>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Now I am not one to shop. In fact, most of the time I find shopping a hassle and just wish I have a personal stylist who would buy my clothes for me so I wouldn't have to walk aimlessly in the malls looking for clothes.
I've never had a shopping spree before where I go crazy with $2000+ Bottega Veneta bags.
But it's a different story when it comes to shopping for my kitchen...
My lastest shopping spree resulted in a damage of a couple of hundred dollars. Ouch.
I'd like you to meet my very first cast iron cocotte:
- 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
- Slotted spoon
- 6 ounces bacon (I used speck)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
- 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes (I used chuck steak)
- 1 sliced carrot (I added sweet potato too!)
- 1 sliced onion (plus zuchinni in my version!)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
- 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- Crumbled bay leaf
- Blanched bacon rind (I omitted this)
- 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
- 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
- Parsley sprigs
Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.
Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.
For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
>> Sunday, April 18, 2010
Harvest Vegetarian Restaurant
71 Evans Street
Rozelle NSW 2039
Tel: (02) 9818 4201
Where do you go to get a big hearty breakfast in the city? That was the question I had when I had to organise brunch on a lovely weekend morning. Since a bunch of us were all meeting up from different areas of Sydney, it had to be somewhere in the Sydney CBD.
2A Broughton Rd,
Artarmon NSW 2064
Tel: (02) 9419 7499
As much as I love baking, I don't bake cakes very often as you might have noticed. I'm just not a huge fan. Don't get me wrong, I do like a lovely slice of cake occasionally and I enjoy baking and decorating cakes for a group of people, but I just rather deal with banana bread, muffins, or even souffles if I get to choose. Maybe it's because I rarely come across a really good slice of cake...they're all either too sweet, too much cream (I usually scrape them off), too dry, not enough chocolate...I know, I am picky.
Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Gourmet, June 2009
You can just ignore the word “raspberry” up there and swap it up with any which berry you please, like blackberries or blueberries or bits of strawberries or all of the above. This is a good, basic go-to buttermilk cake (not unlike a lemon yogurt cake before it) — moist and ever-so-light — a great jumping off point for whatever you can dream up.
Makes one thin 9-inch cake, which might serve eight people.
- 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 stick (56 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup (146 grams) plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) sugar, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
- 1 large (57 grams) egg
- 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
- 1 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 oz)
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup (146 grams) sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about two minutes, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.
At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter (see Note) raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) sugar.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.
>> Friday, April 16, 2010
If coffee were perfumes, chai latte would be the one I'd wear in Autumn. I love the smell of it and perhaps someone should invent chai perfume. I'd buy it for sure. Not surprisingly chai latte is one of my favourite drinks to order at cafes. Then I came across marsala chai at this amazing Indian restaurant when I was in Taiwan on holiday - it was rich and creamy, full of spice and sweet. Hmmmmmm.
- 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
- 1 cup French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer (I omitted this)
- 2 1/2 cups white sugar (I used brown sugar)
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea (I used Dilmah's black tea)
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves (I added whole cloves instead)
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (I added 2 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon fennel
In a large bowl, combine milk powder, non-dairy creamer, vanilla flavored creamer, sugar and instant tea. Stir in ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. In a blender or food processor (or by hand), blend 1 cup at a time, until mixture is the consistency of fine powder.
>> Sunday, April 11, 2010
>> Sunday, April 4, 2010
Sit and Stay Awhile Apple Crisp
recipe from Ann of Fidget
bake in an 8×8 baking dish or double the recipe and bake in a 9×13 dish
5 to 6 medium-size apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices. (About 7.5 cups)
3 tbsp granulated sugar (I omitted this as Fuji apples are sweet enough).
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, well-softened
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
1/3 cup quick oats
Preheat the oven to 350 (~176C). Generously grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter.
Place a layer of apple slices in the bottom of the pan and dust with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Continue layering apples and dusting with cinnamon/sugar until done. Toss the apple mixture until evenly coated in cinnamon sugar. The apples should be just about to the top of the pan (they will cook down).
For the topping, place the flour, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon and oats in a large bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon. Work the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until evenly distributed. Take one full handful of the topping and toss it into the sugared apple mixture. Spread the rest of the topping evenly over the apples. (I usually end up with a dough-like topping that I just lay on top of the apples).
Bake the crisp in the dish on a baking sheet on the center oven rack until the topping is crunchy and the apples are bubbling, 55-60 minutes.
>> Saturday, April 3, 2010
31 Wheat Rd
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9211 9888