Cook this: beef bourguignon

Winter is here. Properly. It was a long hot summer, and in the current COVID-19 haze, I just want to sit at home in my pjs and dressing gown, and eat warm comfort food. Maybe you do, too.

I wanted to share this beef bourguignon recipe from my cookbook, because it’s one of the best winter comfort foods I know – I first ate real beef bourguignon in a little bistro in Paris back in 2013, and it was the first time I understood why people make such a fuss over French food. It was magnificent.

My version isn’t quite the food of the gods they’ll whip up for you if you ever have the pleasure of dining at Le P’Tit Troquet, but it’s easy enough to make for yourself. And make sure you make a huge pot of it, because left overs.

Ingredients:
• 500g chuck steak
• olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
• 1 onion, roughly diced
• 3 cups red wine
• 2 cups vegetable stock
• 2 large carrots, peeled & sliced
• 500g button mushrooms
• 3 celery stalks, chopped
• 5 bay leaves
• 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
• ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
• mashed potato, to serve

Method:
1. Roughly dice the steak and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a large pot over high heat and add enough oil to coat it. Cook the steak (in batches if necessary) for a few minutes, until browned.

3. Add the garlic and onion, and stir for a minute or two, until fragrant.

4. Next, pour in the wine and stock, bringing the pot to a boil.

5. Reduce to a simmer and add the vegetables, bay leaves and thyme. Stir through, place the lid on the pot and simmer for 3 – 4 hours (until it reduces and thickens a little), stirring occasionally.

6. Serve with mashed potato and a little fresh parsley sprinkled over the top.

 

And if you’d like to see more recipes inspired by my travels and the wonderful people who’ve fed me around the world, you can get a copy of my book from $9.99 right here!

Cook this: Popovers

Here in Australia, this weekend we’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day. And being a mum to two little fur babies who aren’t capable of making me breakfast in bed, I’ll be making my own.

I saw this recipe aaaaages ago on Namiko’s blog, JUST ONE COOKBOOK, and saved it with every intention of making it ASAP. And then, of course, I promptly forgot about it. Because, life. I actually haven’t been baking much lately, but I’d to try and get back into it a little, and Nami’s recipe looked like the perfect place to start. I adapted it to make it a sweet bread rather than a savoury, because treat yoself.

Realllly easy, super delicious, and a bit more special than regular bread, so it feels like a proper treat. They come out with a nice crust, but are super light inside. Namiko recommends slathering them in strawberry butter, but I have a jar of apricot jam that my auntie made for me, and that went just perfectly with my popovers! Here’s my adapted version…

Ingredients (makes 8):
• 1¾ cups milk
• 2 cups plain flour
• pinch of salt
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 tbsp caster sugar
• 3 large eggs, at room temperature

 

Method:
1. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and warm over very low heat – more than lukewarm, but not so hot it burns your finger when you test it.

2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl, and set aside.

3. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed for a few minutes, until paler and frothy/foamy.

4. Then turn the speed to low and slowly add the warm milk as you continue to mix.

5. Next, add the flour mixture, a spoonful at a time, and beat on medium speed for another few minutes, until well combined. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl down if the flour starts the build up.

6. Now the easy part – set the batter aside to rest at room temperature for an hour.

7. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 230°C and place 8 extra large silicon cupcake cases on an oven tray. You can purchase popover pans online or use large muffin trays, but this mixture is sticky and the silicon cases are WAYYY easier to clean up!

8. Fill the cases almost to the top, and bake at 230°C for 15 minutes. Then, turn the temperature down to 190°C and bake for a further 30 minutes. Pop them out of the cases, smother them in butter or jam or cream or whatever else you’re feeling, and enjoy!

Cook this: ANZAC cookies

If you’re an Aussie or a Kiwi, you’re getting ready to deal with two days of work before the ANZAC Day public holiday on Wednesday. To make tomorrow go a little faster, make yourself a batch of these tonight after work – the sugar will pull you through Tuesday!

ANZAC Day isn’t all about a day off work, though. It’s a day for us to pay homage to those who were brave and selfless enough to give their lives so that we could contribute to live ours. And it might sound a bit lame, but I really do think about that every time I make these cookies. They’re super easy to make, and came to be when the mums and wives of the fighting troops wanted to send something over that wouldn’t spoil – they came up with these cookies, made from cheap ingredients that keep well for a while. That doesn’t matter anymore, because it’s impossible to keep a batch of these for more than 3 days without eating them all.

Ingredients:
• 1¼ cups plain flour, sifted
• 1½ cups rolled oats
• ½ cup brown sugar
• ¾ cup shredded coconut
• 2 tbsp golden syrup
• 150g butter
• 1 tsp baking powder

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/350°F and line two oven trays with non-stick baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and coconut, and set aside.

3. Melt the golden syrup and butter in a small saucepan over low heat, then set aside.

4. In a small bowl, stir the baking powder in with 2 tbsp water, then stir into the melted butter mixture.

5. Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.

6. Drop tablespoons of cookie dough onto the prepared baking trays with a bit of space between, and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until golden and just set for a softer cookie, or 15 – 18 minutes for a crunchier one. Cool for 5 minutes on tray before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

 


This recipe is one of my all-time favourites, and it has a spot  in my cookbook, along with another 60-odd favourites! If you’d like to get your paws on a copy (with a fancy new cover), prices start from just $9.99 – click on through to get shopping 🙂

Cook this: Cinnamon-free hot cross buns

Happy Easter! I’m a chocoholic, so I’ll be continuing to gorge myself with chocolate this weekend. But the other part of Easter is hot cross buns, which I’ve never been able to partake in, because I hate cinnamon.

It makes me ill – the smell of it literally makes me gag. But I love bready things, and I hate that I don’t have an excuse to eat delicious little buns smothered in butter for breakfast for a week at this time of the year. So I thought I’d try making my own.

Turns out they’re actually pretty easy to make, the removal of cinnamon does nothing to harm the structural integrity, and because they’re not technically hot cross buns, these delicious sweet little raisin rolls can be made sans cross and eaten all year round now! This simple recipe was adapted from Taste.com.au:

Ingredients (makes 12 large or 16 medium buns)
– 4 cups plain flour
cup caster sugar
– pinch of salt
– 2 x 7g dried yeast sachets
– 1½ heaped cups raisins (or any other dried fruit, like cranberries or apricots)
– 50g butter
– 1¼ cups of milk
– 2 eggs, beaten

Method:
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and dried fruit – set aside.

2. Set a small saucepan over low heat and melt the butter in it. Then add the milk and heat it for a minute – pour the mixture into the large bowl, along with the eggs, and stir together with the blade of a butter knife.

3.Use your hands to bring the dough together, and turn it out onto a floured board to knead for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can use a kitchen mixer with a bread hook to do this.

4. Place the dough into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and sit it in a warm room for an hour and a half to “grow.”

5. Line an oven tray with baking paper, and bring the dough back to the kitchen. Knead in for a minute, to shrink it back down, and divide the dough into 12 – 16 equal pieces. Roll them into balls and place them on the tray, leaving a little space in between – cover them back up with plastic and put them back in the warm room to rise again for another half an hour.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, and if you want crosses on top, now’s the time to add them. Just mix a half cup of plain flour with a few tablespoons of water to make a thick paste, and either pipe the goop onto the buns in a cross, or be lazy like me and spread it over carefully with a teaspoon.

7. Then all you need to do is bake them for 25 minutes, let them cool, smother then in butter or jam, and enjoy! Keep them for a few days in an airtight container, or freeze them like you would with normal bread to enjoy later.

 

Cook this: Fig & walnut jam

Nonna and Nonno have an enormous garden, full of fruit trees and vegetable plots, all lovingly tended to every day. I grew up surrounded by overgrown zucchinis and their flowers which mum and Nonna would stuff and fry, the sweetest mulberries that I ate by the (very literal) bucketload that I’d pluck from the lower braches of the tree myself, and my favourite,  figs.

Sweet, sticky, brightly coloured and impossibly delicious, figs are one of the most vivid tastes of my childhood. I’ve tried the odd few from a supermarket or fresh food market, but they’re just not the same as Nonno’s.  Now, every year when the figs come in, Nonno gets on the phone to let me know, and off I go to collect. I was pretty stoked last weekend to get the call up and find a kilo of figs waiting for me instead of the usual handful!

With my fructose intolerance,  I can’t stomach as many as I used to, but there was no way I was letting them go to waste, so I decided to eat a few, keep a few for the next few days, and turn the rest into jam! If you’re lucky enough to be able to get your hands on a kilo of fresh, sticky figs, this is a pretty easy way to keep them around for a little longer…

Ingredients:
– 1kg fresh figs (stems removed, roughly chopped)
– ½ cup caster sugar
– 1 tbsp vanilla extract
– juice of 1 medium lemon
– ½ cup toasted, crushed walnuts

 

Method:
1. Combine the figs, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice with ⅔ cup of water in a large pot. Set it over high heat and bring to the boil.

2. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for around 45 minutes, until it thickens up to a more jammy consistency.

3. Stir in the walnuts ans pour the jam into clean jars and cool to room temperature before screwing the lids on and refrigerating (will keep for 3-4 weeks). Easy!

 

This jam works really well on fruit toast, as a cake filling, and especially well on my date and sesame scones (smothered in jam above), which, if you have a spare $9.99 laying about, you can find in my cookbook 🙂