Saturday, December 25, 2010

Can you tell I've got time on my hands?...... It's the holidays, that's why.....

Being unemployed (not by choice) and on winter break from school (I'd forgotten how great these were... it's been lovely but dangerous) when I can sleep in (what is that?) and not have to get up when it's dark and trudge out into the cold (but into a warm kitchen, so not so bad) and have to perform, perform, perform while the Chef is at my back demanding perfection (guess it's good I tend towards OCD and perfection rules my world, that is as far as food is concerned), while everyone else tries to remain invisible.....

I miss school, I miss the discipline of the routine and this break has been very dangerous for us. You get used to a certain pace and all of a sudden you are given free reign once again and it all falls to hell in a hay basket.... you laze, daydream while still in bed (OMG, what a luxury!), have time to plan your meals and your "mise en place" (or everything in it's place which you do to get organized before cooking), you proceed at a leisurely pace, being able to check it all twice and actually wait for things to take their own time, since your equipment is nothing like the industrial equipment you're used to.... but the proof is in the pudding and it's all good.....

Yesterday we had, after two days without water (&%$@#)&%#!!!@@!!!!!) the vital liquid finally trickled out of the tap at around 7 pm and I hadn't been able to start Xmas dinner (let alone use the bathroom or wash my hands!!!!) so dinner was begun on Mexico City time and didn't sit down until a very fashionable 11pm. Everything was wonderful, came out perfectly and the mood was much more copacetic than during the day without H2O..... so a fine meal was had by all. Here's our menu for a Christmas Eve Dinner...... (picture candlelight, good tablecloth and napkins with people actually dressed and seated at the table and not in underwear eating in front of the computer or tv...)

The Garcia's 2010 Christmas Dinner

Gratineed Mussels topped with Garlic Mushrooms, Cheese and Breadcrumbs

Baby Green Salad with Julienned Salami, Roasted Pears and Blue Cheese Crumbles
served with a Red Wine Reduction Vinaigrette

Supreme Prime Rib of Beef, Au Jus and
served with Bearnaise Sauce

Baby Radishes and Peas Sauteed in a
Pink Dill Butter Sauce

Baked Sweet Whole Onions with
Tarragon Vinaigrette

Aged Cheese Popovers

Slow Baked Honey Red Wine Pears
with Chantilly Cream

Expresso Demitasse

Pretty nice, he? Even though we've got some leftovers, I'm pretty good at portioning and so can gauge quantities, save money and only have leftovers when we want them. I like that.... But today I've got a ham in the oven and some "gravlax" I made myself (this is cold, sugar cured Salmon that is amazingly good) so we'll be having a cold buffet during the day and
we'll make a "Croquembouche" (a traditional French celebratory pastry of cream puff like balls filled with pastry cream and spun burnt sugar clouds all over it) it's amazing, tastes even better and fun too, plus it's become like a family tradition with us so we always look forward to it... This year I've got a helper and I hope this will make it easier and faster (maybe

Most people love Prime Rib but are afraid to try and make this expensive cut of meat unless they could count on it being perfect. I discovered a "technique" that makes this easy and pretty foolproof so maybe you too will want to try this, ok? Here goes....

Perfect Prime Rib Roast every Time.- This works for any size roast too. To guarantee a perfect crust, allow it to air dry in the fridge, uncovered on a rack, from the night before. Season it with salt as this will allow to penetrate and flavor the meat.

1- Pre-heat your oven to its lowest setting. This can be 200 degrees F. Use Kosher salt and pepper all over. Set the roast on a rack if you have one and place it with the fat side up (bones under). You will go by temperature and not by time so if you want your roast medium rare the thermometer should read 120 F (between 2.5 and 3 hours but check at 2 hours). 135 F for medium. We like rare so we look for 110 F. (Picture #1 at left, perfection)

2-As soon as the thermometer reads the temperature you're looking for, take it out of the oven, cover it with aluminum foil and allow to rest for at least 30 min in a warm spot in the kitchen. The roast can rest for up to 1.5 hours, so you could do it earlier in the day and finish it once you're ready to serve which can be pretty practical.

3- When you are about 20-30 minutes away from serving, turn up the oven to the highest possible setting, around 500 or 550 F. When you are about 10 minutes from serving and everything else is ready, remove the foil from the roast and put it back into the oven and allow it to form a crust. It should get a well browned and crusty exterior. This takes from 6 - 20 minutes depending on your oven so check it at 6 min and decide if it needs additional time or not. Mine took 9 minutes to get perfect. Once it's done, take it out, carve and serve at once!

This procedure will give you all color and not that ring of gray on the outside with pink towards the center. It will look picture perfect and be totally amazing. I know it's a different way to do it but as long as it works every time I don't care. I always use this method and it's always perfect so I don't monkey around with perfection. (Picture #2 at right, not perfection)

Here are some examples: Picture #1 is meat perfection (This is what you want) while Picture #2 shows overcooked edges and damage all over (Not very nice).... ok?

The recipes on my menu are all on the blog and you can use the search bar and find them. For those of you that have never tried cooked radishes, try them, they are a French staple and they know a thing or two about food..... If you want any recipes let me know and I will be more than glad to send them on.... Rene is almost ready, the mise en place is done and maybe we can begin working on our afternoon Croquembouche project.... goodie, goodie and YUM!

Have a warm and yummy day, from our family to yours.... talk soon.....

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