Saturday, March 29, 2014

Swordfish Steaks with Jalapeño Mint Sauce

It was 38º yesterday, so I shoveled the last of the snow off the deck and got my grill ready to cook up some Cajun Pork Chops ( The smell of charcoal, mesquite and hickory was absolutely invigorating. It's a rite of passage. The death of winter and the start of spring grilling season.

One of my favorite professional grillers is Jamie Purviance. He has put together an incredible recipe that pairs two disparate flavors, jalapeño and mint, into a delicious butter sauce that he spoons over grilled swordfish steaks. It's what Gwyneth Paltrow would call "conscious coupling". Putin would say the butter is simply annexing the jalapeño and mint. Whatever. This recipe serves four and it is an absolute delight.

2 medium jalapeño chile peppers
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup minced fresh mint leaves (from 8 to 10 sprigs)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 scallions (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 swordfish steaks, each about 8 ounces and 1 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 lemon wedges


  1. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F).
  2. Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the jalapeños over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until blackened, about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Place the jalapeños in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to trap the steam. Let stand for about 10 minutes. Peel away and discard the charred skin, stems, and seeds, and then finely dice.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until melted and frothy. Mix in the jalapeños, mint, lemon juice, scallions, and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Keep warm over very low heat.
  4. Brush the swordfish steaks on both sides with oil and season evenly with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper. Grill over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until just opaque in the center but still juicy, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once.
  5. Top the swordfish steaks with jalapeno-mint butter sauce and serve warm with lemon wedges.

Wine pairing: A medium body Chardonnay 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

As long as I've been cooking, I have always cooked my corned beef the same way....basically braising it in plain old water for 2 1/2 hours at 325º. This year I wanted to change it up a bit for St. Patrick's Day. So I started researching recipes out on the web and put together a Frankenrecipe that turned out to be nothing short of spectacular.

And it could not be any easier. You don't even need to peel the paper off the onions! Just toss everything in your slow cooker and cook on low for 10 hours. Done. The End. Finis.

1 corned beef brisket, 3-4 pounds
2 medium onions, cut into quarters
5 ribs celery, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon prepared mustard (stone ground preferred)
2 cups chicken stock
1 bottle of beer (12 ounces)


  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: I would suggest Guinness. But if you want wine, try Pinot Noir.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Beer Bread

I'm a cook. I'm not a baker. Well, I need to amend that last statement. I was a baking virgin for my first 61 years of life. That all changed while preparing St. Patrick's Day dinner for my family last week. I have two, 30" ovens that, up until last weekend, had been used exclusively for roasting, broiling, convecting and all other forms of heating up meat.

My grandmother and kitchen hero, Goldie, was both a baker and a cook. But I never really had an interest in it. It seems to me to be some sort of high alchemy. I never wanted to learn the chemistry and truth be told, I just don't eat many carbohydrates.

Cody Matz is a fellow CrossFitter at our noon class at CrossFit Edina. He also happens to be a meteorologist at the Fox 9 TV station. So I've been watching Fox 9 news for my morning's nice to hear the forecast from someone you know. Last week they had a woman named Amy on the show going over some of her favorite St. Patrick's Day recipes. One of them was for beer bread....and I was stunned by how incredibly simple the recipe was.

I went to her food blog,, and got the recipe. Then I did a little more research out on the Interwebs and found that this recipe is ubiquitous. Probably because I have had no interest in baking that I have never heard of it. But, dang, it's so simple my dog could make it without screwing it up. No chemistry. No special kneading. No rising. Just slap four simple ingredients together and shove it in the oven. Self-rising flour. Sugar. Butter. Beer. Done.

This is a rustic, hearty bread. When you combine these four ingredients, do not over-mix. You want the batter to be lumpy. Give the mixture a couple of good swirls and then slap it into a loaf pan. That's it. You are now a baker, just like me!

3 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle beer (12 oz)
1/2 cup melted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and beer. Stir until lumpy.
  3. Spoon mixture into a loaf pan. Pour butter on top.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let bread cool for 15 minutes.
  5. Slice and serve.

Pairing: More beer!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chicken Breasts with Porcini Crema and Morels

This is a recipe about taking something that is ordinary, a skinless chicken  breast, and turning it into something extraordinary. Two of the ingredients are the gods' greatest gifts to umami...the porcini and morel mushrooms. These will be taken to new heights with the addition of some butter, onion, garlic Madeira, shallots, thyme and heavy cream.

Inspired by fellow CrossFitter Jason More, Thursday I cleared a path to my grill. I bought two enormous Porterhouse steaks with the intention of grilling them up on Friday. But the wind turned brutal and was gusting up to 50 mph yesterday afternoon. So I ended up pan-searing them in my kitchen. Outdoor grilling will have to wait.

So as long I'm am still constrained to cooking in the kitchen, might as well make something extraordinary. I came across a new recipe in the Wine Spectator that arrived at my house yesterday. The recipe was for halibut, but I don't like fish. So I've adapted it for chicken breast. Truth be told, the sauce recipe would probably work well with any kind of white protein.

The sauce recipe is courtesy of Fabio Trabocchi, owner of the restaurant called Fiola in Washington DC. He is a native of the Marche region in Italy. By the age of 16, he was apprenticing in a three-star Michelin restaurant, Gualtiero Marchesi in Milan. Make this sauce and you will come to greatly appreciate his artistry! This recipe serves four.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 pound fresh porcini mushrooms, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 medium white onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 cup Madeira
1 fresh bay leaf
1 cup heavy cream
1 medium shallot, minced
1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 pound small, fresh morel mushrooms
4, 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat


  1. In a wide sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over high heat until it just starts to smoke. Add the porcini in a single layer, working in batches if necessary, until the mushrooms are nicely roasted. Remove and drain excess oil.
  2. In a wide sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until it foams. Add the onion and garlic and sweat them until they are soft and translucent. Deglaze the pan with the Madeira and reduce by one-third. Add the bay leaf and roasted mushrooms and stir to combine.
  3. Heat the heavy cream in another sauce pan until warm and then add it to the mushrooms. Simmer until the flavors are blended and the cream is reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a wide sauté pan and add the shallots and thyme. Cook until the shallots are softened and translucent. Add the morels and toss to coat with the shallots. Cook until the morels are slightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Season the chicken breasts on all sides. Heat a grill or cast iron pan over medium high heat. Brush the grill with oil and cook the breasts, 2-3 minutes per side.
  6. Spoon the warmed porcini crema among the four plates, then top with the chicken breast. Then spoon the morels over the chicken. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve. 

Wine pairing: Barbaresco

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Smoky Bloody Marys

With this posting I welcome the marriage of two epicurean superstars: Bacon and the Bloody Mary cocktail. There are actually two different methods to achieve this greatness. There's the simple simply add a strip of roasted bacon to your Bloody Mary. Or you can go whole hog by making bacon infused vodka.

First, a word about cooking the bacon. Start with thick-cut bacon. While you can certainly fry it up, I prefer oven roasting on a wire rack. First, roasting does a better job of crisping up the bacon. It tastes better roasted and there is less fat in the bacon as roasting on the wire rack allows it to melt away. Plus, it's simple...preheat the oven to 400º and then roast the bacon for 15-20 minutes.

Now if you want to go all in and create bacon infused vodka, the recipe is actually quite easy. Simply place 12 strips of roasted bacon in a container with a lid and add a liter of vodka. Cover and let the container sit on the counter at room temperature for 5 days (infusion works better at room temperature and the alcohol will keep the bacon from spoiling). After the five days, remove the bacon and put the vodka in the freezer. This will cause the bacon oil to freeze, but not the vodka. Then simply pour the frozen mixture through a coffee filter. The bacon oil will stay in the filter and you are simply left with bacon infused vodka. (You may want to pour it through the coffee filter a few times to get your desired level of clarity.)

The rest is pretty easy. Just follow this Food Network recipe to crank out six of the best tasting Bloody Marys to ever cross your lips.

6 slices roasted bacon
3 1/4 cups tomato juice
1 1/4 cups bacon-flavored vodka (or regular vodka)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
1 tablespoon horseradish
2 teaspoons chipotle hot sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
Freshly ground pepper
6 stalks celery with leaves

  1.  Combine the tomato juice, vodka, lemon juice, horseradish, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a pitcher; refrigerate until ready to serve. Pour the Bloody Mary mixture into 6 large ice-filled glasses. Add a piece of bacon and a celery stalk to each.

Pairing: A beer chaser

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Grilled Shrimp Scampi

We're still weeks away from grilling in this land of the Polar Vortex (yes, another subzero day today). While I just returned from a week in Scottsdale (every meal eaten outdoors, yippee!), the cold is still unbearable. But I can't get grilling out of my mind as it's been four months since I last fired up my Weber.

Shrimp Scampi is one of my very favorite meals and here is my favorite way to prepare it: In this recipe the shrimp are sautéed and then crowned with an incredibly rich sauce, comprised primarily of butter.

Speaking of butter, quality matters. The highest quality butter I have found is Kerrygold Irish Butter. First, it's from Ireland. Second, it is made from grass-fed cows. The taste is extraordinary and you can find it at my favorite store, Costco!

Bobby Flay likes Shrimp Scampi as well, however, he has made his reputation as the ultimate griller. So he took the basic Shrimp Scampi recipe and adapted it for the grill. This recipe could not be any easier. We are talking ten minutes of prep and just five minutes of grill time. 

This recipe serves four and the char takes this dish to all new heights. And, it gives me a chance to exercise the new food chopper that my good friend Jeff Pinkham just sent me. Thanks, Jeff!

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 limes, juiced
2 teaspoons honey
2 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely grated
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup canola oil, divided
1 1/4 pounds large (21-24 per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 stick butter (4 ounces), softened (Kerrygold recommended)


1. Whisk together 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the lime juice, honey, ginger, garlic and 1/4 cup canola oil in a bowl and add to a food processor. Add the softened butter and pulse until thoroughly combined.

2. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and brush mixture onto the shrimp. Place onto preheated grill and cook in a single layer for 2 minutes per side, or until just cooked through.

Wine pairing: A nice oaky Chardonnay