Category Archives: Meat

passover seder

i hosted a passover seder for 17 people in my apartment this past tuesday and it was amazing! great food, friends and a great seder. for many who attended, it was their first seder, and they loved learning about the various symbols and traditions of the holiday. The meal was generously funded through Birthright NEXT, an organization that supports alumni of Birthright.


i spent a long time planning the menu, and used a pinterest board to gather ideas. this is what i landed on:IMG_6204

this was the first year i’ve done passover away from home, so i didn’t have all of the necessary equipment, such as a seder plate. copying an idea i found on pinterest, i made my chalkboard cheeseboard into a seder plate!IMG_6206IMG_0007

the highlight of the menu for me was the homemade matzo. i’ve spent my entire life eating prepackaged matzo which tastes like cardboard. this homemade matzo is quick and easy to make, and tastes delicious! my roommates want me to make it year round. IMG_6065IMG_6066IMG_6078IMG_6081IMG_6106IMG_6082

i also started the meal with a haroset recipe from wolfgang puck and matzo ball soup from smitten kitchen, both of which were delicious. IMG_0014


and now for the main course…




IMG_0015the fan favorite main dish was the chicken marbella. i debated whether i needed to make a chicken in addition to the brisket, but i decided to go for it and i’m so glad i did! this may be the best chicken i’ve ever had. the prunes and apricots went well with the dried fruit in many of the other dishes. IMG_0006

for the brisket i went with the classic smitten kitchen recipe. my 12 lb brisket was so massive that i had to do half in the slow cooker and the other half in the oven. the slow cooker definitely won. the meat was tender and juicy and fell apart more easily. i was torn between doing brisket or short ribs, and i think i would do short ribs if i could do it again because they’re a bit easier to make and the recipe is more foolproof, meaning you can slightly over/under cook them and noboby will know.

for sides i went with a quinoa risotto recipes i’ve been making for years and tzimmes, a classic jewish dish of sweet potato and carrots with prunes. IMG_0020

for dessert, i made three of my flourless favorites:

pavlova, which is a gorgeous light and fluffy meringue with a crunchy exterior and soft marshmallow like interior topped with fresh whipped cream and berries. IMG_6207haroset truffles, which are an alternative version to the classic haroset with apples posted above. these are a mix of dates, apricots, pistachios and almonds, and rolled in coconut.  I ate all of these before i had a chance to take a picture :(

and last but certainly not least, chocolate toffee matzo, an ungodly mix of butter and sugar, chocolate and toppings. I did toasted almonds, sea salt and cystallized ginger. IMG_0001 IMG_0002 IMG_0003 IMG_0004 IMG_0005

passover is one of my favorite jewish holidays, and as you can tell, i went all out this year! even if you’re not jewish you will still enjoy these recipes (especially the chocolate matzo above).

bon appetit!

short ribs two ways

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I can’t get enough of short ribs.

If I see them on a menu, I always order them. And for many years, that was the extent of my short rib relationship.

That all changed this year when I started cooking my way through the Smitten Kitchen and Mad Hungry cookbooks, and both had short rib recipes that I had to try my hand at immediately.

Disclaimer: The pictures here are incomplete, because I ate the finished product before I had the chance to snap some. I promise that I’ll make these again (no hardship there) and fill them in later!

First up, Smitten Kitchen’s balsamic and beer braised short ribs. These will knock your socks off. Couldn’t be a more delicious and more perfect food to serve at your next dinner party. The marinade that you reduce into a thick glaze is addicting… 

5 lbs. bone-in flanken cut short ribs, at room temperature, trimmed of excess fat (i used boneless because that’s what i could find, and loved it)
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 tbs tomato paste
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 bottles (24 oz. total) dark beer, such as black lager
2 to 3 cups beef stock (i didn’t end up needing this)

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Season the short ribs generously on all sides with salt and pepper. IMG_4577

Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat, and add olive oil to coat the bottom. Once the oil is hot, brown the short ribs on all sides, in batches. Transfer the browned ribs to a plate.IMG_4578IMG_4580

Once all the ribs are browned, turn your heat down to medium-high and pour off all but one tablespoon of fat. Add the onion, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until softened and lightly brown, about 10 minutes. IMG_4581

Add the garlic cloves and saute 3 more minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another couple of minutes, until thickened. Now add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and beer, scraping all the yummy bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.IMG_4582
Return the browned ribs to the pot; try to place them in meatiest sides down. If not all will fit this way, put some in standing on their sides with the bones facing vertical. Add enough stock just to cover the ribs. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then turn off heat. Cover the pot tightly with foil, then with the pot’s lid.
Bake for 3 hours, or until the meat can easily be pierced with a knife, or pieces can be torn back with a fork. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes, uncovered. Skim as much fat as possible off the top. (Note: I let them cool slightly and put them in the fridge overnight. Before continuing, just warm them on the stove).

Preheat your oven to 420 F. Remove ribs from the braise and spread them out on a baking sheet (I greased mine with cooking spray first). Roast for 15 minutes, or until the edges start to crisp. Meanwhile, strain the braising liquid into a saucepan and simmer it over high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, longer if you want a thicker glaze.

To serve, place a mound of parsnip puree on your plate, then top with 1-2 short ribs and ladle with sauce. When I made these for a dinner party, I used the parsnip puree, however in the picture below I served them with polenta which was delicious too.



the meat is so moist and tender it literally falls apart

Next up are Mad Hungry’s oven braised red wine and soy sauce short ribs. These are much simpler and less hands-on to prepare because you marinate and cook the ribs in the same baking dish, and you don’t have to brown the ribs before braising!

1 onion, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 leek, cleaned and finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 pounds short ribs
2 to 3 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters (optional)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients except the meat and potatoes in a 9- x 15-inch roasting pan.IMG_5200

Add the ribs and rub all over with the marinade. The meat should fit comfortably in a single layer in the pan. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to overnight. Occasionally turn the meat over in the marinade. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Braise the short ribs for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, reducing the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit after an hour. Turn the ribs over. Add the potatoes in the last 40 minutes of cooking. Add water to the pan if too much liquid evaporates. You want to end up with glistening ribs in a reduced glaze.

[I don’t currently have any pictures of the finished product, but I promise I’ll take some the next time I make them!]

Conclusion: Both of these recipes are top notch. The Smitten Kitchen one is a bit more refined and the presentation is cleaner, so I’d make those if you’re looking to impress dinner guests. I made them for a dinner party of 20 and they were a hit. The Mad Hungry ones are much more laid back and perfect for a weeknight meal as long as you can be near the stove for 3 hours. Short ribs require little hand holding and are very forgiving because they’re hard to overcook. Bottom line, these will be your best friend in the kitchen.