London, barely, plus Yorkshire pudding and my Sunday roast

Some of you may have noticed, that this series of travel-diary/recipe-exploration on the three fabulous European cities I visited last month, is actually going in reversed orders.  Reasonable doubts would suggest that I’m saving London for last, but truth is… it’s because I’m struggling to remember any of it.

Before Lisbon, before Madrid, going backwards in sequence, we actually arrived in London first, this posh and thrilling British gentleman that I’ve always had a crush on from afar.  But turned out, we didn’t arrive alone.  Came with us, was a persistent, cunning and serpent-like seasonal flu which already found us to be very amiable hosts back in Hong Kong, then apparently, took an even deeper liking in the unpredictable and drizzling British weather and decided to extend its stay for our next several miserable days.  What is it that they say here?  Blimey, fucking wanker.  Yes, very well put.  Although, in the flu’s defence, it did embody a certain level of traveller’s enthusiasm and took us for a joyride to all the most notable drugstores that London had to offer (Boots, you’re a doll).  However, beyond which, it showed lacking interests in just about anything else.  Museums?  Charming little street?  No, flu wanted to stay home and suck fingers.  Bloody hell, you bag o’ shite.

(poetry, British profanity is poetry)

So I’m sorry, London (and the ones who fell ill on the tube going from West Kensington to London Bridge on Dec 22nd around 1 pm…  It was me).  Because I could only sort of remember you as a beautifully wetted city of yellow bricks and steels under an eternal overcast, or as least so you were every chance I looked, mostly up from a pile of tissue-ruins through my watery and bacteria-infested eyes.  Were you a bit blurry or was it me?

THIS THING THEY CALL, YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS… THE AIR BALOON-EQUIVALENT OF PASTRY… ONLY THAT IT IS EGGY, CRISPY, FLUFFY AND SO MUCH BETTER THAN I EXPECTED

I did see though, a couple of the important stuffs.  The Borough MarketDuke of York Square MarketSt. John Bread & Wine… made the pilgrimage.  And the more I scratched over the surface of all the excitements, wonderful smells of cheeses and seared meats, captivatingly unique architectures, and the deeply profound culture underneath it all that London has to offer, the angrier I was that I didn’t have the energy to explore further.  So much to see, so little life.  This isn’t an excuse, London!  You weren’t the best mate to help sort out a flu and you bloody well know it!

And here I am, one month later, flu-free and apologetic, I figure the least I could do is not to insult London by pretending that I have anything insightful to say.  In fact, the only tribute I could pay is to say this…  Regardless of the experience I had, immobile or even if it was well explored, I feel London is the kind of city that will always leave me feeling hungry for more.  More to eat, more to see, more to pry out of the maze of bricks and steels, and just when you thought you had it figured out, there it is, another discovery.

I hope I see you again, London.  I know, I will see you again.  But next time, summer perhaps.

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YORKSHIRE PUDDING AND MY SUNDAY ROAST:

After I came back from London, I developed an abnormal obsession about this thing they call – Yorkshire puddings.  The idea that there is an air balloon-equivalent of pastry, only that it tastes eggy, crispy and fluffy all at the same time and served along side of roast beef and drenched in gravy… is intriguing to say the least.  But my enthusiasm was soon faced with utter failures, one flat and dense “muffins” after the other, even though I followed the recipes quite diligently.  I believe it was around the 5th or 6th trial that I finally got it, and even though there are a lot of recipes for Yorkshire puddings out there, I felt like I have to add to it my own notes.

First of all, I found that most recipes share many similarities that are either useless (steps that contribute nothing to the rise of the puddings), or false (oven-temperature is set way too high).  Then secondly, what’s worse, is that they generally lack crucial details that actually matters (let the batter bloody rest!).  This recipe is my best effort in the hope that you can also enjoy this airy and eggy, crispy and slightly chewy and fluffy delights that are not only easy once you get the hang of it, but so so much better than I actually expected, like where-has-it-been-all-my-life better.

But of course, I can’t just serve Yorkshire puddings with a gloat of success, can I?  Here is my version of a “Sunday roast”, with coffee and peppercorn-encrusted short-ribs that are slow-roasted until sticky and transcendent, with curried gravy made from the drippings and juices and blended with yogurt.  It’s an aromatic, rich and unapologetic feast of proteins and sauce-drenched pastries, with the occasional heads-up from the sharp and tangy, mint and cilantro salad.

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yorkshire pudding

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MY SUNDAY ROAST

Serving Size: 6

Ingredients

    SUNDAY ROAST SHORT-RIBS:
  • 106 oz (3 kg) bone-in short ribs
  • 1/4 (75 grams) Dijon mustard
  • 6 shallots, peeled
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1" square (2.5 cm square) ginger, peeled
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (22 grams) ground coffee beans
  • 1/4 cup (26 grams) coarsely ground black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp (15 grams) smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • CURRIED GRAVY:
  • 6 tbsp (84 grams) short-ribs dripping, or unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp (47 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (245 grams) plain yogurt
  • YORKSHIRE PUDDING: adapted from Allrecipes.com
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (230 grams) whole milk
  • 1 cup (125 grams) cake flour (9% protein), or replace 1 tbsp of all-purose flour with cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6~8 tsp short-ribs drippings, or lard, chicken fat, canola oil
  • ground white pepper to season
  • HERB SALAD:
  • 2 large handful (47 grams) fresh mint leaves
  • 1 small handful (20 grams) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp fish sauce

Instructions

  1. ROAST SHORT-RIBS: Puree the Dijon mustard, shallots, garlics, ginger and salt in a food-processor until smooth. Place the bone-in short ribs inside a deep baking-pan, then evenly rub the mustard-mixture all over the ribs. Mix together ground coffee, coarsely ground black peppercorns, smoked paprika and salt, then evenly coat the ribs with a thin layer of this spic-mixture. We only want a thin coating, so you might have some mixture left (use it on a steak!). Cover with plastic-wrap and let the ribs marinate for several hours or overnight in the fridge if you can (so start in the morning or the night before). Preheat the oven on 330 F/165 C. Cover the baking-pan tightly with foil, then roast in the oven for 4:30 to 5 hours, until a fork can be easily inserted into the meat.
  2. Carefully remove the short-ribs into another warm plate, then cover tightly with foil to keep warm. Transfer all the drippings (fat) and juices left in the baking-pan into a measuring-cup. Skim off all the drippings that float to the top, and reserve. You should have about 2 cups of juice left (if not, add chicken stock to make it to 2 cups).
  3. MAKE CURRIED GRAVY: In a sauce-pot over medium heat, cook 6 tbsp of drippings (my short-ribs were particularly lean and I didn't get much dripping, so I made up the rest with unsalted butter) with flour, curry powder and onion powder for 1 min. Add the reserved juices from roasting, and whisk constantly until it comes to a simmer and thickened. Add the plain yogurt and whisk until warmed through, then turn off the heat (do not let boil). Cover and set aside until needed.
  4. MAKE YORKSHIRE PUDDING: Start the batter while the short-ribs are roasting, AT LEAST 1~2 HOURS before the ribs come out of the oven. The one most important thing I've learnt from my several trials/failures at making this recipe, is that the batter MUST REST. If your Yorkshire pudding didn't rise, chances are, the batter didn't rest long enough. Most recipes say 20 min but I say AT LEAST 40 min to ideally 1 hour if not longer.
  5. In a container or jar that's easy to pour, whisk eggs and milk together until well and evenly blended (some recipes say whisk till foamy, but really, I find it having nothing to do with the rise what so ever). Add the cake flour (makes fluffier puddings) and salt, then whisk gently until you have a loose but smooth batter with bits of tiny lumps. Cover with plastic-wrap, then let rest for at least 40 min to 1 hour (I've even tried making the batter the night before and kept covered in the fridge, sky-high, my friend).
  6. When the short-ribs are done roasting, increase the oven temperature to 375 F/190 C. Add 1 tsp of short-ribs dripping (or lard, chicken fat, canola oil) into each muffin-holes but leaving one empty in between each (the pudding will need room to expand)(if using a Yorkshire pudding-mold, then this is not a concern). Once preheated, place the muffin-pan inside until the drippings are smoking, about 5~10 min. If there is foam on the surface of the batter, gently remove it with a spoon (it creates jagged surface that gets burnt) without stirring the batter. Pour the batter right into the centre of each mold until about 70% full. The dripping should be pushed aside and insulate/surround the batter from around the mold. This is important not only that it makes a crispier crust, but it prevents sticking which, EVEN JUST A LITTLE BIT, will drag the pudding down from a good rise.
  7. Now bake for 30~35 min until puffed, set and golden browned on all sides, and don't open the oven during the entire process. Nothing too exciting will happen in the first 5~10 min so don't panic. And by around 25 min or so, the puddings may look puffed and done, but they're not. The interiors are still undercooked and unstable, so opening the oven or removing them will result in major deflating. They must bake for a full 30~35 min. You can increase the temperature to 410 F/210 C for the last 5 min to get a darker browning. Out of the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and immediately dust with some ground white pepper. Must. Eat. Fast.
  8. MAKE HERB SALAD: Mix fresh mint leaves, cilantro leaves and thinly sliced shallots together, then toss with extra virgin olive oil to coat (before adding the lemon juice and fish sauce). Add the lemon juice and fish sauce, and toss to combine.
  9. TO SERVE: Pour a generous puddle of curried gravy over the short-ribs and inside the hollow Yorkshire puddings, then eat them with a bit refreshing highlights from the herb salad.
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30 Comments

  • ;But of course, I can’t just serve Yorkshire puddings with a gloat of success, can I?’

    Indeed you can.Traditionally yorkshire puddings were served first with gravy to fill you up and then the meat followed. My (yorkshire) gran always did this although mostly you get them with the main meal now. A couple of yorkshire puddings in a bowl covered with gravy on the sofa on a rainy day is a favourite treat.

    You can add a sprinkle of herbs to them, sage for eg as well although my gran would probably disapprove :)

  • So happy to see English food getting your magic treatment. Roast Beef & Yorkshire pud is a staple of our cuisine as you no doubt now know! The secret imho is salting it right & hot fat but it sounds like you’ve nailed it.

    Disappointed to see no spuds tho! :)

  • Borough Market is one of my favorite places on the planet… (Monmouth coffee!) so sorry you weren’t able to fully enjoy it – and the rest of your London visit. Truly, book another visit there as soon as you can. Oh, and this meal looks simply exquisite. I can’t wait to give it a try!

  • I grew up having Yorkshire pudding with standing rib roast every Christmas! Then for years I made my own menu and skipped it….this year, my parents came to our house and I recreated my childhood Christmas dinner. I made the yorkshire batter the day before and refrigerated it overnight in a jar, then pulled it out to bring to room temp about 2 hrs beforehand and they were the perfect texture and contained a pocket of the delicious rib roast drippings!! Back to the standard here forward!
    **i am super intrigued by the curried yogurt gravy, going to try that this weekend!

  • So glad you enjoyed London but SO sorry you were ill. The only place you ever want to be ill is Home. In your own Bed. Can’t quite fathom your love of Yorkshire Puddings as I absolutely don’t – never touch the things, apart from a vague nibble every now and again!! Did you know, a lot of people swear by treating them as a dessert ie put jam or yoghurt or something else sweet on them, or cover them with custard. Personally, the latter would be my preferred choice, the better to cover ’em up is (my) best way of eating one, if I have to!!

    • Penny, I can see what you mean because they aren’t the most impressive pastries out there. But I took a liking to the simple comfort of these eggy puffs with dripping-crispened edges. I think it’s one of those things they must be eaten right out of the oven. I also tried it with a smear of jam and it was wonderful.

  • Mandy, your posts are wonderful. I am a Yorkshire girl to the core (Leeds for the curious) and every attempt at Yorkshire puddings has left me incandescent with rage at my floppy offerings, so I have high hopes for your recipe. Yorkshire Puddings and jam are heavenly, I am glad you tried them, have a go at serving them with Golden Syrup or Maple Syrup too. And do put Yorkshire on your map of places to visit, you would love it.

  • Oh lordy, yorkshires… I will say, you can make the bloody things every week forever and still have times when it screws up because of all the random factors involved. My mum has been obsessed with trying to perfect them to the point where we have them every week with every single type of roast meat (eh, they go with everything) and we have battles over not opening the oven door (even though the potatoes need turning dammit) because it automatically dooms them. Traditionally you can have them for dessert with jam as well…? I mean, we don’t but… you can.

    London is… drizzly a lot. Today it’s brilliant sunshine, it will likely be torrential rain tomorrow. Visiting in summer does in no way guarantee the weather will be any better, sadly (we had the world’s longest, rainiest summer last year. Weather has been weird recently.)

    I feel your pain about the flu though – the exact same thing happened when I had a couple of days in Sydney. The worst flu in the history of the world kicked in a couple of hours before I got on the plane from where we were visiting in Perth and I spent the whole red-eye flight feeling like I’d swallowed razorblades. And then I got there and it was cold and tipping down with rain (in Australia! In summer!!). Most of the weekend I spent curled up in a hotel room when I wasn’t crawling down to the nearest pharmacy, only to find out that Australia is one of the countries where all decongestants are a controlled substance? Short story, our drugstores in the UK are awesome and I tend to travel anywhere else in the world with lots of decongestants now. (I did make it for breakfast at Bill’s, which was the one restaurant I wanted to visit, yay.)

    • Also is that… raclette I spy in one of the photos? From Kappakasein in Borough Market? Please tell me you tried the toasted sourdough cheese sandwich as well, it’s the stuff of legends (which it has to be really, considering how long the queue is generally).

      Funny story, the guy who runs that makes his own cheese, and once he got caught up in Borough Market Politics and got… kicked out for a little while? (they had to come back, it turned out they were so popular). I was a little bit heartbroken at that point, and I literally spent my whole lunchtime one day walking down to Bermondsey to where he was camped out in the cheese workshop under the railway arches to go buy the cheese sandwich he was selling out of there. It was a boiling hot day and so not good weather for a toasted cheese sandwich, but hey. Totally worth it.

      • Jen, Hannaha I think my husband felt exactly the same way in past couple weeks, “Yorkshire puddings again!?” And thanks for this funny and informative comment on Sydney and the cheese guy. I didn’t have the sandwich, but I had the melted cheese on potato-thingy. It was great in the first 30 seconds then it got destroyed (cooled and hardened into a frisbee) by the British winter chill. Summer, note to self, next time, summer.

        • Summer in London is lovely, I was lucky enough to venture their a couple summers back during a grand tour of Europe. Definitely would visit again, and try not to injure myself so I can properly enjoy the sights.

          The raclette sammie is worth the visit alone. If you do go back, there’s a little pub called “The Sheaf” built under the arched building supports about a block south of the Borough Market – great drinks and atmosphere down there. The hubby and I popped in there thinking we were lost and would never find the market. After a pint we discovered just how close we’d been.

          Now I need to go find a good short rib roast… darn you Mandy! My husband never tires of your recipes, but they are a bit of an effort some days when all I want is instant ramen.

  • I love everything about this meal! The flavors you used on the short ribs and in the gravy sound amazing, and yorkshire puddings are definitely on my “to make” list!

  • Hey Mandy. Long time reader, but first time to comment. This looks awesome. Just a question. What other kind of meat can I use for this recipe? I am from Germany and short ribs isn’t a cut we have here. Really dying to try this one. Helpppp!!

    • HeikoS, can you find any cuts with the rib-bones still attached? It’s just for dramatic effect, you can also use any cuts that are well-marbled for braising purposes :) You can see that we are roasting the meats till tender, so not the typical “medium-rare” roast beef. I haven’t tried using this recipe to make a medium-rare roast beef, if you ever tried, let me know :)

  • Mandy– thank you for posting this just in time for my birthday! My husband made this for me today and it was the best birthday dinner ever. Thank you!!

  • I was hoping to get to the UK part of your trip soon. I love Yorkshire pudding, it’s so delicious. You most definitely have to rest the batter, when I make them for dinner parties or planned meals I make the batter overnight and I use the batter straight from the fridge, you just need to adjust the cooking time to allow for the centres to be done.

    I also usually use the dripping from the beef just like you, I’m not a big fan of toad in the hole I prefer my Yorkshire pudding with nothing in it apart from gravy and I don’t really like them as a sweet option either.

    The only thing I take issue with is your English :-) I’ve never seen the words ‘bag ‘o shite’, written down, or really heard it used, but obviously you’ve been hanging round some real reprobates in that there London :-)

    The sauce with this looks great, I shall have to try it out.

  • Love reading you Mandy. Sorry you were too ill to enjoy London fully. I regret to inform you though that summer may not be much different from winter… the two years I lived there, it seems that summer took place in March or May instead. By the way, I just recently saw a video of how to make these airy Yorkshire puddings from Jaime Oliver. I’ve tried recreating them in my early Paleo days only to end up with a muffin. ;) But I’ll try it again some day.. now that I’m more familiar with different flours. Thanks for the lovely photos and humorous post. xx Debra

  • a doh moment – never made the connection before, ‘toad in the hole’ i laughed and laughed
    and yeah spot on, resting the batter is everything (my mother in law , mixed in the morning, to roast in the evening) x

  • Beautiful looking Yorkshires! And oh dear, I’m so sorry that you didn’t have the most fruitful trip in December (it was odd weather then, too – usually a lot drier and colder!) My tip for a return trip is to schedule not for summer but late spring, when we usually have our sunniest, loveliest weather and all the flowers come out. Real summer is typically a washout in England *shakes fist* x

  • Looks amazing! I love all these complete meals and party plans/menus. All your recipes are so creative and delicious-looking. Your blog is my favorite food blog ever!!

  • I had a very memorable RB and Yorkshire pudding at the Connaught Hotel last year. Oh, was that good. I had foie gras on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes as a starter, then bread and butter pudding for dessert. I’m glad you posted a recipe here. Will surely have it on my to-cook-list.

  • Your experience of London was my experience of Hong Kong. Sick as a dog, throat so raw I could hardly taste anything, struggling to put one foot in front of another. I WILL go back one day and eat the heck out of everything.

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