Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Hawaiian Short Ribs

I've made short ribs twice in the past couple weeks.  Both times I made boneless beef short ribs using a lean cut of meat.  The first time, I used Thomas Keller's recipe from Ad Hoc at Home.  I liked the Ad hoc short ribs - they were good and braised nicely using his braised short ribs recipe, but I wasn't fully impressed with the flavors.  I found another recipe for Hawaiian short ribs in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.  It was a very simple recipe that left the short ribs with a great Hawaii inspired flavor, which I adapted for my tastes, using an oven rather than a slow cooker.  I love visiting Hawaii and enjoy most Hawaiian inspired cuisine so this was a new favorite.

 Hawaiian Short Ribs with Pineapple
1 large red onion cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, diced
3 tsp ground or diced fresh ginger
2.5 lbs boneless beef short ribs
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
6 T rice vinegar
1 1/2 T Sriracha hot sauce
3 cups cubed pineapples
scallions, for serving

Place the onions, ginger, garlic, pineapple, soy sauce, hot sauce and rice vinegar in a large stock pit.  Add the ribs on top and cook at 300 for about three hours, or 350 for about three hours, depending on how much of a rush you are in to get dinner on the table.  Serve the ribs and pineapple (which soaks up the flavors wonderfully) and top with scallions. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Homemade Shoyu-Chicken Ramen

Ramen is the new cupcake.  Well maybe not, but at least in New York, gourmet ramen noodle joints are one of the biggest food trends to hit the city, from Chuko in Brooklyn to Momofuku Noodle Bar.  I've heard great things about Ippudo as well.  I thought I'd give homemade ramen a try.  Initially I considered using David Chang's recipe from Momofuku noodle bar, but I don't cook with pork at home.  I've had a great soy broth and also a great miso broth at Chuko, so I figured I could try devising my own soy-chicken based ramen, or Shoyu, as the Japanese refer to the soy flavor.  I came up with my own recipe that was delicious and had a great Japanese flavor.  I love serving the ramen with the hard boiled (or soft boiled if you prefer) eggs as well. Yum!  Instead of serving in regular soup bowls, since I don't have Japanese ramen bowls, I used large cappuccino mugs from Anthropologie - so cute!

Sasha's Shoyu-Chicken Ramen
1 whole chicken, cut up, about four pounds
1/2 cup of low sodium soy sauce
1 large onion, cut into quarters
4 garlic cloves
4 quarts of water
four small pieces of kombu
2 oz fresh ginger, peeled
soba, lo mein or ramen noodles
3 large soft boiled eggs, soaked for an hour in equal parts soy sauce and mirin
three diced scallions

In a large stockpot, combine the water, chicken, onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and kombu.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and simmer, partially covered for two hours to allow the broth to get a delicious flavor, just like if you were making chicken stock for matzo ball soup. The when the two hours are up, strain the broth and reserve it of course.  Prior to simmering, but after boiling, you'll want to skim the chicken fat from the top of the broth so the end result will be clear.  Shred some of the chicken for serving in the ramen soup.

Boil the noodles according to package instructions and add to the broth and chicken.  Hard boil three eggs and soak for an hour in a mixture of mirin and soy sauce, and chop up some scallions for serving.  Optional - add some corn or steamed spinach.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Pecan Tassies

Pecan pie is such a big thing this time of year.  I'm more of a fruit pie person but I still like just a bite of pecan pie.  When I was a kid, my stepdad's mom used to make a cookie called pecan tassies (she also made apricot-coconut tassies as well, another recipe I'm itching to try).  Pecan tassies are like mini pecan pies.  You make little crusts in mini muffin tins or molds and fill them with a filling of your choice, in this case, pecan filling.  Bake them and voila - mini bite size pies.  I can't believe I didn't try this sooner.  The possibilities for tassies are endless, or as endless as pies! This brought back a favorite holiday cookie from my childhood.  I used a recipe from my favorite Baked Explorations cookbook, from that fabulous Brooklyn bakery.  It was delicious - a bite of heaven!  This is a true Southern holiday cookie classic.

Pecan Tassies (recipe from Baked Explorations)
2 sticks unsalted butter
6 oz cream cheese
1 T sugar
2 cups all purpose flour

2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 T vanilla extract
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped coarsely

In the basin of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until lump free.  Add the sugar and beat to combine.  Then add the flour one half cup at a time, beating until a dough is just formed.  You could also do this by hand, like when making an old-style pie.  Pinch off walnut sized pieces of dough and roll into balls.  Set aside.  You will get about 40 balls.  Place each ball in a mini muffin tin and use your fingers to press each ball into the sizes of the muffin mold.  I used silicon muffin tins, which make it much easier to get them out when they are done baking. After making the shells, chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Make the filling by whisking the two eggs and adding the brown sugar until completely combined.  Add the vanilla and salt and whisk again.  Then add 1/2 a cup of the chopped pecans.  Spoon the filling into the tassie shells and top with the remaining half a cup of chopped pecans.

Bake in an oven preheated to 350 for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven to 250 and bake another 10-15 minutes until the filling is set.  Allow to cool for thirty minutes before removing from the silicon mini muffin molds.
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