Month: October 2014

For the love of peonies

It’s the beginning of Fall and I already can’t help but think about Spring.  In my 15 years living in cities (Washington DC and New York,) one of my favorites memories of Spring is walking around my neighborhood and in the distance spotting the amazing pops of fuscia and red and white and pink peonies in buckets outside of corner bodegas.  Once I was closer, the fragrance was intoxicating, better than roses.  Then I had to choose which ones to take home (because they were always pricey–2-3 stems for $15-$20 or so.)  Would I take home the ones with buds that weren’t open yet or ones that were open and full, knowing they might not last too much longer?  When I finally made my choice and brought them home, I cherished them.  So cheerful.  And just like that, they were gone from the bodegas–their season so sadly short. One of the great benefits of living in the suburbs now and with a generous yard and floral beds, I’m able to plant my own peonies.  (Have …

Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta

Ahhh Fall.  Falling leaves, pumpkin-everything, hay rides, jackets, sweaters, the smell of a fireplace.  Fall means cozy to me.  What’s cozier than lovingly braised beef with creamy, warm polenta. Short ribs are quite the thing now–they’re on menu after menu in restaurants.  They can be pricey, but if you have the time, they’re so easy to prepare.  I always look for thick, meaty short ribs–they can be quite fatty and be mostly bone, so be choosy when shopping.  I recommend a nice Whole Foods or even better, a local butcher.  Always trim excess fat off, but always leave some on.  I’ve made braised short ribs a few different ways, and ideally you would make them a day ahead of time and reheat the next day.  The reason being that short ribs give off a lot of greasy fat, so if left to sit in braising liquid overnight in the fridge, the fat rises and firms at the top–making it easy to scoop off the next day.  The braising liquid also has time to thicken up …

Goat Cheese and Beet Plin with Tarragon

  My husband and I recently visited my family in Philadelphia and finally had the opportunity to visit one of Chef Marc Vetri’s restaurants, Osteria.  I have followed Vetri for a few years and own two of his cookbooks: Rustic Italian Food and Il Viaggio Di Vetri.  Everything always looks amazing in his cookbooks and on his menus.  I’m a pasta freak, especially fresh pasta, and I am actually embarrassed to admit how long it took us to finally visit one of his restaurants.  We were not disappointed.  From the bread to the salads to the pasta… the pastaaaaaa.  Glorious.  The most amazing part was that the best thing we ate at that meal was something we didn’t order–it was something that was comped to us (long story as to why.)  It was the beet and goat cheese plin with tarragon. Paper-thin pasta sheets, creamy beet filling, sweet butter sauce, salty cheese all topped with tarragon–a spice I never would have thought of–all together, heaven.  “Plin” meaning a “pinch” are the teeniest agnolotti/ravioli you can …