Friday, October 28, 2016

Korean Cheese Steak Sandwich

This dish also goes by the name of Koagie...the marriage of the Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich and the Korean BBQ sensation known as "bulgogi". While bulgogi is a delicious Korean street food that is typically grilled, this Olive magazine recipe, which serves four, has you stir fry the steak...which makes it incredibly easy to make.

Make sure you use an authentic French bread baguette. I like to get mine at Costco...two piping hot baguettes for just $4.99. And while you are there, you might as well grab your two New York Strips @ $7.99 a pound. Gochujang is available in the Asian section of your grocery store, but you can always use Sriracha in a pinch.

1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons gochujang
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 pear, peeled and cubed
2, 12-ounce New York Strip steaks, very finely sliced
1 French bread baguette, cut into 4 pieces
12 slices cheddar cheese
2 scallions, finely chopped
sesame seeds


  1. Mix the ginger, garlic, sugar, gochujang, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar, then mash in the pear. Add the steak and leave it to marinate for 1 hour. 
  2. Halve each piece of baguette horizontally, leaving it joined at one side and add 3 slices of cheese to the base. Tip the beef and the marinade into a wok or large skillet, bring it to a simmer and stir until the meat is cooked through. Spoon some into each baguette then sprinkle on some chopped scallions and sesame seeds. Leave to sit for a few minutes for the juices to sink in before eating.

Pairing: A sandwich with such strong flavors like this would go best with a very fruity Zinfandel. But if I were eating this sandwich, I would grab an ice cold Pilsner!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Thai Meatballs

Meatballs are a great comfort food. One immediately associates meatballs with those wonderful sausage and beef concoctions bathed in red sauce on top of a generous helping of spaghetti. But meatballs are not just indigenous to the Italians...every culture and cuisine has a unique take on meatballs.

I think a big reason that meatballs are so ubiquitous across so many cultures is that they are so stinkin' easy to make. Heck, you just take a bucketload of ingredients....mix 'em together....then roll 'em into balls and bake 'em.

This is Thai street food at it's best. To make these meatballs a complete meal, I like to serve them in a butter lettuce leaf. To that I add the Thai Dipping Sauce and a side dish of aromatic basmati rice. This Michael Symon recipe will serve four if you make the meatballs about the size of golf balls. If you want to serve these as appetizers, make the meatballs from one heaping tablespoon of the mixture.


For the Thai Meatballs
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 garlic cloves (minced)
small jalapeño (seeded and minced)
2 teaspoons lemongrass (chopped)
1/2 carrot (grated)
1- inch piece fresh ginger (peeled and grated)
3 scallions (white and green parts; finely chopped)
1/4 cup cilantro (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons mint (roughly chopped)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs 
White sesame seeds, for garnish

For the Thai Dipping Sauce
3 tablespoons chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek, Gochujang or Sriracha)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce


  1. FOR THE MEATBALLS: In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Roll into meatballs and place on parchment or foiled lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. When finished, garnish with sesame seeds and serve.
  2. FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Serve alongside the meatballs.

Wine Pairing: A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Slow-Cooker Guinness Beef Stew

Slow Cookers and the chill in the fall air are a marriage made in heaven. A slow cooker is the perfect tool to create a stew.....incredibly tender meat and melt-in-your mouth vegetables. Turn on your slow cooker and dinner is all set ten hours later.

This is a really interesting recipe from Cook's Country. As my fellow Irishmen will attest, Guinness is probably the harshest and most bitter beer you can send over your tongue. So my first thought was that this would be a very bitter stew.

But there is one, all-important ingredient that remedies this problem. Bittersweet chocolate. Do not buy Unsweetened, Semi-Sweet or Sweet. They will not work and your stew will not taste good. Bittersweet chocolate removes the harshness of the beer while bringing out it's complex coffee and chocolate flavors.

Also, make sure you add the Guinness in two stages...once in the beginning and then again just before serving (mixing it with the flour). It is common to serve the stew over egg noodles. But I prefer the method of my ancestors...serve it in a bowl by itself with a loaf of hot Irish soda bread. This recipe serves six to eight people.

4 pounds boneless chuck stew meat, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups Guinness Draught
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 bay leaves
5 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves


  1. Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook half of beef until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker and repeat with additional 2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef.
  2. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onions, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet and cook until onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add broth, 1 1/4 cups stout (save the rest for the end), sugar, thyme, chocolate, and bay leaves and bring to boil, using wooden spoon to scrape up browned bits. Transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Add carrots, parsnips, and potatoes to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, 9 to 10 hours. Then set slow cooker to high. Whisk flour and remaining 1/4 cup beer in a small bowl until smooth, then stir mixture into slow cooker. Cook, covered, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper and discard bay leaves. Serve. 

Pairing: If I were to serve wine with this dish, I would pick a Pinot Noir. But, when in Dublin, do as the Dubliners do......

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Potato Nik

In the last few months I shared a couple of my favorite potato recipes: Kitchen Sink Hash Browns and Oven Roasted Hash. The photo above is of another of my favorite potato recipes. It's a Potato Nik...kind of a giant potato latke. It's actually more like a big potato pie. Grated potatoes and onions fried up crisp and brown...then cut up into slices like a pizza.

If you want, you can grate your own potatoes by hand or by using the grating disk on your food processor. I, however, like cutting corners, so I just pick up two, twenty-ounce bags of Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns in the refrigerated section of my grocery store. This Mark Bitman recipe will serve 4-6 people.

I typically serve this with grilled steaks. Lately I've been marinating my steaks using an old steak house formula. I posted this 5 years ago and it is still one of my favorite ways to get great big flavor into a steak:

2 pounds russet potatoes
1 medium onion
2 eggs
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
Neutral frying oil like corn or grape seed


    1. Grate potatoes and onion by hand or with grating disk of a food processor; drain in colander or strainer. Combine potatoes and onions in a large bowl with eggs, salt, pepper and bread crumbs.
    2. Put about 1/8 inch oil in a large, deep skillet, either nonstick or seasoned cast iron; turn heat to medium-high. When oil is hot (it will shimmer) put all the batter in pan, and smooth the top. Cook, shaking pan occasionally; adjust heat so mixture sizzles but does not burn. Continue until bottom is nicely browned, at least 15 minutes.
    3. To turn, slide cake out onto a large plate, cover with another large plate and invert. Add a little more oil to pan if necessary, and slide pancake back in, cooked side up. Cook 15 minutes or so longer, until nicely browned. Then slice and serve.

    Wine pairing: If you are serving up grilled steaks with Potato Nik on the side, you'll want a big, juicy Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Saturday, October 1, 2016

    Salisbury Steaks

    I attended Southview Junior High in Edina from 1964 through 1967. Those years were pretty much unremarkable. At some point my voice changed. Lyndon Baines Johnson, puller of beagle ears, was our president. But there are three things that really stand out for me from that era.

    First was our Physical Education classes. They were mandatory and they were hard. Had to learn to wrestle. Had to do a 30-foot rope one thought to put pads over the hardwood floors back then. But what I remember vividly is swim class, taught by the legendary Art Downey.

    Our swim classes were noteworthy due to the absence of all clothing. All 30 of us were buck naked for each class. While I didn't really think about it at the time, I can't imagine going swimming in the buff today with 30 of my peers (oh, the horror!). We were just a few years past WWII and the Korean War and I think the military mentality of the period saw it as normal operating procedure. Besides, you couldn't really reliably depend on 30, 13-year old boys to remember to bring swimsuits to school every could you?

    The second thing that I recall were the nuclear war drills the school would conduct. People much smarter than me had determined that us kids could survive an atomic bomb explosion by sitting in the school hallway with our legs crossed and our arms over our heads.

    The only other thing that really stands out for me during that period are the school lunches. Keep in mind, that during this period of my life, my mother was 100% committed to not becoming a slave to her kitchen. So meals made by the military-industrial complex were actually a huge plus for me. The only meals I disdained were Friday fish sticks during Lent. Other than that, I was living the dream.

    While I liked the days we had burgers, my very favorites were the days we had Salisbury Steak. I thanked my lucky stars for growing up in Edina where the school kids were fed steak! I was ever so grateful that my parents had achieved Edina and brought me and my sister with them.

    Overcome by all of this nostalgia this week, I combed the Interwebs to find a really good Salisbury Steak recipe. What you see here is actually a Frankenrecipe. I grabbed different parts of recipes and then sewed them all together. So I encourage you to try this recipe out. And to be period-correct, I would suggest that you consume this meal in your birthday suit while listening carefully for air raid sirens. This recipe serves four.


    For the Steaks
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
    2/3 cup finely chopped onion
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon  black pepper
    1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
    2  heaping tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
    1 pound ground beef
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    For the Onion Gravy
    1 onion, sliced into strips
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    4 tablespoons butter
    4 tablespoons flour
    2 cups beef broth
    1 teaspoon Gravy Master
    Salt and pepper to taste


    For the Steaks
    1. Lightly beat the egg in a large bowl. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chopped onion, minced garlic, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and stir until well mixed. Crumble the ground beef over the egg mixture and mix until everything is well combined.
    2. Shape the beef mixture into 4 patties of equal size. 
    3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove the patties to a plate and drain any fat from the pan.
    For the Gravy
    1. In a skillet over medium high heat, sauté onions until they are soft and opaque (about 10 minutes),
    2. Remove onions from skillet and set aside. Reduce heat to low. Put butter in skillet.
    3. When butter has melted, blend in flour, stirring until smooth.
    4. Slowly add beef broth and boil gently for 5 minutes.
    5. Add Gravy Master and onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then pour over Salisbury Steaks and serve.

    Wine pairing: To be period correct, grab yourself a bottle of Mogen David Wine...made with real Concord grapes!