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Balsamic Mushrooms

This weekend I went to Charleston, SC to visit my bff Megan.  This week Megan is turning 25, and to mark this special occasion (and help prevent a quarter life crisis) I flew down on Friday and spent a long weekend taking in the beauty (and warmth) of the south.  Charleston is one of my favorite places with its history, culture, and charm.

After a weekend of eating (wonderfully) out, I told Megan that on Sunday I was going to teach her how to cook something.  Megan’s experience in the kitchen is limited, though I’ve been trying slowly to domesticate her over the years.  One of these days it’s going to stick.  So on Sunday we made brisket (recipe to come on iVillage this week), balsamic mushrooms, and tarheel pie.

While the brisket and pie were both delicious, these mushrooms stole the show.  Cooked over low heat for four hours in butter, balsamic vinegar, and red wine, they were so intensely flavored and delicious.  They were hands down the best mushrooms I’ve ever eaten and I love mushrooms.  They’ll have a place on my holiday table this year.

Speaking of the holidays, this is the official kick off of Thanksgiving 2010 recipe season. Starting today, over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you this year’s Thanksgiving recipes.  I’ll also post links to our tried and true holiday favorites.  In other news, I was the featured blogger on A Bloggable Life yesterday.  It’s a nice little feature that, I’ll admit, I really opened myself up for.  I’d love to hear what you think.  And, of course, be sure to wish Miss Margaret Elizabeth Patrylick a happy 25th birthday.  She needs your good thoughts, girl is a hot mess.

Balsamic Mushrooms

2 lbs button mushrooms

1/2 bottle red wine (merlot)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1 stick butter

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tbsp cumin

In a deep dish combine mushrooms, wine, vinegar, cubed butter, salt, pepper, and cumin.  Cook at 315 for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

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Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Grits

Sometimes we get very lucky and have the opportunity to host someone very important to us.  This past weekend it was our old college professor, George Ciscle.  Dan and I participated in many years worth of George’s signature program, the Exhibition Development Seminar.  It was in this class, in fact, where we met.  Actually, technically speaking, it was in this class where on the first day I spent the better half of the first hour admiring his forearms as George talked about how the course is incredibly difficult and everyone should leave, etc etc etc.  Then, on the break, I showed Dan my compass in line at MICA’s Cafe Doris.  That’s not a euphemism.  I really did show him my compass.  It was new.  And awesome.

Is it starting to add up why it took three years for us to actually start dating?  Anyhoo, we were lucky enough to host George and his husband Rick for dinner on Friday and it was, well, awesome.  We laughed and ate and caught up and told stories, it was a wonderful evening.  And in the background, along with a simple arugula salad and a pitcher of sangria that only I drank (it was delicious, by the way), were these short ribs.  Braised in red wine and served over cheesy, creamy, scrumptious grits.

Fall, to me, means a lot of things.  It means scarves and jackets and boots and pumpkin lattes, but it also means the beginning of serious meat season.  While we eat a fair amount of meat in the summer it’s always something light, refreshing.  Fall and winter is the time for stews and braises, foods that require your oven staying on for hours.  Food that you eat while wearing a sweater or with your fuzzy socks on.  Or is that just me?  Fuzzy socks, ftw!

Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Grits

 

Ribs:

8-10 beef short ribs

1 bottle red wine

4 cups vegetable or beef stock

1 tsp allspice berries

1 tsp peppercorns

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp salt

1 stick butter

 

Grits:

2 cups milk

1 cup vegetable or beef stock

1 cup yellow corn grits

1 lb cremini mushrooms

4 shallots

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp bacon fat

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup gruyere cheese, grated

1 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

Salt & pepper

Juice of 1 lemon

Green onions

 

The night before you’d like to serve this, marinate your meat in 1/2 bottle wine and half of all the herbs/spices.  Refrigerate overnight.

 

4 hours before you’d like to serve this, take the meat out of the marinade and pat each side down.  Melt 1/2 stick butter in a medium size pot.  Salt & pepper ribs and brown them for about 30 seconds per side, in the butter.  When they’re all browned put them into the pot.  Cover with remaining wine, stock, butter, and the rest of the herbs.  Cover and cook at 375 for 3 1/2 hours.

 

To make the grits bring the milk and stock to a low boil.  Stir in grits.  Stir until thickened and remove from heat.  Stir in cheese and cream.

 

In a medium size pan melt your butter and bacon fat.  Slice your shallots and cook over low/medium heat until brown.  Set aside.  Slice mushrooms and add them to the pan (adding more butter if necessary).  Cook until brown.  Stir mushrooms and shallots into the grits, along with the lemon juice.

 

Arrange short ribs on top of the grits on the plate and top with green onion.

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Deluxe Mac & Cheese

I’m going to start this post by apologizing.  I have no process photos to offer.  This weekend was a hot mess.  Our building’s hot water heater broke Friday and so all weekend I was well… dirty.  And grumpy.  Sunday we were planning on going to Northern Virginia to meet our new niece Amelie and see her (always wonderful) big sister Meredith and their parents, Megan and John.  Because we were dirty (and unkempt) I scheduled haircuts in Takoma Park with our favorite hair stylist and planned on getting shampooed and trimmed on our way south.  Sunday morning was a whirlwind of cooking and baking for the new parents and their family- enchilada casserole, eggplant lasagna, crispy marshmallow bars, and this amazing bacon-laden mac and cheese.  Needless to say between the cooking and the inability to properly wash the dishes I was using, I didn’t take any pictures.  I’m sorry.

photo by John Turcotte

This is Amelie.  She’s adorable and sweet and makes very, very cute faces.  We absolutely love being Aunt and Uncle to her big sister and we can only imagine that Amelie will be as much of a delight as Meredith.  Welcome to the family, little one!

photo by John Turcotte

Deluxe Mac & Cheese

1 lb macaroni or shells

1 lb bacon

1 tbsp butter

3 shallots

3 cups porcini mushrooms

2 cloves garlic

1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese

1/2 cup gruyère cheese

3 cups milk

2 tbsp flour

1 cup heavy cream

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp salt

1/2 stick butter

Boil macaroni.  Set aside.  Cook bacon.  Set aside.  Slice shallots and mushrooms, mince garlic.

Remove all but 2 tbsp bacon grease from the pan.  Add 1 tbsp butter.  Add shallots and mushrooms to pan.  Cook over medium low heat until caramelized.  Remove.  Add mushrooms to the pan and, if necessary, a touch more butter.  While those are cooking, grate your cheese and chop your bacon.

Remove the mushrooms from the pan when browned.  Stir together mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and chopped bacon.

In a medium pot heat milk and cream.  Be careful that it doesn’t get too hot, the milk could curdle.  When it is hot, set aside.

In the same pot, melt 1/2 stick of butter.  Whisk in flour and continue whisking to prevent clumps.  Stir the milk mixture back in and add 3/4 of the grated cheese.  Stir until cheese has melted.  Remove from heat and add lemon juice, paprika, and salt.  Stir the bacon mixture into the pasta.  Place in a casserole dish.  Ladle the cream mixture over the pasta.  Stir once to make sure it is evenly coated.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

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