Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thyme for a January warm-up

I love having fresh herbs. I have fresh rosemary that I can take from my bush outside any time I like (though it's covered with 8 inches of snow right now). I needed thyme for a recipe and actually had to buy thyme as I used all the stuff in my garden up. So I found myself with a large package of fresh thyme that needed to be used or dried. Usually I'm too lazy to dry my fresh herbs so I've been putting thyme in everything.

We have decided that winter, because the oven needs to be on for so long, is the very best time to make a long, slow roast. We had a Roseda top round in the freezer so I decided I wanted to make an herb-crusted roast. There are two options when making a top round rare roast beef. You can use the fancy method where you put it in a very hot oven for 20 minutes and then turn the oven off, or you can keep the kitchen nice and toasty for 2-3 hours at 300 degrees, just like Mom did when I was growing up. I went for option B.

First I coated the roast in a mixture of rosemary, thyme, 3 cloves of garlic, sea salt and pepper, ground up in the food processor with about 2 tbsp olive oil. I smeared this all over the roast, put it in the baking pan and popped it in the oven. DONE!

I'm on a fruits and vegetables kick. Understand, I don't necessairly admit to enjoying eating these things (meat and potatoes girl from Wisconsin you know ;-) but I bought the zucchini so I had to figure out what to do with it. My sweetie said roasted, I interpreted that to be gratin and found a lovely zucchini-basil gratin suggested in my Herbfarm cookbook. Since it's January, and my basil plants are definitely not out there in my herb garden, I change the gratin to a Zucchini-Thyme gratin, followed the recipe and popped it in next to the roast.

Now that the kitchen was all toasty warm, we decided to use some of the homemade bow-tie pasta that we had made over Christmas to go with it. We've been experimenting with homemade pastas for the last month. Lasagna, tagliatelle, raviolis, and now bows. We made so many bow-ties that we dried some. I decided to use them but found that I only had about 3oz, so we mixed them with egg noodles. I went for peas (more vegetables) as I had some fresh snow peas and a package of frozen peas so I decided to use those. I cut up a shallott and fried it up in some bacon grease and butter (yes I keep a thing of bacon grease in my fridge) and then added some thyme and a little bit of dried mint from last year's stash. Added the peas and snow peas cut up into 3/4 inch slices and then put in the cooked pasta. Drizzle with olive oil and voila!

As you can see, the plate turned out very tasty. The gratin with the parmesan on top was delciously salty, the meat tender and the pasta refreshing (yes even with three fats).

In order to complete the dinner we needed dessert. Luckily, I had frozen chocolate buttercream left over from the buche de noel this Christmas, and I had frozen a sugar tart crust so I took those out, baked up a couple of tart shells, smeared on the chocolate buttercream, some Door County Cherry preserves that I had brought home from WI last summer and sprinkled it with toasted almonds. YUM!