Melissa Clark’s Port Wine-Braised Short Ribs

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When I first started this blog two years ago (!!!), it felt like I was posting a Melissa Clark recipe every other week.  I forced myself to take a break for awhile, so that I wouldn’t post every recipe she’s ever written, but tragically that meant that this, my most successful dinner party recipe to date, never made it onto the blog. Since I don’t eat red meat, I can’t tell you from personal experience how delicious these ribs may or may not be. However, I’ve made them a number of times now, and have passed on the recipe to family and friends, each time with rave reviews. Since I cook primarily for the accolades, I make these ribs a lot.

This recipe comes from the January chapter of Cook This Now (Melissa organizes the recipes in this cookbook by month), so I had every intention of posting it two months ago. But as you may have noticed, Blueberries and Basil is off to a slow start this year, so my “January Short Ribs” are a little delayed – I hope you can forgive me.  After all, most of the country is still experiencing January weather. And even in the Pacific Northwest, where it feels like May, it turns out short ribs are still well received even when it’s 50 degrees at dinner time.

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Many of you are probably familiar with how to braise short ribs – but I really wasn’t, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it is. it’s the perfect make-ahead meal (dinner party or otherwise) because you can prepare it in advance, pop it in the oven, and not give it a second thought for the next three hours. Simply reduce your port* and wine**, brown your meat, sauté your veggies, dump everything into your Dutch oven and bake (technically braise, I suppose) for three hours while you clean your kitchen, make dessert, take a nap, run errands – you get the idea. Three hours to do whatever you like while a delicious meal comes together in the oven, all on it’s own. *Melissa uses port and wine, but if you don’t feel like buying a bottle of port only to use half a cup, I confess I’ve made them without the port before and haven’t heard any complaints. **The recipe calls for a dry red wine – I googled “dry red wine for short ribs” (because that’s the level of sophistication I have when it comes to using wine in cooking) and found most people recommend a petit syrah, so that’s what I’ve been using, but I think you could use whatever you have on hand.

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Meat usually grosses me out, but even I have to admit, they’re kind of pretty.  And they make your kitchen smell amazing!  The original recipe is technically for oxtails (speaking of being grossed out) rather than short ribs, so Melissa tells you the meat should be “almost” falling off the bone after two and a half hours. I’m assuming the rules for short ribs are different, as mine are usually actually falling off the bone after an hour or so. Again, I don’t eat them so I can’t say for certain, but I’m constantly asking people if they’re overdone and am assured they are perfect. But that said, if you needed to shorten the cooking time a bit I think you’d be ok. The beauty of braising, I’m learning, is that you really can’t go wrong. Bon appétit!

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Port Wine-Braised Short Ribs, from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine
1/2 cup ruby port
3 lbs beef short ribs
Kosher salt, for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 shallots, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium leeks, chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
3 thyme sprigs
2 rosemary  sprigs
1 bunch parsley stems (use some of the leaves for garnish, if you like)
2 bay leaves
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced small
Balsamic vinegar to taste

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the wine and port to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, brown the short ribs. Season them generously with salt and pepper (you will need at least two teaspoons salt and one teaspoon pepper, or possibly more – enough to get the meat well coated). In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the olive oil. Working in batches, arrange the short ribs in a single layer and brown on all sides.  Take your time with this and let them get good and brown; don’t crowd the pan, or they will steam and never develop that tasty caramelized crust. Transfer the short ribs to a bowl.
3. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the Dutch oven and add the shallots, garlic, leeks, and celery.  Cook the vegetables, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan, until softened, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.
4. Arrange the short ribs over the vegetables and add the reduced wine-port mixture. Using kitchen twine, tie together the thyme, rosemary, parsley stems, and bay leaves, and drop into the pot. (You can skip the twine and simply drop the herbs into the pot if you don’t have kitchen twine on hand – although it’s a bit of a pain to fish them out before serving).  Bring the liquid to a boil on the stovetop, then cover and transfer the Dutch oven to the oven. Cook, turning the ribs occasionally (or not), until the meat is tender but not yet falling off the bone, 2 to 2 1/2 hours (mine always seem to be falling off the bone by the two hour mark, but I give them 2 1/2 regardless if time allows). Add the carrots and cook another 30 minutes.
5. Season with balsamic vinegar and additional salt, if desired. Serve over mashed potatoes and top with parsley.

*If you’re serving the short ribs right away, as I usually am, you can spoon some of the fat off of the surface if it looks a little greasy (mine never seem to). You can also refrigerate and serve the next day; in that case the fat is easy to scrape off – although you lose a lot of your vegetables with it.

**In lieu of short ribs, you could use: 4 1/2 pounds oxtail pieces, 4 lamb foreshanks, 2-3 pounds brisket or chuck roast, or 2 pounds boneless beef stew meat.

***In lieu of mashed potatoes, you could serve over polenta, roasted potatoes, roasted root vegetables, or anything else that suits your fancy. You could also serve it on its own, as a simple stew.

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Friday Faves

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{New Glassybaby: Cherish, Valentine, Princess. Happy Valentine’s Day to me!}

Happy Friday the 13th! I just realized what day it is, yikes! I’ve had the hardest time getting into this blog lately, but I couldn’t miss a Friday Faves the day before Valentine’s Day – way too much pink and red to post. I hope everyone has had a wonderful week and is looking forward to a fun and/or relaxing weekend ~ and a happy heart day! Some fun links and pics to get you a little closer to 5pm:

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{spectacular venue for my friends’ Katie and Brian’s lovely Seattle wedding last weekend}

photo-111{last minute valentines}

photo-110{Coop and I are in the spirit (even if he won’t look at the camera)!}

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{treat baskets for my two favorite babies}

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{basket and liner from pottery barn, books, lifefactory bottle (with valentine peanut butter m&ms of course), sleepers from old navy and gymboree and onesie from the baby gap, valentine glassybaby, heart teether from land of nod, reusable squeeze packets from amazon, and stickers from etsy}

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{basket and liner from pottery barn, books, lifefactory bottle (also with m&ms), sleeper from hanna andersson, onesie from old navy, heart tutu and headband from gymboree, pink headband from nordstrom, princess glassybaby}

Jimmy’s Pink Cookies

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day – barely! (and let’s not talk about how I didn’t post a single recipe all of January). I read about these cookies awhile ago, and have been patiently waiting for the right time to make them. And while one could argue that anytime is the right time for pink cookies, I think these are best saved for either a (baby girl) baby shower or Valentine’s Day. I made them for my sister-in-law’s baby shower a couple weeks ago, but of course didn’t think to take pictures, so I had to make them again this week for the blog (the sacrifices I make for you people!). They’re super easy, adorable, and delicious, so if you’re in need of a last minute treat for Saturday, I think these might be it.

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I read about these cookies in Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life. Molly Wizenberg of Orangette and Delancey, so if she’s writing about a sugar cookie you know it must be good.  I’m guessing Jimmy is her friend; she credits him with the recipe.  I make sugar cookies pretty frequently so I’m a little disenchanted with them, but something about these – be it the excessive amount of butter, the cream cheese frosting, the pink – really makes them extra special.  They might not be as fancy as my usual royal-icing holiday cookies, but they taste a lot yummier – and you can frost them in about one-fifth of the time.  Coming from someone who was up an extra three hours last night (and missed Scandal) outlining and flooding three dozen Valentine hearts, that’s worth a lot.

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Please note the cherry extract in the photo. The frosting calls for kirsch or cherry extract – per my Google research, kirsch is a cherry-flavored brandy, traditionally used in fondue (gross?). I couldn’t find it anywhere, although if I’m being honest I didn’t look that hard, because cherry extract sounded more like something that belongs in frosting. However, when I made these for my sister-in-law’s baby shower a couple weeks ago I couldn’t find the cherry extract either, and I actually DID look – at seven different stores.  SEVEN. Including a Wal-Mart, because when I Googled “cherry extract” Wal-Mart popped up. Again, the things I do for this blog – it takes a lot to get me into a Wal-Mart. But alas, they didn’t have it, nor did any of the other six places I tried – so I just used vanilla and the cookies were delicious. And then for purposes of blog accuracy I ordered cherry extract on Amazon and used it this time, and I have to admit I kind of liked it. But I have a weird palate for artificial fruit flavor I think – it smells just like cough syrup, which I also weirdly love.  All of this is to say, if you have kirsch on hand (or find yourself at a liquor store and feel like splurging on a bottle, even though you only need a teaspoon for this recipe), by all means please try it (you can always use the rest of the bottle for fondue, apparently). If you’re planning ahead and want to order cherry extract on Amazon, I definitely wouldn’t discourage you (you could also just borrow mine). But if both of those options sound stressful, you could definitely use vanilla – or almond – or any flavor you like – and your cookies will be just fine.

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Aren’t they so cute? My only regret is that I didn’t use more frosting – Molly tells you to spread it on thick but I was worried about running out so I scrimped a little, and then of course I had tons left over. The frosting really makes the cookie – I think it should be as thick as the cookie itself. Happy Valentine’s Day! (And incidentally, happy second birthday to B&B! Valentine’s Day Year One and Year Two, if you want to kill some time). XOXO.

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Jimmy’s Pink Cookies, from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

For the Cookies
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (3 ounces, or 3/4 of one stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoons kirsch, or more to taste, or a capful of cherry extract
Red (or pink) food coloring

To make the cookies, combine the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat, first on low speed, and then slowly increasing to medium, until light and fluffy. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt and whisk well. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until the flour is just absorbed. Add the vanilla and beat well to incorporate. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on a large, clean surface, and turn the dough out onto it. Gather the dough into a ball, press it into a thick disk, and wrap it well. Refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. On a clean, floured surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of 3/8 inch. (If you don’t have a lot of room, cut the disk of dough down the middle and work with only one half at a time, leaving the second half in the refrigerator until ready for use.) Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into whatever shapes you like. Molly uses a 2 1/2 inch round cutter, which, once the cookies have puffed slightly during baking, yields a 2 3/4-to-3 inch cookie. Jimmy uses a much bigger cutter, often in the shape of a heart. I used small (2″) and medium (3″) hearts – the cookies are pretty rich so I opted not to use my large (4″) heart, but you definitely could just go for it and make them huge.

Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake them one sheet at a time, keeping the second sheet in the refrigerator or freezer until the first one is done, for 16-20 minutes, or until the cookies are pale golden at the edge. Do not allow them to brown (oops, some of mine did!). Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and cool the cookies completely on the pan.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed to fully incorporate, then raise the speed to medium or medium high and beat until there are no lumps, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the kirsch (or extract) and a couple drops of red (or pink) food coloring and beat well. The frosting should be a pretty shade of pale pink. Taste, and if you want more cherry flavor, beat in a bit more kirsch (or extract). Generously spread frosting onto fully cooled cookies. Decorate with sprinkles if you’re so inclined.

Stored in an airtight container, pink cookies will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days – and they’re delicious cold – or you can freeze them indefinitely.

Yield: 20-24 (3-inch) cookies (I yielded 15 3″ hearts and 15 2″ hearts)

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Friday Faves

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{Seahawks Glassybaby: Grass (similar here), Blue Friday, Remembrance, We Are 12, Blue Bird}

Happy Blue Friday, friends! I haven’t updated this blog since Christmas, but there’s nothing like a(nother) Seahawks Superbowl to inspire me to post a Friday Faves!  Do you have big plans for Sunday? As much as I wish I was currently on a plane to Phoenix, staying home for the game means I get to make some fun Seahawks treats (and follow the game a whole lot better).  I’m listing some of my favorite Superbowl recipes and ideas below – if you have any to add I would love to hear them in the comments!

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. Go Hawks!!

  • Homemade Queso: yum. We had queso in Austin a couple weeks ago and it was served in adorable mini cast iron skillets, so that’s what I’m going to do on Sunday – one for the upstairs TV and one for the downstairs. If you wanted to make your life easier, my friend Kelly makes amazing queso and she does hers in the Crock Pot – brilliant!
  • Three Healthy Dips: I’m most excited about the caramelized onion, but they all look yummy. And will help to balance out the queso, obviously.
  • Homemade Tater Tots: Not gonna lie, I’m probably not actually going to make these – but they’re an adorable idea in theory. And if I somehow end up with five extra hours on my hands tomorrow, maybe I will!
  • Seahawks Rice Krispie Treats: These would also be a pain, but somehow less ridiculous than making your own tater tots.
  • And last but not least, Jello Shots!

photo 1-31{decadent cure for my dry winter skin}

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{my royal icing practice continues: favors for Cooper’s baptism and Baby N’s shower}

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{so sad to say goodbye to the PDX carpet}

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{Coop pulls off my Hawks beanie better than I do}

Friday Faves

photo 3-15 {hot cocoa cookies}

How is this the last Friday before Christmas? Are you ready? I have pretty much everything checked off my list, but I keep feeling like there’s something (or some things) I’m forgetting. I do have a dinner party for 23 to worry about on Monday, and then Christmas Eve dessert for 25. Any ideas?  I’ve been too busy trying to process the Serial finale to worry about entertaining.

I’ve decided not to stress out about it, though, because Christmas should be fun, not stressful. Right? Wishing everyone a calm, peaceful weekend.  I hope yours is filled with yummy treats and lots of time spent with your favorite people (and maybe a manicure). And if you need any last minute entertaining tips or gift ideas (or maybe just want to see a picture of my favorite little guy):

photo 1-29 {easy idea for hostess gifts}

photo-102{satsumas at the market}

photo-94 {loving my new “Grace” Glassybaby}

photo-96 {Coop’s first Christmas photo}

photo-98 {special wrapping paper for my little buddy…}

photo-99{and my new little buddy to be!}

Jamie Oliver’s Arugula and Radicchio Salad

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If you’re wondering who posts a salad recipe the week before Christmas, when the food blogosphere is nothing but cookies and cinnamon rolls and chocolate covered marshmallows, well, that’s a really good question. I actually did quite a bit of holiday baking over the past week, but I did it all in such a hurry that I forgot to take pictures.  I made these cookies and these biscotti and this hot chocolate mix (although not the marshmallows) – and I would encourage everyone to try all of them, as they are all amazing (especially the biscotti!).  I know that a lot of us, however, have cookie exchange cookies and secret santa treats and eggnog from the work elevator coming out of our ears, and perhaps a tropical vacation on the horizon, so I thought it might be a good time to take a little break and eat some greens.  And yes, in case you were wondering, the eggnog elevator is an actual thing (thanks to my friend Kristy for reminding me about one of the [few] perks of my old job this morning).

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My friend Ellie made this salad for a book club dinner a few years ago, and I’ve been copying her ever since – especially during Christmastime, when the red and green colors are perfect for holiday meals. Jamie’s recipe is pretty loose – a “handful” of arugula, a “glug” of olive oil. I love not having to measure, especially in a salad when you should be tailoring it to your liking. [Sidenote: Jamie refers to arugula as “rocket,” which is what they call it in the UK (if you’re interested, here’s why we have different words for the same thing). “Rocket” makes me think of the quarter I spent studying abroad in London, where we ate a lot of rocket pizza – yum. But I digress.] Anyways, this salad literally could not be easier – especially if you buy the pre-washed arugula like I did. Dump your arugula into your salad bowl, add some thinly sliced radicchio (very thinly sliced, as it can be bitter), parmesan, nuts, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. The pine nuts are optional, but I would strongly recommend them (personal preference). Jamie also suggests red onion and/or bacon as additions. Toss everything together and you have a salad that’s sure to impress all of your holiday dinner guests – or will be the perfect weeknight dinner salad for days when you ate christmas cookies for breakfast and lunch.

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Jamie Oliver, previously: Eggplant Parmesan

One Year Ago: Rum Cake!

Arugula and Radicchio Salad, from Jamie Oliver

Serves 4

One package (or four large handfuls) arugula
One small radicchio, thinly sliced
Grated parmesan cheese
Toasted pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss the arugula and radicchio in a large salad bowl with parmesan and pine nuts. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar to taste (Jamie does a 3:1 oil:vinegar ratio, which is the correct way to make a vinaigrette; I do more like a 1:1 as I like my dressing light and less oily). Sprinkle a small amount of salt and pepper, also to taste. Toss well. Serve the salad topped with additional parmesan and pine nuts.

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Friday Faves

photo 2 {love my new Christmas candle (and so does Oprah!)}

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!! I was shopping downtown yesterday for the first time in a while, and all of the lights and decorations (and of course the big tree!) made me so happy.  I did 99% of my Christmas shopping online this year, and while I didn’t miss the crowds or the parking, I guess I missed out on a little Christmas spirit.  Or perhaps I can appreciate the ambiance more since I’m not running around trying to buy a million gifts and then getting back to my car before I have a $35 bill at the garage (or a parking ticket!).

How are your Christmas lists coming along? I thought about writing a gift guide (every blog must have one, right?), but when I started thinking of ideas I realized they were either what I’ve already bought for everyone on my list or what I hope to receive myself (although, they’re all really good gifts so maybe that’s ok?!?!). Anyway, I linked to a few of my favorite already-written gift guides instead (below), plus maybe a few things I wouldn’t mind finding under the tree on Christmas morning. You know, just in case Santa is reading. Happy Friday!

  • Cup of Jo gift guides: Mom, HusbandSister, Brother, Kiddos, Best Friend.  Lots of clever ideas on these lists – especially for guys, who are always hard to shop for!
  • I still love my friend Yoona’s gift guides from a few years ago – for men and women.
  • I really wish I had thought to write this blog post myself. Every year I get dozens of these cards, and every year I debate calling the culprit (aka my friend or relative who was kind enough to send me a Christmas card) and giving them a helpful tip on how to use (and not use!) an apostrophe. It seems kind of mean so I never have the nerve, but really I think it would be the right thing to do. Hopefully they will just read this instead.
  • My goals for hostess gifts, neighbor gifts, etc: homemade hot chocolate mix, homemade marshmallows, and gingerbread biscotti.
  • Things I wouldn’t mind finding under the tree (and probably no one else would either): this hat (which I didn’t even know I wanted until I saw it last night), a good hair dryer and flat iron and/or curling iron, anything from Jo Malone (the new unisex fragrances are kind of amazing), magazine subscriptions (I love Martha Stewart, Bon Appétit, People, Vanity Fair – or what about the Sunday New York Times?) And of course, my all time favorite gift to give and to receive: Glassybaby.

photo 2 {My favorite new Christmas accessory: red lipstick. I’m only about five years late to this party.  I love these two (lipstick queen and besame, plus liner).  Next I need the matching gloss and then probably this one (in “scoundrel”), which Mindy Kaling claims everyone can wear}

photo 4 {getting in the spirit – care packages for my two favorite college freshmen}

photo-95 {power outage + glassybaby}

photo 1 {my little buddy loves Mariah just like his auntie}