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Saturday
Feb052011

Pasta with Rustic Tomato Sauce

Everyone has at least one recipe which is a tried and true stand bye. For me, that recipe is pasta with rustic tomato sauce. I love this recipe because it requires very few ingredients, minimal prep time, and is always delicious.

Depending on your taste, you can dial the heat up or down by using either sweet or hot Italian sausages.  I love spicy food, so I use hot Italian sausage as well as additional crushed red pepper flakes. When using sweet Italian sausage, fresh rosemary is a nice compliment.

When I am in a pinch for time (which is normally the case!), I like to use fresh pasta which cooks in less than 3 minutes. However, dried pasta works equally well.

A bottle of Jamesport Vineyards Syrah MKT 2007 (North Fork of Long Island) was a lovely complement to this dish on Friday night.  The wine is reviewed here


The printable recipe is here

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Thursday
Jan272011

"Super Bowl Sunday" Chile

 

Although I am not a big football fan, I have been known to watch the Super Bowl on occasion.  And when I do, I love to serve something that is well suited for dinner in front of the television.  Enter, the perfect football party food:  Chile Con Carne 

Truth be told, I make this recipe all year long, because it is easy and the leftovers freeze well.  The recipe calls for ground beef, but I have also made it many times with ground turkey (which has less fat and is still delicious).  You can dial the heat up or down, depending on your taste.  I love spicey food, so I tend to go all out.

I typically serve the chile over white rice, but it is also very good by itself -- topped with sour cream and grated cheedar cheese.

Enjoy!   

 

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Sunday
Jan232011

Braised Beef Short Ribs

I had beautiful beef short ribs in the freezer for some time  -- just waiting for the right opportunity to braise them.  Yesterday turned out to be the perfect day, with a wind chill of 7 degrees and company coming for dinner.

Braising meat is really very simple.  Only a few ingredients are required, and the preparation is very straight forward.  I would caution, though, that this is not a meal to cook if you are in a hurry.  It takes considerable patience to brown the ribs, and several hours to braise them in the oven.

It is best to use the same heavy gauge pan, from start to finish.  By doing this, you develop a remarkably complex flavor when you deglaze the pan at the end with wine and stock.

I splurged on high quality, artisanal slab bacon (which I purchased at Eataly in Manhattan).  It was very lean, and browned up like a charm.

I browned the ribs using mostly olive oil, with a small amount of the rendered bacon fat for flavor. It is very important at this step not to crowd the pan, to ensure even browning of the ribs.  I cooked mine in batches of four.  When the meat was done, I likewise browned the onion, carrots and garlic in a combination of olive oil with a small amount of bacon fat.

Once the vegetables were lightly browned, I deglazed the pan with equal parts beef stock and red wine. I then added the rosemary, bacon, ribs, and reserved juices to the pan, covered it tightly, and put it into a preheated 350 degree oven. I cooked the ribs for approximately 3 hours. (A slow cooker would also work well; you would need to adjust the time accordingly.)

After removing the ribs from the pan, I strained the cooking liquid through a fine sieve. I added approximately 1 tablespoon of tomato paste for flavor and slightly thickened the sauce with a flour slurry. I served the ribs with gnocchi (also from Eataly), but broad noodles, mashed potatoes or polenta would also go very well.  Duck Walk Merlot 2008 (North Fork of LI) complimented the ribs and gnocchi well and I would highly recommend a trip to the End End of LI to get some!

The picture of the plated meat is a bit of a mess, as everyone dug in before I could snap a photo.  The ribs were definitely a resounding success.  Even my 4 year old nephew, who is highly skeptical of his aunt's "fancy food", gave it a thumbs up.  Now that is the ultimate complement.

The recipe follows.  Enjoy

 

 

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Sunday
Jan232011

Eye Candy

 Although I consider myself a fairly good home cook, I readily admit that I know nothing about pickling or canning.  My mother and my grandmother, on the other hand, are quite proficient at it.  So when they arrived yesterday bearing homemade pickled beets and 'bread and butter' pickles  -- I took the loot and ran.

My mother made the bread and butter pickles in the late summer, when cucumbers were still plentiful. For those of you that have never had them, they are intoxicating good  -- thinly sliced cucumbers and onions in a sweet/sour brine of vinegar, sugar, mustard/celery seed and turmeric (which gives them their characteristic golden color). 

My grandmother made the pickled beets last week from heirloom beets.  She normally pickles red beets, so I will be curious to see how the golden and pink (Chioggia?) beets compare. The pictures really do not do these beauties justice. The colors are so vivid, you almost forget that you are looking at vegetables. They are real eye candy.

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