Saturday, January 14, 2006

Comte ROCKS! And so do Braised Short Ribs...

It's been rainy and stormy here. Very romantic looking. I happen to like the storminess -- particularly if I'm not stressed and don't have to be out schlepping things to and from in it.

We wanted to go out for a bit Saturday and so we went for a little expedition down at the Embarcadero. By the time we got there, the morning Farmer's Market had mostly cleared out, with only some bare puddles in the lot where the stalls had been set up in the morning.

Fortunately there's still lots to do down there, First there was a gelato snack at Ciao Bella (Okay, it's not Amorino, but then, what is?) Then there was some wandering by the chocolate and the mushrooms. A bit of drooling over the All Clad cookware at Sur la Table. And then the obligatory stop at Cowgirl Creamery, where our intention was to get a Mt. Tam and maybe some Straus Family butter. But then we just had to try the Comte affined by Jean d'Alos. "SOLD! to the woman with the happy look on her face!"

We also picked up a Black Gold goat cheese which is produced by the Mendocino Elk Creamery, a certified organic and biodynamic creamery that also raises orchids. It was certainly goaty, though to my mind a little too sharp and not as interesting as the Comte, no matter how much organic alfalfa and/or orchids the goats consume.

The Comte on the other hand was spectacular. It's only encouraging our obsession with French cheeses.

For dinner, we heated up a pot pie, a bit of Sopa de Ajo, poured a glass of wine and, ummm, removed a fuzzy from the chair.

"'Scuse me, Sarastro...'scuse Kitty?"

Yeah. Anyway. I don't think I ever put up a photo of the finished pot pie and how lovely it looks when the crust is brushed and nicely browned and ... get me a fork!

Anyhow, tonight, (or maybe I should say this afternoon, all afternoon) we made Braised Short Ribs. Talk about stick to your ribs... All of us are still licking our chops.

Beef Short Ribs

1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced celery
8 cloves minced garlic
1 bay leaf

1/4 cup AP flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lbs bone in short ribs (we had the butcher cut each rib in half)

1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp reserved flour from dredging (above)

1 1/2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup madeira
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (not oil packed)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 cups crimini mushrooms, quartered
6 oz broccolini

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the flour, salt, pepper and cayenne in a large plastic bag or a tupperware with a top. Put in the short ribs and shake to coat evenly. Reserve unused flour for later.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauteuse or dutch oven over a medium heat (not high). Put in the ribs with the bone side up and brown for 8 minutes. Then turn and brown 8 minutes more. remove the ribs from the pan and pour off the fat.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan and saute onions, carrots, garlic, celery, bay leaf and tomato paste about 5 minutes. Add the reserved flour and stir until the vegetables are all coated.

Deglaze with beef broth, red wine and madeira. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce and bring it all to a simmer. Arrange the ribs in the sauce, bone side up, cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours.

After two hours in the oven add the mushrooms, and put it back in the oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes take the ribs out and put them on a plate and tent with foil. On the stovetop, bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and add the broccolini. Cook until tender -- about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For a really terrific meal though, serve the ribs over Gremolata Pasta. The lemon and garlic give a nice acidic bite that cuts through the umami of the ribs.

Gremolata Pasta

9 ounces dry pasta (fettucine, spaghetti, etc.)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp minced garlic
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to directions, until al dente.

Combine all other ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss the cooked pasta with the dressing.

Oh so good. Yes indeedy.

For the cheese component of the meal, we had some Fromage d'Affinois -- a buttery, creamy, kinda decadent little triple creme that you can pretty much just smear onto your mouth.

As we were standing at the cheese counter at Whole Foods, I whined about wanting some Brie.

"But there's no Brie de Meaux," Eric pointed out, as if that were our only option from the entire Marne valley. (To read about the authentic bries, check out David Lebovitz's informative "To Brie or not to Brie.")

"I know that," I whined back. "but can't we get...get... fromage d'affinois?" I was trying to strike a balance between AOC and MPC.

We cajole a taste out of the cheese guy, and at last, guiltily escape with a wedge of the stuff half oozing out of the package. Ooozing. That's all I ask.


After receiving the opportunity to lick the marrow up, the kitties no longer feel the need to dance in attendance upon us...

Can you tell?

""No, Hallgerthr, the camera does not steal your soul."

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