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Herb Crusted Standing Rib Roast with Cherry Port Sauce

CROWD PLEASER The Herb Crusted Standing Rib Roast with Cherry Port Sauce from Peace Meals calls for a delicious sauce that adds color and flavor. (Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Houston)

Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston, a women’s charitable and education organization founded in 1925.

As a mom to almost-3-year-old twins, convenience is key. If it can’t be made in the slow cooker or pressure cooker, I don’t even consider the recipe as something I could realistically pull off. With that being said, I’ve always felt that the holidays called for something more glamorous, and I have found some recipes that require minimum work, but produce crowd pleasing results. 

When we visit our family for the holidays, I love when we get together in front of a cozy fire, enjoying cocktails and appetizers while the kids play nearby. The Chèvre-Filled Mushrooms from Stop and Smell the Rosemary are always a hit – one-bite appetizers that aren’t messy to eat. And the Herbed Parmesan Gougères from Peace Meals are a fantastic accompaniment to a glass of wine.

For the main event, two recipes that work well are the Herb Crusted Standing Rib Roast with Cherry Port Sauce from Peace Meals and the Rack of Lamb with Port and Rosemary Sauce from Stop and Smell the Rosemary. The meat is simple to prepare in the oven, and both dishes are accompanied by sauces that add beautiful color. 

They are delicious when paired with the Herbed Green Beans from Star of Texas. I like to drain my beans early to keep them on the crisp side with a slight “bite.” If I’m feeling adventurous, I add the Wild Mushroom and Onion Risotto from Stop and Smell the Rosemary to the menu. While it is more time consuming than the green beans, the end result is always a huge hit.

With two helpful toddlers, it’s fun to prepare the Coolrise Sweet Dinner Rolls from Stop and Smell the Rosemary ahead of time. I prepare the dough on my own, and then let them help pinch and roll it to form the rolls.

For dessert, I love to highlight fall flavors. The Apple Cranberry Galette from Peace Meals is superb when paired with whipped cream. And the Apple Cranberry Crisp with Almond Streusel Topping from Stop and Smell the Rosemary is great because it can be prepared a day in advance and still be delicious the next day.

The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table – I hope you all are able to share the upcoming season gathered with those closest to you.

Chèvre-Filled Mushrooms

From Stop and Smell the Rosemary

24 large fresh mushrooms, caps reserved, stems minced
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons minced onion 
¾ cup bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
3 ounces chèvre, crumbled (¾ cup)
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (½ cup)
Unsalted butter, melted

Place mushroom caps, hollow side up, in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add minced stems and onion. Sauté over medium heat until soft. Remove from heat and add bread crumbs, parsley, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well, then cool to room temperature. Stir in cheeses until combined. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spoon cheese mixture into mushroom caps. Brush with melted butter. Bake 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned. Yields 24 mushroom caps.

Herbed Parmesan Gougères

From Peace Meals

1 cup milk
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 eggs, divided 
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 Tablespoon snipped fresh chives

Position the rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the milk, butter and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the flour, whisking vigorously until the flour is incorporated; let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 4 of the eggs, one at a time. Stir in 1½ cups of the cheese and the chives. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing the gougères about 2 inches apart. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush generously on the tops of the gougères; sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly puffed. Reduce heat to 350 F. Bake for an additional 14 to 15 minutes or until the gougères are puffed and golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 3 dozen gougères.

Tip: Make the batter a day ahead and refrigerate it; drop the chilled batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and let it come to room temperature before baking. 

Herbed Green Beans

From The Star of Texas Cookbook 

1 pound fresh green beans or 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen green beans
¼ cup butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
½ clove garlic, minced 
¼ cup chopped celery
½ cup minced parsley
¼ teaspoon rosemary
¼ teaspoon basil
¾ teaspoon salt

Cook and drain beans. While beans are cooking, melt butter and sauté onion, garlic, celery and parsley. Add herbs and salt. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Just before serving, toss onion mixture and beans together. Serves 4 to 6.

Wild Mushroom and Onion Risotto

From Stop and Smell the Rosemary

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 cup raw Italian Arborio rice
2¼ cups chicken broth
8 ounces fresh wild mushrooms, thinly sliced (shiitake, oyster or cremini)
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (¼ cup)
2 Tablespoons dry white wine
Fresh parsley 

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice. Stir until opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add ½ cup broth and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue stirring. When liquid is absorbed, add another ½ cup broth. Stir. Continue this process until all broth has been used. When rice is done, remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan and wine. Garnish with parsley and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

Rack of Lamb

FULL OF FLAVOR The Rack of Lamb with Port and Rosemary Sauce from Stop and Smell the Rosemary is simple to prepare and satisfyingly flavorful. (Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Houston)

Rack of Lamb with Port and Rosemary Sauce

From Stop and Smell the Rosemary

1 rack of lamb, 8 to 10 ribs
½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary 
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Port and Rosemary Sauce: 1 onion, chopped
2 strips bacon, chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup port
¼ cup water
½ cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim any excess fat from lamb. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Place lamb in a baking dish. Bake 45 minutes. Set aside. Keep warm. 

Port and Rosemary Sauce: Pour any drippings from lamb into a skillet. Add onion and bacon. Cook over medium heat until bacon is crisp. Add rosemary, port and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until reduced to ½ cup. Add cream and simmer, stirring until slightly thickened. Spoon sauce over lamb. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Herb Crusted Standing Rib Roast with Cherry Port Sauce

From Peace Meals

Rib Roast: 2 Tablespoons coarse salt
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked
3 cloves garlic
½ cup chopped shallots (about 2 large bulbs)
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup olive oil
1 standing rib roast (about 8 pounds and 3 to 4 ribs), trimmed
Cherry Port Sauce: ½ cup frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed and halved
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
½ cup port
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 Tablespoons (½ stick) butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, room temperature
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper 

This recipe requires advance preparation. Combine the salt, peppercorns, garlic, shallots, thyme and rosemary in a small food processor; pulse to form a paste. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Coat the entire roast with the olive oil mixture. Cover and marinate the meat in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours. Preheat the oven to 450 F with the baking rack positioned in the center of the oven. Allow the meat to come to room temperature, at least 1 hour. Place the meat in a large roasting pan and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and continue cooking until the temperature in the center of the roast registers 127 F, about 2½ hours. Transfer the meat to a platter and cover loosely with foil. Allow the meat to rest for 25 to 30 minutes. 

Place the cherries, broth, port and thyme in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture is reduced to ½ cup, about 15 minutes. Combine the cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of water in a small bowl and mix until smooth; add to the sauce and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, until the butter is incorporated into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Carve the roast and serve with the warm Cherry Port Sauce. Serves 6 to 8.

Coolrise Sweet Dinner Rolls
From Stop and Smell the Rosemary

6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages dry yeast
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups hot water
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Combine 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir to blend. Add butter and hot water all at once. Beat with a mixer at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough that leaves sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead 5 to 10 minutes. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, then a towel. Let dough rest 20 minutes on the board. Punch down.

To shape dough, pinch off 2-inch piece. Roll into a ball. Roll until ball forms a log 4 inches long. Roll ends between hands to taper. Place on a greased baking sheet 2 inches apart. After shaping, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls 15 to 20 minutes. Yields 2 to 2½ dozen rolls.

Apple Cranberry Galette
From Peace Meals

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces
4 Tablespoons ice water, divided
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
5 Tablespoons sugar, divided
⅓ cup dried cranberries
1 cup crème fraîche or fresh whipped cream

Crust: Mix the flour, cinnamon and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons of the ice water and process until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if the dough is dry. Transfer the dough to a hard surface, form into a ball and flatten slightly into a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Filling: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples to the skillet and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Sauté until the apples are golden and begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the dried cranberries and stir for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 12-inch round. Transfer the dough to a rimless baking sheet. Sprinkle the base of the dough with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Arrange the apple mixture on the dough, leaving a 3-inch border. Fold the edges of the dough to partially cover the apple mixture, pinching to seal any cracks in the dough. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of the sugar over the apple mixture and the dough edge. Bake the galette for 15 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 375 F. Continue to bake until the crust is light golden around the edges and the apples are tender, about 35 minutes longer. Transfer the galette to a wire rack; cool 15 minutes. Serve warm with crème fraîche or whipped cream. Serves 8.

Apple Cranberry Crisp with Almond Streusel Topping
From Stop and Smell the Rosemary

1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
¼ cup plus ¾ cup sugar
¼ cup currants
¼ cup dark rum
6 to 7 medium Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, and sliced ¼ inch thick (6 cups)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup blanched slivered almonds
¼ cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss cranberries with ¼ cup sugar in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine currants and rum in a separate small bowl. Set aside. Toss apples with lemon juice in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ¾ cup sugar, orange zest and cinnamon. Fold in cranberries and currants. Stir in flour until mixture is combined. Set aside.

Mix butter, flour and brown sugar in a large bowl until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in almonds and oats. Spoon apple mixture into a 2-quart souffle dish and top with topping. Bake 45 minutes. Cool at least 20 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

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