Beef Teriyaki

Beef Teriyaki is one of my favourite stir fry recipes. There are other stir fries I’ve made once or twice, but I’ve made this one dozens of times. It’s quick, easy and adaptable – just as delicious at room temperature as it is hot.

With the addition of lots of veggies, a small amount of beef goes a long way. Use Singapore noodles, Hokkien or similar. We find the amount of soy sauce is about right, but soy sauces do vary from brand to brand. If you find it’s a bit too salty make a note and next time use less soy sauce and make up the difference with water.

Beef Teriyaki500g beef – I use 2-3 thick rump or topside steaks
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 large red pepper, sliced
4 medium zucchini (courgettes) sliced or cut into sticks
2 medium carrots, cut into sticks
250g mushrooms, sliced
½ cup soy sauce
1 Tbs sugar
¼ cup dry sherry
450g packet of fresh, pre-cooked Chinese egg noodles (omit for a Low Carb meal)

Freeze steak a bit to make it easier to slice thinly. Slice downwards into paper thin strips. Dry well on paper towels. Heat oil in wok or large frying pan. Add meat and garlic and stir fry for 1-2 minutes over high heat or until browned. Remove meat from pan, leaving the oil behind. Add onion and stir fry 2 minutes, then add remaining vegetables except mushrooms and stir fry for 5 minutes or until al dente. Add soy sauce mixed with sugar and sherry. Meanwhile cook noodles in boiling salted water according to packet instructions. Return meat to pan with mushrooms and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Fold through drained noodles and stir fry for about a minute.

Note: if using dried noodles you will need only 125g and they will take longer to cook. If liked you can always add a touch of fresh chilli and substitute other vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, cauliflower or asparagus.

Serves 4

How to Cook Flank Steak

I recently attended the Fine Food Fair at the Sydney Convention Centre. As I was wandering round I saw a cooking demonstration about to start, grabbed a chair and sat down. The subject of the demo was how to cook cheap cuts of meat quickly, rather than by one of the slow methods we usually use with less tender cuts.

The chef was a Pom like me, so he called the cut of beef he was using skirt. Here in Australia it’s known as flank. He said there were five rules for the successful quick-cooking of flank steak:

  • use a piece of lean flank steak about 2.5cm thick
  • marinate for about 30 minutes in a mixture which includes lemon or lime juice
  • cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes each side, turning once, to achieve medium-rare
  • rest meat loosely-covered for the same amount of time as you cooked it
  • slice thinly downwards, across the grain

Samples were passed around and the results were impressive. The meat was tasty and surprisingly tender so I decided try it at home. At the demo they served it in bread rolls which they called Vietnamese Steak Sandwiches. We had ours on top of the salad.

You can use any combination of crunchy vegetables for the salad. I used one carrot instead of two and added one coarsely grated raw beetroot and some finely shredded red cabbage.

The marinade can also be varied with any herbs, spices or sauces that take your fancy.

1 piece of flank steak weighing 600-750g and about 2.5cm thick
Marinade:
Juice of ½ lemon or 1 lime
2 Tbs soy sauce or Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbs fresh grated ginger or 2 cloves garlic, crushed, or bothphoto
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Salad:
2 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
½ cup fresh coriander leaves
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 carrots, coarsely grated
Salad Dressing:
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sugar
Pinch chilli powder (optional)
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs water
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine marinade ingredients except salt and pepper, add meat, turn to cover and leave for 30 minutes, turning occasionally. At the demo they marinated it in a sealed plastic bag, but I just used a dish. Mix salad ingredients in a bowl and dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake.

Preheat BBQ or griddle to very hot. Drain steak and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Cook steak for 3-4 minutes each side, turning once, until medium-rare. Remove from  heat, cover loosely with a piece of foil or a saucepan lid and leave to rest for 6-8 minutes. Slice thinly downwards, across the grain. If serving in rolls, split and lightly toast them. Mix salad with dressing.

Serve beef and salad in rolls or arrange on individual plates.

Serves 4

Note: if preferred just use your regular salad dressing instead.

Satay Beef in Lettuce Cups

This quick mid-week dinner will be popular with all the family. If you have young kids who don’t like things too spicy just leave out the chilli. If you don’t put too much filling on the lettuce you can roll them into parcels to eat with your fingers. Otherwise eat with a knife and fork. Serve the filling in wraps or pitta breads instead of lettuce leaves to make them more filling for growing kids. I like mine drizzled with Thai sweet Chilli sauce, as you can see in the photo.

Satay Beef in Lettuce Cups1 Tbs oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
500g lean beef mince
½ cup satay sauce (see note below)
1/3 cup beef stock
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs sherry
1 Tbs grated ginger
1 tsp sugar
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
½ cup chopped fresh coriander and extra to garnish
1 butter lettuce, washed and dried, leaves left whole
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Lebanese cucumber, peeled and chopped
¼ cup roasted  peanuts, chopped

Heat oil in a wok or frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and beef and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until onion is soft and meat has browned all over. Add satay sauce, stock, soy sauce, sherry, ginger, sugar and chilli and continue to cook for a minute or two until the liquid has almost gone. Add coriander. Season to taste – you probably won’t need any salt. Serve beef in lettuce cups garnished with cucumber, peanuts and extra coriander.

Serves 4

Note: I used Ayam brand Satay sauce but if you don’t have any substitute crunchy peanut butter – not quite the same, but it will do.

Beef Massaman Curry in a Slow Cooker

Of all the posts on Café Cat, the most popular to date is the Beef Korma cooked in a Slow Cooker. When people search on Google for a beef curry cooked this way, my recipe comes up first.

A slow cooker is the perfect way to cook a curry or a stew. As the meat cooks slowly the liquid doesn’t evaporate the way it does in the oven, so it’s best to add about a quarter or half the amount you would normally use. You can always add more later if necessary.

I’ve adapted this Thai Massaman Beef Curry by Bill Granger for the Slow Cooker. It’s nice and spicy, without being overly hot. If you’re going to serve it with rice, we didn’t think the potatoes were really necessary, so leave them out if you prefer.

Beef Massaman Curry in a Slow Cooker1 tsp crushed dried chilli
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp cumin seeds
Seeds removed from 5 cardamom pods
1 red onion, cut in half
6 cloves garlic
1 stalk lemongrass (white part only)
2 Tbs coriander roots
1 Tbs Tamarind paste
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1.2kg stewing beef (blade, shin, chuck) cut into 3-4cm pieces
400ml can coconut milk
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs fish sauce
¼ cup water
400g small potatoes, scrubbed and halved (optional)
To serve:
1 Tbs lime or lemon juice
Fresh coriander sprigs
2 Tbs roasted peanuts, chopped
Steamed rice

In a mortar and pestle pound the chilli, ginger, cumin, cardamom and 1 tsp salt until finely ground. In a food processor whiz the red onion, garlic, lemongrass, coriander root, tamarind paste and 1 Tbs of the oil, until finely chopped, then mix in the chilli-spice mix.

Heat remaining 1 Tbs oil in a large frying pan and brown the meat in 2 or 3 batches, for about 2 minutes each side, then place in slow cooker. Add the curry paste to the frying pan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add to slow cooker with the coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, potatoes (if using) and water. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until beef is tender. Stir every couple of hours, adding a little more water if necessary.

To serve: Add lime or lemon juice, check seasoning and serve garnished with the coriander and peanuts, with steamed rice on the side.

Note: If preferred curry can be cooked in a heavy casserole with a lid in the oven where it will take about 3 hours at 160°C. In this case increase the water to ¾ cup and add the potatoes, uncooked, about halfway through cooking time. For low-carb version omit the potatoes.

Serves 4-6

Rare Roast Beef with Blue Cheese Dressing & Zucchini Bake

A rare roast fillet of beef is handy to have in the fridge in summer. It lasts several days and makes life easy when you have guests staying and limited time to cook, or during a heatwave. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way.

I’m not a big fan of strong blue cheeses, preferring the milder creamier versions. But toned down a bit with yoghurt and vinegar this Blue Cheese Dressing is delicious with salads – especially crunchy cos lettuce –  steaks and dolloped onto baked potatoes.

While this zucchini (courgette) dish goes well with the beef it’s also nice on it’s own as a vegetarian dish. As you can see from the photo, the zucchini I used were rather larger than those you buy in the shops. Unfortunately that’s what happens when you grow your own. One day you look and they’re not quite ready to pick. You go back a day or so later and they’re huge!

Rare Roast Fillet of Beef

1 fillet beef weighing 1.8 – 2.2kg
salt and freshly ground black pepperphoto
olive oil

Preheat oven to 200°C. Trim meat of any excess fat and sinews. Place in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and season. Bake for 25-40 minutes depending on weight of fillet. A meat thermometer is useful for deciding when to take the meat out. Cool then refrigerate, covered. Serve thinly sliced with the Blue Cheese Dressing.

Blue Cheese Dressing

100g blue cheese
2 heaped Tbs plain yoghurt
1-2 Tbs white Balsamic vinegar, to taste
1 tsp sugar

Place all ingredients in food processor and mix, adding a little water to give a pouring consistency. Keeps for a week in a jar with a lid in the fridge. Shake before using.

Zucchini Bake

Zucchini Bake750g zucchinis, thinly sliced
30g butter
1-2 Tbs olive oil
Sauce:
25g butter
25g flour
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup breadcrumbs (about a slice of bread whizzed in food processor)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat half the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Sauté zucchini slices until lightly browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Heat remaining oil and butter and fry the rest of the zucchini. Make sauce – heat butter in small pan, add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring, gradually add milk, then lastly cheese and seasoning. Remove from heat and mix in the egg. Fold in the cooked zucchini, tip into a buttered shallow ovenproof dish (about the size of a quiche dish) which has been sprinkled with breadcrumbs. Top with remaining breadcrumbs and bake 30 minutes until brown and bubbling.

Serves 6 as a side dish or 3-4 as a vegetarian main

Baked Beef and Onions

I have quite a collection of individual dishes and found these oval ones in a secondhand shop.  They are ideal for freezing individual servings of lasagne, chicken parmigiano or baked beef and onions, a dish I often make the day after we have roast beef, to use up the leftover meat and gravy.

The photo looks a bit oily and I suppose it is a bit of a high cholesterol dish – but it’s low in carbs and really delicious!  Any leftovers make a great filling for a toasted sandwich.

Baked Beef and Onions

About 400g leftover roast beef, thinly sliced
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
½ to one cup leftover gravy (see below)
½ cup grated cheddar cheese (or a mixture of leftover bits!)

Arrange sliced beef in a shallow ovenproof dish or 4 individual dishes, lightly greased.  In a frying pan heat butter and oil and saute onions over gentle heat until rich golden and quite tender. Add gravy then spread over the beef. Cover with grated cheese. Can be made ahead to this stage and kept covered, in the fridge, for a day or so.  Or you can freeze them.  Bake 20-25 mins at 200°C or until golden.  Serve with a green vegetable or salad.

Serves 4

Note: if you don’t have quite enough gravy add a dash of cream and a dash of tomato ketchup, but avoid adding water as the result will be watery.

Nana’s gravy: remove the roast (chicken, beef, lamb, pork or whatever) from the roasting pan and keep warm, covered loosely with foil.  Discard all but 2-3 Tbs of fat from the roasting pan, keeping all the brown bits.  Place pan over gas flame, add 2-3 Tbs plain flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spatula, for 2-3 mins or until flour is cooked.  Gradually add 2 cups water, 2 Tbs dry sherry, 2 Tbs cream (Nana used the top of the milk), and a good pinch sugar.  Taste the gravy adding salt and pepper to taste.  If the gravy lacks a bit of flavour or looks a bit pale you can add a stock cube.  The good old Oxo was used a lot in England back then to add colour and flavour to beef gravies and casseroles. Normally the gravy will taste fine without, but sometimes with a particularly lean piece of roast beef and insufficient pan juices I have been known to cheat a bit.  Sometimes just half a beef Oxo cube is just what’s required to give a bit of colour.  Let gravy simmer while you carve the meat, adding a bit more water as necessary to keep it the right consistency.  Push it through a sieve it you want it to be perfect gravy without any bits.  For family I usually don’t bother.

Beef and Polenta Pies

Last weekend we had lunch at The Old Cheese Factory at Reidsdale.  There was a cool wind, but we sat outside because we had two dogs with us.  Matthew had a nice time talking to the owners Robert and his son Gary about growing apples, asparagus and other gardening stuff. They make their own cider, ginger beer, apple juice, elderberry wine, elderflower sparkling wine and other beverages.  We tasted most of the above and found them all delicious.  The cider is dry, just the way I like it. The Old Cheese Factory serves simple lunches at weekends (best to book) and they also run bread-making, cheese-making and sausage-making classes taught by local artisans from Braidwood.

Matthew and I had the Ploughman’s lunch with a glass of apple cider.  Catherine more sensibly chose a hot dish, described as a beef and eggplant pie with red wine and polenta and a glass of apple juice.  She said the pie was delicious – a variation on a shepherd’s pie.  I decided to make something similar using mushrooms instead of eggplants and the result made a tasty family meal.

Beef and Polenta Pies

Beef filling:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g mushrooms
500g lean minced beef
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup sherry or red wine
1 beef stock cube
2 tsp dried mixed herbs or oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup water
Extra half cup of water mixed with 3 tsp cornflour
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Polenta topping:
2 cups milk
1 cup water
3/4 tsp salt or garlic salt
1 cup instant polenta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs butter
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, extra

Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Cook onion and garlic over a moderate heat until softened but not browned.  Wipe mushrooms and cut in halves or chunky slices – you don’t want them to get lost in the filling.  Add to the pan with the mince and keep stirring for about 5 minutes or until the meat has browned a bit.  Add remaining ingredients except cornflour mixture and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until meat is tender.  Add cornflour mixture and stir till thickened.  Adjust seasoning – you may not need any salt if stock cube is salty.  Spray six 1 cup souffle or ramekin dishes with oil and divide filling among them.

Bring milk, water and salt to the boil in a medium saucepan.  Add polenta and stir constantly for 3-5 mins until polenta thickens and pulls away from sides of pan.  Add parmesan, butter and egg and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place 2-3 Tbs of polenta on top of meat filling – whatever fits – and spread with a knife to cover completely.  You will probably have some polenta left over.  Sprinkle with extra cheese.  Place pies on a baking tray and bake for about 25 mins or until golden brown. Serve immediately with a salad or green vegetable.

Note: Unbaked pies can be stored in the fridge, loosely covered, for a day or so. For larger appetites make in four larger dishes, or if preferred use one large dish.

Serves 4-6

Chilean Empanadas de Pino

We lived in Santiago from 1992 to 1995 and our daughter has since married a Chilean doctor, so Chile is like a second home for us. Lots of fantastic amigos live there, as well as our “consuegros” – our daughter’s in-laws. Spanish has a name for that relationship which is lacking in English. We love the people and the country. The pisco sours and the empanadas. The wines and the seafood. And so much more…

They mostly eat two kinds of empanadas in Chile – cheese ones which are deep fried and meat ones which are baked. The baked ones are called empanadas de pino and are quite big – like a Cornish pasty or an Aussie meat pie. Most Chileans buy their empanadas because they sell them everywhere. Despite the fact that around 35,000 Chileans now live in Australia I’ve never seen them for sale here, so I make my own.

I like to make the pastry and the filling the day before. Assembling the empanadas takes a good hour and the filling is much easier to work with when it’s cold.

Traditional Chilean empanada pastry contains lard and hot water and you have to knead it like bread dough. It can be quite tough and I prefer something lighter. You can speed things up by using bought pastry – either shortcrust or puff pastry will do – and make them any size you like. I prefer what I would call large “finger food” size. The filling is like a spaghetti bolognese sauce without the tomatoes and with the addition of raisins, olives and hard boiled eggs – the three ingredients which give Chilean empanadas their distinctive flavour. If you can’t be bothered making the pastry bought puff pastry works very well.

Pastry:
500g Plain flour
250g butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup sour cream
About 4-5 Tbs cold water
1 tsp salt
Filling:
2 large or 3 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbs olive oil
500g good quality minced beef
2 Tbs tomato paste
4 tsp oregano leaves
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli powder – or more, to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup sherry or red wine
½ cup seedless raisins
1 cup water
About 36 black olives, preferably stoned
5 hard boiled eggs, cut into 8
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbs water

Filling: heat oil in a large pan and cook the onions and garlic gently until soft. Add meat and cook, stirring, until browned all over. All remaining ingredients except for the olives and eggs and simmer for about 15-20 mins or until thick. Cool throughly, preferably overnight.

Pastry: if your food processor is not very big you may need to make this in two batches. Place flour, salt and butter in food processor and process until fine crumbs. Add sour cream and with the motor running add water through the feed chute. As soon as mixture forms a ball stop the motor and tip out. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 170°C. On a floured surface roll out half the pastry quite thinly, as you would for a quiche. Cut as many circles 10 cm (4″) in diameter as you can, then repeat with the other half of the pastry. Gather the trimmings into a ball, roll out and cut more circles. You should get about 36 and if not you need to roll the pastry thinner. If filling seems very thick add a tablespoon or so of water. Place about a tablespoon or so of filling on each pastry circle, plus one olive and an eighth of a hard boiled egg. If you make larger empanadas then use a quarter of an egg for each.

Dampen pastry edges very slightly on one side, fold over, seal with fingers then crimp with a fork. Make sure you seal them well so they don’t burst open in the oven. Place on baking trays lined with baking paper, brush with beaten egg mixture and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Can be made ahead and kept in the fridge or freezer then briefly reheated to serve. If doing that then don’t brown them too much in the first cooking.

Makes about 36

Beef Carpaccio

We recently hosted a birthday dinner for our son-in-law, Sacha.  We started off with smoked salmon served on Baba Ganoush – a Middle Eastern eggplant dip recipe – garnished with home-made pesto and dried pink peppercorns. These can be bought from The Essential Ingredient and are not the same as the ones in brine.  They’re slightly sweet and fragrant, rather than peppery and go really well with any salmon dish.  They also look pretty as you can see from the photo.

For the second course I served Winter Beef Carpaccio from Michael Moore’s cook book Moore to Food – thinly sliced beef fillet, garnished with roasted onions and mushrooms, goat’s cheese and micro-herbs and drizzled with roasted black pepper oil. Sacha is a fan of carpaccio and ceviche, which both use raw fish or meat as the main ingredient, so I knew this dish would appeal to him.  Passionfruit Cheesecake made a refreshing end to the meal.

Roast Fillet of Beef with Fresh Herb Dressing

Last week my friend Ferne asked me what we were having for Christmas lunch.  I said we were having a cold buffet and mentioned a recipe for roast beef with a fresh herb dressing that I was thinking of doing from an old Women’s Weekly cookbook.   It’s perfect for a summer buffet.

I haven’t made it for quite some time but said I would dig it out.  Ferne said if you find it, please send it to me.  I have about 30 Women’s Weekly cookbooks – they were all the rage in the 70s and 80s – and typically it was in the last one I opened, called Celebration Cookbook.  Here is my slightly adapted version.

Roast Beef with Fresh Herb Dressing

1 whole beef eye fillet, weighing 1.5-1.8kg, trimmed of fat and sinew
1 Tbs whole black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
30g butter
2 Tbs vegetable oil
Whole flat parsley leaves to garnish
Dressing:
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1 Tbs chopped fresh chives
3 green (spring) onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbs capers, chopped if large
2 tsp drained canned green peppercorns
1 tsp hot English mustard
1/2 cup tarragon or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
1 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C.  Trim beef, tie into a neat shape with string. Roll in peppercorns and press them in.  Heat butter and oil in a roasting pan.  Add beef and cook briefly all over until sealed.   Place beef in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes for medium-rare, or until cooked to liking.  A meat thermometer is useful for getting it right and should read 55°C for medium-rare.  Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, remove string.  Slice beef thinly and arrange on serving dish in overlapping rows.  Top with dressing, garnish with parsley leaves.  Serve remaining dressing separately.

Dressing: Place all ingredients in a jam jar with a lid and shake vigorously.

Serves 10-12 as part of a buffet.

Note: Beef can be cooked and dressing made the day before serving.  Store both in the fridge well covered.