Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vietnamese-Style Beef Short Ribs with a Sweet Vinegar Glaze

This is my version of an amazing recipe I found in Fine Cooking Magazine a few years ago. I still have that edition No. 99 sitting on my kitchen bookshelf, next to other treasured cooking publications.  

It is one my favorite beef short rib recipes, because it packs such an addictively intense flavor, and is a crowd-pleaser every time. 

It involves three main steps: grilling (or searing), braising,  grilling again (or searing) + glazing

Carefully read the recipe, and plan ahead, as it involves seasoning overnight, a few hours of braising, and also additional time for the braising liquid to cool down.


I made some modifications to the original recipe, and I am also offering some tips:

In addition to the ginger and garlic, I have added  minced lemongrass to the braising liquid, although probably it does not change the end flavor too much.

In lieu of a charcoal grill, I used a ProCast reversible 2-burner griddle, which is ideal for stove-top searing, and allows you to make this dish all year-round, and not only during the warmer barbecuing months. 

Seasoned ribs searing on the griddle
I braised my short ribs in a large  pot on low heat for 2-3 hours, but a crockpot or Dutch oven can also be used.

Because the separation of fat from the braising liquid occurs very slowly, I would definitely plan ahead, so that one does not end up waiting around for the fat to rise to the top. I put my liquid in the refrigerator, which helps speed the process, and the cold temperature allows the fat on top to solidify for easier and more efficient skimming. 

It's okay if the refrigerated braising liquid turns gelatinous (which is to be expected), since you will heat it up again to reduce it for the glaze. 

I would recommend tasting the simmering glaze, and adjust for salt (by adding more soy sauce if necessary), sweetness and acidity (by adding more sugar and/or vinegar). But don't over-pour!

In addition to scallions and cilantro, you can also garnish with shredded purple cabbage, for additional visual pleasure.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Deconstructed Butternut Squash Ravioli with Edible Flower Tempura

I had to prepare one of my signature dishes, but given that zucchini blossoms are no longer in season, I had to come up with an equally tantalizing idea. And so I decided to garnish my ravioli with a tempura of edible flowers. These colorful blossoms add an ethereal feel to the final presentation, and are sure to impress your guests.

What a perfect Fall first course!

For the butter sage sauce, and ravioli making tips, see my other post "Fresh Ricotta Ravioli with Saffron Sage Butter, Zucchini Blossoms and Orange Zest"

For the tempura, I used flour and a tbsp of potato starch (for a crispier tempura),  and ice cold water. The key to a perfect tempura is keeping the batter very cold, so I have my batter in bowl placed inside a bigger bowl that has ice water in it. Basically an ice bath. Prepare the batter right before dipping your flowers, and do not over-mix. Also make sure your frying oil (either vegetable or peanut oil) is very hot. You can test it by dropping a tiny amount of batter in the hot oil, and if it raises back up to the surface and puffs up, then you are ready to fry your blossoms. Do not add a bunch at a time in the oil, but rather, one by one, slowly, without overloading your frying vessel. Also, I like to stir them around gently with a chopstick or the handle part of a wooden spoon.

The recipe for the deconstructed ravioli filling will be in my cookbook. 

Potato and Baby Kale Gnocchi with a Thai Shrimp Reduction

The Recipe for this delicious first course is coming soon....

Making the Gnocchi

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


It is my pleasure to be a contributor for Now It's Dark Magazine, where I will be sharing recipes and reviewing restaurant experiences. This versatile recipe embodies delectable flavor combinations, spiciness, and nutritional benefits.  For your cooking pleasure, click on the link below.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mini Carrot Ginger Chocolate Chip Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot bread and carrot cupcakes are two of my favorite, easy go to recipes with carrots.  The recipe is the same for both, except that the cooking time is reduced by about half for the cupcakes, and  I have adapted  mine from classic carrot bread recipes, with the following variations:

Given that I am not a fan of  adding cinnamon to anything and everything, I do not  include it in many of my recipes, as I believe it masks the flavors that we want to highlight.  On the other hand, ginger confers a fresh element of spiciness, while the candied ginger provide  additional textural complexity. The orange zest is almost a must in this recipe, as it complements the carrots and ginger. Going full circle,  both ginger and orange pair well with chocolate, so I have included some mini chocolate chips. As a trade off, I add some oats and milled flax seeds, which provide whole grain and omega-3. These mini cakes are delicious and nutritious, but you can choose to omit or substitute some of the optional ingredients, as you prefer.


  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½  cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup of  butter (or vegan butter) at room temperature plus extra for the cupcake pans, unless silicone
  • 1 ½  cup of peeled freshly grated carrots
  • 2 tablespoons minced candied or crystallized ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
  • zest of 1 organic orange
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp of milled flax seeds
  • ¼ cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • ¼ cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1 pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8-cup muffin pan (or 12-cup for mini cakes) by brushing inside every slot with some melted butter. If using silicone cups, there is no need to grease them.In a medium bowl, combine the butter, oil,  sugar  and eggs, and with an electric mixer (either hand-held or standing mixer) cream the mixture until smooth. Mix the vanilla essence and grated fresh ginger into  the creamed batter.Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a separate bowl, and mix in the oats and milled flax seeds. Add the salt.With a spatula, mix the  flour mixture into the batter, in two additions, until well incorporated and smooth. Fold in the carrots, crystallized ginger, orange zest and chocolate chips, a bit at a time until evenly incorporated into the batter.Spoon batter into greased muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full.Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Turn cupcakes out onto racks and cool completely.

Even though these cakes carry enough flavor on their own, you can further jazz them up with cream cheese frosting, and drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey for the drizzle
  • 2 tbsp chopped (roasted if preferred) pistachios


In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Note that I use ½ of the sugar of most frosting recipes because I drizzle with honey. Also, the saltiness of the pistachios balances the sweetness nicely.