Roast Beef and Avocado Finger Sandwiches

What is up with me and finger sandwiches for the holidays? Strange.

I haven’t made this appetizer in several years. I remember it being good and that the Boy likes it and that’s about all based on my meticulous notes. I wanted something simple this year for the holidays and while these flavors don’t scream “holidays” at all, they are good nonetheless.

D&D_1493The first time I made this was in the summer and it worked then as well. The important thing with this recipe is to make it at the last minute and not let the bread get dry. Cover with a damp paper towels and some cling film until time serve.

1 ripe Hass avocado
juice of a lime
1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 slices white bread, very thin slices – White Mountain
2 Tbs Duke’s mayo
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, more if you like
1⁄2 lb thinly sliced rare roast beef

In a small bowl mash avocado. Stir in lime juice, chives, salt, and pepper.
Spread avocado mash over 6 slices bread, dividing evenly.

Mix mayonnaise with prepared horseradish.
Spread other 6 slices bread with about 1 teaspoon each horseradish-mayonnaise.
Top with roast beef, dividing evenly.

Gently press avocado-topped bread slices onto each sandwich.

Using long serrated knife, trim off crusts and cut each sandwich lengthwise into thirds.

Makes 18 or so.

16 August 2008 – v.g.

If you have more filling, make more sandwiches. They will not go to waste.

This is just such a great flavor combination and you think the horseradish might over power, but it does not. The creaminess of the avocado and especially the sharpness of the lime all mix together with the roast beef.

You can also toast the bread before you make these and that is good, but don’t go overboard with damp paper towels then or the bread loses it crunch.

Carrot & Raisin Salad

I have never made this for Thanksgiving, ever. I made it this because I love it even though I know neither the Boy nor the MotH likes it at all – their loss, more for me. So I made it because there would be other family members at Thanksgiving in case someone other than me might like it too. I do think that worked.

D&D_2329These are random thoughts:

I eat carrot/raisin salad for breakfast – just a couple of days in the fridge and this really is excellent. It keeps so much better than cole slaw. Cole slaw need to be made the day you are eating it and then just toss it out. That is not to say you cannot use the cole slaw mix for days and days, you just have to dress it the day you are going to eat it. This works really well, especially when serving bbq pork or sloppy joes.

Oh, and yes, breakfast because apparently I have to eat meals now. Ugh.

I have no recipe for carrot & raisin salad* – same as with cole slaw.  Let me try to explain. I peel and grate a 1 pound bag of carrots on the large holes of a box grater. Put that in a bowl. Add golden raisins – sultanas, and decided if I need more raisins. Then get out the Duke’s mayonnaise. This is where you must be careful. Too much mayo will make just a hot mess. So add the Duke’s judiciously. A little at a time – a little kosher salt now would be a good thing. Then let the whole damn mess sit refrigerated overnight and decide if you need to add something more. In my case, a couple of days later the salad needed a little more (very little) mayonnaise. Made the difference in my breakfast this week. Indeed.

Carrot Raisin Salad is always for my brother’s birthday. That’s saying a lot. I’ve said this before, probably lots, but for our birthdays growing up you got your favorite meal for your birthday. My brother’s favorite was roast beef with rice and gravy and carrot & raisin salad. Maybe it was the roast beef I made the week before Thanksgiving that made this happen, but no matter what this was a really good treat for me and the others that recognized this** on the Thanksgiving buffet.

Who writes about carrot & raisin salad? No body but me.

*Why is it called a salad – it’s like a carrot slaw with sultanas. Oh, and pineapple-ly things will never, ever, be involved in carrot/raisin salad. Ugh – just so wrong. Yes, I have very strong opinions about food. I think we all do. Well, even if we all don’t, I still do.

**Yes, it was all of us old-ish people, but they enjoyed it. Me, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law’s mother, and I think my brother-in-law too. Yes, I was looking at plates. Based on what I saw, I think they liked it.

Either way, a great breakfast for a few days at the office.

Roast Beef with red wine pan sauce

I love roast beef, but I just do not make it often – and here is the why of the story. My mom’s roast beef was, in a word, heavenly. So much so that it was my brother’s birthday request meal – roast beef, rice & gravy and carrot & raisin salad. But I do not a have a recipe from her for it – a recurring theme here, as is very apparent. The one thing I do remember was that you put the roast into a very hot oven, guessing 450 degrees, and let the exterior crust sear to the point where, as my mom so delicately put it – the smoke alarm in the kitchen goes off. Not kidding – part of the instructions. Love it. Right? D&D_2271

All this, and I am never quite sure what kind of roast to purchase. But I happened upon this recipe and the Publix had a roast for sale that fit the bill. It was a 2 pound little guy and was just a bit over $8 at the sale price – sold! The recipe was not quite a gravy liked I am used to, but I never turn down a pan sauce with wine in it either (big surprise, I know), so there we are.

2 pound sirloin tip roast
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs cold water
1 Tbs unsalted butter, or more.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Salt and pepper, and let beef sit at room temperature for one hour. Pat beef dry with paper towels and place in a oven-safe skillet. Place in preheated oven for 10 minutes then reduce temperature to 275 degrees and roast until desired done-ness. For a two pound roast = 1 and 3/4 hours for medium-rare, or up to two hours for medium-well, but who wants that? Blech. Nobody.

Remove roast from oven and set aside, tent with foil to rest. Leave pan drippings in the skillet and taste – this is key if you are like me and always salt a roast before it hits the heat. Heat skillet over medium heat and add wine to deglaze. Add broth and simmer to reduce by half. Whisk together corn starch and water, add to sauce and simmer to thicken. Remove from heat, add butter, taste again and adjust seasonings.

19 November 2017 – Tramotina 12″ skillet – Burnt my damn hand – idiot.

Modified from Closet Cooking (Thanks again Kevin!) – The Perfect Roast Beef  Kevin’s post includes different roasts that will work for the recipe and cooking times based on weight. Glad Kevin did the work so I do not have to. Ugh Math, or something like it.

Had some issues with the cornstarch and water mixture – it just lumped up. Had to sieve it out of the pan sauce. Need to sort this out because I know my mom used the same technique to make gravy for roast beast – figure out the chemistry of cornstarch. Lord, now we have science too. Yikes, this might just be beyond me.

Thermapen – to determine interior temperature –  a very very good investment. Love this thing!

Love twisty top wine – Australia Shiraz and the Boy finished what was left. Kind of the same way he finishes milk when I am done with it for whatever recipe I purchased it for. It was a lovely Shiraz if I do say so myself.  I know everyone says this, but do not cook with a wine that you will not drink. It is a maxim that holds true.

Next time, I think crimini mushrooms will be involved – lots of them and maybe a few onions as well. Nothing ever goes wrong when you pan roast mushrooms and onions.

Roast Beef Sandwiches with Horseradish-Cream & Romaine

Another recipe I have not made in ages, but have made a lot (see below) and my notes made me realize that the Boy enjoyed it. I wanted a little something different for Thanksgiving appetizer this year – beside my very traditional (though lovely) sweet potato biscuits with ham, horseradish, and cranberry. Side: just fixed an atrocious sentence – this is why you re-read to edit. D&D_2309

1 loaf Italian bread, sliced
3/4 pound thinly sliced rare-ish roast beast
Romaine lettuce
1/2 cup sour cream
Horseradish to taste
Zest and juice of one lemon – very important
Kosher salt / Freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or parchment. Toast bread on one side for three minutes and the other side for four. Remove from oven and cut each slice of bread in half. The bread should still be soft-ish but have a bit of crunch to it as well.

So the horseradish cream is a play-it-by-ear kind of thing. You could use Duke’s mayonnaise instead of sour cream, but I prefer sour cream – little smoother. Mix in how ever much horseradish you like and taste as you go. The lemon zest and juice are a requirement – it makes the biggest difference. Then season well with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. This is really the part that makes the sandwich work.

Then, just assemble. 1/2 slice of bread, horseradish cream, roast beef, crunchy romaine leaves, and the other 1/2 slice of bread. That’s it – kind of dead simple when you get right down to it. This is something that really needs to be made just an hour or so before you are going to eat it. The bread needs that slight crunch. Can’t have the horseradish cream making the bread soft and the romaine needs to be super crunchy – which is why you rinse it in super cold water – oh, and I always remove the stem – hate those things. Ugh.

24 December 2004
24 December 2006
24 December 2008 – The Boy’s request and he made them
25 April 2009 – The Boy’s 16th birthday
10 May 2009 – Mom’s Day at W&J’s
23 November 2017 – Thanksgiving

*Needs a better name

Roast Beef with Gravy

My mom’s “recipe” (seem to start a lot of ideas that way when it comes to cooking) for roast beef and gravy was amazing. Maybe I have a memory that makes things seem better after time, but I do not think so. In our family, it was a thing on your birthday that you decided dinner for the night. I was weird, so my favorite meal was, the very exotic, taco ( I know, I know) and, wait for it … pecan pie. No cake for me. It was is totally a strange combination. I knew it then and I really know it now. But it is what I wanted and that’s what I got. And May 12th happens to be my birthday. Who knew? Um. me.

D&D_9463

Roast Beef w gravy and Carrot & Raisin Salad

My elder (only) brother, on the other hand, was more reasonable. And it’s funny now that I think about it. His was the only other birthday dinner I know by heart even now. Of the 4 of us – just mine and his. His was Roast Beef and gravy with rice and carrot and raisin salad. I’m sure he had a cake, and I expect it was yellow cake with fudge frosting. That cake was amazing and I guess I need to figure it out too.

Back to my mom’s recipe. It still makes me laugh, because it’s slightly absurd. You put the roast in the over at 450 degrees until, as she said, the smoke detector goes off. Then you lower the temp to 350 degrees and cook. But this recipe sounds really good to me and might be a bit more accurate or something. Nothing about smoke detector – which is slightly sad in a way.

Roast Beef with Gravy
– Trisha Yearwood
1.5 pound boneless chuck roast
salt and black pepper
1 large red onion, sliced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 Tbs all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Line a 9 x 13 pan with heavy duty foil large enough to fully wrap the roast. The shiny side of the foil should be up. Sprinkle roast on all sides with salt and pepper and place in the center of the foil Spread onion slices over the top and pour vinegar around it. Bring the ends of the foil together and fold several times to completely enclose the roast pour 1 inch of water in the pan around the roast. Bake until roast is fork tender, about 3-4 hours. Check the water level in the pan regularly and replenish as needed

When the roast is done, remove package from pan and let cool for a few minutes. Open package carefully transfer meat to a platter and keep warm. Pour roasting juice into measuring cup and let fat rise to the surface. Skim off fat, reserving 4 Tbs in a sauce pan and discard rest. If not 4 Tbs, add butter to make up the difference.

Measure the remaining defatted pan juices and reserve. If you have less than 2 cups, add water to make 2 cups. Add flour to fat in saucepan, and stir with wire whisk over medium low heat until the flour is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in reserved pan juices and stir until thicker.

Slice the roast or cut into chunks and serve with gravy.

March 2015   – and make some rice for the gravy and then some carrot and raisin salad – yep. Dale always had it right. Probably my third favorite dinner – right after tacos (w/pecan pie)  and chicken and rice. Totally. Sigh.