Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Short Ribs Braised in Porter Ale

 A couple of months ago our friends asked if we wanted a share of a side of locally-raised beef. I usually don't buy beef or steak at the local mega-mart because it never tastes that great, has a slight pink fluorescent twinge, and sometimes smells, well, "off."

Imagine my delight when I first opened the vacuum package on a piece of chuck to make this stew. The meat was a beautiful deep red, hardly any fat, and had no funky smell.

ANYWAYS, now that I have lots of different cuts of beef taking up space in the freezer, I'm getting a chance to try  new recipes. Last week I decided to make Short Ribs Braised in Porter Ale with Maple-Rosemary Glaze from All About Braising. A lot of the short rib recipes I found called for braising the ribs in red wine, but I'm more of a beer fan, so I went with this one. Plus, there is a large stock of maple syrup in the cupboard that came from trees from our neighbors' farm and was boiled down by the local Amish, and I used the rosemary from my garden.

So without further ado, I give you my take on Molly Stevens' wonderful recipe. This dish takes some time to make, but it's not complicated. You can even make most of it ahead of time and finish it off right before you serve it.

Short Ribs Braised in Porter Ale with Maple-Rosemary Glaze (serves 6) from All About Braising
3 1/2-4 lbs. bone-in short ribs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp of EVOO
2 large yellow onions
1 carrot, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups of porter ale (Founders)
3/4 cup beef stock
1 leafy fresh rosemary sprig
1 large (or 2 small) bay leaves

For the glaze:
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1-2 leafy fresh rosemary sprigs
1 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard (the original recipe calls for horseradish)

The day before you plan to make the dish, trim any excess fat from the ribs. Next, salt the short ribs, arrange them in one layer on a baking dish, cover them in plastic wrap, and put them back in the fridge.

One  the day you plan to cook your ribs, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Gently pat the ribs try with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture (you still want the salt to stay on). Then, season the meat with pepper.

Heat the EVOO in a Dutch oven over medium heat and brown the ribs on all sides (you may have to do this in batches. It took about 3-4 minutes per side to get a good sear on the beef. Transfer the ribs to a plate/pan.

Once all the ribs are browned, pour off all the fat except for one tablespoon. Return the pot to the heat and add the onions and carrot. Season with S&P and cook until softened, at least five minutes. 

Next, add the porter to the Dutch oven, bringing it to a boil. Boil it for two minutes, and deglaze the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the stock, bring the liquid to a boil again, and then reduce the head to a simmer. Place the ribs in the Dutch oven, along with any of their juices, and tuck the rosemary spring and bay leaves into the pot.

Cover the ingredients with parchment paper-- gently press it down so it barely touches the ribs, then put  the lid on the pot. Place the pot in the oven, and turn the ribs every 45 minutes, until fork tender. The total cooking time should be about 2 1/2 hours. 

Go ahead and prepare the glaze (even if you're not planning to eat for another couple of hours-- it needs  time for the flavors to meld). Put the maple syrup and rosemary sprig in a small pot. Heat the mixture gently until it's just boiling. Then, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and set it aside for the flavors to infuse for one hour. (If you're making it ahead of time, put it in the fridge after the hour is up.)

Once the ribs are fork tender, remove them from the Dutch oven and place them in a shallow baking dish (just make sure they are in one layer). Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the pot and distribute them around the ribs in the baking dish. If you are planning to serve the ribs right away, cover them with foil to keep them warm. If you're serving the dish later, you can allow the ribs to cool slightly, and store them in the fridge until dinner.

Next, separate the fat from the rest of the braising liquid*. Then, return the braising liquid to the Dutch oven, bring to a steady simmer, and reduce it until only 1/2 cup remains. It should resemble a syrup. Season with S&P if necessary.

When you're ready to serve the short ribs (and you made them ahead of time like me), place them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes to reheat them. Once they're reheated, take them out of the oven and pre-heat the broiler. Now, get your glaze out, remove the rosemary sprig, and add the mustard to the glaze, and then brush it over the ribs (you may need to reheat the glaze to get it to a brush-able consistency). 

Then, pour the reduced syrupy braising liquid around the ribs (don't pour it over the glaze). Place the pan under the broiler and cook until the surface turns glossy and they start to sizzle. This took about four minutes in my oven.

Now you're (finally) ready to serve! I put a rib in a shallow bowl, along with the vegetables and liquid. I served these with bread to sop up all the juices. 

*Note-I made this recipe in the morning, and then finished off the braising liquid right before dinner. I found that letting the braising liquid sit in the fridge for a couple of hours made the fat much easier to remove.*

Thursday, November 8, 2012


It's been almost a year since I updated the blog! I am a bad bad bad blogger!

I hope to get back into the swing of things with a recipe to post next Monday.

In the meantime, here are some great dishes I've discovered since the last post:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Great Pie Tips

To tell you the truth, I don't think I've ever tried to bake a pie from scratch by myself (I'd rather put in the time for "easier" desserts like cookies, brownies, and cake), but America's Test Kitchen's Feed posted some great tips for pies! You can view the tips at

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Favorite Tomato Soup Recipe

So far this fall weather has been pretty good to us. We've only had snow a few times, and this morning there were flurries floating through the air. This recipe takes me back to snow days when I was a little kid in Georgia. We lived on a steep hill, so whenever an ice/snow storm hit, we couldn't get out of the driveway and lots of time we lost power. Fortunately, we had a wood-burning stove so my mom could cook on it when we lost power, and one my favorite things she made was creamy tomato soup. Even though she was taking a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup and fixing it up by adding milk, it was a great way to warm up after playing outside all morning in the snow.

Now, Campbell's Tomato Soup just doesn't taste the same as it did when I was little, so I was really excited to see a recipe for "Classic Tomato Soup" in the February/March 2010 issue of Cook's Country. This soup was creamy and tomato-y. It took a little time to make, but the results were well worth it. I even made this with store-brand ingredients and the soup was yummy.

Classic Tomato Soup (serves about 6) from Cook's Country
2-28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda*
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup evaporated milk (or heavy cream)

Drain the tomatoes in a large colander set over the bowl so you can save the tomato juice. You will have to press on the tomatoes to get all the juice out. Transfer the juice and chicken broth a large measuring cup (there is suppose to be 4 cups of liquid-- I had to add a little more chicken broth). Set juice/broth mixture aside.

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, which takes about 5 minutes. Add two-thirds of the drained diced tomatoes, the bay leaf, and brown sugar. Cook until the tomatoes start to brown, stirring occasionally, which will take 15-20 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and flour to the pot and stirring frequently, cook until the paste begins to darken. (This will only take a minute or two).

Slowly add in the reserved tomato juice/broth mixture, the baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir the soup together and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until thickened, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.

I goofed up in the previous step and removed the bay leaf before adding the paste and broth/tomato juice. The soup still came out fine, but probably would have been better had I led the bay leaf in.

Now you can puree the soup. Make sure to remove the bay leaf. I used an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. Stir in the evaporated milk and season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Note: According to Cook's Country, the baking soda "neutralized some of the acid in the tomatoes for a perfect sweet-tart balance. And its sodium ions weakened the pectin in the cells of the tomatoes, allowing them to puree into a silken soup."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Basic Hearth Bread

Ever since I've sworn off of eating sandwiches for lunch during the week, I look for any excuse to eat bread with dinner. Last Sunday, I planned to make poached eggs with braised peppers and onions, and figured the Basic Hearth Bread from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum would be a good one to try.

This bread has a great crust and is hearty enough for dipping into something saucy. In fact, tonight for dinner I sauteed some mushrooms, threw in a container of leftover spaghetti sauce, and ate that with just the bread for dipping. It was yummy!

I used a stand mixer to knead the dough, so the following instructions reflect that. You could knead with your hands if you're  so inclined. 

I also left out a step in her original recipe (she calls for allowing the dough to rest for 20 minutes after the initially mixing it), but I thought it turned out wonderfully despite this oversight.

Rose's book is fantastic because she gives very specific instructions (including what speed to use on your stand mixer).

Dough Starter
5.5 oz. bread flour
1.25 oz. whole wheat flour
3/8 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. honey
1 1/3 cups of room temperature water

Flour Mixture
10.3 oz bread flour
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt

To make the starter (aka sponge) whisk the bread flour, yeast, honey and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk for 2 minutes to incorporate air and to get the mixture very smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap while you combine the flour mixture.

For the flour mixture, combine the ingredients and gently pour the mixture onto the dough starter to cover it completely. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment at room temperature from 1-4 hours.

After fermenting, mix the dough using a dough hook in a stand mixer until the the dough is rough. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 7 minutes, until its elastic smooth, and slightly sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise until it has doubled, about 1 hour. 

Next, shape the dough into a boule and place on a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan (or prepare a loaf pan and shape it into a loaf.) Allow it to rise 45 minutes to an hour (mine took an hour). Place a sheet pan on the bottom rack of the oven, and have a rack in the middle of the oven. Pre-heat your oven to 475 degrees. Right before you bake the bread, slash the dough. Place the dough on the middle oven rack, and pour 1/4 cup of water into the sheet pan on the bottom rack to create steam. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the bread for even browning, and lower the temperature to 425 degrees, and bake for another 20 minutes. Take the bread out of the oven and (try to) wait until it's cool before slicing.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Peanut Chews

On Wednesday there was a rare occurence in Michigan: we had a snow day! Well, everyday is a snow day here, but on we actually had the day off from work. Since I was feeling bored, I decided to bake something. We only had chocolate no-bake cookies in the freezer, so it was time to replenish the cookie supply. I decided not to go for chocolate chip cookies and tried a recipe from King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking. The challenge was to find a recipe that called for ingredients in the cupboard, and fortunately there was a recipe for Peanut Chews. The only change I made was to substitute molasses for the honey (or dark corn syrup).

These cookes are soft and chewy,  and not overly sweet. But, they're not very pretty (and thus the reason why there aren't pictures with the post). They are also very easy to put together.

Peanut Chews from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking (about 28 cookies)
1 cup of smooth peanut butter
3.75 ounces dark brown sugar
3.25 ounces granulate sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. molasses (or honey or dark corn syrup)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
6 ounces whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts, finely ground (a mini food processor is great for this).

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the peanut butter, sugars, egg, water, molasses, vanilla, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a small bowl, combine the ground peanuts and whole wheat flour. Once the peanut butter mixture is smooth, slowly add the flour and ground nuts. Mix everything together until its well combined.

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper (I ended up using 3 baking sheets). Drop tablespoon-sized pieces of dough on the cookie sheet. You can use a fork to flatten each cookie and make a pretty pattern on the top (or you can use the bottom of the glass).

Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Move the cookies to a cooling rack to allow them to cool.

Peanut Chews aren't like you're traditional peanut butter cookies. They are really chewy, not chewy and crumbly, so don't expect the same texture. However, expect them to be delicious!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Potato and Canadian Bacon Slow Cooker Chowder

I had such high hopes for this recipe (partly from my mother's comment of "This is so good I'd make it for company") I started writing this blog before I even tasted the soup.

This is easy to make and very satisfying on a 25 degree day with snow blowing everywhere. It's really thick and comforting. And of course you must eat this with bread.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crusty Hard Dinner Rolls

Crusty Hard Dinner Rolls. This title could be construed two ways: crusty and hard like break your teeth off crusty and hard, or crusty and hard as in it's is useful for mopping soup out of bowl. Fortunately for us, the latter definition describes these rolls, which have a great crust (although it actually isn't that hard). I've made this recipe two times, and its becoming one of my favorites for a few reasons:

  1. It's easy. Water, flour, yeast, salt. Mix 'em together and let 'em do their thing.
  2. You can bake the rolls on your schedule. It takes me three days to make them, but there's minimal effort required and you aren't constantly timing them.
  3. They're forgiving and still come out looking beautiful. Sure, you can take the time to measure each piece of dough when you divide it to make the rolls so all or uniform, but if you're a little rushed you can always eyeball the amount. Also, the slash and egg glaze you add right before baking result in a nicely browned crust that makes for a wow factor at the table. These rolls really look like they came from a bakery.
  4. They taste good. Since the recipe calls for a starter and an extended stay in the fridge, the rolls develop a nice flavor. It's  not as complex as a sourdough, but not flavorless, either.