Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I cooked: Roast beef

One of my absolute favorite things to cook and eat is roast beef. We have it almost every alternate Sunday in the UK. Nothing beats a good ol' Sunday roast.

I was excited about cooking roast beef again in KL, but at the same time, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find a good roasting joint in the supermarkets here. Thankfully, there are good quality beef around here and we have so far enjoyed several fantastic roast beef dinners.

Roast beef
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Serves 4

Small beef roasting joint, preferably rib eye or striploin (approx. 1 kg )
Olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper
1 small onion, halved

1. The beef should be removed from the refridgerator 1 hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature. Keep it wrapped.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

3. Rub the beef with the olive oil, salt and pepper all over.

4. Place the joint in a roasting tin on top of the onion halves. The onion will caramelise as the beef cooks and give a lovely flavour and colour to the gravy. (*Tip from Delia Online)

5. Place the roasting tin in the preheated oven and cook for 5 mins per every 100g of meat for medium rare doneness.

6. While the beef is cooking, remove it at least twice and baste the meat with its own juices to keep everything moist and succulent.

7. Remove the beef from the oven, transfer to the carving board and cover with foil to allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

8. Any juices should be poured into the gravy, it makes all the difference to your gravy!

Carving the beef

Steamed brocolli florets

Dinner is served

9. Best served with roast potatoes, steamed vegetables and lots of gravy.

10.Or if you prefer, serve the carved beef with mashed potato, steamed vegetable and gravy.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I baked: Carrot cake

Deliciously moist carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting.

Carrot cake
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes 8 slices

1 tbsp butter for greasing
125g self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
100ml olive oil
125g carrots, peeled and finely grated
1 banana, roughly mashed
25g walnuts, chopped
walnut pieces, to decorate

For the frosting
4 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
50g soft or cream cheese
225g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2.Lightly grease a 20cm square cake tin with a little butter and line with baking paper.
3. Sift the flour, salt and ground cinnamon into a large bowl and stir in the brown sugar. Add the eggs and olive oil to the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the grated carrot, mashed banana and chopped walnuts.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until just firm to the touch.

5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
6. Meanwhile, make the cheese frosting by beating the butter, soft cheese, icing sugar and lemon juice together in a large bowl until fluffy and creamy.
7. Turn the cake out of the tin and cut into 8 slices.

8. Spread with the frosting and decorate with walnut pieces.

Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee or tea. :-)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Young Cheng Restaurant, London

I was adamant not to dine in a Chinese restaurant during our trip in London. Especially since I just came from Malaysia, where 6 out of 7 meals consist of Chinese cooking.

Ironically, one very cold evening close to dinnertime, we found ourselves in Chinatown, very hungry and lazy. Yes, cold weather tends to bring out the laziness in us.

There was a very long queue outside Four Seasons Restaurant. On a hot summer's night, I might have joined in the queue for some of the famed roast duck but definitely not tonight. As we walked past some other Chinese restaurants, it was laughable to see the charred meat they tried to sell off as siew yuk.

We headed towards Young Cheng Restaurant, located in one of the back lanes of Chinatown. Only 7pm and the place was packed full of people. This was one of the Chinese restaurants I frequented back in my student days. It is not unusual to find people queuing for a table in the narrow walkway. Luckily for us, a few other couples were finishing their food so we didn't have to wait too long.

A bowl of hot steaming corn and crabmeat soup for Hubby to warm up the body while we wait for our other courses to arrive. One of those soups which you have to eat really quick before it gets cold and become starch-like. (Well, a little like the cheap shark fin soups you get in Malaysia)

One of our must have dishes here is the crispy aromatic duck. Crispy aromatic duck is a variant of Peking duck, which is actually invented by the Chinese community in UK. The flavoursome shredded meat topped with the crispy skin is pure delight. The meat is wrapped in pancake skin, with some spring onions, cucumber and hoisin sauce. It is so good that as soon as I finished one, I wanted another!

Our waiter expertly shredding the duck meat in front of us

My other favorite from this restaurant are the scallops stir fried with mixed vegetables. They were pretty generous with the scallops offering so I left the restaurant a happy woman.

Egg fried rice as accompaniment to the scallops

Service: Efficient.

Price: £25 for two persons.

Location: Young Cheng Restaurant, 22 Lisle Street, London, WC2H 7BA

Nearest tube: Leicester Square

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I cooked: Beef & beans

Well, actually, Hubby made the beef and beans since it is his signature dish and also to give me a break from the kitchen.

This dish is extremely easy to make yet it is delicious to eat.

Beef and beans
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 6 -7 hours
Serves 4-5 persons

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1 can (400g) diced tomatoes
1/2 cup picante sauce (medium)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons Worchester sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
300g braising steak
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can (400g) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Combine the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on 'High' setting for 1 hour. Then, switch to 'Low' setting and cook for a further for 5 - 6 hours. And voila, you've got yourself a hearty and healthy dish to serve the whole family. Serve with white rice and salad.

Note: You can add more chilli powder if you prefer it spicier, but we have toned our recipe down to suit our 18 month old.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I cooked: Lasagne Verde

It feels good to be back in the kitchen after a prolonged absence!

Anyway to mark my return, I have decided to make lasagne, a classic Italian dish which I love to eat but have never attempted to make before. I am delighted to announce that the dish turned out extremely well and we thoroughly enjoyed eating it.

Lasagne Verde
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves 4-5 persons

A. For the Ragu Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
400g beef mince
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
400g can of chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato puree
150ml beef stock
Freshly ground salt and pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, celery, garlic and carrot and fry for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Stir in the beef mince and cook until the mince has browned and is completely sealed.

3. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and stock and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Reduce the heat, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. While waiting, prepare the Bechamel sauce.

B. For the Bechamel sauce
50g butter
50g plain flour
500ml of milk
Freshly ground pepper

1.To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. Stir in the flour gradually.
2. Add the milk, simmer and stir until the sauce has the consistency of "pouring custard".
3. Season to taste with pepper.

c. Assembling the dish
1 tbsp butter, for greasing
6-7 sheets of dried lasagne
4 tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 200°C.

2. Grease a 24cm rectangular ovenproof dish with butter.

3. Spoon half of the Ragu sauce into the dish, cover with 3 sheets of lasagne, then spoon 1/3 of the Bechamel sauce.

4. Spoon the remaining half of the Ragu sauce, cover with the lasagne sheets and remaining Bechamel sauce.

5. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese generously over the top and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 mins until the sauce is golden brown and bubbling.
Lasagne uncooked
Lasagne bubbling in the oven
Lasagne ready for consumption

6. Serve with a salad of cherry tomatoes, avocado, red peppers, yellow peppers and cucumber drizzled with olive oil.

Lasagne upclose

Hope you enjoy making and eating it as much as I did!
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