Category Archives: Beef Dishes

International Day of Italian Cuisines (IDIC) 2012 at the International Culinary Center

Italian cuisine is world-renowned and well-loved, but, due to global travels, many of its dishes have morphed considerably since their origins.  Ending up in far-flung places, regional specialties have been adapted to fit the ingredients that immigrants were able to find in their new home countries.  Although the names might be the same, the food on the plates could look very different than what would be consumed in Italy itself, something that the International Day of Italian Cuisines (IDIC) sponsored by ItChefs-GVCI seeks to highlight each year, by featuring one classic recipe and in bringing together Italian chefs who work around the globe to promote it.  This year’s featured dish is Ossobuco in Gremolata alla Milanese.

Event Organizers

I’ve never made this, having been a bit intimidated by the recipe, but the demonstration at the International Culinary Institute on Thursday showed me that maybe I’ve just been too hesitant to try it.  Chef Matteo Scibilia, a specialist in the cuisine of Lombardy, from which this dish hails, led the cooking lesson, explaining that, like with many classics, the ingredients and techniques have been “officially” agreed upon by the local council.  (The same has been done in Bologna, for example, as to what makes an authentic Ragù Bolognese.)

Dorothy Cann Hamilton of ICC introducing Chef Matteo Scibilia (with Rosario Scarpato of GVCI)

One of the most important steps to making this recipe is to have the right ingredients.  A tip I picked up from the chef is that he cooks the bone marrow separately from the veal itself.  Another is that there are various and tweaks that still make it authentic, just like any other regional dish.  Although the instructions for the classic dish call for using butter to cook everything, that is considered a bit heavy in today’s times, so some people do use a butter/olive oil mix, which is also one of my favorite cooking combinations.  There are also slight variations within the province of Lombardy, from which this comes.

Even the Mise en Place has a sense of style

Chef Scibilia dusts the veal in flour before browning it in the fat, another slight change from what others do as well and one with which Rosario Scarpato, who was translating the discussion for the audience, disagreed.  For him, this gives the meat the brown crust he likes and helps to seal it.  Once the meat is seared, the soffrito, the base of the sauce is put into the pan, with its combination of finely minced carrots, celery, and onions.  I noticed that the recipe linked above calls for a larger dice on the vegetables, but as you can see from the photo below, they were cut into pretty small pieces in the dish made at the demo.  I also didn’t really pick up that there was any proscuitto in the sauce.

Bone marrow cooking separately

Despite these different points of view, some key elements in making the dish are the same.  One is that the liquid in the pan needs to be at the level of the meat when it is cooking in the oven.  Wine is added to give the dish some acid and balance, and tomatoes, which were probably brought into the recipe after the discovery of the Americas, are really there more for color rather than for flavor.  The gremolata is a reflection of several aspects of Italian cuisine.  One, is that Milan was an important trading city, so these would have come from another part of the country.  Another is that the bright, citrus-herbal freshness of the garnish is probably something that was included later on in the development of the dish.  With the movement from the heavy spices of the Middle Ages, this rich meal was then balanced by the lightness of the gremolata.

Chef Matteo Scibilia with Rosario Scarpato translating the demo

After watching all the steps in preparing this dish, with the amazing aromas wafting our way from the demonstration table, we were rewarded with our very own plate of Ossobuco in Gremolata alla Milanese.  The tender meat just melted in my mouth, the fat and stock having kept it moist through the several-hour cooking process and rendering it completely succulent and nom-worthy.  The tangy lemon and grassy parsley garnish cut through the richness to add an extra, lighter dimension to the dish and kept it from being too overwhelmingly heavy.  Underneath the veal was a pile of velvety smooth potato purée with a dash of Grana Padano cheese, another deviation as this is typically seen with Risotto alla Milanese, as a complement to the meat.

Ossobuco in Gremolata alla Milanese

Having seen this prepared before me, I think that this is a dish I might try to tackle sometime soon.  I think the weather, especially after this past weekend, is getting cold enough to warrant running the oven for a couple of hours of cooking.  My plan is to find a recipe for Ossobuco alla Milanese and then to try to put as little American spin on it as possible so that I can keep in the spirit of the IDIC 2012.  As Ms. Hamilton said in her opening remarks, this day is about celebrating “authentic recipes with Italian ingredients.”

Buon appetito!

Thank you to Colangelo & Partners for inviting me to take place in this event on behalf of their client Consorzio Tutela Grana Padano.

Many restaurants around the world, including quite a few in the United States, will be taking part in the International Day of Italian Cuisine 2012 on January 17, 2012.  Here is a list of participating locations.

The ItChefs-GVCI has a recipe for Ossobuco alla Milanese, but it doesn’t seem to me to be quite the one that Chef Scibilia made at the demo.  There is also a list of suggested wines to go with the dish on the website as well.

Italian Stuffed Flank Steak and Roast Pork Romana for the Feast of St. Stephen

Antipasti from The Italian Store to kick off the evening

I’ve long been a fan of the day after Christmas, referred to as Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day depending upon the country in which it is observed.  Of course, neither of those feast days are celebrated in the United States, where the 26th of December is usually get-back-to-work-day unless one is fortunate to be able to take vacation at that time.  When I sent a message to a friend saying I was coming to Virginia for the holidays, he invited to me to his Festa di Santo Stefano (feast of St. Stephen) gathering that he was having in Washington, DC on Monday night.  After I offered to help out with any last-minute kitchen prep, he gladly accepted my assistance.

His recipe book

For the main courses, my friend had picked out several recipes from his culinary “bible,” The New Basics by Julee Rosso and Shelia Lukins: the Italian Stuffed Flank Steak (sometimes referred to as braciole) and the Roast Pork Romana.  I’ve written in the past about this book, and its place in my own cooking journey so it was no surprise when I discovered that he not only had it, too, but that he’d used it so much he’d had to break the binding apart and put it into a notebook, sticky note pages and all.  Flipping through it again, I realize how advanced some of the entries are, especially for the early 1990s when I first bought my copy.

Prepped Flank Steak

Steak wrapped for cooking

Cooked Steak

These two selections turned out to be perfect for a flexible, casual gathering and would be ideal for an open house or brunch.  They could be cooked a bit in advance of the arrival of the first guests, or in our case, just as they’d walked in the door, and cut into slices so that everyone could help themselves at the buffet stations that he’d set up on his dining room table.  Rolling the steak meant that it was cooked a bit more well-done on the outside and rare on the inside so that guests in favor of one or the other style had plenty of meat to select.  The steak was meltingly tender with a creamy, sweet flavor from the peppers blending with the fragrant spinach-breadcrumb-Parmesan filling.  The fatty proscuitto kept everything well-basted.

Pouring wine over pork

The Roast Pork Romana was dressed with a rosemary-garlic-butter and chopped proscuitto before it was drenched, really drenched, with two cups of vin santo and then put into the oven to cook.  When I got to the step in the recipe where it said to pour the wine over the prepared meat, I called my friend away from his frantic pre-party cleaning and organizing to confirm with him that I should actually saturate the dish with the alcohol.  He assured me to go ahead and do it.

Roast Pork Romana with Endives

It worked beautifully!  The pork cooked to a tender moist finish in a bath of sweet wine and fat.  The endives tossed around the outside of the meat melted into a soft, delicate layer.  The reserved juices made a tasty sauce that I poured over the cut slices of pork when they were placed on a platter for serving.  The only issue that I had was with the cooking time, which is listed at one hour and 15 minutes.  The next time I fix this, I’ll check the temperature and doneness of the meat after an hour.  Residual heat (the instructions say to tent the meat and let it sit after taking it out of the oven) will continue the roasting process, which leaves the pork in danger of being overcooked and dried out.

Everything served

Once on the table, the contrasting colors of the two platters of meat enhanced the festive atmosphere.  The endives were served in a separate bowl along with some braised fennel.  I was relieved of kitchen duty to go join the other guests as my friend whipped up a penne with an arugula-mint pesto and a risotto dish to round out the meal.  Glasses were raised in the good cheer of the holiday season and the food was quickly devoured.  Then, we all went into the night to continue our festivities at a local watering hole.

Buon appetito!

Cheese, Meat, and Chocolate Fondue for Christmas Eve

This was our holiday table yesterday for the annual family gift opening gathering.  It is roughly around Christmastime, I have to add, because we try to have our big meal when the maximum number of people are in town.  This is a bit of a challenge when you come from a family that includes 6 children, 5 in-laws (or S.O.s), 7 grandchildren (and counting), parents, aunt, and adopted family.  Last year’s dinner had us trying to fit 13 people around a table made originally for about 8-10.  This year, we had 8 adults, a toddler, and a newborn, so it was less of a squeeze to bring everyone together.

When the emails started going around after Thanksgiving about how to coordinate this year’s get-together several ideas were suggested.  Due to scheduling, we were going to be having a lunch rather than the usual dinner, so no one wanted to fix or eat something as complex and heavy as the Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Horseradish Sauce, although I would happily eat that for breakfast, if faced that dilemma.   My brother’s best friend’s wife (they joined the family drawing years ago) suggested having fondue, which wasn’t voted down by anyone when I asked them.

As a child of 70’s era parents, I remember fondue night fondly.  The dark red pot would be put in the middle of the dining room table bubbling away with a sea of molten golden yellow liquid inside of it.  We would each be assigned a different color wooden-handled fondue fork and have to wait our turn to load up cubes of French bread on our plates.  Spearing a piece of the bread and then dunking it carefully into the cheese, making sure not to knock off anyone else’s bread while pulling your fork out of the pot, twirling it just so to make sure to have maximum gooey dairy coverage in each bite, made dinner a fun and interactive evening.

Once in a while, we’d have a meat fondue, too, but I don’t remember eating it that many times.  It might have had to do with the fact that it involves very hot oil being put on the table and, having lots of smaller children around, my mom realized the safety factor wasn’t in her favor with that dish.  We did, however, usually have chocolate fondue, in addition to the cheese.  This meant that we also got to eat Entenmann’s butter pound cake, a special, special treat, as my mother baked all of our sweets and we rarely got to eat anything store-bought or processed, unlike my schoolmates.  My mother served this fondue with cut-up bananas as well, which might have made her feel better as we were ostensibly eating fruit for dessert in addition to all the chocolate and cake.

Everyone enjoyed the lunch and was, I think, a bit surprised at how well it worked out to have a meal as low-stress and quick to throw together as this one was.  After the present-swap and exchanges of good cheer, about half of the group left to continue their holiday celebrations at their next destinations.  Clean up was a snap as well, which as cook-in-chief made this meal a winner for me, too.  The two main dish fondues (meat and cheese) as well as the dessert fondue (chocolate) and a green salad, which not everyone touched, amply fed the assembled mass.  It even got me thinking that maybe next year I should ask Santa for my own fondue pot and start inviting folks to come over to dinner for some spearing and dunking fun.*

Swiss Cheese Fondue

(after a recipe from BBC Good Food from March 2000)

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Serving Size: 6-8 people as part of main course

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
2 Tbsp. Kirsch
1 large Garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
1 2/3 c. dry White Wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
1 tsp. fresh Lemon Juice
12 oz. Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
12 oz. Emmental cheese, freshly grated
1 pinch freshly ground Black Pepper
1 pinch freshly ground Nutmeg
1 Baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces

Assembly:
Prep all ingredients and set out before putting everything together. Combine cornstarch and Kirsch and set aside.

With the fondue pot turned off, rub cut side of garlic along side the base and sides. Discard garlic clove. Pour the wine and the lemon juice into the fondue pot and turn on heat.

Bring mixture to a simmer over low heat and then start adding in cheese by the handful, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Stir until all the cheese is melted completely and the mixture bubbles slightly. Pour the cornstarch/Kirsch mixture into the fondue pot and add pepper and nutmeg.

Continue to stir so that the cheese does not stick to the bottom of the pot while the mixture is thickening. Once the mixture has become thick, which takes about 5 minutes or less, turn the heat to low and call everyone to the table. Dish up the bread cubes and start dunking them into the cheese fondue.

Meat Fondue

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Serving Size: 6-8 people as part of main course

Ingredients:
1 c. Vegetable Oil
1 ½-ish lb. Top Sirloin of Beef, sliced into thin pieces across the grain
¼ Yellow or White Onion, sliced (optional)

Assembly:
Heat oil in fondue pot until it is very hot, which takes about 2-3 minutes. Test by putting a piece of meat on a fondue fork and letting it cook. Let oil continue to heat up if it is not cooking the meat fast enough.

When ready, call everyone to the table. Let everyone put one or two slices of meat onto fondue fork. Place in pot and cook 15-20 seconds for rare and around 45 seconds to a minute for well-done. If desired, place a piece of onion on the fork with the meat for additional flavor.

Chocolate Fondue

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Serving Size: 6-8 people

Ingredients:
2/3 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
2 4-oz. Chocolate bars, 60% cocoa (bittersweet)
1 Tsp. Chambord, Cognac or Brandy
2 Bananas, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
1 Apple, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 Pound Cake cut into 1-inch cubes

Assembly:
Heat cream and chocolate together in fondue pot over low heat.  When thoroughly combined, add in Chambord, Cognac or Brandy.  Round up everyone and tell them to start digging in by dipping slices of banana, apple and pound cake into the chocolate.

*As compensation for allowing me to take photographs during the family meal, I was told that I needed to give an acknowledgement to my sister for her fabulous hand-modeling in the various dipping pictures.  Thank you, too, to the fondue equipment suppliers for the meal, including said sister as well as my brother’s best friend’s family.  Also, thank you to my father for chauffeuring me around to pick up all the ingredients for the meal, but that was mostly because he didn’t trust me with his car.  As he pointed out, “You drive, what, maybe once a year?”

Buon appetito e buona festa a tutti!

Park Avenue Tree Lighting Party Holiday Appetizers

One of my very favorite things to do in New York each holiday season is actually something that takes place in my neighborhood.  It is the little-known tradition of the Park Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony where the trees are lit in the medians up and down Park Avenue (really, I ask people about it every year and almost no one has heard of it).  Imagine this.  A few thousand Upper East Siders, their kids, dogs, neighbors, and friends, all pile into Park Avenue, which is closed for about ten blocks to accommodate the festivities, around 90th to 92nd Street near the Brick Presbyterian Church, the host, to sing Christmas carols and belt out hearty “Fa, la, la, la”s into the cool night air.  This year, I decided to invite some friends over for the caroling and illumination ceremony and then to my place for some drinks and appetizers afterwards.

It really is a bit of ordered chaos

It’s always a bit chaotic at the start.  Songsheets are handed out with the words to multiple verses for familiar holiday tunes, and the carols are never sung in the order in which they are numbered on the piece of paper.  Children are perched on a parent’s shoulders or hanging out in the other trees in the median so that they can get a view of the lights or chasing each other in and around the crowds.  Once the pastor signals that it is time to start, however, and the first note is sung, the combined voices fill the air with the joyful spirit of the season and young and old alike join in.  Midway through the singing, the trees are lit, starting at the highest point on the street, and domino-like cascading down Park Avenue towards the Metropolitan Life building, always accompanied by an “aahhh” from the audience.  “Taps” is then played in memory of the men and women who have given their lives in service to our country, as this ceremony is also about commemorating them.

It doesn’t matter if one can’t carry a tune, the warmth of the group delivers the sound up and down the city streets.  Even in the darkest times, or years when I haven’t been feeling particularly Christmas-y, this event has always helped me to get a bit more in the spirit of the season.  I remember that after the terrorist attacks in 2001, there was a bit of debate as to whether the ceremony would take place, as there had been a ban put on holding large gatherings in the city.  I have no idea what strings were pulled to get the permit for that year, but, like clockwork, the caroling started and the trees were lit in the presence of a very special guest and neighborhood resident, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  I think it was then that I realized we would eventually get back to some kind of normal in our lives.

Walking back home after the trees have been lit

This really is a very special holiday tradition on the Upper East Side, so I wanted to introduce my friends to it. Fortunately, they were all game to trek up to my neighborhood on a Sunday evening, especially when I said I’d be feeding them afterwards.  My idea was for the menu to be a little dressed up, with easy-to-prepare bites.  Although I could prep all the components of these appetizers in advance, I only pulled two of them together before I went to meet everyone for the caroling.  The Beet and Goats Cheese with Horseradish on Lavash Crackers with Microgreens had to be finished after we got back so that the crackers didn’t get soggy.  While everyone was filling their glasses, I put these together.  I allowed for about 2-3 of each appetizer, both sweet and savory, per person, which turned out to be about the right amount.  Hopefully, these recipes will help you to plan your holiday gathering and maybe even to start a caroling tradition of your own.

 

Smoked Salmon on Ruis Bread with Mustard Crème Fraîche and Dill

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Serving Size: 24 pieces

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp. Crème Fraîche

4 tsp. grainy Mustard (I used Tin Mustard)

1 pinch ground White Pepper

2 small rounds Ruis Bread from Nordic Breads (or use any thinly-sliced, non-caraway seed dark rye bread)

3-4 oz. thinly-sliced Smoked Salmon

1 Tbsp. fresh Dill sprigs

Assembly:

Mix together crème fraîche, mustard, and pepper.  Taste to test the balance of mustard to dairy.  There should be a slight tang from the latter with the spiciness of the former and a pop from the mustard seeds.

Cut each of the Ruis Bread rounds in half and then cut each half into six pieces so that you have a total of 24 small triangles like in the photo above.  If using another type of rye bread, cut into small squares or triangles to make 24 pieces.  Place on serving tray.

Spread a layer of the crème fraîche mixture on each of the bread pieces.  Tear the smoked salmon into 2-3 inch long pieces and drape each triangle with a piece of the fish.

Break the dill sprigs into smaller pieces.  Garnish each salmon-topped triangle with a mini-sprig of dill.  These can be made in advance, wrapped in plastic or covered with a towel for a couple of hours, and refrigerated before serving.

Beef Filet and Creamed Spinach on Toast Rounds

Prep time: 40 minutes

Serving size: 30 rounds, give or take

Ingredients:

1 Baguette, cut into about 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick rounds

2 cloves Garlic, cut in half

1/2 tsp. Olive Oil

1 tsp. unsalted butter

1 large clove Garlic, minced

1 bunch fresh Spinach, about 4-5 cups

2 tsp. heavy Cream

1 pinch Nutmeg

1 pinch Black Pepper

1/4 tsp. Salt

extra Salt and Ground Black Pepper

1 tsp. Canola Oil

1 to 1 1/4 lb. Beef Filet (tenderloin), cut into 2-inch rounds

1 Tbsp. Crème Fraîche (optional, I had it left from the other recipe)

Assembly:

Toast rounds:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put cut baguette rounds on a baking sheet and toast for 5-7 minutes, not letting them get too dark.  Flip them over, and toast again on the other side for 5-7 minutes more.

Remove from the oven and then place them on a serving tray.  Rub each toast round with a side of the cut garlic clove while the toasts are still warm and can absorb the flavor from the garlic.

Creamed Spinach:

While the bread is toasting, rinse the spinach to make sure there is no dirt or grit.  In a saucepan, heat up the olive oil with the butter.  When the butter has melted, toss in the minced garlic and let it cook for about 30 seconds until the liquid is perfumed by the garlic.  Add the spinach, cover the pan and let the greens cook for 1-2 minutes until they are all wilted and soft.

Remove the lid from the pan, add the heavy cream, the nutmeg, pepper, and salt and stir to combine.  Let this cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the cream has reduced.  You’ll need to watch it periodically to make sure the spinach isn’t burning and that there is still some liquid in the pan.

When the cream is reduced, remove the pan from the heat, drain the spinach of any remaining liquid, and place the spinach on a cutting board to cool.  When cooled, cut the cooked spinach mixture into small chunks.

Beef Filet:

Salt and pepper each beef filet round on both sides.  Heat canola oil in sauté pan placed over medium heat until it is fairly hot, but not smoking.  Place the beef pieces side by side but not touching each other in the pan.  Cook for about 3 minutes per side, more if you would like the meat well-done.  The meat should come off of the pan easily when each side is cooked (i.e., the proteins have cooked and the meat will release without effort from the bottom of the pan).  This should give you a brown crust on the outside and a bright pink-red center on the inside.

Remove the meat from the pan when you have achieved desired doneness.  Set aside on a carving board to let the juices go back into the meat.

Putting it all together:

Spread a thin layer of crème fraîche on each of the garlic-rubbed toast rounds (optional – omit if not using).  Place a small amount of creamed spinach on top of each round.  Cut the meat into 1-2 inch pieces crossways and place on top of the spinach.  These should not be made too far in advance as the juices from the meat and the spinach will seep into the bread and make it soggy.  I made them about two hours before they were eaten, which allowed for the toast to be a crunchy platform for the toppings.  Serve at room temperature.

Beet and Goats Cheese with Horseradish on Lavash Crackers with Microgreens

Prep time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 30 or so pieces

Ingredients:

Poppy seed flatbread crackers or Hot Bread Kitchen Lavash Crackers

8 oz. Goats Cheese with salt

1 Tbsp. heavy Cream

2 tsp. prepared Horseradish

1/4 tsp. ground White Pepper

2/3 to 1/2 c. finely chopped pickled beets (I used Rick’s Picks Phat Beets.)

1/2 c. fresh Microgreens

Assembly:

Break crackers up into 1-inch pieces and put on serving tray.  Mix together goats cheese, cream, horseradish, and pepper.  Place a dollop of the cheese mixture on each of the crackers.

On top of the cheese, sprinkle several of the beet pieces.  Garnish each with a dusting of the microgreens.  While the cracker pieces, cheese, and beets may be prepared in advance, they should not be put together until just before serving. Serve immediately so that the crackers do not get soggy.

Almond Toffee

While all the recipes for the savory appetizers were new ones that I created just for this party, the sweet ones I pulled from my tried-and-true favorites files.  These are all made in advance of the nibbles in the recipes above and, in the case of the cookies and the toffee, can even made the day before the event.  I made two batches of the Almond Toffee so that I could create individual goodie bags for my guests to take away with them after the party while still having some left for them (and me) to snack on during the evening.

White Chocolate Cranberry Macademia Nut Cookies

The White Chocolate-Cranberry-Macadamia Nut Cookies were the remainder of the batch that I brought with me to the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer swap earlier in the day.  The batch made about three dozen cookies, so I could keep some back for the party, too.

Mixed-berry Jam Tarts with Lemon Curd

You know the rule about never making things for the first time for a dinner party?  Well, I usually ignore that one and get off o.k.  This recipe experiment was one of those that worked like a charm, if my guests are to be believed.  My goal during this party was to serve edibles that didn’t involve utensils or big slabs of anything.  I had had some leftover Mixed-Berry Spreadable Fruit from Sarabeth’s from the crostata that I made for Pie Party Live (see that post for a Kitchen Witch Tip on working with spreadable fruit)  So, I took the dough, used a tart pan to make mini-crusts, added the jam to the uncooked dough like I would for a crostata, and just baked them as I would according to the original recipe.

The only alteration I made, aside from not using a large tart pan, was to cut the cooking time to about 30 minutes, as the smaller shape will make these little gems bake faster.  Once cooled, I added a dollop of lemon curd to balance the sweet-tart berries with a citrus-tang of the lemon.  The crisp, buttery tart shell brings it all together in one delightful bite.  I will definitely be trying more off-the-top-of-my-head ideas like this one in the future, as this worked so well.

Buon appetito!

Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Horseradish Sauce

Happy Holidays to everyone! Now that the presents are bought and hopefully wrapped (did you get any of my Holiday Gift Ideas?), it’s time to settle down and enjoy the celebration, especially if it involves a great family meal. Once upon a time, in my family, we had turkey on both Thanksgiving and Christmas, which made me really bored with that meat. Then, for reasons that are still not clear to me, my mom made a change, and we started having Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Horseradish Sauce for the latter feast. With the exception of one sibling who doesn’t like red meat at all, there haven’t really been any complaints about this switch.

This year, to accommodate various schedules, our actual Christmas dinner was held last night. When I floated this meal as a suggestion for the gathering, it met with little resistance and several “yums.” The other components of the dinner, like the vegetables and desserts,are negotiable, but the core essence remains the same: a rib-in roast cooked slowly to a lovely rare texture, rich custardy Yorkshire pudding, and creamy, home-made horseradish sauce on the side. For me, this is the quintessential family holiday dinner, sitting around a table with my siblings, parents, and other family members.  Sometimes, I think about preparing it at another point in the year, but I can never quite make myself do it.  It wouldn’t feel quite the same.
As you can see, this card with the instructions has been used quite a bit.  It’s tagged as part of the Recipe Box Project I started a few years ago (see the first post for the details).  I’m not sure where the recipe came from originally and haven’t been able to find it on line to attribute it.I’ve made some adjustments to it, as I’m sure my mom did as well.  I consider it part of the evolutionary process.
At least two cooks and then anywhere from two to four other people (not including the little ones) were in the kitchen at any one time, and that’s not including my father who poked his head in from time-to-time to offer“advice” or make a comment.  This process did not end up, by some miracle, in bloodshed, tears, or burnt food.  We even managed to get dinner on the table within 30 minutes of what I had originally guess-timated as our start time.  I consider that to be a success, even if  some folks needed to “pre-ssert” to make it through to then (photo above).  Maybe this is a meal that you can try with your family for next year to make a part of your holiday traditions as it is for mine.

 

Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Horseradish Sauce
Roast Beef
Rib-in roast of beef (you want some fat left on the meat)
1-2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground thyme
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Let roast come to room temperature.  Rub all over on all sides with the salt,pepper, and thyme (add more as necessary).
Roast in large pan on rack for 20 minutes per pound for rare.  Let roast stand for 10 minutesbefore carving.  Do not discard any of the fat that is in the bottom of the pan. If making Yorkshire Pudding,tent the meat with foil to keep warm as pudding cooks.  Also, do not be offended if any of your relatives decide that they need to cook the meat more in the microwave or on the stove.  This is also an annual tradition in my family.
Yorkshire Pudding
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 c. whole milk
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Create a well in the bowl and pour in the milk and the eggs.  Whisk everything together thoroughly so that there are no lumps in the batter.
Cover and chill batter for two hours.  After removing roast from pan, pour batter into same pan with the beef drippings (melted fat)*.  Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake batter for 10-15minutes more until golden brown and cooked through.  Serve with Roast Beef and Horseradish Sauce.
*There needs to be between two to three tablespoons of fat for this to cook this properly.  You canal so add melted bacon fat to the pan to make up the missing amount if the fat from the meat didn’t add up to that much (which is what I had to do last night).
Horseradish Sauce
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 c. plain breadcrumbs
1/2 lb. horseradish, freshly grated plus 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
 OR 2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Combine the sugar, mustard, breadcrumbs and horseradish together in a small bowl.  Fold in cream until everything is mixed thoroughly. Chill until a few minutes before serving.  Serve alongside Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.
Kitchen Witch Tip:
Here’s how the sequence of events played out last night, to assist you with your meal preparation. First, we put the Roast Beef in the oven, as it was going to take about three hours to cook it.  Then, at about the 30-minute mark, I made the Yorkshire Pudding batter and put that in the refrigerator.  At about an hour out from the meat being done, I made the Horseradish Sauce so that it could chill and the flavors could meld.  When the meat came out of the oven, it was placed on a cutting board and tented with foil to stay warm while the Yorkshire Pudding was baking.
By the time the pudding came out of the oven, the Horseradish Sauce was on the table,someone had started to carve the meat for us all to start filling our plates.  Pies and vegetables and other sides were prepared during same time as this whole process, as my parents have two ovens so we could cook two parts of the meal at the same time.  If you have just the one oven, as I do, I’d recommend making the pies in advance and just reheating them that day.
Buon appetito e BuonNatale!

Ramp Butter Hamburger with Zucchini Ribbon Salad

The cooking magazines have been putting out their best summer recipes lately. I’ve been pulling lots of them to keep to try, as is my bad habit. Now that I’m not employed full time, I have been cracking down and making them instead of grabbing the occasional dinner at one of my neighborhood places.  So, yesterday, when I was craving a burger, I pulled out a page from Bon Appetit’s July issue. In it, they had a tip for filling the meat with a slab of compound butter, or butter mixed with herbs and seasonings. Serving steak with a melting pat of butter mixed with flavorings is not unusual in a restaurant but to make this at home seemed to me to be an interesting twist.
Then I recalled the few times my mother had done the same thing when I was a child. She’d fill the inside of a hamburger with a caper-dotted round of butter.  I loved that briny taste when I bit into the meat. I guess the other siblings didn’t like it because I don’t remember it being served except for a few times.  I decided that I wanted to try to make these myself. Fortunately, Whole Foods had had hamburger on special a week or so ago, and in my new economy, I had picked up some. I also had some garlic ramp butter in the freezer that I’d made a few months back when those items were in season. It was an experiment to see if these two things would go together. I followed the instructions on the page and proceeded to cook the burger as I would normally.  The end result was nothing short of wonderful.
 
As I chewed my first bite, the most luscious flavors coated my tastebuds. This was burger luxury. There was a deepness to the meet that wasn’t normally there. I think this must be because the butter (which had the ramps, salt, and pepper in it) seasoned the meat from the inside out so that there was a sort of basting going on while it was cooking. It sounds a bit weird and complicated, but you really need to try this. I’m not sure I’ll ever eat a burger cooked anyway else from now on.  The juices themselves were amazing, too. I kept sopping them up with the bun so as not to lose any of the meaty-buttery flavors. Something like this, however, needs a good counterpart to stand up to its luxuriousness. I found what I wanted in the most recent issue of Bon Appetit, which also enabled me to use up some other ingredients lingering in my fridge.
The Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts let me use up the last of the zucchini hanging around in my crisper drawer. I know that, as we are just at the start of the season, there will be more of those vegetables coming into my home so I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them. Instead of getting fresh basil, I decided to chuck in a cube of last season’s pesto that I had saved in ice cube trays. That way, I can clear out space for some from this year’s crops.
The salad was a crunchy, tangy, tasty counterpart to the richness of the burger.  It was also kind of fun to eat the long ribbons, and it was very different from the usual potato salad or coleslaw accompaniment. I had to grate the parmesan over it, using my handy Alessi grater, as I couldn’t manage to shave the cheese. That will be something to try for next time in addition to putting the recipe together the way the instructions actually say to do it. This was a great new summer lunchtime meal to add to my collection.

Buon appetito!