Every night it’s the same question: what to make for dinner? The challenge I’ve been facing lately is that I’m tired of the same 20+ recipes that I’ve been making for years. My cooking forté lies in Indian food – curries, vegetables, rice dishes – and I enjoy preparing stir-fries (more rice) and Italian food. In the summer, we barbeque a lot and I marinade a lot of tandoori items, kebabs and the usual steak and burger fare. You should check out Meena’s blog, Kitchen Confidential for many South Asian-inspired recipes.
What I don’t know much about are the hearty meat ‘n potato staples that my husband grew up on. Though we’re a cross-cultural family (I’m from a South Asian background and my husband is of Irish/Scottish descent), our meals definitely lean toward the East largely because that’s what I know and I do the cooking.
So, my latest culinary resolution is to master some of my husband’s favourites enough so that I can incorporate them into our monthly repertoire of meals. I started a while back with a Roast Chicken dinner, served with roast potatoes, stuffing, and steamed veggies. I used the Martha Stewart recipe for a Perfect Roast Chicken (could it be anything less than perfect if concocted by the master herself?) and I’ve had great luck with it. The only changes I would make to the recipe are that I would roast at 350 degrees for 1/2 an hour per pound of chicken as opposed to 425 degrees as specified. Also, instead of melted butter, I rub the chicken (before cooking) with olive oil – a healthier choice. I’ve found the olive oil still gives a great browny, crispy skin.
My latest cooking experiment came in the form of a Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding dinner. My husband had been waxing nostalgic about the hearty, delicious meals prepared by his British grandmother, and I thought "Okay, let’s give it a go!." As a resource, I pulled out my Williams Sonoma cookbook on Roasting (part of a set of lovely cookbooks I got as a wedding gift) and found a recipe (see below). The instructions were surprisingly simple, and my husband was thrilled to see the absence of marinated tofu (mmmm..one of my favourites) on the menu.
I have a phobia about undercooked meat and we both like our beef extremely well done. That being said I may have left the roast in a bit too long because it was a little dry. I had it in for 70 minutes and 375 degrees, and I think 50-60 minutes would have been resulted in a moister roast. But, it was still yummy, and the leftovers made great sandwiches for lunch the next day. Here’s a pic:
The piece de résistance of the meal was definitely the Yorkshire Pudding, which, I must say, thoroughly intimidated me. I don’t have experience with soufflés and the whole anticipation as to whether or not it would puff up was quite stressful. But, I’m happy to say, that I followed the WS method to a tee, and the pudding emerged from the oven beautifully puffy and golden brown (like I won’t be pulling that one out and my next dinner party!).
Here’s a pic:
I served the beef and pudding with a jus gravy (I just used a Knorr packet and it was okay) a side of mashed potatoes and green beans. Here’s a pic of the meal as served:
The recipe (modified a little by me):
Rib Roast with Yorkshire Pudding
1.5 kg pot roast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used olive oil)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 extra-large eggs
1-1/2 cups (12 fl oz/375 ml) whole milk
1-1/2 cups (7 ½ oz/235 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 teaspoons salt
juices and drippings from roast
Remove the roast from the refrigerator about 1 hour before roasting. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450°F (230°C). Rub the roast on all sides with the butter and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper.
To make the Yorkshire pudding batter, whisk the eggs and milk to combine. Add the flour and salt and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Place the roast in a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F (180°C). Continue to roast for another 30 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and raise the heat to 450°F (230°C).
Remove any burnt bits from juices in roast pan and place juices back in oven for four minutes. Remove (the juices should be so hot they’re sizzling) and pour Yorkshire batter into pan. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until golden and puffy.