THE SUNDAY LUNCH
Now, I'm sure that many people out there have negative memories associated with the ritual of "The Sunday Lunch". I've read Toast, I've seen Eat Drink Man Woman, and I've read lots of articles in culinary and trashy magazines on this subject. However, I think the negative connotations surrounding the Sunday Lunch are more about familial pressures and obligations, rather than the food itself. (Although having read Nigel Slater's wonderful descriptions of not-so-wonderful food in Toast, this is not always the case). And thankfully, I was not brought up with the idea that it was a Good Thing to have the family sitting around the table at a regular time every week, regardless of inclination or hunger. I admit that I am extremely lucky in that, more often than not, eating day-to-day meals together with my family was a natural, enjoyable, and desirable experience. It was especially great that we could have the entire family (Dad, Mum, Daniel and myself) home today to eat this special lunch.
393. The Roast Beef
394. The Gravy
395. The Yorkshire Pudding
I served it with roast potatoes (they don't count as a recipe, as I've made them heaps of times before), and baby beans (from a freezer packet).
In the book, Nigella writes out a Sunday Lunch timetable - for a meal like this, with so many elements that require precision timing, you really have to plan everything out like a "military operation". However, by this stage in the project, I've made over 350 recipes, dozens of dinner parties and lots of lunches. It may be immodest of me to say, but I was confident that I could just wing it, and everything would be fine.
This is our beef, check it out. It's an aged piece of rib-eye, about 2.45 kg. Mum bought it at Rendinas (where else!), and the butcher assured her it was a lovely, lovely piece of meat.
I cooked it at 210C for 90 minutes in total. Whilst it was in the oven, I boiled the potatoes, and made our dessert. I've actually already made all the desserts in How to Eat, so I decided to revisit one of my favourites, the rhubarb meringue pie. As I've made it before, I won't tell you how it was made. (Click on the above link if you're interested, as you should be - it's an amazing pie). One thing I do want to show you though, is Nigella's amazing pastry. Her freezer-processor method is a very valuable tip that I've learnt from this book, which almost always results in a fabulously easy to roll pastry.
This the the excess pastry - just look how elastic and pliable it is!
I cooked the rhubarb meringue pie in our microwave convection oven in the pantry, to leave the big oven free for all the hardcore meat and potatoes cooking.
Next was the gravy. You start off by cooking a thinly sliced onion until soft, then adding sugar and Marsala, and letting it cook slowly until caramelized and very, very soft. (Note: I'd recommend using a large onion, and doubling, or perhaps even tripling quantities. Gravy is good.) Then you add some flour, and then beef stock, stirring it well, and letting it simmer for about 20 minutes. At this point, you can push it through a sieve or put it in a processor, and then leave it on the stove until it's time to eat.
Once the beef was cooked, I took it out of the oven, and let it rest, covered in foil, on Mum's big carving board. Then, I put the potatoes in the oven, made the yorkshire pudding (same method as the sweet yorkshire pudding, but with added salt and pepper), and added it to the oven for the last 20 minutes of cooking time. Whilst they were cooking, I boiled my beans and added the pan juices to the gravy.
And then it was time to eat!!!
Check out that lunch! I'd describe all the dishes, but I think the photos speak for themselves. Mmm... everything was delicious. Nigella's gravy recipe is fantastic, as is her roast potato one.
We sat around the table talking, laughing and eating. We only got through about half of that food, but considering that I'm in study mode and not going to be cooking for a while, this is a good thing.
While Mum, Dad and Daniel were cleaning up the kitchen, I finished off the pie.
Here's what it looks like baked. I really, really wanted to decorate it with some words, so as it was cooling, I melted a bar of dark chocolate, scraped it into a zip-lock glad bag, snipped off the corner and piped out some free-form words onto parchment paper (not very neatly, I'm afraid). I let them set in the fridge, and then arranged them haphazardly on top of the cooled pie to form a kinda Louis Vuitton graffiti pie. (Yes, I'm sticking to the "Louis Vuitton graffiti" description, and not, for instance, "a hyperactive 2-year old's art project").
Again, I don't really need to describe the pie. Y'all know I love pie, and the rhubarb meringue pie is my favourite pie out of the whole book. I'm sure you can deduce that I loved eating it. I should just add that rhubarb and dark chocolate is a winning combination.
But even more exciting than pie (and it's not often you'll hear me saying that), I finally opened that big brown mysterious envelope I received last month! And guess what it was! A signed photo of Nigella!!!!!!!!! Omg omg omg Yay yay yay!!!!! It is totally like the most awesomest thing ever!!
And just in case you were wondering what I wrote on top of the pie...