Monthly Archives: October 2014

Wine Tasting and Chicken Stir Fry

Over the years I’ve read countless times that the best wines to consume while chowing down on spicy Asian fare are Rieslings, Gewürztraminers, or Muscadets. Always happy for an excuse to enjoy a glass of wine, I decided that it would be fun to have an impromptu wine with dinner (spicy chicken stir fry) and put the rumors to the test. It would be a nice little surprise for my honey, too. I chose to compare only two of the three. The following day was a workday after all.


I hit the road for High Times (basically Disney Land for wine lovers) in Costa Mesa and they had many great wines to choose from. I decided upon a Riesling (2011 Alexana Riesling, Dundee Hills-Willamette Valley, Revana Vineyards) and a Gewürztraminer (2012 Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer, Sonoma County).


Here’s what you’ll need for the chicken stir-fry.

1.5 pounds of ground chicken

3 red Fresno peppers seeded and julienned

3 carrots peeled and cut into coins

1 tbsp. red chili paste

6 garlic cloves, sliced very thinly

1 shallot, minced

1 cup roughly chopped basil

¾ cups chicken stock

¾ tsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. oyster sauce

1 tsp. Siracha (+/- depending upon your appreciation of spicy food)

2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. vegetable oil


Add oil to a wok, or sauté pan, and place on medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the red chili paste and heat until fragrant. Add the ground chicken, salt, and carrots and sauté until the chicken is halfway cooked. Lower to med-low, add the stock, soy sauce, garlic, shallot, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and Fresno peppers. Stir and simmer for 5-10 minutes.


Add the basil and stir again. Remove from heat and serve over rice or quinoa.


The Riesling was dry and had very little aroma, was not very complex and was thin. There were notes of citrus and the finish was pretty much nonexistent. It didn’t hold up to the flavors of the dish.

The Gewurztraminer was another story. This wine was also dry and had bright acidity, more body, more complexity, and notes of lime, green apple, and honeysuckle. It also had a decent finish. This wine won hands down and I highly recommend it.

Eat well!


“Beer is made by men, wine by God.” – Martin Luther








Chicken Fajitas with Avocado-Yogurt Crema

Fajitas are a Tex-Mex dish and their origins can be traced back to the 1930s in the Rio Grande Valley, which can be found in the southernmost tip of South Texas. Traditionally they were made over an open fire and the meat was beef– skirt steak, to be exact. At some point chicken, fish, pork, and a variety of other protein sources were introduced as clever chefs began experimenting with this tasty portable food.

My first experience with fajitas was at a Chili’s restaurant that opened up in Massachusetts 25+ years ago. I vividly recall that blazing hot cast-iron pan heaped with strips of sizzling beef, peppers, and onions arriving at our table. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. As we all know with age comes pounds so my meat of choice these days is boneless, skinless chicken breast. Also, rather than using sour cream as a topping, I make an avocado crema which has more nutrional value and less calories. Here’s what you will need.


Avocado Crema

3 tomatillos

1 tbsp. oil

1 large lime, juiced

1 ripe avocado

1/3 cup 0% Fage yogurt

2 tbsp. chopped cilantro

¼ tsp kosher salt

Chicken Fajitas

1 poblano pepper

1 bell pepper, julienned

1 lime, juiced

1.5 pounds of chicken tenders, sliced to strips

1 tomato diced

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

Goat cheese as a garnish for your fajitas

1 tbsp. canola oil

1 tsp. kosher salt


Begin by charring the poblano over an open fire. Once it’s been charred on all sides, add to a Ziploc bag and sweat the pepper. Once it’s cool, you can easily peel off the skin, remove the seeds, and slice into strips. Set aside.

Add the lime juice to a Ziploc bag and add the chicken strips. Set aside and let them marinate for 30 minutes.


Now for the crema. Drizzle 1 tbsp. over the tomatillos and roast in a 400-degree oven until squishy.

Add the lime juice, yogurt, avocado, salt, tomatillos and their juices to a blender. Blend until smooth and add more salt to taste.


Add the tbsp. oil, chili, and cumin to a cast iron pan. Heat until fragrant.


Remove the chicken tenders from the bag and sauté in the spices with the kosher salt. When halfway cooked, add the julienned bell pepper. You could also add ½ a julienned onion. We were fresh out so I skipped the onion. Add the roasted poblano strips last. Cook until warm.


Smear some avocado crema on a flour tortilla, add some tomatoes, chicken and peppers, then top with some goat cheese.

Eat well!


“I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.”

-Erma Bombeck


Asparagus, Emmental, and Ham Frittata


These past few weeks we’ve been preoccupied with a few small-scale renovation projects. Now that we’re empty nesters, we can begin to fix all of the things the kids have broken over the years. And there are many.

I had completed my aspect of the most recent project by late morning Sunday, but poor Roger still had a boatload of stuff to do. I decided to make him something yummy to brighten his busy day. I poked around Whole Foods and decided on a frittata with a simple salad. Perfect brunch food. Also perfect for those early morning NFL games here on the West Coast, but it’s advisable to skip the coffee and go for the Bloody Mary instead.

Here’s what you’ll need for a tasty asparagus, Emmental, and ham frittata   (Emmental is similar to gruyere and you could use gruyere as a substitute).


1 dozen eggs

½ pound thickly sliced uncured ham, diced small

2 minced shallots

4 oz. grated Emmental cheese

5 oz. blanched, chopped asparagus (be sure to dry it well after blanching)

¼ cup Fage yogurt

1 tbsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees. If you prefer no browning, you can lower the temperature of your oven to 350-degrees and watch your eggs very carefully. Some like browning, and some don’t. It’s a personal thing and I happen to be in the former camp.

Spray a cast-iron skillet liberally with oil and set aside until the egg mixture is ready.


Add eggs, yogurt, salt and pepper to a large bowl and whisk vigorously until well integrated.


Add diced ham, minced shallots, chopped asparagus, and cheese to the egg mixture.

Place the frittata in the oven until it’s cooked through to the middle and puffed up 360-degrees (about 15 minutes but ovens vary). Poke the tip of a knife into the center to check for doneness.


I served a simply dressed salad of halved cherry tomatoes, pecans, and greens with a red wine and Dijon mustard vinaigrette with our frittata.

3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

½ cup good EVOO

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

A pinch of kosher salt

A pinch of sugar

Add all ingredients to a small jar or container and shake until emulsified


Dress your salad with vinaigrette (store the rest away for another meal) and serve alongside a hefty slice of frittata, a cappuccino, and your favorite Sunday paper.


Speaking of eggs, Roger and I were recently in LA for an “overnight” and we stopped at Egg Slut (located in the Grand Central Market) for some early morning grub before heading back to Laguna. Egg Slut is Chef Alvin Cailan’s inspiration and it opened in 2011. The name alone is so intriguing that it’s futile to resist its magnetic pull. All I can say is: be still my beating heart, which it would be, VERY still if we lived nearby.

I ordered the house-made sausage, warm exploding egg, and cheese sandwich (see melt-in-your-mouth-licious photo above). The cheese: cheddar. The spread: honey mustard aioli. The bun: warm Portuguese. The only criticism I have for Egg Slut is that they don’t have an automatic external defibrillator (affectionately known as an A.E.D) within arm’s reach. Believe me, I looked before taking my first bite. I decided that if I were going to have the big one, I’d prefer to go with dripping warm egg yolk on my chin and a big smile on my face. It would be so worth it.

Eat well!


“I went to a restaurant that served ‘breakfast anytime.’ So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.” – Steven Wright