Tag Archives: beef

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

A much better sauce made from a reduction of the braising liquid

***UPDATE***

Third attempt – same sauce as second attempt (straining, skimming the fat and then reducing), over quinoa. Full disclosure – I served it with the smallest onions I had just so that there was *some* semblance of vegetables. And they were excellent ! Really brings out the sweetness of the onion. If you want to do this, then add the peeled onions to the mixture during the last hour of braising.

First attempt – beef short ribs braised in red wine on soft polenta

The picture above is my first attempt at beef short ribs. The second attempt was far far better. So much better, in fact, that as soon as they were out of the oven, they were eaten (ie before I could remember to take a photo – oops). But I will update this post again with the new (!) and improved (!!) version, as I want to share what I did differently, and why.

Beef short ribs are uh-mazing. I bought two large packs of Australian beef short ribs from the Barbie Girls, each containing three gorgeously meaty, English-cut ribs. Ribs need time to cook to break down the connective tissue to make them t-e-n-d-e-r, and both times the ribs were cooked with the same ingredients.

The first time I was so eager to eat, that I forgot that ribs are a fatty cut of meat, and a lot of that renders out during the long cooking process. The end result was beautifully tender meat, but in an overly oily and thin sauce.

The second time I made this dish, I spent the time and effort to strain the sauce, skim as much fat as possible, and reduce the sauce, before adding the ribs and the sauce back in the same pot, and putting them back in the oven for another hour. It’s a little more effort for a far superior end result, with a rich, gravy-like sauce coating the entire rib. Full of flavour without the oiliness from my first attempt.

I also served the ribs the first time, over soft polenta. Weirdly, unlike pork ribs, which I like to serve with something contrastingly crunchy and refreshing, like a fresh coleslaw, I want to eat beef ribs with a similarly soft texture. But I think the polenta, while texture-wise was perfect, was carb-heavy, leaving a feeling of being really very full (OK, perhaps that was also down to pure portion size). The second time, I served it with cauliflower cheese. Yes, it’s rich from the cheese, but I think it’s the lack of carbs in that pairing … that left us with space for dessert (because let’s face it, this dish isn’t for the faint-hearted or diet-conscious – it’s pure indulgence).

Looong story over. I’ll have to make it again just so I can update the photo with the improved recipe.

Beef short ribs braised in red wine

Ingredients:

  1. Beef short ribs – bone in – about 2.5kg
  2. 3 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  3. 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  4. 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  5. Half a bottle of red wine – something heavier like a cabernet or even a shiraz I think works best
  6. 400ml beef stock
  7. *optional* Splash of brandy or port for a nice intense sweet undercurrent
  8. Sprig of rosemary
  9. Sprig of thyme
  10. 2 bay leaves

Method (the best way)

  1. In a large skillet, brown the ribs well – this will add depth of flavour from the caramelised sugars in the meat.
  2. In a large, heavy-based dutch oven or casserole dish, saute the onions, celery and carrot in some olive oil until soft
  3. Drain the oil from the skillet and transfer the meat to the dutch oven
  4. Add the wine, stock, brandy, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves to the pot. Ideally the ribs should be submerged in the liquid. Add additional stock or water if there isn’t enough
  5. Cover, and pop into your oven at 160C (320F) for 3 hours
  6. After 3 hours, take out the pot, take out the meat (it will already be tender and starting to fall off the bone) and carefully strain the liquid
  7. Discard what you’ve strained out – all those vegetables and herbs have imparted all their flavour in the sauce
  8. Return the liquid to the pot on high heat, and reduce by at least 30% – this will take about 20-30 minutes
  9. Pop the meat back in to the pot, cover, and return pot to the oven for another hour. There will be less liquid so the meat won’t be entirely covered, but don’t worry, the steam will help to cook any uncovered meat
  10. Serve with cauliflower cheese

The Handburger

Fancy a quick burger in Singapore ? Then check out the Handburger. Nothing fancy, but serves decent burgers, and it’s conveniently in Raffles City, which, for me, means the added bonus of not having to schlep across town just for a burger (and yes, I know in Singapore that’s just a short 15 minute cab ride away but everything’s relative when you live a 5 minute walk away).

It’s Diner-style American fare, and you don’t linger there, you just go to eat.

I’m a burger “purist” – just give me a standard beef burger. In this case, it’s with 100% grass-fed beef, and comes with melted cheese, some lettuce and tomato (ticks the “I am eating vegetables” box) and this¬†insanely good onion jam that brings the whole lot together. The burger buns are made on the premises and has the light consistency of a brioche but without the sweetness.

They have tons of other burger options, from duck to pulled pork or even seafood, if that floats your boat. Oh, and speaking of floats, they have root beer floats, which went fantastically well with my burger ūüôā

The Handburger
252 North Bridge Road
#B1-77/78 Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6334 4577

Open:
Sun – Thurs: 11.30am – 10.00pm
Fri/Sat: 11.30am – 10.30pm

Tender beef brisket with salsa verde

I’m still on a Le Creuset high and I’ve discovered a butcher at the nearby Tekka Markets in Little India that does all sorts of cuts of meat that I can’t easily find at my local supermarket (read: Tekka Markets = HEAVEN)

I went there in search of beef short ribs and ended up coming home with the ribs (post to come) and a giant slab of beef brisket. Inspired by a combination of a weekend of watching various cooking shows, with Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay both cooking delicious beef brisket, and my memory of the amazing panino bollito from Da Nerbone in Florence, I started making this dish in the morning, for dinner.

The result was ultra-soft meltingly tender beef that I sliced (actually shredded because it was so soft) and served with a fresh salsa verde on a baguette that I quickly dipped into the cooking juices. And I now also have a large pot of delicious beef stock which I will be storing first overnight in the fridge, skimming off the fat in the morning and then pour into ziplock bags that will be stored flat in my freezer.

Ingredients

  1. 2kg beef brisket
  2. 1 glass white wine
  3. 2 large onions cut into chunks
  4. 3 sticks celery, roughly sliced
  5. 2 large carrots, roughly sliced
  6. 1 head garlic
  7. 1 tsp black peppercorns
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 5 cloves
  10. sea salt

For the salsa verde

  1. large handful flat parsley leaves
  2. good pinch of sea salt flakes
  3. good glug of extra virgin olive oil
  4. 2-3 shallots, finely diced
  5. 2 tbls red wine vinegar

Method

  1. Season the brisket with a generous amount of salt on both sides and then roll and tie your brisket. You could probably keep it flat, but I think rolling it helps when it needs to be sliced and served
  2. Heat up some oil on medium high in a dutch oven (or any cast iron or heavy-based pan with a lid)
  3. Brown the brisket on all sides – really get some colour on it
  4. Once browned, remove the brisket, and deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine to release all those sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. The wine will quickly evaporate
  5. Reduce the head to medium and add the onions, gently sweating them for a few minutes before adding the carrots and celery and continuing to cook them till they slightly soften
  6. Put the beef back in, nestling it in amongst the vegetables and add the peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves, and then add enough water to just cover the beef
  7. Cover and bring to boil, then reduce the heat so that it’s at gently simmer. Let it slowly blip away, covered for 7 hours. You can also put the whole thing in your oven on 150 C / 300 F (I prefer it on the stove so I can easily peek in). If there is any beef uncovered by the water, turn it over halfway
  8. For the salsa verde: add the diced shallots to the red wine vinegar and set aside
  9. In a mortar and pestle, add the parsley leaves with the salt (make sure you use salt flakes as it helps to create more friction to help break down the parsley leaves) and pound/grind until you end up with bright green mush
  10. Add the olive oil to the parsley/salt mix
  11. Combine the parsley oil with the shallot/vinegar mix
  12. To eat: spread the salsa verde on your bun
  13. Dipping into the juices is optional – I dipped the super crusty end of my baguette
  14. Top with a generous amount of the sliced/shredded beef brisket and tuck in !

Waku Ghin’s signature sea urchin with botan shrimp and Oscietre caviar

Tetsuya Wakuda is one of my favourite chefs from my visits to Tetsuya’s in Sydney – back in Rozelle and also when it moved to Kent Street. I have always admired his ability to pair pure and distinct flavours so beautifully. I finally got to go to Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands this week, and what a treat it was.

Your meal is served primarily in small 8-seater rooms in front of a teppanyaki grill and with your personal chef for the evening. Counter seating is always my preference – it gives you an opportunity to talk to the chef, see the produce, watch him cook, and also sneakily take a peek at what others are ordering to inspire you to try new things.

With a set 10-course degustation menu, you don’t get the chance to do the latter, but we did get a preview of the first course from the other couple who were seated in our room and who had arrived before us. By the third course, the team at Tetsuya had deftly managed to catch the four of us up so we were all served the remaining savoury courses at the same time.

Chilled white asparagus soup with white miso and Oscietre caviar

We started with a chilled cream of white asparagus soup with white miso cream and Oscietre caviar. What a way to start a meal. The soup was so silky and so full of flavour of the delicate white asparagus you really wished there was more (that was the common theme for all the dishes during the evening, actually).

Second was Waku Ghin’s signature dish – marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and Oscietre caviar, stunningly presented in a half shell of sea urchin. To be eaten with a mother-of-pearl spoon, you are recommended to eat every mouthful with a bit of all three, and with each you get the sweetness of the prawn and sea urchin and the explosion of saltiness from the caviar. This has got to be up there as one of my favourite dishes ever.

Slow-cooked John Dory with roasted eggplant

Third course was slow-cooked John Dory with roasted eggplant and a chicken stock reduction. Our chef explained to us how they made the chicken stock and the laborious and complex processes to ensure only the clean flavour of the chicken was extracted and reduced. An odd pairing with fish and eggplant, and I think the chicken stock reduction tied the dish together well.

Australian abalone with fregola, rocket, seaweed and tomato

Next up was fresh Australian abalone, simply seared on the teppan and served with fregola, tomato, rocket and seaweed. This was about as rare as I have ever had abalone, miles away from the more chewy abalone you usually get at Chinese banquets. This was fresh and succulent and sweet and presented in this way almost was like eating it straight from the sea.

Braised Canadian lobster with tarragon

Braised Canadian lobster came next, quintessentially French-style, in a stock made from the lobster shells, finished with butter and tarragon. Again, the lobster was cooked so that it was just to the point past being raw, allowing the sweetness and the tenderness of the lobster to shine.

The beautifully marbled Japanese Ohmi wagyu roll

Two beef dishes followed. The first was charcoal grilled fillet of Tasmanian grass-fed ¬†beef with Tetsuya’s own-brand wasabi mustard. The chef seared these in front of us on the teppan before slicing them into bite-sized pieces of beef so tender you felt that you could cut it with a butter knife. Nothing fancy here, just a fillet of beef on your plate and tasted great with or without the wasabi mustard.

Japanese Ohmi wagyu roll with wasabi and citrus soy

Japanese Ohmi wagyu roll from Shiga Prefecture came next. Just looking at the gorgeous marbling on the raw beef filled the room with oohs and aahs. I think it was because we knew that that marbling would be melt-in-the-mouth flavour once cooked. It was served with freshly-grated wasabi, fried garlic slices, thinly sliced Japanese negi and a citrus soy dipping sauce. Similar to the fillet, I tried the beef on its own and then with a little bit of all the condiments and in this instance, the inclusion of everything made the marvelous wagyu sing in your mouth.

Consommé with rice and snapper

Final savoury dish was a consommé with rice and snapper followed with a palate-cleansing cup of gyokuro, tea made from green tea that has been grown in the shade. A touch of yuzu zest to the consommé lifted the dish making it a clean and refreshing end to the meal. And the tea, which was brewed with water at just 40C had a distinct savoury, seaweed flavour. Absolutely perfect example of umami.

Selection of exquisite petit fours to end a perfect meal

We were almost sad to be moved out of our private dining area to a more traditional dining area to eat have our final two courses of dessert – mostly because it was an indication that the meal was coming to its end. I have to be totally honest and say that Tetsuya’s desserts have never wowed me the same way his savoury dishes do, and this was no different. We were served a cold soup of strawberry with lychee and coconut and what turned out to be my birthday cake, a milk chocolate cake with caramel and citrus. Both were delicious – as were the petit fours, but my memory of Waku Ghin is firmly, and happily, within the walls of the private dining room.

Waku Ghin
Casino Level 2
Access lifts located:
B1 & Opposite ArtBox at Level 1
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Tel: +65 6688 8507

Open for lunch on Fridays 11.30am – 1.30pm
Dinner two seatings 6pm and 8.30pm


Beef Bourguignon

In the mood for comfort food, I made beef bourguignon the other day – a wonderfully rich stew of beef braised in red wine, with garlic, mushrooms, potatoes and pearl onions. This bistro favourite is adapted from Delia Smith.

Ingredients serves 4-6

  1. 250g streaky bacon, cut into lardons
  2. 1 kg chuck steak, cut into 2″ squares
  3. 1 medium onion, sliced
  4. 1 heaped tbl plain flour
  5. 425ml red Burgundy
  6. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  7. 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  8. 1 bay leaf
  9. 3 large potatoes, quartered
  10. 100g mushrooms quartered
  11. 350g shallots, whole, peeled
  12. Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Fry the lardons over high heat in a large, heavy-based casserole dish. Remove bacon and set aside
  2. Brown the chuck steak in batches in the rendered bacon fat. Remove from pan as they brown
  3. Add the onion to the pan and fry for a few minutes
  4. Add the flour to the onions and stir well
  5. Add the beef back to the pot, along with the Burgundy, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and bring to boil
  6. Reduce heat to a slow simmer, cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours, until beef is tender
  7. Add the bacon, potatoes, mushrooms, shallots to the pan, season to taste and simmer for a further hour
  8. Serve with steamed green beans

Nerbone at Mercato Centrale, Florence

I’m excited that this is my first post with a video ! I really think the video captures the entire experience, which is waiting for the slightly Soup Nazi guy behind the counter to slice super tender bollito¬†– boiled beef – or lampredotto¬†– tripe/the fourth stomach of the cow – before piling it on to crusty roll along with a fresh green salsa and fiery red sauce.

The place is mobbed with hungry locals and tourists. No-one tells the tourists that there is no queue system here. You order and pay at a separate counter, then it’s like being in a bar – shuffle your way (using elbows if you must) and try to make eye contact with the man who will give you what you want. You can see how soft the meat is as he slices and¬†chops it, and before he adds the meat to the crusty roll, he dips the roll into the beef’s own juices. It adds just the right amount of juiciness to the roll, which is probably why they have been around since the market opened in 1874.

My topped up panini being assembled

D and I ordered one roll of each. I love tripe, but even for me, an entire roll full of tripe was a bit much, so I went back and ordered a half portion more of the bollito and “topped up” my roll.

Both beef and lampredotto were meltingly tender and so full of flavour. We stuffed our faces while watching him make roll after roll for other hungry customers.

If you are in Florence and love simple food, you absolutely must go to the Mercato Centrale (which is awesome in itself for the produce you can get there) and visit Nerbone.

You can also get roast meat sandwiches, which also looked awesome, but you need to prioritise your precious stomach space because they are only open from 7am – 2pm.

Nerbone
Inside Mercato Centrale, entrance on Via dell’Ariento, stand no. 292 (ground floor)
Near San Lorenzo & the Mercato Centrale


Beef and Guinness pie

It’s been a while since I’ve cooked beef – and a recent trip to Sydney made me crave a good meat pie (I managed to squeeze in a Pie Face meat pie at the airport before I flew out teehee). My supermarket had some lovely looking chuck steak, so it’s beef and Guinness pie for dinner tonight.

This dish is really very easy, but you need to make sure you have ample time to slowly braise the beef in the Guinness so that a) all the meat fibres break down, giving you you meltingly tender beef and b) so the flavour of the Guinness can really get into the meat.  From start to finish, you probably need 2 1/2 Р3 hours.

Ingredients (for two)

  1. 250g chuck steak – cut into 1 inch cubes
  2. handful mushrooms – cut into 1 inch cubes
  3. 6 shallot onions – whole
  4. 2 tbs olive oil
  5. 2 tbs plain flour
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 1/8 cup tomato sauce (or just a good squeeze to taste)
  10. 1 can Guinness
  11. Puff pastry sheets

Method

  1. Mix the flour, salt and pepper together
  2. Lightly coat the cubes of beef in the seasoned flour and fry in batches with the oil over high head in a heavy-based pot. Make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan – you want to seal and brown the meat, not boil it.
  3. Once all the beef has been browned, set aside, and using the same pot, gently sweat the onions over low heat for about 5 minutes.  Scrape all the yummy bits left in the bottom of the pot from the beef.  They will add flavour and colour to the stew.
  4. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes
  5. Add the beef, bay leaves and tomato sauce and pour in enough Guinness so that it just covers the meat.
  6. Cover and bring to the boil then lower the temperature so it’s barely simmering, and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. ¬†Peek in halfway through and taste it for seasoning. ¬†Add to taste if you fancy, but remember the flour was already seasoned.
  7. Once the beef stew has cooked it should have reduced down to a nice thick gravy and you can either simply put one sheet of pastry over the pot or portion out the beef stew into single portion oven-safe bowls eg ramekins or Corningware and then cover each individually with puff pastry.
  8. Brush the edges of whatever dish you are baking in with beaten egg yolk and seal the edges of the pastry with a fork.  Brush the top with the rest of the egg.
  9. Slash a few cuts into the pastry lid to allow the steam to escape or you might end up with soggy pastry
  10. Pop into a preheated oven at 200C for 10 – 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown
  11. Serve with buttered peas and corn

Lasagna

Lasagna for me is pure molten meaty cheesy goodness on my plate.

There are probably thousands of different recipes out there for this but here is mine – it does take some time, because you essentially have to cook it twice, but you can always freeze cooked or uncooked portions and enjoy again later.

For the bolognaise sauce:

  • 600g minced beef
  • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 stick fresh rosemary
  • 800g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tin tomato paste
  • 2 glasses red wine
  • Lasagna sheets
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  1. In a large saucepan, sweat the onions, then add the celery, carrots and garlic and fry over a gentle heat till soft
  2. In the meantime, brown the mince (you can do them in batches – make sure you don’t overcrowd the frying pan or you will end up boiling the mince instead of actually browning the meat and creating that lovely caramelisation)
  3. Add the mince to the vegetables
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, rosemary and red wine and bring to the boil
  5. Simmer gently for anywhere between 1-4 hours

For the bechamel sauce:

  • 600ml milk, heated till scalding
  • 60g butter
  • 60g flour
  • pinch nutmeg
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  1. Melt the butter and add the flour, stirring constantly so you have a roux
  2. Slowly incorporate the milk on high heat, adding in small amounts and stirring constantly (the roux will suck up the milk and it will start with an almost play-doh consistency, hang in there, it turn out right in the end)
  3. Lower to the lowest flame and cook for 6-8 minutes
  4. Season with salt/pepper/nutmeg

To make the lasagna:

  1. Oil an oval or rectangular lasagna dish (you can also use a baking tin) and place lasagna sheets on the bottom
  2. Cover completely with a third of the bolognaise sauce
  3. Top the bolognaise with a third of the bechamel sauce
  4. Add another layer of pasta and repeat twice more
  5. Cover the top liberally with cheddar cheese
  6. Put into an 180C oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling

The Moomba

Iberico ham with fresh figs and crumbed brie cheese

The last time I was in The Moomba, it was 1999 and I had a looong lunch there before being proposed to !  Needless to say I have very fond memories of the restaurant, but to be honest, have not been back since.

I guess it’s testimony that it’s still around 11 years on, especially in fickle Singapore where so many restaurants have come and gone in that same time.¬† And I have heard only good things from my friend Christine who does business with the owner and chef.¬† I even got a surprise gift of some of his home-made Christmas ham from her a few years back and it was delicious.

Another friend and I went there for dinner last Wednesday to celebrate some good news.  To be honest it was our third choice Рthe first two, Altitude, and Sage, were fully booked on a Wednesday night Рso when we walked in to Moomba at 8.00pm to find only one couple in the restaurant, we entered with a bit of apprehension.

The good news is that my doubts were unfounded.  The food was great !

Perhaps Moomba does a roaring lunch trade or perhaps with its location so close to Boat Quay it’s the place to eat on a Friday night.¬† However, with its shiny new competitors with their spectacular views just around the corner around the Marina area, having only two people seated at 8.00pm isn’t doing it any favours from the street.

I started with Iberico ham with fresh figs and deep-fried brie (pictured above – the pic was from my friend’s iPhone 4 as I forgot to bring my camera).¬† A great combination where the sweet and salt, soft and crunchy, fresh (from the rocket) and aged worked perfectly well together.

For mains I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a good old steak.¬† Three types of cuts were offered – I went for the recommendation of the tenderloin and it turned out to be the best on the table – definitely the most flavoursome without being overly fatty or dry.

Even desserts were good – a pecan pie and a sticky date pudding were shared, the sticky date pudding with a creme anglais rather than butterscotch sauce which lightened up the pudding to a point where everything was cleaned from the plates.

I only found out after that the entire upstairs floor is a retail wine space where you can taste and buy a huge selection of wines.

There was the requisite “roo” offered which I think it silly in a restaurant that isn’t branded “outback tucker” because the food at Moomba is sophisticated and delicious.¬† Is it just poor marketing ?¬† Is it in need of a facelift or some rebranding ?¬† I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

The Moomba
52 Circular Road
Tel: 6438 0141

Opening Hours
Lunch 11am ‚Äď 2.30pm, Monday to Friday
Dinner 6.30pm ‚Äď 10pm, Monday to Saturday
Closed on Sunday & Public Holidays