Thursday, January 28, 2010

Short Ribs Briased in Chimay Ale

Most of the time, I think New York City has a perfect climate. We have four distinct seasons,

With days like last Wednesday - 37 degrees with lots of sun and a bright blue sky,

when all you need to keep toasty and warm outside is to don a down coat, woolen hat, lined gloves, and leather boots - even winter is perfect. And when the temperature drops down to single digits and turns bitterly cold, as it did two weeks ago, there are compensations, such as, its being the perfect weather for

Short Ribs Braised in Chimay Ale.

I was going upstate for the weekend and thinking of making something comforting like

Beef Brisket

Beef Stew

because the temperature there had dropped below zero, when I got the following chat from Christopher.

Run, don't walk, to your bookshelf and then kitchen and make the Zuni Short Ribs Braised in Chimay Ale. Unbelievable! A wonderful winter weekend meal...

That's advice I wasn't about to ignore.

On my way out of town, I stopped at the Harlem Fairway where I was faced with three different types of Chimay Ale and didn't know which one to get so I called my office and asked someone to check it out in the copy of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook that I keep there. The picture of the dish in the book shows Chimay Rouge so that's what I got.

Please note that when I was getting ready to cook with it, I removed the wire cage and started to open the bottle, BOOM. It popped right off, so be careful not to leave it unattended and be sure not to aim the bottle in anyone's direction when you remove the cage.

Since my freezer was stocked with  Zuni chicken stock,

I left the Fairway parking lot thinking I was all set.

Apparently, there are three ways short ribs are cut,



and Zuni shows a picture of the ones the grocery store down the street calls flanken.


But I didn't know that until I got home with my groceries from Fairway and realized I had the wrong ones (Two instead of Three). Since they were meat from the same part of the animal - just cut across the bones a different way - I went ahead with the recipe.

The first thing I did was to cut the fat off the short ribs, following Judy Rodgers' admonition to leave the silverskin behind because it helps keep the meat succulent and rendered it according to Carol's instructions at Alinea at Home.

Why would I do such a thing?

My grandfather in New York was a butcher, and the beef cuts he preferred to roast were eye round and rump, not rib. Consequently, I don't have much of a taste for prime rib so I never have sizzling fat drippings from my roasts. Now I have a little jar of perfectly rendered beef fat stashed in the freezer to make a proper Yorkshire pudding the next time I make a roast beef dinner!

Then because I didn't have two days to salt the meat in advance, which Judy Rodgers recommends, I salted the short ribs and left them at room temperature for about an hour so they wouldn't be cold when I started to cook them. Other than that, I followed the recipe to the letter.

When it came out of the oven, the braise smelled better than the best French onion soup I ever ate, delicious and surprisingly rich. I served it with buttered, not browned, spaetzle, green beans, and a tart escarole salad, which was a good foil for the braised meat and sweet onions. I agreed with Judy Rodgers' description of the Chimay Ale as having "a delicate sweetness, a touch of clove flavor, and only the faintest note of bitterness." It was obviously a good choice of what to drink with the meal in the middle of winter, and, after using it to cook with, I had enough of it left in the bottle for two small glasses.

It was the perfect meal for a cold winter's day,


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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs

I live in New York City. Good bread is one block away. GREAT bread is five blocks away. The place where I get sandwiches for lunch uses bread from Jim Lahey's Sullivan Street Bakery. For goodness sake, I can GO to Sullivan Street Bakery.

On my way out of town on Friday nights, I stop at the 131st Street Fairway to shop. I usually buy a loaf of Bread Alone's Whole Grain Health Bread made with organic ingredients, and I eat a piece as part of Sunday morning breakfast - two slices streaky bacon, one poached egg, and a slice of toast

buttered and spread with Swedish orange and elderflower marmalade from Ikea.

So in 2006 when Mark Bittman wrote his article in the New York Times about Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread, I read it, emailed it to myself, and put it in my Recipes to Try folder. I wanted to make it, but it wasn't urgent. It was just there waiting for when I got around to it.

What was I thinking?

That is a picture of the loaf of bread I made last Sunday. Did you hear me? A loaf of bread I made following Jim Lahey's specific instructions in My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method.

It's especially thrilling because not only was it fantastic, now when I'm in the country for more than three days, I don't have to rely on bread I have stowed away in the freezer. In about one minute flat, I can put together ingredients that will rise for 12 to 18 hours in a bowl, then be turned onto a towel to rise for two hours more,

get plopped in the oven, and 45 minutes later emerge as a glorious golden/brown loaf with a serious crust.

When I tasted the first piece of my own bread, I knew The Zuni Cafe Cookbook recipe Kate at Savour-Fare turned me on to would be my next recipe.

And it was.

Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs

I gilded the lily and put the egg with the bread crumbs over Spaghettini Aglio Olio. Since the linguine had garlic and parsley in it, I didn't use the optional thyme, marjoram, or rosemary. For the same reason, I also eliminated the balsamic vinegar step, but it sure does sound good.

An Egg Fried in Bread Crumbs over Spaghettini Aglio Olio with Escarole Salad

Silvano Slept Through the Whole Thing
February 27, 2018

I don't live in NYC anymore, and I make Jim Lahey's Basic No-Knead Bread from My Bread  on a regular basis. He  started a bread revolution with that book, inspiring a lot of home cooks to become regular, dedicated bread bakers. 

I have learned how to change the size of the bread I am making by calculating any bread recipe starting with flour as 100 percent. 

In the case of Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread, this means salt is 2 per cent, instant yeast is .25 per cent, and cool water is 75%. I usually make a Jim Lahey loaf using 600 g bread flour, 12 or 13 g kosher salt, 1.5 g yeast, and 450 g water to bake in an Emile Henry pot called The Long Baker, which I got from King Arthur Flour.

When I don't have the time to let the Lahey bread rise for 12 to 18 hours, I use a recipe for sandwich bread from FOOD52 for their version of No-Knead Sandwich Bread, which I like very much. When I use that recipe in The Long Baker, my adaptation is 267 g bread flour, 266 grams all-purpose flour, 9 grams kosher salt, 5 grams instant yeast, and 437 grams of cool water.

I use King Arthur Organic Flours.

I tried using an electric knife to slice bread, but I found that with a crusty loaf, I like to slice loaves by hand using a Mercer Culinary Millennia 10-inch Wide Bread knife, which was at the top of the pack when Cook's Illustrated tested serrated knifes in July of 2016.  

Jim Lahey Bread Baked in The Long Baker

FOOD52 No-Knead Sandwich Bread Baked in The Long Baker
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Best Turkey

Although I love Thanksgiving, the holiday, I am not equally enamored of the traditional feast. Turkey once a year is too much turkey for me. In the oh-so-many years since I have been keeping my own house, I can count - not quite on ten fingers, but almost - the number of Thanksgiving turkeys I've actually cooked.

My favorite Thanksgiving dinner was in 2004, the year I made Shrimp Creole.

My right hand was in a cast that year because I had broken my wrist mountain biking. There was no way I could have carried a turkey home, let alone gotten one in and out of the oven. But I could stir roux and peel shrimp, and with the one exception of having to find a store that was open on Thanksgiving morning so I could buy an electric can opener (since I hadn't figured out that you can't use a regular can opener with a broken wrist - duh), the meal went off without a hitch.

But last year I won a free-range turkey from my market and decided to try my luck with it. Since it was delicious, I decided I would do it again.

Except this year I would make my turkey the same way I make my chicken. The Zuni way.

As it turned out, I wasn't the only one. Kate over at Savour-Fare had the same idea. I always enjoy reading her posts, but when she posted about making cannoli cream as a topping for fruit from Richard Sax's book, Classic Home Desserts, and pointed out that she had never liked cannolis until she had one at Rocco's on Bleecker Street, my Rocco's on Bleecker Street, I knew she was a girl after my own heart.  And it turns out Russ Parsons had the idea before I did, and it's now a Genius Recipe at FOOD52 called The Judy Bird.

I got a 13 pound free-range turkey, washed it, dried it, and salted it all over with Kosher salt. I put it breast-side down on a rack in the refrigerator, turning it over, breast side up, after a day and a half, for a total resting time of 3 days.

We left the City early Wednesday morning with the dry-brining turkey in a cooler and stopped at Fairway to get everything else, which included clams to make pasta for dinner that night.

Thanksgiving morning dawned warm and sunny. It was the first Thanksgiving that I woke up in the country to green grass with no frost on the ground.

There was still parsley in the garden.

Good news for cooks; bad news for Jiminy Peak skiers.

Late that morning I put fresh sage and thyme under the turkey's skin since those are the herbs I use in my dressing and let the bird come to room temperature. I don't have a cast-iron skillet large enough to hold a 13-pound bird, so I used the bottom of my All-Clad 13-inch braiser.

I heated the pan on top of the stove, then rubbed a little canola oil on the bottom of the pan with a paper towel, and let that heat up too. I put the turkey in the pan breast-side up and slipped it into a preheated 450-degree oven and cooked it for 55 minutes. Then I took the pan out of the oven and flipped the turkey over, breast-side down, cooking it that way for 35 minutes. Finally I flipped it right side up again and cooked it for 20 minutes more. Using Kate's suggested cooking time of 8 minutes per pound, the total cooking time was 1 hour and 45 minutes.

The turkey was beautiful, fragrant, and brown. I let it rest for 30 minutes before I carved it into slices. I wasn't planning on making gravy, but the unexpected bonus was that there were abundant juices from the turkey in the pan. I heated them on top of the stove and whisked in a slurry made from Wondra flour, a little water, and some of the juices to temper it. It didn't need any salt, and the color was rich even after the slurry was added. I talked Walter into continuing to whisk it with this,

which I got at E.Dehillerin when I was in Paris, while I got the rest of the meal together.

Side dishes were cold broccoli dressed with a lemon/olive oil dressing, sweet potatoes pureed with maple syrup, Brussels sprouts braised with heavy cream from Molly at Orangette, and dressing made with country bread, sausage, fennel, leeks, shallots, carrots, celery, mushrooms, golden raisins, sage, and thyme, which I call Tom's Dressing because Walter's brother-in-law Tom makes it, but it's really  a recipe from Tom Colicchio that the NYTimes published on November 19, 2003.

Dessert was a Marion Cunningham recipe for spicy gingerbread and vanilla ice cream,

the perfect ending to this meal - better than pumpkin or pecan pie in my book any day.

I was so busy getting my meal on the table that I didn't snap pictures as I went along. But you can see my leftovers.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

P.S. I'm making Shrimp Creole for dinner tonight.

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Sylvano in the City

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Raffle Winner

Good Friday morning.

The winner of the raffle and the soon-to-be owner of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook is


So, Katty, please send an email to me at and let me know to whom and where I should have the book sent. I'm planning on ordering it directly from Amazon, so a street address rather than a post office box is better for U.P.S.; however, since Amazon also uses the USPS, I think a post office box will do too.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do. I know you will enjoy the Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad,

the Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, as well as steamed potatoes with Four-Minute Egg Gribiche (to name a few).

Happy cooking and good eating.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Potatoes Gribiche and a Raffle

A Zuni Extra

Since I wrote my first Zuni post last June, I thought it would be a good time to raffle off a copy of the book. It's a wonderful book, well worth having in your library to cook from, to read cover-to-cover for pleasure, and/or to keep on your nightstand to peruse at will.

So if your interested, just post a comment saying you want to be included, and on Friday, July tenth, at 7:00 a.m. EST, I'll choose one of you at random and post the winner. The winner can email me his or her mailing address, and I'll send the book right away.

Potatoes Gribiche

This wasn't going to be my next post. But it is summer - even here in New York, where it was s-l-o-w to arrive - and July Fourth is rapidly approaching.

July Fourth always makes me think about........potato salad.

The first July Fourth after I met Carolyn, I had been cooking enthusiastically on a daily basis for ten years. So when Carolyn suggested we have a July Fourth picnic at her beautiful house in Buckhead, with a large back porch overlooking a lush and very private garden, it seemed like the best way to spend the day.

When I asked Carolyn what I could make, she casually said, "Oh, you can make potato salad."

Fine, no problem was my first thought. It didn't even occur to me that - for some inexplicable reason - I had never made potato salad before. I pulled out a cookbook - probably Joy or Fanny Farmer - found a recipe that sounded good, and made it. According to the recipe I boiled the potatoes and then peeled them while they were too hot to handle. It was a HUGE pain; I hated making it. But the salad was delicious, and everyone ate it with gusto. I didn't even mind the little smile (was it a smirk?) Carolyn gave me when I handed her the bowl of potato salad and said, "Thanks. Next time you can make potato salad."

However, as good as it was, I never made it again. Anytime I was called on to bring something like it to a party or picnic or pot luck, I made The Store Ziti Salad. And if I felt like I needed a potato salad, I left the skins on the potatoes and made it European-style with oil and vinegar, hold the mayo. (Ina Garten has a good one in The Barefoot Contessa called French Potato Salad.)

When I made Four Minute Sauce Gribiche from Zuni, I wasn't thinking about potatoes. I was thinking about asparagus. It was spring; asparagus were everywhere - even in my own garden. So it seemed like a natural recipe to choose at that particular time.

I made the sauce, and served it on top of cold asparagus. It was good. Then I took a tip from Molly and used it to dress the leftover steamed potatoes before I put them in the refrigerator. Voila; the next day I had the best, THE BEST, potato salad I had ever eaten. I knew I had a keeper.

So I made it again just for potatoes, and I was right. They were fabulous - an instant addition to my repertoire.

This time I didn't have chervil so I did without it, and I used tarragon in place of the dill I used the first time.

I liked it, but then I am a big fan of licorice, so tarragon was a good choice for me. The dill was delicious too, so mess around with all your favorite herbs to see what combination you like best and consider what herbs go nicely with the other dishes on your menu.

I served the potato salad with a crisp rotisseried chicken and a mango pineapple salsa I loosely adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook. (In that incarnation it is made with papaya, but I'll take mango over papaya any day of the week.)

There are a few requirements for this potato salad.

(1) Steam the potatoes rather than boiling them. This way they won't be waterlogged. Checking with a cake tester will let you know when they have reached the right consistency.

(2) This is important. Let the potatoes cool before adding the Sauce Gribiche so they won't absorb too much of the sauce and so they won't thin the sauce out. You want the sauce to maintain its mayonnaise-like consistency.

(3) Chill the dish completely before serving, preferably overnight.

(4) Taste right before serving to make sure it has enough salt.

If you're having a picnic on July Fourth, call me. I'll bring the potato salad.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Four-Minute Egg Gribiche

It didn’t seem like it would ever happen, but spring finally did arrive. Not in a big, exploding way. You didn’t exactly hear the screen door slam. It sort of sneaked through the back door.

All through March and April we had lots of rain

and unseasonably cold weather, followed by an occasional day so hot you would think you flew forward to the end of June, only to get wet and cold again by the next morning. Last week – last week – the Yankees radio announcer said she was wearing her winter down parka at the new stadium, and she still felt cold.

There were, of course, intermittent signs that spring might really appear. The Park Avenue tulips were as beautiful as ever

- except this year they were all deadheaded before the weather matched their cheery hue.

Until Mother's Day there was not a single day when it would have been appropriate to get a spring coat out of the closet. Not even my navy coat, very plain – sleek really – with no collar and brass buttons right down the front.

I’m always happy to reacquaint myself with that coat, but never was I as anxious to get it out as I was this year. Jane and Marsha got me a candy-colored pink beret at the Sunday organic market on Boulevard Raspail when they were in Paris, and it will be perfect with that coat.

And then at last, even though it was very windy, on May tenth the sky was almost cloudless and very, very blue. It didn’t seem like summer, and it didn’t seem like winter, and, thank goodness, it didn’t even seem like fall. Spring was here. Spring was really here.

And with spring, with its flowers – tulips and daffodils, hyacinths, lilacs and hydrangeas -

comes spring food: lamb, soft-shell crabs, salmon, and, best of all, bright green asparagus. We didn’t get to go to the farm to eat our own asparagus; we had to stay in town to work. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t get local asparagus from the farmer’s market and eat asparagus hours (instead of minutes) after being picked.
When I read Molly’s post I knew she was on to something. I didn’t have to look any further for my next Zuni recipe. There it was staring me right in the face.

Four-Minute Egg Gribiche
Sauces & Relishes, Page 291

I served this on cold asparagus, and it was certainly good.

But - as Molly said - it really shines mixed with steamed new red potatoes, quartered and chilled overnight. (I'm sorry, but the next night we ate those potatoes so quickly I didn't even think about getting a picture.) It will be my go-to recipe for potato salad from now on.

Obviously The Zuni Cafe Cookbook is good for more than reading and cooking.