Friday, January 28, 2011

Daring Bakers'

I just spent the last 30 minutes enjoying my morning cup of coffee and staring at my computer screen watching all the beautiful cakes produced by Daring Bakers for this month's challenge.  The January 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog Accro.  She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entrements dessert.  The results of this challenge were amazing.  So many wonderful ideas and beautiful desserts to look at, it made me want to run to the kitchen and start baking.  I am always amazed by the finished products produced by the Daring Bakers, there is always such variety in the appearance of the finished products - which is amazing considering we are all using the same recipe.  I get wonderful ideas on presentation and everything always looks so yummy looking.  The love and dedication put into the baking is incredible.  I have just recently started to get into the baking challenges.  Cake Slice and Daring Bakers' are the main two I participate in, and they are both just fabulous.  I love that a group of people, spread out over the world,  puts such energy into making something suggested by a total stranger and are then willing to share their ideas and creations.  I love making and something for my family and friends, here, and know that it will also be shared, and hopefully enjoyed, by others who I don't know, or only know through blogging.  It is such an amazing way to create a community.
I unfortunately did not have time to complete the challenge this month, but if time allows I am hoping to give it a try this weekend.  I have made Entrements before and while it can be time consuming to get everything prepared they are beautiful and awed over.  The flavor options are endless, and once you get the basic elements made you can create a variety of stunning desserts, which is nice if you are putting a dessert table together for a party.  So until this weekend, when hopefully I will have a chance to make one, here is a picture from a couple years ago when I was taking a baking class.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gingerbread Men

This week I was one of  the parent helper in Aggie's preschool class.  It is a co-op preschool so about once a month I get to go in and help, and remind myself that I made the right decision in not becoming a preschool teacher  - not that I ever considered it, but I could never teach 4 year olds.  They are fun, but 14 of them all together is a lot, after 3 hours with them I am exhausted.  For the past couple of weeks the class has been reading "The Gingerbread Man."  They have read different variations of the story, acted it out and made various crafts.  To conclude the gingerbread theme the teacher asked if I would like to make gingerbread men cookies with the class.  I enjoy cooking with the kids when I parent help, so of course I agreed.  The kids did a great job and unlike last month when I made Latkes with the class, they were all really engaged and had a lot of fun.
I am still working on the best way to get prepared when cooking with a large number of kids.  In the past I have often tried to do too much with the kids and everyone gets overwhelmed, so this year I am picking one or two elements of the project for the kids to work on and then from there I figure out how to divide the process up so everyone has a chance to participate.  With the gingerbread cookies the dough needed to rest before rolling it out so we couldn't make the dough in class due to time constraints, so I made the dough the night before and broke it into small pieces for the kids to work with.
As the kids came over to the table I put a small dusting of flour down on the table, they then worked on rolling out the dough, cutting out the gingerbread man and decorating with raisin.  This worked well, but I think it would have been even easier if I had given them a small piece of parchment paper to roll the dough out on.  Some of the cookies stuck to the table and I wasn't able to help loosen the cookie before it was decorated, so we got some misshapen cookies. Despite the appearance of some they were delicious and luckily I made an extra large batch and  have dough left to make my own gingerbread man.
The recipe I used was from America's Test Kitchen and is made in a food processor, which I am always a little hesitant about.  It is a very quick and easy recipe that makes a soft spicy cookie, that bakes up nice and evenly - I hate it when gingerbread or any cookie bakes with bumps and lumps.  

Gingerbread Cookies
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tbs. Ground Cinnamon
1 Tbs. Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp. Salt
12 Tbs. Butter, softened cut into small pieces
3/4 cup Molasses
2 Tbs. Milk

Bake at 350
In a food processor combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda and spices.  Pulse until combined.  Scatter butter over top and process until mixture has a coarse sandy appearance.  In measuring cup combine molasses and milk.  With processor running add molasses milk mixture, mix until the dough is moist and forms a soft clump.  Roll dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a  1/4" thick.  Leave dough between parchment paper, place on cookie sheet and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.  Cut out desired shapes, place on baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes depending on size of shape. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cake

It's time again for Cake Slice.  This month was a Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip snack cake.  I was very excited to give it a try and had visions of s'mores in cake form - oh yumminess.  Unfortunately it wasn't the cake I had envisioned.  The kids enjoyed it, but anything that is sweet and chocolaty works for them.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either, it's just not a cake I will be making again.  I used a 9x6 pan so my cake was a little flat and I pulled it out of the oven after about 20 minutes, I think it was still slightly over baked.  The texture was a little dry and crumbly for my taste and the graham cracker gave the cake a slightly rough texture that I found a little odd.  The frosting didn't have enough marshmallow flavoring, but the texture was nice and fluffy.  I didn't read the directions carefully and iced the entire cake rather than adding a dollop with each serving as is suggested, but I don't think that impacted the overall cake.  This cake really needed some moisture and in thinking about it I think this recipe might be good as the base for an ice cream cake - hmmm maybe I will try it again.  
This is how to enjoy a s'more 
I think it is hard to reproduce a s'more in other forms. For me a s'more is a special treat to be enjoyed around a campfire.  Melted marshmallows cannot compare to the flavor of toasted marshmallows.  Nothing can compare to the slight crunch of the outside of the marshmallow releasing the gooey insides that slightly burn your mouth.  The chocolate lightly melted, mixing in with marshmallow as it oozes out of the graham cracker sandwich - oh I wish it were summer, or maybe I will have to reconsider my winter cook-out.

Here is the recipe for the Graham Cracker cake, give it a try or go check our the rest of the Cake Slice bloggers and see what they think.

January’s Cake: Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Snacking Cake
(Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman)
Makes one 8 inch square cake

For the Cake
8 whole graham crackers, finely ground (about 1 cup) *
¼ cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
6 tbsp (¾ stick) butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup confectioners sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup marshmallow fluff *

Method – Cake
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8inch square baking pan and dust it with flour, knocking
out any extra. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium
mixing bowl.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on
medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as
necessary. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Scrape down the
sides of the bowl and then beat until smooth.
With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, stirring until
combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, ending with the flour. Stir in the chocolate
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a
toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan
for about 10 minutes. Invert it onto a wire rack, and then turn it right side up to cool completely.

Method – Frosting
Place the butter in a medium mixing bowl and beat until creamy. With the mixer on low speed,
slowly add the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir in the vanilla and the marshmallow fluff and beat until smooth. Use immediately or cover the bowl with plastic
wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Cut the cake into squares and serve each one with a dollop of frosting on top. (Bring the frosting
back to room temperature first if it has been stored in the fridge). Store any uneaten cake in an
airtight container for up to 3 days.

I have done some research and in the UK, the closest ingredient we have to American Graham
crackers is Digestive Biscuits – any brand will do. You will need 12 Digestives to replace the 8
Graham crackers.
Marshmallow fluff is not readily available in the UK. Some TK MAX stores stock it, but if you
can’t find it then simply melt down 200g of white marshmallows.
Hope this helps

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hasty Pudding

Recently I have been trying to do a cooking activity with the kids after we finish reading a chapter book, or any fun book.  I especially enjoy doing this after reading a book that takes place in a different time period or region.  One of the things I love about food is that it is something we all need no matter where we are from, so it is an easy way for kids to relate to a new place or region, while at the same time learning about that time period or place.
Our most recent book was "Revolutionary War on Wednesday", which is from the Mary Pope Osborne Magic Tree House series.  I had originally thought it would be fun to do a winter cookout, similar to what Washington and his men experienced, but I believe there is a reason I don't live in the Colonial days.  I would have mad a terrible pioneer, I like modern day comforts, like heat.  So, even though we had perfect conditions - frigged temperatures and snow, I couldn't get myself to head out into the elements for a lovely meal of mush cooked over a fire.  Instead we opted for a colonial day treat, hasty pudding.

This was a quick snack to prepare that allowed for a variety of discussions.  We were able to discuss what other products we use that are similar to cornmeal and how grains are processed so we can use them as meal or flour.
As a coincidence we had polenta for dinner earlier in the week so we were able to discuss the similiarites between the two dishes as well as why it might be a dish that is eaten in different parts of the world and why it was a dish that would be available to a lot of people.  We broke out the maps and looked at where England and Italy are and who we know who live in those countries.  It was one of those rare times when everyone was engaged and interested and nobody (meaning me) was stressed out about messes or other things that needed to be done.  It was a great snack, not for the quality of the food, but for the moment in which it was shared, the perfect example of why I love food so much.

Hasty Pudding
2 cups Milk
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 Tbs Butter
1/4 cup Maple Syrup

Combine milk and cornmeal.  Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Add butter, stir until melted.  Stir in syrup and serve.

*we added diced pear to our pudding for an added treat.
**pictures by Liam (age 5)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snowflake Cake

I had a request for a snow themed cake for this weekend, which was nice since I have been seeing so many fun snow themed events on blogs recently and have been thinking I might need to have a party just so I could try some of the ideas.  The cake was a basic white cake from "The Cake Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum, with a lemon curd filling, one of my favorite combinations.  The cake was for a small winter party and I was given free reign to come up with the design.  I knew it would be a simple low key gathering so I decided to keep the cake simple as well.  I wanted to do the snowflakes in royal icing on parchment and then transfer them to the cake so they would be consistent in size, but my icing was foamy - too much meringue powder - and the snowflakes didn't firm up properly.  Since I wasn't able to transfer them I just piped them onto the cake.  The icing was firm enough so it didn't run while piping, but I didn't get the consistent look I was hoping for, overall it worked out fine just not the original vision.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chocolate Pear Cake

I came across Chele's - Chocolate Teapot - blog one day while blog hopping and loved the idea of the We should Cocoa challenge.  The January challenge was perfect, surplus stock or leftovers, and I knew right away that I would be using pears.

My husband's office received a beautiful box of Asian pears just before the holidays and since most of the people in the office were already on vacation most of the pears came home with him.  Lucking the pears weren't super ripe so I didn't have to use them right away and I was able to hunt around to find the perfect recipe.  One of the first recipes I came across was Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake on Smitten Kitchen, her site is wonderful, beautiful pictures and great recipes.  The recipe was similar to the Cranberry Cake I made last month as part of the Cake Slice Bloggers, so for those two reason, I knew it would be a good one.  I marked the recipe and continued looking for ideas, but in my search I kept coming across references to Deb's recipe so I knew it was the one to go with.

Chocolate Pear Cake 

This type of cake is one of my favorites, it has a wonderful crumb, it is moist and not overly sweet, yet it still has a nice sugary crunch.  The flavor/filling can easily be adjusted, so it is a wonderful base recipe to have in your collection.  Deb's recipe has less flour and more baking soda than the cake slice recipe, so even though they are sprinkled on top, the pear and chocolate really get enveloped into the batter providing the perfect distribution of yumminess.  This is the perfect snacking cake, but be careful it disappears quickly, as you will find yourself taking a little sliver every time you walk by.

Chocolate Pear Cake
1 c. Flour
1 Tbs. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
3 Eggs
4 oz. Butter
1/2 c. Sugar
1/4 c. Vanilla Sugar (can substitute with regular sugar)
3 Pears peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
3/4 c. Bittersweet Chocolate pieces

Preheat oven 350.  Prepare 9" springform pan.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.
With wish attachment whisk eggs until thick and pale.  The eggs should leave a thick ribbon, this will take about 8-10 minutes with a regular kitchen-aid style mixer.

While eggs are being whisked melt butter until brown.  The butter should become a nice golden brown, with a nutty smell.  Scrape the solids on the bottom of the pan as the butter cooks to ensure even browning.

Once eggs have reached the thick ribbon stage add sugar and beat for a couple of minutes.  Mixing until just incorporated add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the butter, add another 1/3 of the butter, then remaining butter, add remaining flour.  With each addition mix as little as possible, the entire process should take about a minute of mixing time.
Pour batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle diced pears and chocolate pieces on top.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

I am always attracted to cinnamon roll recipes, I'm always attracted to cinnamon rolls (my mid section can prove that).  Two years ago I did cinnamon rolls as Christmas gifts, they were fun gifts, but a lot of work, making batch after batch.  Shortly after I had spent weeks and weeks making cinnamon rolls I came across The Pioneer Woman's recipe.  It sounded amazing, but then again she makes everything sound amazing.  I filed the recipe away, but never got around to making them, now I'm wondering why I waited so long.  For the past two years when I wanted cinnamon rolls I stuck to my usual small batch recipe.  Oh what a fool I was.  Spending just a few hours making enough dough for about 5 dozen rolls is definitely the smarter option. Now when I want cinnamon rolls I pull frozen dough out of the freezer the night before and awake the having freshly proofed cinnamon rolls waiting to go in the oven, it's the way life should be.
This past Christmas, I need a few more gifts and was tired of making fudge and cookies, so I turned to the cinnamon rolls.  I was a little hesitant because wasn't sure if I would have enough room to work with such a large batch of dough and I was also a  little skeptical that these would be as easy as Ree said, but she was right, they went together quickly and easily.  Once the dough is made the rolls are made working in small batches, which is really nice because you can do a variety of flavors.  On my first run through with this dough I did just cinnamon rolls.  On my second batch, yes I have already made it twice - making up for lost time - I mixed it up.  I did some cinnamon and keeping the maple theme going I also made some maple walnut using more of my maple sugar stash .  I am now a convert and these will probably be in my freezer at all times, so if you ever need a cinnamon roll, come on over, they are delicious!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Peanut Butter Comfort

Tonight was one of those nights where there was a lot of screaming, everyone - big and small - had a tantrum of some sort and by the time the kids were finally asleep I was done, I needed a little pick me up.  There weren't any fresh baked treats in the kitchen and I didn't have the energy to spend a lot of time making something, so I went to my old standbys, peanut butter and chocolate.
I needed something warm and gooey, peanut butter on a spoon wasn't going to cut it.  It was time to go to an old favorite, peanut butter and toast with chocolate chips.  I like to think of this as the first recipe I ever developed.  I started making it for my afternoon snack in elementary school and it has remained my go to comfort food.  It is a classic combination, good at any time day or night, and it can be fixed in a matter of minutes providing a little bit of warmth and comfort when it is needed most.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kids Cooking - Homemade Pasta

Making pasta is a wonderful activity to do with kids.  The basic ingredients are familiar to kids, yet there are opportunities to introduce new ingredients.  The basic process is easy, yet there are many options for experimentation.  It is an activity that can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.  You can quickly make a batch in the afternoon and enjoy it for dinner that night.  Of, course, as with anything there is room for error, but you can't learn if you don't make mistakes, and making pasta is a great way for kids to experiment, make mistakes and learn.
We first started making pasta with the kids about 2 years, when my oldest got the book The Silver Spoon for Children as a Christmas present.  If you don't have this book, or the adult version The Silver Spoon, you need to go get it, now.  In both books the recipes are just amazing.  The children's book is broken into four sections, each section containing 10-15 recipes, so it isn't overwhelming to look through.  Each recipe gives a little bit of food or Italian history - for example "Tomatoes have only been grown in Italy since the sixteenth century.  At first, people were suspicious of tomatoes because they are related to a poisonous plant called deadly nightshade, but lucky for us, the Italians soon realized how delicious they were."  Who knew, I know I didn't know that and now I have a five year old sharing the information with his teacher.  The recipes are very simple to follow, there are drawings clearly showing each step, while the text is very easy to read and follow.  I also like the portion sizes of the recipes they easily feed a family of 4-5 and seem very manageable.  We have a large collection of children's cookbooks, and this is one of my favorites.  There are many wonderful things about this book and I really recommend it for any young cook in your life.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled program - the pasta.  As I said the basic ingredients - flour and eggs - are familiar to kids and they are two of the best ingredients for playing with in the kitchen.  Kids of all ages love to play with flour, it's messy, but fun and you can't beat the thrill of watching a 5 year old cracking an egg and watching it ooze out of the shell.  When we make pasta we like to make it right on the table, without a bowl.  My kids find this way much more exciting, yes it has been much messier at times, but the adventure for the kids far out weighs the mess.
The assembly process of pasta is very simple.  Measure the flour in the middle of the table (or in a bowl), make a small well in the center and add your eggs.  

Slowly and carefully begin mixing eggs and flour together. You want to bring the flour in slowly from the sides without breaking the walls until the eggs are well coated with flour.

Once the dough begins to form a ball, begin working it with your hands.  Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.  The dough is too big for little kids to knead on their own, so at this point I break the dough into smaller pieces and get helpers.  After each little piece has been worked for a while I put them back into one ball and work until well incorporated.   After the dough is well kneaded, let it rest, then comes the fun - deciding how to shape the pasta.

My kids like to use the pasta machine, but it definitely is not necessary to have, or use one, a rolling pin works just fine.  And even if you do have a roller it is fun to let the kids cut and shape the pasta after it has been rolled thin using the machine.

I recommend making the base dough at least once, and then begin experimenting.  This weekend we tried beet pasta, there was no beet flavor, but the color was pretty and my girls where thrilled to be eating pink food.  They love pasta as it is, but pink pasta was just magical.
To make flavored or "colored" pasta puree your chosen ingredient - spinach, sun dried tomatoes, peppers and now beet are a few of our favorites - and begin working it in once the dough is formed into a loose ball.  As you knead the dough it will become evenly distributed.
Have fun with the pasta, make it as easy or complex as you like.  Weather you do plain or flavored (colored) pasta.  Cut it into strips, fold it into ravioli or just twirl it, it is a lot of fun and a great family activity.

Fresh Pasta Dough
1 3/4 cups Flour
3 Eggs

In large bowl (or right on the table ) measure and sift flour.  Form a well in the middle of the flour and crack eggs into the well.  Using a fork slowly begin whisking the eggs, gently incorporating the flour as you mix.  Once dough is formed into a ball begin kneading until smooth and elastic.  Let dough rest, covered under damp dish towel, for 30 minutes.  Roll dough into thin sheets using a pasta machine or rolling pin, then cut into desired shape.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Butterfinger Cheesecake

This year I took advantage of the day after Halloween candy sales and stocked up on a lot of candy, it is kept in the freezer to keep any temptations at bay.  I pulled out the first bag for New Year's Eve and made a butterfinger cheesecake, and oh yum.  I could live on cream cheese it is just heavenly.  It can be eaten anytime, day or night.  Throw a hunk on a plate pour on some chutney, jam or salsa and you have a wonderful snack, schemer some on a bagel add some lox and you get the best brunch, mix in some sugar and eggs and you get cheesecake, oh cream cheese you sweet, tangy, velvety goodness!  And don't even get me started on my love of butterfingers.

Anyway,  I decided to combine these two luscious treats for our New Year's eve dessert.  It was a great cake and a nice way to end 2010.  I didn't plan very well and made the cake late in the afternoon, so my cooking time conflicted with dinner prep.  I had to rush the amount of time it was in the oven and wound up with a sunken cake with a giant crack in the middle.   It wasn't pretty, but it still tasted good, probably because of all the candy I put on top.  There was a great deal of discussion on how to best incorporate the butterfinger,  but after much debate decided to go for the trifecta.  Medium sized pieces sprinkled on the bottom, finely chopped pieces mixed into the batter and some more medium chopped pieces sprinkled on top.  The pieces I put in the cake melted and left just a hint of flavor, while the pieces on top gave a nice crunch, which contrasted nicely with creaminess of the cake.

For the crust  I used a standard, ground Nabisco Chocolate Wafers mixed with a little melted butter.  I baked the crust for a few minutes and then while the crust was still hot I sprinkled some candy over the bottom.  There are thousands of  cheesecake recipes, but I like to keep it simple - cream cheese, sugar, and  eggs.  Sometimes I do add heavy cream or sour cream for an added creaminess or tang.  And if I'm adding a liquid flavoring, like a jam or liquor, I will add a little flour to help bind everything and give it support.  For the most part tho,  I like to keep the base as "pure" as possible so I can really get that yummy cream cheese taste and texture.

If you have never made a cheese cake or if it has been awhile go ahead and do it.  It is a nice light way to start the New Year (ha, ha, ha) and they are always well received.  Weather you make a sweet or savory cake there are a couple of things you want to keep in mind.  One, always bring your ingredients up to room temperature before you begin mixing everything together.  Cream cheese is best when it hasn't been over mixed and having things at temperature allows them to mix together easier.  You want it smooth and creamy, over beating it can make your cake tough and ugly.  Second, you need to give your cake time.  This is the one I usually forget - like I did on New Year's.  Cheesecakes need time they like to cook slowly and then cool slowly, and then they like to have a little time to rest before they meet their audience.  But because they like to  take their time getting prepared that means you get to take your time eating.  No need to rush, sit back and enjoy all that sweet creamy goodness.

Butterfinger Cheesecake
  2 c. crushed Chocolate Wafer Cookies
  4 Tbs. Butter, melted

  2 lbs. Regular Cream Cheese
  1 1/2 c. Sugar
  4 Eggs
  1 bag fun size Butterfinger Candy Bars finely chop half the bars and roughly chop remaining half

Preheat oven 325.  For the crust combine crushed cookies and butter.  Press into 9 or 10 inch springform pan.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with some of the finely chopped candy.  Cool.
Preheat oven 400.  In mixer combine cream cheese and sugar.  Mix until blended and smooth.  Scrape down bowl. Lightly whisk eggs together then add to cream cheese.  Beat until just combined, do not over mix.  Scrape down bowl and gently fold in remaining finely chopped candy.  Pour into crust lined pan.  Bake at 400 degree oven for 10 minutes; reduce temperature to 250 degrees and continue to bake 60 minutes or until just barely set, edges will look slightly dry and firm middle will move slightly.  Turn off the oven, leaving door slightly ajar, let cake cool in oven for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and let cool completely, then chill.   Just before serving top with melted chocolate and remaining roughly chopped candy bars.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

We had a filling, yet quiet New Year celebration.  Early in the day we had family and friends over and enjoyed a delicious meal.  Everyone left around 6:00 to catch flights back home or get to other celebrations and since we ate so much, so early it was a struggle to stay up and ring in the New Year, but Marshall and I managed to just make it.  Since we were feeding a large number we wanted to keep our menu simple so we went with a New York strip roast (we got the roast at Costco and it was beautiful, they have wonderful meats), roasted potatoes and green beans.  This tends to be our go to menu when we need to serve a lot of people and while I always worry that it is not enough, it is always well received.  Marshall and I did not agree on the prep of the beef.  I wanted a simple salt and pepper rub, while Marshall wanted to kick things up a little.  After much debate and the fact he was fixing the meat, we kicked it up.
The rub consisted of coarse salt, peppercorn, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, onion powder and garlic, mashed in a mortar.  Oil was used to bind it all together and we then put a thick coating covering the entire piece of meat.  After about 2 hours in the oven our 14lb roast came out a perfect medium rare.  We kept the potatoes simple, just a quick toss in olive oil some salt and pepper and tossed them in the oven.  Green beans were also equally simple.  Some day I will learn not to stress just because the meal we are serving is basic, and I will just enjoy the process,  they really are the best meals.
Hope you all had a wonderful New Year.  I am looking forward to a great year with hopes of continued development of this little blog and meeting more of you out there in the blogosphere.   Happy 2011!!