A Delicious, Decadent Dinner Party

Clearly life has gotten in the way of State Dinner, since I haven’t updated in quite awhile. That said I figured my first post back should be one of delicious decadence. A few months ago I invited some friends over for a dinner party. I decided to make short ribs for the first time. Ever since making Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon last summer I’ve been obsessed with browning meat and then braising them in the oven. I decided on this recipe of short ribs from the January 2002 issue of Bon Appétit because I love the flavors of Provence.  I served the short ribs with creamy garlic mashed potatoes and a great bottle of red Zinfandel.

For dessert I served my “famous” molten lava chocolate cakes. This is the easiest recipe, can be made ahead, and guests always find it soooo impressive! It’s super easy to multiply and nothing tastes more delicious.

Short Ribs Provençale


2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
6 pounds meaty beef short ribs
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
12 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence
2 cups red Zinfandel
2 ½ cups beef broth
1 14 ½-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 bay leaf
½ cup water
24 baby carrots, peeled
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Preheat over to 325°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add ribs to pot and brown well, turning often, about 8 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer ribs to large bowl.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot or add oil as necessary to measure 2 tablespoons. Add onion, chopped carrot, and celery and cook over medium-low heat until vegetables are soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, flour, and herbes de Provence; stir 1 minute. Add wine and 2 cups brother; bring to boil over high heat, scraping up browned bits. Add tomatoes with juices and bay lag. Return ribs and any accumulated juices to pot. If necessary, add enough water to pot to barely cover ribs.  Bring to a boil.

Cover pot tightly and transfer to oven. Bake until ribs are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours 15 minutes.  (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to summer before continuing).

Add remaining ½ cup broth and peeled baby carrots to pot; press carrots gently to submerge. Cover, return to oven and continue cooking at 350°F until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Transfer short ribs and carrots to platter. Tent with foil to keep warm. If necessary, boil sauce to thicken slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over short ribs. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with mashed potatoes.

Makes 6 servings

Molten Lava Cakes

6 (1-ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
2 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoon (1 ¼ stick) butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar (plus a little more for sprinkling)
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Grease 6 (6-ounce) custard cups. Melt the chocolates and butter in the microwave. Add the flour and sugar to the chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups. Place in the oven and bake for 14 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve with raspberries.

Note: If you want to make this dessert ahead of time, make the batter, pour into custard cups and then cover with tinfoil or plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 1 day.

The beautiful flowers I bought for my dining room table.


One response to “A Delicious, Decadent Dinner Party

  1. I just might have to try this molten cake recipe!

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