Saturday, February 20, 2010

Comfort food and a dessert disaster

Its never easy making the introduction between family and the person you are dating, everyone is a little nervous and trying to make a good impression. About two weeks ago I introduced the guy I've been dating to my parents, not sure if I was more nervous or the three of them were! Needless to say such an event calls for comfort food of grand proportions (at least in my opinion), that way the parties involved can focus on the conversation and not on something uber fancy that is being served.

In an attempt to pull together just the right meal I went to one of my favorite stand-by meats, spare ribs. A few accouterments later and dinner was served!

Dr. Pepper Braised Short Ribs
*5 Lbs Short Ribs
*2 Cups Dr. Pepper
*6oz Beer (I had some Dos XX hanging about so I used that)
*14oz Beef Stock
*1 Cup Soy Sauce
*1/2 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
*Emeril's Steak Seasoning

1. Pat down short ribs to remove any excess moisture, then season liberally with steak seasoning. Place them all in a roasting pan (I used a disposable one for ease of clean-up).
2. Pour all liquid over the short ribs, if it does not fully cover them, then tent foil over the pan, if not then you can leave it open.
3. Cook in oven at 400F for 2.5-3 hours. The longer you cook them, the more tender they will become.

Alongside the short ribs I served a wilted lettuce salad and some fresh, homemade wheat bread (my adventures in baking will be chronicled another day).

Wilted Lettuce Salad
*1 Large Container Mixed Spring Greens
*1 Bunch Radishes, washed, trimmed and sliced thinly
*5-6 Scallions, white and greens washed and sliced
*5-6 Strips Thick Cut Bacon
*1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
*2 Tbsp White Sugar

1. Wash and drain lettuce, pad dry and set aside.
2. Cook bacon in heavy skillet until crisp. Remove strips and let drain on a towel, then cut into small pieces.
3. Add radishes and scallions to skillet, turn off skillet and stir constantly for 5-10 seconds. Slowly add sugar and vinegar to skillet and continue stirring to combine.
4. Pour radishes, scallions and drippings over lettuce, toss to combine.

Last on the menu was a beautiful mint dessert...unfortunately the gelatin did not set up correctly and clumped up in the mousse....the flavor was good so I'm going to have to try again but maybe someone else can see the flaw here, because I clearly missed it:

Chocolate After-Diner Mint
*From Curtis Stone's Cooking with Curtis

For the mousse:
1 sheet gelatin
5 oz plain dark (semisweet) chocolate
2 small eggs
1/8 cup caster sugar
1 cup heavy cream, semi-whipped

For the mint mousse:
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
2 sheets gelatin
1 cup whipping cream, semi-whipped

For the chocolate ganache topping:
*5 oz plain dark (semisweet) chocolate, grated
2/3 cup heavy cream
fresh mint leaves, for garnish

To make the chocolate mousse:
1. Soften the gelatin in 1 cup cold water. Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl, set over a pan of hot water, stirring constantly.
2. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric whisk on medium-high speed until the eggs resemble medium peaks.
3. Place the softened gelatin in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat, then slowly add the gelatin to the eggs and sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Make sure that there are no lumps. Using a balloon whisk, slowly incorporate the melted chocolate then fold in the semi-whipped cream.

To make the mint mousse:
1. Bring the milk and sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Once boiling, ad the mint leaves and whisk by hand for 20 seconds. Remove from heat and cover, set aside for 15 minutes.
2. Once the int has infused and the milk is still hot, ad the softened gelatin and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Leave the milk to cool then add the semi-whipped cream (before the gelatin has set).

For the chocolate topping/ganache:
1. Place the grated chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a medium saucepan to near simmer. Slowly pour the cream over the chocolate and stir. Once the chocolate has melted, leave to cool until it is slightly warmer than room temperature.

To assemble:
1. Place 2 tbsp of the chocolate mousse in the base of each serving glass (between 6 and 8 are needed depending upon their size). Leave to set in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
2. Remove form fridge and place 2 tbsp of the mint mousse on top of the chocolate and chill for another 30 minutes.
3. Remove and pour a little of the chocolate ganache on top of each and chill another 10 minutes. Add mint leaves to top before serving.

This was a great presentation (the first four were in champagne glasses but I forgot to snap a pic of those, the other four were in pretty blue bowls) and the ganache alone was worth every moment of the clumpy gelatin mess but there has to be a better way to make the other two layers work!!!


Angie's Recipes said...

The mousse looks very pretty!
Braised short ribs with beer and stock sounds really wonderful.

Drick said...

gotta try those ribs for sure - sounds so delicious

grace said...

i think this is just about the perfect meal to serve when there's mucho potential for awkward moments. even though your dessert didn't come together exactly right, my stars--it sounds amazing! hope everything went well throughout the meal. :)

grace said...

i think this is just about the perfect meal to serve when there's mucho potential for awkward moments. even though your dessert didn't come together exactly right, my stars--it sounds amazing! hope everything went well throughout the meal. :)

Anonymous said...

What a terrific meal! Wow! The short ribs sound to die for and I just love that mousse, so pretty!

Katherine Aucoin said...

You did a terrfic job and I'm really intrigued with the combination of Dr. Pepper and beer! I am bookmarking this for warmer days and dreams of grilling soon.

Don't leave us hanging, how did it go with your guy and your parents?

Hornsfan said...

Thanks guys and gals! It was a really tasty braised short rib, for sure! Katherine - dinner and the meet/greet was a big success :)

Dee said...

Those braised short ribs were wonderful & you know we loved them. Everyone enjoyed the evening so much I don't think we thought a second about the dessert. It was tasty even though you were not happy with results, it gave us more to talk about even though there were no lack of words that evening.