Posts Tagged ‘Beef’

The Korean GP – Bulgogi (BBQ Beef!)

October 20, 2011

Before looking for dishes for this GP I didn’t really have much of an idea of what Korean food was.  A quick search revealed a nation that loves its BBQ and its beef so Bulgogi seemed the quintessential meal to make.  Bulgogi actually means ‘fire meat’ and refers to the method of cooking since the chicken, beef and pork versions each have a different marinade.

The beef version consists of sirloin or rump steaks marinated for several hours and then grilled or BBQ’ed.  It was recently voted number 23 in CNN’s 50 most delicious foods, so even though I had never heard of it before it must be pretty popular!

I was making enough marinade for two bits of meat, although seeing what it made I think it would also coat 3 very well and 4 at a push!  The marinade consisted of:

  • 2 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • Approximately 1 inch cubed of ginger – grated
  • 1 very large spring onion (2/3 normal spring onions) finely chopped
  • 50ml of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • ½ tablespoon of sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon of coarsely crushed black peppercorns.

    the ingredients for the marinade

These were all mixed in a bowl.  I then scored my steaks (a little too thickly if I’m honest – I made more of a slash than a score!) and placed them in the marinade where they stayed for 3 hours.  They went in the fridge for 3 hours but I got the mix out half an hour before cooking so it could get to room temperature.

the beef in the marinade

To cook the meat I used a very hot grill pan as I don’t have a BBQ (plus it wasn’t really the weather for cooking outide!).  Most pictures I’ve seen of this dish have the meat cooked through, but personally I hate fully cooked beef unless it’s been stewed for several hours, so my steaks were cooked for ¾ minutes each side so that they were caramelized on the outside and pink in the middle.

starting to cook the beef

the beef nearly done

After cooking I let the steaks rest for a little while and then sliced them up.  I served the steak with some Thai jasmine rice and poured the cooking juices from the resting plate over the top to give a little sauce.

the finished dish

This was another really fragrant dish.  I was worried from the colour of the marinade that the say sauce might be overpowering but in the end it was quite mild.  There was no chilli but the black pepper gave everything a nice mellow heat.  The grill pan had cooked the meat nicely, but you could tell that the smokeyness of a real BBQ would have really enhanced the flavours that were there.

Now that the World Championship is over, it was thought that Vettel might give everyone a chance at winning. The young German champion, however, had no intention of doing so. The out of form Lewis Hamilton, who has struggled for at least half the season, raised his game and managed to put the Mclaren on pole, closely followed by Vettel and then team-mate Jenson Button.

Vettel blew past Hamilton on the first lap and then was unassailable in the lead. Lewis and Red Bull’s Mark Webber then joined a great race-long battle for second place, including through the pit-stops, which Lewis won by holding Mark off for at least fifty laps. Both drivers, despite a gripping battle, looked upset at the their lack of success at the race’s end.

Meanwhile, the unfancied Torro Rosso team managed to get both cars in the points, beating one of the Mercedes cars on pace. Michael Schumacher once more got taken out, this time by Visaly Petrov who missed his braking point down into turn seven and destroyed his own car as well. All in all, a surprisingly hard fought race. No rain like last year though…


The Belgian GP – The first GP I have missed!

August 31, 2011

So last weekend was the Belgian GP and I was away at a wedding.  I didn’t get back home until the evening of the Sunday and so I missed the entire race.  My partner however watched and enjoyed it, and gave me a blow by blow account of all the action when I got back.  I’ve also co-opted him write the race report at the end of this post!

In addition to missing the race it was also too late to cook by the time I got home and so I cooked my meal on the Monday instead.  This time out the meal was beef carbonnade with real chips and homemade mayo.  This seemed like an unusual combination but I wanted to have both dishes so I thought I’d have a go.

Chips and mayo is an absolute favourite of mine, it’s also extremely popular in Belgium!  I have never made real mayo before and thought this was the perfect excuse to have a go.  Despite much browsing of the internet for tips and recipes I had no idea just how much work making mayonnaise would be.

I started off with two egg yolks, a heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard and some salt.  These were given a good whisking before any oil was added.  The oil I had chosen to use was groundnut (peanut!) oil as this is pretty flavourless,  I didn’t want the mayo to taste too much of the oil as can happen with olive oils etc.   I started by adding single drops of oil to the egg mix and beating each in well.  After about 5 minutes of this I felt confident enough to go for some slightly larger quantities of oil.  All in all it took me 10 minutes to beat in 50ml of oil.  By this time you could see that the mix was starting to change and look a bit like mayo.

Over another 10 minutes I incorporated another 125ml of the oil by which time the mixture was almost solid and my arm felt like it would fall off.  The recipes I had seen used 200-250mls of oil for two yolks, but I found that 175ml was the absolute limit for mine, they must have been small!  There was one more thing to add to finish the mayo and that was 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar.  Once I had beaten this in the mixture slackened a bit to a more appetizing consistency and also lightened up looking more cream than yellow.  The mayo was ready and it tasted amazing!

Making my mayonnaise!!

Beef carbonnade is a sweet sour beef dish made with beer.  The process of making it was pretty similar to the goulash.  First I browned 1.4kg of beef which had been cut into chunks before removing them and cooking 700g of sliced white onions in the pan.  When the onion had softened a little I added 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 4 crushed garlic cloves and let everything cook some more.

Cooking the meat and the onions

After another 5 minutes I added 3 tablespoons of flour and then 600mls of beer.  As with any wine, the quality is important.  I used Chimay, which is a traditional Belgian beer brewed by monks.  I don’t drink beer myself, but my partner got very excited when he found this in the shop so I knew it was good!


After adding the beer I returned the beef to the pan, added a bay leaf, a couple of springs of thyme and 300mls of beef stock.  I then stirred everything, brought it to the boil, covered and put in the oven for 2 hours on 150C.

Making the sauce

Half an hour before the beef was due to come out of the oven I started on the chips.  There was no great skill involved in these, I peeled and chopped some potatoes and then deep fried them in hot oil for 15 minutes until they had started to colour and crisp up.  Then I drained them on kitchen paper to get rid of the excess fat.  I was then ready to serve up.

All served up!

The sauce of the carbonnade was amazing despite the fact I realized that I had forgotten to add the sour element, some white wine vinegar!  Unfortunately though the meat was tough.  Unlike the meat I used for my goulash this was pre-cut and I don’t think the quality was as good.  It was edible, but there was a lot of chewing involved and this let the rest of the meal down.  The chips were lovely, as anything that is deep fried is, and the mayo was magnificent.  It was definitely worth the effort!

The race itself was a mix of high triumph and disaster. After a chaotic first corner and the first outbreak this season of proper carbon fibre confetti, the young Mercedes driver Nico Rosburg managed to grab the lead from pole sitter Seb Vettel. But Vettel came back and re-took the lead. Then Lewis Hamilton had a massive collision with Kumai Kobashi, nosing into the wall at about 240km an hour, which unsurprisingly brought out the safety car. This allowed Vettel, having jumped everyone by pitting early, to get to the lead but it also brought Schumacher, who had started last, and Jenson Button back into the fray, allowing them to close up. Once the re-start, passing broke out throughout the field, and Button managed to come from 13th to 3th in the matter of twenty laps. Schumacher, pursuing him, managed to overtake his team-mate Nico Rosburg and grab a hard fought fifth. But Vettel, riding his Red Bull rocketship, pointed it at the horizon and was never really seen again, effectively wrapping up the 2011 World Championship. Everyone else’s opinion: He’s just too good.

The Hungarian GP – Goulash!

August 5, 2011

Last weekend was the Hungarian GP and after a less than successful attempt at German cuisine I was feeling a bit nervous.  I decided that I would focus on cooking one dish well.  Given that the race was in Hungary there was never any doubt about what I would cook – Goulash!  I had a look around the web for recipes and settled on one by the infallible Delia. There were going to be no failures this week!

The night before the race we were visiting some of our new neighbours, who happen to be Austrian.  Telling them of my planned meal they quickly informed me that the secret to a good goulash is to use the same weight in onions as meat.  They also agreed to come over after the race and taste my efforts!

On the day of the race I got up early to get on with my cooking.  The recipe required the goulash to be in the oven for two and a half hours, but not being that familiar with the French cuts of meat (they butcher the animals differently over here) I wanted to make sure that the meat was tender. So I wanted to ensure it was in the oven for as long as possible.

My slab of meat

From my local Carrefour (the good butcher is on holiday) I bought a large slab of beef weighing around nine hundred words.  I cut this up into approximately one inch cubes and browned these in batches in a large oven proof pan before putting them to one side.  Next up was the onions.  Nine hundred grams turned out to be eight large onions rather than the three required in the recipe.  The onions were then roughly chopped and then put into the pan the meat had been browned in.

This quantity of onions took a lot of cooking and it was about fifteen minutes later, when the onions had begun to brown and caramelize, that I was able to return the meat and juices to the pan along with two cloves of crushed garlic.

Browning the meat and onions

To this I then added one tablespoon of hot paprika, one of sweet smoked paprika and two of plain flour, giving everything a stir to create a paste with the juices.  Finally I added three dried bay leave (from my mum’s garden back home!) and two tins of chopped tomatoes.  On went the lid and then the pan went into the oven at one hundred and forty degrees centigrade.

Making the sauce

Three Hours later I gave everything a stir and added two red peppers which I had de-seeded and roughly chopped before putting the lid back on and the pan back in the oven.

Just out of the oven after 5 1/2 hours

We finally ate the Goulash five and a half hours after it went in the oven!   By this time the stew was a deep brown/red and the meat was falling apart.  I had cooked some rice to go with the dish, but the Austrians recommended we just had bread.  I also omitted the crème fraiche which was to added at the last minute on their recommendation.  The stew was delicious, it was full of flavour and oh so soft.  There was a great depth and richness to the sauce and a hint of spiciness which brought everything to life.   It went down rally well with the Austrians, we demolished the lot!  I would love to cook this again; it’s a great cook and leave dish for when you have guests round.

The delicious goulash served up

The race was another exciting spectacle.  It started under damp conditions and the road dried through-out the race. Once again there was plenty of action with many overtaking manoeuvres and cars that were squirming all over in the wet conditions.  The two Maclaren team mates gave an incredible demonstration of expert driving, passing and re-passing on the narrow track over the course of six or seven laps. This was complimented by Nick Heldfield’s Renault catching fire, then, sans driver, exploding (but only a little).  The race was eventually won by Jenson Button, the master of the drying track, with Seb Vettle in second.  It’s great to see that some of the other teams have finally caught the Red Bulls up, the result is some fantastic competitive races.

Building a Cottage Pie

February 26, 2011

I love cooking things that are new, exciting or that little bit special, but there is always a place in my heart for the bog standard meals that you can whip up without looking at a cookbook.  I think these home grown comfort meals made with love can be just as good as anything from a restaurant.  A particular favourite in our house is a cottage or shepards pie (the choice depending on what meat I have defrosted).  As with the mince variety, a lot of what goes in is decided by what happens to be in the fridge on a given day, but the latest variation I made was deemed to have been the best yet by my partner so I have decided to share it.

My ultimate cottage pie

I started off by frying off a finely diced onion and carrot in some oil until the onion was soft to bring out their sweetness.  After about 7-8 minutes I added my mince beef.  Some people like to try and keep the strands of mince long, but I prefer mine broken up to make a smoother sauce and so I stirred the mince quite vigorously while it was cooking.

Frying the veggies and mince

Next in was about 6 cubed chestnut mushrooms.  I think these help to give a depth to the sauce, but they also melt in when cut small so it’s a great way to sneak another vegetable in.  With the meat all brown I and the mushroom soft I added an oxo cube (my secret weapon!) and a tablespoon of plain flour.  This was all mixed in so that it coated the meat and veg meaning there would be no lumps when I added my water to the mix.

Adding the mushrooms and the oxo and cornflour

I added just enough water to cover everything in the pot, probably about ¾ pint, as you don’t want a runny pie!   Next I gave the contents another good stir, and left it all to simmer uncovered for a while.  After about 15 minutes a fairly thick sauce had formed and at this point I added a good handful o frozen peas.  I hadn’t put them in sooner as I wanted to try and they really don’t need much cooking and the mix still had to go in the oven.  With the peas stirred through I put the whole lot into my baking dish.

Adding the peas and the finished filling

While I was making the sauce I had placed the ingredients for my mash onto boil.  For this version I was being slightly healthier and upping the veg count even further by using one very large sweet potato with a couple of small traditional potatoes to bulk out the mash.  When boiling potatoes for mash I think that large pieces work better and give a smoother mash (unless I’m in a rush when such things go out the window and tiny chunks are quickly boiled!).  With my lumps nice and tender I drained them and then used a ricer to mash them.  The resulting strands of potato were combined with some butter to make a rich topping which I then proceeded to spoon and mould over the top of my meaty filling.

Making the mash and building the pie

With everything covered it was time for my final addition, something I nicked from good old Delia, cheesy leeks.  I sliced up two leeks which I spread on top of my mash pushing them down into the mash to stop them falling off.  I then sprinkled over about 30g of grated cheddar and everything was ready to go in the oven

Ready to go in oven

I bake my pies with the dish placed on top of a baking sheet as this not only catches any drips where the sauce bubbles over (keeping my oven cleanish) but also, I find, makes it easier to get in and out of the oven.  The lot went into the oven for 20-25 minutes on 180°C until the sauce was bubbling and the cheese starting to brown.

Out of the oven and ready to eat

Delicious! And six veg in one meal!


August 16, 2010

Our stack of plates!

My partner and I love sushi – in fact our first date was at a sushi restaurant, something that filled me with fear into me due to my inability to consume sushi with any kind of elegance.  Luckily my inelegance wasn’t a problem and so for a recent special occasion we decided to go to Zushi in Cardiff.  The restaurant is an independent sushi and noodle bar located on the ground floor of what used to be the AA building and is now a block of stylish city flats at the end of Queen Street.

The interior is clean and modern (as is to be expected form a Japanese restaurant!) with the chefs working on their creations in the middle and the conveyor (the first in Cardiff, but we now have a Yo Sushi) transporting them around the restaurant.  You can sit either at the conveyor or in a series of booths, we choose a booth, and the plates range in price from £1.70 for the basic hosomaki and salads up to £3.70 for some of the Sashimi and more elaborate/exotic creations.  The menu can be found here and has a pretty good range and there were also things on the conveyor which didn’t feature on the menu at all.

Salmon Sashimi

In addition to sushi they offer a selection of Ramen, Noodle and hot dishes which read like a mini Wagamamas menu.  We didn’t try these, but I think I would go back sometime to give them a go and see how they compare.

With the opening of Yo Sushi in St David’s 2 Zushi now has some competition.  As a result they have introduced some good value lunch and evening offers.   The evening offer is £13.99 for all the sushi you can eat from the conveyor and also includes miso soup, coffee and ice cream if you want.  Before arriving I was a bit sceptical that this would mean a small selection of low price plates travelling by and I was prepared to have to ask and pay for some pricier items.  Turns out I was wrong.  There was a great selection of plates of all colours, and there was certainly no shortage.  Plenty of hot and cold, meat and fish dishes as well as salads and even desserts.

The sushi was of a high quality and I had no complaints about what we ate (and we ate plenty!).  My only issue at all would be that the restaurant was fairly busy (not a problem for them!) and so occasionally things were all taken before they reached us, but this is just the peril of a conveyor system.  Disappointment at someone having eaten the tuna I had my eye on aside, this was a great deal.  The eat as much as you want (what a great challenge!) meant we could relax and gorge ourselves without having to be scared that we would need a loan to cove the bill, a serious consideration with some other sushi restaurants I’ve visited – it’s so easy to get carried away!

So to sum up; a great restaurant, a really good offer and an enjoyable evening out.  Well worth a visit if you like sushi, especially if you don’t want to spend too much.

Beef, mushroom and beer pie with baby parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli and hassleback potatoes

May 1, 2010

Having two big hungry boys (as well as myself) to feed one evening I decided that only a nice hearty, but fairly healthy, pie would do. I devised a recipe involving some beef, beer and mushrooms.  This I decided to top with some thyme short crust pastry and accompany with some lovely baked baby parsnips, steamed purple sprouting broccoli and hassleback potatoes.

I started by making the pie filling, slowly frying some onions in a little oil until soft before adding the mushrooms, cooking a little more and then setting the lot aside.  Next I rolled my beef in seasoned flour before browning in the pan.  When the meat was sufficiently coloured I chucked the onions and mushrooms back in before adding the beer, an oxo cube and enough water to make sure the meat was suitably covered.  This mixture was then left on a gentle heat for about thirty minutes to reduce and become thick, before leaving it to cool a bit ready for the lid.

Next up, the pastry.  Although I tend to think puff is a step too far for producing at home, I love making my own shortcrust pastry. I have bad circulation and therefore cold hands so I’m naturally not  bad at it.  I think shortcrust is a fairly straight forward thing to make and I love that it’s so easy to add extra flavours making a dish a little more special.  This time, after a good root around in my spice and herb cupboard, I decided to add some dried thyme to the mix.

Once the pastry was resting in the fridge I set about making the potatoes.  I love hassleback potatoes.  They are pretty simple to prepare but they always look impressive on a plate!  I make mine by cutting slices most of the way through my potatoes, brushing with some oil (and garlic depending on the meal) and sprinkling with salt before baking in the oven at 180/200°C for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes – dead easy!  With my potatoes in the oven I assembled the pie and then that to went in the oven till the crust was crisp and brown (about 25 minutes).

Overall I was pretty pleased with how it all turned out.  The pie was really tasty and the only thing I would change would be to cook the filling for even longer before making the pie as the meat was still quite chewy.  The boys seemed to enjoy it and finished the lot so I’ll say it was a job well done.

Beef, Mushroom and Beer Pie with Thyme Pastry (serves 3 or 4, depends if they are hungry boys!)

For the filling:

8 ozs of lean chopped beef or steak (about ¾ inch cubes)

An onion

200g of closed cup mushrooms, quartered

Some seasoned flour

8 fl oz beer/ale

A little water

For the pastry:

2 oz plain flour

1 oz butter

Salt and pepper

½ tsp dried thyme

Water to bind