Category: Food

  • Chinese-style beef short ribs from the CSA with braised oyster mushrooms

    Chinese-style beef short ribs from the CSA with braised oyster mushrooms

    Chinese-style beef short ribs from the CSA with braised oyster mushrooms

    This meat from Herondale Farm is really incredible stuff. Worth it. I also had a package of oyster mushrooms, so I thought I’d add them in as well. I make most Chinese food by feel/taste and not recipe, but here’s approximately what this was. It should serve 4 people, though I could see two very hungry people eating the whole thing.


    • 3 pounds beef short ribs (should be about 8 3-inch pieces)
    • Half a small onion
    • Two cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
    • One inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
    • 2T Soy sauce
    • 2T Black/dark soy sauce
    • 1T Shaoxing cooking wine
    • 2T rock sugar (can substitute turbinado or white sugar with some brown sugar, we just tend to use rock sugar in Chinese food so I always have it on hand)
    • One star anise
    • 1 tsp five spice powder
    • Dash of white pepper (optional)
    • Dash of chili powder (omit if you don’t like spicy food)
    • Dash of ground Szechuan peppercorns (omit if you don’t like this particular flavor, though it adds a nice bright flavor on top of the numbing kick)
    • Oyster mushrooms, sliced (I used about 3/4 lb.)


    1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
    2. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat some oil in a Dutch oven (or similar) over medium-high heat. Brown short ribs on all sides (can skip the bone ends), a couple minutes per side. Finish with the long side closest to the bone so that’s on the bottom during braising.
    3. Add 2 cups of water and all of the rest of the ingredients except the white pepper, chili powder, and Szechuan pepper to the pan and bring to a simmer, which should be very quickly. I also left out some of the sugar so I could add it to taste later. You can taste the liquid now, but note that it will take on the flavor of the meat and reduce significantly, so don’t worry about salt levels.
    4. Cover and transfer to the oven. Let cook for 3-4 hours, or until the meat is very tender. It might come off the bone, which is fine.
    5. Remove the meat from the liquid and tent with foil. Strain and de-fat the liquid (I use a separator, but you can skim or whatever).
    6. Heat the pan (don’t clean it) over medium heat and saute the mushrooms in a little more oil until soft, scraping down the sides and adding a little water as needed. Add the cooking liquid back in along with the white pepper, chili powder, and Szechuan pepper, and simmer until thickened and mushrooms take on that braised feel, about 5-10 minutes. Taste as the liquid is reducing and add seasoning as needed, whether that’s sugar for a little more sweetness, soy sauce for savory, or water if it’s too aggressive.
    7. Pour the mushrooms and sauce over the short ribs and serve with rice. A green veggie is a good accompaniment, but not something heavy like Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce – more like bok choy or pea shoots (even better) sauteed with just a little salt and this seasoning stuff we use (it’s almost like bouillon in a crystallized pellet form; I’ll try to find out what it is exactly).
  • CSA week 2 start: whole kohlrabi and garlic scape purée.

    CSA week 2 start: whole kohlrabi and garlic scape purée.

    CSA week 2 start: whole kohlrabi and garlic scape purée.

    This week’s CSA haul included whole kohlrabi and garlic scapes, neither of which I’ve ever dealt with. Another member mentioned that she’s only ever enjoyed kohlrabi in a purée, which sounded like a good way to work out the Vitamix. I found this recipe from Farmgirl Fare, which looked great – can never go wrong with mushrooms – and thought I’d just substitute in some garlic scapes for the garlic itself. I think it ended up being a great idea – there was a little added grassy flavor that balanced really well, and they gave the purée a lovely green color where otherwise it would probably have been more meh-brown. We enjoyed this as our meal, with some garlic croutons added for texture. The Vitamix whipped it to this incredible creamy mousse texture, cementing its place as a worthy purchase. Would definitely make this dish again, though perhaps as a starter or side most of the time.

    I’m also apparently now a core team member of said CSA, doing “web stuff” because web developers never learn their lessons.

  • Recipe: Dumpling/Wonton Filling

    Wontons and dumplings are two different things. Wonton wrappers are square and thin, whereas dumpling wrappers are round and thicker. Wontons are usually boiled, while dumplings are boiled, pan-fried, or even steamed. But before all of that, I usually make the same filling for both. Everybody has their own filling recipe, but in case you’re interested in mine, here it is. Scale it up or down as you’d like – I usually wrap hundreds and freeze them individually on wax paper-lined racks before bagging them up for storage in the freezer.


  • Crispy chicken thighs with snow peas

    Crispy chicken thighs with snow peas



  • Cooking project: ATK’s Cooking for Two 2011

    After a rough move and transition, I’m easing back into cooking. We recently got the special issue of America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two 2011 and were intrigued enough by the whole thing to set a goal of trying to make everything within, including the sides and desserts. There seems to also be a full book, which I may or may not eventually get. In any case, I’m also going to set a goal of taking a picture of each completed recipe or some part of it with my snazzy new phone and blog it, along with any thoughts on the recipe.

    Thoughts so far (after two meals):

    • It’s really nice to be making one-off meals, so if we hate it we don’t have piles of leftovers to deal with. We also really enjoy the variety and keeping the grocery bill low.
    • The recipes seem to make a pretty hefty amount for two. We don’t eat very much at once most of the time, so the meals feel large.
    • This is not meant to be simple, quick, or even necessarily healthy cooking. Nothing looks particularly unhealthy and being experienced and organized in the kitchen helps a lot.
    • The usual ATK/Cook’s Illustrated precision and science apply, so some procedures will sound overwrought but make a huge difference. Read the editorial AND recipe ahead of time, always always always.