Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dish #9: Australia - Cottage Cheese Pikelets with Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

I really dislike cottage cheese.  It's a textural dilemma for me that I can't get past - probably the only food I could regularly come across in my diet that I feel that way about.  I have trouble even looking at cottage cheese, and I'm extremely unsqueamish about food.  I am not one of those women who has to wear gloves to touch a boneless, skinless chicken breast and still holds the offending object at the longest possible arm's length while hysterically scrubbing it under cold water before cooking it (yes, I do know people like that).  I'll touch and cook and taste any other food at least once.  I even like cheese curds, like you'd find on poutine, but I just cannot go there with the watery-looking lumpy curds of cottage cheese.  It's not even that I think it tastes bad.  I just can't bring myself to consume more than the tiniest nibble of it, and even that I have to smear all over a piece of fruit to disguise it from myself. 

However, I know it's so healthy, and my husband loves it, so we always have it in the house.  For Australia, I'm making Cottage Cheese Pikelets, which will give me my dose of cottage cheese without requiring me to suffer through eating a big plain spoonful of it.  I love pancakes, and Pikelets are similar to American pancakes - sort of a middle ground between them and blinis or crepes.  Pikelets are not traditionally eaten as breakfast in Australia, but rather as a tea time or afternoon snack, spread with butter and jam or topped with whipped cream.  I chose to take my Pikelets in a savory direction so that we could eat them for dinner.  I treated them like they were polenta cakes.

I topped my Pikelets with red wine-braised short ribs.  The short ribs have nothing to do with Australia at all, but I'm going to share the recipe below anyway, because it's awesome.  I've been making this recipe for years now, and it's easy and delicious.  Whenever I see short ribs on sale at the market, I snatch them up and start the two day cooking process.  The return on investment of time here is great, because we usually eat the short ribs for at least 3-4 days: one day with pasta or something like the Pikelets here, one day with potatoes or polenta, one day as a grilled cheese sandwich filling, and one day as a quesadilla or taco filling.

I also repeated the yogurt butter sauce from my Armenia entry to drizzle over the short rib-topped Pikelets.  While I am not a huge fan of plain yogurt or many yogurt based sauces, my husband insisted that I try it after he tasted the portion I offered to him.  He was right; the blend of flavors were perfect.

Cottage Cheese Pikelets (recipe from Ultimate Weightloss)

1 1/4 cup cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour, sifted
1 t baking powder
1 Cup water
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil spray

Combine cottage cheese and eggs. 

Add the flour, salt and pepper, and baking powder until combined into a thick batter.

Preheat small non stick fry pan over medium heat.  Spray with the oil spray.  Add small dollops of mix to the pan and cook until both sides are golden brown.  They are ready to flip when air bubbles start to appear on the surface.

Place on a tray and keep warm in 170 degree F oven until all are cooked.

Serve warmed pikelets onto plates, pour over short ribs (recipe below), and serve immediately.

Red Wine-Braised Short ribs (based on recipe from Epicurious)

2 to 3 lbs beef short ribs
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T olive oil
2 T dried parsley
1 T dried basil
1 T dried oregano
1/2 T onion powder
1/2 T garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup (about) vegetable oil
1/2 bottle red wine (I use whatever I have open to drink, which this time was pinot noir)
32 ounces beef stock

Heat large dutch oven on medium-high height.  Saute onions for 2-3 minutes, then add mushrooms and garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-8 more minutes.  Add small splashes of wine to keep mixture from drying out as needed.

In the meantime, season ribs with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder, and let stand for 5 minutes at room temperature.  Then add ribs to dutch oven and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. 

Once browned, pour in 1/2 bottle of wine and beef stock and bring to a boil.  Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F and simmer ribs on stove top until oven is ready.  Then cover, transfer to oven, and braise for 2 hours.  Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, skim fat from top of braising liquid and then bring to simmer over medium-low heat, covered.  After one hour, remove the short ribs, which should be tender and falling off the bone.  Boil red wine and beef stock mixture until reduced by half, about 20 minutes, then return ribs to dutch oven, cover, and simmer for another 30 minutes or until tender to your liking.

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