I invited Dad to my home last Friday for classic roast beef dinner. It had been a few months since I last saw him and I secretly felt guilty about putting off any get-together every time we chatted on the phone. First it was my trip Down Under. Next I went under the knife. Then it was an emotional rough patch that I rather not make him worry. Although things are still in flux at my end, I decided a casual family dinner was long overdue.
Coming up with a menu was tricky. I wanted something not fussy, requiring minimal last minute cooking. At the same time, I took great consideration of healthy dietary requirement for Dad’s sake. Thanks to scheduling limitation, I had one chance to do all my shopping and it was a trip to Costco. This is what I served:
Classic Roast Beef Dinner
Cook’s Illustrated’s slow roasted eye of round is my go-to roast beef recipe (subscription only). It uses an inexpensive cut of meat but renders it delectably tender. I particularly appreciate the leaner eye of round because it is flavourful without being fatty. An accurate thermometer is a must and my trusty Thermapen earns its keep. I bought 5lb of roast at Costco for only $23. That was enough roast beef to stretch out many meals.
After searing the roast in a pan, I took advantage of the browned bits to make mushroom gravy. I personally am not a huge fan of gravy but it was a good fit with the menu. I much prefer enjoying roast beef with horseradish sour cream. Last week I learned something new with baba au rhum. I continued my learning streak and made Yorkshire pudding (recipe also available by subscription at America’s Test Kitchen) for the first time. They were not as light and lofty as I hoped but the combination of duck fat and chives made for a savoury side dish. Pan seared Brussels sprouts were the requisite vegetable on the table. I can’t possibly plan a meal without vegetable.
I really wanted to complete the menu with dessert but a low sugar alternative is paramount. After much consideration, I fell back on a reliable classic. I made poaching liquid out of half bottle of mulled wine, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, green cardamom pod, and star anise. The rosy hue that stained the bosc pears looked most striking.
Like many immigrant families that left Hong Kong in the 1980s, Dad stayed behind for many years to ensure the financial viability of the family. Years of separation eroded our relationship (among other things) and I often wonder what could have been. Over dessert, the topic turned from political unrest in Hong Kong to how things have changed since we left our hometown for a life in Canada. Before I had time to second guess myself, I told Dad that the sacrifices he and Mom made paved a much easier road for me and Little Brother. I am truly grateful for the life we enjoy in Canada. It would not be possible without their decision and effort. Dad responded with a light remark about better educational system. I hope my sentiment got through to him.