Inevitable Bitching About Templates

on Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I got myself this fancy template a little while back, a fancy layout for my fancy, fancy, pompous drivel.

It seems I don't know how to pick classy company, as they've run out of bandwidth for certain elements on this page.

Embarrassing to say the least.

It's my intent to work on that, but I have Buttermilk-Lemon Sherbet coming up this evening in the kitchen, and I've been trying to master the vagaries of pulled pork in the oven (I am thinking of calling it Semi-lina Barbecue, I'll explain that later...) So I've been busy.

And I'm sorry.

And I know one should never begin sentences with "and" except when one should.

In the midst of all of this, and job hunting, I vow to maybe think about considering the following "action items":

1) New template
2) Adding pictures (iphoto makes my life living hell, I just haven't gotten ambitious here... and to make things worse, while I'm an adequate hack/hobby photographer, I can't seem to get he porn-ish shots that I see elsewhere. Life is a humbling experience.)
3) More updates... though this is a bit like apologizing to a diary for not writing more often. It is, sadly, true that I have little else important going in my life.

Finally, ice cream experiences are coming... I'm on a kick of making ice cream, and am intending to start on Peter Reinhart's "Breadbaker's Apprentice" in the near future. I am loath to include specific recipes from either, as (a la I feel like they are both such tremendous resources that if you want them, you really really really should own them.

So. If you want to make the best bread of your life, buy this.

If you want to make ice cream, buy this.

You know whether you want them or not, and I'll share the experience with you as I do the occasional bit/piece/recipe from them.

If a recipe is one that I've significantly messed about with, or I can link to in the public domain, you'll see it. If I haven't, or can't (respectively) you won't... you want 'em? Buy the books. I wouldn't steer you wrong, hypothetical readers... don't you trust a complete stranger on the internet?

Something for the Vegans in the Back Rows

on Tuesday, September 8, 2009


As with the earlier incident involving salad dressing, I have a pompous AND wordy recipe for Red Lentil Soup today. It's vegan, which is a shocking situation for me, but it's just a recipe that happened to turn out that way. I won't let it happen again.

A friend, who's vegan, and bored with her dietary options, had asked about it, and I sent her this write-up...

Red Lentil Soup

2-6 tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Knorr Vegetarian Vegetable Bouillon Cubes

9 cups water

1 ¾ C. Split Red Lentils, picked/culled, rinsed and set aside

1 large onion, chopped reasonably fine

1 medium-large carrot, chopped into a moderately fine dice

3 cloves garlic, crushed/minced

1 tsp. ground Cumin

½ tsp. ground Turmeric

1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper &/or ALEPPO PEPPER

½ tsp.-1 tsp. Ras El Hanout

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Lemon Wedges/Fresh Lemon Juice

Time to Cocktails: 15 minutes

Time to Table: 1:30-1:45

Time to plate: 0:10 (give or take, based on your decision on blending and the method you might use.)

Serves: 6

Nutritional Information:

Cost (Not Counting oil, herbs, spices, pantry items):

Roughly $3.00 total, $0.50 per serving

It is summer at the moment, and while Winter always seems singularly appropriate to soup making, and soup eating, we are still going to discuss this now. We are going to be using Red Lentils (which are also referred to as Pink Lentils, and may be known as “Masoor Dal” in the context of Indian grocery stores.) You can find them online, in particular will have them in various degrees of bulk, but at a price. I buy them in bulk at the Flatbush food co-op in Brooklyn, where they sell somewhere around $2.59ish per pound. There is a small discount for members, but that’s the base price. In addition to the flavor, one major advantage of red lentils is that they don’t require pre-soaking, and can go straight into the soup.

One thing to note: when cooking with lentils, they don't precisely "go bad", but as they have been in the pantry longer, they require a different amount of time to cook, so use old or new lentils as you wish, but don't use them at the same time, as the texture will vary between the two bags/batches.

It’s easier than you might think, and it’s one my favorites, and one of my wife’s as well.

Lentils have a very complete mix of protein, and this recipe is very low in fat, and cholesterol. You can check for the details as you prepare any foods, and while it can be time consuming, it’s one way to tell how your foods stack up when you cook for yourself. If you would like to use regular lentils, I have had reasonably decent luck with that as well, but

Begin putting a 5-plus quart stockpot onto a medium flame. When the pot is hot enough to cause water to sizzle (put a drop on your finger and flick it in, when it hisses, you are ready), add 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and toss in your onions and garlic. Reduce heat slightly, and sauté the onions and garlic until lightly browned and translucent. Add your diced carrot, and continue to sauté for a few minutes more, reducing heat if necessary to prevent burning.

When the carrots have sautéed for a few minutes, add the water, vegetable bouillon cubes and lentils. Stir lightly to combine the ingredients and prevent the lentils from clumping. Increase heat to high, and bring to a healthy boil. You may add some salt at this time, but err on the side of UNDER-salting at this point in the process, you can always add more, but it is impossible to effectively remove it once you have too much. Furthermore, salt is said to toughen lentils when added before they are cooked.

Once the soup has boiled, reduce heat until the soup is simmering, add in your pepper as needed, along with cayenne, turmeric and cumin. I’m a huge fan of Aleppo pepper (sun-dried flakes) in this recipe in lieu of or in addition to the cayenne… it is a warmer, rounder, less hot pepper than cayenne, & provides a great deal of flavor in addition to purely heating up the palate. You can adjust the amounts based on your own taste, the Cayenne in particular is a personal judgment call. Stir the spices in, and cover at a simmer. Check/stir periodically while it cooks. Simmer for roughly an hour, check the lentils for doneness at that time. If you like a thicker consistency, you may continue to simmer with the lid on or off (removing the lid will speed up the reduction in liquid.) At a low simmer, the soup will hold (with potential additions of water periodically) if you need to prepare other dishes for a meal or seat guests as necessary.

If you have a “stick” blender, here is where it’s extremely useful, and to my own taste the soup is much preferable smoothly blended together. You can also use a regular countertop blender, though it is far more time consuming.

Once the soup is blended, adjust seasonings (chiefly salt/pepper), while bearing in mind that the final flavor will be affected by the addition of lemon to each bowl, or to the entire quantity. Don’t be afraid to season, but be cautious of over-salting. It is best to stop while it seems “not quite salty enough”. You or your guests can always add their own if they so choose.

If you are freezing a portion (or all) of the soup, do not add the lemon at this time. When it is served, either add the lemon at the very end of the cooking, once the heat is shut off, or serve with lemon wedges at each place at the table. You can choose to float some olive oil in the surface of the soup for flavor and aesthetics as well as an added unctuousness, or richness. I have on occasion added a dollop labneh, crème fraiche or plain yogurt on the surface as well, but it is far from necessary.

Serve with warm, crusty bread if desired. This soup will also keep very well in the freezer, simply reheat on low, with a trace of water to start thawing the frozen brick of soup.

-If you are not planning on blending the soup together, you may want to chop the onion/garlic/carrot much finer, to your own taste and preference, probably more along the lines of a brunoise. I always hand blend this soup, but your mileage may vary.

-When preparing the lentils, put them on a light colored plate, and sift through, checking for off-color pieces, or even small stones. Remove anything unappetizing, rinse in a strainer, and leave to add to the soup as needed. Whole lentils, red or otherwise, will require a longer cooking time than split lentils. Also, do not mix newly purchased lentils with ones you have had in the pantry for a longer period of time, as they will cook unevenly due to moisture loss over time.

-Ras el Hanout (there are alternate spellings) is available in specialty markets, and has roots in Morocco. It has an aromatic quality, and is a blend of a huge number of other spices. It means “top of the shop” in the local vernacular, and while you don’t need it, I find it adds a nice depth of flavor to the soup. It is also useful for flavoring couscous and an array of other middle eastern dishes.

-You may decide to use a bouillon other than vegetable, but it is certainly more than adequate to the process. If you are watching your salt intake, consider reducing or eliminating the bouillon included, if necessary. Clearly it significantly improves the flavor, but if salt is an issue, increase the acidity with lemon juice, and you will be unlikely to miss the saltiness. One bouillon cube has 70% of your daily value of sodium, so use your own discretion. I have made this with two or three cubes, generally.

-If you are using regular lentils, be prepared to cook longer than indicated below, and be advised you may also want to check and add water to the soup to keep the lentils from drying out, burning/sticking. Check individual lentils for doneness every twenty minutes or so beyond the first hour.

-A stick blender (also called an “immersion blender”) is incredibly useful for soups, and will come in handy for smoothies, whisking eggs (most have a replaceable set of attachments) and other tasks. The price over-all is not excessive, and when it’s needed I’ve found mine to be indispensible.

-Cost is according to what I’ve paid for this dish most recently, and you may see some variability in price. In this dish I’ve included the cost of all the vegetables, lemon, and bouillon, but I’ve not counted the cost of oil, seasonings, salt or water ;) As with all things, you will have to determine the price point of your own local store.

-Your “time to cocktails” above is roughly the amount of time you need to put in before the cooking process is relatively hands off, though you will need to cast an eye on things from time to time.

-“Time to table” is roughly how long it will be including prep and all other phases of the cooking process until you are ready to serve the dish into plates or bowls. I’m leaving it there as I don’t know how long a walk it is from your kitchen to your dining room.


on Friday, August 21, 2009

Yeah, the "Elegant" part of the last two posts, that's partly up to your own eye and sensibilities.

You can make any dish ugly, and make any dish gorgeous (not "any dish" exactly, but you know what I mean, I trust... either that, or congrats on getting the staff to let you use one of the internet connected PC's at the home.) It's kind of up to what you want to put on top, or how you wish to arrange it.

Just, you know, for all that that's worth.

Easy, Elegant Hors D'oeuvre pt. II of II

Sadly for this, as for the prior, no pictures were taken. I was cooking, and (to be honest) drinking. The next go 'round we will take some photos, hopefully of adequate quality, and provide them here.

Next, as I've always loved the classic prosciutto and melon as a summer appetizer or course, and as my wife doesn't eat red meat, this is a slight twist for pescatarians... you can of course make these without the lime and onion and simply make little prosciutto/melon bites, but you didn't some schmuck to tell you that... you probably don't need me to tell you this either, but you can always stop reading.

The more flavorful the melon, the better the dish will stand up, and of course be willing to look at other varieties of melon (as honeydew and canteloupe are often very bland depending on the season.) We've had interesting luck with so-called Santa-Claus melons, and I'm fond of Canary melon (though not for this dish, as I learned this time around... it lacks firmness, and has too subtle a flavor.)

Make sliced squares of melon, again we are using these as a sort of tray/cracker/handle for the bite of snack, so size accordingly... as always, it's to taste.

Sliced nova lox in appropriate shapes are added on top, along with some slivers of red onion, and when you are ready to serve you can squeeze a trickle of lemon or lime juice over the tops, and finish with a grind of pepper for each.

Easy, Elegant Hors D'oeuvre pt. I of II

Just a really quick take, we had folks over for dinner the other night, and did a few things that were well received, and some of them were a new twist...

Here then are two simple appetizers/Hors D'Oeuvre, one based on the beef we made an eon ago.

I had bought an eye round to make sandwich roast beef, and found out we were having company over, and decided to do a quick take on the classic Roast Beef with Horseradish...

You'll have a sizable amount of roast beef before, I made it the day of, when it really is at its best...

One cucumber
Sour Cream (lowfat/nonfat is FINE)
Tellicherry Pepper*, cracked or coarse ground
Sea/Kosher salt
Mayonnaise (lowfat/nonfat is fine here too)
Horseradish, your choice of type

Peel and slice your cucumber (thick enough that they will hold up almost in lieu of a cracker in a canape), sprinkle a little bit of kosher salt over it, to add flavor, and almost "quick pickle" the cuke. Put it in tupperware or on a plate, covered, in the fridge. The cold cucumber is much better than warm...

Combine sour cream and mayonnaise, I started with about four parts sour cream to one part mayonnaise, but it's not an exact science. Grind black pepper into the mix, add horseradish to taste. Bear in mind that this will be a little dab of flavor on the eventual bite of food, and a bit of punch to the horseradish is just lovely.**

Take the sliced beef, cut up the pieces to fit the cuke slices, top them, add a dab of horseradish sauce (more or less based on your preference, but not so much that it slops onto the serving plate, it's nasty looking,) grind fresh black pepper over the whole plot, and you are DONE.

*any other variety of black pepper is fine, but Tellicherry really has an exceptional flavor, and where you are relying on a present and up front hit of black pepper, it's worth the few extra pennies a pound. As always, for god's sake, DON'T EVER USE PRE-GROUND PEPPER. Buy a pepper mill, okay? Trust me, if you wouldn't mind.

**This horseradish sauce makes a wonderful topper for those eventual cold beef sandwiches, and it's especially fabulous with some whole grain mustard, and a handful of arugula on a baguette...

Sorry for the Hold-Up

on Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This is for T., who was over for dinner and wondered how the salad dressing came together...

Mirin-Miso Miracle Dressing:

You'll need the following base...

8 parts neutral oil (rice bran or grapeseed are you loveliest of heart healthy options...)
4 parts mirin (japanese sweet cooking wine)
4 parts rice wine vinegar (if you like the dressing sweeter, you can substitute mirin for some or even all of the vinegar, but it's not my personal preference, plus vinegar is a calorie free way to add bite and flavor, while mirin is definitely not)
1 part Dijon mustard (more to taste if you like)
*1 part miso paste (red/white to taste)

Once these are combined, add salt and pepper to taste. It's quite important to put the miso in BEFORE adding in the salt, as you otherwise risk over-salting the dressing altogether.

Depending on the density of the miso paste, you might find it useful to add the liquid to the miso a little bit at a time, blending it in, so that you don't have chunks of miso paste floating in the liquid... nasty, and a pain to get rid of.

We keep a few different dressings on the sideboard in the dining room, in old, clear wine bottles... it's the "Re-Use" part of green living, and they are a pretty good size both for mixing and for holding a reasonable volume of dressing close by.

Use less miso, or none at all, but in that case you'll need to increase the amount of salt, and probably increase the mustard portion. That's my own taste talking, but I find it's a bit bland without some added beefing up.

If you want a more hearty and robust version of this dressing, substitute sesame oil for a portion of the neutral oil indicated. Be advised that a little goes a LONG way, you can always add a touch more if you like.

With any dressing/vinaigrette, trust your own palate; if you need more acidity, add vinegar, more sweetness to balance the acidity comes from mirin, mustard rounds out the flavor and emulsifies the dressing (this will keep it from separating back into oil and vinegar in the bottle), and salt tastes, well, salty.

So Perfectly Awesome it's Painful

on Friday, April 17, 2009

A blog devoted to one man/woman's love, nay obsession with cilantro.

This raises the bar for mind-blowing.  This is more awesome than a flying monkey carrying a blender of frozen drinks showing up unexpectedly.

Broadly Regarding the Recent Talk of Mussels

on Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just a quick thought in retrospect, regarding the mussel recipe: it's got a fundamental factor that I find really relevant to broader thoughts about cooking... aioli.

This falls into an area that I've found intriguing about "Simply Ming", the televised cooking of Ming Tsai.  Each episode (of the few that I've seen) introduce elements that can be used in a myriad of ways, and an assortment of techniques and backdrops are used with said element.  So, in that light, a tag for "element" will be added for anything of that kind going forward.

Aioli is an element that can be used and explored with different ingredients, whether green herbs, or curry or anything that can strike your fancy.  Vinaigrettes, beurre blanc, mirepoix, and other preparations fall into this same category.  Whether it's a blend of herbs/spices, or a technique, these elements add the capacity to take methodologies and expand them to work on your own voice and your own set of flavors.

And yes, I did get that pompous about a blend of mayo and other crap.  The swollen head is hard to avoid.

Discomfort Food

on Friday, April 10, 2009

So hey!

What have you (entirely hypothetical) folks been up to?



I've been struck with Chilean Hopping Death Plague.

That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about ways to make simple delicious fare for yourself and your loved ones...

So in that light, I've discovered a really great trick:

Take some of these (apparently they're called "bouillon cubes")

I don't know where to recommend looking for them, I have had some luck finding them at my local green grocer's.

There are versions available that are based on the essence of seafood, of beef, and even of vegetables, but I've stayed here with the traditional chicken... it has that certain something.

Measure out a portion, prepare precisely two cups of water, in a pot, with the "bouillon cube", and bring to a boil.

Be absolutely certain that it has fully incorporated, you may want to whisk it in one small piece at a time to be certain that you the soup doesn't break... once complete, simply serve in a bowl!

Best enjoyed while sweating under a blanket, watching infomercials while you are in too much pain to find the remote and look through your tivo list.

Mussels with Smoked Paprika Aioli

on Thursday, April 2, 2009

Now for something stolen, changed, and about to be claimed as a bit more of my own.

Chow had a recipe for Broiled Mussels with Sweet Paprika Aioli which I loved the idea of.

This goes to a certain question of eco-friendliness, as the seafood that makes its way onto the American table is often among the worst for fish stocks, or the environment.  Salmon, tuna, and shrimp are disastrous as dining choices, and they are what you inevitably find in supermarkets, and other fish are sometimes incredibly expensive to salve the conscience.

There is hope, though, and it comes in the form of the humble Blue Mussel.  I can hear you now, there are plenty of people who just plain dislike mussels, and my wife was among them.  The chow folks do not lie, this will change the minds of people who don't think they like mussels.  Here's how they find out (or you find out) that there was something you didn't know...

Mussels are farmed, but the farming is done in such a way that there are neglible environmental consequences, and they represent a limited carbon stream: filter feeding, and grown local to the point of consumption, they are a poster child for sound and responsible aquaculture.

Follow the recipe, if you want to follow it start to finish, more power to you.

However, there were a few changes I made, namely the use of smoked paprika, which I've been absolutely in love with recently, and looking for any excuse to use, a bit of ancho chili and chipotle chili powder in substitution, and aioli made from (gasp!) pre-made mayonnaise.

Making your own mayonnaise will be covered in a subsequent post, but for now it's not only a huge headache, it's also possibly more expensive than just using it from the good people at Hellman's.  I hate to admit it, but there are times where I can't compete from scratch, and where I do a worse job from financial and aesthetic perspectives.

The proportions listed for the aioli are reasonably good, but with this you need to follow your own palate above all else.  Much of this process is down to what you happen to like... more dijon?  Less?  More Garlic?  Straight mayo with chocolate chips?  Think WAY out of the box, if you want.

Take it as a template, and with any recipe begin by doing it pretty much from the book once, and then freelancing a bit.  This truth does not obtain for pastry or bread, things that are done inside the oven demand rules, while things done "above the oven" on top of the stove demand flexibility... as the saying goes you are either a cook, or a baker, and this is exactly what they mean by that.  Baking demands measurement, cooking demands some degree of slopping things around and poking things to see if they are done.  I'm not much of a baker, despite the fact that both pieces of cooking so far have involved the oven; don't be fooled, okay?  I think they're on here because they are what I'm weakest at, instead of the other way around.

The time estimates are reasonably accurate, and it is a fair amount of manual prep, but it is tremendous once it's done, and other than opening and stripping the mussels, it's really not too challenging.

Doing this with a pastry/piping bag, if you have one, is probably worth it... you would replace food prep time with dishwasher time, or handwash time.  It's your call, I spooned them this time, but next time will do this with a piping bag and keep the baking sheet cleaner.  I wish I had had parsley on hand, but I didn't let it stop me, don't let it stop you either...

And by the way, I still haven't convinced my in-laws to eat mussels.   My wife, she was brought around to seeing the light, though.


Soul of a Chef

I'm not employed in the industry, I can't claim experience in that regard.  I'm a home cook, at best with a few ideas or thoughts to share.

That said, I've just been reading "Soul of a Chef: The Pursuit of Perfection" by Michael Ruhlman, and can't recommend it highly enough.  It takes the experiantial journalism style you find in Bill Buford's "Heat", and adds it's own personal touch, with a progression of different experiences.  Ruhlman begins by observing and mulling over the CMC exams at the Culinary Institute of America... a harrowing ten-day skills test by master examiners.

While the CMC is not a broadly recognized certification, the description of the process is more than harrowing, and is certainly well more than humbling... far be it from me to develop a recipe on the spot for complex forcemeat and other charcuterie presentations.

The book transitions to a description of life and events at Michael Symon's restaurant Lola at the point where Symon was selected one of Food & Wine's Top 10 New Chef's, and finally comes to rest in a long reflection on time spent at Thomas Keller's French Laundry in Yountville, CA.  An intriguing tidbit is the presence at the time of Grant Achatz, who has since moved on to fame and madness at Alinea.

I'm not a high cost foodie, and I like to keep the pretension pretty well limited, but seeing a window into the ways and thought processes of people at that level of creation is truly fascinating.  Among other details, the ways in which every "fiddley" bit of trimming and scrap is used in other dishes in a way that you can never do as a home cook.  Trimming perfect little circles of truffle is fine if you're making truffle butter or truffle coulis later in the evening.  Trimming them just to make perfect little circles and having to throw away raw material is just preposterous.  Hence, homemade dishes have a more homemade look and quality.

Pick it up, amazon has them used for a song (if you happen to get paid $10 a pop to do songwriting, that is) and it's worth a read.

Or, you can be a retro-futurist and do the ultimate in file sharing... get it at the library.  It's a revolutionary concept, but I'm finding it pretty spectacular.  The man doesn't want you to know about it, but it's out there... books for free.  You will, however, need to bring it back eventually... just in case you'd forgotten how that process worked.

I feel like I just finished writing "My Summer Vacation" or a book report for the fourth grade.

Before I Forget

on Tuesday, March 31, 2009

For the last post, a few momentary additional thoughts.

  1. When it comes to cutting, after the rest, cut across the grain, as thinly as possible.  With most beef this is the case, but the tougher the cut tends to be, the more crucial both of these things are.  Beef gets roasted when it's monstrously hard to eat straight (unlike a good steak.)
  2. You can buy pre-seasoned cast iron skillets at any decent department store, and pretty much the only company still making them is lodge kitchenware.
  3. This is a link for the thermometer I have and use.  I can't speak the specific quality of that site, as I bought mine here. It's got a braided steel covering on the remote probe line, which is essential (the silicone wears out with any edge pressing on it, sooner or later it will fail and you'll throw the thing out.)  It also has an included timer (never a bad thing) and will keep you updated both on the oven temperature AND the internal temperature of the food at the same time.  It's the only gadget I've seen that does this, and having a good read on the actual operating range of your oven is incredibly helpful.  Most residential ovens swing through wide arcs of temperature, and many are far off of where they ought to be.  This will cover you in that regard.
  4. In terms of pepper, where it's a particularly prominent flavor, get yourself some tellicherry from here.  If you are actually tasting any element of pepper, tellicherry is the top of the line, and Kalustyans' version was the highest rated in, you guessed it: Cook's Illustrated.  They may be operate with an incredibly exhausting level of detail, but that's just because they're also incredibly exhaustive, and here's where that's a bonus.  Tellicherry is barely more expensive than awful supermarket black pepper, so don't waste your time, unless you want to, it is after all your meal.
  5. Don't use teflon pans in the oven.  Apparently they give off fumes that have been shown to grow extra heads on lab animals.  Avoid unless extra heads and or tumors are something you're personally looking to develop.
  6. You may find making a roast easy, but personally I've never been close friends with things that happen outside of my control, and inside of an oven.  I'm not a fan of hoping that everything is done right, I'm a fan of fixing as I go along... hence this felt like a bit of a victory, always pleasant when money is being saved as well.
  7. Comes right before 8.

Okay Class, We'll Start With Recession Roast Beef...

I'm just going to dive in...

You'll get the whole complicated bio later, but the basic premise here is about cooking well, and eating well. The balance I'm trying to strike is a combination of awareness relating to ecological sensitivity in dining, nutrition, health, taste, innovation, in addition to factors of health factor and most importantly the "cheap factor" where possible.

In regard to that last point, I present Eye Round Roast to you all...

This cut is a grocery store special many of us may know from our childhood, if we had a family home that was trying its best to save a bit on a meal, and it comes to you because I personally love a good roast beef sandwich, and am tired of paying the $8/sandwich that is conventional for New York City (just like I always pictured it, skyscrapers and everything).

Eye Round Roast.

It isn't always a good ending when you start telling this story, and mine begins in a supermarket refrigerated section, looking for cheap cuts of meat to make sandwiches in the Naked City.

There aren't actually 8 million stories about this, though every fool has his own way to make Roast Beef.

I had tried (a la America's Test Kitchen, I give you this variant) a version of this process which asked for the hottest possible oven, with a piece of Eye Round that had been left out until approximate room temperature and placed in an oven at roughly 400-500 degrees Fahrenheitfor anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes. The oven was then turned off with the door shut until the internal temperature of the roast reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

First off - as frivolous as it might seem - get a digital thermometer that has a cable that attaches to a probe. I had one that failed in the barbecue, and was replaced with one with a braided steel line around the silicone/wire probe line. It's worth looking for the braided steel: the regular silicone line failed after a single use on the grill.

This digital thermometer has lasted through several oven projects, including our first assembled family turkey. Knowing the number is a 
very good thing. One day when you're a grandmother, you won't need it, but for now, it helps.

So, Eye Round.

Around $3.50 per pound at the local mega-retailer, and I had tried it with the first method and been rewarded with tough-ish, gray-ish beef.

I would love the link to give credit to the following method, but I have lost it. The basic trick: take a heavy oven-ready pan, let your eye round (of any size) sit out until it starts thinking about being room temperature (mine was still near freezing at the core after a day of thawing in the fridge, so there you have it.)

Set the oven to 225 degrees. Turn that bad boy on. Let it pre-heat. Walk the dog, or read for a bit.

Then, smear the roast with some kind of oil with your bare hands, liberally apply salt and freshly ground pepper (for god's sake don't use pre-ground pepper, okay, you're not homeless) and sear all sides in your oven-ready pan on the stove top. I used my now departed godmother's ancient cast iron pan for this, but take whatever falls to hand. It helps to score the fat portion diagonally with a knife in a crosshatch pattern, to render the fat into the pan. Then, put it in the oven, after turning the burner off, letting the pan start to cool with the flame off, flipping to a less seared side (to prevent scorching) and put the whole thing in the oven.

You should have put the probe in before putting the roast in the oven.

Go back in time and do that, okay?

Now, go and have drinks, or just stand and watch the read-out until it reaches 115 degrees.

Shut the oven off.

Wait some more, until the roast hits 130 degrees, this is for medium rare, I don't know what temperature you demented people want who are looking for well done, as you don't deserve a roast beef sandwich.

Pull that sucker.

Let it rest, in the roasting pan if you like it more well done, or on a plate if you like it a little tiny more on the medium rare side, for about ten minutes.

I feel like I just untied the Gordian Knot of super cheap beef cuts, as it came out like THIS:

It still has some chew, and some texture, but the rest after cooking, and the oven time has left this most healthy, low-fat cut of cheapest beef in the world while not quite fork-tender, at least tooth tender, and when sliced very thinly it is utterly sandwich perfect.

More to follow, and it won't all be Mother Cleaver's Tricks for Cheap Sandwiches for the Beav.

Thanks, and enjoy.