Sunday, February 24, 2013

Beef stew

Today, like almost everyday, was rainy and blustery. I love meaty stews on cold winter days. I want to make the sort of gooey, aromatic beef stew they'd serve in Winterfell.

Although, I don't think I loved this stew. It was more high maintenance than expected. Without a stir every 10-15 minutes, a gross, thick skin formed and the soup formed a crusty burnt bottom. And after 2.5 hours of simmering the meat was still not as tender and flaky as I wanted. What a bummer. I'd experiment with beef stew more, but it takes a lot of time and money. The butcher meat was the same price as Tesco's - £7. For that price and 3 hours of work, I'm probably better off cooking something else.

Recipe: Beef Stew
Adapted from The Kitchn

Serving size: 2-3 people


  • 700g stewing beef
  • 1-2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tbs Worcester sauce
  • 1/2 tps salt
  • 110 g (1/2 cup) red wine
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 675 - 900g (3-4 cups) chicken stock
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 300g potatoes (any floury variety)

  1. Cube the beef. Try to make them approximately the same size so they cook evenly.
  2. Bring a large pot to medium high heat. Pour 1-2 tbs vegetable oil - make sure it's hot before you put in the beef. Work in multiple batches if necessary, so you don't crowed the pot. The meat should make a satisfying sizzle when it hits the oil. Be patient. Let the meat get nice and seared.

    Note: if the crust at the bottom of the pan starts smoking, add a few tbs water! Don't let your pesky fire alarm go off.
  3. Transfer the seared meat to a separate plate. Reduce the heat to medium. Add another tbs oil. Cook the onions until translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds - be careful of burning it!
  4. Add tomato paste, Worcester sauce; stir. Add flour.
  5. Deglaze with red wine. Scrape bottom of pot.
  6. Bring heat to low. Simmer for 1.5 hours. Add potatoes and celery. Simmer for another 30-45 minutes, until potatoes and meat are very tender.
  7. Note: Stir OFTEN. I neglected the pot so the bottom burnt and a thick skin formed. I learned to stir it at least every 15 minutes, if not more. This was annoying.
  8. Serve with beer and fresh parsley.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tea time at Gorgeous

Gorgeous, a cafe in St Andrews, makes the best scones I've ever had. They're my perfect scone: chunky, dense but not too heavy, chewy, and adorned with dried fruit. Did I say that they're huge too? I love their crunchy, craggy exterior. Seriously. They're flawless.

Before Christmas break they had comfy leather sofas in their charming sitting room upstairs from the main takeaway area. It was so cozy and there usually wasn't anyone else there. It was my favorite place in town to catch up with a friend. The sofas are gone now. It's a tragedy.

It's a must go if you're visiting St Andrews.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Winters at home and abroad

Lasted a whole day.

Winter in St Andrews is weird. It doesn't snow here. It's not even cold really. I read Bill Bryson's book, Notes from a Small Island, in senior year before I moved here and took his view that British people are obsessed about the weather with amusement and skepticism. 

But he's right. 1 centimeter of snow - that melts after no longer than a day - and the weather forecasters are out blasting grave warnings to travelers like it's the end of the world. Trains are delayed for hours, everything's a mess, and every public service is incompetent. In times like this I get sooo self righteous and American. I don't know where it comes from. I don't have an ounce of patriotism, but then I'm all "This would NEVER happen in Minnesota" or "You need to import a Minnesotan to clean up this mess."

It's something about being abroad. I never knew I was so American. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

My first roast

I'm afraid of failure. I avoid it as much as possible. This kind of fear is self-defeating and crippling. In most situations I can be pretty brazen, but when it comes to the possibility of failure, I freeze or run away. This applies to big things, like taking the first steps towards what I really want to do, and little things, like cooking chicken.

I've been wanting - but afraid of - doing a roast for ages. And I finally did it this week. Together we ate the entire chicken at once so it wasn't all that economical. Considering how much work went into this chicken, I hoped that it would be better than any meat I've ever made, but it wasn't. Buttermilk roast chicken, from Smitten Kitchen, was way simpler and tastier. I loosely followed Ina Garten's recipe for perfect roast chicken with a ~6% brine.

P.S. One of the best essays I've ever read was by Marina Keegan. It's called the Opposite of Loneliness. It was published before she graduated from college and not long after she passed away from a car accident. It's unspeakably tragic. I connected very much with this essay of hers and I keep these lines as a motto for myself:
What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. We're so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Weeknight Quickie: Bangers and Mash

Bangers + mash: very easy & classic British foodh.

Foodh? Foodh is the way my Scottish friend pronounces food. It's so cute. I say it all the time now. Fewdh fewdh fewdh! The hard -dh even applies to my name depending on who's saying it. Sudah Sudah Sudah! 

I try to support the local businesses as much as I can so it's with guilt that I admit that these sausages are from Tesco. I know the quality is loads better at the butcher although slightly more pricey. But time and convenience wins out some nights. Student life.

Bangers and mash is soul food. And student food. And hangover food at that. It's so simple to throw some sausages on the grill then mash up some potatoes with an outrageous chunk of butter, generous sprinkles of salt, and a glug of milk. 

This is some damn good lazy foodh.

xo Sudah