C’est la fin! Finito! Dunzo!
The Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge IS COMPLETE!
Twelve delicious months ago, I challenge myself to cook every cover recipe of Food & Wine Magazine for the whole year of 2013, and last month I completed the challenge! I cannot believe it’s done: After 12 months, 34 recipes, and a shit ton of wine, I am proud say that I successfully completed the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge.
December’s F&W was focused on ‘the best holiday recipes,’ so for good reason, the cover recipe was a show stopper: Prime Rib! The menu I put together was classically festive and reflected all the fun that is had around the holidays.
For December’s Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge:
Winter Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate and Almonds
Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream
Tuscan Kale alla Parmigiana
We ended the challenge like we started it: with good friends and lots of wine. Adam, Erin, Matt, and I got together at our place for one last evening of cooking on a chilly December night. The food actually took very little time to prepare despite the amount of alcohol we consumed (per usual), and with all my little elves in the kitchen, the dinner was on the table in record time!
For the first course: Winter Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate and Almonds. The salad was a great success, it was delicious! It was a really easy recipe to follow and I was surprised at the freshness of the combination of ingredients.
The dressing, a whisked delight of champagne vinegar, shallot, preserved lemon and dijon mustard, was a light and fresh covering for the salad. The citrus of the preserved lemon balanced really well with the creaminess of the avocado, and the pomegranate seeds added a real punch.
This was the first time that I worked with preserved lemon (pickled whole lemons), and I was blown away with how potent those shrivelled babies can be. They are very acidic, so when prepping them, watch those paper cuts. This was also the first time using Maldon sea salt, which is very flaky sea salt. It was such an interesting texture that it almost felt like it wasn’t food, but it was so delicious and brought the salad up a notch. Maldon sea salt adds great complexity to salads and I am already trying to find new ways to use it in my kitchen.
The preparation of the meat was pretty easy and it was obvious from reading the directions that it was going to taste delicious because the prime rib is basted in butter. Hello juicyness!
The meat reached the suggested temperature long before the allotted time, and it was so juicy and tender even after letting it rest for over half an hour. The horseradish cream was a surprising success as well. During the preparation of the sauce, the smell of the fresh grated horseradish was grossing everyone out, but mixed with the creme fraiche, shallots, champagne vinegar and chives, the sauce was a delicious partner to the buttery prime rib.
Though the photo of the main course may not do the meal justice, everything was just delicious! The Tuscan Kale, though a little runny, was super flavourful, with the Parmigiano-Reggiano taking a starring role in the dish. The nutmeg also added another level of flavour that really made this side dish a winner. The mashed potato and corn made the perfect compliments to the meal and it was great for a chilly December evening.
The whole meal was a great finale and a great end to a year of food adventuring. The past year has been a great learning experience for me: It has challenged me to use ingredients that I have never even seen in the grocery store before, to create menus based around a main dish, and to cook for bigger numbers of people. Though there have been ups and down throughout the past year, I wouldn’t have substituted one ingredient.
The monthly dinners will not be stopping, as the four of us have decided to continue into 2014 with a whole new set of recipes to Explore. Eat. Repeat. Stay tuned for a recipe round-up of the best and worst recipes of the Food and Wine Recipe Challenge! Cheers.