Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Short ribs in tomato sauce

Ernie loves short ribs. This is a good way to make them, if you're not interested in braising them in a bottle of red wine with lots of bacon. That way is good, too.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman

8 whole Beef Short Ribs
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon Sugar
4 cloves Garlic, Crushed
1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
1 cup Red Wine
1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes
1 can (14 Ounce) petite tomatoes in sauce
1 teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
Dried basil (how much? I dunno, I eyeballed it)
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high to high heat. Sprinkle short ribs with salt and pepper. Brown short ribs in oil, about 1 1/2 or 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.
Pour off excess oil (be careful!) Throw garlic and onions into pot. Stir to cook for a minute or two, then add tomatoes, wine, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and basil. Stir to combine.
With tongs, set short ribs back into the pot, submerging as much as possible in the sauce. Cover pot and place into the oven. Cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Short ribs should be tender and falling off the bone.
Allow pot of sauce to cool a bit, then place pot into the fridge for several hours or overnight. Remove hardened fat/grease from the top. Discard fat. Return pot either to stovetop or oven and warm it up.
Boil pasta according to package directions. Turn pasta onto a large platter, then top with tomato sauce and short ribs. Sprinkle plenty of Parmesan over the top, as well as some chopped parsley.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Adapted from Weight Watchers, Cooking Light and King Arthur Flour.

6 oz shelled and peeled hazelnuts
1 C KAF ww or white whole wheat flour
3/4 C AP flour
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli)
1/2 C dutched cocoa powder (regular is fine, too)
1 T instant espresso or coffee powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs (can use 2 large eggs + 2 large whites)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Place one rack in the upper third of oven and the other rack in the lower third. Cover 2 large baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

If your nuts are not peeled already, place 6 oz of them on a large baking sheet and put in the oven while it preheats for about 10 min or so or until the nus smell fragrant and you can see the peels start to flake off. If the peels remain stubbornly in place, shake the pan a bit and then put it back in the oven for a few more minutes. Remove from oven and dump nuts onto a dish towel. Rub together vigorously until most of the peels have come off the nuts. If you like, run a knife through the nuts to chop them up a bit or whizz them around in your food processor (which is what I did) so they are in smaller pieces. I believe this helps with cutting the biscotti later. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine 2 tablespoons of hazelnuts, flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Process until nuts are finely ground; transfer dry ingredients to a large bowl. In the same food processor (no need to clean), combine sugar, eggs and vanilla until slighty thickened, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients. Stir in remaining hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

Scoop one-third of the batter into a long rope on one side of the baking sheet; repeat with remaining batter, making 2 ropes on one baking sheet and one rope on the other, with space in between. KAF tip: using a wet spatula, wet spoon or wet hands, and shape ropes about 14 inches long and 2 to 2 1/2 inches wide. Bake, reversing baking sheets once, until firm, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Another KAF tip: after removing logs from the oven, spray them evenly with water from a spray bottle to moisten the cookies and allow rest a few minutes. Place logs on a cutting board and cut STRAIGHT DOWN with a serrated knife on diagonal into approx. 1/2 inch thick slices. These tips help prevent crumbling as you cut the cookies. Place slices upright on baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake until cut sides feel dry to the touch, 25 min for crisp yet slightly crumbly texture or 35 min for a crisp and crunchy texture. Cool completely on cookie sheets. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 40-50 cookies. If you shape the logs into 4 ropes instead of 3 you will end up with more cookies.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Purple Cabbage Salad with Edamame

Slightly adapted from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. This would make a great pot luck dish. Would also be good served with Alissa's recipe for Caribbean Chicken.

1.5 C shelled edamame, defrosted if frozen
2 C thinly sliced red cabbage
1 orange/red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 C finely diced pineapple [or use frozen pineapple tidbits from TJ's]
1/4 C golden raisins/sultanas
1 large handful shredded carrots
1/4 C chopped salted cashews
1/4 C chopped fresh mint
2 T fresh lime juice plus the zest of one lime
2 T honey
1/2 t sriracha
splash or two of soy sauce

Toss veg and fruit in a large bowl. Whisk together mint, honey, lime juice, sriracha and soy sauce and pour over salad. Toss well to combine. Garnish with cashews and serve. Tastes best when flavors are allowed to marinate together a bit but also tasty when it's just made.

Cuban Black Bean and Potato Soup

Adapted from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times (recipe not yet available online).

I medium onion, diced [I used a red onion]
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small green pepper, diced [didn't have so I used a yellow one]
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 C cooked black beans, about 1 lb. dried [I used a mix of pinto and great northern]
3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and diced [don't peel!]
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T ground cumin
1 large bay leaf
1 T oregano [I used dried]
1 T salt or to taste [if using canned beans, use less salt]
pinch or two of cayenne
1.5 T canola oil
6 C water or low-sodium chx broth

I made mine from scratch instead of using canned beans because I had the time. If you are short on time, just drain and rinse about 3 cans of black beans [or other type of bean if you prefer]. Start by making the sofrito: coarsely chop onions, peppers and garlic and throw into your food processor; process until finely minced. If you don't want to dirty your food processor, then chop by hand. Add the oil to your pressure cooker and saute sofrito for about 3-4 minutes or until veg softens. Add cumin, oregano and bay leaf and stir to combine. If using dried beans, place one pound of rinsed and drained beans into the pot and add water (I used about 3 C chx broth from the freezer and added enough water to make 6 cups).

Depending on how fresh your beans are and if you bothered to soak overnight, place pressure cooker on high pressure for 30 min and then allow 20 min of natural pressure release. Check beans at this time to test for doneness. Mine were a little on the old side so they took longer. If beans seem like they are close to done, add in potatoes and either simmer until potatoes are done or place back under high pressure for 5-10 minutes (again, depending on how done your beans are) and then allow 10 min. for natural pressure release. Or do the whole thing in a crock pot and cook all day or do it on the stove top in a dutch oven. Either way, when the beans and potatoes are done, use an immersion blender or a potato masher and squish the beans a bit. *Caution - be sure to remove the bay leaf before using your immersion blender* Don't do it too much or you'll end up with a pot of mush. Before serving, add salt and vinegar. Makes your house smell delicious and this soup tastes every bit as amazing as it smells. If you want to add meat, use a ham hock or smoked turkey wing for flavor and meaty bits. Otherwise, it tasted delicious without any added meat.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sweet Potato and Bean Chili

From: Serious Eats

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
Three 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained (I used cannellini and garbanzos)
1 small chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro stems
Kosher salt
1 bottle dark beer
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 lime (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Heat oil in large Dutch oven or heavy-lidded saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and peppers until soft and beginning to caramelize, 5-8 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and chili powder and continue to sauté until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, chipotle, cilantro stems, and 1 teaspoon salt. Turn heat to high, and pour in beer. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add sweet potatoes.

Continue to simmer until potatoes are tender, but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Spoon chili into bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves, a squeeze of lime, and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with corn bread.

* I added the juice of 1/2 a lime and a pinch of brown sugar to the pot at the end.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

anyone make homemade yogurt?

You have probably already heard me drone on in some other venue about my quest to make delicious yogurt. I want to make thick, tangy plain yogurt. I love plain yogurt for many reasons and I want to make my own. I day. Maybe with your help!

Using one particular recipe three times, I have made: yogurt of reasonable texture that K wouldn't touch and gave me & S iffy tummies, baked milk and drinkable yogurt. I want to like this recipe because it's really simple but I don't have a warm setting on my oven (lowest temp is 170) and the wattage of the oven light doesn't seem provide enough warmth, so I don't think this is going to be the method for me. (I can't even find my paper copy of this recipe tonight...I bet K hid it from me!)

After my most recent two attempts, I did more reading about homemade yogurt. You can do it as many ways as there are ways to keep something warmish for a while:

swaddled crockpot method

swaddled crock in an unwarmed oven method

tepid water bath in a cooler method

there's even a thermos method, people.

Hillbilly's been around the yogurt bend and back and has her preferences.

Of course, there's the whole "get a yogurt maker" part of the conversation...
As I'm pretty sure that the incubation temp is my main issue, (see the troubleshooting section below) so I'm tempted by this prospect. I shy away from the maker, though, b/c I don't want to buy culture separately/specially. I want to use yogurt to start yogurt. I also don't like the taste of powdered non-fat dry milk so I'm feeling wimpy about how many maker recipes call for those two ingredients.

Troubleshooting has taught me:
Not all yogurt has live culture; you have to look for a stamp that specifies "live."
Non-organic milk with residual antibiotics can actually kill the culture you're trying to grow.
The temp of the incubator has to stay consistent and fairly low.

I welcome the thoughts of your food-lovin' brains. Have you made it? Successfully? Do you have/use a maker? What was the outcome of that venture? Do you use the powdered milk or the freeze-dried culture? Is the taste right? Consistency?

Bear forth your yogurt wisdom and bestow it upon me, a willing pupil.

Lentil Stir-Fry with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions

Yummy. I added chunked potatoes to my pot of lentils while they cooked. I also splashed some balsamic during the last 5 minutes on the stove.
Served w/ little dollop of plain yogurt.

By Freya Bellin on

Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 30 minutes with cooked lentils

Precooked lentils are so useful that it makes total sense to cook extra. Once you do that, it’s a snap to make this one-skillet dish, which you can serve with good bread or rice; or make the variation, an approximation of mujaddarah, a dish popular throughout the Middle East that adds rice to the skillet. Lentil cooking water and porcini soaking water are both invaluable liquids; you can use either (or a little of both) to moisten the stir-fry and save the rest to flavor other dishes.

1⁄2 cup dried porcini mushrooms, optional

Boiling water as needed

2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed

2 onions, halved and thinly sliced

1 pound mushrooms, preferably an assortment, sliced

3 cups cooked lentils, drained, liquid reserved

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried

Salt and black pepper

1. If you’re using the porcini, put them in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, and let soak for about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and roughly chop.

2. Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are dark brown but not burned, about 15 minutes; then remove them from the skillet.

3. Add a little more oil to the pan if it’s very dry and add the fresh mushrooms and the porcini if you’re using them. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let the mushrooms cook, undisturbed, for about 5 minutes to release their liquid. Remove the cover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are dry, shrunken, and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes more.

4. Stir in the lentils, 1⁄4 cup or so of the lentil cooking water (or porcini soaking water), and the thyme; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until everything is heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve garnished with the caramelized onions.

Lentil and Rice Stir-Fry with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions: Substitute 1 cup cooked brown rice for 1 cup of the lentils; add more water if needed to keep the mixture moist as it cooks.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Puerco Y Papas al Guajillo (Guajillo-Spiced Pork & Potatoes) - slow cooker

From Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday
I've also used this recipe with a whole chicken instead of pork. I'd love a tip about how to keep track of all the tiny little bones of a chicken in a slow cooker.

Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds red skin or Yukon Gold potatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
1 1/2 – 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cubed (I used 1 1/2” cubes)
2 oz (about 8) dried guajillo chilies (stemmed, seeded, and torn so they lie flat)
1 – 15oz can diced tomatoes (preferably fire roasted)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 C (loosely packed) chopped cilantro for garnish
1/2 C diced white onion

1. Set the potatoes over bottom of slow cooker and top with pork.
2. Heat med. (8-inch) skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, toast the chilies – about 10 seconds per side. Any smoke means they are burning. Put in blender.
3. Add tomatoes w/ juice, garlic, oregano, Worcestershire, a generous 1 1/2 tsp. Salt, and 1 1/2 C water. Blend until as smooth as possible. Strain mixture through a medium-mesh sieve directly into slow cooker, over meat and potatoes. Stir to mix.
4. Put on lid and set to slow-cook on high for 6 hours. (It can keep on “warm” for 4 hours after cooked.)
5. Stir when done, add water if sauce seems too thick. Add salt if you think it needs it.
6. Serve in bowls with cilantro and onion on top.

Note: You can also do this in a Dutch oven at 300 degrees for 2 -1/2 to 3 hours.

Croque Monsieur

Ina Garten's recipe.
I made the sandwiches open-face on a hearty wheat loaf because that's what I had on hand.

* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 cups hot milk
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* Pinch nutmeg
* 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
* 16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
* Dijon mustard
* 8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Pad Thai

Below is Alton Brown's recipe. I wimped out of full execution of the recipe by substituting a little saucepan of our long-faithful Molly Katzen peanut sauce, but as soon as I get my hands on tamarind paste, I'll try this recipe again Alton's way. Even with my transgressions, it was so good.

I added shrimp that I steamed in the chicken stock leftover from the Pho recipe.

I made a stupid error when reading the recipe that resulted in me chopping and salting an entire HEAD of cabbage (also left over from Pho). I just made it into a big batch of sweet and tangy slaw by adding 2T of sugar and about 1/4 C rice vinegar and shaking it all together to combine. It was great as a crunchy condiment and my daughter said it tasted like butter.

1-ounce tamarind paste
3/4 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
4 ounces rice stick noodles
6 ounces Marinated Tofu, recipe follows
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 cup chopped scallions, divided
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 whole eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salted cabbage
1 tablespoon dried shrimp
3 ounces bean sprouts, divided
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped, divided
Freshly ground dried red chile peppers, to taste
1 lime, cut into wedges


Place the tamarind paste in the boiling water and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.

Combine the fish sauce, palm sugar, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the rice stick noodles in a mixing bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Once the other ingredients are measured out into separate bowls, drain the water from the noodles and set them aside. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch wide strips, similar to French fries.

Press the tamarind paste through a fine mesh strainer and add to the sauce. Stir to combine.

Place a wok over high heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Heat until it shimmers, then add the tofu. Cook the tofu until golden brown, moving constantly, for no longer than 1 minute. Remove the tofu from the pan to a small bowl and set aside.

If necessary, add some more peanut oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add 2/3 of the scallions and then the garlic, cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the eggs to the pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble. Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, cabbage, shrimp, and 2/3 of the bean sprouts and peanuts. Toss everything until heated through, but no longer than 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the remaining scallions, bean sprouts, and peanuts. Serve immediately with the ground chile peppers and lime wedges.

Marinated Tofu:

6 ounces extra-firm tofu, not silken

1 1/2 cups soy sauce

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

Wrap the tofu firmly in a tea towel. Place the wrapped tofu into an 8-inch cake pan. Top with another cake pan and weigh down with a 5-pound weight. (Bags of dried beans or grains work well.) Place in refrigerator and press for 12 to 15 hours.

Place pressed tofu in a 2-cup container. Combine soy sauce and five-spice powder and pour over tofu. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove the tofu from the marinade and use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days.

Yield: 6 ounces tofu

Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Soup)

I felt like an Hoover era housewife boiling a chicken, but it turned out great -- moist, easy to pull apart but not quite falling apart like it does in the crockpot. The carcass was in great shape to freeze to make another pot of stock later. I made this soup early in the week, we ate leftover chicken for lunch another day and then I made another pot of just plain old chicken noodle later in the week that made two meals. The mild Asian flavor in the chicken and leftover broth was a nice bonus.

Boil until tender:
2 lb. chicken or leg quarters [my chicken was 5 lb. I used a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken was cooked to 180 degrees.]
water to cover
1-2 t salt
1 star anise [the store didn't carry it, so I subbed 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice - yum.]

Remove chicken, debone, and pull or cut into pieces, Skim broth and keep hot.

Place in each of 4 soup bowls:
2 T cabbage thinly sliced
1/2-1 green onion, finely chopped
2 sprigs cilantro or parsley [both]
2 T. chicken pieces
a little nest of cooked rice noodles
1/2-1 t fish sauce

Cover with boiling chicken broth

Add ground black and red pepper to taste.

Khichri (Everyday Indian Lentils & Rice)

Smells amazing, tastes delicious. Easy and cheap to make if you have the whole spices on hand (Grg). Reheats really well.

In a large saucepan, heat:
2 T oil

Add and saute 2 minutes:
1 large onion, chopped
2 green peppers, sliced
2 inch stick cinnamon
4 cardamom pods
4 whole cloves

Add & stir-fry about five minutes:
1 C uncooked rice [I used brown]
1/2 C lentils

1 1/2 C potatoes, cubed
1 C cauliflower, chopped [1/2 a bag of frozen]
1 lg tomato [1 can of fire roasted]
4 C water

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until rice, lentils & veggies are tender, 20-30 minutes. Consistency will be like stew, not dry or fluffy.

from Extending the Table

Chapati - Indian Flat Bread

Goes great with Khichri (Indian lentils & rice dish).

Husband came home and asked our three year-old daughter, who was wearing an apron, wielding a rolling pin, and dusting a circle of dough with flour, "What are you doing?"
She replied, "I'm makin' Cha-potties!"

True story.

2 C. flour [I used one C whole wheat and one C unbleached white]
1 t. butter
pinch of salt

Gradually add:
1/2 C (or more) of lukewarm water

Knead until dough is soft. Cover with damp cloth and let rest 1 hour. Divide dough into 10 pieces. On a floured surface, roll each piece into 4-inch circle, 1/4 in thick. [If you roll it any thinner, the result is crunchy and you want soft and flexible]
Heat heavy un-greased frying pan [I used a cast iron tortilla comal].
Cook each Chapati until it starts to bubble on bottom, turn, cook on other side and remove. Stack in tea towel to keep warm.

from: Extending the Table (wonderful 10,000 Villages cookbook)