Uforic Food Cafe Torquay

Beef

How to cook the perfect steak

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The perfect steak. Is there such a thing? Well-done, blue, still mooing, burnt to a crisp – it really all comes down to personal preference. Which makes cooking steak extremely challenging.

My number one tip for cooking steak is – whatever you do – don’t serve it to large crowds, or at a dinner party.

Why? Please read the opening paragraph to this blog post again. Unless all your guests like their steak the same way – it’s going to be damn near impossible to get it perfect for everyone. Who wants to end up with someone at their table who can’t eat their meal because they are repulsed by the tiniest little smidge of red coming from their meat. Not me!

When I was younger, I would only eat steak well-done. No colour, not even a little bit – it had to be grey! Did I like steak? Well, no. I would never order it, and when I used to cook it at home, well, chewy meat certainly wasn’t my favourite thing.

One birthday my dad took me to this awesome gastro pub for dinner. I ordered steak, well-done – of course. Ever so politely the waitress informed me that a well-done steak was going to take quite some time to achieve. It was then that my dad suggested I try my steak ‘medium’. I was horrified! He assured me the flavours would be awesome – and that the meat would be cooked, a little pink, but juicy and wonderful. I was still a little unsure, until he promised to swap his chicken dish for mine if I really hated the steak that much.

I took the risk – and thank goodness I did! Medium steak is amazing! I have never looked back since. (Thanks dad!)

As for how to go about achieving a wonderful steak – well I am going to leave that lesson to one of my culinary heroes – Neil Perry. I have probably mentioned this a million times – but I have been to Rockpool Bar and Grill Melbourne three times now, and wow, the steaks and the food in general is just incredible! If you love steak – or just food – you have to go to this place!

So, here’s Neil with his top tips for cooking steak:

Neil doesn’t say much about cooking times, but this is my general rule of thumb for a darkish meat – about 3cm thick. If the meat is lighter – cook it for less time.

  • Rare steaks, two to three minutes each side.
  • Medium rare, four to four-and-a- half minutes each side.
  • Medium to well done, five to six minutes on each side.

The perfect medium steak … makes my mouth water!

Make sure you rest your steak, wrapped in foil, for as long as you cook it. This allows the juices to settle and keep your meat moist and delicious.

Practice makes perfect on this one, so if you don’t get it right, do keep trying. Steak houses can be expensive and I promise (with some practice) you can make amazing steak at home.

I quite often do steak on nights when Matt wants pizza. I serve it with some grilled mushrooms on top and a huge plate of brussel sprouts. Now now, don’t screw your nose up, read my post on how to make sprouts your whole family will love here. My mum did it with my brother and I (so I’m sure you can do it too as long as you have her secret weapon recipe!) Go on 🙂

How do you like to eat your steak? Does a smidge of red creep you out?

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I won Masterchef!! … thanks to Manu’s 2am boeuf bourguignon.

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That’s right ladies and gentleman – the results are in – I’m Australia’s next Masterchef!! Woo Hoo!!

Ok, that’s not EXACTLY true.

There were no cravats, bids for immunity, or pressure tests. It wasn’t judged by the three burly men called Gary, Matt and George.

But, there were a fabulous bunch of people who put on their best culinary delights – as part of our very own office Masterchef Challenge.

So, who were the contenders?

Pumpkin Soup delicately spiced with Cummin and Coriander –

This dish was amazing and took out a very close second place. It was created by my wonderful colleague, Mel 🙂

Other contenders included a gorgeous spicy dhal, chicken tikka masala curry with a store-brought simmer sauce twist (it was sooo yum!!), as well as pork vindaloo, beef stir-fry and a few other creations too.

Gluten Free Raspberry Cake with Creamy Icing

Amazingly moist and extremely delicious – this cake also came a close second in the desert category and was created by my boss, Helen. Top points for flavour and fabulous presentation.

This attempt from our IT department – store brought Tim Tams and another variety of chocolate biccy in the shape of an “I” and a “T”. I just had to include a photo! Top marks for creativity – loving the almond garnish too!

and finally, to the winning dishes. The lovely Catriona with her Apple and Custard Slice took out the top prize for desert. This tasted like heaven and I definitely need this recipe!!

And finally – there’s Manu’s Boeuf Bourguignon. As a friend of mine said – thank goodness it sounds fancy in French because really, it’s beef and red wine casserole. Doesn’t sound very Masterchefy, does it?

I think it was my sob story about staying up until 2am cooking it that got me over the line. I wish it wasn’t true but it was and I actually  nodded off for a bit – waking ubprubtly when I thought I had burnt it! I even borrowed the cook book I made it from! But, it was a labour of love and a dish I highly recommend. Just leave yourself a few days to get it done as there is marinading involved! But, I have tried other recipes, including this version, which I have already posted on the blog – click here to get it 🙂

But, the winning dish was all Manu, and seeing as I didn’t really change anything about the recipe (except I used a different cut of meat to what was suggested) – I don’t really feel right about sharing his recipe here. It’s not freely available online – so I guess you’ll have to get the book 🙂

Well, I’ve pretty much never won anything in my life. So, I was overcome with joy (as you can see by my goofy smile above) to take out the trophy on behalf of our team in PR – a frying pan, of all things, which will have my name etched on it as the 2012 Masterchef. Very cool considering it was tasters’ choice! We all branstormed menu ideas and so this belong to us all 🙂 I also won a signed copy of Neil Perry’s Rockpool cook book. I love Neil and it couldn’t have been a better prize!

I’d highly recommend a cooking competition like this as a team building exercise at your workplace. It was a lot of fun – you had to problem solve how you were going to make the food, transport, reheat etc and best of all, everyone came together, had a good laugh and got to eat really delicious food. Now that’s my definition of team building!

Have you ever done anything like this in your workplace before? Or, have you ever had any other creative team building exercises that have stood out from the mundane ones we sometimes have to go through? Leave your comments, and congratulations, if you so wish 😉 – in the comments section below.

I’m off to see if I can walk out the building – my head seems to have grown rather large!

Meatballs – the kids will love ’em!

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I’ve been making meatballs for years now – but have never been completely happy with the results – until now.

I have tried lots of different recipes – but it was advice from my beautiful Italian friend Laura which was the clincher.

She told me her secret to awesome meatballs is to use half beef and half pork mince (which is what I quite often do when making bolognese) and she doesn’t brown her meatballs, she simply pops them in the sauce and lets them cook gently.

Laura is an awesome cook and so I was really looking forward to trying to make truly Italian meatballs.

The verdict? Well, they were delicious! Tender, soft, but stayed in tact – just beautiful – if I do say so myself. We even had our niece and nephew over for dinner (and their wonderful parents, of course) … and they were both pretty keen on them too. Go me!

Our gorgeous niece Charli eyeing off the meatballs. She’s adorable and we love her to bits!

The meatballs

  • 500gm of lean pork mince
  • 500gm of lean beef mince
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped (you can use a food processor, if that makes it easier)
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The sauce

  • 2 800gm can of tomatoes
  • 1 tbs of basil pesto
  • 1 tbs of sugar
  • salt and pepper

Method:

Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl, and using clean hands, mix everything really well until it’s combined. You can use a spoon, if you want, but your hands really do the best and quickest job of this process.

Combine the ground beef and ground pork in a large bowl. Add the dry bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, egg, salt and pepper. Combine the ingredients with your hands until everything is mixed through.

Form meatballs about the size of a golf ball in your hands. Transfer these prepared meatballs to a plate and set aside.

Meanwhile, get a large, heavy based pan over a high heat on the stove to heat up. Blitz the tomatoes in your food processor and add them to the pan – add the remaining ingredients and bring the sauce to the boil. This sauce doesn’t need to be complicated because the meatballs will impart their flavour into the sauce.

Once the sauce is hot, gently place the meatballs into the sauce. Give the pan a gently shake so that the sauce covers the meatballs as much as possible.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the flame to low. Cover and cook for half an hours. Check, stir and then simmer for another 15 minutes with the lid off.

During the last 15 minutes, boil some water in a large pot and add your choice of pasta. I had half a packet of fettuccine and half of spaghetti – so I poured both in. Waste not, want not!

I admit – I’m nervous about cooking for kids. Being childless, I’ve never really had to do it. But, I was pretty chuffed that they ate. Well, our nephew was pretty keen just to play with the placemat. He’s such a funny little guy.

Kobe with his super cool placemat which he thought was a whole lot of fun. Cute much! 🙂

Ok, I’ll stop gushing over the cuteness of Charli and Kobe and move on to the groovy tune for this meal. I think this was a great dish to whip up for kids – so I’m going with a song by the same name, by MGMT.

Enjoy~

Osso Bucco – tender and on the table in 40 minutes

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Osso Bucco is a fantastic cut of meat. It’s not only flavourful and boneless, all bar one – it’s also quite cheap. What’s not to like?

Ever since I got my pressure cooker, I really wanted to see how osso bucco would go. With the rain falling outside, I thought a plate of comfort food would do us the world of good after a bit of a tiring week.

If you’re not sure what it looks like – this is what you need to look out for:

The flavour comes from the marbling, and from the roundish bone, which has marrow in it. It adds an incredible depth of flavour to any casserole you make with it.

I really didn’t have heaps of stuff in the fridge – but what I did have was tomato pesto. It’s an ideal way to inject a whole bunch of flavour, without too much effort.

I hope you enjoy this recipe – and there are instructions too if you don’t happen to have a pressure cooker. It’s just going to take you a little longer.

Osso Bucco infused with tomato pesto

  • 800gm of osso bucco
  • A few tbs of seasoned flour, to coat the meat
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, roughly diced
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs of tomato pesto
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock

Method:

Season the osso bucco fillets in salt and pepper and dust lightly with a little flour.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan or pressure cooker and cook the osso bucco at a medium to high heat until both sides are coloured and the meat is sealed, but not cooked. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Add a little more olive oil to the pan, if required, and saute the onion, celery, carrot and garlic with a little salt and pepper until the vegies have softened – about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato pesto and cook for two minutes.

Turn up the heat and de-glaze the pan with the white wine, ensuring you scrape all the nice, flavouresome bits that have stuck to the bottom from the cooking of the meat. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil.

Stir in salt and pepper and taste the sauce – if it’s tasting good, add the meat back into the pan.

If using a pressure cooker – secure the lid and over a high heat, bring the cooker under pressure. Once you indicator shows pressure has been reached – turn the burner down to the lowest flame. Cook for 25 minutes. Release pressure as per your pressure cooker’s instructions.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker – bring to the boil, place the lid on your dish and turn to low. Cook for about 1.5 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

Serve the osso bucco with some creamy mashed potato and some crusty bread.


… and the verdict:

As for a song to inspire you while you whip up this slow cooked meal either fast in the pressure cooker, or on the stove top – it’s the new one by David Guetta and Usher. It just happened to pop on to MTV – and I really liked it 🙂

Enjoy~