Recipe: Up-tini

Cheers and Happy New Year’s Eve! 2009 was a wonderful year full of excitement, opportunity and lessons. Looking back, I realized how fortunate I was to have been able to travel extensively this past year: Peru (Machu Picchu), Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Costa Rica, Napa Valley, New Orleans, Montauk and more. It was truly amazing!

This year I am looking to toast more than a glass of Champagne, I am looking to keep the energy flowing in 2010, so I created a fun Espresso based cocktail that will be sure to help you sustain the party long after the clock strikes midnight!

2010 Up-Tini

1.5 oz. Vodka (I like to use Tito’s)
1 shot (or 1 oz.) of freshly brewed espresso (chilled)
½ oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
½ TBS. Vanilla Infused Simple Syrup
Espresso Beans for garnish

To make simple syrup, combine ½ cup water to ½ cup sugar in a small sauce pan and heat on low until sugar is melted; make sure not to boil the liquid. Remove from heat and add ½ of a vanilla bean sliced open, or you can use ½ tsp. of vanilla extract. Let the mixture cool and steep.

In a cocktail shaker, add ice and pour in the vodka, espresso, Bailey’s and vanilla simple syrup. Shake for a minute until chilled. Strain and pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a few espresso beans.

Then enjoy!


Cooking with Wine: Cabernet Braised Beef Short Ribs

This is a wonderful and hearty slow-cooked recipe that I created for a holiday dinner as an alternative to turkey. The Cabernet gives the ribs a nice rustic and earthy flavor that can bring warmth and comfort to any table! The meat is so tender it falls right off the bone and the sauce (braising liquid) is packed with rich flavors from the mushrooms, herbs and tomatoes that makes it bread-dipping worthy. This dish goes great with creamy polenta or garlic smashed potatoes. Serve with a nice bottle of Cabernet to enhance the flavors of the dish!

6 (6-ounce) pieces bone-in beef short ribs
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, finely chopped
10 button mushrooms coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or crushed)
1 (14-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice, puréed in a blender with juice
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
3 cups beef stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Cooking Utensils:
3- to 5-quart heavy stock pot with a lid
Food processor or blender

Pat beef dry, mix flour, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper in a bowl, then dust beef with the flour mixture. Heat oil in the stock pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add beef to the oil, and brown beef on all sides, turning with tongs, about 8 minutes total. Remove beef from pot and transfer to a plate, sprinkle each rib with salt and pepper.

Add chopped carrots, mushrooms and garlic to the oil in pot and cook over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup puréed tomatoes (reserve remainder for another use) and bring to a boil over moderately high heat.

Add Cabernet and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.
Next add beef stock, thyme, bay leaf, vinegars, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper to sauce, bring to a simmer about 10 minutes.

Add beef along with any juices accumulated on plate and cover pot with a tight-fitting lid. Turn stove burner to low and slow cook for 5-6 hours, stirring twice throughout the cooking process, until meat is tender and falls off the bone.

Let stand without heat for 15 minutes to let flavors further develop before serving.


Em a la Mode