Triple Winter Beef Stir Fry

April 30, 2016 – To connoisseurs of Chinese food, Triple Winter means the bamboo shoots, mushrooms and Chinese cabbage that are ready for harvesting in the winter.  They find these winter products of the garden and forest particularly tender and flavorful.  Less coarse, in the connoisseurs view, than the ones that come of age in the other seasons.

I am far from a connoisseur of Chinese food.  I do like to experiment with the foods of various cultures.  When I read about Triple Winter recently, I decided to try a stir fry.  Then reality set in.  Winter bamboo shoots, mushrooms and Chinese cabbage are impossible to find in this country.  At least, I couldn’t find them.  Even if they were available in this country they wouldn’t be in the stores now because April is not winter.

To resolve this conundrum and satisfy my urge to experiment, I had to settle for the canned bamboo shoots found in any grocery store, dried mushrooms (I used portobellos) and Savoy cabbage. 

I had the butcher thinly slice a couple of beef filets.  I like to use filets for stir fry because the meat is so tender.  They take no more than a minute in the wok.

The tenderness and flavor of the beef, the crunchiness of the bamboo shoots and cabbage, the earthiness of the mushrooms all came together to produce a meal that wouldn’t impress our theoretical connoisseur but was great at our table.

Again at my wife’s request, I substituted coconut aminos for the soy sauce I would have used otherwise.  The coconut aminos has a similar taste though it’s slightly sweeter than soy sauce.

So with apologies to the great chefs of China and their followers, here’s my take on a Triple Winter Stir Fry.

Triple Winter Beef Stir Fry

(Serves two)

1 lb beef filet, sliced thin

1/2 cup bamboo shoots, chopped

1/2 cup dried mushrooms

1 head Savoy cabbage, sliced & chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

2 tablespoons red wine

6 cloves garlic,

2 green onions, cut into 1″ pieces

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons chicken stock

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

Crushed red pepper to taste

Marinate the beef for half an hour in coconut aminos (or soy sauce), one tablespoon of red wine, the ginger, the sesame oil, salt, pepper & crushed red pepper to taste.

Soak the mushrooms in lukewarm water for the same time.

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet.  Stir fry the cabbage, bamboo shoots, garlic and drained mushrooms for a minute and a half.

Add the chicken stock and stir fry for another minute and a half.

Add the beef, the green onions (saving a few of the dark green tops for garnish)  and the remaining red wine.  Stir fry for a minute.

Turn out onto plates.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve immediately garnished with green onion pieces.

You can sprinkle a few sesame seeds over the plate for additional garnish if you wish.

Bon temps!


Ruffhaus Hot Dog Company

April 27, 2016 – I love hot dogs.  All kinds of hot dogs.  Kosher dogs.  Chili dogs.  Dogs with sauerkraut.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  A hot dog on a bun with a smear of Creole mustard, maybe a few chopped onions and I’m happy.

I don’t take sides in the never ending debate between New York versus Chicago.  The New York style dog with its mustard, kraut and onion is elegant in its simplicity.

The Chicago dog, I would have to say, is pure adventure.  With its plain yellow mustard, Chicago sweet pickle relish, chopped tomato and onion, spear of dill pickle, two or three sport peppers and celery salt on a poppy seed bun, eating it can be quite the enterprise.

The Ruffhaus Hot Dog Company in El Dorado Hills was opened with people like me in mind.  Owner Charles Knight, an experienced chef who decided he wanted to make hot dogs, seems to favor the Chicago dog.  At least “Chicago Style” spelled out in big red letters could be a clue.  That and the lack of a New York dog on the menu.  But he does allow his customers latitude to build their own dogs.

And he provides a pub-style atmosphere that is fun.  The walls of the Ruffhaus Hot Dog Company are covered with all sorts of happy items, not the least of which is a large American flag.  In the middle of the room is an old fashioned telephone booth, a relic that always makes me smile

My wife ordered only the tater tots from the appetizer menu.  Tater tots are on a lot of restaurant menus these days. I was appalled not long ago when I asked the person tending our table at a restaurant that will remain unnamed if they made the tater tots in house.  He said they did not.  They buy the frozen ones like everyone else.

Not so at the Ruffhaus Hot Dog Company!  Ruffhaus tater tots are made by mixing shredded potato with cheddar cheese and chives.  They’re served with rosemary-lemon aioli, also made in house.  Delectable.

I had awakened in the middle of the night and spent half the day on an airplane.  I had eaten nothing.  I was going for it.  A Chicago dog for me!  With a side of chili cheese fries!

The Chicago dog is a big sandwich.  It’s not easy to eat.  But it’s worth the effort.  The dill pickle spear and sport peppers add a little tang and spice.  The dog itself overhangs the sesame seed bun by an inch on either side.  It’s a two, maybe three, napkin sandwich.  It was a mouthwatering sight just lying on the plate.  Not for long.

For those who don’t care for hot dogs (as unbelievable as that might seem) the menu offers several options.  Fish and chips.  Fish tacos.  Italian beef sandwich.  Pulled pork.  Shepherd’s pie.

But enough of that.  Back to the hot dogs.  There’s a Coney Dog:  chili, onions and mustard.  The Sonoran:  a bacon-wrapped beef frank, pinto beans, chipotle mayo, and pico de gallo.  The Wolfsberg Edition:  Beer steamed bratwurst (Yeah, I love brats, too.), sauerkraut and German mustard.  And The Bomb:  chili, cheddar cheese, chopped red onion and jalapenos.

Knight’s motto is:  We are not fast food.  We are great food.

Well done, Chef.

Save me a seat at the bar.  I have four dogs yet to try.