Sunday, May 30, 2010

Roast Rib of Beef

Although Filipino cuisine has got a lot to offer even in winter (with its rich soups and stews) I find nothing more comforting than traditional English roast beef to counter the cold.

Roasting used to intimidate me. Growing up in a home with no "real oven" to speak of the concept of "oven roasting" was an entirely new arena for me. My early ventures into this style of cooking resulted in mini disasters but nothing big enough to stop me altogether.

Although your choice cut of meat it vital, roasting is more about getting the combination of the temperature and cooking time right. Once you've mastered this roasting is pretty much fool proof. Always bear in mind though that recipes are simply guides. It is important for you to get to know your oven well. There's no better way to do this than to keep watch as you cook. Half an hour in a recipe might mean 35 minutes using your oven...

I prefer to use beef rib roast for this recipe. Not only is it more tender and juicier it also looks more elegant and more sophisticated than other cuts. I like mine "pink" but living in a household dominated by young palates we've reached a compromise as evidenced by my photos.

Roast Rib of Beef
1kg Beef Rib Roast
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
2. Rub the salt and pepper liberally over the surface of the meat.
3. To keep the meat moist during the roasting process place bits of softened butter all over the meat (a tip from Inay Carmen)
4. Stand the beef rib in a roasting tray and roast for 15 minutes or until the meat starts to brown on the outside.
5. Lower the heat to 180C and continue roasting for about an hour (Approximately 30 minutes for every 500g. Reduce it to 20 minutes if you want it more pink.).
6. Take the meat out of the oven and rest for approximately 10-15 minutes before carving.
7. Serve with some Yorkshire puddings and roasted vegetables.

Sopas ala Beancounter (Filipino Chicken Soup with Pasta)

Sopas literally means soup. But for the Filipino it is so much more. Sopas is chicken soup with pasta which makes it a lot heartier. On top of that milk/cream is usually added which makes it far richer than ordinary chicken soup.

I've had my share of 'bad Sopas' as a youngster if you like. It has therefore failed to endear itself to me. I did not begin to like it again until much later when I started cooking it myself (at the prompting of my dear wife). 'Bad Sopas' for me means soggy pasta and extremely milky broth. Both of which are not that difficult to correct.

I substitute 'broken spaghetti' for the more commonly used shell pasta. I find that it keeps its shape and texture better than all the others (much like Royco Chicken Noodle Soup for anyone of you old enough to remember).

And instead of adding milk/cream at the end of the cooking process I leave it out altogether. It's available on the side after the soup has been served (again, an inspiration brought on by my lovely wife who prefers hers without cream).

Sopas ala Beancounter

3 cloves garlic chopped
1 large onion chopped
12 cups chicken stock
Half a poached chicken shredded
250g spaghetti broken into approximately 1 inch sticks
1 large carrot diced finely
1/4 cabbage shredded
Fish sauce/salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
A bit of oil of sauteing

1. Heat up a bit of oil in a large pot.
2. Saute the garlic until golden brown.
3. Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent.
4. Add the chicken and stir fry for about a minute.
5. Pour in all the stock and bring to a boil.
6. Adjust the taste by adding fish sauce/salt and black pepper.
7. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
8. Add the vegetables and cook to your liking.
9. Dress with some hard boiled eggs (totally optional) and serve hot with freshly baked pan de sal.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yorkshire Puddings

I find Yorkshire pudding quite intriguing. I actually thought it was a dessert. I can be forgiven for thinking such. It's called a pudding after all. But then again, the British also have "black pudding" which is anything but.

Yorkshire pudding is the classic accompaniment to roast beef. It's like pancake batter cooked in the oven to make the most of the drippings from the roast. For a lighter version (like mine) use sunflower oil as an alternative.

I've never made these before but the recipes I've read looked simple enough I did not hesitate making them when we had roast beef for dinner last Sunday evening.

In hindsight I think I would have had a better result using self raising flour. Mine just did not rise high enough. It wasn't a complete disaster. My son couldn't get enough of them as a matter of fact. But if you're going to try the recipe below use self raising flour instead.

Yorkshire Puddings

150g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cups milk
Sunflower oil

1. Sift flour and salt in a large bowl.
2. Add the egg.
3. Add the milk a little at a time making sure everything is well mixed together. Set aside for at least an hour.
4. Place a bit of oil in about 12 individual muffin tins.
5. Heat tins in a 220C oven for a few minutes.
6. Pour the batter into the tins about half to three quarters of the way up.
7. Lower the heat to 180C and bake for about 25 minutes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Congratulations (to me) - Masterclass with Tetsuya Wakuda

I've always planned to visit Tetsuya's of Sydney one day...I just did not expect it to happen this soon.

Thanks to Electrolux I'll be walking through the doors of the famed Kent St restaurant in a couple of months time.

If memory serves me right the competition opened back in early March. I found out about it through Souvlaki for the Soul (thanks Peter G!). The idea was to answer, in 25 words or less, the question: What is your favourite feature in Tetsuya's new Masterkitchen? And so I did with very little expectations of winning.

Fast forward to 13 May 2010, my inbox received a new email with the subject "CONGRATULATIONS Tetsuya Masterclass Winner." I couldn't believe my eyes! I opened it immediately naturally and indeed I won!

I couldn't remember exactly what I wrote but it was along the lines of: the "touch" innovation makes it easier to keep the kitchen spick and span." Nothing brilliant I know but it's been judged one of the top 12.

a still from Food Safari (Chef Tets animatedly explaining to Maeve O'Meara that he still doesn't get Vegemite after 25 years of living downunder)

Here's a rundown of the prize:
1. An invitation to an exclusive Tetsuya Masterclass at Tetsuya's restaurant on the evening of Tuesday, 24 August from 6pm
2. Return airfare from my capital city
3. One night's accommodation
4. Transport by private car to and from the restaurant

Who says dreams don't come true?

Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Yum Cha at Landmark, Sunnybank

Judging by the number of people waiting outside the restaurant it probably safe to say that Landmark is one of the most popular Chinese restaurants in Brisbane. I've heard lots of good things about its regular menu but we go there specifically for yum cha.

It's guaranteed you'll be waiting at least half an hour (if you're lucky). The wait can extend to over an hour during holiday periods.

Anyway, here's how it works at this restaurant:
1) You rock up to the guy (or girl) at the door.
2) You tell him (or her) how many there are in your party.
3) You get given a number.
4) And then you wait...and wait...

You might be horrified to be given number 347 when what's being called out is only 52. But take heart, it doesn't work sequentially, I think. I don't quite understand the system but it seems to be fairly efficient for the purpose.

There is nothing extraordinary about Landmark's yum cha selections. We tend to order pretty much the same things anyway so it is not really that big of a deal. The reason we keep coming back is because of the innovative way they serve these tasty oriental delights.

At Landmark you have a choice to either wait for the cart or pick up your favourite yum cha yourself from a very busy counter. Doesn't seem much but it makes a huge difference to very hungry diners. It's bad enough that you have to wait for a table. Having to wait some more for the carts to come by your table can turn the experience into something less than enjoyable.

And lest I forget, their yum cha taste very good too!