Saturday, May 27, 2017

Ramen & Steak Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Readers of my blog know that I am a huge proponent of using lump charcoal for grilling. It burns white-hot for searing and reaches temperatures that a gas grill can only dream about. It also has another benefit in that it produces very little ash. For those of us that dislike cleaning our ash catchers, that's a huge plus.

This week, Weber was kind enough to send me a sample of their new lump charcoal briquettes. I tried them out last night on a pair of Costco New York Strips. They burned fantastic and the heat was incredible. But alas, there was a lot more ash than when I burn plain old lump charcoal. So I'll give them an "A" for heat production but a "C" for ash residual.

I'm a sucker for any recipe that incorporates steak, so I'd like to share this new, Bon Appetit cold salad recipe with you. While you can use the cheap ramen noodles we feasted upon in college for this recipe, I'd like to make a recommendation to my fellow Costco shoppers. When you are in the Pasta & Rice aisle, check out Lotus Foods "Millet and Brown Rice Ramen". It's fabulous stuff...both organic and gluten-free!

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tahini
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
8 ounces dried ramen noodles
Kosher salt
12 ounces thinly sliced grilled steak (such as NY Strip)
1 small kohlrabi, peeled and cut into matchsticks
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1 cup cilantro chopped cilantro with stems
1/4 cup crushed, salted cashews
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes

  1. Whisk lemon juice, soy sauce, tahini, sugar, ginger, and garlic in a small bowl to combine. Gradually add vegetable oil followed by sesame oil, whisking constantly until emulsified; set aside. 
  2. Cook noodles in a large saucepan of boiling salted water according to package instructions until al dente. Drain; rinse under cold water, then drain again.
  3. Toss noodles, steak, kohlrabi, scallions, cabbage, and cilantro in a large bowl with three-quarters of reserved dressing to combine and evenly coat; season with salt. Top with cashews and red pepper flakes and drizzle remaining dressing over.

Wine pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Grilled Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce

In Minnesota, the grilling gods are not being kind. For the last 6 days we have seen nothing but rain. My beloved Weber grill sits lonely and drenched. Unlike gas grills, you can't use a charcoal grill in the rain because the charcoal gets wet.

I always grill my steaks over lump charcoal as the coals are a lot hotter than briquettes. I also toss in a chunk of mesquite...the smoke adds a magical taste to the beef. While grilled flank steak is delicious by itself, this gorgonzola sauce takes the meal to a whole new level.

Just a quick note about letting your meat rest before cutting it. The heat from the grill pulls the meat juices to the surface. If you were to cut the meat right away, all of the juices would run out. Resting the meat for 5 minutes serves 2 purposes. First, and most importantly, it allows the meat juices to be redistributed evenly throughout the meat. Second, the meat will continue to cook for a few minutes after being removed from the grill and then stabilize in temperature.

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 pound of crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 flank steak

  1. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  2. Make the sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream and simmer until reduced by half. Whisk in the gorgonzola until it melts. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  3. Season steak with salt and pepper. For medium rare, grill the steak for 5 minutes per side. Remove steak, tent it with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Slice meat across the grain and then serve with the gorgonzola sauce.

Wine pairing: If it's steak and gorgonzola, it's gotta be a big and hearty Cabernet Sauvignon. If you have the opportunity, reach for a Raymond.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Korean Bulgogi Wraps

Bulgogi is the grilled street food that is ubiquitous in Korea. The reason it is ubiquitous is because it is just about the best tasting steak that will ever pass your lips. It's also ubiquitous because it is incredibly simple to make. You just marinate the beef and then grill it up for 6 minutes per side.

Truth be told, this recipe is actually more like Korean fajitas. And it's really easy, because most of the other ingredients can be bought fully ready to go in the produce department. Matchstick carrots and shredded cabbage are sold in 10-ounce bags. I just throw all of the stuff onto a lazy susan and let everyone make their own Korean Bulgogi Wrap.


For the Marinade and Beef
1-inch piece of ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons gochujang
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 pear, stem removed

1 flank steak, 1-1/2 to 2 pounds

For the Wraps
12 soft flour tortillas
1 cup cooked rice, chilled
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
10 ounces chopped cabbage
10 ounces matchstick carrots


  1. Place all marinade ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until the marinade is liquified. Put flank steak in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade into the bag. Seal and refrigerate for 8 hours.
  2. Make rice. When cooked, spread rice out on a sheet pan and cool in refrigerator.
  3. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat
  4. Remove steak from marinade and wipe clean.
  5. Grill steak for 6 minutes per side. Then tent steak with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Cut the steak into thin slices and serve with all of the other wrap ingredients.

Wine pairing: My first choice would always be a big fruity, Zinfandel. If all of your stars are aligned, it would be a Turley.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Drunken Spaghetti

I usually post my weekly recipes on Saturday mornings, but more important things kept me from my duty yesterday. It was a true rite of passage as I traveled the 212 miles to Ames, Iowa to see my son on his graduation day from Iowa State. It was just 4 years ago when I dropped him off and now he's done....and on to life's next great adventure. Way to go, Sean! One down and one to go...Patrick will be graduating from Macalester College in 2019.

Today's recipe hails from Florence, Italy. In Florence, it appears on the menu as Spaghetti All'Ubriaco. The translation is indeed Drunken Spaghetti, as it gets it's name from the fact that you cook the spaghetti in wine. Well, it's actually done in two stages. First you cook in water and then finish it in a pot of boiling wine. Sangiovese, to be exact. And it's that bottle of Sangiovese that turns the spaghetti red.

It's an easy recipe and it cooks up in less than 10 minutes. I'm always partial to serving up my pasta with some protein, so I grill up some hot Italian sausages and put one on each serving plate. This Saveur recipe serves four to six people.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt plus 1/4 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bottle Sangiovese (750 ml)
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cube beef bouillon
2 teaspoons chopped oregano
2 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley


  1. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to a large pot of water and bring it to a boil.
  2. In a large, high-sided skillet, add the oil, garlic,  1/4 teaspoon salt and chile flakes. Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Pour in the red wine (stand back as the liquid may splatter) and bring to a rapid boil.
  3. Add spaghetti to the boiling pot of water and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer the spaghetti to the skillet with the boiling red wine and add the bouillon and 1 teaspoon of oregano: cook, stirring often with tongs until the spaghetti is tender, 6-8 minutes.
  5. Transfer the pasta to a platter and top with the remaining oregano and parsley. Serve immediately.

Wine pairing: I would opt to keep this meal all about Florence, so I would reach for a Super Tuscan.