Monthly Archives: October 2012

Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine and Leeks

Here’s the recipe for my braised short ribs with leeks.  It’s a recipe I adapted from one by Wolfgang Puck, but much simpler and more accessible.  It came out beautiful and tasty.

Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine and Leeks


1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 beef short ribs

Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground ginger

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 head garlic, peeled

4 large shallots, peeled, trimmed, rinsed, split and dried

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths

2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch lengths

2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped

6 sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley

2 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cups beef (or chicken) stock

1 can beef consommé


Pour the wine into a large saucepan set over medium heat. When the wine is heated, carefully set it aflame. Let the flames die out, then increase the heat so that the wine boils; allow it to boil until it cooks down by 1/2. Remove from the heat.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large casserole, large enough to hold 6 ribs, over medium-high heat. Mix the flour, salt, ground ginger, and black pepper in a large plastic food storage bag.  Two at a time, place the short ribs in the bag with the flour mixture, blow up the bag, tie it off, and shake well until the short ribs are coated with the flour (you can also use a traditional flour-dredging pan, but I prefer the plastic-bag method. It’s much neater).  When the oil is hot, slip two ribs into the pot and sear for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until well browned.

Transfer the browned ribs to a plate and repeat with the remaining ribs, two at a time.  Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot; lower the heat to medium, and toss in the vegetables and herbs. Brown the vegetables lightly, 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute to blend.

Add the reduced wine, browned ribs, stock and consommé to the pot. Bring to a boil; cover the pot tightly, and place it into the oven to braise for 2 to 2 ½ hours, or until a kitchen fork pierces the meat easily and comes back out without lifting the meat. Every 30 minutes or so, lift the lid and skim and discard whatever fat may have bubbled up to the surface.

Vegan Chocolate Gingerbread

This is the vegan chocolate cake I made for dessert with last night’s supper for the in-laws.  It’s perfect, simple, and surprising.  Serve it with a small dollop of vanilla ice cream.  My choice is Kim Zanni’s Vanilla Bean Gelato di Babbo.  If you haven’t found Kim’s monstrously good gelatos, go out and find it, or demand your grocer get in into their store.  Imagine this:  it’s low-fat.  On my Weight Watchers’ plan it is only three points, which offsets the hundreds of points the cake is (only kidding).  Make sure you allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before you unpan it, as it is prone to breaking apart if you unpan it too soon.  Still yummy, but you’ll be tempted to eat the broken parts (not necessarily a bad thing!).


1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 ½ teaspoons ground ginger

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature

½ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a square 8-inch baking pan with oil or baking spray or dust with cocoa powder.
  2. Sift the cocoa, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and brown sugar into a large bowl.  Combine coffee and oil in a small bowl.  Beat the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula or whisk.  Stir in the crystallized ginger (if using), and quickly stir in vinegar.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick placed into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack, then turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely.  Serve, dusted with confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder, with hot tea, cider, or mulled wine.

Roasted Savory Cauliflower

I can’t believe how good this recipe turned out.  It’s simple and delicious.  I served this for supper last night, and incredibly, the kids ate all their vegetables!   Use fresh Parmesan cheese for the last-step sprinkle.


  • 5 to 6 cups cauliflower florets, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (from 1 medium cauliflower)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sliced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • Chopped chives, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the cauliflower florets in a large saute pan or a roasting pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the cauliflower, and season with the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place the saute/roasting pan in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even roasting. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately while still warm.

Pan-braised Chicken with Rosemary and Figs

Here’s a recipe I tried last night for company.  Really good, and really simple.  What makes it work is fresh rosemary.  I think dried rosemary would overwhelm the delicate sweetness of the fig sauce.  Made it for the in-laws last night with garlic roasted cauliflower and sweet potato fries.  Great supper.  Great recipe.

4 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
15 fresh figs, halved
1 tsp sweet paprika, divided
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 ½ cups red wine

2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle chicken with ½ tsp paprika, salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large pan. Add chicken breasts and brown both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Add wine and figs, and sprinkle rosemary (reserving 1  teaspoon) and remaining ½ tsp paprika on top. Turn heat to medium, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.

Move chicken from pan to a plate, and let it rest covered.

Whisk the butter into the pan sauce, turn the pan to low-medium, and let reduce without a cover for an additional 10 minutes, until thickened.

Divide chicken breasts among plates, place figs on top, and drizzle sauce over the chicken and figs.  Sprinkle fresh chopped rosemary on top and garnish with a piece of a fresh rosemary sprig.

Way good!

Ellen and Babs’ Hearty Chicken Chowder

Here’s a terrific old family recipe for chicken chowder, passed down through my wife’s family.  The only place I’ve seen it is on a stained recipe card.  But it’s really good.

Hearty Chicken Chowder


1 whole chicken, 3 pounds

5 cups water

1 cups sliced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 medium onion, sliced

1 bay leaf

6 peppercorns

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 ½ cups milk

¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)

½ pound sliced mushrooms

2 teaspoons snipped chives

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup corn

¼ teaspoon dried (or ½ teaspoon freshly chopped) thyme

Shredded cheddar cheese


1.  Place first 10 ingredients (chicken through ground pepper) in a soup pot; cover and bring to a boil, then simmer until the chicken is tender, (about 45 minutes).  Strain broth, reserving vegetables, discarding the bay leaf, and picking the chicken off the bones.  Discard bones.

2.  Mix broth and milk.  In a saucepan, melt butter; add mushrooms and chives and sauté until soft, 3-5 minutes; add flour and blend.  Gradually stir in broth, continuing to stir until the soup thickens.  Add salt and thyme, corn, chicken, and reserved vegetables.

3.  Simmer 10 minutes longer; then serve in heavy bowls, topped with cheddar cheese.

Nutty Pumpkin Bread

Here’s the pumpkin  bread recipe I promised in my October 7 column.  Morgan made it last week, and it’s wonderful.  A great complement to a fall soup.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 12 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup wheat germ

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon EACH ground ginger, nutmeg, and cloves

2 cups cooked pumpkin (1 14- to 16-oz. can)

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup golden raisins


1.  Soak the raisins 1/2 hour in warm water.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Combine the first nine ingredients (AP flour thru spices) in a large bowl, mix well, then form a well in the center of the mixture.

3.  Add the remaining ingredients into the well of the dry mixture and combine gently until the dry ingredients are moist.  Do not overmix.

4.  Pour the batter into two 9x5x4 loaf pans that have been sprayed with baking spray or canola oil.

5.  Bake until the tops are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 – 50 minutes.  Cool the loafs on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto the rack to cool completely before serving.

Possible substitutions:  Brown raisins or dried cranberries can be used instead of golden raisins; walnuts can be used in place of pecans, and cooked butternut squash can replace the pumpkin.
Serve with a nice thick, hot soup or toasted with butter or cream cheese, or just plain plain.


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