December 17, 2012
Baby, it's finally cold enough in the Valley of the Sun to have a fire in the fireplace! We've had two days/nights of rain and temps below 60 and even though the sun is shining today, it's still chilly outside which makes it perfect weather for woolies.
Chico's boiled wool camel blazer; Burberry-inspired but not Burberry-priced camel, black, and red plaid scarf; White House Black Market jeans
My new favorite purse from Michael Kors; gold-tipped heels from Macy's; set of 11 bangles from Nordstom's; Michael Kors gold watch; Alexis Bittar gold bangles
In the last post I wrote, I was scurrying around getting ready for book club. I like to provide an elaborate meal for the December meeting because it's close to Christmas and I think that's cause for celebration -- which translates, in my world, to food, drink, and pretty surroundings. I'm not an everyday cook, but I do enjoy "event cooking" as my husband calls it, and I've been doing it for 41 years, so this meal shouldn't have been any problem at all. Hah!
The house was decorated...
(love how the mirror reflects the fireplace)
The tree was trimmed...
The rocking horse was be-wreathed...
The holiday glassware was moved to its proper place...
The plant shelf was candle-lit...
The table was set...
with a slight change for the dessert course...
And the menu was chosen...
- Holiday dip (goat cheese, cream cheese, toasted walnuts, chopped dried cranberries, orange zest) with cranberry toasts
- English Huntsman cheese, crackers, red grapes
- Mousse Truffee (pork and chicken liver mousse with truffles)
- Prosecco with a dash of cranberry juice for taste and color with a garnish of frozen cranberries to keep it well-chilled
- Winter salad of mixed greens, thinly sliced Anjou pears, chopped walnuts, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, and dried cranberries dressed with a vinaigrette of rice vinegar, cranberry juice, Dijon mustard, and olive oil
- Herbed standing rib roast marinated overnight with a paste of crushed garlic, fresh rosemary and thyme combined with ground peppercorns and bay leaves, olive oil and sea salt, then set on a bed of potatoes, carrots, and onions to roast until the thermometer reaches 110 (roast continues to cook once removed from oven until it's 130 -medium rare -- pink and perfect)
- Popovers (or individual Yorkshire puddings)
- Jus - beef broth, roast juices, fresh thyme and rosemary
- Pinot Noir or Zinfandel
- English trifle (I use pound cake, assorted fruits, Birds custard, sherry, and whipped topping)
Sounds good, right? All things I've made before, so should be easy, right? Hah!
Things started to go wrong as soon as I placed the rib roast on the middle rack (where it's supposed to be) in the oven. The rack went crashing to the bottom of the oven -- somehow the racks had shrunk or the oven had bowed -- and the weight of the roast meant that it would spend its time at the bottom of the oven. Okay, maybe I could still make it work. I put the thermometer in, checked it ten minutes later and saw that nothing had happened...checked it again..still nothing showing. The thermometer I had just used at Thanksgiving was no longer working...same for a backup thermometer...heaven help me. The recipe gave a time of about two hours (20 minutes at 450 degrees; the rest of the time at 350) so, without much choice, I set the timer and hoped for the best. When the time was up, I pulled the roast from the oven, and set it on the counter to rest while I put the popovers in. I've made popovers or Yorkshire pudding for years and have never had a failure...until tonight. The popovers start at 450 degrees and then the temp gets reduced to 350. Now granted I was chatting with the girls in the living room and drinking wine by this time, but I swear I did go into the kitchen and press the buttons on the range to adjust the temperature. When the timer rang, I went back into the kitchen to find I had a batch of dark brown hockey pucks, not the golden, puffy popovers I was expecting. The temperature in the oven was 450 degrees...not the 350 it was supposed to be.
The good news is that the book club members are my friends and kindly suggested that the hockey pucks might still have some life in them (they were wrong about that). We sat down for dinner, introduced English crackers to the unfamiliar, put our paper crowns on our heads and showed off our cracker prizes while my husband carved the roast for us. The best news is that the rib roast came out perfectly - succulent and medium rare. The surrounding veggies were crisper than usual (okay, slightly burned) but still tasty. Everybody cleaned their plates (always a good sign) and enjoyed the trifle with a cup of tea for dessert.
Wishing you better luck with your holiday cooking!