Short Ribs Braised in Ale

Braising is one of my very favorite ways to cook. In no other cooking technique is so little effort on the part of the cook rewarded with results that are so complex and wonderful. Short ribs are the perfect kind of cut for braising.

What happens when you braise? Do you remember the pictures in school of the rain cycle? Heat evaporates water on earth, the moisture rises into the atmosphere creating clouds, which eventually condense into rain? That is what happens in your braising pot. All the wonderful flavors in your tightly sealed pot – wine/ale, carrots, onions, herbs, meat – start to warm up in the oven. The liquid vaporizes and then condenses under the lid and falls back into your pot. The beef and vegetables release their juices and the cycle repeats. The meat takes on the flavors of the ale and vegetables. The vegetables take on the flavor of the wine and beef. In the end, all the distinct flavors meld into a complex, rich, marvelous meal.

One of the great things about braising is that it is a one-pot meal. In a small kitchen that is a huge benefit. You don’t need a special pot. Use a heavy pot, skillet or dutch oven – as long as it has a tightly-fitting lid. You don’t want extra room around your ingredients so pick a pot that fits what you want to cook.

pot with parchmentTo make sure you get a tight seal, put a piece of parchment between the pot and its lid.

The following recipe is a good base. You can experiment with the vegetables, herbs, and liquid. I tend to use what is at hand.

These short ribs taste even better the next day so cook them ahead. Doubling the recipe works well.

Note: You can brown the ribs in the oven, which is less messy and works well if you are doubling the recipe. Set the oven to broil. Put the ribs about 5” from the flame. You’ll want to have the ribs in a pan with sides that are high enough to capture the grease from the ribs. Turn the ribs several times with sturdy tongs while the meat broils.

Short Ribs Braised in Ale

Serves 4


3-3 ½ lbs short ribs, bone-in and meaty

2T          olive oil (enough to barely cover the bottom of the pot)

6             carrots, peeled and cut into 1” pieces

2             yellow onions, cut into 1” wedges

3             celery stalks cut into 1” pieces

1/2 -1     bottle of ale (Use an amber ale or even a porter)

¾ c         beef stock (you can use chicken stock or water)

2             bay leaves

4             sprigs of thyme or rosemary

salt and pepper


One heavy pot, measuring cups, tongs, plate, spatula or wooden spoon, slotted spoon


Heat oven to 300F.

Liberally salt and pepper the ribs. Heat oil over a medium high heat then add and brown the ribs. You want them to look caramelized. You may need to do this in two batches because you don’t want to crowd them in the pot. Transfer the browned ribs to a plate.

Saute the onions in the same pot over medium heat. Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any little bits from the browning. When the onions are translucent after 4-5 minutes, add the carrots and celery and sauté for 3-4 minutes.

Now add the ale and beef stock, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the ribs back into the pot, nestling them among the carrots and onions. Tuck the bay leaves and rosemary around the ribs. Bring the liquid to a simmer.

ready for oven

Cover the pot with parchment paper and lid. Cook in the oven for 2 hours or until the meat is easily separated with a fork.

After 30 minutes, check to see that the liquid in the pot is simmering, not boiling. Turn down the heat if you need to. After an hour, gently turn the ribs over.

When the meat is done, gently transfer to a warm platter. Try and keep the bone and meat together.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and place them around the meat.


Tilt the pot to the side and remove as much fat as you can with a spoon. Simmer until the remaining liquid is reduced to about ½ c, which should take about 10 minutes. It should be a bit syrupy. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Pour the sauce over the meat for a beautiful presentation.




Kitchen odors? Fix it quickly!

At times I hesitate to cook some of my favorite foods – fish, bacon, onions – because as wonderful as they smell while they are cooking, our home reeks for hours afterwards. I have four exhaust fans above the stove but still the smell lingers through the house.

One of the simplest ways to combat kitchen odor is to put a small bowl of white vinegar on the stove while you are cooking and leave it afterwards.  It is absolutely amazing how the vinegar pulls in the odors, leaving only a faint vinegar smell which dissipates quickly.

Go ahead and sear that salmon!



Monkfish in a Beurre Rouge

Dubbed “the poor man’s lobster”, monkfish, is a mild tasting, dense, lean, slightly sweet, beautifully white fish commonly found in French cuisine and becoming more popular in America. Unfortunately, the price per pound makes it almost as expensive as lobster. For a small kitchen this is a perfectly beautiful dish that is simple and needs few utensils.

Monkfish have a huge head and mouth. The only edible part is the tail, which is long. Usually you get a long, round filet with no bones. This makes it perfect for cutting into medallions or chunks for soups and stew. Because it is lean, you have to be careful not to overcook it. The cracked white peppercorns in the recipe add a spicy zing. The finished dish is as delicious as it is beautiful.

I usually saute monkfish medallions in brown butter, which is clarified butter that is cooked until it is slightly brown – it acquires a nice nutty flavor. Start by adding salt and pepper with a squeeze of lemon.

monk fish bowmanFor something a little more elegant, my friend Audrey showed me how she made Monkfish in a Beurre Rouge sauce for the Garden Restaurant in Philadelphia. You may be more familiar with a beurre blanc sauce, which is a classic French sauce made from butter, white wine, shallots and a touch of vinegar. A beurre rouge is made with red wine, which gives the sauce a slight tang and a beautiful rich ruby port color.

Cooking with friends is like Christmas morning: full of surprises, laughter and joy. Thank you Audrey!

Monkfish in a Beurre Rouge

Serves 4


1lb          monkfish filet, trimmed

½ c         clarified butter (you can use a high-heat oil like rapeseed, olive oil, or avocado oil)

10           white peppercorns, cracked with the flat side of a knife, or a hammer

pinch of salt

Beurre Rouge

¼ c         shallots, chopped

1             sprig of tarragon (optional)

1c           dry red wine like a Zinfandel

¼ c        fish or chicken stock

8T          plain butter, cut into 8 pieces


Hammer, plastic bag to crack the peppercorns in, measuring cup, tongs, large sauté pan


Monkfish is unusual in that it has a thin shiny fibrous skin over parts of the meat. Remove this filament. Cut the fish into medallions 1½ to 2” thick. Make sure the monkfish is dry. Lightly season with salt and the peppercorns. Heat your pan to medium high. Pour in 3 to 4 T of oil.

trimming monkfish use

Look at the picture I have included. See how the fish medallions are turning translucent? This is monkfish in pan with peppercornswhen you should start to think about turning them to brown evenly on the other side.

Remove the medallions to a warm plate.

Saute the shallots in the pan until they soften. Pour in the red wine and scrape the lovely bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the tarragon. Reduce the red wine by half, stirring occasionally. Add the stock. Now for the important part: swirl the pan vigorously and add the butter one or two pieces at

swirling burre rouge adding butter

a time while continuously swirling the pan. You want to incorporate the butter without it separating. Pour the beurre rouge through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to capture all the solid parts.

straining burre rougeWarm your dinner plates for a minute in the microwave. Pour some of the beurre rouge onto each plate. Place the monkfish in the middle. Now you have an elegant, beautifully presented dinner that is quick to make and delightful to eat.

Appetizer, Chicken

Anne’s Chicken Liver Pate

This recipe for chicken liver pate is special recipe because it is very simple for a pate and it is from my mother, Anne. Always the consummate hostess, she became an enthusiastic, wonderful cook later in life. I miss our long conversations about what she was cooking and her dinner party menus. When she traveled, mom would come back with descriptions of the most glorious foods for us to try and replicate.

When her children would come home to the Mountain, mom always made our favorite foods. This chicken liver pate was always waiting for my brother whenever he returned from his worldwide jaunts. Fat, salty, raw oysters flown in from the Chesapeake would be on the menu. The ones we didn’t eat raw with tearfully hot horseradish, we’d fry in a light cornmeal batter and make po-boys, dressed, as they say in New Orleans with mayo, lettuce and tomatoes. Artichokes steamed with garlic, and herbs dipped in a vermouth sauce was also on the list – which reminds me of our family traveling through the Greek Peloponnesus in the Spring, ordering artichokes every single night.

Back to the pate. The deeply rich creamy spread, slathered on a baguette, would practically melt in your mouth.

My dear friend asked for an alternative to the pork fat. That would be duck fat, which you can find in the grocery store. Here is an Amazon link to a duck fat that does not have to be refrigerated until you use it.

I find it deeply satisfying that many of my memories center around food and the people I shared it with. Food, with its ability to delight all our senses, strengthens our memories by wrapping them in a warm, safe blanket that brings joy for many years.

Anne’s Chicken Liver Pate


4           pieces of salt pork, fried until crisp, to provide cooking fat (or use 2T duck fat)

1lb          chicken livers, with the fat removed

½ c         milk to marinate the liver

4T          unsalted butter

1c           yellow onions, chopped

2t            green peppercorns, ground (you can use black)

2t            thyme, chopped (or 1t dried)

1t            marjoram or oregano, chopped (1/2t dried), optional. I like to throw in ½ t of sage if I have it.

¼ c         brandy


Large frying pan, blender or immersion blender-stick, measuring spoons, measuring cup, a 2c mold (a small loaf pan would work) and a oven proof pan that is larger than your mold.


Heat the oven to 350F. Soak the livers in the milk for an hour. If you don’t have the time, soak them while you chop and prepare the rest of the ingredients.

chicken liver pate in pot

Use a teaspoon of butter and rub it all over the inside of your mold.

Cook the salt pork until crisp. Remove and crumble the pork and set aside. Pour off the fat, leaving 2T. Here is where you would just put the duck fat in the frying pan.

Rinse and dry the livers. Saute in the fat at a medium to medium-high temperature for 1 minute. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until you just start to smell the garlic bouquet. Add the pepper, herbs and a pinch of salt. If you are using duck fat add two good pinches of salt.

Cooking the livers won’t take long. Stop cooking them while their insides are still pink. Don’t overcook them. They will cook further in the oven. Add the brandy and cook for 1 minute more. Add the rest of the butter and take off the heat to cool a little.


chicken liver pate in bain marie

Pate in a bain marie

Puree the mixture in a blender, food processor or use your immersion blender. I like mine just a bit chunky.

Fill the mold with the liver mixture. Place the mold in the large ovenproof pan. Pour very hot water in the large pan until it comes half way up the side of the mold. This is called a bain marie.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 155F.

Serve with a baguette slice thin and toasted with cornichons, and a dab of cheese and coarse mustard. Make a rare roast beef sandwich with the pate and brie and grill



Beans and Legumes, Chicken, Pork, Soup

Easy Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Andouille Sausage

I learned to cook in New Orleans when I was a student at Tulane. My favorite job was working in one of the earliest cooking schools and gourmet shops in the country, run by Lee Barns. Lee had gone to Paris as a student and then to Le Cordon Bleu, the famous French cooking school that Julia Child attended. There I met and assisted Paul Prudhomme, Giuliano Bugialli, and a host of others. I chopped, washed up and ran the register.

The next block over was my favorite fishmonger, Christiana. She was a woman of large girth and smiling face. I would tell her what I wanted to make and she’d pick out shimmering filets, whole snappers with eyes glistening, succulent oysters, or crawfish for etouffee, telling me what to look for and how to cook it.

Those were the days before nouvelle cuisine. Most dishes contained cream, butter and often alcohol. I’d go to different specialty shops for the best fish, meat, cheeses and staples. The small neighborhood stores often had a counter or a back door from which they served oyster and shrimp po-boys, crawfish pie, or spicy jambalaya. My favorite roast beef sandwich came from the side door off a small grocery store. You had to grab a fist full of paper napkins because the au jus ran down your arms as you took a bite. It was take-out only so we would go to Audubon Park and sit on a bench to eat. Friends lingered over meals then. There was time to cook all day.

Now our lives are busier and a cream sauce is for a special meal. One of my favorite simple meals then was red beans and rice, traditionally served for lunch on Mondays. If you went to an upscale restaurant, red beans and rice was probably what the staff ate in the kitchen. In one of Enola Prudhomme’s cookbooks, Paul’s mother talked about guests at her restaurant finding out what the staff was having in the back and asking for that.

This Red Beans and Rice recipe with Andouille Sausage takes some shortcuts. You should have it on the table in about 40 minutes. If you leave it on the stove a bit longer, it will only get better.

Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage

Serves 6


3 cans                 red kidney beans, rinsed (always rinse canned beans)

3 strips                smoked bacon, cut into lardons (¼“ pieces)

12 oz                   Andouille smoked sausage – optional (I often use chicken Andouille)

1 ½ c                    onion, chopped

½ c                     celery, chopped

1t                        garlic, chopped

½ c                     bell pepper, chopped (green pepper is traditional, but you can use red instead)

1 ½ t                   Worcestershire sauce

1t                        cayenne pepper (if you like it hot, add more)

3T                       parsley, chopped

1 ½ t                   oregano, chopped

1 ½ t                   thyme, chopped

½ t                      smoked paprika

1                         bay leaf

¼ c                     tomato sauce

2 to 3 c              water for the red beans

2c                       rice, long grain

3 ¾ c                 water, cold, for the rice

salt and pepper to taste


Measuring cups and spoons, a Dutch oven or large pot, and a medium saucepan


Fry the bacon lardons until crispy then remove from the pot.

Bacon strips cut into lardon

Bacon strips cut into lardon

Pour away all the grease except 2T. Sauté the onion in the remaining bacon grease until translucent. Add the celery, bell pepper and a good pinch of salt. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, parsley, oregano, thyme, smoked paprika, cayenne, bay leaf and tomato sauce and stir for 1 minute. Add the beans and enough water to just cover the beans and vegetables. You may have to add more water later, depending on how long you cook the beans.

in the pot

Taste, and if necessary, adjust the seasoning. You may want to add more cayenne, salt and pepper.

After about 15 minutes, add the sausage and cook for another 15 minutes.

As soon as the red beans are cooking, fill the medium saucepan with the rice and 3 ¾ c cold water and set on the stove to cook. Follow the rice package’s directions.

To serve: In the middle of a plate or open bowl place a mound of about ¾ c rice. Ladle the red beans around the rice. Enjoy!






Sign Up for Updates!

Don't miss a post! Sign up to be notified of new blog posts on!

Please check your email for a confirmation message.