Sunday, April 7, 2013

Burgundy Steak And Mushroom Pie

I come back to this recipe time and time again every winter. The steak smells delicious as is simmers gently in the red wine! As the filling can be made the night before and popped into the fridge, it is quick to prepare on the night if you have guests, or just for a mid-week family meal.

Serve 4

1 onion, finely chopped
butter or dripping for frying
175ml beef stock
450g chuck steak, diced. (Although can use any of the less tender cuts)
120ml dry red wine
3tbsp  plain flour
225g button mushrooms, halved
5 sheets filo pastry (I don't usually eat processed foods, but filo pastry is one of my few concessions)
melted butter for brushing the filo with

soften the onions in a little butter or dripping. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the steak to the pan and brown. Return the onions to the pan, add the stock and red wine, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Checking frequently that is hasn't 'caught' on the bottom of the pan.
Blend the flour with some water and add to the meat. Stir well until the sauce has thickened. Add mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes. Season to taste.
At this point, you can cool the filling and refrigerate it, picking the recipe up again the following day.

Heat the oven to 190deg c, and spoon the mixture into a 5 cup pie/pyrex dish. Brush a sheet of filo with melted butter and scrunch up loosely on top of the filling. Continue with remaining sheets until the filling is covered.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden.

Delicious with fresh vegetables, and creamy mashed potatoes.

Braised Brisket

1.25kg brisket, trimmed, rolled and tied (although you can leave it unrolled if you wish)
25 g dripping (yes, dripping. Not canola oil or other abomination)
25g chopped bacon
1 carrot, thickly sliced
1 parsnip, thickly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, sliced
salt and pepper
250ml beef stock, red wine or a mix of both


2tbsp dripping
450ml Beef stock
2 tsp flour
2 tsp tomato puree
1tbsp soy sauce (optional)
1tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Using a hob-safe casserole dish, brown the meat in the dripping. Remove from pan, and add the bacon and vegetables. Fry gently until softened.
Add salt and pepper, put the beef on top and pour on the stock/wine.

Cover and cook for 2 hours. Either on the hob if you have a heavy-bottomed pan and can keep an eye on it, of by transferring to the oven and cooking at 160 deg C.

Remove meat and veg from the casserole dish and place into serving dishes/plates. Melt the dripping in a saucepan and blend with the flour. Add the beef stock, tomato puree and soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce if using. Strain the stock left in the casserole dish into the gravy, and simmer for a few minutes.

Taken from Mrs Beeton's book of Cookery and Household Management.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Winter's Coming...but the wolves are not having my beef!

Today, hubby collected another order from Rannoch Meats, at Hill Street farmers market.
I'm always a little excited when he arrives home struggling under the weight of a quarter cow, butchered and vacumn-packed into family-sized portions. I never know quite what cuts I'll get. Sometimes we have four or five corned beef joints, this week we had none. Last order saw us cooking sausies and steaks on the barbie like there's no tomorrow. This time round, I'll be stewing, casseroling and braising my way through autumn and winter. Which is no bad thing, considering I'm not really a steak and chips girl, much to my husband's chagrin!
For the first time, I had a few packs of brisket, which is delicious braised slowly with a little bacon and red wine. As well as the brisket, there was shin on the bone, silver side and thick flank, all of which can produce delicious results cooked in a slow cooker, or slowly in the oven.

Take a look at the links on the right, for some great winter casseroles, using some of these cuts.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beef with Raisins and pinenuts

1kg diced braising beef
2tbsp flour
6tbsp olive oil
125ml dark beer
1 chopped onion
1 crushed garlic clove
1tsp thyme
1tsp chopped rosemary
2tsp paprika
1tsp cinnamon
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
250ml beef stock
250g mushrooms, halved
50g raisins
50g pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 180deg c

Coat the beef with flour, and brown in olive oil. Transfer to a lidded casserole dish.
Pour the beer into the pan to de-glaze. Pour into the casserole.
Fry onions and herbs for 5 minutes. Add garlic and spices and cook for a further 6 minutes.
Add to the casserole, along with the tomatoes, stock and bay leaves.
cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 21/2 hours
Add mushrooms, pinenuts and raisins and cook for a further 30 minutes.

I like to serve this with a selection of steamed vegetables, especially savoy cabbage or silverbeet, and baked or mashed potatoes.

Sweet update

Way back in June 2011, I posted that I would:

  • use mostly raw milk
  • eat beef from traditional Devon cows
  • enjoy the company of our own free-range chooks...
  • ...and put their eggs to good culinary use
  • grow heirloom vegetable varieties

So how did I do? Not too badly, actually. We've been drinking raw milk daily and eating the beautiful beef from Rannoch Meats several times a week. Sadly, the chooks didn't eventuate, nor did the heirloom vegetables, but we did achieve many other things that were not on the list:

  • Went sugar-free for a year
  • Frequently baked sour dough bread
  • experimented with fermented veggies
  • Brewed water Keffir 
  • Presented speeches on the Weston Price Foundation, and the effects sugar has on your body
  • Written a recipe book of family recipes (sorry, available to family only)
And of course, learned lots in the process. 
Such as: 
  • Sugar alone isn't the enemy. Processed foods do more damage than a moderate (by which I mean no more than 8 or 10 grams, three times a day) sugar intake. 
  • Don't give up on making sour dough if it tastes too strong. Each loaf tastes better than the last.
  • My kids hate fermented veggies, no matter how much I disguise them. (But they do eat fermented tomato ketchup!)
  • Too much nitrogen in the soil will prevent your broccoli from forming heads.
  • Custard made with raw milk keeps better than it's pasteurised milk counter-part. (raw cream doesn't seem to curdle as readily as pasteurised cream, either) Not really surprising when I think on it. 
  • Water keffir is awesome! It can take on so many different flavours, and I can get the kids to drink it provided it is blackcurrant flavour! I'm planning on a herb-scented grape juice one soon.
  • No matter how many times you proof-read something on a laptop screen, errors will creep into the hard copies.
I'm pretty happy with that :)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sour dough starter

After two unsuccessful attempts at making a decent sour dough starter, I decided last school holidays that I would try for a third time.
There is something fascinating about how nothing more than flour and water can create life, and then use that life to make something wholesome and nutritious. It is a humble reminder of how reliant we are on even the smallest of organisms for survival.

Day one. The starter. With the children playing happily outside, and remembering an article about a Russian baker who was quoted to have said that any stress in the self will show in the bread, I take a deep breath, centre my mind and mix a dough using warm, pre-boiled water and a mix of wholemeal spelt and wholemeal wheat flours.
This dough is then covered with a muslin and placed into the airing cupboard to keep at a constant temperature, and away from draughts.
Day two. The starter rests happily in the cupboard.
Day three. The first refreshment.
After two days, the outside had crusted over just as the recipe book said. This was reassuring, as was the otherworldly oozing of aerated dough that was trying to escape from underneath its air-dried shell.
Rather like eating a  kiwi fruit, I scooped out the insides, and mixed it to a sludge with warm, pre-boiled water, and spelt/wheat flour. Again, it is placed in the airing cupboard. (Although this time, a lid replaces the muslin)
Day four. Happily at rest.
Day five. The second refreshment.
Life will always prevail. In this case, it was the life I had hoped for and not the furry green mould that grew on my last attempt of leaven! After a day and a half, the dough had grown, and had taken on a distinctly sweet and rather sharp smell. Another round of water/dough sludge followed by more flour, and the starter is looking and feeling like a normal bread dough.
Day six. After a fourteen hour rise in the airing cupboard, I'm not too sure whether it has doubled or not. It certainly has risen to some degree though. I keep my fingers crossed that it will have the strength to raise bread.

Pain de Campagne (french heath sourdough bread)

Right. Let's put that baby to work!

Day 1. 8am. The first stage is exactly the same routine as making the starter. Water and dough slurry using the starter, add flour, stash in the airing cupboard. The gluten is very well developed, and the dough sticky.

3pm It has doubled. But only just. Still a big concerned that the starter doesn't have enough strength. Perhaps I let it rest too long? It smells tangy, but not unpleasant. Routine as 8am. Pre-warmed the bowl this time.

10pm. More of the same. The smell has reduced. Still concerned that it isn't rising sufficiently.

Day 2 9.30am. As 10pm yesterday. My four year old enjoyed helping to make a slurry with the dough and water. As a result, it took over an hour to mix!
8pm. The dough is rising very slowly now. It should have doubled at least after two to three hours. It has been nine hours now, and I'm being generous to say it has doubled.
8.30pm A Google search gave me lots of helpful, and not so helpful, advice. I'm quite sure now that the starter was left too long in between feeds, and won't be sufficient to rise the sourdough. The dough is quite heavy, so I added some extra warm water, and stashed it back in the airing cupboard until morning.

Day3. 7am. It's not looking good. Definitely not managed to double its bulk this time. As there is almost 3kg of bread dough at stake here, I decide it needs a helping hand and make a biga.

4.45pm.The biga is looking like a happy girl! Nice and bubbly, and growing well. I mix it into the sour dough, feeling both guilty and apprehensive, then pile the dough into two large bread tins.
 8pm. Still not doubled, but I can't leave it until tomorrow, so in the oven they go.
10pm. Surprise! The amount of rise in the oven was great! More than I was expecting. Typically, I forgot to take a photo of the end result! Maybe I should have waited a little while longer before baking the loaves? After cooling slightly, hubby and I decided the proof would be in the eating.....not the worst sour dough I've eaten. But not the best, either. At least it is edible, and I have a pot of starter in the counter to feed every twelve hours until I feel brave enough to make another batch.