Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Short Ribs with Tagliatelle

Can you imagine a dish where the deep richness of shaved dark chocolate mixed with the salty bite of grated pecorino mingling atop a heading bowl of tender fresh pasta slathered in a rich and meaty sauce? Well Giada De Laurentiis and her everyday Italian recipe did and thank god she did because this is one of the easiest dishes that makes you want to climb into the bowl and roll around in the sauce. It is that good. Seriously. I don’t make a lot of dishes with short ribs. They are a pretty inexpensive cut of meat and you have to cook the heck out of them for a tender result, but it’s worth it. This dish uses a lot of standard pantry ingredients with the exception of the pancetta but honestly, you can substitute in bacon. And then it sits there, in the pot, bubbling away doing all the work so when it’s done, you just shred the meat, toss the sauce with the pasta and away you go! Magic. Pasta and meat magic. That’s my kind of food. And the richness of the meaty sauce is enhanced by a surprising supporting actor….shaved dark chocolate gives a smooth, slightly sweet and unctuous depth to this dish. And let’s face it, the idea of putting chocolate on pasta is just cool. I also add some pecorino because I love the play of the salty with the sweet. I made this on a week night. But I work from home so I can trot down to my kitchen and spend 20 minutes getting it together. After that it just cooks on its own. I highly recommend this one for your next special meal….it’s a hit at dinner parties.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ravioli Party

We hosted several friends for a ravioli party this past weekend and it was delicious!! We opted for one vegetarian and one meat filling using everyday Italian recipes and two pounds of fresh pasta dough later we were all rubbing our bellies and moaning from fullness but it was so worth it. For the veggie filling (which you can make slightly less veg friendly by adding bacon, because as we all know, bacon really does make everything better) we caramelized a red onion mixed with tender braised kale, creamy ricotta and a salty bite of Parmesan. When topped with a spicy tomato sauce, it was a real winner. But then the meat ravioli came out... and I have to say, while I love love love kale, the pork filling really blew us away. I knew we were in for a treat when I pulled the roasted pork shoulder out of the oven and could barely keep myself from scarfing the whole thing down in one full swoop! When paired with cheese and spices and browned ground pork (yes, more pork!) we were hard pressed not to eat all the filling before it made it into the dough! It was salty and meaty and superbly succulent. Paired with a brown butter sage sauce, it’s another dish you want to climb into the bowl with and do the backstroke. These recipes are pretty straight forward and with some extra hands and a bottle or two of wine, a ravioli party can be an easy way to host and feed your favorite people.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Brunch Magic with Boozy Baked French Toast

I adore brunch. It’s part of San Francisco’s food soul. We know how to Brunch in this city and we take our late morning meals very seriously. So it’s no surprise my family opted for a brunch mother’s day fiesta. We actually got to do it two weekends in a row since my folks were in town visiting the weekend before mother’s day and then the in-laws came over on actual mother’s day. The one drawback of hosting is the hostess is always running about the kitchen and prancing in and out of conversation like a little food fairy. For once I wanted to sit and chat and enjoy relaxing while also hosting so I turned to my girl, smittenkitchen for some ideas and man did she deliver! I played with her Baked Boozy French Toast recipe and it was a major hit. Super easy; prep the night before and then throw it in the oven the day of. That’s it. I paired it with soft scrambled eggs (ie. cook low and slow stirring constantly and you get the creamiest eggs ever) and some bacon that I baked off in the oven (400 degrees for 15 mins). I threw together a quick fruit salad (or have your brother-in-law do it which was what I did the second weekend) and an easy berry compote (optional but awesome) and we were set. I could spend the morning sipping far too many mimosas and not hoarding over the stove. So next time you want a brunch that wow’s the table but doesn’t make you wish you could clone yourself, try this French toast. It’s brunch magic!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Balsamic and Mustard Spiked Lamb Loin Chops

It happened again. I saw lamb at the store and! It’s getting a bit ridiculous I know. But lamb is sooooooooooooo good! I can’t resist! This time it was a beautiful package of lamb loin chops…petite, easy to marinate and a fast cook. I soaked mine in a mixture of sweet balsamic, salty and tangy grain mustard and the umami goodness of Worcester sauce along with some fresh rosemary and olive oil. They were tender and succulent and burst with flavor. Paired with sautéed kale spiked with bacon (BACON!), shallot and a touch of red pepper flakes (with a dash of lemon juice), this was a weeknight knock out of the park meal.