We welcomed 2015 with our annual New Year's Day Brunch. And I must ask, how do so many people take such stunning photos of their elaborate meals? Documenting my brunch is usually an afterthought. There is just too much going on in my kitchen! Maybe next year I'll ask everyone attending to bring along their cameras (or phones) and click away. I did, however, get a few shots of the celebration, and here they are!
ABOVE... Gruyére Gougéres and Canelés de Bordeaux welcomed our guests, along with Pomegranate Champange Punch to wash it all down.
• Pomegranate-Champagne Punch (recipe HERE)
• Canelés de Bordeaux (recipe HERE)
• Beer-Braised Beef Short Ribs with Corn Pancakes
• Oranges with Vanilla and Rosemary (recipe HERE)
• Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Walnuts (recipe HERE)
• Tartine's Banana Cream Tart with Chocolate and Caramel
My friend Lynn arrived early to assist me in the kitchen. Without her help, we would have been eating hours later... a New Year's Day dinner instead of brunch.
I have to admit, everything on the menu was pretty delicious! I quadrupled the recipe for Beer-Braised Beef Short Ribs. After braising the ribs, I was left with a huge pot of beer broth to reduce. I did that very slowly, and was rewarded with a thick, dark, flavorful sauce for the shredded beef.
I roasted enough of the Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Walnuts (recipe from Stacey Snacks) to have leftovers. The first thing I thought about this morning was heating up a bowl of the sprouts for breakfast. Unfortunately for me, my husband was thinking the same thing. I found the empty container in the sink...
• recipe from BREAKFAST for DINNER by Lindsay Landis & Taylor Hackbarth
Makes 4 servings
FOR THE SHORT RIBS
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 1/2 pounds beef short ribs
• 1 large yellow onion, chopped
• 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
• 1 (14.9-ounce) can beer, preferably a stout such as Guinness
• 1 cup beef broth
• 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
FOR THE PANCAKES
• 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 2/3 cup cornmeal
• 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 1 cup fresh corn kernels (I used frozen corn)
• Olive oil, for cooking
• 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1. Preheat oven to 300˚F. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ribs and sear for approximately 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly on all sides. Transfer ribs to a plate.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add the onions and jalapeños to the pot; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add beer and broth, and cook briefly, stirring to remove any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the brown sugar, tomato paste, honey, cinnamon, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add the short ribs and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pot and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 2 1/2 hours, turning the ribs once, until the meat is very tender. Remove ribs from liquid and when cool enough to handle and shred the meat. Dispose of bones and any fat. Place the beef in an airtight container and refrigerate.
3. Transfer the liquid to a large bowl or pitcher and refrigerate until cold and the fat has solidified on top. (You can do this up to a couple of days ahead as I did). Remove as much fat as possible from the liquid.
4. When ready to proceed with the recipe, return the liquid to a large saucepan and over medium heat, reduce the liquid by at least one-third. I quadrupled my recipe and had a huge amount of liquid. I reserved about 4 cups to freeze for future use, and reduced the remaining beer-broth liquid over medium-low heat to about half of its original amount. I then stirred in the shredded beef, and simmered the mixture, until heated through.
5. While the broth was reducing, I mixed up the pancake batter. Preheat oven to 200˚F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the corn kernels.
6. Pour a small amount of olive oil into a large, non-stick skillet (I prefer to use cast iron). Heat over medium-high heat and when hot, drop batter into the skillet and spread into 3-inch rounds. Cook until golden brown, flip and brown the other side. Place the pancakes on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while making additional pancakes. To serve, top each pancake with the braised, shredded beef. Sprinkle with diced Granny Smith apples.
Tartine's Banana Cream Tart with Chocolate and Caramel
I always say, if anything happens to the main course... there's still dessert! And this Banana Cream Tart was as good as I remember it being when I sampled a piece at Tartine in San Francisco several years ago. After our brunch, there was one slice left. When all of our guests departed, I ran into the kitchen and downed that remaining slice; no sharing by me. It was probably pay-back when my husband left me with an empty brussels sprouts container.
TAKE a LOOK:
I found this recipe for Charred Corn with Tomatoes and Basil Vinaigrette on Lynn Rosetto Kasper's The Weeknight Kitchen. This salad screams summer. I found that I liked it even better the next day, after the basil vinaigrette really infuses the corn and tomatoes, and with a big handful of arugula thrown in.
+ Charred Corn Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
• adapted recipe from Kitchen Confidence by Kelsey Nixon via The Weeknight Kitchen
• 6 ears corn, shucked
• Canola oil, preferably cold-pressed
• Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
• 1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
• 1 garlic clove, grated
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
• 1 (10-ounce) container small heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)
• 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1. For the corn: Preheat an outdoor grill.
2. Brush corn cobs with the canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the corn on the grill and char each side. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Stand each ear up, stalk end down, in a wide, shallow bowl and, using a knife, slice the corn kernels off the cob. Set aside.
3. For the vinaigrette: In a food processor or blender, pulse the basil and garlic until the basil starts to break down. Add the vinegar. Continue pulsing while adding the oil in a steady stream, then process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
4. In a large bowl, combine the corn, tomatoes, and red onion. Drizzle the basil vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss well to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
+ Toss in fresh arugula, if desired.
TAKE a LOOK:
I face challenges in my vegetable garden every year. I never achieve 100% satisfaction. The blue cabbages I've planted every growing season since my garden's inception sixteen years ago will be banned next year. The endless plucking of green worms and the difficulty of mowing and trimming around the large leaves have forced them out! Next year -- blue-green Lacinato Kale will stand at the corners of my brick-edged garden beds.
And yesterday I bought three large basil plants to replace the two packages of basil seeds I planted this spring. The seeds grew into plants that were pale with leaves so full of holes they were rendered useless; seemingly torn apart by a predator that was devouring every bit of new growth. Our neighbor mentioned the possibility of goldfinches as the culprits. Who knew? After research I learned that the American goldfinch (nicknamed "Salad Bird") loves dining on vegetable greens such as beets, Swiss chard, and, it seems, also basil. After seeing several goldfinch in my backyard and with the discovery of newly-eaten holes on the upper leaves of the basil planted just yesterday, I think our suspicions are confirmed.
There are issues with several other plantings. All I ask is that I have tomatoes with every meal in August. If that happens... all is forgiven.
And speaking of green worms... Yesterday I found this Eye Hawk Moth Caterpillar quickly making its way across my yard. The photo doesn't justly convey the caterpillar's actual size; about 4-inches in length and 1/2-inch plus in diameter. From what I've read about the moth, it seems to reside in England. No mention was made of the U.S. Therefore, let me suggest... watch your apple trees and willows -- the caterpillars' primary diet. Judging from the size and speed of this caterpillar, we're in big trouble if the Eye Hawk Moth gets a foothold in the states.
The Eye Hawk Moth Caterpillar curled up on my sidewalk. Get a load of the big, blue, hook tail!
Do you still have an appetite after this photo? Yikes!
But back to my garden... At least I can say that this year I have no quarrels with my zucchini. My massive three plants have been keeping me busy with all of the zucchini they've produced. I just made Zucchini-Feta Fritters with Hummus Dip. I love the loads of lemon zest in the fritters! I served them with corn on the cob and salmon... YUM.
• RECIPE by ROBIN ASBELL (adapted)
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
• 1 pound zucchini
• 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 teaspoons lemon zest
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 2 large eggs
• 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
• canola oil, for frying
• 2 small cloves garlic, peeled
• 1 14.5-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
• 1/4 cup tahini
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 tablespoons water, or more to thin
1. Trim the ends of the zucchini and shred using the large holes of a box grater. Place the shredded zucchini in a colander and gently toss with 1 teaspoon salt; set colander on a plate to catch any moisture and let stand for 30 minutes. Turn the zucchini onto a clean dish towel and twisting the towel around, wring out as much moisture as you can.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, lemon zest, and oregano; whisk to combine. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Stir in the zucchini and feta cheese.
3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the skillet. Using a large spoon, drop mounds of batter onto the oiled skillet, pressing lightly with the back of the spoon to flatten. When the bottom has browned, approximately 2 to 3 minutes, flip the fritter and brown the other side.
4. If you aren't eating the fritters immediately, they can be placed on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and kept warm in a 250˚ oven.
1. Drop the garlic into the bowl of a food processor and mince (or use a mortar and pestle to mash the garlic). Add the beans and pulse until smooth, scraping the bowl when necessary. Add the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pulse to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in water to thin. Serve with the fritters.
TAKE a LOOK:
Simple and delicious... Bake 2 large yams at 400˚F until tender. Meanwhile, peel 5 apples (I had Gala on hand, so that's what I used). Thinly slice the apples and place in a large sauté pan. Add 1/4 cup water, cover, and over low heat cook the apples until tender. In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1/4 of the apples with 1/4 of the yams. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 of an orange over the mix and process until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Repeat with the remaining apples, yams, and orange juice. Rewarm over low heat, adding salt to taste. Serve.
TAKE a LOOK:
I spent the weekend indoors. A winter storm that left roads and sidewalks with a thick coating of ice has left me with no desire to venture out. A quiet few days were spent reading, baking, and cooking. Dinner last night... roast chicken along with a salad of black beans and quinoa.
a recipe by Ken Oringer for Food & Wine, slightly adapted
• 1 cup quinoa
• 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
• 1 chipotle in adobo, minced
* 3 16-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 6 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely sliced
• 1 small red onion, finely diced
• 1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and simmer the quinoa over low heat until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Spread the quinoa on a plate and let cool.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice and chipotle. Add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking until blended. Add the black beans, quinoa, scallions, red onion, yellow pepper and cilantro. Season with salt, toss to combine and serve.
• The salad can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.
Midge catching snowflakes
TAKE a LOOK:
"Remember my cabbage?" has become a reoccurring theme for me. Every spring I plant blue cabbage throughout my vegetable garden for additional color. Every fall I search for recipes, plus friends and neighbors, to help reduce my inventory; this year amounting to 30 large heads of cabbage.
I made Red Cabbage Braised with Maple Syrup twice within two days, reducing the amount of bacon and maple syrup, and doubling the number of apples originally called for. I thought it was pretty perfect.