23 February 2017

Roast Beef - How to Cook a Small Roast

Roast Beef - How to Cook a Small Roast - It's a bit trickier than cooking a large one / www.delightfulrepast.com

Roast beef hadn't been on the menu in quite a while when I spied a beautiful grass-fed, antibiotic-free sirloin roast at the meat counter of my local natural foods store. It weighed just 2.375 pounds (a little over a kilo) and was somewhere between 2 and 3 inches thick.

I couldn't recall ever cooking a roast that small and thought it would be awfully easy to overcook it. At $25, this was a splurge I did not want to ruin! Cooking a large roast is "easier" in that it is a lot more forgiving than a small one. A small roast can go from perfect to ruined very quickly. 

Since there are so many variables when cooking a roast, merely going by time, so many minutes per pound, doesn't really cut it. Though, of course, figuring an approximate time is important if you want to make sure the whole meal is ready at the same time!

This time I chose to check the temperature manually from time to time, using my Thermapen, because that's what I'm used to. But I do own the other kind with a probe you insert into the roast and wait for the alarm to go off when the desired internal temperature is reached. Next time I'm going to remember to try it!

Beef Roast Doneness

I let even a small roast rest for 30 minutes while I make gravy and bake the Yorkshire Pudding. Even if you don't do those things, let the roast rest 20 to 30 minutes anyway. I've often read that a roast will rise in temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit while resting, but I've not found that to be the case. 

It will rise about 5F/3C, so to avoid overcooking, take it out of the oven when it reaches 5F/3C under your desired final temperature. See the chart below.

Roast Beef - Beef Roast Doneness Chart - How to Cook a Small Roast Beef - It's a bit trickier than a small one / www.delightfulrepast.com

Even though I no longer prefer well-done beef, I do like a nice crusty exterior. So I start the roast in oven preheated to 450F/230C/Gas8. After 10 minutes, I reduce the heat to 325F/165C/Gas3. 

I took this roast's temperature after 55 minutes at the lower heat, looking for 145F/63C for medium-well. Checked it every 5 minutes after that, and after a couple of times it had hit my target temp.

Do you ever cook a small roast? I was surprised that this actually made 8 good servings as there was zero waste. Also, I'm always curious about the degree of doneness that people prefer.

Roast Beef "Recipe"

1 Rub the roast with a little extra virgin olive oil (I used 1/2 tablespoon for small roast) and season all sides with salt and coarsely ground black pepper (I used 3/4 teaspoon of each for the 2.375-pound roast).

2 Place the seasoned roast fat side up on a rack set inside a shallow roasting pan. A quarter sheet pan works well for a small roast. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.

3 Fifteen minutes before end of that hour, preheat oven to 450F/230C/Gas8. If you are using a probe-alarm thermometer, such as my ThermoWorks ChefAlarm or DOT, insert it into roast; the alarm will go off when it reaches the temperature you've selected.

Roast Beef - How to Cook a Small Roast (this photo - ThermoWorks thermometers) / www.delightfulrepast.com

4 Roast at the high temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325F/165C/Gas 3. Continue roasting until beef registers 5F/3C below your desired final temperature on instant-read thermometer, such as Thermapen or ThermoPop.

5 Let stand at room temperature, tented with foil, for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with Yorkshire Pudding, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and vegetables. And take a peek at Braised Brisket while you're at it!

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon or ThermoWorks. If you purchase something through one of my links, I receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, which I use toward the expenses of running this blog. Thank you!

16 February 2017

Yorkshire Pudding - Yorkies

Yorkshire Pudding - Roast Beef / www.delightfulrepast.com

Yorkshire Pudding is one of those things that seems to have a bit of a mystique surrounding it. There are cooks who say the batter must be made the night before, refrigerated and used cold; while just as many say it must be made right before baking.

Some say you must take care to not overmix; others insist you must whisk as much air as possible into the batter. There's a lot of controversy over proportions, especially the number of eggs. And over whether part of the liquid should be water, and how much.

I've seen experts of equal stature calling for starting temperatures anywhere from 375F/190C/Gas5 to 450F/230C/Gas8. I've made puddings at both 425F/220C/Gas7 and 450F/230C/Gas8. Both were fine. The point is that the preheated fat in the tins be blistering hot.

Yorkshire Pudding - Yorkies / www.delightfulrepast.com

I've made them all sorts of ways, and they're always good. I don't think you can mess them up really. One thing few people ever mention is the puddings sticking to the tins, a problem I've had on more than one occasion with my plain aluminum muffin tins.

The solution seems to be to grease (I used butter) the cold muffin tins thoroughly before ever getting down to business. Having that extra layer of fat in place before adding the melted fat for preheating seems to take care of the problem pretty well. Any tips?

I don't know that anyone else puts dry mustard in their Yorkies, but that's something I learned from my mother. She had a million uses for dry mustard. I put in just enough to make you notice there's "something," but not enough that you know what it is!

Do you have any surefire tips for making Yorkshire Pudding? Any methods you (or your mother or grandmother) always insist(ed) upon?

Yorkshire Pudding - Yorkies - The Best Part of Sunday Lunch / www.delightfulrepast.com
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PS I'll write all about making a small roast beef another day. In the meantime, here's my Braised Brisket, perfect for Sunday Roast (also called Sunday Lunch).

Yorkshire Pudding

(Makes 12 individual puddings)

1 1/4 dip-and-sweep cups (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground mustard (also called dry mustard)
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) water
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces/177 ml) milk
5 tablespoons pan drippings from beef roast OR 2 1/2 tablespoons each melted unsalted butter and extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 An hour and a half before serving time, make batter. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, dry mustard and salt (to "sift"). Whisk in eggs and water; when smooth, whisk in the milk. Cover and let stand for an hour. Grease a 12-cup standard muffin pan and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.

2 Thirty minutes before serving time, take roast out to rest and turn oven up to 425F/220C/Gas7. Place muffin tin on baking sheet. Spoon 1 teaspoon of hot drippings into each muffin cup. Put baking sheet with muffin pan in oven until sizzling hot, about 5 minutes.

Note: You really must place the muffin tin on a rimmed baking sheet to prevent the fat from messing up your oven when it bubbles over during the baking of the puddings.

3 Whisk the remaining tablespoon of the melted butter/oil mixture, or drippings, into the batter. Remove pan from oven. Working quickly, using a partially filled 1/4 cup measure, pour 3 tablespoons batter into hot drippings in each cup. It should sizzle. Return pans (on baking sheet) to oven and bake 30 minutes or until puddings are puffed and golden. If they aren't crisp enough to suit you, then turn the temperature down to 325F/165C/Gas3 and bake for another 10 minutes to get them extra crispy. Serve immediately.

Note: When making a large roast, there are plenty of drippings for both gravy and Yorkies. But this day I made a small roast, 2.375 pounds, which did not supply enough fat, so I used the butter and olive oil combination. Very tasty! For both health and flavor reasons, I would never use the frequently recommended vegetable oil or shortening.


09 February 2017

Mighty Leaf Tea Review and Giveaway

Mighty Leaf Tea Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Only my earliest followers (charter followers?) might know that Delightful Repast is now 7 years old! In honor of my 7th blogiversary, I'm doing a wonderful giveaway for tea lovers. Wait! Don't go away just because you aren't one! Someone you know and love is, and this will make a wonderful gift for that person.

About the Pastry Heart Jam Tarts in the photo above, I made that batch with a store-bought refrigerated pie crust just so I could tell you whether it will "do" or not. No, it won't. Not even in a pinch. If you don't have time to make the pastry, just make something else. Store-bought pastry might be okay for something, but for these in which pastry is the star, no. Just no.

Pastry Heart Jam Tarts
This batch made with the proper pastry

But back to the tea.

The Tea

Mighty Leaf has a wide selection of whole leaf loose teas and whole leaf tea pouches. They have herbal tisanes and green, white, matcha, oolong and pu'er (pu-erh) teas as well as the black teas that are my beverage of choice. Since I prefer organic tea, I was delighted to find they offer an extensive array of organic teas as well.

The ones I've tried so far are: Organic Breakfast, Organic Earl Grey, Organic Darjeeling Estate and Organic Darjeeling Kalimpong. All whole leaf loose black teas. One of their mottos is "Discover the magic of whole leaf tea." And once you do, you are not going to want to stuff those whole leaves into a tiny little "tea ball" that doesn't give them room to unfurl.

Mighty Leaf Tea Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

The Infuser Mug

Besides brewing it in a teapot, you can brew a proper cup/mug of tea in their lovely infuser mug. The 15-ounce Curve Tall Tea Mug with Infuser and Lid is available in white, with or without the Mighty Leaf logo on one side.

Since you don't fill it to the brim, it actually holds about 12 to 13 ounces. To make that amount of tea, a fairly level 2-teaspoon measure (3 grams) of the Mighty Leaf Organic Darjeeling Kalimpong steeped for 4 minutes was perfect. (I prefer a 5-minute steep for the Breakfast and Earl Grey teas.)

The extra-fine stainless steel infuser is quite deep, so if you prefer to make a smaller amount of tea in the mug you can. Of course, you can leave out the infuser when you're using tea bags. In either case, the ceramic lid makes the mug act like a teapot and gives you a better brew.

Everyone should have a Curve Tall Tea Mug with Infuser and Lid. It makes enjoying loose leaf tea just as convenient as using tea bags.

Tea Tips

If you're new to tea, see the basics at How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea. If you have any questions, just ask me in the comment section below. I'm always happy to answer tea questions. And if you are in the US, or have someone in the US you'd like to have it sent to, be sure to enter the giveaway!

When you try a new tea, experiment with the amount of tea to water and the steeping time (3, 4 or 5 minutes). I make a stronger brew when I'm in the mood to add a splash of milk. Which reminds me ...

You may know about the milk first/milk last controversy brewing on at least two continents. Let me tell you why it makes no sense to add milk to your cup first. Until you've tasted the tea you won't know if it's strong enough to stand up to the addition of milk. There's nothing worse than weak tea except weak tea with milk in it!

Update 02/15/17: Giveaway is now closed.

Mighty Leaf Tea Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Mighty Leaf Tea and Tea Mug Giveaway 

The winner of the giveaway will be sent: a 4-ounce tin Organic Breakfast, a 4-ounce tin Organic Earl Grey, a 3.5-ounce tin Organic Darjeeling Kalimpong, a 3-ounce bag Organic Darjeeling Estate, a black storage tin and a Mighty Leaf Curve Tall Tea Mug with Infuser and Lid.

This giveaway is open to US residents* 18 years of age or older. Leave a comment below (one entry per person); and perhaps you can tell me your favorite time of day for a nice cup of tea. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday February 15.

* If you are outside the US but would like to have this sent to someone in the US (you would have to send them a gift card separately on your own), go ahead and enter! 

Winner will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday February 16. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday February 19, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

Disclosure: Mighty Leaf provided product for review purposes and for the giveaway. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think! 


02 February 2017

Cabbage and Kale Salad with Creamy Sesame Seed Dressing

Cabbage and Kale Salad with Creamy Sesame Seed Dressing / www.delightfulrepast.com

Salads of cabbage and kale or other hearty greens are a favorite of mine because they're such a great way to get those vegetables into people who don't like them cooked. And since the cabbage and especially the kale benefit from sitting in the dressing, it's an easy make-ahead dish. 

All you have to do the next day is cut the apple and segment the Satsumas one to two hours before serving. Any seedless (or close to it) mandarin/tangerine will do, and any apple that is crisp and flavorful. 

Note: Since there is sufficient acid in the dressing, there may be no need to wait till closer to serving time to add the fruit. I don't know if it's true of all apples, but the organic Granny Smiths I used did not brown at all and were just as crisp and delicious in the leftover salad the next day. 

I came up with the dressing with two things in mind: 1. wanting to use up my fresh bottle of sesame seeds before they went stale and rancid, and 2. a friend's mention of wanting a different dressing and one that did not call for Dijon mustard. 

The dressing is versatile. I like a little sugar in the dressing for this or any salad that might have a bit of bitterness to accent with sweetness, but you can reduce it or leave it out altogether for many salads. 

Could this be the "something different" on your Super Bowl party menu this year?

Cabbage and Kale Salad with Creamy Sesame Seed Dressing / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Cabbage and Kale Salad with Creamy Sesame Seed Dressing 

(Makes 16 servings) 

The Cabbage and Kale Salad 

1 small head green cabbage (to make about 2 quarts trimmed and sliced) 
1 bunch kale (to make about 1 quart trimmed and sliced)
2 medium apples, sliced
1 cup fresh mandarin/tangerine segments or orange chunks

*Satsuma, Kishu, Gold Nugget or other seedless mandarin/tangerine

The Creamy Sesame Seed Dressing 

(Makes about 1 1/4 cup) 

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted 
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 

1 Remove any ragged outer leaves of cabbage. Cut in half, then cut each half into 4 wedges. Trim the core from each wedge and slice it crosswise. Wash and dry in salad spinner. Transfer to 4-quart bowl. Wash the kale and cut away the large part of the stems. Roll the leaves lengthwise a few at a time and slice thinly. Add to the cabbage in the bowl.

Cabbage and Kale Salad with Creamy Sesame Seed Dressing / www.delightfulrepast.com

2 In small skillet, toast the sesame seeds. It goes more quickly and reduces the chance of burning them if you heat the skillet first. Add the sesame seeds to the hot skillet and they'll toast in just 1 to 2 minutes, lifting the pan and swirling it occasionally. Starting with the cold skillet makes it take just enough longer that my attention wanders and I end up burning them! 

3 In small bowl or 2-cup glass measure, whisk together sugar, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Whisk in cider vinegar to dissolve sugar and salt a bit. Whisk in mayonnaise until smooth; whisk in olive oil and toasted sesame seeds. Add to cabbage and kale; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours or until the next day. 

4 Up to 2 hours before serving time, slice the apple(s) and segment the mandarins (tangerines) or slice the oranges. Stir into the salad. Refrigerate; toss just before serving.