Thursday, October 23, 2014

Break in the Action

A combination of age and genetics will sideline me for the next four weeks. The opening in my shoulder is supposed to be 11mm, which gives enough room for the rotator cuff to slide under the bone. Mine had narrowed to just 7mm, causing the rotator cuff to get caught and tear.

I had surgery yesterday to repair the tear, but the recovery requires that my right arm be immobilized for the next four weeks. This means I have no use of my right arm or hand for that period....which makes it tough for this right hander. While I found someone to help me get dressed and cook, she was adamant that she would not ghost write my blog. So, time for a break and I will see you in four weeks.

Pairing: Morphine Sulfate and Oxycodone 

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Tis the heart of October. And in Germany, it is one of the most important months of the year. Known in Germany as Wiesn, the rest of the world simply calls it Oktoberfest. It's a chance to celebrate all things German, especially beer and food. But before we get to the German food, I would like to call your attention to this German dude.

This October, he just became the highest paid athlete in the world. By a very significant margin. As of last September, the highest paid athlete was soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, who pulled in a whopping annual salary of $52,000,000. If you look at American sports, Kobe Bryant is the highest paid athlete with an annual salary of $30,500,000.

My dude has got them all beat. Meet four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel. He's won four world championships for Red Bull Racing. But he has a clause in his contract that allows him to opt out if his team does not field a competitive car. And that's what happened this year...Sebastian is languishing in 5th place because his car sucks.

So he opted out and Ferrari snatched him up. His three-year contract is worth $240,000,000....a mind-boggling $80,000,000 annual salary. So let's take a little look at how that works out per hour. Kobe will play in 82 games this year and will earn $464,939 per hour. Sebastian will participate in 19 races and earn $2,105,263 for every hour he drives. Mommas, take away that basketball and get your kids to the go-kart track!

Schnitzel is a beloved dish in Bavaria. While it is most commonly made with veal, you can find all kinds of variations using chicken and pork. I prefer the latter, as it is cheaper than veal and easier to cook. It's also got a lot more flavor. This Melissa Clark recipe serves four. Deutschland über alles!

½ cup flour
teaspoon cayenne
teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups panko or other unseasoned bread crumbs
1 ¼ pounds boneless pork cutlets, pounded to 1/8-inch thick
 Coarse kosher salt and ground black pepper
Safflower, peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
1 scallion, thinly sliced, including greens


  1. Mix flour with cayenne and nutmeg. Place flour mixture in one shallow dish, place eggs in a second dish, and place bread crumbs in a third dish. Season pork cutlets generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1/8 inch oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. While oil heats, dip cutlets one by one into flour (shake off any excess), then into eggs (ditto) and finally into the bread crumbs, taking care not to handle pork more than necessary (hold meat by ends).
  3. When oil sizzles when a pinch of bread crumbs is thrown in, add as many cutlets as comfortably fit in one layer, leaving plenty of room around them. Swirl and tilt pan so oil cascades over top of cutlet in waves. When bottom is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, flip and brown the other side, swirling pan (swirling helps create air pockets, giving you lighter schnitzel). Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking platter or baking tray and sprinkle with more salt. Repeat with remaining pork.
  4. Serve schnitzel sprinkled with sliced scallion.

Pairing: I would opt for a Märzen beer, the most popular beer at Oktoberfest. If you prefer wine, pair it with an unoaked Chardonnay. If you are Sebastian Vettel, a nice chilled bottle of Dom Perignon should do quite nicely.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thai Grilled Chicken

Back in 2003, I got a bug up my butt that I had always put up with someone else's idea of a kitchen. Despite the fact that I had worked with an architect on the last two homes I had built, I was so caught up in the overall project that I never really honed in with a laser-like focus on the kitchen. In 2003 I decided to change that.

I hired an architect to completely re-design the kitchen. There were things that were very important to me. A commercial stainless steel prep area...just like in the restaurants. A walk-in wine cellar right next to the fridge and freezer. Dual sinks and multiple dishwashers. But the heart of my kitchen was to be a dual fuel commercial range/oven combo.

So I picked out a 60" Wolf and have been over-the-top in love with it ever since it was installed in 2004. Just like golfers have their favorite clubs, hunters have their favorite guns....I have my favorite dual fuel range with two 30" ovens. And I beat the daylights out of it. It gets used and abused several times a day. I estimate in the last 10 years it has been through about 8,000 individual cooking sessions. And after 10 years, it has started to look like it was rode hard and put away wet.

The paint is chipping on the griddle and a lot of the surfaces are worn down. One of my favorite features on the stove top is the grill. When it's cold or I don't feel like going out and firing up the charcoal on my Weber, I just turn on the Wolf grill and it comes to temperature within two minutes. But, alas, after 10 years, it has some cool spots and does not work as well as when it was new. So I just had the Wolf people out and they are going to give my favorite appliance a complete overhaul and refurbish it to it's former glory.

Grilling chicken breasts on the Wolf is one of my favorites. I can completely cook a chicken breast in just 8 minutes with the Wolf grill. So I am immediately drawn to any new grilled chicken breast recipe. The one I am sharing today is from Roy Yamaguchi. He prepared this spectacular Thai dish for The 2014 Hawaii Food and Wine Festival. It serves two. I like to serve it with Basmati rice.

1/2 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons chopped scallions
5 tablespoons chopped lemongrass bottoms
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3/4 cup fish sauce (Red Boat preferred)
2 (6 to 8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges


  1. Combine brown sugar and next 8 ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth.
  2. Combine chicken and marinade mixture in a zip-top freezer bag. Seal and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat grill. Remove chicken from marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken 8 to 10 minutes, turning once.
  4. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rigatoni with Beef and Onion Ragu

It was a blustery 40º on our walk this morning...a far cry from the balmy 83º of a week ago. Such is the weather in Minnesota. But fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. Pheasant hunting. Watching the leaves change. The switch over to a warmer wardrobe. And moving on from light summer fare to more hearty fall dishes.

Today's recipe harks from the 16th century. That was a joyous time of my youth. The cars were so different then. I got my second car during this period, which was after my first car died. It wasn't really my fault as I was unaware that engines required oil and that said fluid level needed to be checked on a regular basis.

So after my first car died, my Dad and I went to Southdale Ford. During the 16th century, Southdale Ford sat across from Southdale.....exactly where the Galleria sits today. You can see it in the lower left-hand corner of the photo above. It's the circular building with rows of cars around it. We walked the lot and my heart settled on a beautiful fire-engine red 1965 Ford Mustang. My deceased car had a V-8 with a 4-speed manual, the Ford Mustang was unfortunately equipped with a 6-banger and an automatic. But beggars cannot be choosers, so thanks to my mom and dad and $700 of their money, it  became my 16th century ride.

Back in the 16th century, cars were very different from what we see today. They had no such things as fobs back then. They had a piece of metal cut into little jags. It was called a key and you had to insert it into a hole in the door to get the car open. There were no seat belts, so you knew that any collision would turn your body into a 155 pound projectile. If you did not fly through the windshield, you were guaranteed to become horribly disfigured when your face smashed into the all-metal dash.

The car did have high and low beams, but to activate them you had to step on a mechanical metal switch located on the floor under the dashboard. The car did not have windshield washers.....which are a necessity in Minnesota during the winter. So I had to have a bladder installed under the hood. The bladder was connected to a pump handle under the dashboard. When I needed fluid, I had to lean over and pump enough air into the bladder that caused it to become pressurized and squirt some juice on the windshield.

It was a great little car that got me through college and the end of the 16th century. At the dawn of the 17th century, I became enamored with sports cars, but alas, that is another story. So let us turn our attention back to the 16th century and this fantastic pasta recipe which originated back then...the golden era of my youth.

1 (1 lb.) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, cut into 4 pieces and trimmed of large pieces of fat
Kosher salt and pepper
2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ounces salami, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small celery rib, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 1/2 pounds onions, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram
1 pound rigatoni
1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving 

  1. Sprinkle beef with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Process pancetta and salami in food processor until ground to paste, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add carrot and celery and process 30 seconds longer, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer paste to Dutch oven and set aside; do not clean out processor bowl. Pulse onions in processor in 2 batches, until 1/8- to 1/4-inch pieces form, 8 to 10 pulses per batch.
  3. Cook pancetta mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fat is rendered and fond begins to form on bottom of pot, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until browned, about 90 seconds. Stir in 2 cups water, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in onions and bring to boil. Stir in 1/2 cup wine and 1 tablespoon marjoram. Add beef and push into onions to ensure that it is submerged. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, until beef is fully tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  4. Transfer beef to carving board. Place pot over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is almost completely dry. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup wine and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using 2 forks, shred beef into bite-size pieces. Stir beef and remaining 1 tablespoon marjoram into sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.
  5. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add rigatoni and 2 tablespoons salt and cook, stirring often, until just al dente. Drain rigatoni and add to warm sauce. Add Pecorino and stir vigorously over low heat until sauce is slightly thickened and rigatoni is fully tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve, passing extra Pecorino separately.

Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon