Wine-braised Short Ribs with Dried Figs and Apricots

For Rosh Hashanah I had collaborated with 90+ Cellars (my favorite wine brand!)  to bring you this recipe of Malbec-braised Short Ribs with Dried Figs and Apricots. This dish is rich with a tangy sweetness reminiscent of Syrian stuffed grape leaves, all thanks to the addition of tamarind and fruit. Their Old Vine Malbec takes the flavor (and COLOR!) of this Aleppian stew to another level. Choosing quality wine that is ruby-purple with hints of wood smoke, berries, and spice is my dutch oven’s best friend. When I don’t want to make Syrian stuffed grape leaves but still want the sweet and tangy tamarind flavors that are smothered all over them, this is my go-to. Let me tell you: it is DEC-A-dent. You can serve it with rice and lentils, a generous amount of salad, or even mashed potatoes.

Wine-Braised Short Ribs with Dried Figs and Apricots

Course Main Course
Cuisine Jewish
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lb bone-in short ribs
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp oil for browning meat
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 head of garlic halved cross-wise
  • 3 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 sweet onion quartered (optional)
  • 12 dried Mission figs
  • 10 dried california apricots
  • 2 sprigs rosemary or thyme
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo Pepper or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp tamarind concentrate or more to taste
  • 3 cups red wine good quality
  • water or beef broth enough to cover short ribs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over med-high heat and brown the short ribs in 2 batches, being sure to season them with a little salt on all sides. Set aside.
  • Add your carrots, garlic, and onion (if using) and stir the tomato paste into a pool of oil left in the pot, being sure to caramelize it for about a minute before stirring ingredients together. Add all spices, herbs, 3 tbs of tamarind, and combine. After about 30 seconds, add your short ribs and it’s accumulated juices back into the pot, then pour your malbec wine over them. Allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes until wine reduces by half. Add in water or broth 1 cup at a time, until short ribs are covered over by ½ an inch.
  • Stir in your dried figs and apricots. Cover dutch oven and place it in the oven for 2 hours. Taste the sauce at this time. If it’s not sweet-tangy enough for you, add another tbs of tamarind. Different brands of tamarind are sweeter/tarter than others, so you have to go by taste.
  • Put it back in the oven until fork-tender, another 30 minutes to an hour. The meat should be sticky with all that sweet and tangy goodness.
Keyword Comfort Food, Dutch Oven, High Holidays

polenta rugelach with roasted tomato jam

I’ve been told rugelach is one of those recipes you shouldn’t toy with, but when did I ever back away from a challenge? Don’t allow the use of polenta here scare you into sticking solely to traditional dough, as it has been a game-changer for me, even when making pies! Remember this polenta tomato galette I made a few weeks ago? Here lies the inspiration for this new recipe. It adds a grainy, crumbly texture without turning a traditional rugelach dough into tiny, devastating bits. And that jam? Oy. Sweet-yet-savory (my favorite!)

While I’ll forever recommend buying in-season tomatoes from your local farmers market, roasting even the blandest store-bought (cherry/grape/Campari) tomato in our colder months will be okay to use for this recipe. But, seriously, a good friend of mine reported that she spotted plenty of tomatoes at Union Square Greenmarket yesterday, and it was the only good news I needed. You probably have at least 2 more weeks to splurge, so get to it.

Polenta Rugelach with Roasted Tomato Jam

a savory-sweet cookie
Course Appetizer, Dessert
Cuisine Jewish
Servings 48 cookies

Ingredients
  

for the dough

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter room temp
  • 8 oz full-fat cream cheese room temp
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup polenta

for small batch roasted tomato jam (makes 2/3 cup)

  • 1 lb in-season cherry tomatoes and/or other variety, halved if big
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • couple of pinches of salt
  • Aleppo pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp allspice optional
  • 2 sprigs thyme and/or rosemary
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

for assembling

  • polenta dough
  • roasted tomato jam
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1 1/2 tbsp polenta for sprinkling over cookies (optional)

Instructions
 

for the dough

  • In a medium bowl, add your flour and polenta and stir until well combined. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together your butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt. This can also be done by hand.
  • Slowly add in the flour and polenta, and mix until a smooth dough comes together. Divide this dough into 4 equal pieces, wrapping each one with plastic wrap. Place them in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before use, or up to 24 hours. When ready to make your rugelach, you will want them to slightly come to room temp before rolling them out. Give them at least 20 minutes before doing so.

for the tomato jam

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a cast iron skillet, add tomatoes, herbs, spices, and olive oil. Toss until well coated. Roast for about 35 minutes, or until you see that the tomatoes have caramelized a bit.(Not too much, though, as you still want them juicy enough for the extra cooking being done on the stove top.)  
  • Place cast iron on stove top over med-low heat. Discard herbs. Gently smash tomatoes with either a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Add lemon juice and sugar. Stir often, til juices reduce and tomato jam thickens, about 20-25minutes. Allow this to cool completely before use. Can be made 2 days ahead and kept in a small, tightly lidded jar.

for assembling and baking the rugelach

  • Working with one dough at a time and on a generously floured surface, roll out ball of dough into an 8-inch circle. Doesn’t have to be perfect but if looking for a perfect circle, I like to use a cake or pie pan to cut it out. Spread about 2 tbsp jam (a little goes a long way), leaving ¼-inch of the border untouched by jam. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 12 equal triangles. Starting from the outer edges, roll up each into a cookie.
  • Place each cookie point side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle polenta now if using. You may need more than1 sheet pan.
  • Bake for 16-20minutes, until golden in color. Allow them to cool on an oven rack. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Keyword Cookies, Jam, Polenta, Tomatoes

Caramelized Cabbage Matzah Balls

Caramelized Cabbage Matzah Balls

September is for mourning the end of tomato season (ANY DAY NOW, Y’ALL), begrudgingly welcoming all them fancy (and seemingly endless) gourds, and planning for Rosh Hashanah. I find myself torn between these matzah balls, where sugary brown bits of cabbage get added in, or my festive Puerto Rican recipe for sancocho matzo ball soup. I suppose it depends how many people I’m feeding this year. This one might make my life a bit easier (less costly, too!)

This was originally shared on The Nosher last Passover, with the recipe for my chicken soup included should you need to check that out as well. Now I get to share it here right in time for the holidays and cooler days. Ladle these darlings into any brothy soup you might be making soon.

Just rolled and ready for the boiling pot of water

Caramelized Cabbage Matzah Balls

Course First Course, Soup
Cuisine Jewish
Servings 10 matzah balls

Ingredients
  

for caramelizing cabbage

  • 1 1/2 cup green cabbage chopped
  • 3 tbsp schmaltz or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • couple of pinches of sugar optional

for the matzah balls

  • 3/4 cup matzo meal
  • 3 egg whites from large eggs, whisked til light and fluffy
  • 3 yolks from large eggs
  • 1 tbsp grated sweet onion
  • caramelized cabbage with schmaltz (or oil)
  • 3 tbsp broth from soup cooled down
  • 1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh herbs dill, cilantro, parsley
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Instructions
 

for the cabbage

  • In a small pan under low heat, melt your schmaltz then add the chopped cabbage. Stir every 8-10 minutes (be careful to not interrupt the browning process by moving the cabbage around a lot) until the mix turns a deep brown, about 45 minutes. While you begin with 3 tbsp schmaltz, it reduces to about 1 ½ tbsp. Set aside.

for the matzah balls

  • In a medium bowl, beat your egg yolks, grated onion, cabbage with schmaltz, broth, herbs and salt together. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites and matzo meal til fully incorporated. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil, stir in 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • With wet hands, form walnut-sized balls and drop them into the pot. Cover and boil for about 50 minutes.
  • Ladle them into your favorite soup. Enjoy!
Keyword Cabbage, Comfort Food, High Holidays

Caramelized Cabbage Matzah Balls & Keftes: Passover Ebook

Caramelized Cabbage Matzah Balls & Keftes: Passover Ebook

I am excited to announce that The Nosher and Jewish Telegraphic Agency have recently included my recipes for Caramelized Cabbage Matzah Ball Soup and Keftes in their ebook: 15 Recipes For a Modern Passover. Please do check it out! Other recipes included are absolutely beautiful.

When Janna Gur first shared Hadassah Kavel’s recipe for Matzo Balls in her Jewish Soul Food cookbook, I knew adding caramelized onion to my own recipe was just the thing that was missing. That is, until I became cabbage-obsessed a few years ago. While I know we have entered a new year, I’d like to think cabbage is still trending. I would recommend adding these to any of your favorite broths or soups for your upcoming holiday table, but I have included a basic chicken soup recipe as well.

Recipe for chicken soup with caramelized cabbage matzah balls on The Nosher.

sancocho matzo ball soup

sancocho matzo ball soup

The two ultimate comfort soups from both of my worlds have come together to hug the heck out of me.

Developing this recipe was nothing short of WOW. “Wow” was the only sound I heard on the holiday table during Rosh Hashanah when sazón-seasoned matzo balls were ladled into piping hot bowls of sancocho, a hearty soup (sometimes stew) of meat and veggies from the Caribbean. Following my mom’s recipe but needing to cut down on some of the root vegetables to make space for the matzo balls, I’d say this is close enough to hers, which always has had a combination of oxtails and chicken. You can always play around with the proteins and veggies, but if mom doesn’t see yucca, pumpkin, sweet plantain and corn – then Imma get an earful. She has also added, when available, chayote and white yautia roots.

Feel free to use your favorite matzo ball recipe (and hey, add in some sazón and cilantro while you’re at it).

If using sofrito, I have a recipe for it here: mom’s small batch sofrito.

Sancocho Matzo Ball Soup

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Caribbean, Fusion, Jewish, Puerto Rican
Servings 8 or 10 people

Ingredients
  

for the soup

  • 1.5-2 lb oxtails (or beef, short ribs) seasoned with salt
  • 3 tbsp sofrito optional
  • 1/2 of a whole chicken bone-in
  • 1 head of garlic the top cut off to reveal cloves
  • 1/2 of a small Spanish onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 sprigs of thyme optional
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 12 cup water or beef broth
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1 cup squash or pumpkin cut into chunks
  • 1 ear of corn cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large yucca cut into chunks
  • 1 semi-sweet plantain sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large potato or yam cut into chunks

for the matzo balls (makes about 12 medium)

  • 3/4 cup matzo meal
  • 3 tbsp schmaltz or fat from oxtail
  • 1/4 cup broth (from soup)
  • 3 egg whites (from large eggs) beaten til frothy
  • 3 egg yolks (from large eggs)
  • 2 tspn sazón Organic, not Goya
  • 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

for the sancocho

  • Brown the oxtails for a few minutes on both sides. Add in the celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf, sofrito if using. Continue to fry for about a minute then add in chicken, and water/broth. Bring to a light simmer, not to a boil.
  • Skim often, then reserve 3 TBSP of the chicken and oxtail's oil that sits on top of the broth. Use this for the matzo meal if you do not have chicken schmaltz.
  • After about an hour and half, discard the onion, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Set the chicken aside. When cool enough to handle, shred for serving.
  • Add in the yucca and carrots and cook for 30 minutes before adding in the rest of the vegetables. Simmer for about 15 minutes more.

for the matzo balls

  • In a medium bowl, beat your egg yolks, schmaltz, broth, herbs and seasonings together. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites and matzo meal til fully incorporated. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
  • With wet hands, gently form walnut-sized matzo balls and slip them into a pot of boiling water that was generously salted. Cover and boil for about 50 minutes. Serve in a bowl of sancocho.

Notes

Make sure the oxtails you get have less fat on them than meat. You’ll be spooning fat out of the pot for days! I reserve 3 tbsp of this fat for the matzo balls.
 
Keyword Comfort Food, Hearty Soup, Matzo Balls, Sazon, Sofrito
Sancocho Matzo Ball Soup by @cookonyournerve

caramelized cabbage soup with flanken and golden beets

caramelized cabbage soup with flanken and golden beets

This soup is a cross between a meaty borscht and my modern-day obsession with caramelized cabbage. Both flanken and cabbage lend a hand in it’s richness, sweetness, and color. Brown food is beautiful.

Some notes: If you choose to make this vegetarian, I would add dried mushrooms to create an umami broth. To make it heartier, add more of the vegetables listed here. Barley would be a nice addition, too. If you can’t find golden beets, any beet would do. I just love the goldeness it creates in the broth.

One thing you should refrain from is cutting time spent on cooking the cabbage. The longer you cook them, the better. I like to go the extra step of patting them down with a paper towel just to take away some excess oil. I also like to spoon some of the fat out of the pot as the flanken simmers. You might find it easier to do that once the soup cools down, though. Up to you!

Caramelized Cabbage Soup with Flanken and Golden Beets

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Russian
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

for the cabbage

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb green cabbage chopped
  • 1/2 cup leek, sliced – or other onion, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tspn sugar optional

for the broth

  • vegetable oil to coat pot
  • 1-1 1/12 lb flanken cut into pieces between the bones
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 head of garlic halved crosswise
  • 1 onion
  • fresh herbs of your choosing
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 10 cup water

for the soup

  • 2 1/2 cup beets peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and sliced
  • caramelized cabbage and onion
  • flanken and it's broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • dill or cilantro to taste

Instructions
 

for the cabbage

  • Set a deep, large pan over medium-high heat. Add your oil.
  • When it’s hot you’ll add the cabbage, leeks, salt, and sugar. Immediately turn the heat down to low and slow cook the cabbage, being careful to not interrupt the browning process by moving the cabbage around a lot. You’ll stir it once every 8-10 minutes til they have deeply browned, about 45 minutes or more. If at any point the pan looks too dry, you may gradually add a bit more olive oil. Set aside in a bowl lined with a paper towel as you work on the broth.

for the broth and soup

  • In a large pot set over high heat, brown the flanken in batches. Return them to the pot when the last batch is done.
  • Add the vegetables, herbs, salt, and water. Bring it to a boil, cover with a lid, and turn it down to a simmer. For the first 15 minutes, check on it to remove any foamy crud that rises to the top.
  • After 1.5 hours, discard the vegetables and herbs and add the beets, carrots, caramelized cabbage. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes, or til tender. Add salt and pepper to taste, and fresh herbs if you’d like.
Keyword beets, Cabbage, caramelized, flanken, soup

Originally featured on The Nosher.