Welcome back. Hope everyone had a joyous, fulfilling, and nourishing Christmas. I wish I could say I had the time of my life baking and cooking for family. Instead, I will say I had the time of my life baking and cooking, and was barely satisfied by the reactions it stirred. One thing I will confirm, I will refrain from baking/cooking for family for a very very long time.
Choosing menus for dinners on xmas and eve was a bit nervewrecking, I’ve never actually experienced a traditional xmas dinner. Holiday gettogethers usually involved a medley of korean dishes and maybe a pasta dish thrown in. I’ve never until xmas actually had standing rib roast, or roast beef for that matter. I hadn’t the slightest clue what an American xmas dinner was like and researched like mad to come up with menus that involved a bit too much cheese. Let’s go over them one evening at a time.
Xmas eve I made NY strip loin roast with garlic-herb crust, tagliatelle pasta with braised kale, and broccoli-pecorino gratinata. It was a small dinner for three and I basically just winged my recipes, choosing what I thought would go well together, and was especially simple and cheap. I was really intimidated about roasting beef and prayed I wouldn’t fuck up and waste meat and money, but it was the easiest to prepare and turned out exactly the way I wanted.
I marinated the meat a few hours before roasting time and it couldn’t have been easier. I merely rubbed it with a sauce made from garlic, oil, salt & pepper, fresh thyme and sage. It was superbly aromatic sauce especially with the herbs and I was so glad I purchased the fresh ones rather than using the dried bottled herbs, made a big difference in bringing out the max in flavor and texture. Come roasting time, I just stuck this hunka meat and roasted for about an hour, and, voila, magic.
I discovered kale a few months back and have been in love with its sweet bitterness and crunchy bite. I saw this recipe and figured it would have a fettucine taste that would blend well with the meat and provide that significant texture from the kale. It also looked super simple and freakin delicious. The broccoli just looked super easy and figured it would be a nice side. I accidentally dumped a bunch of red pepper on top and the end product was a bit spicier than desired but was still very good, boiled just right so there was a touch of crunchy substance. This side also involved Pecorino Romano cheese and as much as it was subtle, I think it added an unnecessary amount of cheese into the meal. Still it was great success, the guests very much enjoyed and appreciated the meal and I was very proud. Patting my back as we speak.
Now. Christmas dinner. hmph.
After grueling over the menu and laboring for a day lugging around pounds of meat and ingredients I spent the day cooking up what was a delicious, if cheesy, meal that went quite unappreciated and discredited. I purchased a 14 pound standing rib roast that cost $120 and another $120 worth of groceries at a hysterically packed whole foods and spent the day in the kitchen working my flawed magic.
I started off with the creamed spinach & parsnips in the morning since it could be made hours, even days ahead. This I think was my favorite of all the sides. It was a perfect combination of comfort, stringent and mushy. I’ve never had parsnips before and it doesn’t taste much different from carrots except perhaps a bit heartier. There was a sweet creaminess that was very complimentary to the vegetables, very warming and addictive.
I then continued to prepared sweet potato and butternut squash gratin, a dish much too indulgent. I’ve never tried or tasted gratin before and predicted cheesiness in the likes of mac n cheese or lasagna with veggies, but this was a bit too nauseatingly thick for me. It did taste good though, don’t get me wrong. It was just a bit too much. I was confused because the recipe called for 2 cups of veggies each and it wasn’t nearly enough for 3 layers. So I just doubled it to 4 cups of the veggies layered with cheese and cream sauce. I can’t say I cared much for this dish.
I’ve also never had gnocchi before and was excited to find this recipe calling for sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter and sage. The idea of having something delightfully chewy and sweet and in miniature multiples seemed like such a great idea. My awesome sister helped in the kitchen most of the time and she was responsible for poking holes with forks into the surface of these rolled 2 inch edible cylinders and we boiled them in water which made it all mushy and bloated. It was then coated in butter and sage. It didn’t have too much taste and I felt like it was missing something. It was a bit bland, not enough salty. But it was uber fun making this pasta and I will look for better recipes.
Then, onwards with the meat. It was a heavy 14 pount standing rib roast I bought from an Italian butcher shop in the burg and gasped at the price $120, but rested assured that I’d be reimbursed. Even more fearful was the prospect of fucking up royally and letting it all go to waste. I’ve never cooked anything nearly similar and was amusing myself with the thought of it actually looking like the pictures. I made salt and pepper crusted prime rib with sage jus, which didn’t require marinating beforehand and stayed very juicy and flavorful. Again it was seasoned with sage and thyme, a magically combo I’m learning, and some shallots scattered about. Into the oven it went for about 3 hours and out it came steaming and still red inside. It looked superb though. Then my father went ahead and butchered it cutting of only the top layer and ended up with multiple trips to the the oven in half hour increments. Fact: koreans do not like the sight of red meat and will not eat it. They like it well done. very well done. So roast beef for koreans? bad idea. We just skinned and served, oven, skin and serve, oven, repeat. It was not a pretty sight. The gravy I made was a bit too spicey and diluted, I didn’t care for it, the meat tasted chewy, juicy and red without it. Will I make this again? No. But was it delicious? In my humble opinion? hell yes.
So what made my night? Sitting competition.