We’ve arrived back home to Vancouver Island from our beautifully sunny trip to San Diego. We had a week filled with family, good food and fun activities. 29 people in total showed up for the family reunion/Thanksgiving celebration that his family affectionately calls Sprague Fest (their last name is Sprague…if you didn’t figure that one out for yourself).
Every year, the entire Sprague family chooses a location somewhere in the US, and meets there during the Thanksgiving Holidays. It’s accurately called a Fest because it’s full of family festivities. Between lunch and dinner for 29 people on more than one occasion, the Wild Animal Park, Jesus Christ Superstar at the La Jolla Theatre, Turkey Bowl, family tennis, walks along the Sunset Cliffs and getting all of our Christmas shopping done in a matter of a few days, it was busy and a whole bunch of fun. I hate to brag…ok no I don’t, so let me go on. I have really great In-Laws. I’m one of the fortunate few that actually enjoys the In-Laws.
We’re home now and we have gone from beautiful, sunny 70 degree weather to 40 F (4 degrees C) of wet and cold. Oh and our heat is not working properly. It must have died on us while we were away because on Sunday night we were greeted with an indoor temperature of about 50 F (10 degrees C). It’s Tuesday and it’s still not working…we’re told it’s complicated. Fortunately, we have an electric fireplace that gives off some heat or things would be really uncomfortable. It takes a long time to heat up a room with a little electric fireplace heater, but once it’s been running it maintains the temperature surprisingly well.
The first couple hours we were home, we used a couple of space heaters and an age old trick. If you can’t guess it, it’s the trick of heating up the oven and letting it run with the door open. We had quite the romantic dinner. Me and my husband sitting on bar stools next to the oven while wearing a tuque (that’s Canadian speak for a beanie) and a scarf. It would have made a funny video, but I was too cold to be thinking creatively!
With the rain coming down sideways and a home with minimal heat, I thought some comfort food was in order. So here is yet another meal that I am forever grateful for our Le Creuset French Oven. Is it possible to have romantic feelings for a pot?
Well, there’s nothing like a spicy dish to heat up the body! If you like food a little less spicy, feel free to reduce the amount of chilis in this one.
Spicy Braised Beef Short Ribs
- Dry Rub
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp dried chili
- 4 lbs beef short ribs
- To Braise:
- 2 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 2 Tbsp Brandy
- 4 cups beef stock
Combine the spices for the dry rub in a large plate or pie plate. Coat the ribs with the spices and set aside.
You’ll need a heavy bottomed pot or stove top casserole with a tight fitting lid for the next part. Heat the pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, roughly chop the onion into wedges and chop the bacon into 1 inch strips. Fry up the bacon until some of the fat starts to render. Add the onion and cook until the bacon is golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion and bacon and set aside.
Brown the ribs on all sides using the bacon fat. If the pan dries up before all the ribs are brown use a little oil. Remove the ribs and set aside. Add the brandy to deglaze the pan. Scrap up all the flavorful bits that may have stuck to the bottom.
Add the bacon, onions and ribs back into the pot. Add the fresh ginger and the stock. The ribs should be covered just above halfway. Add a little water if need be. Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer until meat is tender. After about 1.5 hours, the house will smell amazing but the meat won’t yet be tender. This should take 2.5 to 3 hours.
Cauliflower White Bean Mash
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 cups cooked white beans (navy, cannellini or white kidney)
- 2 Tbsp butter (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 green onions finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cup the cauliflower into florets or smaller pieces. Cook the cauliflower either by steaming, sauteing or roasting. Each method will result in a different flavor. We chose to steam for simplicity. If steaming, drain all the water. In a large bowl or pot, combine the beans (if the beans are cold, don’t worry, the heat of the cauliflower warms it up really fast), the cauliflower and the butter. Mash together using a potato masher or emulsion blender (this makes it really fast and so easy to do). Mash until it’s reached the desired consistency. No other liquid was required when using steamed cauliflower, but add a little milk or vegetable stock if necessary. Fold in the parsley and onions. Season with salt and pepper.
I’m sharing this with Gluten Free Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Lunch Box Love, Frugal Fridays, Foodie Friday, Food Fridays , Real Food 101, Mangia Mondays, Monday Mania and What’s Cooking Wednesdays.