November 22, 2010

Red, Red Wine

Red like blood. Seriously. Check out this cork.

That's from the 2006 Calcareous Syrah.

This wine is to die for. I was saving it for a special occasion, and decided that having some friends over for our last outside fire of the year was as good a reason as any. So we popped it. And drank it while we ate s'mores. It was a damn good combination.

Thankfully, I was able to buy a replacement bottle of the same stuff, same vintage. Now I just need another special occasion.

October 27, 2010

Not Typical French Fare!

This post is not gonna be word-intensive. Instead, some food porn! Hooray!

These pictures are from the gourmet dinner my group helped with at school last week. It was a French theme, but with modern presentation tweaks. The result? Yumalicious and gorgeous food!

First up, smoked salmon souffle with caviar, plus house-made cheese crackers and a drizzle of chive butter:

Then, a puree of cauliflower soup, with a fleur de lys sandwiched between two thin potato crisps:

The fish course was a black cod with an olive crust and three pepper coulis:

Intermezzo was a grape Champagne sorbet with alize:

The dish I helped prepare was a roasted pheasant breast with escargot basil butter, carmelized butternut squash, and parsnip puree. It was garnished with an escargot (yep, a snail), and surrounded by a fantastic reduction of chicken broth. Check it out:

The cheese course was cute. A maple leaf played base, topped with Crave Brothers cheese (like a slightly stinky brie), a small apple, and honeyed walnuts:

Dessert was a meringue with caramel rum sauce. Not my favorite, personally, but it was pretty:

And no full day in the kitchen would be complete without some outtake shots:

What looks good to you?

October 12, 2010

Roaming the East Village

Mr. Drunken Chef and I spent Sunday morning in Des Moines' East Village. The World Food Festival was this weekend, and though I had to work both days, we knew we had to make a stop.

We were some of the first people there, and we were greeted with tent after tent of delicious food:

First stop was the El Salvador stand for a pupusa -- because nothing is better for an empty stomach than mouth-burning salsa, slaw and cheese. Sadly, we ate it too quickly to take a picture. All I can say is this: Eat a damn pupusa! It was the best thing we had all day.

Other treats included crab rangoons (because my husband can never say no to one or three), a Hawaiian fried banana (meh), and some fried okra:

Review? Not as good as I was hoping. These little buddies were a little bland and a lot greasy. I had to add some hot sauce (I know -- the best morning for The Drunken Chef's tummy) to get any flavor at all. I'd try fried okra again, but not from this food stand.

There were also some chef demonstrations going on, and I was excited to see Chef Ryan Binney of Sweet Binney's bakery. We toured his place for school, and I was very impressed with his operation. (And that's saying something, considering baking is my least. favorite. ever.)

Afterward, we wandered a few blocks down for the weekly East Village Craft Bazaar. We found some treasures, kids!

The Mister likes to make his own cards for special occasions, but he's running out of material. So we picked these up for a couple bucks each:

Amazing! And we found these sweet record bowls. We got a Johnny Cash and a Peter Frampton. Score!

A good way to start the day, when you have to work eight hours on a Sunday. Hope you had a great weekend!

Dehydration Transformation

I apologize for the lengthy absence. School has been kicking my ass. We run a restaurant at school, and for the last three weeks, we've been involved in menu planning, then lots and lots o' cooking. We're done this week, however, so blogging should be back on a more regular schedule soon.

On to the good stuff...

Remember all the ice cream and dehydrated treats I promised last time? We've got 'em! Homemade vanilla ice cream:

Fruit that went from this:

to this (my friend Kenna contributed some pears):

And jerky! Oh, yes, jerky... as far as the eye can see:

My parents gave me an ages-old dehydrator, along with some jerky spice mix and cure. Was it still good? Only a couple of batches would tell. The flat jerky used the regular mix, and the sticks (think Slim Jim without the casing) were made with hot and spicy mix.

Guess what?! We're not dead. Jerky mixes are good, if not a bit salty. I bought some cure and am going to start experimenting with some of my own spice blends.

And now, something for you to experiment with: pumpkin chili.

Fall is in full swing, so it's time to hunker down with hearty soups. This one always hits the spot at our house, but I change something every time I make it. The basic recipe goes a little somethin' like this:

Pumpkin Chili
2 cups fresh or canned pumpkin
3 pounds ground beef
2 cans red kidney beans
2 medium yellow onions
3 cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons hot chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 cup mushrooms

Drunken Chef variations have included beer (tell me you're surprised) -- pumpkin beer adds an extra pumpkiny kick -- hot Italian sausage substituted for half the meat, and the addition of garlic. I have a vegetarian friend who regularly makes this recipe without meat. Twist it to fit your whims, and let me know how it turns out!

September 23, 2010

Wine and Old Vodka

On Tuesday, I went to the Johnson Brothers holiday wine show at Prairie Meadows. These shows, if you've never been to them, are a great inexpensive (and in this case, free) way to sample a lot of wines. And I sampled a lot of wines. I tried low-end, the high-end, and everything in between.

When you arrive at these shows, they hand you a program that lists the wines that will be sampled at each table.

This show gave out flip books with lines for notes. Perfect! Except that it's hard to write super-detailed notes with a purse on your shoulder and a wine glass in your hand. The result? Notes like this:

Okay, that's an extreme example. But it's best to keep your notes brief, and to have a system in place to denote wines that you particularly like -- like a star or smiley face. It may also be best to decide your plan of attack before you walk in: Are you going to try only Cabernet Sauvignons? Maybe you want to limit yourself to South American wines. In any case, don't try to drink everything. It won't end well.

In other wine news, have you tried this one?

Conundrum is a California white blend that is absolutely ahhh-mazing. Seriously. I hadn't had this wine in a while until Tuesday night (notice a theme?), and I'd forgotten just how lush and delicious it is. For a California blend, it's so full-bodied.  And if you go to their web site, they won't tell you what's in it, so we'll just have to keep guessing. But do snag this bottle if you get a chance -- it's often sold in 375 mL size (usually at about $9 a pop), so it's really affordable to try.

Finally, on to vodka. We came by this bottle in a round-about way. My father-in-law used to travel a lot to a sister city (Stavropol) in Russia during the 1990s. At some point -- we think some Russian friends brought it over as a gift -- he came to own this bottle of Old Vodka:

My sister-in-law has been in possession of it for some time, and recently gave it to us. We did some research, mainly to find out if it's supposed to be this color:

It is. (Good thing we checked. The hubby wanted to throw it out!) It's also pretty tasty -- think vodka with a spiced rum depth. What we'd really like to know is how much money we're tossing down the hatch. We can't find any price information for this stuff online, except a post or two that call it "rare." Does anyone know anything about Starka Old Vodka?

That's all for booze news today. But coming up this weekend, there are big plans at The Drunken Chef's house, and they include these:

Have a great Friday!

September 22, 2010

Full Disclosure

Even in moderation, all this eating and drinking can take its toll. So, to keep the belly to a minimum, The Drunken Chef works out a few times a week (okay, five) -- either running or ab work. But don't worry; this isn't an exercise blog, and there will be no talk of the dirty work required to keep this girlish figure.

Now back to your regularly scheduled writing.  

September 18, 2010

Eat. Drink. Love.

This blogger has simple goals. I love to eat. I love to drink. Let me amuse you with tales of cooking, eating, and culinary school. Let me introduce you to new cocktail concoctions and rave about my new favorite wine. So, sit at the chef's table, pick your poison, and brace yourself for some tawdry language.

We're going to find the good stuff.