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Beef Masaman Curry – rich and delicious


Watching Rick Stein on his Eastern Odyssey around Asia, I couldn’t help but be inspired to recreate this amazing Thai dish.

It’s aromatic, nutty, warm with chilli, but far from blowing your head off, and it fills your home with the beautiful spicy fragrances of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

I was intimidated by the ingredient list – but one stop to my local Indian grocer and I was set. The lady at the shop was amazing – she whizzed around the little store with me looking at my list and grabbing everything I needed, including blade mase – which I had NEVER seen before. I strongly suggest you do the same – hit your local Indian/Asian grocer and the shopping list will no longer be a hassle!

I have to admit, I was also stressing about the chilli content – I mean 12 dried chillies sounded way over the top for a curry considered to be very mild in terms of Thai food. But, as you will see, this recipe calls for Kashmiri chillies – which I have since found out are hardly spicy at all. I’m glad I didn’t chicken out and reduce the amount of chilli, because at the end, it was just perfect.

This dish is definitely a weekend project – when you have time on your hands and just feel like having some “me” time in the kitchen with your mortar and pestle. It took hours to create this – but when we sat down and took the first bite – it was instantly worth it! Better than any jarred massaman curry I have ever tasted.

I have taken most of this recipe straight from Rick – but have added a few changes which I found worked well along the way.

Curry paste

  • 10 dried red kashmiri chillies, seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp green cardamom seeds (from about 20 green cardamom pods)
  • 16 cloves
  • 1  cinnamon stick
  • 2 large pieces of blade mace
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, soft inner core chopped
  • 1/4 cup of coconut cream

The curry

  • 1.5kg of chuck steak, cut into large chunks
  • 600ml of coconut cream
  • 6 black cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into large cubes
  • 8 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp of tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1/2 a cup of peanuts, roasted and roughly chopped

Method

For the curry, place the beef into a heavy-based pan with 350ml of the coconut milk and an equal amount of water. Add the black cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and salt, then bring to a simmer and partially cover the pan with a lid, leaving just a small gap for the steam to escape. Cook for two hours, stirring occasionally, until the beef is just tender. While that’s simmering, you can tackle the curry paste.

Heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the dried chillies and fry for 1-2 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to prevent the chillies from burning, until the chillies are lightly toasted. Transfer the chillies to a spice grinder or mortar.

Return the pan to the heat and add the coriander, cumin and cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon and blade mace and fry for a few seconds, shaking the pan frequently, until the spices darken slightly and release their aromatics. Add the toasted spices to the spice grinder or mortar and grind or pound to a fine powder.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and fry slowly over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until caramelised. Add the shrimp paste and spice mixture and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the mixture into a food processor, add all of the remaining curry paste ingredients and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside until your beef has cooked for the two hours set out above.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into large pieces.

Now that the curry has been simmering for two hours, remove the lid from the curry and discard the black cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Stir in the rest of the coconut milk, the potatoes, shallots, the curry paste, fish sauce, tamarind  and sugar and simmer gently, uncovered, for a further 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes, shallots and beef are tender. Stir in the peanuts.

Serve with steamed rice and some fresh, chopped red chillies for those who like their curries a little hotter.

As for my music recommendation – due to the long process – I suggest your going to need an album … or three!

However, if you can get your hands on Adele’s new album called 21 – and if you appreciate a truly amazing voice and chilled melodies – you can simply play it over and over and … over again 🙂

In an act of support for how awesome this chick is, I’m linking to two of her songs – firstly Rolling Deep – which I admit is becoming a tad over-played.

But, here’s another awesome song from the album, Someone Like You. In this video, she also talks about her inspiration for writing this amazing song.

Happy cooking, eating and grooving!

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The Weekly Cook Up: Morrocan Beef Tagine


Moroccan food, in my book, is absolutely gorgeous. This tagine is no different because it’s filled with delicate flavours, amazing freshness and the pangs of yumminess that come from lemon and olives.

I admit, there are a few ingredients in this dish – but that’s why it’s a Weekly Cook Up recipe. It needs a little love and time to ensure you are left with a succulent, tender and flavourful dish.

I generally get annoyed when people call dishes like this a tagine – when they didn’t actually use a tagine to cook it in. I mean, that’s the whole point! So, I apologise to myself right now. I am calling this a tagine, because the flavours deserve that title. I didn’t have mine handy because we were house-sitting for my brother and his girl while they were off sunning themselves in warmer places of Australia. Also, this is a large batch, which will serve 6 to 8 to allow for freezing, so it wouldn’t probably fit in a tagine anyway. Feel free to halve the quantities and break out your tagine, if you have one. They are definitely a worthwhile investment.

You will see below that the first component of the recipe involves making a chermoula. This is like the equivalent of a curry paste – but in this case the consistency is more like a watery salsa. This is a critical step in making this dish as it’s where you start to build the flavour base. Keep in mind when making this dish that you really need to marinade the meat for about two hours after adding the chermoula.

Beef Tagine with Lemon, Olives and Coriander

Chermoula

  • 6 tomatoes, finely diced
  • 3 tbs of fresh coriander root, finely chopped
  • the zest of a whole lemon
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large green chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cm of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp of Moroccan spice paste (I used Dave Bittons – but there are others available in the spice section at the supermarket)

The tagine

  • 2 kg of chuck steak – trimmed of excess fat (but leave a bit on for tenderness and flavour). Cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 potatoes (I didn’t peel them, but you can if you prefer) cut into wedges
  • 1/2 a cup of water
  • 1 cup of green pitted olives (you can use kalamata, if you like)
  • 4 tbs of chopped, fresh coriander

Method

Combine all the ingredients for the chermoula.

Place half the chermoula in a bowl with the meat. Mix thoroughly and seal both bowls with cling film and place in the fridge for an hour – 2 if possible to allow the flavours to meld and marinate.

 Take the meat and chermoula out of the fridge and set aside. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a large, heavy-based pan and add the onion, cooking over a medium heat until nice and soft.

Add the meat, the remaining chermoula as well as the tomatoes, potatoes and water.

Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over a very low heat for about two hours, or until the meat is lovely and tender. Add the olives, allow to heat through for a minute or two. Add the fresh coriander, then serve.

Serve with cous cous and some nice crusty bread.

This dish has amazing layers of flavour that will dance in your mouth. The soft, fluffy cous cous soaks up the juices perfectly. This really is an awesome dish.

As for my music recommendation – One Republic was definitely a feature of my playlist while I was making this. Make sure you look up their albums – but one of my favourite songs is called Lullaby. It’s a song about home, about feeling safe and content. Have a listen below. It’s a really beautiful song.

The tagine will freeze well for up to three months. Seeing as it’s the Queens Birthday long weekend, why not spend some time whipping up some dishes like this to freeze to make your life easier when work and life gets crazy again! Check out The Weekly Cook Up for more inspiration. Other than cooking – what are your plans this long weekend? I’m working at my brother and dad’s shop, and relaxing with my finacee. No doubt there’ll be some cooking going on too 🙂

Beef enchiladas with rustic guacamole

The Weekly Cook Up: Spezzatino di manzo (Italian beef stew)


My mother-in-law-to-be whipped this up for dinner on Monday night, and it was so super tasty, I just had to share it with you.

It does take more than 2 hours to cook – but the meat was so tender and succulent and the pancetta and wine added so much beautiful flavour. What can I say, I just loved every mouthful – and I’m not just saying that to get brownie points with my future in-laws 🙂

I know most of us don’t have time to do this on a weeknight – but it’s a perfect weekend meal, and with a fancy name like Spezzatino di manzo – your friends are sure to be impressed if you served this up at your next dinner party. It’s also an ideal recipe for The Weekly Cook Up, because it can be cooked and frozen in preparation to take the pressure off later in the week when time is more precious.

Spezzatino di Manzo (Italian Beef Stew)

  •  1/2 a cup of plain flour
  • 1.5kg of chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 100gm of pancetta, cubed
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 400gm tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups of beef stock
  • 1 tbs of chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbs of chopped, fresh sage (or 1 tsp of dried)
  • 2 tbs of capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Method

Place flour in a large freezer bag and season with salt and pepper. Add beef and shake to coat.

Heat 1 tbs of oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium to high heat and brown the meat, in batches, until it’s all browned and sealed. Set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan and fry the pancetta, carrot, celery, onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until soft.

Turn up the heat and stir in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove the nice, flavourful brown bits at the bottom.

Stir in the beef, tomato, stock, rosemary and sage and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 20 minutes. After this cooking time, remove the lid for a further 40 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.

Finally stir through the capers and parsley and check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some yummy, creamy mashed potato.

Be inspired~

Lisa

The Weekly Cook Up: Marinades


Marinating meat is a great way to not only save time, but to inject lots of awesome flavour into a week-night meal.

This week I’m going to share with you three really awesome marinades, which can be used on chicken, beef and lamb which will have your family raving not only about the great flavours, but also the tenderness of the meat.

Marinading meat is so convenient because you can do your weekly/fortnightly or monthly shop and marinate whatever meats you wish before popping them in the freezer. Once thawed, all that is left to do is cook it, and because it will be bursting with flavour, a simple salad or side of vegies is the only accompaniement required.

Don’t know much about marinating? Well, you’ll see from the below recipes that there are generally three main ingredients in each – acid (like lemon juice), oils and seasonings (herbs, spices, salt and pepper etc). The oils and the acids help tenderise the meat and break down the fibres to allow the seasonings to penetrate their great flavour. Once you get hold of a few good marinating recipes and start to understand what flavours work – then you’ll be making up your own before you know it!

Greek-style marinade

  • Half a cup of olive oil
  • The juice of a whole lemon
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 a tsp of sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbs of dried oregano

This marinade is great for chicken thighs or lamb chops, which can then be grilled on a hot pan or on the barbecue.

You could also spread it over a whole chicken or on maryland pieces (which is the cut with the thigh and leg bone, joined together) before roasting in a medium  oven (about 180 to 200 degrees C – cooking times depend on the size of your whole bird, but marylands should take about 45 minutes).

But this is most ideal on a leg of lamb before roasting, or ask you butcher to butterfly the leg – which means he’ll remove the bone, leaving a nice flat piece of meat. Marinate it, and then cook it on the barbecue. It’s just amazing!

 Spicy Asian Marinade

  • 2cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a red chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds to reduce spice)
  • 1/2 a green chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds to reduce spice)
  • 5 tbs of soy sauce
  • 2 tbs of fish sauce
  • 1/4 of a cup of peanut oil
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • The juice of half a lime

This marinade is ideal for chicken and beef. Chicken strips can be marinated and stir-fryed with some Asian greens, or beef steaks will soak up these beautiful flavours before being cooked medium to rare on a barbecue and used in a Asian beef salad. It’s also great for meats you want to skewer and then barbecue. Beware though, it is quite spicy – so not one for the kids.

Moroccan marinade

  • 1/2 a cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs of Moroccan spice blend/seasoning
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
  • 1/2 a tsp of sea salt
  • 1/2 a tsp of black pepper

This marinade is very versatile and is great for all cuts of chicken, is fabulous on lamb chops or back strap (cooked medium on the barbecue) or on tender cuts of beef.

Method and tips for all marinades

Combine all ingredients and whisk well. All these marinades yield enough for 1 to 1.5 kilograms of meat. The best way to marinade it to place meat in a freezer bag, add marinade and seal the bag, ensuring all the air is out. Toss, turn and massage the meat in the bag (having the bag sealed prior to doing this exercise saves your hands from getting all dirty, but ensures the meat and marinade is well combined). Ensure you use a large enough freezer bag for your quantity of meat.

Freeze for up to three months. To thaw – place the frozen meat in the fridge the night before you need it. This is the most hygienic way of thawing meat.

You can marinate the meat on the same day as you plan to use it, but the flavour won’t be as good. However, as long as the meat has at least 2 hours in the fridge, it will still be delicious.

This really is the simplest and easiest process to inject wonderful flavour. So, no more boring lamb chops or roast chickens. Inject some flavour – your family will thank you!

Any questions about marinating? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

And before I forget – Uforic Food now has its very own Facebook page. Visit it here and don’t forget to ‘like’ us!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

A French inspiration: Boeuff Bourguignon


My mother’s maiden name – Le Raye – is a sure-fire clue that I have at least some French blood coursing through my veins.
As a nation that speaks such a beautiful language, has a deep appreciation for art, culture, wine … and, of course, food – I have always felt rather proud of this fact.
In saying that, French cooking is a tough business. There are often many steps in the process of re-creating this wonderful cuisine – so much technique and preciseness required. Non of this is really my strong point. I’m more slap and dash, trial and error – a slosh of this and a drop or two of that. I cook by building flavour as I go – adding a bit of this and that, having a taste and then adding something else wherever the dish falls short. I’m always thinking of the balance of the salty, sweet, sour and heat components of a dish and modifying as the cooking journey progresses.

So after finally watching the very famous movie, Julie and Julia – and of course as a tribute to my French heritage, I thought I’d give the famous Boeuff Bourguignon a go. Matt’s mum recommended a few recipes she had done in the past – and I had also seen it made on the French episode of Food Safari by Guillaume Brahimi. So, in typical Lisa style – a did a combination of all three. It was rich, had great depth and beautiful flavour. Very happy with my French crusade indeed! If you’ve never tried French cooking before, and even if you have, I promise this gem of a recipe will be a big hit and worth the effort.

Boeuff Bourguignon 

  •  1.5kg of chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 30gm of butter
  • 2 tbs of oil
  • 12 small onions, peeled but kept whole
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 3 rashers of middle bacon, diced
  • 10 small button mushroom, remove stalks but leave whole
  • 2tbs of brandy
  • 2 cups of dry red wine
  • 1 cup of port
  • 1/2 a cup of beef stock
  • 1/2 a cup of tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 a cup of  water
  • 2 tablespoons of corn flour

Method:

Heat butter and oil in a large, heavy based casserole, which is suitable for the stove top.

Fry the meat in batches until it is browned. Set aside.

Fry the small, whole onions until they are becoming caramalised on the outside – set aside also.

Fry the bacon (use a little more butter and oil if required) until it is becoming browned, then add the carrot and celery. Add a pinch of salt and cook until softened – about five minutes.

Return beef and onions to the pan and then add the brandy over a high heat, to cook out the alcohol. You can flame it, if you like – just don’t burn down your kitchen!! 🙂

Add the wine and port and allow this to simmer for a few minutes before adding the whole baby mushrooms to the pan.

Cover and simmer over a low heat for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.

Stir cornflour into the water and add to the pan, stirring as you go. Continue to stir as it comes back to the boil to avoid any lumps. It should thicken.

Serve with buttery mashed potatoes and some crusty bread to soak up the juices.

There you have it – an amalgamation of three recipes and I have to say, I was chuffed with how it turned out. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of whole onions – but it’s a major feature of the dish – so I went with it. It turns out that they tasted beautiful – they had taken up all the flavours of the sauce and had no sharp, oniony flavour about them.

I actually decided to turn mine off and the end of the 1.5 hour cooking process and once it cooled, popped it in the fridge overnight. I think this really improved the flavours as everything had a chance to meld. I re-heated it slowly on the stove and then once hot, completed the thickening process before serving.

Bon Appetite~

Lisa~

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