Stewy goodness

There’s nothing nicer on a cold winter’s day than coming home to a slow cooker bubbling away enthusiastically while the smell of Tuscan beef stew wafts throughout the flat.

This was the greeting we received last night and it made for a very happy evening.

I forgot to take a photo of our stew, such was my haste to begin eating it, so I’ve borrowed one from here. The recipe is from an excerpt of Gary Mehigan’s Comfort Food. I’ve adapted it slightly but I’m sure Gary wouldn’t mind.

For me, stew is hands down the best thing about winter. Oh…and goose down doonas :)

Tuscan Beef Stew
Serves 4
Pre time 15 mins
Cook time 5 hours in the slow cooker

1 kilo chuck steak cut into 4cm pieces
Ground black pepper to dredge
50 ml olive oil
150g pancetta, cut into 2cm cubes
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut into bite size pieces
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 large kipfler potatoes
A handful of snow peas
100ml red wine
100ml white wine ( I didn’t have white so I did 200ml red wine)
4 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs ( I used about 10 as I always feel recipes under thyme things)
Parsley to serve

1) Dredge beef liberally with ground black pepper.
2) Heat oil in a large pan, cook beef in batches,  stirring for 6-8 minutes, until browned all over. Remove from pan. In same pan, cook pancetta for 3 mins, until golden. Remove from pan.
3) Place all meat in slow cooker, top with onion, carrot, potatoes and snow peas.
4) Cover meat & vegetables in wine, stock, bay leaves and thyme.
5) Mix it all around, whack the slow cooker onto auto.
6) Come back six hours later, serve with rice and chopped parsley.

The absolute deliciousness of Vietnamese salads

Even though I think Margaret Fulton sold her soul when she became the spokesperson for Woolworths, I couldn’t help but pick up one of her recipe cards when I popped in there the other day.

I just can’t go past any form of Vietnamese salad so Margaret’s card for flash fried beef & vermicelli salad caught my eye.

Vietnamese food and, in particular, Vietnamese salads always taste so wonderfullyflavoursome . I think it’s the smooth balance between all the opposing flavours that does it. And the mint and corriander add a refreshing element. Plus, if you double the quantity of chilli, they’re not too cold to eat on a Winter’s night. Hence, dinner on Thursday was Margaret Fulton’s flash fried beef & vermicelli salad.



Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

200 grmas rice vermicelli noodles
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved and sliced
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup corriander leaves
2 tbs extra light olive oil
500g blade steak, sliced thinly
2 tbs chopped, toasted peanuts

1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs fish sauce
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped (I used two large chillies)

1) Place noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water and set aside. Noodles should be tender but firm.
2) Meanwhile, to make dressing, combine lemon juice, sugar, fish sauce and chilli in a small bowl. Toss noodles together with cucumber, carrot, herbs and dressing and set aside.
3) Heat oil in  a large non stick wok or fry pan on high. Quickly stir fry beef in hot oil until colour changes. Add beef to the noodles and mix.

Ain’t that the truth

“You get to a certain point in life where you understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can’t put things off thinking you’ll get to them someday. If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you might. So I’m very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it.”

Nora Ephron

A little obsessed with graffiti

I LOVE this Luke Barker painting. I spotted it at the Art Gallery  a couple of weeks ago when I went to see the Archibald, Wynne & Sulman prizes.

I know art is subjective, but how the Wynne prize could have been given to a random motorbike tipped upside down and stuffed into a wagon is beyond me.

This painting, on the other hand, looks so freaking real that it almost feels like a photo. It was certainly the winner of the Wynne for me.

Don’t you think graffiti is fabulously colourful and expressive?  In Melbourne it seems to be done particularly well and really brightens up some of the grey, run down alleys.

Apparently Luke sold this painting. Sadly, it wasn’t to me, but I’m still glad it got snaffled up. I wonder what happened to the motor bike….

Defrosted at last

I spent the weekend at my parent’s place and golly gee but it’s freezing in their neck of the woods! Not only is the temperature lower than in Sydney but their house is far too big and really badly insulated.

I woke up at the crack of  yesterday’s dawn, feeling chilled to the bone and I couldn’t seem to get warm for the rest of the day. I went for a walk, I read in the sun, I sat in front of the fire with a blanket on my lap but all to no avail. I was icy cold and seemed set to stay that way.

When my Grandfather offered me a copy of the Coles Winter Magazine that included recipes for five fast soups, I became totally fixated with the idea of slowly sipping a cup of some kind of broth, sure that it would be what finally thawed me out.

I wasn’t able to make it until tonight, but this chicken and corn soup is possibly the easiest thing I’ve ever cooked. I’m not sure if you could even call it cooking actually.

Even though I don’t really like chicken that much and even though I dont’ really like creamed corn, it was warm, filling and has defrosted me at last.

Chicken and corn soup
Serves 4
Preparation – 10 minutes
Cooking – 10 minutes

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 spring onions, sliced
3 cups of chicken stock
2 x 310g cans of creamed corn
420g can of corn kernels, drained
2 chicken breast fillets

1)  Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add green onions and cook over medium – low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until just soft. Add stock, creamed corn and corn kernels. Bring to a simmer.

2) Cut chicken fillets in half lengthways and finely slice crossways. Add to the pan and cook for 3 minutes or until tender.