Brian Wing on February 29th, 2012

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Brian Wing on December 23rd, 2011

Ah nothing says holidays like drinking yourself silly to accommodate tolerance for extended family.  Well that and huge cuts of meat cooked to perfection.  And I’m an equal opportunist so a little of both makes for even happier holidays.

I had a revelation (no not in the biblical sense — you have to be careful what you say this time of year — ) rather a seasoning one for cooking one of the most glorious meals of the season.  I recall that I saw some cooking show that touted the best seasoning for prime rib was a rather simple one, and I’m a sucker for easy.  Four little ingredients to season up that chunk-o-meat.

1. Salt
2. Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
3. Garlic
4. Thyme

Wow, fortunately I have been thinking about cooking this roast beast for many months and started up a nice little herb garden including that little leaved wonder, thyme.

Additionally I am lucky enough to have a great grocer in town, Oliver’s Market, with whom I placed an order for a five-bone prime rib last week.  I awoke this morning with visions of (no not sugar plums) but juicy, succulent, and mouth-watering beef!  I reread the chapter in “Keys to Good Cooking, A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes” by Harold McGee on Meat.  A very good book, not a recipe book, but a great reference in best practices on cooking in general.  I highly recommend anyone who enjoys cooking pick this up!  Anyhow, back to the beef…

My roast was delivered home by “the wife” at around 10:45 am and I immediately began the preparation.  The butcher is awesome, the bone is already cut nearly through, but still attached and the roast is already tied.  I have milled about 3 tablespoons of black pepper which I rub over the entirety of the roast.  I have also cut a large bunch of fresh thyme from my herb garden and have separated out the leaves from the stems.  I then rub about 5 tablespoons of kosher salt all over the roast.  Now, the revelation…

Last time I prepared one of these I think I just used some oil and rubbed the thyme leaves on the roast with the oil to afix them to the roast.  This time, I thought, why not make some paste with the thyme and garlic.  So I cut up a cube of butter, placed three large cloves of garlic and the thyme into the mixer and blended them all together until it became a smooth paste.  It was almost like icing a meat cake!

Into the oven which was pre-heated to 525F for a quick searing (NOTE:  I wasn’t really thinking and didn’t have the hood fan blowing so the damn smoke detectors started screaming about 5 minutes after starting).  After searing for about 10 minutes, I turned the beast down to 250 and will cook it 30 minutes per pound (11 x 30 = about 5 hours).  I’ll keep tabs on the internal temperature of the meat and pull it out at about 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which should leave me a great medium-rare roast!

Prime Rib slow roasting

I’ll report back on how well this endeavor turned out and update you on the wine pairing (yet to be determined, but I’m thinking Stags Leap Cab for me) let the uninterested drink the cheap plonk.

Merry Christmas to All, and to all a sharp knife!

NorcalWingman

Brian Wing on December 20th, 2011

It’s a nice chilly evening up at the condo we are lucky enough to have access to through “the wife’s” family and we’ve just finished off a great bottle of Michel-Schlumberger “Coteaux Sauvages” and we still need more vino…

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So it is on to the Seven non-vintage Red wine of Spain. This box of wine is a blend of, you guessed it, seven varietals including 24% Shiraz, 24% Cab, 11% Garnacha, 11% Graciano, 10% Tempranillo, 10% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. If you are after your century club, this may help…

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Anyhow, this is a red with a baked/cooked fruit character, not too bad and definitely a valid second bottle if you are trying to save the good stuff or have a house full of people who wouldn’t differentiate a great bottle with a handle of Gallo.

Read that last part, good for large family gatherings that tend to happen around this time of year… Get my drift?

Anyhow, I wish you all the best and happiest of holidays! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the NorCalWingman!

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Brian Wing on December 16th, 2011

A nice little Napa Valley Chard.  Easy on the oak, nice and spicy.  Kinda reminds me of a baked apple, not sweet or cloying but great fruit and nutmeg spice.

 

Check it out

Brian Wing on December 4th, 2011

Wow, I can’t recall the last time I felt motivation to get some new content up on this blog.  However, today while sitting around, enjoying winter brews and football, smelling the ribs I have cooking in the oven, I felt a tug at my creative heartstrings.

I got an extra pumpkin this year when we gathered up our annual haul for the “pumpkin hunt.”  It was a Cinderella, which apparently is one of the better cooking gourds.

I am pretty excited to get this thing gutted up and roasted.  I am dying to have a really good, homemade pumpkin pie, amongst other things I’m sure I’ll be making from the puree of pumpkin.  I also took the time to harvest some of the seeds, I’m thinking this pumpkin has some good ass genes and I want a repeat performance next year!

Anyhow, I’ve been absent due to life (school, work, kid, etc… etc… etc…)  School is done for the semester in a week or so and I’ll be graduating this upcoming Spring, so hopefully the time between posts won’t be counted in months, rather in days.

Happy Holidays everyone

NorcalWingman

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Brian Wing on February 20th, 2011

Two and a half years ago I made my first batch, it was worth a third place.  Although the results were clearly rigged (I have no real proof, but have a hunch) I probably had the best standard chili.  The second place chili was more of a spicy seafood chowder and the first place chili was handed out by its creator, totally not allowed in an anonymous contest!  Anyhow, last year I came back with a fury and won first place.  I’m hoping it wasn’t a fluke, there were less competitors last year.  So, this year I have to come back and defend my title.  I’ve been getting challenges from everyone in the office.  I had no idea someone had painted a bulls-eye on my back.

I’ve been trying, with each batch of chili I make, to increase the heat by adding more and different peppers.  I know I could cheat by adding hot sauce of various makes just to “add heat,” but I think that when you kick up the fire that way you really sacrifice flavor.  So, I’ve kept chasing the perfect level of pain through pepper additions.

Pepper Power

Additionally this year, I was lucky enough to have our good friends provide the beef for this chili.  My buddy Zippy (yep, that’s his name people), bought a whole beef earlier this year and still had a few roasts left over so he got me a 2.6 lb cross-rib roast.  Now, just to let you know, I’ve had a few other tastes of this beef (named Durham) and it’s been some of the most flavorful and yummy I’ve ever had.

With all this going for me, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
2.5 – 3.0 Lbs. Beef Roast
1 whole, large white Onion
3-4 cloves garlic (about 4 Tblspn, finely chopped)
3 Serano Peppers
2 Jalapeno Peppers
2 Fresno Peppers
2 Habanero Peppers
1 Large Red Bell Pepper
1 Large Green Bell Pepper
5-6 Fresh or Frozen Tomatoes (I used some watermelon heirlooms frozen from last summer)
1/2 Cup Whiskey (I chose Gentleman Jack)
EVOO
2 24oz. Cans of Fire-Roasted Stewed Tomatos
10oz./each Dried Beans (White, Black, Kidney)

Spices/Seasonings:
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Cayenne
Ancho Chili Powder
Chipotle Chili Powder
Chili Powder
Smoked Paprika
Cumin
Coriander
Oregano

In a crock pot, large enough to hold all of this, open the cans of stewed tomatoes and start cooking.  Put crock pot on low.  First thing is to get the meat ready.  Pat roast dry with paper towels and cut into 1cm/1cm cubes, place into a glass/non-reactive bowl, once the bowl is half-full, season beef with all off the spices/seasonings (best guess or according to your tastes) continue cutting meat and once finished season beef again.

Finely chop up the garlic.  In a large skillet 12″ or bigger, heat olive oil to medium-high heat and add beef and some of the chopped garlic.  NOTE:  This will probably take 2 or 3 batches depending on your skillet/stove.  Once beef is in skillet, chop the 3 serano peppers into little rings (don’t worry about de-seeding), take a portion of the seranos and place into skillet with beef.

As the beef starts to brown take a portion of the whiskey and add to the skillet (carefully!).  I use a lighter to ignite the alcohol and cook it off.  Once fully cooked place beef into the crock pot, repeat for as many times as necessary to cook all of the meat.

The rest is super simple, Chop and de-seed the remaining peppers and add to the crock pot.  I dice some of the jalapeno and make some “nacho rings” but chop the others more finely.  I chop the bell peppers and onion rather large.

A note on the beans.  I pre-prepared the beans before beginning my chili.  I do not soak them overnight or anything.  I do however put them in a large stock pot with salted water, bring to a boil and let sit one hour.  I had done this a week prior for my “test batch” and froze the unused portion of beans for use in this chili.

The crock pot really does the rest.  I set my heat on low and set to cook for 8 hours. Test your chili’s flavor while cooking and add spices and seasoning as needed.  I usually add more cumin and salt at some point.

Now, some of you probably know what I’m about to say, but it bears repeating.  Soups, chilis and other things, while tasty after cooking for this long, really develop their best flavor after cooling down and being reheated.  So, I planned my cooking time into this.  I started my chili in the evening so that it would be finished in the morning and I could turn it off and put it into the fridge to cool, then be reheated and perfectly ready for competition.  Please consider this when preparing yours.

There are many “condiments” that I would recommend with chili, included in those are: Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Nacho Rings, Chopped onion (red or white) and most importantly Corn bread!

I was exceptionally pleased with this batch, after cooling and reheating it maintained a very good “heat” from the peppers and the flavor was great.

Cheers,
Norcalwingman

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Brian Wing on February 14th, 2011

Obviously the big V-Day is a very important day in the annual cycle of days, and is especially crucial to maintaining happiness around the home.  All this aside, it’s another good day and excuse to open a really good bottle of wine and cook some decent grub to boot!

Now I know that it may seem unoriginal, uninspired and otherwise rote, but Fillet Mignon really does make a great dinner on Valentines day.

I’m lucky enough (as I’ve mentioned on several previous occasions) I have a killer market, with an outstanding butcher.  It just so happens that I got a call from “the wife” today prior to leaving the office that I should swing by the store on the way home to pick up something for dinner.  Without to much grousing, I agreed and on my way home stopped in at our Oliver’s Market.  Fortunately for me, being the day that it is, the best cut of steak was available on sale.  With an ample selection of sizes and ages I picked two of the darkest selections of Fillet, knowing that they would be the most tender and tasty!

So blah blah blah, who cares, right?  Fillet Mignon finished with blue cheese, fresh, thin asparagus, and fingerling potatoes sauteed in evoo, herbs, and garlic.  Yummy, n’uff said.

Here’s the best part, the wine.  We always put off drinking that “good” bottle for that “special” occasion.  So, today has to be one of those, right?

In case you are not interested in saving that special bottle, there’s a cool site you might be interested in: http://www.openthatbottlenight.com/  This is a great idea since we all probably have one, two, ten, twenty really kick-ass bottles that we’re “saving for a special occasion.”  This site says buck that trend and just do it.  I guess they’re the Nike of wine or something!

Okay, back to business.  “The Wife”  picked out a really decent bottle of Geyser Peak Cab, a reserve from 2007, given to her by their winemaker, and  no doubt that it would be a seriously good bottle of grape juice, but…  I wanted to kick it up a notch, Emeril style.  So I put her completely decent selection back, and grabbed a bottle that I’ve been sitting on for quite some time.  A 1999 Alexander Valley, Silver Oak, Cabernet Sauvignon.

So here’s the details:

1999 Silver Oak Cellars, Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon
12.9 % ABV
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Release Date: August 1, 2003

Tasting Notes:  Herbaceous and earthy, reminiscent of many AV cabs, great fruit character, a blackberry jam (fresh, not cooked) on the mid-late palate.  Outstanding length of finish.  The color, brick to garnet.  Concentration is noticeable, but for a wine of this age very youthful.  The tannins have softened and mellowed, I would say this wine is in its prime.

Current Retail looks like $100/750ml

Again, we always save these great wines for that special moment, I’m guessing that we should be drinking these way more often!  Make yourself a great dinner and pair it up with the best you’ve got in your cellar.

Cheers and Happy Valentines Day!

Norcalwingman

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Brian Wing on February 3rd, 2011

First off, an apology for not being here with you these last few months, however, every now and then a hiatus it in order.  Regardless of the reasons I’m here now with a new sample provided to me by the Austrian wine contingent.  A new wine for me to be sure, but not a new varietal.

A 2009 Grauburgunder Steirische Klassik from Neumeister.  This wine is made from an Austrian Pinot Grigio and has been a decent companion to my post Financial Statement Analysis MBA course, paired up with some Sonoma Jack cheese and crackers.

This is a nice light wine that has some Sauv Blanc / Fume Blanc characteristics and is a very easy drinking wine.  Easy to open (with it’s screw cap) and easy on the palate.  Nothing too complex here.  The wine was finished in some oak and there is definitely some wood on the nose.  The body of this light wine has a touch more body than that of a stainless-only white.

The details are as follows:
Varietal: Austrian Pinot Grigio
Alcohol: 13%
Wine Area: Südost-Steiermark
I can’t read Austrian, but if you do, check out the producer website here: http://www.neumeister.cc
Online Retail: $18-$24

It’s nice to be back, I’m hoping to get back into a more regular schedule of postings, I look forward to hearing from you.

Cheers,
Norcalwingman

In Vino Veritas: This wine was provided to me as a professional sample

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Brian Wing on January 12th, 2011
When I started my wine blogging adventure I put this post together for Jon Troutman over at http://corkd.com and was very exited to have my work shared with a much wider audience than my wife and a few friends that actually read my blog posts at http://norcalwingman.com.  I heard the news today that Cork’d is winding down their site to pursue other opportunities in this ever changing online wine world, so I thought  I’d dig up my posting from what seems like ages ago.
Cheers to you over at Cork’d and may the future bring you all great success!  All the best from norcalwingman.com.

How about joining that wine club?

By Brian Wing, March 9th, 2010
If you are lucky enough to live in an area with wineries that you like, you might just want to consider joining a wine club.  Although it may seem like high-pressure sales tactics (I mean, let’s call a spade a spade) there can be some really great benefits that come with belonging to your favorite winery’s club.
First off, you will most likely get free (complementary) tastings for you and your friends that tag along when visiting the winery.  Trust me, if you tell your friends that you get free tastings at a really great winery, they’re tagging along!  Secondly, you will get discounts on the wines you already love.  Usually these are pretty decent – 25-30% off is not unheard of.  You will also be the first to know when these wineries are trying to blow out their old inventory, and that’s when you can get some serious steals (50-75% off!).
In addition to the perks of savings, you will get a couple of shipments (or you can pick up if you’re close enough) of the wines you love.  The really cool part of this is that the selections you get may not be what your favorites are.  Now, you might say, “Wait!  I want the stuff I love.”  But, don’t modify what they plan on giving you.  You’ll get different varietals, many that you may likely have never tried (because you’re stuck buying your favorites every time).  In addition, depending on the club, you may get some “library” selections; smaller production, hard to find wines. This is when being a member really pays dividends.  You have access to some outstanding and truly unique bottles of yummy goodness.
To top it off, wine clubs have parties.  Now these can vary from a backyard barbeque style event to some seriously legit soirées.  De La Montanya’s Summer pickup party rocks, they bring in a band and serve up the year’s best wines and send you home with six future star bottles. Recently my wife and I attended an event at the new Yankee Stadium in New York City.  Prior to that we enjoyed a sunset cruise on San Diego Harbor aboard “The America” (http://www.stars-stripes.com/images/images-5.jpg ) sipping great wine and eating gourmet hours devours.

"The America" overlooking San Diego Harbor

Sonoma-Cutrer’s club is pretty unique, they really dote on their wine club members. These are two examples of wine club events that I’m lucky enough to take part in.
So check out your favorite wineries websites, or call them up, and look into joining their club.  Better yet, if you’re able to visit your favorite winery in person, stop by, shake their hands, and they’ll gladly get you going.   Most clubs have two shipments a year, totaling a case per year of wine.  Some offer Red only or White only options to suit your preferences.  Others even offer varietal specific clubs. Obviously some prehistoric states have shipping regulations, so be sure to ask when you sign up.
Wine clubs offer an additional dimension to the wine experience, one that I think is absolutely worth it.  Now go sign up – your winery is waiting to hear from you. I guarantee it!

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Brian Wing on November 4th, 2010

Yes it’s Thursday, and in all rights I should be typing up a sweet recipe for you to enjoy on another “Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner!”  Well, perhaps I’ll add a cooking tip at the bottom of this post…  Anyhow, Tonight we had some super delish, filet mignon steaks, so I wanted to have some good red to pair with my dinner.  I picked out a 2007, Valley of the Moon, Cuvee de la Luna.  This wine has held a lofty place in my “go-to” Bordeaux style blend list of yummy wines.  So, “the wife” said to me, “Oh, that’s young!”  I was thinking to myself that yeah but the 2007s are drinking like champs so go with it right?  But Wait!  I have my Soiree, and since Vinturi never hooked up a completely unimportant wine blobber named Norcalwingman with a free sample Vinturi, I had to pick one up on woot.com.

Now in the left corner, weighing in at slightly more than its competitor:  VINTURI

A heavy plastic or some other clear material V-shaped funnel type thing, with a nice filter screen and resting stand.

And in the right corner, don’t call him glass-jawed Joe: Soiree

A gasket wearing glass bulb, with some etched swirl lines.

Soiree v. Vinturi

Soiree v. Vinturi

Well, it’s not really that exiting but in my completely unscientific test.  The nose on the glass poured with the Soiree seems to have a higher/more robust aroma.  The taste of the two are nearly comparable, but the olfactory sensation on the Soiree glass does seem to edge ahead of the Vinturi.

Round 1 Victor, by 1 point:  Soiree

Stay tuned for more head to head action.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for, a great tip on cooking your Filet Mignon.

I used my gas grill tonight, I fired it up and brought the temperature up to about 350 F, on the built-in thermometer using the left two burners of my 4-burner grill.  I placed my two steaks on the right side, upper grill shelf and cooked for approximately 20 minuted, until an instant read thermometer read 120 F.  I removed the steaks from the grill, placed on a plate and covered with foil.  In the mean time, I turned up the heat on the two burners to high.  After about 5 minutes of rest, I returned the two steaks to the grill and placed directly above the flames.  I seared each steak on both sides for approximately 3 min/side and served immediately.

These steaks may be the best I’ve cooked yet!  They were medium/medium-rare in temperature and supremely browned, just on the outside.  I hope this tip might help you with your next steak, you have got to try this method!

Cheers
Brian

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