Monday, March 28, 2016

Red Wine Braised Beef Ribs

There is something about the art of braising meat that brings out the flavor in a way no other form of cooking can do.  The best part about it is that essentially all you are doing is throwing everything in a pot and letting it slowly cook for hours, but with a fancy french name!

As many of your know one of my favorite ways to spend any day is with friends and family and typically there is a large and wonderful meal in the works!  When we are all together, some coming in from out of town, it is like we hit our stride.  We all fall into sync and assume our roles.  

For some that is pouring the wine, for others it is trying to stay on top of cleaning the many dishes being dirtied up one on top of the other, but for me and my friend Michael we make the mess.  I prefer to think of it more as artistry in the works, but for those in the grand stands it looks like the aftermath of an atomic bomb of flour and spices!

With all of that being said, it is recipes like this one that keep said damage to a minimum.  

The beauty of braising!

Red Wine Braised Beef Ribs
4-6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 1/2 pounds beef short ribs
3 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 sweet onion, peeled and cut into eighths
3 medium carrots, peeled and coarse chopped
3 stalks celery, rinsed and coarse chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
12 ounces tomato paste
1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon (or other full bodied red wine)
2 cups water
14 stems of fresh thyme, bundled and tied with butchers twine
3 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Season the short ribs on all sides with fresh cracked black pepper and 2 1/2 teaspoons of the salt. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of a large dutch oven, roughly 3-4 tablespoons. Heat over high heat until hot.

Using tongs, gently add half of the short ribs to the hot oil (you do this in 2 batches because if the pan is overcrowded, the short ribs will steam instead of getting the nice brown crust that you want!). Sear on all 4 sides until a nice deep brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and repeat process with second half of short ribs.
(Clearly we were feeding an army...)

While the short ribs are browning, add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to a food processor or blender and pulse into a coarse paste (You can do this step ahead if you want).

Drain all of the oil & rendered fat from the pan (BE CAREFUL! The oil is PIPING HOT!). Add an additional 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and reduce heat to medium-high. Add the pureed veggies and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes. 

Add the tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the red wine and stir until everything is well combined, scraped the bottom of the pan to get all the browned (yummy) bits off into the sauce! 

Using the tongs, carefully nestle the short ribs back into the sauce 

(Note: be sure they are all covered by the sauce as much as possible). Add the thyme bundles and bay leaves and top with 2 cups of water (until short ribs are just barely covered).  

Put lid on dutch oven and bake in preheated oven for 3 1/2 hours, turning the ribs 2 hours into cooking, and add additional water if needed 
(you want the ribs to remain mostly covered in braising liquid).

Note: Add carrots during last hour of cooking if desired.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Braised Chicken & 
with Olives & 
Basil Purée

I have a new rule for myself....find recipes in a cookbook...not online or in the depths of a real cookbook.  I have shelves and shelves of them yet I never seem to look through them to actually find something to cook.  That changes now.  My mission for myself is to only use recipes from cookbooks for the foreseeable future.....I even ordered a cookbook holder!  That's how serious I am!

This new mid-week favorite came from Clean Eating Magazine.  With the garden ready to be planted, I wanted to start looking for recipes that call for ingredients I can pick fresh from my back yard and this looked amazing!

Braised Chicken & 
with Olives & 
Basil Purée
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 lb), trimmed
2 cups frozen 
artichoke quarters
1 1/2 cups peewee or 
fingerling potatoes, 
halved lengthwise
1/2 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives (or your favorite green olives), halved, 
1 cup fresh basil, plus ¼ cup sliced fresh basil, divided
pantry staples:
2 1/2 tsp smoked 
paprika, divided (I don't like smoky flavors so I used regular paprika)
1 tsp sea salt, divided
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tbsp low-sodium chicken broth, 
room temperature
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp potato starch 
(TRY: Bob’s Red Mill 
Potato Starch)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle chicken with ½ tsp paprika and ¼ tsp salt. In a small bowl, toss artichokes with 1 tsp oil, ½ tsp paprika and ¼ tsp salt. In a separate small bowl, toss potatoes with 1 tsp oil, ½ tsp paprika and ¼ tsp salt.
In a 9- to 10-inch cast iron skillet on medium-high, heat 1 tsp oil. Sear chicken thighs for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden; transfer to a plate. 
Scrape the skillet to get all those delicious brown bits loose...this will add to the flavor of the sauce!
To skillet, add ¼ cup water and artichokes and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned. Transfer artichokes to plate with chicken. Reduce heat to medium, add 1½ tsp oil to skillet and add potatoes, cut side down. Cook potatoes until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate with chicken and artichokes.
In a bowl, whisk together 1¼ cups broth, vinegar, starch, 1 tsp paprika and ¼ tsp salt. Pour mixture into skillet and whisk constantly until boiling.
Return potatoes to skillet and top with chicken and artichokes. Sprinkle 
¼ cup olives over top. Cover skillet with foil. Place skillet 
in oven and bake for 20 to 
30 minutes, until potatoes 
are tender and chicken is cooked through.
Meanwhile, prepare purée: In a blender, purée 
1 cup basil, remaining ¼ cup olives, 2 tbsp broth and 
1½ tsp oil until smooth.
Divide chicken among plates, sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup sliced basil and drizzle with purée.
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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pork Loin with Wine and Herb Gravy

With the soft aromas of spring in the air it makes me want to be doing....doing work in the yard, cooking in the kitchen, and piddlin' around my house.  Though I find great enjoyment from bringing family favorite recipes to the table with dear friends, sometimes I find it more adventuresome to spend an afternoon in the kitchen preparing a meal with a newly found recipe to entertain the hilarious and lovable characters in my life!  

Pork Loin with Wine and Herb Gravy
original recipe from Seasons & Suppers

1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and slice in half lengthwise
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 lb. center pork loin (or two 1 lb. pork tenderloins)
1 1/4 cups dry white wine (plus a bit more to deglaze pan)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup heavy cream (or a lighter cream, mixed with 2 tsp. cornstarch)

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic, rosemary and sage, stirring, for about one minute. Add the pork loin to the pan, carefully placing it on top of the herbs. Saute the pork for about 5 minutes on each side, then remove it to a plate. Add the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook until the smell of the alcohol has disappeared, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Lower the heat under the pan to low-medium heat. Return the pork to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Partially cover with a lid and cook for about 1 1/2 hours (probably less if you're using pork tenderloins), flipping the pork and scraping the bottom of the pan every 20 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it, making sure there continues to be some liquid in the pan. 
Add 1/4 cup of warm water if necessary.

When the pork is cooked through (if you want to test with a thermometer, it should be about 150° internal temperature) remove pork to a plate to rest. Meanwhile, increase the heat under the liquid in the pan to medium. If your pan has little liquid, deglaze with a splash of white wine. Stir well to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook until the alcohol smell disappears (about 1-2 minutes).   Add the chicken stock. 
Remove pot from heat and allow to cool in the pot for 20 minutes.

When the sauce has cooled, add the cream and put the pan back on the stove. Heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring the sauce constantly until it thickens a bit and warms. Avoid boiling. (*If your sauce doesn't thicken up, mix 2 Tbsp. cornstarch with 2 Tbsp. water and add a bit at a time to your sauce until it thickens to your liking.) 
Taste sauce and add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Place the resting pork on a cutting board (you can add any accumulated meat juices back to the sauce if you like!). Slice the pork very thinly and place on to a serving platter. 
Pour the warm gravy over top.
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Thyme-Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini

With St. Patty's Day right around the corner, we knew there would be corned beef and cabbage for Sunday dinner as it is certainly a favorite in my family, but whenever we have something we have cooked for years I like to try something new for an appetizer. 

This was voted on by the committee and with the perfect weather outside on Sunday afternoon, I sat on the porch enjoying the warm rays of early spring and relaxed as the tomatoes roasted.  It was perfection and so was this recipe!

Thyme-Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini

Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise 
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tsp dried thyme leaves 
Mediterranean Herbs and Garlic Goat Cheese
1/2-inch-thick slices of French baguette, cut on the bias

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the tomatoes cut-side up on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. 
Roast 1 hour, then turn heat up to 400 degrees and roast an additional 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are very soft and slightly shrunken. For the last 8 - 10 minutes, place the baguette slices on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown. You could drizzle the slices with EVOO also if you desire. Spread some herbed goat cheese on each warm crostini and top each with the roasted tomatoes.
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Monday, March 7, 2016

Honey-Ginger Pork Tenderloin

I recently hosted a dinner party with some of my closest friends and wanted to make sure the meal was as wonderful as the company!  First thing I had to decide was what the entree would be.  So many options but this would be the anchor of the meal so it had to be something special. 

This group is also filled with ladies who kick ass inside the kitchen as much as they do outside of the kitchen so I needed a foolproof recipe and wanted to try something new so I began scouring recipes I have marked to try and came across this one that I thought was the perfect fit!

It was a hit and I know that because everyone went back for seconds!

Honey-Ginger Pork Tenderloin

¼ cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ketchup
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
two ¾-pound pork tenderloins, trimmed of silver skin

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the pork. Add the pork and the marinade to a gallon-size zipper-top bag and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.
Place the tenderloins in a pyrex dish and pour marinade over the pork.  Roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin measures 145 degrees or the meat is slightly pink at the center. 
Let the pork rest 5 minutes before slicing. 

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ruthie's Detox Salad

After a wonderful week eating my way through New Orleans and consuming more friend shrimp and adult beverages than I care to admit, it was time to get down to business and allow my body a chance to rejuvenate.  It felt mildly like regenerating a portion of my liver but totally worth it!

I found a wide variety of "detox" options on Pinterest but none that really made me feel like I was going to get a substantial meal so I decided to combine several which is what we have here!

So for those of you who are like me and live for the weekend so that you can relax, but then end up doing nothing that resembles relaxation, rather end up spending time enjoying the company of friends and family and turning Friday night's happy hour into a weekend long marathon, this recipe is for you!

Ruthie's Detox Salad

For the dressing:1/3 cup grapeseed oil 
1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh 
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated 
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard 
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup, optional 
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste 

For the salad: 
2 cups broccoli florets 
1 large bunch (about 10 to 12 ounces) kale leaves, destemmed and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
1, 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed and sliced into quarters if large
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, roughly chopped

Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing (or put everything in a small blender and blend) and set aside until ready to use.  In a large mixing bowl combine the kale, broccoli, and red onion.  Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss until everything is coated. Let sit while you cook the quinoa.  
Cook quinoa according to package directions.  Toast walnuts.  Drain chickpeas.  
Dump the quinoa, nuts, and peas in with the kale mixture and toss to coat.  
You might need to add a little more dressing at this point but that is simply a matter of taste.

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