Well, hello autumn! So lovely to see you again!
Of all the seasons, fall has always been my most loved. The subtle way the light begins to change and illuminate new views in even the most familiar of places. The ever-so-slight crisp chill in the air of early morning. The new arrival of songbirds in our patio stopping for a bite on their migration south. (I love when I first hear the twitter of the Chestnut Backed Chickadees telling me their back!) The crunch of leaves beneath my feet on an afternoon stroll and the comfort of staying home playing in the kitchen or embarking on a new project in the studio. There is something both invigorating and inspiring about this time of year and it makes me feel motivated to create, explore and do, which makes me very happy!
In our house, Sunday nights, any time of year, are generally reserved for a delicious, collaborative, home cooked meal between Mr. K and I. Often we might follow a theme with a perfectly paired bottle of wine or cocktail to match, accompanied by the appropriate soundtrack while we prep. During Mad Men we usually go for more hearty fare like a meatloaf or a lasagna Bolognese with Manhattans and Rosemary Clooney. Other times it might be Spanish night with seared padron peppers sprinkled with Maldon salt flakes, a classic chicken and scallop paella, paired with a regional cava and a flamenco beat. This past Sunday we officially kicked off (albeit a tad early) the harvest season with a delicious short rib ragu. One of our closest friends surprised us with a delivery of some home raised, grass fed pastured beef and we wanted to do something very special with it. Seeing as neither of us eat much meat, we thought making a little go a long way, was the path to take, so I headed to our neighborhood farmers market for inspiration.
Starting with olive oil, we cooked six slices of bacon that we cut into lardons and set aside, braised the ribs on all sides in the fat and also set aside. Next, a soffritto base was necessary, combining fresh celery, baby carrots, red peppers, garlic, shallots, onions, fresh thyme, red pepper flakes, stewed tomatoes and ruby port. Once everything had simmered for a bit and cooked down, we poured the mixture into the bowl of a food processor and pulsed, (until it resembled a fine salsa texture), returned it back to the stove and added shiitake mushrooms and Kalamata olives and another dash of the port and let it simmer. We then threw the bits of bacon back into the pot, added the short ribs and baked, covered, in the oven for 2 1/5 hours, only turning once, half way through. In the last 15 minutes we removed the ribs, let them cool enough to pull the meat off of the bone (of course if you don't have bone-in ribs, you skip this.) shredded it and returned it to the pot. In the end it was served over perfectly al dente (K's a master these days) rigatoni pasta, garnished with fresh Italian parsley, shaved Parmesan, paired with a delicious bottle of Cabernet Franc and a fresh slice of Tartine bread. OK, we chose a French style wine rather than Italian that night, but if you have ever tried a McKenzie-Mueller, you'd know why. In the end it was absolutely delicious and seemed a perfect tribute to our friends wonderful gift of short ribs.
What do you see yourself doing now that fall is finally here? I've got many more recipes, projects and weekend trips up my sleeve, how about you?
Happy first day fall to you!