Beef bourguignon pie (in a mountain cabin)

Beef bourguignon pie

Are you really in a log cabin in the mountains if you don’t cook a pie? The philosopher in me says no. The stomach in me also says no. And as fate would have it, we bought a Delicious magazine, with a beef bourguignon pie on the cover, on our drive.

We’d booked a weekend at Eagle Reach. Just up the mountain outside of Vacy, and a short drive to the Hunter Valley, it was an amazing spot. We drove up in the dark (quite a hairy climb at night in the fog) and woke up to a beautiful country vista. Two kangaroos lazed in the morning sun outside our front door, waiting for us to wake up and feed them. Before long, those two kangaroos turned into about 20, as the whole crew bounced over and got their morning feed.

On the Sunday morning the conditions were perfect. A cold foggy morning, a slight drizzle in the air and a crackling fire in our cabin. It felt like there was no one around us for miles as we soaked the beef in some wine we’d picked up the day before in the Hunter (not the wine from Bimbadgen though sadly, we accidentally left that at the winery!) and began slow cooking the meat, along with carrot, onion.

And what is there to do when you are in the middle of nowhere, waiting, while the house fills with delicious smells? Eat blue cheese and drink wine by the fire of course. It was a very tough weekend.

3 hours later we pulled it out of the oven and knew we were in for a treat. The pie probably would have had a lot more meat in it if we could have stopped ourselves from… sampling. Eventually we slopped it all in a pie tin of puff pustry and put in back in the oven, licking our lips.

It was worth the wait.

This pie was amazing. Sure, the setting couldn’t have been better and probably improved the taste, sitting on a thick wooden table watching mist roll through the hills while a fire crackled away. But the pie was amazing. Jill declared it the best pie she had ever eaten. I didn’t disagree.

We’d talked about making a pie for a while. I think we’ll be making them more often in the future.

Stormy sky over Vacy
Eaglereach spa cabin and fireplace
Beef bourguignon ingredients
Pot of Beef bourguignon

Cheese and kangaroo breakBlue cheese and crackers in a wood cabin

Kangaroo with a joey in the pouch - Eaglereach, Vacy

Back to the pie
Beef bourguignon pie

Beef bourguignon pie
Saucy tomato sauce
Scarborough Shiraz
Beef bourguignon pie and tomato sauce

Recipe: (From Delicious Magazine)

1kg chuck steak, cut into 3cm pieces
375 ml bottle of red wine
1/4 cup of plain flour
1/3 cup olive oil
100g pancetta, rind removed, chopped
1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 leeks (pale part only), finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
275ml good-quality beef stock
4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaves
6 sheets butter puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tbs of water

Place the meat in a glass bowl and pour over the red wine. Cover, and marinate overnight in the fridge.

When your ready to cook, bring the meat back to room temperature, drain and pat dry, reserving the wine (not to drink… calm down).

Preheat the oven to 150 C.

Toss the drained beef in the flour. Heat some oil in a casserole dish, frying the beef in small batches until browned. Set the beef aside.

Add more oil and cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. When it is golden, stir in the beef.

Pour in the stock and the reserved wine (told you it wasn’t for drinking). If it doesn’t cover the beef completely, top up with water. Add the thyme and the bay leaves, season well with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer.

Cover it, and move it into the oven to slow cook for 2 and a half hours.

At this point, it will probably smell so good you can’t stand it… but take it out of the oven and let it cool. You can sample some of the beef if you wish. Yum.

Increase the oven to 200 degrees. Grease a pie dish and line it with sheets of puff pastry. It’s best to roll them out slight on a lightly floured surface to keep it thin enough to cook properly. Reserve any scraps to fill any gaps so the dish is completely lined. Brush the edges of the pastry with water.

Spoon the beef bourguignon into the pie and top with more puff pastry to create the pie lid. Crimp the edges together to seal, then brush the top with the egg wash.

Bake it for 20 minutes, until golden. Serve with mashed potato, or just some good old tomato sauce.

Try not to make too many noises while you eat it… I can’t guarantee this is possible. Mmmmm.

Music: Bon Iver – The Wolves (Act 1 & 2)

White wine and caper chicken

How can I be writing a food blog and not have cooked in my own mothers kitchen? We rectified that this week! And it wasn’t just about mum, we were back in Melbourne for dads birthday! Happy birthday dad.

So a plane trip, a night in a hotel with a stunning view of Melbourne and a train out to Nunna and we were in the kitchen I grew up in, but this time on the other side of the bench. But Jill and I weren’t the only ones.

It’s not cooking for the family unless everyone is involved. And everyone was involved. Lauren and Locky, Teeka, Dad and even uncle Geoff (who supplied music from his home made ukulele). But it was mum of course who made the ultimate contribution… the dessert. We’d planned to make a tarte tatin, but ran out of time. Good onya mum, you’ve done it again.

For entree, we made baked camembert and cherry jam parcels and white wine and caper chicken with potato and bacon gratin and a three bean salad. Is that a french theme? Oui! The inspiration for the whole thing was born from my desire to cook the camembert after seeing it on Joy the Baker. We just filled in the gaps after that to justify the cheese!

We’re not usually big on beans on Nuesday, so why not have a bean bonanza and squeeze broad, green and cannellini into one salad (along with a healthy dollop of mum’s home grown and made pesto!).

All three courses were delicious, but holy moly, baked camembert with cherry jam. Worthy of a theme. Just do it.

Recipes

Baked Camembert and Cherry Jam parcels
Chicken in white wine and caper sauce
Potato and bacon gratin
Three-bean salad
Tarte Tatin

Music
The ukulele orchestra of Great Britain – Satisfaction

Pulled pork tacos with salsa verde

Slow cooked pulled pork tacos

You may remember that last week we bought a slow cooker. I knew it wouldn’t be long until I was leaving for work with a pork shoulder cooking away, waiting to be made into pulled pork tacos at the end of the day.

I was a little bit wrong… that scrumptious hunk of meat turned out to be a neck, after the good people at The Butchers Nest got a delivery just in time and gave me their premium selection. The neck was perfect, no bone, not much fat, basically 1.5kgs of meaty meat.

This was about as far ahead as I had thought. My eyes lit up at pulled pork taco, and didn’t bother to think about the rest. But a whole taco greater than the sum of its parts.

Jill came to the rescue with some black beans and guac and a delicious mexican salad for the side. Meanwhile, I learnt that the verde part of salsa verde means green… and that it was filled with herbs, capers, red wine vinegar and anchovies. An odd combo, and one that I had some trepidation about… but by golly it was good. So fresh, and the salty little anchovies really carried it to a whole new place.

I mentioned the importance of the combination of the parts, and I haven’t mentioned a key component. Friends. I’ve heard it is still illegal in parts of mexico to eat tacos alone (Sorry, made that up), and so I was glad we had our friends Mike and Verity around to help us get our taco on.

The added bonus of slow cooking one and a half kgs of meat is the leftovers. We nailed it over the next few days in a breakfast (with beans and avo), a sandwich and a couple of salads. Raise your cervezas for mexican food!

Salsa verde ingredients
Slow cooked pulled pork with salsa verde
Slow cooked pulled pork with salsa verde
Slow cooked pulled pork
Guacamole and corn chips
Pulled pork tacos with salsa verde
Dos Equis beer and a mexican feast
Mexican feast recipe
Slow cooked pulled pork taco with salsa verde
Slow cooked pulled pork taco with salsa verde
Slow cooked pulled pork taco with salsa verde

Recipes

For the Salsa Verde I followed the recipe of the very capable Jamie Oliver. I hand chopped it for added rustic-ness. It’s worth it, feels very home-style.

Jill also got her spicy blackbeans and avocado salad from Jamie.

As for the pork (start this recipe the day before you want to eat it):

Ingredients

1.5 kg of pork neck (or shoulder, boneless) – This made a LOT of pulled pork, but why not?
5 tablespoons of chilli powder
2 teaspoons of cumin
2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons of italian herbs (or oregano)
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon (I was a bit more generous than this)
2 teaspoons of salt
3 teaspoons of brown sugar

Whisk up all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Pat the roast dry with paper towel and then rub the spices all over. Really get into it. Then cover the whole thing in a bowl, along with the remaining spices, and put it in the fridge over night (you CAN get away with it marinating it for an hour or two, but the longer the better.

When it’s ready, heat some vegetable oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat and brown the neck on all sides. Should be about 5ish minutes.

Then put the whole thing in the slow cooker, on low heat, for around 11 hours. That’s it… no liquid required. It will generate some from its own fat.

Ours actually still looked like it could have used a tiny bit longer, so we put it in the oven at 120 degrees celsius for an hour or so, in its fat juice, while we waited for our guests to arrive.

Remove the roast and place it on a cutting board. Cut it into large chunks, and then, using two forks, pull the meat apart into shreds.

Stick it in your tacos and eat it up!

Music: Pepe Jaramillo – Mexican Pizza (the closest variant on YouTube is Mexican Tropicale)

Slow cooked lamb shoulder with rosemary and garlic

Slow cooked lamb shoulder with rosemary and garlic

Summer is over in Sydney. Daylight savings is done. Days are getting shorter. It’s getting colder.

BUT ALL IS NOT LOST! That means we are sliding into comfort food weather. And what better comfort than the succulent goodness of slow cooked food, warm and ready when you get home. So we celebrated by buying a slow cooker.

Sydney turned out a perfect drizzly day for the occasion, as I experimented with my first slow cooked meal, Roast lamb shoulder with Garlic and Rosemary. It was a dream… so easy, I just smothered the meat in my favourite herbs, stuffed it with garlic and rosemary, chopped some veggies and chucked the whole thing in the slow cooker for about 5 hours.

Add in some NZ Red in a decanter, throw together some gravy from the lamb fat, and warm up some buttered peas and kaboom… the perfect night in.

Sydney skyline in the rainy fog
Carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic and rosemary
Beef stock, lamb shoulder and seasoning
Lamb shoulder with rosemary
Vegetables and lamb in slow cooker
Morton Estate Hawkes Bay Syrah 2011
Slow cooked lamb shoulder with rosemary and garlic
Slow cooked lamb shoulder with rosemary and garlic

Recipe: Slow cooked lamb shoulder with rosemary and garlic
I also put together an additional little rub to season the skin, which consisted of salt, pepper, cinnamon and coriander

Music: Moondog – Bird’s Lament (Henrik Schwartz mix)

Nobu inspired Japanese feast

Nobu inspired Japanese feast

Jill went back to work three days before Andrew did. Andrew had three very different days… taking care of business on Friday, Lying on the beach all day on Thursday, and, most relevant to all you dear readers, spent Wednesday making a Nobu inspired Japanese feast!

Kickstarted with a trip to the most awesome bookshop in Sydney, Kinokuniya (keeping with the Japanese theme), then on to Kitchen Kapers  in North Sydney to buy the perfect little cast iron pots so I could recreate the Beef Misoyaki at our favourite local Japanese place, Hachi-Bei.

Then swung back home via good ol’ Costi’s for some fine quality salmon to sashimi and some premium Wagyu at Victor Churchill… then one more stop for a bottle of sake and I was set to go!

The idea of preparing sashimi always kind of scared me… even though surely you can’t do much wrong when preparing something to be eaten raw, I just felt like it was a leap. So I eased myself into it. I poured searing hot oil over the top, giving it a nice quick plate fry. I don’t know what I was worried about… it was delicious. Complemented with two little hand rolls (avocado and smoked salmon in one, prawn and cucumber in the other… and plenty of miring soaked sushi rice) it was the perfect entree.

I couldn’t find a Nobu equivalent to the Beef Misoyaki we love so much. in fact, I couldn’t find an equivalent at all. It seems like it is generally a pretty dry dish, whereas ours baths in miso sauce, along with broccoli and carrot. So I kind of freestyled it a bit, using this misoyaki sauce recipe as the base.

Unfortunately the Green Tea Pudding was not such a success. I followed the recipe to a T, but it ended up verrrry liquidy. Kind of like milk soup. Not ideal.

And of course, what Japanese feast would be complete without Sake? SAKE! It was just like this. 

Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feastNobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast
Nobu inspired Japanese feast

Recipes

New style Sashimi
Hand roll recipes
Misoyaki sauce
Green tea pudding

Music

The 5,6,7,8’s – Woohoo