Braised ribs, potato salad and plum crostata: Sophie Hansen’s potluck-friendly recipes


Braised beef short ribs

This a recipe from my friend Ree Booth and it’s an absolute winner. It’s easy to bring together, tastes wonderful and is a substantial main – a great dish to take to any gathering.

It travels well too. Try to time the cooking so the ribs will be done just before heading out the door. They should keep their heat for a while but, if you have access to a hotplate or an oven, give them a quick reheat just before serving. Or to help keep it warm, wrap the casserole dish in a couple of tea towels and ensure the lid is securely tied down, then tuck it into a laundry basket with some towels to keep as much heat in as possible.

‘An absolute winner’: braised beef short ribs. Photograph: Sophie Hansen

Prep 20 min, plus marinating
Cook 4-6 hours
Serves 6-8

1.2kg beef short ribs
2 handfuls green beans
, trimmed

For the marinade
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

For the cooking sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
80ml Worcestershire sauce (⅓ cup)
500ml chicken stock (2 cups)

Trim the ribs of any excess fat and place them in a large container.

To make the marinade, combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl, add to the ribs and mix and rub to coat them well. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate overnight, or for at least four to six hours.

Heat the barbecue or a hotplate to high and sear the ribs on all sides until they are nicely browned. Set aside while you make the cooking sauce.

Preheat the oven to 140C.

In a large ovenproof casserole dish, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion for about 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and add the beef ribs, stirring to coat well. Transfer the dish to the oven and cook slowly for four to six hours, or until the meat is tender and almost falling off the bone. Add the green beans for the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Serve warm.

Super herby potato salad

A mayonnaise-free zone: super herby potato salad Photograph: Sophie Hansen

Even though it’s autumnal in feel, this salad is great for the summer too, as it doesn’t contain any dairy or mayonnaise that will spoil if left out at room temperature, and all that lemon and the herbs bring zing and lightness. I would take this potato salad over its mayonnaise-heavy counterpart any day.

This potato salad is so easy to transport, mostly because it contains no mayonnaise or dairy. Just keep it cool and sealed in its container. It’s generally OK to leave it out at room temperature for an hour or so before serving.

Prep 15 min
Cook 15 mins
Serves 6-8

1kg baby potatoes, halved or quartered if large
2 tbsp salt
3 tbsp tarragon leaves
1 good handful dill, plus extra
for finishing
1 good handful parsley leaves, plus extra
for finishing
1 good handful mint leaves, plus extra
for finishing
tbsp dijon mustard
125ml extra-virgin olive oil
(½ cup)
60ml white wine vinegar (¼ cup)
½ tsp honey
3 crisp green apples
, cored and finely sliced (into matchsticks is great)

Place the potatoes and salt in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and leave until still warm but cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, let’s deal with all those herbs. Combine the tarragon, dill, parsley and mint on a board and chop finely. Place in a large jug or bowl and add the mustard, olive oil, vinegar, honey and some salt and pepper to taste, and whisk into a herby sludge (this also makes a great dressing for steamed green beans).

Transfer the warm potatoes to a container or serving bowl and pour the dressing and sliced apples over them. Gently toss to combine and finish with extra chopped herbs.

Lattice celebrate: plum and ricotta crostata. Photograph: Sophie Hansen

Plum and ricotta crostata

I spent a few years living in Italy in my 20s and during this time I fell for crostata. I loved how whenever there was a dinner party or gathering, my friends would stop at a pasticceria to buy a beautifully wrapped crostata to give to the host. It’s just the thing to take to a celebration of any kind.

Once cooled, this crostata is a good traveller. Just pop it in a tray or container so it can’t roll around the back of the car.

Prep 25 min, plus resting
Cook 40 min
Serves 8-10

320g plum jam or other jam of your choice (1 cup), apricot and blackberry are my favourites; quince is amazing, too.
55g caster sugar (¼ cup)

For the pastry
250g plain flour (1⅔ cups)
100g icing sugar
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
125g cold butter
, cubed (½ cup)
1 egg
1 egg yolk

For the ricotta filling
230g ricotta (1 cup)
30g icing sugar (¼ cup)
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
3 eggs

To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Tip on to a clean work surface and add the butter, rubbing it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse sand (with a few small pebbles). Make a well in the centre and add the egg and yolk. Using a light hand, bring the mixture together until you have a smooth dough (it’s OK if there are some streaks of butter). Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the filling, in a large bowl whisk together all the ingredients until well combined.

Place the jam in a small saucepan and gently heat, then set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

To roll out the crostata, remove about one-third of the pastry. Roll out the remaining two-thirds until you have a large disc about 4mm thick. Gently transfer the pastry into a 22cm fluted, loose-bottomed tart tin (a springform cake tin will be fine too – you will want to trim the edges of your pastry first).

Trim any excess pastry, leaving a 1cm border and fold this down into the edge of the tin to reinforce the crust. Spoon the ricotta mixture on to the base of the pastry and top with dollops of jam.

Roll out the remaining pastry and slice into about 10 long strips. Arrange five of these strips across the top of the tart, spaced evenly apart, then arrange the remaining five strips to form a lattice pattern, weaving the strips over and under each other.

Trim any excess pastry, sprinkle with the caster sugar and bake for 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve warm or chilled (it slices more easily when chilled).


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