Monday, August 27, 2012

Masterchef Week - Beef and Guiness Pies

Now that Masterchef Australia is over, and I no doubt will experience some a lot of withdrawal symptoms, I thought I would have a Masterchef inspired week. This year, Masterchef decided to be sneaky and cut all the exciting episodes in half. Majority of the good recipes come from the challenges faced by the top 12. This year, the top 12 was whittled down to a two week time period, with 3 contestants going home each week until the finals at the end of the second week. I was not happy about this announcement. Why not cut the top 24 episodes in half, weed out the extreme amateur cooks over a short space of time and draw out the top 12? This is a question that will no doubt never be answered and one I hope they change in the next season of Masterchef (yes, I’m already thinking of the next season). Anyway, I’m off topic. In one week there were 3 great recipes I had to try – Gary Mehigan’s Beef and Guiness Pies from Masterclass, Pork Lasagne from an Italian group challenge and Chocolate Mousse Tart from a magazine cover challenge (look out this week for other posts). 

I decided to start with the Beef and Guiness Pies because I’d heard a few people rave about how good they were (although it was nice of Masterchef to tell me the day after I cooked them that they had gotten the recipe wrong!).

This is a great recipe to make when you have nothing to do one Sunday afternoon because the meat cooks for about 2 hours. I’ve split the ingredients and recipes into their sections e.g. pie filling, pastry, assembly.

What you will need for the pie filling:
100ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus extra for greasing
5 Brown Onions, sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, smashed and peeled
4 Sprigs Thyme
3 Fresh Bay Leaves
2 Tablespoons Plain Flour
1.5kg trimmed Chuck Steak, cut into 5cm pieces
Salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper
1 Carrot, cut into large chunks
440ml Can Guinness
1 Litre Beef stock
1 Egg, beaten

Pie filling ingredients
Preheat your oven to 180°C fan-forced. 

For the pies, add 40ml olive oil to an enamel or heavy set casserole (think Le Creuset style casserole dishes). 
My heavy set casserole dish
Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook over low heat for 40 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. 
Onions when they first are in
Stir occasionally so the onions don’t stick to the bottom. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the bay leaves and cook until the onion is dark and caramelised. 

Soft and translucent onions with bay leaves
Add the flour and cook stirring often for 3-4 minutes.

Onions with flour
Season the beef generously with salt flakes and ground white pepper. Heat the remaining 60ml of the olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat, then cook the beef in 2 batches until well browned on all sides (it’s ok if the beef sticks to the bottom of the pan, this means it’s got good caramelisation). 

Add the carrot and cook for 5-6 minutes or until golden. 

Add ¾ of the Guinness and cook for 5 minutes. 

Add Guiness
Tip the beef and Guinness into onion mixture in the casserole dish. 

Transferred into casserole dish
Use remaining Guinness to deglaze the beef pan, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom. Add this to the onions.

Pour beef stock over the beef and vegetables and bring to the boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, then transfer to the oven and cook for 2-2.5 hours or until tender. 

With beef stock
A couple of things to note here: 1) I didn’t wait for anything to come to room temperature or cool completely. It’s up to you if you want to do these steps: Leave to cool to room temperature. Remove the chunks of beef and carrot to a board and chop into 1cm pieces, then return them to the onion gravy. Refrigerate until cold. 2) When I made this recipe there was an error on the Masterchef Australia website, which is why I have too much stock in my pot above. Originally the recipe called for 2 litres of beef stock, not 1 litre. So if yours doesn't look as full as mine, don't worry. In saying that, the mixture still turned out great. 

Getting the filling ready 
When the beef is tender, just test a bit with a fork (the aim is that the beef will be so tender it will basically melt in your mouth), slice the beef into strips and put back into the sauce ready to fill your pastry cups. 

What you will need for Maggie Beer’s Sour-Cream Pastry:
200g chilled Unsalted Butter, chopped
250g Plain Flour, plus extra for dusting
½ Cup Sour Cream
Pastry ingredients
Place the butter and flour and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. 
Butter & Flour
Blend until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Instead, I rubbed my butter into the flour and it had the same effect. 
Half completed pastry
Gradually add the sour cream, mixing until the pastry just comes together. Shape into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap then chill for at least 20 minutes.

Pie Assembly:

Grease 6 holes of a muffin pan with a little olive oil. Roll out the pastry to 3-5mm thick, using a little extra flour for dusting. 

Rolled out pastry
Cut out six rounds about 4cm bigger than the muffin holes for the pie bases and six rounds 2cm bigger than the muffin holes for the pie lids. 

Pastry cutouts
Place a pie base in each hole, then press in lightly with your fingers, and draw the pastry up the mould a little so the pastry is 1cm above the mould. Fill each hole with some of the beef mixture, brush edges with water, then top each with a pastry lid and crimp the edges to seal in the filling. I had a little trouble assembling my pies but it’s because I forgot to bring the pastry above the muffin tins so when I put the hot mix in the pastry went a little melted. 

Pies ready for the oven 
Brush the pastry tops with beaten egg, cut a small hole in the centre of each pie for steam to escape. Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Beef and Guiness Pies
A few things to note in this recipe: depending on the size of your muffin tins/pies, the pastry will make more than 6 pies; depending on the size of your muffin tins/pies, you will have a lot of mixture left over. Overall, I managed to get 10 pies out of my pastry but had a bucket load of filling left. Next time I will make 2 batches of pastry.

The pies were super yummy and the pastry was flaky and melts in your mouth. Serve with mash and your favourite vegetables. In my opinion, you really don’t need tomato sauce with these pies, there’s enough flavour in the filling and pastry.

For more photos and updates like my Facebook Page here

Friday, August 17, 2012

Foodie Friends Friday & Beef Madras

I love Foodie Friends Friday parties because I get to see so many recipes I might never have come across otherwise. It's worth visiting all the links just to see what people are cooking. You can even get an entire day's worth of meals from it if you wanted. This week I'm bringing Beef Madras to the party. I loved making this and even better, it was super delicious (even the husband loved it).

Beef Madras
Now to the other important party stuff: last week's winners. Winners from last week received an e-cookbook from Around the Table With Tami.

Top 3 Recipes

#1 is the Molasses Cookies Spatualas on Parade
However, Since Spatualas on Parade is one of our Co-Hosts,
It will be up to her who she wants to pass her e-cookbook prize onto!!

Molasses Cookies by Spatulas on Parade
#2, #3 AND #4 Spots go to Cooking from a Stay at Home Mom with Cheddar Bacon Fries, Salted Caramel Cake, and Corn Dogs. WOW!
Cheddar Bacon Frieds by Cooking from a Stay at Home Mum
Salted Caramel Cake by Cooking from a Stay at Home Mum

Corn Dogs by Cooking from a Stay at Home Mum

But because that leaves just 2 winners, we will give the 3rd e-book to our #5 recipe this week:
Gluten Free Spice Cake

Gluten Free Spice Cake by Ames Savoury Dish 

This week's Hosts

Tracy at Busy Vegetarian Mom
Robyn at Robyn's View
Angie at A lil Country Sugar
Sarah at Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Marlys at This and That
Lois at  Walking on Sunshine
Lindsey at Family Food Finds
Cindy at Cindys Recipes and Writings
Keira at Luscious Delights
R Dawn at Spatulas on Parade
Ericka at Chef Picky Kid

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Social Foodie Networking & Easy Cooking - Vietnamese Caramelised Spicy Chicken

People either love Facebook or hate it. I come under the first category for a number of reasons - it's a great way to connect with my family and friends that don't live around the corner, I can see photos of what my family are getting up to (I can't spend evry minute with them). But probably one of my biggest reasons for liking Facebook is the foodie inspiration it gives me. I constantly "like" new foodie pages and groups. I recently liked a page called Foodies Like Us who regularly share foodie blogposts and photos from around the world. Last week I came across a simple chicken dish, Ga Kho- Vietnamese Caramelized Spicy Chicken, that looked appetising on the page and simple to make. The recipe is from Girl Cooks World here and even if you don't cook this recipe, go to her blog to check out her travel stories, recipes and fantastic food photography.

What you will need (note that I have adapted this recipe to suit my tastes and produce available to me at the time I made it, for the original recipe visit here):
680g Chicken Breasts, cut into cubes
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Cloves Garlic, crushed
Fresh Ginger, grated (about a 1 inch piece)
2-3 small White Onions, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Chilli Flakes
3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon White Sugar

½  teaspoon Black Pepper
¼ Cup Water

6 Shallots, sliced on the diagonal into approx 2-inch lengths
You will need to cook your rice (if serving your dish with rice) in advance because this dish cooks very quickly.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally. You don't have to cook the chicken completely because the next step is to push all the chicken to the perimeter of the pan (where it will keep cooking).  
Add the garlic, ginger, shallots and chilli flakes. Cook until softened.
Garlic, Gingerm Shallots added to the chicken
Combine the fish sauce, both sugars and black pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix.
Fish sauce mixture
Toss the chicken and garlic mixture and then pour in the fish sauce mixture and stir to coat.  Bring to a boil for a minute or two and then add the water. 
Fish sauce mixture in + water added
Adjust heat to a low simmer and then let the chicken cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and the chicken is cooked through. 
Sauce simmering
Add the green onions. Remove from heat and serve with rice. Serves four to six.

Ga Kho Chicken with rice 
This was a great meal that barely took me anytime to make (or eat). For my tastes, I probably added a little too much chili flakes but next time I will be making it with fresh chilli.
Ga Kho Chicken with rice
For more photos and updates like my Facebook page here

Friday, August 10, 2012

Foodie Friends Friday & Beef Stroganoff

This week I'm going to share my Beef Stroganoff for Foodie Friends Friday. I love this recipe and it's so easy to make, plus I've never met a child that doesn't like it! Check out all the details here.

Beef Stroganoff by Luscious Delights
This week there is another giveaway for the top three winners courtesy of Around the Table with Tami - free copies of her e-cookbook. The e-cookbookw ill be emailed to the winners. So link up and don't forget to come back and vote for your favourite recipes.

The winners from last week are:

Top 3 Voted Recipes

#1 Hun What's for Dinner's Frozen Bluebery Peaches & Cream Pie
Frozen Blueberry Peaches & Cream Pie
 #2 Spatula's on Parade's Orange Pecan Brownies
Orange Pecan Brownies
 #3 Cooking from a Stay at Home Mum's Grilled Veggie Medley
Grilled Veggie Medley
Top 3 Most Clicked Recipes

#1 Mainley Bakes Snickerdoodle Nutella Cookies
Snickerdoodle Nutella Cookies
#2 My Biscuits and Burning's Fresh Raspberry Bars
Fresh Raspberry Bars
#3 Dawn's Divine Delights Dove Fudge
Dove Fudge
A big shout out to this week's hosts:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Garlic Pepper Beef Stir Fry

I love Donna Hay and her recipes. I have several of her books but only bought Simple Dinners after I watched her Foxtel TV Series, Fast, Fresh, Simple. I haven't triedthis stir fry recipe before mainly because the husband doesn't really like stir fries. But I couldn't resist, it looked so good on the page and I'm rarely disappointed with Donna Hay recipes (I also needed something quick before going to a sugar flower class one evening during the week). 

What you will need: 
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
750g Rump Steak, trimmed and sliced thinly
2 teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
1 Long Red Chilli, sliced
4 cloves of Garlic, sliced thinly
250g Green Beans, trimmed and halved 
2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
2 Tablespoons Beef or Chicken Stock
Steamed Rice and Asian Vegetables to serve

Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the beef and cook until browned.

You may want to cook the beef in batches depending on the size of you saucepan.  

Beef browned
Remove the beef from the pan using a slotted spoon (if you have a lot of beef juices, which is manly fat, drain the saucepan). Toss in the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, the chill, garlic and black pepper. Cook of 1 minute or until fragrant. 

Chili, Garlic, Black Pepper
Return the beef to the pan with the green beans, oyster sauce and stock. Cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes or until the beef is warmed through. Note that the beans will still be relatively crunchy so if you want them softer, pre-boil them for a few minutes before tossing them in. 

All ingredients in 
 Serve with steam rice and Asian vegetables like Bok Choy. Serves 4. 

Garlic Pepper Beef Stir Fry
This meal is quick and easy and if there are any leftovers, can be reheated without losing it's flavour. It's best to cook the rice beforehand and keep it warm. I cooked by bok choy for a few minutes in boiling water. 

Like me on Facebook here for more updates and photos. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Foodie Friends Friday & Butternut Pumpkin Soup

It's Foodie Friends Friday time again. Because the weather is so chilly in Sydney I thought I'd share a warming butternut pumpkin and spiced creme fraiche soup recipe. This soup was so yummy and the great thing about it - you can choose what you serve it with (or without). Click here for all the details. 

This week we are excited to bring to you Gypsy Girl Granola

They make some amazing Granola that is Vegan, Gluten and Soy Free and Sweetened with Organic Raw Blue Agave in many flavors, including a Nut Free one as well!  My personal favorite is the Chipotle Jalapeno Blend....Mmmm.

Gypsy Girl Granola was nice enough to give us 3 bags to award to our Foodie Friends Friday Top 3 Voted Recipes this week (note winners must reside in the USA or Canada to be eligible for this freebie)!  Thank You so much!!

So... you guys better get cookin' and get ready to link up your VERY BEST 3
recipes this Foodie Friends Friday!

*Awards only available to US and Canada Residents

But are last weeks winners...

Top Voted for July 27th!

                                              #1 Eggs in Chili Clouds from Kitchen Tested
Eggs in Chilli Clouds by Kitchen Tested

#2 Gluten Free Caramel Apple Cake from Hun What's for Dinner
#3 Chicken Casserole from Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom

Most Clicks for July 27th:
                       #1 Sticky Caramel Toffee Cheesecake from That Skinny Chic Can Bake
Sticky Caramel Toffee Cheesecake by That Skinny Chic Can Bake
#2 Snickers Popcorn from Walking on Sunshine
#3 Eggs in Chili Clouds from Kitchen Tested

Last but not least...these are your Hosts for the week.
 Be sure to stop by and see who eveyone picked as "host favorties" and show some foodie love!

Tracy at Busy Vegetarian Mom
Robyn at Robyn's View
Angie at A lil Country Sugar
Michelle at From Calculus to Cupcakes
Marlys at This and That
Lois at  Walking on Sunshine
Lindsey at Family Food Finds
Cindy at Cindys Recipes and Writings
Keira at Luscious Delights
Tami at Food Forays
R Dawn at Spatulas On Parade
Amber at Mama's Blissful Bites
Erika at Chef Picky Kid