Tag Archives: comfort food

Me overreact? Never. Easy Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

Lucky the Dog

Lucky the Dog

I have, at rare instances in my life, been told that I’m prone to overreacting.

It began when I was three years old and was so terrified by the Wizard of Oz, that I instituted a strict moratorium on the word “witch” in our house for a number of months. The word could not even be said or I would fly into hysterics, shrieking and crying. My older brother quickly realized the power of this spoken word and would chase me around the house quietly saying “wwwwww……water! wwwwww….washing machine! wwwwwww….wish.” I found it highly traumatic.

A few years later when my friends and I were hanging out in our early tweens ( a term that did not yet even exist) I had the brilliant idea that we should all go around the room and state what we “hated” about each other. I’m not sure why I thought this was a good idea. Perhaps I thought it would be cathartic. The girls informed me that sometimes I made a mountain out of a molehill and that was something they didn’t care for. I immediately began adamantly defending the accusation, demanding for examples of where I’d blown things out of proportion.

So, it will come as no surprise, that the other day when I thought our older dog Lucky was dying I burst into tears, came home from work, and spent the day following him around, quietly weeping, and taking pictures and videos of him with my phone. (Note, the videos are all punctuated by a soundtrack of me sniffling, and hiccupping, so I don’t think they will be particularly comforting down the road.) When we called the vet and demanded an explanation of what could possibly be wrong that would render him so lethargic, so uncomfortable, so dying our very straightforward vet reminded us that we have a geriatric dog, who’s terminally ill, and effectively three-legged. Okay…well, besides that…I wondered.

Rest assured that Lucky made a dramatic recovery (this dog is on his 19th life), although the vet’s admonitions still ring soundly in my mind, so I’m trying to resign myself to the reality that we’re talking weeks not months here. As a result, Lucky the Dog has been deemed king of the roost. There are dog beds scattered all over the house, water bowls in every particular corner, and Lucky has been allowed to sleep in our bed, stretching out to his heart’s content. The result is sleepless nights for me, contorted in ridiculous positions so as not to disturb him, waking up each morning feeling slightly haggard and guiltily resentful. I’ve been informed this is much what having a newborn is like.

I’ve always been a firm believer that food is an excellent substitute for sleep. So the other night, I got cooking.

These braised short ribs from Food and Wine, are quite delicious, although I think they would have been better if cooked for closer to three hours versus the recommended two.  Food and Wine pairs this with egg noodles, although I personally think mashed potatoes might be better.

Cook these when life seems to be falling apart, you haven’t slept in days, and need some glimmer of a reminder of a time when you were totally on top of things.

Easy Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine
From Food & Wine , incidentally, one of my favorite cooking magazines

Easy Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

Easy Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large celery rib, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
2 cups veal or chicken stock
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Four 2-inch-thick, flanken-cut short ribs with bone (2 3/4 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Buttered egg noodles, for serving

Directions

  1. In a large, enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery and carrot, cover and cook over moderate heat until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the wine and veal stock and bring to a simmer.

    Sauteeing Vegetables

    Sauteeing Vegetables

  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Season the ribs with salt and pepper, add them to the pan and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until they are well browned, about 15 minutes.

    Salt and Peppered Short Ribs

    Salt and Peppered Short Ribs

  3. Transfer the short ribs to the casserole. Partially cover and cook over moderately low heat until very tender, about 2 hours. (E.M – Two was really the bare minimum I would recommend, three would be better).
  4. Transfer the ribs to a plate and remove the bones. Strain the sauce into a heatproof measuring cup and skim off the fat. (E.M – Discard the vegetables). Return the sauce to the casserole and boil until reduced to 2 cups, 10 minutes. Return the meat to the sauce and simmer over low heat until heated through. Serve the ribs with egg noodles. (E.M – Or mashed potatoes).
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Filed under Comfort Foods, Pasta, Uncategorized

Comfort Food Goes Chic (again): Gourmet Meatloaf

I have recently started a new job, and as is typical for most people I think, I am finding myself in these first days and weeks coming home excited and positive but also admittedly tired and a bit drained. Keeping track of who’s who, what’s what, attempting to get out the door in the morning without getting slobbered by the mastiff, and remembering not to put hot tea in the fancy compostable cups (they definitely melt), can take it out of you.

As such, the foods that are appealing are the old standards. Traditionally satisfying but undeniably unglamorous, comfort foods have gotten a bit of a bad rep in my book. I’m not going to claim to be able to remake them so that they’re low-cal and low-carb (because come on people, these are COMFORT foods), but I do think they deserve a facelift now and then.

This meatloaf is a fantastically successful remake on the old school version. Adding lamb makes the flavors more interesting and the panko bread crumbs give it a lighter feel.  The sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella lend to a beautiful presentation.

Pair with sour cream mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables for a complete, chic, and new job worthy meal.

Serves 6.

Gourmet Meatloaf

Ingredients

1 lb organic ground beef

1 lb organic ground lamb

1 small yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2/3 cup Italian parsley

1 TB Italian seasonings

Salt and Pepper, to taste

2 eggs

1/4 tomato juice (or ketchup)

1/2 cup dry red wine

4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)

1/2 lb smoked mozzarella, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Combine the ground beef, lamb, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, parsley, Italian seasonings, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the eggs, tomato juice and wine and mix thoroughly.
  3. Lay out 1 large sheet of waxed paper and spread the meat loaf mixture out in a 9×13 rectangle. Sprinkle 2/3 of the sun-dried tomatoes and arrange 2/3 of the mozzarella on top.
  4. Using the wax paper as an aid start rolling it up from the short side, like a jelly roll. Peel back the paper as you roll. Place seams side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. Sprinkle the remaining sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella over the top and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes more.


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Comfort food goes Chic: Creamy cauliflower & gruyere soup

Cauliflower Soup

Creamy cauliflower soup served with a touch of paprika and parsley

We all have that sweater…it’s a bit too big, definitely too wide, has holes in the sleeves, and a stain on the side, but to us it is perfect. Representing comfort and familiarity we pop it on feeling perfectly content, weekend after weekend, much to the groans and chagrin of our more fashion savvy friends.

The food equivalent is of course all the classic comfort foods. Decidedly homey and sometimes a tad homely they are synonymous with a simpler time where meatloaf and dinner at 5p were standard fare.

There are times, however, when we crave something rich and comforting without the heaviness or frumpiness of our favorite foods. This soup is just that.

Exquisitely satisfying and utterly delicious, it says, all at once, just like that favorite sweater, but with a touch more style, ‘welcome home’.

Creamy cauliflower & Gruyère soup

Pair with a crusty wheat bread and a sparkling wine such as Prosecco.

Serves 4.

2 TB butter

3/4 white onion, roughly chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 small cauliflower, about 2 lbs, cut into small pieces

5 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups grated Gruyère cheese (fontina also works well)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly chopped parsley

Heat the butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion has softened but not browned.

Add the cauliflower pieces and stock and bring to a boil. Let boil for 25 minutes, until the cauliflower is really soft and breaking up in the stock.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and process in batches until smooth. Return the puree to a clean saucepan. Add the cream and cheese and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese has all smoothly melted into the soup.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into warmed served bowls and top with chopped parsley.

Adapted from Long Nights and Log Fires.

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Filed under Comfort Foods, Soups