Just in case you are wondering how the photo above is related to the topic. Well let me say that it has no relevance. Just that the toddler is damn cute.
$80 a week. 7 days.
Yup, that is how much I intend to only spend a week for groceries. I have been spending too much lately, buying up what I see and overspending each time.
So no fear. Budget is here. You can choose to move your life differently of course. I get a kick out of budgeting.
Here’s the template/breakdown of what I usually would spend on without any budget. But I decided to place a number to what is most important for my family in terms of what we eat. I may not be able to fit what I usually buy into this new budget, but let’s try. I might even have to use my advanced haggling skills.
I think you would know by now that I love bitter gourd. You can say the love is bittersweet. From time to time I would try and experiment with different recipes just so that I can have my favourite bitter gourd for my meals.
So in this rendition of bitter gourd in black bean sauce, I have decided to try out Beef Short Ribs. These cuts are the nicely marbled slices that you would usually have at Korean BBQ restaurants. When stir fried, these beef slices are tender and flavorful umami.
Best part is, they sold it at an NTUC nearby. As they say, it cant get any better than that.
1 whole Bitter Gourd (I usually select the largest one from the wet market. But you can choose a smaller one if you like, medium size is best.)
150 grams Beef Short Ribs (NTUC or Cold Storage sells these, stir fry for 2 persons, this is usually enough.)
4 tbsp Olive Oil (the bigger the bigger gourd, the more oil you need)
2 inches Young Ginger (you can use any ginger, but this is the type that I usually like to work with for a light marination of the beef. It tenderises it nicely.)
1 tsp Sesame Seed Oil
1 tbsp Salted Black Bean Sauce (there are many brands around, I am currently using Tiger Brand and it works out quite well for me.)
5 cloves Garlic (just rough chop The garlic and they are ready, my son loves the chunky bits of garlic.)
1 tsp Kikkoman Soya Sauce (by far the Kikkoman brand of soya sauce is the most flavourful.)
Drizzle of Thai Fish Sauce (I like Thai Fish Sauce for its light flavour and it works well with vegetables especially when you stir fry.)
1. Start off by marinating the beef slices in grated ginger and its juice. Add soya sauce and sesame seed to flavour the beef slices. Leave it in a bowl for about 10 minutes while you prepare the bigger gourd slices.
2. After slicing the bitter gourd thinly so that it would cook faster, soak it in cold water for a while. Prepare the garlic by rough chopping and after that you can fire up the wok.
3. Add the oil, turn it up medium heat. Stir fry the garlic for a while until it slightly browns and then add in the black bean sauce. Fry till you can smell the fragrance.
4. Add the marinated beef slices, juice and all, and continue frying until the meat starts to change colour a little. Then add the washed bitter gourd slices to stir fry.
5. Turn the heat to high, add a little water and then cover the lid to allow it to steam cook for about 5 minutes.
6. Make sure that the bitter gourd slices all turn soft and darker green before serving. It shouldn’t be light green after you are done with it. That’s it!
I love Italian cooking and always love trying new recipes and different styles of cooking traditional dishes. This is an improvised Ragu Pasta recipe from my friend and mentor Joe Kwan and his lovely wife Winkie.
They cooked this delicious Ragu Pasta for our social last weekend and it was such a subtle dish that I too wanted to recreate it for our dinner tonight. Truly it was wholesome Italian cooking, peppered with lots of unmerited flavour.
It’s fairly easy to cook although the poached egg part requires a little skill. Typically to poach an egg, you have to add a little vinegar into a pot of boiling water and stir the water so that the egg retains its shape and slowly cooks. But because I needed to quickly cook and make sure that dinner was served on time, I took some short cuts. Read on to find out how it is done, the ho sim lang way.
250 grams Minced Beef
125 grams Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
1 box of Barilla Friget Penne
1 can of Anchovies
Handful of Pine Nuts
2 stalks Sweet Basil Leaves
2 stalks Flat Leaf Parsley (aka Italian parsley)
1 large Yellow Onion (I was supposed to be using a French Shallot and a Red Onion)
1 piece Bay Leaf
1 bottle of Barilla Bolognese Sauce
1 bowl of Sweet Cherry Tomatoes
1 cup of Cabnernet Sauvignon red wine
3 tbsp Olive Oil (and some for cooking the pasta) Black Pepper Sea Salt
1. Boil a kettle of water. Pour the box of penne dried pasta into the pot. Add a little salt and olive oil. Add the kettle of boiling water and cook the pasta for 11 minutes to al dente or longer if you like.
2. While the pasta is cooking, add salt and pepper to the minced beef and give it a good mix. In a small frying pan, roast the pine nuts until they are brown. After the pasta is cooked, scoop the pasta and dry them out in a colander but reserve the water in a bowl.
3. Wash the pot and then add olive oil. After you have marinated the beef for about 10 minutes, fry the beef in the pot over low fire. While that is cooking, cut and chop the onion. Slice the cherry tomatoes and tear up the parsley leaves and basil leaves.
4. Add the prepared ingredients including the roasted pine nuts, into the pot and stir fry, turning up the heat a little. Add the can of anchovies along with the olive oil in the can into the pot. Continue to stir fry until the onions are softened and you can smell the fragrance of the beef sauce. Add a cup of red wine. You can use any red wine. Add a bay leaf. Continue to cook over a medium fire. Do this until the wine evaporates and the sauce thickens.
5. Add the bottle of bolognese into the pot and cook with the minced beef sauce, maintain medium heat over the pot.
6. In another smaller pot with boiling hot water but with the fire off, poach two eggs. You can crack an egg into cling wrap, give the package a twist and then sous vide the egg in the water bath until it is cooked. Depending on your preference, the eggs can be either firm or watery-runny.
7. Once the Ragu sauce is ready, add the cooked penne pasta into the pot and give it a good mix. Add the reserved broth of pasta water into the pot to allow the sauce to combine with the pasta easily.
8. Once pasta is well mixed with the Ragu sauce, grate the entire block of Parmigiano Reggiano (aka Parmesan) cheese into the pasta and give it another good mix.
9. Serve the pasta with additional parsley and basil leaves and gently place the poached eggs into the pasta. Serve hot.
Roast the pine nuts until they start to brown.
Cook the penne 11 minutes
Marinate the minced beef with salt and black pepper.
Chop the yellow onion
Slice cherry tomatoes into halves.
Sweet Basil Leaves
Italian parsley and a can of anchovies.
Stir Fry the ingredients
Preparing to poach the egg in cling wrap.
Twist it into a small package for the water bath.
In a hot water bath, poach the eggs to desired doneness.
Grate the entire block of Parmigiano reggiano cheese into the pasta.
I am making a very simple Beef and Carrot Soup for dinner tonight. Beef provides the necessary iron nutrition for my toddler and I am pairing it with carrots because they both do very well together.
My son loves carrots, so I have added a little more carrots just so that he can mix it into his rice for dinner. I am adding a few slices of ginger, just 5 thin slices (5 being the number of Grace) just so that the beef soup would taste really nice. My maternal grandmother used to make this really nice beef and carrot soup for us kids when we visit on Sundays. So this is a really nice memory for me.
I am also adding half a slice of dried cuttlefish into the soup to sweeten the broth. Cuttlefish has that magic touch to bring the soup together and make it extremely tasty. I will complete the soup tonight with Chinese Celery. I recently discovered that food stall holders have been using a lot of the Chinese celery as opposed to the Chinese parsley for their garnishing. It appears, and I think it is true as well, that the Chinese celery’s strong flavour works very well with meats in general.
Just a simple and very easy recipe for dinner. Cooked in a thermal cooker for a good 10-12 hours so that the meats will be tender and soft for toddler and delicious for everyone.
250 grams Shin Beef cubes
2-3 medium Carrots
Half a Dried Cuttlefish (really good for flavour) Sea Salt (adjust according to your tastebuds)
5 thin slices of Ginger
2 stalks of Chinese Celery (to be added into the soup just before serving)
1. As I am using a thermal cooker, I need a large kettle of boiling water for the soup. I am boiling the meat for a good 15 minutes at high heat before putting it into the thermal cooker for slow cooking.
2. I got Shin Beef cubes as they are cheap and since I am slow cooking the meats, it will be tender by the end of the day anyway, so the cheapest cuts of beef will be good enough.
3. The only thing that I need to prepare would be the carrots and ginger as the beef cubes are already prepared by the butcher, so that’s very convenient as I am always short for time in the mornings.
4. Peel and cut the carrots into bite size pieces. Then put all the prepared ingredients into the pot (just like the picture above) for the grand opening ceremony. Pour the hot boiling water into the pot and turn up the heat. Boil at high heat for 15 minutes and by then you should also be able to smell the fragrance of the beef soup taking shape.
5. Come back by the end of the day to re-boil the soup. This time, add the chopped Chinese celery and boil until it bubbles. The soup is now ready to be served.
I wasn’t sure if I was saveuring the simplicity in the art or the art of simplicity. In more ways than one, Saveur Art as a restaurant is truly a pleasant dining experience. Discrete and notably classy, so different from the many restaurants that tries its best to impress the discerning customer.
The nicely done medium Australian Angus Bavette was served with delicious mash potato and pickled red wine onions. The meal was executed with a technical excellence that only an expert with meats would understand. Simple and absolutely enjoyable. None of the frills of seasonal vegetables as accompaniment.
Maybe it was because it was located in a rather atas place at the iconic ION Orchard (level 4). Or maybe they already decided to set a different experience for their customers, slightly different from their small chain of simple but fantastic French cuisine.
I ordered the pumpkin soup for starters and I must say it was a welcome surprise with bespoke foam of some sort and a hint of spice. The soup was very smooth and savory, and we all loved it. It kind of reminded me of roasted pumpkin soup but this one tasted really good.
We loved mushrooms, so we ordered a serving of the sauteed forest mushrooms. It was an acquired taste for the family though, as we were usually familiar with the few varitel types like button, oyster and portobello. So the selection of mushrooms served at Saveur Art took a little getting used to. And as the name suggests, the selection had a deep earthy taste. I like mushrooms so it didn’t bother me all that much but my wife skipped it altogether.
Service-wise, the staffs were discrete and understood service and that meant a lot to me since we eat out quite a fair bit. Two thumbs up for me. I would definitely revisit and try something else, but the Angus holds dear to my heart.
It’s date night and thank God for precious date nights after marriage. My parents offered to take care of the toddler while we enjoyed a semblance of time together when we were dating. Thank God for understanding parents.
And as my aunty told me before so wisely, “don’t waste time watching movies when you date.. Go have a meal..” she advised. Those were words worth its weight in gold. The simple reasoning behind those words were, you can’t get to know and understand each other if you don’t communicate. Conversations over a good meal are way better than watching a movie.
So we decided to have Thai BBQ for dinner as we could better afford the time and what better place than to try out Thai Mookata Steamboat and BBQ (in a nutshell it is BBQ meats, seafoods and vegetables on a rather unique looking hotplate with soup combination). I did a search and realised that there was only one outlet in Singapore. It was at East Coast Road and kind of out of the way.
Also I knew it can’t be true as I was sure there were plenty more of these Thai BBQ places around, most notably the ones located all over Golden Mile Complex. So I did another search but this time more ambiguous and that result yielded more than 50 weblinks of Thai BBQ places in Singapore. Nice.
Plus my friend told me that there was a tiny stall at a coffee shop located at Block 332 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8 (just behind Christ The King Catholic Church). Siam Square Mookata was the name of that stall and it seems the reviews of the place are that they were “cheap and good”.
That sounded good with us and off we went. I remembered there was a time almost all of our construction was completed by Thai foreign workers. And that just makes sense that Thai food places begun springing up all over the island to cater to their tastes and needs and over time everyone loves Thai foods as well.
It was just a tiny little stall space in a coffee shop and their BBQ plates of ingredients were reasonably priced at either $1.80, $2.80 or greater as you order the more premium stuff like scallops ($3.80).
They have a rather interesting price menu where they offer ala carte prices first and if you feel at any one time you would wanna go all out at the buffet, you can change to buffet price (about $29 per person). Of course the caveat is you can only switch to buffet price if you are still ordering another round of items and not when you are paying up. But the stall people are very nice about it, they will frequently ask if we wanted to convert to buffet. Such nice people, always thinking for their customers.
Apart from that, the freshness of the ingredients was undeniably good, and for what it’s worth, the entire experience was very nice. They offered both marinated and meats without marinate, but I preferred them plain without the sauces. They taste much nicer after BBQ-ing. Plus it wasn’t crowded even at dinner time, so that was an added bonus. I always love these quaint coffee shop places that are located next to a big spacious carpark, it just gives me a feeling of comfort and I am naturally at ease.
So would I go again? Maybe, if I lived nearer. They didn’t offer anything very special, and in the end we almost ordered the equivalent of their buffet price. But still a very nice experience.
Got a rare chance to go Jalan Besar today, and I thought I would grab myself a bowl of this delicious Hakka Beef Balls. I asked the boss for a $4 bowl of beef balls otherwise known as “kosong” (read: only beef balls and no noodles or bee hoon).
The boss or the guy that cooks the beef balls is quite funny. I say this because he speaks to his customers like we are all kids. But I guess that’s his way of overcoming his awkwardness and it could be his feeble attempts at small talk. Cooking beef balls all day is not exactly very exciting as you can imagine.
But who cares right? As long as the food is good, everything else is forgivable.
The Hakka Beef Balls are a mixture of meat and tendon bits and they are very juicy and delicious. Mix this with their chilli and the umami in this dish heightens almost immediately. One wonders how they actually manage to do it so well.
Presentation-wise, they score a big fat zero; but it’s 100 marks for taste. It’s a very simple meal to say the least. Even the soup they gave me was so little, as if it was so precious. Sometimes I think they forget that we are paying customers. I usually have it with bee hoon (read: white vermicelli noodles).
Few things are so perfect together as Hakka Beef Balls and bee hoon noodles. If you want a bowl, make sure you get there before they close at 5pm. They only operate Monday to Friday, so you can basically write them off for your usual Saturday morning fooding adventure.
Located at 217, Syed Alwi road, the beef house sells other Hakka favourites like suan pan zi(read: abacus discs), Hakka Yong Tau Foo and Hakka Soon Kueh (read: tapioca steam dumplings).
Dinner time has been mostly steam fish this boiled vegetable that. So for tonight’s dinner, I am making a very simple wagyu steak in my favourite anchovy butter sauce.
I came across a rather large wagyu steak on offer at Cold Storage and knew at once that this was going to be a very nice dinner. It was on specials and honestly I couldn’t tell if it was any different from the normal priced wagyu steaks. So I got myself a whole slab. Yum.
The problem with steaks of any kind is usually the preparation of the meat. Cooking time is essential if not critical to the success of the dinner. You can fry up all the premium ingredients to complement the main, but if the doneness of the steak fails, you would have also failed miserably.
For the vegetables that accompanied the steak, I had stir fry Japanese button mushrooms, whole garlic cloves and white button mushrooms with boiled cherry tomatoes and baby potatoes. But what makes this steak really special is the anchovy butter sauce. So simple, just mix the anchovy with the butter in the pan with rosemary herbs and you have a very light butter sauce that works very well with the meat.
700-800 grams WagyuSteak (if you’re not living near a specialty butcher, you could opt to order online Wagyu Kobe Steaks) Sea Salt Black Pepper
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Anchovy butter sauce
A small can of Anchovy in Olive Oil
20 grams of Unsalted Butter
A sprig of Rosemary (herb)
Assortment of Vegetables
A pack of Japanese Button Mushrooms
A punnet of White Button Mushrooms
A punnet of Red Cherry Tomatoes
6-7 cloves of Garlic
6 pieces Baby Potatoes Olive Oil Black Pepper
1. Boil the baby potatoes in a small pot for about 10 minutes or until a skewer can pierce through. Once done, remove the potatoes and blanch the tomatoes for about 30 seconds. Then remove and arrange vegetabkes on serving plate.
2. In a wok, stir fry the Japanese mushrooms and mildly crushed garlic cloves in 2 tbsp Olive oil for about 2-3 minutes. Quart the white button mushrooms and add the whole lot into the same wok. Continue stir fry. Do this for another 5 minutes. Mushrooms shoukd either sear or shrink down in size. This is common as it loses water content. Once done, dish onto serving plates.
3. Sprinkle the steaks with sea salt and black pepper. In another pan, heat olive oil until smoking, then reduce heat to low. Place the steak into the pan and start pan-searing. 3 minutes on the first side and then another 2 minutes on the other side. Check doneness for medium rare. The meat centre should be a rose pink. If it is a dark red, then maybe you have to cook it a little longer.
The reason why I chose low heat as opposed to high heat is because I don’t want to over-cook the steak. So you have to time the steak strictly. Cut the middle to check for desired doneness. As the wagyu steak is very fatty, it is better to cook over low heat so that the fats will be tender. Once cooked to desired doneness, place it on serving plate.
4. In the same frying pan with the steak infused oil, add the butter and two fillets of anchovies. Break the anchovies and mash it into the butter. Throw in a sprig of Rosemary leaves. Cook until the sauce bubbles and spoon it into the steak. That’s it!
Pair it with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a spicy Shiraz.
The Tenderloin steak from Saveur, is really a welcome surprise. We ordered a medium doneness to satisfy our intense craving for beef steak, and it was delivered to a tender perfection. Impressive.
Yum, and yes, we love it. It had cost us about $25 for 150 grams. For the decent quality and the fact that they delivered what we wanted, it was not expensive. Tucked away at level one of Far East Plaza, no one would have thought that an outlet could be found here.
So what is nice at Saveur? I guess just about everything is nice. I had the duck confit and boeuf bourguignon the last time around and it didn’t disappoint. Prices are mid-range and quality is value for money especially considering that it is like casual fine dining.
Looking forward to going back for another dinner with my wife. Maybe for her birthday.
I have always wanted to make oxtail stew just plain in its own without much western influence or gastronomic fanfare. The thing that I like most is to also experiment in my choice of ingredients and hopefully conjure magic in my kitchen.
Oxtail Stew is that dish that I would always go for at the French restaurant but today I am making it as local as possible and in the style that I always like to cook, which is to cook it simply.
My oxtail stew is usually just oxtail, carrots, beef stock and a few slices of ginger. That is usually what I do. But for today’s stew, I am adding Black Fungus and Oyster Mushrooms just to complicate the flavours and hopefully achieve that special oxtail stew.
Wanna try it? It’s actually very easy.
4-5 pieces of Oxtail
1 large Carrot
3 inches of Ginger
1 packet of Black Fungus (optional)
1 packet of Oyster Mushrooms (optional)
1 cup of Beef Stock (optional) Salt
1. Boil a kettle of water. While the water is boiling, add oxtail, carrots (chunks), sliced ginger, black fungus, oyster mushrooms, a cup of beef stock to enhance the flavours and a a pinch of salt to taste.
2. Pour the boiling water into the thermal pot to boil at high heat for about 20 minutes. Once done, place the pot into the thermal cooker for about 12 hours. What will greet me tonight should be a thick pot of stew, probably my wife will hate it.
This has got to be my my mum’s favourite dish amongst all the dishes that she cooks. I know this simply because she cooks it every other week and it is always with my favourite preserved black beans. The sauce is wah shiok!
I think this was also the dish that turned me to love bitter gourd as a child. I never use to like vegetables all that much but overcoming bitter gourd was a milestone in my gastronomic journey. Everything else was palatable compared to bitter gourd.
She likes to stir fry it with beef slices marinated in ginger juice. She would pound the ginger into a pulp and extract the juice. I found a better way to do this and that is to grate the ginger instead. Beef was an essential source of iron and it was great for keeping anemic kids healthy. The tell tale sign would be to look at the palm of our hands and it would be decided that we would have stir fry Beef and Bitter Gourd for that day. Just kidding.
200 grams of Beef Fillet
1 tube of Bitter Gourd
3 inches of Ginger
3 cloves of Garlic
1 tbsp Salted Preserved Black Beans
1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp White Pepper powder
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1. First boil a kettle of water. This is for cooking the bitter gourd. Then sliced the beef fillet thinly. Once done put the beef slices into a ziplock bag. Add soy sauce and pepper into the bag. Then grate the ginger into the bag as well. This forms the Marinate for the beef slices to make it tender. Marinate for about 5-8 minutes.
2. Slice the bitter gourd thinly and then blanch in a pot of boiling hot water (pour the kettle in). As the bitter gourd is sliced thinly, it should also cook quite fast while still retaining some crunchiness.
3. Pour the oil into the frying pan and heat it up. Once heated fry the garlic pieces until fragrant. Then add the marinated beef slices and stir fry until semi cooked. Then add the blanched bitter gourd slices and stir fry until the juices come out.
4. Add the black beans and continue to fry until flavours are thoroughly mixed. Once ready, serve with steam rice.
I learnt how to make Pasta when I went overseas to study in Australia. And one of the few things that I learnt as a student was learning how to cook Pasta. I used to live in student housing just off campus in a very small property. There were quite a few Singaporeans residing there as well, so it wasn’t so tough for me especially dealing with homesickness and loneliness. Ah, those bittersweet days.
One of the first few foreign friends that I made in the first couple of months was this Tongan bloke by the name of Ma’afu. He was studying to become Pastor and was attending seminary school elsewhere. He was part-timing as a tutor for the students that lived in that property, kind of like a property manager. We became friends, and on one occasion, he taught me how to make Pasta.
For him, pasta was actually Spaghetti Bolognese. Of course I didn’t know any better, so I just follow lor (Singaporeans were very good at doing that.) So as soon as I learnt how to actually do it, I never forgot it. That’s the one thing that I never really understood about myself. I just needed to see a recipe once and it would retain in my memory. It’s been more than 20 years, but I can still remember how it was supposed to be done.
From that time until now, I have also learnt a whole lot more about food handling and how to extenuate the natural flavours of the ingredients that I was using, and that helped too. The key I believe is to use fresh minced beef, and nothing comes as fresh as the minced beef from Cold Storage. I like shopping at Cold Storage, the ingredients there are somehow fresher. The only bad thing about them is that they are a lot more expensive.
So wifey said that she would like to eat Pasta, and for me the decision to make it is a no-brainer – it has to be Spaghetti Bolognese.
Here’s how it is done.
Half a box of Barilla Spaghetti – cooks in 5 minutes
150 grams Minced Beef
A punnet of White Button Mushrooms
4 pieces of Garlic
A bottle of Prego Pasta Sauce (Traditional)
bunch of Basil Leaves
Sharp Cheddar & Mozzarella Cheese mix
1. Boil a pot of water for the cooking of the spaghetti sticks. They should be done in 5 minutes if you want them to be Al Dente. Remember to add some oil and sea salt into the pot. This helps the pasta to not stick together and it also flavours the pasta. If you don’t really like it Al Dente, you can opt to cook it a minute or two longer. Quart the mushrooms, and then fry them in about 30 grams of butter in a small pot. Fry until you can smell the mushrooms. Then off the fire and reserve the mushrooms one side.
2. Place the minced beef in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and white pepper. Mix the salt and the pepper into the minced beef and let it marinate the meat for about 5-10 minutes. Mince the garlic and then fry them in a wok with about 2-3 tbsp of oil. Fry until the fragrance of the garlic comes out. Then add the marinated minced beef in the wok to fry. Don’t fry too long. Just until it turns from reddish to light brown. Then add the buttered mushrooms into the wok and continue to fry under medium heat.
3. Then add the pasta sauce into the wok and cook until the sauce starts to bubble slightly. Then add the basil leaves and continue to cook over low heat. The pasta should be either Al Dente or softened by this time (it’s all about timing it properly). With a food tong, serve the pasta onto the plate, there should be about enough for two servings and a little more. Measure them out if you like, about 170 grams (ideal) or equally. Then ladle the sauce over the pasta and top it with sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheese mix. Easy.
A friend of mine posed me the challenge of trying out something new; a new recipe. Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington. As if it isn’t difficult enough already to prepare for Christmas dinner, but to re-create a classic like the Beef Wellington in my home kitchen is going to be a challenge, and in a sense, I like the challenge. But preparing it would mean inviting an army to help me finish it.
Gordon does it in classic style and there is always that intensity in the way he does his cooking, hoping around like a monkey. As for me, I like to take my time and make my cooking easy and on my own terms. I think cooking shouldn’t be so intense. But I guess it depends on who is running the kitchen and who’s the slave driver.
I am following Gordon’s fantastic and easy to follow YouTube video on making this classic Christmas Roast – Beef Wellington. You can also do likewise. A caveat though, I have a feeling there could be some “special steps” that were snipped off the video so that he could squeeze it into a short 8 minute video. And we all know that nobody cooks in double that time either.
I always start with a mandatory stock check of inventory when it comes to equipment needed to make something that requires more than a pot and a wooden spoon. Of course, I always try to reduce my equipment list to a pot and a wooden spoon, but I have a feeling that this recipe is going to require a lot more than just that.
Food processor – to mince the brown mushrooms.
Clingwrap – this one can easily get it at NTUC.
Brush – Phoon Huat sells a nice brush.
Oven – if you don’t already have one, don’t bother trying to cook this dish, and don’t bother buying one of those cheap ovens at some hypermart because I assure you the experience and the technical compliance of the equipment is equivalent to the price you pay for the item.
Recipe – I gleaned this off Gordon’s recipe. I think the best form of flattery is imitation. That said, if not nice, don’t blame me, I only follow.
For the Beef Wellington:
900 grams piece of Beef Fillet of even thickness (from the centre cut) – the problem I have with that is that I usually shop at the wet market, and the butcher only sells one variety of meat – beef. The specialty stores are usually far away from where I live, so I guess I will have to buy this off at Cold Storage.
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
2 tbsp Olive Oil
English Mustard, to brush meat
For the Mushroom Duxelles: don’t worry about the name, it just means mushrooms paste.
700g Chestnut Mushrooms, cleaned and stalks removed – I can only find and use Brown Mushrooms or White Mushrooms, essentially they are all the same.
handful of cooked Chestnuts – this is the gao-lat that we usually buy by the roadside where the uncle usually shouts “gao-lat!” at the top of his voice.
1 Garlic Clove, peeled and chopped
2 Thyme sprigs, leaves only
For the assembly:
8 slices of Parma Ham
500 grams ready-made all-butter Puff Pastry
plain Flour, to dust
2 Egg Yolks, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp water (eggwash)
1. To make this Gordon Ramsay Beef Wellington recipe, trim the beef of any sinew and season well with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the fillet and quickly sear the outside all over for about 5 minutes until evenly browned, turning as necessary. Transfer to a plate and while still hot, brush all over with mustard. Set aside to rest.
2. For the duxelles, put the mushrooms, chestnuts and garlic in a food processor with a little salt and pepper and blend to a fine paste, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Heat a dry large frying pan. Scrape the mushroom paste into the pan and add the thyme leaves. Cook over a high heat, stirring occasionally, to drive off the moisture and intensify the flavour. The duxelles must be sufficiently dry otherwise it will make the pastry soggy; the mixture should adhere easily. Spread out on a tray to cool.
3. Place a large piece of cling film on a clean surface. Lay the Parma ham slices on top, overlapping them slightly, to form a rough rectangle large enough to envelop the beef fillet, making sure there are no gaps. Season the ham with a few twists of pepper then, with a palette knife, spread the duxelles on top, leaving a 2.5cm margin along the edges.
4. Lay the beef fillet along the middle of the mushroom layer. Keeping a tight hold of the cling film from the outside edges, neatly roll the Parma ham and duxelles over the beef into a tight barrel shape. Twist the ends of the cling film to secure. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up.
5. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle, the thickness of a £1 coin and brush with some of the eggwash. Unwrap the beef from the cling film and place it in the middle. Leaving a large enough rectangle to wrap around the beef, trim off the excess pastry. Roll the pastry around the beef to envelop it and then press the edges to seal. Pinch the pastry at the ends to seal and trim off the excess. Wrap the log tightly in cling film and chill for 10 minutes, or overnight if you are preparing ahead.
6. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Remove the cling film and brush the parcel all over with egg wash. Lightly score the pastry at 1cm intervals with the back of a small knife for a decorative effect, if you wish. Place on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt and bake for about 35 minutes; if the pastry appears to be browning too quickly, lower the setting slightly. Leave to rest in a warm place for about 15 minutes before cutting into thick slices to serve, with the accompaniments.
I have always wanted to cook Rendang. But until now, I never had a good reason to try it nor a good recipe either. We invited some friends over for National Day dinner at our home and naturally I wanted to impress. To do that, I intended to cook a variety of foods to show off my skills. A little bit of Indian cuisine, a little bit of Indonesian and the evening’s menu would be somewhat complete. The only problem now is I have never cooked Rendang before. So this is going to be a little challenging.
Anyway, I already know Mdm Nair’s Fish Curry, so that alone would rock the socks off my friends, that I am very confident. The problem now is to find a recipe for Beef Rendang that would also do the same. A quick look on Google, and I found what would become one of my frequent-cooked recipes. Mrs Russell Wong’s Beef Rendang recipe. The pictures simply ooze flavour and desire. I knew then, deep in my heart, that this recipe would be a keeper. It will definitely make my recipe book.
So I found the recipe on this guy’s food blog, his name is Marc don’t know what, don’t know what. The name’s not really that important as the recipe. Personally I think he puts in a lot of effort into his blog posts, so the only decent thing to do is to acknowledge it and put a link to his site. That would only be the fair thing to do.
So instead of blaring out all the gory details, here’s the link to his site, and you can go discover the story yourselves. Apparently he got the recipe from the wife of Russell Wong (famous Singaporean photographer) and how his wife swears by the recipe. Okay, maybe she didn’t swear, but she might have?
I take it that you have already tried the recipe and cooked that awesome Beef Rendang. If you saw my ugly photo above, you would probably see something like that as well if you cooked it. The recipe so totally rocks. Delicious, flavourful and not too sweet or salty. Just perfect. I got all my ingredients from NTUC Finest (Bishan) and I must also say, they have everything you would need to make a fabulous Beef Rendang.
“Boeuf bourguignon, French beef stew in red wine..” Says Julia Child, one of the most inspiring cooks (home cooks) that ever lived. She represents to me hope that anyone can take mastery of their kitchen and cook up awesome French cuisine from the comforts of their humble home.
Julia to me personifies French cooking for servant-less home cooks. A socially awkward lady yet adventurous and passionate in her craft, her example inspired many to try, fail and subsequently succeed in following her footsteps.
Maybe I might eventually do all the recipes that she has in her book. Well we shall see.
Julia Child – Boeuf Bourguignon
For this classic, I would usually take reference from her YouTube video and then make up as we go along. Some of the ingredients are not locally available but the spirit of Julia is always to make do with what you have.
I had fun making this dish my own, and I have been making it my own way for a while now and getting the same awesome results each time. I hope it will be the same experience for you as well. I don’t use the oven as the recipe calls for it, but I use a gas stove to cook the beef.
Recipe – serving for 4
Beef cubes (for making stew) 750 grams
Streaky bacon (ask for more fat) 50 grams
Garlic 10 wedges, 4 to minced, 6 to braise
Yellow onions (medium) 2 whole
Tomato paste 3 tablespoons
White button mushrooms 15 pieces
White onions (small) 15 bulbs
Carrots 2 whole
Thyme 5-6 sprigs
Bay leaf 2-3 leaves
Olive oil 2 tablespoons
Red wine 750 ml
Beef stock 4 cups
Salted butter 250 grams p
1. Add oil to a large pot. Heat till slightly smoking. Add sliced bacon to fry til crispy. This is to extract the fat from the bacon and saltiness.
2. Remove bacon and discard. Add beef cubes and sear beef till brown. The key is not to crowd the base of the pot or they won’t brown. Once done, remove from pot to allow the beef to rest.
3. Add minced garlic to pot and fry till fragrant. Then add chopped onions to fry until soft. Then add beef cubes into the pot. Now pour in the beef stock about 2 cups. Add the red wine about half a bottle. Add thyme, bay leaf, tomato paste and continue to stir. Add carrots, remaining garlic. Continue to cook at high heat.
4. In another pot fry the mushroom in salted butter and olive oil mixed. Fry until mushrooms are slightly brown. Reserve the mushroom aside and continue to cook the white onions in salted butter and olive oil. Cook until onions are soft.
5. Once the beef is sufficiently cooked and tender. Combine the mushrooms and onions together. Serve with baguette or steamed rice.
I have always secretly wanted to be a Neurosurgeon.
Thanks to my wife’s love for beef steaks, now my dream will finally come through – that is to be a 牛肉 (Niu Rou) Surgeon.
This has got to be an all time favorite of ours. Beef steaks. We love it. No doubt about it. My wife loves it medium rare whereas I can only stomach a medium.
On this day I thought I would try cooking this simple yet impactful dish. It’s like a rite of passage for me before I can well and truly say that I have tried my best before giving up.
You see, this is not my first attempt. I have failed many times trying to time the doneness of the steaks and frankly steaks are expensive mistakes if not done properly.
The problem I believe is because firstly the steaks from Cold Storage are not as chunky as we think. Secondly our cooking utensils or at least mine are not cast iron where cooking temperatures are moderated and more even.
So taking those factors into consideration, my cooking temperatures are different. I think if you are doing your own steaks, just bear in mind the cooking temperatures and cooking equipment and you should be fine.
All the best folks.
Recipe – Serving for Two
Ribeye steaks from Cold Storage
Fresh rosemary (2 sprigs)
1. Boil the new potatoes in a pot, water must cover the potatoes. Do this until they are all cooked.
2. Salt the steaks on one side lightly, sprinkle coarse black pepper as well. Leave it for 5 minutes.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide frying pan until smoking. You want the pan to be really hot. Once the pan is sufficiently heated up, place seasoned side down for searing. This is steak, so there is no need to spin it in the pan. 4 minutes on one side and then with tongs flip the steak on the other side for another 3 minutes. Make sure the fat is cooked (if any).
4. Remove the steaks and plate it. It is important to allow the steak to rest at least 10 minutes.
5. Pour half a cup of red wine (can be remainder of a bottle) and deglaze the pan. Add a little salt for taste. Allow the alcohol to reduce and this will form a light red wine sauce for the steak.
6. Roast potatoes with rosemary and salt until slightly smoking then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil for shine and flavor.
7. Plate the potatoes, arrange the baby spinach and cherry tomatoes (halved) around the steaks before drizzle of the red wine sauce. You may pair it with a Cabernet Sauvignon (Chilean) if you like.