French Onion Soup

Done correctly, French onion soup is very pleasing. The beefy broth and sweet onion flavors can’t be beat. Served gratinéed, it makes a nice lighter meal as opposed to a starter as it is often presented in restaurants.

I’ve had some excellent French onion soups, but I have also had a few that were less than exceptional. The difference can typically be traced back to the broth and how the onions were cooked. A good – preferably home made – beef broth should always be the base. Secondly, French onion soup takes time. The onions need to be cooked slowly over low heat so they have a chance to caramelize yet not burn. It will take 30 to 45 minutes for this to happen, but your patience will be rewarded. fullsizeoutput_1767

Start over low heat and slowly sweat the onions along with a couple sprigs of thyme and bay leaves. Generously season them with salt and pepper. I like to use a variety of onions including red, yellow, and white. They each bring subtle differences in flavor to the party.





The onions will begin to caramelize after about 30 minutes. Continue cooking until the onions become very brown.



Add red wine, bring to a boil, and then reduce reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all the wine is cooked out.






The onions will once again look somewhat dry.



Turn the heat to low, dust the onions with flour and cook for about five minutes or until the flour takes on a nutty aroma. You don’t want a flour taste in your soup.

Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves before adding the broth. Bring back to a simmer and cook for another ten minutes. Ladle the soup into heat proof bowls, top with a slice or two of baguette and Gruyère cheese. Place the soup under a broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and just begins to brown. Serve immediately.


French Onion Soup


1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/4 pound grated Gruyere


Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Add the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has cooked down and the onions are somewhat dry.

Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn and cook until the flour takes on a nutty aroma and loses the raw flour taste; about 10 minutes.

Now add the beef broth and bring the soup back to a simmer.  Cook for about another 10 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

A few minutes prior to serving, preheat the broiler. Slice the baguette into 3/4 to 1″ thick slices and lightly toast both sides of the baguette under the broiler. Then, ladle the soup into oven proof bowls and float a slice or two of toasted baguette on top of the soup. Top the baguette with Gruyère and broil until bubbly and golden brown; 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.


Beef Shoulder Tender Sandwich

IMG_3340Forget using a rib eye or sirloin, and don’t even think about using an expensive beef tenderloin for making a delicious steak sandwich when there are less expensive, more tender, and beefier tasting options available such as the beef shoulder tender.

Zepplins is a restaurant not far from our house that we frequent with my mother and father-in-law. They have a sandwich on their menu my father-in-law and I like very much called the Stockyard Steak. We call it delicious.

The description on the menu reads “Char-broiled chuck tender, wild mushrooms, Swiss cheese, arugula & cracked pepper aioli on ciabatta.” It’s so good I had to recreate it. I have made this sandwich now a couple of times. The only difference is I use a shoulder tender rather than the chuck tender used by Zepplins. They are similar cuts from the same general area of the cow, but the shoulder tender is rated more tender. As a matter of fact, beef shoulder tender is rated as the second most tender cut of beef trailing only the beef tenderloin. In addition, the cut has a much beefier taste and is half the cost of beef tenderloin. Another very similar cut coming from the same general area you could use for this sandwich is the flat iron.

All three of these cuts should only be cooked no further than medium-rare. Cooking any of these cuts beyond medium-rare will cause the muscle to tighten up and become tough.

Here is what I did:

Beef Shoulder Tender Sandwich
(Makes two sandwiches)


1 Beef shoulder tender (approximately 8 to 10 ounces)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
4 Slices ciabatta approximately 1/2″ thick from a 12″ loaf
Olive oil
4 Tablespoons black pepper roasted garlic aioli (recipe follows)
1 Cup approximately arugala
3 Slices Swiss cheese
4 ounces of mushrooms sliced thin (your choice; oyster, chanterelle, shiitake, cremini)


Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

About 30 minutes prior to grilling, take beef shoulder tender out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Then season with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and grill beef shoulder to rare or medium-rare; about 4 to 5 minutes per side for rare, 6 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove from heat, tent with foil, and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Prepare the ciabatta and mushrooms while the beef is coming to room temperature. Brush one side of the ciabatta with olive oil and place under a broiler until toasted. Flip and lightly toast the side without olive oil and set aside. This could also be done on the grill if you prefer.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet. Sautée mushrooms until softened they begin to slightly brown. Lightly season with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and set aside.

Assemble the sandwich. Place two slices of toasted ciabatta on work surface with the olive oil side down. Spread aioli on these sides. Top with arugala and then Swiss cheese. Next place sliced beef tenderloin tender slices on top of cheese and mushrooms on top of beef. Top with remaining toasted ciabatta slices olive oil side up and serve.

Black Pepper Roasted Garlic Aioli


1 Large egg yolk
2 Teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Roasted garlic cloves
Fresh ground black pepper


Whisk together yolk, lemon juice, and mustard in a medium sized bowl. Combine oils and add, a few drops at a time, to yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until all oil is incorporated and mixture is emulsified. Should your mixture separates, stop adding oil and continue whisking until mixture comes together, then resume adding oil.

Mash the roasted garlic to a paste. Whisk in garlic paste and black pepper into above mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Aioli will last about a week in the refrigerator.

Lomo al Trapo: Salt-Crusted Beef Tenderloin Grilled in Cloth

I first heard of Lomo al Trapo about four years ago when I read an issue of Bon Appétit Magazine where Steven Raichlen described this South American method of cooking beef tenderloin. Lomo al trapo literally translates to “beef tenderloin in a towel.” It’s made by wrapping a beef tenderloin in a thick crust of salt inside a towel, tying it up, and throwing it directly on a fire until it’s cooked.

It sounds crazy, but it’s one of the easiest, most foolproof, delicious, and wickedly cool methods of cooking beef I’ve ever seen. Do this for a dinner party and your guests will at first think you’re crazy, but once that juicy slice of beef is on their plate and in their mouths they’ll think you’re a genius. Okay, maybe a mad genius. All it takes is beef, salt, a few seasonings, a towel, twine, and fire.

This post is more a description of a technique than it is a recipe. Just follow the basic steps outlined here and use your imagination.

Wet towel with layer of kosher salt, fresh oregano and thyme. The salt should be about 1/4 inch thick.
Fold the towel ends in like you would a burrito. Keep compressing the roast as you roll it to ensure good salt contact.
Roast tied and ready for the fire.
Nestle the roast directly in the coals making sure it is full contact.
Pull the roast at about 95°F to 100°F and let it rest until it comes up to 125°F to 130°F. This will give you very nice rare cooked roast. Beef tenderloin is always better when cooked to rare or medium-rare. 
Crack open the hardened cloth and salt shell to reveal a beautifully cooked tenderloin.
Beautifully cooked tenderloin roast

Start by soaking a clean, kitchen towel in water. Do not use a towel that you value; you’re not getting this back. I purchase packs of six terry cloth bar towels that measure 16″ square at Target for about $4.00.

Ring out the towel and lay it out on a flat surface. Then spread a thick layer of kosher salt.

Add some fresh or dried herbs if you would like and then begin rolling the tenderloin up in the towel. When you get to the point where the towel will begin to roll under the salt, pull the towel back and continue to roll. You want the beef to be in full contact with the salt. Fold the ends of the towel in like a burrito and then complete the roll. Be sure to compress the roll as you go. You want this tight.

Once the tenderloin is completely rolled. Take some cotton twine that you have also soaked in water and tie the towel to the roast. I start with a tie that runs lengthwise and holds the ends together. Next, I tie the roast about every two inches.



Place the beef tenderloin package directly into the coal bed. I like to move it around a bit to get it nestled into the coals. I like to use lump charcoal for this as I believe it is cleaner. You can use charcoal briquets if you would like. Let this sit in the coals for about 10 minutes, flip and give it another 8 minutes or so.

Pull the roast out of the fire when an instant read thermometer reads 95°F to 100°F. The heat from the hot salt will continue to cook the roast. I pulled this one right before it hit 100°F and just a few minutes later it was approaching 104° After about 8 minutes the roast will be 125-130°F .


Once the roast comes to the desired temperature, crack open the hardened cloth and salt shell. Use a pastry brush to brush off any excess salt. I recommend saving some of the excess salt to use to season any accompanying sides you may be serving. The salt will have a nice smoky flavor. Discard the remaining shell.








Move the roast to platter and carve to about 1 1/2 to 2 inch slices. The end pieces will be slightly more done. Open a nice dry Malbec and enjoy!






Here is what I did:

Lomo al Trapo: Salt-Crusted Beef Tenderloin Grilled in Cloth


1 1/2 to 2 pound center cut piece of beef tenderloin, trimmed of all fat and silver skin
Kosher salt (Approximately 2 cups)
Fresh or dried herbs like oregano and thyme

Special equipment:
1 piece of clean cotton cloth, approximately 16 inches square, soaked in cold water and wrung out


Prepare a charcoal grill lighting a large chimney of lump charcoal. You should have a good layer of lump charcoal covering the bottom of your grill.

Spread the cotton cloth on a work surface. Spread the salt out on top of the cloth to form a layer 1/4 inch thick that extends to within 1 inch of the edge of the cloth. Place the fresh herbs or sprinkle the dried herbs evenly over the salt.

Place the beef tenderloin on top of the salt and herbs. Roll the cloth and salt around the tenderloin trying to maintain a compact roll. As the cloth begins to roll up on itself, pull the cloth back a few inches to ensure that the tenderloin completely encased in salt. Fold the ends in like you would rolling a burrito and finish the roll. When the roll is complete, first tie the roast lengthwise and then about every two inches.

Rake the charcoal out into an even layer at the bottom of the grill. Lay the wrapped tenderloin right on the coals. Moving it around a little as you place it to ensure that it is complete contact with the charcoal. The cloth will more than likely catch on fire so do not become alarmed. Grill for 9 to 10 minutes. Using long handled tongs, gently turn the tenderloin package over and grill for 8 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 95° to 100°F.

Remove the roast from the coals and let rest. The hot salt will continue to cook the roast. Leave the thermometer in the roast until it reaches the desired doneness: 125 – 130°F for rare; to medium-rare, 140° – 145°F. This will take as little as 10 minutes.

Tap the tenderloin hard with the back of a large, heavy chef’s knife. The burnt shell should crack and easily come off. Brush any excess salt off the tenderloin with a pastry brush. Transfer the tenderloin to a clean platter, cut it into 1 1/2 to 2 inch thick pieces and serve immediately.

Spinach Prosciutto Provolone Stuffed Flank Steak


Spinach, Prosciutto, Provolone Stuffed Flank Steak plated.


Flank steak topped with Berkshire Prosciutto, Provolone, basil and spinach.


Rolled and ready for the grill.


“I don’t get no respect.” – Flank, the Rodney Dangerfield of steak

You’re really missing out if you’re guilty of rushing to the rib eyes, strips, and Porterhouse cut steaks and skipping over the flank steak. Bite for bite, flank steak is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef there is. Yes, it has a reputation as being a tough cut of meat, but done correctly, this steak will deliver a nice juicy, beefy tasting pleasure.

How do you accomplish this? First, don’t overcook. Rare or medium-rare at most. Cook beyond medium-rare, and you will end up with shoe leather. Second, slice it correctly by cutting the flank thinly and against the grain. Flank steak is comprised of long fibers of muscle and connective tissue. Cutting against the grain breaks up those fibers. The last thing for flank steak is to consider a marinade. Although it isn’t absolutely necessary to marinate a flank steak, the steak takes to marinade very well and really absorbs all those extra flavors. I chose to marinate the flank in this recipe.

One last thing to mention: flank steak is not a skirt steak. They do come from the same general area, but they are different cuts. The flank is usually thicker and larger than a skirt. They can sometimes be substituted for one another. Because this recipe calls for butterflying the steak, I would not substitute with this recipe.

I give instructions for cooking in an oven or on the grill utilizing a cast iron skillet for both. You can forgo the cast iron skillet if cooking on a grill. Using a cast iron skillet will allow for a more even sear and also prevent any oozing filling to fall between the grates and cause a flareup. A slate plancha could also be used in place of the cast iron.

Here is what I did:


½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 flank steak (approximately 2 pounds)

3 ounces prosciutto
6 – 9 slices provolone cheese
1 cup whole fresh basil leaves
2 cups whole fresh spinach leaves (remove stems)
Kosher salt and pepper

Oil for cooking


Combine balsamic vinegar, Dijon, and garlic in a blender and purée until smooth. With the blender running, slowly pour in the oil and blend until emulsified into a thick, creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the steak on a clean work surface so the long edge runs perpendicular to you. Using a sharp knife and cutting parallel to your work surface, butterfly the steak in half lengthwise. Make sure not to cut all the way through. (Leave a ½- to ¼-inch portion along the edge.) Fold open the meat like you would a book and gently flatten the seam to form a rectangle. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the steak to a ¼-inch thickness.

Transfer the mixture to a plastic zip locking bag and add the flank steak. Squeeze out any excess air, seal, and refrigerate. Allow the steak to marinate for at least 2 hours or up to 24; the longer the time, the more the steak will take on flavors. Be sure to turn the bag periodically during the marinating time.

Remove the marinating flank steak from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then remove the flank steak from the marinade and remove most of the marinade. Discard all remaining marinade.

Arrange the meat on a work surface with the grain running horizontally. Doing this will assure you slice it against the grain when you cut the rolled steak. Lightly season the top with salt and pepper. Lay the prosciutto slices in an even layer in the same direction as the grain. Leave about one-inch at the top edge so no filling is exposed outside the roll. Next add the provolone, followed by the basil and then the spinach.

Start rolling the flank steak away from you making sure to keep it as compact as possible as you roll. Once rolled, tie the stuffed roll with kitchen twine about about 2 inches apart. Lastly, season the outside with salt and pepper.

If cooking in oven:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Add a few tablespoons oil to a large cast iron skillet and heat on medium-high until smoking. Add the rolled flank steak to the pan and sear on all sides for about 3 to 4 minutes per side for a total of 12 to 16 minutes. Make sure roll is seam down and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast for another 15 to 20 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 125°F in the middle of the roll.

If grilling:
Heat the cast iron skillet on the grill while bringing the grill up to temp. With the skillet on the grill, close lid and turn all burners on high for 15 minutes. Keep half of the burners on high heat and turn remaining burners down to low. Position the skillet over the high burners and add a few tablespoons of cooking oil to skillet and distribute it evenly. Add the rolled flank steak to the pan and close the grill for 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat this three more times to sear all sides of roll. Sear on all sides for about 3 to 4 minutes per side for a total of 12 to 16 minutes. Move the skillet to the cooler side of the grill. Close the lid and adjust heat to maintain a grill temperature as close to 350°F as you can. Do not roast higher than 350°F. Roast the steak on the grill for another 15 to 20 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 125°F in the middle of the roll.

For both methods:
Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. Remove cooking twine and slice the steak into pieces no thicker than three-quarters of an inch.

Chinese-American Cuisine: Broccoli Beef Stir-fry


The very first time I ever had beef broccoli was from a Chinese take-out place in Columbia, Missouri. The food was good, but the name of the place was the greatest name for a Chinese take out place ever: Wok In Wok Out.

I really like stir-fried Chinese influenced cuisine. However, too often Americanized stir-fry dishes end up with a lot of really gloppy sauce that overpowers the main ingredients of the dish. This dish avoids that.

This recipe calls for toasted sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil is sesame oil pressed from toasted sesame seeds. It will be darker in color and has a nuttier flavor. It is sometimes called Oriental or Asian sesame oil.

Another nice thing about this flavorful, delicious dish is that it can come together in about forty-five minutes.

Here is what I did:


For the beef
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ pound boneless sirloin, cut in 1/4″ thick slices* (See Note)

For the sauce
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon medium-dry Sherry or dry Marsala
½ cup beef broth
2 teaspoon sugar
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

For the vegetables
5 tablespoons vegetable oil (3 tablespoons are used for cooking the beef)
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger root** (See Note)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried hot red pepper flakes
1 medium white onion sliced vertically
1 pound broccoli fresh florets*** (See Note)


Prepare the beef:
In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, the sugar, and the salt, add the beef, mix well to coat beef and let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Prep the sauce while the beef is marinating:
In a sealable container combine the cornstarch, soy sauce, Sherry, broth, sugar, and sesame oil. Seal and shake well until cornstarch is completely dissolved.

Bringing it all together:
Heat a wok or large, heavy skillet over high heat until it is hot. Add 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and heat it until it just begins to smoke. Stir-fry the beef in the oil until it is no longer pink. Be careful as the oil will more than likely splatter when the beef hits the pan. You may need to do this in a batch or two depending on the size of your wok or skillet. Transfer the cooked beef to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoon vegetable oil to the wok or skillet and heat it until it is hot but not smoking, Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and stir-fry for 30 seconds, or until the mixture is fragrant. Add the onions and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add broccoli and stir-fry an additional minute or until it is crisp-tender and bright green. Add the beef and any juices that have accumulated on the plate to the onion and broccoli. Shake the sauce again if it has separated and add it to the pan with the beef, broccoli, and onion. Cook the mixture, constantly stirring, for 2 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and the beef is heated through and everything is well coated. Remove from heat and cover for 2 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a serving platter or shallow bowl and serve it with steamed rice.


*You will want to thinly slice your beef. I suggest placing your beef in the freezer for about 20 or 30 minutes prior to slicing. This will firm up the muscle making it easier to get a thin, even slice.
**Fresh ginger is something I like to always have on hand. The problem is that it is hard to keep. I have found that ginger freezes very well and keeps for a very long time. When I need fresh ginger in a recipe, I simply remove from the freezer and then grate the ginger while frozen. The size of grater I use varies depending on size of mince I need. I used the smaller shredding side of my grater for this recipe.
***I placed my broccoli florets in a microwavable bowl, covered and microwaved on high for one minute. I kept the broccoli covered until I was ready to use it. This helped the broccoli become a little more tender yet retain some crispness.

Comfort Food: Red Wine Braised Short Ribs


There are foods that warm the soul and feed the body, and then there are foods that warm the soul, feed the body, and help heat the house on a cold winter day. These red wine braised short ribs are one of the foods. Think of them as little individual pot roasts with a melt in your mouth tenderness.

I like to use a mirepoix to boost the finished flavors when braising the short ribs. A mirepoix is a French term for a mixture of onion, carrots, and celery. I also like to serve the short ribs over whipped parsnips. I find the slight tang of the parsnip adds to the savory flavors of the short ribs and sauce. I simply boil the parsnips. I then add whole milk and unsalted butter and whip them to a smooth consistency using a stick blender or hand mixer.

I suggest a Côtes du Rhône or Cabernet Sauvignon for the wine used while braising provided it is not overly oaked and lower in tannins.

Here is what I do:

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs


5 to 6 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 750 ml bottle dry red wine (a Côtes du Rhône or Cabernet Sauvignon)
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise, Do not separate cloves
4 cups low-salt beef stock (preferably home made)


Preheat oven to 350°. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Brown short ribs on all sides, about four minutes per side. Do not over-crowd your Dutch oven. You will need to do this in two or three batches depending on the size of your Dutch oven. Transfer short ribs to a plate after browning and set aside. Pour off all but about three tablespoons of drippings from the Dutch oven.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat. Cook until onions are browned, about five minutes or until onions are browned. Then add flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red; about three minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any juices that may have escaped onto the plate. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half. This will take about a half-hour. Add all herbs to Dutch oven along with garlic. Stir in stock. Return liquid to a boil and then cover and transfer to oven.

Cook 2–2½ hours or until short ribs are tender and easily slide off the bone. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain mirepoix sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Plate in shallow bowls over whipped parsnips. Spoon sauce over short ribs and parsnips and serve immediately.


Big, meaty short ribs while red wine reduces.  

Wake Up That Boring Burger: Jalapeño Burger


Memorial Day is just around the corner and with it the official start of the grilling season. For some of us, the grilling season is year-round but I digress.

Countless burgers are grilled on this day and most of them will be just that: plain, boring burgers topped with mustard, cheese, a little onion and possibly a tomato.

Ingredients (For one burger)

4-6 ounce hamburger patty
2 Slices Texas toast style bread
1 Slice pepper jack cheese
1 large jalapeño
1 T Chipotle mayonnaise (recipe follows)
2 T Butter


Heat grill to medium high heat. Meanwhile, form hamburger patties and butter one side of each slice of bread. Grill the burger to your desired preference while roasting the whole jalapeño until charred and blistered. Toast bread buttered side down on coolest part of grill. Flip and slightly toast non-buttered side. Place slice of pepper jack cheese on burger to melt during last few minutes of cooking.

When jalapeño is sufficiently charred and blistered, remove from grill and allow to rest a few minutes. Slice stem from top and then slice in half length-wise.

Assemble as follows: Place burger, cheese side up, on un-buttered side of one slice of Texas toast. Top with chipotle mayonnaise and then jalapeño. Finally, top with remaining slice of Texas toast buttered side up.

Chipotlé Mayonnaise

¾ Cup Hellmann’s Mayonnaise (Not light)
2 Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce (I recommend San Marcos brand)
1 T additional Adobe sauce from peppers

Finely chop chipotle peppers and whisk together with mayonnaise and adobe sauce. Set aside. This will keep for at least two weeks.

Steak and Guinness Pie: Bacon, Steak, Guinness, and Cheese. What more is there?


I have been wanting to make this Steak and Guinness Pie so I could blog about it for a long time. This recipe is my adaptation of a steak and Guinness pie recipe of Jamie Oliver’s. He uses a puff pastry for the crust where I choose to use a regular pie crust.

This is a great soul warming comfort food that would be fantastic on a cold winter day; especially one where you were snowed in.


This recipe is written to use a single nine inch pie pan which works very well. I just happen to have small, five-inch, one and a half cup individual pie pans that I like to use for dishes like this.


4 slices bacon (sliced)
1 pound beef (cut into ½ to ¾ inch pieces)
1 onion (medium dice)
2 stalks celery (diced)
2 carrots (diced)
4 ounces mushrooms (quartered)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 Guinness
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon rosemary (minced)
1 bay leaf
2 pie crusts
1 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Flour for dredging


Fry the bacon in a 12″ cast iron skillet. When completely browned, remove from skillet with slotted spoon leaving the grease in the pan. Set bacon aside. Dredge beef cubes in flour and add to skillet to brown on all sides and then remove beef from skillet and set aside.

Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Leave vegetables in the skillet and add the Guinness and deglaze the pan. Add the stock, bacon, beef, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the beef is tender, about 2-3 hours.

Line the bottom of a pie pan with the first pie crust and fill with beef stew. Sprinkle the cheese over the beef stew and cover with the top pie crust. Crimp the two shells together and make a couple slits in the shell to allow steam to vent during cooking. Mix the egg and water and brush it onto the top of the pie crust. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in a preheated 350° oven until golden brown on top.

ItaloAmericano Cuisine: Veal Parmesan


Before you even ask, “How could you cook with veal,” and tell me “It’s inhumane!” Let me tell you this veal came from a responsible producer. You can read about them here: Strauss Farms Veal. Don’t be afraid to cook with and eat veal; just choose your producer with care.

Veal Parmesan, as well as chicken Parmesan, is a wonderful Americanized Italian food. You will have a hard time finding it in Italy. It is another one of those wonderful cases when Italian immigrants modified a common food from their homeland to fit their new life.

Here’s what I did for veal Parmesan:


2 veal cutlets (about four ounces each)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded provolone cheese


1. BREAD VEAL. Place flour in shallow dish. Beat eggs in second shallow dish. Combine bread crumbs, ¼ cup Parmesan, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in third shallow dish. One at a time, coat veal cutlets lightly with flour, dip them in egg, and dredge in bread-crumb mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer to wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and let sit 5 minutes.

2. COOK VEAL. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat ½ cup oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook cutlets until lightly browned, about 2 minute per side. Transfer to wire rack set inside baking sheet and bake until veal is tender and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. MAKE SAUCE. Meanwhile, pour off excess oil. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until sauce is thickened; about 10-15 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper; cover and keep warm.

4. ASSEMBLE. Combine remaining Parmesan and provolone in medium bowl. Top browned veal cutlets with cheese mixture and bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Transfer half of sauce to platter and top with veal cutlets. Spoon remaining sauce over cutlet. You may also serve with a thin spaghetti. If you do, plate spaghetti and then top with sauce, veal cutlet and remaining sauce.

Kabobs: A Given on “National Something on a Stick Day”


Today is National Something on a Stick Day.  National Something on a Stick Day doesn’t necessarily mean food on a stick. It is a day when you simply put something on a stick and display it. However this is a food blog and human beings have been putting all kinds of food on sticks for centuries so naturally I thought of making kabobs.

Tonight I made my Garlic – Rosemary Beef Tenderloin Kabobs with Bacon Wrapped Asparagus. I know this is somewhat of a repeat but it is a recipe that begs to be repeated. I made a slight change in the oil used this time and was very pleased with the results. I have been using walnut oil a lot lately in place of olive oil; especially in situations of higher heat. Walnut oil has a higher smoke point and there for doesn’t give off flavors as quickly. I think it worked very well with this recipe.

Garlic – Rosemary Beef Tenderloin Kabobs


  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup walnut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound beef tenderloin, trimmed and cut into approximately 1” cubes
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Onion cut into large chuncks
  • Mushrooms (Your choice. I prefer Baby Bella.)


  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large shallow dish or heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add beef. Cover or seal, and chill several hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove beef from marinade, discarding marinade.
  3. Using bamboo or metal skewers, alternate beef, onion and mushroom.
  4. Sprinkle evenly with pepper, and let stand 30 minutes letting beef come to room temperature.
  5. Grill over medium hot coals 10 to 12 minutes turning frequently to cook all sides and meat is cooked to desired doneness.
  6. Remove the kabobs from the grill and let rest 4 to 5 minutes before serving.

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus


Asparagus (4 to 5 spears per person)


Wrap one slice of bacon around four to five spears of asparagus per serving. Grill over direct heat turning frequently until bacon is cooked and asparagus is tender; 5 to 10 minutes depending on heat.