Blades of glory


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.

Beet this


Happy Father’s Day for yesterday daddy readers! We had a delightful weekend, starting with the Nicholas Building Open House on Friday night (one of Melbourne’s most lovely buildings, and a microcosm of small artist’s studios and tiny specialty shops); followed by a perfect coffee in the sun and a spot of art admiration at Commonfolk on Saturday; and culminating in a magnificent manly dinner – Amelia’s Bangers and mash with beer and onion gravy.
I plucked some big fat grass-fed beef bangers from my freezer, having bought them a couple of weeks ago at East Bentleigh Farmers Market, one of our favourites as it has a zero-waste policy, and always has everything I need, including custard tarts and home-made dim sims. I had a lovely morning there with my 6-year old, and we came home with the aforementioned snags, gorgeous baby coloured carrots, and a few bunches of beetroot including striped Chioggia. I set to work roasting the lot for a salad.
The weather has turned decidedly Spring-like over the past two weeks, and this salad, full of flavour and texture with a light scattering of roasted macadamias; made a perfect light dinner.
I reserved a cup of the roasted beetroot and whipped up a fab beetroot hummus the next day, basically my usual hummus with beetroot added and a handful of pinenuts. Delicious! The husband and I polished off a ridiculous amount, and took the rest to work for lunch on sourdough with roast beef and rocket. I made a second batch to test its freezability and it freezes really well. Who knew one could freeze hummus? Not I, and I’m pretty rapt as it’s a great way to avoid gorging.
Oh, right down the bottom of this post I’ve shared my favourite tea towel. A girlfriend gave it to me for my birthday last year (thanks Eileesh)! I used it as the tablecloth for this post but felt it needed to be seen in its entirety. Isn’t it a ripper!
Footnote: The coloured carrots came from the Greens Organic Farm stall. They also deliver to Melbourne’s south/bayside suburbs. The beetroot was purchased at the Peninsula Fresh stall; and my sausages came from Sage Beef. The beautiful bread pictured in my dip photo was from Rustica. These sellers are all regulars at East Bentleigh Farmer’s Market.

Coloured baby carrotsRoast beetroot, baby carrot and macadamia salad[Recipe 1] Roasted beetroot, baby carrot and macadamia salad

Ingredients (serves 4, plus extra beetroot for recipe 2):
3 bunches beetroot, about 1½ kilo (3 lb) total
3 bunches baby carrots, about 500g (1 lb) total
2 tablespoons macadamia oil (or olive oil), plus extra for brushing carrots
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
150g (5 oz) wild rocket (arugula) or radicchio (Italian chicory) leaves
60g (2 oz) macadamia nuts, roasted and chopped
Orange dressing:
⅓ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice (from 1 large orange)
2 tablespoons macadamia oil (or extra-virgin olive oil), extra
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, warmed slightly

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Prepare dressing by placing all ingredients in a screw-top jar. Shake until combined. Refrigerate until required.
Wash the beetroot and carrots well. Trim the stems leaving about 1cm (½”) intact. If using large and medium beetroots, they can be halved.
Place the prepared beetroot onto a large sheet of foil. Drizzle with oil and wrap them up like a parcel. Place into a heavy baking pan and roast for 40 minutes.
Brush the prepared carrots with a little oil. Remove baking pan from the oven, and place the carrots next to the parcel of beetroot. You can use a small separate baking pan if there isn’t enough room, or lay another tray on top of your roasting pan.
Place everything into the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes until vegetables are just tender.
Macadamias can be placed in the oven for the last 5 minutes to roast.
Remove baking pan from the oven. Wearing gloves, slip the skins off the beetroot with a vegetable peeler or your fingers.
Reserve approximately 200g (7 oz) roasted beetroot for the Roast beetroot and pine nut humus.
Place the remaining roasted vegetables in a large bowl. Add rocket leaves and drizzle with the prepared dressing. Toss lightly until combined. Divide salad amongst four serving plates, and scatter with macadamias.

  • Small, young beetroot leaves can be used in your salad in place of the rocket leaves.
  • Fussy kid tip: Kids will love the roast baby carrots, but may turn their noses up at the beetroot. Roast a couple of sliced potatoes and pumpkin chunks for them at the same time.
  • This salad can be served with sliced oven-baked pork fillets (tenderloins); which require 20 minutes roasting time and can be placed in the oven at the same time as the carrots. Brush them lightly with oil and scatter with cumin. To serve, brush a little of the orange dressing on top!

Beetroot and pine nut hummus

[Recipe 2] Beetroot and pine nut hummus

Ingredients (makes 2 cups):
400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed; or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
200g (7 oz) reserved roasted beetroot, peeled, tops trimmed
1 tablespoon hulled tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup (40g) pine nuts
1½ teaspoons dried cumin powder

Process all ingredients until smooth. Add a splash of water if it seems too thick. Season to taste. If using canned chickpeas, you may not need additional salt.
Serve with crusty bread and/or vegetable crudités.

  • Beetroot and pine nut hummus can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.

Uncle Albert's vintage tea towel

A fairy nice day

Had to share some photos of Anakie Fairy Park, where we spent Father’s Day.
I think it’s the old Dutch lady in me, but I just love classic kid’s theme parks. One of my earliest childhood memories is a visit to the Efteling in Holland. It had talking bins, a steam-driven carousel and a fairy tale forest. Anakie Fairy Park is like a very scaled-down version of it.
It was built in 1959 by Peter Mayer, a German immigrant. He and his family made many of the original displays by hand and they’re divine. Look at Humpty at the front gate!
It’s a treasure of a place, wedged into the top of Mount Anakie, with giant (real!) boulders everywhere you look. There are whimsical animatronic fairy-tale displays (mostly Grimms’) of the Three Bears, the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Pinnochio… too many to list (apparently 22 in total but I lost count).
Sid, our youngest, hadn’t been there since he was a baby and he was beside himself with excitement, literally running from display to display. He has spent the last few days (on and off) in dress-ups, pretending to be an animatronic window display; sitting frozen on his little chair until one of us presses ‘the button’ (rigged up by our 8-year old) to make him move and talk. Very cute.
Had a hard time culling the photos as it’s such a photogenic place. The only bugger is the distance – 1.5 hours each way for us (just over an hour from the centre of Melbourne); but it’s worth the trip. My 8-year old describes the playground there as ‘the best in Melbourne’.
If you’re planning to visit, bring a picnic as there is no ‘real’ food for sale. We brought meatloaf and salad sandwiches, and honey banana cake. There’s an on-site fast food van that actually has very good coffee though. I’m a self-confessed coffee snob so you can take my word for it! They have on-site BBQs too, and plenty of seating.

Anakie Fairy park

The pie’s the limit

[Recipe 1] BEEF and GUINNESS STEW transforms into
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’.