RECIPE: “Roast” Beef

One of my missions when I went to New Jersey for a visit was to be able to recreate the dishes my parents were famous in my family for. It may seem so simple, but really it’s not. Our NJ family has had this recipe for years! They were just too um, busy to execute them. So naturally, with my visit, they requested that I teach them how to make those dishes. One of those was “roast” beef.

This recipe was originally from Tita Pinky, whose love for cuisine only grows through the years.  With ovens that are stuffed with Tupperware and microwaveable containers and a deep-seated desire for boldly flavored meat, you can easily spot where the need for this recipe came about.

There are air quotes on “roast” because we don’t really roast it; it takes far longer to do that. It’s a stove-top dish that is sure to hit the right spot for all carnivores in the family. Oh and it comes with really good mushroom gravy too.

To be honest, I am quite hesitant to share this recipe.  A part of me remains selfish and would like to keep things that relate to my father.  But then, I don’t think he would have liked that.

I would like to apologize in advance the lack of while cooking and actual photos of ingredients for this recipe.  When I made this, everything was happening all at the same time — laundry, baby sitting, basement movie dates — that I didn’t have the time to take pictures in between.  No worries, I’ll do my best to describe each step as precisely as possible.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– Around 2lb. US Beef Chuck Roast.  We got ours at A&P for $5.99/lb.

– A whole onion and a whole head of garlic

– Worcestershire sauce.  I am very partial to the Lea & Perrins brand.

– Soy sauce.  I used Less Sodium Kikkoman Soy Sauce for this recipe.

– Half a stick of butter

– 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup

– Mushrooms, sliced and washed

– About 3 tbsp of your choice of brandy (though this is always optional)

 

The first thing you need to do is prep the beef, the onion and the garlic.  Wash the beef and pat dry.  And grab a bowl to soak the beef in; you’ll have to marinate it for some time.  Half of the garlic, you pound and rub on the beef; throw it in the bowl.  The other half, you mince and set aside.  Then mince the onion too, rub it on the beef and throw it in the bowl as well.  Grab some sea salt and rub it on the beef.

Next, grab the two sauces.  Here’s the thing:  there is no exact measurement for the sauces.  It really does depend on your liking, or as long as the beef gets coated with the sauce.  What we usually do is to add equal parts of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.

Get dirty; you’ll have to mix all of the contents in the bowl with your hands to make sure the beef is well coated.  Cover with cling wrap and let it marinate for about 2 hours.  (If you’re adding brandy, mix it in as well.  The brandy adds to the boldness of the flavor.  For those concerned about serving the dish to kids, no worries because the brandy usually gets cooked off in the process, but you may also choose to not add this in as well.)

Next, grab a frying pan and heat it up, as in slightly smoking hot.  Take the beef out and sear all sides, as if sealing the marinate in the middle.  Be careful to not cook it too much though, but do not ever skip this step.  Searing the beef makes your dish cut-able for presentation purposes.

After searing, grab a pot big enough to fit your beef in.  Then, toss in the pot the mixture the beef marinated in.  If the remaining amount is too small, just add equal parts of Worcestershire and soy sauces.  In my experience, an additional 2 tbsps would do.  Then add water, just enough to cover 2/3 of the beef.  Bring up the heat to medium and boil for 45-60 minutes or until tender.

In the middle of boiling, flip the beef.  I did this at the 20 minute mark.  It would also give you a chance to pinch the meat and season some more, if you wish.  You will notice that the beef is close to being cooked when you can visibly see that fat separating from the marinate mixture.  When cooked to your desired doneness, turn off the heat and take the beef out.  DO NOT THROW AWAY THE MARINATE.

Now, let’s make the mushroom gravy.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir fry the garlic until slightly brown.  Mix in the mushrooms until brown.  Then, mix in about 3/4 cup of the marinate.  Stir slowly as it simmers.  When it does, mix in the cream of mushroom soup.  Stir until well blended.  Serve over the beef or on the side.  Or both.

The thing with the mushroom gravy though is, because of the cream of mushroom, it tends to expire easily.  Sometimes, we would skip the cream of mushroom and just add 1 tbsp of cornstarch mixed in water instead to get the same consistency.  Without the cream of mushroom, it would definitely last longer.

Don’t worry about making so much of the gravy.  I swear it’s really good.  My niece used it over her rice.  Hahaha.  It also goes well with meatballs and pork chop.

You can serve the “roast” beef with garlic potatoes or steamed rice.  Because we’re severely Filipino, we went with rice.

There you have it!  The recipe of ages, at least in my opinion.  Hopefully when we make it next time, I can post and show pictures.

Let me know how this goes for you.

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Greek Salad and Fruit Jar

What’s this?  Actual free time?  Oh my Lord, it must be a miracle!

Celebrating the Day of Valor here in the Philippines last April 9, I found myself avoiding chores and catching up on some of my reading when I remembered buying a buttload of chopped Romaine.  There has to be feta somewhere and aha!  Apetina was there.

Of course I had to forget the pitted black olives and I wonder why.  I usually look forward to that little nugget.  Oh well.

Balsamic vinegar and EVOO check and we’re ready to toss them all up in a glorious Greek-ish salad.

There was so much that I can only pack half of it in my lunch box and the other half, I ate by myself.

Greek Salad

My favorite part in the whole thing is crumbling the cheese.  I have always loved feta’s slightly grainy and then smooth texture.

I was a little overenthusiastic with the vinegar though, and completely forgot about the spices.  Then again, there’s always next time.

Greek Salad
Serves 2

1 bag Dole romaine lettuce, chopped
1 medium cucumber, halved and chopped
50g Apetina feta cheese, crumbled
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T EVOO
Pepper to taste

Mix everything gleefully!

Next up, dessert.

I honestly believe buying these Mason jars from Pretty Little Cravings is so worth it.  We had some leftover melons and grapes, and a couple of canned fruits to boot.  They made a pretty little picture.

Fruit Jar

I usually store these babies in the freezer to maximize its potential.  Plus of course the fact that it’s summer here already and there’s nothing like consuming something cold.

See those juices at the bottom?  Those were actually from the pineapples and the mandarin oranges.  Even though I drained them well, the juice was still there.  It added a lot to the flavor though, and in a way, sweetened up the melon too.

So far, this healthy eating lifestyle is off to a good start.  Then again (Again!? Hahaha.) I got to make all these because I had the time to.  So while I’m still on break from school, I should really make more of these.

How about you?  Do you have any other quick recipes for me to try?  Let me know!

 

Recipe: Cheese Pimiento Spread

I’m not really the go-to authority when it comes to recipes.  I grew up with my parents’ cooking, which is mostly based on approximation and seasoning to taste.  So basically, this is not the hard and fast rule when it comes to making this delicious spread.

I actually created an enemy.  Given that my brother’s wedding will be by the end of the year, I only have so many months to get into the habit of eating right and becoming more religious in exercising.  But there’s an abundant amount of Edam cheese in the fridge and it’s obviously been there since Christmas.  Even though my mom promises to slice it up for us to munch on, it never really came true.

So I dropped by the grocery this weekend and picked up some red pimientos and whole wheat bread.  I figured if she’s not going to do anything about that cheese, I might as well get the hint and start working on it.

The recipe is actually my aunt’s.  I remember her teaching me how to make it way back in 2008 (I stayed with them for an entire year while I work as a creative writer for a noontime show).  I remember it quite clearly:  a little butter for some depth, mayonnaise for spreadability and red pimientos for the taste.

It turned out pretty well actually.  The only hard part was (literally) the cheese itself.  We only had a normal grater so imagine the ages that passed in processing the cheese.  Perhaps it would have been faster if I used a food processor, but you want that light stringy texture.  Nowhere near powdery or fine, but it mixes well with the butter and mayonnaise.

The ball mason jars I got from Pretty Little Cravings proved to be the perfect storage for this spread.  It keeps the spread fresh.

Cheese pimiento in Mason jar

My mom said it needed more pimiento.  I put everything in that small can I bought.  For me, it tastes just right.  You might want to be more careful with the pimiento.  Some spreads end up too red and the pimiento starts to overpower the cheese.  For those who doesn’t have leftover Edam cheese in their fridge, quickmelt cheese would do.

I’ve seen a few recipes where copious amounts of butter and mayonnaise are mixed in, AND THEN still seasoned with salt and pepper.  Mind you, cheese is already rich in sodium, so you might want to rethink the salt and pepper addition.  Moreover, like Joey said, low fat mayonnaise can easily do the job of regular mayonnaise.  Like I said, I haven’t really encountered a hard and fast rule in making this spread so feel free to play around the ingredients listed below.  The amounts indicated are the ones that worked for me.

Ingredients:
300g Edam cheese, grated
1 small can red pimiento, drained
3 tbsp salted butter
3 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise

In a deep glass bowl, grate the cheese to your desired consistency.  Throw in the butter.  (Make sure that your butter is at room temperature.  This will make the mixing  much easier.)  Throw in the mayonnaise.  Dice the drained pimientos finely or to your desired size before throwing it in the bowl.  Using a spatula, mix them all together.  You  may adjust the taste with either salt and pepper, or by adding more butter.  To make it more spreadable, add more mayonnaise.

Cheese pimiento spread

The jar used to be full.  It’s only Day Three and you can tell, I’ve had a little bit too much of it.

How do you make your cheese pimiento spread?  How did yours turn out?

Surviving Day 1

So yesterday was my second Day 1 in Basic Photography.  It was basically a longer version of my actual first day, only with about 21 more people.  It was nice to see everyone, even if I didn’t really come to know everyone.  I guess what I’m saying is, it’s good to be in a roomful of people who share the same enthusiasms as you.

Anyway, I got to listen to Ador go through his lesson again, and it was very very interesting still.  He was right — the jokes are on repeat too!  But yeah, I still laughed at them as if it’s the first time I’m hearing them.

1.1

The class was held in this bunker type space.  I completely fell in love with it the moment I stepped in.  I cannot wait to go back next week!  Hopefully, by then, I would know how to commute and navigate through the area.  I’m thinking of coming in earlier than usual, so I can take photos of the Manila Cathedral.  Even though I’m not Catholic, I cannot deny the kilig I get when I see those old structures standing with such magnificence.  It’s aching to be photographed.

I’m quite ecstatic right now because these classes really remind me of what I really love.  It’s not a bad distraction actually from the drama I’ve subjected myself this year.

So after my first Monday class, I went out for lunch and took a couple of practice shots.  No edits, just a watermark.  What do you think?

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1.3

1.4

1.5

These photos were taken at Cibo, Greenbelt 5 last Wednesday, June 12.

Did I get you guys hungry? :p

Nine days

Hi Tatay.

In nine days, you would have turned 60.  I was actually planning a big celebration for you, just us.  I made reservations at Sofitel Manila for an overnight stay and booked a table for 5 at Spiral for your birthday dinner.  You were very excited to become a senior citizen; its perks are quite nice.  But what really motivated me to do that was your enthusiasm for good food that I can’t seem to catch until we ate at Vikings, Mall of Asia to celebrate my 27th birthday.

The kitchen was your domain.  Some may argue that it should be the garage.  You are quite the handyman.  But your ingenuity and brilliance didn’t come with elbow grease and wrenches — they came with spices and butter, fresh seafood and choice cuts, greenest greens and sweetest fruits.

You, my father, had filled our bodies with so much nourishment.  I learned from Nanay that you always felt you’ve failed to provide for us.  You have never been more wrong.  No one has satiated our life more than you did.

I miss you each time I walk in the kitchen.  In any kitchen, for that matter.  Oftentimes, I hate myself for even attempting to cook the dishes you made; I know they will always be cheap replicates.  I regret not going with you to the market or not giving you enough money to get whatever you wanted in the market.  I should have watched you more closely, inhaled deeply, so as not to lose the aroma of what you’re making.  I should have followed you around, wrote down what you did in recipe cards (that you loathe so much), just so we’d have a semblance of your inspiration lying around.

My children shall miss so much as they will not have the privilege to taste your cooking.

As I count down to your 60th birthday, and I know it is too much to ask from someone who has passed, please make me better in the kitchen.  I know no other way to honor you but to serve the people we welcome in our home — family, relatives, visitors, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, what have yous — with the food you so carefully and thoughtfully made, filled with so much passion and love, that the scent of the pan is enough for the soul to consume.

I miss you every day.  I hurt every day.  I love you every day.  And every day will never be enough.

9 days