Category: Entree - Indulging in Guilty Pleasures...
Sorry I've been so bad about keeping up with the blogging! I have a couple new recipes to add as well as a fun sushi making experience = ) But first! My favorite meal at Chinese restaurants and now I can make a delicious version at home...without the MSG. The recipe suggested broccoli, which is the dish's usual accompaniment, but I have been loving cauliflower a lot recently (and we'd just run out of broccoli), so that's what I used.

Read on for step by step photos and the recipe

This was the 2nd best part of the meal! Keep brushing the salmon with the honey orange glaze and pour the rest of it over the quinoa when serving and the flavors will hit you in the perfect way. Definitely proof that Passover food can be gourmet and flavorful...!

4 5-oz. salmon fillets
1 orange (1/4 cup juice, 1 tsp finely grated orange peel)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cup quinoa
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots
Salt & Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Can't you smell the orange-spicy goodness?
For St. Patty's Day, I decided to do something involving Guinness...cause that and Bailey's are the best part of the day! Although I must say I was reminiscing about my old elementary school and how they'd leave green foot prints and glitter on the paths to the old gym where we'd find mint milkshakes, irish potatoes, and green cupcakes every year. Even though we knew what was coming it was so exciting!
     But now that I'm old(er), it was time for something a little more grown up. After realizing all the recipes I found for beer braised short ribs required a slow cooker for 10 hours, I decided to do a little combining of recipes. Basically I used parts of Hubert Kellers Red Wine Braised Short Rib recipe and substituted beer for the wine and left out a few of the ingredients that wouldn't have paired well with the heavy, stouty goodness of Guinness....mmm.

Read on for the recipe and step by step photos!

I came home early Tuesday because we had gotten 2 inches in the span of two hours and that led to baking chocolate chip cookies (at John's suggestion)...then making Aloo Paratha (because we finally had potatoes and whole wheat flour)...then making a fast version of Chicken Korma from Madhur Jaffey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking (because we were in charge of dinner all of a sudden).  We ended up getting 15 inches over the span of 20 or so hours. Pretty amazing!

Read more for the recipes and (mostly) step by step photos!

I have this great recipe for Chicken Biryani that I made with my beloved roommate last year and our good friend Mischa. That time we had most of the spices, but I have to say I was missing a few this time: cardamom, mint, and I took a short cut and covered for those with garam masala. But you'll notice that the biryani isn't it's normal yellow color and that's because it's lacking saffron.
It's still delicious though!

Read more for the full recipe and step by step photos!

Finally got to use up our last Butternut Squash! This recipe is from Cooking with Michele, but I have to say it wasn't clear enough and I had to use my knowledge of roux-making to make it work out! So below you can find my version of the recipe, and if you're interested in seeing the original, you can find it here.

New Year's Eve Dinner 2009-2010
We decided to have a quiet dinner in on New Year's Eve this year since my boyfriend had to work late. This of course gave me lots of playing room, so I decided to make Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs a la Hubert Keller (with some adjustments) and Caramelized Shallot and Crispy Sage Mac & Cheese. We accompanied all of this heavenly food with some simple green beans, just to give the impression of a healthy, balanced meal ; ).

Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs a la Hubert Keller
One of the many gems I found on Tastespotting! (I did a half recipe, which was more than enough for 2 meals!)
4 lbs bone-in short ribs
Salt & Pepper
Cayenne and Chili Peppers
4 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
M. Keller's recipe suggests 1 stalk of lemongrass. I didn't have this on hand but I substituted 1/2 tsp of lemon juice for the half recipe
1 1/2 cups red wine, pinot noir. We used a 2006 Bourgogne.
1 cup strong coffee (not in the original recipe)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups beef stock
1 sprig fresh sage
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Heat olive oil in a 5-qt saute or casserole pan over high heat.
  • Lay short ribs on a clean working surface and season all sides with sale, pepper, cayenne, and chili peppers.
  • When the oil is almost smoking, add ribs and let sear on high heat, 5 minutes per side or until well browned. Tongs are the best way to rotate the ribs.
  • Once browned on all sides, remove ribs with tongs and place on a baking tray.

  • Add onions, carrots, celery, ginger, lemon juice, and garlic to the same pan.
  • (Here's where you would use the lemongrass: Smash the lemongrass stalk with the back of a knife, slice, and add to pan.) Saute vegetables for 2 minutes, or until softened.
  • Over high heat, add red wine and scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon as wine comes to a boil.
  • Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, brown sugar, parsley, beef stock, coffee, and sage leaves to pan and bring to a simmer. Add ribs back into pan and cover with a tight fitting lid.

  • Place casserole in pre-heated oven for 1.5 hours. Remove cover and continue cooking for an additional 1 hour. (Total time in oven, 2.5 hours)
  • When rib meat is very tender, remove ribs from oven, using tongs to place on baking tray. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  • Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a saucepan, removing all of the vegetables. (We kept the vegetables to eat as a side...Just watch out for the slices of ginger!) Over medium low heat, simmer the sauce for 5 minutes until darker in color and thicker. Add ribs to reheat.
  • M. Keller suggests serving the ribs with the sauce over polenta and bok choy. We at ours with the sauce and the vegetables along with the Mac & Cheese. It was a perfect trio!

Caramelized Shallot and Crispy Sage Mac & Cheese
A favorite on Tastespotting and I can absolutely see why! You won't need extra salt and pepper for this dish...the warm flavor of the shallots, garlic, and sage do everything to make this a perfectly seasoned plate. Be careful though, this recipe is enough to feed at least 10 when used as a side!
1 lb orecchiete pasta (we used medium shells as our local store didn't have orecchiete...the horror!)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup heavy cream (we actually substituted Half-and-Half...that whole faking healthy thing)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (we used XXX Sharp Cheddar. It's amazing! Almost as good as British cheddar...almost)
2 cups Gruyere cheese
1 tsp kosher salt (seriously, don't add more!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  • Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook 15 - 17 minutes, stirring frequently until deep, golden brown. Add the garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Set aside.
  • For the roux, melt 4 tbsp of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour until smooth and until the mixture starts to brown, ~1 minute. Whisk in the buttermilk and cream, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and mix in cheeses and salt. Cook 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. (I found it actually took less than 5 minutes.)
  • Melt the remaining 1 tbsp of butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the sage, saute 1 minute and turn off heat.
  • Mix pasta, shallots, cheese sauce and sage in a large bowl and enjoy!!

No New Year's Eve is Complete without a Yule Log!
I decided to try my hand at a Yule Log this year, but I've always found them rather bland, so when I found this recipe for a Mocha Yule Log, I was raring to go! In all honesty, I think this recipe could use more cocoa in the cake part..but overall very taste and fun and easy to work with.

For Cake~
6 eggs, separated (make sure no yolk gets into the whites or they won't whip the way you want!)
3.5oz (just under 1/2 cup) + 1.7oz (just under 1/4 cup) caster sugar
1.7oz (just under 1/4 cup) cocoa (I used Ghirardelli cocoa powder...You could probably go up to as much as 1/2 cup of cocoa)
2 heaped tsp of instant coffee powder (crystals work fine, too)
3 tbsp icing sugar (or confectioner's sugar) to sieve over the log as decoration

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment (a deep baking sheet works just as well!), leaving a little overhang as it rises in the oven. (You don't need to leave as much excess parchment as I did! It started to singe during the baking process.)
  • In a clean, large bowl (preferably metal if you have one...but glass works well, too) whisk the egg whites until starting to hold a peak and then whisk in the ~1/4 cup of caster sugar by the spoonful until soft, firm peaks form.
  • In another bowl, whip egg yolks and ~1/2 cup of caster sugar until pale and mousse-like. Sift cocoa over the egg yolk mixture and fold to combine (I like using a rubber spatula for folding). Add coffee powder and stir.
  • Add 2 tbsp of the fluffy egg white mixture to the yolk and sugar mixture. Fold gently to combine. Then add the rest of the egg whites in 3 even lots.
  • Pour into swiss roll tin and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and start to gently pry back paper on the sides.
  • Have another sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with icing sugar ready. Turn cake onto this gently and peel back the rest of the paper (don't worry if little bits come off, the icing will cover any imperfections. The corner of my cake came off and I just stuck it back on...You couldn't tell when you saw the final product, could you?)

For Icing~
6 oz dark chocolate (I used 3 oz Semi-Sweet baking chocolate, 3 oz Ghirardelli 100% Cocoa baking chocolate)
1 tsp instant coffee powder
8.8oz (just over 1 cup) icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
8oz (2 sticks) butter, softened

  • Melt chocolate in a small saucepan or double boiler (or microwave, if you're impatient).
  • Whisk the icing sugar in with the butter. Add the coffee powder and mix well.
  • Mix in the chocolate and beat by hand using a large whisk or an electric beater. Even if the chocolate is just off the stove, the icing sugar and butter are enough to solidify it to a safe icing texture.
Spread the icing across the cake going up to the edges.

  • Roll up the cake from one end (one of the shorter sides). Try to make it a tight roll at the beginning, start by pushing with the parchment. Once again, don't worry if the parchment steals some bits of cake. Icing hides all!
  • Spread the rest of the icing over the outer log. I used my icing knife to make long strokes that looked like bark and then added a little knot in the middle of the branch by doing circular patterns in a big gob of icing.
  • Sprinkle with sifted icing sugar.
  • NOTE: This cake can be made ahead of time. You can either store it for a week in an airtight container in a very cool area, or you can freeze it and store it for up to 3 months in a rigid container. If you freeze it, you will need to thaw it overnight and store it in an airtight container until serving it to happy, champagne-filled friends and family.