Osso Buco

>> Sunday, February 12, 2017

Osso Buco

Our love story begins with the post "He Cooks for Me", on Angela's life blog, angelawd.wordpress.com.

“I’d like to cook for you,” He said, a few months after we started dating. “Why don’t you come over for Easter dinner?”

I was excited. News of his prowess in the kitchen had spread throughout our circle of friends at both churches. My girls, according to the alternating visitation schedule, would be with their dad, and my family was too far away to visit. I was glad I wouldn’t spend another holiday alone.

When I got to his condo, I could smell dinner all the way down the hallway – a rich, garlicky aroma. “It smells delicious,” I said. “What are we having?”

“Osso Buco”, He said, wiping his hands on his personalized apron.

He owns his own apron! I shouted to myself. “Osso Buco, that’s great!”

“Have you heard of it before?”

“Uh, no, actually not.”

“It’s braised veal shanks. A classic Italian recipe.”

I was utterly impressed. Guys took me out to steakhouses or seafood places; when they cooked a fancy dinner for me, it was inevitably a steak, a baked potato, and some wine. No one had ever cooked me a meal I’d never even heard of before.

I watched him sprinkle chopped fresh parsley in a delicate pattern over our dishes, and then serve steaming veal with a thick red sauce onto each plate. There were candlesticks and placemats, and a wine that he had to explain before I even had a taste. Something Italian and as dark red and rich as the meal; he had chosen it to complement the veal. I appreciated the explanation. I was used to $3 bottles of White Zinfandel.

When I could eat no more, I sat back and rubbed my stomach.

“What do you think?” He asked.

“I think I love it,” I said, meaning the meal, the wine, the idea of a man who cooks especially for me. Two years later I married him, and in September we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary.

Wiping away Joe's tear after he said his wedding vows.

Joe actually calls this version of his recipe "Fauxo Buco", because it uses beef shanks rather than the astronomically expensive veal shanks. I call it delicious.


2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 to 7 pounds beef or veal shank sawed into 2 1/2 inch sections
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup beef stock
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp fresh basil
1 tsp fresh thyme
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves

For the Gremolata (herb topping)

1 tbsp grated lemon peel
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced


In a large casserole or Dutch oven, melt half the butter and oil over medium heat. Saute the onions, carrots, celery and garlic until tender. Remove to a separate plate.

Stir together the salt, pepper, and flour, and roll the meat in the mixture. Melt the rest of the butter and oil in the Dutch oven, then brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Add the vegetables to the meat.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pour the wine and broth into the casserole pan, and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the basil, thyme, tomatoes, parsley sprigs and bay leaves; the liquid and vegetable should halfway cover the meat. If it doesn't, add more broth or water. Bring the pan to a boil, then cover and place in the center of the oven.

Braise the meat for about 1 1/2 hours, basting it with the juices occasionally, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is thickened and stew-like. Serve the meat arranged on a serving platter with the vegetables and sauce. 

Alternatively, you can pour some creamy polenta onto individual plates, then arrange a shank and the vegetables over the top. Sprinkle the servings with the gremolata—the piquant garnish of lemon zest, parsley, and garlic.

Serves 6-8.


Aloo Mattar (Indian Pea and Potato Stew)

>> Saturday, February 4, 2017

Aloo Mattar (Indian Pea and Potato Stew)

Aloo mattar (AH-loo mah-tar) stew is a super-easy and filling vegetarian dish full of a lot of complex curry-like flavors. You can make it as spicy or as mild as you like. It was very much a comfort food on a cold day, and our home smelled fabulous while we were cooking it. As simple as the recipe is, we were surprised that it tasted just like the one made in the restaurant by Indians.

My friend Sheilja recommends buying spices like cumin, coriander, and cardamom as whole seeds and then grinding them as you need them, so that they retain more flavor. They really smell amazing when you grind them fresh! She uses a Magic Bullet, but our electric coffee grinder works just as well. Again, try a Hispanic or Asian grocery store for the spices if you have trouble finding them at your supermarket.


4 medium russet potatoes
1 tbsp oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small green chili pepper, minced (bell, jalapeno, serrano, or other, depending on how much heat you want)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp garam masala powder (you can substitute good curry powder, but the taste will be different)
1 plum tomato, chopped
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


Scrub the potatoes, then cut them into 1" cubes. Boil them until slightly tender, then drain.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil, then add the onion, garlic, and pepper and saute until tender. Stir in the cooked potatoes and the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes and peas are tender and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the cilantro.

Serve over rice with naan or puri flat bread on the side.

Serves 4-6


Big Game Sunday Party Food

>> Sunday, January 29, 2017

Super Bowl Sunday appetizers

I love me some good fattening appetizers, full of cheese and bacon and other gooey, unhealthy things, especially when a football game is involved. Big Game Sunday calls for lots of finger foods, right? Here's a roundup of some of the most drool-inducing appetizers recipes I found around the web for a football party, or any appetizer-worthy occasion.

If you try any of these for a party, leave me a note and tell me how you liked them!


Vegan Creamy Cucumber Rollups

Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip

Buffalo Chicken Mini-Meatballs

Won Ton Chicken Tacos

Jalapeno Poppers with Chorizo and Chihuahua Cheese

Snickers Dip

Apple Pie Fries


5 Fabulous Meatless Meals

>> Monday, January 16, 2017

Vegan vegetarian

The Hungry Lovers have been looking for meatless Monday inspiration, especially since we're in the glorious days of summer garden bounty. This summer in particular, the produce seems more abundant and luscious than many years. This is a perfect time of year to explore new vegetarian meals.

I've rounded up some tasty meat-free meals for you to try, from some food sites we enjoy reading. If you'd like, please share with us your favorite meatless dishes, too. We always love trying something new.

Capasso Kitchen, Broccoli with carrots and cashews. We love a stir fry. We REALLY love cashews.

Honey B's and Birch Trees, Spicy Black Bean Burgers. "Spicy" and "Black Bean". Two of our favorite food words.

Bon Appetempt, Almond Tofu with Snap Peas and Soba Noodles. I bet this is fabulous with peanut butter, too.

The Reluctant Bean, Barbecue Lentil Sandwiches. You know they're good when teenagers are wolfing them down.

LaaLoosh, Lemon Spinach Chickpea Pasta. Laaloosh creates dependably awesome recipes that are healthy and Weight Watchers-friendly. 


Paella (Saffron Rice with Chicken and Seafood)

>> Friday, January 6, 2017

Paella (Saffron Rice with Chicken and Seafood)

Joe and I have talked about making this signature dish from Spain for a long time, but paella always seemed so daunting. I mean, the list of ingredients is huge, and the explanations for preparing all the seafood seemed like too much bother. And then there's the special paella pan, a wide shallow skillet that traditionally Spaniards used over an open fire.

Our Spain/Portugal cookbook has two pages of directions for this recipe, but it also told us we were overthinking the whole dish. At its heart, the recipe for paella is basically a rice stew with seafood, vegetables, and meat, and cooks probably threw in whatever they had at home or whatever was fresh or on sale. The cookbook has a photo of a family cooking this over a little bonfire in a park, and then eating it straight out of the pan.

So here's our recipe. I'm not going to get all Julia Child on you and describe how to cook a live lobster or scrub the beards off mussels. Choose the things you like or look good at the store, then be sure to savor each one of the flavors and scents as you cook the stew - it really is an experience! Next time you make it, the mix will probably be completely different.

P.S. This makes a big pot of paella. It's perfect for a bunch of friends. If you get each of them to chop one ingredient, it will all come together quickly.


2 lbs meat: cut-up chicken pieces, serrano ham, hard garlicky sausage such as andouille, salami or Spanish chorizo, bacon, boneless pork

2 lbs. seafood: raw shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels, snails, crawfish, calamari, crab claws, and cubes of firm-fleshed fish

4 cups vegetables: peas, sweet pepper strips, hot peppers, garlic, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, and green beans

1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 tsp ground saffron or turmeric
1 tbsp hot paprika
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 bay leaves, crumbled
6 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups short-grain Spanish rice
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Salt and pepper to taste


In a big, shallow pan, brown the fresh meat in half the oil, then set aside on a warm platter. Saute the vegetables in the remaining oil. Prepare the shellfish as needed, then add to the sauteing vegetables. Cook 3 minutes, then remove all to the platter with the chicken; keep warm.

Heat the broth with the wine, saffron and paprika. Bring to a boil, then keep it hot until ready to use. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Saute the rice with the remainder of the oil so that it's coated and slightly browned. Pour in the broth, bay leaves, and parsley. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, then add the vegetables, meat, and seafood, pressing the large pieces into the rice.

Place the skillet in a 325 degree oven, uncovered, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes or so, until the rice absorbs all the liquid and is fluffy and tender. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the rice before serving.

Serves 6-8.

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