Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

Red Wine Braised Short RibsBraised meats are one of my favorite indulgences.  There’s something so satisfying about a big pot of beef stew or, in this case, short ribs, gently cooking for a few hours until the meat is meltingly tender.  I found this irresistible recipe in Bon Appetit: Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs.  An entire bottle of red wine mind you.

Short RibsAfter a quick trip to the market, I returned home with some very nice looking short ribs and a bottle of red wine.

Browned Short RibsAs with most braised dishes, the meat is first browned well before adding the other ingredients.  Those leftover bits of goodness on the bottom of the pan are priceless and add so much flavor to the dish.

Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, RosemaryThough there’s sparse pickings in our garden now due to the weather being so hot,  we do have a few nice tomato bushes (trees!) and an abundance of mangoes.  I’m grateful for the various selections of herbs that grow so well in this dry area of Maui.  They come in handy when you need just a few sprigs of this and that, as is the case with this recipe.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Adapted from Jenny Rosenstrach & Andy Ward/Bon Appetit Magazine

6 Servings


5 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 medium onions, chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 750-ml bottle dry red wine (I used an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon)

10 sprigs flat leaf parsley

8 sprigs thyme

4 sprigs oregano

2 small sprigs rosemary

2 small bay leaves

8 garlic cloves

4 cups beef stock

1 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat oven to 350°.   Season short ribs generously with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. (I used my 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset which neatly fit all ingredients. Feel free to use a larger sized oven safe pot but not smaller).  Working in two batches, brown short ribs on all sides about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate.  Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot (my short ribs were trimmed well so I didn’t have much fat to pour out).

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes (adjust heat as needed).  Add flour and tomato paste; cook , stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, about 2 minutes.  Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices.  Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 30 minutes.  Add all herbs to pot along with garlic.  Stir in stock and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to oven.

Cook until short ribs are tender, 2 – 2 1/2 hours.  Spoon any accumulated fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with freshly ground black pepper and additional salt if desired.  Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes with sauce spooned over.




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Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Cherry Tomato VinaigretteSummer is officially over yet this record hot weather will be with us for at least another month.  Nevertheless, it hasn’t deterred me from baking brownies or simmering short ribs for 2 1/2 hours in the oven, but it does bring to mind meals that can be prepared in a jiffy, like this simple tomato sauce.

Cherry Tomatoes

Pan Fried Cherry TomatoesThough the recipe refers to this as a vinaigrette,  it is also referred to as a condiment and as such, is equally delicious on grilled sourdough bread, or grilled chicken, pork or fish.  It adds beautiful color to all these dishes. I love serving the tomatoes on thin capellini noodles for a summery lunch or dinner.

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette on Capellini

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette on Capellini

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Bon Appetit Magazine

Serves 2


1 pint cherry tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

crumbled feta (optional)


Cut half of the cherry tomatoes in half.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot, and cook, stirring often until softened, about 4 minutes.

Add halved and whole tomatoes to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to release juices, about 4 – 6 minutes.  Crush some of the tomatoes with the back of spoon.

Add 1 tablespoon vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with kosher salt and pepper.  Serve warm or at room temperature; add chives just before serving and sprinkle with feta cheese.

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Japanese Cucumber Salad

Japanese Cucumber SaladI love crunchy, sweet, cucumbers, especially Keiki Cukes.  Their size is perfect, they are seedless, and snappy. I discovered  this Jamie Oliver recipe on Leite’s Culinaria and I was smitten.

Lemon GrassLemon grass adds a fragrant note to the dressing.  It pairs well with the ginger and rice vinegar.  As the editor-in-chief of Leite’s Culinaria, Renée Schettler Rossi says, this is not the most traditional Japanese recipe despite Jamie Oliver’s title. And, as Renée says further, “I’m not holding that against it.”

Minced Lemon Grass

Japanese Cucumber SaladI diced up a bit of cucumber and sliced carrots into pretty florets to add texture and color to the silky sliced cucumbers.  A generous handful of torn mint and a little cilantro sprinkled over the cucumbers add that special brightness to the salad.  For those of you who are not fond of  cilantro you may leave it out, but don’t skip the mint.

Cucumber Salad Plate

 Japanese Cucumber Salad

Adapted from Leite’s Culinaria

Serves 4 as a side dish


3/4 – 1 pound Japanese, Keiki, or other small, seedless cucumbers

1/4 small carrot, sliced very thin (optional)

Handful of fresh mint, torn into small pieces

Handful of fresh cilantro, torn into small pieces


3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

1 teaspoon finely minced lemongrass

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper



In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar.  Mix until the sugar dissolves.  Whisk in oil. Add ginger, lemongrass, and salt & pepper to taste.

Thinly slice cucumbers lengthwise, using a mandoline, handheld slicer, or potato peeler, making thin ribbons.  Lay cucumber slices on paper towels and lightly pat dry.  Slice a small portion of a cucumber into small cubes, about 1/4 cup (I use the leftover edges of the cucumber I sliced into ribbons, omitting any seedy flesh). Finely slice carrot if using. Lay cucumber ribbons on a plate and diced cucumbers on edges of plate along with the carrots.  Sprinkle with torn mint and cilantro, and drizzle a generous amount of dressing over the salad.

***The dressing can be made a day in advance and the vegetables may be cut a few hours before serving.


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Sorrel Rice with Poached Eggs

sorrel eggMost of us are aware that eggs have been described as the perfect food.  Some years back, their reputation suffered a bit but they are now recognized as a healthy part of our diet.  However one views the egg, we can all agree that eggs are perfectly delicious.  There’s nothing better than sopping up runny egg yolks with toast, breakfast potatoes or rice. As I was thumbing through the June 2014 edition of Bon Appetit, this recipe immediately caught my attention: Sorrel Rice Bowls with Poached Eggs.

Fresh Sorrel Leaves Sorrel is a delightful leafy green with a bright, lemony flavor.  It grows well in warm climates like Kihei. I was excited to try this recipe since we have a beautiful sorrel plant in our garden.

Sorrel SauceIsn’t this sorrel sauce gorgeous?  The sorrel leaves are blended with olive oil, a tablespoon of water, and seasoned with salt and pepper.  That’s it.  I couldn’t wait to add it to the rice.

Radish with Lemon Juice When I first read through the recipe, I thought it was a tad wacky.  After all, who would come up with sorrel rice with preserved lemons topped with poached eggs and served with  pickled radishes on the side?  Ingenious!  It works.

Quick "Preserved" LemonThough I’ve often thought about making preserved lemons, it’s been on the back burner.  The recipe calls for half of a preserved lemon, which I didn’t have.  After a quick web search, I found an acceptable substitute and it worked out quite well.  Fresh lemons are thinly sliced and warmed on low heat with olive oil, a bit of sugar and salt.  The peel, which is what you aim to use in the recipe, becomes tender, and it’s flavor mellows while gently cooking.

Sorrel Rice with Poached EggsThis is the quintessential meal.  Flavorful whole grain brown rice, fresh poached eggs with a sprinkling of feta, and crunchy radishes on the side.  The recipe is meant to serve four, with one poached egg per serving, but I always regret not having two eggs.  So if you’re like me, go ahead and double the eggs in the recipe below.

Sorrel Rice with Poached Eggs

Sorrel Rice with Poached Eggs

Adapted from Sqirl Restaurant/Bon Appetit

Serves 4


2 cups short-grain brown rice

1 lemon, very thinly sliced

olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup lightly packed sorrel leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

2 red radishes, very thinly sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided

4 large or extra-large eggs (double the eggs if serving two per person)

1/4 cup white vinegar

3 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, divided

1 – 2 ounces crumbled feta, optional (I recommend Mt. Vikos goat/sheep milk feta, it’s delicious!)

Flaky sea salt for sprinkling over eggs (such as Maldon)

freshly ground pepper


Cook the rice in your rice cooker for the specified time.  If you don’t have a rice cooker, the recipe says to cook the rice in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 45 – 50 minutes.  Drain the rice, return to pot, cover, and let sit 10 minutes then spread out on a baking sheet and let cool completely.

Place sliced lemon in a small saucepan over medium low heat.  Drizzle olive oil (1 – 2 tablespoons) and sprinkle sugar and kosher salt over the lemon.  Cook until lemon is very tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oil and finely chop the lemon peel into small pieces, discarding flesh and seeds.  You want to use the softened lemon peel for this recipe.

Puree the sorrel, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 tablespoon water with an immersion blender or small food processor.  Season with kosher salt and pepper.

Toss radish with 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl; season with kosher salt.

Toss the rice, diced lemon peel (as much as you prefer), remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sorrel purée in a medium bowl.  Season with kosher salt and pepper mixing in more sorrel purée, if desired.

Meanwhile, heat 3″ water with 1/4 cup white vinegar in a 3 quart saucepan over high heat (for 4 eggs). Watch closely.  When the water barely reaches a boil and you see small bubbles in the bottom of the pan, gently slide eggs into the water one by one and immediately turn the heat down to medium (crack eggs into small separate bowls).  Set the timer for 4 minutes.  The water should not be boiling and the eggs should simmer gently. Adjust the heat as needed.  Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Reheat the rice in the microwave to warm briefly before serving.  Stir in two teaspoons dill.  Spoon rice into individual bowls or plates and place eggs on rice. Season eggs with flaky sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta (optional) and remaining 1 teaspoon dill over rice bowl.


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Homemade Pizza Sauce

Homemade Pizza SauceOne of my favorite meals is homemade pizza.  John has perfected a recipe for really good pizza crust, one that is both tender yet chewy with a bit of those crispy edges that we all love.  There are a number of ready-made pizza sauces available and I found one that was acceptable, but not perfect.  Most of the prepared pizza sauces are a bit too “tomato pasty” and just don’t have that fresh tomato flavor.  One of our favorite Wine Country restaurants, Redd Wood, makes some of the best pizza we’ve had.  Their sauce is very simple but delicious.  With that in mind,  I decided to make my own pizza sauce and now I shall never go back to prepared sauce.

Homemade Pizza

Rao's Italian Peeled TomatoesWith just a few good ingredients, you’ll have a delicious pizza sauce that takes just about 45 minutes to prepare.  I am very fond of Rao’s Italian Peeled Tomatoes.  They are by far, the best canned tomatoes I have found.  I once bought them at our local Whole Foods market, however they no longer carry them. Mail order is the way to go.

Rao's Italian Peeled TomatoesRao’s tomatoes are always beautiful.  They are peeled well, plump and juicy with a rich puree.

Raos Tomatoes in the Food MillI use a food mill to puree the tomatoes.  If you don’t have a food mill, squish the tomatoes with your hands or whirl in the food processor.

Homemade Pizza Sauce with Oregano

Homemade Pizza

Best Homemade Pizza Sauce

Makes 1 3/4 cups – Enough for two large pizzas or four small pizzas


1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in puree, Rao’s brand if available

2 tablespoons minced onion

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper


Puree the tomatoes (tomatoes and puree) using a food mill (I used the coarse disc). Alternatively, puree the tomatoes in a food processor (quick pulses) or smash the tomatoes with your clean hands for a chunkier pizza sauce.  Pour in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large deep sided sauté pan.  Add minced onions, turn the heat down to medium low and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft but not browned, stirring frequently.

Add the pureed tomatoes to the onions and mix to combine.  Cook the sauce for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The sauce will have reduced and thickened up nicely.  Add the oregano, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.  Continue to cook the pizza sauce for another 10 minutes or until the sauce is as thick as you like it. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Let the sauce cool while you prepare your pizza toppings and roll out your dough.  The sauce can be made a few days in advance and freezes nicely for a couple of months.




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Pickled Beets, Red Onion & Eggs

Pickled Beets, Onion & EggsAnyone familiar with this blog, knows that I love pickles.  I think homemade pickles should be in every serious home cooks repertoire.  You’ll be rewarded with tangy-sweet and crunchy snacks that are delightful and with far more variety than you will find in your typical supermarket.

Beets, Red Onion & Hard-Boiled EggsThis appealing recipe comes from Food & Wine magazine.  Beautiful beets along with wedges of red onion and hard-boiled eggs are quickly “pickled” in a simple brine with whole peppercorns and fresh dill.  The onion and eggs take on the bright color of the beets, making this a gorgeous salad.  I adore eggs in any form and never having had one pickled, I had to try this recipe.

Layered Beets, Red Onion, Hard-Boiled Eggs and Dill

Pickled Beets, Red Onion & Hard-Boiled EggsThe pickles are ready to eat in 24 hours, after a brief soak in the brine.  Serve them as a simple salad alone or with pretty greens, or scattered on a platter with chunks of feta cheese nudged between the beets and onions.

Pickled Beets, Onion & Eggs

Pickled Beets, Red Onion & Eggs

Adapted from Food & Wine magazine

Serves 4


4 small red red beets

4 large eggs

1 small red onion

6 dill sprigs

1 cup raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

3 small crushed garlic cloves

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds (optional)

1 tablespoon kosher salt


Scrub the beets and wrap in foil.  Roast for 1 hour at 425°.  I used my handy toaster oven.  Peel and quarter the beets.

Place 4 eggs in a small pot, cover with water by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil and immediately turn the heat down to medium. Set a timer and let the eggs gently simmer for 10 minutes. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water.  Peel the eggs when you are ready to add them to the pickle brine.

Slice onion into small wedges (about 8).

In a saucepan, simmer the vinegar, water, garlic, sugar, peppercorns, mustard seeds if using, and salt.  Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved.  Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes or so.

In a 1-quart glass jar (you might need a larger jar depending on the size of your beets) layer the beets, onion, hard-boiled eggs and dill springs.  Cover with the pickling liquid. Refrigerate overnight.

***The longer the eggs are in the brine, the more color they will absorb from the beets.  I prefer to keep part of the eggs white so I add the eggs to the brine no more than 24 hours before serving.  You can make the pickles a few days in advance and add the eggs to the jar when you are ready.  If you’ve eaten all the eggs and still have beets and onions, boil more and add to the brine!







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