Food52 – The Cookbook

Last weekend I was delighted to host a book launch party for Amanda Hesser, Merrill Stubbs and 20 Bay area members of the recipe site Food52.  Amanda and Merrill, the co-founders Food52, were in the Bay area promoting the newly released Food52 Cookbook –  a compilation of a year’s worth of winning recipes. Food52 “grew out of an insight that many of the best recipes come from home cooks.” Each week a contest is announced and entries submitted from the F52 community. Amanda, Merrill and the F52 editors whittle the entries down to 2 selections which are then voted on by the entire community. The winning recipe earns a spot in the cookbook. I am more than honored that 4 of my recipes are in the first cookbook.

Aside from publishing recipes, Food52 has evolved into an active and thriving online and offline community, sharing recipes, news, tips and advice while creating long lasting friendships bound together by a love for food and cooking. So, when Amanda and Merrill arrived in San Francisco on their book tour, it was natural that we would gather the Bay area F52 community and enjoy a lunch together. Potluck, of course.

Homemade charcuterie garnished with lots of cheese

Here’s a riddle:
What happens when you gather 20 passionate foodies for a potluck party?
Answer: You are treated to an amazing array of food.

Chicken Pesto Skewers
by Becky (KitchenSolo) – photo by Andrew Gaber

Sausage and Kale Tart – winning recipe by Karen (My Pantry Shelf)
Prepared by Tiffany (Ms. T) – Photo by Andrew Gaber

The only downside to hosting a party like this is I was so busy I didn’t have a moment to take any pictures. Andrew Baber kindly shared this photo of Amanda and Merrill chatting with Shelly Peppel (Food52 News) and Beverly Best. Thanks, Andrew!

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

~ Comfort in a bowl: Braised short ribs, celery root and red wine –

Rich meaty stews fortified with wine are the kitchen’s answer to wet and frosty weather. Simmered over hours, sometimes even days, the aromas of beef, wine and spice mix and mingle, concocting delicious aromas that fill the kitchen and soothe the soul. It draws us in to its embrace, tantalized by the warmth and promise of the meal to come. We are hungry yet content in the knowledge that the wait will be well worth it.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Cold weather stews coincide with an abundance of of root vegetables and sturdy tubers, stalwart allies in the fall and winter season. Celery root is the secret ingredient in this recipe, adding depth to the stock with mellow celery notes. Serves 6-8.

5 pounds short ribs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 cup diced celeriac (celery root) in 1/4 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup whiskey
3 cups red wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried coriander
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Salt and pepper the short ribs. If you have time, refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before proceeding. (Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before browning.)
Preheat oven to 325 F. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add short ribs in batches without overcrowding. Brown well on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining short ribs. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot. Add onion, carrot, celery, celeriac and garlic. Cook, stirring up any brown bits in the pan, until vegetables begin to soften, 3 minutes. Carefully add whiskey. Bring to a boil and cook until whiskey has nearly evaporated. Add wine, stock, tomato paste, bay leaves, coriander, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Return the ribs to the pot with any collected juices. Bring to a boil. Cover pan and place in oven. Bake until the short ribs are very tender, about 3 hours. Remove from oven. Cool; refrigerate overnight.
One hour before serving, remove short ribs from refrigerator. Remove collected fat on surface of the stock. The stock will be congealed. Heat over low heat to liquify. Remove the short ribs and vegetables with a slotted spoon.* Separate the meat from the bones and discard the  bones. Bring stock to a boil and cook over medium-high heat until sauce has reduced by half. Return beef and vegetables to the stock and heat through.

*Note: If you wish to fancify the stew, remove only the beef from the reheated stock. Boil the stock with vegetables until reduced. Strain the stock through a fine meshed sieve, pressing down on solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Return beef to strained stock and discard solids.
Sauté additional carrots and rutabaga in olive oil until crisp tender. Add to the stew along with blanched and peeled pearl onions. Simmer until all the vegetables are cooked through.

Pear, Blue Cheese and Arugula Bruschetta

Pear, Blue Cheese and Arugula Bruschetta

~ Pear, Blue Cheese, Arugula, Walnuts, Levain ~

Who knew leftovers could taste so good? Day old country-style bread studded with cranberries and walnuts, a chunk of Point Reyes Blue cheese and miniature red pears were remnants of a cheese board I made over the weekend. Day old bread, as un-sexy as that may sound, is a kitchen workhorse – resurrected as toast, crostini, breadcrumbs; folded into puddings and dressings, or swathed in egg and pan-fried. I kept it simple. I topped lightly toasted bread with slices of the blue cheese and pear (culinary best friends), and freshened the pile with a few wisps of arugula and a brush of lemon. What were last weekend’s cheese board stars and today’s less-than-fresh bread made a comeback in this delicious appetizer.

Pear, Blue Cheese and Arugula Bruschetta

If you don’t have a fruit and nut bread, use a country style or levain bread and top the bruschetta with coarsely chopped walnuts. Makes 4.

2 – (1/4 inch thick) slices of walnut or levain bread, halved
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
2 ounces blue cheese such as Point Reyes or Gorgonzola
1/2 cup arugula
2 small red pears, halved, cored, sliced thin
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven broiler. Lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Broil until lightly golden on both sides, 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Arrange a layer of thinly sliced blue cheese over the bread. Cover the cheese with a few sprigs of arugula. Fan one half of a pear over the arugula. Brush the pear with lemon juice. Sprinkle with a little freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.