Monday, March 10, 2008

braised beef short ribs

braised short ribs

I can’t quite decide if this Daylight Savings thing is working for me. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to leave work while the sky is still brightly lit. On the other hand, waking up at 5:30 in the morning has once again become quite difficult – and as I make my way to the subway in the morning, they sky is dark and gloomy. And it is still very cold. Which is probably why I am still a bit incredulous that this thing called spring is ever going to arrive.

It has been a stressful year for the markets so far, and thus for me at work. Though I am not an economist or a strategist, I have a very strong feeling that this sub-prime issue is not going away any time soon and everywhere you look in financial news-sources, the word “recession” turns up a few too many a time and the markets have been steadily declining on the heels of seemingly never-ending bad news. Coupled with it the rising cost of food, fuel and commodities while the consumers are watching their spending – makes for a glum story indeed.

parsley mire-poix

Which is probably why a few weeks ago, I had the craving for precisely this kind of a comfort meal: warm, rich, flavorful, with a thick sauce. I’ve been waxing poetic about braised short ribs to KS and he would nod approvingly, but I could just see in his eyes that he wasn’t really following me. Not until he tasted it, did he understand why I have not stopped talking about it. We both had seconds and needless to say there were no leftovers. And because it rained that entire day, this dish was like manna from heaven. It warmed and comforted us. I have to mention here also, that this dish is super easy – all it requires is time. If you can slow-cook this in your Le Creuset or the equivalent for 3+ hours, you are guaranteed something truly amazing. It’s pretty much fail-proof. Another note is that I chose not to puree my vegetables as the original recipe suggests because I like my vegetables chunky. And instead of cooking potatoes separately from the short ribs, I cooked them in the same pot, letting them absorb the flavors of the stew.

browned short ribs - looks gross

And though I can’t get enough of these warm, rich stews, with this vacation coming up next Friday, I just can’t wait to leave behind my winter coat and winter eating and put on my bermuda shorts and have an umbrella drink! For one glorious week we’ll be basking in the Carribean sun, lazing around on the beach and catching up on reading.

Perhaps upon our return, spring will have officially kicked off and I’ll have more spring cooking on my mind. But for now, with another rainy day facing us, I’d rather have this warm, comforting meal, over a cold, crisp salad.

braised short ribs

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

escargots a la bourguignonne

escargots

I have often joked about how a key to a great tasting meal is one simple ingredient – butter. Well, I think if anything proves me right, it’s escargots – where I think about 60% of the dish is melted, herb butter. And while my parents shudder at the idea of people eating snails, KS and I are quite content not only consuming the snail part of this dish, but also the garlicky butter that remains thereafter. For that, plenty of baguette slices are perfect sponges – they sop up the fragrant, golden “sauce” perfectly!

We wanted to make this dish for so long, but lacked those fancy escargots dishes. The mere fact that we purchased them, tells you of our immense love for these snails. We have a rule in the kitchen – most items that serve one purpose only are banned. Thus, no bagel slicers or egg cookers – with the humble apple slicer being one exception. But escargots dishes – we were powerless against their draw. And yet, having now made the escargots at home, I’d like to save you all the expense and tell you a less refined, but no less effective or delicious way to make this dish at home.

Okay, ready? [The proportions of things are below based on a recipe from 1949(!!!), a time before the evils of cholesterol were discovered, and butter was revered. The paragraph below is just my layman's instructions.]

Get a oven-proof bowl. Put some snails in it. Put enough of the garlicky mixture to cover the snails and so that when the butter melts, the snails are sort of swimming, or luxuriating, if you will, in the buttery pool. Place dish in the oven for 5-7 minutes according to the instructions below. There, this is the un-fancy, cheap, i-don’t-need-no-fancy-dish-to-make-escargots way. In fact, I have a feeling that the very first escargots were probably made this way. I mean, who had the foresight to design those fancy dishes? There, I just saved you $40 or so on the cookware, though the escargots themselves will run you about $18 a can, but there’s like 60 of them in there – and they don’t keep long.

So run along and throw an escargots party already (you know you want to!)- and be sure to invite KS and me!

shamefully easy...

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