I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

December 25, 2011

A Christmas Dinner Party.....

Alternate titles for this post were "Why I need a dedicated photographer" and "Bon Appetit makes it look so easy!"

Last week I found out one of my best friends was coming in to town for the holiday weekend and we were making plans to go out on the town to celebrate, when one thing turned in to another and all of a sudden I was having a dinner party at my house for 8 people. No big deal right?
Except as I mentioned in my last post I've been living off of leftovers, takeout and food from moms house for a while. In the fridge was 4 carrots, a bunch of celery and about 8 mushrooms that were about to be no bueno. With nothing as a foundation for a meal I was all over the board as to what the heck I should make. With 8 people I knew I could get away with something a little fancy, but not overextend my wallet and spend 8 hours in the kitchen. Fate was on my side when I found bone in short ribs at the market and after a few searches on google and epicurious I came up with a recipe that sounded like it fit the bill.

I cleaned the house, set the table with a very Martha Stewart like setting, set the ribs to marinate and chopped and diced like mad to get things going so that I could sit back and relax when my guests arrived instead of staying chained to the stove. And wonder of wonders I managed to sit down and have a glass of wine a half hour before Clover got to the house.

But I took one picture of the food. Hence the need for a photographer.

This is the short ribs after a quick sear to get the outsides caramelized.

But even though I didn't get a whole lot of food pics, I managed to get a few good ones of my friends who thoroughly enjoyed the dinner I made along with copious amounts of wine and loads of conversation and laughs.
Bon Appetit magazine will do a dinner party article every once and a while and the photos always show a relaxed host (with perfect makeup and hair of course) with a glass of wine in hand casually chatting with their guests in a perfectly manicured backyard or gorgeously appointed kitchen with seating for 12 not including the bar with which to watch over the cook. Then there is a multiple course meal with appetizers that they seemingly "threw" together.

It's a little different in my house.

I have a lovely kitchen that will accommodate exactly 3 people as long as no one moves, a dining room table with 6 chairs so we use patio chairs when more than 6 are here. The backyard is great when weather  agrees with us, but in the winter it confines us to the living space which gets a little crowded and a little loud.  Dishes abound and the whole place looks like a tornado hit it after I have people over.

But damn we have fun!

These two recipes were perfect for a crowd because of the make ahead factor, and the fact that I had very little leftover speaks to the sheer awesomeness of the meal. After begging and pleading from my friend Mandy I got myself on the computer and am going to share with you a new favorite.

Please enjoy, I hope your holidays were as happy as my own!

Stout Braised Short Ribs
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

1/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon Curry Powder
2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
2 teaspoons Ground Pepper
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
4 to 4 1/4 lb Bone in Beef Short Ribs
2 Medium Leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped (2 cups)
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 medium Carrots, chopped (2 cups)
3 Celery Ribs, chopped (1 1/2 cups
1 Fennel Bulb, Chopped
2 Bay Leaves
3 Roma Tomatoes, Chopped
1/4 cup chopped Garlic (5 to 6 large cloves)
1 3/4 cups Beef Broth (14 oz)
2 (12-oz) bottles Stout such as Murphy's or Guinness
1/4 Cup Molasses

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Stir together brown sugar, paprika, curry powder, cumin, pepper, salt, and mustard in a small bowl until combined.

Pat ribs dry and arrange in 1 layer in a shallow baking pan or a shallow dish, then generously coat all sides of ribs with spice mixture. Marinate, uncovered and chilled, at least 1 hour....I would do more if you have the time.

Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating water, then lift out leeks and drain in a colander.

Heat oil in pot over high heat until hot but not smoking and quickly brown ribs on all 3 meaty sides (but not bone side) without crowding, in batches if necessary, about 1 minute per side. Transfer meat to a large plate, then add leeks, carrots, celery, fennel and bay leaves to pot and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add broth, beer, molasses and tomatoes with their juice, then add ribs with any juices and remaining spices accumulated on plate and bring liquid to a boil, uncovered. Cover pot and transfer to oven, then braise until meat is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Skim off excess fat from surface of sauce and reduce sauce, thicken with slurry or roux if needed or desired, correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Porcini Mushroom Risotto
Makes enough for 8-10 side dish sized servings

1 medium Onion, diced
2 T Butter
2 packages Dried Porcini Mushrooms, Reconstituted  in 3 cups hot water, chopped
Reserve 1 Cup of the porcini mushroom liquid
16 oz Arborio Rice
1 Cup Dry White Wine
5-6 cups Chicken Stock
3/4 C Shredded Parmesan Cheese
2 oz Goat Cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large pot and saute onion until its soft. Add rice and stir for a few minutes over medium heat. Add wine and stir until all wine is absorbed. Add in 1/2 cup of porcini liquid and 1/2 cup stock and stir until absorbed. Add in mushrooms, remaining mushroom liquid and a little broth. Repeat and repeat and repeat with stock in 1/2 cup increments. Stir the whole time and cook until rice is tender and creamy. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

At this time you can take it off the heat and hold until you are almost ready to serve. Add in the cheese and heat through before serving.

No comments: