holidays & recipes: an ancient holiday dinner seared beef with lemon herb creme fraiche

Seared Beef with Lemon-Herb Crème Fraiche

Let the countdown begin. It is December 7th and with Christmas 17 days away thoughts of holiday foods swirl in our heads. Who-pudding and roast beast; sugar plums, roast geese. We may not be able to share recipes for these foods from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Twas the Night Before Christmas and Scrooge, but we can help you prepare for your Christmas feast.

Over the next 17 days we will maintain our regularly scheduled posts: Tartlicious Tuesdays, Worldly Wednesdays and Fudofinds Fridays. However, on the other days we will bring to you the recipes to create three separate Christmas menus. Our first menu brings the ancient world to our tables for a winter feast.

Seared Beef with Lemon-Herb Crème Fraiche

In the book The Philosopher’s Kitchen by Francine Segan you will find menus for various occasions. We loved the winter buffet menu, but shortened by omitting two of the meat dishes so that it is manageable and carefree. While this menu wasn’t necessarily one that the ancient Greeks or Romans prepared during their winter holidays, these foods are a perfectly suited for your holiday celebration. You will find the ingredients seasonally appropriate and fairly inexpensive. This menu is light, yet satisfyingly rich in flavor.

An Ancient Holiday Dinner

1. Seared Beef with Lemon-Herb Crème Fraiche
2. Kale with Coriander Sauce
3. Poppy Turnips
4. Etruscan Foccacia
5. Hazel-Walnut Honey Custard

Let’s begin with the seared beef with lemon-herb crème fraiche. The original recipe calls for sirloin, but in the spirit of frugality and ancient resourcefulness we used a portion of a beautiful London broil that we happened to have on hand. If you have a thick cut of beef follow the recipe, sear the beef and finish it in the oven. This recipe is very easy to double.

Seared Beef with Lemon-Herb Crème Fraiche

Ingredients

4 tsp McCormick dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbs Bertolli extra-virgin olive oil
1 boneless sirloin about 1 ½ lbs
Salt and pepper
½ cup crème fraiche
1 tbs whole milk
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Etruscan foccacia

Directions

1. Combine 3 tsp of oregano, garlic and oil in a small bowl. Season the beef with salt and pepper and firmly press oregano mixture on both sides. Set aside while you make the sauce.

2. Mix the crème fraiche, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, remaining tsp of oregano and ½ tsp salt in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Head a non-stick skillet over medium –high heat. Sear the meat until cooked to the desired doneness, remove from skillet and let rest for 10 minutes. (If you have a thicker cut of beef sear for about 4 minutes on each side and finish in the oven. When beef is done remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.)

4. To assemble, slice meat into thin slices. Slice the foccacia into 1 inch this slices. Spread crème fraiche mixture on focaccia and top with a slice of steak. Serve immediately.

Entertaining Tip: Making your guests comfortable is important. And, while you cannot cater to each guest’s personal tastes you can make it easy for them to enjoy a meal to their liking. For this recipe we suggest that step #4 be optional. You can serve the beef on a platter separately from the foccacia and crème fraiche mixture which will allow your guests to either eat it as step 4 indicates, or in a manner to their liking as some may prefer to omit the crème fraiche mixture or some may not want the foccacia.

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15 comments

  • December 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm //

    This is a wonderful and satisfying holiday recipe. I love the balance that the lemon creme fraiche offers with the beef.

  • December 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm //

    I love that your “spirit of frugality” didn’t hamper the holiday spirit! Looks and sounds lovely!

    • December 8, 2011 at 8:01 am //

      Thank you so much, it’s frugal times these days = )

  • December 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm //

    Looks great, a wonderful idea for a holiday dinner!

    • December 8, 2011 at 7:59 am //

      Thank you Dana.

  • December 8, 2011 at 12:06 am //

    What an incredible menu! I haven’t even begun to think about Christmas dinner yet… 17 days?! I think I have to go get busy now…

  • December 8, 2011 at 12:19 am //

    Lovely! We have a Roman restaurant nearby (my city was founded by the Romans and is over 2000 years old), where all original recipes are served, and you eat with your fingers. I always love the flavors, and I bet this holiday meal was stunning.

    • December 8, 2011 at 8:01 am //

      Now that sounds super fabulous Kiri, I would love to have one within driving/walking distance.

  • December 8, 2011 at 8:01 am //

    Thank you all so much for your thoughtful and wonderful comments.

  • December 14, 2011 at 12:41 am //

    I am so excited to try this for my 20+ people soiree 12/21. Sounds delicious!
    I am such a novice party preparer..Will you let me know the serving size for the above recipe?

    Thanks!

    • December 14, 2011 at 3:53 pm //

      Dear Judie: The recipes are for 4-6 servings, but we suggestion if you are having more than five to double the recipe. For 20, a good guess would be x5 the recipes, this is just a good guess of course, but a little extra is okay = )