Bali Beef Curry

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , , — Author: Caron Golden , July 27, 2020

So let’s just get this out of the way first. What exactly is curry? If it’s on a restaurant menu, it’s a complexly flavored sauce that creates heavenly dishes with vegetables, tofu, chicken, beef, or seafood. And, well, it’s got to include fragrant ingredients like lemongrass, and ginger or galangal, and, perhaps chiles, although those herbs and spices will vary depending on the dish and its geographic origin.

Then there is curry powder. These aromatics tend to be used in the Indian subcontinent and in British dishes, but are also found across Asia and into the Caribbean. There’s no one combination of dried spices that makes up curry powder. They tend to have specific names to will tell you their use, like garam masala, which usually has cumin, cardamom, turmeric, pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. You can create a curry dish with curry powder but also use it for a marinade or a spice rub or sprinkled over roasted vegetables to add flavor.

And, there are actual curry leaves. These green leaves tend to be citrusy and sometimes bitter, and, yes, they’re used in Indian cuisine, but they aren’t a substitute for curry powder.

But for our purposes, let’s talk about curry, the well-traveled saucy dish. The name is derived from the southern Indian word “kari,” meaning sauce and was transformed into “curry,” probably by the British, who had colonized India in the 18th century. You’ll find curry not just in India, but also Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Bali, Japan, and the Caribbean—not to mention around the world in countries that have fallen in love with its powerful flavors and often creamy texture.

I have friends in San Diego who own a wonderful restaurant called World Curry. Bruce Jackson actually discovered curry in his mid-20s in Japan during a visit. Nothing fancy, it was the popular boxed instant curry that the Japanese, he said, eat all the time. He’d also find it in Singapore and Thai restaurants there and since he loved cooking, he started experimenting, taking cooking classes in Thailand and doing deep dives into cookbooks. His ex-wife Momoko, who is Japanese, started the business with him back in 1995 and continues to work with him, handling the marketing.

If you’ve been wary about trying your hand at making curry, Jackson assures that curry is pretty straightforward. “It’s like making spaghetti sauce in that you stir once in awhile and don’t let it burn. For Thai curries, all the work is in making the paste. Once you have that, it goes quickly.”

To achieve real smoothness with both the sauces and the pastes, Jackson recommends using a blender instead of a food processor.

The dishes also benefit from time—lots of it. Jackson likes to cook the curries the day before serving them to give the flavors time to mingle.

This is especially true, Jackson said, for the Bali Beef, a rich, thick stew that he explains is basically an Indonesian curry since Bali doesn’t use much beef. His inspiration was a curry at a Bali food cart, sticky rice and beef—like a rice ball with spicy beef—served with a banana leaf. In Jackson’s version, the brisket ultimately falls apart in the long, slow cooking process, bathed in garlic, cumin, black pepper, chili powder, onion, lemongrass, galangal, and coconut milk. Brown sugar adds depth and a little lemon juice, star anise powder, and cinnamon give it brightness.

Successfully making curry, according to Jackson, is basically about taking care with each step and creating building blocks of flavor. “Even an extra 20 seconds can make a difference in the results,” he said. “Letting the sauce gently simmer and settle in will yield more flavor.”

Bali Beef (Rendang)
From World Curry
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
¼ cup cooking oil (canola, peanut, or other vegetable oil)
1 ½ pounds brisket or stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons fresh chopped garlic
2 tablespoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ cup fresh chopped onion
¼ cup fresh lemongrass chopped
2 tablespoons galangal or ginger chopped
1 cup coconut milk
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½  teaspoons salt
½ teaspoons star anise powder
½ teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

  1. Heat oil on medium/high heat and sauté the beef until browned on most sides. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. In the same pan sauté the garlic until golden. Stir in the cumin, coriander, black pepper, and chili powder and cook for another minute. Stir in the onion, lemongrass, and galangal. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the contents of the pan and the cup coconut milk to the blender. Blend until smooth and pour the blender contents back into the stock pot.
  4. Add in the browned beef, then add all the remaining ingredients to the same stock pot.
  5. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 4 hours stirring occasionally. When the beef falls apart and is tender the curry should be done. Serve with steamed rice.

Do you ever make a traditional curry? Tell us about your favorite recipe!

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Any of us who don’t live in food deserts have really not had to think hard about where to buy groceries–either for ourselves or clients. If we did, it was pretty much to sort out the many options available from our local supermarket to farmers markets to Costco/Sam’s Club to Trader Joe’s, culturally specific markets or our favorite specialty stores, including fish markets.

Then came the coronavirus and if you live in a region hit hard, you have faced staples shortages, long lines–and even the question of whether you should venture into a store at all. Which then led to the ethics of having someone else shop for you or being able to book an Instacart delivery date during your lifetime.

In short, marketing has been complicated for many of us.

Thankfully, much of the hoarding and shortages have abated, but the virus has not and we don’t know what fall months hold in store. So, it’s not a bad idea to know what your options are for now and looking ahead into at least the next six months.

This came into focus for me in a Real Simple story that ran at the end of April. It brought up some very good suggestions for identifying some unexpected places to find groceries. These include:

  • Local restaurants: Many have been helping both their suppliers and customers by selling groceries–either individual items or a bagged packages of groceries or meal kits. We’ve seen everything from flour, pasta, and yeast to fresh produce and seafood. Sometimes even toilet paper. They have great resources. Take advantage of them.
  • Online housewares stores. How often have you been to Bed, Bath & Beyond, World Market, Williams Sonoma or other housewares stores and picked up snacks or coffee/tea or specialty items? You can find them in the brick and mortar shops, but you can also shop for them online.
  • Restaurant supply companies: Sure, you may shop them for your equipment, but there are plenty of edible goods available–and some may even deliver. The caveat may be the quantity of packaged items, like 50 pounds of flour or 30-pound bags of rice. But splitting staples is what friends and neighbors are for, right?

  • CSAs: Community-supported agriculture, or CSAs, package weekly or bi-weekly boxes of fresh produce to subscribers. They do three things very well–they provide subscribers with a delightful and steady supply of local produce, they directly support farmers (many of whom live life on the edge and have now lost restaurant business), and they keep the money in the local economy. You can also expand your reach by purchasing boxes from Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market. These companies sell delicious produce but they are either a little odd looking or the wrong size for very strict supermarket guidelines. There are also CSAs for meats and seafood (think Moink, Butcher Box, Farmer’s Cart, and Heritage Foods–but also check around for local businesses that sell at your farmers market).
  • Alternative online stores: Real Simple notes that businesses like Thrive Market offers organic food and food delivery while Loop is an ecofriendly store focused on numerous brands and retailers that ships packages of grocery and health and beauty supplies in reusuable, returnable packaging.
  • Buy direct: Need white whole wheat flour? You could buy it directly from King Arthur Flour or Bob’s Red Mill. Why not just go directly to the company that has the product you’re craving or needing and see if they sell directly to consumers?

To this I’ll add that the megachains like Target and Walmart made a huge investment in grocery departments in the last few years. Neither is my first choice for grocery shopping, but in a pinch you can buy produce, milk, bread, and so much more. Same with Big Lots and “dollar stores.” I haven’t even mentioned Amazon’s offerings…

Do you have a good grocery wholesaler that’s open to the public? In San Diego, we have a place called Specialty Produce. They have long since branched out into specialty products from local makers and purveyors–local honey and other condiments, cheeses, pastas, etc. And, they’ve put together their own version of a CSA that combines fresh produce with local seafood, cheese, bread, and other products. Your city may have a similar wholesaler. Likewise, does your community have a butcher shop, seafood market, or other specialty store that has been selling other groceries that complement their main product line?

We’re living in disruptive times that require creativity and ingenuity from all of us. We’re lucky that the supply chain is holding for now (although the ethics of how that’s going is another discussion worth having) but keeping clients–and our own families–fed is probably not going to be as effortless for quite a while as our old marketing habits were back in January.

Where have you been shopping for food, if not your grocery store? Did we miss a great resource?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

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Chill Out with a Homemade Shrub

Filed under: Cooking Tips,Recipes , Tags: , , , — Author: Caron Golden , July 13, 2020

Welcome to July! It’s getting hot! And while it’s easy for clients to reach into the fridge for a soft drink or juice or iced tea, how about making them a berry or other summer fruit shrub? If you haven’t heard of shrubs, they are a fruit syrup, preserved with vinegar. The chemical transformation in just hours of the mixture of fruit, perhaps some herbs, sugar, and vinegar creates a unique sweet and tangy libation as part of a cocktail, blended with soda water, or used as an ingredient to make a dressing or sauce. You can pour shrubs over ice cream, too. And you can blend them with fresh fruit and freeze into popsicles.

There are essentially two methods of making a shrub, both easy and requiring few ingredients. One is via heat and a fairly quick process. The other is a cold method that sits for several hours or even a day or two as the ingredients macerate.

Essentially what you’ll want is your fruit, sugar, and vinegar–red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar are good choices. You want something that has some substance but won’t overtake the fruit flavors. Balsamic is a good choice, too, but know that it will vie with the fruit in terms of flavors. It’s actually what I used for my shrub along with the apple cider vinegar.

Another cool thing about shrubs has to do with the fruit. Since the fruit will be turned into a liquid, you don’t need to buy the most flawless, perfect fruit. If you have peaches or plums or berries that are a little past their prime, they’re great candidates for a shrub.

Okay, so what do you do? The quick way is to combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and stir the mixture over heat until the sugar dissolves. Then add your fruit. Stir as it simmers and the juice melds with the sugar mixture, becoming syrupy. Let it cool, strain the solids, and add your vinegar. That’s it.

Now some people feel that the way to extract more complexity and brightness is to go with the cold method. There’s no heat to dull the fruit flavors. This, too, is quite easy. And, it’s what I did.

In a bowl I gently mashed a mixture of mulberries, blackberries, and raspberries to extract some of the juices to let the sugar to penetrate more easily–sort of a head start. Then I added the sugar, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerated it. The next morning, I pulled the bowl out of the fridge and could see the juices and syrup already forming.

At this point you strain the liquid from the fruit. If you have a fine mesh strainer or chinois, that’s the perfect tool for this. Press down on the fruit to get every last drop. )And save the fruit to enjoy on ice cream or to spread on French toast.) Then you’ll whisk the vinegar into the liquid. Pour it into a pretty bottle using a funnel and you’re good to go.

Your shrub will be wonderfully tart and sweet, a combination that will mellow with time when stored in the fridge. I like to keep it simple and enjoy it combined with sparkling water on a hot late afternoon. And, as I said, enjoy the remaining preserved fruit over ice cream!

I’ve got a recipe for you that I adapted from Serious Eats that outlines the process perfectly.

Cold Processed Berry Shrub
Yield: 20 to 24 ounces of shrub syrup

Ingredients
1 cup of berries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1. Place berries in a bowl and gently mash them to release some juice.
2. Add sugar and mix together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least six hours or overnight until the fruit releases liquids into a syrup. There’s no hurry here.
3. Place the mixture into a fine mesh strainer or chinois over a bowl or measuring cup and carefully press on the fruit and sugar mixture to extract as much syrup as possible. If there’s some sugar remaining in the original bowl scrape that in, too. Save the fruit for ice cream or to spread on French toast or pancakes.
4. Whisk the vinegar into the syrup.
5. Using a funnel, pour your shrub into a bottle. Seal and keep refrigerated.

Have you ever tasted or, better yet, made a shrub? What flavors do you think you’d mix for a signature shrub? 

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

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When you run a small business, like a personal chef company, it can be helpful to keep track of trends–both to keep you in the know about the industry and consumers and to give you some new ways to think about what you do and what your clients want or need.

SmartBrief published a piece on July 2, 2020 by Laurie Demeritt, the CEO of The Hartman Group, which does market research. The Hartman Group just released The Hartman Group/FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends COVID-19 Tracker report representing mid-May. Here’s some of what they found:

  • In planning meals, focus often goes to minimizing trips and waste through smart use of perishables.
  • Over one-third (36%) feel they are now eating healthier. Younger consumers especially have adjusted how they eat, with more emphasis on maintaining a healthy body while at home.
  • Older consumers aim to safeguard their health via prudent consumption, minimizing trips and waste.
  • During the timeframe of the report during the lockdown, 41% of consumers said they were cooking more of their meals, 27% said they were “planning more meals in advance, and 20% said they were trying more new dishes.
  • Consumers are reevaluating the very necessity of shopping trips and turning to larger, less frequent trips and alternative modes of sourcing perceived to be safer, such as online and click and collect.
  • Consumers are reevaluating the very necessity of shopping trips and turning to larger, less frequent trips and alternative modes of sourcing perceived to be safer, such as online and click and collect.
  • Looking farther ahead, new routines that focus on preparation for the unknown are likely to have lasting impacts.

Spinach Salad with balsamic vinaigrette and candied walnuts

So, no surprise, the pandemic has deeply impacted consumers’ lives when it comes to food and cooking. But what about those who are finding being in the kitchen less joyful? This same report noted that 23% of shoppers said their priority when cooking is to spend as little time as possible doing it and 33% said they seek “something interesting” to eat when they cook at home, which apparently indicates some fatigue with cooking.

And here’s where it gets even more fascinating for you: More than half–57%–of households outsource cooking to food service and dine out at least one a week with 21% doing it three or more times.

Is there anyone more “food service” than a personal chef? For these shoppers, the decision between cooking at home–seen as being more healthy than eating out–considers three things: cost, time and effort, and taste and cravings.

These little data bites should make you stop and think about the possibilities for your personal chef business. They can guide you on how to market yourself to potential clients or sell yourself again to clients who may have drifted away around March when the world started shutting down. And, they can also give you some inspiration for a new way to conduct your business or add services to it for now, during the pandemic,  and once it eventually comes to an end.

It could mean not just preparing meals for clients but sending the message that their exhaustion in preparing their own meals–and perhaps the same old things–can come to an end with an exciting menu you create for them.

Baja Fish Tacos with Quinoa

For those still anxious (including you) about preparing meals in clients’ homes, it could mean renting time in a commercial kitchen, perhaps a restaurant kitchen that’s reduced hours and could use some income, and then delivery the meals to them. Sometimes the old way doesn’t work all the time.

And then there are those people who you could help by putting together a weekly menu of recipes and sourced ingredients. You could do your own version of a Blue Apron and create a video cookalong to help with technique.

Look above at what you’ve learned about consumers. They don’t like making grocery store trips. They want to eat healthier. They want to prepare meals in advance. They want to try new dishes. How can you not look at this data and project your own business onto it! This is an opportunity a serious personal chef should take advantage of!

How is your personal chef business evolving during the pandemic? What are you learning about consumers during this time?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership. 

And if you are a member and have a special talent or point of view to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

 

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