I’m going to use Christmas as an excuse to get back into the blogging pool. San and I spent our Christmas as we do most other days -by ourselves- and we had a most delightful day! Hoping not to bore you, I’ll give a short report on our experiences.
As expected, the day was food-centric, and if you share my love of food, you know that a holiday is simply an opportunity to ramp up our efforts a notch or two, and to put out some memorable dishes and items – and we did that yesterday in spades.
We started the day by making some Gibissier for our Christmas morning kickoff – Joanna seemed to like them a lot, and I trust her taste, so I followed her lead – and glad I did! They are very festive, done with a brioche like dough, interestingly with olive oil as well as butter – and a goodly suggestion of orange – the texture is reminiscent of panettone, which adds to its holiday personality.
But as usual, I felt compelled to make a few changes to the instructions which Jo had so kindly sent me – instead of starting the preferment at night, which is the rational thing to do, I suddenly realized on Christmas eve morning that I had not yet started them – so I quickly put the preferment ingredients together and let it sit out all day before putting the final dough together. In the normal Gibissier process, this is the point where the bulk ferment of 2 hours takes place – but I was ready for bed – so I simply slipped the dough into the fridge to await an early morning resumption of the process. Not a good thing! I think doing this impedes the final rise of the buns – and I shall not do this again.
The second instruction I failed to follow was to use cold butter, and to beat it into submission – I assumed (wrongly) that my room temperature (about 60 degrees F in my kitchen) butter would work fine – no. I got the same ‘greasy’ dough as Jo describes in her blog – and I yielded to temptation and sprinkled a bit more flour over all whenever I saw the dough ‘sweating’. This of course simply changes the nature of the dough and tightens the final texture. I add these notes as a caution for any bakers who may be considering trying these delicious goodies for themselves.
For us, Christmas is most often an opportunity to add or replace some vital household essential, and less frequently as a time to surprise each other with a toy, or something personal. This year, Sandee’s big Christmas wish was for a new kitchen sink – a black granite composite job, with 10″ deep bowls. It goes beautifully in our kitchen, which is styled in black and stainless steel.
My wish was for a new computer, since my old one had developed so many ailments that it was becoming a daily torture ritual to try to use it. I consider it a gracious loving action on Sandee’s part that she would agree on the equality of our gifts, even though her’s was a household necessity, and mine actually a toy, and a personal one at that. But then, these things have a way of leveling out over time.
My afternoon was used up in the preparation of a Christmas leg of lamb. This seems one of the few times of the year when lamb gets priced at a reasonable level, but then I don’t really check at other times either – so, who knows. I did this one differently than I have previously, using an herb rub (fresh garlic and rosemary, and salt) on the outside, and slow roasting it at 250 F for 5 hours – but the time is insignificant, as I used a temperature probe set to go off at 130 F (which is pretty damn rare!) – but I then pulled the roast from the oven for a half hour rest, while I let the oven come to 500 degrees F – then the roast is put back in for about 15/20 minutes to quickly develop a beautiful dark crust!
Frankly, this is a simply amazing way to do a lamb roast, especially if you like rare lamb -as we do. Not only does this method produce a beautiful consistent rare roast throughout the entire piece of meat – not simply in the middle, the meat is as juicy as I ever remember a fine roast to be. I fully intend to use this method with our upcoming New Year’s prime rib – in fact, I may also give it a try on a pork loin or fresh ham as well – it just won’t be quite as rare as the lamb or beef!
I did some roasted root veggies (rutabaga, carrot, and potato) and roasted broccoli to go along with the lamb. I know most would not consider roasted root vegetables to be uncommon, but may think the roasted broccoli to be a bit unusual – actually all vegetables can be successfully roasted, which often changes the vegetable’s personality quite a bit!
We paired our meal with a very modest Spanish champagne (Freixenet, Extra Dry), always a pleasant companion to whatever it is you’re dining upon. And later, we finished up the meal and the day with some apple pie and vanilla ice cream.
Later, as I slipped into a warm bed, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d just experienced one of the most satisfying Christmases of my memory – how was yours?