Beef Roulade (our family’s recipe)

When there are public holidays, we usually meet up at our or my mothers house for a nice and quiet family lunch. On Easter we typically make beef roulades because it is a tasty way to use some of the many cooked and colored eggs you typically receive during this time. It is also a bit on the time-consuming side and not really suited for a fast mid-week dinner. The roulades for at least a day or two and are even tastier (in our opinion) after they have rested for a few hours. So because they are time-consuming and keep well I usually make a bunch of them in advance and we eat the leftovers on the next day. Also, recipes like these taste better if you make them in bigger patches because the you will have more seared beef parts on the bottom of the roasting pan which makes for an even better sauce!

If you want to make this recipe, you should plan for at least four hours – about one and a half hour for preparation and about two hours until they are tender (depending on the quality of the meat). The most time-consuming part is cutting up all the ingredients and then rolling the stuff up. But it is so worth it! I love beef roulades and the time it takes to make them is what made them a rare feast when I was a kid.

But enough with the talking and let’s start with the recipe!

For this recipe you will need 6-10 thin slices of good quality beef for cooking (like thick flank, etc.). Every family uses different ingredients for the roulades, but in our case you will. need mustard, 1-2 boiled eggs, thinly sliced bacon, pickles (we use sweet-sour pickles), carrots, onions, salt and pepper. You will also need a big pot in which you can fit all of the roulades, the onions as well as some water.

First, you need to prepare all the ingredients for the roulades. Trim the meat of any excess fat or parts that you don’t want. Mince the egg and mix it with about 1 – 1 1/2 Tbsp of mustard in a small bowl (if you are making more than 6 you will need to double the amount), set aside. Cut the carrots and pickles into about 7mm (about 1/4 inch) strips. Cut the bacon if it isn’t sliced already.

Now comes the rolling. First, take a slice of meat, put salt an pepper on it, take a bit of the egg and mustard mixture and spread it onto the part of the meat slice that will have the filling on it (about 1/2 of the slice), Onto the spread, put two sliced of your bacon. At one end of the beef slice add about 4-5 carrot and pickle sticks. At this point you may add whichever veggies you want. If I have leftover zucchini or green onions I might add them too (but I didn’t have them on hand this time). Just be careful not to overstuff it. The slice should look somewhat like this after you have added all the filling.

Also, be careful to leave some space for folding in the edges. Flap the edges of the beef slice over the veggies and roll it up so that all sides are closed and you cannot see the filling. Secure the edges with small metal cooking skewers or wooden (unflavored – I once had mint ones and it did not fare well) toothpicks. Carefully brush the outside of the roulade with a bit more mustard (just a bit to bring out more flavor while roasting) and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Repeat this with all the beef slices, set everything aside on a plate.

Cut the onions and fry them with the oil of your choice (I used olive oil) in your pot until they are golden brown. Remove them from the pot and set them aside.

Add a bit more oil to your pot, turn the heat to high and put in the roulades. Try to roast them on all sides – just a few seconds until they are browning and leave their yummy roasted goodness on the bottom of the pan.

Remove them from the pot and put them on a plate. Now put a little bit of water into your pot and scrape off all the roasted goodness from the bottom of your pot. This will make for a delicious sauce. Add the onions back in and atop of them the roulades (don’t forget to add all the juices that my have accumulated on the roulade plate). Add some more water, the roulades don’t have to be covered, about halfway up the roulades will be fine. Put on the lid, turn the heat to medium low and let them simmer for about 1 1/2 to two hours (turn them once in a while). The roulades are done when you can cut through them very easily (ours are so tender that you could cut them with a fork). 

The last step is to once again remove them from the pan and put them on a plate to finish the sauce. In our family we do not add much and do not thicken the sauce. Because these roulades are filled with mustard, salt, pepper and veggies, the sauce is quite flavorful. You can add a bit of sour cream and flour if you want to give it a hint of sourness and want to have the sauce on the thicker side. You may also puree the onions to thicken the sauce. Whatever suits your taste. Put the roulades back into the sauce and serve.

We usually have some kind of pasta or rice to go with them as well as a big bowl of fresh salad. Some folks even have them with cooked potatoes or polenta. So feel free to add whatever you like!

I hope you have fun trying these out and enjoy them with your loved ones.

XO, Alex

Koh Yao Noi, Thailand – Part 3

Welcome back to the third and last part of the Thailand journal! I hope you got a small glimpse into the wonder that has been my yoga/meditation/food journey so far. In this part I want to talk a bit about the experiences, what you can do on Koh Yao Noi and why I definitely want to come back.

Most of my days consisted of yoga (morning or evening, I only joined once a day), exploring the island and eating. On my first whole day at Island Yoga the information desk told us that the easiest way to get around on this island would be either on bicycle or on a scooter. Yes, you could walk as well, but seeing as it was quite hot and humid I didn’t want to venture too far on foot. So I after morning yoga, I usually ate breakfast, showered and then borrowed a scooter and decided to do a “round-trip” of the island. Koh Yao Noi is not big (guess that’s why it was named the “small, long island”), it has few streets and one of them leads you all the way around the island. On my first trip it took me about one hour to go round although it has to be said that I stopped at various scenic points, some shops and fruit vendors.

Cheap and delicious fruit. A foodie’s heaven!

At the only 7 Eleven store on the whole island (and they are very very proud of it!) I bought some coconut water, a soda and some snacks. Directly across the shop is a small fruit vendor that has varying fruit throughout the day – whatever is available at that time. I just had to stock up on that too! I mean, dragon fruit for about 1€??? Give me two of that, some mangosteen, a big bag of rambutan (they were in season) and toss in a few of those longkong too! For only 6 € I had a big bag full of heavenly fruit that I would devour within two days. 

It was way past lunchtime by then and on my way back to the resort I passed so so many beautiful, secluded and deserted beaches. All in all there were so little people on the island (or at least they were so scattered) that whichever beach or forest you went to you met only one or two other humans. I specifically said humans because you could stumble upon a cow, goat, dog, cat or other animal anytime, but more of that later. When I passed an especially beautiful beach I stopped the scooter, parked it somewhere in the green alongside the road, took my snacks, fruit and drinks with me and searched for a  quiet spot in the shade. I found the perfect place for me, sitting on a rock, digging my feat into the sand below while the soft waves crashed around my ankles and enjoyed the ocean view.

Never had such a majestic view while dining.

At peace with myself and rehydrated I made my way back to the bungalow. There I took a stroll, watched Youtube on my hammock outside the bungalow, played with the cats and waited until it was time to eat dinner. At first I thought about trying all dishes on the menu while staying at this resort, but the menu was huge and because it was so hot I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted to. Most of the time I had some sort of salad, curry or rice with various veggies, fruit and meat. One of my favourite dishes was the Pomelo-Chicken salad, made from the plump flesh of ripe pomelo, dressed in lemon, salt and fish sauce, topped with cooked chicken, fried onions, roasted peanuts and sometimes other veggies when the cook had them on hand. My go to drink was anything fruity, like fresh watermelon juice (my mouth waters just by thinking about it), mango juice, papaya juice and so on.

Coconut, banana and cinnamon frozen drink. Best drink ever!

During my stay at Island Yoga most of my days consisted of the same: yoga, meditation, sleeping, strolling, merrily cruising on the scooter, eating and petting the cats. You could only swim during high tide because otherwise the water was too shallow and the beach was more of a muddy swamp than anything else. High tide was around noon and around midnight, so I hardly swam. But they had a pool which I used sometimes. It was also nice to just relax in front of the lit pool and enjoy a good book.

Sooo relaxing!

After all those days on the beach, doing yoga and eating amazing food I felt so relaxed and peaceful. I knew the end this journey was near but somehow I did not dread it. I had somehow learned to enjoy the moment and not worry too much about the end of my trip, the days and months after I returned home or even the far far future. I wanted to give every new day the respect and gratitude it deserved.

So I packed my bags, hugged my newly found friends goodbye and enjoyed the ocean and beach on my way back to the hotel near the airport. I could hardly wait to see my partner again. Even though it was one of my shorter trips, I found new appreciation of life and the people in it. Also, I somehow knew that I would return someday – alone, with my partner or with friends, that I didn’t know – but the feeling stuck.

If you are looking for a quiet place to unwind, let go and refocus, maybe give Koh Yao Noi (or really any other place that feels right to you) a try! You never know what you may find – maybe even yourself!

Until next time!

XO Alex

Koh Yao Noi, Thailand – Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of my Thailand journey! After my brief stay in Phuket I had to board a speedboat to reach the island of Koh Yao Noi. It’s roughly a 20 minute ride on said speedboat, it you take the longboat  (there are only a few ones throughout the day) it will take you about one hour. The speedboat ride costs about  15 €, if you go by longboat it will cost less – but as said before, the departure times for the longboat are quite irregular. If you need more information about the departure times check out this website.

Speedboat at Bang Rong Pier, Phuket

The ferry ride was fun and the weather was great. So no bumpy butt hurting speedboat ride, yay! I boarded on the Bang Rong Pier on the east coast of Phuket and landed on Koh Yao Noi Pier. Taxi-like vehicles were already waiting on the pier to pick up tourists and bring them to their resorts. As you can see below, the “taxis” were more like small open trucks. But the ride was comfy, breezy and the view was AMAZING! You ride alongside the shore and through the forest and because this vehicle is so open, you feel as if you were amidst it all.

Hello “Taxi”!

After a 20 min ride (we had to drop off other tourists along the way), we reached the resort I would be staying at for the next 7 days. Island Yoga is a wonderful place with lots of little bungalows, yoga rooms, a restaurant, beach and nature all around as well as many furry companions (cats) that like to enjoy the warmth that radiates of the walkways between the buildings. 

They look pretty comfy!

Cats, cats and more cats 😍

I checked in and was brought to my own little bungalow. I chose to stay in a private bungalow with a ceiling fan (no air con though). You could also stay in a dorm-like room and could choose between no ventilation at all, a ceiling fan or a room with air con. I wanted to stay on my own because this was meant to be a journey of quiet meditation, yoga and lots of introspection – so it would only distract me to have room mates all around me. But if you travel with friends or want to connect more, then the dorm-like rooms are a great option!

My own little bungalow!
Look at that huge space! Up to three people could sleep in there.

It was already quite late in the afternoon when I finished unpacking and so I decided to just take a walk and explore the area instead of hurrying to the evening yoga class. If you want to see some videos of the area as well as some scenic views and waves crashing on the beautiful beach you can do so on my Nextbeat page! Just check out my Thailand room. I hadn’t seen anything of this island other then the parts I passed when riding the taxi so I decided to have dinner at the resorts restaurant. As you know me, every trip is a food trip for me, no matter the initial purpose of any journey. You will NEVER find me fasting or dieting while traveling. I love to enjoy the local food, customs and way of living/eating way too much to punish myself like this. So this Thailand trip was no exception. I ate and ate and ate until I couldn’t eat anymore. Whenever I saw something that looked or smelled good and I even had the tiniest of space in my stomach I would order it! So here are some pictures of what I ate (just a small selection because, y’know, not everyone is into foodporn, haha). Everything was good, fresh, had lots of veggies, meat and fruit and was quite spicy sometimes. And ooooohhhh, the fresh fruit juices. They were to die for ðŸ˜

Green Papaya salad
Fresh watermelon juice
Pomelo-Chicken salad. Sooooooo gooooood!

Refreshed, sated and joyful after watching the sunset from my table, I returned to my “home” for the next week. The Wifi connection was a bit tricky sometimes but on this day it was good enough to Skype with my partner, attest my arriving safely via WhatsApp and ended the day with a few Youtube videos to unwind. Yes, it was quite hot, even at nighttime, but the windows were open all day round so it was bearable. The only downside were the hordes of mosquitos (well, I knew that beforehand, but still). Every bed had mosquito netting and I was wearing insect repellent as well as putting tissues with insect repelling oils (like citronella) on my mattress. But nothing helped and by the end of the trip I would look like I had the measles…

That was just the beginning….

I slept rather well and woke up early next morning in time for Morning Yoga. The morning class is a more powerful yoga style to wake you up, stretch your body and up your strength as well as your stamina. Because summer in Thailand is really hot we sweated a lot. Like, a lot a lot. But doing exercises while listening to the sounds of birds, the wind rustling in the leaves and the cats meowing under the elevated bungalow floor was so refreshing and so soothing that it is hard to describe. After one and a half hours of training we felt pretty tired but also very elevated. 

I knew then that it had been the right decision to come here. It was what my body and soul needed. Right after morning class you can have breakfast. All of us were sweaty and very hungry, so we just went to have breakfast as is and showered afterwards. Breakfast never tasted this good. It was buffet style and you could choose from some egg dish (like sunny side up, scrambled, omelette, etc.), fried rice or noodles, salad, veggies, fruits, bread, sweets and many more. Fresh water was available for free all day round, tea as well. After stuffing our faces we headed for our rooms to shower. In every bungalow you have a tiled room with a shower head on the wall, a small basin and a toilet. The wet room had no windows but small rectangular openings on the upper side of the walls facing to the garden. Fresh air could come in and the steam could get out. There being no glass windows you tended to have “visitors” in your bathroom. Most of the time it was either bugs, insects and/or geckos. Honestly spoken I would have rather had more geckos in my bungalow because they would have munched on the stupid mosquitos and other insects…

Look at those cuties 😍You can find them all over Thailand.

After my shower I decided to explore the island a bit. But more of that in my next and last post! So if you want to see more scenic pics and explore this little island with me, stay tuned!

XO, Alex