Spiced Cabernet Boneless Beef Ribs

February 9th, 2012

I have blogged about this recipe before, but since it is one of my favorites and because I am always changing recipes to improve them, I thought it would be a good idea to update it.  Lots of people make short ribs on the bone.  Although I love the flavor that the bones impart to a slow roasted dish it does make it harder to cut and eat.  When you are feeding a crowd I prefer boneless, succulent, fall apart beef short ribs.

Variations of this beef casserole have become popular at our large family celebrations.  But it occurred to me that it would also make a great alternative to steak for that Valentine dinner for two.  Just cut the recipe in half.

The ingredients combine to produce a very unique flavor.  Along with the wine and beef broth the sauce is flavored with orange zest strips, dried ancho chile for heat, cinnamon for a hit of spice and chocolate for a smooth lusciousness.  The vegetables are added, not only for their flavor, but for their thickening quality when the sauce is pureed.  Best of all,  the short ribs can be prepared and assembled in advance, giving you more time to make that decadent chocolate mousse for your special Valentine.


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds Boneless Beef Short Ribs (about 14)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, cut into small chunks
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfindal
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried Ancho Chile, stemmed and halved
2 cups beef broth
The zest of one orange, cut into thick strips
1 ounce good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Saute short ribs in batches.  Remove them to a plate when they are browned.  Add additional olive oil to Dutch oven if necessary.  Add chopped vegetables and saute until onion is softened.

Deglaze the pan with the wine.  Add the cinnamon stick, Ancho chile, and orange zest strips.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the wine is reduced by half.  Add the chocolate.  Stir to incorporate.  Return the ribs to the pan and add enough beef broth to just cover.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover and place in the oven.  Bake for 3 hours.

Remove meat from pot and place in serving casserole.  Strain the sauce, discard the cinnamon stick and puree the strained vegetables, chili and orange zest.  Bring the liquid to a boil and cook for 5 minutes to reduce it slightly.  Add the pureed vegetables and stir to combine and thicken the sauce.  Pour sauce over short ribs and serve.

Printable recipe

Company Chicken

September 24th, 2011
I have had a lot of company lately.  We have eaten well with everyone pitching in to help.  But I haven’t thought to do a dish such as this.  This is one of those meals that you would serve at a dinner party like we used to have.  I am speaking for myself here.  At the lake we do not have a formal dining room.  We either eat on the screened in porch overlooking the lake or in the kitchen.  But this is also the kind of dish that I still like to make when time permits.  The chicken is not really complicated or time comsuming.  It can actually be prepared ahead of time and cooked when you are ready.  So no more excuses.  I am adding this to my list of company dishes.
The chicken is elegant with a savory stuffing under the skin.  I asked the butcher to bone the chicken breasts for me since it is impossible to find boneless breasts with the skin on.  The fillet strip is ground up in the food processor with spinach, cream, fennel seeds, lemon zest, and nutmeg to make the stuffing.  A spirited sauce is made with Madeira and chicken broth.
With the chicken I served Saffron Rice Timbales and Provencal Green Beans.  The two of us enjoyed it immensely.  Maybe next time I will actually share it with company. 
COMPANY CHICKEN ( Gourmet Magazine 1986)
For the stuffed chicken:
4 chicken breasts, boned but not skinned
1 1/2 tablespoons crushed ice
3 tablespoons chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup firmly packed cooked, squeezed, and chopped spinach (about 1/2 pound fresh)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the sauce:
1/2 cup Madeira
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon arrowroot dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
Arrange the chicken breasts skin side down on a cutting board, making sure the skin is evenly stretched over the breasts, and remove the fillet strip from each breast discarding the white tendon.  In a food processor grind the fillets.  Add the ice, blend the mixture until the ice is absorbed, and with the motor running add the cream.  Add the spinach, the salt, the fennel seeds, the zest, the nutmeg, and the pepper and blend the filling well, scraping down the sides.  Turn the breasts skin side up and beginning at the pointed end pull the skin back carefully, leaving the thin trasparent membranes attached along a long side and leaving the skin attached at the opposite end.  Spread 3 tablespoons of the spinach filling evely over each breast, smoothing it, and stretch the skin over the filling to cover it.  Chill the chicken, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for 1 hour.  The chicken may be prepared up to this point 24 hours in advance and kept covered and chilled.  In a large ovenproof skillet heat the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking, add the chicken, skin side down, and season it with salt and pepper.  Saute the chicken for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown, turn it skin side up, and bake it, covered, in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Mine took longer because the breasts were large.  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it stand, covered loosely with foil, for 5 minutes.
Make the sauce while the chicken is standing:  Pour off the fat from the skillet, add the Madeira, and boil it, scraping up the brown bits, until it is reduced to about 2 tablespoons.  Add the broth and boil the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute.  Stir the arrowroot mixture, add it to the skillet, whisking, and simmer the sauce, whisking for 1 minute.
Holding a knife at a 45 degree angle slice the chicken crosswise and arrange the slices, overlapping them slightly, on a platter.  Spoon some of the sauce around the chicken and serve the remaining sauce separately.  Serves 4. 
SAFFRON RICE TIMBALES (Gourmet Magazine 1986)
1/3 cup minced onion
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2/3 cup long-grain rice
1 1/4 cups canned chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained and finely chopped pimiento
In a small saucepan cook the onion in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is softened, add the saffron and the rice, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the rice is coated well with the butter.  Add the broth, bring the liquid to a boil, and simmer the rice, covered, for 18 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Stir in the pimiento, remove the pan from the heat, and let the rice stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  Pack the rice into 4 buttered 1/2-cup timbale molds (or small ramekins) and invert the timbales onto heated plates.  Serves 4.
PROVENCAL GREEN BEANS (Provence the Beautiful Cookbook)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound small tender green beans (haricots verts), trimmed
salt and freshly ground pepper
handful of dried bread crumbs
Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic cloves and when they begin to sizzle and color, add the beans.  Cook, tossing repeatedly, for 4 to 5 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the crumbs and toss or stir with a wooden spoon only until the crumbs are crisp and begin to color.  Serve.

Why are These People Smiling?

August 15th, 2011

They are smiling in anticipation of one of the best meals they will ever eat.  David and I were invited for dinner at my dear friend and blogging buddy Penny’s home near Asheville.  Her blog, The Comforts of Home embodies all that the name implies.  She and her husband have been creatively turning the home they bought a few years ago into the place we would all like to call home.  You need to visit her blog to appreciate all that they have done.

Penny greeted us at the door with “Hola”.  I knew immediately that we were in for a Spanish inspired meal.  It was a visual delight after entering their beautiful home.  Penny and Mr. Comforts of Home have been working on their backyard to create a French inspired potager and pergola with a fountain and warming firepit area.  The table was so inviting that I had no doubt that we were in for a treat.

The meal began with Manchego cheese, Marcona almonds, Spanish olives and flat bread.  With it we had a cooling gazpacho made from tomatoes from Penny’s garden.

We garnished it with croutons, hard boiled eggs and fresh tomatoes.

Mr. Comforts of Home cooked the paella on the grill in a huge paella pan.  The ingredients were added to the pan in stages.

First the chorizo was sauteed in oil.

Then a sofrito (including onions, garlic, tomatoes and red bell peppers) was sauteed in the pan.

Rice, chicken broth and saffron were then added and it was left to cook.

The seafood was nestled into the rice and cooked briefly.

When the seafood was cooked the sliced chorizo was added back to the pan along with peas and lemon wedges.  As the rice cooked it formed a crust on the bottom called a soccarat.  It was time to dig in.

My plate was a masterpiece of vivid color.  The Spanish wine was a perfect accompaniment to the food.  We were then treated to a Spanish inspired dessert of crema catalana.

Crema Catalana is similar to Creme Brulee’ but is softer in texture and has a lovely flavor of cinnamon, vanilla, and essence of orange and lemon.  The carmalized sugar on top was curtesy of Mr. Comforts of Home’s blow torch.  The chef’s torch that Penny had was not working properly so Mr. C did the manly thing and used a tool with power.  Never be afraid to use your power tools while cooking.

Please go over to Penny’s blog to read her take on our lovely meal and get the recipes for gazpacho and crema catalana.  Here is her recipe for Paella.


 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Spanish Chorizo Sausages
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1/2 Spanish Onion, Diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, Diced
2 Ripe Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

2 Cups short to medium grained rice (I used Risotto)
1 Teaspoon Spanish Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
Salt and Pepper To Taste

2 Teaspoons Saffron Threads

6 Cups Warm Chicken Stock

2 Lobster Tails, Split
1 Pound Shrimp
1 Dozen Mussels
1 large filet, white flaky fish like Haddock Cut Into 2 inche pieces

1/2 Frozen Sweet Peas, Thawed
Lemon Wedges

Heat oil in paella pan over medium high grill. Add chorizo and cook until done. Then remove from pan, cut into slices and set aside.
Saute garlic, onios, tomatoes and peppers until carmelized. Stir in seasonings.

Steep saffron in 1/4 cup hot water for 5 minutes. Add rice to pan, stirring to coat. Stir in saffron/water.

Add stock and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the panaround so the rice cooks and absorbs evenly – do not stir constantly!

Add sausage back into pan. Add lobster, wait 2 minutes, add shrimp, wait two minutes, add white fish, wait two minutes then add the mussels. Simmer without stirring until rice is al dente and the mussels have opened.

Scatter peas across top and continue to cook until liquid is absorbed and a crust (socarrat) had formed on the bottom.

Let rest 5 mintues off heat. Add lemon wedges and serve.
If you would like to make a paella and don’t have a paella pan, La Tienda is a good source for all kinds of Spanish cookware.
Printable recipe

Dinner with Friends on the Lake

June 14th, 2010

The table on the porch was set and ready to go. We watched the weather report. Storms were popping up all over the mountains. This was an important dinner because my blogging friend Penny and her hubby Mr. Comforts of Home were expected. We had a cooler packed with a French Rose wine and appetizers to be enjoyed on the boat. All looked well when they arrived.

Penny and Penny ready to go for a boat ride.

The sun was shining and the lake was awash with boat traffic which made for a choppy ride.

We enjoyed our cocktails and appetizers. Penny and Mr. Comforts of Home were delightful and we really enjoy their company.

David loves to give people a tour of the lake and even though the skies became threatening suddenly, he had just one more thing to show us.

Even though we sped back to the cottage, we all got drenched. But you know what? It was fun. The rain did not last long, we dried off and David fired up the grill and soon dinner was ready.

The menu was Grilled Garlic Lime Pork Tenderloin with Red Onion Marmalade. Click here for the recipe. We also had my garden Southwestern Squash Casserole which I just recently posted, coleslaw, and Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing. The sweet potato recipe came from Bobby Flay and has been a favorite of mine for a long time.
6 slices bacon, medium dice
1 red onion, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and cut into 1-inch dice, kept warm
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 green onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Heat pan over high heat. Add bacon and cook until just crisp. Remove bacon to drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Remove pan from heat, add vinegar, olive oil, sugar and reserved bacon. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, pour the dressing over and season with salt and pepper. Fold in the green onions and parsley. Serve at room temperature.

Because it has been so hot and steamy lately, I decided to make a frozen dessert. What could be better than a Toasted Almond Mocha Ice Cream Tart redolent with coffee ice cream, Amaretto, chocolate and almonds. I love desserts that you can fix ahead of time. The recipe appeared in a 1992 issue of Gourmet.
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (about 25 wafers)
1 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted lightly, cooled, and ground fine
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
1/1/2 cups sliced blanched almonds, toasted lightly and cooled
3 1/2 tablespoons Amaretto
2 pints coffee ice cream, softened
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted lightly and cooled
1 ounce fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine or grated
Make the crust: In a bowl stir together witha fork the wafer crumbs, the almonds, and the butter until the mixture is combined well, pat the mixture onto the bottom and sides of an oiled 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable rim, and freeze the crust for 30 minutes, or until it is firm.
Make the filling: In a food processor blend the almonds, scraping down the side occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until they form a nut butter, and with the motor running add the Amaretto. Add the ice cream and the chocolate and pulse the motor 6 to 8 times, or until the filling is smooth and combined well.
Transfer the filling to the crust, spreading it evenly. Garnish the top of the tart with the almonds and the chocolate and freeze the tart, uncovered, for 1 hour. Cover the tart with plastic wrap and freeze it overnight.

Penny brought me the most beautiful linen dish towels. She knows me well and these will look beautiful in my kitchen. They also brought us a fine bottle of French wine. Nothing could be finer than spending time with friends. Visit Penny’s blog for more pictures of our visit.

Printable recipe Sweet Potato Salad

Cornish Hens with Pancetta – Dinner with Friends

May 11th, 2010

Blogging has many benefits. Among them is meeting other bloggers. Add to that meeting other bloggers and being asked to dinner. Last summer I met fellow blogger Penny of Comforts of Home and Lavender Hill Studio. You can read about our get together here. Not only do we share a name, but we are both from Michigan originally and now live very close to each other. Penny and her husband live in Asheville and have been working on remodeling their new home. I have been following her progress on her blog and was so excited when she emailed and invited my husband and me to dinner. Her house is even more beautiful in person. She is a very talented decorator and her home is warm and welcoming. She is also an excellent cook.

Our dinner was Cornish Hens with Pancetta, fresh asparagus, and roasted baby new potatoes. The cornish hens were absolutely delicious and the presentation was stunning. They were stuffed under the skin with mascarpone cheese and pancetta was draped over the top. They were succulent and flavorful. My picture below does not do them justice. Here’s the thing about being a blogger. There are no etiquette rules for our obsession with snapping pictures of food. I usually have to take several pictures to get just the right angle and lighting. It just didn’t seem right to be standing in Penny’s dining room, shooting picture after picture while everyone was waiting to eat. So I shot just one. It will have to do. The other two pictures are courtesy of Penny. She is a blogger. She understands.

Isn’t that a beautiful plate of food. We had a wonderful time with Penny and Mr. Comforts of Home. We discovered that we have much more than blogging in common and our husbands had a lot to talk about too. We will be entertaining them at Lake Lure soon. Thank you Penny for a wonderful time and for sharing your recipe.
Serves 4
4 Cornish Hens
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
8 slices Pancetta
Season the inside of the hens with salt and pepper, then place 2 pieces of garlic inside each one.
Lift up the breast skin and spread one tablespoon mascarpone over each breast under the skin. Sprinkle each breast with one teaspoon chopped oregano and pepper to taste.
Place the hens in a roasting pan and place two pieces of pancetta slices on top of each bird. Roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes or until juices run clear when the flesh is pierced in the thickest part. Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining fresh oregano and let set 10 minutes before serving.
We had strawberry shortcake with local South Carolina strawberries for dessert.

You can’t get much better than that. I love Penny’s plates too.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.