Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Food: Perfect Rib Roast

11 Pound Beef Rib Roast

I love a good beef rib roast.  Dark and crusty on the outside, succulent and rare inside.  For years I was disappointed with all the recipes I tried.  This one came out perfectly for the past three years.  Give it a try and see for yourself.  I started with an 11 pound rib roast I love to have leftover beef rib bones for soup or "Prime Rib Bone BBQ".

Covered in Herb Mixture

The day (or TWO as I always do) before combine the zest of two lemons, some fresh rosemary, 6 cloves of garlic, 3 Tablespoons of EVOO and a ton of black pepper and sea salt to taste.  Chop it all together in a food processor (this is where my favorite Mini-Prep Cuisinart comes in handy).  Spread the mixture over the roast and between the bones and roast (I always have the store cut off the bone and give me enough twine to re-tie) then refrigerate.  I like this left uncovered so it can dry out a little before roasting - it helps promote the nice crust on the outside.

On the day you cook, start early; let the roast sit on the counter in the pan for about 2 hours.  It will still be in the "safe" zone, but the chill will be off. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Yep, 200.  Put the roast, rib side down in a shallow roasting pan.  You can use a rack if you want, but it isn't necessary. I like to sit it on onions, celery and carrots to give the juices a little more flavor.

Final Product

Resist the urge to open the oven door.  I know, it is hard, but at such a low temp it really makes a difference.  Roast it for about 5-6 hours, or until the internal temp comes in at 120 degrees.  I use a Bluetooth "Meater" thermometer.  This will produce a fairly rare roast.  If you want it more done, leave it longer.  When you remove it from the oven, tent loosely and let it sit for at LEAST 30 minutes.  Slice to the desired thickness and serve with an au jus or my favorite, sour cream mixed with freshly grated horseradish and pulverized capers.  Delicious.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recycle: Lighting Inspiration

Lately I find myself attracted to industrial lighting. Well, not lately really. It has been coming for some time.  I also find myself attracted to said industrial style lighting made from recycled materials.  

Here are a few examples of what I am talking about.  Recycled half gallon mason jars and recycled hoops from wine barrels.  I think these are very cool.

Ina's Best: Chocolate Chunk Cookies or Blondies

I love the "Barefoot Contessa" Ina Garten.  Love her.  She did this recipe recently on her show and I thought, "Wow.  Cookies or blondies using the same recipe."  I love both and this one is awesome.  I did tweak one thing.  The first time I made them I followed the recipe exactly.  Well, almost.  They were amazing, but even for me, a confirmed chocoholic, there were too many chocolate chips.  I guess that was because her recipe called for chocolate chunks.  My bad.  Round II I used half as many chocolate chips and substituted toasted pecans. Dear Lord.  They are awesome.  Try em.

Note:  The original oven temp and timing are in the recipe below.  Try one or two and see how your oven works.  I had to adjust mine to 12 minutes instead of 15. I use half sheet pans with a Silpat liner.  I also rotate my sheet pans half way through and since I use two at a time, I also switch racks. Compulsive I know, but they are all even and perfectly uniform.  Try this one folks.

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks

Directions for cookies:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and two sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the butter with the mixer on low speed, mixing only until combined. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch-diameter ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

For Blondies:

Grease and flour an 8 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes exactly. Don't over bake! A toothpick may not come out clean. Cool completely in the pan and cut into bars.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home Made: Jalapeno Cheddar Parmesan Cornbread

Yes, I am a Southerner. Yes, I like grits, cornbread and a multitude of things that aren't really good for me.  But, what the heck, once in awhile you just have to go for it - you won't eat this every day, right?  I adapted this recipe from DamnDelicious, an amazing blog with a ton of useful links! I tweaked their recipe and here is my version - more jalapenos!

Instead of a muffin pan, I used a scone pan which reminds me of cornbread made in a cast iron skillet (which I will do next time for sure).  I also used a 6 muffin silicone muffin pan which really works well.  This recipe made 8 of the "scones" and 6 muffin sized pieces.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
  • 1 cup cornmeal (I used a coarse stone ground corn meal from Virginia)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup lowfat cultured buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large eggs (bring to room temperature)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced, plus one thin slice for each "muffin"
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for topping (PLEASE do not use that stuff in a green can)
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar, plus more for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Dry ingredients

 Spray the muffin pan (or scone pan) with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper, to taste.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together the butter, buttermilk, honey and eggs.
How much do you love jalapenos?

 Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.  Add the jalapeno, Parmesan and cheddar and gently toss to combine.

Again, my 50+ year old ice cream scoop come in handy!
Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin pan(s).

Top with sliced jalapeno, using your fingertips to gently press the jalapeno into the batter. Sprinkle with Parmesan and cheddar.

Before the cheese toppings

Cheddar and Parmesan topped

 Place into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Indescribably delicious.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack (if you can resist).  No butter needed, these are moist and delicious.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Eat This: Sunday Fish

Italian salmon with tomatoes and herbs and redfish in lemon butter.

Two fish for dinner this evening:  one redfish, pan roasted in a simple butter and lemon and salmon cooked in the Italian manner.  Both delicious. Both easy. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Using two oven proof pans; I used one Calphalon all stainless and one non-stick (which I used for the redfish).

So here's how I did it:

Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil - you will need 1/4 Cup.

One can of fire-roasted tomatoes and fresh oregano (you can substitute dried but I like the taste of fresh) - about 1/4 Cup loosely packed fresh oregano or 2 Tablespoons dried.

One fresh redfish fillet - As small or as large as you like - this one was 1# and at $14/lb. was very nice.

One half of a salmon fillet (fresh, wild caught) - this was about 1# as well.

Combine the fresh oregano, tomatoes and the sun-dried tomatoes.

Add 2 Tablespoons capers, drained, 1 Tsp. garlic powder, 1 Tsp. onion powder, 1 Tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, 4 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 Tsp. black pepper, 1/2 Tsp. Kosher salt and

... five chopped green onions. Substitute fresh garlic and onion for the powder (my original recipe called for the powder)

Oh yeah, and a glass of wine while doing this is almost required, right?

For the salmon, put the tomato mixture in the pan and sit the salmon fillets on top.

Spoon about 3 Tablespoons of the mixture on top.  For the redfish, I combined 3 Tablespoons of butter and 4 Tablespoons of lemon juice.  Pour the butter mixture over the redfish fillet and shake freshly ground pepper over the top.

I roasted the pans together for 25 minutes.  Be sure to check at 20 mins. Overcooked fish is nasty.  The saving grace is that both these recipes are really forgiving.

The results:

Salmon in tomatoes and herbs.

Redfish in lemon and butter.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Eat This: Oatmeal & Fruit Bars

Raspberry Preserve Bars


1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter softened (but not melted)
1 Cup packed brown sugar (I use light brown)
1 Cup All purpose flour (I use unbleached)
1 Cup Rolled Oats (I use Quaker Oats Quick Oats)
1 Tsp. Flavored Extract (I used Almond, but you can use Lemon or vanilla, etc.)
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
3/4 Cup Fruit - Jam, Marmalade, Preserves, Curd (Lemon or Lime Curd is AWESOME)
      (don't use jelly because it gets way too runny)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  The first time I did this I set the oven to 400 and, well, not so good. Lightly spray one 8 inch square pan (I use glass because it really seems to work well and it cleans up better) with no-stick cooking spray or use butter (even better);
I use a stand mixer, not required, but it really makes life easier.  So in the bowl of the mixer, beat the softened butter and brown sugar until it is light and fluffy and then quickly add in the extract;
Add the flour, baking powder and oatsl to the butter and sugar and mix until it is a "pea sized"  crumbly mixture.;
Reserve 1/2 Cup of the crumb mixture for the top; gently pat the remainder of the mixture into the prepared pan;
Spread the fruit (This time I used raspberry preserves)almost to the edge. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the top;
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven - check it at 30 minutes and if your oven is like mine, pu tit back for 5 (..or until lightly browned.) 
Allow to cool completely before cutting into bar or square shapes.  This recipe yielded 12 bars for me.  I like them cold, but easiest to cut at room temp.  Enjoy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Bling: Decorating At Home 2012

I love the Christmas season.  I have some time on my hands and decided to do everything this year.  Outside. Inside.  All of it.  Here are some photos from the living room and foyer.  I opted for all new ornaments (6 from last year). All large. All very shiny.  Just something different than the hundreds of family ornaments I have. Change.  Not bad I think!

FrontGate Magnolia Garland on staircase.

Tree Detail

Tree Detail: LARGE ornaments



More detail!

Favorite: Gold glitter ball

Lit Up And Ready

7' Mirror behind sofa - Poinsettia in antique garden cloche

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks: Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving Day 2012

I love Thanksgiving.  Old standard recipes give way to new favorites.  This year I did a turkey brined using a recipe from Ree Drummond at The Pioneer Woman.  Her brine recipe was awesome and the green beans with tomatoes are now a new standard.  I can't believe that my perfectly browned, lovely turkey produced a really out of focus photo. My bad.

Orange peel, bay leaves, brown sugar, fresh rosemary and more made this an amazing brine.

Fresh 12# turkey took a snooze overnight in its delicious brine bath.

Brined, rinsed nd slathered in butter and citrus rosemary grey salt this bird was ready to rock.

Uncooked green onions and celery gave this dressing a fresher texture and taste.

Badly blurred, but beautifully browned bird.

Dressing after 2 hours at 300 degrees.  Crispy and delicious.

The wine du jour.

Green beans and tomatoes courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.