Sunday, 22 May 2011

Jools's Favourite Beef Stew

I have totally lost track on the cookbook challenge. I'm being too busy during weekends and recently very poorly organised. Plus all the extra time travelling to work doesn't help at all. I'm so behind that I'm not sure should I still continue or skip the themes I miss. Plus I will be away for 7 weeks in 3 months time. Definitely don't see myself stepping into the kitchen during the 7 weeks other than helping mum to do some cooking or washing. But I did mention to Mr. I'm thinking of documenting our vacation journey as I didn't manage to do it last year. Even suggested to split the load. I can concentrate on food and he on diving + places we travel. Should we? Good idea? Hope with IPhone + IPad + Macbook we won't have any more excuses :P

Back to food, last month we already experienced some cold weather in Melbourne. During such weather, I always hope to have a hearty meal and stew will pop into my mind. It's easy to  cook, minimum preparation, just dump everything into a big pot, slide into the oven.

Found this recipe from 1 of the Jamie Oliver's cookbook that I owned. I was wondering which to try as there are two very similar recipes in this book. In the end, chosen this because I had never cooked parsnip or even tasted them before. A good chance to give it a go.


Cookbook : Jamie's Dinners
Author : Jamie Oliver

Jools's Favourite Beef Stew
serve 4

Olive oil
A knob of butter (skipped it, don't think it makes too much different)
1 onion,peeled and chopped
A handful of fresh sage leaves (got it from my herb garden)
800g stewing steak or beef skirt,cut into 5cm pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour, to dust
2 parsnips, peeled and quartered (might had cut it too small )
4 carrots, peeled and halved
1/2 a butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly diced
Optional: a handful of Jerusalerm artichokes, peeled and halved (skipped this as well)
500g small potatoes
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1/2 bottle of red wine
285ml beef or vegetable stock (does beef cube count?)
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated (ran out of lemon at home)
A handful of rosemary, leaves picked (got this from my herd garden as well)
1 clove of garlic,peeled and finely chopped (Australian garlic which I love!!!)

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Put a little oil and your knob of butter into an appropriate sized pot or casserole pan. Add your onion and all the sage leaves and fry for 3 or 4 minutes.


Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour,then add it to the pan with all the vegetables, the tomato puree, wine and stock, and gently stir together.





Jool's Favourite Beef StewJamie Oliver - Jamie's Dinners

Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and just a little salt. Bring to boil, place a lid on top, then cook in a preheated oven until the meat is tender. Sometimes this takes 3 hours, sometimes 4 - it depends on what cut of meat you're using and how fresh it is. The only way to test is to mash up a piece of meat and if it falls apart easily it's ready. Once it's cooked, you can turn the oven down to about 110 degrees and just hold it there until you're ready to eat.

Think I overcooked it, left it in the oven for too long. It was a bit too dry when I pulled it out from the oven. Both of us prefer to have more gravy for our bread. Plus most of the vegetable were all mashed up. Can't find any pumpkin, can only see pretty small chunks of carrot and parsnips if you notice on the 1st photo. It's still a nice and hearty stew regardless. Will try experience more stew recipes this winter :-)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


I heard so much about this place, the history, the French Onion Soup, Steam Mussels, Cream Brulee etc. But haven't had much luck getting a table (earlier table). The place is constantly packed regardless of day and time! Yes, I wasn't organised enough but with friends not finishing work on time 99% of the day(Yes! Even worst on weekend) contributed a lot for disorganising :P

Sunday night wasn't any different. It was a pretty last minute confirmation that we were going France-Soir for a "farewell" dinner. Made the booking in the afternoon and earliest table available for 8 was at 9:30p.m.

I had to break my own rule for not staying out late on Sunday night. Because as I need to start my day very early on weekdays, I try to sleep early on Sunday night and be fresh on Monday morning so that I can survive thru the long week. But I definitely didn't regret breaking my own rule!

It wasn't easy to decide what to order. I want to try almost everything! In the end to avoid wasting food, Mr and me decided to order 2 Entree, 2 Main and 1 Dessert.

Mr. and me definitely tasted more than we ordered but I'm only going to write the dishes we ordered.

We started the dinner with the famous French Onion Soup and Grilled Scampis with Lemongrass.

Soupe a l'ognon gratinee
Soupe a l'ognon gratinee - The soup was deep brown colour, thick with lots and lots of onions and melted cheese on the top. It was full of flavour and not too saltish(I like it). I generally find that soup served in cafe and restaurant is too saltish for my taste bud. Every spoonful was filled with lots of onions! I was beginning to wonder how much onions do they used for each meal service? How many onions were in that bowl of soup? I hope the onions were all peeled and sliced by machine. Doubt any kitchen hand can handle so much peeling and slicing of onions in 1 day.

Langoustines grillees a la citronelle
Langoustines grillees a la citronelle - Scampis were very fresh and cooked to perfection with a hint of lemongrass. I even ended up using bread to sock up all the sweet delicious juices left on the plate.

Mr. had the usual: Medium to Raw Steak with Wild Mushroom Sauce. It also came with a basket of skinny chips which all of us can't help but kept helping ourselves into it.

Filet de boeuf-280g
Cote de boeuf (Rib-Eye)

Wild mushroon/cream
Wild mushroon/cream

Filet de boeuf-280g
Rib-Eye Steak - The steak was more medium rather than medium to raw which Mr. loved and preferred but that didn't spoilt his meal. It wasn't too char grilled on the outside which I liked.  The steak was still very tender and full of flavour. Mr. definitely enjoyed his steak a lot.

I had the Half Roasted Duckling with Orange Sauce.  I was between choices and told myself I wouldn't go wrong with Duck. French makes fantastic duck isn't it?

Demi-Caneton roti, a l'orange
Demi-Caneton roti, a l'orange - The duck was cooked perfectly! As you can see from the picture, it wasn't dry and still pink on the inside. At first I though it's going to be hard trying to debone the duck drumstick. But I was totally wrong! The meat just fell off the bone. I didn't feel any slight oiliness in this meal even though duck usually contains a lot of duck fat/oil under the skin.

We did order 3 sides to share but I only took 2 as the other was Butter Lettuce with Blue Cheese Dressing. I don't take blue cheese so I left it out. But others enjoyed the salad a lot. France-Soir is very generous with their blue cheese.

Green Peas, Carrot and Bacon Lardons , Sauteed Mushrooms
Green Peas, Carrot and Bacon Lardons , Sauteed Mushrooms - Don't be deceived by the look. Although the peas doesn't look appetising but it taste delicious! The Mushroom was fat and juicy. Both sides looks easy to prepare but I doubt so. The easier/simpler it is, the more challenge it is to make it taste better.

Finally we ended the dinner with
Creme Brulee
Creme Brulee - It was served in a pretty shallow flat dish. The sugar top crust wasn't very burn unlike other places. Is it because we were the only table left? But that didn't affect the silky smooth creamy creme brulee. Someone even pointed out the sides wasn't over cooked unlike a lot of other creme brulee we tried. I totally agreed. There isn't any texture different if you compare the creme surrounding the sides of the dish and in the middle of the dish. Anyone has any clue????

Creme Brulee

It was Great Food and Fantastic Company! Service was pleasant although there was a man who was drunk, singing out loud in restaurant but that didn't spoilt our lovely dinner.

I can't wait to go back and try more of the other dishes!

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