Saturday, January 3, 2015

KrisKringleCucina '14… Prime Rib, Mushrooms, Broccoli-Brussels Salad, Custard Pie, Jewels, a Wreath and Kale Chips

Deprivation is a great motivator. For a few months there, I could only wonder if my pleasure in creative cooking would ever return. It did. I'm back. With a roar. Thankfully. After all, it was Christmas!

Prime Rib Roast always happens when the whole gang is here for our family's celebration. Or, in this year's case, most of us are here. We cook it only once a year; it's way too fatty to consume regularly. This year's bison roast was about a dozen pounds. I'd seen it cooked off the rack of ribs on the Cooking Channel. Great idea. Less mess. Less fat. Easier. And we've all seen the presentation a gazillion times. But directions explicitly stated that this works best for weights of 5 - 8 pounds. We simply cut ours in half and placed on a rack. Here's the method Joe thought I was nuts for trying - you know - why fix something that's not broken?? But he praised the ease and end results:

Bring meat to room temp and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Weigh meat and multiply number of pounds by 5 minutes. For example, it you've a 6-pound roast (or 2 identical), you'd come up with 30 minutes. Put in oven, cook for that amount of time and TURN OFF OVEN, NEVER OPENING DOOR FOR 2 MORE HOURS. In that 2 hours, meat will be cooked and perfectly pink. NO RESTING TIME necessary… have everyone at the table when it's ready to be sliced. Since I was in such a rush to accomplish table presence in a timely manner, I forgot a capture of the finished roast. Luckily, there was a cold slice left for a next-day photo shoot. Some photographer, am I. :-)

Ever conscious of Dawn's celiac disease, I transform many dishes to gluten-free. Produce choices are fabulous during the holidays, and big, white mushrooms for Stuffed Mushrooms are things of beauty. Sure, we love 'em with a bread-y, oily mixture, but quinoa worked spectacularly well. I cooked the quinoa in the rice pot, as garlic and cut-up stems were browning in EVOO. At this point, memory is not serving me well as to what else I tossed in, along with the quinoa, but go for it… whatever herbs and spices you like. Fill those wells and poke in goat cheese… a bit more EVOO and into the oven to bake. Lord-y.

This recipe for Broccoli-Brussel Sprouts Salad was adapted from the Internet and is especially for Vicki. It is outrageously delicious; I've made it twice, already! Wash, cut into bite-sized pieces and thoroughly dry veggies, about 2 pounds broccoli florets and 1 pound sprouts. Toss with  a few cloves minced garlic and EVOO; spread on cookie sheet and roast in hot, 425-degree pre-heated oven till caramelized. Turn once. Whisk together 1-2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 teaspoons mustard, 1 tablespoon honey and juice/grated rind of one small lemon and dress veggies while hot. Taste it. Too lemon-y for your little buds? Add more honey. Season with whatever else you like. Lots of freshly ground pepper for us. Without being drowned in dressing, it gets better and better as it sits in the fridge and absorbs flavors… a several-day keeper. Serve on crispy lettuce; red and/or romaine work well. Yum.

We've reached a simple and simply delicious Custard Pie (aka Fake Crème Brûlée)made by putting the following ingredients into a blender and whirring till smooth: 2 cups whole milk, 4 eggs, ½ cup melted butter, ¾ cup sugar, ½ cup flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla and ¼ teaspoon salt. (I subbed g-f flour, using half the amount of King Arthur's and half coconut flour. Pie makes its own crust and this worked just fine.) Bake in greased, 9-inch, deep pie pan at preheated 350-degrees oven for 50 minutes and cool on rack for at least an hour before slicing or refrigerating. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Hey, 'twas Christmas… remember?!

Jewels came about 'cause I wanted to use Great Aunt Flora's pedestal dish to serve. I've no memory of Great Auntie, except the story of this wedding gift to my parents. To make wells for the jam, I used Gran's thimble. You don't need this recipe - it's an old standby with many different aliases, such as "thumbprint" cookies. Go for it. I rolled 'em in sprinkles instead of traditional nuts.

Wreath-Bread Centerpiece for the table. You might have seen Gavin in an earlier post, captured as he shaped the dough. For this, I buy frozen dough loaves and cut to size. Easy as pie. Bake on a cookie sheet, using a bowl in center for shape. Decorate to your heart's content and give credit to the young chef in your family!!
While Vicki was here after Kris Kringle's day, I decided to try Kale Chips. Too easy for words, this one, and naturally g-f… just strip leafy greens off of ribs, break into chip-sized pieces and dry. Toss with EVOO and seasonings of your choice. Pop into hot, hot oven. Watch carefully and turn once. It only takes minutes to crispy, crunchy snackin'.

Eat hearty on occasion and healthy always in the New Year!
Buon Appetito!