Gochujang Spare Ribs

Gochujang Spare RibsResolutions
I have never really been a New Year resolution kind of gal. Sure, there have been times where I have decided to make some changes in the year to come. But, I wouldn’t call that a resolution per se. That being said, I have a plan for the new year.

Obviously, I like to eat. There are plenty of dishes that I enjoy but have never thought to try to prepare myself. So, in the new year, I’ve decided to challenge myself to navigate uncharted waters.

During the month of December, I started collecting recipes and acquiring cookbooks related to cuisines and flavors that I liked but wasn’t totally familiar with. The first of these would be the flavors of Korea. Anyone who is interested in food and food trends would know that Korean food has exploded in popularity. Gochujang seems to be everywhere and in everything but is it more than just a spicy sauce? This is what I am looking forward to finding out.

My first foray into this world last week was a recipe that was not a traditional recipe but it was darn tasty none the less. The gochujang ribs recipe listed below is very approachable for those who aren’t ready for the deep dive into Korean cuisine. Full disclosure, I didn’t use baby back ribs as directed in the original recipe. I used regular pork spare ribs out of personal preference. I think they taste better and, because they have more fat content, they don’t dry out. Either choice works well.

My plan is to take all of you on this journey with me over the next few weeks. Hopefully, I can inspire you to take up a challenge of your own or at the very least, give something different to try for dinner.

Gochujang Spare Ribs recipe
Adapted from 177 Milk Street
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…

Canal House Style Chicken Thighs with Lemon

Canal House Style Chicken Thighs with LemonCookin’ Up Christmas
I think it’s safe to say that we all have all been doing more cooking than ever this year. Some of it born out of necessity and some of it just out of mind-numbing boredom. On the positive side, maybe you learned a new skill. Or, even better, found a new passion for preparing your own food. To do it right though, you need the right tools.

I have always loved to cook—and I have an embarrassing collection of tools in which I create my favorite flavors. However, there are certain pieces that I use day in and day out. The workhorses if you will. These are my “stuck on a desert island” tools and there are a variety. But, if I had to choose the single most useful thing I have in my cooking arsenal it would be my 12-inch cast iron skillet.

I am fortunate to have collected a number of Le Creuset enameled pieces over the years. Their Dutch ovens are hands down the best investment you can make. But, that’s the thing, they are a rather expensive investment.

My Lodge cast iron skillet however is $25 at Target for the 12-inch. (Or you can check out the Lodge Cast Iron website for the whole line.) If you are looking for the perfect gift for someone who has just discovered cooking, this is the one. And, even better, the price is right. What if your recipient already has one? It’s never a bad idea to have two of the same or another one in a different size.

Cast iron skillets heat evenly and they hold the heat well. You can take the skillet from the stove top to the oven and not have to worry about ruining the pan. They are basically nonstick once you get a good “season” on it. They last forever if you take care of them correctly . More than any other benefit I have found is that you get much better browning with a cast iron pan than with any other.

One of my favorite recipes I use my skillet for is this one for These Canal House Style Chicken Thighs. If you already have a cast iron pan, pull it out and make this for dinner tonight. I promise it will become your new favorite. I admit I leave the preserved lemon out more often than not. Sometimes less is more. The real star of this dish is the crispy skin.

If you like the idea of cast iron as a gift, include a card with this recipe on the pan and maybe a few other favorite recipes for your recipient to try out.

Canal House Style Chicken Thighs with Lemon
Recipe adapted from Food 52 Read more…

Short Ribs in Red Wine Sauce

Short Ribs in Red Wine SauceOf Sauce and Sorrow
About a week or so ago I made my favorite pasta sauce. The weather has actually been cooler than normal thanks, sadly, to all of the smoke and ash in the air. The drop in temp put me in to full-on fall cooking mode. So, I got out my slow cooker and went to work.

I was excited to make this sauce because I don’t make it very often—and it is truly one of my most favorite dinners. The main component is short ribs, which I love but can’t eat all that often. (If I would like to live long and prosper.) That being said, the recipe makes a lot, even for my family of five. So, we eat the short ribs with the sauce for Sunday dinner. And, then I freeze the rest of the leftover sauce to be used, over rigatoni or whatever boxed pasta I have in the pantry, for a mid-week meal somewhere on down the road. It’s a win-win. Until it’s not…

I woke up that Sunday morning looking forward to a great meal that had my mouth watering all day long. My daughter made some beautiful fresh pappardelle pasta and left it out to dry while the short ribs bubbled away in the crock pot. When everything was done we feasted on a rich and meaty short rib pasta dinner that was everything I had anticipated and hoped for. After dinner, we did the dishes that could be done and left the others to be loaded in the dishwasher the next morning. Just like normal.

The next morning when my alarm went off, I had this sense that something wasn’t right. Like I had forgotten something, but I couldn’t figure it out. I went ahead with my morning routine getting ready to go to work and when I emerged from my bedroom into the kitchen I realized what the problem was. In the chaos of cleaning the kitchen, we had set the slow cooker off to the side so the sauce could cool before I put it in containers and threw it in the freezer. You know the phrase out of site out of mind? Turns out I left the sauce out uncovered overnight. I was distraught. My husband thought someone died—though he was equally despondent when he realized we were going to have to throw out all the leftovers.

Here’s the thing. I am fairly militant about food temps and storage. I tend to be overly conservative when it comes to potential for food poisoning. I err on the side of caution. Sometimes to a fault. Though I do invoke the 5 second rule on occasion, there was no way I was going to be okay with keeping a meat-based pasta sauce that had been left out uncovered for 12 hours. It killed me to toss it. I am still emotional about it…which probably says more about my mental health during these wacky times than anything else. I mean it is only pasta sauce. But it was a spot of happy excitement during a time where bad news seems to be the norm. And, then that got 2020-ed as well. Sigh.

Here is the recipe for the sauce. It is one that I have posted before because, as I said, it’s a favorite and I highly recommend you give it a try. Just don’t forget to put it away…

Short Ribs in Red Wine Sauce
Adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 12 cups Read more…

Spicy Sweet Sheet Pan Chicken

Spicy Sweet Sheet Pan ChickenFall Into a New Year
I did not grow up in a Jewish household, but I have always been fascinated by the connection of food to the traditions and ceremonies of the Jewish faith. The fact that I am drawn to the same foods that are typically found in Jewish kitchens is why I found myself thumbing through recently posted Rosh Hashanah recipes looking for something new.

I consider Rosh Hashanah to be one of the first signs of Fall, at least here in California where we don’t get the temperature drop or the obvious changing of the leaves as in other places. The food for the Jewish New Year is filled with all things fall. Apples, pomegranates, and pumpkins abound for the Rosh Hashanah feast. The only problem, for me at least, is that the tie to traditional ingredients can make it difficult to find a dish that is new and interesting.

Serving a whole fish is as traditional as it gets and I found plenty of recipes for that. But, I also found myself most intrigued by the chicken recipes, probably because I don’t think of chicken as a celebratory ingredient. Chicken is a mid-week work horse for me not the centerpiece of a feast. The chicken I made over the weekend might change my mind even though it’s as easy to throw together as any Wednesday night dinner. Even better, it actually qualifies as a sheet pan recipe so clean up is a breeze.

The original recipe called for dates, but I swapped them out for prunes—mainly because I find dates to be too sweet—and I love any opportunity to throw prunes into a recipe. Feel free to try it either way. I served this with garlic mashed potatoes, but it would be equally tasty with some fluffy, fresh couscous.

Spicy Sweet Sheet Pan Chicken
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…