Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dinner at RDG

Last night I had dinner for the first time since Cafe Annie became the new RDG, I have to tell you my first impression when we pulled into the valet was great environment! The decor was very modern, loved the long stairs with dim lights overlooking the wine cellar. One little detail though, the bathroom is tucked behind those two flights of stairs, hmmmm I don't know how that works after a couple of martinis!

We sat down at the patio area and we got our cocktails promptly, we put an order for some appetizers that came really quick, guacamole and homemade chips that was very fresh and flavorful. And we also ordered some crab and avocado tartar that was.. one word, AMAZING! So far so good, we enjoyed our appetizers over a glass of champagne, and after we were finished the empty plates sat in our table for almost 25 minutes... when we finally could flag a waiter over, we refilled our drinks and got our entrees ordered.

Because of the delay on placing our orders, we had to wait another 20 minutes before our entrees made it to our table. The food was nicely presented and perfectly cooked... but our waiter had trouble remembering who had what... I mean, we were only 3 people at the table! how hard can it be?
 don't they have to put numbers on every seat so they don't get confused? At this point we ordered some water for the table, that, well, never made it....

Anyways, I ordered the Grilled Red Fish with a lemon/butter sauce and steamed asparagus, it was delicious! We also had a couple of petite fillets topped with some crab meat that were very nicely seasoned. After we finished with our entrees we were ready for dessert, we placed our order and since we have been waiting for so long, we decided to get the check as well, we hand our credit card and start wrapping out the night. For dessert we ordered fresh strawberry cheese cake and an apple crisp with dulce de leche ice cream, they were really great!!! We were done with dessert after another 15 minuets or so, and we prolonged our conversation for a while, when we finally found someone to come attend to us, we ask for our check, and they bring the itemized receipt, we remind them that the waiter had already taken our card 20 minutes before, and they returned 10 minutes later with the copy for us to sign....

It was a nice gastronomical experience, but the fact that we never had any personalized service, and we had to flag waiters to come and get empty plates and new drink orders kind of takes the joy our of eating on a restaurant... I don't think I will go back, it was a wednesday night with not 100% occupancy, I can not even imagine how it would be on friday or saturday?!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Short Rib Lasagna

This is an amazing recipe I found on the September issue of Bon Appetit Magazine, it took me forever to prep for it, but the flavor of the finished product is just amazing! I could not get enough of it and neither my guests! This recipe makes 8 to 10 servings (Any leftover meat sauce can be spooned over pasta later in the week.) 
  • PREP: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • TOTAL: 5 hours (includes braising time)


Short Rib Sauce

5 fresh thyme sprigs plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 fresh parsley sprigs
1 Turkish bay leaf
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
4 pounds meaty beef short ribs
1 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup ruby Port
2 cups dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel)
2 1/2 cups low-salt beef broth
6 garlic cloves, peeled


5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
18 5 3/4x3 1/2-inch sheets no-bake lasagna noodles (from two 9-ounce packages)

Special Equipment

Ingredient Info 
Dried porcini mushrooms are available in the produce section of many supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Italian markets.


Short Rib Sauce

Tie all herb sprigs and bay leaf in cheesecloth for bouquet garni; trim excess cheesecloth. Set bouquet garni aside. Place mushrooms in heatproof bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water; cover and let stand until mushrooms soften, about 20 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to work surface; chop. Reserve mushroom soaking liquid.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325°F. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Place flour in medium bowl. Dredge ribs in flour, shaking off excess; place on rimmed baking sheet. Reserve flour. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook ribs until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes per batch. Return ribs to baking sheet.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion; cook until softened, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Stir in chopped mushrooms. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon reserved flour over vegetables (discard remaining flour). Add tomato paste; stir until tomato paste begins to brown on bottom of pot, about 1 minute. Add Port and stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute. Add red wine. Pour in reserved mushroom soaking liquid, leaving any sediment behind. Bring to boil; simmer until reduced by about 1/3, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add broth, garlic, and bouquet garni. Return to boil. Return ribs to pot, arranging meat side down in single layer. Cover pot; place in oven and braise ribs until very tender, about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours.
Using tongs, transfer ribs from pot to rimmed baking sheet to cool. Discard bouquet garni. Shred beef; discard bones. Spoon off fat from top of sauce in pot; discard fat. Boil sauce until reduced to 51/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Return meat to sauce. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in chopped thyme. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.


Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; whisk until smooth. Cook until light golden brown, whisking frequently, about 6 minutes. Add milk; bring to boil, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute. Add nutmeg. Season béchamel to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly; cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 15x10x2-inch baking dish. Spoon 1 cup meat sauce over bottom of dish; spread in thin layer. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over. Arrange 6 lasagna noodles over to cover (noodles may overlap slightly). Drizzle 1 cup béchamel over noodles, spreading in even layer; sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over. Spread 2 cups meat sauce over. Repeat with noodles, béchamel, cheese, and meat sauce. Cover with remaining 6 noodles. Spread remaining béchamel over noodles. Sprinkle remaining cheese over.

Bake lasagna uncovered until edges are bubbling and top is golden brown in spots, about 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spaghetti with Meat Balls

This past weekend we had to serve dinner for 12 people at the ranch, we were not sure what would be easy enough to cook in large quantities and also make sure the portions were enough so everyone could satisfy their appetites... So what better than italian food...

This is a dish you can prepare with the whole family, it takes a while to prep so you will be able to enjoy some wine and appetizers while you cook; and the flavor is so casual you would never order it in a restaurant ever again!

It takes a while to make so plan ahead and assume you'll spend between 3 - 3 1/2 hours in the kitchen, patiently waiting for the veggies and meat to be perfectly chopped and cooked!

Ingredients for the meatballs:

3 pounds of ground 80% leans beef
2 pounds of ground veal meat
1 large white onion
5 eggs
5 tbs of chopped fresh italian parsley
5 tbs of chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1 cup of italian style bread crumbs
4 pieces of white bread with no borders
7 garlic cloves
5 tbs of chopped oregano
2 shallots
Olive Oil

Meatballs Preparation:

In a large bowl mix the ground beef and veal with the eggs, chopped the onion as thinly as you can and introduce to the mix together with the chopped parsley and thyme, add 1/4 of a cup of salt and pepper, and keep mixing the meat with your hands; add the bread crumbs and the pieces of bread, make sure you break the bread into small pieces so people won't get chunks of bread in their meal.

In a small sauce pan drizzle some olive oil and heat it, add the chopped shallots, garlic and oregano and sautee for 5 minutes, then add to the bowl with the meat.

Preheat the oven @ 375 degrees.

After making sure that all the ingredients are perfectly mixed with the meats, get 2 baking sheets and make some medium size meatballs, rolling them with the palm of your hands. Once you are finished making approximately 36 - 40 meatballs place the baking sheets in the oven for 40 - 45 minutes.

(By the time the meatballs are baked, there should be a lot of juices in the baking sheets, let the meatballs cool down for a couple of minutes before mixing them with the tomato sauce)

Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce:

3 celery sticks
3 medium size carrots
1 medium white onion
6 garlic cloves
3 shallots
3 large cans of peeled tomatos
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil

Sauce Preparation:

Chop all the vegetables in very small pieces. In a large sauce pan drizzle some olive oil and cook the chopped garlic and shallots, make sure they don't burn. Add the celery, carrot, and onion to the heat and cook for approximately 15 minutes.

Open the canned tomatoes add the liquid on the heating pan and with your bare hands squeeze the tomatoes and brake them into pieces and then mix them with the cooking vegetables, bring to a boil then lower the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the sauce from the heat, let it cool off and then using the mixer start blending the sauce, do it by batches you don't want to get burn by the sauce... Place the mixed sauce in a even larger sauce pan that could hold the meatballs as well.

In medium low heat cook for another 25 minutes the meatballs completely covered by the tomato sauce.

In a medium sauce pan boil some water and make some spaghetti with salted water and some olive oil. When done use a bowl to mix the cooked pasta with some tomato sauce before mixing the meatballs. Ready to serve, make sure you shave some parmesan cheese on top! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's all about Pasta: Bell Peppers Cream Bacon Fettuccine

My husband and I came back home late and had no idea what we were going to do for dinner... It has been a while since we had dinner at home, we have had a very busy schedule for the last couple of weeks, so we feel like staying home and cooking something...

The problem is that it's 9 pm and we have limited availability of ingredients in our fridge, so I decided to make a vegetable pasta... and then I found some bacon and some cream! and voila, magic it's on it's way!

Makes 2 servings
Time: 40 -45 minutes


1/2 orange bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
3/4 tomato
3 garlic cloves
4 strips of bacon
1/3 of a cup of heavy whipping cream
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 a box of fettuccine pasta


Chop the bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and bacon and keep them aside. Turn the stove on with medium heat, add 1 tbs of olive oil and wait for it to heat, add the chopped bacon and cook for 5 - 7 minutes, do not let it get crunchy, you want it to be soft so it can mix well with the rest of the vegetables.

Add the chopped garlic and saute it for 3 - 4 minutes; then add the chopped red onions and saute for 4 more minutes; add the bell peppers and let them cook for 5 minutes, notice that the coloration of the vegetables start getting orangy. Finally mix the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes; add a pinch of salt and another one of pepper, decrease the temperature to low and remain cooking for another 5 - 7 minutes before adding the heavy whipping cream, mix the sauce and let it cook for another 7 - 10 minutes.

In a medium sauce pan boil some water with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil, add the fettuccine,  approximately 13 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a medium size bowl mix the pasta with the sauce and it is ready to serve! You can add some shaved Parmesan cheese as a garnish.