9th June
written by Loren

My favorite food group, bar none, is meat. I know that’s a distinctly American and distinctly unhealthy predilection, and it’s something I’m focusing on trying to change as I lose weight (down 25 pounds!).  But there is something so satisfying about the look, smell and feel of meat which is so hard to duplicate. Even as I try to add more vegetarian recipes to my repertoire, I  do my find myself noticing the lack of meat in those dishes.  One way I’ve found to try to replace that is by using mushrooms. Mushrooms have a somewhat similar, earthy flavor, and portobellos specifically also have a very meaty, toothsome texture.

This recipe, from America’s Test Kitchen,  makes a fantastic pasta sauce using very little meat, and in a very short amount of time for a ragu. The time you spend caramelizing the tomato paste helps develop very deep and complex flavors without having to spend hours simmering away.

1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup of chicken broth or stock

Muir Glen Organic consistently wins the taste tests at America's Test Kitchen, so I stick with that brand.

Muir Glen Organic consistently wins the canned tomato taste tests at America’s Test Kitchen, so I stick with that brand.

4 oz pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 portobello caps, gills and stem removed, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 2lb can of whole peeled tomatoes
Splash of red wine (optional)

First, add your dried porcinis to a bowl, and add the chicken broth. Cover with plastic wrap, poke a few holes to vent, then microwave on high for 1 minute and allow it to steep in the broth for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, then run the broth through a sieve and coffee filter, set over a bowl to reserve the liquid. Chop the porcinis, and set aside.

Use a spoon to scrape the gills out of 2 large portobello caps, then cut into 1/2 inch dice and set aside.

Pre heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the diced pancetta. Allow the fat to render and the meat to brown for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add  the mushrooms , olive oil, garlic, tomato paste and rosemary and stir to combine. This should be cooked over medium heat for 7 minute or so until the tomato paste begins to caramelize and brown.

Now add the can of tomatoes which you have crushed by  hand, along with either the juice of left in the can, or a splash of red wine, as well as the chicken broth which you rehydrated the mushrooms with. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce heat to medium low, then allow to thicken for 20 minutes or so. Salt and pepper to taste. You may also need to skim off some fat from the top of the sauce depending on how much rendered out of the pancetta.

Reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water to thin the sauce to the consistency you desire before serving.

You can garnish your plate with some basil chiffonades and grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigianino if you like. But with or without, you will love this and make it again.

Mushroom Ragu

3rd June
written by Arthur

Back YardIt’s been a long busy spring, but I’m done with my exam (CFA, level I) and it’s summer!   

Sunday morning, Nick, Becca in and I cleaned our much neglected shed.  Sunday evening, Nick, Stu, and I built a picnic table and assembled the new grill.  The yard is ready for friends and food.

Since, early March, while I’ve been neglecting the blog, I engaged in a weight challenge at work.  While I ended-up taking third (measured as percent of weight lost) and missed the $750 pool, losing 20 pounds over the three months is prize enough.  The weight loss was almost all driven by changes in diet.  Maybe it deserves a post, but it was through the boring obvious means: cut out (down) the booze, cooking almost all my meals, lower the in-take of carbs, lower the in-take of meat, lots of veggies, eat close to the ground, etc.  Though I can say I’ve learned to eat healthy without feeling deprived, I can’t wait for some cheeseburgers fresh of the grill.

I’m looking forward to an epic summer.

17th April
written by Arthur

NY hearts Boston

7th April
written by Arthur

Breuckelen 77 New York Wheat WhiskeyMy plan was to pick-up a bottle of Bullet Rye (my go to whiskey).  But, once at the liquor store, I got to browsing the bottles of brown and something new in my price range caught my eye.  77 Whiskey hails from Breuckelen Distilling in Brooklyn.  A little post-purchase research shows the distillery is actually walking distance from my apartment.  My initial thoughts were mixed: “awesome, a whiskey from Brooklyn” and “what the hell do people in Brooklyn know about making whiskey.”  As it turns out, they are pretty good at it.

I was underwhelmed by my first sip, but, as my single ice cube melted and the whiskey opened-up, I fell in love.  Every sip is like drinking candy.  Not lemon drop “martini” candy, but a grown-up desert.  The stuff tastes like liquid crème brûlée and butter scotch. (I hate when people get to fancy with their description of booze, but this seriously tastes like decadently sweet and creamy crème brûlée.)  There are also some mild vanilla flavors.  This is a great whiskey to enjoy slow.  People who know me know me know I love whiskey.  I can unequivocally say go and buy 77 Whiskey.  Add a little ice, but only a little.

Next up up? The 77 Corn and Rye Whiskey.


2nd April
written by Arthur

Hardee’s Jim Beam Bourbon Thickburger

Good bourbon paired with Hardee’s.   Too funny.  Though I would be lying if I said this video didn’t make me want a burger…

Tags: ,
1st April
written by Arthur

This is a great little video about food and power in Quentin Tarantino movies.  The most obvious is the Samuel L. Jackson’s badass domination via a Big Kahuna Burger and Sprite in Pulp Fiction (see below). But food and conversations over a meal show-up again and again in his movies making scenes more relatable. I knew it was there, but not to the degree.  Looking for these scenes seems like a great reason to dust-off some Tarantino favorites.

20th December
written by Arthur

December has been a bad month for posts.  Between work, boozy holiday festivities, and recovery from said festivities my free time at the keyboard has, yet again, been very limited.  But lets make up for it with a little potty humor (and continued limited typing by me)!


30th November
written by Loren

Editors note: This post was, for some reason, written last August but never posted. Enjoy!



My 26th birthday came and went a few weeks ago while I was on a trip to visit Arthur in NYC. The trip was amazing, but the way it ended was pretty nice too. When I got home, there was a package waiting for me. I will confess, I still get that childhood sense of giddiness when a package arrives, let alone one that I didn’t order myself, let alone one arriving around my birthday! So after a stressful day of flying back from New York, I was delighted to find my birthday present from my brother. He got me a copy of Good Meat, an amazing book which I have previously mentioned on this site, and a super interesting comic book written by Anthony Bourdain, of all people. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s called Get Jiro and involves a super bad-ass sushi chef with a penchant for decapitation in a dystopian future where chefs are the real power in society.

Getting back to the topic at hand, this was the first recipe i decided to try from the new cookbook. My brother and his wife, to whom I gave this book as a christmas present two years ago, insist that there is not a bad recipe in the book, so I didn’t put too much thought into choosing the first recipe to make. I hadn’t made a good curry in a while, so I went with this one.

  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or other cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (13.5) oz can of coconut milk
  • 1..5-2 tablespoons of prepared madras curry powder.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs stew beef, cut into cubes and patted dry
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish


Heat/melt your cooking oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat, and fry the onion to a golden brown, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the onions from burning.  While the onion browns, open the can of coconut milk and spoon out the heavier “cream” to a separate bowl, setting aside the thinner liquid to use later. Stir the curry powder into the coconut cream to form a paste. Stir the curry paste, along with the garlic, in with the onions until the fragrance is driving your roommates insane with mouthwatering curry goodness, about 2-3 minutes. Add the beef to the pot and stir to coat with the curry mixture.

Mix the reserved coconut milk (the lighter stuff you left in the can and set aside), and the 1/2 cup water into  the pan and bring it all to a boil, before immediately lowering the heat and simmering on the lowest possible setting. Cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. The curry is done when the meat is fork tender. Serve with basmati or brown rice, or whatever other starch you like. Rice noodles would be a good choice, I went with boiled yukon gold potatoes because as a Minnesotan boy, I have a weakness for meat and gravy over potatoes.

I departed from this recipe in two ways while I was making it. First, if you notice, this recipe calls for putting  the raw meat into the stewing liquid with no searing beforehand. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this, it always seems to me that developing that browning on the meat and in the pan is a key part of creating the flavor base of a stew or saucy dish, as long as the meat pieces are large enough to not make this step result in tough, overcooked meat. So what I ended up doing was seasoning the meat with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, then searing it off in the dutch oven before proceeding to the onions. The one problem this presented was that by the time the onions were almost done cooking, I was starting to see the brown bits on the bottom of the pan start to make their way closer to black. Scorching the pan or the food in an additive, one pan dish like this will quickly ruin the whole dish and there’s really no way to recover. Next time, I think I will try to do it the way the recipe recommends. If there is not an appreciable difference, I’ll skip the searing and trust that the robust curry flavor of the sauce doesn’t need that extra hint of roasted meat.

Lastly, when the meat was done cooking, the sauce was still a bit runny for my preference. The taste was fantastic, but the texture wasn’t’ quite right for a stew or gravy. What I ended up doing was making a cornstarch and milk slurry and then whisking that into the pot and cooking for another 5-10 minutes with the cover off. That thickened up the sauce to just the right consistency. I definitely wouldn’t say  that should be a standard step, just be ware that if you like a thicker sauce you might want to consider this option, or play with cooking without the lid to evaporate some more of the liquid.



22nd November
written by Arthur

4th November
written by Arthur

The following are two hurricane Sandy inspired cocktails.  Warning: these drinks have been linked to serious and prolonged blackouts.

Hurricane Sandy Manhattan

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 oz salt water
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes and stir well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

Hurricane Sandy Long Island Ice Tea

  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1/2 oz light rum
  • 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz tequila
  • 1 oz sour mix
  • 2 oz salt water
  • Cola
  • Lemon wedge for garnish

Pour the spirits and sour mix into a collins glass with ice and stir well or shake. Top the glass off with cola. Garnish with the lemon wedge.


In all seriousness, the effects of the storm are still being felt strongly by many in the tri-state area.  Donate today to the Red Cross hurricane relief.  Or find a local volunteer opportunity to help those in need.