Saturday, July 29, 2017

Skirt Steak with Shallot-Thyme Butter

The first three homes I owned were brand new. New paint, new appliances, new construction. Given that I never lived in any of those for longer than eight years, I had little to do in terms of upkeep and repairs.

But I've been in my current house for nearly 21 years...and holy shit....this was the summer to pay the piper. We've had workmen here non-stop since April. First, my roof was looking a little rough. I was offered the option of replacing it for $100,000 or having the cedar shakes refurbished for $8,300. I've always been good at math and my refurbished shakes look great.

Then my 20-year old fence fell over from rot. 265 feet of cedar fence costs a lot more today than it did back in 1996. Then I had to have the house and barn re-painted. Then my range/oven suddenly died after 13 years of very heavy use...followed shortly thereafter by one of the dishwashers.

So it's been a crazy summer...but the last of the workmen will depart this afternoon. We are looking forward to having a very serene and private August. Around 4:00pm this afternoon, I'm going to crack a Stella Artois. I'm going to go out on my deck and prepare my Weber to grill some steak. I'm going to listen to the quiet and relish the fact that it's just Becky, Zorro and me.

1/4 pound butter, softened (Kerrygold recommended)
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
10 chives, minced
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
24 ounces skirt steak, cut into 4 portions


  1. Cream the butter with a fork, adding thyme, chives, shallot, salt, pepper and vinegar.
  2. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  3. Grill the steaks for 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Season with salt and pepper as you grill.
  4. Remove steaks from grill and tent with foil, letting them rest for 5 minutes. Spread each steak with a tablespoon of butter and serve.

Wine pairing: Malbec. A Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec if you are really lucky.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Teriyaki Flank Steak

This recipe gets assigned to the category "Goof-Proof". If you can read, you already have all of the tools necessary to cook this universal crowd-pleasing dish. It's the perfect balance of salt and sweet in what is one of the best tasting cuts of beef around. This is a Jeff Gordinier recipe and it will make 4 to 6 servings.

When I make this meal, I like to pair it up with my very favorite (and oh so fragrant) white rice...basmati. It, too, could not be any easier. Put 2 cups of rice in a sauce pan along with 2-1/2 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off...leaving the pan in place. And in 15 more minutes you'll have a pan of perfect basmati rice that all you have to do is fluff and serve.

1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger,  minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 flank steak, about 1-1/2 pounds


    1. Whisk together the oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and pepper in a large bowl. With the tip of a knife, lightly score the surface of the steak in a crisscross pattern. Immerse the steak in the marinade and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours, turning it over now and then.
    2. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat. When the coals are white-hot, place the steak on the grill, shaking off excess marinade first. Cook roughly 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes, then slice it thinly on the diagonal.

    Wine pairing: A big fruit-bomb Zinfandel. A Rombauer, if you are really lucky.

    Saturday, July 15, 2017

    Tomahawk Steak

    This is my very favorite piece of meat to grill. It is the king of bone-in ribeye. Incredible marbling, intense beef flavor...all attached to a 20" rib bone. What a marvelous presentation it makes! My neighborhood Jerry's Market has been carrying them for years. And this summer, Costco started to sell them. In USDA Prime glory!

    Tomahawk steaks weigh in at 2-1/2 pounds and are roughly 2 inches thick. I used to cook them on the grill. I'd sear them on both sides for 4 minutes and then cook them indirect for the balance. But the results I got were somewhat uneven. But I finally found a way to guarantee medium-rare perfection every single time.

    I still sear each side of the steak over white-hot, lump hardwood charcoal for 4 minutes per side. But now I pop it into a 375º oven for 30 minutes after searing, then let it rest for 10 minutes. The steady heat of the oven yields a perfectly cooked tomahawk steak every, single time.

    The only seasoning I recommend is kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. This is, perhaps, the greatest steak experience of all time. The taste of this steak is so vastly superior to that of any other steak, you only need salt and pepper to complete the experience. So get off your butt and get to Costco and stick one of these in your cart. Each steak serves 2 to 3 people.

    One 2-1/2 pound Tomahawk Steak, 2" thick
    Kosher Salt
    Fresh cracked pepper


    1. Prior to grilling, take the steak out of the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 3 hours.
    2. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat and pre-heat your oven to 375º.
    3. When your coals are white hot, season steak with salt and pepper and then sear over hot coals (with the grill covered) for 4 minutes per side.
    4. Remove steak from grill and place it on a sheet pan with a cooling rack (this lets the steak's entire surface have contact with the hot air). Slide it into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
    5. Remove steak from oven, tent with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then slice and serve.

    Wine pairing: A Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon would make this pairing a match made in heaven.

    Saturday, July 8, 2017

    Grilled New York Strip Steaks with Jake's Rub

    I am a man who leads a very patterned life. I start each day with a cup of Italian Roast coffee while I read my newspapers. Once the newspapers are done, I take a full lap of the Internet. Right when I got to the end of the Internet yesterday morning, I came upon a recipe for Jake's rub.

    I had never heard of Jake before yesterday. I know "Jake from Omaha" from appearing in the State Farm ads. I know "Jake from Victoria" because he interlocks his exercise mat with mine while I do my Cat-Cow stretches at CrossFit. But I had never heard of "Jake from Tasting Table" until yesterday.

    What drew my attention to his rub recipe was the simplicity of it. I love simple. Especially when it comes to recipes. If I see a recipe with a long list of ingredients, my eyes glaze over. There are only 5 things that our tongues can taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory (umami). So once you reach five ingredients in a recipe, it starts to get redundant.

    Grilled New York Strip Steaks are all about savory. Especially if they are USDA Prime...brimming with all of that wonderful fat. So you combine that with Jakes Rub, which contains sweet, salty and bitter, and all you need is a squeeze of lime to hit the tastebud jackpot! You have to make this rub. It is the epitome of simple...garlic salt, smoked paprika and brown sugar.

    I made it last night, and upped the taste factor by throwing a chunk of mesquite on the white-hot coals. Just 4 minutes per side and 5 minutes of resting. The steaks were absolutely extraordinary. I'm a big fan of dry rubs and this was really something special. Becky and I washed it down with a bottle of fantastic Bordeaux.....a Chateau Brane-Cantenac Margaux...a birthday gift from the Hirtz's and the Drill's. Rest assured I will be buying more of that wine.

    1/4 cup garlic salt
    1/4 cup smoked paprika
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    2 New York Strip Steaks, 1-1/2" thick
    1 lime, quartered (optional)


    1. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
    2. Combine the salt, paprika and sugar. Mix thoroughly.
    3. Apply rub generously to the steaks. Let steaks rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
    4. Grill steaks directly over hot coals for 4 minutes per side. Then remove steaks from grill and tent with foil, letting them rest for 5 minutes.
    5. Serve with quartered limes (optional).

    Wine pairing: Try a Bordeaux. A Chateau Brane-Cantenac Margaux, if you are really lucky.

    Thursday, July 6, 2017


    With the deepest gratitude to my mother and father, today marks the start of 65 complete revolutions around the sun. One of the things that makes 65 a great age is that I get to migrate from Obamacare to Medicare. I happened to love Obamacare. I've had 5 surgeries for arthritis.....and used to be branded with the dreaded "Pre-Existing Condition" label and the cost of health insurance was through the roof. Obamacare saved me about $800 a month. The switch to Medicare saves me about $1,000 a month. Thanks to Medicare, there are much higher quality wines in my future.

    In my 65 years, I like to believe I have accumulated a modest amount of wisdom. Most of it pertains to my happy place....the kitchen. So in no particular order, here are some things that I do NOT like in my kitchen.

    • WOLF RANGES: Back in 2004, I purchased a Wolf 60" dual fuel range. Beautiful to look at. Worked fine for the first 4 years. But then I discovered the fatal flaw. Most of the appliance's functions were governed by a computer. Apple makes brilliant computers. Wolf does not. In the last 9 years, I've had to have the Wolf serviced no less than 12 times. All to fix the computer. In fact, they had to replace the computer 4 separate times. Nine weeks ago the computer died again and Wolf said they would no longer repair it. In honor of my birthday, Warner Stellian will be here in 30 minutes to install a new Capital Culinarian range. It is a pure, mechanical range. No computers. Just 10 knobs that regulate the flow of gas.
    • TURKEY BURGERS: The whole reason that burgers are so legendary is that they have fat. Turkey has no fat, which is why we eat it just once a year alongside dressing made with gallons of butter and massive amounts of Italian Sausage. Turkey burgers are a crime against humanity. Ditto for Salmon Burgers. Once you have made a beef short rib burger with 35% fat content, you will know what I mean.
    • KABOBS: Some frigging idiot came up with the idea of jamming different food types on a stick. What that idiot failed to grasp is that veggies and meat have different cooking times. In 99% of the instances when you are cooking a kabob, the veggies will be overcooked and the meat undercooked. That is a ridiculous scenario and can be fatal if you are cooking chicken.
    • KALE: Worst tasting stuff ever. You should always use coconut oil when cooking kale as it will be easier to slide it into the garbage.

    My new Capital Culinarian has been installed! 

    Saturday, July 1, 2017

    Thai Lemongrass Chicken

    When it rains, I am forced to forego grilling and cook indoors. That happened on Monday this week, which gave me a chance to try out this recipe from New Zealand cook Lei. To prepare the dish, I cooked it in a hot cast iron pan. It only takes a couple of minutes to cook and I served it over Basmati rice.  I garnished it with fresh basil right from Becky's garden. This recipe serves two.

    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
    3 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 tablespoon fish sauce
    2 tablespoons rice wine
    1/2 teaspoon sugar
    1/3 cup finely chopped lemongrass
    1/4 cup peanut oil
    1/2 cup shredded carrot
    1/2 cup whole basil leaves


    1. Combine the first six ingredients and let them marinate for 20 minutes.
    2. Heat a cast iron pan to medium high heat. Add oil and marinated chicken. Stir fry for a couple of minutes until chicken is sizzling and slightly caramelized.
    3. Turn off heat. Add carrot and stir.
    4.  Garnish with whole basil leaves. Serve with Sriracha on the side.

    Wine pairing: A well-chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.