Saturday, September 25, 2010

hot sake for the soul

I've always been that gal who wants to steal a bite from every plate at the table.

Even if I opt for the creamy risotto, my wandering eye...err, stomach, is perpetually catching a glance at the silky carbonara two plates over.

A little bit of this and a little bit of that
is ideal for me!

That being said, tapas, sushi, appetizers, small plates and side dishes have always been friends of mine.

A sushi binge with the girls at the newest west 7th sushi joint, Blue Sushi Sake, was just the trick.

My chopsticks guiltily darted from plate to plate with flavor-draped delights:

charred shishito peppers

succulent pork gyoza with crispy leeks

yellowtail sashimi with ponzu and a spicy jalapeno kick

bluefin belly with yuzu and mustard microgreens

king crab maki blanketed in bright avocado

and a funky, vegetable maki with spiced aged tofu and napa cabbage

After a washdown of
hot sake for the soul,
my belly with its' wandering eye was fully rejuvenated.

With our recent exuberant welcome to autumn, I put my hefty flame Le Creuset Dutch oven to use for my favorite cooking technique for chilly weather: braising.
Braised Beef Short Ribs with a Lemongrass Soy Glaze

Short Ribs are inexpensive, yet luscious, when prepared low and slow. This recipe is a perfect chilly weather supper for two that can be virtually ignored during a lazy afternoon.

Several hours before dinner, start by making glaze then brush simmering ribs with this flavor-punched glaze whenever you might step to the kitchen:

Serves 2.

Lemongrass Soy Glaze:

1 c water
1/2 c soy sauce (I used reduced sodium)
1/2 c sugar
2 T orange zest
2 T fresh ginger, minced
2 T lemongrass, minced

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Reduce over high heat approximately 15 minutes until thickened. Set aside in a small bowl for brushing atop short ribs.

Short ribs:
2.5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
(kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper to season)
2 T vegetable oil
2 c onion, diced
1 c celery, diced
1 c carrot, diced
1 T fresh ginger, minced
2 T lemongrass, minced
5 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1 c fine red wine

1 c soy sauce
2 c fine unsalted beef stock
1 t kosher salt
2 T unsalted butter

Heat Dutch oven over medium heat. Add vegetable oil and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Add short ribs and sear on all sides to brown. Remove short ribs with tongs and set aside.

Add onions, celery, carrots, ginger, lemongrass and thyme to hot pot to deglaze brown bits from the bottom. Saute approximately 10 minutes until vegetables are tender. Return short ribs to pot and nestle atop vegetables. Add red wine, soy, beef broth and salt.

Cover and simmer over low heat approximately 3.5 hours until falling apart tender. During braise, brush tops of short ribs with lemongrass soy glaze every 15 minutes (or whenever you think of it!).

To serve, transfer ribs and strained vegetables to serving dish to rest. Increase heat on remaining sauce in Dutch oven and reduce for 5 minutes. Right before serving, whisk in butter to slightly thicken sauce. Spoon sauce atop short ribs and serve with celery root puree.

This tangy puree is bright white and beautiful with the espresso-colored short ribs. Sliced scallions add texture and creme fraiche adds body and tang.

Celery Root Puree with Creme Fraiche and Scallions

Serves 2.

1 small celery root, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 large russet potato, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c creme fraiche
2 T unsalted butter
2 T scallions, sliced thin on the bias
kosher salt to taste

Add celery root and potatoes to a pot of salted, cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer approximately 15 minutes until fork tender. Meanwhile, heat butter and milk and bring creme fraiche to room temperature.

Drain celery root/potatoes well then puree with a potato masher or potato ricer. Add warm milk, butter and creme fraiche. Salt to taste and garnish with sliced scallions.

The next thing on my mind was dessert.

These cakes are light and fluffy with a delicate crumb. I cut down the crystallized ginger component from the original recipe, swapped from a large bundt to minis, and made a beautiful blood orange compote to spoon under the delicate confections.

Ginger Cakes with Turbinado and a Blood Orange Compote

Yields one 12-cup bundt pan
(I used 2 mini-bundt pans filled halfway before baking)

softened butter for brushing pan
1/2 c raw sugar (I used turbinado)
2 and 1/4 c AP flour
4 t ground ginger
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 c crystallized ginger, minced
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c sugar
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 t vanilla bean paste or extract
1 c sour cream

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Brush softened butter inside bundt pan or mini bundt pan. Sprinkle raw sugar and coat completely by shaking pan. Tap pan to remove excess.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Toss with crystallized ginger and coat completely. Using a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar approximately 8 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with sour cream and vanilla in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just blended after each addition. Spread batter in pan or mini bundt pans- filling about halfway up mini bundts.

Bake cake(s) until top(s) are light brown and toothpick comes out with a few small crumbs attached about 55 minutes for a large bundt or 35 minutes for mini bundts. Transfer to rack; cool in pan 15 minutes. Loosen cake around mold by gently tapping and invert onto rack to fully cool.

Serve with blood orange compote and garnish with crystallized ginger candies.

Blood Orange Compote

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
zest and fruit of 2 blood oranges

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium high heat until syrupy and reduced by half (fruit will break down). Cool in bowl atop an ice water bath then chill completely in cooler.

Share these sparkling delights over after-dinner coffee or a last glass of bubbly-- perfect for upcoming holiday affairs!


No comments: