Thursday, November 4, 2010

Monday night dinner party and a warm fall welcome

A dinner party is a great idea any time, but especially at an unexpected time... like on a Monday.  Just as the weekend has gone and there is a long work week ahead, there is nothing better than an unexpected comfort of a good bottle of wine, a great meal, and wonderful company.  The best part is that it's possible to throw a dinner party any night of the week, even if you are fighting bumper to bumper traffic on a Monday. 

However... I must be honest... I had Monday off... but with this dish I wish that I hadn't because it really is that much better the next day.   So this can easily be made on a late Sunday evening and served the following couple of days. 

The intention was to make something that had to be served immediately out of the oven or straight out of the pan, but the want for something warm and slow-cooked took over.  Instead of planning on spending a good amount of time in the kitchen, I spent hardly any time at all.  The result was this: a fall-apart-tender braised beef with herbed mashed potatoes - by no means a disappointment that the original intention was not followed, as it really was the perfect dish to welcome the onset of late fall.

But first the appetizer

The Appetizer - Roasted tomato and caramelized onion bruschetta
fresh mozzarella cheese
caramelized onions (slow cooked red onions - olive oil, salt/pepper)
slow-roasted tomatoes
olive oil / salt / pepper
fresh basil / parsley

Preheat broiler on high - place oven rack at top third of the oven.  Slice a baguette in half, drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil.  Place on a stone / cookie sheet and broil until toasted.

top with caramelized onions and tomatoes, broil inches from heat for about 3-4 minutes until heated through and tomatoes have slightly caramelized.

Top with mozzarella, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Broil until cheese has melted.  Serve topped with chopped basil or parsley.

Roasted Tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes - halved
salt / pepper / olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place tomatoes on a cookie sheet cut side up, season with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Roast for at least 45-60 minutes until tomatoes are soft. Reserve.
Caramelized Onions
Red onions, sliced medium thin
butter / salt / pepper / balsamic vinegar

Saute a couple of red onions, over medium low heat in melted butter until starting to caramelized.  Season with pepper and salt.  Continue to saute until completely caramelized.  Add a few table spoons of balsamic vinegar.  Saute until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Remove from heat and reserve. 

Note: Caramelized onions and tomatoes can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.

The Entree - Braised beef in red wine and vegetables
About 2 lbs of beef (top blade steak - chuck beef cut)
salt / pepper
1/3 - 1/2 bottle of Spanish red wine
1/2 Spanish onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
chopped mixed vegetables (carrots, green pepper, cabbage, jicama, etc)
whole grain mustard

Season the beef with salt and pepper, dust with a couple of table spoons of flour, shaking off the excess, and brown in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. 

Remove from dutch oven and reserve on a plate. 
Add a table spoon more of oil and all of the vegetables.  Saute for a few minutes, add salt, pepper, tomato paste and the herbs.  Saute for a few minutes. 

Add the wine, stir well, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pot.  Add the reserved beef.
Stir.  Let simmer, covered over low heat for at least 2-3 hours. Taste for seasoning - beef should be falling apart.  Stir in a tablespoon or a little more of or whole grain mustard.  Let cool for a few minutes more.  Serve with herbed mashed potatoes.

Herbed Mashed Potatoes
4 large Yukon gold potatoes - peeled and cut into uniform pieces
few sprigs of thyme
1 cup of milk
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup half and half
salt, pepper, nutmeg

Cook potatoes in salted water until completely cooked.  After 10 minutes of cooking potatoes, combine the rest of the ingredients in a sauce pot, bring to a simmer and turn off the heat and let steep covered until the potatoes are done.  The potatoes should take about 20 minutes or so to be fork tender.  The milk mixture should steep for about 10 minutes at least.  Drain potatoes well.  Place back in the sauce pot over low heat, shaking for about 3-5 minutes until excess water is evaporated.  Strain milk mixture into to the potatoes a bit a time, mashing well until desired consistency is achieved.  Add a few tablespoons of butter, cover, and reserve. 

To Plate:
Mound mashed potatoes on the center of the plate, stacking the braised beef over the potatoes.  Top with fresh parsley and serve with baguette and red wine.


  1. Mmm I LOVE the look of the bruschetta. It looks utterly delicious.

    Such beautiful photography on your website. I stopped by via Foodgawker but will be subscribing. Great website :D

  2. What a fantastic spread of delicious food! I'm bookmarking the bruschetta recipe - I could eat a bunch of them as a main course and be perfectly content :).

  3. I love love love your photos. They are stunning!

    And the food looks alright too, I guess. Droooool. Wonderful recipes!!

  4. @Jennifer: Thank you so much for your visit and support!

    @Lauren: I think if you topped it with another slice of baguette it would be a perfect sandwich :) yumm!!

    @bakingwithbuttermilk: Thank you for the kind words!

  5. Oooh how lovely, can I come for dinner next monday? LOL

  6. I am seriously drooling over that bruschetta! It looks fantastic...will definitely be giving it a try. Saw your fabulous pic on foodgawker and came over to check out your blog =)

  7. Wow! That's the best looking appetizer, a must try! The beef too.

  8. @acquired, @miss, and @apron thank you! so glad you stopped by

  9. Wow. Some truly incredible work. Excellent photos. Great writing. You're going places :-)

  10. @Joe - Thank you for your amazing support! You and the rest of the "Hungry Dudes" are doing an awesome job at showing just how great the Detroit food scene really is :)

  11. this looks delicious and the pictures are amazing