Monthly Archives: December 2015

Happy New Year! (2016)

Happy New Year!!!

Just got a couple of late Xmas cards from the nephew and an LJ friend. The unexpected arrivals made me smile. I don’t send any out myself but it’s a charming custom in this electronic age.

I can’t say that 2015 has been a great year, but then they’ve been rather scarce lately. However, I’m going to be optimistic and hope that next year will be amazing … for all of us.

Advertisements

Christmas Dinner: Prime Rib

Beef isn’t on the menu too often at my house. Not that I don’t love it, but chicken and pork are more affordable and usually on sale. However, I decided to splurge this year and make a British themed Christmas menu with the focus on a prime rib.

It was huge for a single person, almost 5 pounds, but the price was right (<$30), and I figured I’d get at least six meals out of it.

So, I bought what turned out to be a single bone roast and made the traditional sides – Yorkshire puddings/popovers with gravy from the juice, roast potatoes and carrots and mincemeat tarts and some bought marzipan topped fruit cake for ‘afters’.

I tried to restrain my picture taking cause I wanted to eat warm food for a change. I wasn’t totally successful but I TRIED.

Prime rib meal

Dessert plate

And then, because I always have to go that little bit further, I bought a wedge of Stilton cheese and did a poached pear (cranberry mead, honey, cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick sugar syrup), Stilton and walnut plate.

Cheese and nut plate

Plating 2 … cause I couldn’t decide which one I liked better

Prime rib before and after roasting

  

Carved and leftovers for the freezer … some were more rare than others

  

Popovers

Prime rib and sides

Romanian-Themed Christmas Eve Supper: Fasole Batuta (Mashed White Beans) and Bacalao (Salt Cod)

My mom did 99% of the cooking at our house. However, one dish that my dad could, and did make, twice a year, was the white beans that were featured in this menu. I’ve not been able to find it in any of my google searches of Romanian dishes so I wonder if the pairing of mashed white beans (Great Northern, navy, or cannellini) and soaked salt cod was unique to our family.

Pieces of dry, salted cod would be soaked overnight in several changes of cold water, placed in the bottom of a baking dish and then the pureed cooked and seasoned beans would be layered on top. The dish would be baked at 350 deg F for about half an hour, and then my dad would pour 2-3 tablespoons of oil flavoured with fried onions and paprika over the top and serve large spoonfuls to each of us. A white bean and noodle soup, made with the bean cooking liquid and a cup or so of mashed beans, would precede the beans and cod.

I decided to break up the pairing and instead serve 3 separate dishes: the soup mentioned above, a mashed white bean dip/spread and salt cod cakes. And because I thought I might still be hungry, I made a quick pasta dish with jarred sauce and a seafood medley.

Appetizers/Bread

Fasole batuta cu ceapa caramelizata (Mashed White Beans with Caramelized Onions)

I made the rolls from a recipe posted on a FB bread baking group I belong to.

Salted Cod Cakes

Soup

White bean and noodle soup

Main/Pasta

Florentine Seafood Medley over Fettuccine

Memorial plate … buns and dried Romanian sausage

Waiting for Mos Craciun (Santa Claus)

Cheddar Cheese Crackers or Straws … and some Chocolate Truffles

I have been eating well in the past few weeks but, other than 2 new soups and a trio of chocolate truffles, nothing worth posting about.

Speaking of truffles … here’s a picture. There are close-ups under the cut.

I used a semi-sweet chocolate ganache for the red (cranberry and French brandy) and green (mint extract and vodka) truffles. The white truffles (almond and orange extract and Cointreau) were made with a white chocolate ganache which, even with the addition of ground almonds, half again as much chocolate and reducing the whipping cream, never really hardened, even after frozen. I ended up rolling the resulting balls in ground almonds or Christmas themed chocolate shot.

I decided to share a fast and easy cheesy cracker recipe that will make a nice appetizer/nibble to enjoy with a glass of bubbly for New Year’s eve.

Cheese Crackers or Straws – makes about 4 dozen 2″ long, 1/8th of an inch thick crackers

2 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese, yellow or white
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, for a moderate kick
paprika, sprinkled on top or 1/4 tsp added to dough for more color (optional)

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer combine all of the ingredients with the paddle to make a cohesive dough, sprinkling in a tablespoon or so of water if the dough doesn’t seem to want to come together. As soon as the dough starts to come together, turn off the mixer and gather it into a rough ball.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and roll into a shape that fits into your cookie press.

Chill if the dough is very soft or if you don’t have a cookie press and want to make Cheese Coins instead. In that case, roll the dough into a 16-inch log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then make like slice ‘n bake cookies by slicing into 1/8″ rounds.

For straws made in the cookie press, put dough into the tube of the press. Use the star-shaped disk. Squeeze out onto parchment. Close together is fine. Squeeze one long strand then cut it into 2-3″ segments and slightly offset them.

NOTE: I didn’t have a star-shaped disk for this cookie press so I used the ribbon disk instead and broke off in 2 inch pieces or cut a pan width segment into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces.

Sprinkle them with a bit of paprika, if desired and if you didn’t already add the paprika to the dough.

Bake in a preheated 375° F oven 11 minutes or until edges are just beginning to brown. (If using yellow cheddar and the paprika, you may have a hard time judging if the edges are browned as they’re pretty yellow. You will want to take them out after about 13 minutes in that case.)

Allow the crackers to cool on the pan for several minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.