Local food for the holidays

This past weekend, my husband’s family came to town to celebrate Christmas with us. We wanted a nice celebratory dinner, but we’ll all be doing turkey next weekend, so that seemed like overkill. After some thought, and with the help of my good friend Google, I decided to go for a British style roast beef dinner, complete with Yorkshire puddings. I had fun, tried a few new things, and thought some of the ideas would be worth sharing in time for Saturday’s big dinner.

Menu

  • Carrot-Potato-Cheddar Soup
  • Roast Beef
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Mixed Beans
  • Corn
  • Yorkshire Puddings
  • Sour-Cream Rhubarb Pie

First stop was the farmer’s market, where we found a fantastic 3.5 pound tenderloin roast of NS beef. We also picked up local potatoes and green and yellow beans, and there were still eggs, carrots, garlic and onions at home from our weekly food box, and rhubarb in the freezer from our spring harvest. (Also needed: butter, flour, salt, pepper, olive oil, cheddar cheese, sour cream, sugar, tapioca mix… and anything else you may wish to add.)

The roast was rubbed with olive oil, minced garlic, sea salt and pepper, and roasted at 425 for 1 hour and 20 minutes. When finished, I removed it from the pan, wrapped it tightly in foil to trap the juices, and let it sit 15 minutes while making gravy.

carrot soup

Once the roast was in the oven, I started on the soup. The soup is modified from one found on Allrecipes.ca (I use veggie broth rather than chicken, and fresh onion and garlic rather than powdered). I peeled and cubed 4 large potatoes, 3 large carrots, and 1 medium onion. Then, I heated 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot, and added the vegetables plus 2 cloves of garlic, minced. I cooked the vegetables in the oil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, I added 4 cups of vegetable broth, and simmered the vegetables until they were soft. Using an immersion blender, I pureed the mixture. (Can also split in halves or thirds and puree in blender.) 10 minutes before serving, stir in ¾ cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

The potatoes were my favourite recipe, from the classic Julia Child cookbook. I peeled and diced 6 medium potatoes and set to boil. Then, I boiled 1.5 inches of water in a small pan. I separated but did NOT peel one whole bulb of garlic. (Note bulb – all of the cloves. I did this wrong the first time and was disappointed.) I dropped the cloves into the boiling water and let boil for 2 minutes, then drained and peeled the cloves. Carefully. They were hot. Then I slowly cooked the garlic in 2 tbsp of butter on very low heat. When bulbs were soft, I added 1 tbsp of flour, and mixed to a paste, then added ¼ cup boiling milk. Mash the garlic – with a fork or potato masher.

Keep this paste on low heat, stirring occasionally until potatoes are ready to be mashed. (Add additional butter or boiling milk if potatoes take longer than planned.) Add garlic paste to potatoes as they are mashed (with additional milk if needed for consistency).

The beans were a simple recipe I adopted from about.com. Take 2 cups of green and 2 cups of yellow beans. Wash and cut into 2 inch lengths. Blanch for 8-10 minutes. Drain. Add ½ cup chopped onion, 2 tbsp of butter and optional pine nuts (2-3 tbsp). Cover and let sit 3-5 minutes. Serve. Even your husband who complained earlier that he doesn’t like beans will enjoy these. Trust me.

This was my first time making Yorkshire puddings. My husband’s mum is Scottish and he grew up with some traditional British foods. He loved the idea of me learning to make Yorkshire pudding. His Mum, Gran and Gran’s beau (an Englishman), were visiting so it seemed a fitting addition to the menu. They were easier than anticipated, but as they are best served immediately, timing was important in my small kitchen.

Roast Beef with Yorkshire pudding, potatoes and vegetables

I premixed the wet & dry ingredients in separate bowls to simplify. In bowl one: 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 tbsp olive oil. Bowl two: 1 cup flour (may use ½ whole wheat, ½ white), ½ tsp salt. When the roast was out of the oven, I quickly mixed the two, poured into greased muffin tins, and baked at 425 F for 20 minutes. Light, fluffy, delicious. Serve with gravy.

Added to this was low-sodium canned corn. Not local, but I have stomach issues and this is the only way I can eat corn – simply can’t digest the fresh stuff (not that you can find it these days anyway).

Last but not least: Dessert. Sour-Cream Rhubarb Pie. When we got married eleven years ago, one of my most used shower gifts was a Company’s Coming “Pies” cookbook. This recipe is from that book, and I have modified it to work with a smaller  pie pan, and frozen rhubarb. We have a very prolific rhubarb patch in our backyard and always have some in the freezer,  precut and ready to stew.

(Note: My plan had been to make my own crust with locally milled whole wheat flour. This did not work. I never did figure out why. I can only assume that with a house full of guests I must have been distracted long enough to add the wrong quantity of something to the bowl and ruin the dough. After 20 minutes unsuccessfully trying to make it work, I was rescues by a frozen crust in the back of the freezer.)

If using fresh rhubarb, cut into 1 inch chunks, and fill pie shell to ½ inch below rim of dish. If using frozen fruit, as I was, defrost and drain well. Pat out excess water with a towel. Sprinkle bottom of shell with instant tapioca mix, to absorb additional water. Fill pie shell with rhubarb as above. Mix 1 cup sour cream with1  ½ cup sugar and 1/3 cup flour. Spread over top of the rhubarb. Make a crumble top-crust with ½ cup flour, ½ cup brown-sugar and ¼ cup softened margarine. Sprinkle over top. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and cook another 30-40 minutes (edges are puffy, top is golden).

Enjoy! Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Natalie Joan

Note: My camera was malfunctioning. Photos here are the best stock images I could find to represent what I cooked.

2 thoughts on “Local food for the holidays

  1. Pingback: Food (not so much a post as a link) « Musings from Natalie Joan

  2. I am the Scottish Mum mentioned in this article and dont have the ability to write like my daughter in law does, but have the ability to comment on this marvellous feast. I wasnt allowed to help in the kitchen and Natalie outdid herself with a marvellous dinner , wonderful to look at and even better to eat. I highly recommend the menu.
    thanks Nat!

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