Labor Day Filet with Red Wine Reduction

Recently on a family trip to the 30A area of the Florida panhandle we were visiting one of our favorite local restaurants to take advantage of the abundance of fresh seafood not found in the land-locked state of Tennessee.  That night at dinner we had a couple of nice surprises:

(1) We ran into some friends that were also visiting the same restaurant and staying in the area (isn’t it cool when you are hundreds of miles away from your stomping ground and you see someone you think looks familiar and when you get closer, you realize “Hey, that IS you…!”)

(2)  Our daughter loves salmon and catfish but isn’t much of a seafood fan so she IMG_6152 (002)went the “turf” route of “surf n turf” and chose the filet medallions with red wine reduction.  Served with mashed potatoes, she said it was the best steak she ever had and didn’t stop raving about her dinner, even when we were back home in Tennessee.

So…..we tried it at home and I must say, the results were pretty darn successful!  Tonya picked up some nice filets from a local butcher (we usually stick to rib-eyes or New York strips so Filet Mignon is a treat!) and we had a bottle of red wine ready to go. We rubbed the filets with cracked black pepper and ghost pepper sea salt (from Gulf Coast Saltworks out of Panama City, FL) and IMG_6160 (002)

then seared on the grill to lock in the juices, finishing the meat on indirect heat.  Served with mashed potatoes (the reduction makes a fantastic gravy!) and grilled asparagus, our daughter said it was “almost” as good as what she had at the restaurant but we all agreed it was an instant house-hold favorite!  Good enough to lick the cast-iron skillet!





Labor Day Filet with Red Wine Reduction

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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3-4 10-12 oz Filets, seared in pan or on grill and cooked to desired wellness and set aside.IMG_6142 (002)

2 cups red wine

1-2 tbsp finely chopped shallots

5 tbsp butter

salt and pepper to taste

Start by sauteing the shallots in 1 tbsp butter and any juices from the filets in a heavy skillet over low to medium heat until tender and translucent.  Add the 2 cups of red wine, bring to a simmer and reduce by half.  Stir in the remaining butter 1 tbsp at a time until the reduction is smooth and syrupy.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the reduction the steaks and serve immediately.


Sauerbraten and Potato Latkes…”Or so the German’s would have us believe”

“…or so the Germans would have us believe” – Norm Macdonald, Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update.

That phrase has always “tickled me funny bone.”  When you insert those eight simple words into a conversation, you either get that confused look and “Yeah. Umm, what?”  (Millennials or Gen Y) or someone might say “Oh yeah, I remember that…but who said it? Seinfeld? Richard Lewis?” (Baby Boomers/Generation X)

Buried deep in my wife Tonya’s lineage, struggling to culinarily  burst forth, is the German side of her gene pool.  The result of this internal battle manifests itself in a hearty favorite dish of MEAT and potatoes known as:  Sauerbraten and Potato Latkes!  Now get this everybody, if you aren’t aware, Sauerbraten is roast BEEF that is marinated for 3 days, yes 3 days, and during the cooking process and when done, can be covered with a sauce made from…Gingersnap Cookies!


Tonya first started experimenting with this dish in the 1990’s and we also ordered the Sauerbraten at one of Chicago’s most famous German restaurants, The Bergoff Restaurant.  Imagine hoisting a stein of good German brew as you salute your tablemates and pretend you speak German while feasting on their fantastic offerings.


  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup waterimg_5166

1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 onions, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

2 bay leaves

3 whole garlic cloves

1/8 tsp ground allspice

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp black peppercorns

4 pound rump roast

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/3 cup all purpose flour

2/3 cup finely crushed gingersnap cookies

Combine water, red wine vinegar, red wine, bay leaves, onions, carrots, allspice, garlic cloves, peppercorns and salt in large non-metal bowl.  Place roast in marinade, cover and refrigerate for 3 days.  Turn once daily.

Remove roast from marinade (keep marinade) and wipe dry.  In large heavy pot or Dutch oven, brown the roast on all sides, sprinkling the flour as you turn it. Add the marinade back to the pot with the roast, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 3-4 hours, until meat is tender and easily pulls apart.

Remove roast from pot, strain marinade and discard vegetables and whole spices. Return marinade to pot, bring to slow boil while sprinkling in the crushed gingersnap cookies.  Slice meat, add back to pot and simmer 5 minutes.  Serve.


Potato Latkes

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 large raw potatoes, peeled and grated

1/2 cup onion, grated

1 large egg

3 tbsp flour

salt and pepper

vegetable oil for cooking

Whisk all ingredients except for potatoes in bowl.  Stir in potatoes.  Form mixture into patties, making sure to squeeze liquid from mixture, and fry in skillet until golden brown.

Serve hot with a dab of sour cream

We had the Sauerbraten and latkes with baked apples and salad.  Some recipes call for the Sauerbraten to be served with Spaetzle, an egg noodle common in German dishes.  Either way, it’s a hearty dish even more delicious on a cold night with a cold beer.

My buddy Ray swears by Bitburger beer, a popular German brew that is a great accompaniment to the Sauerbraten.  It’s not craft, its not dark, it’s a pilsner. The company has been around since 1817 so they may know a thing or two about brewing…Or So the Germans would has us believe…

Egg White Potato Fries

You say “po-tay-toe”, I say “po-tah-toe”… matter how you say it, you cant go wrong with the “stud-spud”!   There are so many varieties of potatoes and so many ways to enjoy one of THE most popular side dishes.  You can smash them, mash them, fry them, bake them…heck, you can even make soup out of them!  Double-heck, you can even use potatoes to power a light bulb or a clock using pennies, nails and copper wire…but I digress (I don’t think potatoes will replace solar panels or windmills as alternative power sources but it’s still pretty cool!)

I bring this up because Tonya and I were in the car the other and we were discussing foods that we would give up in our timeless quest to battle the effect of gravity on our bodies.  (When I say “give up”, I’m not talking about, you know…FOREVER).  We had had lunch earlier at a local BBQ place and my sides were coleslaw and french fries.  Tonya usually doesn’t order fries as one of her side dishes but she does ask me if I’m having them, so with that thought in mind, I asked her if she would give up french fries.  Her answer?   No, nope, negative.  Not Gonna Do It.

Tonya likes all kinds of french fries:  crinkle cut, home-fries, shoestrings, curly, wedges. But she prefers the thin variety, the kind most commonly associated with…McDonald’s…there, I said it…(While France and Belgium fight over who invented them and the Brits use them as the “chip” in fish and chips, the thin variety became popular here in the States primarily due to fast food chains like Mickey D’s. And over the years some healthy soul decided it would be a great idea to cover french fries in cheese or chili…so if you are trying to slim down to “beach weight” you may want to limit your intake of the fried french fries).

So what’s a girl to do? Here at the house Tonya has perfected oven-baked potato slicesIMG_2818
as a healthier substitute to french fries and you can still dip them in ketchup!  The sliced potatoes are really easy to prepare and the taste depends on your favorite spice.  You can’t go wrong with just salt and pepper but feel free to try different spice combinations such as garlic salt or creole seasoning.  Normally we rub olive oil on the slices before adding the spice and baking in the oven but recently tried a new twist on a family favorite!

Instead of brushing the potato slices with olive oil and sprinkling spices on the top, we combined egg-whites with the spices, stirred the  mixture until frothy, tossed the potato slices until covered, then placed on a baking sheet.  The result was a crispier and tastier version of the potato slices:  crispy on the outside and soft inside!

Egg White Potato Fries

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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4-5 Red Potatoes

1 egg-white

Seasonings such as salt, pepper and dill or garlic salt and chili powder

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wash and dry the potatoes, then thinly slice.

Combine the egg-white and seasonings, whipped until frothy.IMG_2820

Toss the potato slices with the egg-white mixture.

Arrange the potato slices in a single layer on greased baking sheet or parchment paper-covered baking sheet.

Baked in the oven until crispy, approximately 30 minutes.

Serve with your favorite condiment such as ketchup, honey mustard or ranch dressing.

Oh, did you just ask about beer and Oskar Blues?  Okay, here is a good one for you:  Pinner Throwback IPA, brewed by Oskar Blues which originated in Colorado but has a great IMG_4034location near Asheville, NC.  I must say, Oskar Blues is providing me with some of my favorite brews for the last few years and they have several different varieties for all tastes and ABV%.  While Pinner is an IPA, which can sometimes be a turn-off for some due to the ‘hoppy’ bite, it’s brewed with some tropical flavors that create some balance and is a great spring/summer beer after you have finished the mowing. Pinner can be found on the shelves in a can but like most craft beers, it’s best enjoyed straight from the tap! (click on the paragraph to check da’ beers!)

By the way, if you are wondering what I said I would give up eating, you will have to stay tuned for future blogs….