Fabulous braised oxtail

I know this is something that Americans may turn their nose up at, but if you eat and like Osso Bucco, you’ll LOVE this.
It’s rich, meaty, fall-off-the-bone good, inexpensive to buy and very satisfying, especially sitting on a bed of mashed potato or mashed cauliflower.
And don’t forget to suck out the inside of the bones, where all that calcium-rich bone marrow is!

Cook time – 3 hours 50 mins
Serves 4 to 6

2- 3 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
3 -4 lbs oxtail
4 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and roughly diced
2 stalks celery, peeled, trimmed and roughly diced
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Colemans English mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
17 fl oz (500 mls) red wine
14 fl oz (400 mls) beef stock
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme

In a bowl, mix the flour with a generous grind of black pepper. Place a large flameproof Dutch oven or casserole pot over a high heat and add the oil.

Pat the oxtail dry with kitchen paper. Roll the pieces in the seasoned flour and add to the pot one by one.
Don’t overcrowd the pan, or you won’t get a nice dark brown color on them, as they will steam and look pale. Do it in two batches.
Brown the oxtail on all sides, turning with the kitchen tongs until the meat is a really rich dark brown color.
Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.

Preheat the oven to 325 F

Add an extra drop of oil to the pot, reduce the heat and add the onion, carrot and celery.
Fry for 5 minutes until just tender. Stir through the tomato puree, mustard and Worcestershire sauce until evenly combined.

Pour over the red wine, beef stock and balsamic vinegar and pop in the rosemary and thyme sprigs.
Season with salt.
Cover with a lid and place in the oven to cook slowly for 3 1/2 hours or until the meat is falling away from the bone.

Serve on a bed of mashed potato or mashed cauliflower.

Garlic studded beef pot roast

This is a recipe from Emeril Lagasse and I’ve made it multiple times. It is full of flavor, garlicky, and the meat is very, very tender with a rich sauce.

1 (3 to 3 1/2 lb) boneless beef chuck roast
10 to 12 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in 1/2 lengthwise
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup beef stock, plus more if necessary. (I found I needed about 4 cups)
Fresh chopped thyme leaves and parsley, for garnish
Roasted vegetables, recipe below

Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make 20 to 24 evenly spaced small slits about 1 1/2 inches deep all over the pot roast. Using your fingers, insert the garlic cloves as deep into the meat as possible. Season the roast evenly on all sides with the salt and pepper.

Heat a heavy casserole dish (Dutch oven) over high heat. Add the oil and when very hot, use the meat fork to add the roast.
Sear on all sides until VERY well browned. This is where a lot of the flavor comes from. When the roast is evenly browned on all sides, add the stock and stir to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
Cover the casserole dish with a lid, reduce the heat to low/medium-low and cook the roast until it is very tender, about 3 hours, turning two or three times during the entire cooking time.
Check occasionally to make sure that you always have 1 inch or so of liquid on the bottom of the pan (Hence the need to have 4 cups of stock available)

When the roast is very tender, transfer to a serving platter and slice or pull the meat apart into serving pieces.
Reduce the pan juices until the flavor is more intense and serve drizzled over the roast and the roasted vegetables that you serve around the roast. Garnish with the fresh thyme leaves and parsley.

Roasted vegetables

2 turnips, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
12 red pearl onions
2 beets cut into 1 inch pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 F

Place all the vegetables except the beets in a roasting pan. Place the beets in a separate roasting pan.
Drizzle all vegetables with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
Place in the oven and roast for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and caramelized.

A fantastic way to store those leftover herbs

I was recently reading some of my favorite blogs and came across this idea which I think is great.

The idea of freezing olive oil had never crossed my mind and to have it already infused with the herbs ready to use in a roast or any other dish, is brilliant!
This tends to work better with the more woodsy herbs that don’t contain a lot of water. The best ones to use are;

All you do is out the broken up herbs into clean ice cube trays and then fill them with a good olive oil and freeze.
When you’re roasting your chicken or potatoes or whatever you are cooking that day, pop out a few cubes and add to the roasting pan and you will have that fresh herby flavor in your dish.

A day at Napa Valley

We have rented the most wonderful vacation home high above the Russian River near Guerneville, Northern California, for two weeks.

Above is the view from the kitchen and when the evening fog from the coast 10 miles away rolls in by 7pm and out by 8am, it gets pretty dramatic.

It’s hard to leave this place, but the pull of the Russian River, Dry Creek, Alexander and Sonoma Valley wineries is strong and today we did our trip to Napa Valley, about 45 minutes drive from here.
It’s definitely the most expensive place to sample wines and the most touristy and I must admit to preferring the Dry Creek and Alexander Valley wines more.

Everyone has been saying to us, “You must go to the French Laundry” or “you must try …….. restaurant”

I cannot get excited about the French Laundry and so far we have just loved little places like “Canneti Roadhouse Italian” in Forestville which is terrific,

The front of Canneti from the street

The lovely back patio and garden
The food was divine, fresh and adventurous. What more can one want!

“K&L Bistro” in Sebastopol was really nice and again the food was super.
We were out in Sonoma/ Alexander valley the other day and asked someone at a winery where we could eat something tasty but not in one of the towns and she told us about the the “Jimtown Store”.
It looks deceptive from the outside but they actually have their own recipe book and the food was super!

That same evening we drove to where the Russian river meets the ocean at Jenner and had a super dinner, again, a little different and really beautifully cooked and a spectacular setting.
It is called “Rivers End” We were there for the evening’s sunset and this below is the view from our table.

Today we went to  “Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen”in St Helena for lunch and again we had a delicious, imaginative meal, in a very pretty restaurant, one street back from the touristy main street.

I find these days that it is more fun to get a pleasant culinary surprise than have one’s expectations slightly dashed, as is often the way in the more well known and often overpriced eateries.

Our trip has another week to go and I have several more places marked for us to eat at, that are small
and interesting. 

Our wonderful two week vacation in the Russian River valley

Rather than post the usual vacation pics, I was very taken with this “umbrella planter” at Chalk Hill Winery the other day and thought I would show it to you and give you a link to where you can purchase one.

I love the fact that one can use it on an outdoor table with an umbrella and given that I invested in a really super extending teak outdoor dining table and chairs recently, I think it would be perfect on the table with some pretty plants in it.

I’m thinking this would only be for USA people, but you never know!


The best lemon juicer I’ve ever tried



Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer

This is a terrific lemon juicer, better than any of the other ones I have ever tried. I highly recommend it!
You can get it on Amazon.com and it’s well worth it. It costs about $22.
A great Christmas present for someone who likes to cook!

Really light and tasty Osso Bucco

This is the very best Osso Bucco recipe I have ever made, and it’s also light and very easy. A real winner. You MUST make it!

Serves 4 – 6

3 lbs veal knuckle cut into 3 inch pieces,  or 1 – 2 large pieces of ready prepared Osso Bucco veal for each person.
2 oz seasoned flour
3 oz butter
3 tbsp olive oil
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, peeled and sliced
2 onions, sliced
5 large garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp flour
8 fl oz dry white wine
14 fl oz veal stock (you can buy this frozen in Gelsons and other good supermarkets)
20 fl oz of a really good jar of Marinara sauce
3 bay leaves
2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper
2 oz Kalamata pitted black olives in brine, chopped

Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Roll the veal pieces in the seasoned flour. (Seasoned with salt and pepper)

Melt the butter and oil in a heavy cast iron Dutch oven or casserole dish with a lid, add the veal pieces and brown lightly on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan and fry the carrots, onions, celery and garlic in the butter remaining in the pan for 10 minutes, stirring

Stir the remaining seasoned flour into the vegetables and saute gently until the flour has cooked a little.
Stir in the white wine and stock and bring to the boil.
Add all the remaining ingredients, except the garnish, including the veal, season and mix well.
Cook for 2 minutes, stirring a lot.
Cover  and put it in the preheated oven.
Cook for 3 hours or until the meat is almost falling off the bone.

Mix the garnish ingredients together and stir into the Osso Bucco just before serving so the lemon/garlic/parsley mixture is fresh and bright in the Osso Bucco.

Serve with Risotto Milanese or mashed potato.