Pasta with Braised Short Ribs

You know how much I love short ribs. Especially when they’re braised, tender, and falling off the bone. This cut of meat, sometimes labeled “great for soups” in the grocery store, is anything but humble when you let it braise for hours.


Of course, when I was watching Giada at Home and saw that this recipe was featured in her 30-minute show, I didn’t have to think.  I just needed to make my way to the computer and print this mouth-watering recipe. Next, I needed an excuse to make it. I say excuse because this is the kind of meal, while nice for two, is too impressive not to share. Luckily, one of our wonderful friends came to visit us from San Diego, so the menu was easy to plan.


Penne with Braised Short Ribs
Recipe courtesy Giada de Laurentiis


4 pounds beef short ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
5 Roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 cup red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Place an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the ribs with salt and pepper. In a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or ovenproof stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. In batches, add the ribs and brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the ribs and set aside. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine and mustard. Bring the mixture to a boil and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the ribs to the pan. Add the beef broth, cover the pan and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours until the meat is fork-tender and falls easily from the bone.

Remove the ribs from the cooking liquid. Using a large spoon, remove any excess fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Using a ladle, transfer the cooking liquid in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Remove the meat from the bones. Discard the bones. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into small pieces. Stir the shredded meat into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and place in a large serving bowl. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the sauce and add to the pasta. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the pasta. Toss well and thin out the pasta with more sauce, if needed. Sprinkle the pasta with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley before serving.

Mustard Braised Beef


My husband and I have been in a soft, tender meat phase. It started with short ribs on New Year’s Eve and has been especially important in the last several weeks while he's recovered from having his wisdom teeth removed. Plus, there is something almost magical about braised meat. It takes hours to cook, but most of that time is spent leaving it alone, not babysitting it in the oven. This recipe, with a dry mustard and herb rub, was incredibly flavorful. Onions made the sauce sweet, paprika imparted warmth, and mustard rounded out the dish. I guess what I’m trying to say is it was pretty spectacular.


The recipe also comes from a new magazine I picked up on a whim, Fine Cooking. Sure, I’ve seen it on the shelves, but I already have my four subscriptions and haven’t been interested in flipping through another. But the cover recipe, and everything I saw inside its glossy pages before tossing it into the cart, looked fantastic. And so far I have not been disappointed.



Mustard Braised Beef

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

I modified the original recipe for indoor grilling, as well as improvised a couple of ingredients. No molasses (oops, forgot it at the store), and we substituted scotch for bourbon to save us from buying a bottle of alcohol we might never finish.

For the beef:
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard (preferably Coleman’s)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 4-lb. boneless beef chuck roast

For the braising liquid:
2 to 2-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup bourbon
1 Tbs. coarse-grain Dijon mustard
2 tsp. unsulphured molasses
2 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled


In a small bowl, combine the thyme, rosemary, paprika, dry mustard, and 2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Sprinkle the spice blend all over the roast. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

Drizzle some olive oil into a large Dutch oven and warm over medium-high heat. Grill the roast until nicely browned on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Let cool briefly and then tie the roast with several loops of butcher’s twine. Put the roast in an 8-quart heavy-duty pot.

Reduce heat to low. In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of the chicken broth with the bourbon (we used scotch), mustard, and molasses and pour the mixture over the meat. Scatter the onions and garlic on top of the meat; it’s fine if some fall off. Put the pot on the grill over the cool zone. Cover the pot, and cook for 1 hour.

Uncover the pot and turn the roast over so the onions are now on the bottom. Check the liquid level in the pot and add broth as necessary until there’s about an inch of liquid in the pot. Continue to cook, pot uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring the onions and checking the liquid level every 20 minutes and adding broth as needed to maintain about an inch of liquid.

Replace the lid on the pot and continue to cook the meat until fork-tender, about 1 hour more, checking after 30 minutes and adding more broth as needed to maintain 1 inch of liquid. Move the meat to a tray and pat dry. Pour the onions and juices into a heatproof vessel, such as a Pyrex measuring cup, and let sit until the fat rises to the top. Skim off and discard the fat.

Pour back into the Dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat, until reduced and thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.

To serve, remove the string and slice the meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Ladle the onion mixture over the meat and serve.

Lamb Burgers with Goat Cheese and Garlicky Spinach


You know summer is close when I start posting about burgers. Last week I went traditional, and although juicy cheeseburgers have their place in this world, I couldn’t resist these decadent lamb burgers from Food & Wine. It’s been a while since I’ve had lamb, and I couldn’t believe how tender it was. Every bite melts in your mouth (it also doesn’t hurt that a toasted bun is slathered in goat cheese and topped with wilted spinach). The goat cheese/spinach combo was so appealing that I might be topping it on a grilled Portobello sometime soon...


The recipe garnished the burgers with marjoram leaves, but I took it a step further and drizzled on reduced balsamic vinegar to finish it off. Paired with a crisp glass of rose, it was a great end to the holiday weekend.


Lamb Burgers with Goat Cheese and Garlicky Spinach

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine


1/2 pound spinach, stems discarded and leaves rinsed

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

1 small red onion, finely diced

1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

2 tablespoons dry red wine, preferably Pinot Noir (I substituted red wine vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large garlic clove, minced

4 slices of peasant bread or brioche

4 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 4 pieces

1 cup balsamic vinegar


Heat a medium skillet over moderately high heat. Add a large handful of spinach and cook, stirring, until the leaves are wilted. Transfer the wilted spinach to a colander and repeat with the remaining leaves. Gently squeeze the spinach dry, coarsely chop and reserve.

In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the red onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Transfer the onion to a large bowl and let cool. Add the ground lamb to the bowl and break it up slightly. Add the red wine, cumin, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and blend well. Gently form the mixture into four 4-inch patties.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the minced garlic and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add the wilted spinach and cook, stirring, until hot. Season the spinach with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm.

For the balsamic vinegar, bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until vinegar has thickened, about 10 minutes. Watch it closely toward the end--a minute can be the difference between perfect and burned vinegar.

Light a grill. Lightly brush the bread with olive oil and grill, turning once, until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side. Spread the fresh goat cheese on the bread and top with the garlicky spinach.Brush the lamb patties with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until the patties are nicely charred outside and medium-rare within, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chopped lamb steaks to the bread, garnish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, if using.

A Big Juicy Burger + Homemade Hamburger Buns

Sometimes I rate the quality of a food magazine by the number of pages I dog-ear. A magazine is even better if I find my way back to those pages and make the recipes that initially piqued my interest. Lately, Food & Wine has been hit or miss for me. It just depends on the month, the theme, the recipes themselves, but there have been enough useful issues to warrant renewing my subscription year after year.


So, each year around this time magazines do their summer grilling/summer parties issues, but I was not prepared for what was in store this time around. I’m telling you, I must have dog-eared every other page in the June issue. The cover recipe alone (a big, juicy burger) made my husband pick up the magazine from the ottoman in the living room and bring it to me in the kitchen, hold it up proudly and ask: “When can we make this?”


I have a good feeling about summer. And now that we’ve sold the grill that didn’t fit on our patio and replaced it with a smaller, still functional version that does fit, we’re ready to go. So let’s start grill season off with a classic. Summer is probably the only time I’ll eat a hamburger. I never order them in restaurants, and aside from the occasional In-n-Out drive-through after loading up our trunk at Costco, I pretty much avoid them all together. But now that I’ve discovered I can make my own hamburger buns (people, this was a revelation!), there might be a few more burgers on our menu this season. And if you have ever been to the mostly-West coast burger mecca that is In-n-Out, well, they just might have some competition.


Big Juicy Burger

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine

The original recipe is below, but to make these burgers more like In-n-Out’s, I replaced the raw, red onions with chopped, caramelized onions. Saute them in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 15-20 minutes. I also omitted the bacon and lost the BLT element, but you’re more than welcome to use it.


1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon grated onion

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped tarragon

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

12 ounces thickly sliced bacon

1 1/3 pounds ground beef chuck

1 1/3 pounds ground beef sirloin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 6 slices

6 hamburger buns, split and toasted

6 iceberg lettuce leaves

6 slices of tomato

6 slices of red onion


For the Russian Tarragon dressing, in a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the ketchup, red wine vinegar, onion, parsley, tarragon and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and refrigerate.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, turning once, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain and cut the bacon into large pieces.

Light a grill and fill a large bowl with ice water. Gently mix the ground chuck with the ground sirloin, salt and pepper. Form the meat into six 4-inch patties, about 1 1/4 inches thick. Submerge the patties in the cold water and let soak for 30 seconds. Immediately transfer the burgers to the grill and brush with some of the melted butter. Grill over high heat for 9 minutes for medium-rare meat, turning once or twice and brushing occasionally with butter. Top the burgers with the cheese during the last minute of grilling and let melt.

Spread the Russian dressing on the buns. Set the lettuce leaves and tomato slices on the bottom halves and top with the burgers, red onion and bacon. Close the burgers, cut in half and serve right away.


Homemade Hamburger Buns

Recipe courtesy Annie’s Eats

The buns ended up smaller than I expected. I might not have waited long enough for the second rise, but regardless, I ended up with 9, slider-size buns. Next time I’ll make five large buns instead, but you can play around with the recipe until it’s right for you.


1 tbsp. sugar
2 ¼ tsp. instant yeast
¼ cup warm water (105°-115°)
1 cup warm milk (105°-115°)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
3 to 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. cold water
sesame, poppy or caraway seeds, or coarse salt, for topping


In a bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve the sugar and then the yeast in the warm water.  Add the milk, oil, salt and 1 ½ cups of flour to the yeast mixture.  Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.  Gradually add flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Switch to the dough hook and knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough, about 7-9 minutes.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl.  Turn once to coat the entire ball of dough in oil.  Cover with a tightly-woven dampened towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface.  Working with oiled hands, divide the dough into 9 equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball, and flatten into 3 ½ -inch disks.  For soft-sided buns, place them on a well-seasoned baking sheet a half-inch apart so they will grow together when they rise.  For crisper bun, place them three inches apart.

Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

15 minutes before you want to bake the buns, preheat the oven to 400°.  Just before baking, brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with any desired toppings.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190°.  When the buns are done, remove them from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack.  This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.

* Note: This particular dough should be quite slack, i.e. very relaxed in order to make soft and tender buns.  So you want to add only enough more flour, past the 3 cup point, to make the dough just kneadable, sprinkling in only enough more to keep it from sticking to you or the work surface.

Smoky Beef Tacos

You don’t really need a recipe for tacos. Although I planned my dinner around the recipe in the March edition of Everyday Food, when it came time to braise the beef, I winged it. I didn’t measure the oregano or ketchup, and now that I’m actually looking at the recipe, I completely forgot to add garlic. Oh well. The meat was tender and flavorful, which is really all that matters.


My process went a little like this: Heat up some oil, brown the beef on both sides, add listed ingredients plus a few glugs of chicken stock (to come up about ½ way to the top of the beef), let it come to a boil, cover, stick in the oven for two hours until meat is tender, break apart with a fork, put meat back in cooking liquid to keep moist and warm, enjoy! I also served the tacos with a simple salad of corn and tomatoes, avocado, and lime-flavored sour cream.
Smoky Beef Tacos

Recipe courtesy Everyday Food


2 to 3 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 cup ketchup
8 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 pounds), excess fat trimmed
16 corn tortillas (6-inch), lightly toasted
Avocado-Red Onion Relish
Corn-and-Tomato Salsa
Cilantro-Lime Crema


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, stir together chiles, ketchup, 1 cup water, garlic, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

2. Cut beef into 4 equal pieces. Add to pot, and turn to coat. Cover, and bring to a boil; transfer pot to oven. Bake, covered, until beef is fork-tender, about 2 1/2 hours.

3. Transfer beef to a bowl. With a large spoon, skim off and discard fat from cooking liquid. Shred beef with two forks; moisten with cooking liquid as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve beef with tortillas and desired toppings.

Roasted Filet Mignon with Cauliflower Puree + Wine Resolutions #5 and #20

For busy holidays, we like to stay in and cook a great meal (see recent New Year’s post). This Valentine’s Day, we decided to bring the restaurant to our kitchen and serve grilled filet with French fries. (More about dessert coming soon – but I’ll give you a hint: chocolate, chocolate and chocolate.) The wine fulfilled Wine Resolutions #5 and #20: Take notes on a fine wine from beginning to end, and shatter your price limit.


We chose Sunstone’s 2005 Eros, a merlot and cabernet blend. We’ve had this wine before, at the vineyard, where they served a taste alongside chocolate. I’m going to say this shattered our price limit, but have to confess that while technically this is a $58 bottle of wine (the most we’ve spent in recent years is around $34), we found the same wine on a shelf in Cost Plus for a mere $29.99. We actually had to look at the label to be sure it was correct. But there it was, a bottle of Eros half off, and you didn’t have to twist our arm to buy it.

So, on to the wine. A smell just after opening the bottle revealed aromas of blackberry and spice, and the taste was slightly peppery. But just twenty minutes later, it smelled and tasted like a different wine. It smelled sweeter, like plum, and the pepper was milder on the palate, only hitting your taste buds at the end. It went perfectly with our filet, and during dinner we marveled at how this little experiment revealed so much about how wines develop.


Roasted Filet Mignon with Cauliflower Puree

Recipe inspired by Ariane Duarte (Top Chef) and Tyler Florence


For beef
2 filet mignon steaks
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)

For puree
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups heavy cream
4 tbsp. butter
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 sprigs thyme


For the puree:
Place all ingredients in a medium sized pot.  Add enough water to just cover vegetables. Let everything come to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 35 minutes, until everything is soft.

Discard thyme. Put mixture into a food processor and puree until smooth. Add butter one tablespoon at a time, then cream as necessary. Continue pureeing until smooth. Season with more salt and pepper.  To keep warm, place puree into a large glass bowl over a pot of boiling water.

For the beef:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season both sides of filet with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan, add olive oil and butter over medium high heat. Sear each side for three minutes, then put the pan in the oven and roast until the meat is medium-rare, about 9-10 minutes.  Set meat aside to rest before slicing.

To serve, place some puree on each plate, then place sliced filet on top.  Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Braised Short Ribs with Celery Root and Potato Puree



Happy 2009!


These ribs really don't need an introduction, and yet I managed to turn out several paragraphs about how exceptional they are. And believe me, I tried to keep the photos to a minimum. I typically post between one and six photos, but this time, you simply must see the photos from start to finish. It’s a gratifying moment to pull off the lid during the last twenty minutes of cooking and see the burgundy, tender ribs about to fall off their bones. It’s even better to pull the meat gently with your fork and place a bite in your mouth. It was a celebratory moment, to eat something this delicious in our own dining room, and the perfect way to ring in the new year.

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This New Year’s was a night to remember, and it wasn’t because we went out to some fancy party and went to sleep at three o’clock in the morning. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. I arrived home early from work and walked two blocks to Whole Foods to gather everything I needed for an amazing meal. We stayed in, cooked all afternoon, drank red wine, then champagne, then made Italian donuts and ate them as we watched the countdown from Time’s Square. It was just perfect.


These short ribs are exceptionally wonderful. Even the smell when they were browning (this, before adding the aromatics and red wine) was compelling. Then, after adding pureed onion, celery, garlic and carrot, red wine and watching it come together into a beautiful burgundy color, the scent perfumed our kitchen, living room, hallway…

The most intensive part of the cooking process is the beginning, when the ribs need to be browned, the aromatics must be browned, wine reduced, ribs added back to pot, covered in water and then…ahh. Three hours later, they’re done to perfection, covered in a red wine sauce smelling of thyme. And let’s not forget the celery root and potato puree, which is the perfect compliment to these tender, rich ribs. The puree is creamy, and the hint of celery at the back of your mouth wakes up the entire dish. I’m absolutely certain this will be our go-to New Year’s meal from now on. It’s just too good.



Braised Short Ribs

Recipe courtesy Anne Burrell


6 bone-in ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds) (I had the butcher cut them into thirds, for about 15 short ribs)
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
2 to 3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves


Season each short rib generously with salt. Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crud has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the crud and let it reform. Scrape the crud again and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half (about 5-10 minutes).

Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups water or until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.

Celery Root and Potato Puree

3 large Idaho potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes, held in water until ready for use
Kosher salt
1 large celery root, tough outer parts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 stick cold butter, cut into pats
Special Equipment: Food mill (You can mash them yourself, or puree in a stand mixer)


Place the potatoes in a pot large enough to accommodate the celery root and the potatoes. Make sure to add enough water to cover vegetables by 2 inches and season generously with salt. Bring the water to a boil. When the water has been boiling for about 10 minutes, add the celery root and cook until both vegetables are "fork tender". Strain the celery root and potatoes.

Put the cream in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, pass the celery root and potatoes through a food mill into a large bowl. Add about 1/4 of the hot cream and 2 pats of the butter. Stir vigorously until the cream and butter are thoroughly combined. Repeat this process until all of the cream and butter have been incorporated. Taste for seasoning, you will probably have to add salt. Serve in a warm serving bowl immediately or keep warm until ready to use.

*I used a tad less butter, and two large potatoes instead of three.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast

Every Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of my love for turkey. But turkey can be overwhelming, especially if you roast a large bird for several hours. Then come the negotiations between you and your chef’s knife, cutting it this way and that, hoping you don’t mangle the meat too much. Well, this year I had no reason to cook a twenty-pound turkey, but turkey breast – that I could handle.


Turkey breast is perfect for two or small dinner parties. Plus it’s easier to make, takes significantly less cooking time, and is the perfect way to enjoy fall flavors year round. Making turkey is a great opportunity to test side dishes, cooking methods, and try new flavors for old favorites. By the time I do host Thanksgiving, my menu should be perfect.

I love the herb variety in this recipe. The addition of tart mustard (I used fresh instead of dried), and a slight hint of lemon is a lovely combination. Served alongside roasted acorn squash or mashed potatoes and it will feel like Thanksgiving all over again.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast

Recipe courtesy Ina Garten

1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6 1/2 to 7 pounds
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup dry white wine


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast the turkey for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest and meatiest areas of the breast. (I test in several places.) If the skin is over-browning, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the pan juices spooned over the turkey.

Penne with Beef and Arugula

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the food they eat, the books they read, and the company they keep. In the food world, you can tell a lot about a recipe by how often you make it. If you keep it around year after year, or if you make it once and then forget it.

This recipe is a favorite of mine, and is in the habit of winning over anyone I feed it to. I’ve made it enough times now that I can do it from memory, though failing to glance at the recipe has meant that on occasion I’ve left out basil, used spinach in place of arugula, and forgotten the olive oil all together (oops!).

There is a lot to love about this dish. The tomatoes are juicy and sweet, the steak is tender, and the balsamic sauce puckers a bit in your mouth. Whenever I can't think of what to make, I often turn to this recipe and ease comfortably into very familiar territory.

Penne with Beef and Arugula

Recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

1 (1 pound) New York strip steak (any cut of meat you have is fine)
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
1 pound penne pasta (I often use whole wheat penne which works very well with such a flavorful dressing)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for steak and pasta water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for steak
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cups chopped arugula (spinach does no harm if you already have it on hand, just add a bit more pepper when tossing the pasta together)


Season the steak with salt and freshly ground black pepper, In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Cook steak about 7 minutes per side. Remove the meat from pan and let it rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak or cut into cubes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, fresh herbs, and 3/4 cup olive oil. In a large bowl toss the pasta with half of the salad dressing and the reserved pasta water. Add the arugula and steak, more dressing, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed. Toss together then serve immediately with shavings of Parmesan.

Spaghetti Bolognese

I had high hopes for this sauce. This isn’t to say I was disappointed, but I hit some uncontrollable cooking snags along the way. The Gap Fire began on July 1. On July 6, the afternoon I attempted this recipe, the power went out twice while I was cooking. Since this recipe takes hours to complete, you can bet I was furious (although sympathetic to the fireman, evacuated families, etc.). But come on. The power had been going out for four days straight, usually beginning in the evening, between 6-7 pm. An outage at two o’clock in the afternoon was completely unexpected. When the first outage hit, I had just put the meat in the pan.

As the meat (and my electric stove) began cooling down, the lights returned so I continued browning the meat. By this time I had lost track of how long it had actually been in the pan so consequently this step was likely cut short. And as Anne will tell you, this step is REALLY important.

Just as I turned the meat to brown the other side, power was lost again. This time it was out for at least 45 minutes, and I was tabulating the lost minutes in my mind. 3 ½ hours of cooking pushes dinner back to 7:00 pm, wait, 7:30 pm. I was starting to give up hope when the power finally returned.

Eventually the tomato paste and wine were added. The mixture turns a beautiful burgundy color, and then it’s time for the “add water and wait” game. My only piece of advice with this recipe is to be patient. Don’t try making Bolognese unless you have time. During the “water and wait” step you will be very tempted to cut it short – don’t! The process of adding water and cooking it down is what creates a thick sauce that holds together instead of separating when it reaches the pasta. In the end, the meat wasn’t as brown as it should have been (translation: less flavor), but given the circumstances I’m very pleased with how this dish turned out.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Recipe courtesy Anne Burrell

1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1-inch dice

2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice

4 cloves garlic

Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan

Kosher salt

3 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination

2 cups tomato paste

3 cups hearty red wine


3 bay leaves

1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle

1 pound spaghetti

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing

In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where the big flavors develop.

Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. BROWN THE BEEF! Brown food tastes good. Don't rush this step. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.

Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don't be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. This is where big rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed (you probably will). Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the spaghetti. Pasta water should ALWAYS be well salted. Salty as the ocean! TASTE IT! If your pasta water is under seasoned it doesn't matter how good your sauce is, your complete dish will always taste under seasoned. When the water is at a rolling boil add the spaghetti and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking remove 1/2 of the ragu from the pot and reserve.

Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining ragu. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. Turn off the heat and give a big sprinkle of Parmigiano and a generous drizzle of the high quality finishing olive oil. Toss or stir vigorously. Divide the pasta and sauce into serving bowls or 1 big pasta bowl. Top with remaining grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.

Steak Sandwich



I've made this sandwich more times than I can count, and have never been disappointed. Originally featured on Barefoot Contessa, the only change I’ve made to her recipe is grilling the bread prior to assembling the sandwich. I like a bit of a crunch.


Steak Sandwich


Recipe adapted from Ina Garten


Makes 4 sandwiches


1 (12-ounce) 1-inch thick New York strip boneless beef top loin steak


Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Olive oil


1 large yellow onion, sliced in rings


1 recipe Mustard Mayo, recipe follows


4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in 1/2


1 cup arugula


Season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat until it's almost smoking, then sear the steak on each side for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and cook the steak for about 7 to 10 minutes, turning once, until very rare in the middle. Remove to a plate, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Slice the steak into strips.



In a medium sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté until the onions are browned and caramelized, about 10 minutes.



Heat a grill pan on medium-high heat. Drizzle olive oil over sliced bread and place on the grill for several minutes, until bread is golden.















To assemble the sandwiches, spread a spoonful of Mustard Mayo on the bottom half of each roll. Place a layer of steak strips on top of the mayo. Carefully arrange a handful of arugula over the steak and top with the caramelized onions and cover the sandwiches with the top half of the rolls.




Mustard Mayo:


3/4 cup good mayonnaise


1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard


2 tablespoons sour cream


1/8 teaspoon kosher salt


Whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve at room temperature.


Yield: 1 cup