Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Matthew skipped town last Thursday for a boy’s weekend. The group sequestered themselves at the family beach house of a pal, played golf and cards, grilled out, drank beer, caught up and had a grand time in general. He arrived home yesterday quite bleary eyed and bushed from the 72 plus hours of serious fun. I think he is going to need another day or two for recovery. I might need another day or two for recovery. In his absence, I had three and a half full days to myself. I must admit, I filled my time wisely and it was spectacular.

Thursday evening I hung up my apron for the long weekend and made a trip to the grocers. I am no stranger to cooking for myself but aimed to keep it simple this weekend. I bought a rotisserie chicken, a dozen organic eggs, avocados, a cauliflower just in case and salad fixings. I returned home to pour a glass of vino and prepare an easy supper of pulled pollo, crisp romaine, crunchy garbanzo beans I roasted in the oven with a bit of paprika, chopped cucumbers and a lemon pesto dressing I love to make. I watched some television show on Bravo that was highly entertaining. It was one of those shows that Matthew would watch for a moment and then look at me with an incredulous stare asking, how do I get back those three minutes of my life. As if its my fault. Typical male, right?

Friday morning I woke up early for yoga and instead of tiptoeing around while holding my breath as is usually the case, I cranked up NPR, turned on all the lights, made a racket with my electric toothbrush and piddled around the house as I best pleased.  I actually put ice in my water bottle. Cubes scattered across the kitchen floor. It was spectacular. After work, I threw caution to the wind. I made a last minute appointment with my hairdresser. I was beginning to resemble a member of the musical group, the Monkees. Having short hair makes for quick sessions so from here I went to my usual spot for nails and toes. The place was empty, the early evening was quiet and the time alone was simply marvelous. After a bit of pampering, I joined a dear friend at a local haunt for a spectacular three hour evening of sushi, libations and outstanding banter. Upon arriving home, I morphed into a bartender, poured myself another and called it a night.

Saturday morning was the business. We are usually early weekend risers but not on this day. I slept until almost 8.00 am, made a hot pot of coffee and returned to the bed to enjoy a ridiculous Real Housewives marathon.  Time flies when you are having fun. After a breakfast of boiled eggs in bed, I was officially up and at ‘em just shy of noon. I went to Whole Foods to hit up the salad bar for lunch. The selection was anemic so I grabbed another rotisserie chicken. In hindsight it seems I ate a generous amount of chicken this past weekend. The place was a madhouse so it was an in and out exercise for me. After seven long hours of no chatter, I had hoped to bump into someone I knew but no such luck this go around. In the latter part of the afternoon, I did yoga with a friend and returned home where I enjoyed an ice cold beer on the front porch. Stay thirsty my friends. Woman of the house. The evening comprised steamed shrimp and broccoli from a local favorite, a Girls marathon compliments of Apple TV (adore Lena Dunham) and honestly, that is about it. Bliss.

Sunday morning, I was up obscenely early because I heard noises. I created a wonderfully terrifying scenario in my mind that involved a stranger on the roof, which served as an excellent catalyst to get out of bed. This and I needed to get the house in order after my bachelor’s weekend. Some tidying, vacuuming and laundry were in order. A free agent, I went to a morning yoga class, hit up the grocers at my leisure and did lunch solo at a favorite neighborhood spot. Once that was set and done, like clockwork, I took my place at the dining room table with my iPad and began mapping out the week’s meals as I usually do. I decided in honor of Matthew’s return home, I would make a bit of a production of our dinner. As the Oscars were going to be on, I wanted something that I could set up and let cook on its own. I am not one to miss the red carpet review. This called for a Le Creuset meal and I decided that short ribs would be on the menu.

Short ribs are simple to procure, effortless to prepare and always make for an elegant, decadent meal. They are ideal for special occasions or making someone feel good. You just serve them with a mash of sorts whether you make it from potato, sweet potato, celeriac or cauliflower. Short ribs also taste magnificent with polenta. They are also incredible served in shallow bowls along with a crusty chunk of bread for indulgent sopping. The rich sauce that hails from braising is idyllic for dipping, slurping or swimming in something. I served ours with cauliflower mash. In lieu of the usual olive oil or coconut milk, I stepped my game up a notch. I added 2 TBS Irish farm butter and ½ cup of sour cream. Hey, we were celebrating Matthew's safe return. I love reunions. The end result was simply magical. 

Beef Short Ribs
Adapted from Ina Garten 


5 lbs short ribs – I bought a mix of bone-in and boneless
2 white onions – chopped
5 celery stalks – chopped
3 carrots – chopped
1 piece of fennel – chopped –  set the core / frond aside for another application
1 leek - chopped – white part only please
2 anchovies packed in oil
4 cloves of garlic – chopped
A bunch of rosemary
A bunch of thyme
A bunch of flat leaf parsley
3 TBS tomato paste
1 bottle of Zinfandel or another rich red – buy a special bottle of wine for a special meal
4 cups of beef stock
1 TBS maple syrup
Olive oil
Kosher Salt

Get To Work

1. Salt and pepper your short ribs a couple of hours before you plan on transforming them. Cover and put in the fridge. Please remember to pull them out and let them sit for approximately 30 minutes before you start cooking. Throw your onions, celery, carrots, fennel and leek in a food processor and pulse until minced.

2. Set your oven to 400 degrees F. Now to the fun part. Heat 3 TBS olive oil in your Dutch oven on high heat. Let the oil sit in the pan for around 3 to 4 minutes. This will ensure that it gets nice and hot. Now add your beef. You want to brown it for approximately 10 minutes on every side until it gets nice and crisp. Once all your meat is finished, please transfer it to another plate. Note you will most likely have to do this in batches, which is okay. You do not want to overcrowd your pot. Leave the short rib infused oil in the pan. It’s about to get real.

3. Lower the temperature to medium / high heat. Add the 2 anchovies and stir them around until they dissolve.  Now you want to add the chopped onions, garlic, celery, carrots, leek and fennel. Let the lot cook for approximately 15 minutes or until soft. Now add the tomato paste and bottle of vino. Give a big stir.

4. Bring the temperature to high heat and let the mixture boil and then lower the heat to medium / high. You want to let this cook for approximately ten minutes or until the sauce has reduced by approximately half.

5. Now you want to add your fresh herbs – a bundle of rosemary and thyme. You can tie these together. You can throw them into cheesecloth. Just do something that will make it easy for you to retrieve them later. Just throw it in. Add the beef broth and the maple syrup. Put the short ribs on top, add a bunch of flat leaf parsley, put a lid on it and pop in the oven.

6. You want to let your meat braise for approximately two and a half hours. Three would be ideal. This amount of time will ensure that the meat is simply falling off the bone. That which is not attached to a bone will be incredibly tender to the touch. Wowzas!

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