Monthly Archives: December 2014

Well Done Roast

I remember a hostess turning to me and some other female guests, who hovered over the oven as she checked the beef tenderloin, and plaintively asking: “How do I know if it’s done?” At the time, no one (including me) seemed to know the simple answer: When a regular or instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat indicates that it has reached the right temperature. Duh! Of course, the correct temperature will depend on how you like your meat cooked.

You can estimate how long the roasting should take but checking the internal temperature is the only way to know for sure–aside from actually cutting into the meat, a technique pooh-poohed by the “food police.” They claim that doing so wastes the precious juices. Begin testing long before the anticipated finishing time.

Remember, the meat needs to rest for at least 20 minutes so the juices can redistribute throughout and won’t leach out when you slice. As it rests, the roast will continue to cook, causing the internal temperature to rise about 10 degrees.

If you just don’t trust your thermometer, my recommendation is: Cut in and take a peek. After all, how much juice could you possibly lose?

Dear Readers: My best wishes to all of you for a hysteria-free holiday and a stress-free New Year! This will be my final post for 2014. Look for me again on January 6.

Her Way

A friend of mine is an avid home entertainer but (as she’d be the first to admit) not a cook. She knows exactly where to purchase the best foods and has a genius for table design, so it’s a pleasure to be a guest in her house.

On a recent Sunday, for example, she treated friends to a cozy fireside supper in her charming little cottage. The centerpiece was “the best” chicken pot pie from a local bakery, accompanied by a freshly made green salad.

Instead of trying to produce an elaborate meal, making herself and everyone else nervous, she did it her way. And nothing could nicer!

Truffle Tragedy

A dish you’re making for the first time doesn’t come out as you expected and people are on their way. What should you do? First, don’t panic. Second, be creative. I say this from experience.

I was due at a potluck in a few hours and had promised to bring chocolate truffles, made from a recipe I’d never tried. Though I’d checked and rechecked my calculations to double the batch, it soon became apparent that something was wrong. After resting in the refrigerator for an hour according to the recipe, the combination of melted chocolate, cream, butter and whiskey was far too loose to form into balls that could be rolled in unsweetened cocoa.

Briefly, I considered buying tiny cups and spoons and turning the truffles into pudding. Instead, I decided to try freezing the mixture, and soon enough it stiffened sufficiently to be molded.

Of course, making a new dish for company is never a good idea. But if you do and the results are disappointing or even disastrous, remember that people do understand. And eventually your kitchen mishap probably will make a great story.