Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Lunch Diaries: Toasted Steak Sandwich

Todays lunch: A sandwich that could feed a small village. 300 grams of mouthwatering eye fillet steak with rocket, a generous serve of Jarlsberg cheese, and homemade mustard seed aioli (for recipe click here and just add 1 tbsp of seeded mustard to the aioli).  

The Perfect Mash

I believe that for most things to turn out perfectly, the task needs to be approached with care and patience. Gardening, good relationships, and a host of other pursuits are examples of this. When we are careless or in too much of a hurry, we can expect that the results of our input might be disappointing. The same goes for mashed potatoes. The perfect mash, though it might contain the exact same ingredients as a less than ordinary mash, stands out because of the two vital ingredients: time and patience... Oops, I mean three vital ingredients, time, patience and LOTS of butter! 

What you'll need
800 grams (28oz) of Coliban potatoes
150 grams (5oz) of salted butter cubed
1/2 cup of milk

Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks then place in a large saucepan of boiling water for around 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Drain the potatoes and add the cubed butter and milk. Mash until your heart is content! and then mash some more, and more. Make sure you mash and stir at the same time. The mashing process usually take around 10 minutes, believe me your arms will get tired so I suggest getting a friend to help take turns. 

Voila. Buttery and creamy mash prepared with love :-)

Monday, 28 January 2013

Exploring The Country-cide(r)

With the Australia Day long weekend ahead I wondered how I was going to enjoy my little break from university. As I um-ed and ah-ed I received a call from one of my oldest friends, Kate, who lives in sunny Queensland. She was also having trouble deciding what to do with her time off work and, rather than spending it alone, we decided she would catch a plane the very next day and spend the weekend with me in the northern victorian countryside.  

There was no question about what we'd get up to while she was here. With Bendigo putting on its best weather, we had to indulge in a whole lot of cider drinking. To welcome her to the town, we stopped in at Wine Bank on View where we enjoyed delicious local cider in the sun.


It was then, while we sipped away on a local offering, that we decided it was crucial we indulge in some cider straight from the source. The very next day we packed our sandwiches and our good selves into the car and made our way to Cider country. Harry was a trooper and played designated driver for the day. First stop on our travels was Henry of Harcourt Cidery.

As some of the ciders were 20% alcohol volume, the small tasting was enough to get us a little rowdy. Henry (the cider maker) didn't mind us trying on his hats.

Next Stop: Harcourt Valley Vineyard to try their freshly brewed ginger beer. It was to die for! Not only is ginger beer the tastiest and most refreshing bevy on a hot sunny day it's also a great remedy for an upset tummy.

When we arrived at Bress (the last Cidery for the day) it was all happening. People travel from all over to visit this place and I can see why. The staff are fun and friendly and the ciders are second to none.  Oh and did I mention the tastings are free?!


This is Ollie, one of the locals at Bress.

Meet Sid, I think he liked my shirt. 

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Open Taco Sandwich

Hola! I am OBSESSED with fresh bread right now. I've basically converted my kitchen into a commercial bakery this week, and the smell of fresh bread baking is such a winner with any hungry visitors that swing by. This week I decided to team my delicious french loaf with an authentic Mexican dish. who says you can't combine two cultures in one meal? My kitchen, my rules!

I decided to whip up a mouthwatering shredded beef. It's always the first thing I'll order when eating out at a mexican joint. I topped it with a simple homemade salsa and diced avocado (didn't have time for guacamole). So my hungry little Amigos lets get cooking. 

What you need

3 tablespoons of diced onion
3 large ripe tomatoes, deseeded, peeled and diced
1 red chilli deseeded and sliced finely
1 1/2 tablespoons of lime juice

1 kg lean beef topside roast- sliced into 3 cm thick pieces 
1 greed chilli, deseeded and sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 X 400 grams diced tomatoes

Lay beef chunks flat on the base of a casserole dish.     

Deseed the chilli by slicing lengthways on one side, scrape seeds out with your thumb. Use a kitchen utensil if you can't avoid touching your eyes immediately after handling the hot chillies. Slice thinly and add to beef. 

Sprinkle cumin powder evenly over the beef. (You can add any     other spices you like to give you beef a bit of flavour, cinnamon sticks, turmeric and garam masala to name a few). 

Pour the canned tomatoes in and add enough water to ensure the beef is fully immersed. Pop it all in a pre-heated oven of 130°C with the lid on the dish.

A quick 6-10 hours later or after a good night sleep, your beef will look like this.

 Mash lightly and the beef will just fall apart nicely. Trust me it tastes better than it looks!

 Now for the five minute salsa: place diced onions into a strainer and pour over 2 cups of boiling water, this helps to soften the onion and makes it taste just that little bit more pleasant.

Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and add lime juice. Stir. VoilĂ , your salsa is ready. 


Slice any good quality bread into thick pieces.

Add toppings in this order: shredded beef, salsa and diced avocado.

Believe me, you will want to demolish every last morsel. I certainly did and went to bed with the closest thing I'll ever have to a pregnant belly!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Handcut Chips with Garlic Aioli

So, who watched the tennis last night? Wasn't it good? I know most of you will be disappointed that Federer lost and I totally get it - he seems like a really great guy. While I feel your (and his) pain, I must confess I was cheering for Murray in that match. You see, two Scottish people brought me into this world (thanks mum and dad!) and I suppose it makes me feel like I should show some sort of loyalty to Scotland when it comes to duels such as that between Murray and Federer last night. 

So, there we were - me, Harry Rachel and Dan all glued to this tennis match and we were starting to get super hungry. Now, when you are glued to the television as the second set is taking place, you don't have time to go to the shop for anything. And that's a shame because us students don't really ever have anything readily available in the fridge or pantry. But last night I swear the gods were smiling upon us, just as they were on Murray. And I know this because, after a cavity search of our pantry, we discovered we had potatoes! And what is the cornerstone of your average Scottish diet? Deep fried potato chips, wrapped in newspaper just like our grandma used to make them.

We gave our fried friends a little "Modern Australian" twist with our garlic aioli. And before you correct me, I am aware aioli didn't originate in Australia, but we've totally adopted it as our own, just like the pavlova, barbecues and Thai food. 

What will you need for this simple, effective dish?

Oil - hopefully you have a deep fryer with used oil but fresh in the fry pan is also OK

3 teaspoons of crushed garlic
2/3 cup of virgin olive oil
2 eggs yolks
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons of American Mustard

Prepare your aioli by separating the yolk of two eggs and adding to a bowl with garlic. Using your electric beaters, mix on a low setting for about one minute. 

Next, you are going to need to SLOWLY add oil to the bowl in droplets. If you add too much oil at a time, the aioli will not emulsify (fancy word for egg and oil not being able to mix together - you can tell that guy/girl you want to end things with that you didn't "emulsify" properly and they'll look at you like you're mad and hey presto you'll probably never see him/her again). You can slowly start increasing the flow of oil 'til it is a thin stream as you are beating the eggs - it will take about ten minutes for you to add all the oil. 

Then you can add a couple of teaspoons (I added three myself) of garlic, salt and pepper and if you're after a bit more zing in your life, add an extra teaspoon of American mustard.

Now for the chips - start by peeling your potatoes then slicing them lengthways to resemble french fries. Actually, screw that, cut them as thick as you like. I like them thinner but that doesn't mean I can't accept your preference for a fuller figured chip. Different strokes. You can soak the chips in water beforehand if you want but I don't have time to wait when I'm hungry and need sustenance to get me through the next set. A simple rinse is fine for me.

Set your deep fryer to 190°C. If you don't have a deep fryer, heat 3 cups of oil in a large saucepan on high - the chips ready when they float to the top. You can keep them floating there for longer if you like a bit of extra crunch and colour. 

When the chips are done, place the chips on paper towel to soak up any extra oil and give a really generous shake of salt and they're ready to enjoy!

Bon Appetit! And Happy Burns Night to all the Scots out there! (Thanks to my sister Rach for the hand modelling - she has a great set of paws, no?)