From the Kitchen and the Bar – new things to try and a jalapeno appetizer

jalapenosThe Thanksgiving long weekend was a nice quiet one for us. We didn’t do the bird but we did eat a lot of appetizers as our feast. Most of them were from the freezer section of the supermarket, but we did make one from scratch.   Fresh jalapenos filled with garden vegetable cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, and then baked. Most excellent! I’ll get to the recipe below. I just cobbled together what I read from the other thousand recipes for the same thing on the ‘net.

We have been trying some new wines, beers and spirits.

Franzia Dark Red Blend – the king of box wine, Franzia, has made a dark red blend for their premium line.   It’s a very nice blend, not too tannic or too soft, and for around $20 for 5 liters, its worth a look. In addition to drinking it straight, we happened to mix it with Cran-Tangerine juice cocktail and it ended up tasting like a pretty darn good sangria (ages ago I went to Spain and had quite a bit there). I was afraid the cranberry would bring up the bitterness but it didn’t, standing in for other fruit flavors, and the wine enhanced the tangerine very well. I was surprised since the juice itself was fairly bland.

Genesee Salted Carmel Chocolate Porter – This is a premium beer from our favorite Genesee Brewing Company, home of the cream ale we drink. When we visited the brewery about a year ago, we toured their pilot batch brewery, and this is one that was run up there. It’s in bigger production but its still pretty small batch. It’s not a cheap beer, coming in just under $60 a case, but since we drink a lot of $14/a 30 pack Genny Cream Ale, we find it balances out  🙂 . It is a dark cola in color, with a fantastic caramel scent and chocolate caramel taste. Not too sweet at all, and I have no idea how they got that hint of salt in there so nicely.

Black Velvet Toasted Carmel whisky – This is a very smooth blended whisky with an excellent caramel flavoring. It’s very good neat.   However, we poured it into eggnog. That was wonderful…and dangerous.   It’s so smooth, you don’t get much of an alcohol burn even if you put in probably more than you should.

Here’s our recipe for the jalapenos.

Fresh jalapenos (we went for the 3” or so long ones)

Garden vegetable soft cream cheese

Thick cut hickory smoked bacon (we used Oscar Meyer)

Preheat oven to 385 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut peppers in half so you get to complete “boats”. Remove seeds and membranes (leave more or less if you like heat).  A grapefruit spoon is perfect for doing this. Fill with cheese. Wrap with a third of a slice of bacon. You can use a toothpick to anchor or do like we did and just put the seam on the bottom on our broiler pan since it has those convenient divots.

Bake for 40 minutes (this got the bacon well cooked but not hard and the peppers soft).   Let sit for about 5 minutes after removing from oven. Our peppers had a nice hit of spicy heat but weren’t so hot that I couldn’t snaffle down 5 of them in short order. They went very well with the Genny Cream Ale. 🙂

Eat and drink well!

From the Bar and Kitchen – Boeuf Bourguinon, Turnovers and a bad movie

grinchI love that first weekend after the winter holidays are over. No expectations, just a chance to really relax after a month and a half of dread.  I’ve always been uncomfortable around people and that’s all the holidays signify for me, being around people, many of whom I don’t like to begin with and trying to pick out presents for people.

This weekend, it was again good food, good drink, music and the requisite schlocky movie.  I had a craving for beef in wine sauce aka boeuf Bourguignon.  A quick internet search and I got basically Julia  Child’s recipe from Macheesmo’s website.   So off to the supermarket and liquor store we go.  Found a cheap flat of beef chuck mock tender steaks.  These are from the chuck (shoulder) of the cow. They are not particularly tender, so I’m assuming that the name is from them looking a bit like a tenderloin, aka filet mignon. 1 26273 They have a band of silverskin (connective tissue) around them and this needs to be removed entirely. It will never soften. Got the carrots and onions, etc.  Didn’t feel like getting the pearl onions and I have yet to be able to taste the difference between shallots and regular ol’ yellow onions, so that’s what I used.   

Then to the liquor store.  Thanks to my husband now being employed again, we have a bit more cash to play around with.  I got a bottle of my stand-by brandy, E&J VS, which does me fine for drinking and for this recipe.  My husband picked up a bottle of Crown Royal Maple, which is very good.  CR is a bit of a sweet whisky to start with, and I thought the maple would be cloying but it’s not.  A very smooth drink and mixes nicely with egg nog. My husband calls it “breakfast whisky”.  He also has a weakness for the bags that CR comes in.  Blame a lifetime playing Dungeons & Dragons.  Where else are you going to put your dice? 😀

We also picked up two bottles of pinot noir, one to cook with and one to drink.  We decided to use the Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir to cook with.  That may have been a mistake.  This wine, though good, isn’t terribly complex or strong in its flavor.  I did very much like its “green” cork and it’d be nice to see more bottles using this type of closure. The second bottle, Gnarly Head’s Pinot Noir, was far more complex and assertive.  Since I like the wine flavor in my beef burgundy to be obvious, I think it would have been the better choice. The Gnarly Head was three dollars more than the Pepperwood.

The beef does take a while to make as Macheesmo’s website indicates.  We had it over egg noodles and I made bread.  I used my usual “artisan bread in 5 minutes a day” recipe.  I was in a hurry so I didn’t let the dough chill.  You really should do that.  My dough was an insane tar-baby, latching onto anything it could in the kitchen but I finally wrestled it into submission.  And then proceeded to clean the dough off the sink, the flour sack, the mixer, a cat ……..

Dinner was accompanied by listening to some of our favorite music like Blackmore’s Night, Tempest, Within Temptation, our own mix CD of a lot of Jim Steinman’s music (the fellow who did most of Meatloaf’s music and a lot of power ballads from the 80s), etc.

Next day, busy again.  More puff pastry for cherry turnovers. Very puffed, though the cherry goo squirted out everywhere. Need to work on that.  Savory toasted cheese, aka cheesy goo, was made per husban’s request to go with the leftover bread.  A couple of Gennys, and watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000’s episode with “The Beast of Yucca Flats” rounded out the weekend (arguably worse than “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and you can actually watch it on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRhGW53eoxY )

Tasty and relaxing.  Hope you had a good weekend too!