We had another houseguest again this week – my dad, who was here for a business conference. All too excited to have the chance to cook for him, I made one of his favorites - beef short ribs. And I whipped up some other great stuff too. Check it out…
This delicious salad was just bursting with all sorts of goodness – sweet slivers of sliced shallots, toasted hazelnuts, golden raisins (I know, I’ve been using these like crazy lately, just can’t quite resist ‘em), billowy cloud-like clumps of goat cheese, thin slices of crisp pears.
Whenever I think up new salads, I follow one rule of thumb – pick a fruit, pick a nut and pick a cheese. Toss these together with some fresh greens and a quick vinaigrette, and you’ve got yourself once heck of a salad. In mathematical terms, S = F + N + C + G + V. S is for salad of course, and then sub in any kind of fruit for F, any kind of nut for N, and well you get the idea, any kind of cheese, greens and vinaigrette too. Have fun mixing and matching the flavors. There are infinite tasty combinations. And it works every time, certainly did this night. Of
course, I improvised a little bit too, adding a second fruit and the shallots. But that’s the fun of it. It’s no set-in-stone rule, just a springboard for a great, tasty salad. Hope you try it out!
Wow oh wow, short ribs. This has got to be the most incredible cut of meat ever. Way different from the long slabs of grilled BBQ pork ribs, these hulking, meaty ribs of beef are so enormous, just one is enough for a huge and hearty meal. A little short rib 101: like any other cut of meat with a lot of connective tissue, short ribs are best cooked by braising, that is, cooked for a long time over low heat, and in a liquid. Kind of like a stew, except we’re hardly talking about little cubes of meat. We talking about these beefy giants of deliciousness. Anyways, braising these guys for a loooong time at the barest of simmers breaks down all that connective tissue, melting it into a smooth gelatin, and turning the meat incredibly tender.
There are countless possible spins on braised short ribs, and I’m sure I’ll sneak in at least one or two other twists before the end of the year, but tonight I stuck with a pretty traditional recipe. Deeply browned onions and carrots and garlic, caramelized tomato paste, a fresh sprig of rosemary, a single bay leaf, a couple cups of beef stock and a bottle of red wine. It’s as classic as it gets. And it hardly gets any better than that. The rich, dark sauce was intensely flavorful, so huge in taste and full of complexity, yet so purely true to the essence of the beef. Taking nothing away from the meat itself, this incredible sauce simply enhanced it.
I stayed simple with the sides too. Whipped russet potatoes, so velvety smooth and silkily creamy, with just the barest hint of rosemary. Infused into the cream, the rosemary flavor was anything but obvious. A bit mysterious even, hiding just at the edge of perceptible taste. It had Ben and Dad asking “what is that extra something?” And that’s just the effect I was after!
The idea for these roasted carrots and parsnips came straight out of the Cook’s Illustrated magazine that arrive in our mailbox that morning. Tossed with melted butter, then roasted in the oven, these beautiful baby root vegetable turned so tender and sweet, they seems like butter themselves. I know I’m going to be making this gorgeous side all fall and winter long. It’s just too easy. And way too delicious.
And for dessert, apple crisp. To me there is nothing quite as delicious as warm apple crisp with a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream. Nothing at all. I do think it’s my all-time favorite dessert. And this is my all-time favorite apple crisp recipe. The apple filling is tart but sweet, and the crisp topping is rich and buttery, crisp and crunchy on top, but chewy and caramely at the edges. Oh, it’s absolutely divine, every single bite. And I’m not the only one who thought so. As I handed out pretty generously-sized servings of ice cream-topped crisp, Dad said I gave him too big a portion. But he dug in anyways, and then he helped himself to not one but two more bowlfuls! I think that says it all. And I think you should try a bowlful or two (or three) yourself, and right away! Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream!