Saturday, October 8, 2016

Braised Short Rib and Truffle Pappardelle

Enchante my favorite followers!  It is Saturday night and the hubs is glued to the tube, flipping back and forth between about a million college football and MLB payoff games.  I'm cuddled up on the couch with a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc and two sleepy dogs by my side.  Perfect kind of night if you ask me :)

I just finished writing this recipe and am hoping that after you see the long paragraphs written below, you don't immediately write this off as too labor intensive. This is a show-stopper meal through and through.

Last weekend, we were at our local farmers market and one of my favorite vendors, Casa Truffle, had some fresh truffles on hand.  He lifted the the lid of that container and I was destined for a date with these beautifully aromatic gems.  It's funny how one ingredient can get those wheels turning in your head.  As soon as I got my grubby little paws on those fresh truffles, I remembered the gorgeous short ribs that I saw at our local Fresh Market and I knew it was on.

At the market, I also found these peppery little radish sprouts that I have been using on everything all week.  I ended up buying one ounce of fresh truffles and in addition to showering this dish with them, I have also been topping my scrambled eggs with them each morning.  I even managed to make a pound of truffle butter with the remainder.  Let's just say I have been in truffle heaven all week.

So, back to this recipe.  This is definitely a weekend recipe.  You can even break it up into two days, braising the short ribs on day one and finishing the sauce on day two.  Before you make this, please read the recipe from start to finish so you can better understand what goes into all of the steps.  Here are a few tips:
  • Reduce the sh#$ out of the sauce.  First when you pour in the wine.  Then when you remove the short ribs from the oven, reduce with the vegetables to extract more flavor.  Then again after you strain.  This is going to concentrate and deepen the flavor. 
  •  Remember that the short ribs will significantly shrink when cooked.  I am usually cooking for two, and this recipe with 4 pounds of short ribs made at least 6-8 servings. We were eating leftovers all week and it did not get old... not even in the slightest.  
  • I used 1 pound of fresh pappardelle that I found from Mazzaro's, but you can easily substitute the starch in this with polenta, potatoes, or even a thin slice of toasted bread.  
 For me, this is was a tough recipe to document because it truly embodies what "cooking" really is.  This is a dish that I would normally "wing-it", but for you, I have documented the entire process.  And even though it seems like a long process, I assure you the end result is worth its weight in gold.  This is restaurant quality food in the comfort of your own home.

Please leave me comments if you have any questions at all.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend and cheers to good food!

Braised Short Rib and Truffle Pappardelle
4 pounds short ribs, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots
3 ribs celery
2 onions
6-8 mushrooms
8 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste 
1 bottle red wine (cabernet sauvignon)
4 cups beef broth
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs rosemary
1 bunch flat leaf parsley (reserve some for pasta and garnish)
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup half & half

For assembly
pasta, polenta, mashed potatoes or cauliflower (or any other vehicle to serve with the braised short ribs)
crème fraîche
fresh shaved truffles and/or truffle oil
radish sprouts, arugula, spinach (any green of choice will do!)

Place a large dutch oven with olive oil on the stovetop and preheat to medium-high.  Season short ribs liberally with salt & pepper. Once pan is HOT, add short ribs to the pan.  Do not add more than 4 or 5 short ribs at a time to make sure they have enough room to brown.  Sear on both sides for 2-4 minutes, until short ribs develop a brown crust. Place the short ribs on a plate while you brown the rest. 

In same pot, add carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, and garlic.  Saute over medium heat until vegetables are caramelized and soft; about 10 minutes.  Add tomato paste and mix until vegetables are coated.  Turn heat up to high and add entire bottle of wine.  Cook over high heat until wine has reduced by almost 1/2; about 10 minutes.  Add beef broth, bay leaves, rosemary, and parsley.  Add browned short ribs and any juices on plate back to the pot.  Cover with lid and place in the oven.  Cook at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.  

Remove pot from oven,  Short ribs should be soft and falling apart. Remove short ribs from pot and place them on a large plate to cool. 

While short ribs are cooling, place pot back on the stovetop over high heat and bring liquid to a boil.  Cook for 15-20 minutes until sauce has reduced by almost half.  Strain vegetables and solids from from the broth and place the liquid back on the stove to continue reducing for another 10-15 minutes.  You are aiming to end up with 3-4 cups of liquid.  

In a separate container, whisk together flour and half & half.  slowly whisk mixture into the reduced stock.  Bring mixture up to a boil and then reduce to simmer.  Sauce should be slightly thick and coat the back of a spoon. Be sure to taste the sauce and adjust with salt & pepper as needed.  

While you are reducing the stock, remove bones from short ribs and shred the meat, picking out any large fatty/gristle parts.  Shred the meat into bite sized pieces and arrange in a single layer onto a cookie sheet.  Just prior to serving, place meat under broiler for 3-5 minutes to slightly brown and caramelize the meat. 

Prepare pasta in boiling water (boil water when stock is reducing).  I like to toss my pasta with a little butter, fresh chopped parsley, and grated parmesan prior to serving.  

Time to serve: 
  • On each plate, pile a serving of noodles
  • In the middle of the noodles, place a single serving of shredded short rib meat
  • Top meat with a few spoonfuls of reduced sauce
  • Drizzle entire plate with crème fraîche and a little truffle oil
  • Finish with fresh shaved truffles and a small pinch of radish sprouts


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Classic Creamy Hummus

Hey hey my fellow foodies!  Can you feel it?  The weekend?  It is almost here!  This week I was in Baltimore for work and got a taste of the lovely {cooler} fall weather up north.  I forgot how charming the Inner Harbor is there. My trip was both bitter-sweet.  Meeting with our team is always amazing, but I also had to say goodbye to my dear friend/colleague Michelle who is moving to Africa.  Jeez it was a tough goodbye, but thank the lord for social media to keep in touch!  

I am so excited to share this recipe with you.  I made this hummus early on in my blog.  Loved it, but in my opinion it wasn't creamy enough.  I found a recipe on Food 52 that incorporated the baking soda.  Bingo!  I think it helps break down the chickpeas for the creamiest hummus known to man. Boiling the chickpeas until they are basically falling apart helps as well.   

This hummus is nuts!  I have been making this just about every other week and keep it around for snacking during the day.  There is something so comforting about classic hummus that is done right.  No need for any other flavorings.  You have to try this silky smooth hummus... mmmmmmm.  

Classic Creamy Hummus
1 cup dried chickpeas
2 teaspoons baking soda, divided
5 garlic cloves
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup ice cold water
2/3 cup tahini 
1/4 teaspoon cumin
for garnish: olive oil, paprika, chives and/or parsley

Place the chickpeas and 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a large bowl and cover with water.  Mix to dissolve the baking soda. Let sit overnight.  The chickpeas will double in size, so be sure to use a very large bowl to allow them to soak. Skim any skins off the top, drain and rinse chickpeas. 

Place chickpeas and remaining 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Place pot on stove top over medium high heat and bring to a boil.  Simmer for at least an hour, skimming off any white foam that rises to the top.  You want the chickpeas to be very soft, mushy and almost falling apart.  

While the chickpeas are boiling, peel the garlic and squeeze and strain the lemon juice. Add garlic, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt to blender or food processor and buzz until blended and liquefied.  Let the garlic mixture sit for at least 30 minutes to mellow out the flavor.  Add tahini and 1/4 cup of water and buzz until ingredients are blended, smooth and pale. 

Drain chickpeas and add to blender with cumin.  Blend until hummus is smooth and creamy.  You may need to lift the lid and push down the sides a few times.  Taste the hummus and add more salt, lemon juice or tahini to taste.  

Serve in a bowl and drizzle with lots of olive oil, paprika and chives or fresh parsley.  Serve with veggies, pita or any other fixing of your choice! 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Cold Brew Iced Tea

There is a new drink in town and its name is Cold Brew Iced Tea!  This drink is life changing.  I have always loved iced tea and I used to make it they way everyone else does.  Throwing some tea packets in hot water and then chilling in the fridge.  This method is sub-par, at best, creating some bitter and dull tea.  

Enter the cold brew method.  I cannot stress how easy this is, producing a smooth, flavorful, and refreshing end result.  You know I love my water with a lemon, but sometimes you need something more, right?  My apologies for throwing this on you and the end of the sweltering summer, but once you adopt this method, I assure you that a pitcher of this will always be in your fridge.  

This is Coconut-Pineapple Black tea.  How I wish you could smell this through your screen.  It is delightful!  Same with the Cherry Rose Green Tea below.  Yum!

This first step is to start off with some high quality tea leaves.  I prefer to buy loose leaf tea.  There is a great store down the road from us that carries hundreds of tea varieties.  The Tea Spot is a terrific place online to purchase some lovely little leaves.

Measure out a 1/4 cup for every 1/2 gallon.   Pour into the bottom of a pitcher or large jar.  

Fill with water.  For optimal flavor, use filtered water.

And that is it.  Simple, right?  Now you just let it do its job in the fridge.  

Here it is after about 6 hours.  

The leaves are naturally steeping.  

This is the most difficult step in the process, if you want to call straining difficult!  Pour the tea through a strainer and serve. Throw the leaves back into the pitcher and refill with water.  The best part about this tea is the the leaves will continue to steep for up to three days after!  

Serve with a lemon wedge or fruit of your choice and you have the most refreshing beverage known to man!  You can sweeten it if you like (with a simple syrup, because the sugar won't dissolve in the cold tea), but if you use good tea, the flavor is so smooth and out of this world that you should tell that sweetener to take a hike!

Cold Brew Iced Tea
1/4 cup loose leaf tea
1/2 gallon of filtered water

Add tea to a pitcher or large jar.  Fill with water.  Place in refrigerator for at least 6 hours to steep.  Pour from pitcher, through a strainer into a glass and serve over ice with a lemon.

To make the most of your iced tea, refill pitcher with water after each pour.  The leaves will continue to steep and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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