Wednesday night homemade dinner – red wine braised beef brisket

Looking at all the pending blog posts that I have on my draft folder, I just realised that I haven’t worked on the writing since long time. I have so much to catch up! I will try my best today, and finish as many as I can.

Usually I cook every Sunday, but this one that I did was on Wednesday. Instead of cooking beef brisket in Chinese style with turnip, let’s try to do the beef brisket in Western style, of course one important ingredient is red wine.

My husband always prefer lean meat, he doesn’t like to see the fat in-between the beef brisket, which Chinese always love to have a bit of fat in-between. So, I got a big piece of beef brisket with less fat for this dish, and chop it into big cubes. Heat up the Dutch oven with some butter and a touch of olive oil, put some minced garlic and diced onion, brown them a bit and then put chopped carrot into it, cook them for a minute or two. Then put the beef brisket in, brown them until all surfaces are cooked. Now, pour in some red wine, and let it simmer for few minutes. Then, put some tomato puree, dry oregano and bay leaves, and fill up the pot with beef stock. Cover the lid, and let it simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours. You can also cook it inside the oven with 200C for an hour or 1.5 hours. This dish always taste better overnight, you can cook a big pot and save it for the next two days. It goes well with bread, potatoes or even rice.

Trying to make traditional Sunday German Dinner to make my hubby feels like home – Rouladen with Kartoffeklöße

It’s Sunday again! My routine to cook Sunday dinner, but I just made a big dinner the night before for friends’ gathering, thinking what to cook again…… My husband was trying to help, and he was suggesting to make this Rouladen, which I have no clue what is he talking about. So he found me some online recipe on youtube, so I can watch and learn how to make it. He was also craving for this German potato dumplings, which usually serve with the Rouladen. I also have no idea how to make, but let’s learn it on youtube.

After checking out few videos about the Rouladen and the Kartoffeklöße, I think it’s not too difficult to make it, let’s try it out! Rouladen is a dish that the German used to do as a Sunday family dinner dish, and I guess most of the mother know how to do it. It is beef roll with something inside, the part of beef should be the thin slice of the round part and I can already see that as a problem to get that part of the beef in thin slice. There are few meat places here in the neighbourhood, let’s try to see if I can find this specific part of the beef. After running around to few stores, I could not find the beef that I was looking for, as I expected. The best that I could get was the sirloin thin slices, which is a bit small for this dish, and fat in-between is also not helping and make rolling the beef a bit difficult. Anyway, I ended up with doubling two slices to make one piece, it is not perfect but still fine.

To make the Rouladen, lay the slice of beef out flat and season them with salt and pepper. Don’t over seasoning them, as the other ingredients are also with flavour. Then put a thin layer of mustard on the beef, the best would be German mustard to make it more authentic. Now start to put all the ingredients on it, one piece of bacon, strips of onion and  a slice of pickled cucumber, then roll them up and use a toothpick to close it. After you get all the rolling done, searing them in a hot pan to seal in the juice. To be honest, the beef I got is so thin and I think this is not really necessary for my thin slice sirloin. When the beef are all brown, remove them from the pan. Now we start to work on the stock, fry some garlic, onion, carrot and celery in the pan, when they turn brown, put some tomato puree in, and then add some red wine, let it simmer for few minutes. Add a good amount of beef stock and bring it to boil, then place all Rouladen into the stock, and they should be around 2/3 covering with stock. Place the pan inside the oven under 175C to cook for 1 to 1.5 hours. You can also just boil it with a lower heat as an option.

For the Kartoffeklöße, potato dumplings, first of all, to cook the peeled potatoes in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes until they all turned soft and smash them into mashed potatoes. Add two eggs, flour, ground nutmeg, salt and pepper, and mix them well with the mashed potatoes, add more flour until it is not sticky any more. Separate them and make them into ball shape, and boil them in hot water for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Traditionally, this dish is served with red cabbage, and a lot of sauce. To make the sauce, remove the Rouladen from the pan, and bring the stock to boil until it thicken up. If you think there is not enough sauce, maybe you can add more beef stock . Press the sauce through the sieve to get even the taste from the vegetable. This is my first trial and it is tough to cook something that I’ve never had, as you just cannot imagine how exactly that should taste. My husband told me the Rouladen actually taste very good, but I guess it will be better if I can find the right part of meat to wrap. On the other hand, he said the Kartoffeklöße taste good but totally not the German kind. I need to eat an authentic one to see how to make them right next time, room to improve!

 

 

Cooking like a Michelin Star Chef? See how this new toy can help – Sous Vide slow cook circulator

I’ve been seeing this sous vide machine in the market for quite some time, and was thinking to get one. Anova launched this product since 2013, but back then I was not that aware of the benefit of slow cooking. These day here in Hong Kong, German Pool, this local brand is promoting their Sous Vide Pro. The price is really good and even including the vacuum machine and extra vacuum bags, plus the department store was running a promotion. So, I decided to get this one instead of the Anova one.

German Pool Sous Vide

To keep the food moist and juicy, full of it’s natural flavour and nutrition, it totally makes sense to cook with this method. It requires certain technique to cook a piece of steak at the right temperature and time, but it will be hard to go wrong with this sous vide machine. You just need to follow the guide, to set the right time and right temperature, to season the steak then place it inside of the vacuum bag, and dip it into the water and just let it cook. You would not have problem if the steak is too rare or too cooked, the steak will be so moist and not chewy. I was referencing the provided recipe to do this steak, following it to make the sauce and I’ve also cooked some asparagus and potato chips on the side.

To cook the steak medium, temperature set as 58C and cook for 2 hours. If you set at 59C for 2 hours, the steak will be well done, just wondering the difference of 1C is huge! So, watch out and make sure you set it right. Once the steak start cooking, you are free to do other things, it is very convenient and you don’t have to worry if the water will spill over or if it will be overcooked. You really do not need to worry about anything! To make the sauce or any side dishes, you just have to calculate the time that you need, and then start cooking by  counting down the time. I’ve planned to cook some potato chips in the oven, and pan fry some asparagus. The sauce is with red onion, mushroom, red wine, beef stock and touch of rosemary. When the steak is done with the sous vide cooking, remove them from the plastic bag and sear them quickly with a hot pan and some butter. Then serve it with the side dish and the gravy on top. You can see the steak is medium cook and it is so tender, soft and juicy.

So, I could not hold myself, I cook another sous vide dish the following night. Well, actually I’ve done two in a night, some chicken for lunch on the following day to go with salad, as I bring my lunch to work, and a fish dish for dinner. I was trying to follow the recipe provided to make the same sauce, and I’ve add some salad and fried zucchini to make a dinner dish. The sauce is made by garlic, onion, yellow pepper and chicken stock. To sous vide cooking the cod fish is kind of quick, I mean quicker than cooking meat. It takes only 18 minutes, instead of 2 hours! But I feel the result is more significant on meat than on fish, as I feel the cod tastes more like a steam one. Anyway, still taste good and tender! I have to say, the chicken tastes really really nice!!! The chicken salad I’ve made for lunch was really soft, tender and juicy, I really love it!!!!

The day after, I did a sous vide pork chop for dinner. The pork chop is also very nice! So, the sous vide cooking seems working very well and show great result for meat especially. It is tough to cook meat, as it requires a good technique to have a good result for the level of tenderness and juiciness. With this cooking method, you just can’t go wrong! Everyone can cook just like a Star Chef, but of course you need to have a good sense on how to season it and how to put together the rest of the dish.

Celebrate our anniversary in a Spanish way – Tapas with Sangria

I am so busy lately, too much to do at work, could not put myself together to write anything. Too busy but would not stopped myself for cooking, especially on our anniversary. It’s just I do not have time or energy to write… So, after almost a week, I would like to share with you on the tapas I’ve put together for our anniversary dinner.

My inspiration of this dinner was from one of this cooking show on TV, the lady in the show, not sure about her name, was cooking these 2 simple dishes, mushroom and sausage, that inspired me to cook ourselves some tapas that night. Went to do grocery, and I am planning to put together 5 to 6 dishes of tapas. Tapas should not be too big in portion, should have more varieties than have one big portion. So, other than mushroom and sausage, I planned to cook also potatoes, cherry tomatoes with pancetta, shrimp and maybe something else. I started with the potatoes, chopped them into small cubes. Heat up the pan with some butter, fry the potatoes and season them with salt, pepper, red chili flakes and some oregano. Place them in the plate or bowl when they are done, and garnish them with some chopped basil. Next one I work on the mushrooms, once again heat up the pan with butter, this time also with some garlic and a bit of red chili. Fry the mushrooms until they turn soft and season them with a bit of salt, pour some red wine in the pan, let them cook and let those mushrooms soaked with red wine. Serve when they are ready and garnish with chopped basil as well. For the shrimps, heat up the pan with butter, and then put some minced garlic, red chili and chopped parsley into the pan. Simple and easy, just fry the shrimps until they are done without overcooking them, season them with a bit of salt and pepper.

Let’s get the ball rolling, next one is the cherry tomatoes with pancetta. Heat up the pan with olive oil, then put some garlic and red chili, fry the pancetta until it’s almost done. Then, put the cherry tomatoes in, and cook them together for a bit, no need to put salt, as the pancetta should be salty enough, put some chopped parsley before serving.

The one requires a bit more work is the sausage. First of all, we need to work on the minced pork. Put the minced pork in a bowl, add two chopped shallots or half red onion, minced garlic, salt, pepper and oregano. Watch out the portion of salt, do not add too much, as the prosciutto we are going to put later on will add the taste of savory to the meat. Finally add some breadcrumbs and then mix them well together, that will be the filling for the sausage. Now, lay one piece of prosciutto out, then place some filling on top, and then roll them into a little sausage. I didn’t get enough prosciutto, because that lady in the shop misunderstood me for 200 gms as 100 gms. Fry those sausages with oil when they are done. I have some leftover of the mined pork, so I tried to put together some meatballs after finishing the sausage. Unfortunately, I just found out that the tomato puree in the fringe is already finished. So, I just make the meatball in a different way, with some Parmesan cheese and garnish with some chopped basil. Serve all tapas with slices of baguette, of course a jar of Sangria is good to go with this Spanish night.

Happy Anniversary!

 

Having a glass of Sangria to cheer up myself on a working Sunday


It’s not a good feeling that you have to work over the weekend, work life balance is somewhat hard to achieve here in Hong  Kong. I try hard not to work over the weekend, but sometimes you just could not avoid it. It took me few hours to convince myself and move my arse, sitting in front of the computer and start working.

It would be nice to have a glass of something to keep me company, since it’s already 5 o’clock, perfect time for a cocktail. Or I would consider its already a bit late, as we should start drinking during brunch on a Sunday.

Sangria is something good to have during Summer time, that fruity sweety feel would just cheer you up in a hot Summer time, bring me back the feeling of watching sunset at the Cafe del Mar in Ibiza… day dreaming….

How to make a Sangria? It’s pretty simple. All you need is fruit, rum, brown sugar, orange juice or juice that you like and red wine. The most important thing is, the Sangria has to been cold enough. So, I would suggest, the trick is to keep all  the ingredients in the fringe for at least one or two hours before making the Sangria. In that way, you can make sure the drink will be chill enough. On the other hand, you better get a 1 Litre container or pitcher that can fit into your fringe, so that you can keep the ready made one always chill before you can finish it.

First of all, chop half orange and half apple into small cubes and place them into the pitcher. You can add or change to the kind of fruits that you like, but somehow the apple and orange kind of balance out the taste. Add 4 teaspoon of brown sugar into the pitcher and kind of smash them and mix them for one minute, then pour 80ml of rum into it, and mix them well. Then, add 200ml of orange juice into it, or the kind of juice that you like, something mixed like orange & passion fruit, mandarin & mango will also works well. Finally, add a full bottle of 750ml red wine into the pitcher, of course no need to use a nice bottle of red wine. Just something cheap and cheerful that will do. I like to serve it with more ice cubes, in order to have the really cool and chill feeling.

Cheers~~~

Slow Cooked Lamb Shank with Potato and Green Bean Salad

I remembered one Italian dish that those Italian love to eat so much, it’s the veal knuckle, Osso Buco.  I was thinking to look for a recipe of that online, but then I ended up with this lamb shank instead. Looks yummy and would love to try, as I love slow cooking that seems more healthy. So I found this recipe of Gordon Ramsay, let’s try it out.

Since this is a slow cook dish, that means it will take long time for cooking, so I better get the grocery shopping done as early as possible. Back home and try to get the lamb shanks marinated first, as least let that sit there for half an hour. Marinate the lamb shanks with salt, pepper, dry oregano, cumin seed, paprika, garlic, red and green chilli, cinnamon sticks and a bit of olive oil. Let them sit there for at least half an hour, meanwhile we can work on getting the onion and carrots chopped and ready.

Heat up the sauce pan with olive oil, fry the lamb shanks, make sure to fry the entire surface. Then, add the chopped onion and carrots and some bay leaves in the pan. Pour half to a full bottle of red wine, bring it to boil and it cook for 15 minutes. Then, add the beef stock and move the pot into the oven and cook for 2.5 to 3 hours under  160C. Gordon suggested not to put the lid, and I found the top part of the lamb shanks a bit burnt and dry, so make sure you turn the lamb shanks every 30 to 45 minutes.

For the salad, boil the potatoes and cut them in pieces when they are done, let them cool down. Steam the green beans, and let them cool down too. Put the potatoes and green beans in a large bowl when they are cooled down, season them with a bit of salt and pepper, then add the arugula and mix everything well together.

To serve the dish, place the salad on the plate, then serve with one lamb shank on top. Use the stock in the pot as sauce for both the lamb shank and the salad, and add some mint on the lamb shank as a final touch.

 

Slow Cook Beef Short Rib


I cook a lot these days, I don’t know if part of the reason is because of this blog or not. But I love to cook, and Sunday is usually my cooking day. Cooking for brunch then dinner. In the past, I don’t like to look into the recipe so much. I just cook whatever I feel or learned in the past. Nowadays, I try to learn tricks or recipe with cooking show on TV or search for recipe online. But what I do is, I prefer to digest and feel the recipe before cooking, instead of reading line by line, or following exactly each single steps. I like to do my own version, to improvise. My husband is happy that what I cook is more versatile now, he said I only know one dish in the past, spciy tuna pasta. I think that’s not true, but anyway, should take it as a good comment 😉

So, I’ve put together the assorted bruschetta for breakfast. Cut the baguette into half, then put butter and garlic sauce. Feel free to put different things, I put slices of cucumber, and then chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, then put some chopped ham. With a final touch of Parmesan cheese and dry parsley. Another one, I want to do with egg. Place some slices of tomato, and then put the raw egg in the middle of those slices, same thing season it with salt, pepper, dry parsley and Parmesan cheese. Put them in oven under 180C for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with some chopped spring onion to serve.

For dinner, I’m thinking to do a chicken dish, but then I ended up with cooking beef. Just because I found this Gordan Ramsay recipe and would like to do it! Slow cook beef short ribs, seems more yummy than chicken! It’s a bit hard to get the fresh beef short ribs, I just found them at this Meat Master shop and they sell all kinds of meat. This one is frozen, so it took me some time to defrost.

Season the beef short ribs with salt and pepper, then fry them with olive oil, make sure all sides are nicely fried. Cut a whole garlic into half and fry it together with the ribs, then put some tomato purée in the pan and cook a bit. Then pour one full bottle of red wine into the pan and let it cook for 15 minutes, until most of the wine are gone. Pour 1 litre of beef stock into the pan, bring it to boil, then wrap the pan with foil and place the pan into the oven. Cook for 3 hours under 170C.

Before serving the ribs, get the side dish ready. I am adding some spinach to this dish, as I feel is lack of vegetable. Heat the pan with butter, then put some finely chopped garlic, and then fry the spinach until they turn soft. Season them with salt and a touch of sugar, place them on the plate as side dish. Now, get the pancetta fried in a pan with olive oil, when they turn golden brown, add the brown button mushroom which cut in half. Fry them until they are done.

Get the pan of ribs out of the oven, place the ribs one by one in the plate. Use the sieve and pass the garlic through and pour the sauce through the sieve as well. If the sauce is too thin, need to cook it for a while and make it thicker. Pour some sauce on the ribs, then put the pancetta and mushroom on top, and garnish it with the finely chopped parsley. The longer you cook, softer the meat.