As completely weird and impossible as it may seem, keeping a food blog can be stressful. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. I guess it comes with the territory of feeding people, whether actually putting food on the table or by proxy through recipes and ideas. I get angry comments all the time when someone didn’t like a recipe or they thought that it was written poorly. I don’t want that to happen, but the odds are against me and sometimes people aren’t going to love what I’m doing here. All I can do is try to relay precisely what it is that I do in my kitchen and hope that it translates well in kitchens around the world. Everyone cooks differently, though. Once you’ve been cooking long enough, you have a way of moving throughout your kitchen that is more muscle memory than anything else. And even if you’re following a recipe, you don’t necessarily worry about replacing something here or adding more of something there because you become familiar with how one ingredient works with another. You know that one burner on your stove is stronger than most, or that your oven has one stubborn cold spot that forces you to rotate your pans every 10 minutes for even baking. Not everyone spends ridiculous amounts of time fiddling around in the kitchen, though. I got one comment this weekend that hit me a little harder than things generally do. The person told me I should basically be ashamed of myself and that the food he cooked was immediately all thrown in the garbage. There’s nothing I can do to change someone’s mind, but I made that same dish as stated in the recipe and I personally loved it. That happens sometimes. I wish I could sit down with this person and work through the recipe together to find out why he hated it, and in turn, me, so much. But that’s not realistic and I have to just let him vent his frustrations and move on. I just don’t like the idea of someone thinking I did something to personally slight them, which is exactly how this guy seems to feel. Thinking that someone threw away an entire meal makes me upset, of course. I would hate to know that I was the cause of that, and I hope that it was just a matter of personal taste over anything else. Usually I take angry comments with a grain of salt, but this one in particular is going to stick with me for a while.
Edit: I just want to say thank you to everyone for writing amazingly supportive comments and being all-around bad ass and amazing. I really appreciate all of the kinds words and hearing that you’ve tried multiple recipes with good results. You never know how what you write or suggest is going to translate outside of your own kitchen and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that what you’ve tried has worked for you, and even if it hasn’t, a little constructive criticism never hurt anyone! Thanks again, guys. You’re the best.
Now, on to less whiney things. Our friend Danny lives in Jersey City and used what I’m sure is some sort of witchcraft to get us to come out to his neighborhood to celebrate Oktoberfest at a beer garden near his apartment the weekend before last. Danny spent two years studying abroad in Germany, so his desire to celebrate is stronger than most. The weather was absolutely beautiful, so it was a great day to sit outside, drink beers, and eat pretzels and sausages. We definitely did quite a bit of the latter. As much as I like to make fun of New Jersey (I was born there, after all, which makes the teasing even more irresistible), we all had a really fun time and I was pleased to see how many New Yorkers sucked up their pride to come out to the Garden State. As it got dark, we decided that a round or two of karaoke was in order, and not being able to find a decent spot in Jersey City, we trekked back into Manhattan for a few hours of yelling into a microphone and a few more beers. I was definitely feeling it the next day, but is there any other way to celebrate Oktoberfest?
Cooking with beer is almost as fun as drinking it, so I present to you these beer braised short ribs. Usually when I do short ribs, it is some kind of red wine variety, but seeing as how we’re still in the midst of Oktoberfest, I decided to go the beer route. I chose an Abita pecan ale, as I felt it was a nice, autumnal option that had a bit of sweetness for the sauce. I once made the mistake of cooking with an IPA and I urge you to never make the same bad decision that I did – an IPA will make your food taste incredibly bitter, as I found out the hard way. Instead, go for something like a Newcastle or Modelo – just be sure it’s something you’d also be happy to drink. I ended up using the classic carrot and onion combo, but added in cilantro, jalapeno, cumin and chipotle chile powder for an added kick to cut through some of the sweetness of the beer. I think these Southwestern-ish flavors paired wonderfully with the rich, meaty short ribs – Kramer was a big fan of this dish in particular and was mesmerized by how the meat just fell off of the bone. He picked on of his bones up, put it in my face and wanted to make sure that I saw how tender the meat was. Seeing someone that excited about your cooking always makes everything seem alright. As with most things I make, we ate this as leftovers the next day with some fried eggs and roasted potatoes, and again, as with most things, it was even better on day two.
Now those are some wieners.
Kramer telling me to stop being immature.
Our friend Danny, who lives in Jersey and dragged us all out there.
Jessie, ever the trooper.
Me, claiming Danny’s food for my own when he wasn’t looking.
Of course, we couldn’t end the night without a little karaoke.
Aren’t these short ribs beautiful?
Brown them nicely on all sides.
And peel many a clove of garlic.
Get your vegetables cooked up, then nestle the ribs in the pot and braise in the oven for 2 hours or so, until tender.
Serve with the beer you cooked it with and some crusty bread.
- 2.5 pounds beef short ribs
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 12-ounce amber beer (pick something on the sweeter side - an IPA will make this taste bitter)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ a head of garlic, cloves individually peeled
- 2 cups water
- ½ of a jalapeño, thinly sliced
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 10 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves only (plus more for garnish)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Combine your salt and pepper and rub it all over the ribs. Heat your oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot and add in half of your ribs, cooking on each side until nicely browned, about 5 minutes total. Remove the ribs to a paper-towel lined pate and finish off the remaining ribs. Set those aside as well.
- In the same pot, keep the drippings and add in the carrots and onion. Cook over medium-high heat until they start to brown, about 5 minutes, then add in the beer, tomato paste, cumin, chile powder, and pepper flakes . Bring the mixture to a boil, then add in 2 cups of water. Stir to combine, then add in the the sliced jalapeño, peeled garlic cloves, bay leaf and cilantro leaves. Nestle the short ribs in the pot, cover and cook for 2 - 2½ hours or so, until the ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender. Serve alongside the sauce from the pot with additional vegetables, crusty bread or on its own.