Mel’s Diner

Sharp Knives, Raw Meat and Fire


I’ve been counting on Google and their cached webpages to supply me with info and recipes from my old blog hoster (is that a word) Clearblogs and the original Mel’s Diner.  As I went back for this post, I was shocked to find it gone!!  It was just there a few weeks ago, I used it for the recipe for this post!  I don’t have that recipe written down!  Fortunately, Google had a cache of my last Clearblogs page and it’s posts and at the very bottom, the last post cached was my recipe!  Saved! 

And we are very lucky for that because it’s my corned beef recipe.  And by corned beef, I mean the recipe for the brine to corn the beef.  It’s a cobbled together recipe, partly from Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie (again) and partly from iliketocook’s lovely and gracious Sara’s much despised recipe for Irish Spiced Beef.  I first made it two Thanksgiving’s ago and I liked it a lot, though I found it to be too clove-y.  This time, I cut the cloves and made the best corned beef I have ever had in my Irish roots, I-eat-a-lot-of-corned-beef life!



  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 cups (1 pound) Morton’s kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ounce (5 teaspoons) Saltpeter
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp ground cloves (down from ½ tsp in the original recipe)
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp Mustards seed, ground
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground mace
  • 3 dried bay leaves

Combine everything in a pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Once combined, remove from heat and cool down to room temperature.  Refrigerate the cooled mixture until well chilled.  Add a 4-5 pound beef brisket to chilled mixture, weigh it down with a plate and refrigerate 5 days.  I removed the beef and, because we weren’t eating it soon, I froze it. 


That was a week and a half ago.  Saturday, I defrosted it and I cooked it yesterday.  I put the brisket in an 8 quart stock pot and covered it with about a gallon of water.  I brought it up to a boil and simmered it for 5-10 minutes.  I drained the water to rinse away any excess brine and salt from the beef and added another gallon to 6 quarts of water and brought it to a boil again.  I simmered it for 3 ½ hours, adding carrots, cabbage and potatoes near the end to cook them.  I sliced it, served it with the veggies and……WOW!



You’re welcome.  Sounds a bit vain, but, c’mon, when your right, you’re right.


March 2, 2009 Posted by | Best Of...., Main Dish, Recipe | 1 Comment


The first time Clearblogs, my first blog hosting service disappeared, I said I wasn’t all that unhappy because it gave me a chance to repost all of my best recipes.  Of course, Clearblogs reappeared and I never reposted any of the great recipes.

Then, just a month or so ago, Clearblogs disappeared again and this time, it looks for good.  So, I’m taking this opportunity to repost some of what I consider my best recipes.  And one of the best is Mike’s Mac and Cheese.  This post will actually be the THIRD time it has graced the cyber-pages of Mel’s Diner.  The first post was obviously the original Mel’s Diner post and it re-appeared as a link on a Best of… post. 

I made this two times this weekend, perfecting the recipe.  I made it on Saturday for the family to eat for dinner that night and again on Sunday to bring in to work for some very deserving friends. 

As I said in the original post, what makes this Mac and Cheese so good in the Béchamel Sauce (actually an extra cheesy Mornay Sauce).  Steeping the diary in a mirepoix and bouquet garni adds a depth of flavor to the resulting cheese sauce that regular mac and cheese can never match.  Trust me, if I had this as a weapon in high school (or college), I would have had a lot more girlfriends that I did.  Chicks dig guys who can cook.

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • Bouquet Garni (bay leaf, peppercorns, parsley stems, thyme, etc.)
  • 4 cups of Light Cream
  • 2 tbs. of butter
  • 1 ½ cups of shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, muenster, etc. Must be at least half  Cheddar!)
  • ½ cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano 
  • 1 1/2 Tbls. flour
  • 2/3 pound of pasta
  • nutmeg, cayenne, salt and white pepper

Make the Béchamel:

Add the onion, carrot, celery and the bouquet garni into a large pan with the milk and cream.  You can see I couldn’t find my cheesecloth, so my bouquet ended up in the pot along with the mirepoix:


Heat to a boil, turn off and allow the aromatics to steep in the dairy for thirty minutes.  After thirty minutes, strain the dairy into another pot and bring to a simmer.  While that is happening, melt the butter and add the flour.  Stir into a roux and cook the roux to a pale stage. Add the hot dairy and whisk until it comes to a boil.  After it thickens, it will be the consistency of gravy.

Make the Mac and Cheese:

Cook the pasta in another pot (I prefer small tube pasta, like macaroni) until totally done, no al dente, please.  Add the cheeses to the sauce and whisk to combine.  I used 1 cup of cheddar, one half cup of jack cheese and, of course, the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

 After the sauce is smooth, add the pasta to the sauce.  Add the nutmeg, cayenne, salt and white pepper to taste.  It is going to be VERY soupy – don’t panic.


As it cools, the pasta will soak up the sauce until it’s just right.  It seems dry, add more cream, or as I did the last time, a bit of the past water and re-taste for salt and pepper.


February 16, 2009 Posted by | Best Of...., Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe | Leave a comment


It’s so freekin’ hot, I have lost all will to post.  And the sad thing is that’s it isn’t all that hot – it could be hotter, it will be hotter.  Yet, still – I want to lie in front of the air conditioner and long for November.

But, I do need to post.  An updated blog is a good blog, and I want a good blog.  So, I’ll split the difference and post a Best Of…

I loved my Grandfather and I still love the food he cooked.  Beans, stuffing, donuts, HUGE pancakes…just a small list, but all so GOOD!  Last August, for a Weekend Cookbook Challenge, I posted one of his best recipes…Baked Beans.

July 10, 2008 Posted by | Best Of...., Recipe | 3 Comments


Oh, so many moons ago, I posted a recipe for salsa from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.  I’ve been making it for years and everyone, EVERYONE who tries it – loves it.  It’s a fresh salsa recipe and every time I’ve made it with “winter tomatoes”, it’s terrible.  So, for years, I’ve only made it with fresh tomatoes. But, lately I’ve made it with canned tomatoes I’ve cut into pieces. 

It’s good.

I mean really good!

So, for the next few weeks as you wait for fresh tomatoes, don’t be afraid to make this with canned tomatoes (a 28-32 oz can), but only those with no citric acid, please.

June 14, 2008 Posted by | Best Of...., Random Blather | 1 Comment


A few weeks ago, just before I thought I had lost all of my previous posts on Clearblogs, I had an idea that maybe I would start posting “The Best of Mel’s Diner”.  There’s a lot of great posts on my old blog (if I do say so myself, and I shouldn’t) and I’d like people to see some of the old recipes that are just plain good.

So, the first post to make “The Best of…”is Fire and Ice Salsa.  Last weekend, I bought a watermelon (a small one) and made this outrageous salsa for my friends at work.  To a man (and woman), they loved it.  I even was asked for the recipe (complicated as it is) several times.

Fire and Ice Salsa

  • 3 cups of watermelon in small cubes
  • 2 or more fresh jalapenos
  • 2 Tablespoons of green or white onion, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh, chopped cilantro
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced.
  • Salt

Combine everything in a bowl and mix well.  Chill before serving.


On a not so old best of recipe, I made Nigella’s beef stew tonight and boy, oh boy it’s good.  This recipe (ironically, the failed one) is still the number one visited page on Mel’s Diner.

May 31, 2008 Posted by | Best Of...., Recipe | 2 Comments