This house is roastin’

Every Sunday afternoon, her majesty Queen Elizabeth II sits down to lunch with her family and invited guests. It matters not whether she is in residence at Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, at Sandringham House in Norfolk or, her favorite place, Windsor Castle. The menu never varies.

Like many of her subjects, the Queen dines on roast beef, roasted potatoes, vegetables and perhaps a pudding or berries with slightly sweetened Devonshire cream for dessert.

The classic standing rib roast has made a big comeback in America due to the ever-growing number of steak houses that have opened their doors. My mother Berthe roasted a standing rib roast at least once a month, usually for Friday night dinner. Prime rib of beef served au jus, French for natural juices, is also a popular entr�e served at weddings and other celebrations.

There are two schools of thought when buying a rib roast. Some good home cooks, like my friend cookbook author Barbara Kafka, buy a whole boneless shell of beef. Other cooks like to buy a rib roast on the bone. Although bones add flavor — and they are delicious to gnaw on — it is easier to carve a boneless shell of beef.

There are also two schools of thought on cooking the beef. Some people prefer a low temperature and roast for a long time. Kafka recommends you roast at a high temperature. I agree. I roast everything from capons to rack of lamb to rib roast at 500 degrees. Either way, buy prime-quality beef from a reputable butcher. It will be expensive, but you will have no waste and lots of leftovers.

Roasted potatoes are traditional with beef. And any green vegetable will do. I particularly like creamed spinach because it is a steak-house staple. You could substitute asparagus, broccoli rabe saut�ed in olive oil and garlic or tender baby green peas.

Begin dinner with ice-cold wedges of crisp iceberg lettuce loaded with homemade blue cheese dressing. Roquefort from France, Stilton from Great Britain, all-American Maytag Blue or gorgonzola from Italy can be used in making homemade blue cheese dressing. A warm loaf of your favorite bread with softened butter is served with the salad.

As for wine, a rich hearty Cabernet Sauvignon would be a perfect complement for the beef. So would a robust Burgundy.

A light dessert is in order here after such a hearty meal. Berries topped with whipped cream or a fresh ripe pear with a piece of cheese are appropriate.

Here are recipes for a hearty Sunday dinner.

Blue Cheese Dressing


1/4 pound or more blue cheese of your choice
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sour cream
Kosher salt to taste, according to the saltiness of the blue cheese


Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse on and off until ingredients are blended but you still see some lumps of blue cheese. Place salad dressing in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour or so.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

Note: You may wish to set aside some blue cheese to crumble on top of the dressing before serving. If so, buy about 1/2 pound of blue cheese. You can also thicken the dressing a bit by adding a little more sour cream. Recipe easily can be doubled. Homemade blue cheese dressing also makes a delicious dip for crudit�s.

Rib Roast


1 (4-1/2 to 5-pound) boneless rib roast, tied with butcher string, at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red wine to deglaze pan


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Sprinkle the bottom of a shallow roasting pan with kosher salt and pepper. Place the roast in the pan. Roast for 45 minutes to one hour for rare beef.

Remove the roast from the oven and place on a warm platter. Allow the roast to stand for about 15 minutes before removing the string and carving. I find an electric knife is the perfect gadget with which to carve a prime rib of beef. You can either lay the beef on its side and carve from the top, or allow it to stand and carve. Practice both ways to determine which procedure is more comfortable for you. The uncarved beef will not get cold while you make the gravy. If company is late, don’t place the beef back in the oven. Just let it stand near the warm stove.

Pour off the fat from the roasting pan. Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to high. Add about 1 cup of dry red wine and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the juicy brown bits have dissolved into the liquid.

Pour the gravy into a sauce boat and serve with the roast.

Serves six.

Roast Potatoes with Garlic


2 pounds small new potatoes or fingerlings
12 fat garlic cloves
6 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Wash and pat dry the potatoes. Place them in a casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Add remaining ingredients and toss well so that potatoes are well coated with olive oil. Cover the casserole.

Bake the potatoes for at least 45 minutes, longer if the potatoes are larger than about 1-1/2 inches long. After about 20 minutes of roasting, turn the potatoes around using a wooden spoon so they are well coated with olive oil.

Return to the oven for at least 25 minutes more. Serve straight from the casserole.

Serves six to eight.

Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Olive Oil


3 bunches fresh broccoli rabe
1/4 cup olive oil
6 fat garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Wash the broccoli rabe and remove any tough stems. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe and blanch for about one-two minutes. Drain in a colander and run cold water over the broccoli rabe. Drain well.

Pour the olive oil into a large skillet. Turn the heat to medium and saut� the garlic until just translucent, about five minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, raise the heat to medium-high and heat through, tossing the broccoli rabe around with a wooden spoon. You may wish to add a bit more olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Transfer broccoli rabe to a warm bowl.

Serves six.