I just received this exquisite box of chocolates. "Made by girlfriends for girlfriends", the card said. I was intrigued, and so was my 13 year old son who kept peering at the nude on the front.
Short Ribs of Beef with Red Wine and Port
and Cilantro/Orange Gremolata
Celery Root Puree
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad
French Green Beans with Bacon
Cocoa Brownies with Brown Butter and Walnuts
The French green beans with bacon are awfully cute, but you could also prep the beans, then toss them in a pan later with chopped crispy bacon; it will be just as tasty.
See my last post "Fear of Celeriac" for the recipes for celery root puree and French green beans with bacon.
The caprese salad is also great done ahead; the tomatoes will roast in a slow oven for 2 hours, and the rest is a snap. Or you could buy some slow-roasted tomatoes at Jackson Whole Grocer in the deli case.
The brownies....well, you just have to make the brownies.
Short Ribs of Beef with Red Wine and Port and a Cilantro/Orange Gremolata
I've adapted this recipe from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan, my new favorite cookbook of all things French.
To save time, you can chop the vegetables very roughly; they will be strained out of the sauce at the end, so they need not be pretty.
This recipe looks long but it is very straightforward. You will broil the ribs, cook and reduce the sauce, then braise the ribs in the sauce in the oven for 3 hrs. If you have time, you can chill and reheat later, or you can proceed to remove the ribs, strain the sauce, and finish by broiling the ribs again to glaze them with sauce. Whew! It's really not that hard!
- 2 sprigs each of parsley, thyme and rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 star anise
- 2 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced roughly
- 12 short ribs of beef, each with one bone, about 9 lbs.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 1 parsnip, trimmed and roughly chopped
- fresh ginger, 1 12/ inch piece, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 5 big cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 750 ml bottle of red wine, such as an inexpensive crianza, rioja or syrah
- 1 1/2 cups ruby port, likewise an inexpensive brand
- 4-6 cups of beef broth, unsalted
For the Gremolata:
- Finely chopped zest of 1 orange, or 2 tangerines
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
- FIrst, broil the short ribs. Line a baking sheet with foil, then place the ribs bone side up on the sheet. Broil for 5 minutes each side, until all sides are nicely browned. Transfer the ribs to a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper.
- Lower the oven rack to the middle or lower third, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
- Now, gather your herb sprigs, star anise, and celery leaves into a piece of cheesecloth wrapped in twine to make a bouquet garni. No cheesecloth? Just bundle them best you can and set aside.
- Pour the oil into a large casserole large enough to hold all the ribs in one layer. Toss the vegetables, garlic, and ginger into the pot and cook, stirring now and then, until all are soft and brown, about 10 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste and stir well, cooking for another 2 minutes.
- Pour in the wine and the port, add the bouquet garni, and bring to a boil. Boil over high heat until reduced by about one third.
- Return the ribs to the pot, placing them bone-up in a single row. Pour in 4 cups of beef broth. The broth should be almost to the top of the ribs; if needed add more broth.
- Cover pot with foil tightly, then place lid. Cook, undisturbed, for 2 hrs.
- Remove the lid and let some steam escape. Return to the oven with just the foil loosely on the pot for another 1 hour.
- If making ahead of time, cool and set aside. Once ready to reheat, carefully remove the ribs from the sauce, and remove any congealed fat. Skim the fat from the sauce, then pour the sauce into a saucepan over a large fine mesh sieve to separate off all the solids. Press with a spoon on the solids to get out all that great sauce. Warm over medium heat to reduce and thicken a bit. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Prepare the gremolata by finely chopping the orange zest, garlic and cilantro, and set aside to serve at the table.
- Preheat the broiler, and place the ribs into a foil-lined roasting pan. Spoon some sauce over, and broil to warm them up and glaze them with the sauce. Turn over to broil both side.
- Transfer the ribs to a platter, and spoon some sauce over. Sprinkle with gremolata at the table.
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad
- 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, but leave cores intact
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (not your best, it will cook off in the oven)
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 16 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/2 inch thin
- 12 fresh basil leaves, julienned
2. Prepare the tomatoes: cut out the stem core, and halve lengthwise, keeping the core intact.
Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts
I have made some minor adjustments for altitude, which I will note. Also, I have made these brownies with chocolate chips instead of walnuts with great results.
- nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 10 Tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 1/4 cup sugar (reduce to 1 cup at altitude)
- 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, spooned into a measuring cup, then leveled
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, chilled
- 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. all purpose flour (add another Tbsp. flour at altitude)
- 2 tsp. water (4 tsp. at altitude)
- 1 cup walnut pieces, or chocolate chips
2. Line a 8x8x2 inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing firmly against the sides of the pan, and leaving a 2 inch overhang.
3. Coat foil with nonstick spray.
4. Now to make the browned butter: Melt all the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. First it will foam up, and then it will settle down, leaving bits of brown butter at the bottom of the pan. Stir constantly while this happens for about 5 minutes.
7. Stir in nuts or chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
9. Store airtight at room temperature. Try not to leave yourself home alone with the brownies! Believe me, I know how dangerous they can be.