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Archive for July, 2010

What do you want to drink? What do ya have?

Chocolate coffee, orange, and Irish cream, Sound good?  Well it is . . .and it almost never was. One night we decided we were going to have a cocktail and I went to make the usual at the time, White Russians.  When I went to the Cupboard ‘O Booze, I discovered that we were out of vodka.  Now, that stuff is pretty expensive and I really didn’t want to go out anyway.  So I looked deep into the cupboard (it’s really quite small) to find a substitute mix.  What came out was Kahlua, Triple Sec, and Irish Cream.  Now, I’m not bartender, let alone a mixologist, but this was actually pretty good.  Here goes:

2 oz. Kaluha

2 0z Irish Cream (I use St. Brennan’s.  It’s good at half the price of Bailey’s)

2 oz. Triple Sec

Mix with ice in a shaker and strain into a martini glass.

The shaking gives it a nice, frothy texture and the sweetness of the triple sec blends the Irish cream and Kaluha well.  It tastes like the old Valencia mocha Starbucks used to make with a kick.  At least that’s what my wife says.  Just think, if we had that vodka, my Onion Juice would never had made it.

Oh yeah, the name Onion Juice has meaning behind it.  My son asked what it was.  We told him onion juice.  Now, when ever he sees us drinking it, he screws up his face and says “I can’t believe you are drinking onion juice”.  The name stuck.


Michigan Burgers

Well, I guess I have been neglecting my site.  It’s been a crazy summer so far and I’m not in the habit of posting.  So here goes.  I guess my better half has been telling people about something I came up with about a year ago: Michigan Burgers.  They are a Michigan twist on the common burger.  When people think of Michigan, they think cars.  No, I’m not putting motor oil in the burger (might give a nice, earthy flavor . . . I keed, I keed), but something else Northern Michigan is known for: cherries.  They blend well with the meat and feta cheese I put in them.  The feta gives a great flavor without completely melting away.  The salt from the feta meshes well with sweetness of the dried cherries and gives a nice balance of flavors.  I also add some spices and Worcestershire sauce.


1.5 lbs of ground beef (I like sirloin or round, but any will do)

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup crumbled bacon

10 dried cherries roughly chopped

2 tbs of Worcestershire sauce

1.5 tsp garlic powder

1.5 tsp of onion powder

1/2 tsp paprica

3 dashes of celery salt

salt and pepper to taste

Add the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and mesh.  Form 6 1/4 pound patties (thin but not paper thin, 1/2 inch or so).  Turn the grill on high and close to heat.  After the grill has heated, place the patties on the grill, cover and turn the heat down to medium.  Let cook for 3-5 minutes (cooking times vary from grill to grill) and flip.  Cover again for 3-5 and measure the temp.  For medium rare, take off the grill at 130-140 degrees internal temp.  Let sit for a couple of minutes before you place the meat on a bun (this allows the juices to stay in the meat).  Any bun will do (sesame, onion roll, wheat).  I garnish the burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, provolone cheese, mayo and, believe it or not, Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce.  No, really, it’s good.  The sweetness of the BBQ sauce compliments the creamy tang of the mayo.  For those not brave enough for that tasty treat, (i.e. my family), I have made a sauce to put on it.  Mix 1/3 cup sour cream with 2 tbs of mayo, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 tbs of lemon juice and celery salt to taste (1/2 tsp). Experiment with spices to find the flavor you like.  You can also use the traditional ketchup, mustard, and mayo if you choose

Any traditional burger side, like fries, will work, but I like fruit with it as well.  A great dessert with this is grilled pineapple.  Just take sliced pineapple rings and grill them on medium until you get the grill marks (about 4 minutes) and flip. Be careful, the sugars in the pineapple will burn easy so watch closely.  For a wine pairing, try lighter red like a nice Chianti. Old Peninsula Cellars Cabernet Franc would be excellent as well, but I have only found that at the winery in Traverse City so it’s a little hard to come by.   This meal also screams for a tasty summer beer.  If you want a good summer brew from Michigan, try a Bell’s Oberon Ale with the Michigan Burgers.  If you can’t find Oberon where you live, Sam Adams Summer Ale is a very good substitute.  The citrus of those  beers tastes so good on a hot summer day with the cherries in meal.  Enjoy!

Rockin’ the Risotto . . . Almond Style

Well, here goes.  My first true food update.  Last Friday (July 2nd), we did our weekly grocery shopping.  Low and behold, when I went to buy meat, the only steak they had was ribeye.  Apparently, everyone had beat me to the strip steaks for their 4th of July BBQ’s.  I’ve never actually grilled a ribeye steak before, but there’s always a first for everything.  Anyway, when we went to make dinner tonight, I had a hankering for some risotto to go with those ribeyes.  Since the lovely and talented other half likes that dish, she was all for it.  I was in an experimenting mood, so I decided to make a change to the normal recipe, a sweet almond flavor.  I did so by adding a 1/4 cup of Amaretto (Disaranno if you must know).  The recipe as follows:

1 cup basmatti rice

2 turns of olive oil (about 2 tbs)

2 tbs of butter

1/2 cup dry white wine (Sauvigon Blanc)

1/4 cup Amaretto

1 small white onion

3 cloves garlic

32 oz of chicken broth

Hot tap water if needed

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth under low heat.  It makes the absorption of the liquid much faster.  In a medium saucepan, heat (medium) your two turns of olive oil and butter until butter is melted.  Saute the onions until partially transparent (about 4 minutes) and then add the garlic and saute for another 4 minutes.  Add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes.  The oil and butter will soak into the rice giving it a shiny appearance.  After 2 minutes, add the wine, amaretto and 1/2 cup of chicken broth.

Allow the mixture to come to a slow boil and turn down to medium low (3 on my stove).  Stir often until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.   Add a cup of chicken broth and repeat.  After the third addition of liquid is reduced and absorbed, taste the rice.  If it’s nice and soft, it’s ready.  Usually it takes me 4 additions to make it the way I like it.  It you run out of broth, add the hot water instead.  If you add too much broth, the taste of the broth will overpower everything else.

I paired the risotto with the ribeye and grilled asparagus.  The amaretto gave a nice sweet flavor that blended well with the wine and rice.  The bitterness of the asparagus balanced the sweetness of the risotto.  We had a Marquis Phillips 2008 Shiraz I picked up at Costco for around $10.  Very good wine for the price.  Nice pepper spice on front and back of the tongue with a cranberry/vanilla/chocolate middle.  I highly recommend it!

MMMMMMM . . . . Food Good

Well, I’ve finally been shamed into starting a blog.  I thought long and hard (ok, maybe not hard) about my new blog.  I thought since I enjoy cooking and, more importantly, eating good food, it might be a way to share some of my experimentation with you all.   I wanted to name it some sort of grunting and pointing (like the old “Home Improvement” show with Tim Allen), but I couldn’t find a way to show that in the title.  So . . .  caveman speak was a good second option.  I cook all sorts of food and pair it with all sorts of drinks.  I may even attempt to talk about some of the wine and beer I try (remember, I said attempt).  If you get a little daring, you may even try to make some of what you read here.  Just remember that I am an amateur!  So, in the words of Dave Matthews  “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry – For Tomorrow We Die.”