Thursday, August 28, 2014

20 Favorite #Grilling Recipes for Labor Day Weekend

Scrumptious Grilled Chicken, 1 of 15 favorite #grilling recipes.

Ready to fire up that grill for Labor Day Weekend, but looking for some inspiration about what to make? You've come to the right place! I've round up some of my favorite grilling recipes and gathered some additional ideas from my fellow Sunday Supper bloggers. We've got grilled chicken, pork, beef and fish for your main courses, a tasty appetizer, and yes, a martini recipe that entails grilling! I lead off with my recipes, followed by the ideas I've gathered from others.

Simply Scrumptious Grilled Chicken with Garlic Basil Butter: Bone-in chicken breasts can be a good value. Many online recipes for them can get a bit complicated; my recipe streamlines the process with tasty results!

Grilled Swordfish and Eggplant with Fusilli and Tomatoes I'm a fairly new convert to the virtues of eggplant. Grilling is the key for me. This Sicilian inspired combination was very good, shared for a Sunday Supper event earlier this summer.

Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa We love our salmon here! Often I grill it with just a simple soy marinade, but made it a bit fancier with a yummy mango salsa for the July Wine Pairing Weekend event (served it with a White Burgundy).

Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa Gotta love salsa! The pineapple in this one gets grilled along with the fish, great flavors.

Heaven Sent Grilled Pork Chops:  The succulent bone-in pork chops with a simple garlic cumin rub get their name from our nine year old's reaction to how tasty they are! Consider this one if you're looking for something that packs a lot of flavor with minimal work.

Cilantro and Lime Marinaded with Chipotle Cream This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, especially served with these Sweet Potatoes with Cumin Sage Butter. This was another Wine Pairing Weekend pairing, served with a Bonny Doon Syrah.

Grilled Steak with Garlic Cumin Rub Regular readers of Cooking Chat may have figured out by now I use this rub a lot! Hey, when you've got something that packs a lot of flavor but also gets a thumbs up from a nine year old, you're going to make it a lot. This is another easy option for a low maintenance weekend grilling plan.

Grilled Steak Tacos with Awesome Avocado Chimichurri Sauce: Entertaining this weekend? This is a great way to get your guests some steak without breaking the the bank! A few pieces of beef along with the tasty sauce makes a a great taco. "Awesome" was the operative word for the sauce when we served it to family at a recent gathering.

awesome avocado chimichurri sauce

Recipes from Sunday Supper friends: Sure, the favorites I just shared from my own summer grilling gives you a good range of options to choose from. But why not ask some other food bloggers for some of their favorites, and make the list bigger? That's what I did, and here are some more great grilling ideas from members of the Sunday Supper community.

Herbed Cream Cheese Grilled Bell Pepper Boats A tasty looking appetizer seems like a good place to start the list of ideas from my fellow bloggers! Carla from Chocolate Moosey has grilled up some peppers and filled with cream cheese and fresh herbs for a must-try summer appetizer.

Seared Trout on the Grill with a Tropical Viogner Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere came up with this one for our July Wine Pairing Weekend event. This post demonstrates that cooking whole fish on the grill can be pretty easy, and is especially nice served with a good wine!

Marinated Grilled Octopus If the grilled whole trout got your creative juices flowing, maybe you are ready to try the grilled octopus from Culinary Adventures with Camilla! Gotta love that this dish was inspired by her kid's requesting this when visiting the local fish market...and now he has some interesting leftovers to scare his friends at school!

Italian Dressing Grilled Shrimp Sticking with the seafood theme for a bit longer (easy to do, writing this from Cape Cod!), here's a great looking grilled shrimp from Julie, a.k.a. The Texan New Yorker.

Grilled Red Snapper with Cilantro and Onion Stuffing Another tasty idea for grilled whole fish! This one from Stacy at Food Lust People Love has a stuffing that certainly has me wanting to give this a try.
Grilled Red Snapper from Food Lust People Love for Cooking Chat grilling roundup.
photo courtesy of Stacy Livingston Rushton, Food Lust People Love

Piri Piri Grilled Chicken Ready to kick things up a notch? Stacy has you covered with this recipe from Food Lust People Love! Plenty of hot pepper and garlic flavor here, inspired by a trip to Portugal.  Or maybe you'd like the similar flavors to go with some grilled fish.

Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks I love Indian flavors, especially on chicken, so definitely like the sound of this grilled chicken recipe from The Texan New Yorker.

Finger Lickin' Chicken Drumsticks Another chicken drumstick option for you, this one via Tara from Noshing with the Nolands. Yum!

Grilled Chicken with White BBQ Sauce Here's a creative BBQ sauce for chicken from Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen. I don't think I've had white BBQ sauce but I'd like to try this!

BBQ Cauliflower Curry Grilled veggies can be wonderful, and Tara from Noshing with the Nolands has put her stir fry BBQ wok to creative use with this dish!

Grilled Baby Romaine Lettuce with Parmesan Vinaigrette Wow! I wouldn't have thought of grilling lettuce, but this recipe from Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen looks awesome.

Grilled Lemon Cherry Drop Martini All this grilling is going to make you thirsty! So why not add some lemons to the grill and try this creative martini recipe from Renee at Magnolia Days. So fire up the grill, pour a glass, and enjoy your weekend!

Got a favorite grilling recipe of your own to share? Please let us know about it!

Grilled Lemon Cherry Crop Martini. Renee Dobbs photo & recipe featured in Cooking Chat Labor Day grilling roundup.
photo courtesy of Renee Dobbs, Magnolia Days

Monday, August 25, 2014

Heaven Sent Grilled Pork Chops

grilled bone-in pork chops with garlic cumin rub. Cooking Chat recipe.

"Is this pork chop from heaven, Dad, or did you make them?"

High praise from our 9 year old for these grilled bone-in pork chops! So I had to get this recipe posted so that you might get a chance to try them while it is still grilling season. This is a very simple recipe, so what made it so tasty?

The flavorful spice blend helps for sure. Grilling the bone-in version of pork chops helps keep the meat juicy and flavorful. And there was just enough fat around the edges to give it a hint of bacon taste, and we know that has to be a good thing!

This is easy enough to make as a midweek supper as you start getting into the back to school routines. You can easily modify the amount of the rub ingredients for more pork chops if you like.

3 bone-in pork chops, thick cut (an inch or more thick)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
stirring up some garlic, cumin and salt for grilled pork chop rub.

Pre-heat a grill to medium high. Combine the cumin, garlic powder and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle the rub on both sides of each pork chop, and rub it into the meat. Let the pork with the rub sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes to let the flavors absorb into the meat.

Spray the grill with cooking oil. Place the pork chops on the grill on direct heat. Cover and grill for 6 minutes, then turn the pork chops of to the other side. Grill 5 or 6 minutes more until done to your liking, taking care not to overcook it. Let the chops rest for a few minutes, then serve. We enjoyed ours with a green salad.
grilled bone-in pork chops served with a green salad. Cooking Chat recipe. #grilling

Wine Pairing: Pork chops with some spice might typically have me thinking about a Spanish wine. But I sampled a great lineup of Italian wines at Pairings before making this dish, so grabbed the 2010 Azienda Agraria La Perticaia Montefalco Rosso from Umbria for our pairing. It's 70% Sangiovese along with 15% Sagrantino and 15% Colorino. A nice blend of fruit and spice, with enough heft to work with the chops. Yum!

Grilled Pork Chops Served with an Italian red wine: Azienda Agraria La Perticaia Montefalco Rosso

Friday, August 22, 2014

Join us for #winePW 4: Regional Food and Wine Pairings

a pasta dish inspired by the Portuguese red wine it was served with. Regional Food and Wine Pairings is #winePW 4 theme.

Some wine and food was just meant to go together. Sure, there might be technical explanations such as weight or acidity levels underlying a good pairing. But often the reason a dish goes well with a particular wine is that the cuisine is rooted in the same region where the wine grapes were grown. We will focus on the interplay of food and wine that hail from the same region for Wine Pairing Weekend 4, "Regional Food and Wine Pairings" on Saturday, September 13.

Let me say another word about what we are looking for on this theme. You might choose to share a classic pairing, such as Boeuf Bourguignon with a red Burgundy. But you could also feature a dish inspired by the cuisine of a wine region, that is your own invention rather than a classic recipe. The Tuscan Inspired Beef Stew I made for our wine club this winter comes to mind as an example of this approach. Or you might simply use a few ingredients common in the wine region you are focused on as your launching point. Get creative, and join us for the #winePW fun!

Before I get into the details about how you can join use for #winePW 4, let me give a shout out to the bloggers who joined us for the August #winePW event: Curious Cuisiniere, Vino Travels, Culinary Adventures with Camilla, ENOFYLZ Wine Blog, Take a Bite Out of Boca, foodwineclick, Pull That Cork, Tasting Pour, Meal Diva, Grape Experiences, and Confessions of a Culinary Diva. Direct links to their #winePW 3 posts can be found here. A great group, and we'd love to add you to the list for #winePW 3 if you are a blogger!
Tuscan beef stew paired with wines from Tuscan. An example of Regional Food and Wine Pairings, #winePW 4 theme.

Details for participation
Are you ready to jump in and participate in the third #winePW? Here are the details:

  • Send an email to tell me you're in: Include your blog url, Twitter handle, link to your Pinterest profile, and any other social media detail. If you know your blog post title now, include that...but you can send me that a bit closer to the event, I'd like to get a sense of who's participating and give some shoutouts and links as we go. If you're a past #winePW blogger, just your post title will do unless you've updated any of the other details. The email is winepairingweekend AT
  • Send your post title to me by Tuesday, September 9, to be included in the preview post. I will do a preview post shortly after getting the titles, linking to your blogs. Your title should include " #winePW 4" (Note: I'd like us all to use the hashtag in the title to make it easier to see the posts getting shared on Twitter)
  • Publish your post between 12:01 a.m-7:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, September 13. You can always schedule your post in advance if you will be tied up around then.
  • Include a link to the other #winePW participants in your post, and a description of what the event is about. I'll provide the html code you can easily put in your initial post--which will link to people's general blog url--then updated code for the permanent links to everyone's #winePW posts.
  • Get social! After the posts go live, please visit your fellow bloggers posts' to comment and share. I'll follow-up later with some specific strategies for that social sharing.
  • Sponsored posts OK if clearly disclosed. Please be sure to disclose if your post is sponsored or if you are describing wine or other products for which you have received a free sample.
  • Live #winePW Twitter Chat September 13, 11 a.m. ET: Participating bloggers and others interested in the subject will connect via a live Twitter chat. It's a nice bring way to bring in others interested in the subject who didn't get a chance to share a blog post. You can definitely still join the blog event if you're not available for the live chat.
  • Highlights on Some #winePW participants will be invited to have their posts featured on the Wine Pairing Weekend site. The goal of the site is to create a growing database of great pairings for a wide variety of wines and food. You can let me know in your email with post title if you're interested in having your post included on the site.
  • Regional wine reps: Would love to hear from representatives of a wine region interested in being part of the #winePW 4 fun. Just drop me an email at winepairingweekend AT if you woud like to explore possibilities.

  • OK, that's all I can think of for now. For more of the backstory on Wine Pairing Weekend, check out the original post introducing the idea. Please let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments; or you can also email me at winepairingweekend AT Cheers!

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Grilled Steak Tacos with Awesome Avocado Chimichurri Sauce

    avocado chimichurri sauce for steak tacos. Cooking Chat recipe.

    Sure, awesome gets overused. But this ever-so-tasty avocado chimichurri sauce definitely needed an adjective in front of it, and "awesome" was the one used by several of our guests when I made the sauce for grilled steak tacos recently. Plus, avocados are awesome in their own right, so the name seems fitting.

    These steak tacos make great party food. You can offer a group of 8 to 10 guests some tasty steak without breaking the bank--serving the steak in tacos with a side of refried beans stretches the meat nicely, and the sauce gives it a fancy touch. Another reason it's great for a party is that you can get much of the work done ahead of time, with just a few prep tasks to do when your guests are with you. This could be scaled up pretty easily, too. Plus, who doesn't love a taco bar, where you can decide for yourself how much of each tasty item you want to put in your taco?

    steak ready for tacos with avocado chimichurri sauce

    Ingredients (serves 8 to 10)

    1.75 lbs sirloin steak (2 good size steaks)
    1 1/2 sweet onions, sliced thin
    2 different colored bell peppers, coarsely chopped
    tbsp olive oil

    avocados for chimichurri sauce
    For the marinade and base for avocado sauce
    6 cloves garlic, minced
    1 scallion, minced
    1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 tbsp Champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar would do
    1 ½ tsp cumin
    pinch red pepper flakes
    1 tsp salt

    Finish the sauce with:
    ¼ cup chopped parsley
    ½ tsp minced jalapeno
    2 avocados, diced close to serving time
    1 tbsp lime juice

    Fix up those tacos:
    2 packs soft taco shells (take them out of fridge when you start making the marinade)
    sour cream
    lettuce or other salad greens
    refried beans

    Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl (the garlic through cumin and salt). Place the steaks in a large sealable plastic bag, then pour in 1/3 cup of the marinade mixture into the bag, setting aside the rest of the marinade. Seal the bag, and gently toss the steak around with the marinade to get it well-coated. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. About 4 hours is optimal.

    avocado, parsley, pepper and garlic for avocado chimichurri sauce

    Finish the avocado sauce by taking the remaining marinade that you set aside, then stirring the parsley, jalapeno, and lime juice into the reserved marinade. You can have all this ready to go well before your dinner, then stir in the diced avocados closer to serving time.
    avocado chimichurri sauce for steak tacos. Cooking Chat recipe.

    You can get the onions and peppers sauteed in advance, and re-heat when ready to serve, or make while your guests are there. I'd suggest at least get the chopping done in advance! To prepare them, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat, then add the onions. Saute, stirring occasional, for at least 10 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the peppers, saute for another 10 minutes. This pepper and onion mixture can be kept on low heat to stay warm until serving time. A little extra cooking just makes them tastier!
    slicing steak for avocado chimichurri sauce for steak tacos.
    Now, you've got the preliminaries taken care of, it's time to grill that steak! Take the steak out of the fridge 15 minutes before grilling time and pre-heat the grill to medium high. Shake the excess marinade off the steaks, then place them on the grill. For medium rare, which I recommend for this cut, grill 5 to 6 minutes on one side, then flip over to grill another 5 minutes on the other side. Remove the the steak to a serving platter. Slice the steak thin after it has rested a few minutes, and have it ready to go on the taco bar.

    You can set up the rest of the items on the taco bar as the steak grills. Line up the soft taco shells, steak, avocado sauce, onions/peppers, sour cream, lettuce and beans and let folks build their own tasty creations. I like to go through the line first and point out the items people can choose from so they don't miss anything. Enjoy your taco party!

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Simply Scrumptious Grilled Chicken Breasts with Garlic Basil Butter

    Simply Scrumptious Bone-In Grilled Chicken Breasts. Cooking Chat recipe.

    Do you love complicated recipes at the end of a workday? Nope, I didn't think so. I had picked up some bone-in chicken breasts on a recent sale, and thought that would be a nice simple thing to throw on the grill for a midweek supper. I hopped online to try to quickly get an idea of cooking times, but the online recipes for grilled bone-in chicken breasts seemed to make it a complicated process.

    Why complicate a simple meal? Well, there is the matter of getting the chicken cooked through, but not too much. And if you want to play the grilling superstar, you probably want those breasts looking golden brown and crispy on the outside.

    Simply Scrumptious Bone-In Grilled Chicken Breasts. Cooking Chat recipe.

    Fear not. It doesn't need to be that hard. Bone-in chicken breasts are forgiving, a few minutes past optimal timing is OK. I perused, several recipes, found this one to be a good launching off point, and got the process and timing simplified for you.

    A barbecue sauce might be your first instinct grilling chicken, but my simple Garlic Basil Butter takes about 5 minutes to whip up, and helps that chicken stay nice and moist as you grill it. Plus it adds enough flavor to make this chicken nice and savory. Scrumptious, you might say! I had a bottle of BBQ sauce on the table, thinking the chicken might need a bit more flavor, but that went unopened. Along with some tasty corn and side of pasta, this grilled chicken had plenty of flavor for a scrumptious yet simple weeknight meal.

    Combine 3 Tbsp butter, 2 minced garlic cloves, 6 basil leaves and pinch salt for tasty butter. Makes Simply Scrumptious Grilled Chicken! via Cooking Chat.
    For the butter
    3 tbsp butter (I used non-dairy, see note)
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    6 to 8 basil leaves, sliced into thin julienned strips
    pinch of salt
    squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
    2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

    Make the butter: Leave the butter out of fridge for 30 minutes, or microwave for 10 seconds to get it soft enough to work with. Add the garlic and basil, stir in vigorously to get it well incorporated into the butter. Stir in a generous pinch of salt. If you have lemon on hand, you might try squeezing in a teaspoon or two of juice. I didn't have any to add, but I bet it would further enhance the flavor.

    Prep the chicken: Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts. Gently pull back the skin just enough so you can slip your fingers in between the skin and the breast meat. Grab a dollop of the butter, and work it under the skin. Gently rub it onto the breast meat. Try to get about halfway down the breast with your fingers. This is enough to spread the flavor without making the skin too loose. Grab another dollop of the butter and rub that over the outside of the skin, forming a thin coating of butter all over the breast. Repeat the process with the butter on the other chicken breast.

    Grill the chicken: Here's the part a lot of other recipes seem to make complicated. Let's try to keep it simple. I'll explain what I did using my gas grill, you can do a similar process with charcoal by just filling half of it with the coals.

    Simply Scrumptious Bone-In Grilled Chicken Breasts. Cooking Chat recipe.

    Pre-heat the grill to about 400. Turn off the back burner(s) so that you have an area available for indirect heat cooking. Place the chicken on direct heat for 5 minutes, then turn the chicken over to grill on direct heat for another 5 minutes. Using your tongs, carefully move the chicken and place it breast meat side down on the back of the grill. Cook on indirect heat with the grill covered for 15 to 20 minutes. Check the chicken for doneness (chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees), taking care not to overcook.

    Our chicken was a nice golden brown at the end of the indirect cooking time. But if you want a bit more coloring for crisper skins or presentation purposes, place the chicken meat side down on the direct heat for another minute or two.
    Simply Scrumptious Bone-In Grilled Chicken Breasts with side of corn, linguine and a Viogner.

    Sides and Wine: Some good local corn on the cob went nicely with this dish. We also had some pasta with pesto on hand from this other recent Cooking Chat project. If I was focused mostly on the grilled chicken, I might have opted for a rose or Chardonnay. To go with the lively flavors of the pesto and corn, as well as the grilled chicken, I served it with a Viogner and was pleased with that pairing.

    Note: I typically use Earth Balance Natural Butter Spread when cooking, as our son is allergic to dairy among other things. It's softer to start with, making it easier to cook with. Along with being lower in saturated fat, it tastes great, too!

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

    Linguine with Classic Pesto and Fresh Tomatoes Paired with Sauvignon Blanc for #winePW 3

    pesto and sauvignon blanc, classic wine pairing

    Sometimes, you just gotta go with a classic.

    Sure, there's lots of great stuff rolling in from local farms and gardens in August. But there are three things coming in now that get me especially excited. There's that sweet corn, so tasty with just a bit of butter and salt. And our almost 9 year old says it's good sans salt and butter. I'll take his word. Then we have tomatoes, so good this time of year. In fact, this is the only time of year I'll buy fresh tomatoes. Off season, I shun the plastic tasting stuff, and get good canned tomatoes for my sauces.

    Basil is the third plant in my August triumvirate, because my family and I are wild about my homemade pesto. Sure, I get creative with pestos, such as the kale pesto that has gotten very popular around here. But there's nothing quite like a great basil pesto, made even better topped with August tomatoes and a side of corn on the cob. A classic combination.
    Linguine with Pesto paired with Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc for #winePW.

    When choosing a "Wine for Summer's Bounty" for Wine Pairing Weekend 3, I decided to stay with the classic theme. Sure, I've enjoyed Picpoul with pesto, and recently had success pairing pesto with a Viogner. But pesto and Sauvignon Blanc is one of those classic pairings, where the food and wine seem to be meant for each other. A classic pair. Like Romeo and Juliet, except it finishes much better! I'll talk more about our classic pairing after divulging our "secret" family pesto recipe.

    Linguine with pesto topped with fresh tomatoes. Cooking Chat recipe.
    Cooking Chat's Pesto Ingredients
    2 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and tightly packed
    4 cloves garlic
    3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3/4 cup Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
    2 tbsp pine nuts

    Serve with
    12 ozs linguine
    1 summer fresh tomato, diced
    corn on the cob
    Sauvignon Blanc

    The Secret: Seriously, this is "wicked" simple, as folks say around here. I'm not sure why people who try my pesto are so enthused about it relative to other pestos. These are the classic basil pesto ingredients; there aren't really any secret ingredients! Maybe because I make sure to pluck out only the good leaves from the basil plant and don't add anything that's withered a bit? Or I make sure those 4 garlic cloves are pretty good size, or add a bonus clove if they are small? I typically go for the Pecorino, which adds a bit more saltiness to contrast the garlic's bite. I find the freshest basil, and make the pesto shortly after getting the basil home.

    The Method: Have a food processor at the ready. Rinse the basil and pluck the good leaves from the plant, add to a measuring cup. I use up all the basil I've gotten. If I wind up with more than two cups basil, I scale the recipe accordingly and have more pesto on hand. If you have extra basil and a school age child on hand, enlist them in the process of calculating the recipe proportions, keep those math skills sharp over the summer! Put the basil into the food processor, and give it a quick whir to begin chopping the basil and make room for the other ingredients.

    pesto ingredients in a food processor.

    Next, add the garlic, and hit that food processor button again to get the cloves chopped up with the basil.

    Add the remaining in ingredients, and then puree to get everything well combined. Open the food processor, scrape the sides to get bits of garlic and basil that haven't been incorporated, then give the processor a final whir. Presto, you have tasty pesto! If you're going to be eating within the next hour or so, just leave the pesto out. If you're making in advance, refrigerate, but take out an hour before serving to bring the pesto to room temperature.
    Basil pesto paired with Sauvignon Blanc for Wine Pairing Weekend

    After you've got some pesto, cook linguine or other pasta of your choice. Drain, toss with a bit of olive oil. Next, stir in several tablespoons of pesto. See how it looks after you've stirred that in, then stir in more to taste. I like to get the pasta fairly well coated, but reserve extra pesto for people to serve themselves according to taste. i.e. if you put the entire batch of pesto into 12 ounces of pasta many folks might be a bit overwhelmed!

    Plate the linguine with pesto, serve topped with diced tomatoes, a side of corn, and the wine.

    The Pairing: There are so many styles of Sauv Blanc to choose from. I like mine to be crisp and refreshing without too much of the citrusy element--no puckering, please! We went with the 2012 Taft Street Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc. At a bit under $20, it's a good value and we were very happy with the selection.

    I get grassiness and grapefruit on the nose of the wine. I take a sip, and get peach, cherry blossoms, and mineral undertones. I eat a couple bites of the linguine, getting the garlic bite and saltiness in the pesto along with the freshness of the basil and acidity from the tomatoes. A lot happening on the palate. More wine. The crispness of the Sauvignon Blanc refreshes, cleansing the palate to be ready for another burst of flavor from the pesto. The makings of a classic pairing!

    Wine Pairing Weekend # 3 Bloggers: Be sure to check out what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the August Wine Pairing Weekend!

    Pull That Cork shared "Wine for Summer’s Bounty. Will Garnacha Do the Trick?"
    Meal Diva paired "Summer Vegetable Red Sauce with Amarone"
    Culinary Adventures with Camilla posted "Pan-Seared Padròns with DeRose Vineyards' Négrette"
    Vino Travels -- An Italian Wine Blog shared "Tomato, toe-mah-toe: Summer's bounty with Sicilian wine Donnafugata"
    Grape Experiences paired "Cecchi Chianti Classico 2010 and Vegetable Lasagna"
    Curious Cuisiniere shared "Chipotle Garden Salsa with Wild Hare Petite Sirah"
    ENOFYLZ Wine Blog posted "Grilled Paiche with a White Greek Blend"
    Take a Bite Out of Boca shared "Quinoa-Crusted Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stacks paired with Monrosso Chianti"
    foodwineclick shared "Summers' Bounty or Attack of the Killer Turnips?"
    Confessions of a Culinary Diva blogged about "Lobster Paella and Albarino"
    Tasting Pour shared "Summertime and the Cooking is Easy"
    Cooking Chat paired "Linguine with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and a Sauvignon Blanc"

    Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you're reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme "Wine for Summer's Bounty" on Saturday, August 9, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time. Questions for the chat are posted here on the #winePW site. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the September Wine Pairing Weekend, which will focus on "Regional Food and Wine Pairings" on Saturday, September 13.

    Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc. Cooking Chat Wine Pairing Weekend  selection.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Wine for Summer's Bounty: Preview for #winePW 3

    The corn is high, those wonderful August tomatoes are here, and plenty of great produce abounds at local farms. What wine pairings can help us enjoy summer's bounty? Join us for Wine Pairing Weekend on August 9th to explore this tasty question!

    "Wine for Summer's Bounty" is the theme of the Aug. 9 #winePW event.

    As I explained in my post introducing Wine Pairing Weekend, I find plenty of online events focusing on food and wine separately, but not too much looking at the interplay of food and wine. Wine Pairing Weekend (#winePW for short and on Twitter) is a monthly event featuring bloggers posting about a pairing in response to a particular theme, along with discussion on social media about the topic. This will include a live #winePW Twitter chat at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday August 9. Anyone interested in the subject can jump into the conversation on Twitter at that time, which can also be accessed on our Twubs page for easy viewing and tweeting. The questions for the chat are posted over on the Wine Pairing Weekend site.

    Below I'm linking to the bloggers that have let me know they plan to participate. Thanks to the early responders to this third #winePW! If you're reading this before August 9, you can still jump in with a blog post of your own. Just check out the August intro post for more of the blogger details and email me at winepairingweekend AT If you've come to us after August 9, consider joining us for #winePW 4 on Saturday, September 13.

    Pull That Cork will share "Wine for Summer’s Bounty. Will Garnacha Do the Trick?"
    Meal Diva will pair "Summer Vegetable Red Sauce with Amarone"
    Culinary Adventures with Camilla is posting "Pan-Seared Padròns with DeRose Vineyards' Négrette"
    Vino Travels -- An Italian Wine Blog will share "Tomato, toe-mah-toe: Summer's bounty with Sicilian wine Donnafugata"
    Grape Experiences is pairing "Cecchi Chianti Classico 2010 and Vegetable Lasagna"
    Curious Cuisiniere will share "Chipotle Garden Salsa with Wild Hare Petite Sirah"
    ENOFYLZ Wine Blog is posting "Grilled Paiche with Fresh Corn and Poblano Peppers"
    Take a Bite Out of Boca will share "Quinoa-Crusted Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stacks paired with Monrosso Chianti"
    foodwineclick is sharing "Summers' Bounty or Attack of the Killer Turnips?"
    Confessions of a Culinary Diva will blog about "Lobster Paella & Albarino"
    Tasting Pour will share "Summertime and the Cooking is Easy"
    Cooking Chat is pairing "Linguine with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and a Sauvignon Blanc"

    And perhaps another one from you?

    "Wine for Summer's Bounty" is the theme for the August 9 Wine Pairing Weekend.

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Simple Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry

    Rule # 1 when cooking away from your home kitchen is to keep it simple. This tasty stir-fry featuring pork and bok choy fits the bill nicely.

    Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry. Cooking Chat recipe

    I learned the first rule of cooking on the road the hard way. Cooking for people out of town that have heard of my foodie ways, I'd try to make fancy multi-course meals in an attempt to impress. But I'd wind up spending half the night muttering about dull knives and lack of suitable equipment in a kitchen not designed for serious cooking. Now, I go for meals that are easy to prepare but still very tasty, leaving time to visit with a smile on my face. Simple recipes like this will put a smile on your family's face, too, whether you make it on the road or in the midst of a busy week.

    Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry. Cooking Chat recipe
    For the Sauce:
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1 tsp sugar
    2 tsp balsamic vinegar
    1 scallion, chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced

    For the Stir-Fry
    5 small boneless pork chops—about 2 lbs of pork, cut crosswise into ½ inch slices
    1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
    1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
    1 summer squash sliced thin then cut into half circles.
    1 large bunch bok choy, coarsely chopped (leafy greens and white stock)
    1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil

    Be sure to get everything cut up in advance of starting to stir-fry. The cooking process is fast and requires frequent stirring. As you start chopping, start cooking some rice to serve with the dish.

    Make the sauce: combine all the sauce ingredients through the garlic, then set aside.

    Get cooking: Put a wok or large skillet on high heat. Add oil, when good and hot, add the pork and stir until the outside of the meat is white, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Return the pan to the heat, still on high, then stir in the onions. Cook for a minute or two, then add the peppers, followed by the squash. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes, then gradually stir in the bok choy. Cook until the greens start to wilt, a minute or two. Now add the pork back in, lower heat to medium, stir in the sauce. Cover and simmer for about 3 minutes, until the pork is done--you want to get it off the heat when it's close to being white throughout, but not quite...i.e. don't overcook it.

    When the dish is cooked, give the pork and bok choy a good final stir and serve over some brown rice or couscous. We actually served it over brown rice couscous, which I hadn’t seen before. A nice option for folks that can't eat wheat but want the light texture of couscous. The meal was healthy and tasty!

    Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry. Cooking Chat recipe

    Wine Pairing: The wine selections are more limited when we are away from our local wine shop. So I keep my eye open for brands I like on the road. I was on a big Seaglass Sauvignon Blanc kick for awhile, so when I saw their Pinot Noir on the shelf I thought we'd give that a try. This is a nice light and simple pinot, and it worked pretty well with the dish.

    Full disclosure: I've included my Amazon Associates link to the brown rice couscous. From time to time, I'll link to unique products I recommend that can be purchased there. I receive a modest percentage of the sales through such referral links.