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Braised Short Ribs

2013 September 26

Here is that recipe I promised you last week. The one to go along with the homemade creme fraiche I told you about. It comes from Ree the Pioneer Woman whom I trust very much when it comes to recipes. She doesn’t let me down ever. (I don’t know her personally but I bet she’s a lovely lady.)

Her braised short ribs are nothing short (ha) of pure awesome sauce (and meat). I especially like that they are free of tomato-anything in a time I am tomato-ed out (beginning of fall).

I whipped up a small batch and regret not getting more bone-in beef short ribs when I had the chance. Before I turn the conversation into a rant about not having simple cuts of meat in any of the 4 stores in town…on a regular basis…I’ll just let you know I did not have bacon or pancetta but did have salt pork (the inexpensive salt-cured but not smoked meat from the belly of a pig…which one store does have consistently). Substituto!

Instead of serving it with poletna, I used some of that creme fraiche in place of plain old buttermilk (buttermilk + heavy cream + time = creme fraiche from my last post) in some mashed potatoes. Like this recipe here.

My better half, Greg, loved this dish (as did I of course). Next time I will 1) buy more short ribs 2) make a bigger batch and 3) freeze a portion because I’ve read it can be done. I plan to do this again soon. Like today if I had short ribs. Which I would get if I had the car and an hour to get to the store that has them. But nooo, I’m covered in paint with a blanket as a bathroom door since we’re painting our interior doors and windows right now. I also have some chalk paint to get on a dresser in the garage so, another batch of braised short ribs will have to wait.

*I swear I took a number of photos throughout the cooking process but I can’t find those anywhere. The only photo I have is sloppy from the night we had them as a late dinner.

Braised Short Ribs

Braised Short Ribs from Ree the Pioneer Woman
Serves 4

8 whole bone-in beef short ribs
kosher salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
6 pieces of pancetta (or bacon or salt pork), diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 shallots, peeled and finely minced
2 cups red (or white) wine
2 cups beef (or chicken) broth (enough to almost cover the ribs)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper the ribs then dredge them in flour and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large Dutch oven, cook the pancetta (or bacon or salt pork) over medium heat until crispy and fat is rendered. Remove the pancetta and set aside. (I didn’t know when to add it back but since I used salt pork-which is very salty-I only added a few pieces before putting it in the oven.) Keep the rendered fat in the Dutch oven and add the olive oil then increase the heat to high. Brown the ribs on all sides then remove the ribs and set aside.

Turn heat to medium and add the onion, carrot and shallots to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until starting to soften then pour in the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to get the delicious bits up. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth, cooked pancetta (or bacon or a few pieces of salt pork), 1/2 tsp kosher salt and lots of black pepper. Taste for salt then add the ribs to the liquid. They should be nearly submerged. Add the thyme and rosemary sprigs to the liquid.

Put the lid on and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours at 350F then reduce the heat to 325F and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork tender and falling off the bone. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and allow to sit for 20 minutes with the lid on. Before serving, skim the fat off the top of the liquid. Serve over polenta or the creme fraiche mashed potatoes I mentioned above. The ribs are also great with the creme fraiche on their own.

Homemade Creme Fraiche

2013 September 19

You know what I like besides pina coladas and getting caught in the rain*? When you take something that is seen as gourmet and usually pretty spendy at the store (if you can even find it) and simply make it at home on the cheap. Boom-creme fraiche. Crème fraîche if you’re particular.

Homemade creme fraiche

It’s a thick, nutty, tangy cream that is great for many many dishes. In mashed potatoes, desserts, as a topping for fruit and veg, used as a thickener for soups and sauces, etc.. Sure it’s like sour cream or yogurt or crema fresca (which apparently is different with a higher fat content than creme fraiche) but is something completely its own flavor-wise.

This recipe for creme fraiche will keep for 2 or 3 weeks which means you can have creme fraiche with the upcoming, “make this now” recipe (highly recommended) for braised short ribs. Look for that next week. I won’t explain how easy making creme fraiche is because you can read the ingredients/instructions below and see what I’m talking about. Never buying it again.

Homemade creme fraiche

*I don’t really love pina coladas and only enjoy getting caught in the rain if it doesn’t involve a torrential downpour, lightning, tornadoes and running for your life. True story about a family vacation at Sea World. I remember watching guys dressed as loggers running on logs in a big pool during a show then the next I recall is running for safety with a large crowd and being completely scared out of my mind during a bad storm. Then, when it was finished, my parents, sisters, aunt and myself had to change in the car. Removing wet jeans is not a fun task in the backseat of a car…nor is it when the car is surrounded by your family.

Homemade Creme Fraiche

Makes 1 cup


1 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp buttermilk

Add heavy cream and buttermilk to a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and stir to combine. Cover the jar with a paper towel and secure with a rubber band, string or the canning ring. Let sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Times will vary. Check for a thick, creamy but not completely solid consistency after 12 hours. Once your desired consistency is reached, remove the paper towel and close with a lid. Store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

2013 September 12

This is what I made Greg for his 29th birthday a few weeks ago-a carrot cake/cheesecake hybrid that was amazing. There’s really nothing else to say.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Yum? Delicious? Worth making (again and again)? Yes, yes and yes. Even better the next day and slightly chilled? For sure.

I mean, it’s carrot cake AND cheesecake together. What more do I need to say?

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Hold up-found some words. I changed the recipe because I like my cheesecake to have some mascarpone cheese so I did half cream cheese and half mascarpone. I used vanilla bean paste and not just vanilla extract. Again for my ingredient preference. I made sure to drain the carrots and pineapple well. Next time I’d make less frosting. I think half would have sufficed but we’re not big frosting people.

The original recipe said to stagger the layers of each batter 4 times but I don’t see the need. Put the carrot cake batter down (put it down real good) and the cheesecake batter on top (ooh la la) and be done (what the hell is wrong with me). The two cakes will work their way around each other on their own. Scaaan-dalous. Tasty tasty scandal.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Carrot Cake Cheesecake
Serves a birthday boy and his wife over 3 days…or more


8 oz. mascarpone cheese
8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp flour
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Carrot Cake-
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt
8 or so oz. crushed pineapple, well drained and reserve juice for frosting
1 cup grated carrots, well drained
1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting-I halved the original recipe but if you enjoy frosting double this
1 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
1/2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup + 1/8 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla (I used extract this time)
1/2 tbsp of the reserved pineapple juice

Set aside a 9 inch springform pan. Preheat the oven to 350F.

For the cheesecake: In a large bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat together the mascarpone, cream cheese (not the amount for the frosting) and 3/4 cup of sugar until smooth. Then beat 1 tbsp of flour, 3 eggs and 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste (or extract) until smooth. Set aside.

For the carrot cake: Ina large bowl, combine oil, 1 cup of sugar, 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract); blend thoroughly . Stir in 1 cup of flour, the baking soda, cinnamon and pinch of salt. Mix well. Stir in drained pineapple, carrots, coconut and walnuts.

Spread the carrot cake batter in the bottom of the springform pan then drop the cheesecake batter in large spoonfuls over the top of that. Bake for about an hour or until the center still shakes a bit (the top will look more like cheesecake) then remove and allow it to finish cooking outside of the oven. Refrigerate for 3 or 4 hours. When almost ready to serve, prepare the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the ounce of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and reserved pineapple juice. Beat until smooth and spreadable. Frost the cake and serve. We enjoyed this best the following day straight from the refrigerator.

I Turned 31

2013 September 9

My triumphant return (umm in case you haven’t noticed I’ve been gone for a few months) involves a link to my other blog because I turned 31 last week and writing a completely new post about what I’ve been up to is hard. For the record: I did not intend this to be my return thoughts AND that link covers only a month of my absence since I’ve only neglected writing anything over at the Wits for just a month in place of the few months here. Guess I like those readers better. I’m kidding.

Here’s that link before I forget and facepalm myself.

Add that I made fresh pasta with my mom-in-law’s Kitchenaid attachments, my in-laws got me a new pizza stone that is awesome, my parents got me the newest Gwyneth Paltrow Cookbook It’s All Good which is amazing, I made a hybrid carrot cake/cheesecake then his grandma’s carrot cake recipe for Greg’s August birthday (and numerous share-worthy recipes that I hope to get to…someday…).

Our 4th

2013 July 5

I’m still here. Just taking a breather. I think I deserve it. July 14th marks 4 years of existence for the Dabble. Yep, 4.

If you really want to know what’s going on at my place, check out this post.

our 4th of July

Oh and this was basically our 4th of July yesterday. A beautiful steak from Whole Foods, a few glasses of wine, ripe strawberries, sprinkler fun with the pups and Americana music after a trip to Minneapolis for some craigslist finds. Hope you had a great one and I’ll see you around.

The Homestead

2013 June 19

Nothing to brag about here food-wise. Long story short: I bought a frozen pizza, we ate a frozen pizza (and then I bought a kneeboard). The end. For like days. Or the equivalent of a frozen pizza. Or hot dogs. Not the equivalent, just actual hot dogs. Nathans cause they are the best.

We’ve been doing and building thangs, a movin’ and a shakin’.  Like this modern slat fence and other “stuff” outside. See this post at the Wits for the DIY breakdown.

My parents and sis are scheduled to pull in Saturday so we’ve been preparing. I probably won’t be around next week. Around the blog but hopefully still kicking on this earth. Fingers crossed and assuming all the basement/bathroom reno plans go well.

The homestead where the recipe magic happens (or the burning or ruining of recipes) in the tiny, galley kitchen.

So I basically just wanted to drop in and brag about the fence cause I love it and it came in under $200. Which makes me love it more and it was our brainchild and hard work that made the whole thing happen.

Before you say something, yes, plants might eventually go in front so it’s not just mulch. No, it’s not in the budget.

Have a blast doing whatever you are doing or plan to do. Even if it’s eating frozen pizza. Which isn’t that bad. Good day.

Alabama-Style Grilled Chicken Kebabs

2013 June 14

My parents and sister (“the middle one”) are coming to visit in a week for a week. We’re very excited around here and grateful because not only are they coming to spend some much needed quality time with Greg and myself but they are coming to aid us with some home improvement projects. The ones we absolutely must get done before our big move to Seattle.

They are driving from our homestate of Indiana to Minnesota and hopefully avoiding the Chicago traffic by leaving around midnight where they will hit the Windy City around 4AM. It’s the best way to avoid traffic. We once missed that timeframe and landed smack-dab in the thick of it which added a few more hours and sitting there looking at the city on the interstate, knowing we could not stop and that out of there we’d be in Gary…which we try to avoid like the plague. Our GPS once routed us directly through it and refused to get us back to safer roadways. It was scary and sad. It doesn’t stop us from singing the song from the Music Man (one of Greg’s favorite movies). It’s “yay, we’re in our homestate” followed by “lock the doors/what is that smell” then it turns into fields and smalltowns with McDonalds or Subways as our only dining options.

But yes, a visit. I feel guilty about having them come and the big plans are to work on the basement/basement bathroom. Thrilling stuff. I actually am thrilled to get moving on this. Fixing up the basement bathroom (so we have one to use when we renovate the upstair’s bathroom) and tackling the other basement rooms are next on the list after a little landscaping and building a slat fence to hide the gas meter and window well. Just decided to build it one day out of the blue. I love it.

We’ve been busy and sick. Greg last Friday and I was on couch rest earlier this week with Nurse Vivi at my feet.

We have been collecting vintage and antique finds (like a free antique walnut spindle bed) for our etsy shop (which is empty because I’m still cleaning the items and snapping photos) and I find myself snipping the freshly bloomed peonies and buds. Parts of the house have their beautiful fragrance wafting through the air. I’m sitting by them now.

Then I made these kebabs. Something I came across at Food52 by inpatskitchen that uses what some call a “white” barbecue sauce used in Alabama. I hadn’t heard of it but didn’t doubt it existed. The white referring to the mayo-based sauce. It made for some moist, flavorful, grilled chicken. I love the addition of sambal oelek and added quite a bit but then I added Sriracha because, well, I just did and it finally reached the heat/flavor I was looking for although still not omnipresent or overpowering…but I like a lot of heat. The original recipe is great as-is. I did prep everything 4 hours ahead of chow time and used the sauce as a marinade as well as basted the chicken on the grill. This makes enough sauce, and is recommended, for dipping. Just reserve 1/2 to 3/4 cup for this purpose to avoid the woes of contamination with the raw chicken. I was good without the extra dipping sauce but then again, I’m still just not a mayo person. I like it but I don’t seek recipes using it. I will take advantage of the stuff though because of its abilities, like yogurt, to tenderize and keep meats moister. Simple and delicious.

Alabama-Style Grilled Chicken Kebabs
Makes 4 kebabs (I only had 3 skewers but 4 would be about right)

Sauce Ingredients: (makes enough to reserve for dipping)
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (I used less-2tbsp)
1 tbsp sambal oelek (I used more plus Sriracha to my heat taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 clove of garlic, mashed

Whisk all the ingredients together, cover and refrigerate. Later reserve 1/2 to 3/4 cup for dipping or make more kebabs.

4 boneless, skinless breast halves, cut into cubes
4 (or 3) skewers (soak wood ones to prevent burning)
salt/pepper, olive oil

Place the cut chicken on the skewers, season with salt, pepper and olive oil. (I took some of the sauce and marinated the kebabs for a few hours but you can immediately start your grill and baste them on there.) Start your grill to medium heat and oil the grates. Place the kebabs on the grill and baste, turning, until the chicken is done. Serve with reserved sauce.

Blackberry Balsamic Pie with Sea Salt Walnut Crumble

2013 June 5

When I tweeted (this is me) and posted this pie on facebook (it’s how I keep up with family and annoy friends with pictures of food) there were immediate “please send me some of that” responses from family and friends. One person (Kris in Portland) wished that teleportation were a reality for this recipe.

I knew this blackberry dish would be one of envy because as soon as it came across my radar on Design Sponge I knew I had to have it.

Not being a person who chooses super sweet desserts (although I do crave them occasionally…made a small batch of these chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies the other day), the combination of balsamic vinegar with tart berries and a sea salt walnut crumble had me pressing print before it really registered. Duh, I knew it would be great. (And it was all that I wanted and more.)

Blackberry Balsamic Pie with Sea Salt Walnut Crumble

The harder part was that I kept the recipe in my folder with the idea to make it later and thus flipped through my recipe collection, smiling when I came to this pie, but passing over it like a weirdo who delays gratification. I am that weirdo in many areas of life who keeps and plans things for later. No instant pleasure here. Then I wonder why the hell I wait so long.

And this is that time. I should have made it several times over by now. That’s how long it’s been in my collection. Berry season is running behind here but that didn’t stop me (because I also believe the highlighted ingredient should be used in its ideal season…especially for something I put on a pedestal and waited so long to make) and bought the ones available even though they weren’t the prime example of delicious blackberries. (It was only a month ago we had a snowstorm in May.)

I did change the directions to accomodate my oven. So, the baking temp was 375F and not 400F. About 20 minutes in I placed aluminum foil over the whole thing since the crumble was baking much faster than the filling and crust. From there I just kept peaking to see if the filling was getting all bubbly then removed the foil for the last 10 or so minutes to let it brown the rest of the way. I found that it took some time to cool which helps thicken the filling and put it in the fridge for an hour or so then set it out to get to room temp. I thought the amount of crumble would be too much once I started placing it on the 9″ pie but it turned out just fine. If you want more berry flavor though you could reduce the crumble. The original creator has a pie crust recipe (follow the Design Sponge link above to get the pie crust instructions) but I found a great organic crust at my local co-op which I rely on in these busy days. (Wanna see what we’ve been up to? Check this out.)

Blackberry Balsamic Pie with Sea Salt Walnut Crumble

I happened to have ice cream (rare these days) and salted caramel I’d made the weekend before-and nearly burned because I was busy wiping the cream off of myself since I knocked the measuring cup on its side when I touched the hot pan by accident and burned myself right (and I mean right) after Greg told me he enjoys watching me cook because I’m in my element so I of course immediately mess that idea up and start screaming since the burn hurt, I know the delicacy of making caramel and thought I had ruined the whole “beautiful” thing…can’t make this up/happens to me all the time-which was nice.

But the memory of that first slice, just the pie, is what sticks out pleasantly in my mind. It sincerely needs nothing.

Blackberry Balsamic Pie with Sea Salt Walnut Crumble from Adrienne at PieBox


Note: This recipe is for a 9-inch deep-dish pie. If using a smaller pie pan, you may have some filling and crumble left over.

Pie crust (I used my favorite store-bought organic)

4 1/2 cups fresh blackberries (about three 6 oz. containers)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
zest of 1 lemon (great addition)

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp sea salt
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

Place you store-bought (or homemade pie crust) on a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 375F. Meanwhile, mix blackberries, sugars, cornstarch, balsamic and lemon zest in a bowl. Turn the mixture with a spoon several times to ensure the blackberries are coated. Set aside.

In another bowl, stir the oats, flour, brown sugar, walnuts and sea salt together. Add the butter and rub into the mix with your fingertips, pressing the mixture together until clumps form.

Grab your pie crust on the baking sheet (no need to bake it somewhat first) and spoon the blackberry filling into it. Sprinkle the crumble on top, fully covering the blackberries. Bake the pie for 45–50 minutes or until filling is bubbling and topping is brown and crisp. Check the pie after 20 or so minutes of baking and cover the entire thing with aluminum foil to prevent the crumble from browning too fast. Remove the foil around the 35 to 40 minute mark to let it finish baking. Let the pie cool. I placed it in the fridge for an hour then put it out to reach room temp to help thicken it more.

Blackberry Balsamic Pie with Sea Salt Walnut Crumble