Red Wine Short Ribs and Linguine

Amy writes: Chris is not a fan of short ribs, something which I just can't understand. What is there not to love about braised meat that is so tender and succulent that it falls right off the bone? Cooked in the right braising liquid, and these cheap cuts of meat become flavorfully restaurant-worthy. After our day on the Connecticut Wine Trail, I wanted short ribs braised in red wine. Chris would just have to deal.

I turned to Around My French Table, by the French food guru Dorie Greenspan (we've met!) for guidance. That book is my current end-all. If you don't have it yet, you should definitely buy it. And then join French Fridays with Dorie. But I digress...  Dorie (we've met, so I can call her by her first name, right?) has a recipe in that book called "Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port." Yeah, I thought, that's what I want.

Saute onions, carrots, celery, garlic and ginger in olive oil 

Once vegetables start to soften, add tomato paste

Stir and simmer until it looks like this

I followed her recipe as closely as I could, since I had way fewer short ribs (1 1/2 pounds versus the recipe's nine!), and I was missing a couple of ingredients (port, for example). Plus, I played with the measurements and left off the gremolata. We did follow Dorie's advice and made these one night ahead, leaving them refrigerated in the braising liquid overnight. I think that's a pretty important step. I had bought this great red wine pasta by Rossi Pasta a while back and thought that would go perfectly with this. So, on Sunday night, we had Red Wine Short Ribs and Linguine.

Get your herbs together -
parsley, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, and star anise

Open some French wine and have a glass

Then put the herbs and some wine into the pot

We shared a bit with our neighbor, B. First she heard our foodie-like description, then she looked at it and said, "We call this beef and noodles in our house." But after she tasted it, she thought it was pretty schmancy. Chris took one bite and said, "I never knew short ribs could be so good." Yeah, Dorie Greenspan rocks.

Add short ribs (that you already browned)

Close the lid tightly, put it in the oven and leave it alone.
No peeking for two hours.
Then uncover it and cook it another hour, still undisturbed.
Let the whole thing cool then put it in the fridge for a day.

Make your side dish, strain and reduce the sauce, warm the short ribs, and...

I could give you the recipe, but that would be against the rules of French Fridays with Dorie, and although this post is not an official FFwD post, I'd rather you go buy the book. It's worth it, I promise. And no, I don't get anything for saying that.

...voila! Red Wine Short Ribs and Linguine!


Connecticut Wine Trail Day One

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! While there is much that needs to be done around the house, particularly tending to the yard and gardens, we took Saturday and devoted it to a day-long drive along part of the Connecticut Wine Trail, a fun daytime date. We packed a picnic lunch of cheeses, meats, bread, fruit and crackers, and set out to Wallingford for our first two stops. A little excitement on the way - Chris helped move a snapping turtle out of the middle of the road! He's an old one!

New to the wine trail is Paradise Hill Vineyard. Owned by the Ruggiero family, it has been a working vineyard for 15 years, but just opened to the public in 2011. They place bird nets over all of their vines so they can allow the grapes to ripen to their potential and result in a fruit-forward, flavorful wine. While they import many of their grapes from Chile, all of their wines are made in CT. We puchased a tasting and a very informative and friendly server walked us through four of their wines. First, the Washington Trail White, a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvingnon Blanc that is a tribute to George Washington who crossed the farm on his quest for gunpowder. It was tart, sharp, tasted of green apple and would be a great cheese wine. Next, we tasted their estate-grown Chardonnay, entirely made in Connecticut. It was a big white, with pear on the nose and hints of straw and citrus, and a lingering finish. The Cayuga White smelled of honeysuckle and was sweet, bright and tasted of tropical fruit; it would be a great by-the-pool wine served chilled. Finally, Trio, a tasty red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Carmaniere, which was spicy with plum and berry flavors and a chocolate oak finish. There were plenty of tables inside as well as outside, and people are encouraged to bring their own food and enjoy it while lingering with a glass or a bottle of their wine.

Paradise Hill Vineyard

Less than a mile away is Gouveia Vineyards. It was much busier here, and what they lacked in friendliness, they made up for in location; the views are amazing. We did a tasting here as well and tried 5 wines. The Seyval Blanc was semi-dry, smooth, had a nice aroma of honey and tasted of crisp apples. The Chardonnay Oak, aged for 12 months, was buttery, nutty, smoky, toasty and dry. The Cayuga White was a citrusy, sugary summer white that tasted of peaches and apricots. The Stone House Red, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel ,was full bodied and had a rich bouquet and smoky berry flavor. The Cabernet Franc was also full bodied but had more of a tart, woodsy taste. We also had a small taste of the Merlot, a smoky, spicy, cherry-berry-plum red that was delightfully dry. We stopped here and enjoyed some snacks and the view on one of their picnic tables.

Gouveia Vineyards

Next we headed to Arrigoni Winery in Portland, also very new - the tasting room opened this spring. They have six acres currently planted but not yet producing, so they are getting their grapes from other Connecticut vineyards as well as from the Finger Lakes. They are making five different wines and we tasted a couple of them. The Orchard Valley was a white blend made with local apples that would be great with roast pork. The Drift Wood was a smooth, go-with-anything red with berry notes. They also have a nice patio overlooking their vines. We are interested to see where they take this venture.

Arrigoni Winery

We ended our day in Colchester at Priam Vineyards, and it seems we saved the best (and definitely most well-established) for last. Our incredibly hospitable and knowledgable server, Bob, walked us through what seemed like countless wines while telling us all about the vineyard itself. Priam is a completely sustainable vineyard with a solar-powered winery. They use no pesticides and grow clover between the grapes as a natural fertilizer. All their wines are estate-grown, and many are award-winning. Several of their wines are made from the St. Croix grape, and according to Bob, there are only 500 acres of this grape in the world; seven of them are at Priam. On to the wines. The Chardonnay is not oaked, and tasted of lemon and peach. The Gewurztraminer was spicy, complex, and dry, with honey and peach flavors and a mineral finish. The Riesling would be great with lemon chicken - it was fruity, clean and crispy and smelled like lychee or lotus flowers. Made to assist in the Backus Hospital Breast Cancer Survivors' Fund (15% of the purchase is donated to them), the Blackledge Rose is 100% St. Croix grapes, and was hardly sweet, but instead was semi-dry and fruit forward. The Late Harvest Riesling is a dessert wine tha we found tasted of lavender and honeysuckle and would be great with creme brulee. The Westchester Red is a barrel-aged blend that was spicy and smoky and slightly sweet, although not as sweet when it is chilled. The Salmon River Red was Amy's favorite wine of the day - a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it was heavily tannic, berry forward, smoky and went really well with dark chocolate. The St. Croix was oaky, smoky and reminiscent of chocolate-covered cherries. The Salmon River Red PV was their 2007 Bordeaux blend, aged for 36 months, and we found it to have lots of rich fruit flavors along with chocolate, fig, smoke and even leather.

By the time we left Priam, it was raining. Hard. The kind of rain that makes your windshield look like a peacock, with the drops on the glass as round as the eyes on its feathers. So we are lacking photos of Priam, but we have a feeling we'll be back. We met some nice folks, even running into a couple of them more than once on our journey, and tasted some fabulous locally made wines. Come back soon to check out the wine-inspired dish we made when we got home!


Chicken Saltimbocca

This is our sage plant. It barely wilted over the mild winter we had, and since then, it has almost doubled in size, and is currently blooming. Seeing as we are swimming in sage, we made Chicken Saltimbocca the other night. "Saltimbocca" is an Italian hybrid word formed from the verb saltare (to jump), and the noun bocca - the mouth, thus it means "jumps in the mouth." What a great word, huh? It's the perfect description for this dish, which traditionally is made with pounded veal or chicken breast that is cooked with prosciutto and sage. The blending of that woodsy sage flavor with the salty meatiness from the prosciutto really tickles the tastebuds. Saltimbocca!

Our version is pretty easy and quick to make, so it is nice for weeknights, but also has a touch of elegance that can translate well into a dinner party, especially when paired with the right Pinot Grigio. We do one extra step that makes a big difference - infuse the coooking oil with sage by frying a few sage leaves in it first, which you can use as an edible garnish for the plated dish.

Cut sage leaves

Fry sage in oil to infuse oil and make a unique edible garnish

Use thinly sliced prosciutto

Pound the chicken with the sage and prosciutto
to mingle the flavors

Dredge chicken in flour and fry in infused oil

Don't forget the other side!

Make a quick pan sauce with shallots, wine and butter

Chicken Saltimbocca
Serves two, includes directions for optional sauce

10-12 large fresh sage leaves
2 thin slices prosciutto
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced (optional)
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
2 tablespoons butter (optional)

Rinse sage leaves and carefully pat them dry. Rip up one large or two small sage leaves and place pieces on top of each chicken breast. Lay one slice of prosciutto on top of each chicken breast, over the sage. Pound chicken breasts to desired thinness. Season flour with salt and pepper, then dredge chicken breasts in the seasoned flour; set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. In small batches, fry 8 of the sage leaves for 4 seconds on each side. Remove from oil, drain on a paper towel and set aside. Place floured chicken breasts in hot oil, prosciutto-side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes, turn, and repeat on the other side, with the timing depending on thickness, until chicken is browned and cooked through. Plate chicken with fried sage leaves for garnish. If desired, make a quick pan sauce by adding minced shallots to the hot pan, and sauteing for a minute. Then add white wine and cook over high heat until reduced by half. Swirl in butter and serve over chicken with favorite side dish (we like haricot verts, as you can see).


Apple, Raisin and Celery Seed Slaw (Secret Recipe Club)

It's "That Time of Year." We're both teachers in "real" life, so it's cram time  - finishing up curriculum, grading papers, writing and giving exams - not to mention chaperoning and/or attending proms, field trips, end-of-year ceremonies, SATs and graduations after school and on weekends. Add to that all the family stuff, like First Communions, baby showers, birthday parties, and barbecues, graduation parties, etc., and our social calendar is filled to the brim. We haven't been giving the blog enough of our attention already, and then bam! Suddenly we realize it's Secret Recipe Club time!

Thank goodness for the wide variety of recipes on our assigned blog for this month, Feast on the Cheap. Feast on the Cheap is a mother-daughter collaboration that offers readers plenty of recipes to choose from, with prices per serving included, figuring in the cost of each ingredient and based on a "well-stocked" pantry (for which they offer suggestions). Their pictures are gorgeous, and their Recipe Index is an excellent source for ideas. We've bookmarked this one, and so should you!

We would have had a very difficult time choosing a recipe, except for the fact that this particular recipe had to suit a purpose. It had to be something that would feed a crowd and would be kid-pleasing, for we were going to take it to the birthday party D and J were throwing for their 3-year-old daughter. And, unfortunately, they had plenty of desserts, so we couldn't go that route.

Which brings us to our choice: Apple, Raisin, and Celery Seed Slaw, which costs a mere $0.85 cents per serving, went well with burgers, and pleased both kids and adults alike. At once both sweet and savory, slightly tart and delightfully crunchy, this slaw was a hit. We followed the recipe exactly, so we'll save the typing and direct you to go HERE, where you can also see a photo of the finished product, which (in our chaotic mindset) we neglected to take. Oops!!!

Secret Recipe Club  


Cocktail Hour: "Loopy" Lemonade

For all those so-called adults out there who are still eating Fruit Loops (they're not just for breakfast anymore), we bring you our new favorite summer cocktail: "Loopy" Lemonade. If you're not familiar with "Loopy," get to the liquor store, stat! This vodka from Three Olives smells and tastes exactly like Fruit Loops cereal. Oh yes, it does.

We make what we're calling "Loopy Lemonade" by pouring a shot of Loopy into a glass with ice, filling the rest of the glass with lemonade, and adding a splash of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice.

Fruity, cold and refreshing. We may not get anything done this summer!

"Loopy Lemonade"


1 part Three Olives "Loopy" Vodka
4 parts lemonade (or to taste)
splash of pomegranate juice

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add vodka. Add lemonade. Add splash of pomegranate juice. Bring drink to nearest patio and be outdoorsy.


Jazz Fest Crawfish, or Crawfish Monica Copycat

We promised a follow-up post to our Connecticut Crawfish Boil, one that describes what we did with that pound or so of crawfish tails that we forced ourselves not to eat. The leftovers, if you will. Well, with this particular dish, "leftovers" is not a word we would use. In this dish, the crawfish are still the star of the show, spicing up a cream and butter pasta that is known the world over from it being served at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, aka Jazz Fest. The dish is called Crawfish Monica.

According to the article "New Orleans Nostalgia" by Ned Hemard (found on the New Orleans Bar Association website here), Crawfish Monica was invented by the president and head chef of Kajun Kettle Foods, Pierre “Pete” Hilzim, who named the recipe for his wife. It has been served at Jazz Fest since 1982, and for several years was only available there or via shipment from Kajun Kettle. These days, some grocery stores local to New Orleans carry it.

As with most "secret" recipes, there are many "copy-cats" and we'd like to offer ours. Hemard writes, "The ingredients remain a secret, but one can rely that butter, cream, onions and garlic are involved." Indeed. Those four ingredients are the starting point for our version. Although it's been many years since Amy has attended Jazz Fest, she knows Crawfish Monica when she tastes it. And this creamy crawfish concoction with a kick is pretty darn close to the real thing. Without the lines!

Melt butter

Add garlic and chives, and...

...cook to soften.

Add crawfish, then...

...milk and cream.

Creole Seasoning adds a salty, spicy kick.
Cook to thicken, then...

Pour over pasta. Allow to cook over low heat for 10 minutes or so.

A. Ma. Zing. Ness.

Jazz Fest Crawfish, or Crawfish Monica Copycat

Note: shrimp or crab are great substitutes for crawfish if you can't get mudbugs where you live.


1 pound "leftover" crawfish tails, boiled and peeled
1 stick unsalted butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 fresh chives, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1-2 tablespoons Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 pound rotini pasta

Set salted water to boil in a large pasta pat. In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and chives and cook 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add crawfish and saute for 2-3 minutes until warmed through. Stir in cream and milk, then add Creole seasoning to taste. Cook for 10 minutes until sauce starts to thicken. Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain and return to pot. Pour sauce into pot with pasta and place over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, and allowing pasta to soak up the sauce. Enjoy!