Beef Short Ribs with Poblanos

Poblano Chiles Charred on the Grill

Cover the hot charred poblanos with a kitchen towel and let stand for 5 minutes. Remove the skin and seeds, slice into strips. Set aside.

The short ribs are browned in my Le Creuset French Oven, then removed from the pan.  Sliced onion is cooked until golden, then add finely chopped garlic. Chopped tomatoes are added, cook for about 3 minutes more. The sliced poblanos, browned short ribs, plus salt and epazote are all nestled into the pan, covered,  and braised at 325°F for about 1 1/2 hours.

The epazote gives this dish its traditional Mexican flavor. I have fallen in love with this herb and its intriguing aroma reminiscent of kerosene. This fabulous dish is the creation of Chef Rick Bayless. The detailed recipe can be found here.

I made this dish for my brother Bill. Knowing I was preparing a meat dish with Mexican origins, he stopped at the wine shop on his way over. The Bellum El Principio 2005 was one of two excellent recommendations. This is a Spanish wine made from 100% monastrell old vines. A complex and earthy wine, somewhat spicy, with a mixed berry fruit character, powerful yet smooth. The name “Bellum” comes from a local prehistoric cave painting. Perfect pairing with Beef Short Ribs and Poblanos! Thanks Billy.
We enjoyed this dish with white rice and Christmas Lima beans. I sent Bill home with some leftovers and when we talked later in the week, we both agreed that this dish was even better the next day! I’ve long been a fan of Rick Bayless and his restaurants in Chicago – Frontera Grill and Topolobambo. ¡Muchas Gracias RB!

Duck Taco and Presidential China

Duck Breast Taco
Flour Tortilla, Heated over an Open Flame
Napa Cabbage, Scallions, Cilantro, Serrano Chiles
Drizzled with Crema Mexicana and Hoisin Sauce

It arrived in two days! I ordered the Lincoln Presidential China dinner plate on Inauguration Day from the Reagan Library Museum Store and received it on Thursday afternoon. It is beautiful, substantial, completely functional, and far exceeded my expectations. The border is a fabulous shade of purple. It comes in a gorgeous box with a Certificate of Authenticity and a recipe for a dish President Lincoln enjoyed, Chicken Fricasse, which I plan to make soon.
Along with the recipe came this bit of history:  Mary Todd Lincoln was a dignified and charming hostess who enjoyed social affairs. She introduced the practice of ornamenting the Presidential tables with fragrant natural flowers where previously artificial flowers had served as decorations. The Lincolns extended a cordial welcome at their receptions to all classes of people not just the social elite. President Lincoln was probably the smallest eater of all the presidents, often making a meal out of an apple and a piece of cheese. He did, however, enjoy a meal featuring chicken. Chicken Fricasse was one of his favorites.

Since the dinner plate arrived within 48 hours of Our Inaugural Meal, I just happened to have a cooked leftover duck breast on hand. I warmed up the sliced duck breast, heated a flour tortilla on the grill, added shredded napa cabbage, thinly sliced serrano chiles, cilantro, and sliced scallions, drizzled on crema Mexicana and Hoisin sauce then served it on my new dinner plate. As tasty as this was, I hope I’m not breaking protocol by serving leftovers on Presidential China!

WHITE HOUSE COLLECTION
This dinner plate has been authentically re-created
from the White House china pattern
used during the Administration of
ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Sixteenth President of the United States of America
1861 – 1865

by WOODMERE
New Castle, Pa.
U.S.A.

Our Inaugural Meal

On January 20, after the newly elected President of the United States has taken the oath of office and delivered his Inaugural address, he is escorted to Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol for the traditional Inaugural Luncheon, hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
As I am watching this historic event unfold on television, I became more curious about the luncheon (of course). I went online to http://inaugural.senate.gov/luncheon, and lo and behold, not only is the menu posted, but the entire recipes as well! The theme of the luncheon celebrates the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809) and the menu reflects his favorite foods. So, after work today, I picked up some duck breasts for dinner, in order to recreate part of the menu and participate in the celebration at home.

INAUGURAL LUNCHEON MENU

Seafood Stew
with puff pastry
paired with
Duckhorn Vineyards
2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

A Brace of American Birds
(pheasant and duck)
with Sour Cherry Chutney and Molasses Sweet Potatoes
paired with
Goldeneye
2005 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley

Apple Cinnamon Sponge Cake
with Sweet Cream Glacé
paired with
Korbel Natural Special Inaugural Cuvée
California Sparkling

Our Inaugural Meal
Duck Breast with Chutney
Whipped Sweet Potatoes

The floral arrangements, designed by JLB Floral of Alexandria, Virginia, feature Red Charlotte roses, Rouge Basier roses, Hot Lady roses, a floribunda rose called Hot Majolica, hydrangea in shades of blues and purples, and light blue delphinium in a footed brass compote. After the luncheon, the floral arrangements will be given to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Our Inaugural Centerpiece
Olympiad Hybrid Tea Roses picked from my garden. This rose was named in honor of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

At today’s Inaugural Luncheon the first course of seafood stew was served on replicas of the china from the Lincoln Presidency, which was selected by Mary Todd Lincoln at the beginning of her husband’s term in office. The china features the American bald eagle standing above the U. S. Coat of Arms, surrounded by a wide purple-red border.
After seeing the gorgeous luncheon table settings on television today I went and ordered the Lincoln dinner plate from The Reagan Library Museum Store to commemorate this event. When it arrives I plan recreate the first course of seafood stew, too. There are other Presidential China patterns available there also, all beautiful and colorful and historic. I might just turn into a collector…
This is a grand day. I am proud to be an American. I am a patriot. I love the formalities, the ceremony, the pomp, and the circumstance. And although I hold  differing political opinions, I am supportive of this new administration. Wishing all the best to our President Barack Obama.

Fresh Sole, Miso Butter, Braised Bok Choy

Fresh Wild Petrale Sole
Sautéed in Miso Butter
Over Braised Baby Bok Choy in Broth
Steamed White Rice

Braising liquid:
  • 1 c. white wine (I like inexpensive, yet still tasty Pinot Grigio for cooking)
  • 1 c. fish stock or bottled clam juice
  • 6 T. butter
  • Soy sauce
  • Toasted sesame oil
Heat the wine, stock and butter on high to cook off the alcohol, turn down to simmer and add halved baby bok choy. Cover. Cook about 5 minutes until the bok choy is tender. Remove boy choy to a platter. Turn up the heat and further reduce the sauce. Finish with a splash of soy sauce and a splash of toasted sesame oil.

Season the fish with salt and pepper, dust with flour and dip in egg. While the braising liquid is reducing, sauté the fish fillets in miso butter. I am showing this bird’s-eye view of my stovetop because I am the proud recipient of a 5 pc. set of SCANPAN Ceramic Titanium Professional Cookware made in Denmark. It is elegant and awesome, the improved non-stick surface allows for the use of any utensil, including metal utensils. A big thank you to Heather and the folks at SCANPAN!
Left: 10 1/4″ Fry Pan – sautéing fish
Front right: 6 1/2 qt. Dutch Oven (comes with cover) – reducing braising liquid
Back right: 3 qt. saucepan (with cover) – steaming white rice
Cast stainless steel handles stay cool longer. The set came with these nifty handle covers, but I found that the handles were fine on their own. Robin and Jimmy over at Caviar and Codfish blog are hosting a Scanpan giveaway. I highly recommend participating! Now, my first foray with the new Scanpan was with scrambled eggs.
The scrambled eggs were extraordinarily creamy. They cooked differently than in my usual non-stick pan. I wish I could explain the difference… the pan seems to me to be slipperier? Anyway, I was very impressed. They soon will have another line available for induction cooktops, can’t wait for that! My favorite way to serve scrambled eggs, I enjoyed it this way at a hotel in Mexico City many years ago. With all things green: cilantro, salsa verde, sliced avocado with lime. Tortillas and coffee too.

Back to bok choy: Alternate the bok choy up and down on a platter. Ladle hot braising liquid on top. Then place the fish on top of the bok choy and serve with steamed white rice on the side.
I am sending this dish over to my blogger friend Simona of Briciole blog as she is hosting Fresh Produce of the Month Event and this month, it’s cabbage! And to my other friend Lore of Culinarty, for her Original Recipe Round-Up. Do check out these fun monthly events.
Miso butter:
  • 1 stick butter (softened)
  • 2 – 3 T. white miso
  • 1 1/2 t. garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 t. fresh ginger minced
Mix all ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor. Miso butter has a complex and intriguing flavor. I used it to sauté this fish, also on vegetables, noodles (great on soba noodles), in corn ramen soup (more on that later), or try a pat of miso butter on your grilled steak.

I am such a fan of this miso butter, I gave it as a Christmas gift. What? You gave butter as a gift? I did, and it was totally appreciated (so I was told), especially in this little pot with lid.

Another Colorful Side

Colorful Side Dish #3
Spinach and Feta
Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo, Red Quinoa

Sauté chopped garlic, chopped scallions, and red pepper flakes in olive oil. Add fresh baby spinach to wilt. Season to taste.

Toss spinach mixture with cooked Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo, and red quinoa. This blend is called Harvest Grains Blend and is available from Trader Joe’s. Crumble feta on top. This recipe was inspired by one in Gourmet magazine some years ago, they made theirs with Acini di Pepe (tiny pearl pasta) and used frozen spinach.
Something New at Home

I am very excited about this change that cost nothing but makes my home feel dramatically different for the new year. I switched the dining room and family room. The former family room is considerably larger and has a fireplace in the corner. I moved the dining table here so now there is a more open and casual space for dining, and we can eat in front of a beautiful crackling fire.

The former dining room is now a cozy den. The chandelier which was above the dining table is above the coffee table, so you can still walk by without hitting your head. Makes a great spot to sit and read cookbooks! I also switched some artwork around, and that has freshened up some of the other rooms in the house.
Have you made any changes to your home or kitchen for the new year?

2 Colorful Sides and a Mushroom Salad

Roasted Carrots, Parsnips, and Shallots
Garlicky Olives and Gremolata

Carrots, parsnips and shallots are tossed in olive oil, seasoned with thyme, salt and pepper, then roasted at 425°F for about 30 minutes.

While the veggies were roasting I made the gremolata, a mixture of chopped Italian parsley, lemon zest and minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Gremolata is the condiment traditionally served with Osso Bucco alla Milanese. The flavor is fresh (parsley), bright (lemon), and intense (raw garlic). A great condiment!

To serve: the roasted vegetables are topped with gremolata and garlic green olives. This excellent recipe was posted by my blogger friend, Marie, the Proud Italian Cook back in October. I am a fan of parsnips, so I added them to the recipe, plus I like the look of white parsnips mixed with the orange carrots. Thanks Marie!
French Green Beans and Yellow Wax Beans
Topped with Zesty Baby Bellas

Mushrooms are sautéed with a little butter and olive oil, then add minced garlic and season with salt and pepper, finish with a splash of white wine, squeeze of lemon juice and fresh thyme.

The mixed beans are steamed then tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. To serve: top with the mushrooms. Garnish with chopped parsley. Do you like the mélange de haricots? I love the colors. Please visit here for another vibrant bean recipe.

Grilled Marinated Mushroom Salad
Gorgonzola, Grape Tomatoes, Pecans
Three Vinegar Syrup

Speaking of mushrooms, I just have to share this salad! The portobello is marinated in Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, shallots and red wine vinegar. It is then grilled and served over a salad of mixed greens, radicchio, sprouts, grape tomatoes, Gorgonzola and pecans. Drizzled with a 3 vinegar syrup. Scott Lee reduces the 3 vinegars separately, Chinese Blush Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, and Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar then he combines them to dress this salad. You can enjoy this very tasty mushroom salad at my dear friends’ restaurant, Gina Lee’s Bistro in Redondo Beach, California. See ya there!