Monthly Archives: December 2014

Succulent Short Ribs on the Christmas Table (serves 10-12) Super Easy to make!

I know that most households have a big Juicy Turkey on their table on Christmas day but I confess I have never adorned the center of my table with it. My mother never liked Turkey and even thought she always cooked one, the feeling of her not being excited over it rubbed off on me.

Braised Short Ribs

Braised Short Ribs

She grew up on a farm and had an aversion to poultry because she had to kill and butcher so many chickens as a young girl, which in turn led to her aversion to cooking it for her family. Turkey was her least favorite and I think when I ate it at Christmastime I could taste that bad memory of her childhood.

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Every year we get our tree at the same Christmas tree farm (our kids wouldn’t have it any other way!)

Turkey does make an appearance on my table each year but it is always some version of a stuffed and roasted turkey breast. This year I stuffed it with a savory sausage and it was very delicious, however the star of the table was the short ribs braised in a robust flavored red wine.

up close look at this deliciouly decadent dish

Up close look at this deliciously decadent dish

I must admit that I don’t cook red meat as often as fish or chicken (I’m not too fond of the beef industry so I only buy when I can afford organic, grass-fed free range meat. Also, we seem to prefer a “lighter” less complex protein on a daily basis). However, on special days, as in December 25th, the feast demands a richness and decadence that makes the meal stand out above all other days in the year. The unctuous short ribs I cooked was the stand-out dish this year, and as far as my son was concerned was the only thing that needed to grace the table. 

our Tree with its mish mosh of every ornament we have collected ober the years

Our tree with its mish-mash of every single ornament we have collected over the years that absolutely must find a place somewhere!

 They are not particularly Christmassy, so you can make them any time there is a need for something overtly extravagant!

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You will need:

1/4 cup ( and more as required) extra-virgin olive oil

4lbs boneless beef short ribs  – cut into large chunks

salt and pepper for seasoning meat

1 lb pearl onions (white, yellow or red will all work)

1 large (or 2 medium) sweet onions – large dice

1 large carrot – thickly sliced

3 celery ribs with leaves – thickly sliced

1 bottle hearty red wine (I used an Italian Chianti)

4 cups red sauce (recipe HERE or if you are in a pinch for time, use a good quality jarred version – I find that Newman’s Own brand Marinara Sauce is very basic and good for something like this, but feel free to buy whatever you find appealing OR you may have your own basic recipe for a red sauce which you can go ahead and use)

Water as needed

Method:

Preheat oven 375*

1 – Cut meat and dry it with paper towels and place in a large bowl or a cookie sheet. Season well with salt and freshly ground (if you are using a fine ground salt, be careful not to over season).

Season meat with salt and pepper

Season meat with salt and pepper

 2 – Using a large saute pan on high heat, sear the meat in batches in olive oil, adding oil as needed. Do not crowd the pan or the meat will not brown nicely. Remove to a heavy casserole as you go.

Sear the meat in an uncrowded pan

Sear the meat in an uncrowded pan

3 – After the meat is seared, turn the heat down to medium and pour out excess oil. Add the prepared vegetables and saute for about 10 minutes, until beginning to soften.

Add carrots

Saute veggies after searing the meat

4 – Add the wine and the red sauce and bring to a boil. Pour over the meat (or add the meat back to the saute pan if it is big enough. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 3 hours. Add the blanched and peeled pearl onions 1 hour before the meat is finished cooking. If the sauce is very thick you can thin it out with water until you are satisfied with the consistency.

Serve with whatever you like: mashed or roasted potatoes, roasted or sauteed greens beans or a hearty pasta noodle such as rigatoni.

Serve with whatever you like: mashed or roasted potatoes, roasted or sautéed greens beans or a hearty pasta noodle such as rigatoni.

Prepping Pearl onions for your dish

(you can do this the day before or while your ribs are in the oven). Put a pot of water on to boil. When it has boiled, add the onions and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and when cool enough to hand or cold, remove the skin. Set aside until ready to add to your dish.

blanch onions

Blanch onions  – it is easier to remove the onion skin if you cut the skin in the middle somewhere and then peel it off.

We will hopefully do this al over again next year

We will hopefully do this all over again next year

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS PUDDING! (fabulous recipe right here)

I was a bit late getting my Christmas pudding made this year but I blame it all on my trying not to succumb to the onslaught of commercial holiday bombardiers that began their advertising attacks the middle of October for crying out loud!

The  Christmas tree At Rockerfeller Plaza - dreamy

This year’s Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center – Dreamy

I denied everyone in the house the permission to talk about what they wanted for Christmas, to sing Christmas carols in the car or do anything that remotely felt Christmassy until December 1st. All of this blatant disregard for the Holidays was my way of slowing everything down and trying against all odds to focus on the actual moments of my life as they unfolded.

dessert would not be complete without Christmas Crackers!

Dessert would not be complete without Christmas Crackers!

This however resulted in my forgetting to get my christmas pudding made 6 weeks before I paraded it to our table in a blaze of festive flame and fanfare. Oh well, it will have two weeks less time to cure but I don’t suppose anyone will really notice the difference or scowl at me after the feast I will have laid before them. And it is still not too late for you to try your hand at Christmas Pudding too. It is a complete cinch to make – all you need that might take a bit of hunting for if you live in the United States is a Pudding Bowl.

Time for Christmas

My kids insist on getting our tree at the same tree farm every year – the tree selection grows more dismal by the year but who am I to deprive these kids who cling to the comfort of tradition.

I do love this Holiday though and I’ll admit that it was really difficult not to get sucked in, so I am very glad that it is now December and I can look forward to getting our tree and dreaming about all the yummy food I am going to cook and the joy this season ⛄️🌲⛄️🌲brings🌲⛄️🌲⛄️

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You will need:

1 cup mixture dark raisins, golden raisins & dried cranberries

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup chopped dried prunes (pitted)

1/3 cup chopped dried dates – pitted (I used medjool dates which have a wonderful flavor)

3/4 cup rum or brandy (I used Bacardi Gold, but any rum will do)

1/2 cup self-raising flour

3/4 cup fine white bread crumbs

1/2 cup, plus 2 tbs vegetable shortening

1 medium apple, peeled and grated

1/2 cup, plus 2 tbs dark brown sugar

zest of 1 orange

1/2 tsp all-spice

1/4 tsp salt

3 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup vodka or brandy (to flambe before serving)

decoration for the top (holly, berries or some non-flammable ornament)

Equipment: 1 pudding bowl or mold to hold about 4 cups of batter.

Method:

1 – Soak fruit in rum or brandy in a covered container overnight, or up to a week.

soak fruit overnight in rum

soak fruit overnight in rum

2 – In a big bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients (except the vodka or brandy) together and then mix fruit into batter.

Mix batter, add fruit

Mix batter, add fruit

3 – Turn pudding into greased bowl or mold and place a piece of parchment over the top, before putting on the lid.

 5 – Cover the whole bowl in tin foil and set in a saucepan of gently boiling water (the water should come halfway up the bowl. Put lid on pot and cook, checking every now and then to see if water needs to be topped up, for 3 1/2 hours.

6 – Remove from pot and allow to cool before removing the tin foil. Leave in the container in a cool dark place (not the fridge) for 3 to 5 weeks. *Some people add a little more alcohol to the pudding every week or so, and you can do this if you like (I don’t as I’m not a big fan of alco-tasting desserts)

christmas-pudding-recipe - Picture of Christmas Pudding

On the day you are serving: re-steam the pudding (wrap in foil again) for another 3 hours. If you want to flambe the pudding for presentation purposes, put the brandy or vodka into a pot and place it on medium heat. Just before it comes to a boil, turn the heat off and set it alight. Immediately pour the flaming liquid over the pudding and serve. Serve warm with custard, brandy butter or fresh cream (recipe for custard and brandy butter will be posted before Christmas!)

I am hoping to get to skate ar rockefellow Cwnter this year under the looming twinklng Chrsitma Tree - it's a bit of a tacky dream but

❄️I am hoping to get to skate at  Rockefeller Center this year under the looming twinkling Christmas Tree – it’s a bit of a tacky dream but I just can’t help myself!❄