June 23, 2012

Slow Cooked Beef and Lamb Ragu

Do you ever have those moments where it feels like everything is happening at once?  Life seems to be so busy that you don’t get a chance to stop.  It’s like one chapter after another, and you don’t stop to put the book down.  That’s what I’ve felt like lately, minus the three week break after my last job, but even then there were appointments and catching up on life.

Last week I started a new job, a major career change, which in itself was a big deal.  But then that change gets paused by jury duty this week, which was draining to say the least.  I’m looking forward to next week, I feel as if things are due to go back to normal, and I can enjoy having more spare time.

A couple of weeks ago when the Perth weather changed to winter I had a craving for pasta, meaty pasta, rich with flavour and warmness.  I went to shops and found some cuts of meat that I knew would work well in a pasta sauce.  I think that’s the key point of this pasta dish – use what you can find.  Chicken legs, pork ribs and lamb shanks work amazing in this dish.  You can mix and match, do as you feel!

Cooking this for 2 – 3 hours you end up with tender meat that shreds beautifully.  I made this pasta to go with it.  Fresh pasta and a rich and meaty sauce – nothing better!

Olive oil
½ brown onion, chopped finely
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped finely
1 small celery stick, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
400g blade steak
400g lamb ribs/back
1 tin tomatoes (400g)
1 bottle passata (750ml)
1 cup red wine (a deep oaky red is best)
1 cup water
Sea salt

In a large heavy based pot over a medium heat, add a good slug of olive oil.  Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté for 10 minutes until they have softened and the onion is slightly transparent.   Add the garlic and stir well.  Add the meat, turning so they brown a little, then add the tin of tomatoes and passata.  Pour in the wine and water (I like to mix the water in the tin and passata bottle to get all the goodness) and add to the pot.  Add a couple of pinches of sea salt, stir, and then place the lid on top, reduce the temperature to low and let it cook for 2 – 3 hours.  The sauce will have reduce and become thick when ready.

When the sauce has cooled slightly, remove the steak and ribs.  Discard the bones and shred the meat.  Place the meat back into the pot and stir.

Serves 4 – 6.

June 8, 2012

Salted Choc Chip Cookies

I’m back.  I took a break from blogging, only because I was incredibly lazy and couldn’t be bothered cooking new things.  Don’t get me wrong, I still cooked, but the whole process of photographing and writing seemed like too much effort.  But I’m back now.  Last night I went through a few foodie magazines and got me some inspiration.

Before all the shit happened, I made these cookies.  I probably made them a month ago but never got around to sharing them.

I came across this salted choc chip cookie recipe and instantly wanted to make them.  I had a craving for something sweet, and after realising that I never keep sweets in my house, besides blocks of dark chocolate and a few Baci’s, I needed cookies.

I altered the recipe as I went, taking out some sugar, adding more chocolate (obvious decision really).  And in the end I had 40 (yes 40!) large cookies.  I gave a third to my other half and he took them to work, I stuck a third in my freezer, and the others lived in my kitchen and disappeared. 

The salt in these is intense.  You don’t taste salt, you just taste intenseness (apparently that’s a word).  Everything is heightened – the chocolate, the biscuit base, even the dough tastes incredible.

3 ½ cups plain flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking soda
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 heaped teaspoon sea salt
280g unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar (raw sugar works well)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
400g dark chocolate, chopped (you can also use choc chips)
Sea salt, to sprinkle

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until pale.  Add the eggs and vanilla, and continue beating for 3 minutes.

In another bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and stir to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir to combine.  Add the choc chips and stir until evenly mixed through. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge  for 2 hours or until chilled.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Using an ice-cream scoop (or tablespoon) scoop up the dough and roll in your hands to make golf ball sized balls of dough.  Place the balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Space the balls evenly with enough room for them to expand.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

Makes 30 – 40 depending on the size of the cookies.  Mine were around 7 – 8 centimetres wide. 

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