Food, Wine, Rock & Roll

Part food blog, part jam session

Red Beans & Rice

Posted by Becca On February - 8 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

I love Cajun food and could eat it at least once a week for the rest of my life.  There’s just something about the heat in the spices of Cajun that I find comforting.  It’s perfect on a cold night or on a hot day with a cold beer.  For years I had used boxed or bagged mixed when I made red beans and rice.  I had found some brands that I really loved (Tony Chachere or Mahatma) and still use when time is a concern but was very excited when I found this recipe and could make it from home-made.  The first time I made this, I had some left-over red beans with pork bone that I had made a few days before and decided to use them instead of the canned red beans.  However, in later versions, I have used canned red beans and it is still delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Andouille sausage (chicken or pork; I have even used venison sausage)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 c. hot cooked rice

Preparation

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add sausage and onion mix to pan.  Saute 4 minutes.

Add Cajun seasoning, salt, oregano, and garlic to the pan.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Partially mash the beans with a fork.  Add beans, 1/4 cup of water, and tomatoes to pan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until thickened.

Remove from heat.  Stir in pepper.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Drinks

This is another dish that doesn’t totally work with a wine.  The heartiness of the beans, sausage, and rice demand something a little bolder – something like a nice German beer.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love German beers; I have not yet come across one that I don’t like.  My favorite beer for this dish is a Bitburger Premium.  This is a brewing company that has been family owned and continuously brewing since 1817 so they have had a little bit of time to perfect this amazingly delicious brew.

Music

When making Cajun food, what could possibly be better to listen to than a band straight out of Louisiana?  Dirtfoot is self-described as “the only Front Porch, Whiskey Swillin, Foot Stomping, Gypsy, Punk, Country, Grumble, Boogie band in the land.”  Once you hear their totally unique sound, you will realize that this is the absolute best description for their rollicking, growling, eclectic, incredibly dance-able music.  My favorite album to throw on is their first album, Entertain Me.

Cheesy Taco Stew

Posted by Becca On December - 29 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

During a recent trip to my in-laws, I watched my mother-in-law prepare a hearty stew for the current group of hunters she had visiting their deer lease.  I came in while she was already half-way through the process, so I didn’t get any information on the full “plan” for her stew.  On the way home, I contemplated the ingredients she was using & an idea for a quick, easy stew started coming to my mind.  I wanted something that was hearty & warm for the cold winter & combined my love of the flavors of the Southwest.  Thus, this recipe was born.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pkg. Goya Sazon with Coriander & Annatto (orange box)
  • 1 lb. ground beef (venison or buffalo works well, also)
  • 16 oz. 2% milk Velveeta cheese
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 7oz. cans chopped green chilies
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans (partially drained)
  • 1 15 oz. can ranch beans  (partially drained)
  • 1/2 15 oz. can whole kernel sweet corn (drained)

Preparation

Taco Meat Preparation

Pre-heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Place ground beef in skillet and sprinkle first seven ingredients over ground beef and mix well.  Brown the beef.

Stew Preparation

In a large stock pot, cut the Velveeta into 1 inch cubes.  Slowly melt over medium heat, stirring constantly.

When the cheese is completely melted, stir in the diced tomatoes and chopped green chilies and increase heat to medium-high.  Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the browned taco meat, black beans, ranch beans, and corn.  Stir well.

Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, and sliced avocados.

Drinks

A spicy, warm, filling stew calls for a beverage that can match it.  For this, I like to go to one of my all time favorite brewing companies: Samuel Adams.  One of the reasons I love this company so much is their seasonal brews.  There is a wide variety of them that change with the seasons and there is always something perfect for whatever mood you are in.  The perfect beer to balance out the spice of this stew is the Winter Lager.  It has a hint of the spices we all connect to the colder months and it matches the richness of the stew.

Music

This is a stew that had a very classic, predictable recipe as my jumping off-point: the basic queso.  But then, it takes a turn & became pure experiment (yet still remained incredibly comforting).  So it would seem only fitting that the perfect album to listen to while making it is one which begins as “familiar” but then turns on you…in a cozy sort of way.  The Tallest Man on Earth’s  (also known as singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson) album, The Wild Hunt first catches the listener with an incredibly familiar sound: Bob Dylan’s reedy voice and finger-picking guitar.  But then, he catches you by surprise by bringing a slightly modern twist to classic folk music.  It is an album that is simultaneously  soothing  and invigorating.


Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage with Veg

Posted by Becca On July - 2 - 20102 COMMENTS

My family lives on a ranch in West Texas, as does my husband’s.  My family raises beef cattle & his runs a hunting lease where there are trophy white-tail deer, elk, and buffalo.  Needless to say, I am very fortunate that I never have to buy beef or game meat from a store.  The venison sausage I use for this dish comes from my in-law’s meat processor (Stephens Processing in Abilene) but you can get this type of sausage at stores like Central Market or Whole Foods.  I have even seen it at my local farmer’s market.  If you cannot find venison sausage, substituting with a pork sausage will work (just know that the fat content will be higher).  A great thing about this dish is it is prepared all in the same skillet so there is very little clean-up afterwords.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1-2 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1-2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (I like the rich flavor of baby portabellas)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 pound jalapeno cheddar venison sausage

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Saute garlic in warm oil until fragrant (about 2 minutes).

Add the squash, zucchini, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.  Saute until the squash & zucchini just begin to cook (about 3 minutes).

Reduce heat to medium, add the mushrooms.  Cover and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Add the sausage and cilantro and cook uncovered for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Drinks

Because this dish has Mexican overtones, it lends itself easily to Mexican beverages.  If I’m feeling a bit more festive, a good margarita is an excellent compliment to the spices in the sausage and vegetables.  However, most of the time, my beverage of choice with this one is a nice cold Dos Equis Lager with a splash of fresh lime.   I’m also a fan of Cervesa Sol.  Both beers are crisp and refreshing and offer a great balance to the heat of this meal.

Music

This is Texas soul food at it’s best so why not pair it with music that speaks to the local Texan.  I’m not a fan of most country music but I certainly enjoy what I call “Texas rock,” which is rock music heavily rooted in country and blues.  One of my all time favorite musicians of this genre is Ian Moore.  I particularly love Ian Moore’s Got the Green Grass, which is a slightly more experimental album.  When I’m in the mood for something a little more obscure, Susan Gibson’s New Dog, Old Tricks or the self-titled album, porterdavis, never fail to deliver that true Texas rock sound.