Sunday, April 28, 2013

Korean Short Ribs

I have been wanting to make short ribs for awhile now, knowing I would need to dedicate a large block of time to cook the meat slowly.  I had assumed I would use a braise similar to the lamb with French or Italian influences, but I recently had a "Street Taco" at the Yard House restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles that used Asian flavored short rib meat.  I was transfixed, which translates to "challenged" whenever I want to duplicate or improve on something I just tasted.  So the gauntlet is thrown down and I am making Korean style short ribs.

I am blogging this as I go, but won't post until I see how it turns out as I made myself the Guinea Pig in these experiments.

I purchased 12 beef short ribs, rinsed them and marinated them over night in the following:

(I usually don't "measure" my ingredients, but go by what looks right, so I've roughly estimated the quantities below, however being precise doesn't matter).

1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
1/2 cup Soy Sauce (not "lite"" - and I use an organic variety)
1/3 cup Sambal Sauce (found in the Asian Isle of your grocery store)
1/3 cup Sriracha hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worscestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons Agave Nectar
2 Red Jalapenos sliced with seeds

Mix the marinade together and taste.  It should be hot, sweet, and vinegary.  Place the ribs in a large casserole dish or bowl, and pour the marinade over the ribs.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

The remaining ingredients for the braise are:

1 White Onion, chopped
1 large can (28 ounces) Diced Italian Tomatoes
1/2 bottle good red wine (I used a Merlot - but use what you like)
1 Quart (12 ounces) of a good chicken stock - if I don't make my own, I use a Free-Range, Organic Low Sodium product
1 Bay Leaf
Olive Oil
The Marinade Liquid

Heat a large stock pot and add about 1 - 2 tablespoons of a good olive oil.  Add the onions and cook until sweated down.  Push onions to one side and pat dry the ribs, adding a few at a time.  Cook each side until brown, reducing the heat.  Be careful not to burn the meat as the sugar in the marinade will tend to burn.  If that starts to happen, turn the meat and use the moist side of the uncooked meat to "deglaze" the bottom of the pan.  After the first ribs are brown, stack them on top of the onions and brown the remaining ribs.  Pour in the wine, the tomatoes, the stock, the marinade liquid and add the bay leaf.  Increase the heat and put a lid on the pot.  Bring to a small, rolling boil, then reduce the heat to low. 

A few comments as it is cooking.  I removed the lid slightly to let the alcohol burn out.  For about the first hour of braising, it reminded me of a German Sauerbraten due to the vinegars and wine.  Now, about an hour and a half later, the scent has mellowed out and is starting to smell delicious.  I might use the sauce later to cook some small red or Yukon potatoes and maybe some carrots.  Waste nothing!

The total braising time, once simmering, was about 3 hours.  The meat came easily from the bone, so I turned the pot off and let it sit while I went to the store to get some more veggies.  When I came back, I removed the meat from the pot and noticed that during the resting time, all the bones fell off the meat and were at the bottom of the pot.  The meat falls apart on the fork - but I'm not done yet!

I removed the meat to rest in a container and also removed the bones.  I will use the bones another day to make a beef stock for French Onion Soup.

Then I cooked about 4 cups of baby carrots and the same with a package of new potatoes, a variety including fingerlings, and about the same with some cippolino onions in the broth for about 25 - 30 minutes until fork tender.  I just removed the vegetables and am now reducing the sauce.  Once the stock is reduced, it will make a delicious pasta sauce.

Duck Enchiladas

I have had duck enchiladas a few times at Rosa Mexicana restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles, and I had a craving to make my own version.

6 Duck Breasts, with skin on (I found free range organic duck at Bristol Farms).
Salt and Pepper (I use a Chardonnay Smoked Sea Salt - but use a good quality salt if you have it).

Rinse and pat dry the duck breasts.  Score the skin about 3 - 4 times per breast.  Liberally season with the salt and pepper.  Heat a non-stick skillet and place the breasts skin side down.  The fat will render from the skin.  Leave them skin side down until mostly cooked.  If you want to speed up the cooking time, place a lid over the breasts for a couple of minutes.  Turn the breasts over, cook for about 30 seconds, then remove to a cutting board to rest.  Drain about half the fat from the pan into a bowl to use later.

The Sauce:

I created this sauce by looking at some recipes then changing it into my own.

8 Plum or Vine Ripe Tomatoes, cored and seeded and diced
2 White Onions, peeled and diced
2 Red Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and minced
2 Green Tomatillos, slightly roasted*
2 Chipotles with Adobo Sauce, minced
1/2 cup Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, ground
2 dried Dates, pitted and chopped
1 Whole Roasted Garlic Head, just the pulp squeezed out (see Roasted Garlic in a previous post)
Salt and Pepper
Red Wine Vinegar
1 Cup Fresh Cilantro to finish, chopped
1 Fresh Lime, Juiced
Olive Oil

*To roast the tomatillos, take a square of aluminum foil and spray with olive oil.  Place the tomatillos in the foil and wrap tight.  Place in a 350 degree oven until slightly soft, about 15 minutes.  Then add to the sauce.

Heat a frying pan and add about 1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until sweated.  Add the tomatoes, jalapeno, chipotles, about 2-3 tablespoons of the Adobo sauce and the dates.  Add about 1/2 cup water and place a lid on, stirring occasionally.  The tomatoes and onions should be soft and the sauce not too runny or too thick.  Place in a bowl and emulsify or blend in a blender.  Return to the heat.  Add the pumpkin seeds and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Add drizzle of the wine vinegar.  Finish with the cilantro and lime juice.

Refried Black Beans:

Using the rendered duck fat left in the pan, drain and rinse 2 large cans of black beans (I use organic when available).  Emulsify or blend until half blended.  Heat the duck fat and add the beans.  Stir to incorporate in the duck fat.  Add about 2-3 tablespoons of the Adobo sauce.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble Enchiladas:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove duck breasts from skin and slice into thin strips
Enchilada Sauce
1 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I use an aged White Canadian Cheddar)
8 Corn Tortillas - heated through
1/2 Cup Fresco Ranchero Cheese crumbled for the top

Add about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce to the sliced duck and mix together.  Portion into the warm tortillas and roll.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce into a casserole dish (I spray the bottom first with an olive oil spray).  Place the enchiladas seam side down in the dish.  Spoon most of the sauce over the top, reserving about 1/2 a cup.  Sprinkle the top with the cheddar cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 - 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling.  Remove and let rest about 5-10 minutes.  Serve with the remaining sauce and sprinkle the top with the fresca cheese.  Serve with the refried black beans.

For an additional wow, take the skin from the breasts after the meat is removed and cook in a dry non stick pan until the remaining fat is rendered and the skin becomes crunchy.  These "cracklings" can be crumbled and sprinkled on top of the enchiladas - waste nothing. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pappardelle with Left Over Braised Lamb

So I had leftover braised lamb stew from Easter which I put into 2 separate quart sized freezer bags and wrote the date on them that I put them in the freezer.

Today, I took one of the bags and defrosted it while I got a large pot of fresh water on the boil.  I heated the large frying pan and added about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Then I added the defrosted braised lamb stew.  I removed the large potatoes and most of the carrots and used an emulsifier to pulverize them, then added them back to the sauce.  Meanwhile, I was cooking the pappardelle in salted, boiling water.  The sauce was a little too thick, so I added a couple of ladels of the pasta cooking water to thin it out.

I always follow package directions on the cooking times for pasta, usually removing it from the water about a minute early.  Using tongs, I add the pasta directly from the cooking water to the sauce and mix the sauce with it to coat it.  Then, turn off the heat, and add about 2 large handfuls of a good grated cheese such as Parmesan or Pecorino.  I prefer the Pecorino as it adds a very nice element to the lamb.  I also added some minced parsley.  Serve immediately.

The quart of pasta sauce made 6 servings of pasta.  And I still have another quart in the freezer for another 6 servings.  

Braised Leg of Lamb


Boneless leg of Lamb (or bone in)
2 large cans Italian Chef's Cut tomatoes (San Marzano)
1 tube Italian Sun Dried Tomato Paste
 2 Brown Onions, peeled and cut into quarters
6 Stalks Celery, peeled and cut in thirds
6 Medium sized Carrots, peeled and cut in thirds
12 Medium sized Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed and cut in half 
1 bunch Rosemary, washed
1 bunch Thyme, washed
1/2 Bottle of good Red Wine (I used Merlot)
1 head Roasted Garlic, cut in half (keep in their peels)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Wine Vinegar
4 Tablespoons minced parsley 


Wash and pat dry the lamb.  Rub liberally with olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with good sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Heat a large stock pot and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Place the lamb in the oil and brown on all sides.  Add the onions, carrots and celery, together with the garlic head, rosemary and thyme.  Add the tomato paste, the cans of tomatoes and the wine.  If the liquid does not cover the lamb, add fresh water so the liquid is above the meat.  Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 2-3 hours, until the meat falls apart.  Remove the meat from the pot and strain the sauce either into a large bowl or another stock pot.  Remove large pieces of carrots and place with the lamb.  Discard the onions, celery, herbs and garlic.  Return the rest of the sauce to the heat and add the potatoes.  Simmer until reduced and the potatoes are fork tender, anywhere from 20 - 40 minutes or longer, if necessary.  Break the lamb into large pieces and return to the sauce along with the carrots.  
Adjust the taste for salt and add a few drops of the vinegar and the parsley.

Serve over rice, noodles, polenta or whatever you desire.

As a side note, I paid $24 for a boneless leg of lamb - and I forgot to note how many pounds that was.  Along with the rice and Brussels Sprouts and Grilled Aspargus, it yielded 10 servings, plus the sauce filled 2 quart sized freezer bags which I will use for leftovers.  

That means our Easter lunch was less than $5.00 per person, and still reducing!          

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Wash and trim the ends of the Brussels Sprouts.  Cut in half.  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a large oven-proof frying pan and and about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Place the sprouts cut side down in the pan and add about 2 teaspoons of water.  Cover and cook for about 3 minutes until golden brown and caramalized on the bottom side.  Remove to the oven and cook for about another 5-10 minutes, until fork tender.  Remove and add 2 tablespoons of butter and mix well.  Season with sea salt and ground black pepper.

Grilled Asparagus

Wash and trim the ends of a bunch of thin Aspargus (if you use thicker ones, trim the bottom of the stems to remove the outer peel).

I use a stove top panini griddle.  Heat and add about 2 tablespoons of good olive oil.  Place the asparagus on the griddle, turning occasionally until fork tender.  Remove and serve with a sprinkle of good sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fried Rice


1 1/2 Cups Texmati or Long Grain Rice
1/2 Cup Arroborio Rice
1/2 Cup White Wine
4 Cups Water
2 Tablespoons Peanut or Vegetable Oil

In a medium size sauce pan, heat the oil and add the rice, stirring until toasted, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and continue to stir about another 5 minutes to cook out the alcohol.  Add the water and stir until just combined.  Add a lid and bring to a boil.  When it is boiling, turn the heat down very low and continue to cook until the water goes just below the rice.  Turn the burner off and place the lid firmly on the rice and don't touch it for 30 minutes.  Then use a fork to fluff the rice.


2 Red Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and sliced
1 Package cleaned, sliced Mushrooms
1 Bunch Green Onions, cleaned and sliced on the bias
2 Cups Bean Sprouts
1 Cup Petite Frozen Peas
2 Tablespoons Peanut or Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the jalapenos, and the white parts of the green onions.  Saute for a few minutes then add the mushrooms and the rest of the green onions.  Add the soy sauce and stir for about 2 minutes.  Add half the bean sprouts.  Reduce heat and cover for about 2 minutes.  Add the remaining bean sprouts and stir together.  Turn off the heat.  


6 Eggs, beaten
4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sambal Sauce (or Sriracha Sauce)
1 Tablespoon Peanut Oil or Vegetable Oil

Push the vegetables to one side of the pan and turn the heat back on.  Add the oil and the beaten eggs.  Scramble together until cooked through, then incorporate the vegetables.  Add the rice and peas and soy sauce and sambal sauce.  Stir until all mixed together.  Taste.  Adjust by adding more soy sauce or sambal sauce (or both).

I just made the rice this morning and we're taking it to the park to enjoy with some fresh sushi that we'll pick up at Bristol Farms.          

Monday, March 11, 2013

Roasted Garlic

This is a great way to preserve garlic.  Take about an 8 inch square aluminum foil and spray with a vegetable or olive oil spray.  Place a whole head of garlic inside the sprayed foil. Gather the ends together and twist to seal.  Roast in a 350 oven for about an hour.  Store in Freezer bags in your refrigerator crisper for several weeks.

When ready to use, take out of the foil and cut in half.  Squeeze garlic from the head.  Great for just about anything from garlic mashed potatoes, garlic bread, a spread on grilled bread or crackers, or a wine reduction sauce.  The roasting adds a mellow flavor to the garlic and takes away the harsh "bite."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spicy Thai Noodles

1 Pound Linguine
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced thin
2 Red Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and sliced thin
1 Bunch Green Onions, sliced on the bias
1 Bunch Cilantro, chopped
1 Bottle Prepared Peanut Sauce
1 Small Can Cocktail Peanuts, salted, slightly pulvarized
Olive Oil
1 Lime, juiced

Cook the Linguine to the package directions (about 9 minutes in a large pot with boiling salted water).

Heat a large frying pan and coat the bottom with the olive oil.  Add the peppers and stir for about 5 minutes until starting to caramalize.  Add the onions, stir and add about 3 tablespoons water.  Cover and let soften about another 5 minutes.  Add the peanut sauce, peanuts and stir together.  Add the linguine (don't rinse) and the lime juice and cilantro.  Serve immediately.  You can also garnish with some sesame seeds if you wish.  Serves 4.      

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tortilla Soup


2 Quarts Chicken Broth (low sodium, or free-range, organic if you can find it or make your own, recipe below)
1 large can Chef's Cut Tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano, but if not, get low sodium)
1 large can Crushed Tomatoes (same as above)
1/2 head Roasted Garlic
16 oz Black Beans (organic if you can), drained
1 package Supersweet Frozen Corn (or regular)
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Brown Onion
1 Tube Italian Tomato Paste (or 1 small can)
2 TBS Chipolte Chili Powder
1 1/2 TBS Smoked Paprika Powder
olive oil

Garnish (Optional)

1 12 count package Corn Tortillas
Peanut Oil for frying tortilla strips

Cut the tortillas in half and then into 1/4 inch strips.  Heat the Peanut oil until shimmer and fry in small batches until brown.  Remove and drain on paper towels and squeeze lime juice over and sprinkle with salt.  repeat.  Can store in a zip lock bag for up to a week.

Other Garnishes (Optional)

1 Avocado
Sour Cream
Grated Cheddar Cheese


Heat a large soup stock pot and add about 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the red pepper and onion, stirring until coated with the olive oil and starting to brown.  Add about 1/2 cup of water and cover and simmer until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and tomato paste.  Stir together with the peppers and onions.  Add the tomatoes and stock and heat until boiling, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Add the beans and corn and heat until heated through.  Add the seasoning and adjust salt and pepper.  Serve with your favorite garnishes.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Baked Potato Salad

I created this from leftovers one day and it became an instant hit.  Really great for potlucks or office parties.  The idea is a fully loaded baked potato - in a salad.  And using sour cream instead of mayonaise gives it a fresh taste.  If you can invest in some really good smoked sea salt, I would recommend it - not just for this dish, but in general.  You will find yourself addicted to the flavor!

I would plan to use 1 potato per person, or if you are going to make this for a potluck, doubling the recipe yields a large Tupperware container size.


6 Large Idaho Potatoes
1 pound bacon (I like applewood smoked bacon)
1 small red onion, small dice
6 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup, or 1 package fresh chives, cut in 1 inch pieces
16 oz sour cream
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
Splash of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Vegetable Spray (or Olive Oil Spray)
Aluminum Foil

To bake the potatoes:

Scrub the potatoes under water and pat dry on paper towels. Using a fork, poke holes liberally around the skin of the potato. Rub with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place each potato on a vegetable or olive oil sprayed 9 inch square of aluminum foil, shiny side up. Tightly wrap each potato and place in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to cook for about 1 hour until fork tender. Cool. This step can be done the day before you serve.

To prep the bacon:

Cut bacon across in 1/4 inch strips. In a large frying pan, cook the bacon until done. With a slotted spoon, remove from the fat and set aside.

Boil, cool and peel the eggs. Slice across into fourths.

Dice the red onion and place in a strainer and rinse under cool water. Place the strainer on some paper towels to drain. This will take any bitterness out of the onions.

Slice the potatoes in one inch cubes. Combine all the ingredients and adjust for salt and pepper.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Basic Chicken Stock

6 Chicken Thighs bone in and with skin on
1 Brown Onion
5 Large Loose Carrots - peeled
5 Stalks Celery - Peeled
Salt and Pepper
2 Quarts Fresh Water
Olive Oil

Optional for Chicken Soup:
3 Large Loose Carrots - peeled and sliced
1-2 Medium Potatoes - peeled and diced
Bok Choy
Green Onions
Leeks or whatever vegetables you prefer
Pasta such as vermicelli, capellini, angel hair pasta, etc.

Rinse and pat dry chicken.

Sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and pepper (I use a high quality sea salt - a smoked Chardonnay salt - but use what you prefer).

Heat a stock pot and coat the bottom with the olive oil. Add the chicken, skin side down. Don't touch for  a few minutes then check if the skin is golden brown. Then turn over and add:

The onion, top and end off, peeled, cut in half and each half quartered.
The carrots, peeled, cut tops and ends off (about an eight of an inch each side), and cut in about 2 inch chunks

The celery, peeled and cut in similar sizes as the carrots
The water

Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer with the lid askew for about 20 minutes. Check the chicken. It should be floating. With tongs, remove the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Continue to simmer the chicken stock.  When the chicken is cooled enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and replace the bones and skin in the stock.  Refrigerate the meat until ready to use.  Continue to simmer the stock for at least 3 hours.  Strain.

This is the basic stock.  To make chicken soup, peel and slice thinly 3 more carrots and add whatever vegetables you like, such as peeled and diced potato, green onions, bok choy, leeks, etc. and cook in the hot broth until fork tender.  Take the chicken from the refrigerator and take out any sinew, fat, etc. and divide into pieces and place in the broth.  Add large pieces of vermicelli, capellini, angel hair pasta or whatever you like and cook until just tender as the package instructions.  Taste for seasoning.

Monday, February 18, 2013

To Sum up:

So with the addition of the $2.50 for the baguette, the total cost was $97.07.

The meat yielded 4 sandwiches.  The stock yielded 8 servings of French Onion Soup.  And I have a consomme for the rest of the week.  We'll just do the addition of the sandwiches and soup - 12 servings under $100.00.  Or $97.07 divided by 12, $8.09.  

So who says good food is too expensive to make?  That would be "stretching" it - pun intended.  :) 

French Onion Soup

So I heated up the onions (see previous post - after reducing, they make about 2 cups) in a clean stock pot and added the beef broth, a bouquet garni of fresh thyme and heated through.  Then I added about 1/4 cup of cream sherry, and 1/4 cup of cognac and the demi glace.  Tasted and adjusted the salt.  Heat through to cook out the alcohol.  

For the croutons, I bought a french baquette ($2.50), sliced and grilled on a panini press with olive oil.  Then I grated the Gruyere cheese and ladelled the soup into a ceramic oven proof soup bowl and placed 2 croutons on top, then piled with the grated cheese and a sprinkling of Pecorino cheese.  Under the broiler for about five minutes.  And voila!  Soup is served!

Porterhouse for under $10???

I want to encourage people to eat better  - cuts of meat, that is.  Don't gasp at the next line - I purchased 3 porterhouse steaks yesterday for $60.00.  Now, if I was going to just serve it as steak, you will admit that $20 each is quite expensive.  If you ordered a porterhouse steak in a restaurant, you might pay $60 each.  But I like to stretch food and I have managed to reduce the price per portion to under $10 - and still going.

First, I cooked the steaks with salt and pepper and some olive oil until brown on both sides, and browned the sides with the fat.  Then I placed them covered in a low oven that I preheated to 220 degrees and turned off and let them rest for about 10 minutes.  Next, I placed them on a carving board and kept the juices in the pan.  Then I put the pan on low heat uncovered and added a couple of sprigs of thyme.  I slowly reduced it and added a little water from time to time to make a demi glace.  After the meat rested, I cut off the fat and put that to one side, then thinly sliced the steaks after I removed the bones and used it to make a Philly Cheesesteak panini.

In a large stock pot, I simmered 1 sweet onion and 5 brown onions sliced, in olive oil.  I placed a lid on top and slowly cooked, stirring occasionally until they were sweated down and caramelized.  This took several hours for the deep caramelizing. Half way through the cooking process, I used some of the onions in the Philly Cheesesteak panini. 

In a separate stock pot, I sauteed a brown onion, peeled and quartered, 4 large carrots, peeled and cut in large pieces, and 5 celery stocks peeled and cut in large pieces.  To this, I added the bones from the steaks and the fat.  Then I covered with water and simmered for about 4 hours. 

Out of the sliced meat, I made 4 panini sandwiches. 

In an effort at full disclosure, here is the cost of all the ingredients:

3 Porterhouse steaks:  $60.09

6 brown onions: $5.46
1 sweet onion $2.19
1 bunch celery $1.99
4 large carrots $1.58
1/2 pound Swiss Gruyere cheese $9.71
4 Onion Ciabatta rolls $3.49
1/2 pound cheddar cheese $7.00
Fresh thyme $3.00
Total:  $94.37

Optional:  1/4 cup Sherry or 1/4 cup Cognac

This morning, I'm going to make the French Onion Soup with the stock and onions and Gruyere cheese.  I will also purchase an additional baguette to grill for the soup.  I will have to see how many servings the soup will yield.

After I strained the stock, I noticed that the bones still had meat on them and the vegetables didn't look totally worn out, so I added more fresh water and simmered for several hours to make a nice thin consomme that I can drink this week for nourishment as I need to go on a liquid diet for a few days for a health issue.

If the soup yields 6 servings, add the 4 paninis to make 10 servings, then the price of each serving is less than $10.00.  And you can't get that at a restaurant.  So why not upgrade your meat to a better cut and stretch it for savings?  I didn't even include the consomme in the above addition.  And the paninis are large enough to share.  Just saying.  :)