Smoked Paprika Braised Beef Short Ribs

Smoked paprika is one of my favorite spices — it adds a layer of flavor that makes dishes seem more complex than they actually are. Since it’s a major ingredient in Spanish chorizo, it can also make vegetarian dishes taste meaty without the meat — it’s great in braised winter greens, for example. It would also be nice in homemade mac & cheese.

In this dish it brings a smoky deliciousness to another food I’m obsessing over lately: beef short ribs. You could use basic stew meat instead (3 pounds), but the bone-in ribs produce a rich, flavorful sauce that really can’t be beat. Serve over rice, polenta or mashed potatoes.

Adapted from The New York Times’ Beef Stew with Sweet and Hot Paprika.

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs (English style, cut in 3-inch chunks)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika
kosher salt
pepper
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
3 large onions, roughly chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut in 2-inch chunks
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups dry red wine
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp cayenne
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 14 1/2 can diced tomatoes, with their juice

Combine 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tbsp smoked paprika. Rub the mixture all over the meat, and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Marinate in a large, covered bowl for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil and brown the meat in small batches (avoid overcrowding). Add more oil as needed. Transfer the meat to a 5-to 6-quart dutch oven as you go. Add the carrots, bay leaf and rosemary to the dutch oven about halfway through.

Lower heat to medium. If you have a lot of charred spices in the skillet, remove by wiping with damp paper towels. Then add the remaining olive oil and onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 2 tbsp smoked paprika along with the cumin, marjoram, cayenne and lemon zest.

Add wine and simmer for a minute, stir in diced tomatoes and then transfer everything to the dutch oven.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, until the meat is tender, about 3 hours. Remove the meat and set aside, covered with foil to keep warm. Skim most of the fat from the sauce and then simmer about 10 minutes more to reduce a little. Add the meat back in and simmer another couple minutes, then serve.

Pictured: Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 403 Round Mixing Bowl; Pyrex Spring Blossom 402 Round Mixing Bowl; Corning Ware French White F-15-B Oval Casserole; Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-10-B Square Skillet

Best Pyrex Stacking Ideas

Vintage Pyrex is so pretty, it’s a shame to store it inside a kitchen cabinet. Instead, collectors often arrange their wares on open shelves, carts or hutches using a technique designed to show off each individual piece: stacking.

My own stacking preference is a mix of form and function: I want to be able to see and enjoy the patterns and colors, but I also want easy access so that the items in my collection are actually usable for cooking. So, precarious towers of Pyrex are not my thing. Another consideration: preventing rattles and other noises.

One fun thing about stacking is that it gives you an opportunity to mix and match complementary pieces. Recently I finally acquired enough round mixing bowls to put together my own custom set: (from top to bottom) Spring Blossom (x2), Spring Blossom 2, Verde.

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Since the mixers are nested bowls, you need a little something between each one to lift it up and make the pattern visible (I used folded sheets of bubble wrap). There are lots of ways to do this for different sizes and shapes of Pyrex, so here I have gathered the best ideas I’ve seen on the internet, on social media and in collector groups:

  • packing peanuts
  • bubble wrap
  • Ziplock containers
  • ramekins
  • bags of rice, beans, popcorn, etc.
  • empty packing tape rolls
  • inverted lids
  • glass tumblers
  • cheap plastic bowls
  • Jell-O boxes
  • chunks of lumber
  • slices of pool noodles
  • tuna cans (or similar)
  • berry baskets
  • paper bowls
  • small plastic food containers (e.g., sour cream, margarine, yogurt, deli containers)
  • cut up egg containers
  • squares of non-skid rug protector (for stability)
  • styrofoam blocks
  • floral foam blocks
  • old washclothes
  • canning rings
  • plastic coffee cup lids

Of course, these methods can work for any kind of vintage kitchenware, not just Pyrex. Corning Ware, for example, stacks really easily on inverted lids. Over the weekend we installed some new shelves to house my collection, so stacking all kinds of dishes has been on my mind.

Fool-Proof Beef Pot Roast with Bacon and Mushrooms

This is the moistest, tenderest, most flavorful pot roast I’ve ever made. It’s a little bit time-consuming, but well worth it for the end result! There are a few things I think make this recipe work so well: 1) Bacon provides smoke, salt and richness that really enhance the dish. 2) Dried mushrooms pack an intense punch for even more flavor. 3) Using two small roasts instead of one big one, and trussing them — this is something Cook’s Illustrated recommends, because it promotes even cooking. 4) Patience — don’t try to rush the cooking time.

I call this fool-proof because I messed up a lot of things along the way and it still came out great. First off, I chose a pot that was too small, because I was determined to use my Corning Ware, so I had to scoop out a bunch of the cooking liquid and cram the meat in sideways. Also I’m terrible at trussing, so it was starting to fall apart at the end. Most pot roast recipes recommend searing the roasts before cooking, but I didn’t bother, because they’re unwieldy and I always end up splashing myself with oil and I hate that step. And I miscalculated my prep time, so by the time I got the whole thing in the oven, dinnertime would have been pushed back to 9 p.m. (way too late for my 5-year-old). My husband whipped up some barbecued chicken as a plan B, and I stewed about not being able to eat the dish I’d been slaving over. Thankfully, pot roast tastes even better reheated the next day (more on that in the recipe below), so after it finished cooking, I let it cool a bit and then put it in the refrigerator and went to bed.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated‘s Italian-Style Pot Roast.

Serves 8

Ingredients

8 oz bacon, snipped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 14 1/2-oz cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 oz dried mushrooms (porcini and/or others)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 bay leaves
2 3-lb boneless beef chuck roasts
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large (at least 6-quart size) oven-safe pot, saute bacon over medium heat until fat has rendered and edges are starting to brown. Spoon out excess grease, reserving about 1 tbsp. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 1 minute.

Add wine, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, oregano and bay leaves. Combine broths in a separate bowl.

Truss each roast tightly with kitchen twine. It doesn’t have to be pretty — you just want each roast to hold together in a roughly uniform shape while cooking. Season the roasts with salt and pepper, then nestle in the pot and pour in enough broth so that the meat is partially submerged. Bring to a boil.

Cover and bake for 3 1/2-4 hours, turning the meat at the halfway point. The roasts should be fork tender and falling apart. Remove the meat from the cooking liquid and let rest, covered with foil, for about 20 minutes.

(At this point you can return the meat to the pot and refrigerate overnight, if desired. This actually makes the next step a lot easier — skimming off the fat. In the fridge, the fat solidifies in a layer on top, which can be chipped away with a spoon. Then you can reheat the roast on the stove top.)

Set the (hot or reheated) meat aside. After skimming the fat from the surface, bring the cooking liquid to a boil and simmer to reduce a little into a sauce, about 30 minutes. You can use it as is or blend it with an immersion blender for a thick, rich sauce.

Slice the meat across the grain and pour a liberal amount of sauce on top. You might want more sauce in a gravy boat at the table. I actually ate spoonfuls of sauce by itself, it was so good!

Pictured: Corning Ware Spice O’ Life A-5-B Saucepot; Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-332 Roaster; Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 403 Round Mixing Bowl; Pyrex Town and Country 501 Refrigerator Dish

Sauteed Kohlrabi and Spinach

This was my first time trying kohlrabi — I ordered some from Imperfect Produce this week just for fun. Turns out my whole family really liked it (even my 5-year-old)! Kohlrabi tastes a lot like broccoli stems, only a little sweeter; in fact, you could easily sub in broccoli stems for this recipe if kohlrabi is not available or not your thing.

Whenever I’m cooking something new, I search for recipes online (usually Pinterest, Epicurious and Food Network) to get a handle on the basics. Here my starting point was Martha Stewart’s Sauteed Kohlrabi with Onions and Cream.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 lbs kohlrabi, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (note: if your kohlrabi has leaves attached, chop those up and add with the spinach)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 5-oz bag fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt
pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add kohlrabi and onion and saute until onion starts to go translucent and kohlrabi is cooked but still crunchy, about 10 minutes.

Lower to medium heat, add garlic and cook another 1 minute. Stir in spinach one handful at a time and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the cream and let simmer for a couple minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pictured: Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-10-B Square Skillet; Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 403 Round Mixing Bowl