Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend house guests: Red Wine Braised Short Ribs and Crustless Quiche

King Arthur toasted coconut scones

Finally feeling mostly better and happy to report on a relaxing birthday weekend.

And that's where I left this post last night to go watch the Oscars with my family.  Just after 11:00 p.m. I pull myself up from a very lovely supine position on the carpet in front of the fire and below the big screen and sleepily make my way upstairs to go to bed.  Through our big picture windows lightning flashed now and again through the woods and the temperature was up to almost 70 creating an eerie dense fog.  I wake up a couple of times in the middle of the night and without my glasses I can't see rain, but I certainly can hear it but I roll back to sleep.  Apparently both Greg and I missed quite a storm, we missed over 2 inches of rain in about three hours, we missed the sirens and we missed the sump pump working valiantly but failing to keep the water out of our very lovely finished basement.  Bad surprise.

Probably twelve hours now since the water started coming in and just a trickle of water is coming into the sump pit and the Servicemaster people have left for the day taking all the wet carpet pad with them and leaving many fans and dehumidifiers.  The house is humming (loudly).  The cat is seriously freaked out by the chaos and the relocation of his litter box.  The bar stools, coffee tables and lamps are in the dining room.  Greg's office has relocated to the kitchen table.  So things are topsy-turvy, but about as normal as you can hope.  And by the way, it is no longer 70.  It's back in the 30's which I believe is how this all got started.

And so I'll try to just shelve the last few hours and return to my original intention of writing a little post about my brother and sister-in-law's visit for my birthday.  Keith and Karen arrived just in time for Karen and I to glam up a bit and attend the preview dinner at the new Seasons 52 restaurant at the Fashion Mall.  I believe we had 7 wine glasses and 7 courses.  Fabulous and a whole 'nother post will be needed to do it justice.

Saturday was dreary and chilly so I grilled some paninis for lunch and served them with my wheatberry salad, onion rings (so you could go either way, healthy or not) and fruit.  I have a panini press and bought little crusty loaves to split for the sandwiches and filled them with pesto frozen from the summer, provolone, roasted red peppers, fresh spinach and chicken.  I heated up Muir Glen pizza sauce for dipping.  Nice lunch.

While I was cleaning up lunch I was starting dinner.  Great day to braise beef short ribs in the oven all afternoon, so I chopped onion, celery, carrot and garlic and browned the short ribs.  I reduced some nice cabernet with the vegetables and added beef broth and more wine along with the browned ribs, bay leaves and a good shake of crushed red pepper flakes.  Everything came to a simmer and then the cover went on before I lifted my 7-quart LeCrueset oval dutch oven into a 325 degree oven.  I'm pretty sure the pan weighed 20 pounds.  Twenty pounds of savory goodness roasting all afternoon.  Mmmmmm........

The four of us walked the Arts and Design District (or as Greg and I still think of it as downtown Carmel) and came home for some gracious living.  Finally broke out the Sapore del Piave cheese from Zingerman's and I've been nibbling it ever since.  It's a hard Italian cheese made along the river Sapore in the Veneto region of Italy and aged for over a year.  A hard, nutty, sweet and salty beauty which was lovely with wine and tart apples and also nice shaved on top of grilled romaine last night for Sunday dinner.  I had on hand some smoked gouda and some chipotle cheddar to round out the cheese tray.  I heated up some favorite frozen spanikopita from Costco too for good measure.

Along with the short ribs I served some rustic mashed potatoes (leave a little skin on and mash by hand) and a bountiful crisp salad.  There's at least a month left to enjoy a warm dinner from the oven seasonally so if you find some good looking short ribs, here's an easy recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

4 to 5 pounds boneless beef short ribs (the Costco ones are always good)
3 T olive or vegetable oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 C diced carrots (I love carrots this way, you can always add more vegetables if you do too)
1 1/2 C diced celery
1 1/2 C diced onions
2 whole bay leaves
1 T minced garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 C dry red wine
1 C beef broth (or 1 C water with one beef bouillon cube)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees setting racks to accomodate your dutch oven.

In a 7-8 quart dutch oven, heat 2 T oil over medium heat.  Season the short ribs with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper.  Add half the ribs to the post and brown on all sides (about 3-4 minutes per side).  Transfer the browned ribs to a platter and brown the remaining ribs in the dutch oven.  Pour off most of the fat from the pan (or carefully use a paper towel).
Add another tablespoon of oil to the dutch oven and cook the carrots, celery and onion seasoned with a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt until softened or about 7-8 minutes.  Add bay leaves, garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, about one minute.
Pour 1/2 cup of the red wine into the pot and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom, until the liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons (2-3 minutes).  Add the browned ribs to the pot as evenly as possible in two layers and pour the remaining red wine, the beef broth and an additional 1 1/2 C of water in to the pan, mostly covering the ribs and vegetables.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover the pan and put it in the oven.  Cook, turning the ribs about every 40 minutes, until fork tender or about 3 hours.
Transfer the ribs to a serving dish.  Let the sauce and vegetables sit in the pot for a while to cool so that you can skim as much fat as possible from the surface.  Serve the ribs with the vegetables and sauce reheated until hot.
It's best to make the ribs at least several hours before serving or if possible the day before.  It is much easier to chill the entire pot overnight and remove the fat the next day.  Also, the flavors only improve with time.  If you leave the vegetables and sauce in the pot overnight, remove the fat and then reheat on the stove and reheat the ribs in an ovenproof dish for serving covered with foil in a 350 degree oven.


steaming wine and vegetables

dinner is served (browned meat pictures just aren't pretty)



Sunday brunch used up the rest of the double cherrywood smoked Applegate Farms Canadian bacon and some of the smoked gouda in a crustless quiche adapted from Epicurious.  You can use any meat, cheese or vegetarian combination you can imagine.  I whipped up some fresh toasted coconut scones from a King Arthur Flour mix (highly recommend) and served more fresh fruit.  Sure I was in the kitchen quite a bit this weekend, but nothing was too taxing and my extended family enjoyed it all which is really what it is all about.

Crustless Quiche

1/4 C panko breadcrumbs
cooking spray
1/2 to 1 C shredded smoked gouda cheese
1/2 pound diced Canadian bacon
1 T olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
8-oz. mushroom slices
10-oz package baby spinach
2 C 2 % milk
5 large eggs
salt, pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray quiche dish (I have two, round pans with straight sides one a little deeper than the other, but a pie plate will work just fine) with cooking spray.  Sprinkle panko breadcrumbs evenly over dish.  
Cook onions with Canadian bacon in a little olive oil over medium heat until onions are translucent.  Add the mushrooms, if desired and cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add fresh spinach to pan and cook until wilted, about another 2 to 3 minutes.  
Heat milk in a glass measuring cup in the microwave until hot, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Sprinkle shredded cheese over breadcrumbs in dish.  Top with Canadian bacon mixture.  
Beat eggs into warmed milk, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Pour mixture over Canadian bacon mixture making sure to not overflow your dish.  
Carefully move dish into the oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until eggs are puffed and set and top is slightly browned.  Cut into 8 wedges and serve hot or warm.  

panko in quiche dish
Canadian bacon, which should have been cut smaller, onions, mushrooms

spinach before wilting

shredded gouda

Canadian bacon mixture next in the dish

warmed milk, eggs and freshly grated nutmeg

full quiche dish ready for the oven


all done!

ready to serve


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