please email me.
I am not sending you any via mail or internet.
You are more than welcome to the recipe.




Friday, August 24, 2012

Osso Buco

Osso buco - Italian for bones with holes. Usually made with veal shanks or beef bones. I made my dinner last night for the family using beef. Osso Buco typically incorporates a thick sauce made with onions, carrots, and tomatoes.
The first step is to brown the meat. It's sort of a caramelization. Browning the meat seals in all the flavor.

You will need the following items:
A Le Creuset

or deep broiling pan
A large mixing bowl
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
4-6 pieces of veal or beef shanks / bones
4-5 tbs. of canola or vegetable oil
and salt and pepper.
Place the oil in the pan and heat oil over medium heat.
Place flour in bowl. You can add 2-3 tsps. full of salt and pepper to the flour or you can season each piece of meat individually.
Flour the bones on all sides and shake off excess flour.
Brown bones in the oiled pan on all sides until lightly browned.
Let rest at room temperature.

Now for the thick sauce.
You can buy a braising sauce from an Italian specialty store  or from a food store such as William Sonoma.

Braising sauces come fully prepared in quart size containers and all you need to do is add it to the meat with equal parts - water. Just make sure that the combination sauce and water, equally mixed together covers the bones.

You can make a homemade sauce from the following ingredients:
2 peeled, diced, de- seeded ripened tomatoes (tomatoes can be grilled for extra flavor)
1 diced onion
1 diced carrot
2tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. of sugar
1 tsp. of thyme
1tbs. of minced garlic or garlic powder
1tbs. of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon wine (only the good stuff you would drink!)
1/2 cup of beef stock
2 tbs. of corn syrup
Blend all well in a mixer. For a thicker sauce add more carrots, onions, and tomatoes.

Place veal or beef bones in a slow cooker with 2 boxes of beef stock and osso buco sauce.
Cook  covered for 2 - 3 hours over high temp.
For oven cooking, place bones in a broiling pan or large pyrex, cover with beef stock and sauce.
For beef stock, check my earlier blog on how to make your own beef stock.
Or you can buy it from Swanson:

or Knorr:

For concentrate, add water as recommended. Follow instructions. Low sodium is the best.
It allows you the opportunity to season your dish +/- to your taste without adding additional salt.

Cook at 325 degrees for 2.5 hours.

Serve over mashed potatoes or rice. Add sauteed carrots, peas or pearl onions.
For gravy, take 1 cup of the liquid from the dish, skim of excess fat.
Place the liquid in a shallow pan. Cook over medium heat. Wisk in 1 tsp. of corn starch and
2-3 tbs. of heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2.

I love this. I could eat it in my sleep. Plus it makes my whole house smell like a
warm and delightful restaurant in Tuscany.

Eat,drink, and be merry...



Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Wines

                                                                        Olympic Wines

To keep up to date with the recent olympic sports events, I thought I, your most humble author,
would present to you some wines that were enjoyed during the 2 weeks of the olympics.

I loved the events and could not be more prouder of our athletes, coaches, and all players,
even those who did not medal. 
They worked, cried, sweated, and painfully brought out the best in all of us (The US that is ! ) and represented our country well.

I think we could say the same for the wine makers, the growers, harvesters, and staff
that nurture the soil and grapes to produce the gift of the gods, aka: "wines."
OK, maybe they don't sacrifice as hard as some athletes, but there is a lard of hard work,
science, and love in the winemaking process.

Now we can say that some wines should be ranked by medals: Gold, Silver, Bronze.
At least the wineries do receive medals during wine competition.
See ie: 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

I just wanted to play along the theme of the olympics and wines that I had with meals.

So here goes:
 2005 A.T. Richardson Australian  Chockstone Shiraz.
My wife thought it was so / so. I thought it tasted pretty good.
It definitely had notes of liquorice and a variety of spices.
A nice finish of ripened blackberries at the end.
(Pictured on the far left.)
Ok, since the judges didn't agree, Chockstone receives a Bronze medal.

2008 Chain of Fire Merlot.
Once again, I have to hand it to this winery, they made the olympics and scored a medal.
In my previous blog, I mentioned that I had tried their chardonnay and that their cabernet sauvignon had rave reviews.
We let the merlot breathe for 1/2 and hour.
This South Eastern Australian wine is a hit.
Love the taste of red berries, think raspberries and spices.
No wonder the Aussies finish well ! 
Spot on to Robert Oakley Vineyards.
(Pictured on the far right.)
Silver Medal.

Unfortunately, we had a spot that did not make the cut.
One of our wines fell off the balance beam or should I say
it belly flopped off the diving board.
2009 Four Spot Sweet Red Wine.
I like that it was lower in alcohol volume. Most wines are 14.5% alc. /volume.
I should have known when I saw the label: "sweet."
It would have been more enjoyable if the 4 grape varietal
was dryer, more acidic, and less sweet.
(Pictured on the far right.)
Sorry, this one never made it to the medal round.
Maybe in 4 years in Brazil, by then I will be drinking Chilean wines.

2010 Reti Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon
Here is another South Eastern Australian wine.
They seem to be all in the olympic pool together.
For those of you who are not big into shiraz or syrahs,
it's nice to have a blend like this: 76% shiraz and 24% cabernet sauvignon.
I had hints of blackberries, a kick of black pepper, mulberry which you only find in the south.
and plum which is least of my favorite tastes.
Still  a close race from MWD Vineyards.
(Pictured in the blue label.)
Bronze medal. 
The label and the plum taste threw the point system off.

2010 Edge North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
I finally found an inexpensive wine that I can store for 8 or more years.
I posted previously that white wines should be stored for up to 5 years
and reds  5-10 years.
Found this one at Costco for slightly over the $20 range.
Great taste. Low price.
You can find a really good bottle for under $30.
I like the range from $10 - $40.
Ask your wine merchant. 
I do.
2010 Edge North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured with wrapping.)

and here it is in the center w/o wrapping.

I will be buying more at my next trip to Costco.
This is a silver medal specialist.

And the GOLD MEDAL goes to.............
2008 Caymus Special Selection Napa VAlley Cabernet Sauvignon
(smacked dab in the center)

My words to describe this wine. " OMG! It's going, going, gone!
F%$&ing love it! Where were you all my life? Unbelievable! This kicks b**t!
Best wine I had all of 2012!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, if there was a best in show, aww that's dog stuff,
close finish to the gold but beat by a couple of seconds:
2008 Ferrari Carano Mountain Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
from Alexander Valley

Another superb California wine. 
A wine to share with others.

And here it is the wine buy of the month.
This is the one that you could say is everybody's olympic favorite:
2008 Diamond Oaks Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

$4.99 / bottle. 
Yeah, pinch me I think I'm dreaming. 
Wake up and smell the grapes...
What a find! 
Bought 2 cases.
I'm buying more...
Thank you Grocery Outlet!
You are the Brazil of 2016 Olympics.

Thanks again to our wonderful athletes.
Our country.
And our troops.
I raise my glass to all of you for your dedication and service.

Steven Wetherell



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

 Chicken Tortilla Soup

I'm not a fan of Mexican food.
Well, I do like it but I'm not into eating it more than 1 day a week.
Unlike some family members who could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The fast food mexican restaurants SUCK.
I can't believe you can even call them Mexican restaurants.
At least we are fortunate here in California to have some good
authentic Mexican restaurants and taquerias.
And you can make a good Mexican dish.
Here is a start.

Chicken Tortilla Soup.
1 ear of corn
1 red pepper - diced
1 bell pepper - diced
1 zucchini - diced
3 garlic cloves - minced
1 sweet white onion - diced
1 can of stewed tomatoes  - chopped
1 can tomato sauce
 1 chipotle in adobo sauce - chopped
3 large cans or boxes of chicken stock
1lb. of rotisserie chicken - cubed
1 tsp. of cumin
1 tsp. of poultry seasoning
3 Tbsp. of vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

I grill 1 ear of corn until slightly blackened on all sides.
(On a barbecue or skillet without oil.)
Oil is not needed and the sweetness of the corn is enhanced from the charring effect.
In a pot over medium heat I place the oil and then the diced vegetables:
peppers, onion, zucchini and garlic and cook until translucent.
It takes about 1-2 minutes.
You can set it aside and let it cool if you plan on  cubing fresh chicken and cooking
 it in a skillet with a Tbsp. of oil and the seasonings.
Me, sometimes I'm lazy.
I'll just pick up a rotisserie chicken, shred it or cube a pound of it and I'm done.
The easy way, is to take a chicken breast, season with your favorite spices on both sides
and place it in a glass pyrex dish in a 350 Degree oven for about 20 minutes.
The chicken should be slightly brown and juices run clear.
Me again. Lazy.
Bring on the rotisserie!
Maybe I will  buy one for my grill.

Ok, add the chicken, spices (seasonings), vegetables, chicken stock, tomato sauce,
stewed tomatoes.
Add any Mexican spices you desire.
Add more stock (if needed.)
Add the chipotle in adobo sauce.
This sucker is HOT. If you want more heat - add 2 chipotles.
Dont ask me to kiss you later or for water.
I told you so.
Cook on a low to medium heat for an hour.

Ladle into a serving bowl.
Add your favorite garnish!
Avocado, Cilantro, Green onions, Sour cream. Cheddar cheese. Parsley.
I like garlic chives, sprinkled queso fresco and tortilla chips.

You can buy the tortilla chips.
Here I'm not lazy and I like the fresher taste of making my own tortilla chips.

In a fry pan over medium heat I add 1 -2 cups of vegetable oil.
 I cut tortillas into 1/2 inch strips and drop them into the hot oil until they brown up and get crispy.
Remove and place on a plate with a paper towel.
While hot, season strips with salt and pepper.
Add Mexican paprika for an extra kick.

Saludos Amigos !

Oh, and since I am in such a good mood over food and wine,
I thought I would give you an added bonus.
I'm such a nice guy....
Here are 2 nice wines to bring out the spice and heat from the soup:

2008 Indelible Wines mark of Passion Cabernet Sauvignon


2005 Franciscan Vintage Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

All the best.