Dads Cook Good Food

For dads who enjoy cooking for their families

Archive for the tag “Beef”

Let’s eat what we reaped!


Time does fly when you’re having sun…er, fun! We’re moving towards the end of summer and for us, the end of summer means that my daughter’s small garden is now teeming with nature’s bounty. Since she was five, she has looked forward to this time of the year when she would usually harvest her vegetables. I can only guess that  she gets a kick out of pulling the carrots, picking the cherry tomatoes or plucking the basil leaves.

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But more than the excitement, it is the annual ritual of sowing the seeds during spring and harvesting the fruits of her labour during summer that has taught her so many virtues. For example, she had this realization that the food that she eats entails a lot of hard work. She appeared to have gained some sense of responsibility by consciously watering her plants daily and occasionally checking for weeds. She learned to be more patient and caring (she read stories to them almost every day!); realizing that growing food takes time.


And when I cooked our beef stew, she also knew that the delicious stew had her share when we added her fresh basil, tomatoes and carrots! Indeed, food preparation and cooking can sometimes be a family affair and teach our kids life’s important lessons!


Harvest Beef Stew
(Adapted from Crock-pot: The Original Slow Cooker)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ pounds of beef for stew
Fresh cherry and roma tomatoes (or 32 ounces of canned or stewed tomatoes)
10 pcs of baby carrots
3 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 stalks of celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
8-10 pieces of fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried basil)
2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
¼ cup all-purpose flour (optional)
½ warm water (optional)

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. Brown stew meat on all sides. Drain excess fat.

2. Placed brown meat and remaining ingredients in CROCK-POT slow cooker. Mix well. Cover, cook on HIGH 6 to 7 hours.

3. Before serving, thicken gravy, if desired. Combine flour and warm water in small bowl stirring well until lumps are gone. Add mixture to liquid in CROCK-POT slow cooker; mix well. Cook 10 to 20 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove and discard bay leaves before serving.


*I usually serve the stew without the gravy but my wife cooks her own gravy and adds this to the cooked stew. Her ingredients include 2 tablespoons of melted butter then add 1 tablespoon of flour. Whisk and add some of the broth from the stew. Season with Lea-Perrins Worcestershire sauce then add these to the rest of the stew and mix.


Going French: Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Stew with Red Wine)

You read it right! It’s more than the French toast which we featured last week. Our decision to go French for this week’s food blog was not borne out of our desire to be chefs. Au contraire, it is our credo to be good cooks at least for our families and okay, sometimes, our friends. But because we thought that bringing French food to the dinner table is akin to concocting a gayuma (love potion) to impress our wives, we told ourselves to go for it!

But we only had little time to prepare! So we decided to go for a simple recipe; one that has ingredients that are easily accessible and reasonably priced. Surfing through the net, we stumbled upon a recipe that looked easy: boeuf bourguignon. It also turned out that it was Julia Child’s famous (uh oh!) recipe and not knowing anything about Julia Child except from the Google doodle that reminded us of her 100th birthday, we thought it would be a cinch.

Then we were confronted with the fact that Child’s recipe is not for those in a hurry. In the middle of it all, we began to ask ourselves, “Is this worth pursuing?” The directions were so numerous with words so unfamiliar (e.g., lardon) that we got confused with what we had to do next. Questions like, “Should we put the beef in the oven or should we coat it with flour first?” “What the heck is a casserole?” (It turned out it was a saucepan and not a Pyrex dish! 😀 ) “Where in the world will we get all those small onions?” “Why can’t we just cook the bacon with the rest of the beef if we were to put all of it in the saucepan anyway?”

But like a real trooper but done with care, we sallied forth and finished our dish six hours later! Best of all, despite the arduous and meticulous task of preparing our first French food, our families were very much satisfied with what we prepared and once again, won the hearts of our wives.

Cheers to Julia’s 100th and here’s to the best French dish we have prepared! 😀

Note: The complete recipe can be accessed here . You can watch Julia Child demonstrate her recipe here.Although we tried to be as close to how it was done, the recipe that appears below was modified from Julia Child’s recipe because some of the ingredients could not be found at the local grocer (e.g. small onions) or the procedure was a bit difficult at the time the dish was prepared. Our regrets.

DADS’ BEEF STEW with RED WINE (adapted from Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon)


Bacon (six slices, preferably unsalted)

Lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 large carrot, sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

2 tbsp. flour

2-3 cups full-bodied, young red wine

2-3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon

1 tbsp. tomato paste

2 cloves mashed garlic

½ tsp. thyme

1 bay leaf, crumbled

Blanched bacon rind

18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock

Quartered fresh mushrooms, sautéed in butter

Parsley sprigs for garnishing


  1. Remove rind (most of the fat) from the bacon, and cut bacon into sticks of ¼ inch and 1 ½ inches long(also called lardons). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry in paper towels.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

3.Once dry, sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes until it browns lightly. Remove to a side dish then set saucepan (casserole) aside. Reheat the fat until it is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

4. Dry the stewing beef in paper towels then sauté them a few pieces at a time until it browns slightly on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

5. Using the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables then pour out the sautéing fat.

6. Return the beef and bacon to the saucepan and toss with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set saucepan uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more to give the meat a light crust. Remove the saucepan and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

7.  Add wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove to cook the dish using slow cooking. This means covering the saucepan to regulate heat and cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours inside the oven or on the stove top. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

8. Meanwhile, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside until needed.

9. As soon as the beef is fork tender, pour the contents of the saucepan into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash the saucepan and return the beef and bacon to it. Arrange the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

10. Remove the fat off the sauce and simmer for 1-2 minutes until fat rises. Remove the fat off the sauce. You should have about 2- 2 ½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. Correct the seasoning and once done, pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Serve the stew with vegetables, potatoes, noodles, or rice, and garnish with parsley.

An annual holiday tradition: Baking and eating ;) lasagna!

Most families are known to have what Jay’s children refer to as his “signature dish.”  For instance, Jay’s sister from NY is known for her delicious spaghetti meat sauce. The meat sauce, which she credits to her mother-in-law’s recipe, is so good that people make special requests for her to cook this very simple yet sinfully good entree or main dish. Robert, on the other hand, is getting a lot of requests for his cassava cake, which was featured in a previous blog. The cake is so good that a portion of it was snatched on its way to delivery! His mother, on the other hand, used to cook sugpo (prawns) in catsup/tomato sauce during Christmas but he has yet to try how to cook her signature dish.

For this week, we are featuring Jay’s signature dish, which he usually bakes during the holiday season. The tradition harks back to the 90s, when after studying French at Alliance Francaise, Jay bought different types of cheeses from the annual Christmas cheese bazaar then experimented on using it for lasagna. The story goes that when he tried to impress his future father-in-law with his lasagna, he said that the dish was “too salty” for his palate. And so, to win his future family’s heart, he had to think of a way of making the lasagna ‘palatable’ and acceptable. Apparently, the right kind of cheeses matter so it took a while before Jay found the lasagna recipe which he considers as his signature dish. Mostly culled from Tyler Florence’s Lasagna Al Forno, preparing and cooking/baking the dish is no joke. The entire procedure usually lasts for half a day, which can be taxing especially if one needs to prepare other dishes for the holidays!

Finally, because baking lasagna has become an annual tradition, Daddy Jay offers some tips on how to make delicious lasagna:

1. Always use fresh ingredients. For instance, although dry herbs are okay, the lasagna tastes better when one uses fresh herbs.

2. Drain the fat from the cooked ground beef. This will ensure you that the lasagna will stand (and not soggy).

3. Serve the dish right away. Nothing beats oven-fresh food. You’re assured that there are no left-overs!

4. Don’t substitute the flat parsley with the curly parsley. The former tastes better, giving the cheese sauce a nice flavor.

And so, we feature Daddy Jay’s lasagna for this week’s blog:

Daddy Jay’s Lasagna Al Forno

For the meat mixture:

1-2 kgs. of lean ground beef

5 pcs. of Italian sausage (or approximately 1/2 kg)

1 small can of tomato paste

1 onion chopped

2-3 cloves of sliced garlic

2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute in medium heat the chopped onion and garlic for 3 minutes in a pan with olive oil. Add fresh herbs then continue sauteing for 2-3 minutes until the aroma comes out.

2. Add the meat and Italian sausage and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the meat looses its pink color.

3. Drain the fat from the meat and discard.

4. Add the tomato paste then mix it until the meat absorbs the paste. Cool and set aside.

For the Cheese sauce:

2 containers of Ricotta cheese (about 30 oz per container)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

1-2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

salt and pepper to taste

2 lightly beaten eggs

1. Combine the ricotta cheese, chopped parsley and oregano. Then add the beaten eggs, Parmesan cheese then add salt and pepper is needed.

2. Mix the cheese sauce thoroughly.

For the lasagna:

1. Check if you have enough lasagna noodles by laying the raw noodles on the pan. Follow the directions as indicated in the box. Usually, the noodles are al dente in 10 minutes.

2. Drain and coat the noodles with olive oil to prevent it from sticking.

Assembling and baking:

1. Coat the bottom of the 13 X 9 inch pan with a ladle of tomato sauce.

2. Assemble the noodles lengthwise slightly overlapping on the sauce then line up the sides of the pan with a noodle to form a collar, to hold the lasagna.

3.  Spread the meat mixture on the pasta evenly. Then dollop 1/2 of the cheese mixture over the meat, spread to the edges with a spatula.

4. Sprinkle with mozarella cheese  on top then top with a ladle full of tomato sauce spreading it evenly.

5. Place lasagna noodles on top then repeat procedures 3-4.

6. To “seal” the lasagna, top the last layer of noodles, tomato sauce, shredded mozarella and Parmesan. Decorate the top with flat-leaf parsley.

7. Tyler Florence recommends that one taps the pan to force out air bubbles trapped in the pan.

8. Bake in a 350 degrees Celsius preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and let the lasagna cool for 30 minutes to ensure easy cutting and the noodles will settle. Cut into 2-inch squares then serve. Enjoy!

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