Sunday, August 23, 2009

Braised Beef Short Ribs in Red Wine

I'm a sucker for sales, especially with groceries. About a month ago I saw a package of big, beautiful short ribs on sale at Albertson's and I just couldn't pass it up. I put them in the freezer in hopes that I would cook them for my hubby when he came home, and that's what I did last night. It was pretty much an all-day task, but I think it was worth it. I served the short-ribs over egg noodles, but mashed potatoes or even a side of spatzl would have been a good side dish. Since I can't drink right now, I think a good bottle of Burgundy or an Italian table wine will pair up nicely with this meal. You don't want a big, bold California red wine to overpower this dish.


  • 6 beef short ribs, trimmed of fat
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
  • 4 cups large-diced celery (6 large stalks)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and large-diced
  • 1 small fennel, fronds, stems, and core removed, large-diced
  • 1 leek, cleaned and large-diced, white part only
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle Burgundy wine or dry red wine
  • fresh rosemary sprig
  • fresh thyme sprig
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the short ribs on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and add the onion, celery, carrots, fennel, and leek and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour the wine over the vegetables, bring to a boil, and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the rosemary and thyme together with kitchen twine and add to the pot.
  3. Place the roasted ribs on top of the vegetables in the Dutch oven and add the beef stock and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.
  4. Carefully remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside. Discard the herbs and skim the excess fat. Cook the vegetables and sauce over medium heat for 20 minutes, until reduced. Put the ribs back into the pot and heat through. Serve with the vegetables and sauce.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Parmesan-Carrot Risotto

I bought a bag of carrots a week ago and I had only used two. So I was looking for a recipe to use up some of the carrots and I stumbled upon this recipe from Martha Stewart. I have to admit I haven't cooked a lot of her recipes, mainly because I don't subscribe to her magazine and I've always thought of Martha's magazine more of a craft and decorating type. Anyway, this dish came out quite yummy, and yes, I did do a few modifications, but only to make the risotto creamier.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 6 medium carrots, grated (I only used 4 carrots)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups long-grain white rice (I used Arborio rice; I'm not entirely sure why Martha Stewart has long-grain white rice in her recipe, though)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 wedges of Laughing Cow Original Swiss spreadable cheese product, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  1. In a saucepan, bring broth to a bare simmer over medium heat.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and carrots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in rice and coat all grains and cook 1 more minute. Add wine; cook, stirring, until absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add 2 cups hot broth; simmer over medium-low, stirring frequently, until mostly absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Continue to add broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring occasionally, until absorbed before adding more. Cook until rice is creamy and just tender, about 20 minutes (you may not need all the broth).
  4. Add the two wedges of cheese product and gently stir to melt and combine with rice.
  5. Remove risotto from heat. Stir in Parmesan, remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Humitas: Creamy Corn Empanadas

I love, love empanadas, but I just hate making them. It's not so much the process, but more of the frying part. I've had pretty bad accidents frying foods (scars on my fingers and wrists), so I stay away from this cooking method. However, I made an exception because my mother-in-law was in town and my husband also made a surprise appearance. Definitely be careful when frying. Make sure you slowly drop the empanadas in the hot oil and fry one or two empanadas at a time. And never, NEVER, put or accidentally drop water into the oil. My battle scars have lived to tell the tale!


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups frozen corn, defrosted (I used Trader Joe's fire roasted frozen corn)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 (6-inch) store-bought empanada wrappers, preferably red (I just used the plain kind)
  • Vegetable or canola oil

Make the filling: Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook until smooth and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Add the milk slowly while whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, paying special attention to the corners of the saucepan. Add the paprika and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the corn and parsley, return to a simmer. Scrape the filling into a bowl and cool completely before filling wrappers. To Form: Moisten the edges of 1 of the empanada wrappers with a fingertip dipped in warm water. Center a generous 1/3-cup of the filling on the wrapper. Bring the sides of the wrapper together to meet over the filling and pinch the sides together to seal and form a half-moon shape. Lay the half-moon flat on the work surface. Work you way around the edges, bringing about 1/2-inch of the bottom layer of dough up and over the top layer, to make a mini-pleat. Press as you go to seal the pleats. If you don't want to mess with crimping, just seal the edges all the way around with the tips of the tines of a fork.

Fry the Empanadas: Pour enough vegetable or canola oil into a large heavy skillet to fill about 3/4-inch up the sides. Heat over medium heat until the tip of the handle of a wooden spoon immersed in the oil gives off a lively sizzle, about 375 degrees F. Carefully slip as many of the empanadas into the oil as will fit without crowding. Cook until the dough is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip and repeat. Drain briefly on paper towels before serving. Repeat with remaining empanadas.

Serve empanadas with Cilantro Pesto.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sopa Marquis

My mother-in-law, Kay, is in town visiting me this weekend and I, of course, had to make something special for her to eat. After I made my homemade chicken broth last week, I froze half of it and made this soup for Kay. It's a Yucatan soup and it's like Mexico's version of the best chicken soup for the soul. I'm sure you can make this soup with store bought chicken broth, but believe me this soup is superb with the homemade stuff.


  • Homemade Chicken Broth
  • 8 stalks celery-large outer and pale inner stalks mixes, cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices (about 3 cups)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices (about 2 cups)
  • 1 pound fideos (thin egg noodles) or angel hair pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Hass avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Make the broth and strain it. Pluck the chicken pieces out and set them aside until they are cool enough to handle.

When the chicken is cool, pull off the skin and discard, then shred the meat coarsely, getting rid of any fat, gristle, etc. as you go. Set the chicken meat aside.

Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Bring the strained broth, celery, and carrots to a boil in a large pot on medium heat. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Adjust the heat so the broth is simmering and cook until the vegetables are tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir the fideos into the boiling water, crushing each handful to break the noodles up as you go. Cook until tender but with a little bit of a bite, about 4 minutes. Drain the noodles and put them in a bowl. Add the olive oil and toss well.

When the vegetables are tender, stir the shredded chicken, avocado, cilantro and lime juice into the soup. Bring the pot of soup to the table, along with the noodles and lime wedges. Spoon some of the noodles into each bowl and ladle some of the soup over them. (Stir the soup with a ladle so you're sure to get some of each ingredient into each bowl.) Pass the lime wedges separately.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tomato Chutney

Our two little tomato vines are still producing fruit. I was very surprised because I thought the season was over. Anyway, I didn't want the tomatoes to rot on the vine so I made this super simple and delicious tomato chutney. I got the recipe from a UK website but I changed it up and didn't add the red chili it asked for or the cardamon seeds. Instead, I substituted with a good pinch of red pepper flakes. How easy is this, you ask? I got up at 6am, started the chutney at 6:30 and it was done by 7:30am. I was able to cool it and jar it and store it in the fridge and still left for work on time!


  • 1 cup red onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ounce red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Pinch paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt

Place all the ingredients into a large heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently. Simmer for 1 hr, then bring to a gentle boil so that the mixture turns dark, jammy and shiny. Place into sterilized jars and allow to cool before covering. Will keep for 6 weeks.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

After I came back from my Minnesota trip, I found my refrigerator extremely clean. Had the kitchen elves snuck into my house and cleaned it for me? Well, that kitchen elf is actually my mom. She has this "thing" where she likes to clean her kids' houses while they're out on vacation. I don't mind it at all; I actually like it, but I don't like it when she questions my experiments she finds in there like my sourdough starter, and the gin-soaked raisins, and the crazy looking preserved lemons.

Nevertheless, after she cleaned my fridge, she asked me what was I going to do with the tomatillos she found in there, and then I though, "oh, crap! I forgot I bought those." I've been meaning to make tomatillo salsa only because I love it so much poured warm over huevos rancheros, or as a cold salsa for tortilla chips. You can also use it as the verde sauce for enchiladas. This is one of those recipes that should be passed down because it's so common, so good and quite easy. Lastly, I don't seed my Serrano, but you can if you don't want too much heat.


  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked
  • 1 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • pinch of Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • Water or chicken broth (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeno and poblano for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, oregano, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky. If you want a more loose sauce, thin it out with a little water or chicken broth, one tablespoon at a time.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Homemade Chicken Broth, Latina Style

I'm into my 30th week of pregnancy and it is increasingly becoming very uncomfortable for me to sleep. So I find myself waking up at 6 or 6:30am during the weekdays and weekends. Can you believe that? I used to be the sleep-in queen, and now I'm up early enough to do laundry, grocery shop and watch the new episode of Viva Daisy on Food Network all before 10AM! Daisy Martinez from Viva Daisy made this chicken broth and I just had to try it. I followed her directions almost to a "T", the only difference is that I cut my garlic head in half and just added it along with a bunch of cilantro, without placing them in a cheesecloth. The Latina part of this broth is the annatto seeds, the cilantro, and the ham hock which gives this broth a very homemade, almost umami type of taste, just like my abuelita used to make.


  • 1 (5-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces or 5 pounds chicken backs, wings, necks and gizzards
  • 2 large Spanish onions (about 2 pounds), left whole and unpeeled
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into quarters
  • 1 large head garlic
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoons achiote (annatto) seeds
  • 1 ham hock

Put the chicken, onions, and red pepper in a large stockpot. Rinse the garlic heads in cold water, then peel off the papery skin. Break the garlic head into individual cloves. Rinse and cut the roots off the cilantro. Cut a piece of cheesecloth the size of a kitchen towel. Put the garlic cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, achiote seeds and cilantro on the cheesecloth, bring the ends together to make a little pouch, and tie the loosely with kitchen twine. Give the pouch a couple of good whacks with your kitchen mallet, and add it to the pot. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken by at least 2 to 3 inches. Drop in the ham hock, if using. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming foam off of the top as it forms. When the water comes to a boil, adjust the heat so the broth cooks at a steady, but not rolling boil. Cook for 30 minutes.

Check to make sure the breasts are cooked through, then remove them from the pan. Cook 15 minutes more, then remove the legs and thighs. Set the chicken aside to make another chicken dish. (If you're using backs, necks, wings, etc., you don't have to remove anything.) Leave the backs, necks and wings in to further flavor the broth.

Cook for 1 hour. Set a strainer over a large bowl and line the strainer with a couple of layers of cheesecloth. Carefully strain the broth through the cheesecloth. (Ladling it is the easiest and safest way.) Add salt, to taste, and let cool before refrigerating.