Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Final Lunch for this blog!

Hello everyone. Well, the time has finally come. Today is the last day of my project!


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...

Thank-you everyone!


domesticgoddess said...

CONGRATULATIONS!! I'm in awe of this feat you've accomplished- not everybody could pull this off, but if anyone were to it would be you, so well done!! Can you believe you've come to the end?

And you finished in style- every element of that lunch looks absolutely delicious. Am drooling over that beef and gravy, wow. What a fab bunch of recipes to celebrate with.

p.s. v impressed with your pie decoration, too. Stephen Sprouse, eat your heart out! :)xxxxx

irenethrun said...

Congratulations on reaching the end! Yay! And it looks like a fantastic final meal, love what you wrote on the pie.

Anonymous said...

woohoo! congratulations! what a great feat of skill and endurance :)

i have enjoyed every entry and drooled over every photo. and i could just bite the screen looking at those roast spuds... phwoar

Anonymous said...

I could cry! You have done an outstanding job, and you must be very proud, Sarah! This project has been impressive and so much fun to follow, I will really miss it now that the end has come. What a big-bang way to conclude!
Lisa xoxo

Anonymous said...

Awesome final pie!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

congratulations on completing the project !

Anonymous said...


Over the course of the project you have amazed and inspired us to try new things, achieve the impossible and nourish our loved ones with openess, generosity and creativity!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Sarah!
This was a most impressive effort and has given me inspiration for using my copy of How to Eat...much harder to get into for me as it is the one without the pictures.
Your blog has been wonderful reading and all the details about the recipes have brought the book to life.

julie said...

Félicitations Petite Sarah!!! J'admire ta ténacité et ta constance!

What an achievement!! You can be proud of yourself:)

What now?


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on finishing the project! I have sooo enjoyed reading your blog. What's the next project going to be? (What do you mean 'what next project?'...)

Anonymous said...

Well done Sarah! What a great effort! I've really enjoyed reading the posts and drooling over the pics, and the roast spuds totally going to buy the book just for this recipe as I can never get my roast potatoes like that!!!

Thanks for all your work and good luck with your studies.

Michelle in Melbourne.

Karen said...

CONGRATULATIONS from me too!!!! what an amaaaaaaaaazing project!

do you know, almost each time i want to do something from HTE, i'll come to your blog first to see how you did it!! thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Sarah! I've enjoyed reading your blog very much - I don't know what I'm going to do now. ;) You did an awesome job - you should be really proud of yourself.

Lovin' the pie! :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats Sarah on one hand I'm happy for you on the other I'm sad for me I have really enjoyed checking your blog each day and it has inspired me to use HTE more I am definitely going to make the rhubarb meringue Pie because I love rhubarb :) I look forward to seeing what you get up to next

Ange said...

Fantastic work. At the moment I'm sittin here waiting for Michael to finish dinner - soup - & I really wish I was eating what you just made instead, looks sensational!

plum said...

What a wonderful lunch and a great way to finish off the project! I've really enjoyed reading this and it's inspired me to look at some recipes in How To Eat that I wouldn't have considered until I hear how much you like them. Congrats Sarah!!

Anonymous said...

wow what an achievement. It's sad you've finished because I've enjoyed following your progress through the book. you deserve a break though!

by the way, having seen the photos of the roast dinner you cooked as the finale, my husband would like to marry you!!


markii said...

Yay! I had it written in my diary - the date of your project's completion! hehehe..

Awesome recipe to finish on.. I want pie too! (har)

And WOW to the Nigella pic!

Anonymous said...


What an amazing job - what an amazing blog!
Can't wait to hear what your next project will be - you are destined for something BIG, girl!

Chloe said...

Oh no! I just found you and you are done!! What will you do next. What a great project you completed... WAY TO GO!

PretaMulatta said...

nigella is a TRUE goddess. this is a brilliant undertaking!


cin said...

WOOHOO! Way to go, Sarah! Congrats on finishing your project, it's been a wonderful read.

Btw, Rendinas should give you a mahor discount!

Amanda said...

Congratulations Sarah - I must back track for those wicked looking potatoes - for all my cooking I have never made a roast beef - yours is truly inspiring I can't wait to try! I love the way you have completed this project I wonder what will happen next...?

Wandernut said...

Oh no! What do I have to look forward to now that your HTE blog is over.

Start another one! Start another one!



Anonymous said...

Well - I'm really late but I wanted to add my congratulations. And what a finish! I actually had a tear in my eye whe I saw the final photo.

It's a very beautiful, funny and interesting blog Sarah - well done