The holiday season has arrived, which means it’s that time of year when guests expect you to bring them some figgy pudding – or any type of pudding for that matter.
After all, those guests likely subscribe to the idea that grabbing an extra slice of ham or overindulging in that box of chocolate-covered cherries couldn’t hurt the waistline all that much.
“Luckily, it’s also oversized sweater and sweatpants season,” says Chef Blakely Trettenero, who knows a thing or two about holiday main courses and desserts, and writes about her culinary adventures on her blog, Everyday Gourmet with Blakely (www.gourmetwithblakely.com).
And if you’re just as inclined as your guests to sneak yourself an extra helping of whatever delicious dish you dream up – well, she can relate.
“I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas cookies because physically I can’t stop eating them,” Trettenero says. “In my family we especially love gingersnap cookies. We used to buy tins and tins of them and just go to town until they were gone.”
But Trettenero also knows that hosting at the holidays comes with pressures. Relax, she says. You don’t need to be the chef extraordinaire at a five-star restaurant to please the palates of the average relative or business associate who made your guest list.
She offers a couple of simple recipes that can help make holiday-hosting duties less painful so you can spend more time sipping eggnog by the fireplace.
Braised Short Ribs
1. 4 pounds bone in beef short ribs
4. Garlic powder
5. Olive oil
6. 2 onions, diced
7. 3 carrots, diced
8. 5 cloves garlic, minced
9. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
10. 1 cup red wine
11. 4 cups beef broth
12. 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
13. 10 sprigs fresh thyme
14. 2 bay leaves
1. In a heavy bottomed pan (or Dutch oven) heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Completely pat dry all of the short ribs. Put them on a paper towel to soak up any moisture
3. Heavily season the short ribs with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
4. Working in batches, sear ribs until a beautiful brown on every side. Put the browned short ribs on a plate while you work on the next batch
5. Once all short ribs have been browned, add the onions, carrots, and garlic to the pan letting it cook for a few minutes
6. To the vegetables, add the tomato paste, stirring to coat everything, and let it cook another 5 minutes to cook out that raw tomato paste flavor.
7. Add the red wine and stir everything, scraping up all of the browned bits on the bottom for flavor.
8. Add back in the short ribs, add the beef broth, rosemary and thyme on the top, and the bay leaves
9. Put the lid on and put the pot into the oven. Let cook for 2 1/2 hours.
Homemade Gingersnap Cookies
1. 2 sticks butter, softened
2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
3. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
4. 1 teaspoon fresh-grated ginger
5. 1 egg
6. 1/3 cup molasses
7. 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
8. 2 teaspoons baking soda
9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
10. 3 teaspoons ground ginger
11. 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
12. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
13. Extra sugar for coating
In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugars until smooth. To that add the grated fresh ginger, egg, and molasses. Give it another mix to incorporate everything. To the wet ingredients add the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, allspice, and cinnamon. Mix until well blended. The dough will be loose, but don’t worry. Put the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator to let chill and set up for 1 to 2 hours. Once the dough has set up and chilled completely, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take the dough and form about 1 inch balls. Roll them in sugar, and put on a parchment-paper-lined sheet tray. Leave at least 1 inch between each ball. Bake for 10-15 minutes. For chewier gingersnaps, bake 10-13 minutes and for crisper gingersnaps, bake for 14-15 minutes. Let cool and set up on the counter for about 1-2 minutes before serving.
About Blakely Trettenero
Blakely Trettenero, host of the Everyday Gourmet with Blakely (www.gourmetwithblakely.com) and Hungry for Travels (www.hungryfortravels.com) websites, is a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Fla. She is a world traveler, having visited more than 30 countries, and is becoming a frequent guest on TV.