Steak is perfect for the grill. A well marbled, cut thin and flat steak is made for searing over a bed of hot coals. A grilled steak is mouthwatering if it is brown and crisp on the outside and pink & juicy on the inside. There really isn’t an easier and less complicated dinner than a grilled steak with a green salad on the side. Plus, the cleanup is practically effortless. Most any cut of steak is great for grilling. The classics are rib eye, New York, filet, tenderloin and porterhouse. The lesser cuts are cheaper and usually every bit as tasty if they are marinated. A flatiron, chuck, skirt steak, hangar steak, top sirloin or tri-tip are lesser cuts of steak that I tend to marinate overnight. Steaks can be grilled as a single portion or larger steaks can be grilled whole and sliced for more than one. A steak is best cut 1 to 2 inches thick. If a steak is thinner, then the inside will be overdone before the outside is properly seared. If a steak is thicker then the outside, it will start to char before the inside is ready. Trim off all but a fourth of an inch layer of fat. The less dripping fat means fewer flare-ups.
Seasoning a steak is simple. All you really need is kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Some people like an herb crust. Chopping fresh herbs together in any combination is great. You can combine thyme, rosemary, oregano and/or oregano; however, you should always use rosemary. Mix the fresh herbs with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Rub onto the steak with some olive oil an hour or so before grilling. You should take the steaks out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before grilling to allow the steaks to come to room temperature.
Clean your grill with a wire brush and then prepare a hot fire. Oil the grill and put on the steaks. Your grill should be so hot that you shouldn’t be able to tolerate the heat for more than a couple seconds. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the steaks over and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. If your steak has a border of fat then turn this onto the grill by holding the steak up with your tongs. Sear the fat for 1 to 2 minutes. After you flip your steaks you should start checking for doneness after about 2 minutes. Press the back of your tongs into the steak. If it is rare it will be soft. If it springs a bit then it is medium rare. If it is resilient then it is well done. Keep testing by using the “back of the tong” method. You can check by cutting into the steaks, but I really think that it is better not to cut into the steaks. Keep working on the “back of the tong” method and you will become a good judge pretty quickly. I think that it is a good idea to take the steaks off of the grill when they are a little less done than you want them to be. They will continue to cook while they rest. A 1 inch steak will be grilled rare in about 8 minutes and for medium it should take about 12 minutes. Check your fire while the steaks are cooking. Move the coals as needed to make the fire hotter or cooler. If your fire flares up then move the steaks out of the flames right away or the fire will burn up your steak. This will form a black and acrid crust. When you remove your steaks from the grill let them take a little rest for a few minutes before serving. Resting stabilizes the internal juices so that they don’t run out excessively when you cut into the steaks. If you are not going to serve right away, make sure to cover loosely with aluminum foil to help keep warm. Don’t seal tightly or they will continue to cook.
Last night I went to South Norwalk’s Pasta Nostra and had a wonderful meal. Everything on the menu is fresh and homemade. I had the stuffed peppers to start which is the Pasta Nostra signature appetizer. For my main dish I had the delicious spiral sausage with a side of fresh linguini which had the nicest tomato sauce that was not heavy at all. The fresh linguini melts in your mouth and the spiral sausage has the just the right amount of flavor. I wouldn’t change a thing. The dessert was a delicious coconut slice of cake/pie goo that was like eating a mounds bar, but only better. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the bread was outstanding. I couldn’t help but dip the delicious bread in the olive oil. The staff is extremely friendly and attentive. My server, Jose, has been with the restaurant for almost 19 years. Owner and Chef Joe Bruno makes sure to come to everyone’s table to chat. Bruno is friendly, funny and full of great stories. Pasta Nostra is a bit pricey, but worth it.
116 Washington Street (Between Main and Water Streets)
Norwalk, CT 06854
Owner Joe Bruno
Feast of Saint John The Baptist June 24th
One of the many unique things that we could say in describing St. John the Baptist is that he is truly the "Saint of Summer." Saint John the Baptist is one of the most important saints. Other than the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, John the Baptist is the only saint who is honored on the Church calendar with more than one Feast Day (the other is August 29th, the day of his martyrdom). As we can see, both these Feast Days occur at the opposite ends of the Summer season. John the Baptist saw and lived very clearly his purpose in life and carried it out in the midst of challenges. He had two important qualities of his life that should inspire us each day.These two qualities are humility and a sense of purpose.
Son of Elizabeth and Zacharias, both already advanced in years and childless, John was born about 6 months before Jesus. This birth had been announced by the archangel Gabriel to Zacharias, who was struck dumb by the message. 8 days after the birth, having to be circumcised, the child needed a name, and Zacharias succeeded in writing “John,” following indications of the angel; his tongue loosened in the hymn of the Benedictus. In representations of the birth o the Baptist, Mary is usually also present, assist her cousin Elizabeth, while Zacharias is most often shown in the act of writing. The name John is from a Hebrew name meaning “Yahweh is gracious.”
This is a great feast of June that is common to countries and has been celebrated since early times, is the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, also known as Midsummer. In lots of places bonfires are lighted in honor of Saint John. This day is to celebrate the summer solstice. In Ireland and in England these bonfires had their origin in the Druidic fires lighted in honor of the god of the sacred wood. Today they are known as the Fires of Saint John although a few pagan customs remain in connection with the celebration.
In France the bonfires are built as close as possible to one of Saint John’s own chapels. It is important to have a boy named Jean or a girl named Jeanne provides a wreath to throw into the fire. When vesper services are over the priest kindles the blaze and the evening begins with singing and dancing which will last far into the night.
In Mexico Saint John’s feast is a big affair. Saint John is the Mexicans dearly beloved saint, especially the saint of the waters. On this day wells and fountains are decorated bright with ribbons and flowers. At midnight on the eve, everyone bathes: in the country in lakes or pools or rivers; in large cities the festivities center around the fashionable bath houses where swimming contests and exhibitions of diving skill take place.
Saint John’s Day in Mexico is definitely also a day of feasting. Everyone brings food to the bathing places. Cakes, sweets, chicken tamales, stuffed peppers, pork tacos and empanadas.
I just got done reading Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which I highly recommend. I might add that I read it in hard copy as I don’t own an e-reader. I just like to have a real book in my hands. Anyway, there is a part of the book that goes into the “Industrial Organic Food” industry. I was shocked to learn that many large corporations own tons of organic food companies. Here’s a list that might surprise you.
Coca-Cola Owns: Honest Tea & Odwalla
Dean Owns: Horizon & White Wave/Silk
Danone Owns: Stonyfield Farms
General Mills Owns: Cascadian Farm & Muir Glen
Hain Celestial (Who Is Allied With Heinz & Cargill) Owns: SunSpire Spectrum Organics, Garden of Eatin’, Imagine/Rice Dream/Soy Dream & Celestial Seasonings
Kellogg Owns: Bear Naked, Kashi & Morningstar Farms/Natural Touch
Kraft Owns: Boca Foods & Back To Nature
Pepsi Owns: Naked Juice
Unilever Ownes: Ben & Jerry’s
Colgate Palmolive Owns: Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste (Of Course Not A Food)
The Holdouts Who Have Refused Buyout Offers From Larger Companies:
Nothing says grilling season like a hot & juicy burger. You can enjoy an American favorite that is new and improved by giving your burger a healthy twist without skimping on flavor. Here are some things that you can do to create a better burger.
Choose Your Patty: For a classic burger it is important to choose the leanest ground beef available. Purists will tell you to use the fattiest ground beef, but if you are trying to cut down on fat and create a healthier burger try using lean meat. I like to use ground sirloin. You also might try: Ground Turkey Breast (usually 99% fat free); Ground Buffalo/Bison (naturally sweet & lean); Veggie Burgers (usually has one seventh the saturated fat of traditional burgers); Fish Burgers; Salmon Burgers (rich in omega-3); Mushroom Burgers (made from large grilled Portobello mushrooms).
Jazz Up Your Burgers: Spices and condiments are key here. Mix in or season your burgers with salt free or low sodium spices. You can get creative here to suit your tastes or mood. I like to use Cajun spices, Italian spices and sometimes a touch of curry spices. You can get a fiber boost and add texture by adding chopped or grated vegetables or herbs.
To Bun Or Not To Bun: Who says a burger must be served on a traditional white bun? Feel free to serve your burgers on 100% whole grain buns or pita pockets. If you are going for a totally bunless burger you might want to try sturdy lettuce or cabbage leaves.
Accessorize: The tasty trimming options are endless, but here are a few ideas. Choose condiments that are low in fat, sodium and sugar. Read the labels on varieties of ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish and salsa. Choose low-fat or fat-free varieties of cheese. The white cheeses tend to be lower in fat such as Swiss or provolone. Top your burger with grilled onions and sliced tomatoes. Instead of using iceberg lettuce try radicchio, arugula or romaine. While you’re at it add cucumber slices, radish slices or red pepper rings for some extra crunch.
June 13th Feast Day
Anthony of Padua or Anthony of Lisbon was born Fernando Martins de Bulloes on August 15, 1195 and died June 13, 1231. He was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He died in Padua, Italy, but was born to a wealthy family in Lisbon, which is where he was raised. St. Anthony is best known as the patron saint of lost things. Barren women also claim St. Anthony as their patron saint most likely because of his association with the Baby Jesus. There is a popular story that one night during St. Anthony’s lifetime the Baby Jesus visited him, kissed him and told him that He loved him. The story is so well loved that, aside from Mary, St. Anthony is the saint most often depicted with the Baby Jesus. St. Anthony is often shown carrying a lily as a symbol of purity, innocence and integrity probably because he was entrusted with the Baby Jesus.
St. Anthony had a special love for the poor and oppressed people which is in keeping with his beloved Franciscan tradition. Noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of Scripture, he was declared a saint almost immediately after his death and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church January 16, 1946.
I have loved chickens for many years. Twenty years ago I had a chicken coop built on my property where I lived in the Pacific NW. I raised laying hens so that I could cook with fresh eggs. During the day I let my hens roam my property and at dusk my son’s corgi would herd them into their coop. Each morning I would go out to the coop, thank the “girls” and gather beautiful fresh eggs. Those days are gone and I now live a much different life dividing my week between my apartment in New York City and my house in Fairfield County.
Here are some fun and interesting chicken facts:
Chickens are omnivores. In the wild they will scratch the soil searching for seeds, insects, young mice and lizards.
Alektorophobia means “fear of chickens.”
The older the hen the larger the eggs she lays.
Chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs. Chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs.
Chickens can live for 5 to 10 years depending on the breed. According to, The Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s oldest chicken died of heart failure at age 16.
A fresh egg sinks in a bowl of water, and old egg floats.
Hens start clucking to the eggs a few days before hatching, making it more likely that they will all hatch at approximately the same time.
DNA evidence suggests that chickens are the closest living relatives to the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The first pictures of chickens in Europe were found on 7th Century BC Corinthian pottery.
Eggs dry out more quickly in your refrigerator’s egg rack so it is best to leave them in the carton.
If you can’t remember which eggs you cooked then spin them. If an egg spins quickly then it is hard boiled. If an egg spins slowly and wobbles then it is raw.
It is estimated that there are four chickens to every human on the planet.
The egg carton was invented in 1911 by a Canadian newspaper editor named, Joseph Coyle, in Smithers, British Columbia
An egg standing on its end can bear up to 200 pounds. The record was set by the Ontario Science Centre.
For best results, eggs should be brought to room temperature when used for baking.
A plastic egg, golf ball or avocado pit placed in a nest will encourage a hen to lay in it. This is the origin of the term “nest egg.”
“Go away, boy! Or I’ll spank you where the feathers are the thinnest.” – Foghorn J. Leghorn
One of the things that I like to do is collect cake plates. Whenever I am out I keep my eye open for beautiful or interesting plates. Of course I like a good bargain as well and won’t pay more than $25 for any cake plate. Thrift stores and consignment shops are a great place to find a good bargain. I found this antique cake plate in an antique store in Ridgefield, Connecticut.