Archive for May, 2011

May 16, 2011

Braised Beef Short Ribs

In spite of Margie’s recent cholesterol test results, we decided to combat the extra long Pacific NW winter gloom with some of the best comfort food known to man – braised meat. Braising is a slow-cooking technique used to produce tender meats. We like it. A lot. In addition to being tender, the resulting dish tends to be rich since the meat cooks in its own fat and juices. Bring on the fat, but don’t tell Margie’s doctor. When dining out, we’ve started noticing the same technique applied to vegetables like “greens.“

Before embarking on a labor-intensive recipe (such as this one), it’s important to ensure you are properly equipped. From time to time, we’ll try to introduce you to some kitchen tools. For now, we’d like to introduce you to the absolute basics.

Proper Footwear: For time-consuming recipes, you’ll want to ensure your feet remain comfortable and pain-free. For us, this means crocs. Just like our cats, our crocs are “indoor only,” not to be worn in public, by anyone, EVER.

Crocs (our ideal cooking footwear)

Cooking Oil: No, we’re not talking about grapeseed oil or olive oil (although they’re now finding that it does not tolerate heat well)…we’re talking about the fluids that help loosen you up for some good, creative cooking. If your craft is golfing, you know this as “swing oil.” We recommend that you find a bottle of your favorite wine or craft beer and pour yourself a nice glass before embarking on the cooking mission ahead of you.

Cooking Oil

 

Another goal we’d like to accomplish with this blog is to introduce folks to some cooking terminology. As our repertoire expanded beyond collegiate favorites (Margie’s roommates would vouch for the brilliance of “chicken in the mud”), we’ve been forced to learn some hoity-toity kitchen terms. We thought we’d share some of those with you.

Several of the ingredients in this recipe constitute what is called the “trinity.” This describes the medley of chopped carrots, celery, and onions, often used in sauces and braises. Margie is NOT a fan of cooked carrots, but is oddly accepting of them in this somewhat camouflaged form.  If you are over for dinner and hear Margie refer to it as the “trifecta” or “triumvirate”, nod in agreement, but keep in mind she meant trinity.

Trinity

And now for the recipe…

Braised Beef Short Ribs

3.5 lbs           beef short ribs

salt

pepper

2 T.                  cooking oil  (we used grapeseed oil, but vegetable or olive would work)

1T.                   cooking oil

1                      yellow onion, diced small

3                      garlic cloves, minced

3                      carrots, diced small

2                      celery stalks, diced small

2 T.                  thyme, chopped

750ml             red wine (preferably a strong one like cabernet sauvignon)

4 shots           espresso

32 oz.              beef stock

15.5 oz.           canned diced tomatoes

3 oz.                canned tomato paste

4 T.                  grainy mustard

3 T.                  flat leaf parsley, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim all beef ribs of excess fat and any silver skin.  Season meat generously with salt and pepper, on all sides.  In a heavy, cast iron pot (we used Le Creuset) heat 2 T. cooking oil over med-high heat .  Add short ribs to pot and brown on all sides.  Cook meat in batches if necessary.   Once browned, remove from pot and discard rendered fat.  Wipe pot clean.

Meat browning in progress

Ingredients

Heat remaining 1 T. cooking oil in pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions and sauté until browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Add carrots and celery, continuing to sauté for 3-4 minutes more.  Add thyme and stir to mix.

Add the wine, espresso, and half of the beef stock to the vegetable mixture and bring to a boil.  Add diced tomatoes, tomato stock and mustard and mix well.

Braising begins...

When we decided to make this recipe, Mike invited our good friend Scott to join us.  Mike and Scott decided the meal was worthy of one of their “big guns” wines. Both Mike and Scott had acquired a bottle of this fantastic wine, a 1997 Super Tuscan, Bacio Divino, years ago. We opened the first one while we were still cooking to sample the wares. While both wines were excellent, they had both aged to have very different taste profiles. Ours was fairly earthy while Scott’s was a bit more fruit forward.  Both were excellent wines, and it was interesting to taste two identical bottles next to each other and compare difference, bottle to bottle.

Mmm, tasty!

Return the browned short ribs to pot and add beef stock until all ribs are covered by liquid.  Place pot in oven, covered and braise for 3-3.5 hours until meat is tender, flipping occasionally throughout braising period.

Remove short ribs from pot and set aside.  Reduce liquid over med-high heat until reduce by at least 1/3, or to your desired thickness.

As sides to the braised short ribs, we served some Parmesan polenta, over which the ribs were placed along with some roasted shallots and Brussels sprouts.   Not everyone is a fan of polenta, but Mike has been somewhat fixated on it lately, so that is what we had that night.  The choice of Brussels sprouts was an easy one for us, as it is one of our favorites (look for a blog post about our favorite recipe for them in the future) and simple roast vegetables satisfy Margie’s health quotient while also not detracting from the star of the show.

Veggie Nirvana

Serve beef short ribs over parmesan polenta of mashed potatoes.  Drizzle with reduced sauce.

Sprinkle with parsley to finish.

Voila!

Dinner is served

Did I mention it was a great night?

Good food was had with good wine and good friends.  Sorry we didn’t save any…

CPC (clean plate club)

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May 9, 2011

and we’re off…

Welcome to the blog!!!  This is our first attempt at joining the blogging world, so this may start out a bit rough, but hopefully will improve over time.  We really wanted to be able to document our fun, culinary expeditions in the kitchen, around town, and on our travels.  Cooking and good food is a passion of ours that we thought we could share.  We hope you enjoy riding along with us on our expeditions.

First up…

Linguine with clams

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb           littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
  • A few tablespoons flour
  • 2               tablespoons olive oil
  • 3               cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 3               slices on bacon, chopped (or pancetta)
  • 1/2 t.        chili flake
  • 1               lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup        white wine
  • 2 T.           parsley, finely chopped
  • 8 oz          linguine, cooked al dente
It is important that you find fresh clams for this recipe.  We are firm believers in fresh, high quality ingredients, not only for how they taste, but for our health.
You want to purge the clams first, which just means you’re making them spit out whatever sand they have left in them. Put the clams in a large bowl, cover them with cold water, and add a few tablespoons of flour. Let them sit for 30 minutes.
Change the water once or twice more.
Rinse them off, drain them, and set them back in the fridge.  (I had never done this before, but I didn’t taste any grit in the meal, so I guess it worked!)

ingredients are ready for cooking (clams are purging in the fridge)

Mmmm, bacon.

In a large pan over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until almost crisp.Add the garlic and chili, and lightly toast them.  Make sure not to burn the garlic, as it will take on a bitter taste.
Add the lemon zest and clams, followed by the lemon juice and white wine.

Cover the pan, and cook until clams open. It should only take a couple of minutes for clams to open, so watch carefully.  Discard any unopened clams.

Clams are ready! Only a couple didn't open...throw those out.

Add the linguine to the pan and mix it in with the clams.

Drizzle with olive oil, add parsley, and season with salt and pepper.

Everything is ready to go.

After everything is assembled in the pan, it is time to plate.  I used some new, large bowls that Margie got for us recently and their large sized really helped.  Time to eat!

Dinner is served!

Overall, I think this is a really simple recipe to make and it is a nice, refreshing choice.  It can be made on a weeknight and not take up too much of your evening and really looks fancy for the time you spent on it.  The chili flakes really bring a nice heat to the dish that was surprising.  Make sure not to over-do them, as I think it can get too spicy very quickly.

I paired the meal with a nice NW Pinot Gris From Sass Vineyards.