Saturday, December 28, 2019

Patty Melt

Back in the 1930's, Tiny Naylor owned a chain of Los Angeles restaurants called "Biff's". Tiny was quite a creative guy and he envisioned a hybrid meal that would combine two of his favorite sandwiches...a hamburger and a grilled cheese sandwich. Thus was born the Patty Melt. Simple and delicious. I'll take mine with some golden shoestring fries, please.

It's been a fun 10 years blogging about my favorite subject, food. This is my last post for this decade. But I will see you on the other side when the new decade arrives in a few days! Thanks for reading.

1 pound ground beef
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
8 thin slices rye bread
8 thin slices of Swiss cheese
1 cup caramelized onions
8 thin slices American cheese
Foil wrapped skillet


  1. Shape beef into 4 thin patties. Heat large cast iron skillet on medium-high. Season patties with salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes per side then transfer to a plate.
  2. Wipe out skillet and return to medium-low heat. Spread mayo on 1 side of each bread slice. In 2 batches, place 2 bread slices mayo-side down in the skillet. Top each slice with 2 slices of Swiss cheese, a beef patty, caramelized onions, 2 slices of American cheese and second slice of bread, mayo side up. Place small, foil-wrapped skillet on top of sandwiches to press down on the Patty Melts. Cook until bread is golden brown and crisp, 3 minutes per side. Then slice each sandwich in half and serve.

Pairing: An ice cold Pilsner, please.

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Ann Seranne's Bone-In Prime Rib Roast

Anne Seranne was born in Ontario in 1913. She moved to the United States in 1936.  She became famous for two things: dogs and food. She was a very serious breeder of Yorkshire terrier show dogs. And she was a serious lover of all things having to do with food. She earned her living as a food consultant and eventually became the editor of Gourmet Magazine.

But she is little remembered these days, for she was a one-hit wonder in the vein of Billy Ray Cyrus and his song "Achy Breaky Heart". But, oh, what a hit she had. She single-handedly created the greatest recipe for medium rare prime rib. Published in the New York Times in 1966, it was revolutionary. It was beyond simple. And absolutely foolproof.

Her recipe called for blasting the bone-in roast at 500º for a brief period and then turning off the oven...leaving the beef undisturbed for 2 hours. Unbelievably perfect medium rare, every single time. Plus you can carve the roast the minute you take it out of the oven because it has already been resting for 2 hours.

For the recipe to work, your prime rib roast must be bone-in. You can cook it with the bones intact or do what I do... I have the butcher cut the bones and then tie them back to the roast. That way, I can just make a couple of snips of the butcher's twine and carve the roast up....reserving the ribs for a later snack that only I will get to enjoy.

One, 2 to 4 rib, beef prime rib roast, weighing 4 to 12 pounds
Fresh Ground Pepper

  1. Remove the roast from the refrigerator 4 hours before cooking and let it come up to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  3. Place the roast in an open, shallow roasting pan, fat side up (bone-side down). You don't need a roasting rack as the bones will serve that purpose.  Season generously all over with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the roast in the preheated oven (on the second lowest rack) and roast according to the roasting chart below, timing the minutes exactly  When cooking time is finished, turn off the oven. Do not open the door at any time. Allow the roast to remain in the oven until oven is lukewarm, for two hours. The roast will have a crunchy brown outside and an internal heat suitable for serving as long as 4 hours after removing from the oven. Makes about 2 servings per rib.

A.   2 rib roast (4 to 5 pounds)...32 minutes at 500º, then rest 2 hours, door shut

B.   3 rib roast (8 to 9 pounds)...47 minutes at 500º, then rest 2 hours, door shut

C.   4 rib roast (11 to 12 pounds)...62 minutes at 500º, then rest 2 hours, door shut

{Formula = 15 minutes per rib + 2 minutes} 

  1. Wine Pairing: It's Christmas, so splurge on an Amarone.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Christmas Boneless Prime Rib Roast

This recipe is very simple and follows a similar methodology that I used for Roast Chicken. You are going to start cooking the meat at a very high temperature and then turn the heat down to gently finish cooking the roast. All you need to do this is an oven and a calculator. Well, that's not quite true, because I also use Lunds & Byerly's Dry-Aged Beef Seasoning...a spectacular combination of gray sea salt, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, basil, fennel and lavender. Order it  from their web site:

This recipe is for boneless prime rib roasts. You are first going to blast the roast with heat, 500º for 15 minutes. Then you turn the oven down to 325º and cook it based on the weight of your roast and the desired level of doneness you want. Here are the cooking times for the different levels of finish:

Rare: 11 minutes per pound
Medium Rare: 13 minutes per pound
Medium: 15 minutes per pound

Here's an example of how it works. You bought a 6-pound roast and want to serve it medium rare. You heat the oven to 500º. First, cook the roast for 15 minutes at that high heat level, then turn the oven down to 325º. Then cook the roast for 78 more minutes at that lower temp (6 pounds X 13 minutes).

Using this recipe with my oven has yielded perfect results every time. And, just as I discovered with my chicken, cooking the roast in this conventional manner yielded juicier meat than when cooked with a convection oven. For the purposes of sharing the recipe, I will use a 5-pound roast as an example. But you can buy whatever size suits your taste and adjust your cooking times accordingly.

One, 5-pound prime rib roast
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Lund's & Byerly's Dry-Aged Beef Seasoning

  1. Remove roast from refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for at least 3 hours prior to cooking.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 500º.
  3. Rub roast with oil and season generously with Dry-Aged Beef Seasoning.
  4. Put roast on a roasting rack/pan and slide into the oven. Cook for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 325º and cook for 65 minutes (5 pounds X 13 minutes for medium rare). Do not open oven during the entire cooking process.
  6. When the 65 minutes is up, remove roast from oven, tent with foil and let roast rest for 20 minutes. Then carve and serve.

Wine pairing: If you want to hang out with the big dogs on the porch, grab a Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa...yours for just $53.99 at Total Wine. Or, if it's your day to run with the chihuahuas, you can get a 90-point Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington state for just $6.97.

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Roasted Baked Potato Skins

This is a really simple recipe. It's just an easy variation on my last post of the Roasted Baked Potato. Everything is the same except for the last few minutes. And what you get by following this recipe is a potato skin that has more crunch than any other skin you've ever tasted. Believe me, the secret to great potato skins is all about the crunch.

4 large russet potatoes
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Cheddar cheese
Chopped scallions
Bacon bits


  1. Preheat oven to 450º.
  2. Wash potatoes under the faucet and dry with a cloth towel.
  3. Pierce each potato 6 times with a fork. Coat entire potato skin with olive oil, then sprinkle skin generously with Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
  4. Place potatoes in oven and cook for 2 hours.
  5. Immediately slice potatoes open and use a spoon to scrape out the potato innards.
  6. Add cheese, scallions and bacon bits to hollowed-out potato skins.
  7. Return skins to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Serve.

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Roasted Baked Potato

To me, a perfectly baked potato is all about the skin. Sure, the insides need to be light and fluffy. But too many people undercook the potato so that the skin is, well...flaccid. Yep, there, I said it. Flaccid. Limp. Lacking firmness. Droopy. Potatile Dysfuntion.

The skin is the very best part of a potato. It's the part that has all of the vitamins and fiber in it. It's also the most flavorful part of a potato. Most baked potato recipes call for cooking the potato in moderate heat for 45 to 60 minutes....and that gets you flaccid skin.

What I am encouraging you to do is use high heat (roast it!) and take a helluva lot more time. And you have to use the right potato, for only a russet will do. Follow my recipe and you will experience potato nirvana. A crisp, seemingly deep-fried skin with a soft and creamy inside. But to accomplish this, there is an absolutely critical final step. Slice the potato open the minute you take it out of the oven. If you don't the skin will absorb steam from the inner potato and you will end up with...yep... flaccid.

4 large russet potatoes
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450º.
  2. Wash potatoes under the faucet and dry with a cloth towel.
  3. Pierce each potato 6 times with a fork.
  4. Coat entire potato skin with olive oil, then sprinkle skin generously with Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
  5. Place potatoes in oven and cook for 2 hours.
  6. Immediately slice potatoes open and serve with your favorite fixings (mine happen to be butter, bacon and chives).

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Thanksgiving is the most frenetic day of the year for cooks like me. So to take a little stress out of the day, there are 3 things I make in advance so that I can give most of my attention to roasting that 24-pound turkey.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

The frenetic pace and challenge of getting turkey and side dishes to be served together at precisely 6pm on Thanksgiving day is exhausting. So over the years, I've been working in "make ahead" recipes that makes serving the meal a whole lot easier. Make ahead gravy. Make ahead stuffing.

This year, I added make ahead mashed potatoes. And I'm here to tell you they were the best mashed potatoes ever. First off, I avoided all of the chemistry class theatrics required of boiling potatoes from scratch with cold water. And that method requires great precision in order to serve piping hot potatoes with piping hot turkey at the same time.

And this method is foolproof. You cannot screw it up. Anyone who can read can make perfect mashed potatoes. Yes, even you, Joan.

5 pounds of russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, each potato peeled and quartered
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1-1/2 cups whole milk

8 tablespoons butter
2 cups of half & half
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Chopped chives, for garnish


  1. Peel and quarter potatoes and place in slow cooker with garlic and 1-1/2 cups of milk. Set slow cooker to high and cover. Cook for 5 hours.
  2. After 5 hours, turn slow cooker to warm. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes right in the slow cooker.
  3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. When melted, add half & half to the pan and heat to warm (do not boil). When warm, add mixture to slow cooker. Using masher, blend potatoes with butter/half & half mixture.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste....a half of a teaspoon at a time for the uninitiated.
  5. Cover potatoes and serve whenever you want.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

Being obsessive-compulsive is actually an admirable quality if you are a cook. I find that it comes in especially handy at Thanksgiving, where micro-managing the production of an enormous feast is no small feat.

In order to handle the complexity of the Thanksgiving meal preparation, I create a very comprehensive list of every task that must be accomplished and at precisely what time to perform that task. It starts at 12:35pm with the convection roasting of the turkey. Then the schedule is set to make sure that everything gets done so that we can eat precisely at 6:00pm.

But regardless of the schedule, there are three items that always need my attention at the very last, frenetic second: the carving of the turkey; the mashing of the potatoes; and the making of the gravy. I cannot do all three at once by myself.

I'm really good at quickly carving a 25-pound turkey, so I take on that duty. The potatoes need to be mashed at the last second so that they are good and warm, which is a role my son Patrick has excelled at since he was a boy. Being a big, strong defensive back on the Macalester Football team, he is now able to execute his mashing duties in mere seconds.

Which leaves us with the gravy. I'm really anal about making turkey gravy from scratch. Use butter and flour to make a roux, then add turkey drippings and turkey stock. The problem here is that the drippings come at the end....after you've removed the turkey for carving.

But alas, Mark Bittman (food writer for the New York Times) solved my problem by creating this make-ahead gravy recipe. It can be made up to five days in advance, then re-heated just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. And the gravy still gets the flavor boost from the pan just add them in at the last second to your already "at serving temperature" gravy.

A small note here about the stock. Most grocery stores have an abundance of turkey stock on their shelves at this time of year. But if you couldn't find any or simply forgot to pick some up, chicken stock is a really good second choice.

1 stick of butter (I prefer Kerrygold)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper
4 to 5 cups warm turkey stock
Turkey drippings


    1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour on the onions, stirring constantly, and cook until flour is golden to brown. Adjust heat so mixture does not burn.
    2. Gradually whisk in 4 cups stock until mixture thickens and is smooth. If it is too thick, add more stock. Cool, cover and chill.
    3. When ready to serve, reheat mixture over low heat, stirring. Scrape bottom of turkey pan and add drippings or to gravy. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve.

    Thanksgiving Stuffing

    Stuffing is, without a doubt, my favorite side at Thanksgiving. And I've been making it the same way for 40+ years. The recipe is nothing's all store-bought ingredients with just a few extras thrown in. I cook my stuffing in a casserole as I am not partial to Salmonella Russian Roulette when stuffing is cooked in the cavity of the bird.

    I always start with Pepperidge Farm Sage & Onion Cubed Stuffing. I just love how that stuff tastes. It's simply toasted white and wheat bread cubes in their own special blend of spices. To that I add hot Italian sausage, celery, onion and sautéed mushrooms. I cook those up in the morning and then add the Pepperidge Farm stuffing about an hour before eating. Like I said...there's nothing extraordinary about the recipe...except for the taste. Once you try it, you are hooked for life.

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 pounds hot Italian sausage
    2  yellow onions, chopped
    6 stalks celery, chopped
    16 ounces mushrooms, chopped

    10 tablespoons butter
    4 cups chicken broth
    2, 12-ounce bags Pepperidge Farm Sage & Onion Cubed Stuffing


    1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil until it is shimmering. Then add sausage, onions, celery and mushrooms. Cook until there is no pink in the sausage and all of the vegetables have softened (about 8 minutes).
    2. In a large saucepan, heat butter and chicken broth over medium heat until all of the butter has melted into the broth.
    3. Preheat oven to 350º.
    4. In a large casserole, add the two bags of cubed stuffing. Add sausage, onions, celery and mushrooms then stir thoroughly to mix. The add broth/butter mixture and stir again to thoroughly mix.
    5. Cover casserole and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, then serve in a room that is no warmer than 68º.

    Saturday, November 16, 2019

    Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

    I posted my first Beef Stroganoff recipe on this blog in September of 2011. That recipe, from Cooks Illustrated, has always been a favorite of mine. That recipe called for using beef tenderloin. But that's a stovetop recipe that comes together quickly. This is a slow cooker recipe. My thinking has evolved over the last few years. In the past, if I was adding beef to a slow cooker, I would typically choose a chuck or arm roast. These days, if I'm tossing beef in a slow cooker, it has to be brisket.

    If you are a carnivore, brisket is the second greatest gift from the beef gods (steak, of course, is the first). Brisket cooked low and slow is a transformational experience. It has the perfect amount of fat to create extraordinary flavor. And eight hours in a slow cooker essentially converts beef brisket to something akin to literally melts right on your tongue.

    So opting for brisket is not the only change-up I'm making. My old recipe called for spooning the stroganoff over the egg noodles like a sauce. But I have seen the light. In this recipe you take the cooked egg noodles and stir them right into the stroganoff before serving. The benefit of this is that every square inch of pasta becomes coated with this incredible stroganoff gravy. The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom :-)

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 pounds beef brisket, cut across the grain in 2-inch strips
    Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
    8 ounces petite mushroom caps, sliced in half
    1 medium onion, diced
    2 teaspoons minced garlic
    2 cups beef broth, divided
    3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    3 tablespoons corn starch
    12 ounces egg noodles, prepared according to package
    1 cup sour cream

    1. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large pan. Season the beef with salt and pepper on all sides. Add half of the beef to the pan in a single layer. Brown for 3-4 minutes on each side. 
    2. Add the meat to the slow cooker. Repeat the browning process with the other half of the beef.
    3. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned.
    4. Add the onion, mushrooms and garlic to the slow cooker.
    5. Pour 1-1/2 cups beef broth and Worcestershire sauce into the slow cooker and stir to combine.
    6. Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
    7. One half hour before serving, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup beef broth with the corn starch. Pour the mixture into the crock pot and stir. Cook covered on HIGH for 20 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
    8. Uncover the crock pot and add the sour cream, stirring until a smooth sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    9. Turn off slow cooker. Add the cooked egg noodles into the slow cooker and stir until they are fully coated in the sauce. Serve.

    Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956

    Saturday, November 9, 2019

    Pork Chops in Lemon-Caper Sauce

    This week Toni Tipton-Martin released her new cookbook, "Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking. Sam Sifton, a New York Times food writer (and one of my personal favorites), called this recipe from Toni's book "glorious and elegant" and heralded it as his new favorite recipe. As soon as I finish this blog, it's off to my neighborhood grocery store (Jerry's) to gather the ingredients as tonight this is what's for supper in the Gruggen household!

    4 bone-in pork chops (8 ounces each)
    Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    4 tablespoons butter
    1 small shallot, minced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
    1 cup dry white wine
    1-1/2 cups chicken stock
    2 tablespoons drained capers
    2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
    1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    1. Dry the chops with paper towels and season aggressively with salt, pepper and the thyme. Swirl the olive oil into a large skillet and heat over medium until the oil begins to shimmer. Add chops, and cook until well browned on each side and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chops to a plate, and cover to keep warm.
    2. Drain the fat from the skillet, then melt 2 tablespoons of butter in it over medium heat until sizzling. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until the aromatics soften, reducing the heat if necessary, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Whisk in the wine and chicken stock, raise heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes.
    3. Stir in the capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until it’s melted and the sauce looks smooth. Nestle the pork chops into the sauce and allow them to warm up for a couple of minutes, then serve, pouring sauce over each pork chop to taste. Garnish with more fresh parsley.

    Wine pairing: Merlot

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956

    Saturday, November 2, 2019

    Slow Cooker Beef Ramen Soup

    It's November in Minnesota and the meteorologists are already talking about windchill. (Windchill is 22º here this morning while the ambient temperature is 33º.) Whenever I hear windchill, I think about reaching for my slow cooker and making some soup.

    This" Let's Dish" recipe is quite simple and the slow cooker makes it a breeze. But if you want to make it special, I made a couple of changes. The recipe called for stew meat, but I substituted boneless short ribs. It dramatically elevates the taste and makes for a big jump in the texture of the cooked beef (melt-in-your-mouth delicious).

     The second change I made was to the ramen noodles. The recipe called for regular ramen noodles...the kind that were the staple of our diet in our college days. But I used Lotus Foods Organic Millet and Brown Rice Ramen. They are delicious...gluten free...vegan...and loaded with 8 grams of protein. If your local grocery store doesn't carry them, they are available at both Costco and

    Blogger's Note: This recipe will make four, entree size bowls of soup. If you are using it as a side dish, this will make eight, 1-cup servings.

    2 pounds boneless short ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes
    2 tablespoons canola oil
    1 small yellow onion, diced
    6 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
    8 cups beef broth
    8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1 tablespoon fish sauce
    2 teaspoons sesame oil
    8 ounces snow peas
    Juice of one lime
    4 chopped scallions 
    2 cakes ramen noodles
    1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
    Chili oil (for garnish)


    1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add stew meat, working in batches so as not to crowd the pan and sear until well browned. Transfer to slow cooker.
    2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, beef broth, mushrooms, soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil to the slow cooker with the beef. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
    3. About 30 minutes before serving, add the snow peas, lime juice and green onions to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
    4. Meanwhile, cook the Ramen noodles according to package directions. Place cooked noodles in individual bowls and ladle the soup over top. Garnish with chopped cilantro and a splash of chili oil. Serve with Sriracha Sauce on the side.

    5. Wine pairing: Zinfandel

      Grogs and Goldie, 1956

      Saturday, October 19, 2019

      Espresso-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

      “You can’t buy happiness but you can buy coffee and that’s pretty close.”

      I love the taste of a big, bold cup of dark roast coffee. And the taste of coffee really enhances the taste of grilled and roasted meats. I know because I have posted two of my favorite coffee rub recipes on this back ribs and steak.

      Coffee takes a rather bland cut of meat, pork tenderloin, to a very special place. This Sarah Karnasiewicz recipe calls for espresso powder, which I source from and always keep in my pantry. But in reality, any dark roast coffee will do. If you have beans and a grinder...get grinding. If you have Nespresso or Keurig dark roast pods, just peel off the lids and use that. Even dark roast instant coffee will work. Just don't use decaf. That stuff is a crime against all humanity.

      1 (1-1/2 pound) pork tenderloin
      3 tablespoons espresso powder
      1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon brown sugar
      1 teaspoon sweet paprika
      1 teaspoon smoked paprika
      2 teaspoons kosher salt
      1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
      2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
      1 tablespoon butter


      1. Preheat oven to 400º.
      2. Combine the espresso powder, brown sugar, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the mixture over the pork until the surface is entirely coated. Drizzle pork with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Set aside at room temperature for 10 minutes.
      3. Add the remaining olive oil and butter to a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, add the pork and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.
      4. Transfer skillet to oven and roast pork for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. 
      5. To serve, slice tenderloin into rounds and drizzle with pan juices.

      Wine pairing: Merlot

      Grogs and Goldie, 1956

      Saturday, October 12, 2019

      Chicken Cutlets with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

      click to enlarge

      October marks the start of year 11 of writing this blog. In the past, I was religious about pumping out a new blog every Saturday morning. Truth be told, I'm not compelled to do so any more because I feel the need to make sure that it is a really good recipe before I add it to this body of work.

      I'm a subscriber to Flipboard and Apple News +, both which allow you to create a fresh, daily flow of articles that appeal directly to your interests. Accordingly, I'm exposed to dozens of recipes each day. And a lot of those recipes are just "meh". (I have yet to see an "Allrecipe" recipe that even remotely looks interesting, let alone edible.)

      It's taken awhile, but after nearly 10 years of retirement, I have completely changed up the way I shop. I used to stock up on Thursdays at Costco and whatever grocery store was close by. No more, thanks to a local, sleepy grocery store that transformed last winter from a frog to an absolute jewel of a crowned prince. Jerry's grocery store is less than a half-mile from my house. Incredible organic produce, USDA prime beef, an extraordinary selection of artisan breads and a deli to die for.

      So the new me goes to Jerry's grocery store every single day. I buy only the stuff I need for that night's meal. Which also means that every meal I make is made with the very freshest ingredients. And I no longer plan out a weekly dinner menu. I decide on a dinner each day and then run to the store to get the ingredients.

      On Thursday morning I was reading Flipboard online and came across this chicken cutlet recipe from "Eating Well". It really appealed to me. So, as I always do, I decided to make it prior to posting it on this blog. So I ran to Jerry's, picked up the ingredients and made this for dinner on Thursday night. And I'm here to tell you this is a special dish. It's simple....easy to make...and the depth of the flavors are incredible. You use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes to sauté the chicken.....and then the tomatoes in the cream sauce absolutely knocks this one out of the park.

      2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
      Kosher salt
      Fresh ground pepper
      1/2 cup slivered, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
      1 tablespoon of oil from the tomato jar
      1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
      1/2 cup dry white wine
      1/2 cup heavy cream
      2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


      1. Cut chicken breasts in half (across the middle, not the long way). Put the chicken pieces in a plastic bag and pound them with a meat hammer until they are a uniform 1/4-inch in thickness.
      2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat sun-dried tomato oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until browned, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
      3. Add sun-dried tomatoes and shallots to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Increase heat to high and add wine. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir in cream with any accumulated juices from the chicken; simmer for 2 minutes. Add any additional salt or pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat with the sauce. Serve the chicken topped with the sauce and parsley.

      Wine pairing: Petite Sirah

      Grogs and Goldie, 1956

      Sunday, September 29, 2019

      Garlic-and-Gruyère-Stuffed Mushrooms

      Gilroy, California is home to 90% of America's garlic production. Each summer, Gilroy hosts their Garlic Festival, which features hundreds of garlic-forward recipes. This Romulo Yanes hors d'oeuvres recipe is absolutely spectacular.

      1⁄2 cup olive oil, plus more
      20 large cremini mushrooms (separate stems from caps and then roughly chop stems)
      1 small shallot, chopped
      1⁄4 cup dry sherry
      3 tablespoons chopped parsley
      2 tablespoons chopped sage
      1 egg white
      1-1⁄4 cups grated Gruyère
      1⁄2 cup panko bread crumbs

      1. Heat oven to 375°. Toss 2 tablespoons oil, the mushroom caps, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag and transfer to a baking sheet pan. Arrange stem side down; bake until tender, 30 minutes.
      2. Heat oven broiler. Heat remaining oil and the garlic in a 12" skillet over medium; cook until garlic is golden, 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic to a paper towel to drain. Add chopped mushroom stems, shallot, salt, and pepper to skillet; cook until shallot is soft, 3 minutes. Add sherry; cook until evaporated, 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor; add parsley, sage and egg white and pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl; stir in reserved garlic, the Gruyère, and panko. Fill caps with 1 tbsp. filling; return to baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil; broil until tops are browned, 2–3 minutes.

      Wine pairing: A Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 

      Grogs and Goldie, 1956

      Saturday, September 21, 2019

      Swordfish Poached in Olive Oil

      I'm a steak lover through and through. The only fish I will eat is tuna poached in olive oil and grilled swordfish. I can now expand my repertoire by 50%, thanks to a new recipe from the Wall Street Journal (actually, chefs Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer). Anyone who has cooked swordfish knows that it gets really dry when introduced to heat. Poaching ensures that the fish stays moist and delicate from the fat in the oil.

      2 thick center-cut swordfish steaks
      5 cups olive oil, plus more to finish
      Zest of one lemon
      12 black peppercorns
      2 cloves garlic, smashed
      1 small dried red chile
      1 bay leaf


      1. In a medium pot, arrange fish in a single layer. Cover with olive oil. Add the next 5 ingredients to the olive oil. Warm over low heat so only a few bubbles rise to the surface at a time. Gently poach fish until opaque and just cooked through....about 15 minutes. Then serve, drizzled with olive oil.

      Wine pairing: A big, oaky Chardonnay

      Grogs and Goldie, 1956

      Sunday, September 15, 2019

      Buffalo Chicken Farro Salad

      Becky came across a neat entree salad recipe from Half Baked Harvest. That recipe called for the grain to be quinoa. So I followed the recipe and we ended up not liking the meal. The quinoa made the salad bland and mushy. But the recipe had some really good bones, so a few days later I switched the recipe up and substituted farro for the quinoa. The nutty taste of the farro and the more substantial texture made the salad so much better. This is a tasty dinner meal and so easy to make!


      For the Dressing
      1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
      1/3 cup olive oil
      1 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry's recommended)

      For the Salad
      3/4 cup farro
      2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
      1 cup broccoli florets
      3/4 cup shredded carrots
      3/4 cup shredded cabbage
      4 green onions, chopped
      1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles


      1. Cook the quinoa in 3 cups of salted water for 30 minutes. Then drain and let cool.
      2. Heat a medium size skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and chicken and cook for 5 minutes. When chicken is cooked, add 1/4 cup of the dressing and cook until chicken has absorbed the dressing. Remove from heat.
      3. In a large bowl, combine farro, chicken and vegetables with as much dressing as desired. Toss to mix and then serve on plates. Garnish with blue cheese crumbles.

      Wine pairing: Chardonnay

      Grogs and Goldie, 1956

      Saturday, September 7, 2019

      Baked Italian Mac and Cheese

      Regular readers of my blog understand my total disdain for Mac and Cheese. It was a repeat player in my mother's limited menu repertoire. Oh, the horror. To this day, I find it preferable to have a colonoscopy rather than eat Kraft Mac and Cheese.

      This weekend marks my favorite Formula 1 race of each season....the Italian Grand Prix. My joy is immense as the Monza racetrack is the fastest circuit in Formula 1. It is also the home race for one of my favorite teams...Ferrari.

      So in the interest of honoring my favorite race and giving you a really tasty alternative to the absolute worst dish in the entire world........ladies and gentlemen.........welcome, if you will....Baked Italian Mac and Cheese!

      1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
      1 large onion, diced
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 red bell pepper, diced
      16 ounces cavatappi pasta
      16-ounce jar marinara sauce
      Kosher salt
      1/4 cup heavy cream
      2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided


      1. Preheat oven to 350º.
      2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cavatappi and cook to al dente. Drain and set aside.
      3. In a large oven-safe skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat. Keep breaking up sausage with a wooden spoon until seared and no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook, stirring until soft, 5 minutes more.
      4. Remove from heat. Stir in pasta, marinara, heavy cream and 1 cup of mozzarella. Mix well. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the skillet. Slide skillet into the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Serve.

      Wine pairing: Chianti Classico

      Thursday, August 29, 2019

      Crab Cake Pasta

      click to enlarge

      Have you ever made crab cakes from scratch? I have....and it can become a chemistry experiment gone awry in a very big hurry. It's not easy getting all those ingredients just right and formed into little hockey pucks that will not fall apart when you cook them.

      And that is exactly why I am in love with this recipe by Emma Laperruque. She uses the very same ingredients you would use to make crab cakes...and makes it totally stress-free because she is leaving out the hockey puck part. She just tosses everything together in a bowl and adds in those beautiful pasta shells that make perfect scoops for the crab cake stuff. This is genius level thinking here!

      While the recipe calls for jumbo lump crab meat, I would suggest you make the recipe even richer by using the meat from one Alaskan King Crab Leg. I buy mine in bulk from Costco for $21.99 a pound (so that I always have crab legs in my freezer).

      4 tablespoons butter, divided
      2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
      1 small yellow onion, diced
      3 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
       Kosher salt
      1/2 pound jumbo lump crab meat, drained
      2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
      1/2 pound shell pasta (Conchiglie)
      1/3 cup mayonnaise
      1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
      1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
      1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
      10 saltine crackers
      1/4 cup chopped chives


      1. Set a large pot of salted water, covered with a lid, on the stove to come to a boil.
      2. Add 2 tablespoons butter to a very large skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted and the skillet is hot, add the prepped celery, onion and scallion. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and stir to coat all the vegetables in the butter. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown.
      3. Once the vegetables are tender, push them toward the perimeter of the pan, so there’s a big empty circle in the center. Add another 1 tablespoon butter to melt. Now add the crab meat and sprinkle with salt. Cook the crab meat for about 4 minutes, until it’s just starting to brown in places, flipping halfway through. Pour 1 tablespoon lemon juice on top of the vegetables and crab, then gently stir to incorporate. Turn off the heat.
      4. When pot of water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes).
      5. While the pasta cooks, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crush the Saltines with your hands, then add to the butter. Toss to coat. Toast the Saltine crumbs for about 3 minutes, or until golden-brown. Sprinkle with salt.
      6. Now, combine the mayo, Old Bay, Dijon, Worcestershire, and remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a big bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
      7. When the pasta is done, reserve ½ cup or so of pasta water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the bowl with the Old Bay sauce, give a quick toss, then add the crab-vegetable mixture, about half the chopped chives, and a tablespoon of reserved pasta water. Gingerly toss again, taking care not to break up the crab lumps.
      8. Serve immediately, with the fried Saltines and remaining chives sprinkled on top.

      Wine pairing: A big, oaky Chardonnay

      Grogs and Goldie, 1956