Christmas is coming

Here’s a peak of what I have been up to. I promise I’ll be back with full recipes and silly stories soon.20111221-194620.jpg20111221-194635.jpg20111221-194651.jpg20111221-194848.jpg

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Thanksgiving #3, with Ad Hoc

20111212-095352.jpgI really like cooking for people. Do you? I think it’s really fun to make a huge meal and have everything done at just the right time and sit down and eat with people you love.

I especially like the part when everyone gets quiet. You know, when they’re all eating happily and no one wants to talk because at that point the food is more important. I like that part. It means I did a good job.

20111212-095513.jpgI made this meal for my family the weekend after thanksgiving. I decided to tackle a few recipes from Ad Hoc. I think it went pretty well. The beef short ribs I made are probably one of the most delicious renditions of beef I have made. And the possibilities for the leftover beef are endless.

20111212-095653.jpgI started off the meal with a caramelized onion and mushroom squash bruschetta. It was probably one of the most delicious starters I’ve ever made. Simple, pretty and irresistible.

20111212-095839.jpgI served wedge salads because I like the way the look. They’re a bit too much salad for me, however. Maybe if I was only eating a salad, but there was beef and side dishes to be had.

I served the beef with a creamed spinach and a chive and bacon mashed potato. It was a robust hearty meal, the kind best served with falling snow and no intentions of leaving the house.

20111212-095958.jpgOf course this being my house, I made dessert as well. I made soft gingersnaps and sandwiched a helping of homemade pumpkin ice cream in the center. The combination was insane. It was a simple dessert whose flavor brought up the level of elegance to something far above your typical ice cream sandwich. Here’s. The recipe I used for the cookies and for the ice cream.

Thomas Keller’s Beef Short Ribs

Red Wine Reduction

Ingredients

1 bottle dry red wine
1 cup 1/2 inch diced yellow onion
1 cup 1/2 inch thick slices peed carrots
1 cup 1/2 inch thick slices white and light green parts leeks
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
3 thyme sprigs
6 flat leaf parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 large garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on

Braise

Ingredients

2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck short rib
salt and pepper
flour
canola oil
1 cup 1/2 inch diced yellow onion
2/3 cup 1/2 inch thick slices peeled carrots
1 1/2 cups 1/2 inch thick slices white and light green parts leeks
2 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on
3 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
about 5 cups beef stock

1. Combine all the ingredients for the red wine reduction in a large heavy ovenproof pot that will hold the meat comfortably. Bring to a simmer over high heat and reduce the heat to maintain the simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, until the wine has reduced to a glaze.

2. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper, coat in flour, patting off any excess. Heat canola oil in a large saute pan over high heat until it shimmers. Add the meat, reduce the heat and brown the meat for 3 minutes. Turn the meat and brown the other side. Remove meat from pan.

3. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

4. Add the onion, leeks, garlic, thyme and bay leaves to the wine reduction and toss. Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 4 inches larger than the diameter of the pot. Place it over the vegetables and put the meat on the cheesecloth and fold over the edges to form a “nest” (Um yea, I totally did not do that). Add the stock, it should come to just the top of the meat.

5. Cut a parchment paper lid and place it over the meat.

6. Put the pot in the oven and reduce the heat to 325˚F. Braise the beef for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until tender.

7. Transfer the meat to a heatproof container. Strain the braising liquid and pour over the meat. Keller has a much more complicated method for this. It’s not necessary for doing this recipe at home. You can keep the meat in the refrigerated in the liquid for up to three days, I froze mine for a later use.

Cranberry Apple Pear Bread

On a Sunday afternoon I decided I needed to bake something.  Not knowing what, I scoured my kitchen.  All I knew was I wanted something breakfasty and something I could make up on the spot. I found pears, apples, oranges and cranberries and that was enough for me.

 

This bread is the perfect holiday bread.  It’s sweet and studded with fruit.  The cranberries are like sneaky little gems of tartness tucked in between sweet bits of apple and pear.  The orange makes a cameo to brighten everyone else up with its zest and juice.  There’s so much fruit in this bread when you mix it all in it’s like a chunky fruit mix drenched with a bit of batter.Don’t make the mistake I did and pour allllll of the batter into 1 loaf pan.  You know it won’t fit, why are you trying to make it?  Don’t just keep telling yourself it will be big and delicious.  Two pans.  Trust me.

 

I added some oats for texture and depth.  Other grains would be great in here too. Throw some flax in; whatever you have on hand, it’ll be good, I promise.This bread would make a stunning addition to all of your family parties this season or a welcome sidekick at your breakfast table.  Wrapped well, it will store quite nicely in the freezer and be good as fresh baked when warmed up in the oven for a bit.

 

Get with this ASAP.  You won’t be sorry.Cranberry Apple Pear Bread

 

Ingredients

 

1 stick of butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

zest and juice of 1 orange

2 eggs

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup oats

1/4 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup cranberries

1 medium apple, like Gala, cut to size of cranberries

1 medium pear, any variety, cut to size of cranberries

 

For the topping:

 

1/4 cup oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 stick butter, chilled and cubed

 

Directions

 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar.  Add orange zest and juice.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.

 

2.  In another bowl mix flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.  In a small bowl mix oats, maple syrup and milk.  Alternating flour mixture and milk, add to butter and eggs, beginning and ending with flour, in 3 additions.  Mix until well combined.  Fold in cranberries, apple and pear.  Pour into 2 loaf pans.  Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.