Sunday, February 7, 2010

My first Christmas dinner.

Christmas 2009 was my first time making dinner for more than two people. We made turkey for Christmas dinner and didn't want to do another one so we decided to go with a different Christmas eve menu. Roast beef with Yorkshire puddings is one of my favorite festive family meals and as I had never made it before I was both excited to try it and nervous to make it perfect.

I spent the week leading up to the big night practicing the Yorkshires to make sure they would rise on the big night. The recipe I have written here is the result of trial and error and in the end I think we came up with the best way to have golden brown nicely risen puddings. Along with these dishes we made a salad, mashed yams and mashed potato. I will do a perfect mashed potato post later on.

Roast Beef:
  • 1.5kg Beef eye of round (organic free range)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • a small bunch of fresh thyme, rosemary, bay or sage, or a mixture
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • roasted vegetables from your roasting tray
  • 1 heaped dessertspoon plain flour
  • a wineglass of red wine, white wine or cider,
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 litre vegetable, chicken or beef
  • stock, preferably organic
  • If you buy your roast before the day you use it, put it in the fridge on a plate and turn periodically to keep the juices even through the cut of meat.
  • Make sure you take the meat out of the fridge at least a half hour before you are going to cook it.
  • Preheat your oven to 240°C/475°F
  • Drizzle the beef with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper, rubbing it all over the meat .
  • In a large pan on medium heat with a little olive oil, sear the meat on all sides until brown to lock in the juices.
  • Pile all the vegetables, garlic and herbs into the middle of a large roasting tray, lay the beef on top of the vegetables and drizzle everything with olive oil
  • Place the roasting tray in the preheated oven
  • Turn the heat down immediately to 200°C/400°F and cook for 1 hour for medium beef, for medium-rare take it out 5 to 10 minutes earlier.
  • If you have a meat thermometer, you can use it to test when the roast is done. I prefer rare meat and cook mine until the internal temperature is 130-135 degrees F. For medium rare remove at 140-145
  • When the beef is cooked to your liking, take the tray out of the oven and transfer the beef to a board to rest for at least 15 mins. This will ensure that the roast is tender because it will reabsorb its juices. Cover it with a layer of tinfoil and a tea towel and put aside while you make your gravy, horseradish sauce and Yorkshire puddings.

Yorkshire puddings:

2 c. flour
2 c. milk (room temperature)
6 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp salt
vegetable oil (1 tablespoon per yorkshire)

Makes about 12 puddings

The secret is very hot oil and room temperature ingredients and the batter a poured into the trays as fast as you can. Using ingredients straight from the fringe will cool down the oil when you add them to the trays and your puddings will rise much less.

  • Turn over to full heat (475 F) and let preheat fully, place the muffin pan on a cooking sheet on the top shelf of the over while you are preheating.
  • Whisk the eggs, flour, salt, and milk together really well to make the batter.
  • Pour the batter into a jug or bowl and let rest for 30 minutes
  • When the oven is to temperature, open the door and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to each muffin hole in the muffin pan. Push the oven shelf back into the oven and shut the door. Heat oil for 5mins until smoking hot.
  • Open the oven door and slide the shelf half out and quickly fill each muffin hole with batter up to 2/3 rds of each hole then quickly and carefully slide the shelf back into the oven.
  • Leave the oven door shut for 15 mins. Do not open!
  • Remove them after 15 mins as the puddings will be golden on the outside and soft on the inside. If you prefer them more cooked, turn the oven down to 300 degrees and cook for another 10mins.

Roasted Acorn Squash With Butter and Cranberries

1 acorn squash, cleaned and cut into 6 sections
olive oil
salt and peper
1 cup of dried cranberries
1/4 cup of butter


  • Arrange the sections of squash in a baking dish.
  • Drizzle olive oil over squash pieces.
  • Season with salt and pepper and scatter over some of the fresh thyme with a few of the whole thyme sprigs.
  • Bake in a 350 Fahrenheit oven for 20-25 minutes or until quite soft and golden brown.
  • While the squash is baking, melt the butter until lightly brown then add cranberries to soften them.
  • Remove the squash from the oven and drizzle the butter and cranberry mixture over them.