Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Perfect Prime Rib

Monday night I had a few friends over for a meat feast. Literally, so much meat. Mike has been talking so much about the Christmas Eve Prime Rib we're having at his Mom's house, that the craving became too much for me to bear.  I've always wanted to try making my own, so I thought a festive pre-holiday dinner was in order.

Cooking a large, expensive cut of meat can be intimidating, but it really is super simple.  You absolutely must have a meat thermometer, or it will be very easy to over or under cook.  Mine is similar to this one and I really prefer this type because you can monitor the temperature of the meat from outside the oven, without constantly opening it and releasing all of the heat. 

This ended up being one of the easiest dinner parties ever.  I just popped the meat in the oven, made creme brûlée the day prior, and my friends brought a delicious salad with homemade asian dressing, Ina Garten's Cauliflower Gratin (which will easily convert even the most strong-willed cauliflower haters), and mashed potatoes.  For an appetizer, I spooned some of my leftover bacon jam on some brie and warmed it in the oven, served with crackers. 

I kept the table pretty simple.  I filled a trifle bowl with party crackers (which really make any holiday party better) and candy canes for the center piece.   

 For the table setting, I used my Pottery Barn reindeer plates, and C.Wonder jingle bell napkin rings (sold out but similar options at Williams-Sonoma). 

I used the Pioneer Woman's suggestion for cook times and, as usual, she did not disappoint!

Ingredients (serves 8-10, total cook time about 2.5 hours):
*8 lb. boneless rib roast
*1 stick butter, at room temperature
*1 heaping tbps. fresh rosemary, chopped
*1 heaping tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
*1 tsp. garlic powder
*1 tsp. onion powder
*salt, pepper

Au Jus
*2 c. beef broth
*1/2 c. red wine
*1 tbsp. soy sauce
*5-6 dashes worcestershire sauce

Let the meat come to room temperature for 30-45 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the herb butter.  Combine butter, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, and onion powder in a bowl.  Pat the meat dry and rub the herb butter all over it.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 500 and move the rack to the lowest position.  Roast the meat for 45 minutes (I would suggest leaving the oven closed - the butter will smoke a lot as it cooks, which helps create a nice sear on the meat).  

Reduce the oven temperature to 300. Insert a meat thermometer sideways in the beef.  Return to the oven and cook 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the meat thermometer reads 128 (the PW recipe says 120-135 degrees, so I chose 128 and it rested to the perfect temperature!).  Remove the meat from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes, or until it reaches 135 for medium rare*.  

To make the Au Jus, remove the meat from the roasting pan and drain off most of the fat, leaving just a thin layer.  Add all ingredients for Au Jus recipe and set over a burner on the oven.  Bring to a boil, whisking often, and continue to boil for 5-10 minutes, or until it reduces by about a third.  Serve on the side.  Enjoy! 

*I found 135 to be the perfect temperature, with rare pieces in the center, and a few medium pieces on the end. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chocolate Creme Brûlée

Happy Monday Friends!  I'm more excited by Monday than usual (which doesn't take much) because I'm having a few friends from work over for a festive holiday feast tonight.  Obviously, I love a good dinner party, but the holidays make everything feel that much more exciting. 

When I'm cooking, dessert is usually an afterthought.  I get so focused on appetizers and sides that dessert is typically assigned to a guest or just nonexistent. This time, a few friends are bringing sides so I had more time to think of something festive to serve. 

Creme Brûlée is the perfect party food.  This chocolate version adds a decadent twist on the classic, creamy custard, and of course has that burnt sugar crust we all know and love. 

The best part is that Creme Brûlée, besides the simplicity of making it,  is that it's the perfect make-ahead dessert.  I made it yesterday, chilled it, and then tonight each guest can brûlée the top off their own dessert.  Let's be honest, the opportunity to play with fire just took your dinner party to a whole new level. 

Ingredients (Serves 10, can easily be halved):
*1/2 c. + 1/3 c.sugar, divided, plus more for the cooked custards
*4 c. heavy cream
*6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (about a cup of chips)
* 10 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 250, and set some water to boil on the stove.  In a separate sauce pan, combine heavy cream and 1/2 c. sugar.  Heat over medium low, whisking constantly, until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to low and whisk in chocolate.  Continue whisking until the chocolate is totally combined. 

In a bowl, combine egg yolks with 1/3 c. sugar and whisk well.  While whisking, add 1/2 c. of the warm chocolate cream mixture to the eggs (this is called tempering the eggs - slowly warming them so they don't scramble).  Continue adding chocolate a little bit at a time, then add the rest once the egg yolks and chocolate mixture is slightly warm. Whisk well to combine. 

Transfer chocolate mixture into 10 (4 oz.) ramekins. Add the ramekins to a casserole dish, then pour boiling water into the pan so that it reaches about half way up the ramekins (this is called a water bath, which helps custards cook through without cracking), being careful not to splash any water in the custard dishes. 

Bake until the custard just sets (between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes).  Remove the custards and let cool on a wire rack.  Transfer to the refrigerator to chill. 

To serve the creme brûlée, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar on top of each dish.  Use a kitchen torch, continuously moving back and forth, to burn the sugar.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Life Lately

I'm sorry to report I don't have a second recipe to share this week, but i've been a bit preoccupied by the newest addition to my family.  I have to introduce you to this handsome stud, Wilkie the Westie.  If you know me, you know that i've been talking about getting a Westie for the better part of a decade.  I always talk myself out of it at the last minute because a puppy is so much responsibility, and I have also worried about our Chocolate Lab, Roscoe's, feelings, but once I met this guy, there was no turning back.

Sweet Wilkie is a sassy little guy.  I've only had him 6 days now and he's already learned so much.  He's conquered the stairs, jumped off the big bed (though i'm sad I can't contain him there anymore when I'm getting ready) and painstakingly tried to win over his big brothers heart.  I wouldn't say they're besties yet, but he sure is trying.

I also went to my first Ugly Christmas Sweater party last weekend.  How was that my first?! It was SO much fun.  I absolutely loved the idea of this homemade photo both.  Mike won for ugliest sweater - he earned it with that disaster of a sweater.  He was so proud!

We also celebrated our one year anniversary Sunday. Holy Moly, it's true what they say - time flies!! Our wedding cake was just as delicious one year later. We celebrated with a lazy day (well, as lazy as you can be when you're taking a puppy outside every hour), homemade beef stroganoff, and wedding cake.

In other news, Mike gave me one of my Christmas presents earlier.  It's a record of the Nutcracker and i've been listening to it nonstop.  You just can't be sad, even when you're cleaning up the kitchen, when the nutcracker is playing. 

Locals, I recently took a cooking class at La Gemma. SO much fun - I would highly recommend it.  You can't beat learning how to make fresh pasta from a real Italian in her kitchen.  The classes fill up quickly so be sure to sign up.  The class size was small and it's totally hands on.  Bring wine and an appetite!

As I'm about to sign off Wilkie is laying on the edge of my computer and just got his first hiccups.  Eeek, I can't stand the cuteness.  If he gives me a break this weekend I'll be back next week with a new recipe! XO.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bourbon Bacon Jam

I feel like I don't even need to write an intro to this recipe.  Bourbon Bacon Jam.  People-it's real, and you need it in your life.

I was debating the best way to serve this when I photographed it, but the truth is, there can be no best way.  Sweet, sticky, salty jam, filled with bacon, maple, and of course the kicker, bourbon? There are just so many options.  I'm taking this jam to my work pot luck with crackers, goat cheese and cheddar cheese.  I'm saving some for myself to serve on burgers, waffles, inside a grilled cheese, or straight up with a spoon whenever I need it. 

Originally inspired by Martha Stewart's Bacon Jam recipe, this recipe is just a slightly different version using Applewood Smoked Bacon and Apple Cider Vinegar.  The flavors are just out of this world. If you can handle sharing, it would basically make the best gift ever.  Include a stylish tag and a note to keep refrigerated for up to 4 weeks.  Enjoy! 


* 1.5 lb. applewood smoked bacon, chopped in 1 inch pieces 
* 2 c. finely chopped shallots (I got this from 3 large shallots)
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 tsp. chili powder
* 1 tsp. ginger paste (from the refrigerated herb section)
* 1 tsp. dijon mustard
* 1/2 c. bourbon
* 1/4 c. maple syrup
* 1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
* 1/3 c. packed light-brown sugar

Heat a large skillet to medium heat.  Add bacon (in batches if necessary*) and cook until just brown (about 20 minutes).  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel to drain.  Drain all but a light coating of bacon grease, and add shallots and garlic to the pan and sauté until translucent (5-6 minutes).  Add chili powder, ginger paste, and dijon mustard, and stir well to combine. 

Increase heat to high and add the bourbon and maple syrup.  Bring this mixture to a boil, then add the cider vinegar and brown sugar and return to a boil.  Add the bacon, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the mixture is syrupy.  

Transfer to a food processor and pulse until you have a slightly chunky jam.  Refrigerate and store for up to 4 weeks.  Enjoy! 

*If you need to cook in multiple batches, drain the grease off in between each new batch. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gifts for the Wino

Well it's official, holiday shopping is in full swing!  I would venture to say I consider myself a wine-o, so I pulled together some fun stocking stuffers and gifts for the wine-os in your life.  

I was particularly intrigued by the set of wine the stemware plate clips - they clip to the side of a plate so you can park your wine glass on it while you enjoy your food! Clever, right?

My Christmas wish list also includes a subscription to Wine Awesomeness, which is a monthly service that delivers three bottles of wine right to your door.  You can specify if you want all whites, reds, or mixture, and you can gift one or multi-month subscriptions. The gift that keeps on giving !
Gifts for the Wino