Monday, February 8, 2010

Katherine's Birthday Dinner

Braised Short Ribs

6 beef short ribs (about 3½-5 pounds) cut in half (best to have your butcher do it)
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 shallots or ½ red onion, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick
5 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons flour
¼ cup ruby port
3½ cups full-bodied red wine
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
6 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 ribbons of orange or tangerine peel, optional
Parsley, coarsely chopped

1. Season the short ribs with 2 teaspoons of salt and the 2 teaspoons pepper. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan, over high heat until it is close to smoking. Brown the short ribs well on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the ribs and set aside. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat.
2. Lower the heat to medium, and add the carrots, onion, shallots, and garlic to the pan. Sauté for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and light brown. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add the flour and stir well to combine. Add the port, red wine, celery, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Raise the heat to high and cook until the liquid is reduced by a third, about 20 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 325ºF while the wine is reducing.
4. Return the ribs to the pan, along with any accumulated juices. Add the stock and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. The stock should barely cover the ribs. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 to 3 hours. (My 5 pounds took about 2½ hours.) Visit the pot occasionally to stir the ribs. They’re done when the meat is fork tender and falling off the bone.
5. Remove the bones and gelatinous material (scissors work well) from the ribs and transfer the meat to a bowl or plate. Skim any fat from the surface of the sauce. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a second bowl. Press on the vegetables to release as much liquid as you can. Discard or compost the solids. Return the sauce to the pan.
6. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a strong simmer. Add the cinnamon and orange peel, if desired. Check the consistency of the sauce. If it is like thick cream, you don’t need to do anything except warm it for a few minutes. If it is thin like skim milk, cook it over high heat until it thickens up a bit. If it is too thick, add a little more stock or wine and simmer gently to heat.
7. Return the ribs to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes to reheat. Remove the orange peel. Transfer to a warm serving platter or shallow bowl. Garnish with parsley and serve.

6 servings
Adapted from Keith McNally, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson’s The Balthazar Cookbook

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds white potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1½ cups half-and-half
1 tablespoon wasabi paste (more if you want)
½ cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste (remember that potatoes take a lot of salt)

1. Scrub, peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks. As you cut them up, put them in a bowl of water to keep them from changing color.
2. Drain the cut-up potatoes, place them in a 4-quart pan, and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Check their doneness by sticking a knife into the fattest chunk. If it goes right through without reaching a hard place, the potatoes are done. Try not to overcook.
3. Drain well and squeeze through a potato ricer into a bowl if you wish or just put them in a bowl.
4. Warm the butter and half-and-half in the microwave. Add the garlic and begin to mash; add the warmed butter and milk, continuing to mash until the mixture is as smooth as you like it. If you need more half-and-half, warm it first. Add the wasabi, salt, and chopped parsley. Serve warm in a warmed bowl.

You can make this slightly ahead of time. Reheat gently in a pan on the top of the stove or in the microwave. Sometimes you need to add a bit more warm half-and-half if the potatoes stiffen up while waiting.

6 or more servings
Adapted from The Junior League of Honolulu, Inc.’s Aloha Days Hula Nights

Caramelized Carrot Salad

½ cup pine nuts
3 pounds carrots, peeled
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
¾ cup olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced preserved lemon peel or zest from 1 lemon
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1. Heat the oven to 400ºF.
2. Spread the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Watch them carefully; they burn so easily. Transfer the nuts to a plate and set aside to cool.
3. Slice the carrots into thin ovals or rounds by hand or using a food processor.
4. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add about half of the carrots to the pan and allow them to caramelize and brown, stirring only occasionally. This should take 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Transfer the carrots to a medium bowl and season with salt and half the sugar, if desired. Repeat the process with the remaining carrots.
6. Mix together the shallot and the lemon juice and set aside to macerate for 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and slowly pour in 6 tablespoons olive oil, whisking constantly until the dressing is well combined.
7. Add the pine nuts, preserved lemon peel or zest, parsley, and mint to the carrot bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

4-6 servings
Adapted from Jim Denevan’s Outstanding in the Field

Everyday Green Salad with Papaya Seed Dressing
The salad from my September 8, 2009 blog.
Just add avocado.
The dressing on my January 30, 2010 blog.

Apple Almond Crisp
From my October 30, 2009 blog.

1 comment:

Amy C said...

Katharine, I just prepared the braised short ribs for company and they were fantastic. Since I am a somewhat anxious cook, I prepared the ribs through step five the day before. I removed all the rib fat, gristle and bones, and separated the ribs from the sauce and refrigerated. All the sauce fat rose to the top and congealed in the frig overnight and was a snap to remove. Then it was easy to reheat the sauce and add the ribs. The added cinnamon and orange peel was a nice flavor touch. I served with egg noodles (easy) and also made the carrot dish (easy). Thank you! The guests raved and want the recipe!