Weekend Dinner Finale

You would think a big gooey cheese salad followed by a bowl of piping hot onion soup would be enough for dinner on a snowy freezing day, but then you would be wrong.  The man of the house wanted, you guessed it, meat.  Sad thing is I actually understand – it’s not easy to come down off a hamburger high you know, these things have to be eased into.

Keeping with the winter weather theme, I made a short rib braise with roasted potatoes and carrots using a recipe I adapted from the Zuni Cafe cookbook’s Short Ribs Braised in Chimney Ale. 

The book recommends salting the ribs a day or two in advance, but I know from experience that when your husband whines about eating only vegetables for dinner and you have to make a quick decision, that an hour in advance works too.  Brown the ribs in a heavy pot or dutch oven.  Remove the ribs and add one sliced onion, 6 sliced button mushrooms, 2 bay leaves and cracked pepper.  Nestle the ribs back in and then add equal parts veal stock and Heineken beer until it comes partially up the side of the ribs.  Simmer covered with a tight fitting lid for two hours or so until the meat is very tender.

Then just before serving, take the ribs out and brush them with Dijon mustard and then broil them until the mustard is lightly browned.  Very simple, but don’t let that fool you.  The dish was surprisingly good.

And no there was no typo, this was the finale for the night.  There wasn’t even a tiny bit of space left for dessert.  So I made that on Sunday.

Weekend Dinner

I don’t know about you, but the weekend is my time to cook.  During the week I rarely take the time to cook a big dinner – who am I kidding, I rarely take the time to cook a small dinner.  It seems like we walk in the door Jason makes something quick and then it’s off to the dog to the park.  There’s just not much time for food and that means cheese smokies, hamburgers and a lot of ketchup.  And even though it’s super yummy Stonewall Kitchen – Country Ketchup, when it starts becoming it’s own food group there’s just too much ketchup.

And it was on Saturday night, with another hamburger dinner looming on the horizon, that I snapped out of my gastronomic drought.  Luckily the fridge was well stocked, so I was able to jump into action without having to leave the house.  The first course for the night was a mixed green salad with blood orange vinaigrette and fried Kofalotiri cheese.  The sweet & sour dressing and bitter greens were the perfect accompaniment for the salty Greek cheese.

Toss the salad with the dressing before starting the cheese, then the salad can be quickly assembled and served while the cheese is still hot.  Cut the cheese into the size you want to serve, but make it about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat and add the cheese to the hot pan.  The cheese will start to melt immediately, but don’t worry it will hold it’s shape.  Let the cheese melt for several seconds and brown before flipping it and browning on the other side.  The cheese will still be quite firm.  Arrange it on the plate and then add the dressed greens.  Serve immediately.

Veggie Stock Finale

Oh my!  I almost forgot to post about using the last of my veggie stock!  Now I have to try and remember what happened. 

I remember it tasted great.  I took all the leftovers to work for lunches.  I also remember that choosing the second dish for my stock wasn’t too difficult.  I had a wee bit of stock left and as I flipped through recipes not many doors were opening for me.  But, I love coconut milk and cashews, especially together, so this was my choice.

If I make it again though I’ll add a few chili peppers, heat would be better.

Red Beans with Coconut and Cashews

Olive oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 carrots sliced thick
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 colored bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp paprika
4 tbsp tomato paste
14 oz can coconut milk
1 small can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of (precious) veggie stock
1 large can of kidney beans, rinsed
Red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews 
1 large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
cooked white rice

Saute the onions and carrots until tender and then add the crushed garlic, bell pepper and lightly brown.  Then add the spices, tomatoes, coconut milk and stock and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and turn down the heat and simmer slowly for about 45 minutes.  Before serving stir in the chopped parsley and toasted cashews and then serve over rice.  I’d suggest using as many chili flakes as you can handle!

*Recipe adapted from 30 minute vegetarian by Joanna Farrow

A Big Pot of Jambalaya

I don’t have a lot to say about Jambalaya.  I don’t like making, smelling or eating it.  Are you wondering why I make it?  If you must know, I make it to be a good wife.  I cook dinner straight after tidying up and then I rush to refresh myself.  Ha-ha!  Apparently the cleaning up part will even lift my spirits!  Perfect.  🙂  I can’t tell you the last time dusting or vacuuming has lifted my spirits – maybe I’m not doing it right.   

I actually do make jambalaya because Jason likes it and because it’s one of the few ways he eats his veggies.  So while it’s not on my list of favorites, I soldier on.  I make it sound bad, but I’d have to score it an 8 or 9 in comparison to others I’ve tried.  Deconstructed it doesn’t seem bad at all – peppers, tomatoes, shrimp, sausage and chicken.  What’s not to like?  Maybe I just can’t hack so many protein sources in one dish.  Like shrimp on pepperoni pizza – gross.

Jambalaya:

1 chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 lb shrimp
1 large smoked sausage link cut into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 cup of raw rice
1/2 cup diced celery
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
1 large can tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

Fry chicken and sausage in olive oil until browned and then add shrimp, cook for a couple of minutes and then remove from heat and reserve.   Saute onion in olive oil and cook for of a couple of minutes before adding the garlic, peppers and celery.  Once lightly browned add the browned meat, tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings.  Mix in the rice and stock and simmer until rice is almost cooked.  Just before serving stir in the white wine and parsley.