beef

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obviously a rubbish shot but a startlingly accurate one

You know, you meet at the Subiaco farmers market to select food for the night’s dinner with friends, share in the fruits of the farmers toil by filling your basket with produce and then you go and drink several beers, a couple of G&Ts, a bottle of sparkling red (experimental Myattsfield), a bottle of Riesling (’09 Castle Rock) and a Shiraz (’04 Will’s Domain) [all local and great] and wonder why the room’s spinning while you’re carving the main course.

It’s a valuable lesson against starting early and then waiting for excitable kids to go to sleep before starting dinner but, that said, mission accomplished. Three courses from what we picked up earlier – pecans, snapper, organic sweet potato and potatoes, an eye fillet of beef, rocket and assorted lettuce, field mushrooms, snapper, bread, double cream and, as an added challenge for a nation troubled by fruit/meat combos, a tray of peaches.

So.

Entree
Snapper cooked and tossed in a peach salsa of a couple of diced peaches, handful of coriander, half a finely chopped onion, a finely chopped green chili, a squeeze of lime juice, and a splash of olive oil. Leave salsa for an hour to let the flavours mingle with each other and adjust flavours to taste.
Frozen snapper reacquaints itself with the sea with a sprinkle of salt and left for five minutes before cooking on the BBQ. Try also with frozen prawns.

Mains
Beef fillet seasoned, seared, brushed with eggwhite and truffle mustard and then covered with a mix of ground pecan and fresh breadcrumbs (2:1 ratio). Popped in a baking tray flanked by large field mushrooms cut in half and sprinkled with the pecan-bread mix and all splashed with olive oil. Pop a meat thermometer in the fillet and cook it in a hot lidded BBQ. Remove when the thermometer reads about 55C for medium rare and let it rest.
Jus made in from chopped mushroom stems and red wine reduced [actually I can't remember exactly what happened here]
Potatoes diced and parboiled to join the oven roasting diced sweet potato [slow roasting releases the sugars] and then roasted up with extra olive oil and some salt.
There was also a rocket and peach salad somewhere in there.

Dessert
Slice the cheeks off the peaches, brush with a little olive oil and grill on the BBQ. You can even go that bit further and manage not to cremate the skin. Extra points for crosshatched 90degree rotation on grill.
Serve with double cream and a few wavy lines of cream of balsamic .

I then walked through a screen door, demanded photos of myself, a few other things which I’ll be told in due season and then the autonomic defense system kicked in, found me a comfy chair and sent me gently to sleep. A perfect evening.

Pro Kitchen Drinking Tips!
1. Prep! Get all the tricky slicing stuff out of the way earlier on – nobody loses a finger stirring.
2. Cook and leave! High maintenance dishes take away valuable time spent socialising with a glass of something.
3. Desserts! You’ll be at the lowest level of your skills. Keep it easy.
4. Coffee! You’ll need one to make it from dessert to the cheese platter.
5. Manners! Nobody’s going to pour you a glass of something nice after an expletive filled rant on cycleways.

Public Notice: I’ll be speaking about editing a food mag, food blogging and related interesting things next Thursday as part of the Autumn UWA Extension Course. I believe there might still be a seat or two available. More details.

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beef wellington


Ha! The French, inventing a dish that used the favourite meal of the English, the rosbif, and then naming it after
a waterproof boot. Touché! as they say

This is an exercise in deciding how much faffing around you want to do with a meal, and in this case I had a day to idle away. Busier folk could simply wrap a log of spam in store bought puff pastry and then place it in the bin.

The recipe is a combination of a few recipes from my handy Le Cordon Bleu at Home and on the internets. This was actually one of my first fancy dinner party meals when I was at uni and for some reason I decided to make it in the middle of summer. Moving the table out to the back garden helped matters. Although I managed to offend two guests by describing new railway stations their friend has designed as “a large superphosphate shed and a greek temple for the gods of suburban blah”. Would I offend again? The weather was better though.

Features!
-homemade puff pastry (not something I do often/ever)
-shiitake duxelles
-a herb crepe wrap

welly wrap


I’m not going to tell you how to make puff pastry, I just diligently followed a cookbook but it is doable and give yourself a fair amount of time as it needs a couple hours of refrigeration in the process of making it. What is made is a large number of buttery layers with six rotations of a triple fold. So I guess it would be something like- three layers, nine layers, 27 layers, 81 layers, 243 layers, 729 layers.

Beef
I got the beef eye fillet (1.2kg for seven people) from Jeremy’s (and nice it was). Tie it in five places to keep its shape and sear on all sides for about five minutes. Place it on a chopped carrot and a sixthed onion and cook in a 200C oven for 20 minutes. Remove the fillet and allow to cool and then cool in the fridge. Roast the carrots and onion for another twenty minutes and then deglaze the tin with brandy and port. Keep the liquids and the solids to make the sauce later and scrape off any fat that appears on the surface.

Duxelles
I used a combination of 300gm of fresh shiitake and fresh field mushrooms and cooked in a pan for 15 minutes with two finely chopped scallions. Add half a cup of cream and a couple of tablespoons, chopped, of fresh herbs – parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme (stoppit) . Puree to smooth. It ends up looking like a pate which is interesting because one alternative to duxelles is to coat the fillet with pate (as in the liver paste) or fois gras and then warp it in pastry. Chill in the fridge

Crepes
I saw this on the net and then couldn’t find it again but then I found another recipe which suggested using rice paper so the pastry doesn’t get soggy. So I thought the crepe would do the same trick.
Just your basic crepe batter with the aforementioned herbs mixed in. I was going to add porcini dust but they didn’t have any at Herdies so no to that.

Assembly and Cooking
Remove the string from the beef fillet.
Roll out the pastry to 3mm thickness and trim. Place crepes in the middle and spread a layer of the duxelles and place the fillet on top. Spread duxelles over the fillet. and top with a crepe. Fold the pastry over lengthwise. Seal the ends with a roller and fold the ends over. Turn the beef wellington over with the seal down and brush with egg wash. You can decorate with strips of spare pastry if you like and brush again with egg wash.
Allow to cool in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Place a metal cone (from a pastry bag or bong) in the middle to allow steam to escape and prevent it going soggy.
Place in a buttered baking tray. Cook in a 180C oven for 40 minutes and then allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Sauce
Strain the deglazing liquids and then reduce in a pan with beef stock and red wine.

Parsnip, Sweet Potato and Leek Cake
A large roti that seemed to resemble coleslaw. Not as successful as I’d hoped as a cake tin dooesn’t allow for the right amount of crisping without burning that a pan does.
Julienne the sweet potato and the parsnips and parboil for a minute. Julienne a leek and cook in goose fat until soft and then add the parsnip and sweet potato. Mix through and season and add to a cake tin and cook along with the roast.

welly stovetop


Tasty although I don’t know what I was thinking with the application of the jus, Decided to go all Jackson Pollock, who liked a drink or two I hear.

Topless Seafood Pies


seafood things


These came to me in a dream. Not a very well detailed dream with a complete recipe and I can’t remember if in the dream the shortcrust shells were supposed to look like an ashtray made in year 3 art class. But the idea was pastry in a dariole mould and filled with prawns and scallops. The prawns and scallops and red emperor fillets were chopped into bitey bits.
Wan’t sure about the sauce but I found a crayfish head in the freezer. I removed the shell and the legs and crushed them. The flavour of the shells isn’t soluble in water, only alcohol and fat (mmmm) so the shells were sauteed with some celery as an aromatic, flambeed with brandy and then simmered in cream for 40 minutes.
I then added a few strands of saffron and seasoned. A small amount kept as a sauce and with the rest, an egg yolk and some finely chopped parsley and then poured over the seafood in the shells.

Rice Pudding
rice pudding

The rice to milk ratio is very small 4tbs of short grain rice to 800ml of full cream milk. Bring to a boil in a Creuset dutch oven with a vanilla pod and 2tbs of caster sugar and cook in a 150c oven for 90 minutes. Keep an eye on it or you’ll, as I did, run out of milk and scald the pot.
You’re supposed to then stir in some whipped cream but I forgot that bit at this blurrier end of the eveing but did manage to remember to mix in some fresh passionfruit pulp and decide to caramelise some caster sugar on top with the kitchen torch.

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lychini pork bean curd wraps crayfish and spring onion
szechwan pepper chicken garlic beef and tofu unsuccessful dessert

I like Chinese. The problem is that it’s an open ended dinner that doesn’t necessarily have to stop at three dishes, particularly as I usually decide that all major meat groups must be addressed, so it became five. They were:
Pork and Mushroom Steamed Bean Curd Rolls; Crayfish with Spring Onion; Szechwan Red Pepper Roast Chicken with Chinese Sausage Stuffing and Chinese Greens; Slow Cooked Beef and Tofu with Fried Rice; Unsuccessful Annin Dofu.

Afraid I won’t be listing all the recipes (I do have a life you know, no really, well lazy’s a bit harsh, I did make a garden bed the other week, no I know it’s not finished) but would like to point you in the way of Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook. It’s comprehensive, well detailed, and most of the recipes follow similar principles so it’s easy to adapt and improvise to use what you have. This allows you to have a rough idea of what you want to cook, go shopping with a bit whimsy, and nlow you’ll be able to make something. A few points.

Tapioca chips are great for pre-dinner snacks as an alternative to prawn crackers. All natural Maxi from Indonesia.

The pork and bean curd rolls were my own creation after I noticed some sheets of bean curd at the Asian grocery store and thought I could do something. It was pork cut into “matchsticks” and marinated in rice wine-splash, peanut oil-splash, sesame oil-teaspoon, soy sauce-splash, and potato flour-teaspoon. Next was a couple of sliced chinese sausages. They come in plastic packs and are sweet and tasty. Very roughly chopped Straw mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and spring onions. All ingredients cooked together in a wok with some cooked glutinous rice mixed in for volume. Now lightly steam or moistened the bean curd sheets and cut into 15cm x 15cm, place a heaped tablespoon of the mix in the middle and roll like a very fat spring roll. Steam in a steamer for 10 minutes and serve. Very tasty but the mix of chewy, crunchy and soft textures is marvellous.

Hmm think I’ll finish this later. Tata! back later
….
Ah yes. The Szechuan chicken recipe is here. However this time I kept it whole and gave it a stuffing of chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms, glutinous rice, garlic, and spring onions. Cooking it flat seems to get a better response but the stuffing was good. Forgot to put oyster sauce on the bed of steamed chinese greens which made them a little dry.

Glutinous rice is great but needs to be soaked for the good part of a day so keep that in mind. Otherwise leave to soak in hot water. I cooked one lot in the steamer to go with the beef and tofu, just wrap it in a towel. After drying a batch out on a tray and stir-fried it with garlic and spring onions in the fat from the chicken’s roasting tray. Yum. Beef cooked slowly with garlic for two hours, well you can imagine how good that was. And the fried tofu held up well.

Crayfish (from Rottnest from Doctor A) matched well with the spring onions, ginger, and rice wine and I like the idea of deep frying the crayfish pieces for 10 seconds before stir frying them.

Finally the Unsuccesful Annin Tofu started as a simple condensed milk and almond essence “tofu” became coconut milk thanks to the free banana giving shop lady’s persuasive powers. Then layers of kiwi fruit and passionfruit but I read that agar agar gives a tougher jelly so I backed off a little and ended up more on the soup end. Ah well.*

As for the dinner, well it was fun. Chris and Crafty came along. As did the doctor and Anna. A thank you to them all for the drinks, gifts and company. A diverse night of chat, neighbourhood yoof threatening (bone tweezers!), and an altercation with a coffee plunger.

dinner party seating

* feck!
Note: Those paying attention will have noticed that many of the ingredients are remarkably similar. Hey? Hey? See what I’m getting at here?

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gyudon Were a copy of our daily newspaper to blow eastwards over the nullabor to people who only knew of Western Australia as the place where soapie characters go to never return, they might think that the state was filled with cranks and bigots who had to wait in line in darkened hospitals while their houses were being burgled and that poorly thought out acts of largesse to private companies for Stalinist style grand engineering projects were good ideas. We’re it not for people like Manas and her koibito Robert writing sharp minded political joy, then I’d have to start my day with a nice hot cup of punch in the face. Could I give her a recipe for teriyaki non-chicken? Why of course, a campaign needs carbohydrates for energy and protein for strength. So an easy variation on the sauce combo – the beef rice bowl or gyudon.

Sauce
Teriyaki is usually reduced or brushed on to form a glaze and much of it’s character comes from the use of sugar but a more general application of it is as a combination of soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), and (depending on who you ask) sake. Start with equal parts and then adjust as needed for saltiness, sweetness, and tanginess respectively. A teaspoon of sugar does no harm. Taste and see.

Making
Take a nice piece of rump (woof!) steak and pound it out. You need pieces about 3mm thick. Good effect can also be made by slicing downwards and vertically for wider but skinnier cuts. Take an onion and slice it finely top to bottom. You can also use spring onions. Quickly brown and remove, then sautee the onions until just softening, return the steak to the pan and the sauce and let reduce until the steak is cooked. Pour on top of a bowl of freshly cook short grain rice and serve with a little cayenne pepper ( or Japanese sansho if you’ve got it). It’s good.

Sensible people will of course vote for Geoff Gallop and Labor this weekend but Colin Barnett is offering me a 12ft ice-cream, just waiting for those costings.


Update: Looking bad for my ice-cream


Update 2: woot! Cheers all that worked hard to secure this most pleasing of wins.

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potroast1

Two meals from our post christmas camping trip to Denmark.

Camping dinner must meet certain requirements. It must involve fire. It must take time. It must use a camp oven. Tuna sandwich, no. A large piece of topside, yes.

My usual trick is to roast it and then finish with a few glasses of wine. Sadly, crisp dry summer undergrowth and warm toasty camp fires do not a happy pairing make. So I lacked the coals to surround the camp oven with and instead had the unidirectional heat of the gas BBQ. The solution was to make something in between a pot au feu and a pot roast (I lacked the cook books to be faithful to either and worked on guesses). It worked so well that when I returned to the Denmark Dewsons, I did the same thing again. Here are the two variations.


Variation 1

potroast1forcarving

First I seared the beef (keeping the topside whole) on all sides, removing to sautee 6 cloves of garlic and two chopped onions. Back in went the roast followed by 1/3 pinot noir, 1/3 beef stock, and 1/3 water to nearly cover the beef. Next a handful of thyme and two bay leaves. Following, were the finely chopped stems of a dozen swiss brown mushroom followed by their halved caps. The broth was brought to a boil and then left to a very slow simmer with the lid on. Kipfler potatoes were added after an hour.

[two hours pass, the sun sets, the flies go to bed, beers are drunk]

Testing the meat it is clearly ready. Slice thinly, placed in bowls with the potatoes and then the broth covers it to make a soup. Topside is lean and therefore not the tenderest of cuts and doesn’t break down like stewing cuts but it was flavourful enough and the broth was tremendous.

modydisgorges


Variation 2

potroast2

[the following evening]

As above but lacking anything for larding, I thought stuff it and lard it with garlic. The stuffing was rosemary and sage with duxelles of butter, mushroom and onions. A pocket made with a knife and then closed with the stem of rosemary. Roasted it for about half an hour before adding the broth.

Similarly good and just as enjoyed. The stuffing broke up the unrelenting meatiness. I don’t know if slowly stewing a stuffed piece of meat is correct protocol but it was good.

fieldkitchen

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Paw-paw marinated kebabs

Reid over at his site ‘Ono Kine Grindz has had more hot dinners than ahmm. Put it this way, if Hawaii were an atom and restarants were protons then it’s be ooh let’s say ununbium. Anyway, he got me thinking with a guava and pork marinade and, being a member of the reality based community, I thought I’d shore up the experimental method.

Instead of guava, I found paw paw and that’s a natural tenderiser. Just the thing to go with rump steak kebabs. Now when it comes to marinades you’ve got your olive oil and lemon ones; yoghurt; soy based; satay; and then coconut milk ones. Coconut it was and then it was a small tin of coconut cream with a cup of minced paw paw. A tbs of minced ginger for bite and one chopped red chilli for even further bite. Half a cup of shredded coconut for coating texture. All this was mixed in with a near kilo of rump steak – cubed. Left for 6 hours in the fridge.

Skewered and then cooked on a stove top skillet. Still seemed a bit pina coladery but turned it to advantage with an added angle of barcardi rum and flambéd (keep a lid handy in case things get our of hand) to finish. Left to chill in the fridge for an evening picnic.

What an evening. In the Quarry Ampitheatre, carved out limestone, just down the road. The night was clear, amongst the trees, with alluringly tasteful dancing demontrations of a latin nature. I could have well saved myself the skillet and seared them on the pearl underpants of a carnival dancer and grilled them on the exposed thigh of a tango dancer.

The kebabs were ok, tender but lacking a little something – maybe a sauce, but we have to try, and learn.

On topic: Science in the Kitchen. A La Cuisine! Clement does the post I should have done if I’d just stop messing about.

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Never made a terrine before and I think it has something to do with the reason I don’t make many cakes, the intrinsic fussiness of presentation. On the plus side, the variety of possible ingredients allows a large range of thematic interpretations. I had considered doing one that resembled the layers of the earth but decided that I’d make an Irish one for an Irish friend’s 30th and work over an old favourite. The party was postponed a week but the terrine went on.

To tell the truth, I can’t be arsed writing everything down but here’s a sketch – if you want more details, you know where to find me.

Beef and Guiness Stew as here but without the spuds and the addition of the aromatics – leek (ermm Celtic heritage), carrots and celery. No red wine (not irish) or beef stock (didn’t want to use commercial stock).

The spuds were to make their own layer and were thinly sliced and steamed above the bubbling stock above. The idea was the fumes would infuse into the potatoes like damp smoke. Did it work? Exceeeeeeeeeeeedingly subtle.

Lamb and Kidneys

Oven roasted slowly and moistened with the above stock. Shredded when done.

Aspic

French jiggery pokery that I couldn’t really see the point of but when Le Cordon Blue at Home says do it, then you do it. The stew was strained and the beef shredded and the stock returned with a new round of aromatics and egge whites that were to capture rogue impurities. Strained after half and hour and still bits, so it was all twice strained through a tea towel. Reheated later with 1 tbs of gelatine.

Assembly

Had a great plan to pipe a mashed potato Celtic design but this was downgraded to the famous and much toasted, I’m sure, Ley Line Following Potato Circles of County Cork with a green, sweated-in-butter leek background. Then the lamb and kidney, a layer of potatoes, and then the beef, and filled with aspic (barely enough).

Eating

Taken over for Sunday arvo beers. I was impressed with the dots against the green even thought they’d somewhat randomised. Carving was a disaster and I think it may have called for some kind of drop saw or high tech laser. THIS WAS NOT HOW IT WAS MEANT TO BE. The taste, fine but not knock your socks off, maybe a few veal bones in the soup may have helped. Enjoyable. yep that’s it. Looked at the residual pile of meat and jelly and it made me not think of the Emerald Isles but Pal. Presentation – pah!

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