Blades of glory

[Recipe 1] BLADE BEEF POT ROAST with SHIITAKE MUSHROOM GRAVY and BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH TOASTED WALNUTS transforms into
[Recipe 2] ASIAN-STYLE TACOS with BLADE BEEF, KIMCHI COLESLAW and SRIRACHA MAYO

There were moans at the dinner table. Not whiney ones, I mean the ‘Can’t talk, eating’ pleasure-induced type. I’ve gotta say these are two of the tastiest meals I’ve served in ages!
The inspiration for this post began with a dish the husband and I devoured recently at one of our favourite locals, The More the Better – perfectly unctuous pork belly strips, rolled up in large gossamer-thin slices of vinegary pickled daikon (Chinese white radish). The stand-out component for me though was the kimchi-style coleslaw dotted on top. Traditional Korean kimchi is made from fermented cabbage and other veggies, but The More the Better served theirs raw, so it retained a satisfying crunch. Man it was good.
I immediately set about creating my own version of kimchi slaw. We are a family of slaw hooverers, often eating it once a week in wraps with fish or lamb. Mine is usually a mostly-mayo concoction with a dash of apple cider vinegar, but elevating the vinegar to hero status is a taste sensation. Instead of mandolining a daikon to use for wrapping (too fiddly), I grated it and added it to the slaw for an extra kick of tartness. YUM!
Although we do love our pork belly, I served the kimchi slaw with strips of tender roast blade beef, rolled up like soft tacos in Chinese pancakes, with a squirt of creamy sriracha mayo to balance out the vinegared slaw.
As this blog is all about creating two meals from one, we enjoyed my slightly Asian-style blade beef pot roast on the first night, reserving a couple of cups of the juicy beef for the Chinese pancakes. This pot roast is the perfect Winter pig-out, drizzled with shiitake mushroom gravy (which just happens to be gluten-free) and served with confit-style baked spuds and super-tasty Brussels sprouts scattered with toasted walnuts for texture.
Two meals from one, too easy, and either meal would be perfect to dish up for Fathers Day next weekend. xx

Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts. One Equals Two.Blade beef pot roast with shiitake mushroom gravy. One Equals Two.[Recipe 1] Blade beef pot roast with shiitake mushroom gravy and Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts

Ingredients (beef serves 4 for two meals):
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.75 kilo (3.8 lb) blade (bolar) beef
2 cups good-quality beef stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
2 small brown onions, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
4 large potatoes, cut into wedges
Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts to serve
For the shiitake mushroom gravy:
40g (1½ oz) dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in 2 cups boiling water, drained (¼ cup soaking liquid reserved)
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 150°C (300ºF).
Heat olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the beef and cook over medium–high heat, turning occasionally, until well-browned all over, for about 8 minutes. Transfer to a small, close-fitting, lidded ovenproof pot, preferably cast iron.
Mix stock, soy sauce and Chinese five spice powder together and pour into the frying pan. Simmer gently for 2 minutes, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom. Pour over the beef. Scatter the onion and garlic slices around the beef.
Place into the pre-heated oven and roast, tightly covered, for 1½ hours at which point the beef should be turned and ladled with pan juices.
Remove 1½ cups of the pan juices and pour into a small baking dish (I use a loaf-sized cake pan). Add the potato wedges, toss, cover tightly with foil, and place in the oven next to the beef. The potato pieces will deliciously poach confit-style in the beef juices for crisping later!
Bake beef and potatoes for a further 1½ hours, turning the potatoes once, after 45 minutes.
Total beef cooking time is 3 hours. Test to see whether beef is fork tender – if not, return to the oven for a further 30 minutes and check again.
Take the beef from the pan, place onto a board and rest, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.
Remove the potato chunks from the pan with tongs or a slotted spoon, and transfer to a tray lined with baking paper. Turn the oven up to 250°C (480ºF), and return potatoes to the oven for 25–30 minutes for crisping, while you prepare the gravy and slice the beef. Potatoes can be kept warm in a low oven.
For the gravy: ladle 1½ cups of the beef cooking juices from the pan, skim off the fat and pour into a small saucepan. Add a few tablespoons of the roasted onion and garlic slices, the soaked shiitake mushrooms and the reserved ¼ cup mushroom soaking liquid. Simmer for 5 minutes, until reduced. Season to taste. Puree in a blender until very smooth. Add a splash more stock or pan juices if it is too thick. Transfer to a small small warmed jug.
When ready to serve, slice the beef.
♦ Reserve half the sliced beef (approx. 2 cups/450g/1 lb), and ¼ cup of the cooking juices, for the Asian-style tacos (see recipe 2).
Drizzle the remaining sliced beef with pan juices. Serve with the roasted spuds, shiitake mushroom gravy and Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts.

  • A pot roast must be cooked in a tightly-sealed pot! Like brisket, blade beef is best suited to wet roasting. Blade is a cheap cut and if not cooked properly can be as tough as an old boot! The key to beautiful, meltingly tender meat is lots of moisture and a long cooking time on a low heat. The beef should be fairly snug, with liquid at least half-way up the meat. I use a 4 litre (8½ pint) capacity cast iron lidded casserole pot. If yours is bigger, add a splash more stock.
  • Reserved roasted beef blade can be stored in the fridge, well-covered, for up to 3 days.
  • Leftover shiitake mushroom gravy can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; or frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge. Warm, stirring, in a small saucepan. It’s delicious drizzled over steak!
  • Kid tip: Children may prefer plain steamed veggies with their roast, in which case adults can enjoy the leftover Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts tomorrow, warmed in a lightly-oiled pan.
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms are available from Asian grocers and large supermarkets. If unavailable you can easily whip up traditional gravy instead. Ladle 2 cups of the cooking juices from the roasting pan into a small saucepan. Add a few tablespoons of the roasted onion and garlic slices and 2 tablespoons plain (all purpose) flour. Simmer gently for 10–15 minutes, stirring, until reduced and thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Puree in a blender until very smooth, and transfer to a small small warmed jug.

Kimchi coleslaw with daikon. One Equals Two.Blade beef, kimchi slaw and sriracha mayo Asian-style tacos. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Asian-style tacos with blade beef, kimchi coleslaw and sriracha mayo

Ingredients (serves 4):
10 jian bing (Chinese pancakes)
♦ 2 cups (450g/1 lb) reserved roasted blade beef (+ ¼ cup pan juices), shredded, warmed
Sriracha mayo, to serve
Kimchi coleslaw (can make 1 day ahead):
½ wombok (Chinese/Napa cabbage), finely shredded (about 4 cups)
1 large carrot, grated (about 1 cup)
1 medium daikon (Chinese white radish), grated (about 1½ cups)
2 whole spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon Gochugaru (Korean red chilli pepper flakes), or more (to taste)
⅓ cup (80ml) Japanese rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
Black sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Place wombok, carrot, daikon and spring onions in a large salad bowl. Mix sugar, gochugaru, vinegars and salt together and drizzle over. Toss well and scatter with black sesame seeds. Refrigerate until required.
Warm Chinese pancakes until just starting to bubble, in a lightly-oiled frying pan. Don’t overcook them, 1–2 minutes each side will suffice. Wrap in foil to keep warm.
To serve, spoon warmed reserved roasted blade beef and kimchi coleslaw onto each Chinese pancake. Drizzle with sriracha mayo and roll up to enclose. Enjoy!

  • Jian bing (very thin wheat-based Chinese pancakes) are available refrigerated in packets at Asian grocers, and are commonly used to wrap Peking duck. They’re usually prepared by lightly warming in a microwave, but I like gently frying them as the edges crisp nicely. Replace with small tortillas if unavailable.
  • Gochugaru (Korean red chilli pepper flakes) is available from Asian food stores. It is different to traditional chilli flakes, with more of a capsicum-ish flavour. Black sesame seeds and Japanese rice wine vinegar are available from large supermarkets and Asian food stores. 
  • You’ll need sriracha chili sauce for the sriracha mayo, which is available at Asian food stores and select supermarkets. Although commercially available at Woolworths, the authentic (and far superior!) version, made by Huy Fong Foods in California, is available in Australia from USA Foods.
  • Reserved shredded beef can be gently warmed in the microwave, covered with cling film. Drizzle with the reserved pan juices, cover with cling film (or a lid), and microwave on high for 1–2 minutes. Don’t make it too hot!
  • Kid tip: My 10-year old gobbles up these pancakes as is, but my 7 year old prefers tomato sauce (ketchup), grated carrot and sliced avocado in his.

In a stew

My emotions have been all over the place these last couple of months and I’ve found it so hard to get my blogging mojo back. I try not to be an oversharer on my blog, but I consider many of you as friends I’ve never met, and I really want to explain my absence and apologise for not having visited all your lovely blogs for a while. I’ve missed this little corner of my world!
My lovely, funny, generous dad passed away 5 weeks ago from cancer. This beef bourguignon stew was the last meal I cooked for him. Dad loved it. I’ve made it a couple of times since, and I’ve thought of him every time I’ve eaten it. I miss you dad.


[Recipe 1] BEEF BOURGUIGNON without WINE
transforms into
[Recipe 2] BEEF and MUSHROOM PITHIVIERS

I set myself a goal to cook up a flavoursome stew, minus the merlot, and this alcohol-free bourguignon came about after much experimentation.
Beef bourguignon without wine? Mais non! C’est impossible! Au contraire mon ami, it is not only possible, but trés tasty.
My recipe is loosely adapted from Stephanie’s in the Cook’s Companion and Margaret Fulton’s from her 1974 masterpiece The Complete Margaret Fulton. I doubled the orange peel, swapped the bacon for speck, and replaced the wine (and Margaret’s brandy!) with two secret ingredients – verjuice, which adds a sweet wine-like tartness; and a good slosh of balsamic vinegar. The other key to a great wine-free stew is full-flavoured stock. I squirreled away some home-made beef broth (thanks Tracey!) a while ago and this stew seemed a worthy reason to crack it open.
Regular readers will know I wouldn’t dream of making a casserole to serve 4. While the oven is cranked up, it makes sense to cook a huge quantity of Beef bourguignon (in two pots if necessary – see notes). It freezes beautifully, and can be put to use in the most beautiful Beef and mushroom pithiviers. Pithiviers are basically fancy French pies made with two layers of flaky puff pastry. You can use store-bought puff, but if you’ve not tried making your own, you simply must! Rough Puff is the easiest, quickest pastry to throw together; and you will never reach for the Pampas again, I promise! Mine is adapted from Clotilde’s recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini, the first food blog I ever followed and still one of my absolute favourites.
Have a lovely week. I’m off to catch up on some serious blog reading. xxx

Beef Bourguignon and mash. One Equals Two[Recipe 1] Beef bourguignon without wine

Ingredients (serves 12; ie. 3 meals for 4 people):
2–4 tablespoons olive oil
400g (14 oz) speck, rind and large areas of fat removed, chopped
1 kilo (2 lb) shallots (or pearl/pickling onions), peeled
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 kg (6 lb) blade steak, trimmed of large fat, cut into 5cm/2″ cubes
2 tablespoons (30g/1 oz) butter
2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup verjuice (verjus)
1 litre (4 cups) good quality beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
4 x 10cm/4″ long pieces of orange peel
2 tablespoons fresh-picked thyme leaves
⅓ cup (80ml) balsamic vinegar
400g (14 oz) small button or cup mushrooms, trimmed, large ones halved
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
To serve:
Creamy parmesan mashed potatoes
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Steamed green veggies

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and gently brown the speck for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl.
Add onions, and gently brown in the speck fat for 3–5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute. Remove and add to the speck.
Seal the beef in batches until nicely browned, adding more oil as required. Remove beef and juices and add to the onions and speck.
Melt butter in the pan, add flour and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the verjuice and simmer for 2 minutes, scraping up all the lovely brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add stock and tomato paste, and simmer gently for 1–2 minutes, until the tomato paste has dissolved.
Lightly oil a large casserole or cast iron baking dish (see notes if your baking dish is too small to accommodate everything). Add prepared speck, onions, beef and juices. Tuck the orange rind pieces here and there, and sprinkle with thyme.
Pour over the verjuice and stock mixture.
Cover with a layer of foil and pop the lid on (or 2 layers of foil if you don’t have a lid).
Transfer to oven and cook for 2½–3 hours. Check if the meat is tender after 2½ hours by prodding it with a fork, then add the balsamic vinegar and mushrooms and cook for a further 30 minutes uncovered. If the meat is still firm and chewy, return it to the oven for an extra half hour before adding the vinegar and mushrooms.
Season well. Remove and discard any large pieces of orange zest (most will have deliciously dissolved).
♦ Divide beef bourgionon into three portions of approximately 1.15 kilo (2½ lb) each. Each portion of borguignon will serve 4 people. Reserve ½ portion (550g/1.2 lb) for the Beef and mushroom pithiviers.
Meanwhile, prepare creamy parmesan mashed potatoes. Divide amongst four serving plates, ladle over bourguignon, scatter with parsley and serve with steamed green vegetables.

  • Notes: The flavour of this stew is improved with time. I recommend making it on the weekend and refrigerating for up to 3 days. It can be reheated gently in a saucepan on the stovetop.
  • Unless you have a huge casserole baking dish like this one, which I covet; you can cook the bourguignon in two smaller casserole pots or Dutch ovens. Divide the onion/speck/beef mixture between the two pots. Add 1 tablespoon thyme and 2 pieces orange peel to each. Pour 2½ cups of the stock mixture into each pot. After the specified cooking time, add 40ml (2 tablespoons) balsamic vinegar and 200g (7 oz) mushrooms to each. When cooked, both pots of stew can be mixed together in a large pan or bowl before dividing into portions.
  • You can have your butcher cut thick 5cm blade steaks; or buy two small whole blade roasts and cube them yourself. You’ll need a very sharp knife!
  • Speck is smoked pork, cured in salt and spices such as juniper berries. It has a lovely intense flavour. Replace with kaiserfleisch or bacon if unavailable. If using lean bacon, add an extra tablespoon olive oil at the frying stage. 
  • Verjuice (or verjus) is made from the juice of unfermented grapes. One of my Australian foodie heroes, Maggie Beer, has been producing her verjuice since the mid 1980s. Hers is available world-wide, in large supermarkets and specialty food stores. Verjuice is beautiful sloshed into caramelised apples.
  • Beef bourguignon can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Beef and mushroom Pithiviers. One Equals TwoBeef Bourguignon Pithiviers. One Equals Two

[Recipe 2] Beef and mushroom pithiviers

Ingredients (makes 6 pithiviers to serve 6):
1 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch)
1½ tablespoons hot water

♦ ½ quantity (approx. 550g/1.2 lb) reserved Beef bourguignon

½ tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 x 1¼ kg (2½ lb) quantity rough puff pastry OR 3 x 375g (13 oz) store-bought puff pastry blocks
Egg wash (2 egg yolks, whisked with 1 teaspoon water)
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought chutney), to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Blend flour and hot water until smooth.
♦ Spoon reserved Beef bourguignon into a large saucepan. Add flour mixture and worcestershire sauce and bring to boil. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the meat starts to break down and the mixture is thickened. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
If using home-made rough puff pastry, roll out each prepared pastry block on a lightly floured surface to 5mm (.2″) thick. You’ll end up with 2 x 32cm² (12.5″) pieces of pastry. If using store-bought puff, roll out the three blocks to 5mm (.2″) thick.
Using a 12cm (4.7″) diameter plate, cut out 12 rounds from the puff pastry. Pastry scraps can be loosely stacked on top of each other (don’t roll into a ball or the pastry will lose its puffiness), and lightly re-rolled.
Divide cooled beef mixture amongst 6 of the pastry rounds, mounding up a bit in the centre. Leave a 1.5cm (.6″) border. Brush edges with egg wash and top with remaining puff pastry rounds, lightly pressing down edges to seal. Lightly brush with egg wash, and score a shallow radiating sunbeam pattern in the top with a very sharp knife. Pierce a small hole in the top of each.
Place pithiviers on an oven tray lined with baking paper, loosely covered with cling film and rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Bake pithiviers for 20–25 minutes, until golden and puffed. Serve with tomato chutney.

  • Cooked pithiviers can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days. To reheat, place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, lightly cover with foil, and bake at 180°C (350ºF) for 15 minutes. Remove foil and heat for a further 5 minutes.

Endless simmer

[Recipe 1] CORNED BEEF with POTATO AND EGG SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] CORNED BEEF HASH

I’ve been squeezing in as many slow-cooked meals as I can before Spring arrives. We love beef, and especially adore slow-roasted brisket but being a closet retro food lover, one of my personal favourites is corned beef. It has a unique, almost tangy, flavour and is so easy to prepare, simply simmered in water with a few chopped veggies and ignored until cooked.
My recipe is a conglomeration of one from my much-loved Complete Margaret Fulton (a book I received for my 12th birthday) and this recipe on taste.com. The whole grapefruit studded with cloves is a tip I learned from my neighbour Tracey, and it adds a beautiful zesty touch.
Although corned beef is traditionally served with white sauce and boiled veggies, we prefer ours Eastern-Euro style, with a large mound of egg and potato salad and a couple of crunchy pickles on the side. Incidentally, if you’re feeling energetic, you could make your own pickles too. Bartolini Kitchens and Wuppenif both posted lovely home-made pickle recipes last week.
Reserve some cooked potato pieces and chopped corned beef and you can whip up a batch of rustic corned beef hash for brekkie later. The mustard adds a good wallop of flavour and cuts through the stodginess, making for a tasty, hearty dish to set you up for the day. The husband polished off a huge bowl of it on Sunday, proclaiming it ‘really good’, before embarking on a full schedule of repairs to our ancient house. Actually, our house is a 1=2 story in itself… must write about it one of these days.
Have a lovely week dear readers. xx

Corned beef with egg and potato salad[Recipe 1] Corned beef with potato and egg salad

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1.75kg (3½ lb) piece uncooked corned (pickled) beef or silverside
1 whole grapefuit, studded with 8 cloves
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped, leaves included
1 leek, halved lengthwise, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Wholegrain mustard, to serve
Pickles or gherkins, to serve
Ingredients for potato and egg salad (note: you’ll be reserving ½ the cooked potatoes for the corned beef hash):
2 kilos (4 lb) waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil, mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice, for coating reserved potatoes
½ cup good-quality egg mayonnaise
⅓ cup light sour cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup chopped chives
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Drain the beef and place into a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Drain again.
Place rinsed beef into a large saucepan with the studded grapefruit, celery, leek, carrot, bay leaves, peppercorns and brown sugar. Add cold water to cover by 5cm (2”) and bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, over medium heat for 2 hours or until meat is firm. Turn off the heat and allow the beef to rest in the liquid for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the potato and egg salad. Place potato pieces into a large saucepan. Cover with water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and allow to cool to room temperature for half an hour.

♦ Reserve ½ the cooked potato (approx. 800g/1¾ lb) for the corned beef hash.
To prevent reserved potatoes from turning grey, add olive oil and lemon juice mixture, and toss to coat. Store cooked potatoes in the fridge for up to 2 days. Dry well before using in Recipe 2 (below).

Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard. Plop over the remaining cooked potato pieces; add the chives, parsley and eggs and stir through gently. Season. Refrigerate until required.
Remove the corned beef from the cooking liquid and slice. Discard the liquid (although it pains me to discard food, I find this stock too salty and aromatic to use for other purposes).
Reserve 250g (½ lb) of the cooked corned beef for the corned beef hash.
Serve the remaining sliced corned beef, cold or warm; with the potato salad, mustard and pickles.

  • You can buy uncooked corned beef and silverside from the supermarket, but it does contain a few numbers, sulfites and preservatives. I purchase mine from my local butcher, beautifully nestled in a bag of simple brine and spices. If your butcher doesn’t stock it, you could try asking nicely if they would prepare one for you. You could of course cure it yourself, but I prefer to leave it to the experts.
  • Uncooked cured corned beef requires 30 minutes simmering per 500g (1 lb). I like to add an extra 15 minutes, and rest the beef in the hot stock for 30 minutes prior to carving. There is nothing spookier or more annoying than finding a little uncooked section in the middle of one’s corned beef!
  • Cooked corned beef and cooked potatoes can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze corned beef in slices, with baking paper between the layers, in a tightly-sealed container for up to 2 months.
  • If egg salad doesn’t float your boat, corned beef goes beautifully with Russian potato salad too (cook an extra 1 kilo/2 lb potatoes to reserve for the hash).
  • Corned beef is also fabulous served up in a Reuban sandwich with braised red cabbage.
  • Fussy kid tip: Refer to the corned beef as ‘special ham’; and if your kids won’t touch potato salad, serve them up an oh-so-hipster deconstructed version with cooked potato cubes, quartered eggs and a decorative drizzle of kewpie mayo.

Corned beef and leek hash

[Recipe 2] Corned beef hash

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon (approx. 20g) butter
½ leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, cut into long strips and sliced finely

♦ 800g (1¾ lb) reserved cooked potato pieces

♦ 250g
(½ lb) reserved sliced corned beef, chopped
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
4 eggs
2 Roma tomatoes, halved
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, for scattering

Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan and fry the leek over a medium heat for 4–5 minutes.
♦ Dry reserved cooked potato pieces with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper; and add to the frying pan with the reserved corned beef. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Using a wide spatula, flip sections of the mixture over to cook the other side for a further 5–10 minutes, until golden and crispy at the edges. Add an extra splash of olive oil if required. Shake the pan gently now and again to roughen the potatoes. Add mustard and gently toss to combine.
Meanwhile, fry or poach the eggs and fry or grill the tomatoes.
To serve, pile a mound of corned beef hash on each serving plate, top with a fried egg, a tomato half and a good grind of pepper and salt. Scatter with parsley.

  • Parsley can be replaced with thyme or basil.
  • You can add other leftover cooked veggies to hash; including carrot and corn.
  • Fussy kid tip: Kids will prefer plain hash, so add wholegrain mustard and parsley to adult serves only. Omit the grilled tomatoes, and serve with tomato sauce (ketchup).

Meet your baker

[Recipe 1] KEEMA ALOO (Indian spiced minced beef and potatoes) with GLUTEN-FREE DOSAS transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED BEEF and VEGETABLE MINI PASTIES
……………..
I’m not normally an OMG-double-exclamation-mark type of girl but OMG!! I’ve been baking my butt off!! On Saturday we hosted a mega combined party for our boys – one turned 6 and the other 9 (still can’t quite believe we have a 9 year old).
Having a combo party was fantastic but the biggest job was the catering, including TWO birthday cakes. There were 30 kids + adults. Yikes.
Our freezer was positively heaving by Friday. I made a huge batch of tsukune (teriyaki chicken balls), 100 mini margherita pizzas, a massive tray of honey joys (yep, you can freeze them in case you were wondering) and 80 Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties; plus platters of the usual party fare (fairy bread, fruit, guacamole, snags etc).
I’m a bit chuffed as my little pasties turned out beautifully, and there were quite a few requests for the recipe. My boys loved them, and they went down really well with both the adults and the kids at the party. They came about when I had a lightbulb moment while making a vat of my Keema aloo (Indian spiced minced beef and potatoes) – it’s the perfect pastie filler! I used store-bought shortcrust pastry too, so they were incredibly easy to make.
My boys adore Keema aloo (I’m yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like a minced beef based dinner). It’s perfect for kiddy palates as it’s lightly spiced; and adult serves can be jazzed up with kasoundi (this recipe is great), a finely chopped red chilli or a dash of Tabasco. It can be frozen too, so it’s perfect for a quick mid-week dinner.
We roll up the keema aloo in easy home-made dosas (Indian-style pancakes). My dosa recipe is based on one by Jamie Oliver – I omit the mustard seeds and use gluten-free plain flour. Gluten-free flour (I like Orgran brand) contains maize and rice flours, making for a lovely light dosa batter.
So, our freezer is now spookily empty, but the oven is remaining off for quite a while while I recover from my baking overdose.

Keema Aloo (spiced Indian mince)[Recipe 1] Keema aloo (spiced minced beef and potatoes) with gluten-free dosas

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals; or 4 for 2 meals plus 40 mini pasties):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon garam masala
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1½ kilos (3 lb) minced (ground) beef
3 large potatoes (approx. 750g/1½ lb), peeled, chopped into small pieces
2 large carrots, chopped into very small pieces (approx. 5mm/¼”)
7 tablespoons (140g tub) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1½ cups (375ml) water
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans lentils, drained, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked lentils – see tips below recipe)
2 cups fresh podded or frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Home-made gluten-free dosas or store-bought dosas, to serve
Basic cucumber raita, to serve
Spicy accompaniment for adults (eg. kasoundi, finely chopped red chilli or Tabasco)

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, garam masala, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and cloves; and cook for 1–2 minutes, until aromatic. Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until brown. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again. 
Add potatoes, carrot, tomato paste and water and simmer, covered, over a medium heat for 25–30 minutes. Add lentils and peas, and simmer for a further 15 minutes, covered, until liquid has evaporated and vegetables are tender. Add a splash more water if it starts to dry out too quickly. Season to taste.
Divide the the Keema aloo into plastic containers.
 The Keema aloo recipe will yield three portions of about 5 cups (1¼ kilos/2½ lb) each (1¼ kilos/2½ lb will serve four).
♦ Reserve 1 portion (5 cups/1¼ kilos) Keema aloo for the Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties. The third portion can be frozen for another day.
Serve remaining Keema aloo with dosas and raita. Keema aloo can be placed into individual bowls, so people can roll up their own.

  • Keema aloo can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Serve the Keema aloo with steamed basmati rice instead of dosa, for a change.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans lentils, drained, will yield 2 heaped cups lentils. For 2 heaped cups cooked lentils, cook 1 cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.

Spiced beef and vegetable pasties

[Recipe 2] Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties

Ingredients (makes 40 – recipe can be doubled if required):
10 x 25cm (8″) sheets ready-rolled frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
♦ 1 portion (5 cups/1¼ kilos) reserved Keema aloo
2 eggs, lightly whisked
Easy spiced tomato chutney, store-bought chutney or tomato sauce (ketchup) to serve

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Use a 10cm (4″) round pastry cutter (or trace around a 10cm/4″ plate or Milo tin) to cut 4 discs from each pastry sheet.
♦ Spoon one heaped tablespoon of reserved Keema aloo onto each pastie circle. Don’t be tempted to overfill them or they’ll pop open.
Fold pasties in half to enclose filling. Seal edges of pastry with water and use fingertips to gently crimp and seal. Place on the lined trays. Lightly brush the tops of the pasties with egg.
You can bake one batch while you prepare the remaining pasties if your oven won’t accommodate two trays.
Bake in hot oven for 15–18 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve hot with chutney or tomato sauce (ketchup).

  • If using refrigerated Keema aloo (not frozen), cooked pasties are suitable to freeze, for up to 3 months. Place baking paper (or plastic sheets from the pastry pack) between the layers. When serving, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a hot oven, covered with foil, for about 10–15 minutes.
  • Instead of 10 sheets, you can use 8 sheets shortcrust pastry and seal the leftover strips of pastry together with water to make the extra 2 sheets.

Slowly does it

[Recipe 1] HUTSPOT met KLAPSTUK (DUTCH MASH with SLOW-COOKED BRISKET) transforms into
[Recipe 2] BEEF BRISKET SLIDERS with RUSSIAN POTATO SALAD

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One of my fave childhood meals was Hutspot met Klapstuk, which translates literally as ‘hotch potch with slap piece’ (so charmingly Dutch)! Hutspot is a messy mash of potato, carrot and onion. It ain’t pretty (Google ‘hutspot photos’ and face the horror), but it is delicious! Both my Oma (grandma) in Holland and my mum made it often. Oma had a special electric heated contraption that would sit in the middle of the table, where she would place the hutspot, beef and gravy in serving pots so we could help ourselves.
Klapstuk actually refers to beef cut from the rib but I prefer brisket as it’s so juicy and flavoursome (I still refer to it as klapstuk though, because it’s just such an excellent word).
The brisket needs a long slow cook. Everything is bunged in the pot, so it’s a cinch to throw together, especially if you have a serve of my easy home-made BBQ sauce waiting in your freezer. This forms the flavour base for the stewing liquid – admittedly a little more Texas-style than traditional Dutch, but so tasty. The BBQ sauce freezes well and it makes a large quantity. It’s perfect for pulled pork too.
I like to cook the brisket the day before it’s required. By resting it in the fridge overnight, and removing the firm layer of fat the next morning, it can simply be re-heated when required. I recommend cooking it on a Sunday, so dinner for Monday and Wednesday is sorted.
Reserve half the cooked brisket as planned-overs, and you can whip up a batch of brisket sliders, stuffed with creamy Russian potato salad and sliced gherkins. Delicious! Yep, I’ve unashamedly leaped onto the slider craze. They’re so ace, and so kid-friendly; and I feel a bit like Cher in Moonstruck serving up mini food for dinner. Enjoy!

Slow-cooked brisket and Dutch mash[Recipe 1] Hutspot met klapstuk (Dutch mash with slow-cooked brisket)

Ingredients for the slow-cooked beef brisket (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1.75 kilo (3.8 lb) beef brisket
1 cup home-made BBQ sauce
1 cup beef stock
1 cup water
Ingredients for the Dutch mash (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
750g (1½ lb) brown onions (4 medium), peeled and finely chopped

1 kilo (2 lb) potatoes (4 large), peeled and chopped
500g (1 lb) carrots (6 medium), peeled and finely chopped into small pieces
500g (1 lb) orange sweet potato (1 large), peeled and chopped
Sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 150°C (300ºF).
Place beef into a small, close-fitting, ovenproof pot. You may need to cut the meat in half. Mix home-made BBQ sauce, stock and water together and pour over the beef until well-covered. Place into the pre-heated oven and bake, covered, for approximately 3 hours; until the beef is very tender. Turn the beef over once, half-way through the cooking process. Test to see whether beef is tender after 3 hours. It should be easy to break apart with tongs. If not, return to the oven for a further 30 minutes and check again.
Remove pot from the oven and set it on a board to cool slightly, for an hour. Place in the fridge overnight.
The next day, scrape the thin layer of fat from the top and discard. Remove the brisket from the pot and divide into two portions. Return one portion to the cooking pot for tonight’s dinner.
Reserve the other half of the cooked brisket (about 2 cups/500g/1 lb) and ½ cup of the cooking juices for the Beef brisket sliders with Russian potato salad.
For tonight’s dinner, place the pot with beef and juices on the stove top. Simmer over a low heat, covered, stirring often, for 20–30 minutes, until brisket has softened and is warmed through.
To make the Dutch mash (hutspot): heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, carrots and sweet potato. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Drain. Mash, until combined and lumpy (Dutch mash should be rustic and not too smooth). Season.
The mash can be re-warmed in its pot when the beef is ready to serve.
To serve, pile a mound of hutspot onto each serving plate. Make an indentation (‘kuiltje’) in the top of the Dutch mash, ladle some of the pan juices into the kuiltje and place lightly-shredded brisket on top with a splash more of the juices. If liked, you can blend the remaining pan juices with a stick blender, and pour into a gravy jug. Serve and enjoy.

  • Reserved slow-cooked brisket can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days.
  • For 2 kilo (4 lb) of brisket, the cooking time should be increased to 3½ hours.

Beef brisket sliders with Russian salad

[Recipe 2] Beef brisket sliders with Russian salad

Ingredients (serves 4):
12 mini bread rolls
2 cups (500g/1 lb) reserved cooked beef brisket, shredded; + ½ cup pan juices
Russian potato salad, to serve
12 dill gherkins, halved (or 24 whole small cornichons)

Split the mini bread rolls lengthways.
♦ Lightly warm the reserved slow-cooked beef brisket. This can be done in the microwave. Drizzle with the reserved pan juices, cover with cling film (or a lid), and microwave on high for 1–2 minutes. Don’t make it too hot! Stuff the mini breadrolls with the warmed brisket. Top with Russian potato salad and sliced gherkins. Serve immediately.

  • Fussy kid tip: My 5-year old isn’t too keen on Russian salad so I serve his sliders with sliced avocado, grated carrot and tomato sauce (ketchup).
  • I buy my mini bread rolls from Breadtop.

We’ll meat again

[Recipe 1] ROAST BEEF FILLET and ASPARAGUS with SWEET POTATO CHIPS transforms into
[Recipe 2] VIETNAMESE BEEF COLESLAW with KAFFIR LIME DRESSING
……………..
We’re right in the middle of asparagus season – one of my favourite vegetables. Stinky wee is such a tiny price to pay for something so delicious. They were $1 a bunch at the market recently, which helped alleviate my guilt from lashing out on a whole beef eye fillet. Yikes.
If you’ve not roasted a whole beef fillet before, I highly recommend you do. It’s the most beautiful, tender meat imaginable, and so easy to cook. It’s simply seared and tossed in the oven. I served it with sweet potato chips, although I do think ‘chips’ is a slight misnomer as they’re not exactly crunchy. They are however, absolutely scrumptious! The brown sugar is optional, but it does help the sweet potato caramelise nicely.
Reserve some of your roast beef fillet (look for the ♦ orange diamonds for quantity/instructions), and you can conjure up Vietnamese beef coleslaw with kaffir lime dressing for dinner later in the week. It’s actually a bit of a Thai/Vietnamese fusion, and it’s zingy and pretty fabulous. We ate ours outside on a beautiful balmy Melbourne evening, with a glass or two of Coopers ale. Bliss!

Roast eye fillet[Recipe 1] Roast beef fillet and asparagus with sweet potato chips

Ingredients (beef serves 4 for 2 meals):
1.65kg (3½ lb) beef eye fillet, trimmed and tied (see this youtube clip for method)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing asparagus
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bunches asparagus spears, ends trimmed
Spiced sweet potato chips (serves 4):
750g (1½ lb) orange sweet potato, peeled and cut into chips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon raw sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF).
Heat a large heavy-based pan, add the olive oil, and seal the beef on all sides until browned. Place prepared beef fillet into a shallow baking pan.
Lightly brush the asparagus spears with olive oil. Place onto a large baking tray, lined with baking paper.
Place sweet potato pieces into a large bowl, add oil and shake well to coat. Mix all dry ingredients together, add to the bowl and shake or stir to coat evenly. Arrange the sweet potato chips next to the asparagus spears.
Place beef and vegetables into pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the asparagus spears. Turn the sweet potato chips over and continue roasting along with the beef for a further 15 minutes. Sweet potato and beef will need a total of about 30 minutes cooking time. Remove beef, cover loosely with foil and rest for ten minutes. Remove string.
Reserve about 400g (14 oz) of the beef fillet for the Vietnamese coleslaw with lime dressing. Don’t be tempted to slice the beef for the salad now – it will be much easier to slice thinly when cold.
Carve the remaining beef into thick 1cm (½ inch) slices. Serve with the asparagus spears, sweet potato chips and a simple green salad.

Vietnamese beef coleslaw

[Recipe 2] Vietnamese beef coleslaw with kaffir lime dressing

Ingredients (serves 4):
½ wombok (Chinese/Napa cabbage), finely shredded (about 4 cups)
2 medium carrots, cut into fine match-sticks
1 cup bean shoots (mung bean sprouts)
3 spring onions (scallions), white parts only, thinly sliced (reserve dark green parts for serving)
1 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 cup chopped fresh mint (or Vietnamese mint)
400g (14 oz) reserved roast beef fillet, very finely sliced
1 cup (150g) unsalted cashews, roasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
Kaffir lime dressing:
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice (from 2 limes)
6 kaffir lime leaves, very finely shredded
3 small red birdseye chillis, de-seeded, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or olive oil)
2 tablespoons Japanese rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
 

Make dressing by combining all ingredients in a screw-top jar. Shake until combined.
Place all salad ingredients (except beef and cashews) into a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and gently toss to combine.
Arrange reserved sliced beef fillet on top of salad.
Serve, scattered with chopped green ends of spring onions and cashews.

  • Fussy kid tip: You can make a kid-friendly version of this salad by combining thinly sliced beef, carrot matchsticks and chopped avocado. Serve in soft wholemeal rolls with mayo or relish. If your kids are coleslaw fans, you could make them a traditional coleslaw, using some of the shredded wombok and carrot, with a spoonful of mayo.
  • Leftover Vietnamese coleslaw with lime dressing is lovely for lunch the next day. If you’ve used up all the beef, it’s equally delicious with leftover chopped roast chicken.
  • This salad is easy to very – stir through snowpeas, sugar snaps, celery or sliced cucumber. Cashews can be replaced with crushed roasted peanuts.
  • Kaffir lime leaves are available fresh, dried or frozen from Asian food stores. If unavailable, substitute with 2 tablespoons lime zest. You may be lucky to find kaffir limes at your market – the juice is too sour to use in cooking, but the leaves can be picked and frozen for up to 3 months. I always have a bag of them in my freezer. They’re beautifully aromatic and an essential ingredient for Thai recipes, particularly green curry and tom yum soup.
  • Japanese rice wine vinegar is readily available from large supermarkets and Asian food stores. Supermarkets often sell ‘sushi seasoning’ which is a good replacement.

Loafing around

[Recipe 1] BEEF and PUMPKIN MEATLOAF transforms into
[Recipe 2] OVEN-BAKED BURGERS with THE LOT
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Daggy dinner alert! Meatloaf!
We secretly love meatloaf. It’s right up there with tuna casserole in the retro dinner department, but honestly it’s really good. Leftover meatloaf is soooo tasty too, sliced thinly in sandwiches, with chunky relish and rocket (arugula). It’s great for picnics and lunch on the go. My boys just love it.
Make double the beef and pumpkin mixture and you can conjure up some fab oven-baked burgers with the lot* to have later in the week. These are perfect for a quick weeknight dinner and they’re roasted so they’re less fatty than fried burgers.
The burger recipe makes 6 patties. You can freeze the two unused ones, uncooked. I love having spare burgers in the freezer for the kids, for those nights when the husband and I are craving a big fat steak.
I know the ingredients list looks a bit long and spooky, but it is so easy to put together, I promise. Everything is basically thrown into a big bowl and mooshed up.
The mixture is full of hidden pumpkin and grated carrot. You can trick it up and experiment with it too. Over the years I’ve replaced the 2 cups of grated pumpkin with cooked lentils, tiny cauliflower florets, grated zucchini (courgette)… you name it!
You can of course use the mixture to make two meatloaves instead, or indeed two batches of burgers. Both freeze really well uncooked.
*Is ‘burger with the lot’ an Australian expression? I’m not sure. In old-fashioned burger places here, it refers to a hamburger containing all the available fillings; which can often mean it will include pineapple, a fried egg and sliced beetroot!

Beef and pumpkin meatloaf[Recipe 1] Beef and pumpkin meatloaf

1 large red (purple/Spanish) onion, very finely chopped
½ tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt + freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce

1 kilo (2 lb) minced (ground) beef
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) pork
2 large carrots, finely grated
200g (7 oz) peeled butternut pumpkin (butternut squash), grated (equal to 1½ cups)
1½ cups dry bread crumbs
1½ cups chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought chutney), to serve 
GLAZE:
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Heat oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin seeds and cook for 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
With a hand-held whisk, lightly beat the eggs, salt, pepper, milk, Dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce and sweet chilli sauce until combined.
Add to the minced beef and pork in a large bowl, along with the carrot, pumpkin, breadcrumbs, parsley and the cooked onion and garlic. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
Reserve half the mixture (1¼ kilos or 4 tightly-packed cups) for the oven-baked burgers with the lot.
Press remaining mixture into a lightly-oiled loaf pan, and turn out onto a tray lined with baking paper. You can pat the mixture into a free-form shape if you prefer, but I find using a loaf tin as a mold works beautifully.
Make the glaze by mixing the ingredients in a small bowl. Brush all over the meatloaf.
Bake for 60–70 minutes, until lovely and crisp on the outside and cooked through.
Allow to rest for ten minutes. Cut into thick slices and serve with steamed vegetables or salad, and tomato chutney.
One meatloaf yields 8 thick slices.

  • Cooked beef and pumpkin meatloaf can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days. Uncooked meatloaf can be frozen, whole (in a loaf tin to retain its’ shape), for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and cook per instructions. Glaze just before cooking.

The ultimate burger. With hidden veggies.

[Recipe 2] Oven-baked burgers with the lot

4 soft wholemeal (wholewheat) buns, warmed in oven, toasted, or lightly char-grilled
♦ 1¼ kilos (4 tightly-packed cups) reserved beef and pumpkin meatloaf mixture
Olive oil, for brushing (or olive oil spray)
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought chutney), to serve
CHOOSE YOUR EXTRAS:
Lettuce
Sliced cheese
Sliced tomato
Whole cornichons or sliced pickles
Sliced avocado
Thinly sliced red (purple/Spanish) onion or caramelised red onion jam

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF).
Shape reserved beef and pumpkin meatloaf mixture into 6 patties. Freeze two for later!
Place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush or spray patties lightly with olive oil.
Roast patties for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
Layer burgers and your chosen extras on each bun base. Pop the tops on and serve.
Makes 4 (plus two extra patties for freezing!)

  • Uncooked patties can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days, or they can be frozen, with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and bake per instructions.

Pasta la vista [2]

[Recipe 1] FULL-OF-VEGGIES BOLOGNAISE (recipe posted here) transforms into
[Recipe 3] GRAND FINAL DAY MINI MEAT PIES
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Our Grand Final* is on this Saturday but I’ve gotta confess that I’m not a football fan. I went to one match when I was 13, deciding there and then that I didn’t ever need to relive the experience.
Most sport-related activities don’t really float my boat; but I do like the charged, slightly mental, atmosphere on Grand Final day though. Friends usually drop in to watch the whole damn exciting thing on TV with us; ploughing through mountains of food. These mini meat pies, topped with cut-out pastry footballs, go down a treat. Perfect finger food!
The pies are super easy to whip up as they use store-bought pastry. They’re also relatively healthy as they’re made with a reserved portion of Full-of-veggies bolognaise (originally posted back in February), which is plugged full of veggies and lentils. Enjoy! Have a beaut weekend readers. Hope your team wins!
*Overseas readers: The Grand Final is the end-of-Season championship game for Australian Rules Football, mildly akin to the Super Bowl or World Cup, but with a speck of the budget. If you’re not familiar with it, Aussie Rules is probably the weirdest game you’ll ever have seen. Grown men in tiny shrunken shorts kick, punch and throw a misshapen ball around. If a goal is scored, a man in a silly outfit gesticulates from under the goal posts.

Grand Final mini meat pies

[Recipe 3] Grand Final Day mini meat pies

Ingredients (makes 20 mini pies):
4 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
1 kilo (2 lb) reserved full-of-veggies bolognaise
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
5 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Tomato sauce or Easy spiced tomato chutney, to serve

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF).
Grease 2 x 12-hole standard-sized muffin pans (you’ll need to grease 20 holes).
Blend flour with 3 tablespoons hot water to form a smooth paste.
Spoon reserved full-of-veggies bolognaise into a medium-sized saucepan.
Add flour paste and bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in worcestershire sauce.
Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
Using a 10cm (4-inch) round cutter, cut out 20 circles from the shortcrust pastry. Press into prepared pan holes, covering them with a tea towel as you go, to prevent them drying out.
Brush inside pastry cases (this prevents them going soggy), and the edges, with egg.
Divide cooled bolognaise mixture among pastry cases.
Using a 7cm (2¾-inch) round cutter, cut out 20 circles from the puff pastry. Place on top of pies. Press edges together to seal. Cut out little football shapes from the puff pastry scraps and place one on top of each pie. You can score little lines for the laces on top too, if you have the patience. Brush tops of pies with egg, and prick with a fork.
Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.
Serve with tomato sauce or Easy spiced tomato chutney.

  • If you don’t have a 10cm (4-inch) round cutter, trace around a lid with a sharp knife (a lid from a 450g tin of Milo is the perfect size).
  • The Grand Final Day mini meat pies can be cooked the day before and stored in the fridge.
  • If using fresh full-of-veggies bolognaise (not frozen) you can freeze the cooked mini meat pies, between sheets of baking paper, for up to one month. Thaw overnight in the fridge. To reheat pre-cooked pies, place the pies on a baking tray and bake at 180°C (350ºF) for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

So hot right now

[Recipe 1] MIXED BEAN and BEEF CHILLI CON CARNE transforms into
[Recipe 2] CHILLI BEAN and BEEF SOFT TACOS
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I’ve just returned from a conference thingo in Sydney. I missed my boys madly, but it was such a treat being all by myself for two days. I totally cleared the cobwebs; strolling the streets of Surry Hills, perusing little galleries and bookshops and reading the *entire* paper in bed from cover to cover. Had some ace food too – will post photos soon.
Thought I’d dish up a couple of super-simple, super-tasty recipes ‘I prepared earlier’ (man I love saying that). First up is good old Mixed bean and beef chilli con carne, a recipe originally given to me by an ex work colleague (thanks Marisa!) and which I’ve heavily tweaked over the years – mine features cooked dried beans instead of tinned, extra spices and a good dash of blackstrap molasses. It’s one of our favourite family dinners.
Chilli con carne freezes well. It’s perfect served simply with steamed rice, and you can create an entirely different meal later by spooning it into soft tacos (see recipe 2). Enjoy!

Chilli con carne[Recipe 1] Mixed bean and beef chilli con carne

Ingredients (serves 4 for 5 meals – recipe can be halved if you don’t have the freezer space):
250g (1¼ cups) dried red kidney or black (turtle) beans, soaked 8 hours or overnight
250g (1¼ cups) dried borlotti (Roman) beans, soaked 8 hours or overnight
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 brown onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 kilos (4 lb) minced (ground) beef (not too lean)
3 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons smoked paprika (pimentón)
4 x 400g (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) beef stock
¾ cup (210g) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1 teaspoon dried chilli powder (or more – see notes below recipe)
1 large red capsicum (bell pepper), de-seeded, finely chopped
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses*
½ cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped, plus extra to serve
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
To serve:
Steamed basmati rice
Chopped avocado
Corn chips (optional)

Drain soaked beans and place into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 50 minutes, covered, until tender. You should be able to squish a bean easily with your fingers. If still a little firm, simmer an extra ten minutes and test again. Drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until brown. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again. Carefully drain off most of the excess fat.
Add the cumin and paprika and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Add tomatoes, stock, tomato paste and chilli powder and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 30 minutes. Add cooked beans and capsicum and continue cooking, covered, for about 30 minutes. Stir often. Remove lid and simmer for a further 15–20 minutes, or until thick. Stir in molasses, salt and coriander and mix well.
♦ Reserve 4 cups (1 kilo/2 lb) Mixed bean and beef chilli con carne for the Chilli bean and beef soft tacos.
Divide the remainder of the Mixed bean and beef chilli con carne into labeled plastic containers (see storage tips below).
Serve warm Mixed bean and beef chilli con carne over steamed basmati rice, scattered with extra coriander and chopped avocado.

  • The Chilli con carne recipe will yield approximately 5 serves of about 1 kilo (2 lb) each (1 kilo will serve four), depending on whether you’ve used cooked or canned beans. I love making a massive vat of chilli con carne, but if you don’t have the freezer space, it’s easy to halve the ingredients. Chilli con carne can be stored in the fridge and should be used within 3 days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • If unavailable, dried borlotti beans can be replaced with cannellini (white kidney) beans, navy beans or black-eyed beans.
  • Cooking dried beans is not as painful as it may seem – I often cook mine in the morning while we’re having breakfast, so they’re ready to use at dinner time. If you’re really pushed for time though, you can replace the cooked dried beans with 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans cannellini (white kidney) beans and 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans red kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed. Canned beans will become a bit mushy after simmering, but the finished dish will still be delicious.
  • *Blackstrap molasses is available from health food stores and from the health section of large supermarkets. It contains high levels of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium; and lends a rich sweet taste to savoury dishes. It’s commonly used in baked beans and licorice! You can also use it in BBQ sauce which goes beautifully with pulled pork. If unavailable, it can be replaced with dark brown sugar or even maple syrup, with an extra dash of black pepper to counter the sweetness.
  • You can dial up the chilli for more heat. I find one teaspoon of chilli powder is just the right amount for children. Chopped fresh birdseye chilli or a dash of hot sauce can be added to adult serves. Very young children may like a spoonful of natural yogurt or sour cream stirred through.
  • Baby tip: You can make a little pot of ‘Baby con carne’ at the same time. It freezes well in ice-cube trays. Use a small amount of onion, minced beef, chopped and de-seeded fresh tomatoes, grated carrot and cooked beans. You can also add chopped liver for an iron boost! Add water (or home-made chicken stock) and simmer until thick. Puree until completely smooth, or mash it up for older babies. Older babies may also like a dash of cumin added and grated cheese on top.

[Recipe 2] Chilli bean and beef soft tacos

Ingredients (serves 4):
10–12 white corn tortillas

♦ 4 cups (1 kilo/2 lb) reserved mixed bean and beef chilli con carne
To serve:
Sour cream (optional)
Lettuce or very finely shredded red cabbage
Diced tomatoes
Chopped avocado or guacamole
Hot sauce  

Heat and lightly oil a char-grill plate on the stove-top. Warm the tortillas until lightly charred.
♦ Heat reserved bean and beef chilli con carne in a saucepan. Spoon into the warmed tortillas. Fold over to enclose.
Arrange the suggested sides in sharing bowls on the table. Serve soft tacos immediately.

The pie’s the limit

[Recipe 1] BEEF and GUINNESS STEW transforms into
[Recipe 2] CHUNKY BEEF and GUINNESS PIE
……………..
Happy Fathers Day for tomorrow daddy readers! Beef and Guinness stew is the ultimate manly feast. It makes blokes positively thump the table in appreciation. We have a pot of it waiting in the fridge for dinner tomorrow night as the husband will be wanting to reclaim his manliness after spending the day at Anakie Fairy Park.
This stew is a cinch to whip up and it’s a definite plate-licker – my 5-year old adores it. The only time-consuming bit is waiting for it to cook, the longer the better.
For two meals from one, reserve half the stew and you can make a hearty Chunky beef and Guinness pie later, another certified man-pleaser.

Beef and Guinness stew with sweet potato mash[Recipe 1] Beef and Guinness stew

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1.75 kilos (3.8 lb) brisket or chuck steak, coarsely chopped into 3cm (1-inch) pieces
4 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
Olive oil, for frying
2 celery sticks, chopped
3 red onions, thickly sliced
4 large carrots, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
440ml (15-oz) Guinness draught beer
2 cups good-quality beef stock
4 tablespoons tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Sweet potato mash, to serve
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Place beef pieces and flour in a large plastic bag and toss to coat. Shake off excess flour.
Heat oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook beef in batches (adding a splash more oil when required) for about 3 minutes, until well-browned. Transfer to a plate.
Add celery, onion and carrots to the pot, and 1 tablespoon more oil if required. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes, until vegetables start to soften. Stir occasionally. Add garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes, uncovered, stirring regularly. Return beef, and any juices, to the pot. Add Guinness, bring to the boil, and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Transfer vegetables, beef and juices to a large oven-proof pot, preferably cast iron.
Combine stock, tomato paste and brown sugar. Pour over beef and vegetables. Add bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.
Cover tightly with a double layer of foil (or a lid, with foil underneath) and cook in pre-heated oven for 2–3 hours. Test to see whether beef is lovely and tender after 2 hours. If not, return to the oven for a further 30 minutes and check again. Remove and discard bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Season well with salt and lots of pepper.
♦ Reserve half the Beef and Guinness stew, about 5 cups (1¼ kilos), for the Chunky beef and Guinness pie.
Serve remaining Beef and Guinness stew on a bed of sweet potato mash, scattered with parsley.

  • I’m no expert, but according to my extensive web-surfing it’s safe to serve properly-prepared meals cooked with beer (or wine) to children over 2 years old. This dish is cooked long enough for the alcohol to evaporate, leaving only harmless trace residues.

Beef and Guinness pie

[Recipe 2] Chunky beef and Guinness pie

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
4 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour

1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
♦ 5 cups (1¼ kilos) reserved beef and Guinness stew
2 sheets store-bought puff pastry or 1 x 375g (13 oz) puff pastry block, thawed
1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon milk, for brushing pastry
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought chutney), to serve 

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Grease a 24cm (9½-inch) 6-cup (1½ litres) capacity ovenproof pie dish.
Blend flour with 3 tablespoons hot water to form a smooth paste.
♦ Spoon reserved beef and Guinness stew into a large saucepan.
Add flour paste and worcestershire sauce and bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
Cut 1 sheet of pastry in half and add these pieces to the edges of the first sheet, with water to seal, to make a large sheet. If using a block of pastry, roll out to 3mm thick. Place the pie dish upside down on the pastry. Use the dish as a guide to cut a circle of pastry about 1cm bigger than the dish. Cover the pastry disk with a tea towel while you make the plaited edge decoration.
Cut 5mm strips of pastry from the off-cuts. Using 2 strips, twist one piece around the other for a plait or rope effect. Continue until you have a long enough ‘rope’ to encircle the pie.
Spoon the cooled beef and Guinness mixture into the pie dish. Drape puff pastry circle over filling, and prick with a fork in four places. Press around the edge to seal with your fingertips. Wet the rim of the pastry top with water, and lay the knotted rope around the edge. Brush pastry with egg wash.
Bake for 20–25 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden. Serve with Easy spiced tomato chutney and a green salad.

  • If you find you eat too much of the stew and don’t have 5 cups left for the pie, you can easily pad out the filling of the pie with sautéed mushrooms or small pieces of steamed potato.
  • Don’t be tempted to lay your pastry on the pie filling straight away, while you’re making the plaited edge decoration, or the pastry will become soggy. Assemble the pie when your edge decoration is complete.
  • If you have any more pastry off-cuts, you could cut out leaf shapes (or alphabet letters if you have the time and inclination). If you’re making this for Father’s Day, you could win some brownie points by cutting out ‘Dad’.

Rowdy, with a chance of meatballs [2]

Sophia Loren Cookbook cover[Recipe 1] BEEF, PORK and RICOTTA MEATBALLS transform into
[Recipe 3] LASAGNARONI
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Have been spending way too much time faffing around on Pinterest lately. It’s a glorious time-waster, but where else would I have discovered this photo of Sophia Loren? It’s from her 1971 Cookbook, In Cucina Con Amore (In the Kitchen with Love), which I covet so badly.
The photo segues quite nicely into an Italian-inspired dish don’t you think? This is the third recipe to use reserved portions of beef, pork and ricotta meatballs and sweet tomato pasta sauce. It’s a fab cheesey lasagna-like macaroni dish, which I’ve named Lasagnaroni. My boys positively hoover it, and the whole family have minutes of fun playing Find the meatball.
If you’re feeling creative go ahead and bestow your own fancy name upon it, for everyone’s amusement. We like Soccer balls in the mud or Monster eyeballs in the swamp. Buon Appetito.

Macaroni cheese with meatballs

[Recipe 3] Lasagnaroni with meatballs

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
2 tablespoons olive oil
♦ 1 quantity (approx. 600g/1.3 lb) beef, pork and ricotta meatballs
♦ 1⅓ cups (600g) sweet tomato pasta sauce (or store-bought)
400g (14 oz) dried macaroni (or short-cut bucatini)
1 cup frozen peas (or fresh, shelled – see notes in recipe)
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon (15g/½ oz) butter
2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
1¼ cups (310ml) milk
1 cup (100g) grated Gruyère cheese
½ cup (50g) grated mozzarella, for scattering
½ tablespoon olive oil, extra, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Lightly oil a large casserole dish and set aside.
Place remaining olive oil into a large non-stick frypan.
Add beef, pork and ricotta meatballs and brown well on all sides.
Pour in sweet tomato pasta sauce and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cook macaroni in boiling water until al dente. Don’t overcook it as it will continue to soften in the oven. Add frozen peas for the last 2 minutes boiling time (fresh peas will need about 4–5 minutes). Drain macaroni and peas and set aside.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Gradually add the milk, stirring continuously. Return to the heat and stir for about 3–4 minutes until thickened. Add Gruyère and mix well.
Place half the cooked macaroni and peas into the prepared casserole dish. Pour over meatballs and tomato pasta sauce. Season.
Layer the remaining macaroni and peas on top. Pour the Gruyère sauce over the top, and scatter with grated mozzarella. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, until golden. Stand for 5 minutes before serving.

  • I love Gruyère and nearly always have it in the fridge. If unavailable it can easily be replaced with grated extra tasty cheese.
  • Leftovers can be taken to work for lunch, or to school in a thermos. Microwave or reheat in a low oven, covered in foil.
  • If you don’t have a deep-sided non-stick pan; cook the meatballs in a shallow-sided non-stick pan first; and transfer them to a deeper pan for cooking in the sauce.

Rowdy, with a chance of meatballs

Dish for rings and jewelry[Recipe 1] BEEF, PORK and RICOTTA MEATBALLS transforms into
[Recipe 2] OVEN-BAKED TOMATO, SPINACH and MEATBALL RISOTTO

……………..
Nothing elicits a louder YUM from my boys at dinnertime than meatballs. These are lovely and light with the addition of ricotta. You’ll end up with four lots of beef, pork and ricotta meatballs with this recipe, so you can bung the rest in the freezer and defrost when required.
The trick with meatballs is to work the mixture with your hands first. The heat from your hands will soften the fat and help the mixture come together, preventing your meatballs from falling apart during frying. I take off my rings for this gross task, and place them in my little crying onion dish.
Recipe two is a fab Oven-baked tomato, spinach and meatball risotto, using reserved beef, pork and ricotta meatballs. Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for hints on how many meatballs to set aside for this dish. This baked risotto is super-quick to make as there is virtually no stirring required. I know risotto purists will scoff, but I love a no-stir risotto. I’d much rather have a nice glass of red while my dinner cooks itself.

Meatballs with tomato pasta sauce

[Recipe 1] Beef, pork and ricotta meatballs

Ingredients (makes 100 meatballs; serves 4 for 4 meals):
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for frying meatballs
3 brown onions, very finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 kilo (2 lb) minced (ground) beef
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) pork
125g (4.5 oz) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
250g (½ lb) fresh ricotta
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1½ cups (125g) fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
1½ teaspoons salt
For tonight’s dinner:
1⅓ cups (600g) tomato pasta sauce (store-bought or home-made)
400g (14 oz) dried spaghetti
Extra grated Parmesan cheese, to serve 

Heat olive oil in a non-stick frypan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Place into a large bowl and allow to cool. Add minced meat, Parmesan, ricotta, parsley, eggs, breadcrumbs and salt. Using your hands, mix and squash the mixture together until well combined.
Using your hands, roll level tablespoons of the mixture into balls. Divide meatballs into 4 lots (approx. 650g/1.4 lb or approx. 25 meatballs for each lot), placing baking paper between each layer. Freeze or refrigerate until required.
Reserve one quantity (approx. 600g/1.3 lb) of beef, pork and ricotta meatballs for the tomato and basil risotto with meatballs.
Heat extra olive oil in a large non-stick frypan, over medium heat.
Fry tonight’s meatballs in two batches until browned and just cooked, approximately 8 minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Wipe pan clean and pour in tomato pasta sauce. Add meatballs. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente. Drain.
Serve meatballs and tomato sauce warm, over spaghetti, scattered with Parmesan cheese.

  • Humanely-farmed veal can be used in place of pork.
  • Uncooked meatballs can be frozen for up to 3 months. Place baking paper between the layers. Defrost overnight in the fridge and drain on kitchen paper.
  • To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, remove the crusts from day-old sourdough bread and coarsely chop. Whiz in a food processor. Fresh breadcrumbs can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Instead of 4 lots of meatballs, use the mixture for 3 lots of meatballs and 1 lot of burgers. Simply shape 1 portion of the mixture into 4 or 6 patties and freeze until required. These burgers are delicious cooked on the BBQ. Serve in hamburger buns with lettuce, tasty cheese and tomato relish or caramelised red onion jam.
  • 
If you don’t have a deep-sided non-stick pan; cook the meatballs in a shallow-sided non-stick pan first; and transfer them to a deeper pan for cooking in the sauce.

Baked risotto with meatballs

[Recipe 2] Oven-baked tomato, spinach and meatball risotto

Ingredients (serves 4):
2 tablespoons olive oil
♦ 1 quantity (approx. 600g/1.3 lb) beef, pork and ricotta meatballs
1 small red (purple/Spanish) onion, chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped (approx. 5mm/1/4-inch cubes)
1½ cups (315g) arborio rice
400g (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock (store-bought or home-made)
3 cups (100g) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese to serve
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick frypan, over medium heat.
Fry meatballs in two batches until browned and just cooked, approximately 8 minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in an oven-proof (preferably cast iron) pot, on the stove-top. Add onion and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, until onion is softened.
Add rice and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, stirring, until grains are well-coated. Add tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil. Remove from stove-top. Cover pot, and transfer to the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pot from oven and gently stir in cooked meatballs, spinach salt and pepper. Return pot to oven and cook for a further 10–15 minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed, spinach is wilted and rice is tender.
Serve, scattered with Parmesan and parsley.

Honey, I shrank the burgers

[Recipe 1] SCOTCH EGGS transform into
[Recipe 2] MINI BURGERS with HIDDEN VEGGIES
……………..
This week Scotch eggs morph into tiny Mini burgers. Scotch eggs have long featured on my ‘kooky UK meals to try’ list (along with Toad in the Hole, Spotted Dick and Bubble and Squeak), and a couple of months ago I gave them a burl. Delicious! As we’re coming up to Easter, I figured now was the perfect time to share them.
Scotch eggs are traditionally coated in sausage meat, but I just can’t bring myself to deep-fry a ball of sausage (easier to just rip my arteries out); so I use a mixture of beef and pork mince, which has more flavour, more iron and much less fat! I also throw in some mustard and onion for extra bite.
I’ve experimented with this recipe quite a bit, and although scotch eggs *can* be baked (lightly oiled at 200°C/390ºF for 25 minutes); they’re really much yummier deep-fried, with that lovely crunchy golden coating. I’m not at all adverse to the occasional deep-fried treat!
Double-crumbing is a technique I learned from the Dutch, and it makes for an extra crispy crust, whilst ensuring the scotch eggs don’t split open during cooking.
By making double the beef/pork mixture for the scotch eggs you can whip up a batch of gorgeous little Mini burgers with hidden veggies later. Look for the ♦ orange diamonds within the recipe, for instructions on how much beef/pork mixture to reserve for the burgers.
My beautiful friend, and Japanese culture junkie, Janet, introduced me to the tiny burger snacks at the ubiquitous Breadtop, an Asian bread/pastry chain popping up all over Australia. The bun itself is like a cross between brioche and a puff of air, and it holds a tiny cold hamburger patty, a smear of tomato sauce, a minuscule slice of cheese and a tiny leaf of lettuce. That’s it! Gone in two mouthfuls, but absolutely delicious. You can so easily make them yourself for the kids lunchboxes. Freeze the patties and little buns separately (you can buy the buns in bags of eight at Breadtop, or in bulk from Costco); defrost them overnight, and assemble in the morning. Two per child should suffice. Such a lovely change from boring sandwiches! They’re also perfect for kid’s birthdays, and adult parties (add a teaspoon of fennel seeds with the onion to ramp up the flavour).

Scotch eggs. Via One Equals Two

[Recipe 1] Scotch eggs

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals; ie. 6 scotch eggs + 12 mini burgers):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, very finely chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) beef
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) pork
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried, if unavailable)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

¼ cup plain (all-purpose) flour, for coating
3 eggs, extra, beaten, for coating
1¼ cups dry breadcrumbs, extra, for coating
I litre (34 fl oz) vegetable or peanut oil for deep-frying
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought chutney), to serve

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 4–5 minutes, until soft. Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the cooked onion, mustard, beef, pork, thyme, salt, pepper, ½ cup breadcrumbs and 1 beaten egg. Process until well combined; or mix and mash with your hands.
♦ Reserve half the beef/pork mixture (about 2 cups or 600g/1¼ lb) for the mini burgers.

Divide the remainder of the beef/pork mixture into 6 even portions, patting each piece into a flat oval shape, the size of your palm.
Coat each of the 6 peeled, hard-boiled eggs in flour. Wrap each floured egg evenly in a portion of beef/pork mixture, making sure they are smooth and completely covered.
 Dip each mince-coated egg into the extra beaten egg, then roll gently in breadcrumbs until well-coated. Double-coat by repeating the egg and breadcrumb stages. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, reserving a couple of eggy breadcrumb lumps for testing the oil temperature.
Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Heat vegetable oil in a deep saucepan on the stovetop until it reaches 180°C (350ºF). If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test whether the oil is ready by dropping a breadcrumb lump in the pot. It should sizzle as soon as it hits the oil.
Deep-fry the scotch eggs (in two batches if necessary) for approximately 4–5 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
Remove scotch eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Place on a tray lined with baking paper paper and bake in the hot oven for 7 minutes (this will ensure meat is cooked through).
Serve warm or at room temperature with Easy spiced tomato chutney and a green salad or Green beans and toasted pine-nuts (pictured).

Mini burgers. Via One Equals Two

[Recipe 2] Mini burgers with hidden veggies

Ingredients (serves 4, makes 12 little patties):
1 medium carrot, grated on fine zester holes
1 small zucchini (courgette), grated, chopped, liquid squeezed out with your hands

2 tablespoons oat bran (or wheatgerm)
♦ 2 cups (about 600g/1¼ lb) reserved beef/pork mixture
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

To serve:
12 mini buns or dinner rolls
Butter or baby cos (romaine) lettuce
Thinly sliced cheddar cheese
Tomato sauce (ketchup)

Put carrot, zucchini and oat bran into a large bowl.
Add reserved beef/pork mixture.
Season. Mix and mash it all together well with your hands. Shape mixture into twelve tiny patties, about 5 cm (2″) diameter. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat extra oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry mini burgers until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes each side. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve mini burgers in little buns with lettuce, sliced cheese and tomato sauce.

  • Cooked patties, and little buns, can be frozen with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months. Defrost as required, for lunchboxes.
  • Patties can also be frozen uncooked, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
  • As these patties are tiny, it’s very important to ensure the onion, carrot and zucchini are chopped and/or grated into very small pieces or your burgers will fall apart when cooked. The tiny zester holes on your grater are perfect for carrot. I grate zucchini on the normal grater holes though as it gets too watery. Give the mound of grated zucchini a good extra chop afterwards to make the pieces smaller.
  • You can use this mixture to make four large patties instead of mini burgers. Pop them in the freezer for a quick mid-week dinner.

Pasta la vista

[Recipe 1] FULL-OF-VEGGIES BOLOGNAISE transforms into
[Recipe 2] LASAGNA with RICOTTA and SPINACH
……………..
A recipe for bolognaise? Meh, I hear you uttering. I’m guessing you probably have a container or two of sauce tucked in your freezer prepared with your own fail-safe recipe. Thought I’d share my Full-of-veggies bolognaise recipe though, as it’s, well, full of veggies strangely enough; including lentils. It’s pretty delicious and my boys inhale it.
Instead of serving up spag bol over spaghetti week after week, I always set aside a portion for an ace Lasagna with ricotta and spinach (look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for instructions on how much sauce to reserve). I love a good lasagna, but wouldn’t dream of preparing one from scratch. With the sauce already made, it’s a cinch to throw this lasagna in the oven within half an hour. So, anyway, my secret bolognaise ingredient is lentils – what kooky ingredients feature in your spag bol?

Full-of-veggies bolognaise

[Recipe 1] Full-of-veggies bolognaise

Ingredients (serves 4 for 4+ meals):
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 brown onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 kilos (4 lb) minced (ground) beef (not too lean)
4 x 400g (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
280g (10 oz) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1 cup (250ml) water
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 large carrots, grated
2 zucchinis (courgettes), grated
1 x 400g (15 oz) can lentils, drained, rinsed (or 1 cup cooked brown or green lentils)
1 cup chopped parsley (to taste), plus extra to serve
1 heaped tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g (14 oz) dried spaghetti (or as required for 4 serves)
Grated parmesan cheese to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until brown. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, bay leaves and oregano and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 30 minutes. Add carrot and zucchini and continue cooking, covered, for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove lid and simmer for a further 8–10 minutes, or until thick. Remove and discard bay leaves.
At this stage I like to give the bolognaise 2 whizzes (no more) with a stick blender to help it come together – this is optional of course. Stir through parsley, lentils and brown sugar. Season to taste.
Reserve 4 cups (1 kilo/2 lb) Full-of-veggies bolognaise for the Lasagna with ricotta and spinach.
Divide the remainder of the Full-of-veggies bolognaise into labeled plastic containers (see storage tips below).
Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente. Drain. Serve warm Full-of-veggies bolognaise over spaghetti, scattered with grated parmesan and extra parsley.

  • The Full-of-veggies bolognaise recipe will yield four serves of about 1 kilo (2 lb) each (1 kilo will serve four) and a couple of single portions too. I love making a massive vat of spag bol, but if you don’t have the freezer space, it’s easy to halve the ingredients.
  • Full-of-veggies bolognaise can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Besides B vitamins, lentils are high in protein, fibre and a variety of minerals. It’s so easy to plop them in bolognaise sauce. They take on the flavour of the other ingredients and are virtually imperceptible. You can add lots of other vegetables to this recipe – try adding small cubes of eggplant or sliced button mushrooms with the onions. You can also throw in chopped baby spinach with the lentils.
  • I love Australian garlic. The taste is superior to Chinese garlic; and imported garlic is fumigated with methyl bromide and often bleached too. Blech. Interesting article here.
  • Baby tip: while you’re making the spag bol, you can make a small baby-friendly portion in a little saucepan. Use similar ingredients, but omit the canned tomatoes, canned lentils and tomato paste (canned foods are generally too salty for babies). Replace with peeled and de-seeded fresh tomatoes, and water. For a burst of iron, throw in a chopped organic beef liver. Puree until smooth and freeze in ice-cube trays until required.

Lasagna with ricotta and spinach

[Recipe 2] Lasagna with ricotta and spinach

Ingredients (serves 6):
1⅓ cups (350ml) tomato passata (tomato puree)

♦ 4 cups (1 kilo/2 lb) reserved full-of-veggies bolognaise

3 eggs
2 heaped cups (600g) fresh ricotta
¼ cup (60ml) milk
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (100g) grated parmesan cheese
250g/10 oz packet frozen spinach, thawed, excess liquid completely squeezed out
375g (13 oz) fresh lasagna sheets
1 cup (100g) grated mozzarella

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Place tomato passata in a large bowl.
Stir in reserved full-of-veggies bolognaise.
Set aside.
Place eggs, ricotta, milk and salt into a food processor, and process until creamy. Add parmesan and pulse to just combine. Stir in spinach. Set aside.
Lightly grease a 6cm deep, 32cm x 22cm (12½-inch x 8½-inch) oven proof dish. Spoon half the bolognaise/passata mixture over the base. Top with a layer of lasagna sheets, trimming extra sheets to fit if necessary. Spoon over half the spinach/ricotta mixture. Add one more layer of lasagna sheets. Spoon over the remaining bolognaise/passata mixture. Top with another layer of lasagna sheets, then the remaining spinach/ricotta mixture. Scatter with mozzarella. You should have 8 layers in total:
LAYER 1 (bottom): Bolognaise, LAYER 2: Lasagna sheets, LAYER 3: Ricotta, LAYER 4: Lasagna sheets, LAYER 5: Bolognaise, LAYER 6: Lasagna sheets, LAYER 7: Ricotta, LAYER 8 (top): Mozarella.
Cover with a layer of baking paper, followed by a layer of foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove baking paper and foil and bake for a further 15–20 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes (this will help it hold its shape). Serve with a simple green salad.

  • If you purchase a 700ml bottle of tomato passata, you can freeze half in a labelled plastic container for next time; for up to 3 months.

  • Grated parmesan and mozzarella (in 1 cup/100g lots) can be frozen in ziplock bags for up to 3 months.
  • Unused lasagna sheets can be frozen in a ziplock bag for up to 2 months.
  • Leftover lasagna can be warmed in a low oven, covered in foil.