Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Red Wine and Horseradish Beef Roast

I was browsing the grocery store doing my weekly shopping and came across a great deal on a beef roast! It was only $6.88 for a 2lbs of deliciously meaty roast, and since I've never attempted to cook a beef roast dinner before I thought I'd give it a go.

Red Wine Horseradish Roast

- 2lbs beef roast
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp cumin
- salt and cracked pepper, to taste
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 gala apple, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp horseradish
- 1/4 cup red cooking wine, plus more for the gravy
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp barbecue sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- Your favorite roasting vegetables

1. Toss together the sage, oregano, cumin, salt and cracked pepper. Rub oil over the roast and coat the roast with the herb-spice blend.
2. In a small sized bowl, combine the garlic, apple, onion, horseradish, wine, vinegar, tomato paste and barbecue sauce.
3. Place the coated roast in an oven-proof dish and pour the horseradish marinade over-top, being sure to coat the entire roast liberally. Marinate in the fridge for 3hours or a maximum of 24hours.
4. When ready to cook, heat some cooking oil in a pan over high heat. Once the oil is hot, take the roast out of the bowl and place in pan. Sear the roast for ~1-2minutes on each side and then remove the roast from the pan, placing back in the oven-proof dish.
5. De-glaze the pan with a splash of red wine, remove from heat and set aside for making the gravy once the roast is completed
6. Place the dish in a 375degree oven, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
7. When there are 30-40minutes left of cooking time, place your roasting vegetables (i.e. carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts etc.) in the dish to cook.
8. Once roast is cooked to your preference, remove from the oven and place on cutting board to rest.
9. Place the pan which was set aside for the gravy back on the stove-top and add 2-3tbsp of flour to make a roux.
10. To the pan, slowly add in the roast drippings. Continue to whisk over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. If desired, add in some beef stock to enhance the flavor (adding more flour to thicken, as necessary).
11. Slice roast and serve with the vegetables, gravy and whatever sides you like (I served mine with wild rice).

I really enjoyed cooking this roast, it was a great "first" for me. The flavors were amazing, and the meat was wonderfully tender. I normally enjoy my meat rare, and when I first sliced the roast it was perfectly done. However, I forgot that while you let the meat rest it continues to cook, so when I finally plated the meat it ended up being more towards medium. The beef gravy was delicious, and way better than any store-bought gravy I've ever tried. I think I will definitely be making this meal again.

Post Script:
I was completely weirded-out when I went to chop my garlic clove. I grabbed what looked like a regular old clove, smacked it with the side of my clever and then proceeded to peel off the normal looking skin. And what greeted me was this strangely opaque, squidgy, sticky, yellow clove of garlic. It smelled okay, but I was too creeped out to use it so I threw it out. Strangely enough, the rest of the cloves in the bunch were perfectly normal, but this one clove was just an odd-ball. Has anyone seen one of these before?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Baker's August '10: Sugar Cookies

I love sugar cookies! So I was ecstatic to see that this month's DB challenge would be featuring the simply delicious and tasty treat. I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to decorate the cookies, but I realized that in this challenge it was mandatory that we had to use decorate the cookies in a "September theme" (whatever September means to you). So, I chose to do this challenge in two parts. The first day, I made a bunch of little square cookies (each 1 square inch in size), which gave me until day two to decide what my "September theme" would be.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Basic Sugar Cookies
(Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies)

- ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose

- 1 cup Caster Sugar
- 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavorings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for 30mins - 1 hour.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.

So... again, with the theme... hmm... that was a tricky one to figure out. After making the cookies, my mind started running trying to figure out how to theme my cookies for September. Then, after a long hard think, I remembered that September 13th, 2010 was the 25th Anniversary of the release of Super Mario Bros. So, I used the cute little squares as "bits" and created an 8-bit Mario by using various colors of icing sugar to decorate the cookies with the outline-fill/flood

Royal Icing

- 2½ - 3 cups Confectioner’s Sugar, unsifted
- 2 Large Egg Whites
- 2 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

• Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
• Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
• Beat on low until combined and smooth.
• Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.

3 cups of confectioner's sugar is good for piping the outline, and by adding a little bit of water to the mixture the icing is perfect for flooding the outline)

Look at all the cute little colored squares! They were a bit time consuming to decorate, but in the end I think they were worth every bit of effort. If I were to do this again, I'd probably pipe the icing a bit closer to the borders of the cookies so that there would be less cookie visible when the 8-bit character is put together. Other than that, the cookies and icing were delicious and my sisters really enjoyed picking apart Mario, piece by piece ^_^

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Easy Creamy Pasta

With such an elaborate dinner last night, I thought that tonight I'd play it a little low key and make an easy creamy pasta dish. It was full of vegetables, and didn't take a lot of time to prepare; this made it even more tasty because I was able to relax and savor the slowness of the day. So, without boring you with a long winded intro (and because I just wanna chill out and watch a movie tonight :P) here's the recipe.

Easy Creamy Pasta

(Yields two servings of pasta)

- 3 cups cooked spaghetti (freshly cooked, and still warm)
- 3 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cup broccoli rabe
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried fennel seeds
- 1 tsp crushed red peppers
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 chicken breast fillet
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
- A splash of red wine (or you can use grape juice)
- 1 heaping tbsp cream cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste

1. Season the chicken breast with rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper. Let sit to marinade for at least 10 minutes. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until chicken is fully cooked. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
2. To the skillet, add the remaining 1 tbsp oil until hot and then add the garlic, fennel seeds, cayenne, crushed peppers. Fry over medium heat until fragrant ~1 minute.
3. Add in the onions, broccoli rabe, vinegar and red wine. Cover the pan for 2-3 minutes and allow vegetables to steam
4. Cut the chicken breast into slices, and add to skillet. Next, add the cooked spaghetti, followed by the tomatoes and the cream cheese. Toss the pasta mixture with tongs, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

See... nice and simple, it literally took no more than 8minutes to cook. Once the veggies are prepped and you have the pasta already cooked, this dish is a breeze to whip up. I loved the richness that the cream cheese adds to this dish; it adds a great subtle cheese flavor without overpowering the sweetness of the wine and the tangy-ness of the vinegar. All in all, a great comfort food dish... and the colors make it look so elegant! Mama would be proud ^_^

Indian Fusion for Dinner!!

I love Indian food... I don't know if it's the spices that always intrigue my tastebuds, or the fiery heat that comes from eating raw/semi-cooked chilies, but I simply love me some spicy cuisine and Indian is spicy at its best. However, one cannot forget that Malay cooks also know a thing or two about heat! So, I decided that for dinner last night I would whip up an awesome meal of Pea Pilau, Spicy Cashew Prawns and Vegetables, Fish Vindaloo and good ol' Naan bread. (See below for my silly attempt at plating the dish in a fancy way... I kind of failed at it o_O)

But anyways, I must post the recipes for my amazing dishes. I kind of improvised with a lot of the amounts and the cooking times, so if you're trying to cook this dish it's really all about using your own cooking knowledge and never forgetting to taste! taste! taste!!

Spicy Cashew Shrimp
- 20 tiger prawns, defrosted or fresh
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp butter, unsalted
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 small onion, minced
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced thinly and tossed with a little salt
- 1/3 cup crushed cashews, unsalted
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tbsp of your favorite hot bean paste
- 2 green chilies, de-veined, seeded and chopped

1. Toss the tiger prawns with salt to season, leave to rest for at least 10 minutes.
2. Heat oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Once butter is melted, add in the minced garlic, minced onions, cumin, coriander, paprika, mustard powder and bean paste. Fry for about 2minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic.
3. Add prawns to the pan and continue frying until prawns begin to turn pink.
4. Add the lightly salted zucchini slices on top of the prawns and then cover the frying pan with a lid. Allow mixture to simmer for 4-5minutes.
5. Remove lid from pan, toss in the crushed cashew nuts and chilies. Give the dish a final toss in the pan before plating.

Naan Bread
This naan bread is made using the exact same recipe I always use. You can find it here. Or also check out my past blog featuring and Indian inspired menu HERE.

Awww... just look at the little dough balls. They look so fluffy and gooey... but I'd best cook them before my penchant for eating tasty looking things results in me contracting yucky tummy bug :P

And now on to the spiciness... the fun stuff, the fish Vindaloo!!

Fish Vindaloo

- 1 1/2 lb white fish fillets (I used cod), cut into large chunks
- Salt
- 6 dried red chilies, crushed
- 10 garlic cloves
- 2 inch ginger root
- 1 inch galangal root
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 lb onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
- 1/2 tsp coriander, ground
- 1/2 tsp cardamom, ground
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp tumeric
- 1/4 tsp mustard, powder
- Salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 6 green chilies, seeded, de-veined and chopped
1. Sprinkle the fish with salt and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Rinse then pat dry. Grind: red chilies, garlic, ginger, cumin seeds and onions to a fine paste with a scant amount of cider vinegar.
2. Heat the ghee and fry the ground paste for a few minutes. Add the fish, season with salt, and fry over a high-heat for 5 minutes.
3. Lower the heat and simmer until the fish is tender. Add the remaining vinegar, sugar, powdered spices and green chilies and simmer until the sauce thickens

And to round the meal out, with a nice earthy carb... Pea Pilau!

Pea Pilau
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1/3 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
- 2 cups uncooked white rice (you can use basmati)
- 1 cup frozen peas (no need to defrost)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 1/4 cups water + 1/4 cup coconut milk

1. Place oil and butter in non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Once butter melts, add in the garlic and onion. Cook mixture until it is browned and caramalized, then add the 7 spices and the coconut stir mixture continuously over heat for ~ 2 minutes, until it is aromatic.
2. Add in the uncooked rice and mix thoroughly, allowing the spices to coat the rice. Continue cooking over medium heat for 2 more minutes. Add the peas, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Pour the spiced pea-rice-coconut mixture into a rice cooker, cover with the water + coconut milk mixture. Give mixture a gentle stir, set rice cooker on "cook" and leave the cooker to finish the hard work :P
4. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Well... that was my the meal I treated my family to for the day! The prepping and cooking all together took me no more than 2 hours! I was really impressed with my ability to manage time, prep the food and get the meal ready to serve by dinner time! (Honestly, I can't believe that the chefs in Hell's Kitchen can't get food out in under an hour :P)