Saturday, September 6, 2008

Date Night! Braised Short Ribs with Wild Mushrooms, Garlic-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes and Strawberry-Rhubarb-Oatmeal Cobbler with Cinnamon Cream -- YUM!

So, it’s raining here. Not a little bit. A TON. Apparently there’s a tropical storm outside. It’s the kind of driving rain and howling wind that makes you just want to stay inside and curl up with a good book - - or experiment in the kitchen. It also made the decision to stay in on Saturday night an easy one. But rather than cook an old standby, we decided to experiment with fall flavors and cook a fabulous, cozy dinner for two. According to my husband, this is one of the best meals we’ve ever had.

Since it’s date night, the table had to get dressed up a bit. We have a rather large round table in the dining room, so to make it cozier I used placemats as a make-shift runner to separate the table in half. To finish off the tablescape, I added a few pink roses floating in footed dessert bowls atop cobalt blue appetizer plates and an assortment of candles. I used extra napkins as placemats and draped them off of the table, giving the feel of a tablecloth. A smattering of rose petals completed the look.

Now to the fun part - - dinner. Although the recipe for braised short ribs with wild mushrooms might look cumbersome, it only takes about 20 minutes to put together. The rest of the time the ribs are simmering on the stove and require relatively no attention. Now, the ribs take about 2 hours to cook so make sure to plan accordingly. This is not a meal that we could put together on a weeknight for obvious reasons, but it makes a fantastic date night meal. You could consider the short ribs a one pot meal; however, I liked to use the garlic-cilantro mashed potatoes to anchor the richness of the meat. The ribs require a cup and a half of zinfandel wine. We opened a bottle of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin to cook with --- and then had the rest with dinner.

And the pièce de ré·sis·tance? The strawberry-rhubarb oatmeal cobbler with cinnamon cream. SO delicious! And ridiculously easy. The oatmeal makes the cobbler have a heavier texture, so we liked the way the cinnamon cream balanced the dessert. It was absolutely to die for.

Braised Short Ribs with Wild Mushrooms

Season 2 lb. of short ribs with kosher salt and pepper to your liking. (We like a lot). In a large bowl, mix together 1.5 cups of Zinfandel, a few shakes of Worcestershire Sauce, 1/4 cup of white sugar, 6 oz. canned diced tomatoes (with juice), 1 cup of beef broth, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 tsp. of Chinese 5 Spice, 1 tsp. of dried thyme, and 1 tsp. dried basil.

Pour 2 tbsp. of canola oil into a 5 qt. cast iron pot or dutch oven and place over high heat. Once oil is hot, brown all sides of each short rib. (You may want to work in small batches, but I found it pretty easy to manipulate 2 lbs. of beef in a 5 qt. pan). After each side of meat is brown, remove all meat from the pot.

Add 1/2 cup of diced celery and 1 cup of diced onion to the 5 qt. pan. Allow the onion to cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently!

Return beef to pot and pour in the wine mixture. Bring liquid to a boil and then reduce heat. Skim the fat from the surface and allow liquid to simmer a few minutes.

Add 1 package of fresh gourmet mushrooms (I like the mix variety pack, but choose your favorite!) to the pan. Cover and simmer over very low heat until meat is fork tender and falling off the bone - - about two hours.

Once the beef has cooked, remove the meat from the pot and keep it warm. Turn up the heat to high and reduce the pot liquid until it’s thickened (about 10-12 minutes).

Place meat atop mashed potatoes and pour sauce on top. Bon Appetit!

Garlic-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes

Peel and cut 4 russet potatoes into large cubes. Place in sauce pan and fill with cold water until water reaches about an inch over top of the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste (again, we like to be generous with seasoning but usually go easy on the salt). Add 1 tbsp. of butter.
Bring the water to a boil and boil potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain.

In a large mixing bowl, put 1 cup of reduced fat sour cream, 1 tbsp. of butter, 1 tsp. of garlic powder, and 1 tsp. of dried cilantro. Add potatoes and beat with a mixer. Add milk a few tbsp. at a time until the potatoes achieve your desired consistency. (Mashed potato consistency is a personal choice :)). Enjoy!

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Oatmeal Cobbler with Cinnamon Cream

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large saucepan, combine 1 cup of white sugar and 4 tsp. cornstarch. Stir in the juice of one orange. Add 4 cups of diced fresh rhubarb. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat but keep the sauce hot.

In a mixing bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of flour, 3 tbsp. white sugar, 1.5 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 cup of quick cooking oats and 1 tsp. of cinnamon. Whisk together one egg and 1/4 cup of milk. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Mixture should have the consistency of thick morning oatmeal.

Stir 1 pint of strawberries (rinsed, halved with stems removed) into the rhubarb mixture. Pour hot fruit mixture into a 2 qt. baking dish. Spread oatmeal mixture on top - - you’ll want to cover the entire top of the baking dish, but you want a thin layer of oatmeal mixture. Sprinkle top with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Place baking dish on top of a foil-covered cookie sheet. (Yes, the strawberry/rhubarb mix will spill over!) Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly (you’ll want to serve it warm -- but not right out of the oven).

In a large mixing bowl, place 3 tsp. of white sugar, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, 1 tsp. of vanilla and 1 small container of heavy whipping cream. Beat until creamy. Place a dollop on top of each cobbler serving.

(This recipe makes enough cobbler for 6-8 people - - so you'll have leftovers :) Makes a great late-night snack!)


restyled home said...

What an amazing meal! I think I could possibly pull it off, but I doubt it would look as amazing as yours!

Congrats on the new's lovely!!


'ShroomChef said...

I think that the "Mixed Mushrooms" you used is probably our MYCOPIA Chef's Sampler. I love the recipe and fully support your use of the Chinese Five Spice. Also, try with mushrooms the Punjabi spice blend called garam masala. Thanks.