Saturday, July 20, 2019

Grilled Steak and Watercress Salad

Watercress is a favorite of mine. Bright and peppery, it is a remarkable complement to grilled steak. Add in a bunch of strong Thai-influenced flavors...and you end up with an extraordinary entree salad! It's the perfect meal for a hot summer night.

1 teaspoon hot mustard
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1½ pounds boneless rib eye
1 red Thai chili, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 bunch watercress, tough stems trimmed (about 6 cups)
1 small English cucumber, thinly sliced
¼ cup mint leaves
¼ cup salted, dry-roasted peanuts, lightly crushed

  1. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  2. Prepare marinade: Whisk mustard, fish sauce, ½ teaspoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon very hot water in a medium bowl until sugar is dissolved; season with salt and plenty of pepper. Add steak to bowl and turn several times to coat. Let sit while you make the vinaigrette.
  3. Make the vinaigrette: Whisk chili, lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining ½ teaspoon brown sugar in a large bowl. Set vinaigrette aside.
  4. Grill steak over high heat for 4 minutes. Then flip and grill for another 4 minutes. Remove steak from grill, tent with foil and let steak rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Add watercress, cucumber and mint leaves to bowl with reserved vinaigrette and toss to combine; season salad with salt and pepper. Top with peanuts and drizzle with olive oil. 
  6. Slice steak and serve over salad.

Wine pairing: A big, fruity Zinfandel

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Blond Puttanesca

I'm a steak lover, through and through. Fish? Not so much. When I was a little kid, I got a walleye bone stuck in my throat and that episode totally turned me off to all fish with bones. I'm happy as a clam to consume aquatic shelled mollusks or crustaceans. But not fish. Well, with one exception.

I am hopelessly addicted to Cento tuna. It is, without a doubt, the best tasting tuna on earth. I buy it by the case and use it on salads and pasta dishes every chance I get. It's cooked in extra virgin olive oil and then packed in cans with extra virgin olive oil. That results in a bigger tuna flavor and firmer texture than tuna cooked and packed in water. Garlic, anchovies and capers come together to make this extraordinary Blond Puttanesca. And Cento tuna puts it right over the top! Added bonus: no bones.

12 ounces spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
10 anchovies, chopped
3 tablespoons capers
5 ounces baby arugula
1, 5-ounce can Cento tuna
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Fresh ground pepper
Flaky sea salt
Lemon wedges, for serving


    1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until it is just under al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving 1-1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water.
    2. While pasta cooks, make the sauce: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute. Add anchovies and capers and cook until anchovies have melted and capers begin to brown slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes.
    3. Turn heat to medium. Ladle 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water into the skillet and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook until mixture is reduced by about half, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in arugula and ladle in an additional 1/2 cup of pasta water, tossing together until wilted. Increase heat to medium-high and scoop pasta directly in to the skillet tossing with sauce until well coated. Add tuna to pasta and toss again until it is just warmed just through, about 1 minute. Ladle in an additional 1/4 cup pasta water or more, to loosen up sauce and toss again. Sprinkle parsley over pasta and toss again. Season with salt and pepper. 
    4. Serve in bowls, with flaky salt, a squeeze of lemon, additional parsley and some more red-pepper flakes, if desired.

    Wine pairing: An Italian Barbera

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956

    Saturday, July 6, 2019

    Grilled Rib Eye with Worcestershire Butter

    Click to enlarge

    In 1835 in Worcester, England, chemists John Lea and William Perrins created a sauce comprised of barley malt vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions, garlic, cloves, soy sauce, lemons, pickles and peppers. The sauce was so strong that it was deemed disgusting and the barrel was sealed and abandoned in the basement. In 1837, looking for more space, they discovered the sealed barrel. They opened it, only to discover that the mixture had fermented and it was absolutely delicious. In 1938, the first bottles of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce were released to the public.

    The United States has the highest Worcestershire sauce consumption on planet earth. In fact, we consume two times more per capita than anywhere else in the world. To meet that demand, Lea & Perrins operates two plants. One in New Jersey to meet US demand and the original plant in Worcester to supply the rest of the world. It is still made with the original ingredients and each barrel of it is fermented for 18 months before being bottled. It is of interest that the anchovies that go into the sauce are fermented for 2 years in the Lea & Perrins when you pick up a new bottle at the store, it took some 3-1/2 years to get there.


    2 large bone-in, rib eye steaks (about 3 pounds total)

    For the Butter
    1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) softened
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
    1 tablespoon minced chives
    2 teaspoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
    1 garlic clove, grated or pressed
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


    1. Prepare the butter: Combine all butter ingredients in a bowl and mash together. Spoon the butter mixture onto a piece of parchment paper, form into a log and wrap well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
    2. Remove meat from refrigerator, season well with salt and let meat come to room temperature for one hour. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat. 
    3. Grill steaks directly over hot coals for 5 minutes (grill covered). Then flip steaks and grill for 5 minutes more (grill covered).
    4. Transfer steak to a cutting board. Slice butter into coins and place them on the steaks. Let steaks rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

    Wine pairing: Treat yourself to an Amarone

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956