Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Standing Rib Roast

Before last Christmas, every holiday season my family did the same thing for Thanksgiving and Christmas: ham, turkey, rolls, sweet potatoes, green casserole, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, etc. Etc. And then last year we realized that the week before Christmas? WE JUST GOT RID OF THE TURKEY and no one wanted to see another one.

So last year we switched and we're agreed...this is a keeper. It's simple, it's REALLY good and it works. Standing rib roast, mashed potatoes...garlic or horseradish or both, a really good salad, an onion confit/casserole and homemade rolls. Coconut cake and boiled custard because that's what people from waaaay back in the hills of Tennessee do.

Roasted Garlic Standing Rib Roast
8-10 rib roast
4 heads whole garlic
Fresh rosemary, chopped
Fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
*Slice the top third off each head of garlic. Put garlic onto a square of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and seal packet. Slow roast at 300 degrees for 90 minutes; set aside to cool.
*Let meat come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl mash garlic (squeezed out of the skins), rosemary and thyme. Rub roast with garlic paste; salt and pepper. Put in roasting pan and bake 20 minutes at 450, then lower temperature to 350 and bake to an internal temperature of 130 degrees. DON'T cook it any further...130 will give you rare for the rare people and done-on-the-edges for the done people.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Beer Cheddar Spread & Hearty Tomato Soup

This went to a party, as a dip, Saturday night and disappeared, and then we used the other half I had kept at home (HaHaHa!) for grilled cheese sandwiches. With hot soup. Ummm.

Beer Cheddar Cheese
2 lbs sharp Cheddar, shredded
2-4 slices smoky bacon
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 can beer
In the bowl of a small food processor finely chop the onion and garlic. Add the Tabasco, paprika and bacon and pulse until mixed, scraping down as necessary. In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, blend onion mixture and cheddar. Gradually beat in beer and mix until blended, about one minute. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours.

MzJean's Hearty Tomato Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1-1/2 teaspoon dried basil
6 ozs room temp cream cheese
1-1/4 cup milk
2 cans condensed tomato soup
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
Melt butter in pan and cook onion and garlic until wilted. Remove from heat; stir in paprika, basil and cream cheese. Whisk until smooth. Stir in tomatoes, soup and milk and heat through.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bigos: The Dish of Polish Royalty

No, that title is not supposed to be a joke.

Poland was, for centuries, ruled by monarchs, thankyouverymuch (Hello? Boleslav the Bashful? Vladislav Spindleshanks? What do they teach in public schools these days?)

Ahem. Anyhoodle.

Bigos is a perfect food: Hearty, soul-warming, immensely tasty, easy to prepare and cheap if you have leftover pork in the fridge.

Personally, I use a fresh, lean pork roast because I like what cooking it in the kraut does for the texture of the meat.

Totally de-lish and 100% authentically Polish. This is my recipe, culled and cobbled from a dozen other recipes over the years.

Bigos Dziewczynka z Miasta (City Girl Bigos)
2 lbs Pork Loin, Pork Roast or other whole cut of pork
2 Bags Sauerkraut (Boarshead is good)
1 Kielbasa, sliced into 1" thick pieces
1 Large Onion, sliced
1 oz Dried Mushrooms
4 Cups Hot Water
4 Bay Leaves
1 tbsp Juniper Berries (about 12)
Kosher salt

Salt pork and let rest for 1/2 hour.
Preheat oven to 350.
Reconstitute mushrooms in water.
Line bottom of small roasting pan with kraut, top with half the sliced onion.
Lay roast on top of onions.
Arrange two bay leaves on top of roast, top with additional onions and remaining kraut.
Nestle sausage slices, remaining two bay leaves and juniper berries into kraut.
Pour mushroom broth - with 'shrooms - into roaster. Cover tightly.
Cook for one hour, turn pork, stir kielbasa and kraut.
Cook for another hour.

Serve with buttered rye bread or - better - potato pancakes.


Note: If using pre-cooked pork, reduce the number of bay leaves to 2 and cook the whole thing in a Dutch oven on stovetop for one hour, or simmer all day.

More Leftover Turkey Stuff

Soup. Plain, minimal-ingredient soup. So good that they ate all but one cupful and The Nice Kid took that to lunch today.

Turkey and Noodle Soup
2 cups chopped turkey
1 can chicken broth
2 cans water
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 bag egg noodles

Saute the onion, celery and carrot in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the broth, water and turkey and throw in a couple of bay leaves. I stopped here because The Inmates were at the afternoon symphony, and just let it set. When they got home, I brought the soup to a boil and added the egg noodles...the curly kind because that's what kids like. Cooked until done, salt and pepper to taste, then pulled the hot cornbread out of the oven. These kids luuuhve their mama.

And thank the Lord that was the LAST of the turkey!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Turkey Stuff

The other day I was noticing that there are some things I eat that...probably aren't mainstream. I'm not sure where the cut-off is between family and region...I know other people eat this way, too, but is it because we live in the same area or because we're related? Hard to call.

Campbells Tomato Soup and mayonnaise sandwiches. I eat until I'm sick. One slice bread, slathered with Kraft mayo and folded over. Lots of cold milk.

Cottage cheese with mayonnaise stirred in. (There's a fat thing going on here, I think.) And that's not lowfat cottage cheese.

My sister, my dad and my grandparents like/d glasses of buttermilk stirred with crumbled cornbread. I have been trying to like buttermilk for 50 years and it hasn't kicked in yet and...that doesn't make sense. But I don't like it.

But one of my five favorite things on the planet involves leftover Thanksgiving turkey. This just HORRIFIES The Big Boy, who doesn't eat food that touches, but you better believe ONE TIME A YEAR, we're gonna dig in.

Leftover Turkey Hash (a glorified name)

Chopped turkey
2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
Turkey broth
White roux
2 stalks celery
1 medium onion
Sage to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Mashed potatoes

Saute celery and onion in butter until translucent. Meanwhile, in a small pan mix butter and flour and stir for 2-3 minutes...don't let it brown. Mix roux, vegetables, chopped turkey, eggs and 2 cups broth and stir until smooth. Let simmer to thicken. Add sage and salt & pepper to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Ideally, you have leftover homemade yeast rolls, leftover cranberry sauce and leftover green bean casserole. You don't have to eat the green bean casserole (especially since you didn't eat it Thanksgiving), but it looks good on the plate;)