Blogging Crisis of Confidence (oh and Beef Rendang)

Well, I’ve been having a bit of a Blogging Crisis of Confidence. I’ve started a new job where everyone is Super Foodie. I mean, really, these chaps know their stuff. These are people who actually age their own cheese. Who can taste the difference between French Charente butter and supermarket Lurpak. Who know what to do with a crystalised rose petal…
And to be honest, in the face of such massive expertise, I’ve been feeling like a bit of a fraud. I mean why would anyone want to read the ramblings of an entirely unqualified home cook? I know as much (little?) about food as anyone else who makes the dinner every day. Yes, I love to read about food and cooking and ingredients but I don’t currently possess any special knowledge about the best rice-growing conditions in northern Italy or how to store a Trevisano lettuce.
But after a week of dithering, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps it’s ok not to know everything there is to know about food and yet still enjoy writing about it. I may not have any expertise in the subject yet but I do know what I enjoy eating and what my friends have enjoyed when I cook for them. And I guess that’s all this blog is about – just inexpensive ways to eat well.
So here I am again, just letting you know what we ate tonight.
We had some stewing steak in the freezer and a whole load of chillis so I decided on the spicy Malaysian stew, Beef Rendang. The meat is cooked gently in the spices and you let the liquid reduce down to a very thick, quite dry sauce. Really spicy and warming.
(By the way, for anyone who is interested (I was!) this is what you can do with a crystalised rose petal: pop one in the bottom of a glass of Prosecco with a splash of rose syrup. Sounds a bit fabulous – I definitely plan to have a go!).
Beef Rendang
Enough chuck/stewing steak for two
Big knob of ginger
Tablespoon of galangal if you can find it
3 cloves garlic
2 lemongrass stalks
3 cherry bomb chillis
1 red chilli
2 white onions
2 limes zested and juiced
Heaped teaspoon turmeric
Tin coconut milk
Bunch of coriander
Couple of tablespoons of dessicated coconut
White rice to serve
Dust the beef with flour and fry in small batches to brown on all sides. To make the Rendang paste put one of the onions, the cherry chillis, stalks of lemongrass, ginger, galangal, lime juice and zest and garlic into the blender and blitz to a rough paste. Fry the paste in a saucepan for a couple of minutes in a flavourless oil. Add the turmeric into the saucepan and stir into the paste. Add the browned beef and stir for a couple of minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and turn the heat down to very low. Simmer gently keeping an eye on it to ensure the sauce doesn’t completely dry out or catch.
After a good two hours the beef should be soft and melty. Stir in some chopped coriander. Then you can get the rice on and also make your sort-of-sambal. Fry a finely chopped onion and a red chilli in a little butter until brown. Add the dessicated coconut to the onion and chilli mixture and brown gently – taking care not to burn the coconut.
When the rice is ready, serve topped with the beef rendang and sprinkled with a little of the coconut sambal.

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