Tag Archives: winter

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

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Another braise? I know. But it’s that time again! Winter is coming, and this year, I choose to combat its frosty temps and overall misery by watching Harry Potter marathons* on TV while slowly roasting large chunks of meat in the oven.

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Braised short ribs are a classic, whether you’re cooking them in the oven (like I do here), on the stove (so easy!) or even in a slow-cooker (I promise this is coming!). Red wine seeps into the short ribs and tenderizes them, while herbs and aromatics impart deep flavor to both the sauce and the meat. It’s rich and warm and comforting, and doubles as the most wondrous-smelling scented candle that also heats up your home (or at least your tiny apartment).

I first made wine-braised short ribs a few years ago, using a similar recipe. The major change with this version is the addition of a few tablespoons of flour, which thickens the sauce and makes it more gravy-like, perfect for spooning over garlicky mashed potatoes. I didn’t strain the sauce, since the little chunks of carrot and celery are delicious, and next time (there will definitely be a next time), inspired by this beef bourguignon, I will be adding mushrooms.

You can probably guess how delicious these were — I mean look at those pictures.

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Words aren’t enough, only emojis will do: 😍 😍 😍 😍 😍 😍 😍

*Dear ABC Family / soon to be Freeform: please don’t let me down. I need “Harry Potter weekends” every week from now until April. Continue reading

Braised Lamb Shoulder

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Happy birthday to me! It’s time, in my 27th year, to extol the virtues of braises. Once again, I decided to cook dinner for friends on my birthday. And once again, I was away the weekend before and therefore had not a lot of time to make a semi-fancy dinner. Bring on the braise, bitches!

Braises are a miracle, especially for the busy cook. They’re generally best on large, thick, fibrous pieces of meat, which just so happen to be on the cheaper side and are therefore ideal for budget-conscious folks cooking for a crowd. They’re also pretty hands-off, allowing you to focus on sides and/or dessert while your main dish does its own thing in the oven or on the stove. (If you have a slow-cooker, you can really “set it and forget it” with a braise.)

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Plus, braises are often best when made a day or two ahead. Taste-wise, cooking ahead a) gives the flavors of the dish time to really meld and come together, and b) allows you to skim a lot of the fat that renders off the meat while it’s cooking, so that the final dish (and its sauce) aren’t too greasy.

And planning-wise, this is a godsend. Rare is the dinner party that comes together without advance planning, and preparing a make-ahead main dish allows you to focus on everything else that comes with a party (cleaning, putting out dinnerware and cutlery, appetizers, drinks, etc. etc.) rather than sweating over a stove while guests file in.

(As it just so happens, many braises happen to heavily feature booze. Clearly, they are genius and we should all just accept their superiority now.)

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So for my birthday, I was obviously going to be braising something. I settled on lamb shoulder because it seemed elegant and classy, like how I hope the next year of my life will be was on sale at Fresh Direct, and went with a French-style herbed treatment, relying on garlic, rosemary, thyme and a generous pour of wine to provide all of the flavor. The whole thing went swimmingly, and I served the lamb with a kale gratin (which I will have to make again and share with you guys ASAP because it was divine) and mashed root vegetables (also pretty great). And there were zero leftovers, which is always a sign of a successful dinner party. Cheers to 27! Continue reading

Honey-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon

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I know there was never a doubt in your guys’ mind, but it was confirmed this weekend: I’m a huge dork. While millions of people were rightfully excited about the return of Game of Thrones, the epic HBO show that involves giants, dwarves, dragons and one very gorgeous man, I decided that merely watching the episode was not enough. I had to create a full-on feast inspired by the series, and foist it upon some friends.

In my defense, George R.R. Martin’s descriptions of medieval feasts are so detailed that there’s an entire GoT cookbook based on the books. And while those passages have been lambasted by those who read the books merely for the political intrigue or intense action (ie. the “interesting” stuff), I find the feast scenes fascinating. Most of what people ate is similar to stuff we eat now — stew, bread, roast meat, etc. But some of the stuff is crazy: pigeon pie and honeyed dormice and spiny grubs and of course, Danaerys and her horse heart.

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Obviously I had no intention of tracking down a friggin’ horse (EWWWWWW.). But I had a CSA chicken in the freezer and lemons in the fridge, and for the first time in a long time, the time and energy to embark on a long cooking project. I cobbled together an easy enough menu: honeyed chicken (which Jon eats during his last meal at Winterfell), mushrooms roasted in garlic butter (which Tyrion eats with Illyrio Mopatis — very in line with the premiere episode!) and lemon cakes, which are Sansa’s favorite. (Yes, I know, I’m a weirdo.)

This was my second attempt at roasting a whole bird, and I used a bunch of my turkey tips here: “air-chilling” the bird so that it dries out completely before roasting, making an herb butter to flavor the meat, roasting the chicken upside down to start and resting the meat after it comes out of the oven. It’s a pretty simple process, and basting the chicken with the honey mixture ensures a shiny, perfectly bronzed final product — at least until you get distracted and leave that bad boy in the oven a few minutes too long …

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Even if you’re not obsessed with Game of Thrones, this chicken is a winner. It’s juicy, the skin gets perfectly crisp and the potatoes underneath are heavenly. And if you are a GoT fan? Your Sundays just got even better. Continue reading

Irish Lamb Stew with Guinness

Whoa guys, it’s been a while. Since we last hung out, I’ve survived a weekend in Atlantic City, started half training in earnest, watched a TON of college basketball, discovered my new fave tapas place in NYC, come in third place at Friends trivia, and prepped for an all-new exciting project at work.

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What I haven’t been doing? Cooking, cleaning, unpacking the many suitcases I’ve used over the past month, folding laundry, catching up on Mad Men ahead of the final season premiere(!!) and just generally being at home for extended periods of time. Which is why this recipe comes to you so late.

Three weeks ago, when “Feels like 17F” was still a thing and “hearty” was the only acceptable kind of meal, this recipe would have been super useful. Now? Oh you know, it’s just a delicious, warming stew that takes your last lingering root vegetables, plus the best of spring’s new produce and meat,* to form a rich meal relatively cheaply. NBD.

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Stews are a staple in Ireland, always served with hearty bread and creamy, dreamy butter. (No seriously, I still dream about that butter.) Made with beef or lamb, with whatever vegetables are around — sturdier root vegetables in the winter, more peas and carrots in warmer weather — it’s the quintessential comfort food. I also had a bottle of Guinness in the fridge, so I threw that in, adding a bit of malty body to the stew.

It was delicious two weeks ago when I made it, but this Irish lamb stew would be just as delicious now, one last hearty meal to usher you into spring.

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*Did you know that meat is seasonal too? Animals have natural growth and slaughter cycles, which is why we associate turkeys with fall (ie. Thanksgiving) and ham or lamb with Easter and spring. Here’s a good explainer from Polyface Farm owner and small-farm advocate Joel Salatin. Continue reading

Fall-toush Salad

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In honor of the sunny skies and almost balmy temperatures (50 degrees! Feels like heaven!), I’m going to keep things short today. After all, there’s outside time to be had, especially now that the sun is still shining at 7 p.m.

And before you besmirch my good name, I did not come up with this name. “Fall-toush” comes from Smitten Kitchen, whose love of good/bad puns is one reason why I’m convinced we’re culinary kindred spirits. Another reason? Her love of easy salads that take seasonal ingredients, cook them in a very unobtrusive way and add just a little something-something to make the whole thing really pop.

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This is based on fattoush, the Levantine salad made with toasted pita, mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and mint and other herbs. It’s usually full of summery vegetables, but alas, those are nowhere to be found. So Deb took a winter approach to the salad, using Brussels sprouts and squash instead. I had leftover tahini, so I hacked together a quick dressing to bring the whole thing together.

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It’s a supremely simple meal — roasted vegetables with a little dressing — that is so much more than the sum of its humble parts: smoky and spicy and creamy and crunchy and full of flavor, hearty enough for the lingering cold but with a sneaky eye on swimsuit season. It’s so good that it almost makes me forget how tired I am of winter fare … #nomorerootvegetablesplease Continue reading