Korean Beef

I haven’t posted any mouth-watering desserts of late. I’m trying to avoid them at the moment in an attempt to make some headway in the battle of the bulge. I always seem to be on the losing side in this battle, which I guess is par for the course when you love cooking and eating as I do. Anyway I like to think that this blog provides inspiration for subscribers wondering what to make for dinner tonight. Quick and easy, everyday dishes are the mainstay of Café Cat.

Fans of sweet sticky Asian meat dishes will like this one. Adjust the amount of brown sugar to suit your taste. The recipe doesn’t contain any chilli (though you could always add some) so it’s a good way to introduce young kids to Asian food. If you (or the kids) don’t like mushrooms leave them out and increase the meat.

2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
250g mushrooms, wiped and sliced
450g lean beef (fillet or Scotch fillet) or leftover rare roast beef, in thin strips
¼ to ½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbs sesame oil
To serve:
Steamed rice
Chives or spring onions, sliced
Toasted sesame seeds

Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok and cook the onion until soft, then add the mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring, until mushrooms are starting to brown. Remove from pan.

Add a tiny bit more oil to the pan with the beef strips and stir fry until browned. If you are using leftover roast beef this won’t take long. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil and cook, stirring, for a few minutes, or until sauce is thickening and glazed.

Return mushrooms and onions to the pan. As soy sauce is salty you probably won’t need to add salt to this dish. If the mixture is a bit dry, add 2-3 Tbs water and stir to combine. Serve beef with steamed rice, garnished with sliced spring onions or chives and a few sesame seeds.

Serves 4

Julia’s Burgers with Beetroot Relish

I recently caught up with my friend Julia over a delicious lunch at The Palette Café. Inevitably the conversation got onto food and how we both love beetroot. I said we had grown some last year with mixed success. “Ah” said Julia “I have the solution”.

The trick is to soak the seeds overnight in tepid water and then plant the drained seeds in potting mix in cardboard toilet roll holders. Once they are up plant the seedlings, toilet roll holder and all, into the soil. Julia grows zucchini and pumpkin the same way.

Word went out that Matthew needed empty toilet roll holders and before you could say Jack Robinson friends and family all over town were coming to the rescue. It’s interesting to see how many some families go through in a week and how abstemious others are by comparison. On this subject Matthew quotes a statistic from his time in the Australian Army. Requirements were calculated on the basis of seven and a half squares per man per day. With a lot more women in the military these days they’ve no doubt had to throw those figures out the window.

While on the subject of beetroot Julia promised to send me her recipe for Veal Burgers with Beetroot Relish which she cut out of the local newspaper some time ago. If you don’t have veal use beef, pork or chicken mince. If you are unable to buy Tzatziki either make your own – there are plenty of recipes online – or just leave it out. The burgers are almost as good served with just the Beetroot Relish.

I used English mustard instead of Dijon in the relish and doubled the amount from half to one teaspoonful. The coarse (0.5cm) grating disc attachment on my Magimix made short work of grating the apples and beetroot.

The recipe says to leave the relish for 3 weeks to mature before using. I think we gave ours about 30 minutes! It was still scrumptious and there’s plenty left over for the next batch of burgers!

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Burgers
400g veal mince (or beef, pork, chicken)
2 Tbs semi-dried or dried tomatoes, finely chopped
2 Tbs pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
To serve
2-3 zucchini cut into ribbons with vegetable peeler
1 Tbs olive oil
4 bread buns, split and toasted, or 4 pieces toasted baguette
Handful of baby spinach leaves
Few cherry tomatoes
1 small tub Tzatziki (bought)
1 Tbs chopped mint
Beetroot Relish (see recipe below)

Mix all ingredients for burgers and form into four patties. Cut zucchini into long ribbons and mix with the oil. Heat a barbecue, griddle pan or non-stick frying pan and cook the burgers for about 5 minutes each side or until done to your liking. Cook the zucchini strips on both sides on the same barbecue or in a second frying pan, until golden, then drain on paper towels.

Arrange a few spinach leaves on one half of the toasted buns or baguette, then the burgers. Garnish with tomatoes, zucchini ribbons and some Beetroot Relish. Mix the mint into the Tzatziki and serve separately.

Serves 4

Beetroot Relish
400g beetroots
200g green apples
1 Tbs oil
1 brown onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup white wine or cider vinegar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp English mustard (or Dijon)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 whole cloves
5cm piece of orange rind, removed with a potato peeler

Place beetroots in a saucepan, cover with water, then cook for about 40 mins or until tender. Cool, peel, then grate coarsely. Peel and coarsely grate the apples.

Heat oil in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic until soft but not brown. Add the apple and remaining ingredients, except the grated beetroot and cook for 10 minutes or so, until cooked down. Then add the beetroot and continue to cook for about 30 minutes until thickened like a relish. You’re supposed to remove and discard the piece of orange rind, but I finely chopped it and mixed it back in.

Pour into clean sterilised jars and seal while hot. If possible, leave for 3 weeks to mature before using. To sterilise jars place them in the microwave on High for 2 minutes without the lids.

 

 

Mid-week Wraps

This is a delicious way to serve minced beef for a mid-week family dinner. Incorporating lots of healthy vegetables, it looks very colourful arranged on a large platter, so everyone can help themselves. Serve in wraps or tortillas, or accompanied by Indian roti or pita breads.

Add some chopped fresh chillies to the sauce if you want to liven it up a bit, but it’s more likely to appeal to small kids without. To keep everyone happy serve the chilli in a small dish, so people can add their own.

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2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise using a mandoline
About 4 Tbs olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red capsicum (pepper), finely chopped
1 eggplant, finely chopped
500g minced beef
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chilli
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 beef or vegetable stock cube
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
To garnish:
Baby tomatoes, halved (optional)
Coriander leaves
2 avocados, halved
Sauce:

½ cup coconut cream or sour cream
Juice of 1 lime or ½ lemon
Paprika
Salt to taste

Pre-heat oven to 150°C. Place sweet potato slices in a single layer on 2-3 baking trays lined with baking paper and brush on both sides with oil. Bake for an hour or more, turning them over and swapping the trays round from time to time, so they cook evenly. Remove from the oven when they are crisp.

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat. Cook onion, garlic and capsicum until soft then remove from pan. Add another 1 Tbs oil to the pan, increase heat and cook the eggplant until golden, then remove from pan. Add mince and spices and cook stirring until meat is browned. Return the fried vegetables to the pan with the tinned tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, water and stock cube. Simmer for 15 mins or until thick. Season to taste.

For the sauce mix all ingredients together. Arrange sweet potato chips around the edge of a serving platter and tip the beef in the middle. Nestle the avocado halves and a small dish containing the sauce in the mince. Garnish with the baby tomatoes (there are none in the photo because I had run out), coriander and a shake of paprika.

Serves 4

 

Beef Casserole with Spring Onion Mash

A good beef casserole accompanied by mashed potatoes to mop up the gravy is the sort of comfort food we all crave at times, especially as the weather gets cooler. These old-fashioned dishes take us back to our childhood and Mum’s cooking.

This casserole doesn’t contain any tomatoes or herbs, allowing the flavour from the mushrooms and the sherry to shine through. It can be made in the oven or in a slow cooker.

Beef Casserole with Spring Onion Mash

2 Tbs oil
1 kg lean stewing beef such as chuck steak
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g speck or bacon cut into chunky pieces (lardons)
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
250g mushrooms, wiped and thickly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups water (only 1 cup for Slow Cooker)
1 beef stock cube
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
½ cup dry sherry or red wine
Spring Onion Mash:
1 kg potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized pieces
25g butter
¼ cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 spring onions, thinly sliced (optional)
To serve:

Chopped fresh parsley

Trim beef and cut into 3cm cubes. Season. Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large frying pan and brown half the meat all over until nicely caramelised. Put beef into a heavy Le Creuset-type casserole with a lid or into a Slow Cooker. Repeat with remaining oil and beef. Add the lardons to the pan and cook, stirring until light brown. Add onions and cook for 3-4 mins stirring regularly, until starting to soften. Add carrots, mushrooms, garlic and a touch more oil if necessary and continue to cook for 3-4 mins. Tip vegetables into the casserole with the beef.

Add water, stock cube, Worcestershire sauce and sherry or wine. If using a casserole dish cover and cook at 150°C for two hours or until meat is tender and sauce has thickened up. If using a Slow Cooker use only one cup of water, cover and cook for 3-4 hours on High or until meat is tender and sauce has thickened.

Casserole will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or you can eat half and freeze the rest. Reheat, check seasoning and serve garnished with chopped parsley and accompanied by Spring Onion Mash to mop up all the gravy.

Spring Onion Mash: cook potatoes in boiling salted water for 20 mins or until tender. Drain thoroughly then mash with a potato masher, adding the butter and milk. When smooth and creamy season with salt and pepper and fold in the spring onions if liked.

Serves 4-6

Gluten-Free Lasagne

When I told No. 2 son I was making a lasagne without pasta he was skeptical. You’ll be trying to get rid of the leftovers all week, he said. But it was a great success. Different to a traditional lasagne, but still delicious.

It comes from a new book called Simplicious which is all about using things up. It uses rice paper sheets instead of lasagne sheets and the sauce is thickened with cauliflower instead of flour, making it gluten-free and low in carbohydrates. But if you don’t have any rice paper sheets use any kind of pasta you have in your pantry – cooked in boiling water, unless it’s instant lasagne.

I’m not gluten intolerant, but you don’t need to be gluten intolerant to enjoy this recipe. It simply caught my eye because I had some rice paper sheets and nori (seaweed) sheets which had been sitting in the pantry forever and needed using up! I added cumin and sugar to the sauce and used mushrooms instead of grated pumpkin. Below I’ve offered a few other suggestions for varying the recipe to suit what you have on hand. It’s that kind of recipe – very adaptable!

Gluten-Free LasagneMeat Sauce:
1 Tbs oil
1 onion, finely chopped
500g minced beef or lamb
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 can diced tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp sugar (optional)
1 cup water
Cheese and Cauliflower Sauce:
1 cauliflower cut into florets
40g butter
½ cup milk
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
To assemble:
9 rice paper sheets
2 nori (seaweed) sheets, torn into pieces
2 cups baby spinach leaves
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large frying pan and cook onion, mince, mushrooms and garlic for 5-7 mins, stirring often and breaking up the mince. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15-20 mins until thickened.

Meanwhile pre-heat oven to 180°C. Cook cauliflower in boiling salted water until tender then place in food processor with butter, milk and Parmesan. Whiz till smooth.

Grease a 22cm springform cake pan and line the bottom with baking paper. Spread a third of the meat sauce over the bottom, then 3 rice paper sheets, then a third of the cauliflower sauce. Next goes half the spinach leaves and half the nori. Repeat this again then finish with remaining meat sauce, rice papers and cauliflower sauce. Top with grated Parmesan. Bake 40 mins or until browned. Stand 10 mins then remove sides of pan. Serve with a mixed salad.

Serves 6

Variations and Substitutions:

  • Use a baking dish instead of a springform pan,
  • Use grated cheddar instead of Parmesan.
  • The original recipe uses 2 cups of grated pumpkin – I used mushrooms instead – you could also substitute grated carrot or zucchini (courgette).
  • To make a vegetarian version use 500g eggplants (aubergines) cut into small cubes instead of the mince.
  • If you don’t have any nori (seaweed) sheets just leave them out.

Kheema with Peas

When we had a house full of kids I made recipes using minced beef all the time. Lasagne, spaghetti bolognese, shepherd’s pie – they are all great ways to feed a family with just half a kilo of mince. Now there’s just the two of us I only buy mince occasionally – otherwise we’d be forever eating leftovers!

This recipe was posted recently by Jill Dupleix, a well-known food writer in Australia. I love anything with peas so I decided to make it, adjusting the quantities to go with half a kilo of mince rather than the 750g she used.

It’s very quick to make and sure to be a hit with all the family.

Kheema with Peas1 Tbs oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
500g minced lamb or beef
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs grated ginger
½ tsp each turmeric, coriander
¼ to ½ tsp chilli powder or flakes (optional)
1 tsp garam masala
Two cups water or stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
2-3 cups frozen peas
To serve:
Chopped fresh coriander
Steamed Rice
Indian bread such as Roti
Plain yoghurt

Heat oil in a large frying pan and cook onion and garlic until soft but not brown. Add meat and cook for 5 mins, breaking it up as you go, until browned. Add remaining ingredients except peas and simmer for 20 mins. Add peas and cook for a further 5-10 mins, or until peas are cooked and Kheema is thick.

Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with rice, bread and plain yoghurt on the side. Warm the Indian bread by heating for a minute or so on each side in a dry frying pan over moderate heat.

Serves 4

Variations: use a drained can of beans or chick peas instead of the green peas.

Carpaccio with Fig, Walnut Pesto and Goat’s Cheese Mousse

Aubergine is considered one of the best, if not the best, restaurant in Canberra, depending on whom you ask. Chef Ben Willis consistently uses four main ingredients to create his dishes. This contrasts with some other popular Canberra restaurants which, in my view, put too many flavours on the plate. The result is very “bitty” and not at all memorable.

This recipe was inspired by a dish I was served at Aubergine recently when we were celebrating our wedding anniversary. As part of a four course degustation, the serving was small so I’ve increased the quantities to make a more substantial and certainly more rustic starter or light lunch. The four main ingredients are beef, walnuts, fig and a creamy mousse. I’m not sure how they made the mousse so I had to guess.

A bottle of 2013 Hilltops Shiraz from Clonakilla, one of Australia’s leading small wineries located in the Canberra district, went well with this dish.

Carpaccio with Fig, Walnut Pesto and Goat's Cheese Mousse4 fresh figs
150-200g trimmed fillet of beef (see note)
150ml whipping cream
50g soft goat’s cheese
1 Tbs black sesame seeds or pink peppercorns (see note)
Extra Virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Walnut Pesto:
1 cup walnut halves or pieces
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Trim meat, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for an hour, then slice very thinly and press each slice flat with the palm of the hand.

Make pesto: place walnuts and garlic in food processor and chop finely. With motor running add oil through the feed chute until you have the consistency of pesto. Season to taste.

Cut tops off the figs and, if necessary, trim a little off the bottoms so they sit flat. Arrange one in the middle of four serving plates. Spread some walnut pesto in a halo around each fig, then arrange some beef slices on top, slightly overlapping.

Whip cream till thick then add goat’s cheese and whip just enough to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Using two spoons or an ice-cream scoop dipped in hot water, arrange an “egg” of mousse on top of each fig.

Place black sesame seeds or pink peppercorns in a spice grinder or coffee grinder and pulverise. Sprinkle some over the goat’s cheese mousse and the beef.

Drizzle a little lemon juice over the beef and a little Extra Virgin olive oil around the edge of each plate. Serve with fresh bread or toast.

Serves 4

Note: to end up with a piece of trimmed fillet weighing 150-200g you will need to start with a bigger piece. I bought one kilo and after trimming ended up with the piece I used for the carpaccio, two nice thick steaks and a bag of strips to make Stroganoff, which I froze to use on other occasions.

Black sesame seeds are sold in Asian shops and pink peppercorns, which and not really peppercorns at all, are available at specialty shops such as The Essential Ingredient. Black sesame seeds would have made a better colour contrast to the beef, but I had run out so had to find something else in the pantry.

Tomahawk Steak with Whisky-Glazed Carrots

Aldi had Tomahawk steaks on special so I bought one. Never having cooked this cut of beef before, I had a look on Google and learnt that it’s the rib-eye or Scotch fillet with the bone left in.

There was a fair amount of fat on the meat so I decided to cook it simply, on a very hot BBQ, in order to render most of it off and crisp up the rest. The result was delicious and very tender.

Whisky-Glazed Carrots – an old recipe from the 1970s – and some good mustard completed the meal. We didn’t feel the need for potatoes or other accoutrements which might have detracted from the simple combination of succulent savoury beef with sweet carrots.

After a week of abstinence, a very good bottle of Padthaway Shiraz we had been saving for a special occasion, or in this case no occasion at all, went down a treat.

Tomahawk Steak with Whisky-Glazed Carrots1 Tomahawk Steak weighing 1.3-1.5kg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g carrots cut into sticks
Juice and grated rind 2 oranges
1 tsp sugar or honey
2 Tbs whisky
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs butter
Snipped chives
To serve: your favourite mustard

Pre-heat BBQ on maximum for 10 minutes until very hot. For medium-rare, cook steak for 7-8 minutes each side, then a further 7-8 minutes each side. In addition, cook for about 5 minutes on the curved long side of the steak – you may need to hold it in place with some tongs while it cooks on this third side. Place on cutting board, cover loosely with foil and rest for 10-15 mins.

Meanwhile cook the carrots. Place in a saucepan with the orange rind and juice, sugar or honey, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until almost cooked. Remove lid, add whisky and butter and cook for a few minutes more, shaking pan often, until liquid has been absorbed and carrots are just cooked and slightly glazed. Add chives and serve.

Slice meat downwards, across the grain and serve with mustard and carrots.

Serves 4-6

Meatloaf with Mushroom Sauce

We ate minced beef at least once a week the kids were growing up. It’s cheap, easy to chew for small kids and makes a small amount of meat go a long way. Spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, meatballs, shepherd’s pie, beef burgers and various meatloaves were all favourites.

Now there are only two of us I don’t cook mince very often. If I did we’d be eating leftovers for several days. So this recipe is for the new generation of small people and their parents. Easy, quick and very tasty.

Meatloaf with Mushroom Sauce

Mushroom Sauce:
50g butter
500g mushrooms, wiped and sliced
2 level Tbs flour
pinch ground nutmeg
2 heaped Tbs tomato chutney
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk
Meatloaf:
1 cup breadcrumbs
½ cup fresh grapefruit or orange juice
¼ cup tomato ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, chopped very finely
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 eggs
1 kg minced beef

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Heat butter in a frying pan and cook mushrooms stirring, for a few minutes until softened. Add flour, nutmeg, chutney and sour cream.

Mix all ingredients together for the meatloaf. Put half in a greased loaf tin, make an indentation and spoon in about one third of mushroom sauce. Put rest of meat mixture on top, then bake for about an hour. Stand 5 mins, pour fat off, tip out onto serving plate. Add milk to remaining mushroom mixture, heat and serve as sauce.

Note: if the kids don’t like mushrooms, don’t put the layer in the middle of the meatloaf and serve it all as an optional sauce. For a low carb version leave out the breadcrumbs or replace with some grated carrot or zucchini (courgette).

Variations: use lamb, pork or chicken mince

Serves 6

Beef Carpaccio with Walnut Pesto

This recipe was inspired by a carpaccio I ate recently at The European, a restaurant which opened in the Canberra suburb of Kingston in November last year. Unfortunately the establishment didn’t survive and recently closed its doors.

The carpaccio shown in the photo is probably larger than you would need as a starter. We had it for lunch.

Beef Carpaccio with Walnut Pesto

300-400 fillet of beef, trimmed (see note below)
Walnut pesto:
1 cup walnuts
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Pinch salt
About 1/3 cup olive oil
Topping:
About 4 Tbs diced black or green olive flesh
About 4 Tbs coarsely chopped walnuts
Some microherbs or small coriander leaves
About 4 Tbs coarsely grated Parmesan
To serve:
Truffle oil or extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice
8 quick Grissini (see below) or purchased Grissini

Make Grissini (see below). Trim meat and put in the freezer (see note below). Make pesto: place walnuts and garlic in food processor and process. With motor running add enough olive oil to make a thick paste, stopping halfway to scrape down the sides. This can be made ahead and keeps for at least a week.

Thinly slice beef (this is easier to do if the meat is semi-frozen) and arrange down the middle of four serving plates, in overlapping circles. Smear some walnut pesto down each side. You will probably have some beef and some pesto left over.

Sprinkle with the olives, walnuts, herbs or coriander and the Parmesan. Drizzle with truffle or olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Arrange two Grissini on top of each serving and serve with a salt and pepper mill.

Serves 4-6

Note: I bought a one kilo vacuum pack of beef fillet from Aldi, cut off about 500g from the wide end for the carpaccio and trimmed off the small amount of visible fat and tendon. I then rolled the meat tightly in plastic wrap to achieve a neat cylinder about 4cm in diameter. I put it in the freezer for a couple of hours, so it was semi-frozen and easy to slice thinly. I cut the rest of the beef into strips and froze it to make a Stroganoff.

Quick Grissini

Grissini are usually made with bread dough. This is a quick version.

2 sheets bought puff pastry, thawed
4 Tbs finely grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lay pastry sheets on a work surface. Sprinkle with parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Press the cheese and seasonings into the meat with the heel of your hand. Cut pastry into thin strips about 1 cm wide then twist into spirals. Bake in a hot oven on biscuit trays lined with paper for about 15 mins or until golden brown and crisp. Turn them over halfway through the cooking.

Makes about 20