We call upon comfort foods in January. This is another tradition. We’ve been through the rush and demands of the holiday season. Too much food and drink. Too many late hours, spent shopping, cooking, driving around and standing in lines.
Though, yes, we have memories, wonderful memories, of sharing these days with our loving family and friends. Yes, we have memories of latkes and lekakh.
A few months ago, I briefly alluded to a dinner entrée my talented cook and daughter prepared. I received several emails from loyal OCJL readers, requesting this recipe. Yes, I did send it on. As I considered this column theme, I thought there are many more readers who would enjoy her Braised Short Ribs.
The menu I propose for a cozy, warming-to-the-heart winter’s dinner follows. May this January and new year bring you and your loved ones much comfort.
Mixed Baby Greens with Simple Balsamic Salad Dressing (dressing recipe follows)
Challah (preferably the seeded variety)
Braised Short Ribs (recipe follows)
Carrot Mold (recipe follows)
Oven Roasted Potato Wedges (pre-tossed with olive oil, Kosher salt, pepper and thyme), Herb Mashed Potatoes (your choice of mild herb), or your favorite flat noodles, tossed with olive oil
My mother’s favorite Lemony Lemon Cake (refer to OCJL September 2010)
BRAISED SHORT RIBS
Braised short ribs, scented with aromatic thyme and garlic and simmered with a robust sauce of pureed tomato, carrots, celery and onion, and with red wine and beef stock, will fill your home with the perfume of family love. You can simmer this in the oven or stove-top. Since it is a long simmering process, I prefer to do this in the oven, so that I do not have to worry about the liquid absorbing too much and then drying up on the bottom of my Dutch oven. If you prefer stove-top simmering, lightly cover and occasionally stir.
Four pounds short ribs (approximately ten ribs)
Approximately five tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
One medium onion, chopped
One half head garlic, peeled and chopped
Two carrots, scraped and chopped
Three large ribs celery, trimmed and chopped
One large tomato, sliced into eighths
Many sprigs of fresh thyme, to taste (for cooking and for garnish)
Two cups beef stock (There are many varieties, including organic, available at our local markets.)
Cooked pasta of your choice. I prefer bow ties. My daughter prefers polenta.
Place short ribs on a tray and rub olive oil, salt and pepper into them. Heat a large Dutch oven very hot, add a little olive oil and brown ribs on all sides. Remove ribs to the tray and set aside. Place onion, garlic, carrots, celery and tomato in a food processor and chop until the veggie mixture becomes smooth.
Clean Dutch oven, if necessary, then heat over medium, adding about three tablespoons olive oil, plus a nice size amount of thyme sprigs. Flavor the olive oil with the thyme, then add the processed vegetables and cook
for about ten minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper and stirring often. Add the wine and stock, stirring. When mixture comes to a boil, place short ribs in it, making sure all short ribs are covered with the sauce. Place cover on Dutch oven, and place in a preheated three hundred and twenty five degree oven. Continue to oven simmer short ribs for three hours, checking occasionally to make sure all ribs are completely covered with the sauce.
Note: At this point short ribs can be made one day in advance, refrigerated and completed the following day. If so, reheat, and continue with recipe. Discard sprigs of thyme.
Measure out two cups of sauce and put through a strainer, pushing through all liquid. Heat to a boil for a few minutes.
To serve, place short ribs in a serving bowl or platter, along with sauce. Drizzle strained sauce on top. Accompany with pasta, to which you have drizzled strained sauce on top. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.
Yield: Four to eight servings.
My family has always loved this carrot mold, which has a consistency very similar to a moist carrot bread accented with cinnamon and nutmeg. Many years ago, I offered the recipe to my mother, though she admits “I’ve never been ambitious enough to make it, but I remember how much I enjoyed eating it.” Do be ambitious enough to make this!
One cup packed brown sugar
One cup grated, peeled carrots
Two teaspoons fresh lemon juice
One and one half cups all-purpose flour
One tablespoon baking powder
One teaspoon powdered cinnamon
One half teaspoon powdered nutmeg (I like to freshly grate my nutmeg.)
One teaspoon water
Three fourth cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
Garnish: Chopped Italian flat leaf parsley, optional
Combine brown sugar, carrots and lemon juice in a bowl. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg, and add to the carrot mixture, stirring, then stir in the water and butter or margarine.
Turn mixture into a greased ring mold. Bake in a preheated three hundred and fifty degree oven for forty-five to fifty minutes, or until firm. Unmold and garnish, if desired with parsley, and serve.
Yield: Six to eight servings.
SIMPLE BALSAMIC SALAD DRESSING
There are many bottled varieties of Balsamic dressing. Here’s a very simple homemade version, utilizing ingredients you should always have handy in your kitchen pantry. Use as a dressing for your simple salad of basically mixed baby greens, with whatever else you might enjoy, such as minced green onions or chives, some minced parsley, even some thinly sliced tart green apple.
One fourth cup Balsamic vinegar (I prefer a very flavorsome red.)
A little grated rind of fresh lemon
One tablespoon fresh lemon juice
One tablespoon good quality Dijon mustard
One half cup good quality olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place vinegar, lemon rind, lemon juice and mustard in a large measuring cup or a mixing bowl and whisk together. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking and seasoning to taste with the salt and pepper.
Yield: Approximately a generous three fourths cup.