the three day daube

cannelloni

We’ve made good progress through our freezer full of cow, but there were a few packages of stew beef crying out (figuratively speaking) to be used. Jon decided to pull out an old recipe that we hadn’t done in ages, a slow-cooked beef daube with black pepper, orange peel and shiitake mushrooms. He did all the work, and all I did was buy the bread to go with. Oh, and I made sheets of pasta to wrap around the leftovers to make cannelloni.

marinating daube

The daube is not one of those spur of the moment meals. Jon got the meat marinating three days ahead of time, with wine and vegetables. He braised it the second day, and we ate it on the third. Continue reading

Advertisements

Vietnamese caramel-braised spare ribs

dinner

Emboldened by our recent experience of making caramel candy at home, we decided to take the next step: Vietnamese caramel sauce. Some time ago, I got a copy of Andrea Nguyen’s Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. It’s a great book, and just reading the recipe titles will make you salivate, but so far the only thing I had done out of it was follow general guidelines for fresh spring rolls. Jon had discovered a recipe for a kho of pork ribs cooked in caramel sauce, though, and since he was on winter break he decided to go for it. Vietnamese caramel sauce is very different from caramel candy: it’s very dark, with a deep, almost burnt, bittersweet flavor. I had never tasted it before, and I was amazed at the savory scent of the ribs as they braised.

leftovers for lunch

This is not a quick weeknight recipe, let me warn you. Jon made the caramel sauce in the morning, got the ribs marinating early, then broiled them in the late afternoon. We braised them after I got home from work and had a late dinner. But leftovers were fabulous – even better than the first night – so you could definitely do this recipe ahead and set it all aside for later. We thought the sauce was best when it was reduced down to a syrup, which is easiest to do if you take the ribs out and just boil the heck out of the liquid in the pan. Continue reading

pork and carrots and cabbage, oh my!

carrot dip

Last Saturday we cooked up quite a storm. We were kind of stuck at home, since Jon managed to throw his back out a few days before and was still on a fun variety of medications and spending most of his time on the couch. So why not cook?

To start, I made up a batch of carrot dip. I made this for friends a week ago, and it was so good it vanished instantly, so I wanted to do it again just for the two of us. It’s just roasted carrots pureed with olive oil, salt, fresh mint and a pinch of caraway or cumin seed, served with a sprinkling of feta cheese, and it is great. Plus it did a fantastic job of using up the six-pound bag of carrots we bought at the last farmer’s market.

braised cabbage

Then I threw together another recipe from good old Art of Braising, which is rapidly becoming one of those cookbooks that I want to make every single recipe out of. I had tried the “Best Braised Cabbage in the World” already, but I saw a rave about the “Savoy Cabbage Gratin with Saint Marcellin” on Orangette that made me head straight out to the co-op to look for French triple-cream cheeses. I ended up with Delice de Bourgogne, which I thought worked splendidly [huh. I just realized that’s what Molly ended up using, too. Weird]. The final dish was smooth and sweet, with a delightful funkiness about it from the cheese. Leftovers have been singularly tasty. Continue reading

world's best braised cabbage

cabbage

The braised red cabbage salad we had at Gretchens the other day reminded us that we do actually like cabbage. It can, of course, be awful – and a good way to stink up your house – but it doesn’t have to be. I discovered the appeal of plain green cabbage when I lived by myself in college – I had a miniscule food budget which I spent primarily on cabbage, potatoes and a single bottle of cheap white wine that lasted me the whole term (Sutter Home, I think it was). I would saute the potatoes and cabbage, then add wine and let the whole thing simmer until tender. Not bad, and as cheap as it comes.

cabbage

Once my budget got a little healthier, though, I stopped buying cabbage as often. I would occasionally toss some in a Russian soup or make a coleslaw, but that was about it. Recently, though, I’ve become more aware of the possibilities of cabbage – especially braised.

Continue reading

world’s best braised cabbage

cabbage

The braised red cabbage salad we had at Gretchens the other day reminded us that we do actually like cabbage. It can, of course, be awful – and a good way to stink up your house – but it doesn’t have to be. I discovered the appeal of plain green cabbage when I lived by myself in college – I had a miniscule food budget which I spent primarily on cabbage, potatoes and a single bottle of cheap white wine that lasted me the whole term (Sutter Home, I think it was). I would saute the potatoes and cabbage, then add wine and let the whole thing simmer until tender. Not bad, and as cheap as it comes.

cabbage

Once my budget got a little healthier, though, I stopped buying cabbage as often. I would occasionally toss some in a Russian soup or make a coleslaw, but that was about it. Recently, though, I’ve become more aware of the possibilities of cabbage – especially braised. Continue reading

glazed gingery ribs

star anise, ginger, scallions, chile flakes

I have no idea where this recipe came from. I think it was a library book, maybe something general like “Asian Cooking” by somebody-or-other. I don’t think the original recipe called for star anise or chile pepper – I think J thought that up himself. But, you know, we just have no record of it. The recipe is written in our little home recipe binder and has been there for years, and every time we make it we’re impressed anew with how easy and delicious it is.

It’s a great dish to make for company because it’s so hands-off: you combine the ingredients with water and let it simmer, then boil off the liquid. Stir occasionally and cook some rice and veg to go with it. That’s it! The only downside is being able to start it early enough, since it takes a long time to boil down – not really a weeknight meal unless someone in your house gets off work well before 5.

cutting pork ribs Continue reading

maple-rosemary-horseradish glaze for short ribs

making maple-rosemary glaze

I’ve already talked about Molly Stevens’ recipe for braised short ribs with porter, but I did leave one thing out when I made it before: the glaze. I really think I like short ribs best as a kind of stew, with everything mushed up in the pot together and served over noodles, but we thought it was worth a try to do the recipe in its entirety at least once.

maple syrup and rosemary

The idea is, after you’ve done your braise, you arrange your short ribs in a single layer in a heavy pan, tuck the vegetables around the sides, then paint them with a glaze made of rosemary-infused maple syrup mixed with prepared horseradish (the recipe uses 3 Tbsp syrup to 1 Tbsp horseradish). The pan goes under the broiler until the glaze is glossy and caramelized. Then, finally, you can eat them. Continue reading

braising a brisket

brisket with mashed potatoes and spinach

On Sunday we did something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time – stayed home all day! We ventured out only to bring in the paper and fetch a bay leaf from the tree in the back yard. The morning was snowy and the rest of the day gray and uninteresting, so it was a perfect way to spend the day. We had gotten a brisket out of the freezer a couple days before. J got it prepped and simmering before breakfast, so its aroma filled the house all day long. We had it for dinner with mashed potatoes and some spinach sauteed with garlic.

We’d never done a brisket before, so we just picked a recipe that looked interesting from the book Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis. It uses ketchup, which sounded odd but somehow intriguing. The final product is very tender, and the flavor sort of reminiscent of barbecue, but also sort of like meatloaf. I might make this one again sometime, but I don’t think it’ll be my go-to brisket.

Braised Brisket

adapted from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis

  • 1 small brisket (ours was only 3 lbs or so)
  • 7 oz ketchup
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp worcestershire
  • 1/2 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp New Mexico chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 good grinding of black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup water Continue reading

Indonesian pork & greens

spices for braised nyonya pork

I do lots of the cooking in our house, and I like it that way, but still – I love it when J cooks. Not only does it mean I can sit around with a drink and watch someone else work – always enjoyable – but he often tackles recipes that are a lot more complex than I usually feel like dealing with. He loves measuring spices for Indian curries, is a great baker, and doesn’t mind following long detailed directions. I tend to look at this sort of recipe, think “what’s all this nitpicking detail for?” and ignore half of it. He doesn’t, with the obvious result that a lot of his cooking tastes more complex and authentic than mine. Not that he complains much about my cooking 🙂

So on Sunday when I was at work, he undertook to make a couple recipes out of James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor. I loved this book when I bought it so much that I actually sat on the couch and read it cover to cover, it was so evocative of the sights, smells and tastes of Indonesia. We made a special trip to Uwajimaya (a 100-mile round trip) to stock up on every single weird-sounding ingredient: pandan leaf, sweet soybean paste, fermented shrimp paste, galangal, water spinach, fresh turmeric, et al. It was great. But lately we haven’t been cooking out of it, and when we were in Uwajimaya again on Saturday the water spinach looked good, so …

Stir-Fried Nyonya-style Water Spinach

from Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland

water spinach stems Continue reading

Pork braised in milk

milk-braised pork and braised fennel

Our plan for Sunday – which actually worked out, astonishingly enough – was to go get our Christmas tree at a local farm, set it up, and braise something for dinner so it could be cooking away and scenting the house while we decorated our tree. Often, of course, these plans don’t work out, because getting the tree into the house takes approximately five times longer than you think it will, and by the time it’s upright, the floor is vacuumed and the furniture has all been rearranged twice, you don’t have time for an involved dinner. But we actually allowed enough time for once, so we had our braise and our tree, too.

I was very pleased with the braised short ribs I made out of Molly Stevens’ book All About Braising, and wanted to try another recipe or two from her. We have an Italian friend who used to make pork cooked with milk and sage, but I had never tried it myself (I think I still wasn’t convinced it really worked) so when I saw a recipe for Pork Loin Braised in Milk, I thought I’d try it just as written and see what happened. Continue reading