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early valentine’s day dinner (lots o’ pics)

Recipe: crusted roast beef

I have been quite busy of late, cramming in all sorts of things before my next treatment tomorrow. That’s right. I have a Valentine’s date with my oncologist. Not exactly my first choice :) Jeremy will be with me since I’d go careening into a ditch afterward if I drove myself home. So if I haven’t been on my usual round of food blogs, forgive me. I’ll have some down time coming up soon enough. Meanwhile, I had two most excellent tele days in a row. Tuesday, Jeremy and I went to Breckenridge.


looks nice

we found the powder



That’s when I realized I wouldn’t be able to make a Valentine’s dinner on Thursday because I would be Out.Of.It. Not only would I be unable to make the dinner, but I’d probably be unable to eat it. I don’t particularly care for Valentine’s Day and the unbelievably ridiculous expectations that are placed on men by society (i.e. the hetero female half and for instance, the diamond industry) to scramble around to woo women with… stuff. How about wooing women by not being a cad? Call me unsentimental. I’m not, but I am practical. My guy – he works his ass off, and yet he still cares for my sorry ass when I’m sick as hell, he takes me skiing or on walks to cheer me up because I love the outdoors, he respects me, treats me as his equal and better, he cleans the house, takes care of our pup, never complains, only has the sweetest words for me, shares his dreams and ideas, holds the flash and/or reflector when I need that extra hand for a food shot. This isn’t lost on me, so you can see why Valentine’s Day is a guilt trip I won’t impose on such a Good Man. Valentine’s Day is merely an excuse to cook a good meal for both of us. I moved it to tonight.

So on our way home we dropped by the grocery store in Breckenridge. Talk about well-stocked. Talk about a bougie ski town. I found everything I needed, more or less. The reason I couldn’t run to Boulder today was because…


i was here

my awesome group sans leyla who busted her knee at jackson hole :(

our instructor rips it up



We had such a phenomenal class. Bluebird day, some powder, and we learned to tele carve and practiced moguls. Wooohooo! It got downright hot (40F!!) and the snow began to stick in the afternoon. I had yet another fabuloso face plant that knocked the wind clear out of my chest. ha ha! When I biff, it is spectacular. And my camera didn’t die or kill me! Sweet. My legs were so unbelievably tired, but it was soooooo goooooood. Love the burn.

I rushed home in time to get started on dessert (my next post – whenever that will be). Then I began prep for dinner. I see that folks gush about Cook’s Illustrated all the time and I think it’s a great magazine. I used to subscribe to Way Too Many magazines before I decided to cull it down to bare essentials. One of the only rags I voluntarily subscribe to now is Fine Cooking, because I love the pictures don’t you know ;) I also love the recipes, their thorough treatment of topics, and that their ads don’t piss me off. I decided to make one of their crusted roast recipes, which we both love. It’s a total crowd pleaser for dinner guests too. Here’s the menu I whipped up in 2 hours:


organic yukon gold mashed potatoes
roasted brussels sprouts with shallots and lemon
sautéed spinach with garlic
crusted new york beef top loin roast
classic crème brûlée


The crust part of the roast calls for shallots, thyme, marjoram, garlic, and fresh, coarse bread crumbs. Marjoram and I are not friends. So she got the boot. I also increased the bread crumbs to 2 cups from the original 1 cup of the recipe since I find the seasonings a tad strong and we are always wanting for more crust (it falls off the roast into the pan, but it’s still good!).

for the crust

into the cuisinart for some quick pulses

mix it up

pour the butter



I’ve made this roast before with a rib eye roast and it was *amazing*. Unfortunately, all I could get in Breckenridge was this New York top loin roast, which cost me a pretty penny. Still, it is the porterhouse cut and the flavor is Very Good, just not as tender as say, tenderloin. He gave me a 3.2 pound cut with a nice cap of fat on top. Fat is good, it gives great flavor. Too much fat usually winds up with a smoking oven for me. I trimmed off 70% and left enough to still baste the roast in nice flavorful juices. Good and good.

salt and pepper rub

pan searing on all sides



Once the meat was seared, I spead mustard all over it. I happen to do the bottom because more surface area means more crust and more yum. The recipe called for Dijon and when I searched my fridge, the closest I had was Dijon-horseradish. I like horseradish… Slather it on lovingly and generously because you need enough of a layer to get the bread crumbs to stick. It’s a messy ordeal, but it’s so totally worth it.

slather with mustard

press the bread crumb mix onto the roast



Once I placed the roast in the oven, I turned to the pan in which I had seared the roast. What a mess, huh? No. It’s not a mess, but a lovely fond. You know, fond, the browned bits of goodness left in the pan after you have seared some delicious thing? Don’t you dare throw it out. That is the stuff of yum.

i am very fond of fond



What I do is use my fond to make a reduction sauce to serve with the roast. Remember, I loathe waste. Today I decided on a port reduction sauce, something sweet since Jeremy seems to like sugar in just about anything. I turned the flame on high and…

poured in the port

when it reduced by half, i added butter

and when it reduced to a thickened sauce, it was done



I set it aside, to be warmed up later. Meanwhile, all of the sides were made – chucked the Brussels sprouts into the oven on the rack below the roast. The roast is said to be done to medium rare when the thermometer reads 120F in the center. If we have guests and they don’t like rare (we love for our beef to moo) then I’ll follow that guideline. If it’s just the two of us, I go to 110F (about 50 minutes) because the ends will be somewhat rare or medium rare, which we’ll eat, and the rest will be very rare. The rest is going to be reheated, so who wants shoe leather for leftovers? I want some pink if not a lot on the leftovers. I removed the roast to the chopping board to rest for 10 minutes. In this time, the internal temperature will continue to rise and your roast will continue to cook.

what a beaut



Get a good knife and carefully carve slices off the end. Don’t worry if the crust falls off. It’s terrific served on the side.

dinner is…

no wait! don’t forget the port reduction



Next time: classic crème brûlée.

Roast Beef with a Classic Breadcrumb, Garlic & Herb Crust
[print recipe]
from Fine Cooking issue #76

1 5-pound boneless strip loin roast or 5- to 6-poundtop sirloin roast with cap removed, trimmed if necessary, patted dry
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
2 tbsps vegetable oil
1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs, preferrably from a baguette (I used 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium shallots, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh marjoram, chopped (I omitted)
3 tbsps melted unsalted butter (I used 4 tbsps)
1/3 cup Dijon mustard

Let the roast sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Position a rack in the middle of oven and heat to 400°F. Put roasting rack in a roasting pan or heavy-dury rimmed baking sheet (line pan with foil for easier cleanup). Season the roast liberally with salt and pepper on all sides. Turn on exhaust fan. Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, brown meat on all sides, including ends, about 4 minutes per side (I am impatient, I seared for 2 minutes on all sides). Transfer meat to roasting pan. Set aside while preparing crust. In medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, shallots, thyme, marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour melted butter over mixture and toss to combine. Smear the mustard all over the roast (I cover the bottom too). With hands, press breadcrumb mixture all over the roast into the mustard. Roast the beef until instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 125°F for medium rare, about 60 minutes for strip loin roast or 60-80 minutes for top sirloin roast, depending on thickness. Check the crust often. When it is golden brown, tent the roast with foil to prevent burning. Remove roast from oven and let meat rest for 10-20 minutes before carving across the grain, into 1/2 inch thick slices.

Port Reduction Sauce

fond from searing the beef
1-2 cups port
1-2 tbsp unsalted butter

Heat the pan with the fond over medium high to high flame. Pour in the port and watch it steam off. Use a wooden spoon to rub at the fond while the port is boiling. You should “clean” the entire pan so the fond is suspended in the port. When the volume has reduced by half, add a pat of butter. Stir the butter in and continue to reduce until the sauce is thick enough to your liking. Remove from heat and serve with roast.

38 nibbles at “early valentine’s day dinner (lots o’ pics)”

  1. manggy says:

    You have a wonderful attitude about your relationship. There should be more people like you! (Sincerely yours, A Guy)
    That meal looks exquisite! (5 pounds of beef?! I am thinking Jeremy couldn’t have taken that to his students…) I hope you had a nice day (not that Valentine’s day is a special day at all, ahem) :p

  2. Danielle says:

    Sounds like the perfect day topped off by a wonderful meal! Excellent menu. I love reading about your adventures. I lived in Boulder for a few years about ten years ago and miss those Rocky Mountains. I hope your treatment goes well tomorrow.

  3. april says:

    hi jennifer – i came across your blog while searching for candied orange peels and fell in love with your photos, style, and humor. i wish you the best with your treatment and look forward to more beautiful food inspiration here!

  4. Christine says:

    Jen- I share your fondness for fond :) Boy, you have a way with roasts! The port reduction looks too good to eat…I knew you’d finish the sauce with butter – because you’re good like that!

  5. Francesco says:

    I try to do the same.
    I figure, being there, supporting, patient and caring for my wife matters more than a valentine present.
    So, today I am off early and prepare her something she really likes and I do not cook very often.

    As for the meat, I would love it and she would hate it (she like meat carbonized, sigh sigh).

  6. peabody says:

    That is a beauy!
    I am with you on V-day. Men are expected to by diamonds, flowers and chocolate. And women…a coupon book for a massage and umm…other specialties. Seems fair, eh? Not. When I was single and living in AZ I celebrated Arizona Statehood Day instead…I have a great cookie cutter in the shape of AZ.
    This year I am eating Mexican food for him(I am not a fan) and he got me chickens(fake ones) for my kitchen. Truly romantic. :)

  7. Meeta says:

    What a great day and that menu is a killer. I love the roast it looks awesome with the crust. I think one should celebrate the simple things in life. Good food, good drinks, being together and life – I got yellow tulips today and that was more than anything I wanted. It cheered me up immensely this morning.

  8. linda says:

    Pink and perfect!

  9. Sindy says:

    I am not sure what I am more jealous of your ski day or dinner. MMMM love rare beef! Good luck with your Tx.

  10. Amy says:

    Yummmmm! I love meat and my mouth is watering right now. Fantastic pics! You rock :)

  11. Susan says:

    just getting ready to cook dinner for tonight – valentine’s day – this year rather than see it as the commercial problem it can be i’m trying to change my thinking it and see it as a brilliant opportunity to celebrate our relationship and enjoy the day. my country celebrates “family day” for the first time this month, a new national holiday, so thinking on how to find meaning in seemingly arbitrary holidays is a hot topic for me right now- I KNOW there are ways to make these things absolutely wonderful. tonight we’re going x-country skiing, a stop in at a local steam bath and then home for supper. it was the roast that led me here – absolutely fabulous, fabulous, lovely and delicious. inspiring. thought provoking. mouth watering. you’re a genius. happy valentine’s day.

  12. Bridget says:

    I’m with you on the Valentine’s Day thing. Why do I need my husband to buy me Stuff to show me he loves me, when he’s a fantastic husband every single day? Although I wouldn’t mind being brought flowers, like, every single day. :)

    Good luck with your treatment today. Maybe it’ll be better than last time? Probably not, I know. I’ll be sending good thoughts your way.

  13. megan says:

    Great day, great dinner. Love the beef and reduction sauce. And since I dont ski, I will live precariously through your adventures. Good luck today with treatment. Kick ass girl!

  14. Rachel says:

    I only know you through your blog posts, but I just adore you! We share the same values, except you seem to be a mu-uch more accomplished cook. Also, I love Breckenridge. I’ve never tele’d, just downhill and backcountry skiied.

    Seems like a trivial comparison because you are much younger, but my mom is in chemo right now too for ovarian cancer that’s metasticized, and it’s a tough road. She lives with my husband and I during treatment so I can take care of her as I’m her only kid and dad died of cancer a long time ago. Anyway, point being, while I haven’t felt your pain, I’ve certainly witnessed it and I’m so, so sorry you have to go through this. I’m glad Jeremy is such a kind soul. I’ll be sending you get well vibes until I hear otherwise. Take care.

  15. Lynn says:

    Beautiful pics! I’m so glad you got fantastic powder in before treatment time.

  16. Deborah says:

    You might have just convinced me to change my menu for tonight!!

  17. Yinna says:

    So right all around – beef should moo and Valentine’s Day is for commerce. My guy got me beautiful tulips a week ago, totally unexpected and therefore so much better than on national Fake Romance Day.

    Love your blog, love your pics and am thinking of you today. Hope you feel better soon again.

  18. Food Rockz Man says:

    Beautiful and delicious-looking . . . as always! Best of luck with treatment today.

  19. Annemarie says:

    Fabulous pictures as ever and beautiful looking dinner. I’m sure your valentine’s dinner was excellent, and hope your oncologist showed you some love today.

  20. Susan at Stickygooeycreamychewy says:

    I’m sending you lots of good vibes. (Can you feel them?) I hope your down time is short.

    That roast looks divine! Perfectly cooked. My caveman husband would go nuts over that. Poor guy. Tonight I fed him sushi.

  21. Kevin says:

    That meal looks so good!! The meat is perfectly pink and the sauce is nice and dark and thick.

  22. Randi says:

    It looks beautiful. And I love that bit about V-day not being a big deal… props to men who go out of their way all the time and not on some stupid made-up holiday. Hang in there, you’re obviously a very strong person. :)

  23. Chris says:

    What a wonderful post and a wonderful meal. Good luck with your treatment. I will keep you in my thoughts.

  24. Nicisme says:

    My brother used to live in Boulder, is now in Telluride, and I am fortunate enough to have spent time in Co, so I I really enjoy reading about your ski adventures. Makes me so jealous that you’ve got those beautiful mountains on your doorstep. Best wishes Jen.

  25. Graeme says:

    I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as “more perfect”, but then you covered a flawless steak in a crust and poured alcohol over it.

    It’s so good, I think I might have pee’d a little bit.

  26. Cakespy says:

    Way to work up an appetite…and way to satisfy it! What a yummy read, but I’ll bet it was even better in person ;-)

  27. brilynn says:

    Oh that roast is just the perfect colour! And the reduction on top sound excellent!

  28. White On Rice Couple says:

    Whoa!!! Don’t know what to comment on first, the powder or the food! Well, we just went skiing last week and did not nearly have the view and powder that you did! Besides, we’re still novices with our backcountry ski’s and did much more falling than skiing.
    Your feast looks marvelous and a great after ski meal! We had some sun chips in the car after our big “ski and fall” day.

  29. Tartelette says:

    I feel the same way. He got me 3 roses this year, the first time in 10 years, and he decided to make me dinner (he can’t cook) just to give me a break. Little gesture are far more important than gifts. I don’t need jewelry, I have his unconditional love and since I am no cupcake, that is a pretty big deal! We ended up breaking open the can of foie gras and a bottle of wine. I am teaching him Osso Bucco o sunday night.
    I hope your treatment went allright. I am keeping you in my thoughts :)

  30. Seth says:

    Just made it. Great! The blender broke when I was making the bread crumbs.

    Thanks, really love the food!

  31. Ellie says:

    To say that this looks amazing…would be a bloody understatement! Perfectly cooked steak, my mouth waters at the image!

  32. Karen says:

    What a lovely meal this must have been…looks just mouthwatering.
    It’s nice to see that you are pampering yourself with good food (and powder).

  33. Denise says:

    This is mouthwatering! I will have to add this to our list of must – cook! Your photos are truly wonderful – inspiring me. I really need to start learning to edit mine better! Take care of yourself, lots of rest, good food and that fluffy powder!

    ps…. we were in Boulder last year, loved it! Frasca and The Kitchen – YUMMY!

  34. Maja says:

    Hi, Jen, i hope your treatment went well and that you’re feeling fine. Step by step, right? :) Your roast looks delicious, i’ve got some hare’s meat in the fridge and i’ll treat it with your crust tomorrow, just your _photos_ smell divine! And by the way, i haven’t skied since i was 13 (last time once when i was 16) when i got my glasses and hated being on the snow and not seeing anything (without the glasses) or not seeing anything (because someone skied by and all of a sudden my glasses were covered with snow :)), but reading your posts has really spinned me around, plus i can have contacts now and i actually really do miss the feeling. :) All the best to you and your love,
    Maja

  35. Drink, Memory says:

    Oh my. I know what I’m making for dinner when I can afford to buy beef again….this looks heavenly. Thank you!!!

  36. jenyu says:

    Mark – ha ha, well it was actually 3 pounds of beef and Jeremy spent the rest of the week finishing it off for lunch and dinner :) There are lots of people like me out there – and I’ll bet they all think you’re the bomb, honey! I do :)

    Danielle – thanks and yes, the Rockies are a pretty sweet playground. I cannot complain!

    April – thank you, you’re very kind.

    Christine – yo lady! I’m only good like that because folks like you inspire me to do it right!

    Francesco – what a lucky woman your wife is to have a partner who recognizes what really matters in a relationship. Okay, so next time you are visiting Colorado, we will save a carbonized slice for her and the rest of us will indulge in the rare :)

    Peabody – oh, you’re such a riot with your AZ cookie cutter (it’s practically a rectangle, no?). I wanna see you post a picture of those chickens!

    Meeta – how sweet! But Meeta, dear – you deserve flowers EVERY day :) xxoo

    Linda – yum :)

    Sindy – thanks and I personally would take the skiing over the roast anyday.

    Amy – thanks!

    Susan – that sounds like a lovely evening, I love xcountry skiing and the solitude of the wilderness. Hope it was wonderful!

    Bridget – thank you for the sweet thoughts and I hope you got some flowers :)

    Megan – awww, thanks :) I’ll do my best to ski some extra for ya ;)

    Rachel – thanks and I hope your mom is getting through it as best as she can. All treatments are different and it affects people in varying ways. Here’s to her health and yours as well. Fingers crossed.

    Lynn – it was great and worth it! :)

    Deborah – hee hee.

    Yinna – you’re so right, I love the “non special” surprises the most too!! Thanks for your very sweet thoughts.

    FRM – thanks, bud!

    Annemarie – ha ha, my oncologist is a good man, despite the fact he is practically killing me ;)

    SGCC – I feel them, sweetie!! Thank you! And you know what, I’d GLADLY give the whole roast to your hubby if I could kidnap you and the sushi to come to MY house :) xxoo

    Kevin – you betcha!

    Randi – thanks and let’s hear it for guys who rock :)

    Chris – that’s really sweet of you, thanks!

    Nicisme – oooooh, Telluride?!?! I have some serious powder envy going on now ;) That is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been (and it was summer!!). I hope you get to visit him some more, that is amazing country. xxoo

    Graeme – ha ha ha, you have such a knack for phrasing things. Life is more fun when you’re around ;)

    Cakespy – tee hee, yup!

    Brilynn – yeah, I wasn’t sure about the reduction, but after I tried it, I knew it was meant to be ;)

    White on Rice Couple – hey, where do you guys ski? Do you go to Mammoth? Well I’m impressed that you managed to ski out of So Cal (it’s not easy, we know!). If you ever come out and ski with us, I’ll be sure to feed you something better than sun chips afterwards :)

    Tartelette – I’ll bet you ARE a cupcake! Are you kidding me? Anyone who makes the amazing pastries you do is one hot babe that no man should ever think twice about :) Your man is a lucky fellow, because you are such a gem of a woman, Helene. xxoo

    Seth – dude, sorry about the blender. I hope the roast rocked!!

    Ellie – hurray!!

    Karen – thanks :)

    Denise – Oooh, you went to Frasca and The Kitchen? They are two of my favorites! How fun :) I will bet that you will love this roast – it’s really a winner!

    Maja – thank you and you’re so sweet. I am feeling better now for sure. Ready for more powder and cooking and just living life the way it’s supposed to be lived. I think if you try skiing now, you’ll find the newer technology makes it much easier and more fun. I too wear glasses and have to don contacts when I ski. Getting a pair of good goggles that don’t fog up will help a lot as well :) xxoo

    Drink, Memory – yeah, it’s a pretty penny to buy a hunk of beef like that, and I tend to buy on the small side too!

  37. Maja says:

    Jen, i did the hare’s meat with your crust and it was absolutely divine!!!! Thank you for a great recipe and also for skiing tips, i’ll get a good pair of goggles. :) They will have company in my swimming goggles. And yes, i have heard that the newer skies make it easier to ski and more fun, and hearing it again makes me wish i were skiing right now. :) I’m really happy to hear you’re feeling better again, your post on crème brûlée is making me even more determined to buy that torch … Enjoy your day! xoxo :), Maja

  38. Jada says:

    This looks great–I have a perfect cut of beef in the fridge right now. By the way, like your blog name, hehe : ).

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