sunday dinner, a pictorial

On the list of basic dishes I have managed to go this far without making has been pot roast. I’ve always been wary of making large meat dishes because I live alone and that’s a lot of leftovers. But I’m better about figuring out what to do with the leftovers, so now I have to master the basics. As always, I turned to Dad, who supplied me first with the meat and then with a recipe. It came out fabulously and I can’t wait to do it again.

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The meat, in this case, a little more than a pound hunk of side steak.

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Garlic, a large shallot, and a couple of skinny carrots. I am not traditionally a fan of cooked carrots, but I eat them more readily if they’re stewed unto death. There was also some celery, which was too sad to photograph. I skipped out on the parsnip because I always skip out on the parsnip.

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Browning the meat in the dutch oven.

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They look huge, don’t they? Zoom lens.

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Ready for the oven. Sad celery, a bay leaf, and some red wine in evidence. Thyme is there if you look hard.

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After the first braise.

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All done.

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And, of course, gravy.

The accompaniments were broccoli, which you don’t need to see pictures of, and some rolls I made sort of half-heartedly, although they came out fine.

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The recipe for these came from one of the treasure trove of cookbooks I found hidden away, a collection of giveaways and trendy-at-the-time (for values of time being the 1970s) cookbooks that my father the packrat has never quite managed to get rid of.

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This one, at least, has plenty of useful items. I’m a little more skeptical of the microwave cookbook with its recipe for pastry shells. More on those later in the year.

family-sized packages and the single girl

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What we have here: (1) 3 lbs of 90% lean ground beef (it started out as 3.5, but I was making spaghetti and meatballs); (2) one scale; (3) one bowl; (4) one gallon-sized freezer bag; and (5) six sandwich baggies.

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I measure my ground beef out in half-pounds (it’s a touch over because the total’s a touch over 3lb).

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Getting as much air out as possible is a good idea. Flat-packing also allows for quicker defrosting.

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All ready for the freezer. At a half-pound each, it’s easy enough to halve regular recipes – or take out extra packages if I want to use more.

I also single-pack things like chicken breasts, which makes it easy to cook just one without having to defrost a whole package.

kofte tajine

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Back when I visited Great Britain in 1997, I came away sorely unimpressed by the food. The Indian food was excellent in our neighborhood, but everything else, in England and in Wales, was… less impressive. And covered in mayonnaise.

With that memory in mind, I was a little skeptical as I found myself saving recipes from the Telegraph. But I was in an adventurous mood.

This recipe called for a few things I didn’t have to hand and had to fake and one (the preserved lemon) that I wouldn’t have had to fake if I’d had the foresight. I used beef instead of lamb, since that’s what I had, but the kicker was “ground mixed spice,” which is not a mélange that has migrated over to this side of the Atlantic. (Possibly because it’s English and we know better.) A bit of googling got me only a couple of recipes, none of which matched each other in the slightest. I picked one fairly at random – or at least one that was light on mace and nutmeg, since I’m not a huge fan.

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I halved the recipe, since I was already halving the tajine recipe, and I wasn’t sure what else I’d use it for. I’m not familiar enough with English puddings to say whether it is reminiscent, but the results were pleasant and definitely more than the sum of their parts.

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A pound of meatballs. I could have done the onion a little smaller, but it didn’t really matter much.

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Browning in batches.

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On to the onions.

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One of my other substitutions was to use my faux saffron, which is, as you can see, much less in cost and potency than the real stuff, but works quite well.

I added a couple more ounces of liquid than the recipe called for, but that was intentional on my part, and it came out quite tasty, English recipe origin or not. Not too sweet and the kofte have a nice kick to them. I served it over bulgur.