Saturday, February 28, 2009

Baked Short Ribs with Pasilla Pepper Sauce

This recipe turns out great when slow-cooked in a Dutch Oven. One of the "holy trinity" of peppers, the pasilla is a dried chilaca chile, and is one of my Mom and my favorite peppers to cook with. It's wonderful in moles and sauces. Its smoky yet mild flavor gives this dish an exceptional depth.

Baked Short Ribs with Pasilla Pepper Sauce
Makes 6 to 8 Servings
1 dried pasilla pepper, rehydrated, seeded, stemmed, and finely chopped (To rehydrate the pasilla pepper, place it in a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 5 minutes)
4 pounds beef short ribs (boneless), rinsed and patted dry, excess fat trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup pureed roasted red peppers (if using canned roasted red peppers, be sure to drain and rinse them before pureeing)
One 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
2 whole star anise
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 bay leaves
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  • To prepare the ribs, season with salt and pepper on both sides. Put a 12" cast iron skillet over medium heat, then add the ribs, fat side down. Cook turning once, until browned on all sides, for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a plate and reserve.
  • Meanwhile, in a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven add the oil butter and heat over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to soften, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pureed roasted red peppers, pasilla pepper, tomato sauce red wine, star anise, cinnamon, five-spice powder, and bay leaves. Add the short ribs back to the pot. Wrap the lid with a slightly damp kitchen towel, pulling tight, placing the corners on top of the pot. Do not let the towel fall into the dish.
  • Put the Dutch oven in the preheated oven on the middle rack. Cook until the meat falls apart easily with a fork, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Serve on a plate with buttered egg noodles.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cooking with Mom

My love for the culinary arts is a direct result of the absolute enjoyment my Mother takes in cooking. From her I learned the beauty of slow food, the social aspect of food, and how to share my table. I am so thankful for the delicious lessons learned in her kitchen.

This MI-Reporter article featuring my Mom and me is so wonderful, I just couldn't resist posting some of it:

If flipping through its pages makes you want to drop what you’re doing, run to the grocery store, go home and pull out a giant mixing bowl, says Sharon Kramis, that’s the sign of a good cookbook.

Not only did the former Reporter food columnist’s new book make me wish I was at home in my kitchen, it made me wish I was in my kitchen with my mom.

“The Dutch Oven Cookbook” (Sasquatch Books) is the second labor of love Kramis has produced with her daughter, 37-year-old Julie Kramis Hearne. A celebration of “the best pot in your kitchen,” it follows “The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook” with a hundred or so dishes, from Vietnamese pho to French beignets, that can come out of this slow-cooking cast iron pot.

The enthusiasm that mother and daughter share for the ability of both the Dutch oven and cast iron skillet to yield perfection clearly comes from a shared history of successful meals and the happy times that surround them. In a family whose cooks have done time at the Herbfarm Restaurant in Woodinville, Anthony’s Restaurants, the California Culinary Academy and the cooking school of the legendary chef James Beard, memories are stored in the porous holes of cast iron as much as on the pages of photo albums.

When it comes to what goes on in the kitchen (or over the campfire, where many of their recipes can be produced), Kramis and her daughter are of one mind. When discussing food, it’s always “we” rather than “I.”

“It’s almost like we can read each other’s thoughts,” Hearne says. “When I’m cooking and I have a question, I just ask myself, ‘What would my mom do?’”

Even better than eating her mother’s food as a child, Hearne says, was helping to create it. “Making the pasta, making the sausage ... it was the whole process of baking that first loaf of bread,” she says. She recalls faking sickness so she could stay home from school to watch her mother teach classes in Sharon’s Kitchen, a cooking school Kramis ran for several her 40 years on Mercer Island. She later relished accompanying her mother as she trained with Beard at his cooking school in Seaside, Ore.

And after earning her degree in food science and nutrition (just like her mother), when Hearne met the man she would later marry, Kramis pulled from a box an old photo of Harker Hearne in the 8th grade, when he won first place in a cooking contest Kramis judged with his “Auntie Hope’s Fruit Pizza.”

“It all comes back to food,” Hearne says. (click here to read full article...)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dutch Oven 101

The Dutch Oven is my Mom and my favorite pot. Made of cast iron and often enamel-coated, it's the perfect partner to the cast iron skillet - our favorite pan. Dutch Ovens have loop handles and flat bottoms, and always come with lids. They are approximately 4" - 5" deep and range in capacity from 2 - 13 quarts. The name "Dutch Oven" is believed to have originated in the eighteenth century, when the cookware was manufactured in England and brought to the US by Dutch traders.

Historically, the pot was used primarily outdoors. During the pioneer days in the western United States, for example, Dutch Oven cooking was the most important cooking method used. Today, a strong following still cooks with Dutch Ovens over a campfire.

A heavy pot, the Dutch Oven slow-cooks tough meats and melds flavors together to produce melt-in-your mouth tender bites. Use medium to low heat to attain the best results. We prefer the Dutch Oven to Crock-Pot cookery because it slow-cooks without accumulating excess moisture. (See my previous blog article, Cast Iron 101, which talks about pans that "sweat.")

So, grab your Dutch Oven and a sense of culinary adventure - let's make some mouths water!