17 March 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day: Guinness-Braised Beef Ribs

Happy St. Patrick's Day to one and all. I hope you are able to spend the day with those who mean much to you.

This year's Guinness-inspired recipe was supposed to be Guinness-braised shortribs. I bought a couple of slabs of shortribs from my favourite butcher and put them in the freezer, until I had time to create this recipe. Sounds like a good idea, right? I'm thinking ahead, making sure my supper's star is ready to make his (her?) grand entrance.

One of my many great flaws is I rarely label my beef ribs. Everything else--sausages, bacon, chicken, lamb--they are all adequately labelled so I can easily pull out what I need.

Not beef ribs. In my addled brain, they are an identifiable shape in my freezer, so I think I'm pretty safe. Not this time.

This is not a beef shortrib bone. This is a beef...ummm...longrib bone.

Oh well.

I didn't realise my error until after I'd thawed the ribs. No worries. They were gorgeous and meaty and soon the original idea of braised shortribs morphed into braised beef ribs.

Knowing how well my contraption of a slow cooker works on pork ribs, I decided pull it off my shelf and put it to work on this recipe. A great move, especially as I set it to cook before I toddled off to bed the night before I wanted to serve this.

The beef was meltingly tender and the jus was nicely balanced: sweet from the tomato and the onion, but with those great deep chocolate-bitter notes from Guinness. It paired well with the cheddar'd mashed potatoes and roast asparagus, for a hearty cold-weather supper.

Guinness-Braised Beef Ribs
Serves 2-4


For the rub:
2Tbsp (30ml) brown sugar (dark, preferably)
1tsp (5ml) sweet paprika
1tsp (5ml) black pepper
1tsp (5ml) salt
0.5tsp (2.5ml) dry mustard
0.25tsp (1.25ml) garlic powder
0.25tsp (1.25ml) onion powder

For the braising liquid:
440ml (1.75c/1 can) Guinness
440ml (1.75c) passata/tomato puree
250ml (1c) beef broth
1.5tsp (7.5ml) Worcestershire Sauce
0.5tsp (2.5ml) dried thyme
0.5tsp (2.5ml) dried rosemary
2 dried bay leaves
0.5tsp (2.5ml) salt
0.5tsp (2.5ml) pepper

Flavourless oil, for frying
1kg (2lbs) beef ribs (meat still on the bone) or beef short ribs, cut into one-rib pieces
1 onion, sliced into thin lunettes
1-2 garlic cloves, minced

Mix together the rub ingredients and pat onto meat and let sit for at least an hour, but preferably overnight in the fridge. Do not discard any leftover rub.

Mix the braising liquid's ingredients together and set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet until it shimmers. Sear the meat, in batches, on all sides. Set the browned meat on a plate and cover with tin foil. In the same skillet, cook the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and stir until it releases its fragrance.

Slow cooker method:
Prep the contraption, as per manufacturer's instructions. Tip the onion mixture into the slow cooker. Layer the seared meat over top. Stir in any remaining rub mixture into the braising liquid and pour over the meat. Set to low and cook for eight hours. The meat should be fork tender and almost fall off the bone.

Oven method:
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Add the ingredients in an oven-safe lidded pot (such as a dutch oven), or in a deep baking dish as per the slow cooker instructions. Lid the pot or tightly cover the dish with tin foil. Braise, cooking in the oven for about 2.5 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender.

Serving suggestions:
If you are using beef ribs, cut the meat off the bone, and into bite-sized chunks.

Serve over plain, garlic or cheddar-mashed potatoes, buttered rice, buttered egg noodles or slices of hearty, crusty bread with plenty of the braising liquid. Accompany it with sautéed greens, asparagus or peas.

- This dish tastes better the next day (and the next), although it is mighty fine served the day of.

-If you are serving it the next day (or later), allow the pot to cool to room temperature before popping into the fridge. Before reheating (in a lidded pot, in the oven at 350F/180C for about 30 or so minutes), remove as much of the solid that has floated to the top of the liquid.

I'm a quill for hire!

12 March 2012

Irish Cream Chocolate Sandwich Biscuits

I checked my BBM the other day to find a colleague changed her avatar. This in itself is not remarkable--pretty much everyone on BBM (except for me) seems to change their avatars regularly. Sometimes it's a wee self portrait or image of their child. Sometimes is a vacation snap or some other image that strikes their fancy.

What caught my eye was an image of an Oreo cookie, with a note wishing the popular sandwich cookie a happy 100th birthday.

Oreos are 100 years old?


Like so many people, I have a soft spot for Oreos. Some people are crunchers, others like to pry apart the sandwich and lick off the filling. I prefer mine dunked in milk until the biscuits practically melt away on my tongue.

But here's a confession. I really don't like the icing. It's too sweet and the texture is just...meh. I think it's because it's made with shortening (or so I've been told)--I've never really been fond of shortening. Give me lard or butter any day. Well...for icing, give me butter. I'm sure one can make an adequate icing from lard, but I'd rather not find out.

So when I saw the birthday wishes on my phone's screen, I thought 'why not bake my own Oreos?'

So when I saw the date, I thought 'Why not start my St. Patrick's Day foodishness a wee bit early?'

I've been rather busy as of late, so I haven't had the time to develop my own cookie dough for this recipe. After looking up a few recipes, I decided to use one based on a recipe from Gourmet Magazine. Flavouring the filling with Irish cream was pretty much a foregone conclusion (well, in my mind, it was).

The resulting chocolate sandwich cookies were delicious--nicely chocolatey with a soft Irish cream flavour. I'm sure you can change up the filling flavour with another liqueur...but for March, Irish cream just seems fitting.

Irish Cream Chocolate Sandwich Biscuits (Oreos)
adapted from Gourmet Magazine's Double Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Yield 24


For the biscuits
200g (1c + 6 Tbsp/330ml) all purpose flour
40g (6Tbsp/90ml) cocoa powder
0.25tsp (1.25ml) baking powder
pinch salt
150g (0.66c/185ml) butter, softened
2Tbsp (30ml) milk or cream
0.75tsp (3.75ml) vanilla

for the filling
55g (0.25c/60ml) butter, softened
100g (0.75c/185ml) icing sugar
2dspn (20ml/4tsp) Irish cream liqueur (maybe a drop more, if you wish)

For the biscuits

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside

Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the milk and vanilla. Mix in the flour mixture in two additions, until the dough comes together. Form into a disc, wrap in cling and chill for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170C/350F. Line two cookie trays with parchment.

Roll the dough out between two pieces of wax or parchment paper, until it's about 3mm (1/8th") thick. Using a 3.75cm (1.5") round or fluted cutter, cut out the biscuits and place them on the prepared sheets, approximately 1.25cm (approx 0.5") apart. Gather the scraps, form into a disc and rechill before re-rolling.

Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let fully cool before assembling the cookies.

For the filling:
Beat together the butter and the icing sugar until well mixed. Add in the Irish cream and beat well. Chill for at least an hour before using.

To assemble: smear about a half to three-quarter teaspoon of icing onto the flat side of a cooke. Press a corresponding cookie top to the icing. If the icing is soft, chill, uncovered, in the fridge for about an hour until the filling firms up.