Saturday, April 4, 2020

Lemon Pasta with Tuna

I'm a huge fan of the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare". My favorite mode in this game is called "Warzone". It's premise is quite simple. You and 149 other enemy soldiers jump out of a plane and parachute to the ground below. The only item in your possession is a very weenie handgun. So the minute you hit the ground, you have to frenetically scavenge for equipment. Assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns, grenades, claymores, etc. In video game vernacular it is called "looting". Without the right loot, you will not fare very well. (If you are playing the team version of this game, you want Tim Blackstone on your side. When it comes to looting, he is the GOAT!)

We are all now sheltering in place. The challenges associated with that have allowed me to take my Call of Duty scavenging skills and apply them to real life. I've managed to keep a good inventory of food and necessary items by using my computer to loot. I'm using Amazon, Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods, Instacart, Grubhub, Total Wine and Door Dash to deliver loot to my door. So far so good. It's challenging, fun and chews up a lot of time...which we all have in abundance.

While getting fresh food has not been difficult, I find that I still rely a lot on my pantry at meal time. Thankfully, I have a lot of Cento tuna and Garofalo pasta on well as bottles of Costco's Italian Volcano Lemon Juice. So when I found this recipe on "The Home Cook's Kitchen" blog...I was good to go. No scavenging necessary.

4 ounces fettuccini( or other pasta)
2-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 red onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
10 ounces canned tuna (Cento recommended)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
Parmesan cheese

  1. Cook pasta al dente, according to package instructions, in lightly salted water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the tuna, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, red onion and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Taste and adjust lemon juice, salt and pepper accordingly.
  4. Combine tuna with warm pasta.
  5. Serve with a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

Wine pairing: Merlot

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Roasted Potatoes with Anchovies and Tuna

For someone accustomed to daily trips to the grocery store, it's been a weird experience to have been completely housebound for 15 days. Fortunately, given my love of all things associated with the kitchen, I have a very robust pantry.  I buy a lot of things online that are not readily available at my usual grocery stores and stockpile them. One thing I always buy by the case from Amazon is Cento tuna. It is the best canned tuna I have ever tasted.

The downside of not going to the store everyday is that you have to make dinner with what you have on hand. Fortunately, I stumbled on this Melissa Clark recipe in The New York Times that appeared to have been written with my pantry in mind. It's not something I would ever have thought of...mixing roasted potatoes with canned tuna, anchovies, capers and onion. But oh my gosh, what a compelling union of flavors!

1-1/2 pounds baby or fingerling potatoes 
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1, 2-ounce tin anchovies, chopped (about 12 anchovies)
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1, 5-ounce can tuna (Cento recommended!)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Fresh lemon juice (to taste)
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion


  1. In a medium pot, cover potatoes with at least 1 inch of cold water and add a generous amount of salt. Bring to a simmer, then cook until potatoes are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes. You want to overcook them a little, so the insides stay creamy when they’re roasted later.
  2. Drain the potatoes, and let them cool until you can handle them.
  3. Heat oven to 425º. Use your hands to smash the potatoes to about 3/4-inch thick and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil and a little salt. (The more generous you are with the oil, the crispier the potatoes will get.) Arrange potatoes in a single layer.
  4. Roast until dark golden and crisp, 40 to 50 minutes, flipping them over halfway through.
  5. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small pot over medium heat. Stir in anchovies and capers and continue to cook until butter is brown and nutty. Stir in garlic and remove pan from heat.
  6. Pour brown butter all over the potatoes. Add tuna to the pan and toss well. Season with more salt, if needed, and add pepper and lemon juice to taste. Scatter herbs and onions over the top and serve.

Wine pairing: Petite Sirah

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

This is my very favorite corned beef recipe. While it calls for a 10-hour cook, it will only take up 6 minutes of your time. The first 5 minutes of the time commitment requires you to simply dump all of the ingredients in your slow cooker and walk away. The last 1 minute is reserved for simply slicing and serving the corned beef. I guarantee you it will be the best St. Patrick's Day corned beef dinner you have ever tasted.

1 corned beef brisket, 3-4 pounds
2 medium onions, cut into quarters (no peeling required)
5 ribs celery, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon prepared stone ground mustard 
2 cups chicken stock
12-ounces of beer (lager or pilsner)


  1. Place onions and celery on the bottom of your slow cooker. Add stock, beer and mustard.
  2. Set brisket on top of onions and celery, fat-side up. Sprinkle meat with seasoning packet (which comes packed in your brisket). Put lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 10 hours.
  3. Remove brisket. Slice and serve.

Pairing; It's an Irish holiday, so there must be alcohol involved.
For a traditional take on the meal, you'll want a big glass of 
Guinness Extra Stout served at 42.8º F. If you prefer wine,
corned beef and Pinot Noir are a great match.

A genuine leprechaun and his Irish Wolfhound.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Air-Fryer Chicken Parmesan

I've had a lot of different kitchen appliances in my 67 trips around the sun. But I have to admit that I am absolutely smitten with my air fryer. Best homemade French Fries ever! And thanks to the popularity of air fryers, new recipes are popping up every day. Today I'm featuring a new recipe from America's Test Kitchen and it is a keeper!

3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
2, 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (whole milk)
1/4 cup marinara sauce, warmed
2 tablespoons fresh basil
Spaghetti, prepared al dente


  1. Combine Panko and Parmesan in a shallow dish, mixing well.
  2.  Whisk egg, flour, garlic powder, oregano, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in second shallow dish.
  3. Pound chicken to uniform thickness as needed. Pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with 1 breast at a time, dredge in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then coat with panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere.
  4. Lightly spray base of air-fryer basket with vegetable oil spray. Arrange breasts in prepared basket, spaced evenly apart, alternating ends. Place basket in air fryer and set temperature to 400 degrees. Cook until chicken is crisp and registers 160 degrees, 12 to 16 minutes, flipping and rotating breasts halfway through cooking.
  5. Sprinkle chicken with mozzarella. Return basket to air fryer and cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Place chicken breasts on individual serving plates on top of spaghetti and warmed marinara, then top with basil leaves. Serve. 

Wine pairing: Chianti Classico

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Steak au Poivre

My affinity for fine dining started at an early age, thanks to my private dick grandfather, Frank J. Dunleavy. And the center of the universe for my fine dining affinity at the ripe old age of 5 was Charlie's Cafe Exceptionale. Charlie's was my grandfather's favorite restaurant. Wait, I take that back.....his favorite bar.

He would bring me there for lunch, where I would be served a hamburger in the kitchen and he would be served a Crown Royal on the rocks....or two....or three. Then he would drive me back home to Edina. I have come to realize that safety was never foremost on his mind.

He may have been a little inebriated, but back then the police did not write up former policemen for a modest amount of swerving down the road. And his Ford Galaxy 500 had no seatbelts for him to belt us in, which made it a lot easier for me to reach the loaded .32 revolver he kept in his unlocked glove box.

I miss Charlie's. It opened in 1933 and was a Minneapolis icon for nearly 50 years. It sat at 701 4th Avenue in Minneapolis. It was torn down in 1982 and where once was Charlie's Cafe Exceptionale, now sits an anonymous blue skyscraper void of any character which the owners named, in a stroke of creative genius, 701 4th Avenue.

Once I reached legal drinking age in 1973, I began to frequent Charlie's (no easy task on my $2.75 per hour wage from selling skis and boots at Hoigaard's). I'd take my dates there to show them my appreciation for fine dining....the food and atmosphere were like nothing else in Minneapolis. An old school, white tablecloth experience the likes of what would eventually disappear. But what was really cool to me was that they had two dishes that the waiter would prepare table side. Caesar salad and Steak au Poivre.

While it was fascinating to watch the Caesar salad come together on the waiter's cart (it cost just $5.00 for 2 salads), nothing beat the spectacle of the Steak au Poivre. For the finishing flourish, the waiter would light the brandy on fire and the steak would be surrounded by bright blue flames that extinguished themselves just as you were served. So in the spirit of Charlie's, here is Cook's Illustrated Steak au Poivre, sans the fiery finish. You can thank Frank for the lessons he taught me in safety awareness.

4 tablespoons butter
1 medium shallot, minced
1 cup beef broth
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brandy
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Kosher salt

4 New York strip steaks, 8 to 10 ounces each
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely ground
Kosher salt


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add beef and chicken broths, increase heat to high, and boil until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Set reduced broth mixture aside. Rinse and wipe out skillet.
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of steaks with salt; rub one side of each steak with 1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns, and, using fingers, press peppercorns into steaks to make them adhere.
  3. Place now-empty skillet over medium heat until hot, about 4 minutes. Lay steaks unpeppered-side down in hot skillet, increase heat to medium-high, firmly press down on steaks with bottom of cake pan and cook steaks without moving them until well-browned, about 6 minutes. Using tongs, flip steaks, firmly press down on steaks with bottom of cake pan, and cook on peppered side, about 3 minutes longer for rare, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare, or about 5 minutes longer for medium. Transfer steaks to large plate and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.
  4. Pour reduced broth, cream, and 1/4 cup brandy into now-empty skillet; increase heat to high and bring to boil, scraping pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Simmer until deep golden brown and thick enough to heavily coat back of metal tablespoon or soup spoon, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons butter, remaining 1 tablespoon brandy, lemon juice and any accumulated meat juices. Adjust seasonings with salt.
  5. Set steaks on individual dinner plates, spoon portion of sauce over steaks, and serve immediately.

Pairing: Crown Royal or Cabernet Sauvignon

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Chorizo Sloppy Joes

This recipe originally appeared in The New York Times. The intention of Mathew Hyland's recipe is to make a gargantuan sandwich on a massive roll (Portuguese-style or big Hero rolls) and slice it up for a crowd. If you are cooking for a crowd, that is the way to go. But if you have a limited audience, you can go the traditional route as pictured above. I prefer the tarted-up original, shown below.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  •   1½ pounds Mexican or Guatemalan chorizo or Portuguese chouriço, casings removed
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium-size red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, preferably one of the thicker varieties, like Cholula or Frank’s
  • 4 Portuguese-style rolls or sesame-seed hero rolls
  • 8 thin slices sharp Provolone
  • ½ cup sliced pickled banana peppers
  • ½ cup pitted and chopped green olives, like Castelvetrano
  • 1 tablespoon celery seeds

  1. Make the chorizo filling for the sandwich. Set a large, high-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Swirl the oil into the pan and when it shimmers and is about to smoke, add the chorizo, breaking up the meat with a spoon. Cook the chorizo, stirring occasionally and continuing to break down its bulk, until the meat has rendered some of its fat and started to brown, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Stir in the cumin, then add the bell pepper, onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables wilt, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 cup water and the hot sauce and bring to a simmer, using the spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom and sides of the skillet. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables are very tender, approximately 20 minutes. Keep warm or let cool, then refrigerate and reheat when ready to use.
  3. To assemble the sandwiches, split and toast the rolls, then place 1 to 2 slices of Provolone on the bottom part of each and divide the warm chorizo filling on top. Place equal portions of the  banana peppers and olives on top. Sprinkle each sandwich aggressively with celery seeds, put the top part of the bread on and serve.

Pairing: An ice-cold Pacifico

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Pasta with Sausage, Mustard and Basil

Nigel Slater is a British food writer and the creator of this recipe that just knocked it out of the park for me. What's not to love:? Pasta, hot Italian sausage, white wine, heavy cream, stone ground mustard, red pepper flakes and fresh basil.

And while the recipe calls for casarecce, feel free to choose any short pasta that suits your fancy: penne, ziti, rigatoni or even shells. It's the sum of the parts that make this dish and the shape of your pasta will matter not.

1 pound of casarecce, penne or other short pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 hot Italian sausages, casings removed (1-1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons stone ground mustard
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 cup thinly sliced basil


  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente; drain. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the sausage and brown over moderately high heat, breaking up the sausage while it cooks, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, mustard and crushed red pepper and simmer for 2 minutes. 
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the pasta and basil and toss to coat. Serve at once.

Wine pairing: Merlot

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Garlic-Parmesan Wings

This Kelli Foster recipe is a standout in it's simplicity and the incredible flavor she bestows upon this Super Bowl staple. Leave your sauces in the pantry. This is the real deal.

2 pounds chicken wings
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and fit a wire rack inside. 
  2. Place 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. 
  3. Pat the wings dry with paper towels. Place on the rack in a single layer and sprinkle the tops with the salt mixture.
  4. Roast until the wings are cooked through and the skin is crispy, about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, place the Parmesan cheese, parsley and garlic in the same large bowl. A few minutes before the wings are done, melt the butter. Set aside to cool slightly, then stir the butter into the Parmesan mixture.
  5. Add the wings to the Parmesan/butter mixture and toss until well-coated. Transfer the wings to a large plate or platter and top with more grated Parmesan, if desired.

Pairing: Pick your Super Bowl favorite...a Pilsner or a Merlot.

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Sheet Pan Balsamic Chicken with Potatoes and Mushrooms

Food author Dorie Greenspan just came out with a new cookbook titled Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook. While Dorie is probably most famous for her cookie recipes, this one caught my eye as I am a sucker for sheet pan dinners. Sheet pan dinners are a perfect week night choice as they come together fast and roasting is one of my favorite methods to really bring out the flavor in foods. Dorie's recipe serves four.

1-1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, halved
1-1/2 pounds white mushrooms, halved
1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
4 garlic cloves
8 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
8 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
4 whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)


  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 450°F. Rub a baking sheet with a little oil (or line it with foil and oil the foil).
  2. Put the potatoes, mushrooms, onion and garlic in a large bowl. Toss in 4 sprigs each of the rosemary and thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, a few grindings of pepper, 2 tablespoons of the oil and 3 tablespoons of the balsamic. Mix everything well and spread the ingredients out on the baking sheet.
  3. Put the chicken in the bowl, along with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons balsamic, ½ teaspoon salt and a good amount of pepper and mix well to coat the chicken. Move the vegetables around to make room for the chicken. Tuck the remaining herbs under each piece. Roast for 45 minutes. Serve everything on the sheet pan and pour cooking juices over each serving.

Wine pairing : Chianti

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Perfect White Rice

"They always say time changes things, 
but you actually have to change them yourself."

Andy Warhol

As one ages, one must adjust to change. However, that is easier said than done. It becomes especially difficult when you are hopelessly addicted to shopping at Costco.

Once upon a time there were 4 mouths to feed. Costco fit the bill as everything could be bought in bulk. A 10-pound bag of onions. A 10-pound package of pot roast. A 25-pound bag of rice. But alas there is only Becky and I at home. I found myself throwing out 8 pounds of over-ripe onions. 5 pounds of pot roast had to go because of freezer burn. That 25-pound bag of rice sat around for 2 years past it's "best sold by date". So I have had to change how I shop at Costco. My Costco bulk purchases are limited to just 3 items now...water, paper towels and toilet paper (there is always the need to sip, blot and wipe).

Everything else I pick up on my daily trips to the grocery store and I only buy what I need. But I also had to change how I cooked. For 22 years, when I made rice, I would make giant batches that would all get inhaled in one sitting. But with just 2 of us, half of the rice was getting thrown out each time.

So I needed to find a way to make smaller batches of rice. If you have ever tried to cook a small batch of rice, it is not easy. More times than not you end up with either a soggy mess or a big ball of starchy rice. Little did I realize that the answer was always under my nose. Cooks Illustrated is my "go to" for all things cooking. And on their web site I found the perfect recipe for cooking small batches of white rice. And it's foolproof. Regardless if you are preparing sushi,  jasmine or basmati rice...the rice is perfect every single time. Just one cup of rice will yield 2 large or 4 medium servings.

1 cup white rice
1-1/4 cups water


  1. In a small saucepan, add rice and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust heat to maintain bare simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes. Then fluff and serve.

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Charred Salsa

I love simple recipes. Ones that I don't have to put a lot of thought into. And it's a true bonus if that simple recipe is also absolutely delicious. So this recipe checks both boxes. And while you can certainly cook this up on your grill, I'm going to show you a Minnesota Lazy shortcut. While I do have a charcoal grill right outside my kitchen deck door, I don't use it often because I really hate Minnesota winters. I prefer the warmth of my kitchen. So I bought an aftermarket grill grate and simply drop that over my gas burners. Grilling indoors during a Minnesota winter. Gotta love it.

1 pound of tomatoes, each tomato halved
1 small onion, skin on and halved
2 garlic loves, skin on
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt


  1. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeño, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Let cool 10 minutes.
  2. Remove skins from onion and garlic and transfer all vegetables to blender. Add cilantro and teaspoon salt and puree until chunky smooth.

Pairing: Football on tv, tortilla chips and an ice cold Pacifico

Grogs and Goldie, 1956