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Your Holiday Menu with an EDGE

Monday Dec 23, 2013

Are you scrambling to pull together a holiday menu and worried about accommodating guests with special dietary needs? Today's home cooks have nothing to fear, according to Max Hansen of Max Hansen Catering and Max Hansen Carversville Grocery. He says it's very easy to serve delicious, gourmet dishes to guests with special dietary needs - most notably, those friends and family members who are vegan, gluten free or lactose intolerant.??

Hansen says with a little bit of planning and creativity you can accommodate guests with special dietary needs and serve gorgeous food without flour, meat or dairy every day of the week with fresh ingredients, simply prepared. ??He shares some of his favorite recipes for your holiday menu.

Boneless Braised Beef Short Ribs

Hansen says that braising allows you to do most of the preparation ahead of time and actually be a guest at your own party. Hansen’s recipe for Boneless Braised Short Ribs is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and popular in colder months for their soul-warming richness. But where others make them dredged in flour or corn meal, he recommends leaving the gluten out of the picture for a gluten-free version of these tasty short ribs.

• 6 x 8-10 oz. Pieces Boneless Beef Short Ribs (ask your butcher for 6 good sized pieces of Boneless Short Rib remember that the beef will lose weight and volume during the braising process)
• ¼ cup canola oil
• 3 T sweet butter
• 2 large carrots, 1" chunks
• 3 celerby ribs, 1" chunks
• 1 large onion, 1" chunks
• 2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
• 2 sprigs fresh thyme
• 1 bayleaf
• 2 cups red wine
• 1 quart beef stock
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Select a pot that will hold all the pieces of short ribs. Heat the canola oil in a large heavy bottomed pot until smoking, season the short rib pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Sear the short ribs on all sides. As the meat is seared, remove to a sheet pan. Add the butter to the pan heat till foaming, add all the vegetables and cook over a low to medium heat until a rich golden brown. The longer you caramelize the vegetables the richer the flavor! Once the vegetables are a rich golden brown, add the garlic and thyme, stir well. Add the red wine and reduce till almost dry, add the tomato paste and beef stock and bay leaf; stir well until the tomato paste is completely incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Add the meat back to the pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Place in the oven and cook until the meat becomes tender, approximately 3 ½ to 4 hours till tender but not falling apart. Strain the cooking liquid, remove the fat from the top and simmer slowly until reduced to a syrupy consistency.

When you like, whether an hour or a couple days later, reheat the short ribs gently in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Swirl 1 Tablespoon butter into the reduced sauce and spoon over the short ribs. Serves six.

Recipe courtesy of Max Hansen Catering.

Roasted Root Vegetables

A side dish for all seasons, Hansen’s recipe for roasted root vegetables is not only fragrant and aromatic, it’s also a wonderful vegan main dish or a hearty accompaniment to your favorite meat entree. Simple to prepare and elegant on the plate, you’ll love this easy rainbow of root vegetables.

• 2 beets
• 2 turnips
• 1 large yam
• 1 large carrot
• 4 stalks of celery
• 2 fennel bulbs
• 12 Cipollini onions
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Peel all the vegetables (where applicable), cut all the vegetables into large pieces approximately 1.5" x 1.5?. Place all the cut vegetables in a large bowl, sprinkle the vegetables with the herbs, olive oil, and the salt and pepper. Toss well to make sure that the herbs and seasoning is well distributed. Place in a large roasting pan in the oven and roast until the vegetables start to become caramelized and are firm but tender. Serve immediately. Serves six.

Recipe courtesy of Max Hansen Catering.

Simple Wilted Winter Greens

Simple Wilted Winter Greens
Try a bold mix of what you can get at your local farmers markets and produce stands. The different flavors deepen the taste and provide the much needed nutrients we need during dark winter months. Try a bold mix of what you can get at your local farmers’ markets and produce stands.

Before you start cooking you’ll need, one way or another, one pound of usable greens after all thick or tough stems are removed. Consider using a blend of the following:
• Russian Kale
• Curly Green Mustard
• Tatsoi
• Red Bok Choy
• Arugula
• Mizuna

In addition to the lettuces and greens, you’ll need these basic kitchen staples:
• 1 garlic clove, sliced thin
• Extra Virgin olive oil, sweet butter or brown butter ghee
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Depending on your source of greens, the quantities in the recipe may or can vary.

To cook, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan until shimmering (not smoking, it is very easy to burn olive oil which is a terrible waste of goodness) add the garlic, stir quickly and add the greens. The lettuces and leaves will take up a lot of space, just keep stirring and tossing until they have started to wilt. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately!

If using sweet butter, let the butter foam and as the foam recedes the butter starts to brown and takes on a wonderful nutty flavor (The French call this Beurre noisette, literally hazelnut butter, loosely translated brown butter). Once you smell this wonderful flavor add the garlic and then the greens, proceed as before.

Note: If you cook 1 lb. of spinach lightly it will yield around 6 generous portions. If you cook them through you will release the water from the vegetables and have a much smaller yield.

Recipe courtesy of Max Hansen Catering.


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