I’m really feeling rather chuffed. Someone passed us 2 National Day Parade tickets for tomorrow (woot!). Grateful to hubs and kid#1 for giving me and kid #2 the chance to go – I’ve never been for an NDP before and to get to go for the 50th parade is really a great opportunity. Am looking forward to the fireworks!
There is really a lot of hype now about Singapore and how great a place it is to live in; at the same time I do hear people pointing out the current day challenges of increased crowding and decreased integration of foreign workers and new immigrants. Truth to tell (although I often forget it), I am actually an immigrant as my family moved to Singapore in the 1970s. I was a couple of months old only, which is why all my memories are that of growing up Singaporean. I had the benefits of good schools and open opportunities. I can honestly say that I have had the chance to go places and work with great people. I am sure this would not have been possible if my family had stayed put where they were before.
This is why I can think in English and dream in Singlish (cannot meh?), eat in Michelin starred restaurants and still love my hawker centers, talk to ministers and the cleaner auntie or uncle without batting an eyelid. I’ve grown up in this egalitarian hodge-podge society, naively thinking that the world is pretty much similar to this when it actually isn’t. We occasionally have Obama and the ISIS to remind us otherwise.
But I think I grew up in a simpler Singapore. I come from a generation fed by campaigns (the various courtesy, productivity, keep clean and save water campaigns were our staple). For all it’s worth, I think most of my generation would take the trouble to throw away our own litter – unlike what you see now where Singaporeans have gotten used to an army of cleaners mopping up after them. We were taught to be values-driven and to pursue and take pride in our nationhood. Which has become rather unfashionable in this present day.
We now live in a uber-modern city. I grew up living next to pigs and orchid farms (and I really mean next to – I used to spend many afternoons gazing at a rotund mud-swilling pig just next door). We cycled up and down our narrow street and knew every kid on the block (apparently one neighborhood kid refused to go to kindergarten if I was not there…I never knew I had such power at the age of 5). We caught spiders and dragonflies, scooped up guppies and tadpoles from drains and fostered stray kittens and dogs. And I do feel a little sorry for my kids who get to go to beautiful parks but don’t get to enjoy being grubby and running wild with friends.
But I like to think that we carry that kampung spirit in our hearts. That there is enough of old Singapore in our new world. So this Jubilee weekend, my steak and ale pie, a quintessential British pub staple, has, just like our Singapore flag, 5 stars on it, to remind my family of our ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality for our nation. Happy 50th Birthday Singapore!
Low Carb Steak and Ale Pie
- 1 kg stewing beef (or chuck beef)
- 1 large onion, chopped into large chunks
- 1 large carrot, chopped into large chunks
- Handful of dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 1 cup of hot water
- 500 ml of beef or mushroom stock
- 1 cup of ale
- 4 tbsp arrowroot flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp sugar substitute
- 200 g of lardons (smoked pork) or bacon rashers, sliced thinly
- 250 g of white button mushrooms, quartered
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups of almond meal
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 75 g butter, cold and cut into cubes for easier mixing.
- 1 large egg
- Coat the beef chunks in about 2 tbsp arrowroot flour (you can season the flour lightly with salt and ground black pepper). Heat olive oil in a large pot and sear the beef in batches. Remove from heat and put aside.
- Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes and then add the remaining 2 tbsp arrowroot flour and continue to sauté the vegetables for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the soaked porcini mushrooms and the water they are standing in.
- Add the mushroom/beef stock and the ale. Add the bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper. Add the Worcestershire sauce and sugar substitute and stir.
- Simmer for 2 hours. The pot must be carefully stirred at intervals to make sure that the arrowroot flour does not clump together and burn at the bottom of the pot.
- In another skillet, fry the lardons or bacon till the fat is rendered. Add the mushrooms and lightly stir fry till slightly softened. Remove from heat and mix the lardons and mushrooms into the pie filling, simmering for another 3 – 4 minutes more. You can take the pot off the heat and even refrigerate the filling for up to 2 days if you don’t want to use the filling yet.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- Mix the almond flour, butter, xanthan gum and salt, using a food processor to pulse.
- Add the egg to the food processor and pulse further.
- Transfer the dough into a mixing bowl and add the Parmesan cheese, mixing thoroughly.
- Divide the dough into two and place each mound in between 2 plastic or baking sheets and roll out. Keep 1 portion of dough in the refrigerator until ready to use as top layer.
- Line the base of a pie pan with the pie crust. Use a fork to pierce holes in the base.
- Bake the pie crust for 10 minutes at 180 deg C.
- Remove from oven, then spoon in the pie filling. Fill until the pie pan is 80% filled.
- Top the pie with the pie crust. Using a sharp knife, make several air vents in the crust. Use leftover crust dough to make decorative shapes for the top of the pie.
- Bake pie for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve hot.