Friday, August 31, 2007

Chianti Braised Beef Short Ribs

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Chianti Braised Beef Short Ribs with Turnip Puree

I've been watching a turnip grow in our garden over the summer, wondering when it would be ready to harvest. A few weeks ago it started to overtake everything planted within its leafy expanse; I figured it was time to pluck the enormous root vegetable.

The next question was, what to do with it. Our garden also happened to be overrun with basil, and I love making basil oil, both for its wonderful taste, and for the way it looks when it is drizzled across a white plate. With that in mind, I decided to puree the turnip; braised short ribs would hold their own just fine against the edgy turnip puree. (Especially if they were braised in a flavorful red wine.)

Normally, I wouldn't recommend firing up the stove for the 2-hour braising process during the heat of summer, but in this case, you won't regret it. The braised short ribs are so wonderfully flavorful, and the turnip puree gives a unique texture and flavor that ordinary mashed potatoes just can't match.

Turnip Puree (serves 2):

1 large turnip - peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
salt & pepper to taste

Cook turnip in boiling salt water until very tender (about 25 minutes). Drain and return to pot. Cook over medium heat until turnip dries slightly. Puree the turnip, butter and cream in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add more cream if needed to reach desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

The turnip puree can be made ahead of time and reheated before serving.

Chianti Braised Beef Short Ribs (Serves 2):

2 lbs beef short ribs
6 cups chianti (or other dry red wine)
4 cups beef stock (or low sodium chicken stock)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion sliced (cut in half, then slice into 1/2" pieces)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 carrot
2 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat dry and generously apply salt and pepper to short ribs. Heat a large oven-proof pot over high heat and add vegetable oil. Add short ribs when the oil shimmers, or just starts to smoke. Cook short ribs until browned, then flip and brown all other sides of the ribs. The browning will provide a nice deep rich flavor and texture to the finished product. After the ribs have been browned, remove and set aside.

Turn heat down to medium-high. Add the onion and brown sugar, and cook until the onion starts to turn a nice caramel color. Add the tomato paste and cayenne pepper, and cook until the tomato paste starts to brown. Add the wine and scrape the brown bits free from the surface of the pan.

Add the stock, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a simmer. Add the short ribs back into the pot. The cooking liquid should almost cover the short ribs. Add additional wine or stock if needed to almost cover the short ribs. Most of the liquid will evaporate while in the oven, so make sure you have enough braising liquid.

Cover the pot and place into the preheated oven. Cook until fork tender (1-1/2 to 2 hours). The longer the ribs are cooked, and at a lower temperature, the more flavorful and succulent the short ribs will turn out. Be careful when opening the pot, as it will be steamy and hot!

Take pot out of oven and set ribs aside. Strain braising liquid into a sauce pan. Discard onion, carrot, thyme and bay leaves. Simmer sauce over medium-high heat until proper consistency. Skim fat from sauce and degrease with a paper towel. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the short ribs have cooled, separate the meat from the bone and shred into chunks with a fork. Serve over warm turnip puree, and spoon sauce over top. Enjoy!


Saturday, August 25, 2007



Settebello is like that new kid who comes to school mid-year and becomes popular within weeks. Upon opening in Salt Lake City in January 2007, the Napoli style pizzeria has had no problem attracting a diverse fan club of hipsters, families and out-of-towners looking for a savory slice of pie. Perhaps that is because the pizza is like nothing else Salt Lake City has seen: authentic, thin crust pizza made with quality ingredients at a reasonable price. And with Settebello's Napoli style brick oven, it is also fast: pizzas cook in less than a minute.

Pizzaiolo Matteo Schiavone was recruited from Italy to train staff on how to prepare authentic Napoli style pizza, and to serve as Settebello's master pizzaiolo. Furthering the focus on quality, many of the meats are purchased from Salumi, the Seattle-based artisan meats deli owned and operated by Armando Bartali (you know, Mario's dad). The flour is imported from Molino Caputo, one of the oldest mills in Napoli. In a city where you still cannot buy wine in the grocery store, Settebello has nonetheless managed to provide a legitimate Italian experience.

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Quattro Stagioni - Margherita divided into four sections. Each section topped separately with wood oven roasted sausage, salame, roasted mushrooms and kalamata olives - $10.99

Margherita - crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, parmigiano reggiano, extra virgin olive oil - $8.99

These are our "staple" pizzas, but a must to try is the Bianca, with prosciutto crudo, fresh arugula, mozzarella, basil, parmigiano reggiano, and extra virgin olive oil, all for the bargain price of $11.99. The wine list romantically features wines from the Campania region: the same soil responsible for Settebello's tomatoes and flour.

Co-owners Michael Brooks and Brad Otton also run a location in Las Vegas, but don't let that scare you: there is nothing "chain" about Settebello. (Although we do wish they'd open another one closer to our house so we'd have an excuse to enjoy it more than once a week!)

- K


260 South 200 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007



Another summer, another family reunion. Further guaranteeing our permanent residence in Hell, we flew in to Seattle a day earlier than the family knew, in order to enjoy dinner downtown before heading across the water to the festivities. Sound a bit extreme? Consider yourself invited to the 2008 reunion.

We'd read about Lark in the July 2007 issue of Food & Wine, and were eager to experience chef Jonathan Sundstrom's back-to-the-land commitment. Offering small plates based on what's in season and available, Lark encourages a communal approach to dining, allowing guests to indulge in a wider variety of flavors and experiences while reveling in the company of friends.

Lark is an easy stroll from downtown, nestled near Seattle University in Capitol Hill. Heavy on wood and exposed beams, the sustainable Seattle eatery preserves its only frivolity for a snaking panel of sheer curtains. It's the kind of place where you immediately feel you are going to eat well, have great conversation, and lose yourself in a bottle of wine--or two.


With treats like Yellowstone river paddlefish caviar with rosti potatoes and clabber cream ($20) and Carpaccio of Yellowtail with preserved lemons and green olives ($14) Lark absolutely fit the bill for a fresh, interesting meal.

What didn't fit the bill? My American Express card. As of early August Lark only accepted Visa and Mastercard, though there is not a drop of warning about this on the door, menu or web site. Could potentially make for a very embarrassing date night if you ended up there with a fat check and your Discover card. Just make sure you pack the right plastic, and then get ready for a priceless meal.

- K


926 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Caffe Niche

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There was a time when the old brick building at the corner of Salt Lake City's 3rd South and 8th East housed an old, dingy laundromat and a vintage clothing store. For years the building oozed potential, and as the tenants vacated the laundromat transitioned to a cute, airy hair salon. We watched in anticipation as brown paper went up over the windows on the other side, with a paisley print sign promising "Caffe Niche: Coming Soon." It was well worth the wait.

Caffe Niche serves up fresh soups, and sandwiches, with a focus on high quality ingredients. The sleek interior, including the polished concrete floors and dark wood tables, provides a clean canvas for the work of local artists, which is prominently displayed on the walls. Caffe Niche also serves up wine for us heathens.

The portions at Caffe Niche are appropriately sized, so you don't have to feel like you consumed a full day's worth of calories in one meal. The menu is interesting yet simple, and the prices are reasonable for the level of quality. Their soups, salad dressings and delicious pastries are all prepared in-house.

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Roasted Tomato Basil Soup - $5

The Bologona - Italian Mortadella and fresh goat cheese, drizzled with Aceto Balsamico $6.50

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Grilled Cheese - Irish cheddar and Stilton with pecans $6.50

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Coconut Cupcake - $2.50

Weekends offer a brunch menu, with such treats as Italian scrambled eggs with pine nut pesto, sourdough bread and ricotta cheese, and baked apple oatmeal. And with brunch menu items coming in at $5.50 or under, Caffe Niche won't break the bank--or your diet.

- K

Caffe Niche
779 East 300 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84102
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