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A Perfect Summer Supper Starts With an Easy-to-Fix Tri-Tip Roast

Strangers are cooking for us, and our kitchens are gathering dust.

In today’s world people are increasingly turning to ready-made food. The modern supermarket offers salad bars, spit-roasted meats and poultry, and pre-prepared menus just waiting to be taken home. Delis beckon.

This is a shame, because cooking at home can be as good for you as exercise, as relaxing as a Jacuzzi. And home-cooked food can be plain, good and above all, easy to make.

Even those who juggle long work hours and tedious commutes might find that, in the long run, they spend less time preparing a fast home-cooked meal than they do standing in line to pay for a quick food fix.

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The way to begin, if you haven’t been cooking much, is to prepare only two dishes----a principal dish and a dessert. To balance the main course, try a raw vegetable side dish. What you end up with is a perfect supper.

In quick cooking, the quality of the raw ingredients is of primary importance. But most modern supermarkets offer not only a long line of convenience foods, but an increasingly upgraded stock. Ironically, just as it is getting easy to buy better ingredients, we are cooking less.

Today’s menu is one I prepare often with foolproof results: Tri-tip Beef Roast with Carrots, Potatoes and Onions accompanied by Relish Salad. Summer pudding with a pouring of heavy cream is a grand dessert.

Tri-tip beef roast, or triangle tip is the boneless part of the bottom sirloin, and usually weighs between 1 1/2 ounces and 3 pounds. It is sometimes cut into cubes for kebabs, or cut into coulotte steaks. The flavor is always exceptionally good. It’s so tender it also takes well to grilling.

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Crunchy Relish Salad can be made the day before, as can the summer pudding. The pudding is a magical concoction that transforms three simple ingredients into the most ethereal dessert.

RELISH SALAD

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons brown sugar

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1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/3 cup cider vinegar

2 cups chopped cabbage

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

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1 cup chopped celery

Combine salt, brown sugar, dry mustard and cider vinegar in bowl and stir until blended. Add cabbage, green pepper and celery and stir until all is well mixed. Serve chilled. Makes 3 cups.

TRI--TIP BEEF ROAST WITH CARROTS, ONIONS, POTATOES

2 tablespoons shortening or peanut oil

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1 (2 1/2-pound) trip-tip beef roast

Salt, pepper

6 medium-size carrots, peeled and parboiled

8 medium-size new potatoes, parboiled

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1 tablespoon dried rosemary, crumbled (or 2 tablespoons fresh)

2 medium onions, sliced

3/4 cup water

Heat shortening in large saute pan or Dutch oven. Liberally season to taste both sides of roast with salt and pepper. Brown in hot shortening, turning, until both sides are deep mahogany brown.

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Add carrots and potatoes, sprinkle with rosemary and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add onion slices and water. Bring to simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes. Check for doneness by cutting into thickest part of meat. (It usually takes 35 to 45 minutes to reach medium rare.) Don’t overcook. Remember that meat continues to cook little after removed from heat. Arrange meat and vegetables on platter and serve hot. Makes 4 servings.

Optional Gravy: After removing roast to serving platter, sprinkle 3 tablespoons flour over pan drippings, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth. Slowly stir in 2 cups of water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When sauce has thickened, pour into bowl and serve with roast and vegetables. Makes 4 servings.

SUMMER PUDDING

7 slices dense white bread (Pepperidge Farm type), crusts removed

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5 cups raspberries

1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)

Line round 4-cup bowl with bread, filling in all crevices so bowl is completely covered. Leave enough bread to cover top after filling with berries.

Toss berries and sugar together. (If you have spare couple of minutes, put berries and sugar into large skillet and heat them for 1 minute so sugar dissolves and mingles better. But this step isn’t necessary.)

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Fill bread-lined mold with sweetened berries. Cover top with bread. Weight gently by placing heavy object over bread (an unopened can of tomatoes, for example).

Chill in refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve with whipping cream. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


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