Last weekend, we gathered around the table yet again for another cook-in dinner with friends. Last month, we had Dad’s braised pork belly and Mum’s chap chye. This time, we settled on Beef Stew and Focaccia. Since there was going to be 10 of us, Dad and I decided to split the work and each cook a portion of stew.
We were initially going to use the exact same ingredients but subsequently, we cooked our own renditions. I was sure a stove-top stew, bubbling over hours would yield a more delicious stew, while Dad was adamant about sticking to his slow cooker.
Natalie’s Beef Stew (For 6 Servings)
700g Chuck Beef, cut into 1.5″ cubes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large onions, chopped roughly
4 stalks celery, chopped roughly
3 carrots, chopped roughly
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tin (415-ish g) diced tomatoes
180ml red wine (I used a bottle from the plane)
500ml beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 tbsp corn flour
- Heat heavy bottom pot on high. Season beef with salt and pepper. Add olive oil and sear beef on all sides. Remove and set aside.
- Add garlic, onions, carrots and celery. Saute until soft (about 5-8min).
- Stir in 2 tbsp of tomato paste and dried herbs. Mix for about a minute.
- Add in red wine to deglaze. Let it cook for about a minute to boil off.
- Then add in beef broth, diced tomatoes, bay leaves and worcestershire sauce. Stir to mix everything together.
- Add beef back in, and make sure they are all submerged under the wet ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 hours.
- Towards the end, add some gravy to cornflour and mix. Once the sludge is smooth, add back to the stew to thicken the gravy otherwise it will be more soupy than stewy.
- Taste. Season with more salt and pepper if needed before serving.
I actually made this on Friday so that the flavours could meld together overnight. Then on Saturday, I reheated and simmered the stew another 2 hours, adding water (you can also use broth) whenever it started to get too thick or dry.
I also made a Mixed Herbs, Roast Garlic, Cherry Tomatoes and Sea Salt Focaccia, as well as a Truffle Oil, Roast Garlic and Mixed Mushrooms Focaccia. Unfortunately, I only had some (very) expired yeast that may have long ago died, so they didn’t quite turn out as well as they should have. They were still edible, just not as light and fluffy as I would have liked.
Zen made a delicious, refreshing salad that included smoked salmon, julienned green apples, cherry tomatoes, avocado and walnuts with a light, dill and chive yoghurt dressing, and we also had a mushroom pizza that Pearl and YJ brought in.
Dinner was finished with a cheese platter and a luscious Tiramisu Cake Pascal bought.
It was another evening filled with meaningful conversation and laughter. Moo managed to join us and it was great seeing him after too long!
Dad and I had a secret little beef stew battle between us, and I think I came out trumps – my stew was wiped out. Dad argues that it’s only because his recipe yielded a bigger quantity though I reckon it’s because stove-top is better than slow cooked. I believe it allows for the layering of flavours, thus creating a deeper, richer, more flavoursome stew.
I love evenings like these, surrounded by my most favourite people! It’s already November and we plan to host a bbq next weekend before all of us start flying around the world for our holidays with it being year-end and all.
I also love lunches with Flo, treating ourselves to something a bit special just because. I mentioned visiting Culina Bistro two weeks ago. Well, last week, after going for Hatha Yoga class together, Florian and I made a repeat visit to the bistro for our much-craved-for oysters.
We stuck to Perle Blanche but had Fine de Claire oysters instead of Bourdeuse. These looked more green, had less texture and a bit more bite. It was nice but still cannot trump the unctuous, plump, meaty Perle Blanche.
We shared a Bouillabaisse which sat in a bisque type soup. We prefer the heartier tomato based kind of seafood stew but this was delicious in its own right.
Still, I wouldn’t say it was the most value-for-money bouillabaisse. I understand that it takes time to make the broth but still, for the price, I’d have expected a greater abundance of seafood. Sure, there was a crayfish, and three nicely seared scallops, but the couple chunks of fish and tiny mussels and clams didn’t make up what we had to pay for it. Unfortunately, seafood and stew together is my weakness and we would have ordered it anyway on one of our visits, if not this one. So, it was nice, just that you can get heartier renditions for a better price elsewhere in my opinion.
Also, service this time was incredibly slow. It wasn’t so much the staff at front-of-house, I think the kitchen was flooded with orders perhaps. As such, food took their time to reach us. Our bouillabaisse commanded a 45min wait and the starter of grilled octopus with potatoes was only served half an hour after our main, and after we had asked after it. We were told that our order may have gone to the wrong table, hence its absence on ours… Hmm…
Thankfully, where they lacked in time management they made up for with good execution of the handling and cooking of the octopus. We were treated to a nice, meaty, succulent tentacle that was sweet and yielding to the bite. There was a slightly crisp on its exterior that made it all the more delightful.
Unfortunately, the long waiting time for food to be served marred this experience at Culina Bistro. There was no service recovery whatsoever which was disappointing. We’d like to think it was an off day seeing that our first visit was amazing. Florian and I will probably opt for a seat at the bar where we were placed the first time, if we return again. Our reason being that staff at the bar have to be more attentive since they pretty much have nowhere to escape to while we wait to be served. Haha.
Anyway, it was still a wonderful day we had together and I’m truly blessed to have a husband willing to cater to my whims and fancy for seafood. When he saw my eyes light up at someone else’s bouillabaisse as we made our way to the table, he quickly decided we were having that – Even though I know that my man generally prefers his meats. <3 Thank you mein Schatz!