Month: May 2013

Cook a Roast Beef for 25 minutes? Really??

I admit it. Sometimes I have to try things just to see if they work. Sometimes, they are failures. Like overnight oatmeal in a slow cooker (ick). But sometimes,  weird sounding recipes work.

I make a rib roast once every few years, and this was the week.   I remember someone once saying they put the roast into a hot oven, turned the oven off, and 2 hours later …perfection.  Well folks, that is almost how it works, and yes, it is pretty incredible.

Here’s how I did it:

1 beef rib roast, (mine was approximately 5 pounds)

1-2 tablespoons Montreal steak spice, OR coarse salt and crushed peppercorns

a few sprigs of rosemary

a few cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Remove roast from refrigerator.

Let it stand on counter for 30 – 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Dry the roast as well as you can.

Put garlic under strings, into whatever visible fat you can find, or into slits in the meat (preferably not on the ends).

Rub on steak spice, avoiding the ends.

Put rosemary through strings

Place beef in a roasting pan or cast-iron skillet, fat-side up, (bones down) and put in oven.

Cook undisturbed for 5 minutes per pound. (I really only cooked mine for 25 minutes!)

Turn off oven. Do not open oven door.  It is tortuous, and you will want to open it, but resist!

Leave roast to continue cooking, undisturbed, for two hours.



You will notice that no juice leaks onto your board when you slice the roast – it is all in the meat.  You also avoid the ugly grey ring around the edge.  Really, it works. Try it.


On a “Mission” in NYC

Choose 1 of the following statements:

I love it.

I hate it.

That seems to be the divide for people’s take on Mission Chinese Food in NYC.

I am saying right now that I’m in the “loving it” category.  Part of my vote is due to a really great understanding of flavours and textures.  The featured ingredient in my post today is the Szechuan Peppercorn, which isn’t a peppercorn at all. How fitting for a place that puts a spin on all things Chinese Foody.

The peppercorn is floral and spicy, and the taste is …. electric. It numbs the mouth, and imparts a woodsy, sweet bite of heat. It is unlike any other “hot” I have tasted, and is very hard to describe. It has been compared to juniper and novocaine, but neither of those really capture its magic. It’s most often paired with chili peppers, in Szechuan cuisine, to create an effect called ma la, often translated as spicy and tingly.

The Szechuan peppercorn is technically the dry berry husk of the prickly ash tree. The seeds of the berry themselves are tasteless; it’s the fragrant pink husks of the peppercorn that are valuable. Like some other habit-forming items, Szechuan peppercorns are actually toxic when ingested in large quantities!  The good news is that you really don’t need much for serious flavor!

Physiologically, the compounds in the peppercorn “appear to act on several different kinds of nerve endings at once, induce sensitivity to touch and cold in nerves that are ordinarily nonsensitive, and so perhaps cause a kind of general neurological confusion,” according to food scientist Harold McGee. He compares the buzzing, numbing effect to touching the terminals of a nine-volt battery to the tongue.


Mission Chinese Food is in New York’s Lower East Side

154 Orchard St between Rivington and Stanton

Lunch 12pm-3pm

Dinner 5:30pm-12am

(212) 529 8800

They welcome walk ins, some reservations accepted.

If you need to douse the flames, pop into il Laboratorio del Gelato for a coneful of yummy.

It is around the corner at:

188 Ludlow street  (at East Houston)

“Never the same twice” cookies

I love cookies. and I like having them ready in minutes. So I came up with the idea of making a “mix” that I leave in the fridge, and just add a few things to make it into dough.  The only thing is, I have never formalized the recipe, until now. SO here goes, and really, it is pretty un-scientific. Usually that spells failure for baking, but this time, it just lets you cheat as much as you like!

Seriously yummy, reasonable healthy oatmeal + whatever you like cookies:

1 cup all-purpose flour, OR 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2/3 cup dark-brown sugar  – I don’t bother packing it (or ⅓ white and ⅓ brown)

1 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon whole flax seed

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/2 cup dried currants or raisins or chocolate chips or dried cranberries, or a combo, and more is ok

1 large egg (2 whites are ok if you are watching cholesterol)

⅓cup vegetable oil

⅓ cup water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (I use convection, but a regular 350 degree bake is fine)

In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients and set aside. (I store this in the fridge and use it as is with some melted butter and/or water as a topping for fruit crisps.)

In a large bowl, whisk together oil,  water, and egg. Add dry mixture, and stir to combine; mix in oats and currants/raisins/chocolate chips/cranberries

Using a spoon or small scoop, place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

Cool 5 minutes on sheets, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.


In search of… a craving fix.

You know how sometimes you get a craving for the mundane, but you want it to be “just so”?  That happens to me, all too often.  Hence you see my posts for the brownies that I perfect after trying 6 recipes….

Planning an upcoming party, I’ve decided to do some weird sliders. I see a platter of turkey sliders with cranberry mostarda, Moroccan lamb sliders loaded with yummy spices, fresh salmon/wasabi burgers…. The dilemma is in the bun department. I love Montreal, but we do not know from slider buns. Certainly the concept of potato buns just gets a raised eyebrow.

I will post a photo of the slider-fest when it happens. In the meantime, here is the recipe for the yummiest burger/slider/nutella-vehicle buns on the planet:

Best Rolls Ever…Thought it is a better title than “Best buns ever”? Not sure…

Yields approximately 30-36 slider buns


1 cup mashed potatoes (I used 2 potatoes to make 1 cup of mashed potatoes…)

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup scalded milk

5 to 6 cups flour (I used 1 cup unbleached bread flour and 4 cups all-purpose)

1 packet dry active yeast (8 grams)

1/2 cup lukewarm reserved potato water with 1 teaspoon sugar added to it.


.    Boil potatoes until tender. Drain water, reserving 1/2 cup for use in rolls. Finely mash potatoes and measure 1 cup for rolls. Cool mashed potatoes to almost room temperature.

.    Scald the milk (bring it to a light boil).  Remove from heat and let cool.

.    Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm potato water. Set aside for at least 5 minutes. (It should be foamy.)

.    In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix together mashed potatoes, butter, eggs, sugar, honey and salt. Mix together on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

.    Add yeast mixture to lukewarm milk. Stir.

.    Add the yeast and milk mixture to the potato mixture. Mix on low speed until blended. It gets really creamy.

.    Gradually add flour (one cup at a time) until a soft dough forms.

.    Switch to the dough hook attachment on the stand mixer and knead for about 5 minutes at low speed, or turn onto a board and knead.

.    Place dough in lightly oiled bowl. Put dough in a slightly warm place, cover it and let the dough double (about 2 hours).

.    Punch down dough and shape into rolls, or roll out to about 3/4” thick and cut with cookie cutters or a pizza wheel. Place rolls about  1 1/2 inches apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets, or you can put them into round pans so they bake into a “flower” of pull-apart rolls.

.    Let dough rise again until they don’t bounce back when you poke them (at least an hour).  Alternatively, after shaping, put them in the fridge, then  take out and let rise for about 2 hours when you are ready to bake them.

.    Brush with an egg wash if you want them shiny.

.    Bake in a preheated oven set at 400 degrees for approximately 12 minutes.

buns in the oven...literally

buns in the oven…literally


a bowlful of yummy – these ones aren’t egg washed, and were cut with a cookie cutter

flour flower power

flour flower power