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Wednesday
Jul272011

The Short & Long Of It

Boneless Beef Short Ribs are long on flavor.  And they are especially moist and tender when braised.  Grilling the short ribs before braising adds even more depth of flavor.    

Grill short ribs on each side until nicely seared and brown. Grilled & Braised Short Ribs
3 pounds beef short ribs
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 medium onions, peeled & coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablesppons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 
1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
3 cups dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
Garnish: chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or oregano

Preheat grill to high.  Lightly oil grill grate.  Season ribs with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook the ribs on each side until nicely seared and browned, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  (Can be kept refrigerated up to 4 days or frozen for 3 months.)

Place onions, garlic, bay leaves, herbs, vinegars, Worcestershire Sauce, crushed pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and wine in slow cooker.  Add ribs, cover, and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours, until the meat is ultra-tender.

Transfer ribs to plate and set aside.  Strain braising liquid into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Whisk in cornstarch mixture and continue to cook, stirring, until thickened.  Transfer ribs to individual serving plates and top with thickened braising sauce.  Garnish with chopped parsley or oregano, if desired.

4 to 6 servings. 

Finished Grilled & Braised Short Ribs.

Wednesday
Jul202011

Going Berrying

One of our favorite summer activities as a family, is "going berrying."  Sunshine.  Beautiful surroundings.  Time together...and best of all--reaping the benefit with basket of plump, fresh berries.

Investigate pick-your-own-berry farms in your area.  It is well worth the effort!  Berry Crumb Cake is one of our family-favorites that utilizes the fresh picked gems:

Berry Crumb Cake
Crumb Topping: 
1 3/4 all-purpose flour
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cake:
1 large egg
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh berries, such as blueberries, blackberries or cranberries
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and lightly flour the bottom of a 9-inch cake or springform pan.  To make crumb topping, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter in a large bowl.  Mix until combined, but still crumbly.  Cover lightly and set aside.

Combine egg, milk, oil and vanilla in a medium bowl and mix until blended.  In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Add egg/milk mixture  and mix until just smooth and blended.  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan, smoothing the top.  Sprinkle the blueberries in a single even layer over the batter, leaving about a 1/4-inch border around the outer perimeter of the pan.  Scatter the crumb topping evenly over the cake.  Press the crumbs down lightly.

Bake in preheated oven until a cake-tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  Cool cake completely in the pan.  To remove, loosen sides with paring knife and turn out onto serving plate.  Dust the top of the cake lightly with powdered sugar and serve. 

10 servings.

 Sprinkle blueberries over the batter in a single, even layer.Did You Know:  Fresh blueberries are generally available from mid-July to September.  Size varies from pea-size to about 5/8-inch in diameter.  Wild blueberries grow on low bushes in the coastal mountain regions.  More than 50 varieties of blueberries are cultivated in the Northwest, each with slightly different flavor characteristics.  Lewis and Clark explored blueberry uses during their expedition in the Northwest Territory.  One of their first meals with the Indians consisted of venison cured by pounding blueberries into the flesh and then smoke-drying it.  They discovered that the Indians also used dried blueberries in stews and soups.

Wednesday
Jul132011

Euphoria

If travels take you to picturesque Vermont, I highly recommend taking time to visit the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury.  The facility is clean, bright and cheerful...the gift shop has clever unique selections to bring home...the tour is fun and informative...and everyone receives a sample of freshly made ice cream...plus you can buy pints to go or single serving selections from the on-site Scoop Shop.  Euphoria!   

The company has come a long way since Ben and Jerry opened their first Scoop Shop in a dilapidated gas station in downtown Burlington, Vermont.  Thirty years later and under new ownership, they are still living "Ben & Jerry's dream" of making the best possible ice cream in the nicest possible way.

Ben & Jerry's three-part mission statement has been a driving force behind the company since 1978, even with a change in ownership--Social: "to operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role business plays in society."  Product: "to make, distribute and sell the finest quality all natural ice cream." Economic: "to operate the company on a sustainable financial basis of profitable growth." 

One of the newest flavors embodies the company's three-part mission, as well as their support of the arts--plus it tastes beyond amazing!  Bonnaroo Buzz (Coffee & Malt Ice Creams with Toffee Chunks & a Whiskey Caramel Swirl) was developed to capture the magic of the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival--an annual celebration where world-clss performers play for days in the Tennessee countryside.  It's available in most grocery stores as well as local Scoop Shops.

One of my favorite aspects of stopping at the Ben & Jerry's factory is visiting the Flavor Graveyard.  It enables me to pay homage to my past--reminiscing about flavors-gone-by and the memories I have associated with them.

 

Here is an easy reliable chocolate sauce recipe to help send your Ben & Jerry's ice cream even more over the top: 

Chocolate Sauce
8 ounces (1 cup) dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Place chocolate in a medium bowl.  In a medium saucepan, combine cream and corn syrup and heat over medium-high heat until skin forms and the cream is just below a boil.  Pour over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.

Serve warm.  Or refrigerate, covered, for up to a week.  Re-warm before serving.

 
Did You Know:  The walk-away edible ice cream cone made its American debut at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.  Ice-cream-in-a-cone was served up by several vendors at the Fair.  It is uncertain who invented the first ice cream cone.  Documents reflect that edible cones were being served in England prior to the 1904 World's Fair.  Regardless of the origin, ice cream cones are a wonderful invention! 

Thursday
Jun302011

Let's Pack A Picnic

A picnic is a state of mind and can be made anywhere.  Breakfast, lunch or dinner.  At an outdoor concert...in a treehouse...at the beach, playground or park...  Even indoors.  Some of my favorite picnic memories are of picnics driven indoors due to inclement weather or ill health.  

Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, Vermont

Chicken Paninis make a wonderful addition to any picnic menu.

Chicken Panini
2 red bell peppers, whole
4 small focaccia or Italian rolls, cut in half
2 large, cooked chicken breasts, shredded or sliced into large chunks
baby spinach

Pesto Mayonnaise:
3 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise, preferably olive oil-style
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat the grill to medium-high.  Roast the peppers directly on grill grate or under a preheated broiler until blackened, about 10 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through.  Remove and cut the flesh into strips, discarding the seeds.

To prepare pesto mayonnaise, stir together mayonnaise and pesto in a small bowl.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Spread pesto mayonnaise on the cut sides of each roll.  Fill each roll with chicken, pepper strips and spinach leaves.  Press the haves together.  Preheat panini grill or a flat plate or cast-iron griddle on the grill and cook the panini over medium-low heat for 4 to 5 minutes.  Flip and cook the second side until toasted, about an additional 5 minutes.  Serve warm or wrap in foil and pack for picnic.

4 servings

Did You Know:  Bell peppers are an outstanding source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.  Red peppers are also an excellent source of nerve-supportive vitamin B6, immune-supportive vitamin C and vitamin A.

Wednesday
Jun222011

Laid Back Summer

Summer----Bright sun.  Cool water.  Good books.  Laid back afternoons.  Create a refreshing summer dessert with definite panache in a matter of minutes.

Laid Back Lemon Mousse
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup prepared lemon curd (good quality)
Fresh raspberries
Raspberry or Orange liqueur
Optional Garnish:  Lemon curd drizzle
                            Whipped cream
                            Fresh mint leaves

Whip cream with an electric mixer or whisk until it holds its shape.  Gently fold in lemon curd.  Place fresh raspberries in the bottom of decorative serving dishes, such as martini or parfait glasses.  Pour liqueur over berries to cover.  Spoon lemon mousse into glasses.  Drizzle additional lemon curd on top, if desired.  Garnish with whipped cream and fresh mint leaves.  
4 servings.

 
Did You Know: One whole lemon contains a full day’s supply of ascorbic acid, or vitamin C--the juice holds about a third of that daily requirement.  Get the most from every lemon--before juicing, roll a room-temperature lemon under your palm to break down the cells inside the fruit that hold liquid.