Monday, November 25, 2013

Snowy Switzerland

I've been meaning to do a post on the wonderful abundance of truffles in Europe right now, and the amazing pasta I made with them, but I've been a bit of a gypsy lately, hopping around from Zurich, to Rome, back to Zurich, then to the Alps for a short weekend of complete and utter relaxation. I leave for Dublin tonight, where I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving (my first one abroad!), and then it's back to the States for me.

In the meantime, I thought I'd post a few pictures of the winter wonderland we ventured into on Saturday in the hamlet of Sporz, up in the mountains of Switzerland. We stayed at a hotel called Guarda Val, which included a beautiful spa, sauna, library, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and just 11 rooms in the whole place, all built out of a scattering of 300-year-old huts and barns. Everything smelled like wood smoke and coziness and holiday cheer, and we spent our days getting massages, drinking wine, playing cards in the library, drinking more wine, eating lots of traditional Swiss food, and not thinking too much about anything. It was bliss. Highly recommend. xo

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Favorite Things: 11.14.13

I'm currently working from Zurich for the next couple of weeks, spending time with my boyfriend here and experiencing the cold (but beautiful) Swiss winter. Lately, I've found myself traveling way more than I ever have before, which has given me a perpetual case of jetlag no matter where I am, forcing me to pay more attention to self-care. Especially in these festive winter months, with people jetting all over the place to visit family and friends, it's important to be conscious about what you're ingesting, and to take particular pleasure in simple things like a perfect white hairbrush that stimulates the scalp, the best Japanese green tea on the planet, and a super powerful face serum that will make you glowy and dewy even after a gazillion hour flight with a chatty neighbor. Here are some of my favorite things to help out with the energy drain that comes with holiday travel. xo

1. This honeydew is super scarce, very delicious, and prized for its mineral content and medicinal properties. Drizzle over anything and everything. Also, while you're at it, check out everything else on QUITOKEETO. Favorite new site, thanks to a heads up from Tim from Lottie + Doof.
2. These D&A phyto enzyme capsules are something of a miracle. They combine 54 different natural organic herbs, and promote newfound energy, mental clarity, positivity, detoxification, appetite decrease, and a host of other benefits. The founder, James, went to Korea and worked with the most experienced, knowledgeable herbalist there to develop D&A, and I couldn't recommend it more.
3. My favorite, super warming green tea filled with bits of roasted rice, for a nutty taste. Yum.
4. A Mason Pearson hairbrush that detangles and stimulates the scalp.
5. It always helps to love your luggage! Obsessed with Everlane's very affordable Weekender.
6. This stuff will take 10 years off your face, I swear.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dan Barber's Braised Short Ribs

Wanna know what the absolute perfect dinner party dish is? Well, it's right here. Braised short ribs, made even better because the recipe comes from Dan Barber himself, via Food 52. You'll have a bit of work to do in the afternoon before your guests arrive (start a good 5 hours before anyone is expected), but then you'll be left with approximately four glorious hours of time in which you can prep the salad, run out and get wine, walk the dog, get a mani/pedi (seriously, you've got time), put on a face mask, catch up on a couple of episodes of Scandal, and generally go about your normal weekend relaxation routine, while this delightful set of ribs braises itself right into the comfort-food-starved hearts of your future guests.

By the time everyone is ringing the doorbell brandishing bottles of red, you will be so thoroughly relaxed and rejuvenated, everyone will look at your glowing visage and think "How the hell did she do that?!" Which is what all of us secretly want when having people over for dinner. VoilĂ . I give you Dan Barber's amazing short ribs. xo

Braised Short Ribs
Serves 4-6 
5 pounds beef short ribs, bone on
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 garlic cloves, skin left on
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce (I used HP Sauce)
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate (I used Umami paste)
2 fresh (or dry) bay leaves
1/2 cup Madeira
1 cup red wine
2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the oil, then the short ribs (add them in batches, if necessary) and brown on all sides. Transfer the ribs to a plate as they finish browning. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat.

Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are soft and all the browned bits in the base of the pot have been loosened. Put the short ribs (and any juices that have collected on the plate) back in the pot.

Add the light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, tamarind paste, and bay leaves. Pour in the Madeira and red wine. Add enough chicken broth to just cover the ribs. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and transfer to the oven.

Braise the shortribs until they are very tender when pierced with a fork, about 4 hours (longer if the short ribs are big). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shortribs to a plate. Let the cooking liquid settle; spoon off as much fat as possible (ideally, you'd do this over the course of two days and would, at this point, put the liquid in the fridge overnight and peel off the layer of fat in the morning). Set the pot on the stove over medium high heat. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and reduce to a syrupy consistency.

Lay a short rib or two in each of 4 wide shallow bowls. Spoon over a little sauce. Serve proudly.