Miso. Carrot. Sesame.

I can’t really explain what sort of diet Chris and I have been on lately. I suppose it isn’t a diet, rather it’s just a newer way of eating that we’ve had to implement.

The basic premise is that we try to eat as light and as healthy as possible during the week, because the weekend is always a caloric disaster. Pretty simple, right?

I’ve said this a zillion times – the food here in San Francisco is undeniably better than any food in any city I’ve ever lived (or visited for that matter). Maybe that’s a bold statement, but living here for almost a year and a half has given me a little time to audition the city’s food, and it’s true. We take full advantage of it, too. If we aren’t going out with local friends, we’re showing visitors our favorite spots instead.

For example, this past weekend my sis-in-law and her husband were visiting, and we went to Flour+Water (tasting menu!), got ice cream, and had some of the city’s best Ramen, bubble tea, and a slice of a porchetta sandwich – all in two days’ time. Oh, and Nopalito, but that goes without saying when visitors are here.

So, to help both our waistlines and our wallets, we’ve made it a point to try to stay in during the week, and to make really smart choices when we do so. That generally means a lot of vegetarian eating, including a lot of healthy grains, egg dishes, and kale – typically in salad form. Now, some of you may not like kale. I guess that’s understandable, but hopefully there is some sort of green aside from iceberg lettuce that you do like. I’ve become a huge fan of the following mix: kale, shaved brussels sprouts (which I used to despise, but now, they have a sweet spot in my heart), and spinach.

The greens alone create the most perfect trifecta. Sure, I switch them around some here and there, but generally, those are included in the mix. A few sprinkles of shaved coconut, a sprinkle of sunflower or pumpkin seeds, a handful of dried fruit and a couple of chopped apples? You almost have the best kale/whatever green salad you want that you could ask for.

But one thing’s missing. One thing of utmost importance. One thing to bring it all together, to make a salad seem like so much more than a salad. And that’s this dressing. I promise you, it is so totally worth a search for the miso paste (or a click here for a bulk version). Salty and tangy, it pairs nicely with toasty sesame oil, and the slight sweetness added by agave nectar (or even honey) makes a perfectly balanced dressing. I’m sure it would be great on things other than salad, but for me, it begs to be tossed into the mixture I described above.

The fact that I’m writing about salad dressing for an entire blog post should be proof enough that this is an amazing dressing, but if you need one more urging, I’ll say it again. This here, friends, is an a-ma-zing dressing.

Miso, Carrot, & Sesame Dressing
Adapted from Bon Appetit, makes 1 1/2 cups

toss this dressing over a mixture of greens (we prefer kale, any kind) and add whatever you like. We make a habit of eating the following combo: kale, shredded coconut, raisins, fresh chopped apples, and a handful of nuts/seeds. If you use kale or any other sturdy green, give the dressing time to settle into the salad. You can even make it the night before for a lunch salad, and with kale at least, there’s not wilty action.

p.s. – I usually double this recipe and the dressing will last for a week or two, as long as your ingredients are fresh.

time commitment: 10 minutes

printable version

ingredients
1/2 c white miso
5 T canola oil
1/4 c finely grated peeled carrot
2 T finely grated peeled ginger
2 T unseasoned rice vinegar
1 T roasted white sesame seeds, optional
2 t toasted sesame oil
2 t honey or agave nectar

instructions
Place all ingredients plus 1/4 cup water in a resealable container. Cover and shake vigorously until well combined. Add more water to thin out, if desired.

Advertisements

Fair and Square

One of our favorite types of food these days is ramen. No, not the 10/$1.00 packs that come in all sorts of flavors, like chicken, oriental, and beef, but the actual kind that you are given in a restaurant, in a gigantic bowl filled to the brim with steaming hot broth, ramen noodles, pork (or fried chicken. fried chicken!), and all sorts of other ingredients that have me salivating right this second.

We’ve tried a handful of spots in the city over the past few months, and every time I’m feeling the need for some warm comfort food my mind goes straight to ramen. I can’t get enough of it.

Of course, while waiting for said ramen to make its appearance at the table, it’s never a bad idea to have an appetizer or three. Many of these ramen joints make killer meat skewers, but often times all I want is a freakin’ potsticker. Something about a little sheet of dough enveloping a bite of meat and veggies, and then steamed and served alongside some sort of amazing dipping sauce makes me so amazingly happy. So happy that I could likely eat a couple orders of them and call it a night, if it weren’t for the ramen making its way to the table.

But when you’re home, that’s another story. I’ve eaten potstickers only quite a few times.

Potstickers are those little treats that look so damn hard to make, but are in all reality, probably one of the easiest dishes to throw together, minus the time. You toss the filling into a food processor, which means your initial chopping skills really don’t matter all that much, as long as things are similarly butchered to smithereens. You put the filling onto pre-made wrappers. You fold them (which is what people think is so dang hard. It isn’t.), and then you steam them. The sauce is nothing but a handful of ingredients whisked together (and for that, there are thousands of choices, but I’m a fan of a spicy peanut sauce, I am). Then you’re ready to chow down.

Sure, they look intricate. And sure, it might take some precision and a little patience, but there isn’t much that can go wrong, even if the wonton shapes aren’t winning beauty pageants. Either way, what results are little pockets of delightful goodness that you, I promise, won’t be able to resist.

You can even take them to a potluck if you want. And when that potluck gets canceled without your knowledge, you can smile a little on the inside, because they just turned into lunch, which means you can eat like, 10 of them, instead of 2. That’s what I call winning – fair and square.

Shrimp & Ginger Potstickers w/ Spicy Peanut Sauce
makes 24 potstickers – 4 servings as a meal, 12 as an appetizer

time commitment: 1 hour

printable version

ingredients
potstickers
3/4 c Napa cabbage, shredded
1/3 c scallions, chopped (+ more for garnish, optional)
1/4 c carrots, julienned
2 T cilantro, chopped
1 T low sodium soy sauce
2 t fresh ginger, minced
1 t dark sesame oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 lb shrimp, cooked
sriracha, optional but totally not optional
24 small wonton wrappers
2 T cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 T canola oil, divided
1 c water, divided

sauce
1/4 c water
1/4 c reduced fat peanut butter
2 T low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 T rice vinegar
1 1/2 T chile paste w/ garlic (sambal oelek)
1/2 t sugar

instructions
combine 1st 10 ingredients (sriracha to your liking) into food processor and pulse ~4 times, or until coarsely chopped and mixed together.

working with 1 wrapper at a time, spoon 1 1/2 t of filling into the center. wet the edges of the wonton with a small brush and bring opposite corners together, pinching to seal. place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch/arrowroot powder.

heat 1 1/2 t canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 12 potstickers to pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown. slowly add 1/2 c water, cover and cook for 4 minutes. uncover and cook 3 more minutes, until the liquid evaporates. Repeat again with remaining oil, potstickers, and water.

prepare sauce by combining all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and whisking until mixed.

serve potstickers with peanut sauce, garnishing with green onions, if desired.

Makin’ Whoopie

On occasion, and contrary to what I said the other day about moderation, I like to use a stupendous amount of butter. Yeah, that’s right. Stupendous.

Like 4 sticks in 1 recipe. Sure, that’s breakfast for Paula Deen, but over here those four sticks usually last a month or more.

It’s all a ploy to make new friends – that’s all. You won’t catch me making these sorta treats just for the two of us (okay, maybe, but not on the regular), but by golly I’ll fatten up new-found friends any day of the week. They rarely complain. And! I still get to eat some too, so I’m happy (but not “fat and happy” as the saying goes).

And so, these sorta treats come along to days at the bay when we’re shucking oysters and drinking Vino Verde, or Moscofilero, or Blue Moons with orange juice drizzled in (yeah, it sounded strange to me too – but it’s tasty).

They go nicely with other things too – like milk, or water, or coffee, or just plain ol’ saliva! And when I eat them, I get a slight twinge of nostalgia; I think of those oatmeal cream pies (with carrots!) from gramma’s house – soft, oaty, creamy, and yeah – buttery, for sure.

And like I said before – these carrot cake whoopie pies are good for making new friends too. I even traded one in for a barbeque sauce-laden rib that Chris was swooning over. Spreading the love is what these things are all about – yourself, friends, or strangers – pick one, or pick ’em all.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies
adapted from Tasting Table, who adapted from Claire Twestern of Talula’s Garden; makes 18-24

time commitment: 1 hour, 15 minutes active time, plus 6 hours inactive time dedicated to letting the dough chill

printable version

ingredients
Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 c light brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
¾ t vanilla extract
2 c all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
¼ t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
½ t freshly grated nutmeg
½ T crystallized ginger, finely chopped
2 c old-fashioned oats
1½ c of peeled and grated carrots (from about 2 to 3 medium carrots)
1 c raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained

Cream Cheese Icing
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1¼ c powdered sugar
2 T honey
12 oz cream cheese, softened

instructions
Make the cookies: In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the butter with the brown sugar and granulated sugar until lightened, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the eggs one at a time, beating the yolk of the first egg until it’s incorporated before adding the second egg. Stir in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet, then gently stir in the oats, carrots and raisins. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned and set. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan for a couple of minutes, then carefully move cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Make the icing: In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Slowly beat in the honey and cream cheese until incorporated. Spoon the frosting into a piping bag (or fashion one out of a plastic bag and cut a hole in the corner) and pipe the frosting onto half of the cookies; place the other cookies on top to create sandwiches.

Rollin’ Out

I decided I wanted to talk about food for a minute, since – you know – this is a food blog and all. I’ll get to Chapter 6 in a few, and I LOVE keeping people in suspense.

But I keep seeing this huge bag of carrots in my fridge every time I open it, and as a result I can’t stop thinking about this ravioli.

I bought the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid, aka best wedding present ever, quite a few months ago. I used it once, and the pasta got all stuck in the roller section, an floury-eggy mess crusting up all over the place. After trying my damndest to clean it, I finally realized that the particular roller I had was a dud, and so I sent that sucker back and days later, a shiny new attachment showed up at my doorstep.

That one sat in the closet for a few months.

But sometime before Christmas, I kept looking at all the carrots in my fridge (I always seem to have a bag-full, thanks be to the CSA shares that are thankfully almost finished!) and I couldn’t stop thinking about a ravioli recipe I’d clipped. I’d bought the semolina flour weeks ago in anticipation of making pasta again and finally, I decided I could wait no more. Plus, I had some ricotta cheese on the verge of ruin, so the ingredients were there waiting for me.

It’s actually a fun little process, this making ravioli thing. But then again, I get all sorts of excited about making things from scratch, so this is no surprise, right? I can’t put my finger on it, but a certain feeling of pride sweeps up inside you when you can start with a few eggs, some flour, and a little salt, and end up with thin, beautiful strands of dough. And when the dough gets cut into the cutest little circles and loaded with a filling that’s probably good enough to eat by the spoonful, it’s definitely enough to make you sit back and grin about it.

Roasted Carrot & Ricotta Ravioli
Adapted from Food & Wine, October 2010; makes 40

time commitment: 1 – 1.5 hours

printable version

ingredients
filling
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (3/4 pound)
1 T olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 t unsalted butter
1 T minced shallot
1 T half and half
5 ounces ricotta cheese (~1/2 c)
6 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg yolk

ravioli
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon semolina flour, plus more for dusting
3 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

sauce to serve with (tomato, melted butter/cheese, etc)

special equipment: pasta machine, either hand-cranked or a KitchenAid attachment; 2 1/2″ cookie cutter

instructions
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Prepare the dough. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt, nutmeg and the 1 tablespoon of semolina. Add the eggs and pulse until incorporated. With the machine on, add the olive oil in a thin stream and process just until moistened crumbs form. Turn the crumbs out onto a semolina-dusted work surface and knead just until a smooth dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast the filling: In a baking dish, toss the carrots with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Let cool slightly.

In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the carrots, shallot and cream and puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a bowl. Stir in the ricotta, Parmigiano and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the egg yolk.

Make the ravioli: Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and cover with plastic wrap. Work with 1 piece at a time: Flatten the dough into a 5-by-4-inch oval, about 1/2 inch thick. Dust lightly with semolina. Roll the dough through a pasta machine at the widest setting. Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter), then run it through the machine at the same setting, folded edge first. Repeat the folding and rolling once more. Roll the dough through at successively narrower settings, two times per setting, until it is thin enough for you to see the outline of your hand through it. Lay the dough out on a work surface lightly dusted with semolina.

Brush any semolina off the dough. On half of the dough, spoon 10 1-teaspoon mounds of filling in two rows of 5, spacing apart by about 2 inches. Cover with the other half of the dough and press down gently to get rid of any air. Using a 2 1/2″ cookie cutter, cut out 10 ravioli. Using the tines of a fork, seal all the way around each circle, and place ravioli on a large rimmed baking sheet lightly dusted with semolina. Repeat with the remaining pasta dough and filling.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook half of the ravioli over high heat until al dente, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a platter. Repeat with the remaining ravioli and serve. (Ravioli, uncooked, can be frozen at least a month in advance. Freeze them individually on a baking sheet, then toss them into a bag together until needed.)

Serve with warmed tomato sauce, or some melted butter & cheese. Or with the sauce of your liking :).

Cake Boss

As many of you regular readers will attest, I like to think of myself as living a double life: genetic counselor by day, unpaid chef by night. This is no accident, folks. You see, my job is exactly what it sounds like – it’s my job; I work, I like to think I’m pretty good at what I do, but at the end of the day, I go home.

People who talk about their jobs all the time really annoy me, quite frankly. Fortunately, most of the people in my life, Hubs included, are on my side. Most of them.

But today, I’ll talk about work just a tad more, but only because for once there is a direct correlation between work and well, food. Appropriate here, yes?

You see, I have this boss. I like her – a lot. She’s a big-time breast oncologist who throws out the f-bomb more times in a day than I do in a week. There is something to be said for that, at least in my book. And all in all, having her as my boss makes coming to work, and leaving work at work, easy.

I should also add that, while I was baking my ass off (or back on, rather) in culinary school, she was kind enough to take many a leftover croissant or eclair off my hands. That said, I always knew she was a fan of baking. But unfortunately for her, her husband isn’t, and by choice (by choice, people!) he opts for a sugar-free diet. This posed a small issue when trying to find a sugar-free cake baker for his recent birthday, and I was almost, almost, suckered into making one, despite my inexperience with any sort of sugar-lacking baked good.

Instead, I was challenged to a battle – as if I ever enter food competitions that involve a little friendly voting. I think she thought I’d let her win, since you know, she does my evaluations and all. And I think I thought my baking confidence would carry over into Splendaland.

As it turns out, sugar-free baking isn’t all that hard, or all that different, but it does require a little bit of thought, and a little bit of trust in your ability – I thought a little bit, but once the baking was underway, my trust in myself dissipated with a quickness. And while I thought this was supposed to be a cake-only battle, boss lady brought a banana cream pie to the table, a pie that would have certainly gotten my vote, had I had one.

But fortunately for me, I wasn’t voting, because that one vote would have tipped the scale just enough for a tie. Once all the votes were cast, my dessert took the cake, so to speak, but only by a morsel. Boss lady may not have won this time, but I have a feeling there’s a rematch in the near future, and next time I bet she’ll even make her own pie crust ;).

Double Layer Carrot Cake (sugar-free)
Adapted from Splenda.com; serves as few or as many as you like

i’m certainly no sugar-free cook, but if you’re into this sorta thing, this is a great launchpad. this cake doesn’t taste sugar-free (unless, of course, a decadently sugar-laden carrot cake is alongside) and it’s dense, but still moist. Serve at room temperature or warmed.

printable version

ingredients
Cake
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 T baking soda
1 t salt
4 t ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c canola oil
2/3 c 2% milk
2 T pineapple juice
2 t vanilla extract
2 c SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
3 c shredded carrots (about 6 small)
1 c raisins
1/2 c chopped pecans
2 T flaked coconut

Frosting
2 (8 ounce) packages 1/3-less fat cream cheese, softened
½ c butter, softened
1 c SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
2 t vanilla extract
1 T pineapple juice

instructions
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat 2 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl, stirring until blended. Set aside.

Combine eggs, canola oil, milk, pineapple juice, vanilla, and SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until blended. Fold in carrots, raisins, pecans and coconut. Spoon mixture into prepared pan (the mixture will appear much drier than most cakes, and you may have to ‘smooth’ the batter to cover the bottom of the pan since it isn’t very runny).

Bake for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add SPLENDA®Granulated Sweetener, beating until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and pineapple juice, beating until blended.

If cake layers are rounded at the top, use a serrated knife to trim off some of the top. Frost the top of the bottom layer, then add the top layer and frost the remainder of the cake.

Don’t Mess with Texas

I’m probably gonna get a jaw drop or three when I type this, but I love conferences. I’m serious. The large meeting rooms with twenty powerpoint presentations per day, constant career talk and learning about genetics until you’re blue in the face – I can’t get enough of it.

Okay, I’m kidding. I don’t mind them, but not so much for the reasons above. I like the traveling, the visiting with friends, the time away from my desk and clinic, and sometimes (sometimes) coming home with a few good nuggets of knowledge. Of course, to take home those nuggets I have to sit in those large rooms and listen to those powerpoint presentations, and that’s where conferences get a little dicey.

But we’re not here to talk about genetics, or any other conference for that matter. We’re here to talk about Texas. Didn’t you know? Of course, I’m already getting started on the wrong foot, because I can’t quite talk about Texas. The state is huge. Huge. Humongous. Ginormous even. Plus, this was my first official visit there (since connecting flights don’t count here, or ever, really). When I say there, I mean to Dallas. Did I mention that one of my favorite things about conferences is the free travel? Ssssshhhhhh……

And while that travel is ‘free’, in paying for that travel, I agree to sit indoors and listen. Can you believe they made people do that at a similar conference in Hawaii last year? Hawaii, people!!! I refused to go because I knew I’d break the rules. In Dallas, I did follow them, but my friend Rachel and I got there a day early (a half day, really) to tour around, we ate plenty of good food at night, and at the very end of the day, I have to say we had a jolly good time.

For one, the weather couldn’t have been more splendid. I’ve contemplated doing like “the old folks” and migrating south for the winter (or the birds, come to think of it…). Not quite cold enough for a jacket at night, but warm enough for sandals during the day. There was a threat of rain the day of our arrival too, but most of these pictures are from that day – not a drop in sight.

The brick building above doubles as a museum and a visitor center – and unlike some visitor centers, this one was really useful. The lady knew her stuff. Well, with one exception. Rach asked about walking around at night, and she said she “does it all the time”. I beg to differ. Well, I bet she doesn’t walk from Deep Ellum to Downtown at night….. Nonetheless, it was probably worth missing the bus to miss the homeless guy’s banter to get a burger from Twisted Root (links below).

I don’t know what this building is – maybe a Dallas reader’ll chime in? It’s in the Arts District, and it seems to be made of pipes… but that’s about all I’ve got. Maybe my architect buddy Jennifer knows?! Jennifer?

Again, we didn’t have long to travel, but fortunately we were able to get around alright. We walked a lot, but when we weren’t walking we were finding our way around via public transit. Can I add here that I LOVE cities with decent public transit?! I don’t know if the “DART” is something you locals take often, but you should. It’s cheap, and easy. Did I  mention there’s a free trolley? Check it out – it’s so old-school. The guy takes off his ‘gears’ and switches to the back at the end of the route. The seats flip too. We know ’cause we rode it to the end and watched :).

I may not have had any brisket (yes, I know…. lame!!!), but we made sure to find a truck with horns on the front. You don’t go to Texas without finding horns on trucks. Geezzz….

Pioneer Park is a modern-day account of the original Shawnee Trail of the 1850’s. A couple dozen longhorns are being driven by cowboys on horseback amidst vibrant landscaping and waterfalls; this is supposedly one of the biggest outdoor public areas in the city and one of the larger bronze sculpture parks around. Rach knew about this place and I’m glad she did – it’s definitely worth walking through, and since it’s near the conference center, it’s probably a decent spot for a picnic lunch.

Aside from the sights, we certainly had our fair share of good food. If nothing else, I always do a little food research to find a couple of reputable restaurants to try out. For the ‘fancy’ meals, we went to Craft (my chef crush Colicchio wasn’t there….) and Stephan Pyles, and for the lo-key spots it was tapas and burgers. My favorite? Definitely Stephan Pyles – the short ribs were hands down the best short ribs I’ve ever had.

Dallas Food/Drink Links
Craft – Dallas
Stephan Pyles
The Idle Rich Pub
Si Tapas Restaurant & Bar
Twisted Root Burger Co.

I’ve had this particular short rib recipe lying around for a few weeks, and have been dying to share it. No, it doesn’t have a thing to do with Dallas, but since the short ribs were my numero uno meal of the week, I figure it’s at least somewhat appropriate. These are spiced with garam masala, braised in a root veggie-tomato-red wine sauce, and served alongside a side dish of carrots that were, you guessed it, braised as well, but in beer and carrot juice. Succulent, tender, and definitely perfect for October – the dish just happens to work well alongside some garlic naan. Just sayin’.

Do these short ribs, or the ones from Stephan Pyles make up for missing out on Texas brisket? Probably not, but even if it did I wouldn’t tell ya. Ya don’t mess with Texas, and you certainly don’t mess with the brisket. The short ribs will have to do for now, but somehow I think we’ll all manage, don’t you?

Braised Indian-Spiced Short Ribs & Carrots
Adapted from Michael Voltaggio via Food & Wine, April 2010; serves 4

time commitment: about 3 hours (~1 hour active time)

printable version

ingredients
short ribs
3 1/2 T garam masala
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 boneless short ribs (10 to 12 ounces each), trimmed of fat
salt
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery rib, chopped
3 small heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 heads of garlic, coarsely chopped
2 c dry red wine
1 quart chicken broth

carrots**
8 medium carrots
1 c pilsner beer
1/2 c carrot juice
1 t sugar
1 T butter
salt

instructions
short ribs
Preheat the oven to 325 F. In a small skillet, toast the garam masala over moderately high heat, shaking the pan constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Season the short ribs with salt and sear them over high heat until browned and crusty all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate.

Add the onion, carrots and celery to the casserole and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic and 3 tablespoons of the garam masala and cook until fragrant and the tomatoes are beginning to break down, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the casserole, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Return the meat to the casserole and season with salt. Cover and braise in the oven for about 2 hours, until just tender but not falling apart.

Transfer the meat to a baking sheet. Strain the liquid into a saucepan. Skim off and discard the fat that rises to the surface. Boil over high heat until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the broiler and position a rack 8 inches from the heat. Brush the meat with some of the sauce and broil for 3 minutes per side, until browned and sizzling. Sprinkle the meat lightly with garam masala, then slice it 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to plates and serve with the remaining sauce.

carrots
Peel the carrots so that the thick ends are roughly the same width as the thinner ends; cut each carrot in thirds crosswise. Put the carrots in a medium skillet with the carrot juice and beer and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderate heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar, cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the carrots to a plate.

Whisk the butter into the sauce and simmer until thickened, 1 minute. Return the carrots to the skillet, season with salt and toss to coat. Transfer to plates and serve.

**carrots are NOT gluten-free, but are if you use a gf beer!

*Pictures at the top (L to R): Stephan Pyles (SP) – briased short ribs and frittered okra, Craft – risotto, chard, scallops and lamb saddle, Craft card, Twisted Root – chipotle, cheddar, guac burger, table @ Twisted Root, SP “Heaven & Hell” cake, SP “Coffee and Doughnuts”, SP ahi tuna ceviche, Craft beet salad

Something Else to Root For

root vegetables


Allow me to introduce you to a new friend of mine. A new kind of pie. And I’m not talking about some weird combination that you’ve never tried in a dessert pie. Although I did find a recipe for a red wine and pear pie that I need an excuse to make. But seriously. Savory pie. Oh yeah – that’s it. You know what time it is. Now, you may be skeptical. And you may be even more skeptical when I tell you that the pie was full of root vegetables – specifically the subtype with taproots. Meaning – rutabaga, turnip, parsnip, carrot, celeriac. At this point, you may be about to head your little mouse (or finger if you are the laptop kind) to the back button. Don’t be so fast to leave. I almost did the same thing. In fact, I did. It took me a couple of smaller likable root veggie dishes (like a rutabaga & potato mash) to even consider giving this a chance. Would it help if I told you that this particular friend of mine has a particularly starchy accessory with ingredients including butter & buttermilk? No? What if I added the earthy, woodsy, almost minty herb, rosemary? Now you’re hooked eh? Thought that might do it.


baked veggies

I should warn you – this dish is not a “throw together during the week” dish. It’s gonna take some time, a little knife skill, a good peeler (unless, unlike me, you can peel with a knife without paring away half of the inside while still managing to leave peel intact), and some good tunes in the background. You’d like a recommendation? Ok…. try the new Chris Isaak album, Mr Lucky. Nice and chill, a little jazzy, great background music. It also helps if you have a good husband or wife, or even friend around to help with the peeling. Mine suddenly realized how much fun it was to surf the web when I asked. But that’s ok – I strangely enjoy coming home from work and working in the kitchen. Peeling vegetables. Even washing a few dishes. Especially with a nice glass of wine waiting. Which it was. I even peeled some veggies and did the first part the night before, while I was making Friday night’s dinner. Not a bad idea either.

biscuit addition
So, without further adieu – Friend, meet Root Veggie & Mushroom Pie. Root Veggie & Mushroom Pie, meet Friend. Oh, and the sidekick – Rosemary Biscuit Topping. How could I forget?!


all done

Root Vegetable & Mushroom Pie w/ Rosemary Biscuit Topping
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine; serves 8 as meal, 10-12 as side dish


So, what might I do differently if I made this dish again? This dish has proven to me that I am not a huge fan of celery root. I’d leave that big honkin’ thing out and add another rutabaga. But if you like celery root, by all means leave that thing in there. One piece of advice – I’d highly recommend that you put a ridged baking sheet underneath the baking dish. This dish will practically pop out of the baking dish while in the oven, especially after the biscuits are placed atop. Unless you want a house full of smoke, put the tray underneath. Not that that happened, or anything. But just that it might :). Oh, and if you do have this as a main dish, all you need in addition is a small side salad such as arugula with shaved parmesano-reggiano and champagne-lemon vinaigrette.



ingredients

Filling:
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian bouillon base
  • 2 very large carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 turnip, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms,* broken into 1/2-inch pieces, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons imported dry Sherry
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Biscuits:
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 1/3 cups (or more) chilled buttermilk

instructions

 

For filling:
Bring 6 cups water and bouillon base to boil in large pot over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve bouillon. Add carrots and next 5 ingredients. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Drain; reserve vegetables and broth.

Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Mix in garlic and rosemary; stir 2 minutes. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in reserved broth, then cream and Sherry. Cook until sauce is thick and reduced to 4 cups, whisking often, about 8 minutes. Mix in reserved vegetables and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to buttered 13x9x2-inch baking dish. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with foil; chill.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake filling, covered, until bubbling, about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare biscuits.

For biscuits:
 

Stir first 4 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add 1 1/3 cups buttermilk, tossing with fork until dough is evenly moistened and adding more buttermilk by tablespoonfuls if dry.

Drop biscuit dough atop hot filling by heaping tablespoonfuls; sprinkle with pepper. Bake uncovered until tester inserted into center of biscuits comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

 Cool 15 minutes. Then dig in.