January Monthly Mingle: Comfort Foods

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This is where the ingredients picture would have gone if I had remembered to take it. Have some onions instead.

My favorite mid-winter dish to prepare on a cold, lazy weekend day: Belgian beer-braised short ribs. For this edition, I went with Asian-inflected short ribs with a hoisin-beer reduction, a blue cheese potato-parsnip puree, and some simple wilted spinach. It’s been a while since I’ve made short ribs, and I offer profuse thanks to What’s For Lunch Honey and the Monthly Mingle (for which this entry was written) for inspiring me to give it another go.

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Misshapen Friday Brunch Blogging

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I’ll take Potent Potables for $600.

A quick and tasty brunch, once again taking advantage of leftovers to make something much fancy-schmancier than I normally would with a couple of eggs.

Although my attempt at making a precious little omelette failed, as you’ll soon see, these flavors did not: Herbed goat cheese and balsamic-glazed caramelized onions with a little leftover spinach thrown in for good measure, all left over from a stuffed chicken breast I made Monday night for dinner. The tiny dutch oven holds our precious store of rendered bacon fat, which, when used in small quantities, adds a luscious fatty smokiness to whatever you’re cooking.

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Thursday Night Smackdown: Qui est votre papa?

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Voulez-vouz couche avec moi ce soir?

Tonight, from Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food: Lamb meatballs with eggplant sauce served over bulgar pilaf with pine nuts.

I’m going to admit it right up front: this was not my week to pick the Smackdown battle, and I was not overly psyched about these dishes; I have a backache and am a little cranky, and I really could have gone for some mac and cheese. But once one accepts the Smackdown (and buys all the ingredients… and has a spouse who’s really, really excited), one does not back away from the smackdown. Plus, spicy lamb meatballs. Yum.

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The Lentil Stands Alone

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Baby, I’m-a want you.

The soup winner: smoky lentil soup with andouille and spinach, a riff on Farmgirl Fare’s lentil soup with smoked sausage. While not as photogenic as hers, it tastes fantastic and will be a great lunch tomorrow, which looks to be a prime soup day (wintry, wet, cold). It comes together really quickly and makes the house smell great, assuming you like your house to smell like smoked paprika.

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Thursday Night Smackdown: A Narrow Victory

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Paradise City: Where the grass is green and the girl are pretty. Won’t you please take me home?

Tonight’s smackdown beatdown, courtesy of Sally Schneider’s The Improvisational Cook: Swordfish poached in shallot-thyme scented olive oil, leek “noodles” with creme fraiche and hazelnut oil, and crispy risotto cakes.

Unlike last week’s smackdown, with flavors that exploded on the tongue, this meal is full of melting textures and richly subtle flavors. Although I was defeated handily by the risotto cakes because of my own shortsightedness, we redeemed ourselves with clear victories over both fish and leeks to eke out the win.

First the bad.

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Just an urchin livin’ under the street.

I made extra farro risotto earlier this week, reserving some without the artichoke hearts I added to that night’s dinner for these cakes. Unfortunately, I underestimated how badly the lack of starch-laden sauce would betray me when it came to keeping the risotto in neat little cakes for frying. Things started out okay…

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