When Fabulous People Are Coming to Dinner: Ina’s Beef Short Ribs

scott's short ribs ina garten

Fall Off the Bone Tender Goodness

I’m about to be butchered by Ina Garten lovers everywhere. So I’ll just start by saying, I love to cook her recipes and I even watch her show(s).

She makes her own chicken stock and never fails to mention it when including it in any recipe: “2 cups of home made chicken stock. It’s really the best.”

She grinds her own spices.

She uses only “really good olive oil”.

She grows her own herbs. “This is rosemary right from my garden.”

She’s a master of the kitchen and all things kitchen related.

That said….She’s a bit of a name dropper.

Each time I tune in she’s about to host a luncheon/dinner/beach party for every fabulous gay person east of Nassau County. I honestly think I recently I heard her say: “Truman Capote and Liberace are coming for lunch, so I’m making cornish game hens and apple turnovers.”

Or maybe it was more like: “Andy Warhol agreed to paint my hallway so I’m making him salmon with lentils!”

Ina garten short ribs jeffrey

Ah…Jeffrey

 And, then there’s Jeffrey. Jeffrey (for the non-Ina aficionado) is Ina’s husband. They’ve been married for like a gazillion years. Jeffrey works and lives in Manhattan Mon – Fri – venturing out to Ina’s Hampton’s home only on weekends. And, when he arrives, Ina kills the fatted calf – or in her case – chicken.

Friday shows always start something like: “It’s Friday and Jeffrey’s coming home from the City tonight so I’m making his favorite chicken. My perfect roasted whole chicken in fact.”

Ina gives the impression that Jeffrey is unable to do anything by himself – except live in NYC. So, Ina gets busy in the kitchen making all of Jeffrey’s favorite meals whenever she has to leave town. And, seriously, sometimes she’s planning to be gone for a just a few hours. “I’ve been invited to go skating with Brian Boitano tonight, so I’m making Jeffrey’s favorite cappuccino ice cream for him while I’m away.”

OK. I feel better. So, back to the fact that I love her recipes (‘How Easy Is that?”), I’ve made her Scott’s Short Ribs a half dozen times and they are easy and delicious.

Ina Garten’s Scott’s Short Ribs (Serves 8 – hers serves 6, but I was having 8 to dinner)

Important to note:

  1. The entire process of making this meal, including chopping…takes about 4 hours
  2. In a small apartment like mine…If you can close your bedroom and bathroom doors while the meat is in the oven…do it. The beefy winey aroma is lovely on the evening it’s made…Not so much the next day on your linens or towels
  3. There’s a bit of chopping…so, make Anne Burrell proud and mise en place if you can
ina garten short ribs mise en place

Pretty Mise En Place

Ingredients:

  • fennel whole foods vegetables

    This is Fennel I’m sure of it

    8 Beef Short Ribs, trimmed as best you can of the fat. Ina’s butcher does it for her…but that might not be what happens to you….or, me.

  • 1/4 Cup Good Olive Oil – whatever you do, do NOT use shitty olive oil! That would really piss Ina off!
  • 2 Medium Sized Onions Chopped
  • 4 Cups Large-Diced Celery – Ina says that’s 6 stalks, but only if the stalks are from her magical giant celery growing garden….It’s more like 10 stalks of celery
  • 2 Carrots peeled and large diced
  • 1 Small Fennel – fronds, stems and core removed and large diced
  • beef broth Whole Foods

    WF Owner is a Vegan, But this is good beef broth

    1 Leek, cleaned large diced, white part only – (to clean it best…chop and submerge pieces in ice water then fish out with a spider…the dirt/grit will fall to the bottom of the bowl)

  • 3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 750ml bottle of Burgundy or Pinot Noir or other dry red wine – plus 14 bottles for your thirsty friends who are coming to dinner
  • Fresh Rosemary – from your garden…Or, Whole Foods or other
  • Fresh Thyme Sprigs
  • 6 Cups of Beef Stock or Broth – I use the 365 Brand at Whole Foods and 6 Cups is a box and a half
  • 1 TBSP Brown Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper – Ina prefers Kosher Salt, of course

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

1. Place the short ribs on a sheet pan and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper

short ribs whole foods

Try to get the same size short ribs…

2. Put the ribs in the oven and roast undisturbed for :15 minutes (go to step 4) – remove from oven and set aside

3. Reduce heat to 300 degrees

4. While the ribs are roasting, heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven (I use my pretty blue Le Creuset, of course) over medium low heat

blue le creuset short ribs williams-sonoma

Pretty Blue Le Creuset

5. Add the onion, celery, carrots, fennel and leek and cook for about :20 minutes stirring occasionally

le creuset short ribs ina garten jeffrey

Vegetable Softening Nicely

6. After :20, add the garlic and cook for another :02 minutes – or until you can smell the garlic goodness

7. Pour the wine over the veggies and bring to a boil

ina garten short ribs add wine

I heart cooking with wine

8. Continue to cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by about 1/2

9. Add a TBSP of salt and 1 TSP of pepper

10. Make a bundle of several sprigs of rosemary and several sprigs of thyme and throw them in the pot

Herb Bundle

Herb Bundle of rosemary and thyme

11. Nestle the ribs into the winey vegetables and pour the beef broth over them – the ribs should be totally submerged

ina garten short ribs scott's

The beef ribs all nestled

ina garten short ribs 365 brand stock broth

And totally covered with broth

12. Throw in the brown sugar

13. Bring to a simmer over high heat….Once simmering, put the lid on the dutch oven and carefully put it into the oven for 2 hours. The meat will be very tender.

14. After 2 hours, remove the pot from the oven and the ribs from the pot. Set ribs aside keeping them warm if possible

scott's short ribs ina garten

Fall Off the Bone Tender Goodness

15. Discard the herbs and skim off the excess fat

16. Over medium, cook the vegetables and sauce for :20 minutes until reduced slightly

ina garten short ribs recipe

Ribs  and herb bundle removed- sauce a-simmer

17. Plate the ribs and pour some of the sauce and veggies over them

18. Plate the veggies separately

ina garten short ribs recipe veggies

Drunken veggies plated

19. Serve

20. Ask yourself: How easy is that?

This is a great meal for groups because it’s delicious and impressive. And also because all of the work will be done hours before your guests arrive.

But don’t even think of making the short ribs for Jeffrey and Ina on a friday. They’re having chicken with Jodie Foster and Neil Patrick Harris.

Bacon Makes It Better: Bacon-Y Bean Bundles

french green beans bacon evoo

Nestled and Oven Ready

Everyone’s family has different rules about what and how much a child must eat at any given meal. Some families go with praise cheering their kids who are members of the ‘clean your plate club’. Others threaten punishment if kids didn’t finish every morsel on their plates.

Salisbury steak

Salisbury Steak ’70’s Style

In our house, we just had to try what was served. I’m not saying that if we hated it that something else would be served. I’m just saying that even the most detestable of dishes had to be at least sampled. Once taste tested, we could decide whether to eat on or go hungry. There were a few key dishes in the dinner rotation at our house – your basic chicken, fancier chicken and dumplings, Salisbury steak, breakfast for dinner – all easy and kind to the pickiest of kids. But, for the most part, we were pretty easy to feed. OK my type-A brother had to change forks and plates between courses, cuz like one food can’t touch another – but that was probably the biggest challenge.

There was really only one staple in my mother’s dinner table rotation that killed us….Liver. Like pan fried liver ’70’s style. It was dry and sorta smelly and chewy and….Hated it.

So, charged with having ‘at least one bite’, my brothers and I had a strategy. Cut the tiniest of tiny pieces of the stuff, wrap it in 4-5 pieces of bacon, fill a large cup with water and swallow the bacon wrapped ickiness whole.

Since then I’ve known that I can eat almost anything if it’s wrapped in bacon. Bacon makes the worst things tolerable and the best things even better. I like green beans and have noticed that they tend to go unfinished when served alongside other sides like potatoes. One way to ensure that your beans are consumed is to wrap them in bacon.

Bacon-Y French Bean Bundles (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • green beans pricechopper

    Pre-Washed is the way to go

    1 bag of prewashed french beans – yes, you can use regular green beans, but I like the smaller more delicate taste of the French beans – they sell these bags everywhere now. Ours were from Price Chopper upstate.

  • 9-10 pieces of bacon cut in half
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TSP of freshly grated parmesan cheese

You can also sub out the EVOO + Parmesan Cheese and use an Italian Parmesan Salad Dressing instead….

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Wrap 5-6 beans in one half-slice of bacon and lay in a baking dish

green beans and bacon

Wrapped and Ready

2. Repeat until 2-3 bundles per person are created and the bundles are nestled in the pan

3. Sprinkle the bacon-y bean bundles with the olive oil and parmesan cheese

side dish bacon wrapped beans

Gently Sprinkled with EVOO and Parm

4. Bake for :45 mins to 1 hour – until beans are well roasted and bacon is fully cooked

french beans in bacon recipe

Beans & Bacon Well Crisped

5. Serve 2 – 3 bundles per person

That’s really it.

In my own apartment, I do subscribe to the ‘just try one bite’ philosophy. Doesn’t always work. But if I can eat ’70’s style pan fried liver, the toughest of taste buds can certainly give bundles of bacon-y beans a try.

Not The Inauguration Dinner: Elegant Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon

filet mignon with bleu cheese and bread crumbs

Table Ready

No one invited me to the Inaugural Dinner tonight. And, truth be told, I’m not sure I could have made it as my car is sick – so $$$$$ad 😦

Michelle Obama American Grown

I heart FLOTUS

I thought I should see what I’m missing and searched for the Obama Part Deux Dinner Menu online. Tonight, his guests will (according to several online sources) be enjoying Mahi-Mahi ceviche with jalapeños and coconut, seared salmon on baby spinach with red potatoes, and pineapple upside-down cake. The menu reflects Barack’s Hawaiian heritage and gives a nod to Michelle’s fight against American obesity. Though I don’t know if the potatoes or spinach come from the White House garden. (As an aside, FLOTUS’ book “American Grown” is worth a perusal.)

This past weekend we enjoyed an inaugural dinner of our own. A gaggle of girls had traveled from far and wide and we were upstate in the town of Catskill – not The Catskills. Our host upstate wanted to prepare, in his own words, an elegant dinner for his guests.

After poring through the 8-10 options I sent him for main courses, he settled on maybe the most elegant. I helped him with the menu and guided him through – he did all the work – and I got to be bossy: all was right with the world.

Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 6   1 1/4 inch filets – shameless pitch here for Price Chopper, his grocery store upstate – great meats and where Rachael Ray got her start…just sayin’
  • 1 Cup crumbled Bleu Cheese – we bought a block and he crumbled it by hand – better than buying pre-crumbled stuff
  • 1 Cup Progresso Panko Style bread crumbs – love
  • Butter
  • 1 TSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the Oven to 425 degrees

1. In a small fry pan, melt 1 TBSP of butter over medium heat

2. Add the bread crumbs and toast until browned. Flip ’em around occasionally to brown well. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool

progresso bread crumbs panko

Don’t Be Shy About Browning the Panko

3. Salt and Pepper the filets on one side

filet mignon bleu cheese

Salted and Peppered

4. In a second medium/large fry pan, melt 2 TBSP of butter over med/high heat

5. Add the filets salted/peppered side down to the melted butter. This is your chance to salt/pepper the other side

filet mignon with bleu cheese

Searing One Side S/P The Other

6. Sear the filets for 2-3 mins per side. They should be well browned

filet mignon price chopper bleu cheese

Well browned searing in taste and juices

7. Remove from the pan and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined parchment paper side up with Reynolds Wrap Pan Lining paper – the mullet of cooking papers tin foil one side, parchment on the other

bleu cheese crusted filet mignon

Worth the price

8. Mix together the crumbled bleu cheese, olive oil and toasted panko bread crumbs

bleu cheese mixture for filet

Bleu Cheese Crumbled by Hand

9. Carefully top each filet with a heaping spoonful of the cheese/bread crumb mix. You can gently press the topping into each filet

bleu cheese crusted filet mignon

Layer on the Cheese, Bread Crumb Mixture

10. Place the topped filets into the oven and bake for :06 – :08 mins for Medium-Rare

11. Let rest for :05, then plate and serve

bleu cheese crusted filet mignon dinner

The one with the Stick was for our rarest of rare meat eater friend

Barack Obama Swearing In inauguration

Barack’s 3rd Swearing In Yesterday

Interesting fact about today’s Inauguration…This will be the fourth time that Barack Obama will be sworn in as president. He flubbed the words at the first one and had to have a redo four years ago – could happen to anyone. Then, because the 20th was on a Sunday, he was sworn in yesterday and will be re-sworn in today as part of the inauguration celebration. The only other person to be sworn in 4 times is FDR, because he was elected four times.

There’s a lunch today too. And the Obamas honored more than just healthy foods and Hawaii today. For lunch they served lobster and bison – the presidential seal of approval for all from Maine to Colorado.

But as far as the big dinner tonight, I liked our elegant meal better than the inaugural double fish fest. And, our bananas flambe dessert tops pineapple upside down cake any day.

Well done, my upstate friend. A truly elegant and more than inauguration worthy meal.

NOPCME And Other Vanity Plates: Peas and More Pea Soup

pea soup with bacon and creme fraiche

Pretty Pea Soup – With Homemade Creme Fraiche and Bacon Bits

I sorta love vanity plates. I was driving a ton for a job – with a colleague/friend – up and down the west coast training people to sell fragrance. The countless hours in the car led to some in depth conversations….But, by about week 2, we already knew pretty much everything about each other, each other’s families, lives, histories, first loves, last loves, secret loves etc.

So we needed another way to pass the time. And, we were in California – land of the vanity plate. Coming from NYC and without a car of my own at the time, I hadn’t had a lot of experience with deciphering vanity plates. So, this became one of our favorite driving games. It’s like figuring out what text abbreviations mean now.

On our journey, we ran into some great plates including:

LXN1RLND:  Owned by my friend, Alex, who lived on Wonderland Drive

NA HE DNT: no explanation needed

8MPG: A Hummer owner making no excuses

L8ASUSL: For the terminally tardy

4RCEBWU: For the Star Wars junkie

One of my favorites, though, read simply ‘NOPCME’. Nopcahmah? Nopchemey? We spotted this one in the parking lot of a hotel and struggled to determine what it meant. And, then we found out that the owner was a urologist….And, his license plate advertised his business: No Pee? See Me!

So I thought about making Pea Soup…and realized that I had a ton of other vegetables that needed using. And I made…

Peas and More Pea Soup (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • leeks

    Fresh and Dirty Leeks

    2 slices of Bacon cut into small pieces

  • 2 Cups Chopped Leeks – 2 leeks, whites and light green parts – they’re usually pretty gritty, so wash them well
  • 1 Cup Chopped Onion
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and chopped small
  • 1 Sweet Potato – peeled, chopped and roasted until soft (see below)
  • 2 10oz packages of Birdseye or 365 Brand Frozen Peas – I used a combo of both
  • 5 Cups of Chicken Stock- I use Whole Foods 365 brand, it’s very well priced, rich and delicious
  • 1 TSP fresh Thyme leaves
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • leeks soup pea recipe

    Submerge Leeks to Clean

    1 TSP Pepper

  • Olive Oil
  • A tad of Gindo’s Spice of Life Fresh and Spicy Pepper Sauce – to taste
  • Creme Fraiche for garnish

Sweet Potato Prep:

  • sweet potatoes super food

    Super Sweet Potatoes

    Preheat Oven to 425 degrees

  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining paper – parchment side up
  • Spread the Sweet potato dices in a single layer on the parchment and gently sprinkle with Olive Oil – do not salt!
  • Bake for :08 mins, then toss and bake an additional :07-:08 mins until softened but not browned
  • Remove from the baking sheet and set aside

1. In the bottom of a large heavy bottomed pot (my 6qt Le Creuset, for example), heat 1 TBSP of Olive Oil over medium heat

2. Add the bacon pieces and render until crispy

smithfield farms bacon

BCN: Bacon Render Render Render….Crispy

3. Remove the bacon and set aside

4. To the bacon fat add a TBSP of olive oil and then add the carrots and stir – about :04 mins.

whole foods vegetable soup

KROTS: Carrots First

NOTE: You want to add the carrots first because they take longer to soften

5. Add the leeks and onion to the carrots and cook until softened – about :10-:12 mins stirring occasionally

pea soup recipe with sweet potatoes

OLC: Onions, Leeks and Carrots

6. Add the chicken stock, sweet potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a boil

pea soup chicken stock whole foods

CHXSTK: Chicken Stock

7. Reduce to a simmer and add the frozen peas

365 frozen peas birdseye

+PS: Stir in the Peas

8. Simmer until the peas are softened – about :04 mins

9. Turn the heat off and allow the soup to cool – while it’s cooling, you can wash all of the prep bowls, knives and cutting boards you may have used

10. Set up a Puree Station: In my case…A KitchenAid blender and a second empty heavy bottomed pot on low

all clad puree kitchen aid station

PUR A STN: Puree Station

11. Transfer a few ladles of the soup to the blender and puree

pea soup vegetables

<PUR A: Pre-Puree – Needs to Cool

12. Pour the pureed soup into the second pot and repeat until all of the soup is pureed

365 chicken stock whole foods

> PUR A: Post Puree

pea soup recipe

PP N ACP: Post Puree in Pretty AllClad Pot

13. Serve with a garnish of Creme Fraiche and Crispy Bacon Bits

NOTE: Making your own Creme Fraiche is super easy – mix equal parts heavy cream and sour cream in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave out on a counter over night. In the morning, put it in the fridge and chill for about 4 hours. Done and done.

Years later, I do now have a car…But, no vanity plates. Instead, I allow the DMV to assign me a plate and then I make up a meaning for the letters I get. My first license plates read:

911 URE = Emergency! You Are Excellent.

My next was:

411 XPC = For Your Information. You’re Extra Pretty-Cute.

You can really interpret them anyway you want. Maybe, on my car NOPCME would mean: Numerous Organic Produce Creates More Elegance…in a Peas and More Pea Soup.

Emergency Go-Soup: Cream of Tomato

amore tomato paste cream of tomato soup

Creamy and Delicious

My friends who live in LA sleep at night with an Earthquake Go-Bag under their beds. This includes heavy bottomed shoes (I think because LA gals sleep in stilettos), water, cash, canned food, flashlight etc. Everything they might need to evacuate quickly and survive for a few days following a devastating quake.

henri bendel emergency kit

Henri Bendel-Prepared for the NYC Emergency

Over the holidays at Henri Bendel they were selling NYC emergency kits. Similar to the California quake kit…only very different. Instead of canned beans and a flashlight, it includes a metro card, hair bands, breath freshener, bandages, deodorant towelettes, pain relievers and some other girl stuff…

I’m not really sure what our emergency kit vs the CA one says. Maybe in New York waking up smelly, gently wounded and needing to take the subway constitutes an ’emergency’. It might. It’s no earthquake, but it is an emergency and Henri Bendel has the solution.

For people who cook, that go-bag or emergency kit translates to a go-meal; one that is ready to serve with very little notice…

At about 6pm on New Year’s Eve after a champagne boozy lunch, my friends decided that they would come over to my apartment for dinner. OK. I had :65 minutes to prepare for the arrival of hungry guests.

dinner party main course chicken

Chicken Milanese

I went to my go-to’s and quickly shopped for what I would need to prepare Chicken Milanese, salad, garlic bread, pasta…

And, luckily, I had a go-soup in my fridge. The day before I tweaked an Ina Garten recipe and made…

Cream of Tomato Soup (serves 6-7)

Ingredients

  • whole foods vegetables

    Chopped Veggie Mise En Place

    3 TBSP olive oil

  • 1 Red Onion Diced
  • 2 large Carrots Peeled and Diced
  • 1 Sweet Potato – peeled, diced and roasted
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 6-7 Medium vine-ripened tomatoes Chopped
  • 1 TSP Sugar
  • 1/2 TBSP Amore Tomato Paste
  • Ina garten tomato soup

    365 Brand Chicken Stock

    1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil Leaves

  • 3 Cups Chicken Stock – I used Whole Foods 365 Brand – I know I know, I should make my own…but didn’t
  • 1/2 TBSP Kosher Salt
  • 1 TSP Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium/low heat. I used my Le Creuset 6 qt one – it’s just so pretty and so easy to clean!

2. Add the onions and carrots and saute until very tender – be patient, this takes a while – :15-:17 mins.

– In hindsight, I would have chopped the carrots smaller so that they might soften more quickly.

whole foods vegetables

Patiently Sauteing

3. While that’s happening…Place the diced sweet potatoes on a sheet pan lined with Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper in one layer and sprinkle with olive oil. DO NOT SALT.

sweet potatoes super food

Super Sweet Potatoes

4. Put in the oven and roast for :10mins – Toss and then roast an additional :05-:07 mins until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

whole foods sweet potatoes

Roasted – but not browned

5. Into the Le Creuset – Add the minced garlic to the softened onion and carrots and saute until fragrant – about 1 minute

6. Add the tomatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt and pepper and stir well.

whole foods vegetarian

And the soup becomes soupy

7. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for :40mins – until the tomatoes are very tender

cream of tomato soup

Simmering Simmering Simmering

8. Add the cream to the soup and stir

9. If you have an immersion blender…great…But since I don’t – I set up a blending station by the stove on my counter

NOTE: Ina used her food mill…but, seriously, in my apt – no room for a food mill.

cream of tomato ina garten

Soup Blending Station

10. Most importantly…LET THE SOUP COOL before blending. Cuz like if you put hot soup in a blender and turn it on, it will blow the top off and there will be quasi blended hot soup everywhere…

11. In stages, ladle some of the soup into the blender and puree until smooth.

kitchenAid blender

Pre-Puree

12. Transfer the pureed soup into a second soup pot and keep warm

cream of tomato soup ina garten

A few ladles at a time

13. Repeat until all of the soup is smooth and creamy

cream of tomato soup

Kick it up a bit…

NOTE: If you like it spicy….Add a dash or two of Gindo’s Spice of Life Fresh and Spicy Pepper Sauce.

The soup was a great intro to the Chicken Milanese. And, with my ‘stick your head out the window-view’ of the Central Park fireworks and the impromptu late night dance party…The last-minute dinner party was a success.

I don’t have much of a need for the Henri Bendel NYC Emergency Kit because – and I’m not judging – I don’t tend to wake up slightly wounded, smelly and not at home…but a good batch of emergency go-soup in the fridge does come in handy.