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Viviendo la Vida Dulce

by Christine Vega

 

I love food. Who doesn’t?

Food brings friends and families together; it makes parties better and can tell a story of a generation and culture. As I’ve gotten older, I’m more apt to trying new things, new flavors, and more willing to step outside of the boring pre-packaged, drive-thru, microwavable culinary complacent trap that many people fall into. I’m no different than most people, although about 10 years ago, my husband and I decided to live a slightly healthier lifestyle, which meant no more processed foods. We now frequent Cleveland’s Westside Market, one of our cities gems, for fresh foods and fresh cut meats, and it has made a world of difference. We’re just trying our best to make smarter decisions to fuel our bodies and to show our kids that healthier choices are better for their bodies. We still really love having cakes, cookies, sweet yumminess – but it’s all in moderation.

What I hope to achieve with my food-filled musings is to walk you through my culinary adventures as a home cook/baker and see what my process is when I go about planning a dinner or hoping to surprise my friends with some random acts of sugar that end up at their doorsteps. I get most of my inspiration through Pinterest, old family recipes, talking with my friends about flavor combinations, and picking the brains of my generous foodie and chef friends when my neurotic inspiration strikes.

Recently, to celebrate one year of success for my son’s diagnosis of Type One Diabetes Management, we decided to mark the occasion with a nice dinner. He had come home from the hospital on Valentine’s Day 2014, it had been a roller coaster of a year – we needed to celebrate his health. I decided on a beautiful bone-in prime rib roast. When purchasing meat from your local butcher, don’t shy away, take the time to talk to them about preparation, what cut is best, what amount is needed, and any other questions you have. That’s their specialty, just ask. I’ve been to a few of them in my area at the West Side Market, most recently Lance’s Beef, they went above and beyond – they stayed later for me, on Valentine’s Day, which was a Saturday, and worked with me to pick out a great cut of beef for my family dinner.

So, I had my main protein 4-5 lbs. of bone-in standing prime rib roast. I seasoned it with a simple combination of thyme, salt, pepper, and a light coating of olive oil. It was roasted at 475* F for about half an hour to sear the outside, and then the temp was lowered to 350* for the remainder of the time, which was until the internal temperature was at my desired temp of about 130 for medium rare. I let it rest so the juices would settle in before cutting it.

While it was resting, I set forth on my maiden voyage of Yorkshire Puddings. I had heard of them, never really knew what they were. Is it bread, pudding, sweet, or savory? So what is it? I looked online and it’s an English popover made of eggs, milk, and flour, and it also utilizes the pan drippings from the delicious roast that I just finished. It’s a light, airy, version of an American dinner roll. I checked online, found some recipes, compared them with each other and settled on one that utilized the supplies that I have at home.

The recipe I decided on was from Martha Stewart, because, well – its Martha (recipe follows). I had started combining the ingredients when the roast had just about finished and I figured the puddings would have time to bake when the meat was resting. Timing is everything!

I got everything combined and mixed, got the cupcake/muffin tins ready by adding the pan drippings from the roast into each cavity first, then poured the batter over each one. I over poured the batter into the tins because I wanted them to be huge and oversized. Also, with a smaller roast, I didn’t have as much pan drippings as you would with a larger cut of beef and I didn’t want to waste the batter.

Flash-forward to about 25-30 minutes, again – it depends on your oven, I cooked until golden brown. The meat was ready to be carved, the puddings were beautiful and fragrant, and the pan drippings added this whole extra level of flavor that I have never known before. I also quickly roasted some asparagus in the oven, with my favorite seasoning from Chef Glenn Lyman: G|Cooks Citrus Sea Salt. It gives it such a fresh, light flavor and I can’t get enough of it, without it being overly salty and killing its flavor.

8 final meal

All in all, we can’t go wrong with the roast, but now with these Yorkshire puddings, I have a new side to add into my recipe arsenal. What’s more, I feel now that I have a pretty good basis for these puddings, so the next time I make them, I’ll try adding some extra seasonings to it, like thyme & rosemary. Dinner was delicious, everyone loved it, and although most were apprehensive about trying something that sounded weird, the puddings were anything but.

Yorkshire Pudding

Adapted from: http://www.marthastewart.com/339838/yorkshire-pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 tablespoons pan drippings, reserved from Roast

Directions

  1. Combine and stir flour, eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir remaining milk into batter. (The batter should resemble a heavy cream.) Pour 1 teaspoon of the drippings into each popover cup (1/2 teaspoon if using muffin tins), and then place in oven for 2 minutes. Carefully pour batter into cups, filling each 1/3 full. Bake until puffed up and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Serve immediately.

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