Saturday, August 29, 2020

Sesame Ramen Salad

This is a really nice change of pace. If you just follow the ingredient list and directions, you will find this to be a very good salad. If you want it to be a great salad, I have two recommendations for you. Instead of the using the ramen noodles we all survived on in college, go to Costco and get their Organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen....a quantum leap in texture and taste. For the sausage, use Jimmy Dean's Hot Pork Sausage. It's the bomb. This Taste of Home recipe serves four people.


For the Salad
9 ounces ramen noodles (3 to 4 cakes)
1 pound bulk spicy pork sausage
6 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 cups snow peas, halved
1-1/2 cups julienned carrots
4 tablespoons chopped dry roasted peanuts

For the Dressing
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice of 1 lime (about 3 tablespoons)


  1. Cook ramen noodles according to directions. Then drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well and add noodles to a large bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, cook and crumble sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes. Drain on paper towels and then add to bowl.
  3. Add onions, cilantro, snow peas and carrots to bowl.
  4. Mix salad dressing and pour over salad contents in bowl. Toss salad and serve, sprinkling 1 tablespoon peanuts over each plate.

Wine pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Spicy Thai Pork Kebabs

This Melissa Clark recipe is quite a gem. It's simple and straightforward. My only caveat is that you must use whole fennel, coriander and cumin seeds to achieve the perfect level of spice. And the pork pairs really well with a side of basmati rice.

1-3/4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
Kosher salt
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro, stems included
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 garlic cloves. peeled
1 jalapeño, seeded if you want less heat
1 teaspoon honey
1-1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 small red onion, sliced for serving
Lime wedges
Cilantro sprigs

  1. Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag. Put the lime juice into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeño and honey. Blend until the jalapeño and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
  2. Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  3. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  4. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. 
  5. Serve the pork with cilantro sprigs and onion slices on top and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.

Wine pairing: Zinfandel

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Smoked Pizza

 When it comes to cooking outdoors, my Weber charcoal grill is my go-to. If you're cooking pork chops or steak, nothing puts a fabulous sear on meat like a charcoal fire. But I am also partial to ribs and other cuts that have to be cooked low and slow at a very steady temperature. For the last 12 years I've been using a Cookshack electric smoker to do that. The drawback of that machine is that it is a one-trick only does low and slow and cannot cook above 275º

When I'm going to add any kind of equipment to my cooking arsenal, I spend dozens of hours researching my options. Pellet grills have been all the rage for the last few years, so that is where my journey took me. What I found so interesting about pellet grills is the good ones really function just like an oven. They can cook low and slow...they can bake....they can braise...and they can do high-heat roasting.

After all of my research, I ended up laser-focused on the Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill. It's list of features are nothing short of astounding. It can cook at any temperature between 160º and 500º. You can infuse your food with variable levels of smoke (smoke settings of 0 through 10). The grill can be managed from my phone as it has both WiFi and bluetooth. And one thing that really sold me was the ease of cleaning. It has an ash removal system that works just like my Weber, dumping ash into a small cup at the bottom of the grill.

So I handed the results of my research to Becky, who had generously offered to buy it for my 68th birthday. So she placed the order in early June, but of course we got snake-bit by the Coronavirus. Seems that with everyone stuck at home, the demand for pellet smokers had gone through the roof. Take that sky-high demand along with reduced manufacturing ability because of social distancing...orders were taking 6 to 8 weeks to get filled.

Arrive it did towards the end of July. I was told that a person with average assembly skills would have the grill ready to go in an hour. The fact that it took me nearly 4 hours is a fine tribute to my own extraordinary mechanical abilities. But holy shit, once that grill got fired was like a dream come true. My first meal was to bake a Papa Murphy pizza in glorious mesquite smoke...and it took what had always been a good but pedestrian pizza to all new if it had come right out of a wood fired pizza oven.

I also smoked 4 giant racks of St. Louis ribs and they were, without a doubt, the best I have ever made. And I was quite impressed at how fuel efficient the grill is. The hopper holds 20 pounds (which is a full bag of pellets). I have found that it burns about a pound of pellets per hour, which means an operating cost of roughly $1.33 per hour.

So the first pellet grill recipe I am going to share with you is the easiest. No prep. No dirty kitchen. Just order up a pizza from Papa Murphy's. Becky and I are partial to their signature Cowboy Pizza. It's a 16", regular crust with traditional red sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, black olives, cheddar and herb & cheese blend. It will set you back $17.50. We spice ours up by adding a little garlic and red pepper flakes. Toss it on your smoker and you will swear with every bite that you have a Tuscan, wood-burning pizza oven in your back yard.


1 Papa Murphy Take and Bake Pizza


  1. Preheat smoker and pizza stone to 425º. Set Smoke Level to 10.
  2. Keep pizza on baking tray and place it on the pizza stone. Close grill and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Open grill and slide baking tray out from under pizza, keeping pizza on the stone. Bake, covered,  for another 2 to 5 minutes to your desired level of crispness.
  4. Remove pizza with a pizza peel. Let it cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve. 

Wine pairing: Chianti

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Brazilian Limeade

Here is the perfect drink for the dog days of August. You only need four ingredients and thanks to your blender, it takes only a couple of minutes too make this creamy, sweet-tart drink. While the limeade is outstanding on it's own, it can be made even better with the addition of some adult spirits :-)

4 limes, washed
6 cups water
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

  1. Wash limes thoroughly by, scrubbing the skin with hand or dish soap to remove any pesticides or wax.  Slice off the ends of each lime, then cut them into 1/8ths.  
  2. In a blender, combine half of the water, half of the sugar and half of the limes, then pulse 5-7 times.  Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a pitcher, pressing the lime pulp with a spoon to help release juices, then discarding the remaining skins and pulp.  Repeat with the other half of the water, sugar and limes.
  3. Stir the sweetened condensed milk into the limeade and serve with lots of ice and thin slices of lime for garnish.  If the drink tastes bitter at all, you can add a little extra sweetened condensed milk or sugar as needed.

For a refreshing cocktail add tequila, rum or vodka

Grogs and Goldie, 1956