Honey Pepper Beef Marinade and Stirfry Recipe

pepper beef

“I just love Chinese food. My favourite dish is number 27.” ~ Clement Attlee

 

Note: Finally, the recipe I tried to post the other day! This is the one that kept uploading pictures of the beach, instead of my food pictures. How grateful I am now that this post was already written and only needed to have the pictures added, as we are still grief-stricken here at the farm, and missing our dear dog Bert so very much. I could barely think what to write this morning. Now that I’ve added these pictures we are taking Harry to the beach for a walk and then a coffee, as he is heartbroken at the loss of his brother. Thank you for all of your messages of love and support. They have been a great comfort to us. Anyway, read on. It really is a very tasty recipe…

 

This is a simple but really flavoursome dish. I’ve given quantities to serve four, but the recipe can easily be adjusted for fewer or more people.

The meat needs to be marinated for an hour minimum, but I prefer to leave it at least four or five hours for the flavour to deepen. I’ve also left the meat in the marinade for a few days, well refrigerated, and it was delicious when finally cooked.

If you want you can also use the marinade for steaks, chops and ribs. It goes equally well with beef, pork or lamb.

 

Marinade Ingredients:

2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, 1 teaspoon of cornstarch/cornflour or arrowroot, Pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sherry or Shaoxing wine, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Other Ingredients:

500 grams thinly sliced beef strips

For the Stirfry:

Four cups of mixed vegetables, chopped into thin slices or cut into pieces. A slug of your favourite oil for cooking. Rice to serve.

Any of the following are good: onion, red onion, asparagus, snow peas, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, capsicum (bell pepper), cabbage, carrots, egg-plant, zucchini, Chinese vegetables such as bok choi or pak choi, canned or fresh baby corn spears, bamboo shoots, water chestnut slices.

Keep fast-cooking vegetables like bok choi to one side, to cook last.

 

Method:

Combine the marinade ingredients and pour over the beef strips. Mix well. Cover and chill for at least an hour. Longer is better and will give a more tender and flavoursome result.

To cook:

Use a wok or a large frypan with high sides. Have your prepared vegetables ready and your rice done or close to done. You’ll also need a large clean bowl to hold the cooked beef strips. *Never return cooked meat to a marinade, and never put a used marinade on cooked food!

Place some oil in the pan and put it on to a high heat. You want to cook this fast and hot.

Place a handful of strip in the pan. They should sizzle. Stir them until browned, remove to a clean bowl and then repeat with the rest of the beef.

Add a little more oil to the pan and then dump in the vegetables that will take longer to cook. Stir for a few minutes over high heat until they are softening. Add in any remaining marinade. Stir well, and then add the beef back in to reheat. Stir to combine and wait til everything is piping hot. Finally, add the quick-cooking vegetables like your Asian greens to the top of the pan. Stir them through. It will only take a minute or so for them to soften down.

Remove from heat. Serve over rice. Enjoy!

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Bacon, Egg and Broccoli Slice

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“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
~ Albert Einstein

 

I am a big fan of using simple ingredients thrown together to make easy meals. Meals that ANYONE can cook. (Even people with no cooking experience, and people who have rarely ventured into a kitchen or whose repertoire consists of toast, take-away and two-minute noodles. Yep, I’m talking to you, Ben!)

I make variations of this particular meal often. It tastes delicious fresh from the oven, but it’s also great cold and it makes a good lunchbox filler.

Here’s what you’ll need. Adjust your quantities up or down, depending on how many mouths you’re feeding or how many meals you’d like to get out of this dish!

Method:

Grab a high-sided baking dish. It doesn’t matter what shape it is. (Or you could use smaller individual dishes. But that’s a lot more washing up.) Line it with some baking paper so that there is less mess to clean up later.

Ingredients:

Broccoli. Bacon. Red capsicum (bell pepper). Fresh or canned corn. Feta or grated tasty cheese. Salt and pepper. Fresh parsley or green onion (Shallots).

Really, you can add so many kinds of fresh vegetables to this recipe. If they are hard vegetables like carrots – grate them to reduce cooking time. You can also use thin slices of pumpkin, sweet potato, potato.

Eggs. For my baking dish (30cm x 25 cm) I used 8 large eggs. You could use more! Some milk, soy milk, almond or rice milk to mix with it. I used about a cup. What you are essentially making is a simple custard.

*Oven:

When you have lined your baking tray preheat your oven to 180 degrees – 350 degrees fahrenheit. (If your oven is fan forced drop the temperature by 10 degrees.) Then go ahead and prepare the filling for your slice while the oven is heating.

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Chop your bacon into rough small pieces. Make sure you have removed the rind first or it will be really chewy. For my big baking dish I used 3 very big fat rashers, which gave me about a cup of bacon pieces. Use as much or as little bacon as you want. You can also substitute ham or cold roasted meats for the bacon. Vegetarians may enjoy using a seasoned tofu or tempeh.

Cut broccoli into small florets. Throw these directly into your paper-lined pan. When the base of the pan is well covered with broccoli you have enough. Cauliflower also works well, or do a combo!

Remove the corn kernels from a fresh cob or two, or use a small (or large if you are a corn fan!) can of corn.

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De-seed and chop up your capsicum (bell pepper).

Then chop up a good handful of parsley (only the leaves, not the stalks) or a couple of green onions (shallots).

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Throw all of that into your baking tray and then use a large spoon or clean hands to mix it all together so that the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Sprinkle a pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper over the top.

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Now crack your eggs into a large bowl and add the milk of your choice. Whisk it gently together with a fork so that the yolks become broken and everything is blended.

Add a half cup of crumbled feta or grated cheese to the top of the vegetable and bacon mixture. Try to spread it evenly. Go on – use a bit more cheese if cheese is your thing. 🙂

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Pour the egg mixture into the baking tray. Use the fork you whisked the eggs with to gently poke the vegetables a bit to make sure that the egg mixture goes all the way to the bottom of the baking tray.

You’ll still have a few bits poking up that didn’t get covered. That’s okay. It will still cook and taste fine.

If you over-calculated and have too much egg mixture make another quick small individual serve in a bowl or ramekin or even some muffin cases! Just chuck a few bits of vegetable and cheese and maybe a little extra bacon or ham in there. Note: If you use small dishes grease them well with a little butter or oil or the egg and cheese will stick!

If you don’t have enough egg mixture, whisk another egg or two with a splash more milk and pour over. Use your best guess but don’t get stressed about it. It takes practice to work out quantities well.

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Place baking dish into the oven and cook for forty minutes, or until golden and puffy on top and cooked through. You might want to check on the slice after thirty minutes baking time, just to see how it is going.

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Serve on its own, with a spoonful of your favourite relish or chutney, or with some green leaves or a salad.

Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to four days.

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PS – Ben, if you are reading this now, some time post my surgery in early September, you are an awesome husband and you have totally got this. It’s easy, babe. Promise!

Easy Tuscan Chicken Recipe

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“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
~ Laurie Colwin

 

This is a simple meal to throw together, and a regular in our household. The flavours are wonderful and the chicken remains moist and fall-off-the-bone tender. I love to make this when friends come over for a casual dinner, or on a lazy Sunday afternoon for just the two of us so that we have plenty of leftovers to enjoy in the week ahead. (Keep in fridge for five days or up to three months in the freezer.)

My grandmother, Marga, taught me to make this dish when I was still at school. I can’t fail to make it now without thinking of her.  It’s a very versatile recipe, and can be served with all kinds of sides.

I’ve served this chicken with crusty bread and a glass of wine. I’ve chucked a tin of white beans and a couple of cups of sliced mushrooms into the pot an hour before the cooking was finished and made it into a one-pot meal. I’ve served it with a big fresh salad and cobs of corn. I’ve served it on a bed of rice, and also on a bed of pasta. I’ve served it with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, or a big pan of all manner of roasted vegetables. Work with what’s seasonal and fresh in your area right now, and what you and your family love. That way you can’t go wrong.

Do try and make this with chicken pieces that have bones. The flavour will be more robust and the longer cooking and the acid from the tomatoes will help leach all the fat-soluble minerals from the bones, as well as amino acids and the collagen and other nutrients from the meat, cartilage and tendons.

The recipe can also be easily halved, if you prefer.

Here’s last night’s leftovers, all set to go into the fridge. The photo below reminds me of so much of Marga, a fabulous cook who was always putting leftovers into re-purposed ice-cream or butter containers, ready to begin the makings of another meal.

I’ll pull all the meat off the bones tomorrow, and put it back into the sauce. Then it can be used as a ragu over pasta or vegetables, or even served warm for breakfast with a runny poached egg and a handful of fresh herbs on top.

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Ingredients:

2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of chicken drumsticks or chicken pieces with the bones in, 1 small head of fresh garlic (about 12 cloves), 1 large brown onion, 1 cup of your favourite olives, 2 tins of diced tomatoes, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 4 tablespoons of concentrated tomato paste, olive oil, two teaspoons of grated fresh lemon rind, salt and pepper

Method:

Separate the garlic cloves, crush lightly with the flat of a knife and remove the skins. Cut into halves or thirds. Chop the onion into a rough dice.

Heat a slug of oil in the bottom of a very large skillet or high-sided frying pan on medium to high heat. Brown the chicken in batches. The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked through. You simply need to brown the skin and outer flesh. Place chicken to one side.

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Pop the garlic and onion into the pan and reduce heat. Stir until soft and fragrant and then add in the olives and the oregano. Stir some more.

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Now dump in one teaspoon of the grated lemon zest, the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Give a good grind of pepper and a sprinkle of salt and stir well.

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Add the chicken pieces back in, making sure that they are well covered with sauce. Add a lid and cook over low slow heat for four hours, turning occasionally.

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This can also be cooked successfully in a slow cooker for the same length of time.

Just before serving taste the sauce. Add in the extra teaspoon of lemon zest to freshen up the flavour and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Serve and enjoy!

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Roast Lamb with Rosé, Garlic, Honey, Roasted Peaches and Apples

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“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child

 

Roast lamb is a family favourite here at the farm. I love cooking roasts, because there is always enough to feed a crowd, or enough for Ben and I to enjoy a delicious dinner and then to have cold meat and vegetables left over for easy meals in the coming days.

With a long weekend coming up, you might like to try this recipe too. It has a fantastic flavour and delivers a moist, succulent roast filled with flavour.

Note – If peaches aren’t in season where you are, you can substitute extra apples instead.

 

Ingredients:

1 leg of lamb, 500ml of rosé wine, 8 to ten cloves of garlic, 4 large peaches, 2 large apples, dried oregano, runny honey, salt and pepper

 

Method:

Preheat your oven to hot – 220 degrees celcius or 440 degrees fahrenheit. (If your oven is fan forced drop the temperature by 10 degrees.)

Halve the peaches, and cut the apples into quarters, removing the core.

Peel the garlic cloves, and slice fatter ones into two, cutting longwise to make the pieces long and thinner.

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Using a sharp knife with a long thin blade make insertions into the lamb and then use your finger to push one or two garlic pieces into the meat. Aim for a good coverage, and feel free to turn the roast over and add a little extra to the underside of the meat.

Place the meat into a deep roasting pan and surround it with the fruit, cut side up. Season the lamb with a sprinkle of dried oregano, and a good grind of salt and pepper.

Then pour the rosé wine into the pan.

To calculate cooking time allow twenty to thirty minutes for each 500gm of meat. USe a shorter time if you prefer your lamb on the rarer side, or longer if you like your meat well done. I have opted to cook my roast to well done (no pink left) as it is the preferred doneness for my main eater!

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Place roast into the hot oven and cook at this high temperature for twenty minutes.

After twenty minutes remove roast from oven, baste with the juices from the pan, and then turn the joint of meat over.

Drizzle the meat with a tablespoon or two of honey

Return to the oven and lower the temperature to 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit. (If your oven is fan forced drop the temperature by 10 degrees.)

Roast meat for another thirty minutes.

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After thirty minutes turn the roast over again, basting well, and turn the fruit upside down in the pan.

Return to the oven for the remainder of the cooking time.

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When cooking time is finished, remove meat from oven, cover with foil and allow to rest for ten minutes before serving. This allows the juices to go back into the meat, making it succulent and tender, and you won’t end up with a sea of fluid on your cutting board.

Serve your roast with your favourite sides. We used baked potato and sweet potato, and a salad.

Make sure that everyone gets a little of the pan juice and some of the cooked fruit.

Delicious!

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Mexican Beef, Bean and Eggplant Casserole

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“Casseroles are one-pot-wonders!” ~ Carla Hall

 

I love a good casserole, and this one will feed a crowd! This tasty casserole is a filling meal, especially with a side of vegetables or salad. It is gluten-free and low carb too for people who are following those ways of eating.

Any left-overs are terrific served with corn chips, and we’ve even used them in tacos and burritos, or as toasted sandwich fillings.

Ingredients

500g ground beef, two medium onions, 6 cloves of garlic, 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), 1 teaspoon Mexican Chilli powder (or to taste), 3 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 beef stock cube, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon dark chocolate (optional but good! – see this recipe for why), 3 large eggplants (aubergines). salt, pepper, olive oil, grated cheese (minimum of one cup)

Vegetarian or vegan? Substitute 2 cans of brown lentils for the beef mince, and use a vegan cheese.

 

Method

Eggplant

Slice the eggplant into rounds, about 1cm thick. Sprinkle lightly with salt and leave for an hour for them to sweat. Pat down with a clean dish towel to remove the moisture. This will remove any bitterness. If you are using small eggplant you can omit this step.

NB: While the eggplant is sitting, make your mince sauce.

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Lightly brush or spray the eggplant slices with oil, and then grill or pan fry until browned on each side.

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Set aside. Try not to eat too many. 🙂

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Mince Recipe

Add a tablespoon of oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add in your chopped onions and cook until softened but not coloured. Then add the beef mince and brown well.

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Now add in the spices and garlic, stir well and cook for a minute or two until fragrant. Then add the kidney beans, Capsicum, tomato and tomato paste. Stir well.

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Simmer for twenty minutes and then add the dark chocolate, if using. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Set mince aside to cool slightly.

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Assemble the Casserole

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Grease a 20cm x 30 cm deep casserole or lasagne tray or use your own favourite dish. You could also make two smaller casseroles if you prefer!

Place a layer of eggplant along the bottom of the casserole and then cover with a layer of mince.

Place a second layer of eggplant and then more mince.

 

Top the casserole with the final eggplant slices and then spread grated cheese over the top.

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Bake in a moderate oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until heated through and top nicely browned.

Serve with salad, vegetables, rice, bread or corn chips.

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Easy Chilli Con Carne Recipe

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“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.”
~ Shauna Niequist

 

Chilli con carne is one of those great comfort food dishes. I usually make a big pot, and it does us for two or three meals, depending on how many mouths I am feeding. It can be made in a slow cooker, it freezes well, and left-over mince can be used as a nachos topping, in burritos, on toast or in jaffles.

Want to pad it out a bit more? Add in another can of tomatoes and a drained can of tinned corn. Chuck in some vegetables if you want. That’s the joy of country cooking. You work with what you have to hand. I will often add a second can of tomatoes and some extra beans into whatever is left-over after our first meal to make another big pot if I need to.

It’s also easy to adjust the seasoning to suit your family’s taste. Like it hot? Add more chilli. Less hot? Just add a touch, or leave it out altogether.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, 1 large red capsicum (bell pepper), 4 garlic cloves – peeled and crushed or chopped finely, 500g of lean beef mince,  2 rashers of bacon chopped in small dice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tspn smoked paprika, 2 tspns cumin, 1 tspn dried oregano, 1 400g tin of diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 400g tin of red kidney beans – drained, 1 heaped teaspoon of beef stock powder or one large stock cube, 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate (about four squares) salt and pepper to taste, 1 long red chili (or your favourite chilli paste, powder or sauce), fresh coriander (cilantro), lime wedges and cooked rice to serve.

Method:

Dice the onion and capsicum. Add to a large saucepan with the oil over medium heat. Stir until the onion is soft and slightly translucent. Add spices and garlic and keep stirring.

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Chuck in the diced bacon. Stir well to prevent sticking and add another slug of oil if necessary. When the mixture is warmed, fragrant and the bacon is slightly browned add in the mince.

Brown mince well. Now throw in the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, drained kidney beans, beef stock, salt and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust chilli if necessary.

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Add the dark chocolate. Trust me – it adds real depth of flavour. Don’t go crazy. You want to adjust the sweetness without making it taste noticeably of chocolate!

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Turn down heat and simmer for a minimum of thirty minutes.

Serving:

Serve on a bed of rice with fresh chopped coriander sprinkled over the top and a wedge of fresh lime. Additional accompaniments include salsa, grated cheese, guacamole, sour cream or yoghurt, and corn chips.

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Easy Moussaka Recipe

moussaka

“If you are careful,’ Garp wrote, ‘if you use good ingredients, and you don’t take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day; what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane.”
~ John Irving, The World According to Garp

 

I have a truckload of editing to do this week. So I’m grateful to have Moussaka in the freezer. There’s dinner sorted. And lunch. All I’ll have to do is defrost and then heat.

This is a yummy recipe that was given to me by a friend’s mum when I was back at high school and tasted authentic Greek food for the first time. This isn’t a difficult recipe. It takes a bit of time to pull all the components together, but the end result is well worth it – a savoury mince and layers of eggplant topped with a creamy bechamel sauce.

Perfect served with a fresh salad or seasonal vegetables. I make this recipe in a 30cm x 20cm baking dish, but use whatever you have to hand.

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Ingredients:

2 to 3 large eggplants, oil, salt and pepper

Meat Sauce:

1 large onion finely chopped, 2 to 6 cloves of crushed garlic (I like a lot, but you might not!), 500 grams of beef mince, 1 x 400g can of diced tomatoes, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, salt and pepper, olive oil

Bechamel Sauce:

Three tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons plain flour (or gluten-free equivalent), 2 cups of milk, 1 egg, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1/2 cup pizza cheese, salt and pepper

Method:

Eggplant

Slice the eggplant into rounds, about 1cm thick. Sprinkle lightly with salt and leave for an hour for them to sweat. Pat down with a clean dish towel to remove the moisture. This will remove any bitterness. If you are using small eggplant you can omit this step.

NB: While the eggplant is sitting, make your mince sauce.

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Lightly brush or spray the eggplant slices with oil, and then grill or pan fry until browned on each side.

Set aside. Try not to eat too many. 🙂

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Mince Sauce

Add a slurp of olive oil to the bottom of a large heavy-based pot over medium heat. Tip in the onions and garlic and when they begin to soften add the beef and cook until the meat has browned. Now add the tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. If possible, leave sauce to simmer, uncovered, for twenty to thirty minutes.

NB: While meat is simmering make bechamel sauce.

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Bechamel Sauce

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Tip in the flour and whisk well until combined. Slowly add milk, a little at a time, stirring all the while to avoid lumps! Keep stirring over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Break the egg into a cup, beat lightly and then add a ladleful of hot sauce, stirring continuously. Tip this mixture back into the saucepan and stir well. Add the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Stir and taste. Remove from heat. Yum!

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Assembly

Add a layer of eggplant to line the bottom of the baking dish.

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Add minced meat and spread over the eggplant. Top with another layer of eggplant.

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Spread the bechamel sauce over the top and then sprinkle the pizza cheese over the bechamel sauce.

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Cook in a moderate oven  (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit) for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.

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Stand for ten minutes before serving. Cut into squares. Devour!

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