Wine Food Pairing with "Drunken" Chicken!

Wine food pairing should be a lot of fun.. We are coming up to a long holiday and what better way to get the laughter going at your next picnic than to grill a drunken chicken or three! Many times this is called "beer" can chicken, but let's face it, if I sat in a hot grill for 1 1/2 - 2 hours with a beer can up my "hiney", I would hope to be a bit drunk!

Enough! This is an absolutely terrific way to do a whole chicken roaster. It comes out moist and delicious and really not much effort on your part. You can buy the roaster stand and the "drunken" chicken heads at amazon ... link is on the left side of page ..... one of the best buys you will ever make!
Get out your favorite chicken dry rub. I use Emeril's Southwest Flavor and pour some in a bowl so you don't contaminate it with "fowl" germs. Rinse and pat dry the bird, then place it on a plate for a quick rub down, inside and out. Next, get a can of beer out of the fridge and drink half of it .... now place the half full can into your roaster stand and slide your bird over the can in the roaster ( I don't need to be more specific, do I?).

I heat up my grill to 350, place a disposable aluminum roasting pan filled with about a cup of water on the grate and place the chicken roasting stand inside. The roasting pan catches any grease that drops and the water adds even more moisture to the bird. I always use indirect heat when I do this, so slide the pan over the unlit burner.

Roast until your fowl has an internal temp of 165, about 1 1/2-2 hours at 350. Check on it periodically, but I don't baste because I happen to like the crispy skin. Trust me, the inside will be moist and juicy!

Prepare all your side dishes, or have the gang all bring their favorites and there is less for your to do.

I like to pair this roasted chicken with a fruity Louis Jardot Beaujoleas. It is refreshing and simple and the tastes seem to please me. If it is really hot out, I will chill it a bit ... after all it is 90 degrees outside temperature down in Florida.

Wine food pairing should include a lot of laughter with good friends. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Summer Salad, YUM!

For some of the best wine food pairing, just improvise. We all know that I have been whining (pun intended!) about the summer heat. You and the family are hungry, but nobody wants anything heavy and you don't want to heat up the kitchen. Salads are always a terrific option and you can be creative!

Take a bag of "spring" mix lettuce, yes, I always give it another wash and you should, too and put it in a favorite serving bowl ... with salads it is easy to have a great presentation without going to any big deal. Now just begin to build with what you have. When I shop at the store, I always look for colorful items, you know, that look "pretty" and also taste good.

Slice up some red onion, fresh tomatoes and mushrooms. I also like to slice a hard boiled egg, crumble some real bacon bits on top and I usually have some boneless, skinless chicken breast around. I always cook for chix for Houdini, he doesn't mind sharing if he gets a sample!

Now, let's dress it up a little bit with finely sliced basil from the garden, it really gives a salad an incredible flavor, sprinkle some sharp cheddar on top and instead of croutons, use roasted pumpkin seeds. A quick turn of the salt and pepper grinders and it is ready for the table.

I let everyone dress there own salad at my house. After all, we are all adults, but my husband and I usually go with a basalmic vinegar and pumpkin seed oil straight from the Styria region of Austria. This totally YUMMY and nutritious.

I pair this with whatever white wine I have chilled in the fridge at the time. Of course, that usually means a crisp, dry Pinot Grigio from Italy and this makes it even more YUMMO ....

In the summer, wine food pairing, a terrific salad and a chilled white wine ... YIKES ... life is good! CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing Goes Mexican!

Wine food pairing ..... sometimes while I am dancing around my kitchen, usually after a couple of glasses of wine, I just want to shout OLE` and whip up some quesadillas from scratch. Well, not really scratch because I buy the flour tortillas already made and just add my fillings and grill!

I like to make mine with shrimp, garlic and onions. Now, I usually saute the onions and garlic together in a little EVOO to sweat them down a bit ... like its not sweaty enough here in Florida in the summer! Then I toss the shrimp in for just a minute to get them flavorized, is that a word? I don't want the shrimp guys to get over cooked and chewy.

Now I have my king sized fry pan out with just a spritz of pam so they don't stick. I build the quesadillas with a sprinkling of Mexican mix cheese then I spoon over my shrimpie mix and then another dusting of cheese .... put the top tortilla on and I am ready for the pan ... get it to a medium high heat and watch it ... you don't want them to burn ... just get a bit brown and crispy.

Flip once and then gently remove to a large platter. I use the large flour tortillas so one of these guys is enough for two people. I use my pizza cutter or even my kitchen scissors to slice the quesadilla into generous pieces.

Garnish with a small bowl of homemade salsa and another of sour cream .... YUMMO! Now for the wine ..... How about a nice Merlot from the Barefoot wineries. I always chill my red wines in the summer here. After all, room temperature is over eighty with the AC on! Holy smokes, this was good enough to do a little tango around the kitchen island.

Wine food pairing, south of the border, ole`. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing with Pasta Salad, YUM!

Wine food pairing can be such a delight in these hot/humid months of summer. Try a quick and easy cold pasta salad with just what you have hanging out in the fridge!

The extra pasta that you cooked the night before and the skinless chicken breast that you had left over from lunch makes the beginning of a terrific warm weather meal. Chop up some black olives, red onion, green pepper and fresh tomatoes then throw them all in your big mixing bowl to toss! I mixed up a quick dressing by combining a zesty bottled Italian dressing with "light" miracle whip and everyone thought I'd worked hard. Please don't tell anyone!

Put all of this into a large, colorful pasta serving dish and garnish with chopped fresh basil from the garden, sunflower seeds and shredded Parmesan cheese.

I served this with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and it was super. The wine was crisp, elegant, and fresh and was the perfect pairing..... even I was impressed!

Wine food pairing is as close as the leftovers in your fridge. CHEERS!

Bring Your Dog to Work Day, Wine Food Pairing!

Today is "bring your dog to work day" and even though I work at home, Houdini wanted to take part in this official day. Wine food pairing can take place just about anywhere and the "Hoots" wanted to be prepared ... sunglasses to take care of the glare and then his zip up bomber jacket, just in case Florida gets a cold spell!

Last night for dinner I put together a quick dinner of fresh red snapper, caught in the Gulf of Mexico. I breaded the filets with Panko bread crumbs and then quickly browned them in the pan with butter and a bit of EVOO. They came out light and delightfully crunchy. I really like to use Panko.

I paired this with a fresh pineapple, black bean salsa that I combined earlier in the day. The flavors get better if the chill for a couple of hours. Believe it or not I have pineapples that are growing in my yard and I made the harvest! It takes about 2 years for one of these guys to mature, this fruit was delish! I dice up a tomato and a little bit of red onion along with the other ingredients and seasoned with cilantro, fresh please, and S&P.

I paired this dinner with a chilled pinot grigio from California and meal was a hit!

Wine food pairing in the summer time. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - It's Too Hot to Cook!

Sometimes it is just too hot to cook! Wine food pairing can be done without turning the stove on, just use your imagination!

One of my faves is a cold avocado soup. This bad boy can be whipped up in a matter of minutes and leave you plenty of time to pop to cork on your favorite wine.
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Very ripe, large Haas avocado
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • juice of one fresh lime
Peel the avocado,remove the seed and cut into several pieces. Place in the blender, and purée. Turn off the blender and pour in all your other ingredients. Pulse a few times until mixture is just blended. Salt and pepper to taste.

Now I like to garnish this with my homemade salsa made with fresh tomatoes, red onion, cilantro from my garden, squeeze of lime, a smidge of balsamic vinegar and a couple of dashes of Tabasco. Always do a taste test and add salt and pepper.

Chill the soup and the salsa....the flavors always get better when they mingle a bit. I serve the soup with a dollop of the salsa and break up a couple of corn chips on top.

One of my favorite hot weather wines is white merlot. The white merlot from Sutter Home features a medium deep red color, with a slightly fruity cherry and raspberry aroma. The taste is somewhat less acidic than the zinfandel, with an initially sweet flavor, and slightly tart finish. Chilled, this makes a perfect wine food pairing with the cold avocado soup.

Be flexible with your wine food pairing in the summer heat. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing Goes Bohemian!

Yes, wine food pairing goes Bohemian .... Bohemian Highway Wine, that is!

What better way to welcome back my husband who has been touring the wine country in Austria, than with a "cheeky" Californian red.

I made a quick trip to the Winn-Dixie searching for the perfect "back to the US" meal. Thick, juicy T-bone steaks and fresh asparagus looked like a winner ... now for the wine .....

Winn-Dixie has quite a large wine department and they had a new wine that was on special called Bohemian Highway. To quote the back of the bottle:

"On its journey from the wine country hills to the Pacific, the Bohemian Highway meanders through vineyards, redwood forests and palm groves. This wine embodies the casual, free flowing spirit you'll find along the way."

Sounds good to me!

Just before I left for the airport, I put together his favorite whole wheat honey nut bread and turned on the bread maker...... OK, cheap trick , I know ... nothing like walking into a house with bread baking ... but I couldn't resist! So we get home, the bread maker is done, the house smells wonderful, I fire up the grill and pop the cork on a bottle of chilled Freixenet for a welcome home toast.

Time for the Austrian to go into action ... the grill "meister" gets the steaks on the barbie ... I steam up the asparagus, drizzle it with a bit of pumpkin seed oil and we are ready for the All American dinner. YUMMO! The Bohemian Merlot, with a burst of red raspberry fruit flavors, paired great with the steaks and we both agreed that this was the perfect way to spend his first evening back.

Wine food pairing travels around the world. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Celebrates Kitchen Klutz Day!

Get ready folks, tomorrow Friday June 13th, wine food pairing will be celebrating National Kitchen Klutz Day! This is a day that is close to my heart ... I tend to spill, drop, step in ... YUK ... all sorts of things in the kitchen. Maybe having my kitchen TV isn't such a good thing?

I am so klutzy that my husband locks up all the sharp knives and insists he do all the major slicing and dicing! I mean really ...

OK, I do have my own tube of super glue in the kitchen drawer for when I slice a finger ... band-aids just don't cut it (pun intended) when you are in the middle of large meal prep ... just one drop and hold the skin together .. just don't glue your fingers together!

So, to celebrate National Kitchen Klutz Day, I will be ordering a pizza to be delivered .... pepperoni and extra mushrooms ... the only kitchen utensil I will be handling is the corkscrew for the inexpensive Chianti I plan on pairing with it. On second thought, maybe I will go for the screw top version ..... after all ... no need to tempt the "klutz" Gods!

Wine food pairing, enjoy your celebration. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing ... Cork, Zork ?????

Wine Food Pairing makes many of us nervous. Just when you start to get comfortable someone throws a monkey wrench (or should I say corkscrew!) into the mix!

Many wineries, in fact almost 90% of them in New Zealand have turned away from the prestigious cork to stopper up our favorite beverage and have turned instead to “screw” tops. HOLY COW! What’s going on? In the past, only the REALLY super economical (cheap) wines were sealed that way…..and we all know they gave us a headache in the morning!

If you think about it, how many times have you been served wine that is “corked”? Statistics say that between 2% and 8% of the wines that are sealed with a cork has that delightful moldy, kind of like wet cardboard taste and smell? The cause of cork taint is a mystery and is supposed to be harmless, but who wants to drink it? In addition, what food do you “pair” it with? I don’t think you’ll find any wine food pairing chart giving advice on that!

The screw tops of today are highly engineered pieces of metal that seem to do the job of preserving wine quite nicely. Basically, you want the wine to stay in the bottle and to seal out the air so no oxidation occurs. We Americans will just have to “get over” our prejudices on screw tops.

OK, just when you think it’s alright to unscrew a bottle of your favorite vino, I hear the sound of a POP…. But wait it’s not a cork…it’s a ZORK….what the heck is that you ask? Apparently, the Australians have been busily designing a new wine stopper. YIKES! It has the same airtight seal of a screw top and doesn’t even require a corkscrew…..which you can’t locate when you need it anyway! It is opened with just your hands and it easily goes back into the bottle to keep your wine fresh…….and guess what? It “POPS”! What more do you want?

In Austria, many of the local wines are stoppered by simply a bottle cap, you know, the kind, just like beer or soda caps that require a church key to open.

So all in all, the wine bottle cork, zork, screw top issue is still up in the air, but wait .... something new on the horizon .......

I just saw this in the news out of California ....

DAVIS - University of California, Davis students have invented a way to bottle wine that combines the breathability of cork with the reliability and convenience of a screw cap.

The invention won the university's annual Big Bang business plan contest and $15,000 in start up funding this week.

The patent-pending design is a 5-cent plastic and metal disk beneath a screw cap. Like cork, the cap lets in just enough oxygen so the wine can age properly.

Winemaker and business school student Tim Keller says his team's invention can be adjusted for different wines. For instance, pinot noir needs a little oxygen, while cabernet sauvignon needs a lot.

Check out new plastic insert Click Here!

Wow, what will they think up next!

Wine food pairing ... always a challenge to open the wine!

Wine Food Pairing - Capri Sunrise

Wine food pairing in the wee hours of the morning! This is the absolutely terrific view off my dock about 6:30 am ... well worth the effort to get up early.....

Preparations begin for a Sunday Brunch. These get togethers can be easy and stress free with a little advance planning. Many times it is just a matter, especially this time of year, to use what you can find fresh locally.

The night before I whip up a "make ahead" breakfast casserole. Line crust less bread cubes on the bottom of your casserole dish and then layer in cooked sausage (I cut up links), sharp cheddar, onions and green peppers. Whip together 6 eggs, 2 cups milk, or cream, with salt, pepper and a dollop of prepared mustard. Pour this over the top of the casserole, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

A couple of hours before serving, pull this out of the fridge. You are going to want to top this with a mushroom soup mixture made by combining a can of mushroom soup, 1/4 cup sherry and a good hand full of sliced fresh mushrooms. Pour this mixture over the casserole and pop into a 350 degree, preheated oven, and bake for an hour and a half. After you remove, this needs to "setup" for at least another 10 minutes before you serve.

Mangoes are really sweet and juicy this time of year so I always make a quick bread using fresh mangoes as my inspiration. Usually about a cup and a half of smashed sweet, ripe mangoes added to about 3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, a stick and a half of butter, 1/2 tsp salt, baking powder, vanilla and baking soda along with 2 beaten eggs and a 2 hand fulls of chopped pecans. Mix all this together and spoon in to 2 loaf pans that have been spritzed with non stick spray. This takes at least an hour in a 350 degree oven. I always serve this with softened cream cheese to slather on....YUM!

Fresh strawberries from the farmer's market heaped in a crystal bowl along with a platter of sliced juicy cantaloupe and the food portion is complete.

Now for the beverages. Chilled Champagne or sparkling wine is always a good thing! Cristalino Cava Brut is an excellent, economical choice along with a frozen bottle of Gray Goose vodka. The cava can be served straight or as a mimosa with freshly squeezed Florida oranges ... right from your yard is best. You can also pair the champers with watermelon juice. I learned all about watermelon juice on my last trek to Guanaja, Honduras ... it seems to be one of their specialities. Get a seedless watermelon, cut it into chunks and blend up with ice and a bit of water. This can be made earlier and chilled in the fridge. Totally delish! The vodka is for bloody Mary's and I do cheat a lot here. Mr. & Mrs. T's Bold and Spicy mix has always been well received ... of course I don't put the bottle on the buffet table, but a crystal pitcher that leaves guests wondering! A bottle of tabasco, a pepper mill, celery and sliced limes for garnish complete the beverage area.

Now, as you know, presentation means every thing in the entertainment world. I do a buffet here and let the guests help themselves. I get out all my cloth napkins ... I think they are such a treat .... and real china .... make sure your flatware is spotless. Place your best vase out with freshly cut flowers from the garden (or farmers market!) and have your favorite tunes playing in the background and you will have a gathering that your friends will talk about for a long time.

Wine food pairing for a Sunday brunch ... invite your friends. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Cheering for Big Brown!

Wine Food Pairing and the Belmont Stakes... any excuse for a glass of champers!

Houdini and I are cheering for Big Brown ... my trusty Maltese and I are gathered around the TV with a chilled bottle of my favorite, Freixenet and Houdini has a crystal bowl of water on the rocks. For a snack, chicken drummies ... I have a medium heat dipping sauce and Houdini prefers his sans sauce ... he is a purist!

Our anticipation builds as the race begins ... will our favorite be the latest triple crown winner?

And they're off ........... OH NO ......... Big Brown ......... you can watch the race right here .....

Big Brown, our fave, has been pulled up by the jockey and has come in last ... we hope he is OK. What a beautiful horse ..... he'll probably will never run on the track again.

Wine food pairing toasts Big Brown, may you have many happy days servicing pretty little fillies. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing Goes to Guy Harvey Grill

Wine food pairing goes to the Guy Harvey Island Grill on Marco Island with friends yesterday and what a great time we had!

Located on the water, Smokehouse Bay to be exact, it has terrific views as well as a great island ambiance! Large saltwater aquariums with colorful fish entertain and Guy Harvey's art dots the walls.

Guy Harvey, for those non-fisher type people, is a Marine artist, scientist, diver, angler, conservationist and explorer. As a conservationist, he insists that the grill does not serve swordfish, grouper or shark. To quote his website: "By not consuming these over fished species we are making an individual contribution to the long term improvement of these fish stocks." A percentage of all proceeds goes to help fund the Guy Harvey's Research Institute at Nova University ....... COOL!

Well, wine food pairing decide to try the house Pinot Grigio, it was crisp, chilled perfectly and tasty. I paired this up with the "catch of the day" sandwich, white roughy ... great choice! The roughy was very lightly breaded, fried, served atop a fresh roll and garnished with red onion, tomato and lettuce. The fish was about three times the size of the roll, so you can imagine that there was plenty for lunch and a lot to take home to enjoy later!

I'm not sure what I enjoyed most, the company of good friends or the meal ....hmmm .... I'm glad I don't have to make a choice . Wine food pairing ... try it sometime! CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Merlot Challenges the Cookie Monster

Milk and cookies, wine food pairing doesn't think so!

What about hot, out of the oven, chocolate chip cookies and a Merlot that is rich in plum and mocha notes with a hint of oak? Barefoot Merlot has a wonderful texture and color ... real decadence!

Chocolate and wine can be paired in a way that shows off the best and most interesting aspects of each, but only if one follows a few simple guidelines. You have to look at the type of chocolate that you are using and the percentage of cocoa. I used dark chocolate chips that had a higher amount of cocoa. The cookies were less sweet because of this and as we nibbled on the cookies and sipped the wine we all decided that we had found heaven on earth!

Wine food pairing ... the cookie monster takes on Barefoot Merlot and we were all winners. CHEERS!