Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bone-In Rib Eye Steak with Lone Star Rub

 I got an email from Jim Arnost this week. Jim and I go way back to Chuck Ruhr Advertising in the early 80's. Jim is a very successful ad guy who has made the transition from print and broadcast to the digital age. Like me, Jim is a hard core carnivore that likes his animal flesh just lightly cooked over a very hot grill. Jim was looking for a bone-in rib eye recipe with a spicy cowboy rub.

I much prefer dry rubs to marinades as a way of adding flavor to meat. Marinades barely penetrate the surface of the meat, so any flavor they impart is strictly on the surface. Dry rubs give you an intensely flavored, absolute work-of-art crust. The fire caramelizes and concentrates  the spices of the rub. According to Adam Perry Long, author of "Serious Barbecue", the blueprint for a great dry rub is: Color base + Salt + Sugar + Flavor + Heat.

If you live in the Twin Cities, my favorite place to buy a bone-in rib eye is Byerly's or Lunds. They carry dry-aged, bone-in rib eyes that are to die for. The dry-aging does an incredible job of intensifying the beef flavor. If you are cooking dry-aged steaks, I highly recommend cooking them to medium rare so you can experience the maximum amount of flavor that such a great cut of meat can offer.

The Lone Star Rub recipe is from Jamie Purviance, a great chef who has written many of the most popular cookbooks put out by Weber Grills. I added a small bit of sugar to make sure the rub meets Chef Long's blueprint. This recipe serves four. My favorite side dish for these steaks is Hashbrowns O'Brien.


For the Lone Star Rub
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder
1-1/2 teaspoons granulated onion
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Steaks
4 dry-aged, bone-in rib eyes, 12 to 16 ounces and 1-1/2 inches thick
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 limes, cut into wedges


  1. In a small bowl combine the rub ingredients.
  2. Allow the steaks to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling. Lightly brush or spray both sides of the steaks with the oil and then evenly coat with the rub, gently pressing the spices into the meat. 
  3. Prepare grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  4. For medium rare*: place steaks on grill, cover grill and cook for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn steaks over, cover grill and cook for 4 minutes more.
  5. Transfer steaks to a work surface and tent with foil. Let steaks rest for 5 minutes, then serve with lime wedges.
*If you like your steaks cooked to a different degree of doneness, use this guide:

Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Farro Nicoise

I'm a huge fan of Salad for two ingredients. The first is eggs. I'd rather have a colonoscopy than eat eggs. The second is potatoes. Most Salad Nicoise recipes call for 10 small red potatoes. That's a lot of not-so-good-for-you carbs...for a salad.

Enter Mark Bittman, acclaimed chef and food writer for The New York Times. He created a healthier version of the salad by swapping out the spuds with whole-grain farro. Farro is rich in cyanogenic glucosides that stimulate the immune system, regulate blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol. They also reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. And farro makes the salad rich in fiber instead of starch.

Yes, Mark left the eggs in the recipe, which I just omit (because it's easier than a colonoscopy). For the canned tuna, I prefer Cento. Best tasting canned tuna ever! You can find it in a yellow can at Whole Foods or at And for the olives, use either nicoise (recommended) or kalamata. Do not use regular black olives, which are simply green olives that have been artificially ripened with chemicals. This recipe serves four.

1 cup farro
1 pound green beans, trimmed
3 anchovy fillets
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more if needed
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 lemons, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 6-ounce can good tuna in olive oil
1/2 cup parsley leaves
Ground black pepper
3 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 hard-cooked eggs, halved
1/2 cup niçoise or kalamata olives


  1. Put the farro and a large pinch salt in a medium saucepan with water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender but still has bite, 20 to 30 minutes. Add water if necessary to keep the grains covered; if any liquid remains by the time the farro is tender, strain it out. 
  2. Meanwhile, bring another medium pan of water to a boil and salt it. Add the green beans and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 minutes or so, then plunge them into a bowl of ice water or run under cold water to cool them. 
  3. Put the anchovies, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, mustard, shallot and capers in a food processor and purée. Chop the tuna and parsley by hand and mix them in. (Alternatively, add the parsley to the food processor and pulse to chop, then add the tuna and pulse, once or twice, to blend. Don’t purée the tuna but chop it well.) The mixture should be pourable; if it isn’t, add lemon juice, olive oil or water to thin a bit. Add pepper, then taste and adjust the seasoning.Toss the farro, warm, with about half the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and pile it on a platter. Arrange the green beans, tomatoes, eggs and olives around the farro, as artfully as you like. Drizzle the remaining dressing over them and serve.Toss the farro, warm, with about half the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and pile it on a platter. Arrange the green beans, tomatoes, eggs and olives around the farro, as artfully as you like. Drizzle the remaining dressing over them and serve. 
  4. Toss the farro, warm, with about half the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and pile it on a platter. Arrange the green beans, tomatoes, eggs and olives around the farro, as artfully as you like. Drizzle the remaining dressing over them and serve. 

Wine pairing: Sauvignon Blanc or rose´ Champagne.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Classic Lettuce Wedge Salad

I don't want any vegetables, thank you.
I paid for the cow to eat them for me.
-Doug Coupland-

This is just about as simple and old school as it gets. Quarter a small head of iceberg lettuce....slather it with blue cheese or ranch dressing...then sprinkle with bacon. This was the "go-to" salad of the 1950's supper clubs. It's also one of the few salads that my younger son, Patrick, gets exited about.

Sean, my oldest son, pounds down vegetables like there is no tomorrow. For lunch each day, he likes nothing more than a paleo-perfect steak salad. Arugula is his lettuce of choice. But when it comes to Patrick, he simply replies that he "hates all green food".

There are two salads that Patrick will eat...Caesar and this Classic Lettuce Wedge Salad...the latter being his clear favorite. This salad tastes fantastic and it will take you all of two minutes to make the four salads.

I recommend you buy a small head of iceberg lettuce. Make sure it is incredibly firm to the touch. For the bacon, I buy Kirkland Crumbled Bacon at Costco. It comes in a 20 ounce bag and is incredibly moist and delicious. For just $12.99, I always have a large supply of crumbled bacon in my fridge. For the dressing, I prefer blue cheese, but Patrick likes his with ranch.

1 small, firm head of iceberg lettuce
1 bottle blue cheese dressing
12 tablespoons crumbled bacon bits
Chopped chives (optional, depending on your guests' viewpoint of green food)


  1. Wash and thoroughly dry lettuce. Cutting from pole to pole, slice the head into four separate wedges. Place wedges on four small salad plates.
  2. Pour ample amount of dressing over each wedge.
  3. Sprinkle with bacon and chives (optional). Serve.

Wine pairing: Pinot Noir

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cafe di Napoli's Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs

My earliest memories of Cafe di Napoli are courtesy of my grandfather, Frank J. Dunleavy. When I was born, he was a dick. A private dick, that is. He was founder and the sole employee of the Frank J. Dunleavy Detective Agency. His mother, Bridget, was a police officer...a pretty rare job for a young Irish woman in the early 1900's. He followed in her footsteps and became a member of the Minneapolis Police Department early in his career.

While on the police force, he served as body guard to Mayor Hubert Humphrey. He often accompanied Humphrey for lunch at Cafe di Napoli. The iconic restaurant had opened in 1938 on 8th and Hennepin. Frank liked it so much he started  taking me there when I was a little kid. We'd go for lunch, but my grandfather would never order a meal. It was Crown Royal on the rocks for him. I asked him why he never got the spaghetti like me, and he said he "couldn't eat because he was on duty".

At Cafe di Napoli, he used to tell me stories about when he was on the Minneapolis police force. One day he and his partner were on foot patrol in downtown Minneapolis when they got a call about a commotion over on Marquette Avenue. When he and his partner got there, they found a dead horse in the middle of the street. He said neither he nor his partner knew how to spell Marquette, so they dragged the horse over to 1st Avenue to fill out the police report.

Me, Frank and my sister Kathy, circa 1958

As you can tell from the photo, Frank had a girth of some significance. This was attributable to a complete abstinence of any sort of athletic endeavor and a diet which consisted primarily of Crown Royal and butter. While his consumption of Crown Royal was the stuff of legend, not a single morsel of solid food ever crossed his lips unless it had been slathered with butter. My grandfather was probably  the greatest butter cognescenti of all-time...he makes Paula Deen look like an absolute rank amateur. At no time, however, did I personally observe him putting butter in his Crown Royal.

The best part about Cafe di Napoli was their spaghetti and meatballs. My grandfather's good friend and fellow Crown Royal aficionado, Halsey Hall, estimated that the cafe served 2,284 miles of spaghetti each year. I was quite impressed with Halsey Hall, as he, too, never ate while on duty. Between he and Frank, I'll bet the cafe served 2,284 miles of Crown Royal each year.

So here it is, from my childhood to you, the original Cafe di Napoli recipe for their spaghetti sauce and meatballs. The exact same recipe I started marveling at 56 years ago. Cheers, Frank!


For the Sauce
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup salad (vegetable) oil
1 pound coarsely ground beef
1/2 cup of chopped onions
12 ounces tomato paste
5 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf

For the Meatballs
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1 cup very dry bread
1/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup of bread or cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper


For the Sauce

  1. Brown garlic in oil for 15 seconds. Add beef and onions and brown thoroughly.
  2. To the ground beef mixture, add tomato paste, water, salt, sugar, pepper and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until thick, about 75 to 90 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent scorching.
For the Meatballs
  1. Combine ground beef, egg, dry bread (which has briefly been soaked in water and squeezed), onions,  bread or cracker crumbs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. 
  2. Roll into golf ball-sized balls. Brown in a greased pan or in the oven.
  3. Add meatballs to the sauce for the last 20 minutes of cooking.
  4. Serve over spaghetti.

There have been numerous people who have questioned the authenticity of this recipe. I received an email from a follower yesterday telling me that she had tried the sauce recipe and it was horrible. So I tried it this morning and I concur. The above recipe is horrible and it is not at all what I remember from Cafe di Napoli. Hence, I have put hash marks through the entire recipe.

I got the Cafe di Napoli recipe from the book "Minnesota Eats Out". This 2003 book by Kathryn Koutsky is available at Amazon ( I'm not sure where Kathy got the recipe, but along with my readers, I, too, question it's authenticity.

If you are looking for a good red sauce recipe, here are two of my favorites. The first is from Melissa Clark: . The second is from Marcella Hazan: .

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bacon, Arugula and Pear Salad

"I think what we are seeing 
here is Weiner's second coming."
Carlos Danger

I was in the ad biz for 34 years. We always considered it cheating if you used a puppy or a baby in your ad to get attention. It simply meant the creator of said puppy/baby ad was so shallow and superficial that they were unable to create an interesting way to engage the reader.

This bacon, arugula and pear salad is also cheating. It is the culinary equivalent to having both a puppy and baby in the same ad. Actually, it is the culinary equivalent of having two babies and three puppies in the ad.

First, you have his royal majesty, the King of Umami...bacon. Then you're throwing in the greatest peppery lettuce of all-time...arugula. Umami and pepper are then boosted to new heights with the addition of sweet summer fruit...Anjou pears. Toss in the acidic perfection of balsamic vinegar and then smooth everything out on the tongue with one of the most spectacular cheeses on planet earth...Gorgonzola.

So make this recipe. These ingredients represent the the All Star Cheating Team! It's Anthony Weiner meets Tiger Woods meets Jesse James meets Kristen Stewart meets Arnold Schwarzenegger meets Bill Clinton. A randy bunch, no doubt, but your tongue gets to have all of the fun. This recipe makes six, side-dish servings.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 slices bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
2 ripe pears (Anjou or Bosc)
5 ounces arugula
6 very thin slices of red onion, separated into rings
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
Fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar and salt. Whisk to mix and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from skillet. Drain on paper towels. Set aside. Add pear slices to drippings in skillet; cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.
  3. In a large salad bowl, combine arugula, onion slices, and dressing. Gently toss to coat with dressing.
  4. Divide arugula mixture among six salad plates. Arrange pears on top. Sprinkle with bacon, pine nuts and Gorgonzola cheese. Add fresh ground pepper to taste.

Wine pairing: Rombauer Zinfandel