Diary of a Foodie

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Craisan Nut Bark

Here's another super easy candy to add to your holiday baking and making. Feel free to add any ingredients that you like and take anything out that your don't.

Craisan Nut Bark

24 ounces white chocolate
3/4 c dried cranberries (Craisans)
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c whole almonds
1/2 c shelled pistachios

In a double boiler, melt the white chocolate over medium heat. Once melted, pour onto a Sil-Pat or parchment paper. Using an offset spatula, smooth chocolate out until about 1/3 inch thickness. Sprinkle on dried cranberries and nuts. Using hand, gently press fruit and nuts into the chocolate so they will set into it. Let cool on counter for at least 1 hour. Break into smaller pieces, about 1X1 inch squares. Store in a cool, dry place.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

We've had this meal twice in the last two weeks. I generally do not like to repeat a meal even within the month, so to have it twice in two weeks just tells you how much the entire family loved it. It does take a few hours to make it, but most of the time it spent braising in the oven, so no extra work is needed from you. Just make sure to plan ahead for dinner when making this dish to give it enough time to become tender.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

6-8 bone-in beef short ribs (plan on one per person)
1 cup flour
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 white onion, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP tomato paste
4 cups beef stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary

Heat 1/3 c vegetable oil in a large saute pan, that has a lid, over medium high heat. Dredge short ribs in flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Once oil is hot, sear the short ribs on each side, until browned. Remove meat from pan once browned. Pour out any burned drippings from the saute pan. Add 1/4 c vegetable oil back into the same saute pan. Add celery, onion, carrots, garlic, and tomato paste. Cooked over medium heat, until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the short ribs to the vegetables. Pour over the beef stock, thyme, and rosemary. Place lid on the saute pan and place in a preheated 350 degree F oven. Braise in oven for 3-4 hours. About an hour in, taste the broth to check for salt and pepper levels. Add as needed. After 3-4 hours, remove from oven and serve over cheesy polenta, or mashed potatoes.

Cheesy Polenta 

1 c polenta (not quick cooking polenta)
3 cups water
4 TBSP butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 c grated Parmesan

In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil. Add butter and polenta, stirring vigorously. Continue stirring over medium heat. Let cook for 15-20 minutes. Mixture will be thick and may bubble up-be careful as it can burn your skin. After 15-20 minutes, stir in 1 cup heavy cream. Cook while stirring for another 10 minutes. Add 1 cup milk and the Parmesan cheese, cooking for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately with the short ribs. 

Triple Nut English Toffee

Tis the season to make candy and treats for friends, family, and neighbors. This is an easy addition to any treat box. I've been tinkering with my mom's original recipe and I think this one is a winner.

Triple Nut English Toffee

1 lb butter
2 1/2 c white sugar
4 TBSP water
2 TBSP Karo corn syrup
1 c chopped almonds
1 c chopped walnuts
1 c chopped pecans
2 c semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Prepare a cookie sheet by greasing it and sprinkling the pan with all the nuts. The cooked sugar will be poured over the nuts, so set it aside for assembly.

In a large cast iron skillet, melt butter, sugar, water, and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring often. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, until temp on a candy thermometer reaches 300-310 degrees F. Color will be a medium brown color. Once toffee has reached this temperature, remove from stove and pour it over the nuts on the cookie sheet. BE CAREFUL! Cooked sugar is very hot! Spread toffee evenly over the nuts. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. After it has cooled slightly, pour chocolate chips over the top and allow the warm toffee to melt the chips. Using a spatula, smooth the chocolate over the top of t
he toffee. Allow to cool completely, about an hour. Using hands or a knife, break toffee into smaller pieces.