Thursday, September 30, 2010

Braised Beef Ribs, Also Known As, Butta in Yo Mouth

We had a birthday gathering for my mom at our apartment last Sunday. The dish du jour was braised beef short ribs we adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home cookbook, our newest and most favorite book. While it did take all day to cook, I think the results were worth it.

What you need:

Red Wine Reduction

1 bottle dry red wine (We used $4 Merlot from Whole Foods.)

1 cup 1/2 inch diced yellow onion

1 cup 1/2 inch thick slices peed carrots

1 cup 1/2 inch thick slices white and light green parts leeks

1 cup thinly sliced shallots
(We skipped the shallots and put in some more onion, just to save some moola.)
1 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms

3 thyme sprigs

6 flat leaf parsley sprigs

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

3 large garlic cloves, smashed, with skin

2-1/2 pounds boneless chuck short rib

Salt and pepper


Canola oil

1 cup 1/2 inch diced yellow onion

2/3 cup 1/2 inch thick slices peeled carrots

1 1/2 cups 1/2 inch thick slices white and light green parts leeks
2 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on

3 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
5 cups beef stock

What to do:

1. Combine all the ingredients for the red wine reduction in a large, deep oven-proof pot that will hold the meat comfortably. Bring to a simmer over high heat and reduce the heat to maintain the simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, until the wine has reduced to a glaze.

2. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper, coat in flour, patting off any excess. Heat canola oil in a large saute pan over high heat until it shimmers. Add the meat, fat side down, reduce the heat and brown the mean for 3 minutes. Turn the meat and brown the other side. Transfer meat to a tray.

3. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

4. Add the onion, leeks, garlic, thyme and bay leaves to the wine reduction and toss. Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 4 inches larger than the diameter of the pot. Place it over the vegetables and put the meat on the cheesecloth and fold over the edges to form a “nest.” Add the stock, it should come to just the top of the meat.

5. Cut a parchment paper lid and place it over the meat.

6. Put the pot in the oven and reduce the heat to 325˚F. Braise the beef for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until tender.

7. Transfer the meat to a heatproof container. Strain the braising liquid and pour over the meat. You can keep the meat in the refrigerated in the liquid for up to three days.


Monday, September 27, 2010

I Love You, My Sweet Potato

Happy yummy Monday!

We had a delicious weekend of birthdays, bridal showers, and lots of good eats. After Anita's crazy birthday party on Saturday night (which ended with me eating a burrito the size of my head), I woke up Sunday morning craving greasy carbs. I was feeling guilty about the whole head-sized burrito incident so opted for a home-cooked, slightly healthier option to my favorite morning-after treat: french fries. Instead of high-tailing it to Mickey D's, I made some oven-baked sweet potato fries. Yum. Check out this DivineCaroline article on how much better these spuds are then the traditional ones.

What you need:

4 sweet potatoes
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper (aka Red Chili Powder)

Image courtesy of The Food Advocate.

What do do:

Slice potatoes into fry-sized bits. Throw them into a ziplock bag containing 2 tablespoons of the following: olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Add another tablespoon of red chili powder and shake it up.

Bake them in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool for ten minutes and devour. 

I made my own dipping sauce of two parts ketchup, one part mayo. Maybe not as healthy as I intended, but so delicious to eat as I watched the season premier of The Office. A perfect lazy Sunday.

Next time I am going to spice my sweet potato fries up and try this recipe from my favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen.

Stay turned tomorrow for some of the good stuff we made for my Mama's b'day party including ... braised beef ribs. Heaven.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Simply Breakfast

My breakfast today of steel cut oats and fresh nectarines was too lovely not to share. I just finished eating it, and it was as delicious as it was beautiful.

I'm looking forward to a weekend of deliciousness including dinner tonight at my favorite Indian spot in the city, Dosa, my BF Anita's birthday party, the San Francisco Greek Festival, and my Mom's birthday dinner at our place ... we're making braised short ribs ... stay tuned.

Today's post was inspired by one of my favorites, Simply Breakfast. Yum.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bhindi the Beautiful, Two Ways

After brussels sprouts my next favorite veggie is probably okra, aka bhindi. While the customary way to eat it in this country is breaded and fried (which I am FAR from opposed to!) in the motha-land they do it a bit differently. I cook bindi at least once a week; it's uber healthy and the perfect side dish for a night of spicy curry (or any Indian dish for that matter).

Bhindi One Way
My mama invented this recipe. It's quick, easy, and the bhindi un-failingly comes out perfect.

What you need:

1 pound of okra
1 packet of Chaat Masala (I use Shaan Chaat.)
Lemon (Or as we say it, Limboo.)
Pam (Don't use oil to ensure the bhindi's come out crispy, not greasy.)

What you do:

Heat a medium skillet and spray heavily with Pam. Once the pan is hot, throw in chopped okra and stir-fry over medium-low heat for about ten minutes until the bindi start to crispen on the edges. Shake in about four tablespoons of chaat masala, taste and add more or less to your liking. (I'm not much of a measurer, more of a taster-and-adder.) Don't add any additional salt as the chaat masala is already heavily salted. Spray with fresh lemon juice and serve hot.

Bhindi Two Ways
This recipe is adapted from my favorite Indian/Parsi cookbook, My Bombay Kitchen, written by one of our dearest family friends, Niloufer Ichaporia King. Her book is the Bible of our kitchen.

What you need:

1 onion
1 pound okra
A few green chilies
Half a bunch of cilantro
2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (This is the staple of Indian cooking. The store bought one sucks in my opinion. Here's a recipe I found online.)
Oil (Note that vegetable oil is best for Indian cooking. I use olive sometimes because it's healthier, but for maximum taste go for the veggie oil.)

What you do:

Heat about two tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Throw in chopped onion and let brown. Add in ginger garlic paste and stir together for about two minutes. Drop in salt, okra, and green chilies. Stir-fry for ten minutes until the okra is soft. Garnish with fresh cilantro. 

Have a bhindi-ful day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quinoa Is Our Homie

Just a little sneak peek of my Moroccan Squash quinoa creation last Thursday night. It was spicy, hearty, and full of Indian flavors and spices. It was my first time making this delicious grain and I think it will definitely make it on our menu more often. The best part of cooking with quinoa was that it it so incredibly filling; we were stuffed for hours after dinner. I used this recipe from epicurious and I was sure hubby would hate it as he's more of a bacon and cheese kinda guy. Surprisingly, he loved it and said, "Quinoa is my homie." So cute.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fig Tarts Are a Work of Art

Our lovely, lazy Sunday brunch party last weekend was a total success. It actually ended up turning into a all-day-nearly-dinnertime snack-a-thon as guests stayed until 7 p.m. (the last one, my sis, stayed until after 10!). Here's what I learned from our love-filled afternoon:

1. There is nothing better than spending all day lounding on the floor with people you love.
2. Hubby and I love, love, LOVE to cook and the only thing we love more than that is sharing what we cooked with our buddies.
3. Thomas Keller is a genius. (More on that later ... but if you are looking to buy a beautiful cookbook check out Ad Hoc at Home, I made his savory bread pudding and it was To.Die.For.)
4. Rooftop decks are awesome.
5. I love San Francisco.

Phew! Who knew eating and cooking butter-encrusted foods and drinking cocktails could be such a learning experience! Here was our menu:
  • Herb Scrambled Eggs
  • Savory Herb and Leek Bread Pudding a la Thomas Keller
  • Nimon Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Fig Tart (See below for recipe.)
  • Fresh Berries
  • D.I.Y Waffle Bar with Nutella (How can you have a party without Nutella, obvi!)
  • Croissants 
  • Tater Tots 
  • Aperol-Orange Mimosas (See below for recipe.)
  • Blue Bottle Coffee

The Aperol-Orange Mimosas 
This recipe was inspired by Italy and created by my hubs.

What you need:

Orange Juice
Freshly-sliced oranges

What you do:

Mix at least one hour ahead of time in a carafe, a 1:1 ratio of OJ and Aperol. Drop in orange slices and chill.

Serve with a 1:1 ratio of OJ Aperol and Prosecco.

Drink sparingly!

The Fig Tart

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I saw on Chez Pim and by my obsessive love-fest with figs. I took a secret easy way out and modified the recipe but it was still a total hit.

What you need:

Figs, Chopped in quarters
Puff Pastry Crust (I used the frozen one from Trader Joe's ... I know, I know, Padma would so be asking me to pack my knives ...)
Two Eggs
(Optional ingredient: Goat or Feta Cheese)

What to do:

Whisk together two eggs in a small bowl. Brush over de-frosted puff pastry with pastry brush. 
Randomly place chopped figs on egg-covered pastry dough.
Dust with sugar.
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Slice into squares and serve.

Here's a sneak peek of our lovely new apartment pre-party. What do you think of the hint of the orange wall peeking out of the corner?!

Tonight I'm cooking Moroccan-inspired Quinoa and Squash stew ... wish me luck! 

Challo! (Meaning until next time in Hindi.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Brunch and Hash on My Mind

We are having a brunch party tomorrow and I am so excited. My two additions to the menu are a savory bread pudding from the Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc book and a fresh fig tart. I'll definitely let you guys know how it all turned out ... wish me luck!

Right now I am stuck inside on a gorgeous sunny day because we are having some walls painted in our house. Bummer! Also, after eating thai food and then late night pizza last night I'm currently munching on apples and ginger/lemon/mint-infused water. Yum.
What I really wish I was eating was this:

This is a picture of the best breakfast I've ever eaten as far as my memory can serve. It was taken at a random biker hangout/brunch spot near Flagstaff, Arizona on our cross-country road trip. I adore hash. My best friend Meghan's mom used to make it for us for breakfast as kids and it's my favorite indulgent b-fast treat. Here's an recipe I found on Epicurious that I solemnly swear to try asap. Delish.

What you need:

  • 1 lb baking (russet) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1-lb piece cooked corned beef, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • What to do:
    Cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover until just tender, about 3 minutes, then drain. Pulse corned beef in a food processor until coarsely chopped.

    Sauté onion and bell pepper in butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in corned beef and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add cream and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

    If desired, make 4 holes in hash and break 1 egg into each. Cook over moderately low heat, covered, 5 minutes, or until eggs are cooked to desired doneness, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle hash with parsley.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Fave Healthy (and Spicy) Dinner: Chana Masala

I had an impromptu dinner party last night with my sissy, my dearest friend Natasha, and my cousin Anita. (Anita is my fourth cousin, I really just call her my cousin because I love her so much, and one of my best friends and she happens to live in our building. How AWESOME is that?!) Anyways, I didn’t have much time to plan ahead so instead of ordering take-out, I made my favorite go-to dish: chana masala.

Chana masala is basically spicy garbanzo beans. They are delicious, healthy, and super easy to make.

Here’s what you need:

2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 large onion
2 tomatoes
1 head cilantro
1 packet Chana Chaat masala (You can find this at any Indian store or even buy it online. You can even use regular chaat masala with some red chili powder too.)

Here’s what you do:

Dice the onion, tomato, and half the head of cilantro.

Sauté the onions on medium-low heat until they start to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add in the chopped tomato and cilantro. Mix these together over medium heat for about 3 minutes.

Add in the cans of garbanzo beans. Sprinkle in half the packet of Chana Chaat and let simmer. Add salt to taste. Garnish with the rest of the fresh cilantro when you are ready to serve.

I often double this recipe and make a big pot of chana masala and refrigerate to eat throughout the week. It’s delicious, nutritious, and my favorite go-to snack.

P.S. The best part of getting married is all the fun kitchen equipment you get. My number one favorite addition is this purple Le Creuset pot … amazing!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Perfect Salad on a Summer Day in Spain

... or Italy for that matter. That's me (or my hand and sunglasses at least) in Lake Como just before I took a bite of that delicious salad. Called ensalada mixta in Spain, this salad is fresh, light, healthy, and absolutely perfect. It can be served with white asparagus, beets, olives, or cucumbers, but this version above is the most classic, and in my opinion, the most delicious. I've been making this salad almost everyday since I've been back from Europe just so I can close my eyes and imagine that I am still sitting in that plaza in Italy with my hubby, basking in the sun and eating some tuna.

Ensalada Mixta a la Shyla 

Butter or romaine lettuce
Fresh, ripe tomatoes (I try to use heirlooms whenever I can get my hands on them)
Corn (fresh is better, but canned works perfectly)
Red tuna (I use the canned stuff ... the one in water, not oil)

To be extra Euro, serve the olive oil, vinegar (white or balsamic), salt and pepper separately so each person can dress their ensalada to their liking.

I don't know what it is about this salad that makes it so perfect, but to me it's Spain and there is nothing more perfect than that.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ode to Brussels Sprouts (a la the Motha-land)

We are finally moved in to our beautiful San Francisco apartment. We are settled and trying to get our lives back in order after the weddings, Europe, and the cross-country move. Ah!

Road trip + Europe trip = Carb, fast food, and cheese overload. I am therefore trying (albeit not so successfully) to combat the post-trip flabiness by eating lots o' veggies. My numero uno fave veggie of the moment is Brussels Sprouts.

My favorite way to prepare them is inspired by none other than the mother-land, India. This obviously includes lots of spices, especially turmeric.

Here's how I do it:

What you need:

One large onion
Three (ish) cloves of garlic
One pound brussels sprouts
Coriander Powder

Sauté one large, diced onion with a few cloves of garlic.
When the onion turns brown, throw in one pound of brussels sprouts.
Throw in a dash (about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of each) of turmeric, coriander powder, cumin, and salt.
Sprinkle in a few drops of water, cover, and let simmer.

About ten minutes later--walla!--perfect, spicy, warm brussels. YUM!