Christmas eve is a special night. We go to my Grandparents’. We have dinner. We have yummy yummy cookies we munch on all night. We open gifts. We take pictures. Then we go home.
Good night. Sleep tight. Let’s hope Santa has a safe flight.
– A six-year-old me

I was at my mom’s this afternoon, going through some of my old papers from my “formative years,” and I stumbled upon these papers. There was something highly amusing about (re)discovering my youthful impressions of Christmas–and even more amusing was the fact that so little has changed: the cookies are still really, really yummy, and the night still special. And, of course, there are still lots of photos capturing some of the holiday magic.

The Greek and I have been here for less than a week, but it’s been a lovely time so far–quite peaceful and relaxing, which, after the move and the end of the semester rush, is just what we had been hoping for. We spent one rainy and cloudy afternoon walking around Washington, the city in which I was born. It was quite festive, with lots of wreaths and lights decorating the businesses in town. We also stumbled upon some graffiti that I found to be quite charming–I felt it captured the charm of what “old Washington” must have been like.

While I had walked the streets of Washington many times before (this is, after all, where one of my favorite local restaurants, The Union Grill, is located), it’s always interesting to go someplace with somebody who’s never been there before. Walking around with the Greek, I found lots of things to photograph–from pretty churches to the campus of Washington and Jefferson College. A local police officer saw me taking pictures and I couldn’t help but notice the bemused smile on his face; I’m sure he was thinking we must have been crazy out-of-towners to find beauty in these run-down and mundane sights.

After our afternoon stroll, we went back to my grandma’s house that night to make dinner (it seemed only fair that Grandma should have an evening out of the kitchen). The Greek made a lovely roast chicken with lemon and rosemary (again, inspired by All about Roasting), while I, in typical fashion, took care of the veggies: Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Beet Greens with Pine Nuts and Garlic, which was inspired by this recipe. All three were a big hit, especially the chicken and the beet greens (the brussel sprouts, sadly, were not what they could have been; a chef is only as good as her ingredients/the quality of her produce and her tools), which complemented each other nicely.

And then a few mad days of last-minute Christmas shopping later and it was already time for Christmas, yummy yummy cookies, unwrapping the carefully (and, in some cases [bread pans are impossible!], not so carefully) wrapped gifts and roasting the Prime Rib that, a few short years ago, I boldly decided should become a part of our holiday repertoire after I read an article in an issue of Saveur about how delectable Prime Rib was and how it would bring only joy and happiness to the holiday table.

What can I say? I’m easily persuaded, hopelessly gullible and a sucker for pictures of beautiful, carefully prepared food, as well as the words that describe it. My Christmas loot can attest to this. Let me just say,  I was quite thrilled that my holiday cookbook fantasies largely came true: Baking: From My Home to Yours (! I hardly know where to start! I’m also inspired by the small fact that this woman got her doctorate in gerontology only to decide that she wanted to bake for the rest of her life–and has been ever since), Mastering the Art of French Cooking (! Oh, Julia!) and one of my most coveted holiday items–thanks to my little brother who for once in his life was actually listening–Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume (! To put it mildly, basically a pistachio lover’s dream cookbook!).

But back to the issue at hand, i.e. Prime Rib. While I can’t say that I’m much of a meat master (this is more the Greek’s specialty than mine; I’m more about vegetarian dishes, pastas or rice casseroles, as well as all things baked), I was quite pleased with how this dish turned out. The Greek and I had salted and peppered it the day before we were going to roast it (the recipe said we should have done this 2-3 days in advance, but alas; Christmas shopping waits for no meat) and then, on Christmas Day, my grandpap’s sister and I rubbed it down with Dijon mustard and then liberally sprinkled rosemary all over it. My additional touch was to place 6 cloves of garlic in the food processor and then coat the meat with all of this glorious garlic. About 2 and a half hours later, the meat emerged triumphantly from the oven with a temperature of 120 F; it was tender, flavorful and the crowning achievement of our Christmas table. All in all, it was definitely a good Christmas.
 
Prime Rib  
Yields enough meat to feed an army or an Italian American family with an appetite (8-10 people)
Recipe tweaked and adapted from Saveur 
 
1  5-bone beef standing rib roast (10–12 lbs.; make sure to ask the butcher to remove the bone and tie it back on)
About 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
About 2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard (or enough to rub onto the entire surface of the prime rib)
1 1⁄2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped in the food processor and rubbed onto the meat (it should cover it like a crust)
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

 

-Season meat with salt and pepper, including the rack of bones.
-Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for a day in advance.
-Take the salted and peppered beef from the refrigerator and rub mustard all over it.
-Then, sprinkle it with rosemary and pepper and rub the finely minced garlic all over the beef.
 -Allow the beef to come to room temperature.
-Arrange rack in lower third of oven and heat to 450°.
-Place the beef in the oven and roast it, rib side up, until it begins to brown and sizzle, about 20–25 minutes.
-Reduce temperature to 325° and continue roasting until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 120° (for medium rare), about 2 and a half hours more.
-Once the roast reaches this temperature (it could take less time or more time depending on your oven), transfer it to a carving board and reserve any pan juices.
-Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15–20 minutes (that’s for those who are impatient; for those who can wait, let it rest for 25-30).
-Remove and discard the bone and carve roast.
-Serve with reserved pan juices and enjoy the fruits of your roasting labor!

4 thoughts on “‘Twas the Day After Christmas…

  1. I love your little Christmas book! So cute! And I am so glad you got Dorie! I would gladly spend my every day in her company:) Amazing job with the prime rib too! Eric was manning the oven over here too:)

  2. Thanks, Cameron! The little Christmas book was a real treat to discover; I love my 6-year-old handwriting, as well as the fact that even then I knew that Christmas was all about the cookies. 🙂

  3. I don't think “munch on” needs a [sic]. Think of it like “march on.” I think the best Christmases and Eves are those in which one munches onwards and onwards all day and night.

    – a non-foodie

    See you guys soon! Happy new year etc! 🙂

  4. Boy C, aka non-foodie,

    As my 6-year-old self wrote “much on” instead of “munch on” I chose to sic myself. 🙂 I fully approve of munching through the holidays and have, in fact, been doing exactly that!

    Happy New Year, etc. to you as well! Hope you're enjoying Charlottesville!

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