Bread in a clay baker

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I have been baking bread in a cast iron Dutch oven, but the loaves are round because of the shape of the pot, and I don't find them completely suitable for sandwiches. But I got a Romertopf unglazed clay baker ~ don't think it was ever used ~ from a thrift shop in San Jose on my last trip to California. Brand new, it's priced at US$59 plus shipping. I got it for just an odd cent over US$4, and carried it home as hand luggage safely bubble-wrapped. How's that for a bargain? I baked an Italian semolina loaf in it yesterday. Had a toasted cheese and mango chutney sandwich this morning.

Four-times-the-coconut doughnut

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Having consumed all manner of the edible parts of a coconut probably since I was a baby, coconut surely flows through my veins. So when I saw the picture for Top Pot Triple Coconut Donuts at Saveur, I had to make it. But an addict never has enough coconut, so mine has four types. Instead of the melted butter of the original recipe, I used coconut oil. It's also used to shape the doughnuts before frying. I didn't use the oil for deep frying though. That would have been over the top even for me.

Asian-style braised beef with orange and yam

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I made this dish months ago. It was for an article on how to use up Mandarin oranges left over from Chinese New Year ~ which was in January. Since I had the picture, recipe and a blog that hadn't been updated in a while, I thought why not plonk this in.

Asian-style Braised Beef With Orange
Serves 5-6
2 medium oranges
15 cloves
450g braising steak, cut into 3cm cubes
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp black vinegar
2 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (optional)
1 tsp whole Szechuan peppercorns, ground
1 1/2 tbsp tomato purée
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into wedges
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole star anise
1 beef stock cube
300g yam (taro)
Cooking oil
Celery leaves (daun sup), finely chopped

Wash the oranges well. Dry them and stud with the cloves.
Dab the beef cubes with paper towels to dry them. Dredge them in the flour.
In a bowl, combine the vinegar, soya sauce, rice wine (if using), ground peppercorns and tomato purée.
Heat two tablespoons of cooking oil in a large heavy pot. Fry the beef cubes so they are brown all over. Do this in batches and do not crowd the pan. Remove beef from the pan and set aside.
Drain most of the oil from the same pan and add the garlic and onions. Sauté briefly, then add the combined sauce, cinnamon and star anise. Let it come to a boil and return meat to the pot; add just enough water to cover the cubes.
Stir in the stock cube and drop in the two clove-studded oranges. Cover the pot, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, 60 to 90 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pot now and then so there’s no sticking.
Meanwhile, peel the yam and cut into 1cm-thick wedges.
Scoop out the oranges into a large sieve placed over the pan. With the back of a wooden spoon, press them to extract the juice. Discard the mashed oranges. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning.
Add the yam to the pot, cover and cook until tender, another 10 to 15 minutes.
Sprinkle beef with celery leaves and serve with steamed rice.