Mixing It Up

Until recently I never thought of using these vases on the table, but once they landed there they’ve inspired several settings.  The colors lend themselves to many options and it’s so easy to refresh the flowers.This time around a table runner with some of my favorite colors is the background.

With these pieces on the table, it was easy to add others for a simple at home dinner with friends. Perfect color matches are in these dishes from Target. 

Though I often mix and match, this time I’m sticking with the coordinating salad plates and adding a napkin that introduces a variation in pattern but is true to the color way.

That’s all there is to it.  In less than 10 minutes, the table is set made easy by what was already there.  That is why I rarely leave a table top bare, and it doesn’t bother me at all if the same pieces are used multiple times. It’s fun to see how many different looks can be created from the same elements.

This dinner was preceded by a busy day, and that’s when a slow cooker comes in real handy.  Not only does it provide the freedom needed to do other things, it fills the house with tantalizing aroma.  For sure that was the case with these Asian Style Short Ribs that you just might want to try.

Asian Style Short Ribs

6 lbs. short ribs

salt and ground pepper

3/4 t. 5 spice powder

1/4 c. each hoisin sauce and ketchup

2 T. rice vinegar

2 T. soy sauce

1 T. fish sauce

1 T. honey

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 T. minced fresh ginger

5 cloves mince garlic

Season the ribs with salt, pepper and 5 spice powder.  Brown on all sides in a multipurpose cooker or broil until nicely browned.

Mix together remaining ingredients and place all in the cooker being sure to coat the ribs well with the hoisin mix.  Cover and cook on the low setting for about 6 hours or until the meat is very tender.  If the ribs are boneless, cooking time will be less.

For serving, place the ribs in a bowl or on a plate and moisten with some of the cooking liquid.  Garnish with Italian parsley or cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts or cashews.

Serves 6

I can assure you there will be no leftovers!

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Tablescape Thursday

Check it Out!

While browsing Houston this week, I stopped in at Williams Sonoma to see what’s new in the world of kitchen gadgets.  Here’s what caught my eye, Cuisinart’s new slow cooker.

I’ve never been one for crock pot cooking, but look at what this one can do: roast, sear/brown, steam and slow cook.  Now, that’s like having a steamer, cooktop and oven all rolled into one.  Plus it’s a very nice looking piece of equipment, clean lines, compact, so I just had to have it.

Or maybe it was this cookbook I had to have, and to try them the slow cooker was a necessity.

It was hard to decide what to cook first, so I made a random selection which turned out to be a very good choice.  Take a look!

Asian-Style Short Ribs

6 lbs. beef short ribs

salt and freshly ground pepper, 3/4 t. five spice powder

1/4 c. each hoisin sauce and ketchup, or 1/2 c. ketchup

2 T. rice vinegar

2 T. soy sauce

1 T. Asian fish sauch

1 T. honey

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 T. peeled and minced fresh ginger

5 cloves minced garlic

Season the ribs with salt, pepper and 5 spice powder.  Brown ribs in slow cooker on both sides, about  5 minutes per side.

Stir together the hoisin sauce and ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, onion, ginger and garlic.  Pour over the ribs, coating evenly.  Cover and cook on slow cook, low setting for about 6 hours.

To serve, divide the ribs among warm shallow bowls or plates, moisten with some of the juices and top with daikon salad if desired.

Daikon Salad

1 large daikon, peeled and shredded or julienned

2 carrots, peeled and shredded or julienned

1 shallot, minced

1/2 c. cilantro or parsley

Add 3 T. peanut or salad oil and 1 T. rice vinegar.  Toss to coat ingredients evenly.

The cooking aromas were divine,  the finished result  yummy the meat so tender it fell off the bone and the flavors delightful.  I served the ribs with stir fried baby bok choy,  a nice accompaniment.

If you like the sound of this recipe, I think it could easily be done on the stovetop.  The ribs could be browned under the broiler or in a frying pan.  What I loved about the slow cooker is that it eliminated the extra steps, and, by the way, it is very easy to clean as the cooking pot lifts right out.  In my opinion Cuisinart has a winner with this appliance.

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