Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wine Club - A Diwali Inspired Dinner

It has been a little while since we hosted our last wine dinner.  The last dinner was back in April, America in Miniature, when we took a culinary tour around the State of Maryland.  As we prepare for our next wine dinner, the big question was (as it always is), what should be the theme?  The first thing that came to my mind was a celebration.  I checked the calendar (and, of course, the Internet), and I came across a website that listed all of the international festivals in the month of October.  After some more research, I decided upon a theme that should be perfect for the Wine Club ... a Diwali inspired dinner.

Initially, this theme offers an opportunity to learn a little more about Diwali, an important festival for Hindus, Jains and Sikhs.  Diwali unfolds over five days, with the third day being celebrated as the main festival or "Festival of Lights." The lights were originally clay lamps, lit for reasons that vary with the celebrants.  For example, lighting lamps represents the victory of knowledge of ignorance.  Darkness represents ignorance, as well as wickedness, violence, anger, bigotry, injustice and suffering.  The lighting of lamps allows light to overcome darkness, which is not only a metaphor for knowledge overcoming ignorance, but also illustrates how light reveals the beauty that surrounds us. 

Of course, the Diwali celebration involves far more than lighting of clay or electric lamps.  Families decorate their houses, set off firecrackers and, of course, partake in a feast of food.  For this wine club, the feast will be a three course meal, with appetizers, two main courses (served together) and a dessert.

Onion and Sweet Potato Bhajji

The first course will feature a duo of Onion Bhajji and Sweet Potato Bhajji.  A bhaji is a type of pakora or fritter that is a common street food in Maharashtra.  And, from what I have read, bhajji are also commonly served as part of Hindu festivals, such as Dwali.  I hope to have a couple of chutneys to serve with the bhajji; however, due to a lack of time, those may not be homemade. 

Rogan Josh, Daal Saag, and Vegetable Pulao

The main course features two dishes - Rogan Josh and Daal Saag -- served with a vegetable pulao or rice dish.  The dishes accommodate meat eaters, as the Rogan Josh is a traditional lamb dish that, although of Persian origin, is a staple of Kashmiri cuisine.  They also accommodate vegetarians, as Daal Saag, which is a lentil dish that includes spinach.  And, for omnivores, you can have booth. 

Goan Coconut Pancakes

The last course will be Goan Coconut Pancakes, which will have a stuffing of coconuts, raisin, cardamom and nutmeg.  The pancakes will be served with a little vanilla ice cream.

See you soon!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Green Chile Turkey Burgers

Lately, it has been difficult finding the time (and, quite frankly, the desire) to cook.  The past few months have been some very busy times in the Chef Bolek household.  While I continue to cook, the opportunities have been far less in number than I would like.  Sometimes, we are just too tired or it is just too late to make dinner, especially with a little toddler running circles around us.  

All of these challenges have led to an evolution of sorts in terms of my cooking.  Rather than looking for complicated recipes by which to challenge my skills, my focus has turned to simpler recipes.   Recipes that can be completed in 1/2 to 1 hour. These are not recipes that would pave my way onto shows such as Master Chef, but they are ones that fill our stomachs with some good and tasty food.  

Take, for example, a recipe for Green Chile Burgers that I found on Saveur's website. The recipe initially caught my eye because of the use of green New Mexico or Hatch chiles, which happen to be among my favorite chiles.  However, it is the fact that this is an easily and quick recipe that led to the making of these burgers.  The bulk of the preparation time spent on creating a very delicious chile sauce, which includes the roasting of the peppers and the combination of the ingredients.  In the end, you have some great burgers.

Finally, I decided to make one big change to the recipe.  Rather than use beef, I decided to make these burgers with turkey.  I wanted a leaner option, but I ensured there would still be sufficient flavor and moisture by using ground turkey thighs.  The thighs have a higher fat content that serves both purposes well.  There you have it ... Green Chile Turkey Burgers.  

Recipe adapted from Saveur
Serves 4

2 pounds of ground turkey (preferably thigh meat)
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon of Hatch chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of ketchup
4 cloves roasted garlic, mashed to a paste
2 tablespoons of canola oil
6 roasted Hatch chiles, peeled, stemmed, seeded and chopped
4 slices of cheddar cheese
4 slices of Swiss cheese
4 brioche buns, split and toasted

1.  Make the burgers.  In a bowl, combine the ground turkey, 1 tablespoon of chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Form into four 8 ounce patties and chill in a refrigerator.

2.  Make the chile sauce. Whisk remaining chile powder, mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Refrigerate the sauce until needed.

3. Cook the burgers.  Heat oil in 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat; work in 2 batches.  Cook patties, turning once until a thick crust develops on both sides, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Top each with 1/4 of the roasted chiles, and 1 slice of each cheese.  Cover with lid to melt cheese.  To serve, place 1 patty on each bottom bun and spread the top buns with some of the sauce.  Cover burgers with the top bun and serve immediately.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Malabar Mussels

When one thinks of strength, the first thing that comes to mind is muscles.  However, for many women in the southern Indian state of Kerala, it is mussels that give them strength.  Green mussels or perna viridis, to be exact. Back in the 1990s, local villages along the Indian Ocean coastline began to start farming mussels as a way to make a living.  Mussel farming exploded in the region and, overall, India rose to become one of the largest producers of green mussels in the world.  

The most important thing about mussel farming in Kerala, at least to me, is found in a study by V. Kripa and K.S. Mohamed.  Their study is entitled "Green Mussel, Perna Viridis, Farming in Kerala, India - Technology Diffusion Process and Socioeconomic Impacts" (2008).   As Kripa and Mohamed report, there were three types of ownership when it came to mussel farms.  There were individual ownership and family ownership, both of which are self-explanatory.  And, there was "self-help group" ownership or SHG ownership.  There were only about 17 to 20 SHG mussel farms, all of which were located in one district (the Kasgorod district) of Kerala  

The SHG mussel farms are the key to empowering women.  As both Kripa and Mohamed found, "[t]he biggest outcome of mussel farming in Kerala was the empowerment of women with 87% of the SHG farms owned by women." The SHG is a formal organization, with officers and group meetings.  This organization makes it easier for women to obtain financial assistance and support from local banks and the government. Those 17 to 20 SHG mussel farms have enabled as many as 2,000 women to become active in an economic activity, which enables them to better support themselves and their families.  The SHGs not only help to alleviate poverty, but they also empower women not only in the economic workplace, but also when it comes to decision-making in their homes.

This recipe demonstrates what can be made with those green mussels, as well as blue and black mussels that are traditionally found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  It incorporates a wide range of ingredients, especially in the Malabar Masala.  (One note: don't let the fact that you can't find some of the masala ingredients -- like the curry leaf powder -- stop you from making the dish.  The masala will still be great.)  Along with the masala, the combination of fresh chiles, ginger, garlic, and red onions also provide an interesting array of range of tastes and flavors.  The sauce was so good that I decided to serve the dish with some rice, which could help to soak up some of the sauce.  I hated to see that sauce go to waste.   

Adapted from Smita Chandra's recipe published by Saveur
Serves 2-4

Ingredients (for the mussels):
3 tablespoons of canola oil
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 small green Thai chiles or 1 serrano, thinly sliced
1 two-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of Malabar Masala (recipe below)
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 14 ounce can of coconut milk
Kosher salt, to taste
2 1/2 pounds of mussels, debearded, rinsed and scrubbed
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
Cooked white rice, for serving (optional)

Ingredients (for the Malabar Masala):
1/4 cup of coriander seeds
2 tablespoons of cumin seeds
2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon of whole cloves
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
2 star anise
2 sticks of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of dessicated coconut
2 tablespoons of dried fenugreek leaves
1 tablespoon of crushed red chile flakes
1/3 cup of curry leaf powder
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1.  Prepare the Malabar Masala.  Heat a 10 inch skillet over medium high heat.  Cook coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cloves, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, peppercorns, star anise, and cinnamon sticks until fragrant and toasted, about 3-4 minutes.  Add coconut, fenugreek leaves and chile flakes, cook until the coconut is golden, 2 minutes.  Let cool and then transfer to a spice grinder along with curry leaf powder, ginger, and turmeric.  Grind into a powder and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.  

2.  Prepare the base.  Heat oil in a 6 quart saucepan over medium high heat.  Cook garlic, chiles, ginger, and onion until golden, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Add masala and tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 5 to 7 minutes. 

3.  Cook the mussels.  Add coconut milk, salt, and 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Add the mussels.  Cook covered, occasionally shaking pan until all mussels are opened, about 5 minutes.  Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Malabar Fish Fry

If there was ever a meal that could be considered to be universal, one that could cross boundaries or even oceans, it should be a fish fry.  Cultures around the global make a meal -- indeed, an event -- out of frying abundant, cheap local fish.  Back in the Midwest, where I was born and raised, a fish fry was almost a weekly event.  Numerous restaurants would advertise "all-you-can-eat" fried fish.  Customers could double down on the fried experience by getting their fried fish with french fries.  Cue the All in the Family theme, "those were the days."

I still have fond memories of going with my family to a local restaurant for a fish fry.  I would stuff my self with all the fish I could eat.  It was most often fried perch or fried catfish, thickly battered and deep fried.  I would devour fillet after fillet of deep-fried, heavily battered fish.  This was long before I knew about there were good or bad kinds of cholesterol, saturated or unsaturated fats.   When I was a kid, my focus was singularly on the fish.

Halfway around the world, I am sure there were children having the same enjoyable experience.   Take, for example, children in the Indian state of Kerala.  One of the boundaries of Kerala in the north is a long coastline, known as the Malabar Coast.  All along that thin coastline, there are cities with people who depend upon the ocean for their meals.  The abundant supply of seafood makes a fish fry a logical meal for many families.  The fish would be those native to the waters, such as bullseye or sardines, most likely whatever the fishermen brought back in their boats on that particular day. .

I recently came across a recipe for a Malabar Fish Fry and knew that it was something that I had to make. Rather than battered fish, this simple fish fry recipe features a rub consisting of turmeric, chiles, garlic and ginger.  The only issue that I faced  was the fish.  Bullseye are no where to be found where I live.  Sardines are a hit or miss.  The recipe suggests salmon, shrimp or snapper, but I decided to go another route.  I chose catfish, one of the fishes from my childhood fish fry courses, for two reasons.  The first is that the thickness of the fillets stands up well to frying.  Second, catfish is cheaper than snapper or salmon.

Finally, I thought the combination of red chile powder and turmeric would be spicy, but not overbearing or inedible.  The heat was perfectly fine for me; however, my beautiful Angel found the rub to be too spicy for her to eat.  This was only the second time that I made a dish that was too spicy for Clare.  (Interestingly, the other dish was another Indian-inspired dish, my Soft Shell Curry, Goan-Style.)  Although I really wanted to make something for my beautiful Angel, it just meant that I had seconds.   Just like when I was a kid.

Recipe adapted from Saveur
Serves 2

1 pound of catfish fillets
1 1/2 tablespoons of red chile powder (such as cayenne)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
1 one-inch piece of ginger, peeled and mashed into a paste
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup of coconut or canola oil

1.  Prepare the fish.  Rinse fish and pat dry using paper towels.  Mix chile powder, turmeric, garlic, ginger, salt and 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl to make a paste.  Rub over fish and let the fish sit for 10 minutes.

2.  Cook the fish.  Heat oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium high.  Cook fish, flipping once, until crisp and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Gadino Cellars Viognier (2011)

Back in 2011, the Virginia Wine Board declared Viognier to be the state grape of Virginia.  At first blush, it seems like a shrewd (or, perhaps, not so shrewd) marketing campaign.  Viognier is for Virginia.  You can just hear the slogans.  "VYOHN yay" is for "ver GIN ya."  One can see the billboards along Interstate 95 and Interstate 81, with outlines of the State of Virginia filled with grape vines and bottle of wine.    

However, the association of Viognier and Virginia goes beyond common letters in their name.  Many Virginian vineyards and winemakers have successfully cultivated this grape to produce some very good wines.  One area of Vigonier activity is the Monticello AVA (American Viticultural Area).  The AVA gets its name from Thomas Jefferson's home, which is located within the region.  The AVA stretches across the central Piedmont in Virginia, including most of the Albemarle, Greene, Nelson and Orange counties.  

One winemaker, Gadino Cellars, takes Viognier grapes from the Monticello AVA to produce a single varietal wine at their family operated winery.  The grapes for their wine are grown at Gene Sulliva's South River Vineyard located at 900 feet elevation on gentle slops of the Blue Ridge near Stanardsville, VA, which is located in Greene County.  My beautiful Angel and I bought a bottle of the Viognier when we visited Gadino Cellars' tasting room.

The Viognier poured a very light straw color, with a faint golden hue.  The winemakers describe the aromatic elements of this wine to include honeysuckle, which I think is generally true.  I got some tropical fruit in the aroma as well, but some of the more commonly noted aromas -- such as apricot, orange blossom, pear -- were not very strong or present in the aroma of this wine.  

However, some of those elements were present in the taste.  I could clearly detect flavors of pear and even a little peach in the taste of the Gadino Cellars Viognier.   The winemakers suggest that there is tropical fruit and spice in the taste, and, I can say there was a hint "spice" in the taste of the wine.  Overall, this is a very good Viognier and it demonstrates the potential of the varietal in Virginia.

When it comes to pairing, the winemakers suggest that their Viognier can be paired with turkey, roast chicken and shellfish.  All of these are intriguing pairings, especially the turkey.  I could definitely see this wine being served on Thanksgiving day along with a very large, stuffed turkey.  Of course, the 2011 vintage is long gone and it will have to be bottles from the 2012 vintage.

We found this bottle at the tasting room in Washington, Virginia.  It sells for $22.00 a bottle.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Grilled Steak with Sauce Vierge

Back in the 1980s, there was this chef.  Actually, there were a lot of chefs back in the 1980s, but there was this one chef.  He was born in southwestern France, but, he lived and cooked in Paris.  He also wrote cookbooks.  As the 1980s unfolded, this chef popularized a sauce.  That was quite a feat for a country whose cuisine is known for its sauces.  However, those sauces were stock based sauces.  This particular sauce is a fresh sauce, with fresh ingredients, like olive oil oil, lemon juice, tomatoes and basil.  It was to be used in shellfish dishes and pasta dishes, the type that would be particularly welcoming to a fresh sauce.

That chef was Michel Guérard and the sauce that he made popular goes by the name of Sauce Vierge or, literally translated, "Virgin Sauce."  (Don't ask me why it is called by that name, that question is best left for Chef Guérard.)  I had come across a recipe for sauce vierge and placed it on my short list of recipes to make.  The recipe sat on that list for a long time.  A very long time. 

At long last, I made the recipe for sauce vierge.  As I did my research, I realized that the sauce I was making bore little resemblance to Chef Guérard's recipes.  Sure, the olive oil is still there.  But the basil, lemon juice and tomato are long gone. 

The reason is that the term -- sauce vierge -- has come to represent a variety of Mediterranean sauces, many of which go by other names.  Names like "green sauce," "sauce aux herbes" and "sauce verte."  These sauces are generally a combination of olive oil, various herbs, mustard, capers, olives and other aromatics.

The particular recipe that I found and used had two things that appealed to me. First, the recipe included an additional ingredient for the sauce... a jalapeño pepper.  The pepper provided the sauce with a good, but overpowering, kick.  Second, it called for using this sauce on a grilled steak.  Although the recipe called for the use of a sirloin steak, which is a decent cut for use with sauces.  (Flank steaks or flat iron steaks are definitely better for sauces.)  I decided that I would use my favorite cut, a bone-in ribeye.  

The recipe definitely worked very well.  In fact, it worked so well, that I will definitely try it on seafood or pasta dishes.  However, depending upon the fish or pasta, I might leave out the pepper.  The kick works well with beef or other meat, but it may be a little to much for fish.

Recipe from Saveur
Serves 4

1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of capers
12 large green olives pitted and roughly chopped
6 oil-packed anchovy filets, drained and finely chopped
4 cornichons, roughly chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, stemmed and finely chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
Kosher salt and 
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 thick top sirloin or ribeye steaks (about 2 lbs.)
1.  Prepare the Sauce Vierge. On a cutting board, pile together the parsley, capers, olives, anchovies, cornichons, shallots, garlic, and jalapeño. With a large knife, finely chop and scrape the ingredients to combine.  Transfer the parsley mixture to a large bowl and stir in 6 tbsp. of the olive oil and the mustard with a fork to make a thick and chunky sauce. You can drizzle in more olive oil for a thinner consistency, but I think the sauce is better if it is thick and chunky. Season with salt and pepper. Set the sauce aside at room temperature to let rest for 30 minutes, to allow the flavors to mingle.

2.  Grill the Steaks. Build a hot charcoal fire in a grill or heat a gas grill to high heat. Rub steaks with the remaining olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill steaks, turning once, until lightly browned and medium rare, about 2–3 minutes per side. Transfer steaks to a platter and let rest for 3 minutes. Stir the sauce, because it will begin to separate slightly as it sits and spoon it over the steaks. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Spiced Sablefish over Pearl Couscous

Life can be hard, if you are a fish.   It is bad enough that you could end up being someone's lunch while you are looking for your own lunch.  If you are unfortunate enough to be tricked into going after someone's bait and you are caught, then you have to endure the indignity of being called different names.  Take, for example, the sablefish.   Or is it "black cod."   It is really bad if you happen to get snagged by a British fisherman (or fisherwoman), because they might call you by four different names ... "black cod," "bluefish," "candlefish," or "coal cod."  (Don't get me started about what actual bluefish might think about a sablefish being called a bluefish.)  Canadian fishermen (or fisherwomen) are almost as bad, calling you "coalfish," "beshow" or "skilfish."  Really, "beshow" or "skillfish"?  At what point does it appear that people are just making up names for you?  And, what if your real name was just Hal?  Or Nancy? 

If you were a sablefish, you might just ignore the multitude of other names by which you are called.  I accept that people may call me Kevin, Ken, or Eric (long story, perhaps as long as the story behind a sablefish being called beshow).  If only sablefish could think as we do.  What would they think about the fact that the people who will soon eat them can't even settle on a name.

For me, there is a lot about the sablefish that I don't know.  I have never seen one in the wild and, until recently, I never cooked the fish.  Yet, as I stood at the seafood counter of my local grocery store, I stared at the long fillets of sablefish.  I sensed a sort of challenge developing in my mind.  It was not only about how about I would prepare the fillets, but what I could learn about the fish itself.  

Let's start with the basics.  The sablefish is a deep sea fish that inhabits primarily the northern Pacific Ocean.  Their diet appears to be varied, ranging from other fish -- such as pollock, herring, capelin and Pacific cod -- to squid and jellyfish.  They eat and eat, for a very long time.  Some sablefish have been reported to have lived for as long as 94 years.  Given the potentially long lifespan of this fish, sustainability is important.  Fortunately, the fishing of sablefish is highly regulated, helping to maintain the populations so that more people like me can be introduced to this amazing creature.

The most surprising thing about this fish is the flesh.  The fish is known for its rich, buttery flesh.  Comparisons are often drawn to Chilean sea bass (also known as the Patagonian toothfish).  The meat is soft and mild.  After being cooked, it flakes very easily.  With these attributes, it is easy to see why sablefish is popular with chefs and restaurants.  

It should also be popular with health-conscious eaters.  While fillets of sablefish may have a high fat content, it is the good stuff ... Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, almost as much as wild salmon.  Sablefish are also low in the bad stuff, such as toxins and mercury.  It would seem to be the ideal fish.  The only question is how to prepare it.

I decided to use a spice rub.  Rich, mild and buttery flesh meant that I could add some flavor on outside while the large flaky meat would still enable one to taste the fish itself.  The spice mixture takes a page or two out of recipes from North Africa.  The combination of coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, paprika and cumin really appeals to me.  It packs a lot of flavor without a lot of heat.   I decided that the fish would be best served over pearl couscous, something that could complement the texture of the fish.  Overall, this dish was delicious and I have become a fan of sablefish.  Now, only if the store would stock it again....

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 3-4

1 pound of sablefish fish, cut into even sized portions
1 cup of pearl couscous
1/2 orange bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 large tomato, seeded, peeled and finely diced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil 
1 cup of water

1.  Prepare the fish fillets.   Add the coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamom, paprika, ginger, allspice and salt in a small bowl.  Stir to combine all of the rub ingredients.  Apply the rub to all sides of the fish, cover, and place in the refrigerator.

2.  Prepare the couscous.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium high heat.  Add the bell pepper and tomato, saute until the pepper is soft, about five minutes.  Add the couscous and toss.  Add the water, bring to a boil and then cover.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the couscous until the liquid is absorbed.  Add additional water if the couscous is not cooked.

3.  Cook the fish.  Heat the broiler.  Cook the fish under the broiler for about eight minutes or until the fish reaches about 145 degrees Fahrenheit.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lone Star Ribeye

In some respects, more is better, at least in my opinion.  If I find a marinade or rub recipe, I will often look at the number of ingredients.  There are certainly some great recipes that incorporate only two or three ingredients.  A steak that is marinated in oil, garlic and sea salt will definitely be a tasty dinner.

However, I look for recipes that may incorporate six or more ingredients.  Those recipes can present much more of a challenge.  Each ingredient has to take in account all of the other ingredients.  You have to take into account the flavors, the "intensity" and proportions.  A rub with three ingredients is fairly easy to develop and manage.  A rub with nine or ten ingredients becomes much harder.  The goal is to make sure each ingredient can be ascertained as much in the final product.  If one is not careful, then he or she can "lose" an ingredient in the mix.  In that case, it is as if you never used it in the first place.  A spice mix of six ingredients may only taste like there were three.  The whole effort results in a loss.

Recently, I found a recipe for a "Lone Star" rub on a blog called "Grogs4Blogs."  Along with the recipe, there was a very good discussion of what makes for a good dry rub.  A good rub, just like a good wet marinade, can be reduced to a very simple and straightforward equation, which was described by Adam Perry Long, the author of Serious Barbecue.  The equation is as follows: Color Base + Salt + Sugar + Flavor + Heat.  

The ingredients of the Lone Star rub can be organized according to this equation.  The color base is paprika, which serves as a common base for many rubs used in grilling and smoking.  The salt and sugar are self-explanatory.  The flavor comes from the use of onion powder, garlic powder, cumin and cinnamon.  Onion and garlic powder are about as common of flavor elements as paprika is a color base.  Cumin is also used frequently in spice mixes. By contrast, cinnamon is much less common in spice mixes, especially those destined to be applied to large steaks that will end upon the grill.  Yet, the sweet and "spice" of the cinnamon was clearly detectable in both the rub and the finished product.  Finally, the heat was the chile spice.  The recipe did not identify any particular chile, which I usually take to mean that generic "Mexican chile" or "chile" spice you find in the spice section of most grocery stores.  When I made this recipe, I decided to use some ground New Mexican hatch chiles, which provided just enough heat to balance the flavor elements in the rub.

Although I found the recipe on the Grogs4Blogs website, the blogger relied upon a rub recipe from Jamie Purviance, who is a chef and cookbook writer.  Chef Purviance has his own website,which is associated with Weber Grills. 

I managed to find a couple of other websites that had Chef Purviance's Lone Star rub.  Those recipes tracked the one on Grogs4Blogs with one exception.  The other recipes included dried majoram.  This raised a question in my mind.  Why did the blogger at Grogs4Blogs leave out one of the ingredients in the mix.  Majoram is used in many herb and spice mixes such as Herbes aux Provence and Za'atar. It pairs well with onions and garlic, and other herbs like rosemary.  However, majoram does not pair as well with the other flavor and heat ingredients of the Lone Star rub, such as chile, cumin and cinnamon.  That may have been the reason why it was left out of the recipe.  

In any event, the next time I try this recipe, I might just add back in that 1/2 teaspoon of dried majoram to see if it adds to the flavor of the rub or just gets lost in the mix.

Adapted from recipe published by Grogs4Blogs
Serves 4

2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 dry-aged, bone-in rib eyes, 12 to 16 ounces and 1 2/3 inches thick
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 limes, cut into wedges (optional)

1.  Prepare the steaks.   Combine all of the rub ingredients.  Brush the steaks with the olive oil and then apply the rub to all sides of the steak, massaging the rub into the meat.  Allow the steaks to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.
2.  Grill or cook the steaks.   Heat the grill on high or the heat the broiler in the oven.  Grill or broil the steak for about six minutes and then flip the steak.  Grill or broil for about 4 minutes more.  

3.  Finish the dish.  Remove the steaks from the grill or broiler and tent with foil.  Let the steaks rest for five minutes and serve with the lime wedges.
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