Archive | April, 2011

Beef Daube aka Beef Stew

22 Apr

I would describe my relationship with boeuf bourguignon as love at first taste. I will never forget how the meat just melt in my mouth! Ever since, I was on a mission to hunt down the best beef stew recipe. I chance upon this great recipe from Dorie Greenspan, Around my French Table. It was easy to make and the meat was tender and the carrots were bursting with wine.  It was simply delicious! I will definitely make this again.

Beef Daube

(from Dorie Greenspan, Around my French Table) 

Ingredients :

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch wide pieces
  • 3-1/2 pound beef chuck roast, fat and any sinews removed, cut into 2- to 3-inches thick
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic head, remove the papery peel only and halved horizontally
  • 1-1/2 pounds carrots, halved crosswise, halved or quartered lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 bottle fruity red wine, 750 ml
  • A bouquet garni – 2 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig rosemary and the leaves from 1 celery stalk.
Method :
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C.
  2. Over medium heat, toss bacon into a cast-iron pot. Cook until the bacon browned, then transfer to a bowl.
  3. Pat dry the beef between sheets of kitchen towels.  Add 1 tb of oil to the bacon fat in the pot and warm it over medium-high heat. Then brown the beef, in batches, on all sides. Do not try to brown too many pieces at one time as you may end up steaming the meat. Make sure each piece of beef gets a good color. Transfer the browned meat to the bowl with bacon and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove the oil in the pot (do not removed any browned bits stuck to the bottom), add the remaining oil to the pot and warm it over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the onions and shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until onions soften, add in the garlic and carrots. Give them a good stir, making sure that they are coated with oil.
  6. Pour in the brandy, turn up the heat, and stir well to loosen whatever may be clinging to the bottom of the pot. Let the brandy boil for a minute, add the browned beef and bacon to the pot.
  7. Pour in the wine, toss in the bouquet garni and give everything a good stir. In the recipe, it recommended to tie the bouquet garni together in a dampened piece of cheesecloth.  I did not have any cheesecloth at that moment, so I just toss in all the herbs.
  8. When the wine comes to a boil, cover the pot tightly with a piece of aluminum foil and the lid. Put the pot in the oven and allow it to braise undisturbed for 1 hour.
  9. Take the pot out of the oven, remove the lid and the foil, and stir everything up once. If the liquid is reduced by a great deal, add just enough water to cover the ingredients. Re-cover the pot with the foil and lid, put back to the oven and cook for another 1-1/2 hours. At this point, the meat should be fork-tender, if not, cook for another 30 minutes or so in the oven.
  10. Taste the sauce.  If you like the sauce to be a little more concentrated, pour it into a saucepan and reduce the sauce over high heat to the consistency you like. Then add salt and pepper to taste.

Macarons Maddness

6 Apr

I’m going thru a macaron making craze.

2 weeks ago, I made a box for Mein’s birthday, an assortment of flavor. There were earl grey, green tea with chestnut buttercream, lemon curd and chocolate with salted caramel macarons.  My favorite is earl grey, it taste like HK milk tea. Rich and creamy!

One would need lots of patience and time to make this delicate dessert. Never attempt to do this if you are in a hurry as you may end up being disappointed with the final output. It is also a great girls bonding activity because you simply just bake, rest and talk while waiting for the macarons to be ready.

Before you start the macaron making process, you need to :

1. to decide on the flavor, color and fillings for the macarons.

2. you need to age the egg white a day before. What do I mean by aging the egg whites?  In simplicity term, you would need to separate the yolk from the white and keep the white in the refrigerator overnight.  By doing this, the egg white will whip up more stiffly and hold its shape better while baking.

Why it’s such a great bonding activity? Because :

1. you will have fun, grinding the dry ingredients and mixing them together.

2. you will have fun, pipping out the shells.

3. you will have fun, chatting/gossiping while waiting for the shells to dry.

4. you will have fun, finding identical shells and sandwiched them with the filling.

At the end of the day, you can sit down and relax, and enjoy the delicate dessert with a cup of hot tea/coffee.

Oh, one last thing, you have people to share the washing up!