Thursday, March 15, 2012

Braised Beef Ribs, Buttered Rigatoni, Asparagus with Toasted Bread Crumbs

Braised Beef Ribs, Buttered Rigatoni, Asparagus with Toasted Bread Crumbs
Braised meat or vegetables are cooked by browning in fat and then simmered in a closed container with  liquid.  This is one of my most recent recipes for braised beef ribs, utilizing Cabernet Sauvignon as the braising liquid.  Upon reflection, I would season the meat with less salt as the juices are condensed during cooking and the salt flavors intensifies.  The flavor from the wine is rich and dark and the toasted bread crumbs offer a nice crunch to the buttered rigatoni.  Asparagus brings bright tones of green, balancing the richness of the dish.  Next time, I may add some ripe tomatoes to lend a bit more acidity to the dish. 

The joy of this dish is trying different flavor combinations of braising liquid such as veal stock, beef stock or adding some honey or plum jam for sweetness; a vast variety of flavors await, as well as choice of vegetable.

Serves 6

2 1/2 pounds beef short ribs or other rib cut meat
1 750 mil bottle red wine
1/4 cup veal of beef stock
4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
2 carrots
1 medium white onion
optional: 4 ripe tomatoes
4-6 cups hot water
1 16 ounce package dry rigatoni noodles, any large noodle will do
1 cup butter
1 cup plain or seasoned bread crumbs
1 bunch fresh steamed asparagus,


If using beef rib meat off the bone, cut into chunks and season with salt and pepper.  Beef short ribs can remain whole during the browning process, the bones bring additional flavor to the dish. 

Cook beef in 2 batches making sure not to over-crowd the pan.  Heat a  heavy bottom stock pot on stove, on medium high.  Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat until pan is smoking hot, add seasoned beef and brown on all sides. Repeat until all meat is browned and remove from pan.

Chop onion and carrot to medium to large dice, add to same pot and cook until onions are translucent.  Remove vegetables to plate and set aside. 

De-glaze the pan with 1 750 ml. bottle red wine, reduce by 3/4.  This will take about 20-30 minutes.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen brown bits, stir frequently. 


Add browned beef, vegetables, bay leaf and stock to pan, pour just enough hot water over the meat to cover.  Place lid on pan.  Cook covered in a 350 degree oven for 2-4 hours or until meat is tender.

Toasted Bread Crumbs

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a small pan, add bread crumbs and stir until combined.  Continue stirring until bread crumbs are browned, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Buttered Rigatoni

Cook pasta as recommend by manufacturers instructions, drain and return to pan, pour remaining 1/2 cup melted butter over pasta and toss

Serve braised beef over pasta, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon bread crumbs

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Habanero Pepper Jelly

Canning Pepper Jelly each Spring has become an annual event and the fruits of my labour my signature Christmas gift for family and friends alike. I try to add something new each year to keep everyone interested so my Pepper Jelly is always the crowd favorite.

When socializing during the holidays or attending social gatherings or special events, I never arrive empty handed. Popular hostess gifts such as a nice bottle of wine or fresh cut flowers are a nice touch, but I try to take a different approach and make my gift a little more personal. I share a sweet jar of  homemade Hot Pepper Jelly.

Last years Pepper Jelly canning day, ended in near catastrophe, leading to my post Mount Vesuvius Erupts in my Kitchen!  Thankfully, this years canning day went much smoother. 

After receiving a call this week from my oldest daughter Tanya, I knew it was time to teach her how to make Pepper Jelly in her own kitchen.  You see, she craves the stuff and was inquiring if I had any jars left from last years batch.  Sadly, I had to break the news that all the jars had been given away as gifts during the holidays, resulting in last nights canning festivities.  Tanya was my student, as I shared the technics for canning Pepper Jelly.  Very pleased with her efforts, she left with six jars of the sweet, hot jelly.  Our trade, newly polished nails for St. Patrick's Day.  Too cute!!

I like the bright red color of red peppers for the Holiday season so I generally choose red, orange and yellow sweet peppers for my recipe. I prefer my jelly very hot and add 3-4 habanero peppers to the hot pepper mix. This year we went even hotter, adding 1 whole cup of ground habanero.  It's easy to adjust the heat by using jalapenos instead but there's something tantalizing about the powerful habanero in this recipe. 


1 cup ground red, orange and yellow sweet peppers
1 cup ground habanero peppers
12 cups sugar
2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
4 3-ounce packages liquid pectin

Optional: 2-3 drops food red or green coloring

12 half pint canning jars, lids and rims

  • Wash the peppers and remove seeds and ribs, and cut into chunks.
  • Process each type of pepper, in batches, in a food processor until coarsely ground. Use rubber gloves when working with habanero and jalapenos.
  • Combine ground peppers, sugar, and vinegar in a large saucepan; bring to a boil.
  • Boil 6 minutes stirring frequently. During the boiling process it's imperative you stand by and watch the hot liquid as it has a tendency to flow over. You do not want an eruption of hot liquid in your kitchen.
  • Stir in pectin and boil 3 minutes, stir frequently.
  • Remove from heat and skim off foam.
  • Pour hot jelly into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch head space.
  • Wipe jar rims with clean damp cloth.
  • Cover with metal lids and screw on bands; Process in hot water bath for 15 minutes. Makes 12 half pints.
Hot Water Bath: in a large stock pot add enough water to submerge filled sealed jars, boil filled jars on medium high heat for 10-15 minutes, remove to a dry towel. Jars will make a distinctive "ping" sound when they've sealed correctly. 

 Serve on crackers with a smear of cream cheese.

You might also like reading my post, the Anatomy of Jam

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Navajo Tacos and Green Chile Stew

Navajo Tacos and Green Chile Stew

I'm all about food memories!  The kind of memories that evoke a moment in time through just one bite of a remembered dish.  In the instant the food touches your taste buds, your mind flashes back to that special moment in time.  Memories flood your mind, some in a good ways, others maybe not so much.

This story leads to one of my most happy food memories.

When I was in Elementary school my older brother began dating an American Indian girl. After a few months of dating, our families got to know each other and soon became very close friends.  As a result, my family became involved with the Lone Feather Indian Counsel in Colorado Springs, CO.  Our involvement began by going to monthly meetings where our parents helped with media promotions, fundraising for the Indian College Fund and event planning.  The Council sold Navajo Tacos, Chile and Posole to raise money for the College Fund, at mini Pow Wows throughout the year, culminating in an extravagant Pow Wow in the summer.  American Indians from around the Country would travel to Colorado to compete for cash prizes and to see the crowning of the years newest Indian Princess.

The Lone Feather Indian Counsel was made up of American Indians from Colorado, Taos New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Nebraska however, other regions were represented. My father is one quarter Cree Indian, which makes me one eighth Cree, however, you wouldn't know it to look at me with my light complection and blue eyes.

Photos were taken during a mini Pow Wow in Manitou Springs, Colorado, 1971
At the end of the meetings, the Elder drummers would play and sing traditional music while the families gathered to dance. The women would wrap hand made shawls around their shoulders and the men would don traditional headdress; merging in a cacophony of movement and joy. It was a truly cultural experience to be a part of the organization and see "real" American Indians, living life and learning to understand the American Indian culture in such a personal way.  All of us, living normal everyday lives in normal everyday homes but experiencing traditions long past. 

I began to discern the different melodies of each song and learn the history of the long sung stories. The rhythmic beat of the drums and the strong clear voices of the elders, remain in my mind to this day. 

Mingled together, the smell of Indian Fry Bread and Pasole, the dirt filling my nose as the fancy dancers move around the arena floor, the anticipation of learning if my friend Alice, would become the next Indian Princess; all moments I can remember as if it were yesterday with just one bite of Indian Fry Bread

Frybread has a significant role in Native American cultures. It is often served both at home and at gatherings. The way it is served varies from region to region and different tribes have different recipes. It can be found in its many ways at state fairs and pow wows, but what is served to the paying public may be different than what is served in private homes and in the context of tribal family relations. Source Wikipedia

My Fry Bread recipe comes from a close family friend, Ann Fineran, a Pine Ridge Sioux, from South Dakota.  She was the last of her linage. 

Indian Fry Bread

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup 2% or whole milk
canola oil for frying about 4 cups


  • Heat oil on medium high in a cast iron skillet
  • Combine dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl
  • blend together with a wooden spoon
  • add milk and stir until dough forms a ball
  • place dough on a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until dough is shiny
  • return dough to bowl and rest for 5 minutes
  • cut dough in half, then quarters, finally cutting the quarters in half.
  • roll dough thinly with a floured rolling pin
  • cook in hot oil until golden brown, turning several times
  • drain on paper towels

Green Chile Stew

3-4 boneless pork chops cubed
1 small yellow onion diced
1 cup roasted green chilies (preferably fresh roasted)
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 can chopped tomatoes with liquid
3 cups water
1 14 ounce can Ranch Style Beans
3-4 tablespoons chicken base concentrate (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

1 head lettuce
2 cups shredded cheese
sour cream

  • cube pork chops, season with salt and pepper
  • chop onion
  • heat heavy bottom sauce pan on medium high
  • add oil and saute onions until translucent
  • add meat and saute till browned
  • add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil
  • reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours

Assemble Navajo Tacos and serve
Serves 6


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