Dressed up Pot Roast?

I just have to start this post by saying that I got a fabulous new camera so I no longer need to be embarrassed by my pictures anymore! With this new camera I just had to cook something wonderful last night and this dish was the perfect fit. I found this recipe in the October issue of Food & Wine and liked that the ingredient list was not over the top and that it took very minimal work. Short ribs are all about the sauce and I would describe this dish as pot roast in evening wear wearing a velvety sheath of yumminess. It is elegant, but comforting and would be absolutely perfect for company. Although, I just made it as a Sunday night dinner that paired great with football. I included a super easy smashed potato recipe with this that you can make ahead of time, but you could also serve it with noodles. Enjoy this dish and I hope to dazzle you with my photography now and let's hope that I can figure out all the bells and whistles of my new gadget as fast and easy as these short ribs.

Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine
adapted from Food & Wine, October 2010
serves 4
Cooking time: 40 min Active; 3 hours Total

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large celery rib, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
one 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
2 whole sprigs of rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 cups veal, beef or chicken stock
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Four 2-inch-thick, flanken cut, short ribs with the bone (I could not find this exact match, so just get about 2 3/4 lbs of the best short ribs you can find)
Salt and pepper
buttered egg noodles or smashed potatoes (recipe to follow), for serving

1. In a large, enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic, stir to coat with the butter, cover and cook over moderate heat until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the wine, stock, rosemary and bay and bring to a simmer.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet until simmering. Season the ribs with salt and pepper, add them to the pan and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until they are well browned, about 15 minutes.

3. Transfer the short ribs to the casserole. Partially cover and cook over moderately low heat until very tender, about 2.5 to 3 hours.

4. Transfer the ribs to a plate and remove the bones. Strain the sauce into a heatproof measuring cup and skim the fat (I did this right in the casserole as there was not that much). Return the sauce to the casserole and boil until reduced to 2 cups, 10 minutes. Return the meat to the sauce and simmer over low heat until heated through. Serve the ribs with the egg noodles or potatoes with extra sauce. (Make Ahead: Short ribs can be refrigerated in the sauce for up to 5 days, just reheat on the stove top over medium heat)

Smashed Potatoes
serves 4

5 medium Yukon gold potatoes, washed, cut in half length wise, then in thirds
1/4 cup half and half
1 1/2 tablespoon butter (I like to use a flavored butter like truffle or garlic if you can find it, if not add in whatever you would like; roasted garlic, horseradish, chives, sauteed onions, wasabi, Parmesan, etc.)
salt and pepper

Boil a large pot of water and drop the cut potatoes in. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place back into the pot over low heat to rid the excess moisture from them, about a minute or so. Smash the potatoes with a masher or large fork. Add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Taste the potatoes for seasoning and add more of what you think might be missing. Keep warm in the oven or serve right away with the short ribs.



Mini Soft Center Chocolate Cakes

I don't post a lot of desserts as I find baking complicated and a bit too precise for my overstimulated brain. But I do have the opportunities to make something that can dazzle whoever is at my dinner table and always take advantage. When I entertain I use a lot of recipes that can be done ahead of time and this recipe fits that description. My mother is a fantastic baker and pastry master. She describes so many desserts she has made as "easy" yet I find myself in awe of the precision and skill that goes into it. She has shared a few gems with me that she knows I will use and are super easy to make. Like me, she likes to pull out all the stops, or at least make your guests feel that way. I made these beautiful, warm mini chocolate cakes for my anniversary and my husband loved it. I made it in less than 15 minutes earlier in the day, popped them in the oven while we were eating dinner and they were warm, delicious and oozing with chocolate goodness when we were done. These cakes have a soft center that is luscious and pairs fantastically with some good vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (as my mom would say, always make your own! heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, stabilizer, which can be found in the baking section in little packets; beat until stiff peaks form with a hand or standing mixer). Enjoy this dessert and know that it make you look like such a pastry all-star with little work to do!

Mini Soft Center Chocolate Cakes
Forks & Amusement 2010
makes 4 servings

1 stick (4 oz) butter, plus a little extra for buttering the molds
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. flour, plus a little extra for dusting molds
4 - 4oz ramekins, molds or custard cups (this size is kind of odd, I used 3 oz ramekins and you could for sure use 5oz as well, anywhere in this ball park)

Butter and lightly flour the ramekins, tapping out the excess flour and set aside.

Use a double boiler to heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. If you do not have a double boiler, you can simmer a few cups of water in a saucepan and place a mixing bowl over it.

While that is heating, beat the eggs, yolks and sugar together with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick.

Beat melted chocolate and butter together ; it should be quite warm. Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined. Divide batter among the molds.

At this point, you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake cakes on a baking sheet for 7 to 10 minutes until the sides are all set, but the center is quite soft. Invert molds onto a plate, let sit for 10 seconds, unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold, then lift the entire mold off the cake. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.



BBQ Asian Sea Bass

I have been experimenting with grilling fish all summer and it is not easy. You need to pick the right type of fish, marinade, cooking temperature and vessel. This Asian sea bass turned out fantastic and finally came off the grill perfectly cooked. I made some spaghetti squash and a simple Asian slaw, which I included prep for below. I have to give a shout out to my grill master, my husband, for continuing to try these recipes! I usually just throw some protein at him and tell him to write down what he did. He nailed this one and it was so yummy. This is also a great week day meal if you are looking for a little detox from a heavy weekend. With football season here, this is perfect to make after a weekend of beer and wings.

BBQ Asian Sea Bass
Forks & Amusement 2010
serves 4

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon chili garlic paste or hot sauce
2 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
4 sea bass fillets, about 24 oz total (you could also use salmon or halibut for this as well)

Combine all of the ingredients, except the fish, in a bowl and whisk to combine well. Place fish fillets in a plastic resealable bag, pour marinade over the fish and seal up the bag. Massage the marinade into the fish gently, making sure to get it all over the fish. Refrigerate the fish for up to 2 hours and at least 30 minutes.

Heat grill to medium heat. Place a small saucepan over high heat. Take the fish out of the bag and pour the marinade into the pan. Bring to a boil and let reduce by half.

Meanwhile, place some aluminum foil over the grill and brush with oil. Place fillets skin side down on top of the foil and cook for 7 minutes or until you can see the sides of the fish begin to cook through. Flip the fillets and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

To serve, place a fillet on each plate and spoon the sauce over each fillet.

Serve with:

Spaghetti Squash:
Ingredients: spaghetti squash, olive oil, salt, pepper, ground cumin

Cut squash in half, spoon out the seeds. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. With a fork, rake the squash strands away from the skin and place in a bowl. Toss with butter, ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

Simple Asian Slaw
Ingredients: napa cabbage, carrots, red onion, cilantro, rice wine vinegar, light mayo or sour cream, lime, hot sauce, honey, sesame oil

Toss shredded napa cabbage, thinly sliced carrots, thinly sliced red onion and chopped cilantro in a bowl. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup light mayo or sour cream, juice of half a lime, hot sauce to taste, a little honey and splash of sesame seed oil. Combine dressing with slaw and serve cold.


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