When one of my testers told me that he’d made the recipe for “Short Ribs with Citrus-Olive Herb Salad” not once, not twice, but five times, I was immediately alarmed.
But then he told me why: It wasn’t because anything was wrong with it. On the contrary, he and his wife ended up loving this dish so much that they couldn’t resist making it multiple times to share with friends.
While I’m fond of all the recipes in this cookbook that spotlights 41 restaurants in the dynamic East Bay, that testimonial convinced me right then and there that this recipe by Chef Jen Biesty of Oakland’s Shakewell was truly a winner.
Because of book-publishing timetables, my friend had to test this recipe at the height of summer. But I patiently waited until winter to give it a test-drive, since long-braised short ribs are so made for this time of year.
This is definitely a comfort dish taken up a level. The short ribs cook up fork-tender in an almost mole-like brothy sauce made with ancho chiles, fennel, garlic, thyme, chicken stock, a little ground coffee, some chopped bittersweet chocolate and a whole bottle of Zinfandel. How can that not be good?
The book is a fast, delightful read about how this Canadian grew up to be one of the most recognized people in food TV. Like so many of us, she had no clue what she wanted to do after graduating from college. Fortunately, a family friend, suggested she make a list of what she enjoyed doing, in hopes that would give her some direction. Simmons sat down with pen and paper, and wrote down exactly four words: Eat. Write. Travel. Cook.
Now, as a judge on “Top Chef” and host of “Top Chef: Just Desserts,” not to mention being special projects director at Food & Wine magazine, she’s more than carved out a career that encompasses all of those passions.