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More Gravy, Please

>> Friday, April 18, 2008

Shadow

Summer Shadow on My Balcony

My first ever dinner in Australia was with a lovely Australian family in Port Melbourne. They were so nice and tried to cater for my Asian palates by preparing fried rice and spring rolls. I felt so welcomed by their hospitability but not the food. It was almost inedible actually (the rice was uncooked and the spring rolls had some strange smell to them). But the next dinner was something totally different. It was my first time trying roast beef with some pan-fried potatoes and steamed green beans. Oh my, and it was really delicious. I guess I wasn’t a particular foreign student, since I could eat almost everything. (Some Asians don’t touch lamb (!!!) or anything too rich). And the next two years living in such lovely homestay, roast dinner has become something I truly embrace.

Despite the love for roast beef (and lamb in that matter), I have rarely made it since I gain my ‘independence’ (i.e. living by myself, not under any ‘family control’). However, as colder days approach, I feel a real craving for some nicely cooked roast dinner. So here it comes….

Roast Beef

But what makes great roast? The meat? Or for me personally, it is the gravy. Real gravy made from the roast vegetable and the burn bits from the roast. Just quickly deglaze the roast pan with some red wine, then add the hot steamy stock (or even simply water), a bit of boiling to reduce the sauce and the flavours come out so wonderfully. Have a taste and I wonder why I even bother with tasteless package gravy.

Yes, I have a heart for real gravy. In the recipe I use today, the quality of the vegetables really makes the difference. And don’t forget those tiny sprigs of thyme whose fragrance does bring the whole dish to a new level. How simple, how marvelous. Packed with flavours, I am sending this entry to the gorgeous Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook who is our host of Weekend Herb Blogging this weekend.

Before leaving you with the recipe, I would like to apology for the quality of the roast photos. I seldom take photos with food these days (no time!) and it seems like I have lost the touch with it.Oh well, hopefully it will come back soon. :)

Roast Beef

Based on a recipe by Shannon Bennet.

Ingredients

1 piece of Scotch fillet piece, about 1 kg, rolled and tied (or you can use other cuts which are suitable for roasting)

Salt & Pepper

Some olive oil

1 head of garlic, halve across

1 small carrot, roughly chopped

1 celery stalk, roughly chopped

1 leek, white part only, roughly chopped

8 sprigs of thyme

2 bay leaves (fresh if possible)

1.5 tbsp plain flour

200ml red wine

500ml beef stock or plain water

To serve: pan-fried potatoes, steamed beans (up to you!)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Put a large roasting tray over med high heat on top of the stove.
  2. Generously season the beef with salt & pepper. When the tray is hot, add oil and then the beef. Pan-roast the beef until dark and caramelized all sides. Add the veg to the tray, cook until they have some color, then the herbs.
  3. Roast in the oven for about 45 mins (a meat thermometer is handy here).
  4. Remove the tray from the oven. Cover the beef with foil and rest it for about 20 mins,
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the gravy by putting the roasting tray over med high heat on top of the stove. Sprinkle some plain flour all over, cook the flour, then add the red wine, scraping all the caramelized pieces off the base. Reduce the liquid by two-thirds. Then, add hot stock. Bring to the boil and reduced by half. Check seasoning.
  6. Save all the meat juices from the foil and add to the gravy. Strain, discard solids. Keep warm.
  7. Slice the beef to serve with the gravy, potatoes and veg.

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Where have you been?

>> Thursday, April 03, 2008

Mango Soufflé with Passionfruit Topping

That’s the question some have asked me during my absent period. I have been really busy with lots and lots of things. Just a few days back, I accomplished the first hurdle in my PhD life – the confirmation. Months of preparation, and a presentation that went rather well, I am happy to reach another stage in life… How’s life without blogging? I did miss blogging indeed, but focusing with the issues at hand was also important. Part of that was the solution of healthier eating, adapting new habits, learning more new things about life. A lot of new discoveries really.

Now that I am back, there will be certain changes to this blog. Slowly. There are several dishes I haven’t featured here from last month or so. Gradually it will appear, as also the case with the new pattern of cooking in which I have become rather passionate about.

Before anything else though, I would like to dedicate this entry for a wonderful event called “A Taste of Yellow” hosted by a lovely lady, Barbara of Wino and Foodie. This is the second year this event is on, raising the awareness for cancer. Last year I participated with the savoury polenta based empanadillas. This year, my entry comes in the form of a fruit – the beautiful mango…

Mango

To use the lovely fragrant fruit, I decide to try making mango soufflé. This is my second attempt, and the first true success. My first attempt with the chocolate one didn’t go that well. But this one is totally different. I like the fruity flavours in soufflé much better I think. The lightness in texture, the fruitiness in flavours from mango and passionfruits, all combined to become a fantastic treat indeed.

I have listed the recipe here for everyone interested to try. However, do remember to check out other dishes featured in the round up of “A Taste of Yellow”.

Mango Souffle

Mango Soufflé with Passionfruit Topping

Based on a recipe by Michael Roux

Ingredients (for 4)

30g butter, softened

170g sugar

250ml milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 egg yolk

25g potato flour

105ml Grand Marnier

100g very ripe mango flesh, diced

7 egg whites

Passionfruit pulp, to serve

Method

  1. Brush the inside of 4 souffle (10cm in diameter) dishes with butter. In each cup, put in 30g sugar, swirl around and remove the excess sugar. Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat to 180C
  2. Heat milk in a small pan, add 20g sugar and bring to the boil. Remove from heat.
  3. Put egg and 10g sugar in the bowl and whisk to a ribbon consistency. Add potato flour. Whisk till smooth. Pour the boiling milk to the mixture, add vanilla extract, whisk as you go and return to the pan. Bubble over low heat for 2 mins then add 75ml of Grand Marnier. Pour into another bowl and set aside. This is the pastry cream.
  4. To prepare the mango, melt 30g sugar in a non-stick pan until caramelized. Add the mango and the rest of Grand Marnier. Cook for 1-2 mins. Set aside. (The soufflé can be prepared before hand up to this step).
  5. To prepare the egg whites, beat until soft speak. Then, gradually add in the sugar (80g) and continue to beat until firm but not stiff. Mix 1/3 of the egg white into the pastry cream the gently fold the rest into the pastry cream. Be gentle so you won’t loose any air bubbles.
  6. Fill the egg mixture half way in the prepared bowls. Spoon the mango mixture into the soufflé mixture, then, top up with the egg mixture. Run a knife around the edge of the dish to draw the soufflé top away from the edge. Immediately put into the oven and bake for around 8-10 mins.
  7. Serve immediately with some passionfruit pupl or simple dust them with icing sugar.

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