Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Dinner: Mom’s Standing Rib Roast

11 Jan

Mom's Standing Rib Roast

My mom rarely uses recipes.  If she does, it’s generally by Julia Child or the Joy of Cooking and then she opens up the cookbook but doesn’t really follow it.  For this recipe, she started with Julia Child’s Standing Rib Roast  recipe from her cookbook Julia Child & Company, which pretty much means she followed Julia’s instructions on when the meat was ready but little else.  Here is my mom’s adaptation.

Mom’s Standing Rib Roast
Adapted from Julia Child & Company
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 10-pound rib roast (2 ribs in our case, but it could be 3 or 4 if you are working with a smaller cow)
2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cups water
Salt & pepper, for seasoning

Other Items Needed
Low-Sided Roasting Pan
Roasting Rack
Baster
Meat Thermometer

Directions
1. Take the meat out at least 1 hour before you plan to put it in the oven so it gets to room temperature.  Trim the rib roast to remove the excess fat.  Lightly season with salt & pepper – you don’t need much since the remaining fat will provide a lot of flavor for the meat.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Adjust rack position to lower level.
3. Smear the cut end of the beef with butter and place it fat side up (ribs down) on the rack in the roasting pan.  Place carrots, onions and 2 cups water at the bottom of the roasting pan.
4. Place roast in oven.  Every 30 minutes, baste the meat with the juices at the bottom of the pan and check the temperature of the meat in the thickest, middle section of the roast.  If you want medium rare meat, take the roast out of the oven when the temperature reaches 125.  This should take between 2 to 2.5 hours for the cut of meat.
5. When ready, remove roast from oven and cover with tinfoil to keep warm.  Let sit for 15 minutes then carve.
6. Combine fresh grated horseradish with sour cream for garnish/extra flavor.

Mom's Standing Rib Roast

Christmas Dinner: Potato & Celery Root Mash

9 Jan

Potato & Celery Root Mash

Having had such success at Thanksgiving with Bon Appetit’s Creamy Mashed Potato recipe that I adapted, I was eager to try a recipe for Potato & Celery Root Mash that I found in BA’s December 2011 issue.  The recipe calls for fresh horseradish so I thought the flavor would go well with Mom’s Standing Rib Roast.  You can find BA’s recipe here.  I followed this one pretty closely since I have never worked with celery root or fresh horseradish before.  The recipe as well as some useful info on preparing horseradish and celery root are below.  Enjoy!

Potato & Celery Root Mash
Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2011
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2″ cubes
1 pound celery root (approx. 2 whole celery roots), peeled, cut into 3/4″ cubes
1 6″ piece of horseradish, peeled, coarsely grated
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions
1. Prepare potatoes, celery root and horseradish.  Do NOT peel celery root or horseradish with a vegetable peeler – it isn’t strong enough!  Check out this article for a useful primer on how to peel celery root.  You can use the same technique when peeling the horseradish too.
2. Place potatoes, celery root and horseradish in a large pot.  Add water and cover by 1″.
3. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-high, and simmer until vegetables are tender.  This should take about 25-30 minutes.
4. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.  Return vegetables to pot; add sour cream, Dijon mustard and butter.
5. Using a potato masher, coarsely mash vegetables.  (Note: This recipe won’t be as creamy as my Creamy Mashed Potato recipe from last month, but it will have a ton of flavor!)  Add reserved cooking liquid if needed (I didn’t need to add anything) if mash is too stiff.  Season with salt & pepper, to taste.

Christmas Dinner: Hot Toddies

5 Jan

Honey Bourbon Hot Toddy

Don’t get me wrong, hot toddies are great, but I’ve always been more of a spiced cider, egg nog or hot chocolate kind of person.  This recipe from Bon Appetit’s December 2011 issue caught my eye because the picture was SO pretty and I could totally envision my family drinking these while sitting around the fire Christmas afternoon opening presents and relaxing after dinner.  I watered down the BA recipe a LOT because it was really strong.  My adaptation of their recipe is below.

Honey-Bourbon Hot Toddy
Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2011 Issue
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 tbsp. honey
2 cups water
6 tbsp. bourbon
Lemon juice
Lemon peel, for garnish
Cinnamon stick, for garnish

Directions
1. Heat water on stove until just about to boil.  Take 1 cup of water and mix it with honey.  Stir until honey dissolves.
2. Add bourbon and mix.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice right and mix again.
3.  Divide between 2 mugs or Toddy glasses.  Add remaining water to mugs until you have reached desired strength of drink.  (I filled ours all the way to the top).
4. Add a lemon peel and cinnamon stick to each drink for garnish.  Serve warm.

Honey-Bourbon-Toddy-646

Honey Bourbon Toddy (Photo Courtesy of Bon Appetit, December 2011) - See what I mean about this picture? It's stunning!

Christmas Dinner: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

3 Jan

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I found a yummy looking recipe for pumpkin bread pudding on Smitten Kitchen from back in 2007!  Their recipe was adapted from Gourmet magazine and you can find their original post here.  I used more bread than I should have so to make the dessert creamier and less dry, I added creme anglaise sauce on top.  Both recipes are listed below.  The bread pudding calls for almost the exact same ingredients as a traditional pumpkin pie so this recipe is great if you are looking for that pumpkin pie flavor but a different texture dish.  Creme anglaise is a great recipe because it is so versatile – it can be served warm, cold or room temperature.  In addition to serving on top of bread pudding, I also like to eat it with berries in the morning for breakfast.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, October 2007 Issue

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
2 tbsp. bourbon (optional)
5 cups cubed (1″) day-old baguette or crusty bread (I used half a ciabatta loaf and a baguette.)
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 with rack in middle.
2. Mix together dry ingredients (sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves).
3. Slowly add eggs, milk, pumpkin and bourbon until well mixed.
4. Toss bread cubes with melted butter in another bowl and add to 8″x8″ baking pan.  Pour pumpkin mixture on top.  (Note: Only use as much bread as I did if you like thicker bread pudding.  When I make this again, I will probably do at least a cup less bread and cut the pieces smaller, so that you can see the “soupy” pumpkin mixture in the baking pan.)
5. Bake until pudding is set, which should take about 25-30 minutes.

Creme Anglaise
From the Joy of Cooking
Makes 2 Cups

Ingredients
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups hot milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp rum, Cognac or other liqueur (I used light rum)

Directions
1. Whisk egg yolks in 2-quart saucepan, adding the sugar by fairly rapid spoonfuls – if it goes in all at once, the yolks can turn grainy.
2. Continue beating 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.  By dribbles, stir in the hot milk – stirring, not beating, because you do not want the sauce to foam.
3. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon and reaching all over the bottom and sides of the pan.  The sauce should gradually come near – but not to – a simmer.  You must be careful not to over heat it as this will scramble the yolks.  Indications that it is almost ready are that the surface bubbles begin to subside, and almost at once you may see a whiff of steam rising.
4. The sauce is done when it coats the wooden spoon with a light creamy layer thick enough to hold when you draw your finger across the back of the spoon.
5. Next beat in the vanilla, butter and run.  Spoon on top of bread pudding.  Sauce can be refrigerated in a covered container for several days.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

Christmas Dinner: Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon

1 Jan Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon

Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon

Before I get into today’s recipe, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year!!  I hope 2012 is a great year for you all!  My resolution is to snack healthier so I should have some recipes up in the next couple of weeks to this goal.  What are your resolutions?

I don’t remember when I first started making this recipe, but it’s an easy side dish to prepare and looks very elegant on the dining table.  This would also be a great dish to serve at a cocktail party.

Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 bunch asparagus
4-6 pieces of bacon
Salt & pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Clean and prepare asparagus by placing all of the stalks so the tips are all lined up.  This will help keep all stalks the same length.  Cut away the white hard ends of the asparagus and discard.
3. Divide the asparagus into 4-6 bunches of 4-6 pieces of asparagus each.  They should be small bunches; the thicker the bunches are, the harder it is to cook evenly.
4. Wrap each bundle together in the middle using one piece of bacon.
5. Season each bundle with salt and pepper.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil so they won’t burn during the roasting.
6. Bake in oven for 25 minutes until bacon is cooked and asparagus is roasted.  They should be cooked through but still crunchy.

Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon

Christmas Dinner: Dad’s Cream of Chestnut Soup

30 Dec

Cream of Chestnut Soup

Since I can remember, my dad has been making cream of chestnut soup for Christmas (and sometimes Thanksgiving!) dinner.  This recipe comes from the Blueberry Hill Menu Cookbook, which was written by Elise Masterson who used to own the Blueberry Hill Inn in Vermont with her family.  Unfortunately, the Blueberry Hill cookbooks are out of print, but you can buy them used on Amazon here.  This recipe calls for fresh chestnuts.  However, shelling and preparing fresh chestnuts is a huge undertaking so if you are short on time, you can easily substitute bottled chestnuts instead.  My dad has made the recipe both ways and you seriously can’t taste the difference.  I will admit that this soup isn’t the prettiest of to bunch, but it is SO delicious that its taste makes up for its appearance in spades.

Dad’s Chestnut Soup
Adapted from Blueberry Hill Menu Cookbook

Ingredients
2 pounds chestnuts (or 1 large 1 lb. jar of bottled chestnuts – we use Minerve Whole Roasted French Chestnuts)
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 large carrots, diced
1 quart chicken or turkey broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup pale dry sherry
Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions
1.  If you are using fresh chestnuts: Slit each chestnut with a sharp knife – two slits each, crossed.  Cover them with boiling water and boil for 15 minutes.  They will NOT be completely tender when you pull them out and that’s OK.  Remove them one at a time from the water (this is the trick here – they must stay in hot water, each one, until you’re ready for it) and let cold water run on each chestnut in turn.  The skins will come off very quickly, and the membrane as well.  Set aside.  Repeat until you have removed the skins/membrane for each chestnut.
2. In a heavy 3- or 4-quart saucepan, saute onion and butter until the onions are lightly browned.  Add the whole peeled chestnuts, carrots and chicken broth to the saucepan.
3. Simmer until the chestnuts are quite soft, about 15 more minutes, then pour liquid through a colander into a pot.  Put the chestnuts, onions and carrots that didn’t drain through the colander in a food processor of Foley food mill to blend.  Blend to desired consistency – I prefer to blend until just small pieces and no lumps remain.  If you blend to a puree, you will lose the extra “oomph” of color that the carrot pieces provide and be left with a light brown soup.
4.  Return chestnut mixture to broth and bring it all back to a boil.  Then remove it from heat, add cream, sugar, sherry, salt and pepper.
5. Serve without boiling again.  If you cool it and reheat it, don’t boil it when warming up.  (Note: We always prepare this the day before serving since it does so well reheated.)

Christmas Dinner: Christmas Crostini

28 Dec

Brie Crostini with Cranberries & Pistachios

I pulled together these super easy appetizer to snack on before we sat down for our big meal.  The dried cranberries and pistachios bring festive colors to the dish and taste great together too!

Christmas Crostini
(Brie Crostini with Cranberries & Pistachios)

Ingredients
1 crusty baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 round of brie cheese
Handful of raw, unsalted pistachios
Handful of dried cranberries (Craisins)
Orange marmalade or butter

Directions
1. Turn on your broiler to high and put rack on second to lowest rack.  Any higher and the cheese might burn!  (Note: If you don’t have a broiler setting on your oven, preheat oven to 400 degrees instead.)
2. Place sliced baguette on a cookie sheet and spread a thin layer of orange marmalade or butter on one side of each slice.  (Use orange marmalade if you want a sweeter crostini and use butter if you want a more savory crostini.)
3. Place a thin slice of brie on each the buttered side of each baguette.
4. Put the cookie tray in the oven and broil for about 4 minutes.  Check around the two minute mark to make sure the cheese isn’t burning.
5. Remove from oven and put on a serving platter.  Add a few dried cranberries and pistachios on top of each crostini.  Serve immediately.  Simple and festive!