Within a blink of an eye, half term was upon us and two weeks without school stretched ahead of us…And as much as I love my boys and want them to be independent, the idea of leaving them to their on devices for 2 straight weeks is a scary thought! I am used to coming home to two boys lounging on the sofas attached to their devices, oblivious to the mess and chaos around them – mainly generated by their insatiable appetite to eat and snack! I’ve come home to pans dedicated to omelette making, dried cheese in the oven as a result of cheese & toast, and the latest being a myriad of ingredients which apparently were used to try to create ‘mug cake’ – unsuccessfully!
This half term I had decided to book at short trip to Dubai, partly in search of some elusive Autumnal sunshine, as well as the opportunity to have a good dose of relaxation. Just six nights but we packed in a lot. Friday Brunch at Jumeirah Zabeel Sarah kicked off the foodie extravaganza – in a town of excess, we thought that this was lavish but not one the top. Freshly grilled seafood was a highlight as was the sushi counter and the dessert buffet with lots of little things to taste! Interspersed between our meals was plenty of pool and beach time, as well as a trip to the old Dubai by the creek and a Desert Safari. I loved the old town area with the souks and bustling creek area, reminiscent of the time I have spent in Istanbul, and a million miles away from the beachside resorts and Dubai Mall. Having been to Dubai for multiple work trips, this was totally different, but we all enjoyed it for our own reasons. It was good to spend quality time together, which in itself is rare, especially as our children grow up and hanging out with Mum is not really that cool!
So from 35 degrees in the sun, we landed back in London to 5 degrees, and suddenly the harsh reality of clocks changing and frosty mornings were upon us. The only good thing about winter is keeping warm, and enjoying comfort food! To this end, I was tempted to buy some beef short ribs in Waitrose – thinking back to the brunch in Dubai where one of the hot dishes was slow cooked short ribs. I wanted to create an Asian version, reminiscent of the sticky sweet spicy Chinese braised beef. Having never cooked short ribs before i trawled through a few recipes and came across a Nigella one which appealed. So this is based on Simply Nigella with a few enhancements of my own… cooked a day in advance and then served with brown rice and steamed pak choi it was a perfect wintery sunday supper.
Asian style braised short ribs (serves 4)
2.5kg Beef short ribs
200ml Hoisin Sauce
2 Tbs Chilli Bean Paste
4 Tbs Soy Sauce
100ml Chinese rice wine
2 Tbs Sesame Oil
1 onion – sliced thinly
2 Tbs grated ginger
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 Star Anise (whole)
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
2 Tbs cooking oil
5 spring onions cut into 2 cm pieces
handful of Fresh coriander – chopped coarsely
1 medium red chilli – sliced.
Preheat the oven to 150/gas mark 2
Using an oven proof pan, heat the oil and then add in the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook over medium heat until softening.
Add the Star Anise and then the beef ribs. Sear the beef until sealed on each side.
Add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Cover with a life or tin foil and put in the oven. Cook for 4 hours until the meat just comes away from the bone.
Ideally leave overnight to cool in the fridge and then skim the fat off the top of the dish. Reheat – bring to the boil and the sauce will be glossy. Before serving add the chopped spring onions and garnish with coriander and chilli.