Tag Archives: easy

Guinness Braised Short Ribs

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short ribs 1
Ecstatic Meaty Velvet…. that is how I describe the end result of this dish. Short ribs are covered with spices and then seared, then the vegetables are caressed by the fire and finally the braising liquid of tomatoes, porcini mushroom broth and Guinness are married to the pot. In go the short ribs and they braise for 2.5 hours while the sauce concentrates as the veggies become succulent. I served them this time over Yukon Gold mashed potatoes with creme fraiche instead of milk. Sometimes I do them over grits. This is the kind of meal that ends with pristinely clean plates, except for those bones which gave up their marrow in the dish.  A sacrifice well appreciated.

short ribs raw

Here is how you do it, feel free to exchange out the spices to your personal palate, this is just what works for me. You will need 6-8 meaty English Cut short ribs to feed two. This recipe can be doubled, but when you brown the ribs, do it in batches.

spice blend

Spice Blend: 

1/4 cup of brown sugar or 1/4 cup of Sweet Onion Sugar (or you can do 50/50)

1 Tablespoon Sweet Smoked Paprika (or Hungarian Sweet Paprika)

2 Tablespoons Vik’s Garlic Fix

2 Tablespoons Bloody Mary Seasoning (or good black pepper if you don’t have it, the full bodied flavor is worth seeking out)

1 Tablespoon dry mustard

 

Alternately, you can use some much more conventional spices if you don’t have access to the above blends:

The smoked paprika is essential,  find it.

  • 3 tablespoons of salt
  • 1/4  cup of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon of dry mustard

 

short ribs veggies en place

Sofrito: 

1 cup of re-hydrated dried shallots, drained or 4 medium leeks chopped (pale white part only)

4 tablespoons of home rendered lard or olive oil

4 carrots chopped into medium sized pieces

3 celery ribs chopped into medium sized pieces

2 bay leaves (4 if using fresh)

10 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup of dried porcini mushrooms re-hydrated and then strained, reserving liquid

For even more mushroom flavor, add 1/4 cup of kibbled mushrooms

1 440 mil can of guiness

1 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes with the liquid

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 (I use convection roast setting). Be sure that you will have room for the lidded pot or dutch oven to fit on the rack on the lower third of the oven.

Pat ribs dry and and arrange in a sheet pan.

short ribs seasoned

Blend the spice mix and generously coat the ribs with it on all sides. There will be some leftover, reserve it.

Heat the lard or oil in a large deep pan or dutch oven. Brown the ribs taking care not to crowd them, do them in batches if your pan is not large enough. This should take about 1 minute per side.

short ribs browning

Transfer meat back to the sheet pan and ad the shallots, carrots, celery and bay leaves to the pot and cook over moderate low heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables begin to soften (about 3 minutes), clear a hot spot and add garlic. Cook for 1 more minute. Stir in mushrooms.

Add broth, beer and tomatoes with their juice, then add the ribs and any remaining spices and spoon the sauce over the ribs. Bring to a boil uncovered

short ribs ready for oven

Cover and place in the oven and braise for 2.5 hours, checking after about 1.5 hours to see if more liquid is needed, if so add beer, stock or water.

short ribs in oven

Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes, grits or polenta. Click here for the perfect grits/polenta recipe.

short ribs close up

I doubt that there will be any meat left, but if there is it makes amazing tacos. Any veggies/sauce left are great for a soup, just add more liquid and puree.

If you liked this, you might also enjoy Smoked and Braised Pork Shoulder Latin Style.

New Years Fun Food: Collard Green Empanadas

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empanadas with sauce

I had a New Years Day dinner party and decided to have a Hispanic theme. I usually make my Chiles en Nogada for Christmas, but I was busy working on Christmas Eve and decided to postpone that tradition till New Years. I have done a lot of regional Mexican and South American cooking, spent a great deal of time in Latin America from a young age and went to cooking school in Mexico.  Since moving to the Low Country, I have been interested in the spin that my friend Sandra A. Gutierrez has put on some of the traditional Latino recipes and ingredients in her book The New Southern-Latino Table. I decided to incorporate a few of her recipes into my menu for New Years and the first one  was Collard Green Empanadas. In the south it is a tradition to eat two things on New Years, greens  which represent folded money and black eyed peas which represent good luck. Sandra had recipes using both ingredients, so I made them her way with a few twists of my own.

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Here is the recipe for the empanadas. She suggested frying  store bought empanada dough or baking pastry dough. and I wanted to bake, so I used store bought pie pastry & baked them because of the time and mess crunch with all of the other parts of the meal I was doing. But you can make them with your favorite pastry dough too. I have filling leftover and plan on doing that next weekend.

Heat oven to 375

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Tablespoons Bacon Drippings (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or shallots
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped in a a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 bag of chopped frozen collard greens
  • 1/2 cup cooked and chopped bacon (I bake my bacon with Sweet Onion Sugar on it)
  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup cojita or fresco cheese (optional) these cheeses can be found at Hispanic markets or most grocery stores now days.
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 egg whisked
  • Raw sugar for topping
  • 16 empanada disks or 1 package of Pillsbury pie dough.

Method:

Empanadas

  • In a large skillet heat the oil/drippings and cook the onions till translucent. Add the garlic and saute for about 20 seconds, then add the drained collard greens. Saute for a few minutes and remove from the heat, cool for 20 minutes. Add cheeses and spices.
  • On a floured surface roll out the pie dough to an increase of about 25%. Cut circles with a biscuit cutter or glass. *you can make them bigger if you have a larger cutter, using more filling.
  • Put a teaspoon of filling on each disk and brush the egg wash around the edges. Close and seal, using a fork to crimp the edges. Use the remaining egg was on top of the empanadas. Sprinkle with the flavored sugar. Top with Habenero Sugar. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with salsa.

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Candied Bacon, Beyond Delicious

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bacon candy

File this one under DELICIOUS! This recipe could not be easier, especially if you have access to the flavored sugars mentioned. But you can also make your own by adding chile powder to raw sugar. The Spice and Tea Exchange of Charleston is part of a larger company with many franchise stores around the US. They also sell everything on their corporate website. I have provided links for the sugars in case you would like to order them. You can also play around with other flavors, but this is a terrific combination.

1 package of bacon, I used thick cut black pepper bacon

3 tablespoons of Spice and Tea Exchange Sweet Onion Sugar

1 tablespoon of Spice and Tea Exchange Habanero Sugar

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  • Place the bacon strips close together on a broiler pan
  • Sprinkle the bacon with the sugars and fresh ground black pepper
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the bacon is crispy

You may want to double this recipe… it is impossible to resist eating these.

All of the grease will go down to the bottom pan and after you pour that out clean up is easy.

 

Grilled Pink Grapefruit

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Grilled grapefruit on salad

I have two grapefruit trees. Both are heavy with yellow and pink orbs. So, when I was grilling chicken the other night, I decided to see what would happen if I grilled some. The results were amazing. The heat brought out the juices in the already juicy fruit and set the sweetness soaring. I used the wonderful Salted Caramel Sugar from The Spice and Tea Exchange of Charleston where I work, but you could use Sugar in the Raw with success.

grapefruit peeled

All you have to do is remove the skin and pith from the grapefruit, this is achieved in much the same way as doing orange supremes. Cut off the top of the grapefruit so you can clearly see where the pith meets the fruit. Then do the same on the bottom. Using a sharp knife, cut away the pith and skin in slices (you can save these for twists in your beverages) and once you have removed the skin, cut thick slices and place on a plate.

grapefruit slices

Just before grilling, top with the sugar and place the unsugared side on the grill. It only takes a few minutes to get grill marks. Flip and sugar the grill marked side. When the sugar has melted and started to caramelize, remove and serve immediately or cool and cut into quarters for salads.

Chicken Orzo Salad grapefruit

Bloody Mary Chicken

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This recipe could not be easier. BUT it requires a secret ingredient that you can only buy at the Spice and Tea Exchange. It is a Bloody Mary Spice Blend. One of the many blends I make at work. It contains just about every thing you need to make a good Bloody Mary except the tomato juice and vodka. Here is a list of the ingredients (all of which you can also buy separately at our store): black pepper, sea salt, celery seed, garlic, horseradish powder, Worcestershire powder & tomato powder. By utilizing this unique blend of spices, herbs and concentrated powders you can make a fast and easy dinner, in fact I gave my husband the directions and he did the marinade while I was at work. When I got home, I just tossed a salad, grilled the chicken, mashed some sweet potatoes, drizzled them with maple syrup and added some of my Cognac Cranberry Compote.

Ingredients: 

2 Tablespoons STE Bloody Mary Blend

Juice and Zest of one lemon (I used Meyers from my tree)

1/4 cup Olive Oil (I used smoked olive oil that I make myself)

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Method: 

Mix together the first three ingredients, put the chicken in a zip lock plastic bag, pour the marinade in. Allow to marinate for 6-8 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat your grill and then grill the chicken till the interior reaches 165 degrees. Remove, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve and smile!

Nathalie Dupree’s Food Processor Biscuits

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I have loved and learned from Nathalie Dupree for over 30 years.  She is the Grande Dame of Southern Cooking and quite literally a Grand Dame in the organization Les Dames de Escoffier. . Fortunately she holds court in my new home town, Charleston, South Carolina and I am lucky to be in her presence more often now. I lived in Beaufort and Atlanta in the ’80’s and that is when she first came on my culinary radar. She continues to prolifically produce  work on truly great southern cooking, but it is not the southern cooking your mind conjures up when you hear the term. She is classically trained and most of her early work was more in the “gourmet” realm, though using mostly southern ingredients. She has inspired cooks young and old to do what they do better. She has given us a vast work, including her most recently released tome of great proportion, Mastering the Art of Southern Cookingcollaborating with Cynthia Graubart.  Their book Southern Biscuits is full of perfect recipes and techniques for making biscuits. Believe it or not, there are several different kinds of biscuits! When my step son was visiting last week he saw the book on my cookbook stand and asked, “There is a whole book just on making biscuits?” Yes, Kevin there is. One of my favorite recipes from the book is extremely simple and successful for almost any cook. The one thing you must remember when making biscuits is, “BE GENTLE.” Overworking this tender dough makes tough biscuits. Keeping that in mind, when you use a food processor, just just the minimum amount of maneuvering  the pulse button is your friend. You barely want to mix this recipe, using the buttermilk as the glue that holds the flour together. It is simply the easiest recipe for making biscuits as long as you are gentle, they will be light and fluffy and melt in your mouth.

The three simple ingredients are Buttermilk, Self Rising Southern Flour and Butter (or shortening/lard) It is that uncomplicated.

*Note: If you do not live in the South, or in Wegman’s territory up North, you may have a difficult time sourcing southern flour (made from Winter Wheat), though you can find White Lily on Amazon. Other brands of Southern Flour are :  Red Band, Martha White or Southern Biscuit Flour. Nathalie suggests using a mix of cake flour and all purpose flour to make a flour that is more like Southern Flour. Keep in mind it is the protein in the flour that makes a crispy chewy crust, not what you want with a biscuit. Start with 1/2 all purpose flour to 1/2 cake flour.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour (I keep mine in the freezer so it is nice and cold), divided
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter (or any combination of butter, shortening or lard) cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1/4  cup (half a stick) of butter (or any combination of butter, shortening or lard) cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 cup of buttermilk divided

    Method:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. I bake in a convection oven on the convection bake selection.

Select your pan; for softer biscuits place in a greased 8-9″ cake pan or skillet. For crispy exterior, place on a greased baking sheet about 2″ apart.

  • In the bowl of a food processor, pulse 2 1/4 cups of flour with the knife blade 4-5 times. Set aside the remaining 1/4 cup of flour.
  • Scatter the chilled butter pieces around the bowl of the processor.

  • Pulse 2-3 times quickly, no piece should be larger than a pea
  • Add 3/4 cup of buttermilk, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup
  • Pulse briefly to incorporate the liquid, resulting in a shaggy dough, then remove the lid and feel the dough, it needs to be wet but not sticky. If needed add more flour or buttermilk to achieve this result, but do not over process.

  • Pour the dough out onto a chilled floured surface and allow to rest for a minute
  • Gently flour the dough and roll into a ball with floured hands, then, roll over again into a disc. GENTLY

  • Using a rolling pin flatten the disc to about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick
  • Using a floured cutter or glass, cut into biscuits
  • You can roll out the scraps for a final biscuit, but I usually toss because this one will be tougher
  • Place in your baking pan
  • Bake for 6 minutes on the middle shelf, then turn the pan so that it is evenly browning. If the bottom looks like it is browning too fast, you can add a baking sheet under it
  • Bake for another 4-6 minutes, until the tops of the biscuits are a light golden color
  • Remove from the oven and brush a little softened butter on them.

 Enjoy with honey, butter, jam or gravy!

Refrigerator Pickles: Easy Bread and Butter Cucumbers and Okra

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Easy, delicious and a perfect way to preserve some of the last of this summer’s produce, in this case some cucumbers and okra. Refrigerator pickles are great, crispier and fresher tasting than their canned cousins.  This is a recipe that is both sweet and tart, much like Bread and Butter Pickles. Put them on your burgers, alongside sandwiches and use the okra in Bloody Marys. Add them to a cheese plate or charcuterie platter. It is SO easy and you do not need a whole bushel of produce and lots of equipment to make these, just some clean jars, a knife (or food processor) and the ingredients. Here is the recipe to make 3 quart jars. It only takes about 30 minutes working time to do these. Well worth the effort.

Ingredients:

2 onions, thinly sliced

8 medium cucumbers thinly sliced (I used the food processor to make fast work of slicing)

4 cups okra ( I did the okra in one jar and the cukes in two others, but you could do more cukes if you are okra adverse).

3 cups of water

3 cups of cider vinegar

6 cups sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

2 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons celery seeds

2 tablespoons pickling spice

2 teaspoons grains of paradise

2 teaspoons juniper berries

crushed red pepper to taste

6 cloves of garlic (2 per jar)

6 sticks of cinnamon (2 per jar)

Method: 

Slice cucumbers and okra.

The food processor makes slicing a breeze and maintains consistent size

Place in a jar with 2 sticks of cinnamon and 2 cloves of garlic slightly bruised

Pack the jars tightly

Pack the jars tightly. This can also be done in a plastic container.

Cook all remaining ingredients to a boil and then simmer for four minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour the pickling liquid over the vegetables and close jars. Allow to cool completely, then place in refrigerator. The pickles will be ready to eat in 24 hours. You can use a variety of vegetables to make pickles, peppers, carrots, jicama, sugar snap peas, asparagus, okra, even peaches.

Grits in a Rice Cooker: perfection

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We arrived in Charleston to our new home a little over a week ago, though most of my household goods are still en route. I shipped a few things ahead so we would have some basic items. One of those things was my rice cooker. I wanted to make some grits and though that maybe I could do it in the rice cooker. I did it and it was so easy. No stirring and they stayed warm and ready to eat with the warming function on the rice cooker. Here is the way to do it. I of course recommend stone ground grits from the Low Country, or at the very least from the south. The grits I used were purchased at the Charleston Farmer’s Market from Steve Dowdney at The Colonial Charleston Kitchen. This recipe serves four but could easily be doubled and I am sure it would work equally well with polenta.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup stone ground grits
2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon course ground black pepper

Method:

Place all ingredients in rice cooker on porridge setting and forget about it till you are ready for dinner.

 

Vidalia Onions and the First Yellow Squash of the Season

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Low Country Squash with Pork Chops and Butter Leaf Salad

For me, it is a right of passage of sorts. I remember back over 30 years ago when as a young bride in the Low Country we had just moved in to a new house on the St. Helena Sound. my neighbor brought me over a little brown paper sack filled with yellow squash. She told me to go to the Piggly Wiggly and buy a “mess” of Vidalia Onions and explained this very simple recipe. Every spring I make this and think of the gift that Belle gave me. These two vegetables which appear at the same time every spring in the South will always be a perfect pairing in my mind. You can use any sweet onion to make this. Fortunately I had the amazing luck to come upon a shipment of Vidalias here in Hawaii. I grabbed them up and have been making all kinds of good things with them. But when I was at the farmer’s market and saw this yellow squash, I had to make this.

The recipe is embarrassingly simple and I am sure you will love the velvety texture that is the result.

Vidalia Onions and the First Yellow Squash of the Season

3 Vidalia or other sweet onions sliced

3 tender yellow squash sliced

3 cloves of garlic finely minced

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Freshly grated Parmesan

In a generous skillet, heat the olive oil and put in the squash in an even layer. Brown and turn.

Add the onions and stir, sautee till the onions start to sweat.

Clean a hot spot in the center of the pan and add  the minced garlic. Stir again.

When the onions turn translucent and just start to brown, add the cheese and stir till it starts to melt.

 

Add salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

 

Week Night Dinner: Chicken Piccata

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So easy, so delicious and made with just a few simple ingredients. I served it with pasta as the extra sauce goes perfectly with it. We had a salad as a final course. I buy boneless breasts on sale and freeze. I  always have  lemons and capers on hand. and of course you can do this with veal or pork cutlets too.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • fresh cracked pepper ~ or Lemon Garlic Pepper
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice (I used Meyer)
  • 1/2 cup brined capers
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

METHOD

  • Put the chicken breasts between two pieces of waxed paper and pound them with a meat hammer to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut them up into pieces a little smaller than the palm of your hand.
  • Put the cheese and a bit of parsley into a mini processor and process till the cheese is about the size of couscous.
  • Mix together  flour, salt, peppers, and grated Parmesan.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, until well coated. *Note some people like a thicker coating, if you do dredge in plain flour first, then in an egg wash and finally in the cheese and flour mixture. I like mine lightly breaded.
  •  Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces, do not crowd the pan. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve to an oven proof pan. Place in a warming drawer or a 300 degree oven. Cook the remaining chicken pieces,  remove from pan. Keep warm in the oven while you prepare the sauce.
  • On medium/low heat. Add the wine & lemon juice to the pan and stir to deglaze and loosen. Add capers to the pan. Reduce the sauce by half.
  • Plate the chicken and serve with the sauce poured over the chicken. Garnish with remaining parsley. Use extra sauce on pasta and toss.
  • If you have left over breading, you can toast it on a silpat and use it as a topping for other things.