From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Stuffing (Us) from Apple Pie to White Wine

And so, with the passing of the Christmas Season, we are left with... Leftovers, the need to make resolutions, the need to make new resolutions, knowing that the first one isn't going to hold much water or last through the calling of delicious Valentine's treats, or Easter Brunches, and most importantly, the need to physically force ourselves to get up, walk around, get the metabolism working again, and find something healthier to eat.

And boy, did we push the envelope on unhealthy this last weekend.

Christmas Eve, at our house, with lasagna, ham, caesar salad, garlic bread and a whole countertop of dessert offerings...

Christmas Day, with family, with turkey, ham, garlic mash potatoes, green beans, croissant rolls, pecan pie and apple pie... and of course, my trademark shrimp scampi...

Not to mention all the alcohol...  We discovered that Crown Royal is the most popular choce in the family (except the day after, when we realized that we had partaken a wee bit on the excessive side the day before) and that Bacardi 151, even when mixed with any kind of soda, still burns going down. (Well, duh, it is HIGHLY FLAMMABLE...) Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio went well with the meal.  (The most amusing thought with the wine is that I had to open a bottle because I needed some white wine to deglaze the pan, and there was no other type available.)

I also discovered, to my initial delight, a new kind of beer.  I am a huge fan of Shiner, and the many different offerings that they create.  My particular favorite this time of year is their Holiday Cheer, which is brewed with pecans and peaches, yet does not overwhelm with the fruity or nutty flavor.  While at the corner convenience store, looking for some chips to go with Dave's home made salsa, I walked past the clear glass doors of the beer cooler and had to do a double take.  Was it true? A new beer to enjoy? It was called Shiner Smokehouse.  Whatever the reason, Shiner’s new offering is considered “the perfect sommer bier”, and is essentially a Helles Lager with the malt smoked over mesquite wood, in theory lending the beer a smoky flavor.

On first thought, it might seem like a smoky beer would probably be a better fit for a winter seasonal, but built on the base of a Munich lager, Smokehouse is refreshingly light enough that it could indeed be enjoyed on a hot summer day, with plenty of different meats on the barbeque, with a regular sauce to go with it, though it doesn’t necessarily have the same clean and light body that a traditional Munich lager or a light Pilsner might have.  Now please understand: this is the opinion of a regular guy, who just wanted to drink a regular beer.

My personal opinion? There is nothing worse than Shiner Smokehouse for seasonal beers.  It was an extreme letdown.  To me, drinking it was the equivalent of gargling with Liquid Smoke while chewing on a piece of firewood.  The smoky finish is anything but subtle, and MIGHT be good with chicken or sausage or brisket if (and only if) the barbeque sauce is strong enough to overtake the horrid aftertaste of the beer.  I would not be disappointed if this limited offering became a legacy of things past, and never came back.  It was such a letdown for me that I did not finish the first bottle (*gasp* alcohol abuser!!) and I left the rest of it at the house for Randy to try to enjoy. 

Aside from the beer, I thoroughly enjoyed all the food that was put in front of us.  Gastronomic delight? Absolutely.  The true success of the meals came in the simple fact that many people had their hands in the mix, puting their own personal touch in each dish, making the work much lighter.  I can't wait to do it again.  Now... how we will do it better next time?

Until then, Good Eating, Friends...

Colin's Successful Shrimp Scampi


  • 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves 

  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 

  • 1 ounce freshly grated parmesan cheese


Put the shrimp on a large pie pan or plate and pat them completely dry with a paper towel. Arrange the shrimp so they lay flat and are evenly spaced.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add the butter to the skillet. When the foaming subsides, crank up the heat to high, and invert the plate of shrimp over the pan so the shrimp fall into the pan all at once. Cook the shrimp, without moving them, for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Turn the shrimp over and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

Return the skillet to the heat and pour in the wine and lemon juice. Boil the liquid until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir the  parsley into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the shrimp, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine.

Divide the shrimp among 4 plates over cooked pasta or arrange on a platter and serve.

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