Monthly Archives: August 2011

Roast prime rib of beef with yorkshire puddings and onion gravy

The resting rib roast

Pretty much the classic English roast dinner. I’ve tried roasting beef before but it just didn’t come up to the standard of ones I’d had in England (the best I have ever had was at Simpsons in the Strand in London) and the allure of crackling roast pork and the ease of roast chicken always won over wanting to attempt a roast beef again.

Until recently.

My dinner plate with medium rare roast beef, yorkshire puddings and duck-fat roasted rosemary potatoes (before the gravy)

I watched a Masterclass episode of Australian Masterchef (which is by far the best of the UK, Australian and American versions) where Gary Mehigan made this with his mum, and the next thing I knew I was looking up the recipe from Delia Smith and researching the best recipes for the most voluminous Yorkshire puddings (which ended up being Delia’s again – although I added an extra egg and made six muffin-sized ones instead of one huge one).

My yorkies !!

Here they are.  Looks lengthy but all it takes is a little bit of planning.  And it’s a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Ingredients

  1. Rib-in beef.  I bought two ribs for the two of us and there was plenty leftover.  Don’t let your butcher cut off the layer of fat on the edge.  That will help to keep the meat moist and also crisps up well in the oven.
  2. salt and pepper
  3. 1/2 tsp mustard powder mixed with 1-2 tbl plain flour

For the yorkshire puddings (makes six)

  1. 75 g plain flour
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 75 ml milk
  4. 55 ml water
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 6 tbl oil that has a high smoking point – I used macadamia oil and added a teaspoon of duck fat

For the gravy

  1. Beef stock
  2. tbl plain flour
Method
  1. Make the Yorkshire pudding batter first
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre
  3. Break the egg into it and beat, gradually incorporating the flour, and then beat in the milk, 2 fl oz (50 ml) water and seasoning (an electric hand whisk will do this in seconds)
  4. Set aside while you prepare the beef
  5. For the beef:
  6. Make sure the beef is at room temperature by taking out of the fridge two hours before it needs to go into the oven
  7. Preheat your oven to gas mark 7, 425F, 220C
  8. Season the beef all over with salt and pepper
  9. Dust the fat with the mustard powder/flour mix to give that extra crispiness
  10. Pop into the oven for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to gas mark 5, 375°F, 190°C and cook it for 15 minutes to the pound (450 g) – this will give you rare beef. Add 15 minutes to the total cooking time for medium rare and 30 minutes for well done.
  11. While the beef is cooking, lift it out of the oven from time to time, tilt the tin and baste the meat really well with its own juices – this ensures that the flavour that is concentrated in the fat keeps permeating the meat, and at the same time the fat keeps everything moist and succulent. While you’re basting, close the oven door in order not to lose heat.
  12. Once the beef has been roasting to your desired “doneness”, remove from oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes for all those yummy juices to go back into the meat
  13. Turn up the heat to gas mark 7, 425°F, 220°C and get your Yorkshire pudding done while the beef is resting
  14. For the Yorkshire puddings:
  15. Add the oil/fat to six cups of a muffin tray and place that in the oven
  16. After 15 minutes remove the muffin tray ***it’s important that the fat be smoking hot***, then place the tin over direct heat while you pour the batter into the sizzling hot fat. The batter should start to fry in the fat immediately
  17. Return the tin to the baking sheet on the highest shelf for 20 minutes until they are crisp and golden
  18. Take out of the oven, turn the puddings upside down and pop back into the oven so that the bottoms crisp up as well and don’t go soggy
  19. For the gravy:
  20. Take the beef out of the roasting tray and while it’s resting, pop your roasting tray over your stove and add the beef stock to deglaze the pan and release all those yummy bits stuck to the bottom of the pan
  21. Sprinkle flour over the stock and bring to boil, stirring all the time to avoid lumps.  It will thicken a little as it cools
  22. You can make fancy gravy by throwing some onions in to roast with the beef.  These will cook down and will add a delicious flavour to the gravy.  You can even use them as a trivet for the roast.
  23. Serve all three with rosemary roast potatoes
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pizza

Home made pizza base topped with saucison, mushrooms, anchovies, onions and fresh tomatoes

I find something terrifically therapeutic about making your own dough.  You can destress when kneading the dough, and it’s just so satisfying knowing that you made the piping hot bread/base that you take out of your oven.

D and I have found that while there are a few good options in Singapore for pizza, we actually like the pizzas we make at home – perhaps because we can have whatever toppings we like, and as much as we like.  I know an authentic pizza has very little topping but there are times when you want your slice weighed down by the volume of toppings.

Finding a recipe for a base that we liked has taken literally years of (admittedly) off and on practise, and I’ve finally settled one that works time and time again. It’s forgiving in that the measurements can vary slightly, you can also add psyllium husk for added fibre (you may need to use more water though) but on the whole, you end up with a pizza base that has a thin, crispy crust that maintains a light, moist and chewy texture.

I make twice this amount and freeze half so we always have the dough for a quick weekday dinner.

Ingredients (makes enough for one 12″ pizza base)

  1. 1/4 tsp sugar
  2. 3/4 cup warm water
  3. 10g yeast
  4. 1 3/4 cups flour – I’ve used 00 flour but plain flour will work if you don’t have 00 at hand
  5. good pinch of salt

Method

  1. Mix together and let sit for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.  The yeast feeds off the sugar in the warm water.  Yeast is a living thing, so too hot and you will kill it, too cold and it will take longer to wake up.  Note – do NOT add salt at this stage.  Salt kills yeast and you need the yeast to make the dough light and fluffy
  2. While the yeast is doing its work, make a well in the middle of the flour on your board, add the salt, and once the yeast is ready (you will know when it’s all frothy and foamy) and pour the yeast/water in the middle
  3. Start mixing by bringing the edges of the flour into the middle with a fork. Once that’s all combined, time to get kneading. You may need to add a little water or flour to make the dough slightly sticky so that it’s at a stage where is just comes off cleanly from the board. Get all your aggression out on this little baby – you want to work the gluten in the flour to produce a nice light dough. I usually mix for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Pop the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and pop somewhere warm for an hour.
  5. Take the dough out, give it second kneading and then roll it out on a floured board to fit your pizza tray
  6. Top with a base of tomato paste and grated cheese (I like a mix of cheddar and parmesan) and whatever topping takes your fancy
  7. Use the top rack of the oven at about 200C until the edges are golden brown

Ku De Ta

Ku De Ta’s signature crispy sticky squid

Out celebrating K’s birthday last weekend, we travelled up to the 57th floor of Marina Bay Sands to Ku De Ta. It takes the same name as the fabulous restaurant/bar in Bali – although not connected in the least. The dining experience begins on the ground floor as K and I were rudely directed to the lifts that would take us up to the Skypark.

The restaurant boasts modern Asian cuisine and we were shown to a table that sat eight when there was just four of us – apparently the call my friend made to reduce the number for the reservation went unnoticed. After a lengthy delay we were finally moved to a more appropriately sized table and where our table waiter explained to us as “first time visitors” that the food served in the restaurant is intended to be shared, and would be served as and when the food was ready from the kitchen.

We all selected the tasting menu, which we felt had a good selection from the menu. I was surprised that there was no wine pairing option but later discovered that it would just have been too difficult for the staff to keep up with matching wines when they barely could manage the food.

Sliced semi-fatty tuna belly with young ginger, kaffir lime and green tea salt, ‘hot oil; scottish salmon sashimi with szechuan pepper, dried miso and vanilla bean oil and seared black angus beef tataki with chopped nori, toasted buckwheat and green chilli ponzu 


Our first dishes were served by a waiter who quickly mumbled the dishes and then disappeared – we had to call him back just so we knew what we were about to eat. Luckily one of the dishes he served was the restaurant’s signature dish – crispy sticky baby squid. What a gorgeous dish – that did exactly what it says on the tin – of bite-sized morsels of perfectly cooked crispy squid in a sweet sticky sauce. Delicious. The other two dishes that arrived were a smoked eggplant and marinated salmon caviar and a spicy “bo ssam” pork belly salad. The eggplant dip was an insipid dish where you got neither the taste of the smoked eggplant or the salmon roe, but that could be because of the knock-your-socks-off spicy salad dressing on the salad where there was barely any pork.

Next up was a sashimi dish – semi-fatty tuna belly, “hot oil” Scottish salmon sashimi and seared black Angus beef tataki. I tried the tuna first, initially looking for the soya sauce to dip, and was pleasantly surprised that it was already “seasoned” with green tea salt, which gave the tuna an incredibly clean taste. I tasted the salmon next, expecting the same green tea salt and found instead the sweet fragrance of vanilla bean oil and the salty crunch of dried miso. The contrasting flavours and textures really accentuated the fish. Not really sure about where the hot oil was and the waiter didn’t seem to know…

Bamboo-roasted pacific black cod with whipped red miso

Mains came in a mad untimely rush after.  There was their version of miso cod which was deliciously light and flaky.  Crispy skinned bamboo steamed duck, which unlike the squid, lost all of its crispiness when steamed, pan-roasted foie gras with green mango pickle which was (to me) unappetisingly large, with a vaguely faint taste of foie gras (which to me negates eating foie gras at all) and char-grilled Australian black Angus beef tenderloin which was beautifully seasoned and tender.

The sides were actually the best thing with steamed pencil asparagus and wok-charred cherry tomatoes and tofu.

The food is not bad, the ambiance is funky and cool, but the service is really disappointing for this type of establishment, and while the view is spectacular, with all the other new places that take advantage of panaromic views of Singapore, Ku De Ta isn’t somewhere I’ll be rushing back to.

Ku De Ta
SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands North Tower
1 Bayfront Avenue Singapore 018971

Opening Hours:
Breakfast – 7am till 11am
Lunch – 12noon till 3pm
Dinner – 6pm till 11pm

Tel: 6688 7688
Hotline Operating Hours: 8am – 10pm


Chocolate fondant

Super rich, this is a dessert to be served after a light(er) meal but I personally think it should be a compulsory way to end all meals.  This recipe is adapted from one I found from Felicity Cloake in the Guardian

Ingredients (serves four)

  1. 100g dark couveture chocolate – I used Lindt 70% cocoa
  2. 90g unsalted butter plus more for greasing the ramekins
  3. 2 tsp cocoa powder
  4. 2 egg whites and 1 egg yolk
  5. 85g castor sugar
  6. pinch salt
  7. 2 tsp plain flour

Method

  1. Start by buttering the insides of the ramekins, making sure you butter the bottom edge well
  2. Dust the inside with cocoa
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter on the stove over low heat
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric whisk, whisk the sugar and eggs and salt together until thick and foamy
  5. Slowly combine the melted chocolate and butter, and then the flour
  6. Pour into the prepared ramekins and chill in the fridge for at least an hour
  7. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 200C (390F)
  8. Take the ramekins from the fridge and bake for 13 minutes exactly.  The tops should be set (and slightly cracked) and coming away from the edges.
  9. Let sit for 1 minute, then gently turn out on to a plate
  10. Serve with a dusting of cocoa and a dollop of cream or just strawberries

Quinoea, Apricot and Nut Clusters

In the middle of my detox, I found myself craving for something sweet (chocolate, to be honest), but processed food is one of the big no nos for me this week, so I was thrilled to find this genius way of getting my sweet hit sans sugar (I replaced the sugar in the original recipe with honey) with the added bonus of quinoea.  The original recipe is from Martha Stewart.com. If you’re interested, the basics of my detox are here.

Ingredients (makes about 10)

  1. 1/2 cup quinoea
  2. 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  3. 1/4 cup shelled raw sunflower seeds
  4. 1/4 cup shelled raw pistachios, chopped
  5. 1/2 cup dried apricots, thinly sliced
  6. 1/4 cup honey
  7. 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  8. 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  9. 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  10. 2 eggs

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F)
  2. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa; return to a boil. Stir quinoea; cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until most liquid is absorbed and quinoa is slightly undercooked, about 10 minutes
  3. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake, fluffing with a fork occasionally, until pale golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in a large bowl
  4. Spread oats on baking sheet; bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add oats to quinoea
  5. Spread seeds and nuts on baking sheet; bake until lightly toasted, about 7 minutes. Add to quinoa mixture; let cool
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 150C (300F)
  7. Toss nuts, apricots and salt with quinoa mixture
  8. Beat honey, oil, and vanilla into eggs; stir into quinoa mixture
  9. Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Spoon 1/4 cup firmly packed batter onto sheet for each cluster – space 3 inches apart and bake until crisp, about 25 minutes
  10. Let cool on a wire rack. Store, loosely covered with foil, up to 2 days

Roasted butternut pumpkin and spinach salad

Do you really need a recipe for a salad ? I guess not, but I was so impressed at just how good my salad looked that I wanted to record it for posterity. I need as much encouragement as I can with salads. It’s not that I don’t like them, there are just so many better alternatives in my eyes (or stomach). And I think with salads there are some combinations that just work better than others. Enjoy and feel healthy while your eyes feast on the joyful colours in the bowl 🙂

Ingredients

  1. Butternut pumpkin
  2. Sea salt
  3. Olive oil
  4. Pine nuts
  5. Baby spinach leaves
  6. Dried cranberries
  7. Dried apple

Method

  1. Cut the pumpkin into chunks, toss in some olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt and roast in a hot oven (200C/390F) for 40 minutes
  2. Dry fry the pine nuts till they have a nice golden brown colour
  3. Mix everything together and dress with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste