Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thai Steak and Bok Choy Salad

The day after tomorrow marks the start of February and the much anticipated march to spring. I find my appetite starts to change around this time of year. I've enjoyed about four months of hearty winter meals. But now it's time to start changing up my meal planning and work more healthy salads into the mix.

I'm a huge fan of Thai food, so this Whole Foods recipe really strikes a chord with me. It satisfies my carnivore cravings while still garnering praise from the herbivore gods. The flank steak can be grilled, broiled or pan-seared. Five minutes per side will suffice for all methods. This recipe yields four entree salads.

1/3 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 Thai chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 flank steak (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 cups thinly sliced baby bok choy
6 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
2 small pickling cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup lightly packed basil leaves, sliced
1/2 cup lightly packed mint leaves, sliced
1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, sliced


  1. Whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, shallot and chiles. Place half of mixture (about 6 tablespoons) in a wide shallow dish and add steak. Cover and marinate, turning occasionally, at least 30 minutes. Chill remaining lime juice mixture separately to dress the salad.
  2. Prepare a grill for high-heat cooking or preheat broiler. Remove steak from marinade; place on grill or broiler pan and cook until desired doneness (5 minutes per side for medium-rare.) Rest steak 10 minutes, then slice thinly against the grain.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine bok choy, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, basil, mint and cilantro. Toss with reserved lime juice mixture. Spread salad over a large platter and arrange steak over salad. 

Wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. A Sileni if you are lucky.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mustard and Red Wine Sauce

I am completely obsessed with pan searing. Especially pan seared steaks. It's incredible how you can get a restaurant quality steak from a frying pan. At home. In just a few minutes. So at least once a week I score some USDA Prime steaks from Costco and sear them up.

Up until last fall, I used to do all of my pan searing in a cast iron pan. Cast iron retains heat like crazy and that makes it ideal for searing. The downside is the Lodge cast iron pan tips the scales at 15+ pounds. That makes for a two-handed job everytime I use it.

Then last fall I stumbled upon an equipment test in Cook's Illustrated. They were comparing carbon steel frying pans and the winner was the Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Fry Pan. They noted that carbon steel pans were used by virtually every restaurant chef. Carbon steel is light. It becomes a perfect non-stick pan after seasoning and it has all of the heat retention qualities of cast iron.

I went online and got mine from a foodservice supplier for $34.19. Once I got it seasoned and started cooking with it, I was hooked. I got the 11 7/8" pan and it weighs in at 4 11 pound saving from my cast iron pound. And I'm here to tell you it holds heat every bit as well as cast iron.

So if a pan burglar came into my house, he would have to pry my Matfer Bourgeat black steel fry pan away from my cold, dead hands. Best $34 ever spent. I just love that pan. And I get perfect pan-seared steaks every time...just 5 minutes per side!

While the steaks are perfect every time, I like to add a little variety on steak night. I do that by making different sauces that complement the pan seared steak. The one I'm sharing with you today is from Bobby Flay. I make the sauce ahead of time and keep it warm while my Matfer Bourgeat pan creates another masterpiece.

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/2 shallot, finely diced
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon cold butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown and their liquid has evaporated. 
  2. Add the red wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the stock and cook until reduced by half. Whisk in the butter and mustard and cook for 30 seconds. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve over the steaks after steaks have rested.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Alcatra (Portuguese Beef Stew)

When I first looked at this recipe, I was very skeptical as it seemed to be violating two major things normally associated with making a beef stew. First, the recipe did not call for searing the beef. In fact, there is no pre-cooking required at all. This is basically a "dump it all in the pot and walk away" recipe.

While I was concerned about not searing, that was totally unfounded. The flavors were so warm and bright...I was astounded. And that was surprising because the second rule it violated for making stew was to eschew use of beef or chicken stock. Yep. You read that right. The only liquid in the recipe was white wine. In my case, chardonnay.

The key to this stew was the blend of spices. Smashed garlic. Allspice berries.  Bay leaves. Peppercorns. While the recipe called for tying them up in cheesecloth, I prefer to use a Spiceball (pictured above). You just throw all of the spices in there and sink it into your pot. Afterwards, you can just rinse it and toss it in the dishwasher.

While this delicious Cook's Illustrated recipe is pure Paleo, we could not eat stew without some bread to dip in our bowls. A warm loaf of artisan bread (rosemary and olive oil) fit that bill. I really encourage you to try this ever-so-simple stew. It is so different from anything else. One always thinks of stews as so hearty and heavy. This one is at the other end of the spectrum...still hearty...but light and vibrant on the tongue.

3 pounds boneless long-cut beef shanks
Salt and pepper
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
5 allspice berries
4 bay leaves
1 ½ teaspons peppercorns
2 large onions, halved and sliced
2 ¼ cups dry white wine
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325º. Trim away any fat or large pieces of connective tissue from exterior of shanks (silverskin can be left on meat). Cut each shank crosswise into 2 1/2-inch pieces. Sprinkle meat with 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. Cut 8-inch square of triple-thickness cheesecloth. Place garlic, allspice berries, bay leaves, and peppercorns in center of cheesecloth and tie into bundle with kitchen twine. Arrange onions and spice bundle in Dutch oven in even layer. Add wine and cinnamon. Arrange shank pieces in single layer on top of onions. Cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil and pot lid and cook until beef is tender, about 3 1/2 hours.
  3. Remove pot from oven and add chorizo. Using tongs, flip each piece of beef over, making sure that chorizo is submerged. Cover and let stand until chorizo is warmed through, about 20 minutes. Discard spice bundle. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Wine pairing: If you are a fan of Malbec and Brunello di Montalcino, I would suggest that you pair this stew with a nice bottle of Portuguese Douro. If you don't have access to Portuguese wines, try a domestic Petite Sirah.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Soboro Beef

I really like simple recipes. Especially ones that are also delicious. This Soboro Beef recipe by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat comes together in less than 10 minutes. What a terrific way to add a little Japanese variety to your weekday meals.

The basic ingredient is plain old ground beef. But the flavoring comes from a combo of Japan's big three: sake, mirin and soy sauce. Make sure to buy your sake at the liquor store. Supermarket sake has lots of additives that you do not want in your food. For mirin (rice wine), make sure it's made with real sugar and not glucose or corn syrup.

Soboro Beef is typically served over rice. But it can just as easily be served over a salad or rice noodles. In the land of the rising sun it's often folded into omelettes. However you decide to serve it, you'll find it simple and fast and so good that you will wish you had made a double batch.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
8 ounces ground beef (80% lean)
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 chopped green onions


  1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Cook beef, stirring and breaking into small pieces, until browned and nearly cooked through, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Add sake and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add mirin and soy sauce and cook until pan is almost dry, about 1 minute longer. Add scallions and toss to combine. Serve.

Wine pairing: You only used two tablespoons from the bottle, so I would suggest sake to me.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Prime Rib: Perfection through Simplicity

Readers of this blog will know that one of my favorite meals is roasted prime rib. It's my "go-to" for all special occasions. First, because it is so damn delicious. Second, because it is so damn simple to cook. When you serve your guests prime rib, you get the added bonus of being able to spend quality time with them instead of slaving away in the kitchen.

I have a zillion ways to cook prime rib. But now, at age 63, I am prepared to say that the methods I am going to describe to you today are my definitive ways of cooking prime rib. The boneless prime rib methodology is derivative from Mark Bittman's recipe for cooking eye of round beef roast. The bone-in methodology belongs to Ann Seranne, who first published her recipe in the New York Times in 1966.

To make perfect prime rib, you only need 3 ingredients. The first, obviously, is a prime rib roast. Second, you need Lund's & Byerly's Dry Aged Beef Seasoning. It's extraordinary stuff and you will be in awe at how it elevates the taste of your roast. It's available in their stores or you can order it online:

And the third leg of the stool is Johnny's French Dip Au Jus Sauce. This is a gift from the gods and no piece of prime rib should ever cross your lips without a bath in Johnny's sauce. (Ok, I will admit I like a little horseradish on the side as well.) Johnny's is available in the condiment section of your grocery store and online at Amazon.

The key to creating a perfect prime rib roast is to make sure you only cook it to medium-rare. The two recipes below will do that. Every, single time. You don't need no stinkin' meat thermometer. All you need is a watch and you will have perfect medium-rare meat every time you cook it.

So if you can tell time, you are half way home. But here's the best part: these recipes require absolutely no stinkin' cooking skills. All you need to know is how to turn your oven on and off. That's it. Oven on. Oven off. Carve and serve.


One boneless prime rib beef roast, 3 pounds
Lund's & Byerly's Dry Aged Beef Seasoning
Johnny's French Dip Au Jus Sauce


  1. Remove roast from refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 4 hours.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 500º.
  3. Sprinkle roast generously with Dry Aged Beef Seasoning.
  4. Put roast on roasting rack fat-side up and slide it into oven. Cook for 15 minutes.
  5. After cooking time, turn oven off. Do not open oven door under penalty of death. Let roast sit unmolested in oven for two hours.
  6. Follow instructions on Johnny's bottle to make au jus.
  7. When the two hours are up, remove the roast, then slice and serve with the au jus.


One bone-in prime rib beef roast, bones intact (any size)
Lund's & Byerly's Dry Aged Beef Seasoning
Johnny's French Dip Au Jus Sauce


    1. Remove roast from refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 4 hours.
    2. Pre-heat oven to 500º.
    3. Sprinkle roast generously with Dry Aged Beef Seasoning.
    4. Put roast on roasting rack fat-side up and slide it into oven. Cook for 15 minutes per bone (i.e.; a 4 bone roast would cook for 60 minutes).
    5. After cooking time, turn oven off. Do not open oven door under penalty of death. Let roast sit unmolested in oven for two hours.
    6. Follow instructions on Johnny's bottle to make au jus.
    7. When the two hours are up, remove the roast. Cut roast away from the ribs, then slice and serve with the au jus.

    Wine pairing: A Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon