Dec 30, 2013

Food Experiment #4: Roast Beef With Cider Marinade

When salt and peppa ain’t enough, add alcohol. After all beer goggles make viewees hot and helps population growth nightly (at least our government hopes for that!).

On a foodie note, alcohol also goes with food. I thought: “Why not a wet marinade for a beef roast”?

So armed with meat and little else, I went out on Google and found this Cider Marinated Beef Roast (src: Cooks.com) that piqued my interest.

Did it work?

You’ll Need These Ingredients:

  • 1 beef roast, 2 lbs. (I used Sirloin), tied

Sirloin roast with butcher's twine

Marinade Ingredients

Cider Marinade ingredients

  • 2 cups of Apple Cider
  • 2/3 cups of Salad Oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Onion (1 med.)
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled, smashed, but not completely crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of salt, thyme (I picked up sage, silly me!), whole allspice (no allspice, so I used clove & cinnamon in equal parts), dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of pepper

Instructions and “Did it Work?”

1. Make the Cider Marinade

Chop up the herbs and throw everything into a plastic bag. How difficult can it get?

Cinnamon, Clove, Salt, Sage, Bay Leaf, Mustard

2. Marinade the Beef Roast!

Chuck the roast into the bag and leave in the fridge for more than 4 hours. Turn the roast every 2 hours.

It’s a freaking mess even with a ziplock bag. These two tips will get the most out of your wet marinade in a bag:

  1. Gash the beef. Stick inch-deep holes or slashes all over the beef roast so that the marinade will seep into the beef
  2. Place the bag on a deep dish to catch slippage from the marinade

I noticed that the cider marinade cooks the outside of the beef. If so, how in the world is the marinade of any use? Meathead Goldwyn’s most excellent post “The Secrets And Myths Of Marinades And How Gashing Can Make Them Work Better” is a fairly scientific approach to marinating meats that bring joy to meat geeks.

The end result of the marinating process:

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Marinating

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Marinating (top view)

3. Roast it! 

My reference recipe calls for 20 min in the oven at 220C before roasting again for 36min at 180C. After roasting, take it out and give it 20min of sitting time under an aluminium tent.

Roasting Rule of Thumb: 15min per 450g + 20min @ 180C

The Cider Marinated Beef Roast is on the right side (browned roast).

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Roasting

Once 20min has gone by, start carving the roast into thin slices.

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Carving

Verdict

I thought that the roast was too rare. And I prefer my beef bloody. Perhaps another 15min in the oven would have sealed the deal. Otherwise, it was full of beefy goodness.

Almost success!

Dec 24, 2013

Travel: Best Part of Penang (Part 1)

Isn’t the street food.

It’s finding gems like the graffiti and cast iron cartoons below that make the trip to Georgetown worth while. These tongue-in-cheek cartoons tell Penang’s story in an interesting and appreciable manner that doesn’t seem like a stiff roll of parchment paper.

Of course, their kick ass black as sin coffee helps too.

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Dec 23, 2013

Food Experiment #3: Pumpkin Nog with Cinnamon Rum

Since it’s Christmas, let’s do something noggy for these bleak rainy days. It’s pissing cats and dogs and old gods on us for the entire month.

What to make a nog from?

In the words from the immortal, blankey-wielding Linus, “The great Pumpkin!”

Hence, food experiment #3 (i think!): Pumpkin Nog.

You’ll need:

  • 250g small Pumpkin
  • 250g milk boiled with some Cinnamon
  • 250g Cinnamon-infused rum

 

Pumpkin Nog with Cinnamon Rum Instructions

1. Make the Cinnamon-infused Rum

Add 4 sticks of cinnamon (or whatever amounts that you prefer) to 250g of dark rum. Seal it in a mason jar and leave it in a cool, dark place for 3 days. I chuck my jar in the freezer.

cinnamon rum

2. Make Pumpkin Puree

Slice the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the insides (pretend they’re your enemy’s intestines and guts). Chop up the pumpkin into inch-long cubes.

pumpkin roast

Roast the pumpkin for 15 min. Roast again for 15 min with generous heaps of brown sugar on top of them.

pumpkin roast with sugar

Scoop it out and mush them up.

3. Mix it all together!

Like the title says. Add all the ingredients together and stir until combined. Chill and serve. Keep a bottle of run nearby to pow-wow up the drink.

Image source: Cocktail Times

Verdict

My first try failed. Too much rum, too little blending of pumpkin… it was far too thick and too full of stuff for a cocktail drink.

Back to the drawing board. Although I must say that Pumpkin roasted with brown sugar rocks as a possible dessert.

Dec 17, 2013

My Facebook Friends Like Ang Moh Food

This picture racked up five likes in the span of five minutes.

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Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Egg, taken at Spruce.

Salty, chewy, with an egg dan dan (蛋蛋). Pretty good except that it costs $22 and an OK 250 cal. 

Wunderlust: Cycling Again

I’ve been cycling to and from my workplace nowadays. It takes me 30min because of traffic by family-happy cars.
It’s not easy doing it again – especially with the long layoff working in an ad agency – and the fact that my legs are gimpier than before.
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But I really want to go on a cycling trip again. Quite likely a return to Desaru (like this One man’s Ride from Singapore to Desaru).
Desaru is nothing much. A beach, a couple of resorts and that’s about it. But the point isn’t  sight-seeing or shopping. It’s to exert, ride and unwind. Just what I need.
I think I’ll stay at Penggarang this time round.

View cycling to desaru in a larger map
Maybe during late December when I have time off?
But first, get strong, overhaul the bike and ride.
Preferably into the sunset

Dec 16, 2013

Exercise: Lots of Running and Some Hanging

I lift stuff. But every now and then, I take my bike out for a spin, or whack my punching bag, or run around on the basketball court – despite a gimpy knee.

One of my least favourite exercises, but oh-so-useful, is the Suicide Drill. This is how I feel after 1 set of those drills.

Source: Coloradoan

The Routine:

  • 50 X Hang Cleans
  • 50 X Pull Ups
  • 200 X Push Ups
  • 2 X Suicide Drills (Yup, I’m a wussy)
  • Basketball shooting drills
  • 15 min of bag kicking

Exercise of the day: Suicide Drills

Essentially, it’s a sprint drill where we run/sprint up and down the basketball court: to the foul line and back; to the half court and back; to other foul line and back; and to the other end and back.

It builds cardiovascular strength, agility, blah blah… it does what interval training routines do -- makes you stronger!!! Woot!

A How-To do Suicide Drills – brought to you by a bunch of basketball kids. .

Running Suicide Drills

Dec 13, 2013

Exercise: Hangs into Rest

Woke up ambitious and lifted flat.

I was stoked to do my Hang Cleans but I ran out of gas midway into the first set. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the morning’s exercises. Flat in the middle.

Source: cfnorcalstrengthclub.blogspot.com

Instead of going head to head by lifting and possibly injuring myself, I took a break for the day to recover.

The Routine

  • 30 X Hang Cleans
  • 10 X Shoulder Presses
  • 10 X Bent Over Rows
  • 50 X Deadlifts
  • 15 min Cycling
 

Exercise of the day: Active Rest

Explosive exercises take a lot out of me. I’m pooped, flat and ready to kneel over once I’m done with my sets. That’s why I need rest. But I’m not crazy about sleeping it off like a piglet (although it’s great!).

Hence Active Rest. It seems like an oxymoronic term, but it works. Active Rest is essentially low intensity exercises to “flush out latic acid and send oxygenated blood to the muscles“.

What to do: Do your usual exercises at 30% of weight or intensity. I usually do a bicycle ride on flat ground at a fairly leisurely pace (20km/h) if I’ve sore legs. For sore upper body muscles, I’d do planks and a throw in a few bodyweight push-ups or rows for good measure.

Dec 12, 2013

Because I Like Funny Drawings

And they make me happy. Wahahaha.

More in the link at the bottom.

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box7

box49

Source: http://imgur.com/a/3Kog5

Dec 11, 2013

Exercise: Upper Body + Pylometrics

Been working out for the last few weeks. Today’s workout is easy-peasy after Saturday’s helter-skelter run, hang cleans and an achy-breaky back.

 declined_push_ups

The Routine

  • 200 X Decline Push Ups
  • 60 X Pull Ups
  • 5 X Suicide Drills (700m in all)
  • 38min Biking
  • 15min Bagwork (Roundhouse, Hooks, Jabs & Crosses)

 

Exercise of the day: Push Ups

Push Ups rock. It works the core, chest, shoulders and triceps. The more you do it, the leaner you get. There are so many mind-boggling variations and best of all, you just need a bit of floor space to get going.

I prefer Decline Push Ups (see image above) to work out my upper pectorals and abs. The method’s simple: grab a chair, put your feet on it, place your hands on the floor and push up from the ground.

Easy.

Just a couple of pointers when you’re doing it:

  1. Keep your body stiff. Don’t use momentum or sag your middle
  2. Don’t drop down. Lower yourself slowly

Rock on.

Dec 10, 2013

Cars Parking Baffle Me

I am horribly baffled by cars parking. Drivers endeavour to park as close as possible to the exits and entrances of the building.

I’m seeing this as whenever my girlfriend or father parks their car. To illustrate my point, I’ve taken two photographs from the same spot but shot in different directions.

Shot of cars lined up next to the lift entrance

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Shot of cars away from the lift entrance

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So many parking lots, so little space.

No wonder cars make us fat.

Dec 9, 2013

The Garden City is Pretty but Noisy

cut_grassfrom www.treklens.com

I like living in Singapore. It works. It’s green and quite clean, despite the hiking prices, and surly and superficial population that’s increasingly more foreign.

In keeping with our government’s mantra: all the trees, shrubbery and grass need to be maintained and trimmed back lest they overwhelm our roads, pavements and viaducts.

It makes sense. After all, you would want your tires and paths tangled up by Lalang?

My only issue is the noise – an eminently first world problem – where leaf blowers, grass cutters and the occasional chainsaw slices and tames the quiet greenery.

Noise is jarring and annoying. I lose focus in earshot of buzz saws, bad karaoke, and back-firing cars (yes, we have those in Singapore too).

Ach. First world problems…a never-ending stream of gripes and trivialities.

Dec 2, 2013

Mechoui Lamb

 

Made slow roast Mechoui Lamb over the weekend. I was thinking and dreaming about it through the week. 3 hours of roasting the freaking leg!!!

Unlike my slow-roast beef, this one came out tops. The inside was pink, faintly bloody and oh-so-tender. Better yet, the spice marinade seeped and permeated the lamb leg. Definitely one of my better experiments.

Recipe

Prep time: 20 min

Roasting time: 3.5 hours

  • 1 whole leg of lamb on the bone about 2kg. Chopped up in 3 parts (because I had a small oven)
  • 5 tablespoons of oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, pressed and roughly chopped up
  • 2 tablespoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoons cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric

Simple, no?

Marinating the Leg of Lamb

raw

  • Clean, dry and remove excess fat from your lamb. My butchers are Muslim dudes who do an amazing of prepping the leg. In fact, they chopped up the leg nicely once I told them I wanted to roast it.
  • Stab the lamb with a sharp pointy knife. Space the holes out at decent intervals.
  • Whack all of the ingredients into a bowl. Stir until it’s a paste.
  • Generously smother the lamb with the paste and dig the garlic into the knife holes.
  • Leave in fridge for 6 hours (or better yet, overnight!). Try not to stare too longingly at it.

Roasting the Lamb

in oven

  • Pre-heat the oven to 240C for 30 min.
  • Add lamb to the oven. Add 1 cup of water to the roast pan. Roast uncovered at 240C for 20min to brown the lamb. Sizzle sizzle, baby.  The water keeps the lamb moist and prevents it from drying out.
  • Turn down the heat to 160C. Continue roasting the lamb for 3hours (or 180min). Bast every 60min with the jus and coat the lamb pieces with a little oil. Check that there’s enough water in the pan.
  • Wait patiently. I suggest a thick book like The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 22

Slice, Dice and Serve the Lamb

final

  • Stab the lamb with a fork. If there’s a little blood, it’s OK. Remove and rest the leg of lamb on a plate for 20min. I left it uncovered.
  • Make gravy from the jus in the roasting pan.
    • Add water. Scrape the drippings until it dissolves in the jus.
    • Separately fry onions and garlic and whatever you want.
    • Add the dissolved dripping and bring to a boil.
    • Reduce the fire to a simmer and thicken with cornstarch water.
  • Start carving the lamb up. Steal the odd piece and feel good about your creation. A video tutorial on cutting up the lamb below:
Carving up a leg of lamb with bone in.

Serve to appreciative diners. Open-mouthed smile

Recipe adapted from Moroccan food at About.com. Roasting done with a Convection Oven.

Nov 28, 2013

What Does it Mean to be Singaporean?

A colleague asked: "What is a Singaporean identity? You eat, shop, drink."

ST-Luis Mistades-Defining S'poreImage source: If Only Singaporeans Stopped to Think

I couldn't answer immediately. On reflection -- and listening to Grace Fu on the news -- I thought back to when I left Singapore.  

The Singaporean is someone who speaks with a staccato inflection; who knows bashas, leopard crawling, CSMs, M-16s, and walking around with a shaven head; who knows that having a bit of everything -- prata, lontong, chicken rice, bak kut teh -- is better than just one type of food available to most people; who lives, drinks and chats with Tamles, Mats, and Mungens. 
The Singaporean is a varied bunch. Some hound kids to the tuition centers; some are big losers with big hearts; others guzzle beer while five-tenning another; while many of us slave in florescent-lit offices and catch up with other cubicle mates now and then.  
The Singaporean has played on big stone slides in the heartlands; who cusses, lim chius and sits with a leg up at the hawker centre. Their favourite pastime being the many complaints about cabbies, rain, MRTs and the government; and what is a Singaporean without the lah, leh and hors...correct or not

That's the Singaporean Identity

It isn't about race. It's about the things that are meaningful to us -- part experiences, part people, mostly memory. 

My parent's conception of a Singaporean identity is quite different from mine, and my grandparent's view is vastly alien from mine too. Regardless we will have shared experiences that binds us together (like reservists bitching about their in-camp training or ah-lians in the latest Lao-beng joint), and these are experiences that we discuss and bitch about fondly and sometimes otherwise. 

I am Singaporean because of them. Not because of a government, or this piece of land, or a vague notion of Singaporeaness.

“What is essential to the growth of a nation is a common history -- common sufferings, common memories, and, it may be added, common aspirations." - H.A.L Fisher

In fact, we can go further.  

It's Disheartening

woman-airportThere are so many people coming in at once. So much so that they overwhelm. They bring their own foods, experiences, lingo and ways of thought here. In Chinatown I see a multitude of Mainland Chinese restaurants springing up to cater to new immigrants from China (apparently there's 1 million Chinese Nationals now), and Chinatown has quite literally become China-town.

That was similar to Lucky Plaza in the beginning of the maid era. But it was a drop in the ocean as compared to the the influx of China nationals. 
Change is inevitable. The old will give way to the newly accepted -- like Chinese opera, colour television, and now mobile internet streaming.  

It's OK... no, not really.

All I can do is say: To the many who will arrive in Singapore to work, study, turn a quick buck, or perhaps nest, please fit in. Please share. Please receive. Be good.

But do not expect us to bow to your sensibilities…like this ex-colleague of mine.

Nov 27, 2013

Eating My Way Through KL & Penang (Part 2b: Everything Else)

Penang’s a Chinese-ified city with lots of Chinesey food that I can get in Singapore. As with regional differences, dishes with the same name might not be cooked in the same way – like Char Kway Teow or Lor Mee.

Regardless, food is food. When in Penang (or anywhere else), eat like siao*.

Nasi Kandar

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The Indian version of the Nasi Padang, Nasi Campur or Economic Rice. Pick from whatever meats and vegetables – sometimes stir-fried, often curried or sizzled – and chuck them onto your plate of rice. Douse with slaps of mutton curry, licks of beef something, drizzles of some dark gravy with mussels in it. That’s Nasi Kandar.

Sounds better than it tastes. But I find it too heavy for my liking

Nasi Kandar Line Clear
177 Jalan Penang

Bak Chang (Meat Rice Dumpling)

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Apparently these stuffed rice dumplings are da bomb in Penang. They serve Hokkien, Cantonese and some “Golden” rice dumpling that suspiciously resembles a Hokkien dumpling on steroids. Soft, savoury, not too oily, and the accompanying sweet dark sauce was surprisingly apt for this dumpling. Not my kind of dumplings but I much prefer the Cantonese versions.

Cintra Food Corner
Lebuh Cintra

Char Kway Teow

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Penang’s pride and joy. Flat rice noodles fried with lots of bean sprouts, cockles, oil and wrapped in an egg. Salty, not sweet. Not enough wok hei (smoky taste), but worth a wolf-down snack.

Some Coffeeshop that also sells solid Penang Coffee
Lebuh Kimberly

Beef Satay

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This is good. Facing the sea, pieces of charcoal-fired beef and drippy which I dip into peanut sauce. Best.

Food Court Facing the Sea
Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakah

Grilled Fish with Sambal

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When facing the sea, must eat something from it, Like fish, or mermaids. Tangy, powerful chilli slathered on grilled fish. Very much like the seafood stuff that comes out from Newton Circus, but much cheaper.

Food Court Facing the Sea
Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakah

Everything Else Verdict

I think I went to all the wrong places in Penang. Regardless, that’s a snapshot of Penang food. The only real difference between that and Singapore lies in a few tweaks here and there.

Next time, I’m heading up along the East Coast of Malaysia.

* siao = mad

Nov 26, 2013

Banana Salad (Issan, Thailand)

A first for me.

This Banana Salad uses young tart bananas and fermented field crabs. It’s an acquired taste that isn’t for everyone but it works wonders with sticky rice.

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Watch out for rumblings in the stomach – the little chilli padis in the mix are billowing fireballs in their own right.

Where to eat

Golden Mile Shopping Complex

Some Issan restaurant on the middle of the first floor

Nov 25, 2013

Slow Roast Beef

Decided to break out the oven to do some roasting for the heck of it. Since I’m a beef person, I thought I’d make a slow roast beef (3 hours of roasting on low heat) just to see how it turned out.

Find Out How to Do It

Google rocks big time. I used this 3-hour roast beef recipe from SimplyRecipes.com and modified it on the cut of beef that I was getting.

Buy & Marinate the Beef

No beef. No roast. I bought a 1.6kg slab of sirloin with fat on the top. So I could leave it to cook without basting it every hour or so.

Pat it dry. Massage salt and Szechuan peppers into the roast, and stick slices of garlic into the roast.

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Cook the Roast!

Easy. Turn up the temperature to 180C and let it sizzle for 20min. Then slowly cook it for 180min at 100C. Just leave it alone. Seriously. Don’t touch that dial! The below picture is the end product, I had to turn up the temperature to 250C for 3min to brown the fat.

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Rest, Cut, Serve, Eat

Extract and rest the roast for 20min. Then slice it up for dinner chomping! Feeds up to 5 moderate eaters.

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Next Cooking Experiment

This little experiment is turning me onto cooking again.

I’m doing another roast over the next weekend. I’m thinking Moroccan Lamb with Laotian Tomato-Chilli Dip, Creamed Spinach and flavoured baked rice.

Rock on.

Nov 20, 2013

Eating My Way Through KL & Penang (Part 2a: Breakfast)

Two days in Kuala Lumpur and I’m antsy. Hop on a night train and I’m in Penang by 7am, 30 minutes after the ferry sailed across the channel from Butterworth to Georgetown.

Why Penang? Why not? I once passed by Penang a few years back, liked the little place, and thought it was quaint, quiet and kind of crumbly.

Still do actually.

But I do think that Penang food is somewhat better than Kuala Lumpur. And here’s the breakfast edition as per the morning step off the boat.

Kopi-O Ais

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This rocks. Thick, syrupy, rich and buttery. I’d swap any Starbucks for this awesome cuppa coffee any day.

Ubiquitous 
Any self-respecting Penang coffeeshop should have it.

Fried Carrot Cake, Dim Sum, Chee Cheong Fun

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The dim sum’s forgettable. Fried Carrot Cake is extremely thirst-inducing. The Chee Cheong Fun was pretty good quality actually. Freshly made with a serving of shallots and chilli on the top.

Open Space at Chowrasta Market
Somewhere on Jalan Chowrasta

Dim Sum

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One of the better dim sums that I’ve had in Malaysia. I’m rather disappointed that the food came in steel steamers instead of bamboo steamers. Somehow it detracts from the taste, and screws up the dim sum skin. Big draw – drinking pot after pot of Chinese tea for cheap.

Restoran Tho Yuen
92 Jalan Campbell

Curry Mee

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Curry laden with Coconut milk and a whole bunch of stuff that I’ve not had in Singapore since forever – Pig’s Blood! Not too spicy, plenty lemak, and bloody greasy. A friggin small bowl but it filled me up for Breakfast.

A tip: Get some You Tiao to mop up the curry gravy.

Coffee shop at Chowrasta Market
Somewhere on Jalan Chowrasta

Breakfast Verdict

OK only, lah. But when hungry, eat lor.



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