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Recommended book: Recipes Every Man Should Know

Chef JimI haven’t tried a single recipe from the book I’m about to recommend to you, but I know enough about cooking and food to know good recipes when I see them. This book, Recipes Every Man Should Know,written by Susan Russo and Brett Cohen, and released on Quirk Books, is a small, hardcover black book that a guy could literally carry around in his pocket.

The book contains simple, honest and real recipes that are laid out easily and have no crazy ingredients. It’s man food, and a good primer for any novice or intermediate cooks. The book is broken down into hearty breakfast classics; sandwiches, burgers & snacks; meat & potato dinners; bacon, beer & bar food; and chocolate, cheesecake & more. Seriously–there is an entire chapter dedicated to recipes with beer and bacon. I, for one, cannot wait to try the bacon-wrapped meatloaf and beef and beer chili. Yum.

The book also has recipes as basic as how to cook an egg, something that you can’t find in just any cookbook.

And the two authors are credible–with Russo writing for Food Blogga and being a contributor to Kitchen Window on NPR; and Cohen is the author of Stuff Every Man Should Know.

Kitchen Sink Lazy Saturday Sandwich

Okay, it wasn’t exactly a lazy Saturday but I was at home writing this past Saturday around noon, and my wife called to say she was on her way home from running some errands with our 3-year old in tow. And that she was hungry. Now, we have both been watching what we eat more often than we’d like to be, but I had gone grocery shopping and shopped when I was hungry. That mean I bought lots of bad stuff….i.e. good stuff. So I asked her….”no restrictions on lunch?” She said, to my delight, “No restrictions.”

So I whipped up my own version of a a sandwich I had read about somewhere else. I took two perfect sub rolls and cut them in half. I sliced up some red pepper and some onion and fried them in olive oil for about 10 minutes on medium low so they would start to caramelize. I took some white American cheese and put slices down on the bottom half of the rolls. I slid the peppers and onions over and added about six thin slices of maple ham to the pan and fried them until brown but not so well-done that they were like bacon (not that there is anything wrong with bacon, but we wanted softer ham for this). I put the ham on top of the cheese on each bun.

Then I sprayed another nonstick pan with cooking spray and when it was hot, cracked four eggs into the pan. I flipped the eggs gently after the white started to set, and then removed from heat after about 30 more seconds.

Then I put some peppers and onions on each bun, and topped each with two eggs, still intact, and broke each yolk onto the sandwich. I think my wife’s words were, “This is f–king delicious.” Yeah, no rules, just good food. We were not hungover, but I believe this would be a monster sandwich to eat when hung over. Or just if you’re really, really hungry for lunch or even breakfast. Or late at night…or hey, anytime!

Note: We were so hungry that we forgot to take a photo, so the one above is a replacement until we make these kickass sandwiches again.

Awesome turkey sandwich

I posted this on Grub for Guys a while back, and it’s a good choice if you’re watching your waistline and want a good manly sandwich. Check it out!

You’ve probably read about the health benefits of whole grains, lean meats and healthy monounsaturated fats like those found in nuts, olives and avocados. Since I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, I can only go by what I read, and I have read enough to know that those foods are good sources of vitamins and healthy nutrients. So what we’ve done here is come up with a sandwich that incorporates all of those things and tastes great too. And it’s pretty simple, provided you don’t wash it down with more than a few beers.

Ingredients:
2 slices 100% whole wheat bread (try to avoid the kind with high fructose corn syrup)
4 oz. sliced lean turkey breast
2 slices center cut bacon
2-3 slices lettuce
Homemade guacamole (recipe below)

Guacamole:
1 small or ½ large avocado
2 Tbsp. salsa
1 tsp. lime juice
salt and pepper

Directions:
Cook bacon until crisp and set aside. To make guacamole, slice avocado in half and scoop out pulp, removing and discarding the pit as well. Place the pulp in a bowl, mash with a fork and add salsa, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. (you can add chopped onion if you like, but the flavor of raw onion is too strong for me). Spread guacamole on each slice of bread (it will be heaping, but that’s good). Layer turkey, bacon and lettuce on bread and close sandwich. Do not cut in half to retain your inner caveman. Serves 1, so double, triple or quadruple accordingly.

It’s not not manly to pair cheese with Sledgehammer wine

No, really. I venture to say that when you’re drinking a wine that is called Sledgehammer, no one can call you a girly man. I reviewed this wine on the Bullz-Eye blog a few months back, and they are still in the same vintage–2007. But these folks were kind enough to send me more of this bold and awesome red wine when I told them about Mikey’s Kitchen. So here we are. I mean, I’m not drunk from having slammed two bottles of wine just now. I enjoyed them 1-2 glasses at a time. Okay, maybe three glasses.

But here is the best part–living in Wisconsin, I’ve become somewhat of a cheese snob. I can’t with a clear conscience munch on store brand or even Cracker Barrel’s most sharp sharpy cheddar. I have to buy my cheese at Brennan’s, a Madison institution and a place that has some of the most kickass cheese around, even for Wisconsin.

And yeah, I’ve become a snob, but by no means am I an expert on wine and cheese pairing. I do know what I like, however, and what I chose recently at Brennan’s went perfectly with the Zinfandel and Cabernet the folks at Sledgehammer sent me. I paired them with a 5-year cheddar and a butterkase. The cheddar is bold, super-sharp (like Cracker Barrel on steroids), and that means it’s got a natural zing and tang to it — which of course goes perfectly with a bold red wine.

Butterkase is something I stumbled upon by accident, and I would imagine it would go well with white wine too, since it’s a light colored cheese that could be from either the Swiss or provolone families. But trust me, it’s not wimpy like those cheeses can be in the store–butterkase is soft, but it has this big, giant flavor that hits you after about 15 seconds, and it’s just delicious. Even better, the fact that it’s bold despite being soft and white, is that it too pairs nicely with a bold red wine like Sledgehammer.

Okay, then. Your wine pairing class for the day is adjourned. But let me say again, it’s not because they sent me free wine. Sledgehammer is one of the best reds I’ve tasted. Heck, even Adam Carolla endorses it! And if you don’t live in Wisconsin, fear not–Brennan’s ships out of state.

Steak and Potatoes 2

Spring is here, and oddly enough, it’s even warm enough here in Wisconsin to fire up the grill. In my case, our grill was destroyed, knocked over by the blizzard of 2011 in early February, so we have to buy a new one. So until then, we have to use an indoor grill pan, which really is not the same thing but does the job in a pinch. But I digress. What follows are a couple of recipes that are perfect for this time of year–it’s cold enough outside where you don’t mind firing up the oven, and therefore making my twice baked potatoes. But it’s definitely warm enough to grill outside with a light jacket. Well, unless you live in Arizona or Texas or Florida. Anyway, here are those recipes that I published on Bullz-Eye’s Grub for Guys a couple years back:

Flank Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa/Twice Baked Potatoes
We started this series with a basic grilled steak, baked potato and grilled asparagus. Now, we’re back with a couple of recipes that take seriously a dude’s craving for red meat and white potatoes, with a bit more difficulty than the first recipes we gave you. After all, you should be an intermediate chef by now, right? Anyway, grilling season is year-round in some places, such as here in Tennessee. So let’s get to it……

Flank Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa
Ingredients:
1 flank steak, 1.5 pounds or so
6-8 small plum tomatoes
1 thick slice onion
Cooking spray
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. Red wine vinegar
½ tsp. sugar
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat your grill or grill pan. Sprinkle steak on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside. Spray the tomatoes and onion slice with cooking spray, salt and pepper. Grill over medium high heat, turning a few times (try hard to keep that onion together!). Once they become tender and slightly charred, remove from grill. Put steak on grill while you make salsa. When tomatoes have cooled slightly, cut off the stem end. Place tomatoes, onion, olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste in a blender and pulse a few times until it resembles a chunky salsa. Meanwhile, grill steak for about 4-5 minutes per side for medium (a little less if you like it rare-medium rare, a little more if you like it well done). Let steak rest on a platter for about 5 minutes before slicing into ¼ inch strips on the diagonal. Serve with the salsa on the side. Serves 3-4

Twice Baked Potatoes
Ingredients:
2 large baking potatoes (Idaho is best)
¼ cup milk (skim or low fat is fine but whole milk is best)
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Snipped or dried chives (optional)

Directions:
Preheat your oven or toasted oven to 450 degrees. Rinse and scrub dirt off of potatoes, pat dry, then pierce a few times with a fork before placing in the oven. Roast, turning once, for one hour. (Once again, I have to advise against microwaved potatoes or foil-wrapped….you want a crispy skin, don’t you?) When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes in half, and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Put the skins back in the oven to brown for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add the milk, butter, cheese, salt, pepper and optional chives to the potato flesh. If the mixture appears too dry, add a few more drops of milk or shreds of cheese. Spoon the mixture into the potato skins and bake for another 15 minutes or until brown on top and warmed through. Serves 4, or 2 hungry dudes.

Countdown to St. Patrick’s Day–corned beef reuben

We ran this last year on Bullz-Eye.com’s Grub for Guys and the time is upon us–St. Patrick’s Day. Yesterday I posted my Top 5 things you should eat on St. Patrick’s Day, and this sandwich was included in that.

Here is the reuben recipe, but it should only be a part of your personal menu over the next few days to soak up that green beer……

A good Reuben sandwich is one of the great things about leftover corned beef. It also doesn’t necessarily require leftover corned beef, as you’ll find out in the following recipe. The only thing we do suggest is that you should budget a lot of calories for this one. Either way, this is a satisfying, filling sandwich, perfect for lunch or dinner this time of year. And oh yeah, it goes great with beer.

Ingredients:
2 slices rye bread
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1-2 Tbsp. prepared Thousand Island dressing (or make your own by mixing mayo, ketchup and sweet relish)
¼ cup prepared cole slaw
2 thin slices Swiss cheese
1/8 pound or 2-3 slices deli corned beef
Cooking spray

Directions:
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Meanwhile, assemble the sandwich. Spread the butter or margarine on the outside of the two slices of bread, and the Thousand Island dressing on the inside of each slice. Put the cole slaw on one slice of the bread, and then top with a slice of Swiss. Put the other slice of cheese on the other slice of bread and top with the corned beef, and then put the two sides of the sandwich together. Gently ease the sandwich into the skillet, and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the bread becomes brown and crispy. Flip the sandwich and cook another 2 minutes or until that side browns. You might want to cover the sandwich while cooking to make sure the cheese melts evenly. Slice and serve. Serves 1, but you can easily multiply this out to make more….and trust me, you might want to eat more than one.

5 things you should eat on St. Patrick’s Day

It creeps up quickly, the start of spring does. And with it, comes a hint of warmth in the air, NCAA March Madness, South by Southwest, and of course, St. Patrick’s Day. And while we all like a good pint of Guiness or other beer of choice on this Irish-inspired holiday, it also brings to mind a few choice food items. Well, it does in my mind, and this is a food blog, so let’s talk about the 5 things you should eat on St. Patrick’s Day:

1. Corned beef and cabbage–Well, duh. But we have to mention it, because it’s the gold standard of St. Patty’s Day fare. And it’s really simple, assuming you work from home or have a few hours to let it simmer. Here is a basic corned beef and cabbage recipe from Food Network, but you will likely find the same premise for cooking corned beef anywhere on the Web.

Chef Jim2. Variations of corned beef and cabbage–This would include the classic Reuben sandwich, and I posted a recipe for a grilled version on Bullz-Eye.com’s Grub for Guys last year. I also posted related recipes right here on Mikey’s Kitchen the last few days for Braised Cabbage with Guinness, and for Corned Beef Meatballs.

3. Irish Stew–There are so many great Irish stew recipes out there, so here is a link that will help you narrow your search down a bit, and one that includes different variations on this classic dish. I should mention, however, that traditional Irish stew is made with lamb. That said, here is my own recipe for beef stew with beer that can aptly pass for the real thing, especially after you’ve downed a few.

Chef Jim4. Bangers and mash–Okay, full disclosure. I’m Irish and I’ve never tasted bangers and mash. I’ve had sausage, and I’ve had mashed potatoes, but have never had them together. I know, shoot me. But anyway, this is an assignment for a future column here–both to have bangers and mash, and also to try cooking it. Meanwhile, here is a super easy version you can try at home.

5. Irish soda bread–This is a malty bread with raisins, and for whatever reason, always tastes best on St. Patty’s Day or a few days before. Make sure to slather it with some real butter and wash down with a pint of your favore beer, or some Irish coffee. You can try making your own, or just try any bakery or even grocery store this time of year.

Yeah, I know. I didn’t include Shepherd’s Pie. I could have squeezed it in if I made corned beef and cabbage and variations 1 and 1a. But then I thought about it–I don’t recall shepherd’s pie being a St. Patty’s Day specialty, so I’m going to make the executive decision to not include it here. Well, unless you’re curious about it and want to try it. Until then, I will vow to make shepherd’s pie some time soon on this site. Fair enough?

Until then, enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and please, as they say, enjoy responsibly. That’s a fancy way for saying that if you’ve tossed back a few, don’t get behind the wheel. Of course, eating any of the above to soak up the alcohol is always a good thing. Enjoy!

Countdown to St. Patty’s Day–corned beef meatballs with Thousand Island dipping sauce

I am a sucker for meatballs. Meatballs are dude food personified–usually protein-rich, meaty, full of flavor and served in or next to a sauce that enhances that flavor. So with St. Patrick’s Day now four days away, I wanted to share another recipe with you that should get you in the mood for the green holiday. I give to you — Corned beef meatballs with Thousand Island dipping sauce. I had to experiment a bit, but the end result came out just right, and I think you will enjoy these with or after a pint or two or three or…..well, you get the idea.

Ingredients
Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

Meatballs
4 small red potoates, peeled and quartered
1 slice rye bread (day old bread if possible, but not necessary)
1 pound fully cooked corned beef, trimmed of visible fat and cubed (note: I got mine from the deli counter, asking them to slice it about 1/2 inch thick–but you can use leftover corned beef as well)
1-2 oz. gruyere or swiss cheese, cubed
1 egg
1 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
For sauce–in medium size bowl, combine all sauce ingredients, and stir to blend well. Set aside.

For meatballs–Place potatoes in a small saucepan and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10-12 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain water and mash with a fork. Break rye bread into small pieces, and then, using a food processor, process into fine bread crumbs. Put bread crumbs in a large bowl. Then add corned beef and cheese to processor and process until mixture is finely ground. Add to the bowl with the bread crumbs. Break egg into bowl and add salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt since the meat is already salted from the pickling process). Fold in mashed potatoes and then with your hands, roll into 1-inch meatballs, setting these on a plate as you go. You should wind up with about 20-24 meatballs or so.

Then, spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high for about 45 seconds. Add meatballs, 10-12 at a time, and cook for about 5-6 minutes, shaking the pan about once a minute, until meatballs are browned on each side. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining meatballs, and serve warm with the Thousand Island dressing on the side for dipping.

Countdown to St. Patty’s Day–Braised cabbage with Guiness

I’ll be providing a recipe a day for St. Patrick’s Day heading up to next Thursday (yes, it’s next Thursday already…where is the year going?). Here is the first one, something I came up with last weekend on the fly, and it came out really good…..


BRAISED CABBAGE WITH GUINESS

Cabbage isn’t for everyone. It’s sort of an acquired taste, and the kind of vegetable that is big and bulky and might seem intimidating. But once you slice it up and fry it and do a few more things to add flavor, anyone can become a cabbage fan. Of course, it’s a cruciferous vegetable, which means cabbage is very good for you, but also might make you fart up a hurricane. Well, not literally, but, you might prepare yourself and your significant other….

Ingredients
1 medium size head green cabbage, core removed and thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you have one)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 of a 12 oz. can Guiness beer
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds

Directions
Heat oil in large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add cabbage and stir for about 3-4 minutes or until starting to get tender and reduced in volume. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook a few minutes more, until cabbage begins to brown just a bit. Then slowly add Guiness to pan (and of course, drink the rest of it), scraping up the brown bits as you do this (that’s called de-glazing). Cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until beer is almost all the way absorbed. Sprinkle with caraway seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Serves 2-4 people.

Product review: Lindt Chili flavored dark chocolate

Chef JimLindt makes excellent, rich chocolates, but being that this blog is geared toward the male population, here is one that will no doubt be intriguing to dudes, especially those who like spicy food–Chili flavored dark chocolate.

Available in a 3.5 oz. block, this chocolate is “infused with spicy red chili” as it says on the package. And trust me, this chocolate is only for those who can handle food with a moderate degree of heat.

First of all the chocolate itself is rich and creamy, but then the secondary blast of flavor is the chili, and it comes at you with gusto. If you really try, you can taste the red pepper, but it’s more like a blast of heat than flavor.

This is great stuff, and definitely a great pick-me-up with coffee in the afternoon, or after dinner for some turbo palate cleansing. Yeah, that’s it.

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