Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cooking Wine or Cooking with Whine

Add a little wine aka vino to your cooking and watch your family's face light up!

Time for "Cawfey Tawk" - Texas Style. This
morning's topic is cooking wine and whaddaya
do with 'em!
Good morning chil’rens! It’s the lead-up to Thanksgiving and you know what that means doncha? Yep, it’s time for Coffee Talk – Texas Style. It’s time to be frank with the beans. Oh heck what am I sayin’? We’re low carb and don’t eat beans…or do we??? Ok then, let’s whine about some wine instead! A subject that BC (Before Cancer) was near and dear to my heart.

I get asked all the time, “Susie, how do you make these dishes TASTE so awesome?”

Or sometimes I hear, “Susie, comeonnowalready! For cryin’outloudwoman! Why are there so many gol’darn ingredients in your dishes? And why does it take all day to read your instructions? Just slap some lipstick on that pig and let’s eat it!”

Other times it’s, “Whooooooo dogggey. Good vittles.”
Click To Enlarge the "Boys"
The "Boys" aka Tony, Schylling, Buddy, Kevin, WeeWee
the Stuffed Dog, Skeeter - WeeWee's toy baby and
Skippy who hadn't been born yet. I don't know where
they learn get their potty mouth from.

And still others implore me, “Get your bit**a** back in the kitchen woman, and bake me some pie.” (In Texas that’s prounounced “paaaaaa-uh”.)

Of course, that last one usually comes from Kevin, our third sock-monkey son, a statement that quickly results in a round of impromptu lets-wash-Kevin’s-mouth-out-with-palmolive-soap, give him a spankin’, and ground him for life or 24 hours. Whichever comes first.

Cuz don’t we mom’s know that grounding the kid is like grounding us? And at the 24 hour mark you either wanna rip their heads off or get ‘em outta the house to shut their whinin’ plumb up?

And we all know rippin’ heads off is wrong. It is. It’s wrong. Mom’s don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Just send ‘em outside to play instead. It’s a much more brutal punishment these days and you will get a serious laugh watchin' your kid walk around cluelessly outside - just aimlessly rollin' around like a lonesome beebee in a boxcar - lookin' for an idea of what playin' outdoors actually means. I mean, really, do kids even do that anymore?

Seriously folks, I actually don’t hear any of those comments about the cooking here at Fluffy Chix Cook, or if I do, it doesn’t sound “exactly” like those comments. But there is a difference in my food and maybe the food of people either just beginning to cook or who cook out of necessity, or who are trying to wean themselves off of meals from a box or freezer. And that difference is taste.

T-A-S-T-E. There, I said it.

F-L-A-V-O-R. There, I said that, too.

Wines to cook with..."Dry Sauterne",
Dry Sherry and Dry Vermouth - are you
getting that the "dry" is important here?
The secret to my recipes is the secret of building flavors and developing taste. I’m sorry, but you just can’t do that with 3 ingredients or less sometimes. (Sometimes you can. If that’s what you’re going for – i.e. Spinach, garlic, and olive oil. Yummy! But you gotta add salt and pepper too and that adds up to five ingredients.) But most of the time in Texas or Southern style cooking, we are going for the taste that reincarnates our mamas or grannies or aunties or even daddies, granddaddies, and uncles as it goes in my family. Our family was chockfull of amazing cooks. We have secret family recipes out the aspirin bottle. I’d share them with you, but then it would result in jail time, etc.

And I suppose there are shortcuts that can be taken in my recipes, such as using pre-cut bags of veg, bottled sauces, frozen this or that. But we both know that even though you’re saving time, you are compromising future health. Many of those pre-made conveniently packaged time savers come with compromises to your health in the form of often inferior ingredients, chemicals we don’t want or need, and additions of secret substances like msg, bpa, and carcinogens and even sugars and carbs.

At first some of the ingredients and cooking steps in Fluffy Chix Cook recipes will feel unwieldy and unfamiliar and take time you don’t have. But following the steps and understanding the process builds speed with practice and builds on your “technique library”. One day, poof! You will internalize it all and those same steps that added 30 minutes more to your meal prep are done in a blaze of five to ten – max! You almost won’t even read those extra ingredients, you’ll just know that you do x,y,z to this type of dish to give it some oooooomph!

One of the key secrets to my family’s cooking was using wine in a dish. And many of my dishes frequently call for wine. Some of you choose to omit it and simply add more liquid or sub out broth. That’s ok. But it will never taste like Susie’s “whatever”. It’ll just taste like a yummy dish. Meh. It’s ok.

I hear you now, but, but, but, I cain’t afford wine!!! And I wouldn’t know what kind to buy anyway. And I don’t drink it, so it’ll just go bad and I cain’t afford to throw out a whole bottle of wine after I’m done cookin’!

Well, folks. I’m on a seriously tight budget these days AC (After Cancer). Seriously tight. And here’s how I learned to do it years ago from my wiley mama, who was the original frugal gourmet. She learned it from her PBS cooking shows and Julia Child. And for goodness sake, you cain’t argue with Julia!


These are the brands of Dry or Extra Dry Vermouth.

I have 3 primary wines I keep in the pantry: Dry Vermouth, Taylor Sauterne, and Taylor Dry Sherry. That’s right. Pantry. Unrefrigerated. Screw top lids. And NOWHERE does it say “Cooking Wine” on any of the bottles!!! You can’t buy these wines on the isle in your grocery store right next to the vinegar. Those “Cooking Wines” are filled with salt and gunky stuff that is just wrong. WRONG!

These wines come from your local liquor store or can be ordered online. And they are all under $6.00/bottle. And they are shelf safe. How long can you keep ‘em after opening? Well, truthfully, I’ve had the Sherry for a year. I’ve had the Sauterne for 6 months. And I’ve had the Dry Vermouth for about a month – since I use it the most. In the absence of Dry Vermouth and Sauterne you can substitute a dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or even a fruitier (more carby) wine such as Chablis or Chardonnay or Viognier. But then you’re back to talking about wines with a limited life after opening and ones that must be refrigerated after opening.

Taylor "Sauterne" is not a true sauternes wine.
I’m telling you about wines because we are about to hit Thanksgiving square in the watoosie. During Thanksgiving I use Sauterne to cook my turkey and also use it in my turkey stock and gravy. It tastes like Mama and there is no substitutesky on it. And the taste it imparts to your bird, stock, low carb dressing and low carb gravy is nothing short of heavenly. People will wonder why your dinner tastes so great! And imagine, it’s all because of a little $5.66 bottle of cheapa** Taylor Sauterne (750ml size).

During the rest of the year, I use Sauterne to flavor chicken and poultry dishes of all kinds. A ten minute, simple pan sauté of boneless chicken breast is transformed and tastes so great with a tablespoon of butter, some onion or shallot if you feel like gettin' snobby, a tablespoon or two of sauterne, a hint of country style Dijon and a few capers. OMG. Ten minutes people. Add a side of steamed broccoli and you have an Induction meal that takes the “dirtiness” out of that four-letter-word, “DIET”.

I want you to get prepared and stock up your pantry. If you can only afford one wine this month – and believe me, I stagger the months where I purchase the wines: buy Sauterne one month, vermouth the next, sherry the next, and so on – buy a big old bottle of Dry Vermouth and skip the sauterne. It will taste different but will still taste delicious and you will get rave revues for only pennies per dish.

Taylor Dry Sherry is cheap and works great
in so many different cuisines!
You can also buy Taylor Madeira for the same price range as the other three wines and have a fourth wine in the pantry taste arsenal that brings a completely different flavor profile to the party – but Denny and the boys aren’t big on Madeira, so I skip it and usually add Sherry in its place.

You’ll hear on FoodTV and Cooking Channel that you should only use a wine in your cooking that you would drink. Well I suppose, if you are facing the need to open a bottle of wine that costs $8-$15 and you only use 1/4c and have the whole bottle left…that would be true. Cuz then Denny and I would drink it and enough said. But, since we’re not drinking much these days because of the cancer*, that advice is not cost effective. I cain’t throw out a bottle of wine!

Over the course of my broke ‘n’ busted lifetime, I’ve used many cheap wines to cook with that I would never sit down and sip. They’d gag a maggot to drink on their own! But somehow, they transform in a dish. I won’t lie to you – Taylor Sauterne and Taylor Sherry are not in danger of being sipped on by the cook. Although they won’t gag you, they aren’t sippin’ wines or sippin' sherry. BC (Before Cancer), dry vermouth is something I used to only “show” to the martini shaker as I was making my infamous dirty dry martini. Try to drink it on its own and get a surprise. Ick.

But these three wines transform in cooking and turn it magical! They add so much complexity and flavor. I hope you will give them a shot! For under $20, you can buy all three and have ‘em handy in the pantry, ready to party at a moment’s notice. If you want to read about each wine, I’ve put them in my secret ingredient section and you can just click on the links for Sauterne, Dry Vermouth, or Sherry and read more about each one. They add very few carbs, very little alcohol content after cooking, and never made one of us kids drunk from eating Mama’s Turkey and Gravy as we were comin’ up.

I will be bringing you my low carb rendition of our sainted grandmama’s dressing soon, WaWa’s Dressing, and as I lead up to that we will be giving you a low carb cornbread recipe and a revised recipe of Fluffy Chix White Sandwich bread. I invite you to read along and learn to cook awesome low carb Texas and Southern Comfort Foods for less!

*Drinking + Breast Cancer = Bad (Really Bad) Idea...nuff said. But cooking with it in limited quantities does not pose a health risk to most...check with your doctor or qualified health care professional to confirm this bit of kitchen wisdom!!!!


  1. OMGosh - loved this post. Thanks so much for the info. I want to try using these flavors soon since I'm going A free for several weeks, months, doing induction / low carb. You're an amazing woman! With love from Arkansas, the Barefootcookingirl a.k. a. BCG (southern girls cook barefoot, you know!) I bow to your surperior knowledge and recipes on Low carb. :)

    1. BCG, the only time you get shoes on this ol' DFSW's feet is when I'm leavin' the 'holler'. Haha! Other than than, you can expect to see me barefoot year round, and if you come to call, I will still be barefoot!

      Glad you liked the post and good luck with Induction, you can do it! There are great recipes out there to keep the blues away!

  2. I love it! LOL I read your posts and then my family wonders why I walk around sassin' them in a southern accent. I'll tell them it's the wine...

    1. Hahahaha! Arlene! You are such a cutie patootie! You just sass away - you can be an honorary DFSW! MUAH and Happy Thanksgiving!


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