Category Archives: Beef

Caramelised onions, rapid ragù and a diary you should buy

Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.
~ Anne Lamott

Today has been one fantastic day.

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For a while now, I have felt a soul and body sensation somewhat akin to constant choking. There have been many moments where my mind kept saying “dooooon’t wooooorrryyy” or “sloooooow down!” while my body and heart fluttered with anxiety and insomnia.

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I really, really don’t want to see another night-to-day transition happen outside the window while the rest of New Zealand (except fellow insomniacs or night-shift workers) get to play in Dreamland.

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I guess the year’s been a little crazy. It’s been unspeakably wonderful in a thousand different ways, and it’s also driven me completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve been living out of a suitcase for seven months, and I’ve been in 12 cities in three countries this year. That’s not much for people on an OE or for people who love ongoing plan-less spontaneity, but I’m not either of those things.

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Right, first world problems.

Got it.

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They’re still a little tough :-o

(The First World Problem Lady Whines)

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Recently, in the midst of a dark passage of stress and insomnia, I came to a very important realisation. That now is the BEST time to learn contentment, resilience, calm and all those quality things.

Today, I woke up, peered into the mirror and said, “I like your life. I don’t want ANY OTHER.” After I said it, I was surprised to realise that I really meant it. I really wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I’m really happy being me, with my personality, strengths, flaws, relationships, circumstances and all.

And then a few really, really good things happened. I’m still smiling as I type this.

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One of those things is that I *finally* got my hands on a Kiwi Diary! My friend Cathy told me about them a few years ago, and for some reason they stayed elusive… until today! At Commonsense Organics they sat on the counter like they had been waiting for me all along (okay, slight exaggeration, but only a slight one)!

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It’s every bit as beautiful, compact and spacious as I wanted my 2013 diary to be. Don’t you want one too?

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Another good thing that happened today was that I felt in the mood to Cook Properly. Dinner was started and finished in an hour and turned out nicely, and my lovely flatmate Jono helped me to eat it AND booted me out of the kitchen afterwards to tackle the dishes :-)

Here’s the approximate recipe, if you’d like it. As always, I recommend cooking by sight, smell, taste and instinct.

    Pappardelle with rapid ragù and caramelised onions
    Ingredients:
    Caramelised onions:
    Olive oil
    2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
    pinch of cinnamon
    1 tbsp demerara sugar (or use normal)
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    The rest of the dish:
    225g dried pappardelle (packet said 2 servings)
    1 tbsp butter
    3 cloves garlic
    450g mince
    1 sprig rosemary*
    1 sprig thyme*
    1 carrot, peeled and diced
    1 zucchini, diced
    400g canned diced tomatoes
    3 tbsp tomato paste or passata
    1/2 cup red wine
    Salt
    Black pepper
    3/4 tbsp demerara sugar (or use normal)
    Method:
    Over medium-high heat, glaze the bottom of a skillet with approximately 3 tbsp of olive oil. Once it’s warm, fling open the windows and throw in the onions. Cook for 15-20 minutes, adjusting the heat as required and stirring occasionally to avoid it burning. It should be smelling pretty great and turning slowly golden-brown. Add in a pinch of cinnamon, breathe in deeply. Stir well. After 5 minutes, add in the sugar and balsamic vinegar and cook for a further 5 minutes till it’s all rich, brown and soft. Pour them into a bowl.
    Turn the heat up again. Reusing the skillet, melt the butter, then add in the garlic and mince. Stir well, and add in the herbs. When the mince is partially cooked, add in the carrot and zucchini, and cook till the mince is just cooked. Then pour in the wine, tomatoes and tomato paste, lower the heat and let it all simmer for around 20-30 minutes. More time won’t kill it – just make sure it’s simmering and not splattering. At some point, stir in half of the caramelised onions (refrigerate the rest for another meal!), sugar and salt and pepper to taste.
    10 minutes before the sauce is due to be ready, bring water in a deep saucepan to a rolling boil. Throw in some salt, then add in the pappardelle and cook according to packet instructions or till al dente.
    Dish it up – pappardelle on plate. Ragù on top. Serve immediately.
    Yields 3 servings.

* I just used these because they were leftovers I had in the freezer – feel free to substitute with fresh / dried herbs you have on hand.

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Pan to plate in 480 seconds

What kind of scale compares the weight of two beauties, the gravity of duties, or the ground speed of joy? Tell me, what kind of ga[u]ge can quantify elation? What kind of equation could I possibly employ?
~ Ani Difranco

There’s something about home-cooked steak. You know? So quick and so good? Hot pan, big splash of oil, lovely sizzling noise when meat meets pan? Juicy eye fillet, quick shake of salt and pepper, runny yolk, savoury-sweet onion? Loud thoughts of “I am very happy right now” emerging from mind and mouth?

:-D

Easy does it

But then the first courses were there, and I was tasting the velouté of oysters, holding it in my mouth so I could savour the smooth, rich feel of the liquid as I picked out the flavours, first the oyster itself, then a hint of lemongrass. I felt the sea urchin slide beneath my tongue, as subtle and sneaky as the glow of a buttercup under your chin, and then admired the pop of the caviar as it was crushed beneath my teeth. It was wonderful soup, as if the chef were dreaming of the sea.
~ Ruth Reichl, Garlic and Sapphires

One sunny evening last week, I cooked and ate this:

Angel hair pasta, sexy and heavenly and smooth, covered with a tangy cloud of sweet onions, various ground red spices, fresh lemon zest, lemon juice, zucchini, lovely slivers of sundried tomatoes, candy cane strips of capsicum and a dusting of black pepper and brown sugar. It was delicious, I kid you not. It tasted like delicate and crunchy rays of sunshine…

This was quick and easy to make, and I didn’t think I’d soon find a quicker and better meal to fix than this. I thought this was going to be my new staple (for nights I cook at home, anyway). As it turns out, I was wrong…

It was the day after this, I think, that my cold burst through my lungs and through my nose, stomach and pores. It was quite horrible, and after I exhausted my supply of tissues, manuka honey tonic and willpower, I found my way to my (new) doctor and then to the supermarket.

I don’t know why I didn’t buy more “sick food” like – oh, I don’t know – rolled oats or spinach or something? I bought honey, lemons, ginger – and – beef and chocolate.

I stumbled home with my groceries, sweaty and hot and cold and slightly miserable, made myself a cup of honey lemon & ginger, then warmed some olive oil in a skillet, shrugged and threw in the piece of eye fillet I had gotten. (Also steamed some kumara slices in a small pot – took around 8 minutes to cook).

I cooked the eye fillet for approximately 4 minutes on each side, listening to the satisfying sizzle and opening the windows to air the house – then shook some salt and pepper on the browned steak and sat down with the steak and kumara to watch a DVD.

It’s silly, but when I cut a cube of beef and put it into my mouth, my eyes widened in surprise at how good it was. It was amazing! Why haven’t I cooked steak more often! Simple and unadorned, browned and rich and impossibly tender, gently pink right in the middle – it was sweet and salty and peppery all at once… just… so good. I forgot the DVD and my running nose; I just concentrated on the wonderful taste of this.

Satisfaction in 8 minutes! Faster to prepare than aforementioned pasta!

Love how the simplest and quickest meals to make can be the best sometimes.

Prego Rolls

Wine is bottled poetry.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

It started off like a lyrical poem… a bath of red wine, lightly smashed garlic, rosemary (I used dried instead of fresh, to help lower this week’s grocery bills!). It smelled like – hmm, I don’t know, romance? Music? Something wonderful, anyway… I slipped the beef rump steak pieces in to marinade for awhile.

Recipe from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#37 Prego Rolls – Page 232

This was relatively easy to cook, and I served it with a salad, lemon wedge and a little chilli oil (see previous post for the latter).

Sadly… the chilli oil was not well-bodied (being given too little time to mature), the bread became a soft gluten-ey wine-soaked rag, the beef was too rare and had to be re-cooked, etc… oh what would I do without kind flatmates to make it better (and smilingly eat my cooking even when it’s terrible)!

Sigh! It was a fun experience cooking it nevertheless.

Even though I will probably not try making this again anytime soon.