February 2012

braised short ribs, aka how to win hearts and minds

This dish is everything that is magical about cooking. You take a cheap cut of meat and a cheap starch and turn them into a meal that would make someone fall in love with you. Braised short ribs over mashed potatoes drizzled with jus is everything you want out of a good meal—simple, satisfying, and supremely comforting.

Braised Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes
2 lbs flanken style short ribs (plan for 2 pieces/ribs per person)
1 T canola oil
1 onion, cut into eighths
2 carrots, cut into 1 – 2 inch chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into 1 – 2 inch chunks
3 garlic cloves
2 cups red wine
3 sprigs thyme
2 cups chicken, vegetable or beef stock
salt and pepper

Sprinkle all sides of the ribs with salt and pepper. Heat the oil over medium heat in a cast iron dutch oven (or other stove and oven safe dish). Sear each side of the meat until it is a deep brown color. Your house will smell amazing at this point. Remove the beef from the dish and put it on a plate.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the vegetables and saute until light brown, about 20 minutes. Add the red wine and thyme. Bring to a boil. Return the meat to the dish. At this point, you can continue to braise the meat or you can put the whole dish in the fridge and finish it the next day. Trust me, only good things happen when you let meat marinade in red wine overnight.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Add the broth to the meat. The broth will not cover the meat entirely, which is just fine. Cook covered for an hour and a half. After 1 1/2 hours, remove the lid to allow some of the liquid to evaporate and the meat to brown. Cook for 45 more minutes, turning the meat once or twice. Meanwhile, make the potatoes.

After 45 minutes of additional cooking, remove the dish from the oven. Take the meat and vegetables from the dish and cover with tin foil to keep warm. Skim the excess fat of the braising liquid. The liquid should have thickened considerably into an amazing beefy sauce. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Return the meat and vegetables to the dish and cover to keep warm.

Mashed Potatoes
2 lbs yukon gold potatoes (Yukon golds make the best mashed potatoes. Russets can be grainy.)
4 T butter, cut into 1 T pieces
1/4 cup milk

Put a pot of salted water to boil. Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil the potatoes for 30 minutes, until fork tender. Strain the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. I used my stand mixer to make mashed potatoes for the first time. It was awesome and I recommend it highly. Add the butter to the potatoes and start to whisk. Add the milk and beat until smooth and fluffy.

To serve, make a mound mashed potatoes, top with the ribs and cover with sauce. Pour the remaining sauce in a gravy boat and bring that to the table as well. Add a side of green beans for good measure.

-Emily

pizza with pancetta, shallot and mascarpone

First things first, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Now the first time I ever had cream in lieu of cheese on pizza was at Pizzeria Delfina. Let me tell you, it is a revelation. Replace mozzarella cheese with cream, creme fraiche or mascarpone and you will be transported to a magical land of pizza possibilities you never knew existed. If you are like me, you probably won’t want to come back.

We decided to make a pizza with pancetta, shallot, mascarpone and thyme. It is easy and it is perfection. If you needed something delicious to make for your sweetie tonight, this is most definitely it!

Pizza with Pancetta, Shallot and Mascarpone 
1 small ball of pizza dough
4 – 6 thin slices of pancetta
1/2 shallot, sliced thinly
1/2 cup mascarpone, creme fraiche or 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 sprig of thyme

Heat your oven (preferably with a pizza stone at the bottom) to 450 degrees. Lightly flour your counter and stretch the dough to your preferred thickness. We like our pizzas with thin crust. Spread an even layer of mascarpone, and sprinkle with shallots. Top with pancetta slices and a sprinkle of thyme. Brush the crust border with olive oil. Slide your pizza onto a pizza peel or baking sheet and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the pancetta is crisped and the crust is browned. Slice and enjoy!

-Emily

the past few weeks

My lack of blogging is making me sad. We’ve been so busy (Jordan started school again and I’ve been promoted) and I haven’t found the time to sit down and write up the recipes are lingering in my drafts. There’s baklava, pizza, braised short ribs and salted chocolate cookies and they’re all waiting patiently for me to get my act together. I’ve complied my favorite photos of the past two weeks—mostly to prove we’re alive and happy, but also to buy myself a few more days.

Oh San Francisco, we love you and your foggy mornings.

I mean, I just melt. They are beyond sweet.

Heavy bags groceries on public transit made better by California sunshine and bright pink pants.
I went to the Alameda Antique Fair last Sunday with some friends. It was an incredibly successful outing from an acquiring amazing old stuff for cheap perspective and was so fun.

Case in point—this absolutely gorgeous original Eames chair that I found for just $100. She needs some love and polish, but there’s tremendous potential.

Puppy paws on a Saturday morning.

We’ll be back soon with real recipes. I’m hoping I remember what it’s like to write those.

Love,
Emily