I cook and bake all the time, (obviously) and for the most part it’s edible. Every now and then it’s not. You win some and you lose some. C’est la vie. The thing is though, I’m pretty critical of the things I make so even if other people claim to like a dish I might not think it was much of a success if it didn’t turn out the way I thought it should have. Also, other people lie. That being said, when I’m happy with a dish it’s a great feeling. It’s like sunshine, lollipops and rainbows… You know, warm and fuzzy on the inside. Tonight’s dinner was one of those rare times that I was really happy with the way my cooking turned out, (dessert was subsequently a failure, but I’ll try not to dwell on that). I’m still savouring the flavour of Braised Short Ribs with Chocolate and Rosemary (adapted from Bon Appetit), served atop a bed of wild mushroom risotto, (my own creation). I’ve never done chocolate in a savoury dish, but it’s chocolate, so I figured it couldn’t possibly be bad. I had no idea it could be this good! You don’t get a strong chocolate taste in this dish but I think it lends a nice amount of richness. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the chocolate was paired with savoury rosemary, delicious red wine and tender, falling-off-the-bone short ribs which was then layered onto a plate of creamy, flavourful shiitake risotto. I’m telling you, this meal was so high quality, that my meals for the rest of the week are destined to pale in comparison. I might as well fast for the week because no food I eat is going to be as satisfying. Am I overhyping this dish enough for you? I think I should put up a warning right now, telling you NOT to make this dish because I don’t want anyone to think poorly of it in case it doesn’t turn out the same for you as it did for me.
Lately I’ve been doing well with savoury dishes, (last night’s dinner was pretty darn good too!) and there seems to be a snowball effect happening here. Tonight’s meal has been built on the back of other good meals, each one contributing a little bit to the final outcome. I always like cooking, but recently I’ve been even happier than usual when I’m in the kitchen. My timing has even improved somewhat. I’m no longer finishing the main course before the sides are ready, or serving dessert before the main. I’m feeling a sense of flow, zen-like if you will, a higher connectedness, a feeling of euphoria, maybe it’s the drugs... As I was making my risotto tonight, I remembered something that I had read, (and pardon me for forgetting which blogger wrote it) about making risotto- that it was similar to the process of kneading bread, all of that stirring being somehow therapeutic. I definitely agree. Risotto’s not hard to make, just time consuming and I was certainly consumed by the process tonight.
Everything’s a balance though. The more effective I am in the kitchen, the less effective I am with my computer. Blogger is still annoying me, but I’m not competent enough to do anything about that so I’m currently pretending everything works, regardless of whether or not it actually does. Related to my computer problems are recent camera problems as well. I think my camera is on its last legs and it was threatening to keel over and die in my risotto tonight. As a result of this, my photos don’t reflect how great this dish truly was, (I spent waaay too long in photoshop trying to fix them). And in my haste to devour it, I wasn’t too keen on wasting time taking pictures and letting my masterpiece get cold. After putting almost 4 hours into this dish, (granted some of that was idling time) I was going to enjoy it.
In conclusion, this was an amazing meal, but I beg of you, even though I’m providing a recipe, DON’T make it. Trust me that it was as good as I say, but don’t make. Don’t ruin the dream!
I made a huge amount of food last night with the good intention of having leftovers so that I could attempt to create something for a new event called Leftover Tuesdays started by David of Cooking Chat. I wanted to figure out what you could do with leftover risotto, cause it’s just not good the second day. Despite the large amount of food I made, it all disappeared and I consequently have nothing to post. Curses. Next time, I promise.
Braised Short Ribs With Chocolate and Rosemary (Adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2006)
2 strips of peppercorn bacon, diced
3 pounds bone-in short ribs
1 finely chopped onions
1 finely chopped celery
1 finely chopped peeled carrots
1 finely chopped peeled parsnip
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups dry red wine
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 400mL can of diced tomatoes
1 T mixed herb paste
½ teaspoon dry thyme
1 bay leaf
2 ½ tablespoons shaved bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 350F. Heat heavy large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown ribs in drippings in pot over medium-high heat until brown on all sides. Transfer to plate. Add onions and next 4 ingredients to pot. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add wine. Boil uncovered until liquid is reduced by half, scraping up browned bits. Add broth, tomatoes, herbs, thyme, bay leaf, and bacon. Return ribs to pot, making sure they’re covered in sauce, cover partially, and put in the over for about 1 ½ hours. Uncover and simmer until rib meat is tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours longer.
Transfer ribs to plate; discard bay leaf. Boil sauce until beginning to thicken, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add chocolate, cocoa powder, and rosemary; stir until chocolate melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return ribs to pot. Simmer to rewarm, about 5 minutes.
I served this on top of a shiitake risotto for which I have no recipe because I made it up as I went along. I had all of the usual risotto ingredients like Arborio rice, butter, white wine, stock and parmesan cheese as well as onion, garlic, peas and a whole lot of fresh shiitake mushrooms. Mmmm mmm good.
*I can tell already, this is one of those posts I’m going to read tomorrow and wonder what the hell I was on when I wrote it, (sunshine, lollipops and rainbows???). It’s also going to result in a myriad of kitchen disasters to bring my ego crashing back down to earth where it belongs. It’s not like I’m Ferran Adria here, I just assembled ingredients, the oven did the work. Someone should remind me of that before my head gets too big and you start calling me Little Big Head like a certain Food Network personality...